Thursday, December 29, 2011

Custom Ribbon Bag Holder for Kindle Fire

My first ribbon purse custom order from the last craft show was a success!  A lady who visited my booth at the previous craft show asked about the availability of a smaller ribbon purse.  I was away from our booth at the time, but hubby told her I could make a smaller size.  (Which, of course, I can!)

She looked me up at the next craft show and placed her order for two smaller ribbon purse/bags for her two granddaughters, who are sisters.  The sisters were to get Kindle Fires for Christmas and grandmother wanted them to have matching bags to hold them.  The only complication was how to differentiate the bags from each other if they were alike!  We decided to try a monogram of the girls' initial of their first names.  I told her I would experiment with some scrap ribbon and see what I could do.  As seen here, the monograms turned out great!
Grandmother requested purples for the color combination.  I had run out of enough purple ribbon to make the bags "purply," so I went out and purchased the floral and the solid ribbons.  I thought the combination turned out looking really nice.  I always try to put together a combination of ribbon colors and patterns that are eye-catching.
This is an inside view of the Kindle Fire bag.  The pocket was made large enough for a box of crayons, so the girls could include a coloring book in with their Kindle Fire.
Both ribbon bags have the same bow out of sheer ribbon that has glittered circles printed on the top side.  The glitter seemed to fall off as I was working on the ribbon, so I sprayed a heavy layer of starch on the surface and let it dry overnight.  That took care of the glitter!  I rubbed it and shook it and it wouldn't fall off.  I like to hand-sew a pin back on each ribbon bow so the owner may remove it, if desired.

I enjoyed working on these ribbon bag holders for the young girls' Kindle Fires.  They certainly won't see any other holders for Kindle Fires like these anywhere!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Art and Craft Shows are Over

The craft shows are over, for me, for this year.  What a whirlwind of activity they have been!  I was accepted into the first one in mid-October, then had to be out of town for three days at my annual Master Volunteer training, where I taught two sessions of a class on how to decide which fabric goes with your chosen pattern.  As soon as I returned from that training, I got caught up in getting late summer/early fall yardwork done, planting some plants my mother was taking out of her yard.  So, I really didn't get anything started toward the craft show until after the 1st of November!  Wow, talk about marathon sewing!  I made 12 ribbon purses in 10 days, from start to finish!

Here are 9 of the  purses I had for sale at the first show.  I had a worktable set up at the front of our booth, so I could sew custom ribbon bows and/or ribbon rosettes for an added touch to the purses.

It was great fun seeing some of my high school classmates and friends who stopped by to see what I'm doing.

A surprise happened after we got set up.  The person who had the booth right next to ours was one of my library sewing students!  We were both totally surprised to see that we were right next to each other.

The next week we set up at a church in the downtown area.  It was held in their dining room and was decorated for Christmas so beautifully.  Lee decided to make a special cookie that he has been making from a recipe included in one of our Bible study workbooks.  The study was on the Book of Esther.  They are called "Haman's Ears," are made with wheat flour and an apricot filled center.  They are really delicious, so he sold out of his cookies within a few hours!

Our next show, a week later, was at a school in the east end of the county.  We found out that another friend had a booth in the same show!  The friend's wife does paintings and is more experienced in doing craft shows.  Their booth was very creative: put together with old doors to make it look like you're walking into an art gallery.  It was really imaginative!  Lee made more Haman's Ears cookies and sold out, again!

Our final show was on Dec. 11 at the high school where I worked for 12 year total, from where I retired in 2002.  I saw many of my former co-workers and neighborhood friends, plus I made some new friends.   It's been fun making friends with some of the other craft show vendors.  Some were new at it, like us, and some were seasoned.

The day after our third show, I went to another two-day craft show at one of the local high schools.  I was in hopes of finding a vendor whom I had met at a craft show last year when I was "scoping out" the local craft shows seeing how they work and what products were being sold.  She had given me some good tips on getting on the craft show circuit, so I wanted to tell her that I had taken the plunge.  I found her in the same spot she had last year and we chatted for several minutes.  She gave me some more good tips and congratulated me on my new venture.

I decided to look around to see what was being offered at this craft show.  I ran across a new idea, for me: a bow making system.  After perusing the finished product, I found out that the vendor had developed a set of templates to help the bow-making process be much more easy and quick.  I was sold!  I could add these cute bows to my ribbon purses making them more appealing!

