Tailored Shirt from a Pattern

September 11, 2008 at 2:47 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )

Begin the same as you did the dress. Use the chart on the back of the pattern envelope to determine your size and the amount of fabric you need. Don’t forget to check for interfacing. Also, check the notions list for the number of buttons and what other binding or fasteners you might need.

Preshrink and straighten your fabric. Cut your pattern pieces apart and collect together the pieces you need for your chosen style.

Alter the pattern if necessary using the same steps. Lay out your pattern, noting which pattern pieces must be cut on the fold and which need to be cut more than once. Remember to measure from the ends of the straight-with-the-grain arrows to the fold or selvage. Mark things like darts, pocket hems and locations, cuff openings and so on. Collect the pieces that will need interfacing and either cut them out all at once as directed in your guide or cut them from the fabric pieces. The rest of the order will depend on the particular style of the shirt you are making. Finishing the front edge is often the next step. Pockets may come either before or after that. If your pattern has front yokes, they will be sewn onto the front pieces before the front edge is finished and either before or after the pockets. Follow the order of steps as they are presented in the guide.

Finishing the Front Edges
Front edges of shirts are finished a number of different ways. Because there will be buttons and buttonholes added to the front, or in some cases snaps, interfacing is almost always included. You may add a front band to the buttonhole side. Often, the front is hemmed over a strip of interfacing, then folded over and topstitched to simulate a front band.

Other shirts are designed with an extension to the front pieces that serve as facings. You will turn the far outside edge under and stitch it, but you won’t fold over the facing until after you’ve attached the collar.

Finishing the Edges
Because you won’t want the bulk of two layers of fabric in your shirt pocket, these can’t be lined and turned. The edges need to be turned under neatly and accurately Misshapen pockets will detract from the appearance of the entire garment.

Begin by pressing the top edge under ¼”. If your fabric takes a crease well, you may not need to stitch this fold down. Fold the top of the pocket again, this time toward the front at the hemline. This will either be marked on the pattern piece or the distance will be noted in the guide. Stitch the ends of the hem. Clip the corners diagonally and trim the seam allowance of the folded portion to 1/4”.

Turn the hem to the back and press, making sure the top corners are good, sharp points. Press the rest of the edges of the pocket. If your pocket has angled corners, press the sides and bottom first. Press the corners over them, being careful that the overlaps in the seam allowance are smooth and flat.

If your pocket has a pointed bottom, fold the bottom and side corners up to the ~1/8” line, and then fold the sides over them. Make sure you are as accurate as possible. If you fold the corners up too far, the corners will have a rounded appearance; not far enough, and the side folds will overlap one another making the corner too thick.

Stitching the Pocket
Sometimes the guide will ask you to topstitch the pocket before it is sewn to the shirt. This may include a line of stitching at the bottom of the hem and ¼” from the outside edge of the rest of the pocket. It may ask for these outlining stitches after the pocket is sewn on the shirt as a way of reinforcing the application stitches. If your fabric doesn’t hold a crease well, consider doing it before in order to hold the edges under while you place your pocket.
Locate the marked dots on the shirt front piece or pieces. These dots will be on the underside of your fabric, and you will need to attach your pocket to the outside, of course. From the back, run a pin in and out of the fabric just at the dot. Use the pins to help you place the pocket. Remember to remove these pins before you begin stitching.

If you’ve altered your shirt pattern, it might be wise to check the placement of the pocket. In front of a mirror, hold the shirt with the front up, using the side seam and neck edge to place it as close as possible to how it will wear. Move the pocket if it looks like it is out of place.

Stitch close to the sides and lower edges of your pocket(s).

Pocket flaps are easy to add. Stitch the two pieces together at all but the top end. Clip, turn, and press. Topstitch the flap, and add a buttonhole. Place it above the pocket with the raw edge ½” above the top of the pocket. Stitch 1/411 from this edge. Press the flap down and stitch ½” from the fold. The raw edge is between these two rows of stitching.

Types of Collars
The collars on most tailored shirts are rolled collars, meaning the collar itself rolls or folds over. The base of the collar stands up at the neck edge. This base might be made from a separate piece called a stand—making it a two-piece collar—or it might be all one piece. The way to tell if your pattern has a rolled collar is to look at the shape of the seam line that will be attached to the shirt. This will be the notched edge of the collar piece. If it is straight or nearly so, you have a rolled collar.

Another possible shirt collar is a flat collar. It will lie flat against the neck edge.

A stand collar and a mandarin collar stand up after they are sewn on. They are made from a straight or only slightly curved narrow strip. Think of it as the collar stand of a rolled collar without the collar itself. The difference between the two is the stand collar opens in back, while the mandarin opens in front.

Basic Construction
Any of these collars is going to be constructed essentially the same way Cut the interfacing, and stitch or fuse it to one of the collar pieces. Trim the interfacing close to the stitching. This piece will probably be the bottom piece of the collar. Sew the two collar pieces together, leaving the notched edge open. Clip the corners and curves, grade the seam allowances, turn it right side out, and press it.

If you have a two-piece collar, the stand pieces will probably be sewn on either side of the collar at this point. One of these pieces will need interfacing as well.

To add collar stays, measure your stay at an angle from the corner seam allowance and place a tiny buttonhole 1/411 from the tip. Slide the collar stays through the buttonholes after the collar is together but before you topstitch. The topstitching will hold the stays in place.

Self-Facing Collars
Some shirt collars are self-facing. This actually makes a cleaner inside neck edge because there is no facing to tack to the seam allowances. To make a self-facing collar, fold the notched edge of upper collar or stand under ~/8” before you stitch it to the bottom collar or stand.

Line the notched edge of the bottom collar up with the neckline. The neckline’s seam allowance will need to be clipped to make it open enough to let the collar lie flat. Pull the folded edge of the upper collar out of the way and stitch the collar to the neckline.

Some pattern guides will tell you to sew your collar onto the right side of the shirt, while others tell you to sew it onto the wrong side. This depends on how the individual collars are intended to roll. A collar sewn onto the right side will fold midway or so on the collar. The inside is not expected to show; therefore, it is the side with the blind stitching. A collar that’s sewn to the wrong side will fold along the faced front, creating a sort of lapel effect. The inside of the collar seam will show more than the outside, which will always be covered by the collar itself. The inside, then, should have the neater, machine stitches.

Faced Collars
Faced collars are made in a very similar fashion, except neither edge of the collar is turned under. The collar is treated as one piece as it is sewn to the neck edge, and then the facing is sewn on to finish the edge.

They may be part of the facing that finishes the front edge. The facing pieces might also be a fold-over facing that is part of the shirt front itself.

