Tutorials

Make Your Own Evergreen Christmas Wreath

Posted by on Dec 3, 2011 in Craft Projects, Holidays, Tutorials | 4 comments

Last year I shared with you how my mother-in-law taught me how to make an evergreen wreath.  This year we gathered with the whole family (my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, too!) to make them again.  We started our outing at our land to gather the evergreen boughs, and after a long (and somewhat wet!) hike we finally found the perfect branches.  After lunch we had a wonderful time creating our wreaths, and then going through the bags of flowers and pinecones that my mother-in-law has kept for just this purpose in order to decorate them.

Creating an evergreen wreath is super easy and fun!  Here’s how:

1.  Gather a bucket of fresh evergreen boughs.  We found fir trees to work best for this because their needles lie flat and aren’t prickly.  I think other branches would work, but you might want to wear gloves to keep from getting poked by the needles.

 

2.  Find or make a wire wreath frame.  You could make one out of a wire coat hanger, and the bonus is you will already have a hook for hanging!  You will also need some florist wire.

3.  Cut your boughs into lengths about as long as your hand.

4.  Gather these “hands” into a group of three or four (depending on how full your boughs are).

5.  Secure your wire to the wreath frame.  Wire the greens onto the front of your wreath frame by wrapping the wire around the wreath and greenery several times.

6.  Gather another group of “hands” and wire them to the back of your wreath frame, a small distance away from the group you just wired to the front.

7.  Continue to wire groups of branches alternately to the front and back until your whole wreath is covered.

8.  Twist the end of the wire to secure, and cut it off.  If you need a hanger, twist the wire into a hanging loop before cutting.

9.  You now have a beautiful evergreen wreath!  If the shape is a little wild, trim the boughs until you are happy with it.

10.  Decorate as you wish!  When I purchased wreaths in years past I only ever decorated them with a long velvet bow that I reused year after year.  I can’t resist my mother-in-law’s collection of decorations though, and love the way the flowers and pinecones look on the greenery.  These are attached with a glue gun, and they pull easily off the wreath at the end of the season to reuse next year.

Happy wreath making!

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How to Make Your Own Eco-Friendly Envelopes

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 in Tutorials | 1 comment

With Christmas on its way, and inspired by Joy to the Earth, I thought it might be a good time to share a tutorial for making earth-friendly envelopes.

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I have created my own envelopes out of old calendar pages since a friend first sent me a letter in one when I was away at university (thank you Laurie!)  Many years later (never mind how many!), I still have that original envelope and continue to use it as a pattern when making my own.  I have also found an easy way to make these envelopes in any size, without a pattern,  to suit perfectly a handmade card or letter.  I often use old calendar pages, but have also made them from magazine pages, old maps, and engineering drawings my hubby brings home from the office.  You could also use old sheet music or pages from books headed to the recycle bin.

Materials

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You will need: paper (see above for ideas), a marker or pen, scissors, and a glue stick (or tape, although I personally prefer glue.)

 

Two Ways to Make a Pattern

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a friend send you an eco-envelope that you can take apart and use as a pattern, there are two ways to make your own.

1. Use an existing envelope

Find an envelope in your stash or recycle bin that is the right size and carefully open it up.  You now have an envelope pattern!  (as a side note, some envelopes are designed in such a way that they won’t fit on smaller papers, such as a magazine page.  If this is the case with yours, try option 2.)

2.  Create one from scratch (it’s easier than it sounds!)

  • Place your card or letter on the piece of paper you want to to turn into an envelope.

 

  • Fold up the bottom to cover the card.

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  • Fold in the sides (leave a bit of wiggle room

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  • Unfold the sides and fold down the top

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  • Unfold the paper.  You will notice that the folds have created rectangles in each corner.  Cut out these rectangles.

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  • For a neater looking envelope, round the edges.

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Create Your Envelopes

Trace your pattern onto the back of the paper you want to use and cut it out.  You might want to think about the design and where it will be on the envelope when you do this.  For this paper, I wanted the candles to be upright on the front.

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Put glue on the sides of the envelope.

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Fold up the bottom and stick it to the glue.  (If you don’t have glue, you could also tape your envelope together.)

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That’s it!  You’re now ready to mail!

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Mailing Tips

Since the envelope flaps are not self-sticking, you can close them with tape, stickers, or with a glue stick.

Use labels for the addresses.  I have a number of blank ones I use for this purpose, but I have also used a piece of scrap paper glued or taped to the front.

Happy mailing!

