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Buttoning It All Together

I need a bigger button box! cz4mwl6uy_m

 

Or do I?

My button box is currently full, right to the top. I can hardly close the lid on the darn thing!

So, it must be time to get a bigger box to store my buttons in right?

Or maybe it is just time to stop being lazy and sort and organize my current button box so that I have an easier time using what I already have.

While staring at all of the buttons that were just randomly and haphazardly tossed in my button box, I decided that a bigger button box was not the answer. What I needed was to take the time to sort and organize what was in my current button box.

DSCN4316Looking in my button box, I noticed right away that a lot of the space in the box was being taken up by the buttons packaging, mostly the cardboard cards the buttons were purchased on. So, my first step was to remove all of the buttons from the cards.

As I pulled the first buttons off a card, I thought to myself “This will take no time at all!” Boy was I wrong!

As I pulled more buttons off the cards, the staples holding the buttons to the card were staying attached to the buttons, not the cards. I did not want to store the staples attached to the buttons, and I did not want the staples to scratch the buttons while in the box. So, I started the long and tedious task of removing the staples from each of the buttons.

With the use of pliers, scissors and a staple remover, I slowly worked at removing the staples from the buttons. The husband was even given some buttons to remove the staples from. (That will teach him to walk into the sewing room and inquire what I was up to.) After a couple of hours and some sore fingers, I had all of the buttons removed from their cards and the packaging and all the staples and threads were removed.

DSCN4308Now that I had piles and piles of buttons all over the cutting table, it was time to sort and package them up more efficiently. I started by sorting my miscellaneous buttons from my button can. I matched the buttons from the can with the piles of buttons I had on the table. I was surprised how many single buttons from the can matched with one of the piles of buttons. Next, I retrieved my small jewelry zip lock baggies from the closet. I love these baggies. I use them all the time in my crafting and sewing so I keep them handy in a couple of different sizes. I placed each sorted pile of buttons in its own little zip lock baggie. Any single buttons without mates went back into the button can.

DSCN4317Now that I had several piles of buttons all stored in little baggies all over the cutting table, I started sorting the buttons by color. I was pretty liberal on what color the buttons were as I sorted, and soon I had just a few larger piles of buttons in little baggies of like colors sitting on the cutting table. These piles where then placed in larger quart or gallon ziplock bags to keep them further organized.

DSCN4320Looking at the large ziplock bags of buttons, I was pleased with the cleaning and sorting of my buttons. The large bags easily fit back into my current button box with some room to spare. I was very excited. I really like my current button box and I did not really want to replace it with a bigger one so this worked out great!

I have looked for buttons for a project a few times now since sorting my buttons into the bags and the new organization system has worked great. I merely pulled out the bag of buttons in the color I was looking for, then I quickly sorted through the little baggie inside to pick the exact buttons that I needed for my project. Through the clear bags I can easily see the buttons I have and how many of each of them I have, and since they are not attached to a card, the buttons can easily be placed on top of a project while still in the bags to see how they will look and match. Plus, this baggie system has been easy to keep organized as I add new buttons to my button box.

DSCN4315With the buttons finally sorted and back in the button box, I was ready for my next sewing room adventure!

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Creative Determining – Part 2

DSCN3986DSCN3987To begin the the sewing process of the Snoopy peplum top I started with the peplum first.

Since I was not going to line the peplum, I wanted to hide all the seams as much as possible, so I sewed French seams to piece the peplum together.

 

This was not difficult, just time consuming with a lot of ironing in between seams. I did a simple 1/2 inch hem at the bottom of the peplum to complete it.

Sewing the bodice was next. I decided at the last minute to add the yellow sleeves to the top. I like the yellow sleeves but as I snipped the curve of one of the sleeves I caught the lining and so I had to do a little mending. Luckily, the mended spot is on the inside of the top and cannot be seen from the outside. It should not affect the wearing of the top.

DSCN3998DSCN3989After gathering the peplum, I sewed the peplum to the bodice, making sure to line up the seams as much as possible. I serged this seam to finish it, rather than covering the seam with the lining and doing the stitch in the ditch seam.

