Friday, October 31, 2014

Book Review ~ Learn to Sew with Lauren

In case you are wondering... yes, how to make this cute top she is wearing in the photo is also included in the book!

I was so thrilled when I received a copy of "Learn to Sew with Lauren" to review. Lauren Guthrie was a very popular finalist in BBC TV's Great British Sewing Bee. You can learn more about her, news, projets and tutorials on her blog.

Flipping through the pages, the thought came to my mind was, "I wish I had a book like this when I was learning to sew as a little girl!". The title "Learn to sew..." seems perfect for this book, because she took great effort to help you from choosing fabrics, sewing equipment, and many well explained basic techniques for people who are very new to sewing. Though, this book is not just for beginners. What is unique about this book is that the projects advances in difficulty from "beginners-Easy Peasy" to "improvers" and to "More Tricky". There are 20 projects in the book with full size patterns. Let me name a few; napkins, potholders, quilts, purses, blouses (yep, that would be one of the more tricky ones). You see, this book is for everybody who loves to sew. What I really love about her projects are her fabric choices. I am nowhere near an expert but I can pretty much sew everything in her book. But looking at her take on each item, fabric choices, and combinations inspired me to sew more!

Let me show you some of my favorites...

Envelope cushion cover is a very simple thing to make and perfect for a beginner. This is the perfect example of making something useful and stylish that doesn't have to be complicated. I adore her fabric choices.

This picture is actually for the trimmed cushion cover. This picture also inspired me with the texture and color. Simply beautiful.

Everybody need a Big bag. Some of the people who are close to me knows that I love bags. I seem to have things to carry all the time; my projects and sketch book to go, kids' library books, snacks in the car... so on so forth. This bag seems very roomy and I love the side pocket. This might accommodate all my needs...

The last one is the Placemats. I love the variation she shared; the one with cutlery pockets. How cute is that?? I might need to make some and invite my friends for lunch!

There are a LOT more pretty items to make in this book and I am sure that you will fall in love with her style. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tutorial~ Liberty of London Framed Christmas Ornament

My love for the fabrics for Liberty of London goes back to when I was in junior high. There was a fabric store which carried them, in the city I lived, and whenever I had chance, I went to the store; I just admired it with sigh. When I had my first job in high school, I bought my first Liberty of London fabric... over the years I collected them here and there and I have a hard time cutting them.

But, what good would it do if I don't make anything and just let it sit on the shelf?

This year, I wanted to create a Liberty of London Christmas tree with hand made ornaments! Of course I will do the tutorials as well, in case you would like to make some. :) I have several ideas for the ornaments, and every now and then, I will post an ornament tutorial until Christmas. What do you think? Wouldn't that be fun?

So, the first one are these Framed ornaments. They are inexpensive and easy to make and I think this is one of the best ways to showcase some pretty fabrics.

{You will need}

Small wood frames
Acrylic paint
Card stock (index card would work too)
Liberty of London fabric scraps
Mod Podge
Cabachon or other findings to decorate the frame
Thin ribbons or trims
Small bell

{How to}

I found these ornament size wooden frames at Michael's for around $1.69 and they were 40% off! Not too shabby, huh?
1. Remove the twine and paint the frames. Set it aside to dry completely. Lay the frame on a piece of card stock. Trace inside of the frame. Then, add slightly less than 1/4" around the traced line and cut it out. You will need two to make one frame.

The card stock should be large enough to sit nicely but not too large to see from the front.

3. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to the card stock and lay that side down onto the wrong side of the fabric you are going to use. Add about 1/2" around it and cut it out.Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the card stock, then fold the corners first. This way you can fold the fabric in a miter, and the corners will be less bulky. Fold all sides and stick to the glue already on the card stock.

4. Apply more Mod Podge on the entire surface. Then stick the other card stock to it. Press and hold till dry or lay it on a flat surface with a heavy book on top of it.

5. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge on the front to give a nice coat to protect the fabric.

6. Apply Mod Podge around the edges, then stick it to the painted frame. As you did on step 4, lay it on a flat surface with a heavy book and wait till it dries.

Nice clean back...
7. I added cabochons to decorate the frames, changed the string to a trim that I had and added a bell. This step is totally optional. Depending on what you use it will give a very different look to the finished ornament.

My Liberty of London ornament making has just started, but I am pretty excited about this idea. I can't wait to share the next one with you! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tutorial ~ Counting Stars Quilt

Number of blocks 22 / Finished quilt size 72 1/2"x 86"

{Materials} I used the delightful fabric line: "floriography" by Pink Fig Design.
3/4 yard of 7 different fabrics

4 yards of light blue fabric for background (Shades/Aqua Marine)

5 1/2 yards for backing (I had a lot less fabric than that, but that is the standard requirement by the chart I found.

batting that is slightly bigger than the finished quilt top

*If you are going to hand quilt like I did --- I used 100% cotton size 10 crochet thread, but there is a variety of threads available from DMC and such. I like using chenille needle. The needle hole is large enough for the thick thread and the needle is sharp enough to quilt.

{How to}

1. {Cutting}

* From 3/4 yard of 7 different fabrics --- To make 22 star blocks, cut 18 pieces of 10" diamonds from each fabric so you can make three star blocks; except one of them you need to cut 24 pieces of diamond to make 4 star blocks. Also, I cut 1 3/4" wide strips out of the leftovers to make 9 yards of binding strips.

* From light blue fabric cut 138 pieces of diamonds; 132 pieces for creating star blocks 6 pieces for adding to the sides later.

There are several ways to cut out diamond shapes out of your fabric. At first I was using Amanda's diamond ruler to see how the star blocks would look...

