January 28, 2012
Don't you just hate it when in the middle of sewing you run out of thread on the bobbin, or worse you run out of thread on the spool or can't seem to find the right color, preferably at 9:00 in the evening when all stores are closed. I find it so disruptive, having to wind a new bobbin while in the midst of a seam or having to run to the store when you were about to start on your freshly cut fabric. I try to anticipate, but it does not always work out that way.
Anyway, in an attempt to 'organize' my bobbin and spool collection, I use these plastic containers and boxes now. I'm not a big fan of plastic containers in general. I find them highly unattractive. But in this case there's something about them I like. The bobbin holder, for instance, I believe, is really cool. It's abstract art almost. The different colors arranged randomly in neat rows - pieces of thread sticking out stubbornly, capriciously, trying to reach out, to tangle up with the other ones. The box wins however, with every single one of the bobbins stuck in their very own spot.
And I moved my spools of thread to this plastic tub, which came with a new laundry detergent I tried. Before, I kept them in a tin can and little boxes and baskets here and there. It would take forever to find the right shade. With this tub, no longer. All it takes to see what's on display is a little shake. It's not as nice as these lovely wooden peg spool holders you put against the wall, but it works for me and it doesn't take up as much space. I have another one of these tubs almost empty, which I'll probably use to keep my bias tape and ribbon collection.
So, how about you? How do you keep your bobbins and spools organized?
January 23, 2012
Yesterday, I felt like sewing a new bag. Only problem: I didn't have any of my favorite oatmeal colored linen left. It took me some rummaging through my stash to come up with something else: an old pair of jeans. We like a little challenge once in awhile!
Since our last move, I keep a whole stash of jeans in a box in my crafts cabinet. Originally, the idea was to keep the jeans until I had enough for making a quilt. However, with one quilt still waiting for the binding to get finished and the quilting as well, I must admit I'm not much of a quilter. Not when it comes to the bigger projects, anyway. Too intimidating, I'm afraid....
Anyway, since that quilt probably never is going to happen, I figured I might as well cut one pair to pieces for another project without doing much harm. This particular pair was a high-rise (!) that never really felt comfortable - probably because of its high-rise but mainly because of its unreliable zipper. Very annoying, even with a long shirt!
So, I cut the ugly thing to pieces and made this - not so ugly, if I may say so myself - tote. I used the same bag pattern as for this one, this one and this one. Its shape basically comes down to a rounded slightly trapezoid rectangle with darts at the bottom corners, combined with a rectangular panel in between the front and back panel.
For the handles, I cut a cheap natural leather belt to pieces (H&M) which I still had lying around from when I was doing this tutorial. The lining is a left over from this project and this one as well. So basically, I didn't have to leave the house or spend another dime on this project, which is rather unique as usually there's always something missing. Not this time - instead, I got rid of something - a total win-win! How cool is that!
Now, in case you want to try this. Here are some notes on how I proceeded, which might be helpful.
- cutting the jeans: I cut mine open from front to back to separate the two legs. Next, I cut each leg open along the inner leg seam, to obtain two flat pieces of fabric. I used the top part of each leg to cut the front panel and back panel, the front pockets and back pockets nicely centered. I was extremely careful not to cut the inner pockets to pieces while cutting each panel. That way all pockets are still fully operational! From the lower leg parts I cut the bag's middle panel (2 pieces joined together, about 15cm wide), as well as a strip for the facing of the bag (2 pieces joined together, about 7 cm wide). There was enough fabric left to make handles as well, but I decided to go with leather handles instead.
- lining: originally, I intended not to line the bag, and finish the seams off with some bias tape. However, with all the seams already there, and the new ones and the inner pockets this would have looked rather unfinished, something I do not like. And I needed to hide the handles' rivets in some way or the other. So, I went for a lining instead. I'm not sure I chose the best way to do this, with a facing and lining, however. Because of the thickness of the fabric the top looks a bit bulky - it doesn't bother me, I own a bag from GAP with that same kind of bulky finishing, matter-of-factly, but it might bother the perfectionists amongst you. One might opt for a lining going all the way up, without the facing, and whip stitch it to the denim instead.