When I got home, I had to sit down and start making some of these new bows.  They went together very quickly and came out looking so beautiful.  I am so grateful that I found this system.  I have made all new bows for 10 of the ribbon purses and I think they look great!
Lee setting up his cookie display.

Here, I'm working on a special order ribbon bow and a rosette for a headband.  I offered one size fits all headbands for sale with a free ribbon bow or rosette.  They sold well!
This ribbon purse has one of the new bows made with the bow templates.  This has two sizes of bows that are stacked one on top of the other with a knotted center and some shorter pieces of ribbon inserted between the two bows for added pizzazz.  I think it looks more snazzy now!
This is a close-up of another ribbon purse with the new bow on it.  It's made with two sizes of stacked bows  and a solid color knotted center.  These are a great improvement!  All of my bows have hand-sewn pin backs so they may be removed or re-positioned.  The removable bows would make pretty brooches, also.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Art and Craft Shows

I've been away for a while!  I've been working on a new venture: making items for sale at art and craft shows.  After all, this is the Season!

I have been making ribbon purses for about six years and decided to take them to the marketplace.  Two weeks ago, I exhibited my purses at the art/craft show at my high school alma mater.  My husband, Lee, helped me with the exhibit and working the show.  We had a blast!  He loves people and loves to tell people about what I do, so it was a good experience.  We also did a second show the next week and had more fun!

This is one of my purses, made completely with grosgrain ribbon and embellished with fun fur around the top edge and a sheer ribbon bow topped with a ribbon rosette.  The bow and rosette are hand-sewn onto a pin back for easy removal.  This one is in a lavender and white combination.

This red, white and black combination is quite eye-catching!  It has a red and white polka dot lining.  All of my purses are made with a cotton or cotton/polyester blend lining fabric, and there is one pocket on the inside with a hook and loop tape closure.   I have added a magnetic closure for the purse, itself.

The grosgrain ribbon is extremely durable and can be spot-cleaned to maintain its beauty.  I have been using my own personal ribbon purse for almost four years and it's still in like-new condition.

The next one is a black and white combination and has a black and white floral lining.

I now have both of these last two purses, along with a third one, for sale in the Koi Gallery, a shop inside the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. 

I was thrilled when the shop owner said she would love to have some of my purses in her shop, needless to say!

I'll update my status on how this new venture is going, as time goes on.  I've also added some lower priced gift items for sale that can be purchased at a lower price for the budget-minded, such as Christmas tree napkins, coasters to match, fabric bowls, and I'm working on a garment protector design.  I'll try to get some photos of them posted when I get them ready.

I'm getting ready for another art/craft show scheduled for this Saturday and another - my last one - on the 10th.  My time is short, so I'll get back to the work table and sewing machine.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teaching "Sweatshirt Jacket Pizzazz" and "Purse Accessory Set" Classes at Austin's Sewing Center in September

I'm scheduled to teach "Sweatshirt Jacket Pizzazz" on the 6th, and "Purse Accessory Set" on the 8th.


 This is a project where I took a pullover sweatshirt and turned it into a jacket, with lots of embellishments, such as yo-yo flowers and rick-rack stem on the bouquet, a wide band at the bottom for added length, pockets from two different fabrics and rick-rack trim along with yo-yos and buttons, and lots of bias binding and trim along the front and sleeve edges and around the neck.  The yo-yos were more fun to make than I expected them to be.  I made some of them the "old-fashioned" way, and some with the new yo-yo makers from three different sizes.  The corsage group was made with the large oval yo-yo maker.

 This close-up shows the bias trim along the neck edge, with yo-yo embellishment and decorative stitching using rayon thread.  The large yo-yo is stitched on in an off-set direction so it looks off-center.  The button sewn onto the top of it makes it rather cute, I think.


 This three-piece set consists of a tissue holder, a quilted cosmetic/catch-all bag and a purse organizer.  The organizer contains numerous pockets that are stitched in sizes that can accommodate necessary items that we carry in our purses.  When it's desirable to change purses, one can just lift the organizer out of one purse as a unit and place it in the next purse - all without having to place each item individually from one purse to the other.  How easy is that! 

