RozsaMaria: Cushion cover

I hope everyone who was in the path of Hurricane Irene has recovered and is safe and sound.  I was very lucky and never lost power, enabling me to spend Saturday night and all of Sunday sewing.  I spent most of the weekend working on Anlichan’s birthday present, but since it’s a surprise I can’t post about it until it’s finished and in her hands. In the meantime, here’s a simple project that took maybe ten minutes to complete: a cushion cover. Mama S’s sister is a big NY Giants fan, and she, her husband, and my cousin go to games several times a season.  She bought a piece of square foam and some Giants fabric and asked me to cover the foam so she can take it to games as a seat cushion.  Spending hours sitting on a cold, hard seat in a football stadium in Jersey can be pretty uncomfortable, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Foam cushion and Giants fabric

The fabric was already cut wide enough for the cushion cover, so all I had to do was line it up and cut off the excess.  Then, I turned the fabric inside out, folded it in half, and pinned the two sides, leaving the third side open.  I didn’t worry about fitting the fabric tightly, nor did I bother to iron it, in part because I’m a bit lazy but also because this cushion is meant for utility, not decoration, so a cover that’s loose and a bit wrinkled doesn’t matter.  It’ll get more wrinkled through the course of the season.

The fabric turned inside out, with the right sides pinned together

I sewed down each pinned side, snipped the corners, and turned the fabric rightside out.  I slipped the foam into the fabric cover and folded the remaining edges down.  I left enough space that I could fit the fabric under the needle without the foam interfering, but I did trim another couple of inches off the edge first.  I hadn’t measured when I was trimming the excess fabric before, and there was still some hanging off.  I found blue thread that more or less matched the shade of the fabric and sewed up the remaining edge.  Voila!  A simple, easy project. More pictures of the final step below:

Here, I've slid the foam into the fabric cover and I'm preparing to pin the open end.

The final edge of the cushion cover, pinned

Matching thread

The finished cushion - note the seam on the right edge

As it gets closer to Christmas, I’ll probably have more pillow-type posts, including one about repurposing tshirts into decorative pillow covers (which makes a great memento, as well as being a practical way to recycle old shirts).  I make a lot of pillows as presents, actually, but nothing is as easy as this!


Anlichan: Origami Anniversary

Hi all!  I’m Annalisa, but Spry calls me Anli, hence the wordpress handle.  I’m the least experienced of the crafters here, so much of what I do is based on the “I don’t know it won’t work unless I try it!” principle.  Fortunately, with the help of the magic internet and my wonderful friends, such projects usually turn out ok, but I promise not to shy away from my failures as well.

That being said, this first project definitely played to my strengths.  My first memories of origami came from my Dad; he would make various animals and balloons to keep me and my siblings entertained during church when we were little.  Naturally, when I got older, I wanted to learn how to do it myself, so Dad got me a kids’ book of origami (which I still have) and helped me learn the basics.  Since then, I’ve dabbled with whatever designs strike my fancy–usually boxes for gifts or some pretty thing to put on the table.  I’m no expert folder, but I have enough experience that I can usually make any easy or intermediate pattern without a problem.

Which is how I ended up making flowers at 3 AM.

My parents’ 30th anniversary was on the 15th of August, so I wanted to do something different and fun to celebrate.  If you are like me (and if you are, I’m sorry), most of your “brilliant” plans come at obscene hours of the night/morning, and this one was no different.  “I should make 30 origami flowers for Mom and Dad!” I said to myself, “That shouldn’t be too hard.  I bet I can even make them before they wake up!”  My brain is a triumph of optimism over reality.

All my origami papers.

So I forged ahead.  I knew how to make a couple different flowers, and I had lots of origami paper (most of which had been gifts from Spry at some point…thank you), so it’s not as if I was starting from scratch.  This would have been much more difficult if I had to pull out the paper cutter and start chopping my own squares because of a) time constraints and b) standard-weight paper is just harder to work with when you’re trying new origami designs.  Flowers tend to have fine folds to them which can be hard to make work if your paper is too thick.  That being said, I don’t think any of flowers I made would be impossible with standard-weight paper, just make sure you make really sharp creases.

