Sunday, January 25, 2015

Basket prototypes and presents

I went a little bit crazy sewing baskets over the last couple of weeks.  In my defense, I was trying to perfect my Boxy Fabric Basket and needed to try out a couple of different ideas.  Then I saw a tutorial for a hilarious woven basket that I decided I needed to try, because apparently I have a basket problem.



So what did I do with all of those baskets?

First, I gave one of my practice baskets (one that isn't in the above photo) to Charlotte's sweet friend, Lila, who turned 7 a couple of weeks ago.  As I have been doing for all of the birthday parties Charlotte has been invited to over the last month, I also sewed Lila a Shredded Heart T-Shirt.  Turquoise is Lila's favorite color, so I paired a turquoise tee with some shiny purple fabric underneath.



Lila is getting a sewing machine from her mom for her birthday (apparently it has yet to be purchased though), so I filled the basket with some scraps that I thought would interest her.  Most of them are quilting cotton, but I threw some fleece in there just for fun.  What better was to practice with a new machine than on some neat fabric scraps?  I had so much fun going through all of my fabric, and it helped me clean out my stash of material that was too small to do much with, but too big to throw away (in my opinion, anyway!).



This green basket was the original prototype for the Boxy Fabric Basket.  It was the first one I made using the pentagonal pattern pieces.  After I made this one, I decided I wanted side handles instead and started dreaming of a way to use piping.  This fabric was from a bag that a table cloth and cloth napkins came in that my mom had bought a few years ago.  She didn't want to keep the bag as storage, so she gave it to me to make something out of.  I paired it with some black cotton and decided it would be a cute basket to store her cloth napkins in.  Mom agreed, so I'm going to send it to her next time I get off my lazy butt and make it to the post office.  (I have SUCH a talent for making perfectly even things look completely lopsided in photos, so just trust me that the basket is not nearly as wonky as it looks in this photo.)



This next basket has been claimed by Charlotte to hold her "sewing kit" (scraps of fabric that she has fallen in love with, my extra seam allowance ruler, some dull scissors, and my old tomato pincushion filled with bent pins).  It's a little bigger than the final version of the Boxy Fabric Basket, and the handles are sewn on a bit differently.  I'm not sure why the peach fabric looks so orange-y in this photo.



This final Boxy Fabric Basket will be given to one of my children's teachers for Valentine's Day.  I have no idea why this fabric photographs so blue when it's really quite green.  I'm sure it has something to do with my crappy photography skills.  The inside fabric is from a cute chevron fat quarter I bought on a whim once.  I wanted to use red cotton webbing for the handles, but the only red the store had was way more orange than the piping that I had already sewn in.  Whoops.  The white handles look okay though.



This Weaved Fabric Basket (shouldn't it be "woven"?) was very tedious to make, but it was a fun challenge.  Once I got about halfway through the project I went rogue and finished it off my own way.  I also decided I wanted to add handles, so I grabbed some leftover cotton webbing and went to town.



I used four different pink fat quarters and paired them with some teal cotton (which looks blue in these photos for some reason).  There is Peltex inside the pink strips to give the basket some structure, but I think if I made this again I would also add Peltex to the teal strips as well.  I'm assuming the directions meant that I should use Peltex, but it just specified "interfacing".  It looks like Peltex in the photos though.  I reeeeeeeeally wish tutorials would specify better what weights of interfacing are required.



And finally, I made another Quilted Wine Tote for Corey to give to his new co-worker, Logan, when he visited him in Louisiana last week.  Corey also wanted to give Logan a pleather keychain like the ones I made for Corey's Lincoln keys.  I was happy for another opportunity to use my new walking foot, so I jumped at the chance.  The foot worked like a charm for the tote, but I didn't think it handled the pleather as well as I had heard it would.  I switched back to my old technique of covering the underside of the presser foot with masking tape and that did the trick.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Crocheted Clothing

Every attempt I've made at crocheting clothing for myself has ended in something that I am not happy with.  It either turns out the wrong size or I just simply don't like it.  Hats are the only exception, though I still think that knitting makes the absolute best hats. HOWEVER, after swearing off crocheting clothing for a year or so, I got the itch to try it again.  As usual, I had mixed results....

