Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Snippets of Sewing

July 22nd, 2011 by zoe No Comments

The children are always with me these Summer days. We play, swim and hike everyday. We run, bike and read. These Summer days don’t bring a lot of time in the studio but my list of dreaming is long. Sometimes, with just an hour to myself, I can feel frantic – what to do! So many ideas swirl in my head, it can be … almost – paralyzing. The other day I was confronted with just such an hour and I thought rather than dig into something BIG and grand, why not make something small and simple.

Everyday I carry around a pencil and eraser kit with sketch book – EVERYDAY.

I had “borrowed” this boring pencil-case from the children, did I mention they have become pretty darn good at sharing? It was time to make something just for me. Using a zipper from my stash, I whipped up a sassy little pencil-case, in just a few minutes that made me feel happy. Sometimes in just a snippet of time you can tackle a wee project – that manages to brighten your everyday!

My zipper stash came from a box I received years ago  from a friend – a treasure trove of vintage bias, ribbon and zippers.

I have dipped into this bag many, many times over the years. Yesterday I was struck by the realization the each one of these zippers had been recycled. Each stitch of had been ripped to release the zippers from garments past their prime.

It made me remember that this era of recycled fashion is not a new trend but old as time.

It made me think about how expensive fabric and notions are and how we really can dig into the closet to remake our clothes, use what we have rather than buy new.

And I remembered that I had made this funky sweatshirt for the boys a week ago by doing just that -

I took two shirts they had outgrown and  meshed them together to make a new garment that was fun and custom and actually fit.

Sorry for the awful picture but the kids are not all that interested in modeling for me today!

In the future I hope to find more and more ways to reuse what we have rather than stockpiling stacks of new fabric, no matter how lovely and delicious that new fabric is – I hope to get better about remaking what we have.




Making a headboard!(Finally)

July 18th, 2011 by zoe 3 Comments

My bed sits back against a wall that slopes downward. Most wood headboards don’t work all that well, plus wood headboards are hard. I am partial to soft when it comes to sitting in bed reading. I made on of these for my bed years ago, year before the upgrade to king and I have honestly missed it. It was time to whip up another headboard!

This is how did it 9 years ago, seems like there are lots of snazzy tutorials out there now. Like holy cow check this one out!

I used 5″ foam, a bit too thick , I would go for thinner on a redo. I bought it at a major fabric store with a half off coupon. The fabric is a dark grey upholstery velvet, I bought three yards.  The foam comes 2′ high and the length I came up with was 6′, which fit the frame of the king size bed perfectly.

First I cut the strips for the side panels, sewed them together and adjusted to unsure it fit the foam tightly. Make sure to add a few inches to the side panel strips to allow for wrapping around the back and fastening to your plywood!

Then I made some piping, this is total hack piping. I just used what I had on hand which was twine! In retrospect I would have bought actual piping rope, the twine is a little bit too stiff.  A good tutorial on making your own piping can be found here.

Next I pinned the piping, front panel and piping together fitting it to the foam (right sides in – of course!). Then came stitching time. Stitching around the front panel be careful to ease around the corners so they stay square.

I cut a piece of 1/4″ ply wood to my dimensions and rounded the edges. If you have an aversion to power tools, you can usually get a large hardware store to cut a sheet of plywood for you to size. Next I wrapped the fabric around the foam and stapled it in place. I used this hammer stapler, my Dad calls it The Whacker Tacker. I imagine you could any sort of fastener that would go through your plywood. They also make much cheaper versions, this just happens to be what I have.

Next you attach some flush mount hardware to the back of your headboard and the wall with screws. These work well.

Impatiently awaiting  the hardware I just propped it in place and took this picture. Sorry it’s a bit crappy. I just can’t bring myself to make the bed right now and take another picture! I swear it actually looks nice in person.

This could easily be a no sew project if you simply wrapped the fabric around the foam and stapled it in place – I’m thinking 3″ foam would work pretty well for that.


I can’t say I LOVE SEWING the upholstery projects but I will say I love them once they are DONE.  Oh, and I am pretty psyched to have a soft place to rest my head while sip coffee in a hazy early morning stupor. What more can you want but a soft place to rest your head!


T-shirt redo & Logo Busting

July 15th, 2011 by zoe 1 Comment

We get lot’s of hand-me-downs, in fact, most of my children’s clothing has been preloved.  I love that – especially because it removes me from having to shop and spend money, or worry about them getting dirty. Not to mention they go through them so fast – just last week I brought a car load of clothes to the Goodwill!  They love to choose their outfits and dress themselves and I have zero interest in getting involved  (perhaps this is somewhat obvious in noticing their mismatched socks and multi patterned ensembles). In truth, I have cherry picked from those wonderful hand-me-down bags carefully selecting the contents of their dresser. You see, I have gotten sick of all the logo’s and team sports, all the drab colors. I guess I just wish little boy clothes were funkier – rather than miniature versions of the latest men’s fashions. There is plenty of time for them to wear the uniform of manhood – um.. hunter green, navy blue, and heathered gray!  At four, I want their clothes to be bright and fun, imaginative and funky. Just like them!

After sorting through a gifted bag of second-hand clothes last night there was a giant stack of really nice shirts all sporting lots of ink and graphics. I got an idea for logo busting.


