Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Scrap Rug Tutorial

I had a huge stock pile (or so I thought) of random scraps in my collection that I wasn't sure how to dispose of. I've been seeing a lot of cool scrap rugs lately and I found out that my grandmother and greatgrandmother used to make these all the time. Needless to say, I was inspired to make my own basic braided rug because my kitchen needs one anyway :)

To start, you will need to cut A LOT of scraps. I used 2 inch wide pieces but you could change the width depending on how big you want the braid to be. Then I sewed the scraps end to end. You can iron the seams open or not depending on your preference. I did both and decided that it doesn't make a difference when looking at the finished rug.

Helpful hint: DO NOT be overly ambitious and try to braid strands that are too long like this picture. I found out that if you do, as you braid they become a tangled mass of frayed thread and fabric. Do yourself a favor, keep the strands relatively short, take your time and sew additions to the braid periodically.

Once you have your strands, start braiding!

Once you have a nice long braid, you can begin the rug. Machine stitch the end of your braid to keep all of the strands in place and use strong, matching thread to begin winding the braid reinforcing with hidden stitches as you go along. I took stitches every inch or so. Helpful hint: keep the braid flat and don't pull the stitches too tight or the rug will start to bow a little and won't lay flat.

Keep winding and braiding and sewing! While I am sewing I use a big binder clip to keep the ends from unraveling. I cannot emphasize enough that this project takes A LOT of scraps. For example, the rug in this picture (which is not finished yet) has a diameter of 12 1/2 inches. Each strand of the braid so far is approx 8 yds so 8 x 3 is 24 yards of scraps and I am not nearly finished. In fact, I am almost out of scraps and need to sew like mad to produce some more :)

Anyway, once you get your rug to the desired size you can reinforce the braids by stitching all the way around the bottom side as well. I use invisible, heavy or carpet thread to get the job done and a curved, heavy duty needle doesn't hurt either especially if using heavier thread.

You could also make the braids into baskets, trivets, seat covers and placemats so have fun and put your scraps to good use!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Making A Headboard

I have a lot of moving ahead of me during the next 2 years so I am minimizing the furniture that I have. With that in mind, we bought a simple mahogany platform bed which is easy to move but is rather bland. I searched for an easy way to add a functional headboard and was lucky enough to happen upon this tutorial:


I was really inspired by the simplicity of the pillow idea but am way too lazy to actually sew my own. My idea to streamline the process was to buy outdoor patio cushions that matched everything else. They are cheap, easy to clean and don't require zipper installation! Also, I blogged about the pillow covers and here they are in action :)

The Phoebe Bag Again

As my sister mentioned in a previous blog about this pattern, it is awesome, awesome, awesome. Not only is it quick, it also doesn't require a lot of fabric and is extremely versatile. I used a burnt orange floral fabric for the outer part (it reminded me of UT) and a white and orange polka dot material for the lining. Also, I used fusible fleece for the first time which added a nice fullness to the shape of the bag. I will definitely be adding fusible fleece to my list of items to buy in bulk!

2 More Dresses

I've been slacking. Over the last few months I have sewn several dresses that between being in Texas for a month and moving, didn't quite make it on the blog. The brown dress was my first jersey knit project and I must say that this material IS NOT the menace that people make it out to be. All you need to remember is don't pull it while sewing, take your time and get the correct stretch! Please excuse the terrible pictures...I was still unpacking!
This is a black and white polka dot dress from a simple Vogue pattern. I also made this dress in a pink/purple fabric and will evenually post that pic as well :)

Monday, May 17, 2010


Here is another pair of pants I made using this pattern. I shortened the leg to make capris. The pictures aren't too hot because she had no desire to stand still for even a second, but you get the point.

The Phoebe Bag

I'm just going to come right out and say that this bag is awesome and you should make it. It is very simple and I actually made it Saturday morning before my husband got out of bed, and with my three kids underfoot. Here is the link to the pattern.

