Thanks for dropping by to take a look at some of my thoughts and ideals. Hope you will let me know if this has been helpful, useful, inspiring or whatever, and remember to come back soon.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

What do you mean Christmas?

Well folks, Halloween is gone, Thanksgiving will be here in just a few more days and then comes that wonderful Holiday Christmas!  While we never want to forget the reason for the season, this is a time when crafting abounds as we crafters search for ways to provide presents for all on our list!  This is the time that I am making lots of lap quilts as you have seen in previous blogs, pillows, aprons, napkins, potholders and this year I'm making some pillowcases also!  This past week has been my pillowcase week and the cases I have made have been made from stash, so dig through that stash for your larger pieces of fabric  and even your 3" strips.  There are so many pretty fabrics available with kid themes that you also have a wonderful selection at the fabric stores.  One thing I really strive to do is get 100% cotton material so it is all very much washable and easy to get stains out of if necessary!
Well on to how to make these wonderful little gifts....
What you will need:  Fabric for the body of the case 27" x wof (width of fabric)  Now we all know that fabric comes in different widths but this is talking about your standard width of approximately 42 to 45 inches.
Fabric for the cuff: 9" x wof
Accent piece of fabric:  3" x wof
How much simpler can we get.  3 pieces of coordinating fabric.  Now if you go to the fabric store to purchase the fabric and you know you are going to make more than one pillowcase and you want to stretch those dollars, if you purchase 1 yard of fabric, you can get a body and a cuff from that fabric so you can make coordinating pillow cases by getting 1 yard for the main fabric on one pillow case and have the cuff for the coordinating pillowcase from that 1 yard of fabric without waste!  If you purchase the same accent piece of fabric you will need only 6" x wof for both pillowcases, but switch it up any way you want and you can even use the same accent piece for 4 pillowcases and just purchase 1/3 of a yard of accent fabric.  (Just be sure that your fabric store is cutting the fabric straight)  Sorry but I have gotten home after purchasing 1/3 yard of fabric and found it was 12 inches on one side of the cut and 9 inches on the other!  Did not make my day I can tell you.  Actually took some back to the fabric store because of it, and that was a major hassle!
So cut your fabric....
1.  The body of the pillowcase
2.  The cuff of the pillowcase
3.  The accent piece for the pillowcase
4.  Fold the accent piece in 1/2 so it is 1 1/2" wide and press with wrong sides together.
5.  Layout the cuff of the pillowcase, right side up.
6.  Lay the accent piece with the raw edges aligning with the raw edge of the cuff on the top edge.
7.  Align the body of the pillowcase fabric wrong side up with the raw edge also along the top edge.
8. Fold the excess length of the body of the pillowcase up so it is smaller than the cuff piece.
9.  Fold the bottom part of the cuff up matching the raw edges forming a tube and pin the raw edges together catching both edges of the cuff, both edges of the accent piece and only 1 edge of the body of the pillowcase.
10.  Sew a straight seam down the length of the tube you have created.
11.  Turn the tube right side out.
12 Press being sure to turn the accent piece toward the cuff.
Don't worry that all of your fabric has not been the same width.  Just try to keep it as straight as possible on 1 side.
13.  Trim the edge of the case to remove uneven edges and selvedges.
Now you have a nice straight edge to sew.
16.  Fold the case in half , right sides together matching the cuff and accent pieces.
15.  Making sure to pin your edges at the accent piece so they will stay straight then sew a seam around the two raw edges of the pillowcase.
16.  Those pesky corners need to be trimmed so you get a nice corner. 
(TIP:  When getting ready to turn a corner stop a couple of stiches early and turn you material half way around the corner, take 2 stitches and then lift the pressure foot and turn the rest of the way around the corner.  You will have a sharper corner that is more easily turned after trimming.)
17.  Turn the pillowcase right side out and press.
18.  Now to make a nice finished seam once again sew around the two edges where you made the previous seam and all raw edges will be encased so there is no raveling when it is being washed.
As you can see I have made several of these pillowcases for gifts for family.  Kids seem to really love them because this labels the pillow as their special pillow.  Parents love for kids to get them because they don't require batteries and they do not make noise!
Now if you really want to share the Christmas spirit you can make up a few extra of these and donate them and particularly now with the hurricane Sandy victims items like this are needed as well as making them for your local childrens hospitals (check with them first) or you can give them to any of your shelters, because they can always use bedding items, or some of your other organizations like the Salvation Army or Red Cross.  Just call and check with them and see what they tell you before making up a large number.  You make even want to talk with your local guild and see about a community project.  I wish you all a wonderful day and hope you enjoy the preparations for the holiday season.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Whats happening around my house?

Well it has been a lovely day so far and looks to be a restful evening.  I'm thinking about some different things I could do for Christmas and gifts for friends and co-workers. 

Well you will  never believe that I started this post and got 2 sentences and then had to stop for some reason or another.  I really don't remember what it was now..........Yes I am that age! hahaha  At any rate I'm going to finish this post because what I wanted to talk about today is Christmas gifts.  Now I love homemade, but sadly not everyone does.  The reasons given for not liking homemade as given by people who I have asked are varied and I'm going to list a few.