The serged seam looks fine and saved me the headache of doing the stitch in the ditch seam.

 

I probably could have used the practice sewing the stitch in the ditch seam on this top, but sometimes just sewing the easy and simple way is fun too. And it’s much less stressful too!

With that, the little girl’s peplum top from the leftover Snoopy fabric scraps was completed!

DSCN3995DSCN3994The top is just adorable and the multiple seams in the peplum are really not that noticeable with the gathers.

This was a fun sew.

It is always fun to make something from nothing and to let the creative side flow to make it work.

Unfortunately, now that I have used up all the Snoopy scraps, I have at least a hundred projects that have raced through my mind that I could have made using the scraps.

Having said that though, I am not disappointed at all that I used these Snoopy scraps to make this top and at least they were put to good use!

Until then, sew forth and determine on!

Creative Determining – Part 1

DSCN3986There was no way that I was going to throw away any of the precious Snoopy fabric scraps left over from my new Snoopy shirt. The scraps really were not large enough to make anything with, not even for a child, but I just could not bear to throw them away. So, what to do with these scraps beside stack them on the edge of the cutting table and stare at them?

Recently, I have seen several little girls peplum tops that are just adorable and I have wanted to make one. So, looking at the Snoopy fabric scraps, I decided to see if I could squeeze a little girl’s peplum top out of the pieces. The size of top I would make would be determined by the dimensions of the scraps.

DSCN3813I didn’t really have a pattern so I turned to the internet for ideas. The first style of peplum top I found had a circular peplum. This was out of the question. The scraps I had to work with were absolutely too small to cut a circular peplum from. The second style I found was a gathered peplum. Hmmm. I might be able to make this work with the scraps.

DSCN3985Now, how long should the peplum be versus the length of the bodice? I saw a variety of bodice and peplum lengths from long bodices with short peplums to short bodices with long peplums and many hi/low peplums in between while I was searching. Once again, I would need to let the dimensions of the scraps determine the length of the peplum and the bodice and the scraps would also determine how full the gathered peplum would be.

DSCN3999Still not having a pattern, I pulled out my favorite little girls dress pattern as a guide. Based on the size of the largest scrap, I determined that I could get a size 4 bodice front and back from the scraps as well as have a few pieces left over for the peplum. I quickly picked some yellow cotton from the stash that matched Woodstock for the lining of the bodice.

To make the peplum, I squared the remaining scraps of Snoopy fabric I had and found that I had two pieces approximately 6 inches tall by 12 inches wide and 4 pieces that were 6 inches tall by 6 inches wide. (Actually, one of the 6 by 6 inches pieces was only DSCN39965 inches wide, but I could work with that.) With a lot of seam work, I determined that I could make these scraps work out for the peplum. I would sew the two 12 wide pieces together for the front of the peplum and sew the 6 inches pieces together for the back or the peplum.

I would not be matching any of the designs in the Snoopy fabric. There was certainly not enough scraps for that, but luckily with a gathered peplum, the non-matching designs as well as the many seams that I would be sewing would just be gathered in.

Excitement for this project grew, as I saw my almost useless scraps become a little girls peplum top!

Stay tuned for the sewing of the little girl’s Snoopy peplum top.

Until then, sew forth and scrap on!

Down In The Southwest

DSCN4029Waste not, want not, but as you know there is more to it when it comes to fabric scraps and remnants. It’s the challenge of making something from nothing and the creativity of making it work that gets you to use those scraps and to buy those fabric remnants from the bargain bin at the fabric store.

It was this challenge and creativity that got me to begin my latest sewing project.

DSCN4027I saw this southwest print in a stack of discounted flat fold fabrics and I just fell in love with it. I love the bright colors on the black background and the fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. But, there was just a little over a yard left. What could I make from that? The fabric would be ideal for me a shirt, but could I figure out how to piece it together with other pieces of fabric to make me a shirt? Color blocking ideas swirled in my head so I quickly purchased the piece of southwest print fabric and brought it home!

DSCN4033With a color blocking design in mind, I dug through the stash and found several pieces of fabric that I could put together with the southwest print to make me a shirt, but the deep blood red piece that I found was by far my favorite. But, as I went to cut the shirt out, I noticed that the red piece of fabric was terribly flawed.