I didn’t want to make just one or two types of flowers, so I found some new patterns on the internet that I tried making.  The first pattern was a cherry blossom-like flower from Folding Trees (a site which seems to no longer be updated, but has great instructions nonetheless).  I followed their instructions exactly with one exception: no glue.  Glue and I do not get along, so I used double-sided tape instead.  It worked quite well, and since I didn’t have to wait for anything to dry, I could make the flowers faster.  They’re probably not quite as durable as glue-fastened ones would be, but since I wasn’t trying to make them into the the full kusudama ball (see the Folding Trees instructions), it wasn’t an issue.

Two cherry blossoms, a lotus, and a lily.

The other two flowers pictured above I made off of patterns in Japanese Papercrafts by Mari Ono (which is a very enjoyable book).  However, the lily is probably the most common origami flower, so that pattern you can find almost anywhere (these instructions seem good and thorough).  The lotus I had not seen before I got this book, and I cannot find the exact variation that I made.  Perhaps I will need to post a tutorial on that at some later point, but it was made out of a single sheet of paper, and actually turned out to be the fastest flower to make once I figured out how to

Another flower I found online was called the Kawasaki rose named after the creator of the pattern.  It looked so awesome that I had to try it.  One of the best patterns available is here [note: the link goes to a pdf], and I really thought I could pull it off.  This is how far I got:

Doomed at step 9.

Now, I still think I might be able to make the Kawasaki rose, but it was not going to happen while I was trying to make nice-looking flowers for my parents nor while racing against the clock.  My parents are obscenely early risers, so I was definitely feeling the time constraints when at 4:30 AM, all I had were four flowers and a large mess.

One hour, four flowers.

At that point I decided that three different types of flowers were enough, and it was time to focus on folding, not learning new patterns.  This was a smart decision, but I still only had about half the flowers made by the time Mom and Dad woke up.  Oh well.  Next time, plan ahead.

Another problem I was facing was that I could only find one of our flower vases (the squat, round one above), and I wasn’t sure it would show the flowers very well.  In a flash of desperation brilliance, I started pulling various cups out of the china cabinet and found that those served as much better vases for my various flowers than our regular ones probably would have anyway.  Later on, while trying to find something that would hold the smaller cherry blossoms without them listing to the side, I found some empty candle-holders which worked out remarkably well.

The final product!

You may notice that on the outside edges there are a type of flower I haven’t mentioned yet.  After about 25 flowers, I was getting tired of the three patterns I had, so I found this pattern for a camellia.  Normally, I wouldn’t have picked it, since the design is fairly 2-dimensional.  However, my mom has a soft spot for camellias (her grandfather was the president of the American Camellia Society for two years), so I thought she might like them.  And actually, having a very flat flower turned out to be a nice contrast to the tall, skinny lilies and the pointy, full cherry blossoms.

It’s now a week and a half later, and Mom and Dad still have the flowers out on the table.  I think it worked out just the way I’d hoped. 😀

*     *     *     *     *

Project at a glance: Origami Anniversary

Supplies needed: origami paper, double-sided tape and/or glue, instructions for various flowers

Difficulty: Varies depending on the flowers you decide to make, but fairly simple.  However, it is deceptively time-consuming.

What I liked: The color and size variety of the flowers turned out much better than I thought it would.  Also, I like how using Mom and Dad’s china made for a different type of vase that worked better with paper flowers than standard vases would have.  Also, Mom and Dad really liked the flowers, which was the best part of this whole exercise.

What I would do differently: I would definitely have started earlier than 3AM the day of!  I would like to have had more time to attempt some harder flowers.

Verdict: Success!

Spry: Rock Show Shirt

Hello lovelies! I’m the Sprite[in the]Stacks, or Spry here.

I am the Deconstructionalist of the group, and am enamored with all things Upcycling and DIY.  This past year I participated in the Great American Apparel Diet, and although I admit I cheated twice, it spurred me to figure out how to refurbish my clothing. Figuring out how to actually wear that thing I bought but really can’t pull off.. it’s a good feeling when it succeeds. (And if it doesn’t, it feels good to put it in the donation bin too.)

My first forays into clothing-remixes were deconstructing T-shirts. This was before I got my sewing machine, so they were all no-sew projects. Which are easier to share!

