Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pool Pouch -- Sewing Tutorial

We finally joined a pool this summer, so I have been spending many many hours watching my goofball children swim.  Inevitably, one or the both of them walks up to me to tattle or beg for a snack, and this results in them somehow getting me and the stuff I'm holding soaking wet.  I don't know how those little bodies can drip off a gallon of water during a simple snack request, but somehow they do it.  My phone needs protection!

I have sewn a few other pouches from tutorials for similar projects to protect your phone by the pool.  I wasn't completely satisfied with any of the finished products, so I decided I needed to design my own.  This pouch is great because you can work the touch screen on your phone through the clear vinyl and avoid dripping on your phone if you're wet yourself.  My brother and I tested it, and you can even answer a call and talk on the phone with the phone still safely zipped inside!  The finished product easily fits an iPhone 6 with a case on it.  You may want to adjust the sizing accordingly if your phone is much larger or smaller.

Pool Pouch -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

  • Clear vinyl (any gauge will do -- I used a fairly thin gauge but a thick one works too)
  • Main fabric (quilting weight or heavier)
  • Back fabric (home decor weight or quilting weight paired with interfacing)
  • Bias tape (extra wide, double fold, about 30" long)
  • Fusible web (like Wonder Under or Heat 'n' Bond, any "strength")
  • Zipper (at least 8" long)
  • Grommet (large, about 1" diameter at the outside)
  • Carabiner (one that will fit through the grommet and be able to attach to your pool bag strap)
  • Zipper foot
  • Masking tape (if you don't have a Teflon foot for sewing over the vinyl) 
  • Thread to match your zipper, your main fabric, and your bias tape
  • Wonder Clips, binder clips, or paper clips
  • [Optional: cardboard (or a manilla folder) to draw a pattern out of to help with cutting the vinyl.]

FINISHED DIMENSIONS: 8" wide by 6" tall
Seam allowances indicated throughout.

STEP ONE: Cutting the fabric and vinyl

From your main fabric and your back fabric, cut an 8" x 6" rectangle.  If you're using directional fabric, the 8" is the width.  Then cut a 1" x 8" strip of each.  For this project, the flowered fabric was my main fabric, and the denim was the back fabric.

Cutting the clear vinyl is a PAIN IN THE BUTT -- your ruler will stick to it, and you will be cursing me by the time you are done.  I think it's easier to make a little pattern out of cardboard or from a manilla folder to help.  That way I can use my rotary blade to trace around it (or I could use a permanent marker to trace and scissors to cut).  From the clear vinyl, you will need one piece that is 8" x 6", one piece that is 8" x 5", and one piece that is 8" x 1".

(I didn't take a photo of all of the pieces cut out, because photographing clear vinyl is an exercise in futility.)  I actually just cut two pieces that were 8" x 6" and then sliced an 8" x 1" strip off one of the pieces to end up with my three vinyl pieces.

Also, grab your Wonder Under or Heat 'n' Bond (or whatever fusible web you have handy) and cut an 8" x 6" rectangle.

In summary:

  • 8"w x 6"h
  • 8"w x 1"h
  • 8"w x 6"h
  • 8"w x 1"h
  • 8"w x 6"h
  • 8"w x 5"h
  • 8"w x 1"h
  • 8"w x 6"h

STEP TWO: Prep work

Take your 8" x 6" main fabric and back fabric pieces and fuse them together with the fusible web with the WRONG SIDES TOGETHER.  If you want to add a label to your pouch, do it either before (if stitching it on) or after (if fusing the label on) fusing these fabrics together.  I didn't add one to this project and I'm still kicking myself for forgetting.

Do you have one of those cool Teflon feet for your machine that allows you to sew smoothly over vinyl or oilcloth?  If so, great.  If not, just grab some masking tape and put it on the bottom of your regular foot (cutting out the spot where the needle goes through).  Works like a charm.

Now thread your machine with thread that matches your MAIN FABRIC.

STEP THREE: Installing the zipper

Grab your 8" x 1" strip of back fabric and lay it face up on your work surface.  Then, lay your zipper FACE UP on top of that (so the right side of the back fabric is facing the wrong side of the zipper.

