Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pillowcase dresses- A gift that can save a life.

There are so many charities with which those of us who love to sew can be a participant.  There is Project Linus that donates blankets and quilts to children in need.  There is Quilts of Valor which supplies quilts to service men and women and veterans.  A while back, I wrote about the One Million Pillowcase Challenge which donates colorful pillowcases to children with cancer and other diseases.

One of my favorite charities for sewing involves sewing very simple "pillowcase" dresses for  little girls in impoverished nations.  Crimes against young girls in many places in the world are rampant but missionaries and aid workers have discovered that girls who are dressed well aren't as likely to be attacked.  The thinking is that criminals would rather prey on children who look like no one really cares for them.  In some areas of the world, girls do not walk to school for fear of being attacked.  By supplying a girl with one of these simple to sew dresses, we who love to make things can not only help protect a sweet young girl but also encourage her to continue her education.  What's not to love?

There are several organizations that are doing similar work but the one that I have sewn for is Little Dresses for Africa.  These pictures will warm your heart...

You can actually make these dresses from purchased pillowcases but I love to make my own pillowcases first using fun fabrics. Interested in making some pillowcases to turn into these adorable dresses?  Click HERE for my favorite roll up method.

 Directions and measurements for the dresses are on the Little Dresses for Africa website.  Click HERE for the printable directions and sizes.  The website also gives information about the organization and instructions for shipping your dresses.

  Wouldn't this be a great project for your guild or sewing group?  


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ribbon Coin Purse

In the past, I have written about Renaissance Ribbons and the lovely selection of designer ribbons available.  I enjoy reading their blog and looking for new little goodies to make in between large quilting projects.  This week, I came across this adorable little coin purse over at Sew4Home

I decided that I just had to make myself one or two of these and I just happened to have some pretty ribbon just waiting for a cute project.
The instructions for this tiny purse include a full size printable pattern and are very well written.
Click HERE for the complete instructions. The only change that I made was in the application of the ribbon pieces.  The instructions have you pin or glue all of the ribbon pieces to the interfacing before sewing. I did lay them out to be sure that I had enough pieces but I chose to sew them on one at a time so that they wouldn't shift while I stitched.

I used Dritz snaps with the Snap Fastener Kit and it worked great.

I think these would be really great favors or little gifts so I am planning to make up several to have on hand.  here are two that I finished today. Have fun!


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Michael Miller Fabrics- such variety!

Well, we are in the middle of another winter storm here in the north east.  This is a picture looking out on the deck..3 feet and counting!  I am usually a fan of winter but this is getting a bit ridiculous!

Rather than sit around in a funk, I thought we should cheer ourselves up with daydreams of....FABRIC!  Are any of you out there fans of Michael Miller, like me?  I am so impressed with the variety of themes and the gorgeous colors. There are fun modern geometrics:
Tile Pile

Deco Geo

Beautiful blenders:
Clip Dot

Pin Dot


Whimsical collections:
Sea Buddies

Sea Buddies

Sea Buddies
Designs for the more traditional quilter with a bit of a modern twist:

Flutter Fly Sky

Garden Path
Cool collections:
Check Out

Groovy guitars
And things that will make you smile:
Ricky Raccon

Pugs Day Off

Chimp Daddy

Pack Mates

In my opinion, Michael Miller has a little something for everyone.  Almost everything that you saw above is produced in a variety of colors and this is only a tiny sample of all that is available from this talented designer.  And now, the good news....for a limited time you can buy Michael Miller fabrics at Fabricworm for 10% off!  There is nothing that makes me happier than beautiful fabric at a sale price!  How about you?


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ruffled Burlap Runner

Burlap is so popular!  There are so many neat printed burlaps and I love the texture that they bring to a tabletop!  I have used them on picnic tables and on my dining room table.  For Valentine's Day, I was thinking that I would like to make burlap a bit fancier so I decided to add ruffles.
All you will need for this one is a length of burlap to fit your table.  I started with a piece 15"x 60".  I decided to make the ruffles from muslin.

Burlap is not the easiest to sew so I decided to bind the edges with purchased binding that I had on hand.  You could easily make binding, but I wanted to get this done quickly.  I just tucked the edge of the burlap into the binding and sewed slowly using a serpentine stitch through all of the layers.

To make the ruffles, I cut 4 strips, 4 1/2"x 30".  Press these strips lengthwise with right sides together and stitch a 1/4" seam around the raw edges, leaving an 8" opening for turning.  Turn through the opening, clip the corners and press well.  Slip stitch the openings closed.

To ruffle the strips, I used a ruffler attachment.  If you don't have a ruffler, you can zigzag over a length of dental floss or embroidery floss, being careful not to let the needle pass through the floss.  Holding one end of the floss, push the fabric strip along the floss to make the ruffle.  When you have the desired length of ruffle, tack the ends over the floss to secure.

Measure 3" from the end and draw a line.  Move over 3" and draw another line.  Place the end of one of the ruffles at the edge of the runner and centered on the line.  Sew down the middle of ruffle.  Repeat with the other ruffle, centered on the 2nd line.

Repeat with the other end of the runner.  How cute is that?


Monday, February 9, 2015

Sewing Room Organization

I don't know if you are like me but every January I get in the mood to clean out closets and try to get things organized.  Apparently, I am not alone because all of the magazines seem to have loads of ideas for getting our homes organized.