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Pretty Fabric Necklace Organizer

Posted by on Sep 30, 2011 in Craft Projects, Tutorials | 3 comments

I love necklaces.  I could live without earrings, I usually forget to wear the rings I own, and I have yet to find a bracelet that sits nicely on my small wrists, but an outfit seems incomplete without a necklace.

And I own many of them.

For the longest time they were folded, rolled, and stacked several necklaces deep in one of four little jewellery boxes that I own.  It kept them out of sight, but often made it impossible to grab the right one in a hurry.  What I really needed was a hanging necklace organizer.

And so I made myself one.  Gathering inspiration from here, here and here, I headed to the thrift store and found a framed print that would work perfectly.

I removed the glass and since the print was glued to sturdy cardboard, decided to reuse it as the backing for the organizer.

I covered the entire thing in Mod Podge and stuck down the fabric.

I then folded in the corners, using a little of the Mod Podge to make them stick, and then folded down the sides over the back, to keep the fabric in place.

 

After putting it back into the frame, I was ready to add hangers.

To create the hangers, I hot-glued small plain buttons to the surface, and then covered them with larger, prettier, buttons from my stash.  (Due to the shallowness of the frame, I couldn’t use nails or push pins without having them poke too far through, but I think the buttons were a fun solution!)

Then I hung it on the wall and filled it with necklaces!  Isn’t it pretty?

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Tutorial: How to Recover your Ironing board

Posted by on May 27, 2011 in Sewing, Tutorials | 2 comments

Everyone deserves a stylish ironing board.  Until two weeks ago I was still using the same cover my ironing board came with 6 years ago and it was in desperate need of a makeover.  I grabbed some of my most favourite fabric and got to work.  It’s actually a fairly easy project with a big pay-off: no more ugly ironing board!

Do you want to give your ironing board a facelift too?  Here’s how to do it.

Materials:

  • a piece of cotton fabric a few inches longer and wider than your ironing board. (I used quilting weight, although I am sure a heavier weight would be even better.)
  • Your old ironing board cover.

1.  Remove the old cover from your ironing board.

2.  Pull out the cord from the old cover.  You are going to reuse it in the new one.

3.  Use your old cover as a pattern for cutting the new one.  Lay it on the fabric, and then draw around it a 3/4 of an inch away from the edges.  You can now bid a fond farewell to your old cover!

4.  Cut out your fabric along the line you just drew.  (Check out how brown that cover is!  I don’t think I’ll be repurposing this fabric….)

5.  Fold over the edges of your new cover 1/4 inch and press. (Ha, ha!  This is the point when you will realize that you don’t have an ironing board to iron on at the moment.  After the initial “oh…..right….” moment,I covered mine with a towel and motored on.)  Then fold them over again another 3/8″.  Press and pin.

6.  Allow the fabric to buckle around the curves.  No one will know.

7.  Sew around the whole thing, close to the edge, to make a casing for the cord.  Leave an opening about an inch wide on the straight end so you will be able to feed the cord into the casing.  Backstitch on both sides.

8.  Tie one end of the cord to a safety-pin, and use the pin to move the cord through the casing.  Pull the threads so they are even.

9.  Prepare your board for its new cover.  If you need new padding, use the old as a pattern to cut yourself some new.  The photo below is of the original, but I cut myself a few layers of cotton quilt batting to use instead.

10.  Now for the fun part.  I found that this took two people, but if you are more talented (or patient?) than myself you might be able to handle it on your own.  Pull the cords to slightly gather the cover and slip it over the board and batting.  Pull on the cords again to tighten it over the board and use your fingers to ease the gathers around the sides until the cover is on tight.  Tie off the cord.

11.  Stand back and admire your handiwork!

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Patch Pocket Tutorials

Posted by on May 10, 2011 in Sewing, Tutorials | 2 comments

Welcome to all of you who have taken on the Summer of No Pants challenge!  I am really excited to share some patch pocket tutorials with you today.  I love patch pockets because they are easy to make, adaptable to many styles, and you can add them to anything (even clothes you didn’t sew yourself!)  So let’s get sewing!

Basic Patch Pocket

There are several ways to make a patch pocket, this way is super-easy and results in a nice strong pocket without any raw edges to worry about.

Decide what size you would like your pocket to be, and then add 1/2″ inch to each side.  For example, if you want a pocket that is 4 x 5 , cut two squares that are 4.5 x 5.5.  You will need 2 squares per pocket.   If you have stripes or plaids you might want to spend some time cutting pieces that line up with the plaids or stripes on your skirt.

If you aren’t sure what size you want your pockets to be, cut out some paper squares in the size you think you want, lay it on the skirt and see what you think.  When you find the size that looks good, add 1/2″ and you’re ready to go!