Most often mentioned was they were not useful.  They were house decorations and they didn't even match their houses.  Another is they don't fit if they were a personal gift.  Another biggie that people seem to complain about is that they are Christmas related and so they can't even use the gift until the next year!  Another thing that people have said in the past is that they were cheap!  Well I know they don't make homemade or they would realize that many homemade gifts are actually more expensive than the person could have bought in the store if they wanted to get something that was made in China from Wally World or a similar place.  Me, I like homemade.  Me, I make homemade.  Usually I make homemade and I use those products that I am making for others in my own home so I know how they stand up to normal everyday wear and tear.

With everyone on television wanting to talk about going green and saving energy I have decided that one of the things that I will do this year is napkins.  Now I am doing Christmas napkins, but you can actually use these napkins at any time of the year so you can use any print or solid or stripe that you want for everyday use.  You can make special occassion napkins using particular seasonal prints etc.  Be aware you can go to Walmart and purchase cloth napkins rather inexpensively.  If you make them here are the supplies you will need for 6-8 napkins.  The reason I say 6-8 is you need to watch the width of the fabric.  If you can find fabric that is less than 45" at a cheaper price, then go for it!  There is significant waste in 45" wide fabric.  The particular pattern that I used is a half-circle that is 18" in diameter.  Now you can make your own pattern with paper and use a string and pencil to draw the arc.  If you are fortunate like I am and had purchases in the past a ruler to cut circles then you are way ahead of the game.

I purposely made this picture specifically so you could see where this particular ruler came from and it even has the telephone number and website in case you want to order this ruler.  I am very glad that I had it on hand.  As you can see it will cut circles up to 19" in diameter and as small as 6" in diameter.  So very great when you want to do a drunkards path quilt!  But that is for another post at a later date, if you want that be sure and let me know and I'll be happy to post.

Now I particularly wanted my napkins to be different colors on the back and the front so I purchased 1 yard of 2 different fabrics.  One is more of a Christmas fabric and the other is a winter print that is not particularly Christmas themed.

Of course the first part is getting everything ready.  Since I purchased 1 yard of fabric I cut the fabric into 2 18" x width of fabric pieces and then I used the ruler to cut the individual pieces.  2 pieces of fabric for each napkin.  A little hint with the cutting.  Since I did not want any more seams than necessary when I cut the pieces I placed the inner line on the fold of fabric and the cut edge on the seam allowance line and that worked perfectly.  Yes it looked a little strange to be cutting it in that way but it worked perfectly.

Now the next step is very simple, just put the right sides of the fabric together and sew them together leaving an opening on the straight edge of the fabric that is 3-4" in width so you can turn the fabric easily.  See that isn't hard at all, just straight sewing.  Next trim the excess fabric from the two corners where the straight line turns and begins the arc.  Just snip off an little triangle from both of these corners and turn the napkin so the right sides are out. 

Press your project making sure that the opening you have left on the straight edge is pressed with the seam allowance turned in.  This will benefit you so much when you start to do your trim around the edge! 

This is a picture of how the napkin will look, and the last step will be putting the finishing around the edges.  I used a very simple stitch on my sewing machine but a straight stitch is what I used on the first napkins I made and is great for everyday napkins.  Oh I do need to say that I used 100" cotton fabric on these napkins because of it's durability and washablity, but I have used linen on some and they also turned out lovely and are washable also.  They have more of the nice texture for the good everyday napkins, you know the ones for regular Sunday dinners or birthday parties if you don't want to be forever purchasing paper napkins.

My fuzzy picture of the tiny bells stitch that I used on my Christmas napkins.  I just looked at the stitches on my machine and that looked Christmas to me that that is what I went with.  You can use metalic thread for this to make it a very special napkin, or if you are adept at embrodery and have a machine you could just use some fabric and put an embrodery mofit on these napkins.  One of the great things about homemade is you can add whatever extras you want and have the ability or equipment to master.

For these particular napkins you can just fold them or you can fold them to form a tree pattern and they will look like this!
Sorry but I think this is adorable!  Here are some pictures of how this is folded.

Begin the fold by measuring over 10 " on the straight edge and that is where you will make your first fold!

Then it is just a matter of folding back and forth!

Try to keep the outside edge fairly even so you will have a good tree effect!  Now on to the last fold!
This will be a wonderful addition to your holiday table and a greener option for holidays and everyday living.

Now with fabric, even the cheap stuff, costing minimum 4.99 yard usually, and you have purchased 2 yards of fabric you can make between 6-8 napkins for $10.00 plus your time and effort.  Oh, sorry I didn't add in the cost of the thread and if you purchase special thread then that is an additional cost that can be anywhere from 1.99 to 12.99 for your project.  My ideal is to use what I already had purchased for other projects and use up some of that!  If you have fabric that has been left from other projects you could even make this from your stash.  These napkins will be paired with coasters that are made from the scraps and I will also have some potholders and trivets for gifts.

Since I have now retired from my full time job, or at least semi-retired since I will work a couple of days each week on some special projects, I plan to use what I have an give several homemade Christmas items this year.  What about you?  If you are making for Christmas I hope you have already started! 

Have a great day and happy quilting and sewing!