crafts, sewing, thrifted!, tutorials

a wildcards tutorial: funky felted basket

FIRST, AN ALERT. (Not an "ALERT: Jackspeak." Although I'm sure he'll be alerting me about something any moment now.)

Today you can head over to the incredibly inspiring sewing site, BurdaStyle, for their "Project of the Week." This week, it's from ReSew!

Burdastyle
Alison Dahl Kelly, Editor/Creative Director at BurdaStyle (and a competitor on season three of Project Runway), chose the "Sugar Stripes Dress" to feature from the book. The sewing community at BurdaStyle is helpful, encouraging, and jaw-drop-on-floor talented. I am so thrilled to be a part of BurdaStyle this week! I hope you'll head on over for a look, plus the chance to win a copy of ReSew.

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Okay, onto today's post!

If you missed it at Crafting a Green World, here's my way of making felted baskets out of thrifted wool sweaters. You can make them in any size, from big and fat to tall and skinny; just change the size of the rectangles and squares. I love the idea of making them for gifts, and then filling them up with little treasures like jewelry, small sewing supplies, gift cards, a stash of pens or pencils… stuff like that. Candy works too. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and Lindt Mint Lindor Truffle Balls fit very nicely. Just in case anyone wants to make a basket for me.

The basket requires just a few basic sewing tools, and it's a hand-sew only project. Timid about hand-sewing? Don't be! You can be as beginner-ish as you wish–your stitches will disappear right into that plush felted wool.

C'mon, let me show you how to make it!

funky felted basket tutorial

Basket1
This little basket was made from the leftover scraps of two wool sweaters I just couldn’t throw out. I opted for a solid color on the inside of this basket and a colorful stripe on the outside, but you can choose whatever color combinations you like. You can also make the basket from just one sweater, with the same fabric on the inside and the outside of the basket.

Here are “before” photos of the sweaters I used:

Sweaters
To make the basket, here’s what you’ll need:

Two 100% wool sweaters (or just one); scissors or rotary-cutting equipment; a ruler, measuring tape, or rotary ruler; long pins; thick thread or thin yarn to coordinate with your sweaters (I used perle cotton thread); a large-eye needle; sewing thread to coordinate with your sweaters; a piece of corrugated cardboard, about 9" x 9"; and buttons (optional).

Note: Your wool sweaters need to be “felted” so they won’t fray when cut. To felt a sweater, simply machine wash and dry it, using cycles you would normally use. You may need to wash your sweater more than once for it to fully felt; when you can’t see the stitches in the sweater any longer, you’ll know it’s felted enough to cut into it without any unraveling.

Basket2
From each of the sweaters, cut 1 square, 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; and 4 rectangles, 3 1/2" x 7". Determine which sweater fabric you would like to show on the outside of the basket and which sweater fabric you would like to show on the inside.

Basket3
Lay one of the outside and one of the inside 3 1/2" x 7" rectangles wrong sides together. Lay the two 3 1/2" squares wrong sides together. Place the square layers on top of the rectangle layers, making sure the pieces that show on the outside of the basket are facing out. Align the edges of the squares with the short sides of the rectangles; pin.

Basket4
Knot a long double strand of perle cotton onto the large-eye needle; hide the knot in between the layers. Starting 1/4" from a corner, hand sew the four layers together using a running stitch 1/4" from the edge. Make stitches about 1/4" in length and about 1/4" apart. Leave the needle and thread in place; do not knot or cut.

Basket5
Lift the square layers away from the rectangles. Place another set of two rectangles on the square side adjacent to the side you just sewed; make sure the rectangle you want to show on the outside is facing out.

Basket6
Align the square edges with the short sides of the rectangles; pin. Following the same sewing directions above, sew the four layers together.

Basket7
Repeat the same sewing steps on the other two sides of the square. Your basket should now have four sides (above are photos showing the inside (red) and the outside (stripe) of the basket.)

Basket8-(3)
Using the same sewing technique described above, pin and sew the four sides of the basket, starting at the bottom of the basket and continuing to the top.

Basket9
When you reach the top of each side, tie off and bury the thread knot in between the sweater-fabric layers.

Basket10
From the cardboard, cut 1 square, 2 3/4" x 2 3/4", and 4 rectangles, 2 3/4" x 5 3/4".