(See my post, titled "Purse Accessories and Organizer" for more photos of this project.)

Blue Jeans and Denim Repair

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of making some repairs on my brother's blue jeans.  He had worn holes in the same area on four pairs of jeans from the work that he did on his job.  I was able to purchase some thread that matched the denim exactly so the repair didn't show very much.

Following is a step-by-step tutorial showing how I made the repairs to the denim.

On this pair, the hole was not very large, but the surrounding area was also weak, so I made a patch large enough to give the whole area some stability.  The patch was cut from an old denim shirt that had been used for some other repair jobs.

I cut the patch edges with pinking shears to lessen ravelling and placed it on the underneath side of the jeans leg.  The leg was turned inside out and pins placed in the direction that I would sew.  I do the pinning step this way so I can pull out the pins easier as I come to them.


The patch was stitched into place, from the wrong side - the inside of the leg.  I used a zig-zag stitch to do this step.

This is how it looked from the right side, after the patch was stitched into place.

I then set the stitch pattern #163 on my Pfaff 1475.  It is a stippling/mending stitch, which is what I used for stitching over the patch on the right side of the jeans leg and over the hole.

I started beyond one side of the hole, but not all the way over to the edge of the patch.  If I had started stitching close to the edge of the patch, I would have used way too much thread, which would have made the patched area too stiff.  As it was, I used a whole spool of thread on two pair of jeans!

I stitched one row after another all the way across the area, over the hole and beyond.  I paid attention to slightly overlap the edge of each row over the previous row.   Again, I didn't go all the way over to the other side of the patch; but just into the stable part of the area.

                                                             Since the first row of stitching didn't completely cover the hole, as you can see here, I had to go back and stitch over that area several more times. 

This shows the area where the hole was after being completely stitched and reinforced.  The thread really blended nicely with the color of the denim.

Here is another view of how the finished stitching looks.  It has a subtle look, but is a very sturdy patch job.  My brother was very happy with the results!

The thread I used is Gutermann brand, named "Denim."  It has almost a variegated coloring that blends really well with the denim.

Next, I went after the frayed pocket edges with the same thread, using a wide zig-zag stitch.  I stitched over the edge about three times to get it covered well.

It was a little tricky keeping the presser foot right on the edge of the pocket so that the worn edge was enclosed in the zig-zag stitching and so that the stitching stayed on the main part of the pocket edge.

The mended pocket edge looked really good.  The stitching for the repair work was hardly noticeable when I finished it.

Two more holes were patched close to the side seam, just below the front pocket.  You can barely see where the holes were patched with the stitching!  I didn't need to use patches for these holes since they were smaller and the surrounding areas weren't compromised.  My brother said his jeans now have a second life.  Maybe they'll last for many more years, now!

Monday, July 18, 2011

More Comfort Caps Delivered to Cancer Treatment Center

We delivered 21 more comfort caps today.  The cancer treatment center got 11 and the radiation treatment center got 10.  In June, we delivered 25 caps to the cancer treatment center.  91 caps have been delivered since march!

There were only two cotton knit caps, like the stripe one, left from the original batch, so I went ahead and took in mostly polar fleece caps.  I've been told that the fleece caps are comfortable even in hot weather for those who go into cold air conditioning, or for wearing during the night. 

Lee and I took three caps to a friend last Monday, who has been newly diagnosed with stage 4 cervical cancer.  I let her choose what she wanted from about six different colors/styles.  She had just gotten her hair cut short, because it had started falling out after her initial chemo treatments.  We thought it would be good for her to have some caps available when the rest of her hair comes out.

I'm hoping to get some more of the cotton knit caps made and delivered during this hot season, and then we'll go back to making the polar fleece caps for colder weather.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Purse Accessories and Organizer

Last Thursday was my June meeting of Sew What! community sewing group.  Our lesson was on how to make a purse organizer, which completes the second part of the purse accessories set.

This photo shows the purse organizer filled with essential items that we all need to carry around with us.  Mine holds my wallet, a pen, a pencil, a sunglasses case made from the same fabric, and is part of the purse accessories set, my cell phone, and a tissue holder made from the same fabric as part of the coordinating set. 