The collar might even be finished with a combination of the two techniques. The collar is attached to the neck edge through one layer of the collar only as if it were self-facing. The front facing is folded over, and the part of the collar in front of the shoulder seam is treated like the usual faced collar. The seam allowance will need to be clipped to allow part of the allowance to fold down under the facing and the rest to fold up inside the collar. If your pattern calls for epaulettes, put them together just like the pocket flaps. Sew the raw edge at the armhole edge centered over the shoulder seam.

Making Cuff Openings
Sleeves with cuffs require an opening in the sleeve itself big enough to allow a hand to fit through. This slit is finished with either a hem, a binding strip, facing, or a placket. Your guide will direct you to finish this opening before you sew the sleeve seam because it is easier to do while the sleeve is still flat.

Hemmed Cuff Opening
For a hemmed cuff opening, the opening is generally a straight slit. Its exact position will be marked on the pattern. Make narrow hems on both sides. Fold the sleeve, right sides together, with these two narrow hems aligned. Sew a sort of tiny dart at the point of the slit to bring the bit of raw edge to the inside and to reinforce the end so the slit doesn’t tear farther.

Binding Strip Finish
The pattern piece designed to finish a cuff opening with this type of finish is often called a continuous lap. Press the edges of the long sides under as you would to make a single-fold binding strip.

The sleeve pattern will indicate where the slit should be. Often a staystitching line is indicated. Make the slit after the stay-stitching is completed. Open out the slit so it is as straight a line as possible. Sew the continuous lap over the slit much like other applications of seam binding.

Easing in the Sleeves
Occasionally dresses and frilly blouses will have gathered sleeves. These are gathered onto the armhole the way ruffles are. However, a tailored shirt is going to need to be eased on instead. What this means is the sleeve is almost gathered but not enough to make any actual puckers.

Begin by running a row of stitching between the notches on the sleeve. Your guide may have told you to do this before you sewed the arm seam. You will also need to sew the side seams on the shirt itself and press these allowances open.

Turn the shirt inside out. Put a sleeve, right side out, into the proper position at the armhole. Right and left sleeves are not interchangeable. Be sure that the notch groupings on the sleeves correspond to the same groupings on the shirt. Match and pin the pieces together at the notches, the underarm seams, and the center dot on the sleeve and the shoulder seam. Add pins every couple of inches. Use a pin to pull slightly on the easing stitches until the sleeve fits.

Stitch a seam around the armhole. Be careful not to let the needle go through more than one layer of the sleeve at once. The tiny “gathers” in the sleeve that ease it to fit need to be under the loops of thread that make the stitches not at the point where the needle enters— so they do not show as puckers.

Clip the seam allowance at the underarm curve and press the allowance toward the sleeve.

Finishing with Buttons and Hem
The next thing your guide will call for is probably the hem. This might be straight or curved. The front facing may fold over it before it is top-stitched down.

Buttonholes need to be marked and stitched. Your pattern will show their placement or the guide will recommend a certain distance between them. Don’t forget the buttonholes on the cuffs as well. Make buttonholes on both sides of the cuffs if you would rather use cuff links.

Sew the buttons across from the holes. A trick to make sure they align perfectly is to lay the buttonhole side over the button side, making sure they are even at the top. Pin the layers together at the top and bottom. Through the buttonholes, run a pin in and out of the button side. Unpin the layers, and carefully slip the buttonholes over the pins. Sew the buttons where the pins are.


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Making Your First Dress

September 11, 2008 at 2:45 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Choosing a Pattern
For your first try at sewing with a pattern, choose something simple. A dress with no waistline, sleeves, or collar is ideal. Look for a pattern that pictures a dress that gets its shape from vertical seams or from darts. If you don’t like sleeveless dresses, choose a jumper you can wear over a T-shirt or blouse, or choose a pattern with cap sleeves. This means the sleeves are part of the dress’s body piece rather than cut separately and set in. If you’re having trouble telling from the picture how the sleeves are made, check the back of the pattern envelope. There is usually a line drawing of the back of the pattern that shows every seam.

You might want to look specifically for a dress pattern that includes several styles so you can use the pattern again and again without feeling like you’re filling your closet with duplicates of the same dress. If you’re worried, look for patterns marked as “Easy” These are often patterns that go together very quickly They may even include some short cuts that you can use on other projects.

If you’ve never looked through a pattern book before, don’t be overwhelmed. There are several pattern companies with large catalogs you can choose from. Go armed with your measurements and something to mark the pages with possible choices, such as a pad of sticky notes, and plan on spending some time.

Reading the Envelope
The front of the pattern envelope has an attractive drawing or a picture of a model wearing the dress you’ve chosen. There will usually be pictures showing all the pattern styles in the envelope. Also, near the top, you will find the sizes available in the envelope. Most of the information you need, however, is on the back.

At first glance, the back of the envelope may look too confusing to decipher. You will find a chart of body measurements and the corresponding size. Sometimes the size is listed both in American sizes— such as 8, 10, 12, and so on—and in the European sizes, like 34, 36, 38. There may also be a chart that gives the finished measurements of the garment itself.

These will all help you decide which size to use.

As part of this same chart you will find a yardage chart. Find the style you plan to make, and read across to the row with your size to determine how many yards of fabric you will need. There will probably be a listing for fabric 45” wide and one for 60”. Asterisks beside these widths will refer you to notes that indicate whether this amount will be enough for napped fabrics. If your fabric has a one-way print, use what is indicated for napped fabrics.

Fitting the Pattern
Few of us are proportioned exactly the way the pattern chart seems to expect. Though you will have already decided which size comes the closest to your measurements, in order for your dress to really fit, you may need to make some changes.

Refer back to the measurement chart on the back of the pattern. Use a highlighter to indicate which bust, waist, and hip measurement is closest to your own. Next, open out the folded pattern pieces and find the ones that are labeled for your style. Cut these pieces apart enough to separate them. You don’t need to cut them all out exactly on the cutting line—that you can do when you actually cut your dress out.

You will notice that the pattern pieces have all the sizes on them. This makes altering a breeze. Simply use your highlighter to mark the cutting line of the appropriate size at the hips, waist, and bust. Gradually angle the line from one to the next, marking over the many cutting lines printed there.

Lengthening or Shortening
You can easily lengthen a hemline by adding to the bottom of each piece when you cut it out. Shortening’s just as easy and can be done in the final stages of construction. However, among the body measurements listed on the chart is the distance from the back of the neck to the waist. If this is different from your own, you should alter the pattern.

You will notice on the primary pattern pieces there is a line marked “lengthen or shorten here.” This is often a pair of lines about 1/8” apart. To lengthen, cut along this line and splice in a piece of paper that adds the appropriate amount. Tape it to the pattern tissue. To shorten, measure the pattern up from this line the amount you need to shorten and draw a new line. Fold the pattern’s line up to the new line and tape it in place.

