Category Archives: Sewing

There’s a curtain in the living room…

Nina With Freckles - Living room curtain - Before and after 2015-07-23

This is a bit pathetic to admit, but I’ve had this narrow panel curtain for about five years, stored neatly in a fabric box. I unearthed the project when my latest organising post, and decided to dig out the hook ribbon, sew it in place, iron the thing, and install the curtain.

Guess how long it took from the time I saw the fabric to it was hanging in place? A total of half an hour. Fabulous, isn’t it? Do you have these quick projects queued up? Something mending-related such as sewing a button in place? Just do it. Mark those projects done once and for all!

My living-room curtain was purchased as is, but nevertheless I didn’t sew this ribbon immediately, and so it became yet another thing I procrastinated quite gloriously:

Nina With Freckles - Living room curtain - Hook ribbon 1 2015-07-23

Two seams, people, two seams…

And since I do want the curtain to hang straight, I only added the hooks, like so:

Nina With Freckles - Living room curtain - Hook ribbon 2 2015-07-23

If you want ruffles, you need to pull in the two cords, then tie them neatly like shoe laces in both ends, but even that isn’t too tricky to figure out.

There’s something immensely satisfactory about seeing one’s own handiwork in action in more utilitarian contexts than “prettyfying contexts” such as a quilt, so chop chop, off you go! :)

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My first 1-hour basket

NWF One-hour basket 2015-03-23

The 1-hour basket has begun to float all over the sewing accounts on Instagram, after Kelly of kelbysews published the pattern for free a few days ago, and I decided my iron with paraphernalia needed a new home. The name of the basket sounded promising enough that I’d manage to start – and finish, no less – a project within a reasonable timespan (whatever that means).

In theory, the project takes about an hour, but since I’m still trying to find permanent homes and arrangements in general for my crafting stuff, not only did it take some time to audition fabrics, but then the fusible fleece was missing for a short while. The amount of piles isn’t that huge, but rummaging through them took its moment. Then there’s the fact that my pressing board sits on the kitchen countertop, and the fact that I’m not always the best at washing dishes, so to clear the space took another moment. But once fabric selection had happened Saturday evening, in theory I could have finished the project in that hour. Only then I spent time chatting on the phone, too, so progress was slow enough that I did the top stitching, closing of the lining seam, and final pressing yesterday.

But enough babbling. The basket pleases me beyond words! I love the fabrics, both the Tape Measures in Aqua, a canvas from the Made With Love collection by Moda Fabrics, and Small Flowers in White from the Spring Street collection by Carolyn Gavin.

The pattern itself is also such a nicely written work. The photos are spot on, the layout clear, and the text to the point. The only things I would change are:

  • the nesting of the seams, because in quilting I prefer opening them rather than pressing to the side, and there’s considerable bulk where two canvas layers meet two fleece layers all on top of each other.
  • the size of the lining opening for turning the project inside out. I left it about three inches wide as instructed, but had to take out an inch or so worth of stitches, when the bulky exterior refused to become small enough.

Another thing I’ve observed is that people’s basket handles seem quite floppy compared to mine, even when they have added some kind of interfacing, but I want to stress that there are four layers of canvas and nothing else in mine.

I also took care to fuse each section of the fleece for about ten seconds under a moist cloth for long-term attachment to the exterior canvas. This gives a wonderful finish to the basket as a whole, I think, and it stands quite rigidly as well for such a soft construction.

Since this one fits my iron with neatly rolled-up cord, the water cup thingy, a starch bottle, and a pressing cloth, I most certainly will make more of this basket at some point. There’s more fabric where those came from, although I’m unfortunately running out on fusible fleece, I realise in this very moment to my great horror.

In the meantime, why don’t you go make one of these, too, and show me!

iPhone non-pouch finished

NWF Phone pouch 1

Remember the iPhone non-pouch? Yeah, it’s okay, I didn’t think you did. It was in the WIP box still with pins poking everywhere, because the last step required me to locate a needle and thread. And because I’m no fan of sewing by hand (although Mickey Depre’s hexie class on Craftsy might change my mind finally); might as well be honest here.

It took me a royal five minutes to get the stitches in place…

NWF Phone pouch 2

It ain’t pretty up on top but that’s as nice as it will ever look. The major hooray, however, comes from the status change once more.