Find your 8" x 1" clear vinyl strip (which is easier said than done since that sucker is nearly invisible) and lay that on top of the zipper, even with the edges of the back fabric.

Finally, lay the 8" x 1" strip of main fabric on top of the clear vinyl, with the right side down.  Make sure the edges of the fabric and vinyl are all lined up at the ends and along the middle.

Since you can't use pins with clear vinyl, secure everything with Wonder Clips, binder clips, or even paper clips.  Just don't puncture the vinyl.

Sew a 1/4" seam along the long side.  I have read recommendations to use a slightly longer stitch when sewing vinyl, but I have never really noticed that it made much of a difference.  I just stick with my regular stitch length and it works just fine.

You can use a zipper foot if you like.  I tend to get a better result just using my regular foot with the needle all the way in the left-hand position, but who am I to judge?

You already put the masking tape on the bottom of the foot, right?  If not, do it now.

Open up the zipper sandwich and fold the fabrics and vinyl away from the zipper.  (Now the main fabric strip and back fabric strip will have their wrong sides facing each other, and the clear vinyl is on top of the main fabric.)  Normally, I would iron a nice crease there, but the clear vinyl melts like butter at the thought of being touched by an iron.  So, finger pressing has to do.  Top stitch close to the edge (about 1/8" away) to hold everything in place.  You can't really see the clear vinyl in this photo, but rest assured it's there!

Now, grab your 8" x 5" rectangle of clear vinyl and line one of the 8" edges up to the opposite edge of the zipper.  The zipper should be face up (with the main fabric also facing up).  Make sure the 5" edges match up with the ends of the fabric.  Clip into place.

Switch the thread in your machine to one that blends into your zipper.  Trust me on this one -- it will look much better this way.  Otherwise, the stitching sticks out like a sore thumb.

Sew the vinyl to the zipper with a 1/4" seam allowance.  It's hard to see (because I used thread to blend into the zipper tape!) but it's there.

Fold the clear vinyl away from the zipper and finger press it into place.  Then top stitch close to the edge (about 1/8" away) to hold the vinyl down into place.  See how the top stitching also disappears?

Finally, pull your zipper pull in between the edges of the fabric and vinyl and baste the zipper together just inside the outer edges on both sides.  (This isn't necessary if you're using an 8" zipper, but I was using a 12" one because it was what I had on hand.)  Trim off the excess zipper beyond the edges on both sides.

STEP FOUR: Assembling the pouch

Locate the fused-together pieces of main and back fabrics.  Lay it down with the main fabric facing up.  Grab your piece with the zipper and lay it right on top, with the zipper facing up.  Trim away any excess vinyl at the bottom or sides and make sure everything is squared up.

Clip the layers all together.  If this project DIDN'T include vinyl, we would probably baste around the edges before stitching on the bias tape.  Because we don't want to put any more holes in the vinyl than absolutely necessary, we're going to skip this step.

Instead, we're going to clip the bias tape on (sandwiching it around the layers).  Start on one of the sides and work your way around.  Take off and replace the clips as you go.  It may seem silly to clip and then reclip with the bias tape, but it's much easier to keep it all together this way.

When you get to a corner, make the turn . . .

. . . then go back and tuck in the excess at both sides to create a mitered corner (with the fold on the diagonal from the corner in toward the vinyl).  It's hard to see since I used black bias tape, but it's there.  Stick a clip on the corner to hold the miter in place.

Continue all the way around until you get to the beginning.

Cut off any excess bias tape, leaving about an inch or so overlapping.

Fold about 1/4" of the loose end into itself and pin it so it overlaps the beginning.  I know there are official ways to join bias tape without the lumpy fold, but since this is a pool pouch instead of an heirloom quilt, we're just going to call it good with the fold.

Now switch your thread in the machine to blend in with your bias tape.

Stitch all the way around the bias tape close to the inner edge.  Again, I know this is not the proper way to apply bias tape.  In the interest of minimizing the amount of stitching we do to the vinyl, we're doing it the cheater way to preserve the strength of the vinyl.