Basket11
Slide a cardboard rectangle in between the sweater layers on one long side of the basket; repeat for the other three sides. (If your cardboard rectangles are too wide to insert, cut a little strip away from one long edge of the cardboard until the piece fits snugly in between the sweater layers.) Push the cardboard down firmly, until it fits tightly in each bottom corner. Place the cardboard square inside the bottom of the basket; push the corners of the cardboard securely into the corners.

Basket12
Using doubled sewing thread and a whipstitch, sew the tops of the sweater rectangles closed, enclosing the cardboard in between the sweater layers.

TIP: Hand-sewing wool with regular thread can be a little tricky; the tiny knot will likely slip right through the wool. Follow these steps for securing your stitches:

1. Thread your needle; then knot the two ends of the thread together to form a loop.

2. To start a line of stitching, guide the needle through the sweater fabric where you want to begin. Hide the knot in between layers or along the inside edge. Before you pull the knot tightly against the sweater (and it pops right out the other side of the sweater fabric!), thread the needle through the loop of the doubled thread. This will hold the thread in place so you can begin your line of stitching.

3. To end a line of stitching, tie a large knot in an inconspicuous place; then take 3-5 tiny stitches over the knot and cut the thread close to the sweater fabric.

Okay, let’s finish this basket!

Basket13
I found these cute vintage buttons at yard sale.

Basket14
You can add buttons wherever you like, or not at all. I liked these buttons off to the side of this basket. When you’ve decided where to place your buttons, tip the basket on its side and sew them onto the basket using your regular sewing thread (see “TIP” above for securing your stitches on wool). You won’t be able to knot your thread on the inside of the basket—your needle will hit the cardboard!—so I hid my thread knots underneath my buttons.

Basket15
I added buttons to the centers of each side on this basket (my trial and error basket).

Basket16
You can vary the sizes of your squares and rectangles to make your basket taller, shorter, wider, or skinnier. Once you’re done, go find something to put in your pretty wool basket and display it for all to see!

Hope you enjoyed it; thanks for stopping by. Cheers, crafties!

ReSew

The ReSew blog tour ends with luv: Luv in the Mommyhood


Welcome to the final day of the

INCREDIBLE

001RESEW1
BLOG TOUR!

Today I'm gonna pile you into my cybercar and cyberdrive you over to the "mommyhood" to meet Shannon, the heart and soul behind Luv in the Mommyhood. Crafty? Check. Inspiring? Check. Addicted to Pyrex? Check! Along with her great tutorials, Shannon has a "weekend wishes" series that will inspire you to live your best weekend, every weekend.

Luvinthemommyhood

Head on over to Shannon's place for a special ReSew Q & A as part of her "Moms in the Mommyhood" feature; then enter for your chance to win a copy of the book!
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I want to thank all the creative women on the tour who helped get the word out about ReSew. My little book has sprouted her own wings because of you. I am grateful.

Here's one more look at all the hosts from the tour–some of their giveaways are still open, and there are a couple of tutorials to grab too.

If you've been following along but your luck hasn't panned out, you can purchase your own copy of ReSew here.

Thanks everyone for following along–I hope you enjoyed the tour. It has been such fun for me to meet all of you!

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SEW, MAMA, SEW!
(where you can grab a pdf of my "Elephant Cuddle Cushion" project from ReSew) 

AMY'S CREATIVE SIDE

CRAFTGOSSIP
(giveaway open through Thursday, March 10)

CRAFTY NEST
(giveaway open through Friday, March 11)

I AM MOMMA … HEAR ME ROAR

RESWEATER

THE LONG THREAD
(giveaway open through Saturday, March 5)

V AND CO.

CRAFTING A GREEN WORLD
(funky felted basket tutorial; giveaway open through Wednesday, March 9)

MAKE IT DO
(giveaway open through March 6)

ReSew

The ReSew blog tour, day four: CraftGossip!

Welcome to day four of the

INCREDIBLE 

001RESEW1 
BLOG TOUR!

Today we're heading over to a crafty girl's dreamland; a seemingly endless virtual library of projects, patterns, techniques, ideas, and inspirations for nearly every craft under the sun. Everyone's gossiping about it. It's CraftGossip!

Craft Gossip
Just about anyone who's crafty knows about CraftGossip–one of the best places on the internet to visit when you need a jolt of inspiration. Anne, the curator of the sewing section of CraftGossip, is a friendly, funny woman who brings the freshest ideas in creativity to her site every day. Today Anne's reviewing ReSew and hosting a giveaway of the book too! Head over here to check it all out.
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On Friday, the ReSew tour is dropping by Crafty Nest, built by a woman with a sharp eye for style and a passion for doing chic on the cheap. I first found Monica's site when Jack and I made these fabulously huge snowflakes last Christmas, and I've followed her ever since. Hope you'll join us!

crafts, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Flowers at Your Feet!

