Tag Archives: fabric

Embroidered Blocking Mat Storage Bag

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This week was the Summer Solstice for Earth’s Northern Hemisphere and we sure are feeling the heat here in the Northeastern United States! Temperatures of 98*F and plenty of humidity to go around.

As a knitter and crocheter, one of the final steps to finishing a piece is blocking. This does not need to be done with all projects, but definitely with some. For example, due to the pattern stitch and yarn used for this cream criss-cross scarf I made for my sister, you can see how the edges curl under a bit and the shape is not quite right. This is because the piece was never properly blocked to define the shape. I never block scarves, frankly because they are SO long that I don’t have a surface big enough to use for blocking!

Blocking boards are pretty expensive and normally I would make a board, but again – most pieces I don’t block are things like very long scarves and I didn’t want to take on a DIY task like that. Then I came up with a solution: foam floor mats! You know, the kind you fit together like a puzzle that you typically see all colorful on playroom floors or the black version on workroom floors? You can determine the size and the shape – and because they are foam they won’t mind getting a bit wet or being stuck with pins. I thought it was the perfect inexpensive solution for my blocking board problem. I settled on these double-sided blocks from Amazon: Norsk-Stor 240151 Reversible Recyclamat Multi-Purpose Foam Flooring, Multi-Color/Gray, 4-Pack


Photo Credit: Amazon.com

My birthday was in May and my parents are kind enough to get all of their kids a couple of things that we want or need every year, no matter how grown we become. This year when my mom asked what I wanted I sent her the link to these mats. In anticipation of their arrival I decided to make a storage bag for them. I knew that the mats would be sitting around gathering dust if I didn’t so I went ahead and stitched up a bag based on the measurements from Amazon’s website. It’s not a perfect fit, but it’s pretty close. I guess that’s what happens when you make a bag to fit something before you have the actual item you’re storing!

I used Kona Solid Cotton color Sand. It’s a very basic bag made of two fabric pieces sandwiched together, corner seams to make the base, and a few pieces of tonal velcro hand-stitched at the top hem for closure.

My favorite touch is the embroidered yarn ball that I decided to add. I went ahead and free-handed my sketch. Since this was a big item and I wanted some great texture I decided to embroider the piece with yarn instead of embroidery thread. I used 100% Cotton that I had in my stash (do you recognize the color from my niece’s worm pillow’s stripe?).

I love the golden yellow – it is bright and sunny and I think it complements the neutral fabric quite well. It also gives you a hint of the bright colorful mats that are stored inside.

For some interesting info about the Summer Solstice, check out this National Geographic article.

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Guest Spotlight: Handmade Summer Belt + Tutorial from Sew Paint Create

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Summer’s official start is not until June 20th, but I’m already feeling the spirit. I was the lucky recipient of a fabulous custom-made summery belt from fellow blogger Pétra of Sew Paint Create!

I was excited even when the up-cycled, bird-stamped, machine-stitched package arrived (completely my style). When I opened it and saw the belt things just got better. It was like pulling a piece of the sea out of the envelope. The fabric is lovely in its aquas, white and sea-toned greens.

The belt is lightweight, perfect for summer, and was made exactly to my size. Even on those days I can’t make it down the shore this summer I can take it with me in my wardrobe. Thank you Pétra!

The best news of all is that Pétra has posted a tutorial today on how to make this belt! Please be sure to visit Sew Paint Create to check out her great tutorial and while you’re there take a look at her quilting and other crafty endeavors.

Reupholstered Dining Room Chairs… set #2!

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This summer I helped my other sister reupholster her set of dining room chairs. We were fortunate enough that the cushions were still in great shape and didn’t need to be replaced so it was really just changing out the fabric.

I unscrewed the seats from all of the chairs and numbered every seat, chair base and set of screws so each set would be fastened back together after they were recovered.

Then came the super-fun part… removing the old fabric. First of all, the fabric was fastened with teeny tiny staples that couldn’t be pried out with pliers, staple removers, flathead screw drivers, the back of a small hammer head, or any other tool we could find. A few were loosened enough when the fabric was pulled that I could get at them with pliers, but 99% of them were destined to stay in there.

We ended up removing the fabric, cutting and yanking around all of the staples (of which there were a LOT). And this fabric was truly amazing. It must have had a resin coating on the back of it – maybe to help adhere to the cushion? Or maybe on the surface to help make it stain-resistant? In any case, after these many, many years (my sister purchased this dining set a couple of years ago from an older lady) this resin had made the surface of the fabric very sticky. It made removing it that much of a messier job. It took the better part of a day to strip all of this fabric! The best part of the day was when we took a late afternoon break to watch Project Runway and the Weaser’s Ice truck paid us a visit.

My sis picked out a nice fabric to recover these chairs. It is a thin plaid pattern, neutral with some subtle pops of color. It has a soft hand feel and is nice to sit on. Here’s a good comparison shot of the two fabrics so you can see the difference, especially in texture. We never realized just how purple the old fabric was! (She is still working on lighting in her dining room so the fabric often looked a little more brown than purple.)