The purse accessories set includes a quilted cosmetic bag, as well.  It could fit into a pocket, if you should choose to make a pocket to fit it, or just use it as a separate accessory.

The purse organizer is made with a very stiff interfacing and two layers of fabric.  Pockets are stitched according to the size of the items you want to store inside your purse.  When the purse organizer is filled, it can be rolled up to fit almost any size purse.  You can then lift it out and place it in another purse and not have to change each individual item when you want to change purses.

This is the purse organizer I made for my Mother's birthday.  She really loves it!  She had been looking for something that would hold her essentials that she could move from purse to purse as a unit.  When I found this idea, I knew it would make the perfect gift for her.  I made her a cosmetic bag with two sections in it to keep items separate, a sunglasses case and a tissue holder.  She loves showing it off to her friends.

This is the two-sectioned cosmetic bag.  My Mom puts her pill bottle on one side and her lipstick, etc. on the other side.  She likes the way the sections keeps everything separated so she can find them easier.

Here, one of my students is stitching in the pockets on her purse organizer.  She had already made her tissue holder and cosmetic bag.  She used the same fabric on both sides of her organizer, which simplified the decision on which side to use as the lining side.  Smart!

Our Sew What! class included a lesson on how to crochet, taught by my expert Mother!  One of the students brought her granddaughter so she could learn to crochet.  My Mother has made hundreds of white snowflakes, over the years, for Christmas gifts and for my Christmas tree.  She loves to crochet!

      I think she was really getting the "hang" of it!

                                                             During the last thirty minutes of our class time, almost everyone was crocheting up a storm!  I'm looking forward to seeing some finished projects next month.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Beginning Serger Bootcamp

On Monday, June 20, I taught a beginner serger class to a group of wonderful students at the Bullitt County Cooperative Extension Service office.  There were 8 students in the class who were eager to learn about their sergers.  Some of them hadn't taken their sergers out of its box, yet!  But, with a lot of practice and some demonstration, they were re-threading and experimenting with new serger techniques - getting comfortable with their sergers - by the end of the day.

The students know each other from a sewing club which meets at the Extension office regularly, so they interacted very well with each other.  I quickly became very comfortable instructing them in learning their sergers. 

Every student had a different serger, which made the class a little more interesting!  Everyone was instructed to bring their machine manual, and they had to refer to it from time to time.

The students were given instruction on how to set up their sergers for a narrow three-thread balanced stitch, using three different colors of threads.  I instructed them in how to look for the upper looper and lower looper threads interlocking on the cut edge of the fabric.  They had to make many samples while tweaking their serger tension settings to get just the right balance of stitches.  Then they were instructed in how to find the quarter inch stitching line on their individual serger.

I had such great fun teaching this class, and the students were thrilled with their success in learning to use their sergers!  So much so, they asked me to come back next month to teach them more.  So, we'll work on serger rolled edges and serger flatlock stitching.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

More Jeans Re-make Projects

Last week was my May meeting of our Sew What! community sewing group at the local public library.  Only one of the students brought her "Sew and Tell" from last month's project.  If you remember, we had a lesson on recycling old jeans into new projects by cutting them up and re-sewing into useable items.

The student had made a tote bag, from a project sheet I found at JoAnn's Fabric Store.  It's made with various sizes of rectangles and squares, then sewn together with the seams on the outside.  The seam allowances are clipped so they'll ravel during use, as well as washing/drying, creating raggedy seams.  It turned out really cute!  See it below.

The additional bags in the photo are made from a single jeans pocket, like the one I made in the tutorial in another post on this blog.

In this photo, you can see the inside pocket the student put in using the same fabric as the handle fabric.  This bag is doubly useful!  My students are so creative!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Fearless Serger Sewing

With a few simple lessons, you can "fear serging less!" You don’t have to give up creativity. With a serger, you can become more creative.

When I began my serger experience in 1988, I was determined to learn the machine. I was fascinated with how the loopers worked in tandem with each other and how the needle(s) interacted with the loopers. I was somewhat intimidated by this new machine, but with a few classes, I became fearless, and so can you! It would be money well spent. Allow yourself to expand your abilities and skill beyond your present level.

