Sunday, October 16, 2016

The Easiest Scrunchie Ever -- Sewing Tutorial

Scrunchies have slowly been coming back into vogue -- at least among the elementary school set.  (I have actually found sewing tutorials for scrunchies dating back to 2009, so maybe things were slow to reach us here in Michigan?)  Charlotte (my eight-year-old) was assigned the task of reading a "how to" book and doing a demonstration based upon a project in the book.  We checked out a kids' sewing book and Charlotte INSTANTLY fell in love with a scrunchie project.  I gritted my teeth and agreed to help her sew one of those abominable things.

Good grief.  The instructions were terrible and the finished product was unusable.  It was way too small, too stiff, had too much bulk, and included what I considered to be questionable and sloppy sewing techniques.  I am completely aware of my inherent sewing snobbery, and I own it.  I decided I needed to redesign this project to correct this sewing injustice.  Nothing like a little sewing melodrama to get me pumped up.

First of all, quilting weight woven fabric is not a great choice for this project.  Second, sewing together elastic into a loop sounds good in theory, but a lot of the garment elastic you get in fabric stores doesn't have the right amount of stretch.  I rummaged through the bathroom drawers and found a plain covered elastic band to use instead.  After a bit of thought, I came up with a way to sew it without any hand stitching or any threading of elastic through a fabric tube (a step that always drives me crazy and is difficult for Charlotte to manage by herself).  Here it is!

The Easiest Scrunchie Ever -- Sewing Tutorial

Materials needed:

  • 18" x 4" knit fabric*
  • 1 covered elastic hair band (the large, thick ones that can hold a whole ponytail)

* NOTE: If you're using knit fabric with 4-way stretch, you can cut the 18" x 4" rectangle any way you want.  If you're using knit fabric with only a 2-way stretch, make sure the rectangle stretches lengthwise, i.e. along the 18" length.  Old t-shirts would be perfect for this project, but I used a bit of knit fabric I had purchased off the bolt.

STEP ONE: Pressing the fabric

Press under (toward the wrong side) both long sides of the rectangle about 1/3" inch.  This is not a precision project by any means, so don't worry too much about it.

STEP TWO: Sewing the loop

Fold the rectangle in half with the right sides facing and pin.

Stitch across the raw edge with about a 1/4" seam allowance.

STEP THREE: Inserting the hair band

Open up the rectangle so it looks like a loop.  Then fold the pressed edges together with the wrong sides facing so it looks like this:

Grab your hair band and slide one side of it between the layers of fabric and pin.  Make sure the hair band is not pinned between the fabric -- it should be below that, pushed toward the fold of the fabric.

Repeat all the way around, so that the hair band becomes encased between the layers of fabric, close to the fold.  just scrunch the pinned fabric parts together to get all the fabric to fit together inside the circumference of the hair band.

 Now it's starting to look like a scrunchie!

STEP FOUR: Finishing up

With a 1/8" seam allowance, stitch around the outer pinned edge of the fabric.  Make sure the hairband doesn't get stitched into the seam.  It's unlikely that it would happen, but the whole point of the scrunchie is that the hair band is sort of floating freely inside the knit fabric.

Now interrupt your daughter's elaborate pretend game involving 498 animal figurines and bribe her to model your latest creation!  I only wrapped it around twice here, but three times held it in her hair better.  It would be cute around a bun, too.

Wasn't that so much easier than tutorials that involve elastic threading and hand sewing openings shut?  The stretchy knit fabric is a lot easier to manage than stiff woven material, and it's probably easier on the hair.  Now I can go shudder in horror at these infernal things coming back into style.  I'm not sure if I can bring myself to wear one in my hair, but I'm happy to make a bunch more of these for my daughter and her friends.  Charlotte is still petrified of the iron, but she can definitely manage all of the other steps involved in sewing this project.


Linking up to: Creating My Way to Success, Sugar Bee Crafts

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