Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pump Shaped Zipper Case- Clever!

So who out there does not love shoes?  Here is a super easy project that shoe lovers will adore.   I found it at Kokka Fabrics.  Kokka is a Japanese company with very original fabrics and innovative patterns.

I loved making these and thought that I would walk you through the construction.  I chose two fabrics- one for the top and bottom of the case (navy) and one for the toe and lining (yellow). You can cut all of the pieces from two rectangles 8"x 10". I traced the pattern pieces available in printable PDF form HERE and cut the pieces.  Be sure to reverse the pattern pieces when cutting the lining or do what I did and cut the pieces together with the fabric wrong sides together.  I should also mention that the measurements in the instructions are in centimeters but I just used 1/4" seams and the little case turned out just fine.

The designer at Kokka used a  canvas fabric to make her case but I was using cotton so I decided to apply DecorBond (any heavy interfacing would do) to the wrong side of the case bottom to give the case a bit more stability.

I also used a spray adhesive to attach the lining to the interfaced side so that everything would stay together when I assembled the case.

With right sides together,I sandwiched the zipper between one of the sides outer and lining and stitched.  I pressed the lining and the outer fabric back.

Then I sandwiched the zipper between the remaining two pieces of outer and lining and stitched.

I decided after making this first case that I liked the closed zipper pull to be near the heel of the shoe so in subsequent cases I put the rounded ends of the pieces toward the closed pull when I attached them to the zipper.  The next step was attaching the toe of the shoe.  I layered the two toe pieces right sides together with the assembled zipper unit sandwiched in between as shown below.  I made sure that the edges were even and stitched a 1/4" seam.  Notice that the zipper is partially open.

The toe pieces are pressed back with the extra zipper trimmed away and the top is done!
This is a photo of the lining side....somehow I forgot to photograph the right side.....
I then placed right sides together and stitched 1/4" all the way around.  Be sure to have your zipper open part way so you will be able to turn.

After stitching around the edge, I zig zagged to keep the inside from fraying.  I clipped the toe point, turned and pressed.  I added a bow and wah-la....Done!  These little darlings are like M&M's- once you start, you won't be able to stop.  Here are some others that I whipped up.
This one got a button for embellishment.

This is a great little project for using those scraps that you just can't throw away.  Wouldn't these be cute for Easter with a little treat inside?


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Making Custom Valances- Easy as Pie- Part 2

Yesterday we looked at different types of easy to sew valances. Today, I am making a valance for my daughter's kitchen.  She wanted something tailored- "no ruffles, no gathers"- but with a shape.  Here is the shape we drew.

I knew that I wanted the center bump to be about twice the length of the two end bumps and I wanted the curves even so here is what I did:

The finished length of the valance was to be 62".  The curtain rod has a 2" depth so we need to add 4" to that length plus 1 extra inch to allow for the 1/2" seam allowances.  That means a total of 67".

I planned to cut the valance on the fold so I needed to cut a piece of freezer paper for a pattern that is half the length of the finished valance.  I made the paper 33 1/2".  I folded this piece in half so that it measured 17" and sketched the curve.

After cutting on the curved line and opening the pattern, it looked like this:

This pattern is then placed on the fold of the fabric and cut.

When the fabric is opened.....just the shape we wanted with even curves!

Next, I placed this piece right side down on a rectangle of the lining fabric that was slightly larger than my valance.  My lining rectangle was 69"x 18".  When sewing curves, I find it is easier to use a larger piece of lining and then trim off the excess after sewing,  I pinned the two layers together with extra pins on the curves to help prevent shifting and stretching. (no one likes shifting and stretching!)

Using a 1/2" seam, I sewed the top of the valance first.  For this valance we did not want a header. We wanted the rod at the very top of the valance.  I knew that the curtain rod was 3/4" so I measured down 1 1/4" from the top stitching and marked each end.