It was a relief when all of the old fabric was taken out with the trash! My sister kept a small swatch for her Home Binder which shows a lot of the before/after of her renovations. I think she also keeps the binder full with a lot of tear sheets from magazines/catalogues and swatches of design ideas she likes or fabrics and paint colors she has considered. One by one I was able to start covering the seats with the new fabric, then fastening them back to the chair bases.

Check out this before/after photo!

And another before/after shot. It really brightens up the room.

I think the chairs came out great! I left my sister with a bottle of Scotch Guard so she can take on the last step of the chairs’ new look. The room looks great and the fabric goes well with all seasons. Next project: reupholstering two chairs in her bedroom! Hopefully I can get that done in early November.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Regina Spektor

Handmade Bird Cage Cover

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I have a little Australian Grey Cockatiel named Bird. He is the cute guy with the yellow head that you see in a photo off to the side of my post.

Bird has had a few cage covers in the past including old sheets and fabric that was intended to be sewn into a proper cover, but never was. Exhibit A (piece of fabric):

I took a trip to the store recently in search of 2 fabulous fabrics, one for the lining and one for the shell (that would match the new drapes). I couldn’t find anything with little birds on it for the lining, but I did find a cute fabric with bird houses. It would have to do. For the shell I picked out a pale green with an off-white floral pattern. Why line this piece? Because I was using a lightweight cotton-poplin and wanted to make sure there were two layers to avoid too much light coming through the cover.

I started by drawing a rough sketch of the cage and taking some basic measurements. I wanted to create something fitted that would keep him covered at night, but that could also be folded back and left on the cage during the day (especially in the Fall/Winter to help avoid drafts and give him a nice shady corner for napping).

I laid the fabric out and drew the back piece to the shape of the cage, using the measurements I took as a guide and factoring in seam allowance. Next I marked off the two side panels. I cut all three of these pieces out (both fabrics at once for consistency and efficiency).

Finally I needed to create the two front flaps. I took my back piece, folded it in half, marked the fabric and cut it out. Then I adjusted the fold to be slightly larger than half and cut out a second piece. Why slightly wider for the second flap? So there would be an overlap and give a nice closure to the piece.

I decided the easiest way to do this would be to sew the lining together, then the shell together, then to sew the two pieces together.

Lining: The two sides were attached to the back piece (try on cage for fit before adding the remaining pieces – looking good!), then the two front flaps were sewn on. Shell: Repeat steps from the lining assembly.

When I had sewn the two sets of five pieces together, I ironed flat all of my seams. Then I turned the shell right-side-out and placed it over the lining piece making sure the seams were aligned.

I decided that I wanted to see stitching on the bottom hem plus on the front flap openings. Once I had the two pieces pinned together I sewed first the flaps, then the bottom hem.

The result turned out great! Perfectly fitted – and this cover is reversible! (Though I do prefer the bird houses as a lining.)

The front flaps close with no gaping as the one piece is about 1″ wider so it can be tucked under the regular-size flap.

Check Bird out all relaxed and fluffed up, enjoying his new decor.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: Patsy Cline

Housewarming Handmade Coasters

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A great housewarming or holiday gift for somebody is some stylish handmade coasters. I made these for my sisters, picking out fabrics specific to their personal taste and living room color schemes.

This first set used fabric to not only complement the light green sofa and chaise in my sister’s living room, but also to incorporate pink which is one of her favorite colors. I used pink contrast thread for all of the stitching.

Paisley is always a great choice for an accessory. These coasters are a perfect use of your “fat quarters” or fabric remnants in your stash.

This second set used a blue fabric to bring a pop of color to my other sister’s living room. Her furniture is a nice neutral color so you could really pick anything to accessorize it. I chose blue since this is a color theme present throughout the room (crocheted blanket, pillows, vase, etc). The contrast thread is a beautiful grey color that complements the outline of the floral stems. This sister is also very patriotic so red and blue are always an appropriate choice.

What I’m listening to as I write this post: The Actual Tigers

Reupholstered Chairs

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When my younger sister moved into her new apartment a couple of years ago my parents gave her this beautiful pair of chairs that belonged to my great uncle. The color, the wood carvings, the details were all gorgeous – except for the cushions. They were a little… we’ll say flat.

My sister had a lot of work ahead of her with moving and unpacking, so I helped out with reupholstering these two chairs. New cushions, new fabric, new look! Look at this beautiful textured fabric my sis picked out. Remember: you can click on any photo in this blog for a larger image. She used the same fabric for accent pillows on her living room couch and chairs.

I think they came out beautiful. The chairs are placed in her living room as extra seating. I wish I had before/after shots and a step-by-step tutorial from this project, but all I have are photos of the finished product. I did find for you an amazing DIY tutorial put together by the design*sponge blog last month. Check it out!