First it was supposed to be an iPhone pouch, then a pouch for something other than electronics maybe, and once I had finished this little thing I remembered my tiny second phone.

Fits like a second skin on it, it does! I was so happy that it could become a phone pouch and who cares about an i or no i.

The primary thing I learned was that I should ask prior to cutting, if a tutorial that looks very nice seems to lack some information (such as the inch square in this case). I’m sure people don’t mind helping others out, if people ask nicely.

Bags for yarn projects

Currently my yarn projects are in a bit of a mess, but they deserve proper storage until I’m ready to tackle them again, so I racked my brain for potential patterns and remembered one seen on the Floating on Cloud9 blog.

Thanks to an inherited stash of fabrics and miscellaneous haberdashery I was all set and the cutting began two days ago. Immediately I finished the first bag of four, but while Michelle Engel Bencsko prefers the zipper very visible on top, I decided not to show as much of it in the next bags. Throughout yesterday evening I finished the next three bags, so here they are!

Yarn project bags made from grandma fabrics

Four bags for yarn projects

The light bag is made from a Marimekko fabric, Viri designed in 1982 by Fujiwo Ishimoto, but the rest are question marks. The checkered fabric is some kind of synthetic kind, because it messed up my iron. I’ll be more observant in the future, but it didn’t even cross my mind that someone would have synthetic stuff in their stash; I’m so much for natural fibres in general. Oh well, live and learn. Since the tefal surface (it’s a Tefal iron) looked rather gross, I decided to show it to one of those magic sponges and most of it has come off.

The zipper length used in the pattern is 12”, so I used 30 cm miscellaneous ones from the stash. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the two on top are black rather than navy, and I’d have preferred such a colour for the turquoise one. The checkered one would have looked really nice with a violet zipper to bring out more of red, purple and violet, but I can’t complain for inheriting perfectly good haberdashery in a mixed jumble; it was free. I’m very pleased with the white zipper on the black and orange bag, though, and the grey doesn’t scream too badly when combined with the Marimekko fabric, so all is good. Even the thread I used came from the same inherited sewing basket and these are practice projects anyway.

I don’t have a serger, but picked a dense stitch (in fact the same as I used on the Paasi fabric when making my kitchen curtain). It seems like this stitch type is better suitable for thicker fabrics or two fabrics on top of each other, because the presser foot covers only one of the feed dogs with the latter sort of pulling the light-/mid-weight fabric(s) toward itself constantly. My solution was to finish only the upper side of the rectangle (pre-zipper) with one layer of fabric and instead made a straight stitch around the perimeter, then finished with the dense stitch through both layers, which worked like a charm.

Another reason for going with a straight stitch on top of the dense stitch was that I wasn’t too fond of the finished look when the bag had been turned right side out and ironed. The denser stitch wasn’t very tight overall, but you could see lots of thread in the seam. It was also a practical consideration out of a yarn perspective; you use poky needles and they’ll be put in the bag so the seams better hold.

Here’s a full-frontal shot of one of the bags:

Yarn project bags detail

Vintage fabric in all its glory

The bag panels measure 10.5”x16” before sewing, so they aren’t large. I was wondering why it took so long in the beginning to finish a bag, but later realised I was switching zipper feet constantly! The stitch type and length obviously also had to be changed, but once I had found a rhythm to it, the last two bags came together quite smoothly. The feet I used are: straight-stitch foot, dense-stitch foot (have no idea what its name really is), and zipper foot.

My first attempt at making a neat top stitching was interesting to say the least (had to start with finding out what it meant), but now I sailed through that step like an intermediate sewer. It’s wonderful to notice progress like that!

I have a kitchen curtain!

After thirteen years without a kitchen curtain, I finally spent some time yesterday sewing one. Tadaah!

Kitchen window - Without curtain

Before – Looking very sad and empty

Kitchen curtain - Prepping

Prepping the fabric

Kitchen window - With curtain

After – Very much better

The space isn’t lending itself to tall, flowy floor-to-ceiling curtains, because the door to the balcony is to the left and the fridge/freezer is to the right. The dark wooden rectangle in the window frame is a slim airing window.

