Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tutorial: Granny Square Edging

I want to show you the simple edging I've been using on my granny square dishcloths. This first picture shows the completed granny square. This pattern is Abigail's 4H granny square dishcloth, with a couple of rows of contrast colored yarn included in it. End the square and weave in the ends.


Attach contrasting colored yarn in any corner and chain three.


Put 2 dc in the corner space immediately below the ch-3.


Put a sc in the next space.


Chain 3.


In the same space, put 2 dc.


Sc in the next space.


Ch 3, 2 dc in same space. Continue across the side putting (sc, ch 3, 2 dc) in each space until you reach the corner space.


Sc in the corner space.


2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc in the same corner space.


Continue around the edge of the dishcloth, putting (sc, ch 3, 2 dc) in each space and (sc, 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in each corner space. When you reach the last (technically the first) corner, put (sc, 2 dc, ch 2) in that space. Finish off with a slip stitch in the top of the original ch-3. Fasten off and weave in the ends.


That's it!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tutorial: Simple Tea Towel


Here is another simple tutorial for a handmade tea towel. Choosing to make a towel from scratch gives me control over the fabric, size and color. These factors can be important. The styles of purchased towels are sometimes not very appealing to me, and I often can't find the color I need, so I like being able to make my own. This tutorial gives directions for a very simple hemmed towel. You may already know how to do it, but just in case you don't, I'll illustrate the steps.

Start with 7/8 yard of fabric that is 100% cotton or linen. Natural fibers are more absorbent and release stains more easily. I've used a "bottom weight" cotton ticking stripe fabric. Bottom weight is thicker than a regular cotton print. The term describes fabric that is heavy enough for a skirt or pants (garments worn on the bottom.) Cut a piece of fabric 20 inches by 31 inches. This will make a finished size of 18 by 28, a common size for kitchen hand towels. Fold the long side of the fabric over 1/2-inch and press. Repeat with the other long side.


Fold the fabric over again 1/2-inch. Press and pin.


Fold and press 1/2-inch along both of the short ends of the towel.


Fold up 1-inch on each end of the towel and pin.


Sew close to the edge all the way around. The closer you can get to the edge, the more professional the towel will appear.


If you wish, attach a trim such as this pretty cotton Cluny lace. Cut a length that measures the width of the towel plus 1-inch. Measure up 1 3/4-inches from the bottom edge and align the trim with this measurement. Pin to secure it to the towel. Turn the ends under so that the trim is flush with the edge of the towel.


Sew carefully near the edges of the trim.


Press the towel and you're finished.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Tutorial: Folded Fabric Hot Pads


I stumbled on a sample of these pretty folded fabric hot pads and thought they would be a perfect quick project for the hope chest. They are really easy. You'll need: 1/4 yd of color/print A, 1/4 yd of color/print B, 1/4 yd of Insul-Brite, thread to match primary fabric, 2 buttons to match, rotary cutter, ruler and mat. This is a great project to use with scraps as well, as long as they are at least 9" square. Five different fabrics would be just as cute as the co-ordinated pair I've made here.


Once you have your materials, cut 5 (8 1/2-inch) squares from each fabric and 2 (8 1/2-inch) squares from the Insul-Brite. Iron 4 squares from each fabric in half, making a total of 8 rectangles.


Now you'll make a stack. Place the square of Insul-Brite batting on the bottom. Place an 8 1/2-inch square with the right side up on top of the batting. Place one folded rectangle (A) across the top of the stack, with the cut edge to the top and the fold toward the middle. Stack a second folded rectangle (B) with the cut edge toward the right of the stack and the fold toward the middle. Place the third rectangle (A) on the stack with the cut edge to the bottom.


Place the last (fourth) rectangle (B) on the top of the stack with the cut edge facing to the left. Tuck the top of the fourth rectangle under the left edge of the first rectangle. The rectangles will appear woven together with the cut edges on the outside and the folded edges coming to a point in the center.


Pin the edges and corners well.



Make sure to pin carefully at the point where the folds come together. They shouldn't overlap.


Sew carefully all around the edge of the hot pad, using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. You can use a walking foot if you wish - I didn't.


Cut the excess fabric from the corners and trim the seams so that the corners will turn more easily.


Turn the hot pad right side out. Use a point to make sure the corners are pushed completely out.



Press the hot pad so that it lays nice and flat. Topstitch 1/2-inch around the outside edges and sew a button at the center to help secure the center folded point.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

In My Workbasket: Pillowcases & Trims


So I am always on the lookout for pretty cotton fabric to make pillowcases. The fabric has to have just the right "hand." It needs to feel good on my face and still be pretty. While I love crisp, white pillowcases, I also really like printed ones, especially ones that I have decorated with crochet edgings. I have quite a stack of prints now and have several lengths of crocheted edgings as well. Now I just have to put them together...