Beginning at the marks and back stitching to secure the threads, I sewed each side seam leaving a 5" opening on one end for turning.

Finally, I stitched the bottom curved edge being careful to keep it flat and removing the pins as I sewed.  After trimming away the excess lining, I clipped the corners and along the curves.  Clipping these curves assures that the curve will lay flat when turned.

I turned the valance through the opening and pressed it well.  To give the curve a nice crisp edge, I stitched 1/8"from the edge.
To create the rod pocket, I measured down 1 1/4" from the top seam and marked a line the length of the valance.  I stitched along this line, back stitching at the beginning and end.  This stitching should be just below the openings left on each end when you stitched the side seams.
I tucked in the excess at the openings on each end.  You can tack these down but I usually just leave them tucked inside the casing.
Finally, I stitched very close to the top edge (less than 1/8") so that the valance would hang well.
If you kook closely at the left, you will see the stitching
that creates the rod pocket.
That's all there is to it!  Here is the finished project.

 Tomorrow it will be in the mail to my daughter in Baltimore. Are you ready to start whipping up valances?


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Making Custom Valances- Easy as Pie- Part 1

I have been designing and making valances for years.  I have made them for my own home and for family members and friends.  Valances are pretty easy to make and are easy to customize to fit your windows and your decorating style. Because they use a relatively small amount of fabric, they are fairly inexpensive to make.  That means you can change them out whenever you feel like a quick update.  I love them because as a fabric lover, it gives me a chance to show off some beautiful decorator fabrics.   Here are some that I've made.....

These curtains, which are in my living room, are from Country Curtains.  My windows are very wide and there were no valances available that suited my style and fit my windows so I bought extra panels and made my own!
I didn't want them to look too frilly so I just did a bit of gathering at the ends and kept the center more smooth.

This valance in my sewing room has a piping accent.  I love piping on a tailored valance.

This kitchen valance is shaped with  just a few gathers at each end.

This is just a simple gathered valance.  I measured the width of the window and then added on 50% more for the fabric.  The window was 45" so I cut my fabric 68".  I added the pull up straps to make it more interesting.  Each strap has a small piece of velcro on the back so they can be removed easily and changed out if I want a different print.

I used grommets and a decorative rod in my bathroom.  If you have never tried grommets, don't be afraid!  The instructions in the grommet packages are excellent and they are so easy to apply.  To ensure a nice even look, be sure to measure and place the grommets evenly.  I always try to have an even number of grommets so that the ends of my valance turn in toward the window.

Here are some of my tried and true tips for valance making:
1.  Take the time to line your valances.  They will have more body and will hang better.  I have used        cottons as linings but I prefer drapery lining.  Drapery lining is inexpensive and comes in wide            widths.
2.  Size the length of your valance to fit your window size.  A longer window can accommodate a            longer valance.  My home is an older house with wide woodwork around the windows so I mount      my valances just below the top molding of the window.  If you have smaller windows and want to      make them look larger, mount your valances higher on the wall and just cover the top of the                window.
3.  Measure carefully for your rod pocket.  There is nothing worse than having an opening that is too          tight for the rod to go through. Ask me how I know this....
3.  If I am making a shaped valance, I like to draw out the shape on freezer paper first.  I generally cut      that shape from muslin and try it on the window to be sure that I like the size and shape before            cutting into my pricey fabric. (More on this topic in tomorrow's post).
4.  If you are using a rod that wraps around the corners, be sure the measure the depth of your rod and      include that when you are measuring your fabric.
5.  I usually just draw out a shape, figure the size, and go but I wasn't always so brave.  Here are some      patterns that were helpful to me when I was new to  valance sewing. (I have had these patterns for      many moons so they may or may not still be in print.)  McCall's -6299, 4853, 6581.

Tomorrow, in Part 2 of Making Custom Valances, we will look at how easy it is to make a shaped valance of our own design!  Hope you can stop by!


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Napa Valley Picnic Tote as a Diaper Bag- Nice!