- the handles: the main reason I went for leather handles is because I like the denim - natural leather combination and because I happened to have the right color of hardware (rivets) to go with it (sewing wasn't an option given the thickness of both the denim and the leather). This is the first time I used this type of rivets. I didn't exactly have the right tools (no rivet gun) but I managed to get them in using pliers (a hammer didn't work and was too loud anyway - I did this past 10:00p.m. - not sure if the neighbors would have liked it). This is what I learned:
- you'll hardly ever find the right size of rivets matching the thickness of leather and fabric. You can solve this problem by adding a small piece of leather (or fabric) in the back. Additionally, this will make it more sturdy as well as it reinforces the fabric of the bag.
- prepare both the fabric and the leather by making the appropriate holes in them with a punch, corresponding to the rivet's parts (top part is wider than the bottom part) - this will reduce the effort needed to secure the rivet and makes sure you get them in at the exact right spot.
- in order not to damage the rivets while using your pliers make sure to use at least a cloth in between. I found a piece of cork to be extremely helpful. Never put the pliers directly to the rivets!
I guess I'll have to take out that box one more time... What else can I say to a sweet little request like that...?
January 13, 2012
It's been a weird week. Fast and slow at the same time.
Both girls had a 24hr bug, not on the same day, luckily. Both are fine now.
And then, I woke up with swollen and numb lips. They felt as if I had just been given an anesthetic - an allergic reaction to a new tooth paste I bought, it turns out. And I'm not the only one, apparently. Although from a good brand, this particular tooth paste has a pretty bad reputation when it comes to allergic reactions. Anyway, for a day or two I looked like someone with 'a Botox treatment gone totally wrong'. My lips are almost back to normal now, thank goodness, and I threw out the paste.
There was some sewing this week as well. I started making pillows. Lots of them. For the girls. For the living room. In an attempt to make our place a bit more colorful and cozy. As pillows are considered cozy here. We like to hang in the couch, bundled up with pillows and a blanket.
For the pillows I followed these instructions (in Dutch, but the pictures speak for themselves). I even made my own piping and got pretty good at it. After buying a special piping presser foot, that is. The invisible zipper foot didn't do the trick for me, the result being too irregular. But with the right foot it just looks perfect.
Did you actually know you can use old T-shirts or knit fabric to make piping? When I was about to start a pillow in my favorite Japanese fabric I realized I didn't have the right shade of fabric anymore to make the piping. Except for an old T-shirt of K. which was a perfect color match. So I decided to give it a try. I cut some strips - in bias, which strictly speaking is not necessary for knits - sewed them together and then made the piping.
It's hard to tell from the pictures, but I actually chose the wrong side of the fabric to be on the good side for the piping as the aspect of that came pretty close to the weave of the fabric I was using for the pillows. It worked like a charm. Thanks to the stretch of the knit, I got perfectly rounded corners at much less of an effort. Not only did this pillow turn out to be the best one I made so far, but I especially like it because it incorporates my favorite Japanese fabric and a recycled favorite shirt. Old and new, perfectly married.
I have a couple more pillows to go and maybe after that I could start on some curtains... or maybe not...
Oh, I so do not like making curtains...
Wishing you a wonderful weekend!
January 9, 2012
It's been a while since my last post. I hope you all had nice holidays and a smooth transition into the new year. Our holidays were fun, seeing relatives and friends again. There was a lot of traveling involved but it all went much smoother than last year as the weather gods were a bit friendlier this time. No snow and icy roads only rain and wind.
But this is not the weather channel, so time to move-on! With a new tutorial! And as a matter of fact, this is a special one. It's a video-tutorial - an absolute first on // BTL //- made by... my girls.
A little while ago we got an Ipad. It never occurred to me that besides pictures one could also make videos with it. That was until my girls presented me this movie one afternoon during our holiday break. For a couple of days M. had been making these really awesome origami paper cubes. And then, they decided to shoot a 'making-of' movie. I had no idea what they were doing in their room - 'Don't come in, mommy! It's a surprise!'. There was a lot of laughing going on in there but too busy baking some of these, I kept nicely to the kitchen. The result you can see below. The movie is entirely their work: little H. held 'the camera' and M. shows and talks us through the making of an origami paper cube. There was no editing, or anything. And I think it is just perfect - there is a bit of camera shake, and the sound isn't perfect as little H. covered the microphone with her hand a couple of times, but other than that I think this movie is just perfect. The best part in my opinion: little H. trying to keep her little toes off screen - that really cracked me up! Actually it still does... I hope you'll enjoy this how-to as much as I did!
A big thanks to my girls for their generosity for letting me share this here! You are the cutest!
Wishing you all a happy and creative year!