This might sound weird, but I began a love/hate relationship with my feet when I was a little girl. Sure, I loved my feet because they were essential to getting me around. (Still are. They’re good for that.) But I hated my feet because, back then, they seemed HUGE. They were clumsy. They appeared to be growing at an alarming rate in comparison to the rest of my body. I was very self-conscious about them. For a long time, I couldn’t let that feeling go.

Then I discovered Dr. Martens.

On my 21st birthday I didn’t celebrate at the local bar. Christened the liquor store, at least? No. Not me. Instead I headed to Trolley Square with my sister, and we bought me my first pair of Docs. Black leather work boots. Eight eyelets. Almost identical to these. (I see they’re calling this style “vintage” now. Cool. Thanks, doc, for reminding me that I’m old.) Somehow, when I put on those big, clunky, tread-heavy boots, I fell in love with my feet. I wanted to show them off. Those boots sent me on a lifelong love affair I never thought I would have. A love affair with shoes. Big, clunky, tread-heavy shoes.

Fast forward. Now my closet (and the coat closet, to my husband’s discontent) is brimming with clunky-shoe bliss. Like these, my current favorite:

Shoes Not-vintage Docs thrifted from the kitchen aisle at Savers, Layton, Utah; $6.49.

Now I understand why Mr. Marten is referred to as “Dr.” Because you see, he cured me. He cured me of the hate part of the relationship I had with my feet. Now it’s just love.

Apparently however, having gloriously loud, H U L K – S I Z E shoes is no longer enough for me. Oh, no. I need to lavish even MORE attention on my feet. So I decided to stitch up this:

Flowersatyourfeet Secondhand denim on secondhand denim. Sweet!

The design was so easy to put together, I thought someone else might like to try. And if you’re like me when it comes to your feet, you just might like this little tutorial.

Flowers at Your Feet Tutorial

Here’s what you need:

Flowers Denim jeans you don’t mind cutting into (I used four different pairs, in values from light to dark). A circular template, such as thread spool. Basic sewing supplies: a rotary cutter, mat, and ruler (or scissors), seam ripper, glue stick, thread to coordinate with your denim, sewing machine. A pair of pants you want to flower at your feet. And thread to match the stitches on those pants.

Start by cutting 1/2"-wide strips from each piece of denim you have. You can do this by removing the hem of one pant leg, and then cutting strips from the width. These strips will become the flower stems and grass. Start with 2-3 strips per pair, and then cut as needed from there. Then, cut a square of denim from each pair of jeans to use for flower petals, centers, and leaves. A 6" square from each pair was plenty for me.

Next, choose which pant leg you want to sew the design onto. I initially placed my design on the opposite pant leg, thinking I could keep the design loose on one pant leg while I sewed the pieces onto the other. That didn’t work out. So go ahead and place your design on the actual pant leg your want your design sewn onto.

Now for the fun part—creating your own flower patch. You can design it however you like; here are some techniques I used.

•    I cut different lengths from my 1/2"-wide strips to make stems and grass.
•    I traced circle shapes directly onto my denim with a pen, using a thread spool as a template. I cut two circles to make the flower centers; I cut eight more to make the petals for the short flower. Cut shapes just inside the drawn lines.
•    I hand drew a petal shape onto paper to make a template for the petals and leaves on the tall flower. To draw a petal, make two dots about 2 1/2" apart on a piece of paper. Draw a curved line to attach the dots on one side, then the other.

Leaf template
It doesn’t have to be perfect, just kind of like this.

•    I overlapped the grass pieces so that, when sewn with a 1/8" seam, the pant leg underneath would still be covered.
•    Remember, you can use BOTH sides of each piece of denim for even more variation in value and hue.

Flowers1
Here’s the design I ended up with. Not sewn yet.

Arrange your design however you like on your pant leg. When you are happy with your design, note where the top of the design falls on the pant leg; make a mark about 2 inches above that spot. Carefully remove your design piece by piece and place it in order on a flat surface that won’t be disturbed, like a table or a rotary mat.

Using a seam ripper, carefully unpick the inside seam of the pant leg you’ve chosen to sew your design onto. Unpick from the bottom hem to the spot you marked that notes 2" above the top of your design. Unpick the bottom hem horizontally, but only to a point where you can easily unfold the hem and separate the front pant panel from the back. Remove any loose threads.

