How Not to Store Embroidery Floss

Projects

I think we have all been guilty of putting things away without care. Stuffing things into a drawer, closet, purse, under the bed, wherever it may be, without worrying to much more about it at the time. Later, sometime down the road, the snowball effect happens and things become out of control. This is exactly what happened to my little bag of embroidery floss.

Honestly, I should have known better. Stuffing embroidery floss in a bag is not a good idea. The strands can not keep to themselves. Soon there is a big party going on in the bag and they are all playing twister. Now it is up to me to untwist all the strands!

Oh, why does she bother, one might think. Well, I do not like to waste, so I feel obligated to save the mess I have created. Plus, the cheapskate side of me says this is not only embroidery floss thrown out but money as well. So onto my task.

This lovely bag of floss would have remained as is had I not recently decided to make some new projects requiring said floss. That is what led to my motivation. So I spent a good amount of time yesterday untangling the mess. I will admit that there were a few casualties, but that can not be helped as the floss was in quite a state.

After entangling the floss, I decided to properly store them on plastic bobbins that are meant for floss to be wound around. These bobbins have holes in them that can be strung unto clips for individual projects. Genius! Now I feel all organized and am ready to start on my embroidery.

As always, Happy Crafting!

DIY: Making 3-D Face Masks

Projects

With no end in sight to the wearing of face masks, I recently made a few more 3-D style face masks for the family. I received a complement from the cashier at the grocery store today on my matching face mask. I had made a shirt last year and since I had a bit of extra fabric left over, I made a mask to match. When I want to feel put together, I wear my matching top and mask. Who knows, perhaps I will make a holiday mask to get me in the spirit when the time comes. Here are the instructions for my go-to mask…

Face Mask Instructions:

Cut a rectangle  ( 10” x 14” regular size) (10” x 14.5” slightly larger size) or (desired size rectangle). [ I have learned, in making masks for my family, that one size does not necessarily fit all. Making a mock-up of the pattern without all the layers may be a good way to see what changes need to be made to the pattern before committing fabric to the project. ]

Next, measure down 2 inches on each side and draw line across and cut to make pattern.  A hexagon shape is made. 

Use this pattern to cut 2 pieces of material and 1 of sew-on (non-iron) interfacing.

Place the 2 material pieces right sides together and then place the interfacing on top.  Pin.

Sew on the top 3 sides and the bottom 3 sides ¼” from edge.  Leave ends open to turn.  Turn and press with iron.  Top stitch sewn sides ¼”.

Iron down the top and the bottom where corners meet ends.

Top-stitch at edge of top and bottom ¼”.

Place one piece of elastic over one end and fold end over once and then once again to form a casing.  Pin in place.  Stitch close to the edge being careful not to catch elastic in machine.  (Sometimes, because of the bulk, it is easier to start in the middle and sew to the end and then turn the material and sew from middle to end. If machine will handle it, it can be sewn in one line.)

Now fold open the corners lining them up with the end casing and stitch in place.  This holds the shape of the mask.  Repeat for other side.  Tie the elastic in a not to the desired length.

As always, STAY SAFE and Happy Sewing!

Cleaning-up the Pieces and Putting Them Back Together

Projects

This weekend I decided to clean out my fabric/sewing supply cabinet. I have gotten into the bad habit of throwing things back into the cabinet any which way. The result being a disorganized mess. So this weekend, I pulled out all the fabric, batting, interfacing, and other sewing supplies and got to work.

I ironed the fabrics that were a wrinkled mess and folded them neatly and organized everything. My stash is getting smaller, as I have made quite a few face masks for the Covid crisis. While cleaning out the cabinet, I found some projects that were either partially started and then abandoned or never started at all. Would I do such a thing!

I set these projects aside. The idea being that if they are staring me in the face every day I will do something about them. I am proud to say that today I have started on one of the forgotten projects. A paper piecing project (‘Teddy Bear Santa’ designed by Ruth Jensen) bought many moons ago. This was set aside because of its intimidating nature. Although, paper piecing is not actually something to be weary of at all. I have done some paper piecing in the past but needed to refresh myself with instructions before undergoing the project. I had to get myself in the right way of thinking of how the pieces go together and then all went smoothly. Well…after ripping out a seam or two.

