Thursday, October 27, 2011

Festive Fabric Wreath Tutorial

I have been wanting to do a tutorial for a while, so I am very excited to have a good reason to do a nice, easy, no sew Festive Fabric Wreath for my first one.  These are perfect for Christmas, but can be used for any holiday or season with just a change in fabric color selection.  This could even be a great gift for a baby shower, decor for a party, to show your support for a team by using team colors.  The ideas are endless.  This is not an original creation, by any means, but it is a beautiful way to use up all those fabric scraps or just the ugly roll of mint green glitter fabric that keeps mocking you every time you open your fabric bin.  For me, my Christmas fabric has been mocking me for 3 years ... daring me to come up with some creative way to use it.  The prints are a bit un-inspiring and juvenile.  I like them ... or I must have because I bought them at some point, but they don't stand alone all that well.  Not to mention, I need them out of my fabric closet ... now.  New fabric, more inspiring fabric is standing by to take its place immediately.

I started searching for any idea that I could mix and match all this red, white, and green festive flair.  I had seen rag wreaths before and had recently been inspired by a rag rug demonstration I saw at the LA County Fair.  I was thinking some kind of shaggy chic, raw, small pieces project would suit this fabric best.  I found several tutorials on how to make a fabric wreath, but the one I liked the most and followed was on a blog called The Daily Sweat Pants - here.  I made a few changes to my wreath, but hers is so pretty, I wanted to make sure I gave her some credit for inspiring me.

This is a very simple craft.  You don't need to sew a thing.  It costs less than $5 if you already have the fabric and the tools.  This is also a great craft for a pre-teen or teen who is into this kind of Martha Stewart stuff because all it requires is the ability to use scissors and tie knots.  I should also mention patience ... you are definitely going to need some of that.


Fabric Scissors or Pinking Shears - Just a word of advice... don't ever use your fabric scissors or pinking shears to cut paper, it will ruin your scissors.  Make sure for this project (or any other fabric project) you have a nice sharp pair of scissors that have not been used on paper and be sure to set them aside as fabric only, so you can use them in the future.  It will save your hand and you will thank me.

Fabric Scraps - For the wreath pictured above I cut my scraps into 2" W x 5 " L strips.  I cut them straight down parallel to the selvages, but I cut some the other way and it didn't seem to make any difference.  Do not worry about them being perfect or straight or if their are snags or stains ... no one will ever see it.  The next wreath I make I will cut the fabric strips 1 1/2" W x 5" L.  I think it will make the knots easier and faster to tie.  You can play with the sizes of the strips.  I think it looks more uniform if you stick with one size for the entire wreath, though.  Anywhere between 1" W and 2" W, but the length is really good at 5", IMO.  Use any fabrics, never mind the prints, but focus on the color.  It's also really nice to add a little tulle in there for body and texture.

Wire Wreath- I bought a 12" one that has 4 layers of wiring.  It was only $3 at Joann, but I think you can find them at Michaels or any other craft store like those.  They make different sizes.

Things that are not necessary, but will speed things up ...

Self Healing Mat - If you plan to sew or cut lots of fabric in the future I recommend investing in one of these.  They usually run around $25.  You need one of these if you want to use one of these ...

Rotary Cutter - these are great for cutting straight lines.  It really speeds up the whole process of cutting fabric.  I don't recommend these for pre-teens.  Older teens it should be fine, but always (adults included) be sure to close the blade every time you set it down.  You can get a regular blade for a straight cut or you can get a pinking blade for a zig zag cut (I used a pinking blade on the wreath pictured above).  If you get one of these ... you will need one of these ....

See-thru Sewing Ruler-  These are great.  You can easily measure the fabric and slice clean lines along the edge of the ruler with your rotary cutter.

I cannot live without my self healing mat, rotary cutter, and ruler.  


1) Cut up your fabric scraps into 1 1/2" (or 2" if you prefer) W x 5" L with either pinking or straight scissors or rotary cutter.  Direction doesn't seem to matter, but I cut parallel to the selvage. (I used pinking shears/cutter on mine)

2) Find something good on TV, get yourself a nice drink, find a good spot on the sofa, stretch your fingers and then get ready to tie some knots. Take your cut piece of fabric and fold it in half length wise, so the wrong sides of the fabric are together and the print is facing out.  That way when you tie it onto the wire wreath you will see mostly print and not the back side of the fabric. There is no need to fold the tulle in half.  You only need to make a single knot.  No need to waste time making double knots.  There is probably a smart way to go about doing this, like working from the bottom ring out or the top ring in, but I kinda went all over the place and it came out just fine.  I also didn't stick to a strict pattern, but I did try to somewhat follow one just to keep from having the same fabric right next to one another along the same wire.  Use as many or as few prints as you like.  For my wreath I used 10 different fabrics (2 were tulle and 2 of the fabrics I had to use sparingly).

