Sunday, 22 January 2012

Books, binders.. and adventures with the embroidery machine

So, book making is my new thing. After seeing Kirstie Allsop making gorgeous leather bound notebooks before Christmas, I scoured eBay for suitable leather and had a go myself, with a bit of pyrography thrown in for good measure.

That's the back, by the way!
But leather may not be to every ones taste and sewing through it us very hard on the fingers- in fact pliers are essential and the other day I stumbled on a sketchbook tutorial where the pages are sewn in by machine. Genius! I never knew you could sew through a stack of paper, but you can. And these little babies are so easy to make, it actually took me more time to embroider the design on to them than make the rest of them.

What you need:
A piece of fabric for the cover.
A piece of fabric for the lining.
Some iron on interfacing.
A fair handful of A4 paper.

Firstly, make your pages. take four sheets of paper, fold in half and tear along the fold, then fold in half again and sharpen the edge with a ruler, flute cleaning rod..whatever you have to hand! You want to make five of these paper booklets.
Next to the cover. Cut your cover and lining into a rectangle 27cm by 18cm. Cut your interfacing 15cm by 16cm. Now, on the first notebook I made I used a piece of extra heavy interfacing, on the second two I used four pieces of medium weight just ironed on top of each other. It was just what I had to hand, the scraps I had left over. Iron your interfacing central onto the back of the cover piece of fabric until its as stiff as you like.

Then pin your lining material to your cover, right sides facing and sew around three edges using the edge of your interfacing as the guide. Clip the corners and turn the right way around, then press to sharpen the edges and secure your interfacing back in place. Fold the open edge in and press down too, then top stitch all the way around.
Then the fun bit. Fold your cover in half to find the centre, open out one of your booklets and align the folds. Then just sew down the middle. Close this booklet and grab your next one, push it up close to the first, open it out and sew down this one continue in a similar vein. you want two booklets on either side of the central one. It takes a bit of practise, I must admit that some of my lines are a little wonky. Maybe next time I'll use a dark coloured thread instead of white against a denim! But hey-ho. I have two lovely new notebooks.

While we're on a bookmaking/writing theme I decided to tart up a couple of my binders which had suffered at the hands of a three year old with a ball pen. Having half a metre of denim floating around this seemed to fill the purpose. Denim is my new material of choice in case you hadn't gathered, especially now I have a machine which isn't scared of the prospect! And my embroidery machine seems to be very favourable towards it too.
So to make a binder cover.. open out your binder and place it on the back of the material and drawer around it, and measure out about six inches or so from each side edge to make the flaps. Cut out adding a half inch or so extra as a seam allowance (I apologise for switching between metric and imperial in this post!)
Hem the edges of the flaps then fold them inwards, right sides facing, using the line you drew around the binder as your guide. Pin in place, then sew in place along the line. Clip the corners, then turn the right way out and press. This just leaves you with a raw edge along the centre of the top and the bottom. Now there will be tidier ways to do this I'm sure, but its not exactly an item of heavy wear, so all I did was to snip down the edge of the flap to the binder line, fold the material over, press and sew.
Then you're done. Takes about fifteen minutes. Could this be a line of matching stationary??

Take Care. xx

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A few gift ideas

Yes, Christmas may be over for another year, but January and February are the busiest on our calendar for birthdays, so here are a couple of ideas, and they're quick, easy, made with relatively small amount of material ie: inexpensive; and also suitable for the male contingent. Well, lets face it, there aren't many makes out there which are aimed at the male half of the population.

So first off is a football apron, for the cooking soccer fan.
For this you will need a metre of heavy weight calico (I made two aprons out of a metre with material to spare), about three metres of bias tape, three metres of 1 inch webbing and a cushion with the club badge of your choice. For the ladies apron, omit the webbing, but use another 1 1/2m of bias tape.
  • Cut out your apron shapes- I did this by cutting around my apron.

  • Make your badge pocket by cutting around the shield leaving a 1/2" seam allowance. Pin and sew right sides facing onto another piece of calico leaving a 3" gap for turning. Turn and press, folding the open edges in then place in the desired position on your apron and sew in place, leaving of course the top free- it is a pocket after all!
  • On the gents version, hem the bottom by turning and pressing twice then sewing in place. After that edge the sides and top with the bias tape. Before you sew it down, place your straps and neck strap under the tape. Tuck it under the tape then fold towards the outside of the apron so the raw edges are hidden. (I tried it on to get the right lengths.)
  • On the ladies one, the bias tape makes the straps and neck strap, so firstly edge the bottom, sides and top V with the tape, then take about 3m of tape, fold it and press it, the mark the middle the 13" out each side of the centre point. These points attach to the top of the apron, then pin the binding to the remaining sides of the apron and out to make the straps.
And that's it.