Laying Out the Pattern
The pattern guide that comes with your pattern will probably have illustrations of several cutting layouts. These will be labeled as to which dress style and fabric width they are intended for. There may be illustrations for fabrics with and without nap. You can follow these illustrations, paying particular attention to fold lines and selvage edges. The usual way to lay out your fabric is right sides together with the selvages aligned. In some instances, however, this won’t work. Your pattern guide’s illustration will help you decide how this needs to be done.

Begin by pinning the largest pieces to the fabric. Be sure the fabric is smooth and folded properly The long double-ended arrows on the pieces need to be straight with the grain of the fabric. Check by measuring to the selvage or center fold from one end of the arrow and again from the other end. If they are the same, the arrow is straight with the grain.

Also be alert to pieces that need to be placed on the fold. These are indicated by long arrows that curve toward the edge of the pattern.

Use straight pins to pin your pattern to the fabric. A pin every 10” to 12” is sufficient. Be sure your pins don’t extend beyond the pattern’s cutting line. Pin all your pieces in place before you begin to cut them out in case you discover a need to move the pieces closer together or rearrange them in order to fit them all to the fabric. Check for pieces, such as optional ties, or some types of facing pieces that call for more than two, and be sure you are leaving fabric scraps large enough to cut these out when the first set is cut.

Cutting and Marking the Pieces
Before you begin cutting out your garment, double-check to be sure all
the pieces that you will need are pinned to your fabric. The pattern guide
will have an outline drawing of each of the pieces and a list indicating which style uses each piece. Often the layout diagrams list all the pieces used for a particular style.

Stitching Darts and Seams
Your pattern guide will lead you through all the steps of making your dress. As with any project, you should read through all the directions before beginning. The guide will probably ask you to begin with stay stitching, which is never a bad idea. Stay stitching is most necessary with stretchy fabric or along curving seams. Be sure to sew in the direction indicated by the arrows or you will defeat much of the purpose of the stitching.

This will probably be followed by darts or shaping seams on the front of your dress. To sew seams, put the pieces right sides together, matching the notches. The pieces need to fit at the stitching line, not at the cutting line, so you may have to clip some seam allowances. This is where the stay stitching is important so you don’t clip too deep.

Sew ~1/8” from the edge. Clip curves and press seams open. If your fabric tends to fray use pinking shears to trim the seams or zigzag just beyond the seam. These zigzag stitches don’t have to be as close together as they did for appliqué stitching. They can be about as far apart as usual straight stitches. Trim the seam allowance close to these zigzag stitches to finish the seams.

To make darts, fold the fabric, right sides together, bringing the two lines together. Be sure the fabric folds at the point of the dart and the lines or dots match. To check this, insert a pin through the marking on one layer, and check to see that it emerges at the marking on the other layer. The lines need to match at the seam line, too.

Sew from the outside edge toward the center point. Darts are generally pressed downward or, in the case of vertical darts, outward, away from the center of the garment.

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Simple Sewing Projects

September 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Stitching Block and Box Shapes
Three dimensional shapes like blocks or soft boxes are made, in part, the same way Only instead of cutting a top and bottom and relying on the stuffing to provide the height, there are side pieces to sew as well. Begin with the basic cube and make toddler blocks.

Toddler Blocks
Cut six squares of whatever size you want for your blocks plus ½”. These can be made from fabric scraps or can be appliquéd with numbers and letters if you want. Begin by sewing the side pieces to the bottom piece. Start and stop your stitches ¼” from the edge. This will make it much easier to do the stitching on the adjacent sides. Sew the top piece to the outside edge of one of the side pieces the same way.

Fold the bottom piece so you can line up two of the side pieces, right sides together, and stitch between them. Repeat with each pair of sides. Do the same thing with the top. It can be a bit tricky to adjust the block to let you get to the seams but don’t worry about how much you scrunch the fabric; simply keep everything but what you are sewing out from under the needle.
Leave one edge open to turn and stuff. A cube of foam rubber will make the blocks more square than stuffing, but stuffing will make it easier for a child to hold. Finish by blind-stitching the open edge.

Soft-Sided Box
A box doesn’t need to be made in a perfect cube. The bottom and top can be rectangular and the sides only an inch high, as long as the sides fit the bottom and the top. The box is begun essentially the same as the block until you have the four sides stitched to the bottom. Next, stitch the back side of the lid to the top of the back piece. Press the seams open.

Make a button loop out of ribbon a couple of inches long. Sew this to the seam allowance at the center front of the lid piece. The length of the ribbon will determine where your button is eventually placed on the front piece.
Cut a piece of fabric for the inside lining that matches the shape of your box pieces as they are now. This should be a sort of cross shape. Cut a piece of batting the same size. Layer them as follows: batting on the bottom, lining piece next with the right side up, box pieces with the wrong side up. Sew around the outside edges, leaving the edge of the front piece, or top of the cross, open. When you stitch with batting it is usually between two layers of fabric. When it is on the outside, it’s better to stitch with it on the bottom as the presser foot tends to catch it if it’s on top.

Trim the batting close to the stitching and clip the corners. Turn so the batting is to the inside and press the edges. Top stitch in the ditch along all the seams. Blind-stitch the top edge closed and hand-stitch the sides together. Add a shank button to the front piece.

Different Shaped Boxes
Suppose you want to make a box that is round or oval or even heart shaped. Instead of cutting separate sides, cut one long piece to fit all the way around the box. Remember to fit this side piece to the seam line rather than to the outside edge of your box bottom and top.

Cut four pieces of your box shape, two for the bottom and two for the lid, and two pieces of quilt batting the same size. Begin by layering the bottom with pieces in this order: box bottom with the right side down, batting and lining with the right side up. Stitch them together with a ¼” seam all the way around. Trim the batting close to the stitching. Set it aside.

Put whatever ruffle or trim you want on your outside lid piece. Layer it and the lining as follows: batting, lining with the right side up and decorated lid top with the right side down. Stitch, clip, turn and blind stitch the opening closed. You can add quilting stitches if you want, then set the lid aside.

You will need two side strips and a batting piece the same size. Layer them with the batting on the bottom, the outside piece with the right side up and the lining piece with the right side down. Stitch along one side of the strip. Trim the batting in the seam allowance and press the seam open. Sew the batting to the outside piece along the other seam allowance, trim the batting and press the seam allowance under. Run a line of stitches along the seam allowance of the lining piece as well. Fold the piece the long way and sew the ends together, leaving the side and lining still opened out. Press this seam and trim away the batting in the seam allowance.