Note: As you unpick your seam, pay attention to how the original seam was sewn. The raw edges of my pant leg were sewn with a serged (or zigzag) stitch first, and then there was a row of straight stitching beyond that. You’ll want to take note of these specifics so you can sew your pant leg neatly back together later.

Flowers2
Your unpicked seam will probably be pretty messy, threadwise.

Flowers4 I cleaned mine up quick with a bit of tape.

Now to start sewing.

Note: When you are choosing which pieces to sew on, be sure to sew pieces that make up the bottom layer of your design first. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each line of stitching.

Lay the pant leg on a flat surface. Dot the back of your first piece with glue stick; press it in place on the pant leg. Open up the pant leg. Using a 1/8" seam, sew around the piece. Choose your next piece and repeat.

Flowers5 In my design, I sewed the stem first, then the first layer of petals.

Flowers6 (Gratuitous close up.)

Flowers7
Then I sewed the second layer of petals.

Flowers8 Then I sewed the flower center. (Little circles are a little tricky; sew slow.)

Flowers9 The same step-by-step method goes for the short flower. To eliminate sewing a tiny circle around that tricky flower center, I used straight stitches instead.

Flowers10 (Superfluous close up.)

Now to sew the grass. Instead of sewing around all four sides of each tiny rectangle, start at the top of a blade and sew down to the pant hem. Then, lift your presser foot and pull the pant leg forward; sew the other side of the blade in place from top to bottom. Again, pull the pant leg forward; glue and press your next blade in place.

Flowers11 For each blade, use this mantra: sew, pull, sew, pull, glue.

Flowers13 A thready mess to clean up when you’re done, yes, but the sewing goes fast.

When you’ve finished sewing the vertical sides of each blade, it’s time to sew the horizontal sides. For the blade tops, start at one edge of the design and sew across the outermost blade, 1/8" from the top edge; backstitch. Pick up your presser foot and place it at the beginning of the next blade top; sew and backstitch. Repeat until all the blade tops are sewn down.

For the blade bottoms, sew a straight line across the bottom of the blades using a 1/8" seam.

Flowers14 It should look something like this when all the pieces are sewn.

Now it’s time to sew the inner seam of the pant leg back together. Did you make a mental note of how your pant leg was originally sewn? Retrieve that mental note now. After pinning the seam together, I sewed a zigzag stitch along the raw edges of the denim; then I sewed a straight stitch about 1/2" beyond the zigzag stitch. Finally, I sewed the bottom hem back in place, backstitching well to catch the original stitching where it began. For all rows of sewing I used thread that matched the stitches on my pants.

Flowers15 Inner seam, all stitched up.

Flowers16 My stitches here.

Flowers17 Where my stitches and the original stitches meet.

Wash and dry your pants by machine so the raw edges of the denim get all roughed up. Clip loose threads as needed.

Flowers18 All roughed up.

Flowers19 Excessive close up.

Flowers20 And another one.

Flowers21 Yikes, another one! But you see what I mean by "roughed up."

And now you’re done.

Whether you choose clunky shoes, funky shoes, or some skinny style in between, I hope you have fun with your flowers at your feet.

I chose my roughed-up secondhand super-chunk Mary Jane Caterpillars to roam in my garden.

Flowersatyourfeet
Cheers, crafties!

crafts, holidays, sewing, tutorials

A WildCards tutorial: Loopy-Loo Holiday Garland

When I left home for college, my mom gave me a box of old holiday decorations. A few ornaments, some Santa knick-knacks, and a charming strand of Christmas-tree garland made from bright red yarn. The garland was handmade by my mom. She was in college herself when she made it. As I rummaged through the box, she explained how she had made the garland all those years ago.

Although a competent sewist, my mom never had a passion for it. (Her passion is abstract painting. Rebel.) So I was happy to inherit something sewn by her hand, as it was quite rare. And every year since I received the garland, it’s been on my Christmas tree. This year it has accented some of our favorite ornaments that we’ve collected over the years…

Loopy-Loo-1Our honeymoon ornament.

Loopy-Loo-2Our “we used to live in Washington, and it was cool” ornament.

Loopy-Loo-3And our first “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament.

