DIY Throw Pillows

I wanted to do something fun to dress up my bedroom, but I’m on a pretty tight budget. I had some lightweight charcoal gray wool that I found in the garbage at the Polo Ralph Lauren loading dock one day. (my company shares the loading dock) Thanks Ralph! So that was free, but its only a 12″ pillow, so you wouldn’t need very much fabric at all.

I bought some really pretty variegated threads at Purl Patchwork. I decided to use the red/pink thread for this project. They will only run you about $3 a spool.

I got some 12″ feather inserts from work. Normally they are only $6, but I got my discount of %40, so it was even cheaper! So far I have only spent about $6.00 on this pillow! Woo! So here’s how it put it all together.

I cut out the front square. Since the insert is only 12″, I cut a small 12 1/2 inch square. The biggest mistake people usually make with pillow covers is they make them too big. You want it to be snug and hug the insert. If it’s too big it may be baggy.

I ran this square through the sewing machine, stitching the colored thread into a graphic design. I free formed it, through you could sketch it out in chalk or disappearing ink before hand. I sew the pattern first, so that when I assemble the pillow the seam will make everything neat and prefect looking.

Then I cut out two back pieces that when fitted over the front square overlapped. This will create a tailored opening on the back so that you can slip your insert in and out easily.

 

I folded over one edge on the wrong side of each of these two back sections.

Then I arranged them, overlapping,  right sides together with the front piece and pinned along the entire outside edge.

Then I sew along the entire outer edge, doing a little back stitch action at all the corners for extra strength.

Trim the edges of each corner, being careful not to snip the thread. This will let the corners turn right side out with out bulk, and you’ll get a nice neat corner.

Turn the pillow cover right side out and use an obliging knitting needle end to gently pop the corners out.  This is the back side, with the flap for putting in your insert.

All that is left is to put in the insert, and fluff your pillow! Look at how easy that was! It will brighten up a room for a fraction of the price of some throw pillows that you can buy at your local home goods store.

The Sewing Bug

Lately as I have been frantically trying to finish my holiday knitting I have been dreaming about sewing. I know how to sew and have been doing it since I was a teen, however I am not proficient and I have a lot to learn. I know the basics and have made a few halloween costumes and hemmed a lot of pants but I want to stretch my sewing wings a little.

I have a pretty nice machine that my mum gave me. She upgraded and gave me her “old” machine. Not old at all and actually quite nice. I’ve been seeing lots of cute things people are making online and the inspiration is contagious. We all know how I have crafting A.D.D. and big projects are usually beyond me, but I have a few pretty little things up my sleeve for the new year. I have my Little Women dollies that I need to work on, and a few vintagey/modern apron patterns doodled out in various notebooks. I would also like ot make some simple tailored clothing.

If you feel like getting the sewing bug take a moment to check out these great blogs for sew-spiration!

These are my favorites at the moment:

Casey’s Elegant Musings 

The Purl Bee

Some Girls Wander (by Black Apple)

Magpie Patterns

Thanksgiving Napkin Rings

Here’s a quick and easy way to dress up your table this thanksgiving. You can use any fabric that you have, or that matches you decor. I have had this pretty fall colored Marimekko printed fabric hanging around for a while, and I am glad to finally have a good use for it.  I have long loved Marimekko designs, ever since I was a little girl and my very 60’s mother had a pretty tote bag. Their bold bright prints are fantastic!

I got this pretty orange colorway of the ‘Kioto” fabric a few years ago. It was originally designed by Maija Isola in 1976 and these colorways were reprinted in 2005. Gorgeous! 

Mark off strips 7 inches long by 3 inches wide. I like my clear quilting square, because I can see the pattern below and make it look exactly like I want. I decided to cut along the edge of two colors so that when I folded it, the ring was reversible.

Next, fold the strips in half, right sides together and press it with a hot iron, just to keep things in line. You can pin if you like, but ironing is usually sufficient.

Now use your machine to stitch along one short edge and up the long side, leaving the other short end open to turn the fabric right side out.

turn the fabric right side out, and use something blunt yet pointy to get the corners poked back out. I used an obliging knitting needle. Re-iron to get the seams flat.

Carefully tuck the edges of the open end in, and pin the seamed edge flat,  fit about 1/2 inch of the opposite end of the strip inside the open end. Pin to secure and make a loop.

Carefully top stitch the edges. I hurried a bit so mine are a little wobbly, but take your time and yours will come out very nicely.

Now you have a super cute reversible fabric napkin ring! It can stand alone or be decorated by tacking on a felt leaf, a pretty button or whatever you have that would make it more festive.

Dollies

I was supposed to post about making Cranberry Curd today, but life got in the way, and by the time I got into the kitchen the sun was down, so I knew any pictures that I would take would come out bad, so that will be for another day.   As I like to do when the weather changes into fall/winter I popped in the DVD of Little Women (loves it!) and was inspired by the gorgeous dresses, and especially the homey knits they wore. I decided to see what other people are doing with this idea… and after Googling  ‘Little Women Dolls’ I was horrified at the craptastic versions out there. Trust me, you can if you want to, but I highly recommend that you never Google ‘Little Women Dolls’. I’m really not sure what kind of crack Madame Alexander is smoking. I know the dolls are highly collectible, but I can’t figure out why. Does that make me a doll snob? I think it does.