STEP FIVE: Finishing up

Grab your grommet and pick one of the lower corners.  Follow the package directions to insert the grommet.  I drew the inside hole right up to the inner edges of the bias tape, but didn't cut through it.  The grommet overlapped the bias tape when I pounded it on, which I like.

Tip: Use an Exacto knife to cut through the top layer of vinyl, then use sharp scissors to snip out the rest. Works like a charm!

Take your carabiner and stick it through the grommet.

Slip your phone into the pouch, and hit the beach!  Or the over-chlorinated pool!  Whatever floats your boat.

Clips on nicely to the handles of my big tote.

(Yes, I did a crap job of sewing the bias tape on, but I will do a much better job next time.  My mom, aunt, and neighbor have all requested pouches of their own so I will make them super cute ones with nice, straight binding.)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

In love with my new labels and Char's Lined Canvas Tote!

I pinned a post about printing your own labels using Spoonflower ages and ages ago.  I loved the idea but was completely stymied about what I would print for them.  Since I started getting more comfortable with basic graphic design and manipulation using Photoshop Elements (thanks to my duties on the elementary school yearbook committee!), the idea popped back into my head to finally design a logo and figure out this Spoonflower thing I'm always reading about.

Since I'm no artist, I decided my logo needed to just be lettering.  I had so much fun browsing fonts on and finally came up with a concept -- my initials plus the initials of this blog (N S and R R).  I sew all sorts of different-shaped items, so I wanted a logo that could be square, rectangular, and then arranged so I could fold a tag to stick out from a seam.  I needed everything to be in black & white because I didn't want to clash with any of the fabrics I sew with, so I came up with this:

Uploading the logos to Spoonflower and tiling them (i.e., making the pattern repeat) was beyond easy.  I wanted a fat quarter's worth of each logo on just regular old cotton fabric, and that cost me about $30 (around $10 per fat quarter).

Today, my labels arrived!  I may have squealed when my husband brought the mail in.  The labels were exactly as I had envisioned them.  I counted, and there are 246 usable labels in all.  Not bad for only $30!  I left plenty of space around each label for turning under the edges if I wanted to.  I plan to just iron on some WonderUnder on the back of the whole shebang though so I can easily slap on a label and stitch around it without a lot of fuss.

As luck would have it, I was literally right in the middle of sewing a tote bag for my daughter's friend for her 8th birthday when the labels arrived.  What better time to use them?!?!  The quality of the fabric is very nice with some good body.  The printing is nice and sharp.  For my first go-round, I decided to cut out one of the labels to be folded and inserted into a seam.  I added a bit of Fray-Check to the raw edges (if this were a more formal project I might have ironed over the edges and actually stitched down them, but I was in a serious time crunch and didn't feel like changing my thread) and sewed that puppy right into the seam of the bag's lining.


Add caption

I finished sewing the tote bag with only about 15 minutes to spare before the party, so I only had time for some quickie cell-phone shots of the finished product (from a terrific Lined Canvas Tote tutorial by The Inspired Wren) before Charlotte was off to the party.  I'm really kind of bummed I couldn't keep this bag for myself (although I totally would have appliquéd on an "N" instead of a "C" for Char, the birthday girl!).  Thank goodness I have some more of that fun floral fabric left (which Charlotte picked out for Char's tote this morning at Jo-Ann's).

Also this morning, I finally decided to buy some actual topstitching thread.  WHY HAVE I NEVER TRIED THIS BEFORE???  I'm completely in love with it.  Its thickness makes the topstitching really pop, and it's adorable on the appliqué.  Using a triple/stretch stitch was my usual go-to method for thicker stitching, but this was way easier.

I went a little rogue with the tote tutorial by making the pocket the same fabric as the base rather than the same as the main body, and I just couldn't resist a little appliqué since sweet Char is one of my favorite students in Charlotte's class (which boasts not one, not two, but THREE girls named Charlotte).  I might try it as written if I try it again.

I'm so excited about my new labels that I need to come up with some projects to sew ASAP.  Maybe I need to sew one of these tote bags for myself!


Linking up to: The Inspired Wren

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Jumbo Piping Pillow -- Sewing Tutorial

Pillows are easy to sew and make a terrific beginner project.  Adding a bit of piping is an easy way to add color and make a pillow look even cooler.  There's no need to limit it to just prepackaged, standard-sized small piping though.  Grab some nice, fat cord and make some jumbo piping to stand out even more on a pillow!