This is my Rock Show Shirt: this project works best with a shirt one size too big on you. It was originally a band shirt I bought 10 years ago, in my awkward teens, when I wore clothes too big for me, which are bigger for me now. It had been sitting in my closet for 10 years, partially because it was a RELIC to me and I didn’t want to wear the shirt out, ever. Partially because I realized it was unflattering, despite it’s awesome colors. Well, it was time to drag it out into the open, because I wanted something to wear to a Rock Show (and everyone wears other-band shirts to shows).

First, take the big shirt and cut off the sleeves and open up the neck. Rock Shows are hot, stuffy places, and a tanktop is the way to go. I made one shoulder a thick bunch/flower of fabric, and the other shoulder a two-strap affair. All by cutting holes into the shirt and tying knots with the strips of leftover shirt (evtl I will have a more in-depth post on shoulder strap options).

If you like a loose shirt, you can be done with funky shoulders. Wear it layered with another tank. I didn’t want to multi-layer, so I tightened the shirt up.

Put the shirt on. Mark with pins or chalk where your bra hits your back. This is where the ties in the back will go, which means you can wear a bra and it won’t show. Pinch the excess fabric on the sides to eyeball how much tighter the shirt needs to be.

Now (after you take the shirt off) cut the back of the shirt up the middle. Where the mark of your bra-back is, make three horizontal cuts, to create two straps, about an inch thick. Cut the straps about the amount you pinched on each side. Knot the straps (I knotted them so they criss-crossed for a nice cinch).

I put the shirt back on and realized that there was a lot of fabric above the knot that needed to be cut. I just cut it down into a V, from the shoulders to the knot. I’m sure you can make fun thin strips of this fabric too, so there are knotted patterns down your shoulder blades. The extra fabric below the knot overlaps each other nicely, so the area is covered, but well-ventilated. I didn’t bother modifying it, but feel free to, if you have the time before rolling out!

Psychoticray: Crocheted Mitts

Hi everyone!  I’m Psychoticrayofsunshine (because Anlichan called me that one day and it stuck). I also go by Kaki, which is easier to both say and type.

When it comes to making homemade goodies, I fall into the fiber arts and food categories.  I crochet and do a bit of needlepointing with the occasional sewing project on the side. And in the kitchen, I love baking up yummy treats to share with friends and family, but I also like coming up with new recipes from the random ingredients that are in my cupboards. I’m also hoping to learn to knit soon, but that would require more free time than I have at the moment!

My Granny was a big crocheter and taught me the art when I was pretty young. However, after she taught me I never really kept at it, so quickly forgot. A few years ago I was looking for another hobby and thought of all the cool things Granny used to make and knew that’s what I wanted to do. My family still has a lot of the things she and her mother made and I knew I wanted to make presents for my family and friends that they could keep for years. So, I enlisted the help of a crafty friend and a lot of youtube videos and re-taught myself crocheting. And I haven’t regretted it once. Except after a big yarn purchase when my bank account taunts me…

Anyway, today I wanted to start with something really simple for crocheters. These finger-less mitts are really quick to whip up and make great presents for all those winter holidays. Plus, they’re dead simple and can be modified easily if you want to add a bit of pizzaz.

I made this pair a while ago. If you’re a crocheter, you’ll notice they’re just a simple single stitch the whole way through. Pretty plain-jane, but great for cold hands.

I used a super bulky yarn (Lion Brand WoolEase Thick & Quick to be precise since machine wash-ability is important to me) and a size P hook.  As for gauge  – what gauge?  I pretty much just freehand these babies.

For someone with regular-sized hands/wrists, I usually do a foundation chain of about 18, turn, skip the first chain, then sc into the bottom loops of the foundation chain.  The rest of the rows I sc like normal.  I usually don’t even count my rows.  I just keep going until I have a rectangle that’s about the length I want it.  Then I finish off, and leave a long tail of yarn.  I use this extra yarn to sew the short ends together, leaving an opening for a thumb hole.  Yes, it really is that simple.  And with chunky yarn and a P hook, these babies whip up quick.  What’s great is that you can easily modify the pattern without even thinking about it – you can sc into back loops, double crochet, try a shell stitch or a v-stitch – the possibilities are pretty endless!