Today I finished one section of the project, a tree. Not bad… I have one more tree to do. This should be a piece of cake since it is just like the one I just finished. Then there is Santa and a bear. This will be more difficult as there are three dimensional pieces involved here. I was supposed to do the three dimensional pieces first. Ha! If I did that, the project would still be in the bag. These are intimidating to me. I decided to start with the easy part first so that I can work up to the more difficult part. At least I will have some satisfaction with the piece in the start.

Here is what my tree looks like…..

Do not worry! The edges are left uneven on purpose. It will be trimmed and sewn to the other seams eventually. I will keep posting on my progress. I have two months till Christmas, so there is my motivation.

[Note: It does not appear that this pattern is still available. However, there is a very similar one available on the site. The Santa and bear are different and packages are added. Patterns are at: http://www.thimble-art.com]

As always, Happy Sewing!

Pattern Review: Sewing the Easy Shift

Projects

I follow the blog Maison Bentley Style and found one of Kate’s posts to be quite useful to me as of late. Kate posted a few versions of an easy shift to sew at home. I liked the easy wear style and thought the pattern at This Little Miggy would be right up my alley. So, after a bit of time, I finally got up the nerve to cut out my material and push the pedal to the metal as they say.

The pattern was simple enough. It consisted of four rectangles that one gets by taking one’s measurements according to the directions provided. It also gave a pattern for a pocket to trace and cut out. All very straight-forward. I cut the pieces. However, I chose to make the piece for the back one piece instead of two rectangles sewn together. Why have a seam up my backside afterall?

The most challenging part for me was deciding how deep the v-neck should be. The pattern has one decide this themself. So, being conservative, I cut the v-neck. Well, it did not fit over my head. Ha! I went into my closet and got out a v-neck and used that for my pattern. (For me that was 9.5″) My shoulder seems ended up being 9″ each. The pattern had one cut a dip for the neckline in the back and turn under and sew. I chose to add a neck facing to this for a clean seam. It worked well. The sewing was simple. Basically straight lines everywhere.

Here is my finished dress made of linen.

I would recommend this pattern. Very easy to make (especially since I just gave everyone a hint on the neckline). If interested in this pattern, check it out at:

A special thanks to Kate for her wonderful posts and connecting me to the site for this pattern. Love your blog!!! Also a big thanks to This Little Miggy for sharing this wonderful pattern! It gives me courage to try and design something on my own next time. Who knew rectangles could turn into a dress!

As always, Happy Sewing!

Fun Little Paper Mache Craft

Projects

I saw these cute little “bell” people and decided I had to get crafty. Some were made of ceramics and some I think paper mache. I decided to make my little bell person from paper mache. But I needed company, so I asked the kids if they wanted to make one as well. Everyone was on board.

We started by making a form to paper mache around. Ours were wadded up paper and fruit stuffed into a ziplock bag. Next, I poured glue into a yogurt container and added water to thin the glue and gave it a stir. Then we all tore newspaper into strips, dipped into the glue mixture, and squeeged the glue from the paper with our fingers and arranged the strips around our forms to create a bell shape. A few coats of this is recommended.

My son making the form for his person.

I then used magazines and paper mached the colored pieces onto the bell as if I were painting the piece. In this way I did not have to paint the piece in the end. I did paint my little guy’s facial features when he dried with black acrylic paint.

The kids decided to paint their guys with acrylic paint instead of using magazines. After they dried overnight, we put on a coat of clear varnish. Then it was time to string them up. I strung my little guy but his feet kept hitting each other and turning around. My son, on the other hand, had a perfectly aligned little man. So I asked him to string mine for me. He also finished his sister’s guy as well.

These bell people did take a while to make. However, we were having such a good time that we really did not notice just how long we were at it until we had finished.

My little man.

I really liked how my little man turned out. He makes me laugh. He is so cute. I have hung him above my desk so I can look at him. As I am writing this, I am amused that he is such a good dancer. With my fan blowing on him he has quite the moves.

My son’s man. So sofisticated.
My daughter’s man dressed in swim trunks.

We had fun using our imaginations to create unique guys with interesting personalities. Let us know what you think. As always, Happy Crafting!

Suburban Sketching

Projects

I have been off and on sketching for a while now. Trying to make it more of a regular occurrence. My goal being once a day. No more excuses! After all, I do enjoy my time sketching. In fact, I get lost in my art and wonder where all the time has gone. Was I really at it for three hours!