Freezer Paper Shirts

Here are a few shirts I made for my (pesky) brother-in-law. I really like the whole freezer paper stencil technique, and am finding out what works and what doesn't. While using text seems like a nice idea, I found that cutting each letter out is very tedious, and it is difficult to get a nice crisp edge. The shirt that has the city skyline on it (Austin, TX if you must know) was actually supposed to turn out differently. I did one of his favorite lines 'Good and good for you.' But the text didn't turn out as crisp as I wanted it to and it bothered me. I decided to do the Austin skyline over it and salvage the shirt, but the text was visible even after stenciling over it. I added a few more layers, but it is still faint. So now I am bothered by that, but what's done is done. The top shirt is something from the Office (I think?) meant to be Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica. I don't think I'll ever have another opportunity to stencil a beet on a shirt. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grandpa's Shirt

Here is a shirt I made using a shirt of Grandpa's. James now has a little piece of his Great Grandpa to wear. I cut apart the shirt at the seams and positioned the pattern pieces in such a way as to make myself a lot less work. I was able to use the existing plackets and button holes, the bottom and sleeve hems. It really made the shirt simple to make, because all I had to do was the shoulder and side seams, and the collar. I need to work out a nicer way to finish the placket edge since I didn't use the facing, but there's always a next time. Even with it being my first shirt like this, it took less than an hour, and if you have a mens shirt already, its a free project! I suppose you could do this just as easily with a womens shirt and a girl's shirt pattern.


I made this headband one night on a whim. I had other things to work on but sometimes instant gratification is just so nice. I dug out the scraps from the curtains Rach and I made together long ago. I had a fun vintage-looking flower I got at the craft store, along with some vintage lace trim I found at a yard sale. I like it, but honestly I don't know what to do with it. She doesn't have anything to match it and I feel like it might be 'too much' for her little blond head. What do you think?

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Ruffle(less) Shirt

Here is my latest project: The JJ Ruffle Shirt, a free pattern from Burda Style. This is another one of those that Rachel found and let me be the pattern tester. The only thing I am disappointed with is the absence of the ruffles. Because European fabric is a different width than we are accustomed to (who knew?) I was short on fabric and had to omit the ruffles. I am still looking for the 'perfect' belt for this shirt (or an idea for making one, I do have a vintage mothe-of-pearl buckle I might use). Also, the hem of the shirt is straight, despite the picture. And the buttons? After having a hard time finding the right buttons, I admit I took them off one of my daughter's outfits...she'll never notice! :)

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jammie Pants

Here are a few pairs of pajama pants I made for my son. So far I have completed 3 out of 5 pairs. (The other completed pair is Curious George fabric) I made these because he refuses to wear shorts, that is, up until the time that I cut out the pants. Now he wants some shorts. But I am OK with that, because they are easy to make and I have gotten smart. I make his pants extra long since he has been growing an average of 1/2 inch a month. At that rate he will be 9 feet tall in the third grade!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


It all began when I saw a picture of an owl lunch box. I liked it, but I decided I could make one myself. I found a great (free) pattern here for a toddler backpack, and turned something simple into something more complicated. I added a flannel lining, piping and two layers of interfacing for stability. I added the owl's features to the front panels before I began sewing it together. Did you notice I managed to work in some rick-rack? I know what you are thinking....step away from the rick-rack please! I like this pattern because a) it is simple to construct, it takes little fabric, and c) instead of using a zipper which can be hard for a toddler to open, it has a front opening that closes with velcro. This project was made completely with stuff I had on hand: the denim was from old jeans, the lining flannel, felt and rick-rack scraps were in my stash and the interfacing was from a huge hunk we found at a yard sale last summer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Summer Outfit

Here is the latest addition to my daughter's summer wardrobe. The top was made with a very, very easy pattern (I think it is McCalls?). It has tucks in the top, elastic in the sleeves and a button closure in the back. I added a little rick-rack around the neck because have I mentioned my undying love for rick-rack??? The pants were from a great pattern I bought from here. You should check out this lady's blog. She is a genius and has lots of (free!) tutorials. The reason I love this pants pattern is because it is for skinny kids. I have a hard time finding store-bought pants that stay on my kids. Even the ones with the adjustable waists don't always work. Regular pants patterns for little kids are also very boxy and wide-legged. Yes, I could cinch up the elastic and make them work, but I would have a little MC Hammer on my hands and I'm not really into that. That's why I was very happy to find this pattern. It is only one piece, so a few seams and they are done! For the fabric I used an old pair of my jeans (what was I thinking buying brown jeans??). I cut open the leg seams, positioned the pattern piece and cut it out. I made good use of the already sewn hem of the jeans, therefore eliminating a step! They fit great, and I can tell you I will be using this pattern a lot!