The curtain ended up being 39 cm tall (about 15 1/3”) and something around 195-200 cm wide (76”-79” range). I used one of those ribbons with built-in strings (with which you can create ruffles) to which I attached the plastic hooks that in turn were slid into the gliding thingies of the curtain rod. In Swedish they are called “ryttare”, rider or horseman, when you’re talking about the stuff connecting a sail to a mast; similar types of contraptions are what glide back and forth in my curtain rod, too.

The fabric is Paasi designed by Pentti Rinta for Marimekko in 1976 and it was made by printing black stripes on white fabric.

I’ve also managed to sew a cover for a tower of baskets containing miscellaneous linens and some cleaning gear to keep the dust at bay. I used a flat sheet from Ikea, which was the perfect width to cover the structure on three sides, so all I had to do was cut it to length. The raw edge was finished and I sewed 14 strings of ribbon around all perimeters to tie them around the corner legs.

Yesterday I’ve put a new fabric on the headboard of my bed. Originally, it was covered in a beige fabric with brown leaves and rusty orange berries, but the colour scheme doesn’t fit in my home, so I picked a white fabric purchased several years ago, which now suits the white, minimalist bedskirt (flat like the kitchen curtain) very well. The badly-fraying fabric is most likely Lenda by Ikea, so once I had cut a piece of suitable size, I used the same stitch as on the curtain to secure the edges. Thanks to my vast experience on using a staple gun (yay, pressing board!) I knew exactly what to do next and the rest is history.

A couple of days ago I started on a dust cover for my Canon Pixma, but it’s on the ice right now. I needed to see quick progress, but there was so much math and round corners involved that I decided to take a break to avoid getting angry at the project.

Any time I open a particular door my eyes see a hot mess of yarn projects, so I tackled the perfect storage for them last night, but consider this a teaser; more later during the weekend! I waited thirteen years for a kitchen curtain, so a few hours is nothing, hehe.

On keeping a sewing journal

Do you keep a sewing journal? It’s a while ago already that I stumbled upon this article at Sew Mama Sew, but I still haven’t written more than a short intro in a notebook on the smaller side. I have a different way of keeping track of the fabric inventory itself, but there are still many nice ideas to be used in the pdf made by Angela.

I think I’d like for mine to contain dates and progress as well as some reflections at the end of a project, but I haven’t decided on the format yet. Since I’m handwriting, it would look nice if the visual layout was somewhat similar throughout the book, so this is cooking still.

If you hadn’t thought about this, but would like to start keeping a journal, the pdf is there for you to use!

So what does it mean?

I wrote about new beginnings yesterday, but what did I mean apart from trying out a new way to learn? Well, currently my works in non-progress are wearing me down. Just the thought of them makes me cringe a bit, so my Very Serious Assessment tells me I should just forget about them for a while. I do want to finish all of them, but now is not the right time.

It is, however, time for the following:

  • Two navy-themed pillows for dad
  • An iPad cover for mom
  • A lampshade for my sister
  • A quilt for myself, inspired by Noodlehead (or is it noodlehead?)

The quilt in question is of course the first of Camille’s quilting class, the Piece of Cake 3 quilt. It is huge in comparison with baby quilts, but I have decided not to listen to the voice, which keeps telling me over and over what a humongous quilt it is. I think I’ve talked about living dangerously here before and now is the time to walk out of my comfort zone for good. So Piece of Cake it is and three of them, too.

Last night, I pondered which fabrics to use, as I don’t have any layer cakes at hand. I think the shipping cost is also pretty crazy compared to that of fat quarters and quarter yards. But really, I seriously don’t need ANY MORE fabrics in a while. I’m good. So good. You wouldn’t believe and I ain’t showing, just because. A lady doesn’t kiss and tell or however it goes. I just have to cut a bit differently, if there are charm squares, jelly rolls and what not involved; tough luck.

Anyway, this quilt will need 38 10“ x 10” squares, because eventually I will deal with a monstrosity pretty quilt of 63” x 74” size. See, I’m already learning to waltz around the discomfort zone! And I can’t wait to decide which fabrics to use!

Lunch bag musings

I need to work on healthier lunches the few remaining weeks of spring and thought a proper lunch bag might make it more interesting to chop, prep and pack every day. Unfortunately, I don’t have any laminated cotton at hand, but it might be good to try with less expensive albeit pretty fabric first, before cutting into the more slippery stuff. The latter, by the way, will have me using a new presser foot once again, which I’m very excited about!

