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Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Little Bit of Perfect...

(Obsessed with a Dress vol. 2)

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer. I have been meaning to share this latest dress design with you but I admit it has been a bit busy these last few months (because you are all so amazing and placing orders with me ;) My sister and her husband were married about seven months ago and the wedding was just as sweet as could be, elegant, and well, quantum infinity on the perfection scale if you ask me. Just like my sister really.

I am super happy for them and it's all rather exciting really because let’s be honest, as we get older this is one of the only ways that we get more brothers and sisters, and I don’t know about you but I for one was absolutely ecstatic when I found out that my siblings were on the way. Yes, I was doing the happy dance every day for months…both times! So I personally consider myself super lucky because not only do I have two truly amazing siblings but they are married to some pretty incredible partners, and we all know we’re all as great as our collective selves.

Sharing some of these projects that I make with all of you is my way of participating in that collective creativity in many ways and one of the things that I did for the occasion was make my own dress, primarily because I became rather obsessed with a dress and could not find it out there in the right color or style combination (or at all actually), and well, I like what I like. Here is the original dress...

I found this style to be absolutely exquisite and I really liked the blue and silver combination. My only hope was that I would be able to do justice to a remake. Finding the fabric was important for this project and though the original looks to be a satin I went with a silk duponi for my dress. I could not find the shade as in the image so I went with a darker teal, which worked since it was a fall wedding. I also wanted a little less shine to the fabric and silver overall so I went with a champagne chiffon with a light silver fabric print backed in a silver satin for the obi belt. Due to the season I also paired it with a champagne colored cardigan with silver accent.

The gown has petite pleats at the shoulders, a cross over styled bodice, wide darts at the bodice and a long, moderately full skirt with a hidden zipper at the center back.

Here is the dress without the obi belt. The color appears more blue than in person. The color is teal and the first image at the top shows the true color best.

Sewing satin and chenille together can be difficult however using a needle specifically for sheer fabrics will help. I would also recommend using a wide straight stitch so that your satin does not pull too much when sewn to the chenille. Satin has a very tight weave and it is also heavier than chenille, which you will find makes a difference when sewing the fabrics together. If you are using a dress makers sewing machine then your sewing technique may be different but for a regular machine that would be my recommendation.

All in all I was really pleased with the way the dress turned out but I will admit that making the first one was not easy. Despite how it may appear from a style perspective it has a level of difficulty to it. As I now have a pattern constructed and notes to follow I find it easier to construct but the first attempt, though it worked out alright, took a great deal of time and sometimes a bit of holding my breath as I added a dart here or there.

currently shown in testing: This still needs to be pressed, especially around the arm areas 

The dress I made was constructed by first cutting the pieces for the front (2), the back (2), the front lining pieces (2), the back lining pieces (2), and the skirt (2). When constructing this dress I cut all of the pieces longer to start with the intent of shortening them later on. I used a pattern for a wrap top to start and modified it as I worked on it. I also cut the front pieces out wider as well since I was adding three long darts to each side. I had the fold over of the bodice to contend with so in making it wider than expected to start gave me enough to work with without worrying later on that it had not been cut large enough.

Since you have a right and left side front for the bodice, both lined and with pleats at the shoulders and wide darts to form the bodice, the top has to be constructed first by adding the shoulder pleats on each side (and compare the pleat width and length to the opposite side so they are perfectly even on both sides *except for the front overlap area) and then sewing the front pieces to the back upper panels, then sew the lining pieces to the front right and left around the arm openings and sides, and then finally along the top of the neckline inward toward the center (*which again is slightly off center of course because it is a wrap style for the bodice). When sewing the front panels to the back panels, make sure to sew the shoulder area down carefully as you have small pleats added to the front.

Once you have the front and back added together, you will then want to sew the outer piece to the  inside lining. You will sew the front outer fabric together at the shoulder strap seam to the back pieces, and then to finish the areas on the underside, hand stitch the lining opening closed, pressed up to and tucked into the underside of the shoulder area. Press the area with an iron on silk setting if needed. *Don't forget to use the right setting, no steam, no spray and pressing a sample piece of fabric first before you press the dress is always recommended.