Clip the lining edge at close intervals along the seam allowance. Pin this edge to the bottom piece. Stitch along the seam allowance. Clip Vs in outward curves and straight cuts in inward curves of the bottom piece.

Fold the seam allowance from the box bottom up, and fold the outside strip with the batting over the lining. Blind-stitch all around the box bottom.

Connect the lid to the box with a short ribbon, hand-stitched to the inside of the box and the underside of the lid.

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Sewing a Totebag

September 11, 2008 at 2:44 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Designing the Bag for Your Needs
There are two basic styles of tote bags—flat and box. Flat bags are made from two same-size pieces of fabric sewn together. While the bottom corners of the flat bag can be tucked, or boxed, slightly to give it more depth, to make a really wide-mouthed tote you will need to make all four sides for a box-style bag.

Flat Bags
Tote bags are generally square or rectangular, but they don’t have to be. Consider the use of your bag—what shape and size will best suit its purpose? Remember you are working with fabric and, though you can find some fairly stiff fabrics, your bag will be pretty limp when it’s empty. The larger it is, the more this will be true.

When you’ve decided on the shape you want, determine the exact dimensions. You will need either two same-sized rectangles or one that folds in half to become the size you need for both sides. Add at least ½” seam allowance all around. Also consider the thickness of its future content. As happened when you stuffed a pillow, your bag front will seem smaller once it’s full.

If your bag is going to have a rounded bottom, make a pattern for your pieces. Remember to allow for depth with this pattern as well. Small tucks are possible in the sides of round totes as well as the square ones, and these will make the front seem smaller.

To make a more box-like tote bag, you will need sides separate from the front and back. For one piece, begin with the size and shape you want the bottom to be when it’s finished. Extend the front and back pieces out from the bottom pattern to the height you want, and do the same with the sides. Add your seam allowances all the way around this cross shape, and you have your pattern.

It is a good idea to reinforce the bottom of this kind of bag, especially if you are making it large and expect it to carry fairly heavy loads, such as books or groceries. To do this, you can cut another piece the size of the bottom plus a seam allowance. You will turn under the seam allowances and stitch it to the bag either inside or out. If you will be putting it inside, it should be a tiny bit smaller than the bottom itself.

Or you can cut a piece that will extend 1” or so up the sides or up the front and back as well. This will probably need to go on the outside, or it will make the bottom spread.

Handles and Facing
You will also need to decide how long you’ll want your straps. For most tote bags, the straps will be sewn on the top with the raw edges hidden under a facing. If your bag will be used for heavy items, your handles can be sewn down the entire front and back of the tote, meeting

at the bottom. Consider making the handles long enough to go over your shoulder. Keep these possibilities in mind when you are planning and shopping.

You can buy heavy woven ribbon or make your straps by folding and turning strips of the same fabric you’re using for your bag. You can even make a combination of both. If you are making top-mounted handles, allow about 1½” at each end for extension under the facing. This will reinforce the handles and help them stand up.

The facing is a 2” strip that will go all the way around the top of your bag. This strip may be pieced or cut from one length. Make it more narrow for a really small bag and wider for a larger one.

Fabric Shopping
You can make your bag out of anything you want, but heavy, tightly woven fabrics will give you a more satisfactory tote. Denim or canvas will probably be your best choices, but check for heavy twills or even upholstery fabric if they suit your project. The heavier the fabric, the more difficult it will be to turn for straps. Consider grosgrain ribbon backed with your tote bag fabric, or possibly backed with fabric you will use in your appliqué decoration. If you are planning to use fabric for handles or to reinforce the bottom, be sure to allow enough when you buy your fabric. You might not want to wash your fabric before you make your tote, because washing it might make it softer. You can treat your tote bag with stain-resistant spray and waterproofing to put off having to wash the finished bag.

Handles for Heavy Loads
If you want handles that extend down the front and back of your tote bag, you can prepare the two handles in one long piece. If you are making a box, it will measure four times the height, plus twice the width of the bottom, plus twice whatever you want for the extension at the top of the tote. You can make this in two equal lengths if that is easier to work with. Zigzag across the raw edges at the ends of the handles.

Bottom Seams
For flat styles, begin by sewing the bottom seam. Since this raw edge is going to be inside your bag and could catch on things and fray, the allowance should be finished. A French seam is one option and can be used for lighter weight fabrics. Other suggestions are zigzag-finishing the edge or using pinking shears.

A flat felt seam is another possibility To’ make this seam, sew it as usual with right sides together. Trim one allowance, probably the one toward the back, to ‘/2 the depth of the other. Fold the deeper allowance over the shorter one and sew them both flat to the back piece, stitching close to the fold.

A variation on this is to press the seam open and turn each seam allowance under. Stitch them on their respective sides of the seam. If you are making the box style and did not cut it as one piece, sew the front and back pieces to the bottom piece, and finish the seams in some way

Reinforcing the Bottom
A small reinforcing piece intended to be sewn inside of a box-style

tote can be added at this point. Turn the edges under, and sew it to the bottom section of your tote bag.

If you have chosen a reinforcing piece that extends up the sides and front and back, it can be added now. Turn under the top edges, pin it right side up to the right side of the still-flat tote bag piece. Stitch close to the folds.

If you are using handles that extend to the bottom and you would like them to disappear under this reinforcing panel, simply wait and add this piece after the handles are in place.

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Make A Lined Basket

September 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Measuring Your Basket
As with anything you sew, it’s important that your measurements be accurate. As the carpenters say, measure twice, cut once. Drawing a diagram and labeling it with the measurements of your basket will help you identify any possible difficulties in advance so you can plan around them. Be sure to take the measurements inside your basket.

Determine first where you want the top of your lining to be. If there is a decorative top edge on your basket, you may want the lining to attach just below it. Measure the depth in several locations, and use the deepest as your measurement. When you attach your finished lining, you can fold the top edge under a bit more to make it fit in the shallower spots.

You will need a good measurement of the circumference of your basket. This needs to be at its largest point, generally the top edge. Remember to take it inside the basket.

The dimensions and shape of the inside bottom will determine the shape of the bottom piece of lining. Taking paper slightly larger than the bottom and pressing it into the basket, smoothing the bottom and creasing it at the side edges might give you a good pattern. Remember to add seam allowances.

Cutting Pieces and Pockets
Any fabric you’re comfortable working with can be used to line a basket. Imagine your basket lined with a bold cotton print, dark velvet, or, for a padded look, some prequilted fabric. Your intended use of the basket will help you determine what’s best to use. You don’t want items in the bottom of your basket disappearing on a busy print or fabric so dark it’s hard to see to the bottom of a large basket.

Cutting the Lining
Even a basket that is basically square can be cut with one piece of lining to go around all the sides. Take your circumference and your depth, and add ½” seam allowance all around for the dimensions of this piece.