I checked a book called "Cool Crochet" (hahahahaha) out of our local library, and found a pattern for the Suzanne Hoodie inside.  Intrigued, I splurged on some wool-ease (part wool, part acrylic) yarn and set to work.  The hoodie was finished within a week, but it took me a couple more months to finally get up the nerve to hand-sew in the zipper.  And here it is:


Hmm, perhaps I should have put shoes on before the photo shoot.  I tried cropping the picture, but it looked odd.

I should have made the hoodie a bit longer.  Oh well.


Holy moly, this wool-ease yarn is WARM, so even though the hoodie fabric is not dense, I get really, really hot in it.  So hot, in fact, that I can't really wear it over anything other than a tank top, even in the dead of winter.


All in all, I think it turned out well, but every time I wear it, I can't help tugging on it, trying in vain to make it longer.  No, I can't just add more rows at the bottom; that would require tearing out the zipper, undoing the edging (which goes all the way around the hood), and a lot of screaming and gnashing of teeth.  So, I will just wear it as a slightly cropped hoodie.

Inspired by my friend, Joann, I next attempted to make myself my very own Sassenach Claire Outlander Cowl.  It turned out ok, but even though I used the largest hook that is sold in craft stores (a Q), the cowl still turned out smaller and stiffer than it is supposed to be, so it doesn't drape as well as I wanted it to.  I was hoping for a cowl I could wear inside, but it's so stiff that it really only works as a scarf-replacer to wear outside on really cold days.


Then, I finally gave in to temptation and purchased one of the most gorgeous shoulder wrap patterns I have ever seen on Pinterest or Ravelry, the Jagged Edge Shoulder Wrap by Joyce Lewis. Splurging on nice 100% wool, I picked black so that it would match everything. The pattern is spectacular and so fun to crochet....  I finished it in no time!


Gorgeous and perfect.... all except the color.  I think I look like a little old grieving widow from Sicily.  SHOOT!  I need to pick a brighter, happier color-- or even brown to coordinate with my hair-- anything besides black!  But seriously, this is by far the prettiest article of clothing I have ever crocheted for myself.  Maybe I'll try to find a pretty variegated yarn to use on my next attempt....

The final non-hat articles of clothing that I crocheted recently are two pairs of slippers.  My mother-in-law asked if I could crochet her some slippers about 10 years ago, and she has worn the slippers I made her back then (she calls them her "woobies") so much that there are large holes in them now.  So, I set to work on a new pair, using a really old pattern that I'm pretty sure I used for the first pair of woobies, the Easy Slippers for Beginners.  I was afraid that the first pair (the red ones) turned out too small, so I made another pair (the blue ones) in slightly thicker yarn with a larger hook.



In the end, the red slippers ended up fitting my mother-in-law perfectly, and I am now left with an extra pair of slippers.  They are roughly women's size 10 or 11 (depending how you like your slippers to fit), and they are up for grabs if anyone wants them! I'll ship them to you for free.  :)

I think I'm going to redouble my efforts to learn how to knit (and choose better colors!!) so I can attempt to make myself some more wearable clothing.  Onward!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Boxy Fabric Basket -- Sewing Tutorial




I made this basket to hold some Valentine's Day treats for my son's preschool teachers, but I didn't want it to scream "VALENTINE'S DAY".  With the aqua and the dark pink on the exterior and the teal (which looks much more blue in all of the photos for some reason) on the interior, the color combo looks both sweet for Valentine's Day but appropriate for year-round as well.

This basket has more of a boxed-out shape than the typical one because of the construction method.  I got the idea for this basket when making my Toy Tote.