Once you have gotten this far you will construct the skirt, fit it up to the bodice piece you have constructed, and then add the zipper in the back and hem up the bottom. For fitting the skirt, trying the dress on with the skirt pinned to the bodice helps a great deal as you may find you need to move the skirt in relation to the top a bit before sewing them together.   

I found that since I am rather curvy in the hip area I really needed to add the skirt to the dress once tried on and adjust the meeting point of the top and skirt piece, and then close up the seams on the lower skirt. but I really needed to try it on before I went any further. When constructing the skirt I sewed the front and back panels together about 1" at the upper area (that will be attached later to the bodice), leaving the rest open. Once I had the torso and bodice matched up comfortably then I donned the dress once more and took note of where I should add the seams going lengthwise down the sides.

You may find that pins will mark up the silk so be careful not to ruin the fabric with pins. Fabric markers might work alright, however I am not going to recommend this because I personally worry that the water marks may stay as silk doesn't really like water all that much and that is how you get the fabric marks off fabric. If you do not have a helper for this part, then add a few small pins to about 1/2" inward of where you will be adding your lengthwise stitches and then just remember as you sew the areas on the sewing machine that your pins are 1/2" outward, in which case you will want to sew 1/2" inward of that pinned area. This will keep pin holes from marking up your fabric. This way when you take the dress off you will find putting it on a hanger and adding pins to a straight and gracefully outward skirt tapering toward the back will be doable, especially if you place the hanger up higher in the air as you pin. Again, I say "pin" but test the fabric and see if holes from the pins leave marks. If so then you can probably go with something like clothes pins to hold the areas before sewn without leaving any marks in the fabric. Once you have one side finished, as with all of your work on this, match up the right and left side when adding the pins to the underside so your dress will fall evenly down the sides, tapering evening down and ever so slightly toward the back.

The zipper however is hand sewn into the gown so as to again offer a seamless look, or as seamless as possible and hand sewing is the best way to go there. Some people prefer to stitch their zippers in with a sewing machine, some like to hand sew them. For this particular dress I hand stitch the zipper in but you can decide when making your own. The bodice top is lined and the skirt is unlined so as to keep it light weight. If you were going with a shorter version you could layer the skirt, particularly if going with a more flowing fabric. You can also layer and tier the skirt for the longer version as well. Silk is a very high priced material and the longer version of this gown requires 5.5 yards of fabric. As there is no need to line the skirt, I did not however if you find your skirt is sheer then you will want to go with a long slip, or ask me and I will construct one when making your gown. Darker fabrics however should be fine but again do test them because silk is a thinner material than satin.

The belt is worn with the intent of wrapping the belt from front side to back and back around the front and then the big bow is added at the side. The belt shown in the image is quite wide however for mine I went with about 5.5-6” in width and four yards in length with a slight tapering on the ends. Any pattern or fabric type can be used for the belt, or you can go without a belt however I will warn you that the dress style is intended to be made slightly loose around the waist so you can have a fuller skirt area. That means that unlike a lot of dresses of similar style, especially since the silk duponi is a tightly woven material without a lot of give to the fabric, you need the belt in order to tighten everything up nicely. The bodice on this dress also cannot be made really tight or it just pulls the front open too much. You can replace the obi belt style with a thinner belt but I would recommend some type of belt if only to cinch the waistline a bit.

This dress and belt combination is *almost available in my Sophia shop (it will be listed shortly here). The chenille shown in the images is currently out of stock (*though I will update if this changes), however I do have a number of additional choices available so feel free to ask. You will want to message me on www.Sophia.etsy for clothing orders if you do not see a listing up in the shop, or if you have questions or alteration hopes for your own custom gown.

Pricing for this gown is higher than a lot of my other styles based on the large quantities of the fabric needed. As 5.5 yards of fabric are required for the dress and 4 yards of a 5” wide strip of fabric for each side of the obi belt, thread, a zipper and notions for the inside bodice to hold it closed, you are looking at quite a lot of supplies. With the silk and chenille upwards of $22/ yard you can see why the prices run a bit on the higher side. The prices available are based on a silk duponi fabric and dresses made with knits are in some cases less in price. You will find a few fabric/ price options under the listing specifics for this item which is why you will find a price variation.