The serger was so much fun that I made almost everything on it for the next couple of years, from lingerie and swimsuits to blue jeans. My sewing machine rarely got used – it was so neglected! I had already been using a zig-zag stitch with an overcast foot on my sewing machine to finish seams on woven fabrics – so many that I wore out three feet. So, when I learned how to use my first serger, I was in "sewing-heaven!"

Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that delicate-looking heirloom techniques could be done on the serger. Since discovering heirloom serger sewing, another world has opened up to me. I’ve found that French seams, pin tucks, joining flat or gathered lace to fabric, lace to entredeux, and lace to puffing can be a very fast way to produce a beautiful heirloom project in a fraction of the time it takes on a sewing machine. This allows a multiple-step sewing machine process to be substituted by a one-step serger process. 

With the capability of today’s sergers to gather, to stitch on beading, to make chain stitching and multiple-needle cover stitching, to add bias binding and to do shadow work, our options seem to be unlimited. Some of these stitches can be used in multiple ways as decorative stitch embellishment. And, let’s not forget the flatlock stitch - another way to embellish our projects. Crazy patch made with any combination of these stitches is yet another creative way to use our serger.

Serger crochet can add another dimension when finishing the edges on a project. I’ve used this technique on edges of unlined jackets, both with rayon and 12 weight cotton threads. Serger crochet can also be used to add a pretty and feminine edge to handkerchiefs, scarves and baby bonnets. I even saw a demonstration on doing serger smocking on a recent Martha Pullen Sewing Room program. Where will it all end?!

If you are having difficulty threading your serger, my recommendation is to take a class that teaches how to thread your particular serger, or get with a sewing buddy who may have a similar serger for help. Or, simply cut the threads above the tension dials and tie on new threads, then pull them through. Be sure to not pull the thread knot through your tension dials/discs to prevent damaging them.

One thing I did, once I learned how to thread my serger, was to practice over and over until I could almost thread it with my eyes closed. Be sure to test repeatedly anytime you re-thread your serger, or even tie on new threads, just as you would on your sewing machine. Another option is to join the Serger Club at Austin's Sewing Center or your local dealership, where you’ll be exposed to techniques that will expand your skill level. 

Of course, we will always need our wonderful sewing machines to accomplish most of our sewing tasks, but our serger can really help us make a more professional-looking project, no matter what it is. So, now that you "fear serging less," go ahead, venture into the creative serging world and explore the various possibilities. Play with your serger, experiment with its different functions, and have fun! 

Sandy Davis ©2010

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Denim Re-Make, Upcycling Old Denim

As an afterthought, I wanted to post another project I made from some denim yardage I found in my resource center.  I needed a cover-up for the end of my work table/pressing surface, which is two identical chests of drawers that are backed up to each other.  They are sitting on bricks to bring them up to an ergonomical work height.  Since the ends of the chests were not attractive-looking as one walks into the studio, and the bricks were really unsightly, I needed something to cover the whole area; but, I wanted something that was functional.

So, I cut a length of the yardage to drape all the way to the floor and to be long enough to slide under the work top, which can anchor it into place.  The width of the denim was just a little too wide, so I serged it off to match the width of the chests.  To turn the drape into a sewing studio organizer, I used some pockets and belt loops from old jeans and one pocket from a denim shirt, and used a jeans leg to make some ruler holders.

In this photo, you can see how I sewed some fun fur onto the belt loops for the rotary cutters.  I sewed some decorative sewing-themed buttons onto two of the pockets.  The shirt pocket had a pencil section already stitched into it, so I utilized it for a marker.

In this shot, you can barely see the work top.  It's made from a piece of plywood cut to fit the two chests.  I  covered it with two old army blankets, then placed a layer of duck on top which I wrapped around the edges of the board and stapled it to the back.  It's heavy enough to hold the drape in place, even with all the loops and pockets filled!

The longer loops on the left are spaced far enough apart for my quilting rulers.  The loops on the right accommodate my straight rotary rulers.  Again, I decorated them with some fancy yarn from my resource center.  Just before I snapped this picture, I decided to pin on another belt loop near the top for my tape measure.  It worked!  The tape falls just above the floor - how handy!  (I did sew the loop on later.)

This organizer is very useful.  I have my rulers at my fingertips and can locate my rotary cutters easier, as long as I put them back where they belong!  It's not only useful, it looks good when I walk into the studio, which makes me smile.