The media of choice right now is pencil sketching, then watercolor, and finally ink. I really do like the ‘field watercolor journal’ that I picked up so time ago. It is small in size ( 7″ x 10″) so it is easy to manage. It contains cold press 140 lb/ 300 gsm watercolor paper. I also just love my new little watercolor pocket field sketch box by Koi. So small and easy to manage with a handy little pallet that attaches. I keep my pencil sharpener, kneaded erasers, pencils, and pens in an ArtBin pencil case. I have both Berol Turquoise and Staedtler Mars Lumograph pencils. My pencil of choice is, and has been since college, the Staedtler brand. The pens I use are Pigma Micron and Faber-Castell Pitt artist pens (waterproof ink). I prefer the fine tips for the pens. I did by a fancy Lamy fountain pen. But oh no! I did not realize that the ink in the Lamy pen was not waterproof. I learned the hard way by ruining a drawing I had spent a lot of time on. Now I only use this pen after my watercolor is applied or when I do not intend to use watercolor. I still like the pen. It is very nice. The watercolor brush that I recently purchased (that I love) is a Winsor & Newton Cotman 222 Designers #6. It is round with a nice point. It works well for fine work.

Koi watercolor set with pallet attached.
My supplies in my ArtBin box

I have been taking my supplies outside and sketching in my yard lately. I have been using my fold-up chair that has a cup holder. The cup holder works perfectly for holding my water cup so I can have water on hand when using my watercolors.

Now for a little show and tell. Here are some suburban sketches that I have done over the last few months…

Some flowers in my front yard.
This one I did from a photograph. I took a picture of the mail truck delivering mail. I am not fast enough to capture this scene before the mailman finishes.
One day I asked the kids if they wanted to sketch with me. They said, “sure”. So we sat in the backyard and this is the sketch I completed of our sheds and potting table.
My latest sketch was completed just this morning. I am looking out the window at the porch swing and orange tree.

I hope you have enjoyed my little show and tell. Let me know what you think… Happy Creating!

DIY Toothpick Container

Projects

The toothpicks I bought came in a thin cardboard box. The typical packaging for toothpicks. I thought this annoying and a bit messy. What to do? The DIY toothpick container of course!

The thought of making my own toothpick container came to me as I was cleaning out the spice drawer. I came across a plastic spice container with a shaker lid, the kind with holes punched in the top to shake the spice out with. I decided to use this container to shake out my toothpicks instead. It was the perfect size to hold the toothpicks. So I washed it up and inserted my toothpicks. When given a little shake, the toothpicks pop out of the holes and I am able to grab however many I want.

For me, this DIY container is a much better option than the box the toothpicks came in. I am no longer finding toothpicks scattered about the drawer as they fall out of the flimsy box. I also like the fact that I did not have to spend money on a special container. It is always good to feel a bit more organized in the kitchen. As always, Happy Baking!

DIY Grab-It Potholder

Projects

Another day of making potholders. Today it is the grab-it potholder. It slips on and looks like a puppet. Handy for grabbing a cookie sheet or muffin tin from the oven. Let’s get started…

Supplies:

material

quilter’s batting

thread

sewing machine

scissors

needle

thimble

copy paper (for making the pattern piece)

pencil

ruler

self-healing craft matt

rotary blade tool

Step 1: Make the pattern. This piece is basically an oval that fits your fingers. Fold a piece of paper in half then in half again. Make one side of the fold the width and the other the length. When unfolded all sides will be the same. My dimensions are roughly: 2.5″ width x 4.5″ length with a curved side. See photos.

Width 2 1/2″
length 4 1/2″

Step 2: Unfold pattern piece. Pin to fabric and cut 2 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 1 piece.

Step 3: Make the pocket pieces by folding the pattern piece in half (widthwise) and then folding down 1/2″. Pin to fabric and cut 4 pieces. Pin to batting and cut 2 pieces.

Step 4: With right sides together, sew two pocket material pieces together. Iron seams open. Place one batting piece inside and fold over. Repeat making one more pocket piece.

