Tag Archives: sewing

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!


Spray starch made at home

NWF Homemade spray starch 2014-12-01

NWF Homemade starch 2014-11-10

Spray starch is a new thing for me and it isn’t readily available here in Finland either, so it was with joy that I stumbled upon a tutorial by Kati of from the blue chair how to make it at home. Since she uses American volumes, I’ve adapted the recipe to the metric system:

  • 1-2 tablespoons or 15-30 ml corn starch, often sold as Maizena
  • 500 ml water

I have omitted the essential oil, but a drop or two should be fine if you like this addition. As you can see from the photo, corn starch clumps easily, so don’t pour too much at once into the funnel.

The more starch you add, the stiffer the fabric will become, and the original recipe is with 1-2 tablespoons per 1 pint (473 ml), so 15 ml corn starch might not be enough in your opinion. Start with less and add as you go.

As Kati said, test it on scraps first. Isn’t it great how something so basic can be made at home in no time and in such an inexpensive way, too?

And how does one use spray starch, one might wonder? Alyssa of Pile O’ Fabric has a great tutorial with Youtube videos included. She covers everything you can think of, from amount of starch to iron settings to how to move the iron (pressing or ironing).

What is your experience with spray starch? Do you make it yourself? If you don’t, would you consider making it based on this information?

The sewing machine needle

NinaWithFreckles - Sewing machine needles

The sewing machine needle has taken me by surprise. It seems very mundane, but what it can do is beginning to resemble science to me. There’s the size, the shape, and the type, all of which is nearly impossible to remember by heart.

If you switch between fabric weights often, it’s best to consult your sewing machine manual as well as online tables for suggestions how to pair a particular fabric with a particular needle, but for those of us, who might stick to quilting fabrics mostly, you can’t go wrong when picking a universal needle.

Some facts:

  • The needle has direction; the shank, which is placed in the sewing machine, has a flat side and a round side. Don’t use brute strength when trying to put the needle in place, but consult your manual.
  • Match the needle size (thickness) to the weight of the fabric or you risk creating see-through holes in the fabric when sewing. Use a needle just large enough for your fabric (consult a table online if there isn’t sufficient information in your manual).
  • The size is written on the shank.
  • Read more about needle anatomy here.

It is recommended to switch the needle after 6-10 hours of sewing, but I confess that just doesn’t happen on my machine. I’ve also read on more than one website to match thread weight to the size of the eye, as too large a thread will cause lint to build up. Conveniently enough, no source has said anything more about this particular topic, so I can’t pass on other than hearsay. There doesn’t seem to be any numbering system for the eye of the needle and hence the statement is confusing.

From the infographic and this short blog post you can see there’s much more to it, so I warmly recommend you to keep digging for more at your end. I’ve found a chart by Sewing & Craft Alliance to be useful, click on their website here and scroll down to chart 22.115 to download the pdf.

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!

Small scrap busters

Thursday links are officially open! The first bunch all link to scrap busters of fairly small sizes.

Heart bookmark, Sew Many Ways

Covered magnets, All Things Lovely

Triple-zip (!) pouch, A Quilter’s Table

Pot holder, Prudent Baby

Reversible napkin rings, Prudent Baby

A twist on the napkin-ring closure is a magnet, which would probably act as a weight at the bottom. You would lose the convenient place-card function though.

These are just a scratch on the surface of a huge amount of wonderful tutorials out there. Enjoy!

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


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.


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

iPad sleeve and a new year

Happy new year, everyone! It has been quite a while since I wrote here last time, but there have been some ups and downs in my personal life that have taken their toll. I’m back at the sewing machine now, though, and managed to whip up an iPad sleeve during December, as well, but first I would like to share the strategy that I came up with for the coming six months during my session of setting goals for 2012.

I suck at discipline when it comes to the “grown-up stuff” of managing my own time during the days. My life changed rather drastically in the end of August last year upon finding out that I would be unemployed as per September and so I did some soul-searching whilst looking for jobs (within my area there are basically no open positions since they are mostly letting go of people instead of hiring). The results of phone calls, emails and scanning of job boards were depressing and, after having spoken to an old boss of mine, I found myself in a position where I may stay unemployed for several years and even then there might still be no job for me.