What was such a flawed piece of fabric even doing in the stash?

I returned to the stash to select a different piece of fabric to use with the southwest print but now I did not like any of my other choices. I thought about going back to the fabric store to look for more red fabric but I was too disappointed to go. I took another look at the flaws in the red fabric to see if I could work around them. How could I make it work the way it was? After much thought, I came up with a new color block design that should work, but I would have to cut the southwest print perpendicular to the grain line.

Would it be ok to cut against the grain?

DSCN4022After much studying and reading about grain lines, grain, cross grain, welt and warp threads, I decided that yes it would be ok to cut my fabric perpendicular to the grain line as long as I was careful to cut on the cross grain just as I would be careful to cut on the grain line. At this point after fully researching the issue, it was finally time to cut the fabric.

The cutting process started with tracing my pattern and then cutting out new pieces for the color blocking. This took time and thought. I had to decide where I wanted the seams to be, add some seam allowances and then reshape the armscye and hem. With the new pattern pieces created, it was time to cut. I carefully cut the front and back pieces perpendicular to the grain line from the southwest print and the I carefully placed and cut my new side pattern pieces and sleeves around the flaws of the red pieces of fabric. With the pieces all cut out, it was time to sew.

DSCN4023The sewing process was going along smoothly until I noticed the flaw of the red fabric in the center of one of the sleeves. I thought I had cut so carefully around the flaws but I guess that I had not. I had no more non-flawed red fabric to cut out another sleeve with. Could I just pretend the flaw was not there? No, I would never wear the shirt with the flawed sleeve. Hmm, I wondered. Could I cover up the flaw with a little embroidery? Yes, that would work!

I picked a lizard embroidery design and some bright colors to match the southwest print and embroidered the design on the sleeve to cover up the flaw and it worked great! You can still see the flaw, but your eye is now attracted to the embroidery design instead of the flaw so no one ever notices it. Showing the husband my embroidery solution, he suggested embroidering another lizard on the other sleeve to balance out the design. So, I picked some more bright colors and embroidered another lizard on the other arm. With the lizard designs embroidered on each sleeve, it did not take long to complete the hems and sew on some bright southwest looking buttons to complete the shirt.

DSCN4026I was a little apprehensive about wearing this shirt at first with its bright colors and it’s multiple embroidery designs, but it did not take long to fall in love with the shirt. It is a lot of fun to wear! The color blocking, bright colors, and the embroidered designs make it highly unique. This shirt also fits well. The alterations to the pattern for the color blocking did not affect the fit.

I am very pleased with this shirt and have already worn it several times. I am now excited to make more projects with lots of color blocking and embroidery designs but minus the flawed fabric.

Until then, sew forth and lizard on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 2 – In The Pink

DSCN4050The sewing process for the sweater started with the plan to use my second new sewing tool, a new pair of pinking sheers. When reading about sewing fleece, one of the suggestions for finishing the seams of fleece was to just pink the seam allowances with a pair of pinking shears. I used to have a pair of pinking shears many years ago. I loaned them to a friend and I never saw them again. I haven’t really missed owning a pair until recently though, so I decided to reinvest in a new pair of pinking sheers.

DSCN3982When I looked into buying the pinking sheers, I found that I could spend a lot of money for nice pair or a much smaller amount of money for just a pair of the sheers that people had reviewed and said worked well for them. As you and I know, a good pair of scissors is a valuable sewing tool. So, when it comes to buying sewing scissors, I believe that you should spend the extra money for a nice pair of sew scissors. But is that true when it come to pinking sheers I wondered? I decided to go against the grain and buy the less expensive pinking shears for now. Later, if I found that I used the pinking sheer all the time, and I needed a nicer pair, I could then invest the money and buy the more expensive pair.

I sewed up the seams of the sweater, ironed the seams open and pinked the seam allowances. This was easy to do, but it was time consuming to line up the pinked edges. When the seams were done, the pinked seam allowances looked good and pinking was a fine way to finish the edges, but I still think that I like the look of a serged edge better. A serged edge to me is just a cleaner look.