Boxy Fabric Basket -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

Quilting cotton or lightweight home decor fabric:
  • Exterior -- 1/4 yard if non-directional print, 1/2 yard if directional print
  • Lining -- 1/4 yard if non-directional print, 1/2 yard if directional print
Felt OR fusible fleece (a piece at least 14" x 21")
Piping -- about 2 yards
Cotton or nylon webbing (1" wide or so) -- 15 inches
Thread to match the piping AND thread to match the lining fabric
Freezer paper (regular paper would work fine too)

materials needed


Finished dimensions: approximately 6 1/2" wide by 6 1/2" deep by 6" tall.

All seam allowances will be 3/8" unless otherwise indicated.

STEP ONE: Drawing the pattern and cutting the fabric

Draw the pattern piece as shown below on a regular piece of paper, or if you have some, on freezer paper.  Essentially, this is a 7" x 10.5" rectangle with the bottom corners chopped off.

drawing the pattern


If you used freezer paper, you can iron the waxy side of the pattern piece right onto the fabric.  Then, it will temporarily adhere and keep the pattern piece from shifting while you cut.  I like to fold the fabric such that I can cut multiples out at the same time.

Cut out FOUR of the pattern piece shapes from the LINING only.

cutting the lining fabric


Then, grab your pattern piece and hack 3/4" off the top.

cutting 3/4" off the top of the pattern piece


Now your pattern piece should have the dimensions shown in the photo below.  Cut FOUR of the newly-resized pattern piece from the EXTERIOR and the FELT/FUSIBLE FLEECE.

cutting the exterior fabric


You should have these now:

fabric pieces cut out


Now, adhere the felt or fusible fleece to the exterior pieces.  You can either use basting spray with the felt, or you can baste with your sewing machine all the way around each of the pieces 1/4" away from the edge.  If you have fusible fleece, then you can just iron those puppies on to the exterior.


STEP TWO: Constructing the exterior

Grab your piping and cut FOUR lengths that are each 6 inches long.

piping lengths cut to 6" each


On the RIGHT side of the EXTERIOR fabric (which already has the felt/fleece attached), pin each of the piping lengths down the right vertical edges, matching the raw edge of the piping with the raw edge of the fabric.  The piping will hang off of the bottom of the fabric just a bit.

piping pinned to exterior pieces


Pop your zipper or piping foot onto your machine.  Using the thread that matches the piping, stitch right on top of the stitching that holds the piping together, right down to where the fabric ends.

sewing on the piping


Yeah, you can't really see the white stitching on the white piping, but believe me when I say it's there.

piping sewn on


Trim any of the piping off that extends beyond the bottom of the fabric.  It's easiest to do this if you flip the fabric over first.

trim the excess piping


Repeat with each of the other pieces.  You should have this now.

exterior pieces with piping sewn on


Place two of the pieces with the right sides together.  Repeat with the two other pieces.  Pin them down the LEFT side.

exterior pieces matched together


At a spot 3/8" up from the bottom left corner (where the piping ends), make a little mark.

mark at left corner


Do the same thing 3/8" up to the left from the bottom point.

bottom point marked



Start stitching at the mark you made at the bottom point.  When you get to the mark you made at the left corner, leave the needle down, lift the presser foot, pivot the fabric to start stitching on top of the existing stitching line (the one that attached the piping), put the presser foot down, and stitch all the way to the end.

sewing exterior pieces together


Now you should have this:

exterior pieces sewn together


Repeat with the other pair of exterior pieces.  if you open both of them up, you should now have this:

exterior pieces opened up


Place the two sets with the right sides together, matching up the corners and seams.  Pin.

exterior sets matched together


Flatten out the places where the bottom points meet, like this:

bottom point flattened


Sew them together stitching with two different seams with a 3/8" seam allowance.  Starting at the bottom point (3/8" in from the point), sew up the diagonals and up both sides (on the existing stitching lines).

exterior sets sewn together


Turn the exterior right side out.