This is no wimpy little piping -- this is jumbo piping!  The white piping on the right is just your standard-issue piping sold in a package at the fabric store.  Meh.

Forget that.  Let's make something with more impact!

Jumbo Piping Pillow -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials Needed:

Solid or subtle tone-on-tone print fabric (any weight except for super lightweight)
Coordinating (but contrasting!) print fabric (quilting weight or home decor weight)
Pillow form
Cord -- 1/3" or 1/2" diameter
Thread to match the coordinating print
Zipper foot

MAIN FABIC: The amount of fabric depends on the size of the pillow form you are using.  I was using a 20" square feather pillow form, so for my main fabric (the denim) I needed a piece at least 21" by 42" (to be divided into two squares 21" by 21" each).  Basically, you just need enough fabric for two pieces with dimensions an inch larger (on width and height) than your pillow form.  If you like a firmer stuffed pillow, you can cut your fabric closer to the actual size of the pillow form, but the more you stuff the pillow the less your piping will be visible.

CORD: The length of cord should be about 6" longer than the length it will take to go around the edges of one of your pillow fabric pieces.  My fabric was cut to 21" by 21", so I needed 90" of cord (21" x 4 = 84", then add 6" to get a total of 90").  You can pretty much use any smooth rope or cord for the inside of piping.  I just saw my daughter's jump rope in the kitchen (because of COURSE a jump rope goes in the kitchen, right?) and considered stealing that for my piping.  Wasn't long enough, unfortunately.

COORDINATING PRINT:  This is the fabric you will cut on the bias to make the piping.  You need strips long enough to cover all of the cord.  It's kind of difficult to estimate yardage for bias-cut strips, so just make sure you have at least a half of a yard or so and you should have plenty left over for some other little projects.  Beware of using a linear geometric print, though -- it's tough to keep the fabric 100% straight when making piping and it can look wonky in a hurry.

PILLOW FORM: Use whatever size you want.  Use whatever shape you want.  Or skip the form all together and just the pillow cover with loose stuffing.  Go bananas.  I went with a boring 20" by 20" down-filled form.

STEP ONE: Making the jumbo piping

If you have ever made your own piping before, then this will be easy as pie.  Same concept, just bigger scale.  Cut 2 1/2" wide strips of your coordinating fabric on the bias -- enough to more than cover the length of cord you have.   I cut about 4 or 5 strips that added together in length to be about 100" (including the angled ends).

(Cutting fabric "on the bias" means slicing it at a 45° angle from the selvage edge.  Woven fabric stretches more on the bias, so this will help the piping ease around the rounded corners of the pillow cover we're sewing.  If you're making piping for a project that has no curves, you don't need to cut the fabric on the bias.)

Now we're got to join these puppies together to make one long strip of fabric.  Take two strips and place them together perpendicularly with right sides facing.  I like to line them up on my cutting mat to make sure they're nice and straight, but this is probably overkill.

Pin the strips together and draw a diagonal line with a fabric pen across where the strips intersect.

Sew right on top of that line.

Trim the ends off about 1/4" or so away from the stitching line.  Also trim off the little triangles sticking out on the sides.

Press the seam open so it looks like this from the back . . .

. . . and like this from the front.

Join each of the strips together like so until you have one long strip.

Now grab your thick cord and fold the fabric strip over it lengthwise, matching the raw edges of the fabric.  Either pin or clip into place every few inches or so.  (I love these clips that Erin got me last year for our birthday!)

Now you should have something that looks like this (perhaps with a bit of extra fabric on the end, but don't cut this off just yet):

Now grab your zipper foot.  Stop whining -- I know the zipper foot is a pain in the butt, but it's necessary in this situation.  I have a handy dandy "piping foot" for my machine, but that's only for wimpy little standard-diameter piping.  This is jumbo piping we're talking about here!  Gird your loins and stick that zipper foot on the machine.  (Actually, I'm not even 100% sure that this is what my foot is actually called -- I have another foot which might actually be the zipper foot, but this is the foot I like to use when making my jumbo piping.  Just go with it.)