Once it is cut out, determine where your seam should fall in your basket. A corner is a logical place. Here, the seam will be least likely to show and won’t interfere with any pockets you might be planning. Pin the seam as if it were stitched, and try the lining out in your basket. Mark the locations of the other corners on your lining with pins or chalk.

Planning the Pockets
Remove the seam pins, and spread your piece out flat. Determine
what you’ll want for pockets, if any The marked corners should help you see the space available.

There are a lot of different ways to make pockets. You can hem the top and turn under the sides or use the turned method with a coordinating solid for the back, which will be the inside of the pocket. You can cut your fabric the width of your pocket plus seam allowances and twice as long as your pocket will be deep. Fold it over with the right sides together and stitch around it, leaving a gap. Turn, and the fold will be the top edge of the pocket. Topstitch it into place.

If you want your pockets to extend to the bottom of your basket, there’s no need to turn the bottom edge. Simply line the raw edge up with the raw edge of the bottom of your lining.

If you want two side-by-side pockets of equal depth, make them as one pocket. After the pocket is attached to the side, you can separate them into two with a line or two of stitching. You can even cut a piece as long as your present lining and twice as wide as your pocket depth. Fold it in half, wrong sides together, and pin it to your lining. Separate it into a row of pockets that will go all around your basket. You will probably want to separate pockets at the basket corners.

Stitching and Gluing
Construct your pockets, however you’ve decided they should be, and pin them in place. Try out your lining in the basket to see that they work the way you anticipated. You may want to make some changes before you sew them to the lining.

Adding the Pockets
Sew the sides of your pockets to the lining. Sew the bottoms, as well, if they don’t extend to the base of the lining. If you expect your pockets to get lots of use, reinforce the seams. To do this, after you’ve stitched the pockets down, pin a length of twill tape or seam binding to the back along the stitching line and stitch again. Sew the side seam of your lining and press the seam open.

Stitched-on Bottom
If your basket tapers even slightly, take a round of stitches on the side piece ½” from the bottom to use to ease or gather the lining to fit. Pin the side lining to the edges of the bottom, using the marks that indicate the corners to help you place it correctly If you are uncertain if your pockets are going to come out where you want them, do a quick hand basting around the edge of the bottom. This way, you can remove the pins and try the lining in your basket. When it is placed to your satisfaction, stitch the seam. Your lining is ready to glue in place.

Glued-in Bottom
If your basket tapers a great deal or is otherwise odd shaped, you might want to glue in the bottom instead of trying to stitch it to the sides. To do this, use your pattern to cut a piece of heavy cardboard the exact shape of the bottom of your basket. Try it in your basket, and do any necessary trimming. Mark the wrong side of your fabric using your cardboard as a template. If your basket bottom is not symmetrical, be sure to place your cardboard upside-down as well. Cut around your mark, adding 1/2” all the way around. Clip the curves to the mark, and turn the edges under. You can use the cardboard as a pressing guide, holding it in the center of the fabric piece and ironing the ends up over it.

Use fabric glue or a hot-glue gun to attach the seam allowance to the underside of the cardboard. You will glue this to the bottom of your basket after you’ve attached the sides.

Attaching the Lining
If the top edge of your basket is fairly level, press the top edge of your lining under ½”. If the edge dips, you will have to do much of your turning under as you go.

Position your lining inside your basket. Glue the corners down first, then ease each side to fit. If you are gluing in the bottom, allow the top to dry Then, glue the bottom edge of the sides to the basket bottom, gathering them to fit. Glue your bottom piece to the bottom of the basket, covering the raw edges of the sides.

Adding Trim
Trim of all kinds can be added to the top edge of your pockets before they are sewn onto the lining or around the side itself before it is glued in place. You can also attach a trim to the turned-under edge of your lining before you glue it to the basket. Sometimes trim can even solve problems that arise when you are installing the lining itself.

If the top edge of your basket is so uneven you can’t turn your lining to fit, or if your turned edge shows through your basket’s loose weave, cut the top edge instead. Trim it as near to the exact shape of the top of your basket as possible. In fact, you may want to glue it first and trim it when the glue dries.

Cover the raw edge with a round of flexible ribbon or ruffle with a finished edge. If you want to make your own ruffle, sew it to bias binding. Or gather it onto the wrong side of a ribbon.

You can cover the point where the ends of the ribbon or ruffle meet with a bow, a small embroidered appliqué, or other decoration.

Removable Lining
The lining of a basket, especially one without a lid, is going to get dusty The nozzle attachment to your vacuum cleaner can clean up most of it, but there’s nothing like being able to remove the lining and wash it. If you’re lining a basket that will transport food or a sewing basket that will set out, consider one of these alternatives to gluing.

Self-Gripping Fasteners
This particular method works best if your basket top is level. You will also have to sew the bottom on, rather than gluing it, of course.

Get a strip of self-gripping fasteners long enough to encircle the entire top of your basket. Glue the hook, or stiff, half to your basket top. Don’t put the hook half on your lining or everything in your wash will stick to it when you put it in the washer. You can sometimes find adhesivebacked fasteners that will save the trouble of gluing. You will still have to sew the half to the lining since the adhesive may not hold in the wash.

Turn the top edge of your lining under. Sew the soft half of the fastener to the lining, leaving a little of the folded edge above the fastener. This will help to hide the edge of the fastener itself. Sewing a round of ruffle to the top before you add the fastener will help even more.

Tied-on Lining
Another alternative is to make an extension to your lining that comes over the lip of your basket and ties on the outside. This method works best with baskets that have level tops. You can make your lining to accommodate handles and lids.

Make your lining in the usual way, sewing the bottom to the side piece. Measure the outside circumference of your basket. If you have a bow handle on your basket, you will cut two extensions and tie them together beneath the bases of the handle. If your basket has a lid, measure around the basket up to either side of the hinge. Add ½” on each side of your extension pieces for hems. Two side handles will be dealt with later; measure your extension as if they aren’t there.

Determine how far you want your lining to extend down the outside of your basket. Add 1” for a bottom casing, ½” for a top seam allowance and a little more for the thickness of the basket itself.

Sew narrow hems on both ends of your extension(s). Sew the bottom edge in a hem that can be used as a casing. Make a row of gathering stitches across the top. With the lining in the basket, determine the placement of the ends of your extension piece(s). If your basket has no handles or hinges to worry about, the edges of your extension piece will meet at whatever location around the basket that looks best to you.

With right sides together, pin the extension(s) to the lining, gathering it to fit. Sew along the gathering stitches. Make a narrow hem with the seam allowance along any part of the lining edge that isn’t covered by the extension. Run a ribbon, cord, or shoestring through the casing, and gather the lining extension to fit.

