Monday, March 28, 2011

Thankful Mondays #7

Sorry for another slow week in blogland. I've still been feeling a bit under the weather lately (maybe it's the allergies or the weather that won't make up its mind to be spring), so I'm taking it pretty slow around here. Hopefully, things will pick up this week.

Anyway, as you know, each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week seven. Read more about it here.

91. how happy my husband gets when he's in the kitchen (especially using his new meat grinder to make sausages this weekend)
92. mani/pedis
93. my crazy family
94. Ben Folds
95. finding a new great take-out place just around the corner (Mai Lee, we love you!)
96. Texas
97. good pizza
98. windows in my office
99. Enchanted Rock
100. garlic
101. the first buds of spring
102. french berry lemonade from Trader Joe's
103. small tractors
104. our farmer's market returning in 6 weeks!
105. freshly picked apples, especially when they're picked with friends

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

WIP Wednesday #6

It's been a bit of a slow week around here. I've been feeling a little under the weather and without much energy for sewing (that's a phrase I never thought I'd say), but there's been a bit of progress, so let's get to it. (In case you've missed out, I'm following along with Freshly Pieced's W.I.P. (Work In Progress) Wednesday series as a good way for me (and you) to keep track of what's going on around here.)

Completed this week:
Blocks #3 and 4 of my Early Bird/Kitchen Window quilt
Apparently, I was thinking of Christmas when I put these together.
Happy cups!

The Kindle sleeve tutorial has been posted!

Style Stitches Challenge bag #3, the Origami Bag (I ended up just making one, instead of the set of six, but I love the way it turned out, and so do my ribbons.)

Started this week:

In progress:
Blocking the Early Bird/Kitchen Window quilt
I love those toasters.

Hope everyone has a great rest of the week. And be sure to click on the button to check out other great WIPs for more inspiration!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, March 21, 2011

Style Stitches Challenge 3: Origami Bag Done

I'll be honest — it was hard for me to get too excited about this month's Style Stitches Challenge bag: the Origami Bag Set. It's basically a set of six zipper bags in different sizes.
It seemed like kind of a throwaway because there are a gazillion zipper bag tutorials out there, and I didn't really see that AB was bringing much new to the plate here. Plus, I didn't really need a zipper bag, and I certainly didn't need six. Still, I hated to just skip the month, so I decided to make one in the medium size, stealing an idea from the book to use it to store ribbons.
 And here it is!
I used the same Cosmo Cricket Tailor Made fabrics I used on Stella's sewing machine cover, so they match in the sewing room. Plus, it seemed like a good opportunity to break them out again.
The pattern was pretty easy, and this was definitely a beginner bag. I did appreciate all the size options AB provided, and I'm sure that will come in handy in the future. My only real complaint was with how she has you insert the zipper. You have to sew it down to one exterior piece, then stitch over that with the lining, then repeat on the other side. That's four stitches to attach one zipper, which seems excessive. I much prefer the method Noodlehead uses in this tutorial and will do this instead in the future.
I am glad my ribbons have a cute home now. Don't you love that owl ribbon?

Note: This month, I'm only participating in My Craft Crap's challenge because JemJam required you to make all six bags.

Thankful Mondays #6

Each Monday, I'm writing about things I'm thankful for. This is week six. Read more about it here.

76. Layne's
77. Michelangelo's work
78. warm weather
79. crawfish
80. banh mi
81. the beaches of Mexico
82. a soft couch
83. the Bible
84. sewing blogs and books
85. discovering new things
86. video chats
87. Rudy's BBQ
88. Billy Joel
89. picture frames
90. finishing my first 5K

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kindle sleeve TUTORIAL

Want to make a little something to keep your Kindle safe and cozy?
This sleeve is very easy to make and provides a great little cozy for your Kindle. You could also easily adapt it to fit a number of other devices, including your laptop, iPod, or iPad. Let's get started.
* Cut two (2) 6.5" x 9" pieces from each of your exterior fabric, interior fabric, and lining. (I used cotton flannel for my lining, but you could also use batting. Alternatively, you could forgo the lining and make your interior fabric a fleece or something soft instead. Also, if you have a directional fabric, bear in mind that 9" is the vertical measurement.)
* Cut one (1) 4" x 3.25" piece from each of your exterior fabric, interior fabric, and lining. (3.25" is the vertical measurement here.)
* coordinating thread
* sew-in Velcro, cut to your preferred size (I used about 1.5".)
* Steam-a-Seam 2