But the past four years? The garland has been getting harder and harder to drape. I’ve been draping the garland around the tree to form the illusion of one continuous strand. But in reality, it looks more like this:

Loopy-Loo-4 The garland has broken into so many pieces I can’t even count them anymore. So this year, I decided to try my hand at sewing a new garland. I wasn’t sure what I would end up with, but I remembered the simple technique that mom shared with me.

Loopy-Loo-5
Hmm. Things went better than I expected. I like how this new, vintage-vibe garland turned out! I felt confident enough about it, even, that I thought I could teach someone else how to do it. So holy happy holidays, here we go!

LoopyLoo Holiday Garland Tutorial

Here’s what you need:
Loopy-Loo-6Poster board. A pen or pencil. An acrylic ruler. A rotary cutter with a blade for paper only and a rotary mat (or scissors). Tape. Thread to match your yarn. And yarn.

Note: You do not need ONE POUND of yarn. One skein is plenty for a garland that will wrap and drape and then wrap some more around your tree. Or your mantle. Or your door. Or wherever you plan to drape and wrap.

One more note: When it comes to yarn and knitting, I love using natural fibers. But in this case, I suggest using acrylic yarn. Natural fibers tend to break more easily, and we want garland that will last at least as long as my mom's garland did. That would be close to 40 years.

Wow. Yeah, just did the math. That is freakin' old garland!

Here’s what you do:
Loopy-Loo-7
Using your ruler, draw lines parallel to the short edge of the poster board, spacing them 1 3/4" apart.

Loopy-Loo-8Cut the poster board into strips, following the drawn lines.

Note: For me, each strip yielded about three feet of garland. So do the math—don’t do like I did and cut up the entire posterboard. It’s unlikely you’ll need it. I can’t imagine anyone would want that much garland for anything, ever.

Loopy-Loo-9Tape the yarn to one short end of a poster board strip.

Loopy-Loo-10Begin wrapping the yarn around the strip.

You can wrap the yarn one of two ways: 1) Let your right hand wrap the yarn while your left hand holds the paper steady; or 2) Let your right hand hold the yarn steady while your left hand turns the strip around and around. (Switch those lefts and rights around for lefties.) I did a little bit of both.

Loopy-Loo-11The strip should look something like this when you’re done. Leave 1" to 1 1/2" at the end of your strip unwrapped. Do not cut the yarn.

Loopy-Loo-12Sew along the center of the poster board strip using a very short straight stitch—as short as you can get without sewing in place. Here we are at the beginning of the strip…

Loopy-Loo-13
…and here we are at the end. Backstitch well at the beginning and end.

Loopy-Loo-14Tape a second strip to the first strip.

Loopy-Loo-15Begin wrapping the yarn again.

Wrap the yarn to cover the second strip within 1" to 1 1/2" from the edge. When you are done wrapping, tape the yarn to the strip to prevent unraveling. Sew along the center of the second strip, making sure to backstitch over your previous stitching when you begin.

Now you have this long, gangly, double strip of posterboard. Time to take out the paper! You can do this one of two ways:

1) Cut the yarn along the long edges of the strip; then gently pull the paper away from the center seam. I’m guessing this is easier than what I did (and it’s what my mom did too).

2) Keep the loops in the yarn by ripping and wiggling the paper strips out of the loops a little bit at a time. More time consuming for sure, but I like the effect. Here’s how I did the ripping and wiggling:

Loopy-Loo-16
Fold the strip in half lengthwise along the seam to further perforate the paper.

Loopy-Loo-17
Fold it in the other direction, too.

Loopy-Loo-18Tear the paper to the sewn seam at 1" to 2" intervals. Pull a few loops off the edges of the paper so you can get a good grasp on it.

Loopy-Loo-19Gently wriggle the paper out.

Loopy-Loo-20After lots of wriggling, it will start to look like this.

Note: You can remove the paper from the yarn almost up to the point where the second strip ends. But leave a couple inches of the sewn yarn and paper intact; you’ll need it to tape, wrap, and sew the next length of garland.

Continue taping, wrapping, and sewing until you have the length of garland you want. I used four strips and it made about 12 feet of garland.

I had planned to set up some fun shots of the garland in holiday action, but GOSH DANG IT if my boys couldn’t keep their mitts out of the bowl ‘o beads:

Loopy-Loo-21Big mitts.

Loopy-Loo-22Little mitts.

Love those mitts.

And also, beads are messy.

I would love to make my mom’s bits of garland into something new. Any ideas? I’ll be thinking…

Loopy-Loo-23 Happy holidays, crafties!