Accommodating Side Handles
If your basket has two side handles, you have a couple of choices. If the handles are squarely on the top edge of your basket, simply leave that stretch of the top unsewn. Backstitch on either side of the gaps so the seam doesn’t open up father. Press the seam open, and topstitch on either side of the gap. This will help the seam allowance lie flat, and the raw edges will be hidden.

If your basket is fairly thick and the handles are narrow, as is the case in bushel baskets, the handles may seem to be more under the extension than at the seam. In this case, mark their exact location with chalk or pins after the extension has been added. Cut along this line and then edge the cut with narrow double fold bias tape.

Another way to finish the edge for the opening is to make a lining square 2” longer than the handles and about 2” wide. Turn under the edge, and stitch it. Put the lining piece on the marked location for the cut, and sew ¼” on either side of the line and at each end, making a box. Cut the slit, and clip to the corners. Turn the lining through this hole and press it flat. Topstitch it to keep it in place.

If your basket is very big around, you might want to make your extension in two pieces simply to make it easier to pull the ties up around it. Hem both ends of both, and bring the ends together when you sew them to the lining.

Lining the Lid
Lids of baskets are often lined in a fashion similar to the glued-on bottom. This works fine, but a few little additions can make your lid more fun.

If you are lining a sewing basket, consider adding a pincushion to the lid. The entire lid can be made into a pincushion with a couple of layers of batting, or you might designate a small area for one.

To make the latter, pin a backing piece to the back of the lid lining and machine-stitch around the area you want for a pincushion. This might be a single motif of your lining fabric or a circle or a square. Make a small cut through the backing fabric and stuff with pillow stuffing. Finish as you would a glued-on bottom.

You can put pockets on the lid before you glue it to the cardboard, but don’t plan to use them for anything but fairly light objects or they will pull the lining off. Adding ribbons to use to tie on a small pair of thread scissors is another suggestion.

Instead of using cardboard, the lining can be glued directly to the lid. If it’s hard to get the edges turned correctly, cut the seam allowance off and glue the fabric directly Or you might edge the piece with bias tape or sew a ribbon or ruffle around it. You can cover the edge with ribbon or ruffle after it’s glued down, if you’d rather. Be sure your trim doesn’t interfere when you close the lid.

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Make a Hanging Caddie

September 11, 2008 at 2:42 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Decisions about Pockets
While you are taking inventory of the supplies you intend to store, consider the size of different items. The pockets on your caddy will be constructed in rows, and each pocket in a row will be of equal depth. They can be of different widths. Some can also be pleated for extra room while others can be flat, but the depth of all the pockets within a row will be the same.

Get very specific in your list of what pockets you’ll need. Include space for items you don’t currently have on hand. Consider putting really long items, such as rolls of wrapping paper or knitting needles, in pockets on the back of your caddy

Decisions about Hanging
You can design your caddy to hang from a peg, a hook, or a clothes hanger. This is great for closet storage. You can choose a hanger with a rotating hook. A wooden coat hanger is less likely to break than plastic, but the curve designed for suit coats might not be what you want for your caddy A hanger will limit the width of your caddy.

For caddies that will be heavy when they’re full, it’s a good idea to design the top to hold a rod supported on three hooks. To do this, plan to extend your top an extra 4”. Later, you will cut a half circle about 6” across and 3” deep from the center of your top. The top 2” will be turned to the back and stitched, forming a casing with an opening for a center support.

For caddies that will have a permanent place on the wall, you can equip them with a sleeve on the back to hold a hidden dowel or a decorative curtain rod.

Another option is to put straps on the top of your caddy and equip the ends with fasteners that will snap or otherwise fasten to the caddy

This will allow you to hang your caddy from some chair armrests, bedsteads, or crib railings. The fasteners can be on the back to be out of sight or in front to make the caddy easier to attach. Consider sewing decorative buttons on the front.

Decisions about Design
Once you have decided how you will hang your caddy and what pockets you’ll need, it’s time to figure out your overall design. Generally, it’s better to put the smallest pockets in the top row, progressing downward to the largest at the bottom. Use the dimensions in your inventory to determine what you’ll want for each row of pockets. This will determine the overall dimensions of your caddy. A diagram will help you as you start actually constructing your caddy. Draw one as you plan, complete with dimensions of each pocket and how far apart you want the rows. Note which pockets will need to be pleated and how large these pleats should be.

Once you’ve decided on the layout of your caddy you need to think about fabrics. The weight of all the contents will determine how heavy your fabric should be. Corduroy for the hanging frame and lighter-weight cotton for the pockets might be perfect for gift wrap. Canvas or denim would be better for holding shoes. Prequilted fabric would work for greeting cards or baby supplies. Coordinating unquilted fabric could be used on the pockets.

Pattern and Pieces
Nearly all of the pieces of your hanging caddy will be cut by measuring and will not require a pattern. The one exception, if you are using a clothes hanger to hang your caddy, is the shape of the top.

Hanger Pattern
On brown wrapping paper or other pattern material, trace the sloping shoulders of your hanger. Indicate the placement of the hook. Add ½” around the slope if you’ve chosen a wooden or thick plastic hanger, ¼” for a wire hanger. From the end of the shoulders, draw straight lines downward the length of your caddy. Add ½” seam allowances all around.

Cutting the Pieces
Your plan should make it easy to cut your pieces. Remember to allow ½” seam allowances on all pieces. Begin with the front and back pieces. These should be exactly the same size, though they don’t necessarily need to be of the same fabric.

You will cut each row of pockets in one long strip. You can cut your pockets twice as wide as the depth you want for the finished pocket, and then fold them in half. Or you can cut two pieces, for the outside and inside, sew the tops together, and turn them. A third option is to make your pockets out of a single layer of cloth and hem the top. Your decision will determine the width of the strips you cut for your pockets.

The length of the pocket strip will be the width of your caddy frame, plus whatever you need to add for pleats. Adding 2” to a pocket would mean that when your caddy is finished, you could flatten your pocket against the frame and hold a pinch of fabric that would be 1” deep. Use your fabric to help you visualize what you’ll want to add.

If you are hanging your caddy from a dowel, you will need to cut a sleeve or casing. If you are using a ½” dowel, cut a strip 3” wide and plan to fold it in half for the casing. Cut it 2” shorter than the caddy’s width if you want to hide the dowel.

If you are making fastening ties for the top of a detachable caddy, cut them twice the width you’ll want for the finished ties, plus ½”. You can cut one strip, fold it in half and stitch ¼” seam, turn, press, and cut it into your individual ties afterward.