Using a nice, long stitch length (a little shorter than basting length, but longer than the default) and moving your needle over to the left as far as it will go, stitch as close to the cord as possible.  Try not to stretch the fabric too much.

Now you have a nice, long snake of jumbo piping.  Don't let your six-year-old run off with it to use it as a lasso, like mine did.  I had to hunt him down and confiscate the piping to take this photo.  Cut off any excess fabric beyond the end of the cord, if there is any.

Are there spot where the raw edges didn't stay even?  No worries.  As long as the edges stayed somewhat near each other the piping will be fine.

STEP TWO: Stitching the jumbo piping to the front of the pillow

Grab your main pillow fabric and cut two shapes the same size as your pillow form plus an inch in length and width.  (My pillow form was 20" by 20", so I cut my fabric into two squares, 21" by 21" each.)  Stack the two pieces on top of each other and round off the corners a bit.  I used a small Ball jar as a guide.

Set one of the pieces of main fabric aside.  Place the other one on your workspace with the right side facing up.  Grab one end of the jumbo piping and line it up on the edge with the raw edge of the piping matching the raw edge of the main fabric.  Make sure you are placing the piping on the right side -- not the back or wrong side of the fabric.  Start in the middle of one of the edges (which will become the bottom of the pillow).

Beginning about 4" from the end of the piping, stitch the piping to the fabric, stitching right on top of the seam that is holding the piping together.  You should still be using thread that matches the piping -- NOT the main fabric.  Make sure your stitch length is back to the default (or the length you like to normally stitch with.)

Continue all the way around, curving the piping around the corners and stitching slowly there (since the raw edges of the piping want to curl up at those points).  Stop about an inch or two before you get to the point where you meet the beginning of the piping.  Do a lock stitch before cutting the thread.

Where the ends meet, you need to integrate one end into the other end.  For instructions how to do that, see my tutorial for the Floating Inset Pocket with Piping.  Once you have done that, the face of the pillow cover should look like this:

The corners probably curve up all crazy like this:

To fix that, make a few clips in the raw edges of the piping.  Cut very close to, but not through, the stitching line.  That will help it all lie down nicely and neatly.

STEP THREE: Adding the backside of the pillow cover

Grab the main body piece that you had set aside earlier and place it face up on your workspace.  Lay the other main body piece (the one with the piping) face down on top and pin them together.

Starting on the bottom (the side that has the place where the piping is joined together), stitch almost all the way around the pillow.  Leave a large enough gap on that bottom side to stick the pillow form through later.  Make sure you stitch JUST INSIDE the existing stitching line that you can see from where the piping was stitched to the first side of the pillow.  Don't go too far inside.  Just a thread's width or so.

Notice that I have switched to my regular sewing foot.  This allowed me to float over the piping and ensure my stitching was inside the existing stitching line.  If I had left on the zipper foot and was trying to do it from the side, this would have been much more difficult.

Flip the whole shebang right side out and figure out where your six-year-old is to retrieve the pillow form he ran off with.   PETER!!!

STEP FOUR: Stuffing the pillow in and stitching the opening shut

I didn't take a photo of me stuffing the pillow into the cover because two hands were definitely required and I figured that part was self-explanatory.  And despite how much I LOATHE hand-sewing, even I have to agree that it's the best and only way to close up a piped pillow.  (I like this tutorial for how to use a ladder stitch to close up a pillow.)

Now go throw your pillow onto a chair and admire your work!  The jumbo piping really stands out, and it's a lot more fun than some teeny little store-bought nonsense.

Next time I make another pillow, I'm totally stealing my daughter's jump rope to use as the cord in some jumbo piping.  Shh -- don't tell Charlotte.

Featured at: Threading my Way, Craft Gossip, Crafty Staci, Paint Yourself a Smile

Linking up to: Crafty Staci, Threading My Way, DIY Crush, Craft-o-Maniac, Tatertots & Jello, Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom, Creating My Way to Success, Sew Can Do, Nap-Time Creations, Sweet C's Designs, Sugar Bee Crafts, Paint Yourself a Smile, Sew Can She