I need a pattern and have a few, but can see where it’s going – a solution combined of several. These are the ones available currently:

I also have a copy of Sewing with Oilcloth by Kelly McCants, in which there is a pattern for lunch bags.

The two first bags above are real bags (with handles) as well as round and therefore are out of the question for now, but the two latter in combination with the lunch bag in Kelly’s book all fit my current needs. I’ll simply have to measure my trusted lunch containers and sew accordingly! More to come this weekend.

iPhone non-pouch

I used a very lovely tutorial by Amy over at During Quiet Time for making an iPhone pouch last night, but something went royally wrong and while the looks of it are perfect on my scale, the size is a teeny bit too small. So my phone can’t squeeze in and it’s not her fault either, because she’s slim and extremely fit as is. I think it has something to do with the pdf, which contains a template without inch measures. I downloaded and printed, but it may have been for letter-sized paper only, while I use A4. Don’t know, but it’s no use crying over spilt milk as my mom occasionally shares with me, so I hereby present to you a not yet finished tissue pouch:

iPhone aka tissue pouch front

iPhone aka tissue pouch back

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I haven’t figured out whether I’m supposed to use some weird, new pressure foot or actually take to *gasp* needle and thread to sort it out manually. Phew. I already see myself sewing quilt binding into place by machine… Anyway, it’s a short moment from finished, so I dare show it to the world already.

The blue fabric with charming berries or whatever they are is very vintage, salvaged from my grandmother’s attic of all places after she passed away last year. The selvage doesn’t inform anything but the collection name – Cook collection – and the manufacturer, Tampella, which was a shortening of Tampereen Pellavatehdas. Tampere is a city in Finland, pellava is flax/linen and tehdas on the other hand is a factory, plant or mill.

Since I found in her house a nice skirt of the same fabric, I originally thought it had been designed for Marimekko. Only upon discovering the scraps in the attic, did I realise someone else is to blame for this gorgeous fabric. Its only downside is the dark base; you can see lots of lint on it should you choose to pay attention to such things. The most fantastic upside, however, is that there is more where it came from alongside a modest pile of other fabrics and neither my sister nor my mother challenged me to a fight over them, so this definitely isn’t the last you will see of this “Cook collection” fabric by Tampella!

Make-up pouch in brown

I sat down. I picked a project and printed a couple of tutorials. I chose fabrics. I pressed, I cut and I sewed. And finished a project. It was small and I didn’t feel like tackling anything part of a quilt, because I needed closure. My personal life is a huge mess right now and so I find myself turning to fabrics.

I received quite a few fabrics as gifts last year and also bought an impressive stash myself, but it won’t do to turn to hoarding unless the one at hand is saved for a very special project, so in an attempt to activate myself again I’ve spent some coffee breaks online looking for pouches, clutches and the like that I could make.

This is what I made:

Brown make-up pouch

No contrasting lining

Oh oh… Lots of material at the top of the zipper!

And lots of material at the bottom of the zipper, too.

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The pouch is a tweaked version of a tutorial by Noodlehead, because I simply don’t like zippers, which strut at the end pieces. Flossie Teacakes has some easy-to-grasp photos in her Lined, zippered pouch tutorial and the zipper-related steps were very useful indeed.

What sewing school taught me:

  • I learned to use fusible fleece (it’s sticky!) and cotton/linen mix (thought it’d be more difficult to work with). I’ll think carefully next time before choosing this fleece over thinner, fusible interfacing.
  • I read advice on how to sew zippers instead of winging it like before (and used an actual zipper foot as well, learned what it looks like and which one it is *lol*).
  • I concentrated on my top stitching as opposed to when making the iPad sleeve (back then I didn’t quite think how important aka visible it would be to the world).
  • I cut the corner ears off both lining and the outer part to create a floor for the pouch (I won’t show you the lining).
  • I learned the hard way to read twice before doing anything – because I managed to let the zipper stay completely closed at the time when I was supposed to open it half-way… That was interesting. I almost cried. Won’t do that mistake ever again, though.
  • Finally and foremost, I learned – once again because this one is a hard one – that done is better than perfect!

Materials used:

  • Rings Brown from the Metro Living from Robert Kaufman
  • Essex Natural from Robert Kaufman
  • Fusible fleece
  • Zipper, too thick to my liking but it was inherited from my grandmother