exterior turned right side out


Take the rest of your piping and pin it around the top edge with the raw edge of the piping matching the raw edge of the fabric..  Leave a tail of about two inches unpinned at the beginning and at the end.  Don't trim the ling end of the piping just yet.

exterior pieces with piping pinned on


Sew the piping on (sewing on the stitching that holds the piping together), but leave a couple of inches on each end unsewn.  Make sure about an inch or so of the end of the piping overlaps the beginning of the piping and cut off the excess.

exterior with piping sewn on


Using a seam ripper, rip out about an inch of the stitching holding the end of the piping together.  Cut off the cord inside at the point where the beginning of the piping meets the end of the piping.

matching piping ends together


Fold in about a half an inch of the piping casing on the end and finger press it.

matching piping ends together


Nest the beginning of the piping into the end of the piping, butting up the two ends of the cording together.

matching piping ends together


Close the piping casing around and pin into place.

matching piping ends together


Stitch the piping down, closing the gap.

stitching down piping ends


STEP FOUR: Sewing the lining and assembling the basket

Assemble the lining with the same construction method as the exterior, only without all of the piping mess.  Now you should have this:

lining sewn together


Turn the exterior wrong side out.  Trim a bit off of the corners and at the bottom points of both the lining and the exterior.  You can also trim a little bit of the felt out of the exterior seams to cut down on the bulk.

trimming corners

trimming corners


With the exterior turned wrong side out and the lining turned right side out, nest the lining inside the exterior.  Yup, the lining will be sticking up about 3/4" above the exterior.  Double check to make sure the pretty sides of the fabric are facing each other before you pin and stitch.

nesting lining in exterior with right sides together


Shove the lining down to align the raw edges with those of the exterior.  Pin into place, matching all of the seams.  Then sew them together on the stitching line that attached the piping, BUT LEAVE OPEN A 4" TURNING GAP!  I like to leave the turning gap open on the side where the piping is attached.

pinning lining and exterior together


Carefully turn the basket right side out through the turning gap.

turning the basket right side out


Shove the lining down into the basket with the excess wrapped around to the exterior.  Now the lining should fit nicely down inside the exterior.

settling lining into exterior


Press it all down neatly into place, including the part with the turning gap.

pressing lining into place


Switch your thread to match the lining.  Using your zipper foot, stitch along the top edge as close to the piping as you can get.  This will close the turning gap and keep the lining down into place.

stitching around top edge

stitching around top edge


Now it should look like this.

finished body of basket


STEP FIVE: Adding the handles


Take the 15" length of webbing and cut it into two lengths, 7 1/2" long.

handle webbing


Fold under an inch on the ends of each piece and press.

pressing ends under


Pin them onto the sides of the basket, 1" down from the piping on the top and 1" in from the piping on the sides.  This will make the handles bow out a little so they won't lie flush against the basket.  I like to make one of the sides with the handle be the one with the piping join and the turning gap.

pinning handles on


First, switch the only top thread in your machine to one that matches your webbing.  Keep the bobbin thread the same color as your lining.  This will disguise the stitching on the lining.  You always could just sew on the handles before you attach the exterior and the lining, but I think it helps keep the lining in place to have the stitching for the handles go through the lining as well.

Stitch the handles on by sewing a square with an "x" through it at the end of each handle, enclosing the raw edges of the webbing.  Repeat on the opposite side with the other handle.

sewing handles on


From the outside, you should only see the white stitching.

handles sewn on


From the inside, you can hardly see where the handles were attached.

handles sewn on from interior


Grab your iron and give the basket another press.  Give it shape by folding where the edges of the box should be and pressing a sharper crease.

pressing basket into shape


Looks cool from the inside as well, doesn't it?

basket's interior view


Voila!  A sweet little basket to fill with treats for your favorite teacher or friend.

finished basket


Boxy Fabric Basket -- sewing tutorial by Roonie Ranching


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