3) Keep tying.  Stop cursing me!

4) Tie some more!  If you are tired of tying  you can always go to my Etsy shop and buy a Christmas wreath already made by me :) - trust me, you will entertain this idea about half way through the wreath .... but keep on tying because it is going to be gorgeous!

5) Finish it off any way you like!  Add an already made bow, or make your own.  Make sure you give it something to hang from.  I just cut 3 long 1" strips of fabric and braided them together and tied them to the wreath to keep with a raw, natural look.

6)  Hang it and enjoy!  Then start making one for Valentine's Day and Spring!  lol

Happy Holidays!!!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Garment District, Downtown LA in pictures

Only thing missing from this picture is me twirling through the rows of fabric with a look of pure rapture on my face :)

Michael Levine

I nearly passed out in the zipper section :D

Little sushi shack in a dark alley in downtown LA ... ok!

$5.50 Shrimp Tempura Roll .... Heaven!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I finished my first sew along!!

Too bad I was the only one sewing along!  That's ok, though, because I have another bag pattern under my belt and a nice gift for my brother :)  I hope he likes it!  Does it look manly enough?

Here are some more pictures below.  I changed a few things about the pattern.  It was supposed to have square corners on the bottom, but by force of habit, I accidentally rounded the corners, which in the long run made it easier to sew and I think the finished look is cleaner.  I also sandwiched the strap in between the lining and shell instead of attaching it on the lining where you can see the attachment point on the inside of the bag.  I think it not only looks better, but holds stronger, too.

Nice adjustable strap.  Brass colored hardware.
I love the use of a hair band for the latch!  Great idea!

Under the flap pocket ... just like on my design.
The picture of the inside of the bag didn't come out too well, but it is nice, big and roomy.  I didn't add any pockets because I highly doubt my brother will actually organize anything in here :)

I'm hoping my label will be masculine enough 
Back pocket is designed to hold files folders.  My button hole came out a little off center.
Button holes are a pain in the .... well ... butt.

Inside view of back file folder pocket

Bag on the dummy :), not my brother ;)
I hope Mikey likes it!  It came out nice.  It's a pretty good mens bag.  I will probably make more like it in the future, but I might add a little something more to the inside.  I love me some POCKETS!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Sticky, Crafty Weekend at Our House

This weekend I decided to whip out an old book I bought years before I had kids called, The Ultimate Book of Kids Concoctions, by John E. Thomas & Danita Page.  

I dug through the recipes to see what ingredients we had on hand.  The first one I found was called Magic Muck.  It requires:
3/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup water
5-7 drops food coloring

1) Mix water and food coloring together in a small bowl
2) Slowly add cornstarch to water and food coloring mixture.  Do not stir!

Aubrey makin' the muck

3) Let the mixture stand for 2-3 minutes
4) Pick up a handful of Magic Muck and squeeze it until it forms a hard ball.  Open your hand and the Magic Muck will turn from a solid ball back into a liquid

The Magic Muck in it's solid form
Turning into a liquid

It was actually really cool.  I had a lot of fun playing with it, too.  Our first attempt it was a little runny and didn't form a hard ball, so I added a little more cornstarch and let it sit for another 3 minutes and then it was perfect.  It is a little messy, but just stay over the bowl or in the kitchen.  It washes off the hands and floor real easy with just water and a little rubbing.

I dug through the recipes and found lots and lots for different kinds of homemade paint.  I had exactly 3 small poster board papers left ... PERFECT!  I decided on a recipe called Sticky Paint:
2 tbs. light corn syrup
4-6 drops of food coloring

1.  Mix corn syrup and food coloring together in a small bowl until well blended
2.  Repeat the above process to create different colors of Sticky Paint
I mixed mine right in each mini muffin tin hole with a toothpick.  Super Grover was there to help fuel the fun.

This stuff is sticky, so be sure to cover your work surface and artist.  This works great for finger paints for small children.  It is safe if they accidently ingest some of their work. 

