Sunday, 28 October 2012

A Non-Sewing Cushion Cover

Half  Term Holiday is here.The blog already has a few projects suitable to keep the kids occupied  or ones that could be useful for the  up coming Halloween festivities. These include :
Pirate Shirt
Harem pants (or Pirate Pants)
Kindle Cover
Carrier Bag Holder
Plushie Pumpkin
and Hosting a Halloween Party

Some of these have a fair bit of sewing involved, others have less but here is our totally Sewing Free Cushion Cover. Perfect for those new to crafting, and something you don't need a well stocked sewing room for. This can be done sitting on the floor watching television, or on the kitchen table.  This project exploits an interesting property of Fleece. It does not fray. Thus we can cut a fringe of strips into the fleece without fear of it unraveling. Some fun furs have this property as well however the wrong side of fun fur would be on display and is unattractive.

You will need:
a cushion to cover (or a pillow, or a  pillow sewn in half)

Cushions pads suitable for this project can now be found in your local Fabric8 Shop

 Place your cushion on a section of fleece right side up and draw around it. Then decide on the length of fringe you want, add a bit more for the knots and draw this added length around your cushion  Finally draw a square on each corner of the larger rectangle that reaches to the cushion (see picture, click on it to enlarge)

Cut out the larger rectangle and then remove the corners you drew on the inside of the rectangle as well. Use this as a template to cut out a second piece of fleece.

Place one of the fleece shapes on top of the other, wrong sides together and pin  together on the INSIDE of the small rectangle (the cushion sized middle of the shape).

 Cut a fringe from the outside of the fabric to the line marked where the cushion will be. Try to make the fringes of uniform thickness (I went for 1 cm) you CAN mark out each individual cut but to be honest by the time you take into account  where the scissors actually cuts you may as well do it all by eye. You DO need the same number of fringes on the top piece of fabric as on the bottom. This is why we cut the two layers of fabric at the same time. to make the fringes line up.

Place the cushion between the two layers of fleece. At one corner tie the last strip of one side of the top  layer to the first strip of the other side of the bottom layer.  This makes the fringe criss cross at the corners. Repeat for the other three corners.

Tie the strips of the fleece of the top layer to the bottom layer's strips as shown, going around the cushion  Try to make the knots of even size and done up the same way each time. This gives a nice neat finish.

From start to finish this project takes less than an hour (depending on size of cushion).
This is a quick, cheap and easy way of making a cushion to match a room, and of pulling together different colours in a room.  You could make these as a gift for a sports fans using the teams colours. This is also a fantastic project to introduce textile crafts to the kids if they are stuck at home during the holidays. Being able to make something for their room in colours they like (for example, to match a football team) can give children a  real sense of achievement

Although in my case my cat  has claimed my cushion as her very own.

Monday, 22 October 2012

A simple Halloween & Autumn Decoration

In the past I've made some intricate stuffed fabric Pumpkins. Whilst many people liked these a lot of people said they were put off by the amount of time each pumpkin would take, and the amount of sewing. After some playing around I've managed to create a very simple, but in my opinion rather cool pumpkin pattern. Don't feel constrained to orange fabrics, you can make a very ethereal creation with  a shimmering white or pale pink, or something festive with a Brocade.

You will need:
A rectangle of fabric 15 cm by 30cm
Small piece of fabric for the stalk
Sewing Needle  (hand sewing needles  and Sewing  Machine Needles if using a machine)
Tailors Chalk
Toy Stuffing

Mark out a rectangle of 15cm by  30cm and cut out.

  Fold the fabric in half giving you a Square of 15cm by 15cm Stitch down the side opposite the fold

Sew two lines of parallel stitches at the bottom of the square. This is to perform a gather. You can do this perfectly well with hand sewing, just pull the threads tight and tease the fabrics into gathers. I used a sewing machine, anchoring the threads at one end with a back stitch but not at the other, then pulling the threads to make the gathers.

 Once you've gathered the fabric like this top stitch between the two lines of stitching to secure the gathers. Fold  right side out. You should now have a little bag with an open top and gathered bottom.

 Fill the pumpkin with toy stuffing. You can use cut up scraps of wool or fabric to save money here, But a bag of toy stuffing costs under £4.00 and my bag has lasted me many many projects.

With a hand  sewing needle run a stitch along the top of the pumpkin, pull this tight and secure to create a ball. 

To shape the groves into the pumpkin secure some strong thread with a stitch at the top and wrap it to the bottom of the pumpkin pulling tight, secure with a stitch and wrap the thread to the to and secure with a stitch  repeat   for as many grooves as you like. I started with four, equally spaced.

Take two rectangles of green fabric to be the stem. I used 6cm by 4.5cm. Sew together along the long sides and one short side (leaving an opening for turning through and stuffing. The line of stitching at the top doesn't have to be straight, making it a little slanty can make the stem look more organic.

Turn through using a pencil (yes I DID spend 10 minutes trying to use my finger before I thought of the pencil) and then use the pencil to stuff the stem with toy stuffing.

Stitch the stem onto the top of the pumpkin using small stitches going around the base of the stem.