Pin pocket pieces together
Press pocket pieces, add batting, fold over

Step 5: Sew 1/2″ seam around pocket piece and keep going to quilt a maze design on pocket pieces. This keeps batting in tact through use and washing.

quilted pocket piece

Step 6: Sandwhich the main piece of batting between the two pieces of oval fabric with the right sides out. Stitch 1/2″ seam allowance around the edge. Quilt a bit on this piece as well. Simple straight lines will do just fine.

Step 6

Step 7: Now take the pocket pieces and pin to the oval. Sew around curves leave the straight sides open.

Step 7

Step 8: Cut a long strip of fabric 2 1/2 ” wide. The length should be longer than the oval…don’t worry about making it exact. It is better to have this too long so that it can be fitted and cut when almost finished sewing. After cutting the strip, fold one end 1/4″ under on width side. Now fold it in half lengthwise and press. Then pin just the start of the binding to the edge of the potholder with raw edges together. Do not pin the whole thing as the binding will have to be stretched and shaped to fit as it is being sewn. Sew in place with a 1/2″ seam. When almost to the end, cut the binding with an overlap and fold under 1/4″ and finish sewing.

Cut binding 2 1/2″ wide with self healing matt and rotary cutter or by hand is fine too
Fold and press
Pin just the beginning of binding to potholder
Cut binding when almost finished leaving an overlap. Oh and don’t forget to turn the end under (not shown in photo) for a finished look.

Step 9: Almost done! The machine part of the sewing is finished. Get out a needle, thread, thimble, and scissors to complete the potholder. Turn the binding to the back. It should just cover the seam stitch. Hold in place and with a threaded needle grab a tiny amount of fabric from the potholder and from the binding and whip stitch all aroung the potholder. Press the potholder to flatten it out and bit. Voila! Now you are ready to take those cookies out of the oven. Happy crafting!

DIY Pot Handle Potholders

Projects

I am back to making potholders. Now that my pot lids are cozy, I decided my pot handles should be dressed as well. I drafted a pattern and made it in two ways. The first way I tried has a band to finish off the edges. The second and easier version has the edge finished first. I will give directions for both. My favorite is the second version. It is faster to make and takes less fabric. These can literally be sewn up in less than five minutes.

Let’s start with my favorite version first…

Supply List:

a sheet of copy paper (to draft the pattern)

pencil

ruler

scissors

pan (to make the potholder fit)

material

quilter’s batting

sewing machine

thread

Length of my pattern: roughly 6″
Width of my pattern: roughly 2.5″

Step 1: Cut the pattern piece for the pot handle. My pattern is roughly 6″ long x 2.5″ wide. I folded the rectangle in half lengthwise and then cut rounded corners. This can be adjusted to fit any pot or pan handle. Just measure the handle and make adjustments as needed.

Step 2: Cut out pieces. Material = 2 pieces / Lining = 2 pieces / Batting = 2 pieces

Step 3: For the batting pieces only…trim off 1/4″ from width on top edge (edge with squared corners).

Step 4
Step 4: press

Step 4: With right sides together, pin one material piece to one lining piece with right sides together at top edge. Repeat with the other piece of material and lining. Set batting aside for now. Sew a 1/4″ seam. Press open seams.

Step 5: Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5: Now to sandwhich the layers. Place the two material/lining pieces right sides together.

Step 5b
Step 5b

Step 5b: Place one batting piece on top of material. Fold over lining. Hold and Flip over. Repeat this for other side. Pin in place.

Step 6

Step 6: Sew a 1/2″ seam from top around to other side of top leaving opening at top width.

Step 7: Turn and place on handle of pot.

—————————————————————————————-

Now for the more complicated version with the band trim….

If using this method, a contrasting fabric will be needed for the trim. Not much… a tiny piece… Also needed is a needle and thimble as hand sewing is required.

Step 1: Same as above

Step 2: Same as above

Step 3: Sandwhich pieces together. (Do not trim the batting in this method.) Place right sides of fabric together. On top of this place a batting then a lining. Flip and place a batting and a lining on the other material piece. Pin together.

Step 4: Sew a 1/2″ seam around from top around to other side of top leaving an opening at width end. (same as step 6 above)

Step 5: Turn.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for trim
Step 6: Cut trim fabric double width as pattern fold in half lengthwise then fold in half widthwise and sew seam1/2″
Step 6: Place trim over pot holder with raw edges together.