Aubrey creating her masterpiece
Bayne's Masterpiece
Mom's  Masterpiece
I let them dry over night, but they were still pretty sticky.  I think if I hung them on the fridge I'd find the dog with her tongue glued to the door.  I decided to cover them all with cling wrap (which is my kryptonite, btw.  I so see why Dexter uses that $hit to trap his victims.  Stuff is evil).  Now we can use them as placemats for dinner tonight :)

I also finished up a few little random sewing projects for the kids and I.  I got my hook and eyes sewed onto both my dress and skirt, finished a couple orders, got my fabric art sketches transfered onto heat bond, merged a couple of Bayne's shirts into one, and finally glued the eyeball on Aubrey's elephant applique shirt.  

 Bayne loves a sleeveless shirt, just like his Pops.  He recently ripped his USA flag guitar shirt in a big way right in the front.  He LOVES that shirt, so I promised I'd try to find a way to salvage it.  I found an old long sleeve red shirt in his closet that was a size to small and started pinning, sewing, and snipping away.

I think it will look even cooler when I wash it because all the raw edges of the red will roll up.
All I did was cut the image from the old blue shirt out and then pinned it to the inside of the old shirt.  Then I sewed two straight lines around the entire image parallel to each other to form a frame.  Then I cut out hole in the red, being careful not to cut the blue image underneath.  Cut 1/4 inch from the stitching.  Cut off the collar (I stay stitched around it before I did) and cut off the sleeves.  He seems pretty happy with the outcome!

Aubrey's elephant shirt I had a lot of fun with.  She loves elephants and I love her wearing hearts.  I am experimenting with no sew heat bond.  I am hoping it will stay on for more than a few washes.  I am skeptical, but the Mickey Mouse shirt I made her with the same heat bond has survived one wash so far.  I may end up going over this by hand with embroidery floss.  It's just not on the top of my to-do list at this point.  At least I finally got the eyeball glued on.  This will also be a good experiment to see how long fabric tack will hold in the wash.

My poor little princess isn't feeling too well this weekend.  I figure if we can't have fun outside, than we may as well make the best out of being inside!  Between the boogers, the paint, and the muck, I can without a doubt say that it has been a very sticky, crafty weekend at our house!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My first sew-along!

I recently went "Like" crazy on Faceebook and added a bunch of my favorite sewing pages to my news feed.  I have no idea why I didn't do that sooner.  Obviously, right up my alley!  My new favorite magazine is Stitch Magazine (sorry Oprah, I still love you, though!).  It comes out every few months and it is packed full of fun projects and sewing tips.  I go crazy for it whenever I see it at Joann.  Here is the link to their facebook page:

I recommend it to anyone who loves to sew.  I saw an announcement on their facebook page the other day for a sew along and they were doing a well suited messenger bag for a man.  They had me at messenger, so I downloaded the pattern here ...
Well worth the $4.

The bag design is very similar to the bags I make now.  I am very nervous about the final construction step, adding the flap to the bag, because it looks tricky and hard to sew the way they are assembling it.  My method is far easier, but I learn so much by trying new things.  I already want to add a pocket or two to the pattern, hopefully it won't add too much thickness if I do.  Maybe only in the front inside?  We will see.

I had a gorgeous wool tweed that I grabbed off the remnant rack a long time ago.  This is perfect for it!  I used the lining I had originally intended to go in it, so I had to buy a new one and I chose a lighter green fabric.  The tweed is camel brown with lots of dark brown, white, camel, beige, and light green threads peaking through.  There is supposed to be a leather piece across the front flap, but I'm not much of a leather person and that would require a new needle and I don't have time for that right now.  I'm going to use a pretty brown corduroy instead.  It has a leathery color to it.

Here is what I have so far.  I'm waiting on all the metal slides in the mail, but I chose a nice brass color.  I have wooden button for the front that should work nicely, too.

Closer view ... you can sorta see the green threads in the wool tweed

Wish me luck!  It looks like I might be the only person "sewing along", which is kind of a bummer.  There is one other girl who joined, so I hope I can keep her motivated to sew along with me.  Either way ... Uncle Mike is going to get that birthday present I owe him.  Far better than some trinket bought at some shop.  He just transfered to UCSB, so this will be perfect for him ... make him look all learned and stuff.

I am hoping to have this finished by the end of the weekend!  Stay tuned!  Mike, if you are reading this ... you see nothing .... these are not the droids you are looking for ....