Next is a Kindle case, made for my dad. Yet to be sent to my dad actually. It is will be on its way very soon, promise! I used to read books in large quantities, so once upon a time, a Kindle would have been a good idea, but since my reading time is now limited to when I'm in the bath, I figure that may be asking for trouble. This case has been made for a Kindle that measures 4 1/2" x 6 3/4".
You can tart this up in any way you want. I set to it with my embroidery machine to personalise it.

So firstly, cut two rectangles, the front 6" x 8 1/4" and the back 6" x 11 1/4" from your main fabric, medium weight interfacing and felt. Iron your interfacing onto the fabric. Sew a strip of Velcro onto the back piece of the felt about an inch from the top then place it right sides together to the fabric and sew together, leaving a gap for turning. Clip the corners, then turn. Do the same with the front piece omitting the Velcro at this point. Once both pieces are the right way round, press them, the place on top of each other, lining up the bottom and fold over the top flap to place the other piece of Velcro. After this is sewn in place, stitch the sides and bottom together, tucking the open edges in. 
This would also work for an ipad or on a smaller scale an ipod or similar. I just added an inch and a half onto the actual size of the device you're making it for.
Perhaps a Valentines gift for the man in your life?

Take care. xx

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New Year, New Machine, New Book

Happy new year to you. I realise its a little late on as we're swiftly heading for the middle of the month already.The days disappear like sand through my fingers at the moment.
So, did I start the year with any new years resolutions? No not really. I want to lose a little weight after the Christmas excesses, but that doesn't really count. I did however, start the year with a list of things to make, a refreshed and hopefully organised mind, and a new sewing machine.
The old machine which I believe I threatened with a demise right here, ploughed on like a trooper with all of my Christmas present makes, finally giving up the ghost on Christmas eve by firing bits of metal at me. It had obviously had enough and so had I. So after Christmas, and with a bit of money burning a hole in my pocket, I hit the sales and purchased a new machine. Its easy to be lured into more expensive models with the promise of a shed load of decorative stitches, but my budget was limited and when I thought about it, I probably only use a running stitch and zigzag on a regular basis. So a basic machine is what I got, just by a manufacturer I'd actually heard of. And its lovely. I'm a happy bunny!
I needed to put my new acquisition through its paces. New bag. Well it is the new year after all. Much as I love my Alice in Wonderland White Rabbit bag, its a bit like a cavern. I can never find my keys. Organisation is the key. Organisation is the keys..
This is my new bag. The pattern came from this book: Sew Serendipity Bags by Kay Whitt.

I'm always on the lookout for new bag making books and I'd already got the first one of these which is clothing. I was lured by the picture of the ruffled bag on the cover which is gorgeous and my bag is the unruffled bag.
This is a lovely book, with twelve bag patterns- paper templates included at the back, and its also spiral bound so you don't lose your place at an essential moment. Bags include: Grocery bags with three size variations, Lunch Bucket Bag, Cross Body Purses, Quilted Duffel Bag, Socialite Handbag, Convertible Backpack and a Laptop Messenger Bag and they are divided up into three sections, simple, intermediate and challenging.

This was from the intermediate section- I've been doing this a while, thought I could handle it.. well I got there in the end, but there was a lot of reading and re reading the instructions. There are no photos to guide you through, just some sketches which are okay, but still take a bit of working out and it was a way of making bags I hadn't done before. A word of warning-these are not bags you can quickly throw together, this one took me an hour of cutting the pieces, then four hours the following evening, down to making the zipper charm which I was fiddling away with at 11.45pm, determined to finish. I imagine it must add another good couple of hours on if you put the ruffles on too and it would make the seams even bulkier to sew. My beautiful new machine might have struggled with that.
But I do like a challenge and this book has certainly provided me with that. Having flicked through it again, to write this, I've seen several more that I want to make which is always a good sign. A serious book for the serious bag maker and quite a high head scratching rating to boot.
Take care. xx