Birdsong Bows: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Turning Easter sewing into - sport?

Caught our youngest daughter being quite inventive! She devised another way to use your Easter basket pattern and free fabric egg a hanging, swinging egg toss game. Just hang the basket (she used a stretchy length of cotton jersey with spandex), and toss the fabric eggs!

She also decided that as an added challenge, another person can swing the basket so it's harder to score a point. Crafty. The things kids come up with when left to their own devices, right?

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Free Tutorial: How to Sew with Knits Part II: Sewing Seams

Last week we learned how to get started with knits, by looking at fabric types, learning about stretch, and discussing how to prepare and cut your fabric. But now it's time to sew! Sewing with knits can seem intimidating, but it needn't be - they're just different, and require different sewing techniques than wovens do.
Today we'll learn how to sew seams on knit fabrics. There are tips for sewing with your regular sewing machine (as long as it has a zigzag option) and for your serger. You can read "Sewing Seams with Knit Fabrics" through the Google viewer (photos are more clear once you've downloaded from the viewer) and then get started finding out what works best for you. Remember that knits don't fray like wovens (most knits, anyway!) so you won't have to worry about seam finishes. Practice on a variety of knits, and even consider recording what settings work best with the different types of knits you try. In early April I'll post a free headband/flower tutorial for you to apply your new skills! And later I'll teach you how to sew perfect hems, work with clear elastic, and insert regular elastic for twist-free waistbands.
If the Google viewer version of "Sewing Seams with Knit Fabrics" isn't cooperating with your browser, you may also download the file from the Internet directly. So put your stretch needle on your sewing machine, load it with polyester thread, and have fun this week!

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Finding time for art

My birthday was on Monday. Unlike when I was a kid, it wasn't the shiny day of excitement that it used to be - we had celebrated over the weekend, and it was pleasant to get well-wishes from family and friends and even watch my Facebook feed fill up with greetings. But I was reminded of a tradition I started when I was teenager. Back then, I used to write a letter to myself to be opened on my following birthday. I still have some of these old letters. I'd ask who my friends were and whether I had a boyfriend (lol!). One letter was obsessed with whether I had won the science fair that year (I did - and even went to state!). I'd answer those questions the following year, and ask more.
I continued with tradition until I got too busy in college to worry about it, and I haven't picked it back up since then. But on Monday I was looking through my latest Quilting Arts Magazine and thinking about what questions I'd have for my upcoming year. I always have several projects on my plate, in addition to spending time with my kids, my husband, and my friends. I asked myself: In a year, will I make time for more art? I enjoy working with ribbon, sewing clothes, and making quilts, but I don't always feel I leave enough time to play with color and design. Somehow I feel guilty when I sit down without producing something that I feel is "useful."
The last time I gave myself permission was, goodness, before our second daughter was born 7 years ago! I made this art quilt after coming back from the AQS quilt show in Paducah, Kentucky. I had taken a class from a quilt artist and loved it. I finished my wall quilt from that class at home:

While I feel my hair bows are small pieces of art, and that the clothing I design and sew (and sometimes hand-dye) is also artistic, I need to spend more time with an art journal, a sketch book, and some dyes, paints, organic cotton ribbon and fabrics that aren't necessarily going to become a specific, finished project. To do this, I'll have to give myself the time and permission to play.
So, me of this year to me of next year: Did you spend time developing your art? I'll have to tune in next year.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Free tutorial: How to Sew with Knits Part 1: Getting started!

I've developed a love for sewing with knits. And I think my excitement was heightened when my daughter put on one of my creations and said, "This looks just like something from a store!" I know what she means, of course - it's not that we don't buy wovens in stores or that our woven creations look shabby. But many (ok - most) of the easy-to wear, drapey and comfortable clothes our children wear are sewn from knits.
And yet, as sewists, we're often afraid to try to sew them ourselves.
There's no need to be anxious! Sewing with knit fabrics is different, but it's not necessarily more difficult. You can use a regular sewing machine (as long as it has a zigzag) and create beautiful, fun, and functional garments. So, let's get started!
This week, we're taking a look at fabrics, stretch, and tools you'll need to get your patterns cut and ready for sewing. Spend a little time reading "Getting Started with Knits" (the photos are more clear once you download than they are in the Google viewer), and shop around for some fabrics to get started with! I love Nature's Fabrics for their vast selection, as well as and Euro Girls Boutique, to name just a few.
Next week we'll discuss how to sew with knits using your regular machine (and serger, if you have one - but it's not a requirement).
If your system doesn't want to open Google Docs to view "Getting Started with Knits," you can download the file from the Internet. Enjoy your new sewing adventure!
For Part II, sewing seams with knits, please see this post!

Labels: ,

Monday, March 11, 2013

Free sewing pattern: How to sew a fabric egg - The Fabric-gé pattern

When I designed my Easter/Halloween basket pattern in the fall of 2012, I knew that I wanted to design a free fabric egg pattern this spring! So I set to work, designing the pattern, trying different versions, and photographing my steps. When I finished, I discovered a lovely tutorial online by the talented Retro Mama, and thought - wow, I can't improve much on those directions! So to give credit where credit is due, feel free to look through her tutorial for the step-by-step photos. My PDF pattern for a fabric egg creates a slightly larger egg, but the steps are the same. Feel free to print it - the directions are included - and share with your sewist friends! If for some reason the Google Docs link doesn't cooperate with your browser, please click here to download the pattern.
Because this pattern is great for beginners, this can be a fun family project. Our two girls chose the fabric and had a blast sifting through my scrap stash. My older daughter likes to sew - when she's in the mood :) - so she sewed some of the eggs:

And my younger daughter thoroughly enjoyed stuffing them:

Over the course of a weekend, we made an even dozen!

Enjoy the free fabric egg pattern and sew some to display, some to hide, and some to share with friends! :)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 4, 2013

Free Instructions: How to sew a jacquard ribbon headband

I love jacquard ribbon - the complex textures are beautiful, and it feels wonderful to work with! But it doesn't act like common grosgrain or satin ribbon, so I was often at a loss about what to make with this fantastic type of trim. Of course it can be used as trim for clothing and other accessories, but I wanted to make some projects that would allow the jacquard to stand on its own! This is the first in an occasional series of tutorials about how to use jacquard ribbon.
We're making a 1 1/2-inch wide jacquard headband. You'll need:
* 1 yard of 2-inch wide (or 1 7/8" as mine was) jacquard ribbon
* Scrap of matching cotton fabric that can be cut to the same size as your ribbon
* A 1-inch-wide plastic headband
* Sewing machine and basic sewing supplies
* Iron
* Tube turner or safety pin
1. Start by cutting your beautiful jacquard ribbon to a length 2 inches longer than your headband (photos below). I bought this pretty Amy Butler print from the Renaissance Ribbons retail site.

2. Cut your cotton fabric to the same size as your jacquard ribbon.

3. Pin these right sides together. Sew just 1/8" from the edge around three sides. Leave one side open (you'll need to insert your headband)!

4. Turn your tube right side out using a tube turner. These can be purchased at any sewing store and they come in a pack with a variety of sizes. They're easy to use!

5. Using a warm iron (you'll melt your ribbon if your iron is too hot), press. The ribbon will tend to puff up, so press and pin the top to the bottom, making sure your bottom layer of cotton is completely hiding underneath. Topstitch just 1/8" from three edges, leaving the top open. Slide onto your plastic headband.

6. On the open edge of the headband, fold your fabric to the inside and carefully topstitch the opening shut. Enjoy your unique headband!

Labels: , ,