Note here – a perfectly good shirt sporting a nonexistent varsity football team.

Quick as can be it is now an ultra funky and bright custom star shirt!

It’s pretty darn simple – just cut shapes from old t-shirts and hand stitch them over logo’s, stains or images you just don’t care to broadcast across your children’s chest. I used colorful embroidery floss and stitched it somewhat wildly adding bits of ornamental stitching along the way.

Now how sweet and cute is that, there is plenty of time for them to play varsity football, no?

Guest Towels & The Shack

July 13th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

I love having sleepover company. My favorite is when the whole house, barn and shack are filled with family and friends. We play croquet, horseshoes, grill and swim.  Sometimes it gets a little crazy – we only have so much room in our tiny house! We are looking forward to celebrating with family and friends soon, preparations must be made. It’s time to clean out the guest shack!

Some years ago with the scraps from other building projects and some elbow grease we turned what was once a tool shed into a little summer guest shack. It’s tiny- the word cottage would not be accurate, even gussied up with hardwood floors and a bed, it is still a shack.  But something about it is soothing and sweet – better than camping but still roughing it. The shack sits at the ridge of the hills with a long stretching view, next to the perennial gardens,  in ear shot of the cow pasture. The breeze blows strong, the air is fresh and cool. Blueberry bushes are ripe and plentiful right outside the door. Our guests are always surprised by how charming it is to stay in the tiny house. My father, a man of few words, finds it to be the perfect place to balance long family visits.

The shack unfortunately gets some whiskered winter guests, each Spring it must get a good cleaning. The grain for the cows must be moved out, as well as the birdseed and winter sleds.

The fun part of summer is here, where everyone comes to stay with us in the country, and we sit by the fire under the stars laughing late into the night.

I will show you the inside soon, when I actually DO clean it out, for as of this moment I am just THINKING about cleaning, not ACTUALLY cleaning!

With guests come other things – like laundry and dishes and a busy bathrooms….

I realized last week that there were no towels in the downstairs bath that we appropriate for adults (there are plenty shaped like turtles and crocodiles). There are a few that were ONCE white, but have since turned a grungy brownish color!  Being a bit obsessed with gray lately I scooped up some new gray towels on a trip to town.

I got to thinking – with a few house guests over a few days sometimes it’s hard to keep an eye on your towel.

I got to thinking – it might be nice to add a little color to those towels.

I got to thinking – about the gross grain ribbon that I keep in my happy sewing box. In just a few minutes I had stitched a different colored tab on each towel. Now our company will know which towel is theirs!

I laughed, knowing that I couldn’t have been the first one to think of this idea – and of course Martha Stewart has her own idea about color coding guest towels here.  I would be surprised if there is single aspect of entertaining not tackled by the amazing team of talent she has put together!

Humpty Dumpty Pin Cushion

July 5th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

I am pretty sure that every time I sew I scatter pins everywhere. For this, I refuse to apologize. If you live with me there will be strings of thread clinging to your sweaters, sticking to rugs and furniture, scraps of fabric trimmed onto the floor, and yes sharp pins left here and there. I am no great seamstress but I have always sewed. Since I was ummmm…. 11 or 12 I have always sewed. I have sewn in the cramped corners of my rented rooms in several states, lugging my mothers old avocado green Singer here and there. Sometimes with no table or chair, there on the floor, I sewed. I don’t know why but sewing is a bit of who I am.

I have never owned a pin cushion. Sometimes when I am stitching at night, sitting on the sofa, I use the arm of the couch for my pin cushion. Last week  my son Emmett found a pin and told me leaving sharp pins in the sofa was not safe, he wagged his little pointer finger at me,  his sweet brow all furrowed and serious. I loved that moment of being the irresponsible one, but he too will have to get use to living with me.

Late the other night, near midnight, I was struck by the idea that I NEEDED to sew a Humpty Dumpty pin cushion for myself. It was so late,  I have absolutely no idea why Humty Dumpty – none!  But I started drawing a pattern and began stitching and this is what evolved.  Quite cute right? I didn’t realize until after taking the pictures that Humpty Dumpty needed arms, so I had to sew those the next day !

Oh and after spilling ALL the pins on the floor in my studio this weekend I realized the Grundtal magnetic knife bar from IKEA makes for the perfect “magic pin wand” for my studio! I happen to have one just sitting in my basement, I hung it on my pegboard next to my rulers for easy pin clean up – ! So I guess maybe I can get a little better at cleaning up after my sewing but no big promises Emmett.

1$ Happiness!

July 4th, 2011 by zoe No Comments

On Fourth of July weekend our town hosts a big  Main Street tag sale. Yesterday, I found something I thought would be perfect for creating more organization in my studio. When I asked the price, they laughed at me – there was apparently a bet going that it would never sell.  I bought it for a $1 and spent the afternoon cleaning out the tinkering of its previous owner. That got me to thinking about the old adage …

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

So  true. The real trick is in finding the right person for the right trash!   Cleaning out the bolts and screws, carefully saving them in a jar for my tinkering projects, I got to wondering what the previous owner was fixing that required 1,000′s of tiny cotter pins??

One dollar and an afternoon of painting later – I am so happy to have this new project box in my sewing space!

Everytime I look up from my machine I feel giddy looking at my organized stitchy tinkery stuff.