Step 6: Pick out a contrasting fabric for the trim. Cut a rectangle that is the twice the width as the pattern (5″) x however wide the trim is desired to be then doubled and allow for seam allowance of 1/4″ (1 – 1 1/2″). Fold trim in half lengthwise and press with iron. Next, fold the trim in half widthwise and press with iron. Stitch a 1/2″ seam allowance on width of trim. Slip this over the pot holder with raw edges together. Pin in place.

Step 7: Hand sew trim to pot holder with raw sides together
Step 7: Turn trim to inside and pin in place
Step 7: Whip stitch trim to lining
Pot handle potholder with trim

Step 7: Hand stitch the trim in place using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn trim to inside and pin in place. Whip stitch the trim to the lining only covering stitching. Place on pot handle.

My pots and pans are all dressed up and ready to use. No more burnt hands for me! The best part of this DIY projcet is that the potholders take very little fabric and can be made very quickly. The fabric I used were scraps leftover from other projects, so it did not cost me anything to make them.

Be sure to check-out my previous DIY post on making potholders for pot lids as well. As always, Happy Crafting!

DIY Chair Cushions

Projects

I ordered materials to make a couple of cushions for our wooden chairs. I finally got around to making them yesterday. As with most projects, the procrastination is worse than the actual project.

First off, I needed a pattern. I gathered together some copy paper and taped them together to make my patterns and labeled them. Next time I need a cushion, I will be able to pull out the pattern and get started without delay. For my cushions, I bought foam in a four pack. The foam is 1 inch thick but can be doubled by using more than one piece and this is what I did. Each cushion got two pieces of foam for a total thickness of 2 inches. I wrapped the foam in quilter’s batting sewed together with a seam. The batting was 16 inches wide by 37 inches. This allowed for a half inch seam allowance. The batting adds softness and keeps the foam in place. The foam (as I said) was 2 inches thick and 16 inces square. So I drafted a square of 17 inches, this allows for a half inch seam allowance all around. (Cut two for each cushion) For the sides (making it a box cushion) I made a template 17 inches x 3 inches. This allows for the height of the foam at 2 inches plus a half inch seam allowance. (Cut 3 per cushion.) The fourth side is slightly different as I added a zipper so that I could wash the cushion cases. So for this side, I drafted a piece 17 inches by 2 1/8 inch. (Cut 2 per cushion.)

Next I pinned the pieces to my material and cut them out.

Prepare pattern pieces and cut out material.

I started with the invisable zipper side first. Inserting an invisable zipper is really pretty simple. First, use iron-on interfacing and cut a strip the size of the zipper for each side. The length of the zipper and about one inch width. Iron this to the WRONG side of fabric for each piece. Open zipper. Then pin the zipper centered to the edge of the piece right side of zipper to right side of fabric. With a zipper foot on the sewing machine, stitch in place until coming to the pull. The zipper foot will not pass this point. Backstitch and take out of machine. Now the zipper foot on the machine will need to be moved to the other side. Sewing the other half of the zipper is the same process. Be sure that the fabric lines up at the top of each side and pin right side of zipper to right side of fabric. When this is complete, the top and bottom seam will need to be completed. Still using the zipper foot, zip the zipper up and move the tail of zipper fabric to the side and continue the seam down from where the backstitch left off. Lastly, unzip the zipper and continue the seam from the top of the zipper to the top edge of fabric. This piece should finish a little wider than needed. Fold the 17 inch by 3 inch template in half and line the folded side up with the zipper. Pin to the piece and cut off the extra fabric. Finished.

Place right side of zipper to right side of fabric. Pin.
Sew with zipper foot attachment stopping at zipper pull.
Pin other side of zipper to second piece of fabric aligning fabric evenly.
Sew second side.
Push zipper bottom to side and finish sewing from backstitch to end of fabric.
Finished zipper side panel.

Now to put it all together.

Ready to sew last three sides. Be sure zipper is open!
Last three sides pinned and ready to sew.

Sew the sides to one of the squares. Remember, sew right sides together, and the seam allowance is half an inch. Next, sew the sides together at their edges. Sew one side to the other square. It will look like an opened pizza box at this point. Be sure to UN-zip the zipper. Very important or the cushion will not be able to be turned when done sewing. Pin the remaining three sides to the square. Sew one side at a time. When finished turn right side out. Stuff foam cushion inside cover, zip. Voila! C’est facile!

Finished cushion
Ready to sit down.