DSCN3721In the end I was happy that I did not spend a lot on money on the more expensive pinking sheers. I just don’t think I will be pinking all that often, and the less expensive pair will be fine for me for how often I expect to use them. Although, if I was going to be using pinking sheers on the majority of my sewing projects, I would definitely invest in the nicer, more expensive pair of the pinking sheers since I know how much better a project goes with good scissors.

Sewing the bias tape on was next. I learned quickly not to let the fleece stretch too much as I sewed the bias tape on. My plan was to sew the bias tape on, fold the edges over and to stitch in the ditch on the front, catching the bias tape on the back. This did not work for me though. I remembered to not trim the bulk from the seam allowance of the bias tape but to leave the bulk to even out the fabric from the heavy fleece to the thin bias tape. I did trim a little of the bulk off the edge to smooth the edges, but not much.

DSCN3974The problem with leaving the bulk is that after going around the bulk with the bias tape, the bias tape was too short on the back side to be caught by the stitch in the ditch seam from the front side. Rather than arguing with the stitch in the ditch seam, I decided to sew on the edge of the bias tape on the front side. Now, there was no problem catching the bias tape on the back side. I was using nice matching thread so the sewing on the edge looks good, probably better than the stitched in the ditch seam would have looked.

DSCN3723The last step was to apply the velcro closures. As I cut four one inches squares of velcro to sew to the sweater, the husband shock his head no. He said he thought that buttons would look better. Since this sweater is not for an infant, there is no worry about a chocking hazard with buttons, so I decided that using buttons instead of velcro would be fine. I asked the husband what he thought about sewing the velcro on as the closure and the buttons on top of the velcro for decoration but he thought that the buttons as the closures was better. He did not like idea of the Velcro closures for a three year old.

DSCN4045Because the sweater is unlined with no facings or interfacing, I put a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the fleece to help keep the fleece from stretching as I sewed the buttonholes. This worked out great! The stabilizer held the fleece steady as the buttonholes sewed and gave the buttonholes themselves more durability. The extra stabilizer was torn away so you won’t even know I used it nor will it ruin the look of the buttonholes inside the sweater.

DSCN3976Soon the buttonholes and buttons were sewn and the sweater was all done!

I think that this sweater is just adorable! I had a lot of fun making it and I learned a few new sewing things and I got to use my new sewing tools as well. I will keep this sweater in mind for the next time I want to make a fun and simpler sewing project.

Until then, sew forth and pink on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 1 – Cutting The Curve

DSCN4045I love to go to craft shows, but I rarely buy anything. I am one of those people that professional crafters hate. I walk around and see what they have made, borrow their ideas, then I run home and make one for myself. That is what happened this time, with my latest fleece jacket/sweater project. The lady at the craft show had made a simple infant unlined fleece sweater, finished with bias tape edges and velcro closures. The sweaters were just adorable, simple and cute, and since I was in the mood for a light project, I decided to make one of these sweaters myself. Plus, I could practice making and sewing bias tape and use two new sewing tools that I had recently acquired.

I knew that I wanted to use this bear fleece that had been in the stash for many years. In fact, it was one of the first pieces of fleece that I ever purchased. Since it was never picked to be used for a blanket, it was time for it to be a sweater instead. I picked a brown cotton fabric for the bias tape, but when the husband saw the bear fleece he said to change to a red bias tape instead. It was no problem to pull some red cotton out of the stash to make the red bias tape with.

DSCN4052I cut 2 inch strips on the bias of the red cotton fabric to make 1 inch bias tape. The cutting and sewing of the strips went smoothly. I am getting better at this process each time I make bias tape. After a lot of ironing, I had a pile of red 1 inch bias tape made. I did not know exactly how much of the red bias tape I needed, so I just made a fair amount since I knew I could make more if needed. If I had extra, I would just save it for another project.

Now it was time to cut out the sweater. I was on my way to the pattern stash to find an infant jacket pattern to use when I spied my Simplicity 8902 pattern laying by the cutting table. Why not just use this pattern? It is a tried and true pattern for me, plus the size 3 was already traced and ready to use. I had envisioned this project for an infant but there was no reason that a 3 year could not wear a teddy bear fleece sweater as well so that is what I went with.