I did spend a good part of the last month working in my sewing room.  When I get going on projects, especially just before the holidays, I tend to let things pile up.  It would be so much easier to just file those patterns away when I am finished with them, fold the left over fabric and put it in the appropriate spot, return rulers and tools to their designated cupboard...but do I do that?  Ha!  I am always in such a rush to get on to the next project.  This year was no exception.  After New Years, I walked into my lovely sewing room, looked around and said "WHAT went on in here?"

With that in mind, I would like to share 10 things that I think every sewing room should have...in addition to a cleaning lady, that is!

1. A fabric organization system:  This could be boxes, bins, baskets or whatever works best for you and the size of your space.  I organize large (1 yard or larger) cuts by color in covered zipper boxes.

These are from The Container Store.  I like them because they keep the fabric dust free.  They also provide some control to keep me from over buying fabric.  If the box of blue is bulging at the zipper, I know that I need to use some of the fabric that I already have before buying more.  Smaller cuts are stored in a three drawer wire unit in the closet and the smallest pieces are on the inside of the closet door in the pockets of a shoe organizer.

2.  A pattern organization system:  There is nothing worse than knowing you own a particular pattern but being unable to locate it.  This past year, I came up with a system that has really helped me keep track of my patterns.  For details on the system, click HERE.

3.  A designated place for rulers:  When my dear hubby had this room built for me, I told the contractor that I needed a cupboard just for my collection of rulers.  He found the perfect spot.

You can see a skinny cabinet on the right at the bottom.  He added a divider inside which helps to keep those rulers all in one spot.

There are various ruler holders available like this one below, but I like my rulers out of sight.

4.  A design/inspiration wall:  My design wall is just a large cork board covered with flannel.  Recently, I added the elfa system from The Container Store to the right.  I like the bars below the shelves where I can hang fabrics that I am using for a particular project. (More on the elfa System to come.)

5.  Lots of Drawers:  When I was designing the room, I knew that I would need lots of drawer space.  When I heard the price for having custom drawer units made, I nearly flipped.  We came up with a compromise which gave me the drawers that I needed without breaking the bank.  All of the drawer units came from IKEA. I chose the ALEX drawer units. My contractor then built my work island with openings to fit the units.  It's pretty easy to stay organized with these great drawers.  One drawer holds zippers, one holds trims, one holds cutting tools, blades, needles, etc.  These drawer cabinets are on sturdy castors so they can be pulled out if a friend is over and needs space to set up her machine.

6. Large work surfaces:  My island has plenty of space for my machines and also provides room for an ironing pad and layout space.  In addition, I wanted a separate cutting area.

This table also came from IKEA.  I chose it because it was very sturdy and had adjustable legs.  I am not very tall so some commercial cutting tables are too tall for me.  You can also mix and match the tops and legs- fun!  Click HERE for more ideas.  Notice there is another Alex drawer unit of a different shape under cutting station...no wasted space here!

7.  Good lighting:  As you can see in the photo above, I use an full spectrum floor lamp by my cutting table. Mine is from OTTLITE.  One of my favorite tools is also from OTTLITE.  It is the mini flip light.

This little cutie had a clip on the back so I can attach it to my shirt and have full spectrum light that moves around the room with me.  It's also great to carry with you when you are shopping for fabric or thread- no more color mistakes in poorly lit shops!  
As long as we are on the subject of lighting...why not add a really fun fixture just to "pretty up" your space?

8.  Pincushions..LOTS of pincushions:  I know, I know..it seems like a pincushion is a given in a sewing room but I think there should be one pincushion on every surface and always within reach.  If you are not worried about impaling your foot, think about the dangers to children, grandchildren and pets that a stray pin might pose.  Plus...they are fun to collect!
Made from wool sweater strips and felted.

Vintage cuties.
My favorite- with a thread catcher attached.
9. Shelves and more shelves: This room was designed with lots of shelves and base cabinets below to hold pattern boxes, stabilizers, battings etc.  It all looked great on paper.  But when I really started to work in the room, I found that I had projects and supplies that were piling up on the floor. I had one blank wall just to the left of the door in the picture below and I also had a small area near my design wall.

Here's where The Container Store and the elfa system come in.  The system offers lots of choices for shelves, hooks, bars and containers AND The Container Store offers a free design service to help you plan your perfect unit. I worked with a design specialist online and designed just what I needed to help in corralling my projects.  Here is how it turned out:

I opted for the top track system with 10"  and 4" tray shelves.  The top shelves hold projects that are "in progress" (aka not done yet) and the bottom shelves hold my Silhouette and accessories. The narrow shelves are perfect for odds and ends- button jars, jelly rolls and pin boxes. Next to my design wall, I did a smaller unit with bars for fabrics and shelves above for my Scrap therapy pieces.

Ordering these pieces was a breeze and my husband and I installed them in a few hours. Realistically, you could do a whole room using elfa because in addition to shelves, they have a wide variety of drawer units, baskets, bins and much more.

10.  Some things that you love:  Let's face it, we all love fabric...we love to look at it, touch it, buy it and bring it home with us.  But, there is more to life than just fabric.  I think that if you are going to spend hours of your time in this particular room, you should have a few things surrounding you that make you happy.  Here are some of my "lovelies" ...
Vintage toy sewing machines

A pretty window seat...that opens up to store batting pieces

Clever storage for buttons

A favorite piece of art.

So there you have it!  What are some of your favorite ideas for organizing your sewing room?