UPDATE: The measurements above are for a sleeve that fits a Kindle 3 (also known as a Kindle Keyboard). To adjust the sizing to fit other devices or other Kindle models, just measure your device and add 1.5" to the length and width measurements for the lining, interior fabric, and exterior fabric. You may also want to adjust the size of your flap depending on the size of your device.
Pin together your two pieces of 6.5" x 9" exterior fabric right sides together in one sandwich. Pin both sides and the bottom.
Then, pin another sandwich in this order: one piece of 6.5" x 9" lining, both pieces of 6.5" x 9" interior fabric right sides together, then the second piece of 6.5" x 9" lining. Pin both sides, but note that you're going to leave an opening in the bottom for turning later. I mark this with two vertical pins (see picture) to remind myself to stop.
Using a .5" seam allowance, sew each sandwich together (first the exterior sandwich, then the lining sandwich, so you have two sandwiches). Backstitch at both ends.
Remember to leave a gap in the bottom of your lining sandwich. Be sure to backstitch at both ends, but there's no need to cut your thread. Just lift your foot, pull the thread to where you want to start again on the other side of the gap, and go.
Press. (See my gap in the lining?)
Trim your seam allowances and clip your corners. I find using pinking shears helps to reduce the bulk in the assembled sleeve.
Turn the exterior sandwich right side out and press again. Use a chopstick or other tool of your choice to push out the corners. Leave the lining sandwich as is.
Now let's work on the strap. I chose to make mine have rounded corners, but you could leave it squared off if you prefer. I just eyeballed trimming my edges to round them off, but you could also use a small cup or circle template to trace a curve. I placed the exterior, lining, and interior pieces together and cut them all at once to ensure they were the same.
Now we're going to sew our Velcro to the strap. We only want to sew it to the interior and lining pieces so that you don't see the stitching on the outside. Pin your lining and interior pieces together along the sides and top to secure the sandwich.
Note: You could use a piece of sticky Velcro, but I prefer sew-in. It just seems sturdier to me. Also, I always use the "soft" side of the Velcro on this step, because it's the piece that the Kindle could rub against when it's removed from the sleeve.

So, cut a piece of Steam-a-Seam to the same length as your Velcro.
Stick the Steam-a-Seam to your Velcro and pull off the paper on the other side.
Position the Velcro in the middle of the strap and about .625" from the top. Cover the Velcro with a pressing cloth and press with your iron to secure it to the strap.
Sew in the Velcro, staying as close to the edges as you can. Don't forget to backstitch.
Remove your pins and add your exterior piece to your sandwich. Your interior and exterior pieces should be rights sides together (so the Velcro is between them). Pin along the top and sides.
Using a .25" seam allowance (note the smaller seam allowance), stitch along the top and sides, backstitching at both ends. Press and trim your seam allowances. Trim as much as you can along the curves, but make sure you don't trim into your seam allowance.
Turn inside out and press. Topstitch along the top and sides. Press.
We're almost there. Let's assemble the bag. Place the exterior bag inside the interior bag, right sides together. So your exterior bag should be facing out, and your interior bag should be facing in.
On one side, place your strap between the two bags, aligning its bottom with the top of the bags (the strap should be inside your new sandwich). Center it along the side of the bag. Make sure you place it so that the matching fabrics are touching (i.e., the exterior fabric on the bag is touching the exterior fabric on the strap.) Pin securely all the way around, aligning your side seams.
Using a .5 seam allowance, stitch all around the top to attach the bags. Note: If your sewing machine is like mine, the opening of the bag will be too small for the bag to fit around your machine arm. Just go slowly, holding as much of the fabric flat as you can and making sure you keep any extra fabric away from the needle.

Press before turning. Then pull the exterior bag through the hole in the bottom of the lining.
Ta da! Press both sides flat.
On the lining, push the extra fabric from your hole inside the lining and press. Handstitch or edgestitch the hole closed. Push the lining inside the exterior bag. Use a chopstick or other tool of your choice to push out the corners.
Press the bag again to make sure the layers are aligned properly, then topstitch around the top opening.
Pretty, huh? Just one more step...
We need to attach the other piece of Velcro. Place the second piece of Velcro on top of the first piece, then cut another piece of Steam-a-Seam and attach it to the back.
Insert your Kindle into the sleeve and close the strap. (You want to insert the Kindle to make sure your strap is in the right location for when the bag is in use. If you leave the bag empty, your Velcro's going to be too high.) Hold down the unattached piece of Velcro where it lands and gently pull the strap back open.

REMOVE YOUR KINDLE (we're about to get the iron out), carefully holding the Velcro in place. Using a pressing cloth, iron the Velcro so it attaches to the fabric, then sew it into place.
And you're finished! Take a look at your fancy new Kindle sleeve and envision all the compliments you'll soon be receiving.
I hope you enjoy the tutorial. Do let me know if you have any questions or problems with any of the steps. Good luck!