If none of those last two paragraphs made sense to you, no worries!  I’ll be going a bit more into depth about the hows and whys of crocheting in later posts!  Until then, keep hooking!


Rozsamaria’s Quilted Table Runner

Welcome to our blog!

For our inaugural post, I’m going to show you a project I’ve been working on for some time.

Mama and Papa S (well, Mama S) requested a coffee table runner months ago.  Mama S and I went through my substantial collection of fabric and she picked 12 or 15 prints she liked and thought would match their living room decor.  I picked the pattern myself and chose from the fabrics Mama S liked, based in part on what I thought went best together and in part on which prints I had enough of.  I did all the piecing by machine, using a Storm at Sea pattern from one of my quilting books (Quilt-Lovers’ Favorites, Volume 1, Better Homes and Gardens, 2001).

Storm at Sea runner pattern

A full-sized Storm at Sea quilt (from the same book)

I always do my piecing on the machine because it’s so much faster that way and the stitches hold better and are more even.

The quilting is always the hardest part for me.  I’m very slow at hand quilting but I have more control with hand quilting than machine quilting.   I have trouble sewing curves on the machine, even after all these years of sewing (Mama S’s mother taught me to sew when I was a little girl, and I’ve been quilting for about four years now).  Since I had decided to do circles as my quilting pattern I figured I’d be better off doing them by hand.  (I believe this quilting pattern is known as champagne bubbles.)  I knew it would be hard for me but I wanted to do something a little more ambitious – I won’t learn new skills well unless I try, and Mama S will forgive me if my circles are sometimes ovoid.

I traced a kitchen glass onto a piece of card stock (a White House/Black Market mailer, actually) and I used that as my guide.  I drew lines crisscrossing the circle and used those as guides, lining them up with the seams when I pinned it in place.  Then, I did my best to sew a neat circle around the edges.

The circle template I used

I quilted with a gold-ish colored thread that coordinates nicely with my prints but still shows up.

Close-up of the champagne bubble quilting pattern and gold thread

I’d originally planned to have a circle at each corner of the large squares, but I got about halfway done with that and I decided I didn’t like how it looked.  I added an overlapping circle along the top and bottom borders of each large square.

Ring of champagne bubbles with the overlapping bubble in the middle

I now have a row of circles going along the tops and bottoms of the large squares.  I’m not sure I’m explaining this well, but hopefully it shows up okay in the pictures.  I didn’t quilt the outer corners of the two end squares, but I think I’m done with the quilting at this point.  I think the design might seem more complete, had I done so, but I’ve been working on this project for so long that I’m ready to finish it up and give it to Mama and Papa S as a very delayed anniversary present.

I used a backstitch, which is the stitch I use most commonly for my hand quilting.  Sometimes I reverse it so that the underside of the stitch is what I show on top – I do this if I want to highlight the design with a heavier stitch.  For example, last Christmas I made ornaments for all of my relatives and I made a Yankees ornament for one uncle and a Mets ornament for another uncle.  I did the logos with backstitching, but using the reverse side as the front to emphasize the logos.

Backstitching on Mets ornament

Anyway, you’ll see that the stitching on the circles is thicker on the back but slightly messier.

The quilting from the back

The runner is thin, with no batting, since it’s not required for warmth, only decoration.

I still need to sew the edges, which I’ll do by machine.  I’ll have more pictures when the runner is finished!

Quilt top

A wide shot of the reverse side

My apologies, again, for the delayed posting.  Also, please forgive any weird formatting issues – I’m still learning how to use WordPress.

Apologies for the delays!

I know our schedule says Tuesdays and Fridays, and I had every intention of posting my first post tonight, but the fact of the matter is I’ve never used WordPress before and I’m having technical difficulties.  I will try again tomorrow, but in the meantime, here’s a teaser:

Quilted table runner

Welcome to our blog!

Hi, we’re rozsamaria, spritestacks, anlichan, and psychoticrayofsunshine. We’ve decided to put together a blog to share our loves of homemade crafts and cooking. We’ll be posting twice a week, Tuesday and Friday, on whatever we’ve been working on lately – quilting, baking, embroidery, etc. We hope you enjoy it!