Place your squares right-sides together, and sew around all edges with 1/4″ seam, leaving about 3 inches open for turning.

Clip the corners, turn the pocket right-side out and press.  (If you want to be fancy you could slip-stitch the opening closed at this point but I usually don’t bother)

Top-stitch across the top of the pocket.

Pin your pocket in place on the garment.

Sew around the sides and bottom, close to the edges.  Make sure the opening you left for turning gets sewn closed at this point.

Tip:  For pockets that don’t sag when they are full, start and finish sewing a little bit across the top on each side. 

Done!  That was easy, right? 

But what if you want something with a little more style to it?

Dress it up!

Before you sew the pocket to your garment it’s really easy to dress it up with ribbon, a contrasting fabric piece, buttons, ric rac, or oven some embroidery.

Make a Shapely Pocket

Who says pockets have to be squares or rectangles?  Try cutting your pocket in circles or half-circles, triangles, flowers, stars, hearts, you’re limited only by your imagination!

Bias-Binding Trim

Sometimes a little bias binding on the top of a pocket dresses it up nicely.

To make this kind of pocket, follow the directions for the basic patch pocket, but when sewing your fabric pieces together, leave the top open.

Clip corners or curves, turn right-side out and press.

Now take a piece of bias binding, open it up, and pin it to the top of the pocket, right-sides facing and matching the edges.  (Bias binding usually has one side that is shorter than the other.  Pin the short side to the pocket.)  The binding should hang over the sides about 1/2″

Sew the binding to the pocket just to the side (closer to the edge) of the first fold-line.

Press the binding towards the top of the pocket, and then fold it over to the other side to encase the top of the pocket and press again.

Top-stitch along the bottom of the binding, being sure to catch the back of the binding in the stitches.

Fold the ends of the binding to the back of the pocket and pin it to your garment.

Stitch around the pocket as described for the basic patch pocket.

You now have a fancy bias-trimmed pocket!

Create Flapped Pockets

Start with patch pockets already sewn to your garment. 

Decide how big you want your flaps to be.  This is a good time to play around with paper models until it looks right.

Once you have the right size, add 1/4″ seam allowance to all sides to create your pattern.

Cut two of these out of your fabric, and one out of interfacing for each pocket.

Apply the interfacing to one of the two pieces for each pocket. 

With right-sides facing, sew around all sides, leaving a hole for turning.

Clip curves and corners, turn right-side out and press.  (Sounds familiar, right?)

Find the centre of the flap and put in a button-hole.

Pin the flap into place on your garment and stitch across the top.

Sew a button to the pocket.

That’s it!  (Isn’t this fun?)

And one more….

The Gathered Pocket

This pocket has a unique look, and also provides a little extra room for pocket treasures.

Start with a paper pattern of  the size of pocket you want to create.

Trace the bottom onto another piece of paper, and then mark out a top that is 1.5x larger than what you want your finished top to be.  (You could go bigger than this if you want even more gathers in your pocket, but this was a good size for me.)

Connect the top line to the bottom line. (I used curved edges for this semi-circle, you would use straight lines for a square.)  I folded it along the centre-line to do this so I would have two sides exactly the same.

Add 1/4 inch seam allowance to the bottom and sides.   Cut out your pattern and use it to cut 2 pieces of fabric (per pocket.)

With right-sides together sew along the bottom and sides, leaving the top open.  Turn and press.

Set your machine on a long stitch and stitch two rows of stitching across the top – one at 1/4″ and one at 1/8″.

Pull the bottom threads to gather the top to the desired width.

Finish with bias tape as described for the bias-taped pocket.

Voila!  A gathered pocket!

So there!  Absolutely no excuses for not having pockets on your skirts and dresses (or aprons, or pants, or bags, or anything else you’re making!)    Once you’ve mastered the patch pocket there are so many others you could try (with zippers and pleats and welts, oh my!  Maybe a future blog post?)

Happy Sewing!

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Pillow Cube Tutorial

Posted by on Feb 15, 2011 in Sewing, Tutorials | 2 comments

I designed this pillow cube months ago when I was looking for something that would act as a design element, but also be functional for extra seating or to put up your feet at the end of a long day.   (Not that I ever sit still long enough to put my feet up, but I have heard that it can be enjoyable!)

They are a quick and easy project and the end result is soft, squishy and fun!  (What more do you want from a pillow?) 

Want to make your own?  Just click on this handy dandy tutorial and you’re on your way!

The Fabulous Pillow Cube Tutorial

If you make a pillow, please let me know!  I would love to see it!   Enjoy!

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