At Etsy, I opened a shop and some goals for this year are to work on marketing and other things to make it “pop”, stand out from the crowd. Even more exciting is a project that I’ll keep private for now, but it will keep me occupied full-time during all of spring, which is why I had to push myself against the wall to admit that a person can dabble with too many things at once and never produce anything of consequence, only half-finished stuff all over the place. I don’t want to be that unorganized creature anymore, so for now I’ll sew on Sunday mornings and Monday evenings. Why? Because I will make Sunday sacred, a day of rest and recreation. Up until January of this year, Sundays have been sacrificed for home maintenance of the most various kinds and I’m sick of it, especially since it has been happening only due to disorganization (the tasks might very well have been done some previous day but then I was busy procrastinating).

Sunday mornings are perfect since the afternoon will be spent cooking, walking in our beautiful nature, reading a good book and such. It is also a good day due to the fact that I can sew longer, should I so desire. A couple of piles will be all right to leave out for Monday evening, but then the piles have to be gone. I’m a piler, too, in case someone was wondering. We haven’t eaten at the kitchen table for weeks until my sister came by for dinner last Sunday; lame and quite awful really. Not my sister or her eating with us, of course, but me piling the table full of junk that should have been stored in their proper places or at least elsewhere. But that ended through my tough love towards myself and I’m very pleased to report that we have eaten breakfast (gasp!) at the kitchen table (more gasps!) three mornings (wow!) in a row (how organized! gasp!). Yeah baby.

Due to all the piles on my kitchen table, it is quite an achievement that I managed to whip up an iPad sleeve while also being confronted with numerous new techniques and materials. Doesn’t “whipping up” make you think of whipped cream, by the way? I used Elizabeth Hartman’s pattern for a laptop sleeve written for Sew, Mama, Sew! and since it was primarily for laptops, I was quite nervous whether I would screw it up or not.

Sec… *off to make hot chocolate with whipped cream* *back, yum*

Anyway, what use is there in talking about an iPad sleeve unless I give you proof of its existence?


As you can see, the flap of the sleeve is not quite in the middle, but such is life when one is practicing. Doesn’t bother me that much, maybe I’m drifting away from perfectionism finally? Would be good.


And while we’re at it, the back isn’t perfect either, although I managed to match the pattern rather nicely between front and back. See the top stitching? I never even heard of top stitching before tackling this iPad sleeve tutorial, but now I know.

Flap and velcro

I had trouble finding velcro in a colour that would match the fabrics, but was lucky enough to stumble upon this dark blue kind. The two strips sit quite in the middle of where they are supposed to sit (horizontally, that is), but next photo will reveal a little hickup.


Hrm, the lining fabric was supposed to go in the other direction of course, with the little crown on top of the head and not below. What happened was me concentrating veeery hard to get the fronts and backs of lining and transistor fabric correctly placed in relation to each other so I wouldn’t end up with a white inside of the sleeve. I’m talking of yet another novelty for a newbie seamstress like me; fusible interfacing. Gah. That was exciting! Instead, I have a flap with correctly placed lining and the inside upside down. Perfect practice to chill for a perfectionist… It’s  not like I will open the whole thing to sew stuff again either; go with the flow, learn to accept mistakes, be wild.

Velcro oops

My little velcro oops made me laugh out loud. Somewhere along the line I screwed up distances, but the velcro still does its job so I’m fine with it. Good god, how old my hand looks in this photo though. It’s weird not being smooth-skinned anymore. Oh well, maybe at least some of the lines tell stories of great wisdom?

iPad in its sleeve

My iPad likes its sleeve, doesn’t puke in there, and the blue colours fit each other better than the photos might insinuate, so all is well. The last take-home message I want to mention from this project is the colour of the thread; should have matched it better to the base colour of the canvas cotton, but one lives as one learns (I like this saying better than the other way around). Same goes for the blue thread used for sewing the velcro as well as the chosen stitch type; I had never sewn velcro either so a few times the seam ripper did come out (alongside a couple of curses, but I won’t tell you more about that). There’s probably some great advice online that I’ll have to dig out next time I’m working with it, especially if the item is for someone else.

There were so many new things that I have to say I was more challenged than I ever thought I’d be when embarking on the project. It was great fun!

* * *


  • Ruby Star Rising, Transistors orange by Melody Miller for Kokka (ah, she’s so talented! I’d love to get a yard or two of her typewriters, Ruby Star Shining!)
  • unknown, bought at a closing sale as quarter meter or whatever; selvage doesn’t say anything and I forgot to ask