I received an email this week from a talented lady, Anathea.  She sent me pictures of a diaper bag that she had just completed using the Napa Valley Picnic Tote pattern.  I always love to see what folks do with my patterns and this one really made me smile.  She made it for a friend who is expecting twins. Have I mentioned that my son and daughter-in-law are also expecting twins?  Have I mentioned how excited I am to be a grandma?....think of the sewing for two babies!  But more about that in a future post....let's get back to Anathea and her adorable diaper bag.

This pattern was designed as a tote for all of your picnic gear and features a water resistant lining option for easy clean-up but its roomy size and pockets also make it ideal as a diaper bag.  Here are some of the things that I like about Anathea's bag....
1.  The quilting:  The wavy quilting is playful and mirrors the water in the pocket fabric.

2. Fabric choice and use of fabric:  I love the pocket fabric illustrating The Ugly Duckling story.  The fabric is Das Haessliche Entlein from Kokka fabrics.  The solids are Essential Solids from Free Spirit Fabrics and the handles are Wee Wanderer from Michael Miller fabrics.

3. Quality sewing and details:  Anathea opted for a fabric lining as opposed to the ripstop lining in the pattern.  Check out how she placed the printed fabric inside the nice!

Her zipper insertion and end pockets are also top notch!

Thanks, Anathea, for sharing your darling bag with us.  If you would like to see more of Anathea's lovely work, check out her Etsy shop at Blue Canary Quilts.  You will be impressed with her work!


Monday, March 2, 2015

Host a Sewing Retreat- Fun, fun, fun!

If you have never attended a sewing retreat, you should consider one.  Many quilt shops and guilds host retreats which are loads of fun.  I think there is nothing better than getting together with friends who share your passion.  Retreats also offer the opportunity to learn from others and share tips and tricks. Although I love getting together with large groups to sew, my favorite sewing outings are with a small group of close friends.  This past weekend, three good friends joined me at my house for a weekend of sewing, snacking and laughter.  It was fun to plan and because we all pitched in with meals and snacks, it was not too much work for any one of us.

The theme for the weekend was "Sew Your Heart Out."

Decorations helped to make it festive.

My dining room was converted into our sewing room.  Each guest was greeted with some goodies at their sewing station.
A goody bag with pencil, post-its, thread and.....cookies!

A small lucite clipboard with cover made on the
Silhouette and a pad to record inspirations.
The bay window in the dining room made a great spot for ironing.
Our "assistant"...ready to pitch in and help.
We gathered after work on Friday, set up our machines and projects and went out for a quick dinner.
We each brought projects that we were interested in doing and got to work as soon as we returned from dinner.  Our plan was to sew until we dropped and that is exactly what we did!
We converted the kitchen table into a cutting station.

No retreat is complete without some wonderful treats....
Renee's pound cake, custard and strawberries.

Karen's chocolate chip cookies.
Meals were served in the music room on a pretty table so that we wouldn't have to disturb our work stations in the dining room and kitchen.
Breakfast, complete with button napkins.
We sewed all day Saturday with a short break for a trip to a quilt shop.
The machine line-up.

Pressing those seams.

Every surface was used for layouts.

Ruthann's dinner of crock pot white bean and chicken chili gave us the energy that we needed to continue sewing into the evening.  Here are the results:

Projects completed (or almost completed)- 
6 pillowcases- for the "roll it up" method click HERE.
1 Clara's Garden Runner from Kansas Troubles Quilters.
2 Swirl Runners from Triangle Frenzy.
3 Infinity Scarves
3 Blossoms Runners from Cut Loose Press.
1 Wrap a Tab Tap Bag from Susan Rooney Patterns.
1 Napa Valley Picnic Tote from Barbara Huber Designs.
1 Going Downton Ruffled Wristlet from Patterns by Annie.

Finishing projects + yummy food + laughs = Perfect fun with wonderful friends!