DSCN4046As I cut out the pattern pieces I added an extra inch to the fronts for the velcro overlap and I got the chance to use my first new sewing tool. I wanted to curve the tops and bottoms of the overlaps so I used my new french curve ruler I had picked up on clearance recently. Usually, I would have looked for a plate or bowl to cut the curves, but it was nice to use the curved ruler with the markings to make more accurate, even curves with. Plus, the rotary cutter cut much smoother around the edge of the ruler than it does around the edge of a bowl or plate. It did not take long to cut out the pieces for this sweater and to begin the sewing process.

Stay tuned next time for the sewing of the sweater.

Until then, sew forth and curve on!

Applying The Lessons Learned

IMG_0016After being so pleased with the construction process of the dinosaur vest, and then so flustered by the construction of the ant jar vest, I wanted to make another vest. And in the process I wanted to apply the lessons that I had learned and to end the vest making process on a more positive note.

So, I grabbed some more bottom weight scraps from my pile and some monkey printed flannel and I got started! As I laid out the fabric to cut, I spied some pleather that I had waiting to make its way it to the stash. Oh yes! I would give this vest a pleather collar and welt pleather pockets to step up the style!

DSCN3956With the design completed, I started to cut out the fabric. Because I was working with scraps, I did not have a single piece big enough to cut the back of the vest on the fold, so I would need to add a back seam to this vest. A back seam would not affect the wear or the construction of the vest so I saw no problems in having a back seam. Applying the lessons learned from the previous vest constructions, I remembered to cut the extra inch for the buttons on the fronts of both the top fabric and the lining. I also remembered that I wanted to add some interfacing to the pleather the next time I used it. Soon, I had all the pieces cut out, interfaced, and I was ready to start sewing.

DSCN3957The first step in the sewing process was the embroidering of the monkey design. Remembering the lessons learned from before about placement, I thought long and hard about the placement of the embroidery design versus the size of the design and the collar before I finally hooped the fabric and stitched the design. When the design was completed, I saw that I was not going to have an issue with the collar covering the design. If fact, I had over compensated and I was wishing that the design was a little higher than it was. Even though, the monkey design is the best placed embroidery design I have done on these vests, I still have a few placement lessons left to learn.

DSCN3700The next step was to sew the pleather welted pockets. As I debated about the placement of the welts, the husband peaked over my shoulder to see what I was doing. When I showed him the pleather welts, he said no, that I should make patch pockets like on the dinosaur vest from the pleather. I explained to him that I already had the welt pockets cut out and interfacing applied to the pleather welts, but he insisted that I should cut new patch pockets from the pleather instead. Since I know that the husband has a good eye for design I followed his lead and cut out some new patch pockets from the pleather and sewed them on the front of the vest. The pockets came out great! The pleather was easy to sew and the pockets look very good on the front of the vest. Plus, the monkey embroidery design sits at the top of the pockets so it is now not too low.

DSCN3702When it came to the pleather collar and the pockets, I remembered lessons learned about using a press cloth to iron the pleather. I top stitched the edge of the collar so that it would match the stitching on the pleather patch pockets. The rest of the sewing process went smoothly, even the stitch in the ditch seam of the band.

When it came time for the buttons and buttonholes, I applied the lessons learned from the previous vest’s buttons and buttonholes. I decided not to have a button at the top of the vest, but to place the first button so the vest was open as I expected the vest to be worn. I then spaced the other buttons appropriately. The buttons looked like they were in the right place and there was no seam issues when sewing the buttonholes.

DSCN3963I am super pleased with the end results of this vest! It is just adorable!

And as much as I hate to say it, the husband was right and I just love the pleather patch pockets!

The pleather patch pockets are just perfect with the monkey embroidery design and the pleather collar.

Plus, I am super pleased with myself for remembering and applying the lessons learned from previous sewing projects.

I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing this vest as much as I have enjoyed making it. With the success of this vest, I am ready to more on from vest construction to other sewing projects, but I will happily make more vests at anytime.

Until then, sew forth and apply your lessons learned on!