Jo March

Since it would be impractical  to dress myself a la 1865,  I thought that I could live vicariously through some pretty little dolls.  Besides that, making adult sized historical dresses is a very big project, doll dresses are tiny! I pulled out the old graph paper and got to sketching. I especially like the 1994 Robin Swicord version of Little Women. I love the colors, the ‘real’ looking costumes and the general feeling and look of the movie… if that makes sense.  It’s a gorgeous film, and I am basing my designs on them. I want to make the bodies out of jersey or lightweight cotton, and make historically accurate, beautiful, realistic clothes. Not like the ruffle-y pink nightmares that I found when I Googled. Again, I reiterate. Ick.

Turquoise limbs.

I have started by making my doll body parts out of an old t-shirt. Don’t worry, it’s just to get the shape and size right, I don’t plan on having turquoise dolls. :O)   When I finish them I will post patterns here, but it looks like quite a project, it may be a while! But I’ll satisfy your curiosity, and mine, with updates as I go along. And who knows, if all goes well there may be a Jane Eyre and an Anne Shirley in the wings, too!

 

Easy Tote Embellishment Part 2

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Here, for your crafting pleasure,  is part two of my little tote embellishment tutorial.  If you missed part 1 check it out!

tote8I have already stitched the ribbon to the tote handles, and now I am going to add a little ribbon loop closure with a cute little button, and a pretty bow decoration. Remember you can use any ribbon that you like, but stay away from wired ribbon, it can make the sewing more difficult, and the button choices are, of course,  unlimited. If you use a bigger, or a heavy button, remember to cut a felt circle for the inside of the tote, just to provide support. Stitch the button onto the tote with heavier buttonhole thread to keep it on there for a long time. There are few things worse than being separated from a beloved button.

Fold your tote in half to find the middle and stitch your button onto the outside of whichever side you want to be the front.

Now for the closure loop.

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Cut a length of ribbon and fold it in half.  The length depends on the size of your button. Make it big enough so that you can easily slip it on and off your button, but make sure its small enough to stay on. Leave a little extra on the ends to fold over for a neat edge. Turn the ends down to make a little loop.

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 Fold the edges of the ends under and pin it opposite the button on the inside of the tote. Stitch along the bottom first, to secure the turned under edge, and also stitch along the upper edge of the tote. Back stitch for extra strength, tie and trim your threads. Now you are ready to close your tote!

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Don’t you LOVE the little Union Jack button? I do. :O)

Now lets add a pretty bow!

Cut a length of ribbon, long if you want the ends to dangle in the breeze, or short if you just want a bow. Tie it up and tack it to the tote with a needle and thread wherever it makes you happy. I chose the bottom of one of the handles. To make the pretty notched ribbon bottoms, grasp the ends of the ribbons, line them up and fold in half.  Figure out how long you want them to be and make your cut there.

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Using sharp scissors cut at an angle, starting low on the folded edge and angling up towards the corner of the selvage edge. If you cut them together they will be the same!  Easy Peasy!

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Now your tote is done and ready to be filled with, in this case, all kinds of shiny new knitting goodness.  This is what I included in mine…

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A freshly wound ball of pretty yarn.

Brand new bamboo knitting needles, perfect for beginners, and a             

Darning needle for weaving in ends and finishing.

You could totally go all out and include a needle/stitch gauge, measuring tape, stitch markers, crochet hook… the list goes on an on. How about getting a pattern or a knitting book and everything you would need to complete a project? What a great gift. Happy embellishing!

Easy Tote Embellishment Part 1

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All you need is a few pins, some thread and some inexpensive, yet pretty ribbon.

I have a date to teach someone new to knit, and I wanted to make a pretty tote bag for her shiny new knitting supplies.  However, I don’t charge a whole lot for knitting lessons, and I didn’t want all my profit to vanish before I even got paid.  So I decided to embellish a simple cotton tote.

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I got a roll of a delicate pale aqua (my fav!) gingham ribbon from Michael’s Arts & Crafts. It was under $4.00, perfect! And look how pretty!

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 Sorry. I know that picture was big. But I LOVE it. :O)

tote4I bought a very inexpensive small cotton tote from one of my all time favorite stores, Muji. Love is not the word, and perhaps my obsession is the topic of a future post…

But I digress, after my Muji experience,  I grabbed my pretty-pretty pin cushion that a very pretty girl made for me (thanks Florrie!)tote3 I cut Two lengths of ribbon just a bit longer than the lengths of the handles, folded the edge under and pinned it to the tote handle. Sewing with your machine, just stitch along each edge, going slowly so as to keep it neat with tote7a matching, or if you feel the whim, a contrasting thread.  

 Come see Part 2, finishing touches!