Line up the edge of the ruler to the folded part of the fabric, and make cuts. Voila! now, you have a diamond. For those of you don't own a diamond ruler I created a 10" diamond template you can print out. OR, since this doesn't require fussy cut, you can draw a line on the fabric 10" at 60 degrees and cut a whole bunch at once. It goes much faster when you are cutting 138 pieces of background fabric.

2. {Construct the star block} --- You will need 6 diamond pieces with patterned fabric and 6 light blue fabrics to make one star block

Sew 2 pieces of diamonds with patterned fabric together and sew. Leave 1/4" from both ends, make sure to lock stitch(or back stitch) to secure the stitches. Press with iron.

Pin the light blue fabric and sew.

Open up and pin from the middle to the other end and sew. When you pin the points, make sure that they line up perfectly, so your blocks have less irregularities.

Press all the seams toward the same direction and press with iron.

Then the middle of the quilt block will look like this in the back...

Make two more of the same thing and piece them together with three light blue diamonds to fill in the gaps.

The back... When you always press the seam towards the same direction, it is much easier to have a beautifully finished back with less bulkiness where the corners and points meet.

{Putting Together the blocks}

After you are finished making 22 blocks, lay them out to see the color balance and such. You can make 4 half star blocks, since you are cutting off that part. I just went ahead and made regular blocks because I didn't know which colors will end up where. Use the picture as a guide. "d" is where you need to add light blue diamonds to fill in. I decided not to add any fabric on the corners to give this quilt a little unique finish.

After you added 6 pieces of light blue diamonds on the sides, cut half of it off.

Then, half of the star blocks from where it is shown in the picture...

Now, you are done putting the quilt top together! I hand stitched my quilt, but part of me wanted to see this quilt with a modern machine quilt design too.

I had to tell my kids not to touch the quilt until I am done taking pictures. Now, it is official. They can wrap themselves, make a fort, take it on our road trips and make a bunch of memories with the quilt this summer. I hope those memories are just like stars; bright spots in their lives for years to come.

Thank you for reading my tutorial, hope you enjoyed it. :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tutorial ~ Faux Button Down Tunic

I realized that I had several guest tutorial posts I did for others, but haven't reposted here. Since I am working on a couple "secret" projects right now (and you won't see them till Spring/Summer), I thought it would be the perfect time to repost one. I am planning to repost different tutorials here and there in case you have missed them. :)

This is a very simple-to-make tunic and no major pattern is required. This particular tunic I made is for size XS and S, but if you need to make it larger, you can always add fabrics on the sides or join two pieces of fabrics at the front and back to create the same look. :)

* You will need

1 yard of main fabric
2/3 yard of contrast fabric
1 Strip of interfacing
8 3/4" Buttons
Matching thread

* How to

* I soaked the fabrics in the washer over night without detergent and lightly washed them the next day. After I let the fabrics air dry, I ironed them to prepare them for sewing.

1. Cut the main fabric 25" by the width of the fabric, and cut the bottom trim fabric 7" by the width of the fabric. I am short and have a short torso, so if you are a tall girl you might want to add an inch or two to the measurements.

2. Put two fabrics right sides together and sew on the width length. Treat the edge with your preferred method to prevent fraying. Fold the seam toward the bottom trim and press with an iron.

3. Add 1" wide x length of the fusible interfacing on one side of the side seam and fold.

4.Lay the fabric flat; wrong side of the fabric up. Bring both sides to the middle to fold. Over Wrap the seams by about 1" and match up the design and pin in several places. Make sure that you don't pin the other layer of the fabric.

5. Sew the edge with 1/8" seam then sew 1" in parallel to that line. Now, you have created a faux button down front. Again, make sure not to sew the fabric in the back with it!! ( I do stuff like that when I am not thinking...)

6. Now you have a giant "tube". Lay it down on the table flat to determine the center of the tunic. Make sure that what you have created in step 5 comes right in the middle of the fabric and both sides of the fabrics are equal width from the center. You can download the PDF template I have created for the top edges for the tunic. Print, cut then you can trace the outline onto the fabric and cut to create a curved line. You can use same template for the front and back, the back is 1" higher than the front.

7. Use the largest stitch length and sew 1/4" and 3/4" from the top edges. Pull the threads to gather the fabric. I shrunk mine to about 9" wide, you could do slightly more or less. Press with an iron.

8. Make bias tape. Cut the rest of the contrast fabric diagonally 2" wide. Sew them together, open the seam, press with an iron. Fold both seams to the middle and press with an iron. You will need this for the seams for the tunic and to use it as a belt, so you will need at least close to 4 yards.

9. Sew the bias tape to the front and back gathered seams. Open the bias tape and pin the bias tape, sew on the folded line.

Fold the bias tape to the back, pin and top stitch to finish it.

10. Sew the bias tape to create armholes with same manner as step 9. Mine is 23" circular, but it is best for you to try it on and find out what is the best fit for you.

11. Sew the bottom edge. First, fold 1/4" from the edge and fold at 1" then sew.

12. Sew ribbon belt with rest of the bias tape. Mine is 32" long.

13. I sewed the ribbon belt in the back of the tunic. I think the best position to sew this on is about 1" or 1 1/2" above the waist line. If you prefer not to, you can skip this step.

14. Sew buttons. Mark 1" from the top edge for the first button, mark 3" apart each for rest of 7 buttons. Sew them on.

15. Guess what? You just completed the tunic, hooray!

I had to try it on and do a test run. The fun and cheerful design of the fabric really made me long for the arrival for the Spring. :)

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