Attachments for Hanging
If you are planning to hang your caddy from a rod suspended from three hooks, or if you are using a clothes hanger, you will be finishing your attachments later. Sleeves or ties that will be used for hanging your caddy should be added now.

Sleeve for a Dowel
There are any number of ways to attach a sleeve to the back of a
hanging. Often these are sewn on by hand later. However, here is one suggestion for a sturdier sleeve.

Begin by folding your 3” wide strip in half the long way, with right sides together. Sew across the ends. Clip the corner at the fold, and turn it right side out. Fold and press the whole strip in half the long way to make a 1½” wide, double-thickness strip with finished ends. On the frame back, measure down from the top 1¼” and mark a straight line across the fabric there. Center your sleeve above this line with the raw edge lined up with it. This is sort of an upside-down version of the way you attached the pockets. Make sure the ends are within the side seam allowances. Sew the strip to the frame ¼” from the raw edge. You might want to reinforce this seam with twill tape or seam binding on the back. Turn the sleeve downward and press. Topstitch close to the lower edge of the sleeve.

Detachable Caddy Ties
If you want to be able to attach your caddy to something like a crib rail, you can add your ties to the frame on top of the pockets.

Turn under one end of each of the ties. Blind-stitch or topstitch them closed. If you are using self-gripping fasteners, put 1” or 2” of the stiff, or hook, half onto the finished ends of each tie. If you plan to attach your caddy with buttons, center a buttonhole in one end of each. Refer to your sewing machine manual for specific instructions.

Evenly space your ties across the top of your frame front, remembering to allow for the side seam allowances. Line the unfinished end of your ties up with the raw edge of the top of the frame. The self-gripping fastener should be lying face up on the frame. Sew across the ties ½” from the raw edge.

Add the other half of the fasteners to the back so they are spaced to match the ties.

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Making Valances And Flounces

September 11, 2008 at 2:41 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

What is a Valance?
Valances are generally a separate curtain shirred onto the outer portion of a double curtain rod. The straight-bottom ones are made just like the curtains, but there are other possibilities.

Some elaborately draped window valances are actually made with no sewing except the hems. The trick is to give yourself the right fullness and length to drape them the way you want. Also, be willing to do a little hand sewing from the top of a stepladder to keep them that way.

Swag or Scalloped Shaped Valances
Swag-shaped valances extend far down the window on the outside edges and angle dramatically upward to a narrow valance at the center. These are made simply by cutting the fabric into the desired shape and adding a narrow hem, or finishing the edge. Make your pattern on heavy tissue or on the brown paper you can find sold in a roll (usually in the aisle with packing materials).

Pin your pattern to the fabric and cut both sides at once. Be sure
your fabric is lying with either right sides or wrong sides together so you
get a right side and a left side for your curtains. If you are using fabric that is exactly the same on the front and back, you may be able to cut your curtain the desired length and top width, then cut it in half diagonally to get both sides. If you are doing two identical windows and your fabric has no one-way effect, cut one from lower right to upper left and the other from lower left to upper right.

The more complicated scalloped, curved, or pointed valances are done with lining. Design your shape to fit your window, and cut out the shape from your fabric. Cut out a second identical shape from a neutral fabric that will not show through your curtain fabric. Put the lining right side down on the right side of your curtain, and stitch around the lower curves and the sides.

To make sharp points, stitch across the corner Thin fabrics will only require one stitch across the point while thicker fabrics will require two or even three. Trim the seam allowance away close to the stitches so there is less bulk inside the point.

Grade the seam allowances by cutting the lining’s allowance to one half the allowance of the curtain. Clip inward curves almost to the stitching line and the outward curves with a V. Turn the curtain right side out, and press the lower edges and sides. Rolling the edge between your thumb and finger can sometimes help you turn the seam completely Treat the two layers as one when you make the top casing.

Mock Valances and Flounces
Sometimes a valance is actually part of the lower curtains but is made to appear as if it’s separate. This is generally done by making the casing part of the valance then gathering the valance onto the top of the curtain just below the casing. If your window is large enough for an even fuller look, consider overlapping the curtains under the valance. Both sides can be pulled back with ties once the curtains are hung.

Flounces are made similarly to the mock valances, except the lower edge is caught up to the curtain close to the casing, leaving a loop of fabric to puff out. This seam is actually sewn to the curtains proper before the top of the curtains are attached to the valance.

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Making Curtains

September 11, 2008 at 2:40 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , )

Planning Your Curtains
Before you rush to the fabric store to buy your fabric, you need to make a few decisions. Will the room benefit from having the curtains extend beyond the window, or should the outside edge of the woodwork be visible around the curtain? Do you want the curtains to hover just above the sill, hang to the bottom of the lower edge of the woodwork or apron, or hang clear to the floor? Perhaps they belong somewhere in between.

Do you want sheer curtains to diffuse the light, or heavier ones to block it? Or are you more interested in a window treatment for its decorative value? Should they be a solid color to bring out a color in the room or a print to tie several colors or neutral tones together? Your answers to these questions will help you determine the type and location of your hardware and the type of fabric and style of curtain you choose.

Begin with the simple shirred curtains. Shirred curtains are the most basic type of curtains. The top of the curtain is hemmed with a casing through which the curtain rod is inserted, gathering the curtain along its length. Shirred curtains will not slide open and closed easily though they are often tied at the sides, framing the window with a graceful draped effect. They are also not appropriate for very heavy fabrics because of the difficulty of gathering them on a rod. Most other curtains use some of the same construction techniques as the shirred.

Your first consideration is the weight of the fabric. The more sheer the fabric, the fuller the curtains should be. Usually the width of the curtain or curtain pair is twice the width of the curtain rod. Heavier curtains might only be 1½ times the width, and sheer curtains can be three times as wide.

Decide whether you want one straight curtain that hangs over the window at all times or is pulled to one side for an asymmetrical look, or if you want two panels that meet in the center and are tied back or dropped into place as desired. Curtains on doors or casement windows are often shirred at the bottom as well as the top. Determine the placement of the lower rod and use it when figuring your measurements.

Next, decide on the length of the curtains. To this length, add 4” for a top hem and casing, or 7” if you want a 1 1/2” heading. A heading is a small ridge of ruffled curtain above the casing. Add more if you have a wide, flat curtain rod. Also add 6” for a bottom hem. You could make narrower hems, but the extra fabric inches add crispness to the top and weight to the bottom. If you are using a bottom rod, add the length for its casing instead of the lower hem.

If piecing is necessary, the seams should be on the vertical to hide among the folds. The width of your curtains in relation to the width of your fabric will tell you how many of the figured lengths of fabric you will need. Since selvages sometimes shrink, you will be trimming them away reducing the fabric’s width by at least 1/2”. Another 2” of width will be lost if you are piecing two; 1” will be lost from the width of a middle length if you are piecing three. There will be 2” used on each side of each curtain for hems, further reducing the width of your fabric lengths.