When I crochet an edging before I have a pillowcase for it, it is helpful to remember that there are two types of edging patterns. One type develops from one end and is crocheted to a desired length and then you stop. When I use this type of pattern, I crochet the edging to a standard length plus an inch or so. This pattern type allows some flexibility later when I'm sewing the edging to the finished pillowcase. I can just unravel a bit from the end if I need to. The other type of edging pattern is crocheted into a pre-measured foundation chain. You can see that three of the edgings in the picture are crocheted into a foundation chain. Because I made these ahead and this type of pattern requires a finished measurement, I will now have to make the pillowcase to fit the edging. That isn't a problem, in this case, but it is something to be aware of.

BTW, before you ask, I don't worry too much about whether the print matches anything else in the hope chest. I have never had a matching bed "set." All the beds in our house are covered with handmade scrappy quilts or miscellaneous blankets. It is a real farmhouse, meaning nothing matches and everything is used. But pretty is still important to me. I hope Abigail has absorbed that value to the degree that she can find use for such extra pillowcases. They will certainly match the scrappy quilts I plan to make for her hope chest.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Tiny Sewists: A Review

photo by Jenn at http://www.ajennuinelife.com/
I am so impressed with a blog sewing series that I recently stumbled on. It's called Tiny Sewists. This is a series of blog posts from a mom, Jenn at A Jennuine Life, teaching her young daughter, Arden, to sew. Arden is not yet 5 years old at the time of this series, so those of you who want to get started with very young children should appreciate the slow and steady pace of the series. I've linked to her first lesson which is about choosing a machine and getting started. Just look for the "Tiny Sewists" label on the sidebar of the blog for the rest of the series. The first three lessons help Arden get acquainted with the machine without a needle and progress to an actual pillowcase project in lesson 7 and on to curved seams and pins by lesson 11.

This series isn't a sewing curriculum. It is more of an outline of lessons, a report of how Jenn progressed with her teaching. If you need a script of what to say or detailed step-by-step beginning curriculum, you'll need to look for additional help. But her project lessons are posted as tutorials and they are very well done. Jenn's meaningful projects still require her adult help for some steps. Measuring and cutting, for example, are not completed by the child. So, simpler projects would need to be found for independent sewing, but overall, the series is a nice introduction for the youngest of our children. The series certainly brings a young child to the point of understanding and accessing the usual beginning instructional material. Well done, Jenn!

The series ends with a promise of more posts as Jenn and Arden sew together. Although she hasn't posted more in this series, there is plenty of other interesting sewing going on at Jenn's blog.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Training Hands



     The hope chest: what image does this conjure in your mind? Maybe you think of a big wooden chest with kitchen linens, china, silverware and the like in it. Or maybe it's that big heavy box full of crocheted potholders and embroidered dishtowels your mom turns out by the dozen. That's what the hope chest is at a glance, a storage box for things you'll use later in your future home, but upon further inspection you'll find it's a lot more than that- it's a whole philosophy about being ready for a family and a home of your own. Here at the Mower house we call it the art of training your hands.

     My mom has been trying from about kindergarten on to help me develop certain skills and train my hands to perform them. I was born into 4-H, a youth program which has a lot of projects geared toward home economics. There are cooking, baking, sewing, crochet, embroidery, and scrapbooking projects- and I've done them all. It has taken a while to learn to do these things. When I was younger I was a little afraid of all the equipment, like the sewing machine, and the iron, and needles. Over time, though, I've gotten better and better and now have a veritable wardrobe of skills that will help me later in life. I know how to feed people. I can follow a pattern and sew things. Even the crafts projects have taught me some odds and ends about beautifying things (I think I could probably stencil every wall in the house if I wanted to.) I am becoming ready for future life and I have confidence because I have been training my hands all these years.

     So it turns out that the hope chest isn't just a box to store material goods for when you need them later in life. You need more than dishcloths and silverware to be ready to be on your own. You need to know certain skills as well. I think it is a lot better to go into married life with confidence than to go into it without a clue as to what you are doing. Training my hands now has helped develop that confidence and peace of mind, which will ultimately help me have a happy home.
 
Respectfully submitted by Miss Abigail

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Peek Inside: Pretty Doilies


I've mentioned before that I belong to a ladies club and that Miss Abigail has been an informal member since she was born. In fact, though we don't do formal membership at all anymore, Abby is as much a part of the club now as anyone. Both she and I have been gifted many lovely things over the years and some of these gifts are in her hope chest, in honor of or in memory of these special ladies.

These lovely hand-crocheted doilies were made by Miss Sheila, a wonderfully talented woman who has always been so interested in Abigail. I should have put something alongside them to help you understand the size better. They are both about 7-9 inches in diameter. Just the right size to place under a vase of flowers. It is so nice to have these beautiful accessories in the hope chest.


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