And behold a pumpkin. I thought this was cute, however my favorite pumpkins have more grooves so I added another set of four using the same method as the original grooves.
 I am rather proud of my little pumpkin. There may seem to be a lot of steps but only because I wrote down EVERY little thing. You should be able to make up one of these little guys in 20 mintues or so. You could even cut out triangles  in felt to make a Jack-o-lantern and glue it on with fabric glue. As well as Halloween these decorations could be used for an Autumn display  or part of a costume (be it the green goblin or headless horseman)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tutorial: Making the Christmas train Advent Calendar

 Last year I talked of the advantages of making an advent calender. Since then we have had requests to create a tutorial for those perhaps new to sewing and quilting for making these calenders  I'm mainly a dressmaking and pretty new to quilting and craft projects myself. As a result this is a true beginners step by step guide. As ever with these little projects I've chosen a festive film to keep time with. In honour of the Christmas Train Calendar, I picked Polar Express.

To begin with you will need

An Advent Calendar Panel
Thread Snips
Sewing machine needles
Craft Cotton or Calico for the backing.

The panel actually has sewing instructions written on them which is a great help to begin with.

Step one. Cut out the main panel AROUND the holly edge of the boarder. Top Tip. Always cut so the panel is on your left and the excess is on the right (if you are left handed reverse this) That way you can see the edge of the boarder clearly as you cut. The Panel is cut out by the time the Polar Express shows up

Step Two. Cut out the Calander pockets for the treats. These are in blocks of three. Here it is VITAL to read the instructions carefully to make sure you cut the correct line. In this case it's the SOLID lines, the dotted lines are used later for pleating. The instructions on the panel will tell you which to cut.  When cutting out small sections it's advisable to check the following

1) That there are no other pieces of your sewing project UNDER what you are cutting that could get caught up in your scissors  and cut where they would not want to be cut (yep, I've done this before)

2) If cutting by your computer always ensure your mouse cable is not UNDER what you are cutting (yep, cut the 'tail' off my mouse before as well)

Step three. Put on some Hot Chocolate for the Hot Chocolate song

Step Four. Press over the seam allowance for each pocket (or group of pockets). In this pattern   the seam allowance is at the solid gold boarder.  This takes time, it is better to do it correctly than to do it fast (and possible burn yourself in the process) This takes a good chunk of the film.

Step Five. Press in the box pleats.  Place  one solid gold line to the center dotted line and press. then do this for the second line.
And the Polar Express is at the North Pole. The visuals on the screen are inspiring, helping me to decide on metallic top stitching and beading.

Decisions!. At this point you can sew the pockets in place, and line and back of the calendar. However if you want to embellish things NOW is the time to do it. You can add beads to the design of the pockets. You can also add a wadding to the back of the calendar and top stitch along the designs of the pattern.

In this case I've added a red nose bead  onto Rudolph And padded the outline of the train.
To have a padded outline on the train sew wadding onto the back of the panel and then top stitch over any lines you wish to emphasis. I used Metallic Thread for this. IT is Vital to use a metallic thread sewing needle for this. Metallic thread requires a larger eye than normal. Using a regular needle will make the thread split.

The film is almost over, however the hard parts of the project are complete. I would have been much faster but I liked the padded outlines of the train.

Step Six. Top stitch the pockets onto the panel. With single pockets just top stitch the sides and bottom. On groups of pockets stitch along the bottom and the outer edges. Spread the box pleats apart for a moment and top stitch along the dotted line.

Step Seven. Cut calico to back the panel. on what will be the outer side of the calico or craft cotton  sew ribbon to the edges. Then right sides together sew the calico and the panel together. Pinning the ribbon to the calico (or craft cotton) will stop it getting sewn into the side seam by accident. Leave a gap at the bottom to turn the calendar right side out and finish with a ladder stitch

And you're finished :) You can embellish  this project as much or as little as you like. Beading  sequins and glitter can be used as little or as much as you like. It's worth noting the holy part of the boarder on the panel is 5/8 of an inch, perfect seam allowance guide. This then leaves the other layers of the boarder on show. Now all you have to do is fill it with nuts and treats, or if giving to a crafting friend little bits of Haberdashery.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and feel able to have a go yourself now. I must stress I am very new to craft sewing but enjoyed this immensely and I am very  proud of the end result. IT must also be said I am gifted with the grace and dexterity of a baby hippopotamus .  If I can create something like this, anyone can

If there are any other tutorials you'd like to see then please post a response or find us on Facebook or Twitter

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

October is a confusing month

October can be very confusing for the sewing enthusiast. We have Halloween rapidly approaching whilst Christmas is not far behind. Taking the fact that many think Christmas needs much longer to prepare for often means our Christmas sewing is blended in with vampire costumes and stuffed pumpkins. Having covered some Halloween sewing already I thought I would  begin with some festive stitching. Christmas sewing projects take all shapes and sizes from Christmas Stockings to gifts and decorations. However the one thing we need to have prepared first in many cases is the Advent Candler. The start of December is now only 6 weeks away so I think it's OK to start getting a little excited by it.
Whilst not on the website yet the shops now have their Christmas fabrics out on display. This includes the Stockings and Advent Calendars. Home made quilted advent calendars have many uses. Not only do they give you a choice what treat to pop into the quilted pockets but they can be chosen to compliment your other decorations. Not only are they fun and rewarding to make they can also become a family heirloom. They make great gifts and if you have a large family each child could have their own calendar stuffed with their personal favorite snacks or other treats.