If you need just under 1 1/2 times the width of the fabric to make each of two curtains, you will need three times the total length of your finished curtains, plus 10” for the hems. In other words, plan to use a length for each curtain and a third length to split between the two. Add 1” or so per yard for possible shrinkage, and you have an approximation of the yardage you’ll need

If you choose a fabric with a print that will need to be matched, take the distance from one repeat of the pattern to the next. Multiply that measure by the number of lengths of fabric, and add that to the total yardage.

Choosing Curtain Fabrics
You’ll have a wide variety of fabrics to choose from. However, besides the
fabrics that are too heavy to shirr, there are a few things to avoid.
Pure cotton fabrics are sensitive to the sun and fade rather quickly If your curtains will catch any direct sunlight, cotton polyester blends will last longer. They have a crisper look as well. If you like the rustic look of cotton, choose linen or undyed muslin.

Also avoid prints that have any kind of noticeable horizontal design unless it is woven in. If a printed design is off grain, it will make your entire window treatment look crooked. And if you try to cut your curtain with the print rather than the grain, your curtains will never hang in straight folds.
If your curtain fabric is washable, preshrink it. A great many yards of fabric will be difficult to straighten all at once, so pull threads to cut your fabric into lengths and straighten them individually If you have a pattern to match, simply start each length at exactly the same place in the pattern, cut it to the correct length (the finished curtain plus your hem and heading allowances), then cut away the fabric to the next pattern repeat.

With the lengths cut out and straightened, cut away all selvage edges. Split any lengths that are wider than necessary. You can usually pull lengthwise threads to make a straight cut.

Sewing Your Curtains
If your fabric is the right width for your curtains, you are ready to hem them. If not, begin by piecing the lengths together.

The best way to seam your lengths together is with a French seam. Begin by deciding where these seams should be. Typically the narrower length should be toward the outside of the window to be less noticeable. Take care to keep all printed designs, naps, and one-way shines in the right direction.

To make a French seam, pin your two lengths of fabric together with the wrong sides together. Sew a narrow 1/4” seam along the edge. Press the seam open, then turn the fabric right sides together and press the seam again. If the fabric wants to slide, pin the seam. Sew a second seam ~/8” from the first seam to hide the raw edge within the seam. Press the seam flat against the curtain.

Hemming the Sides
Press the sides of each panel under 2”. A sewing gauge is very helpful here. Fold the raw edge under to the fold line. If you are after a country or rustic look, you can straight-stitch the side hems close to the fold. For a more formal curtain, either use the hemstitch on your machine or do the hems by hand.

Making the Casings and Headings
If you didn’t include extra fabric for a heading, press the top of the curtain panels under 4”, and then press the raw edge under in line with the crease. Pin the hem carefully so the corners of the top casing’s hem don’t extend beyond the side hems. Hemstitch with your machine or by hand.

If you added extra fabric for a heading, press the raw edge under 5’/2”. Then press the raw edge under 2”. Sew close to the hem edge with a straight or hemstitch. Sew another row of stitches 1½” from the top edge. This will define the heading, and the casing for the rod will be below it. Either set up a temporary guide on your machine for sewing 1½” from the edge, or mark the stitching line with pins or chalk.

Hemming the Bottom
Before you hem the bottom of your curtains, compare the panels. Put them wrong sides together to compare the center and outside lengths. Trim one if necessary. Compare again after the hem is pressed under and before you stitch it. If you are anchoring your curtain with a rod on the bottom, make the bottom casing the same way you did the top.

If you allowed 6” for the bottom hem, press the raw edge under that amount then press the raw edge to the fold line. This hem can be stitched the same way the upper casing was. Or, to be sure the hem allowance doesn’t stick out beyond the sides, you can fold the corners under. To do this, fold only as far as the side hemstitching. Be sure the lower corner is still sharp. Blind-stitch along the diagonal crease to keep it from coming out.

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Tips for Chair Cushions

September 11, 2008 at 2:39 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Making Chair Cushions
Solid wood chairs may be charming, but they aren’t always comfortable. To make your table one that family and guests want to linger at, add cushions to the chairs. These can match your curtains or tablecloths, or each one can pick up a different color in the room dimensions, plus 1” for seam allowances, multiplied by two for top and bottom, and multiplied by the number of chairs, will help you determine your yardage.

You will want to choose a fairly durable fabric of course. Chairs and chair cushions take an awful lot of traffic wear-and-tear, so you will want something sturdy. If you’re not sure, be sure to ask the sales associate at the fabric store if your choice is suitable.

How Much Fabric Will I Need?
Suppose your chair seat is 18” wide and 16” deep. You’ll only be able to get two seat pieces out of one width of fabric, or enough for one chair. Take 17” (depth plus 1) times the number of chairs, divided by 36” for the number of yards of fabric you’ll need.

If you don’t mind piecing the bottom side of about half of your cushions, you can save on fabric. Take twice the number of chairs divided by 2½ to get the number of 17” lengths you’ll need.

Cushioning the Chair
You will also need enough foam rubber to cut one 19” by 17” square or an equivalent amount of fleece. If you are having difficulty finding either of these, you could use three or four layers of heavy flannel.

Fabric shops will sometimes sell pre-cut foam shaped to the size of standard kitchen chairs. This could be a handy time-saver and help you plan your fabric needs accordingly.

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Handkerchief-top Pillow

September 11, 2008 at 2:37 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Making a Handkerchief Top
A pillow with a bit of a Victorian look can be made from four identical embroidered handkerchiefs. You will need a square of fabric for the pillow back and a top square of that same size that will show as a border around the handkerchiefs. Two rounds of ruffled lace are optional.

Planning Your Pillow
Your pillow can be any size you want. The amount of the top that is covered by the handkerchiefs will depend on the size of the embroidered design on them. Fold the hankies into squares that are a little larger than the embroidery, and place them together in a square with the embroidery at the outside corners. Move them together or farther apart until you like the effect. Determine the size you’ll want each hankie to be, adding seam allowances.

If the edges of the hankies are shaped, making it difficult to use as seam allowances, or if the embroidery is too close to the edges to allow for seams, consider putting the embroidery toward the center instead of the outside corners. The curved edges of the hankies will expose some of the border fabric between them at the center.

You will need the hankies to be connected before they are sewn on the border fabric so you can turn the edges under as one piece or ring the hankies with ruffle. To do this, sew two of the hankies next to each other to a piece of waste fabric from the hankies. Stitch close to the finished edging, but stop before the edgings curve away from each other. Trim the waste fabric so it doesn’t show.

Repeat with each joint.

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