Fabric options are silk duponi, satin, ny knit, (for the gown itself), for the belt you have many options though it is recommended that you go with a chenille or other sheer/ similar ny knit if you have selected ny knit for the dress itself), and for color options you have Teal (shown), Cream, Silver, White, Cheery Red, Cobalt Blue, Noir, Fuschia, Isle Emerald and at times a Navy Blue is available but if interested in this shade please inquire first so I can check stock availability, ty. Those are for Silk fabrics however there is a wider range for satin fabrics and you will see details in the listings in the shop.
Thanks so much for stopping in and I hope you are all having a fabulous day!  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Kitchen Accessories: Making it Perfect

Hello and Happy Friday! As I was putting together a few details on Kitchen Accessories I thought you all might like to peruse a few photos and notes as well. This post includes instruction on how to make some of your own kitchen accessories, tips on dyeing fabrics and even a bit of pricing for those interested in having me make some of the items for you.

I make a number of items for the kitchen and dining area and usually classify these as Home Accents under the subcategory of Kitchen Accessories. These items for the most part include Tablecloths, Placemats, Napkins, Napkin Holders, Table Runners, Chair Covers, Pot Holders, and Woven Rugs. You will find a few of these items in the Craftzies.etsy shop though most come up as custom orders throughout the year as opposed to ready made items.

Making a Tablecloth: If you are making a square or rectangular tablecloth you will want to measure the length and width of the table, as well as also determine how long you want the tablecloth to fall down the sides. Assume you will need 1” added for the seam allowance all the way around, slightly more for heavier weight fabrics such as upholstery. Ideally you would want one large piece of fabric to cover the table however since fabric available in the shops usually runs about 44/45" in width or 54/55" in width there are times when a seam needs to be added.

If you are matching up a pattern, see if the fabric bolt says the pattern repeat and this will help you gauge the yardage needed since matching up a pattern will require more fabric. Someone at a fabric store can also help you determine this as well based on the fabric you select. If you are using a heavier weight upholstery then you will want to skip the recommendation for french seams in order to match panels as it will lay flatter. Thinner fabrics however should be sewn with french seams.

Once you have determined the length and width you want for the tablecloth you will cut the piece or sew two pieces together (matching up the pattern if you have a fabric with a pattern) and then fold over the edges and stitch the piece lengthwise on both sides and then fold over and sew the ends down. Once finished, trim if needed, and then fold over and stitch it down once more.

For those of you that are interested in a round tablecloth you are going to need the diameter. If you know this (120" for example) then you can skip the part where you measure the table top and the sides to get the desired diameter. I add about 4” to the width for a two-seam tablecloth and 6” to the width of the fabric for a 3-seam tablecloth. The seam allowance will be based on the width of your fabric and the desired diameter for the tablecloth. I like french seams as they offer a professional look, they make for a stronger item overall and they are easy to seamlessly repair later on if needed. You are going to want to trim the seams down when you add the French Seams so the top lays flat.

*French seams only require one straight stitch to each seam. Multiple stitches added will cause the underside to bunch up.

*Note: If the fabric you have selected has a pattern and is also a light weight fabric and also requires a seam in the overall piece then you will want to go with a french seam, but make sure you cut about 1/4" extra for those seams that you are attaching and make sure you know where your french seam stitch is going to be so you get the pattern aligned right once you have finished adding the seams.

If you need help on making a French Seam this is going to help you out -> http://www.wikihow.com/Sew-a-French-Seam

Here are the measurements for my kitchen table to give you an idea of scale: 32” in height / tabletop diameter of 41”.
Measure the tabletop and then how far you would like it to fall. Double the length measurement and add the tabletop measurement. Add 4” for the seam allowances and cut a piece of fabric to this total measurement.  

I am making a tablecloth that falls 10” in length from the tabletop so my measurements are going to look like this -> 10” x 2 + 41”=62 base diameter measurement + 4” for seam allowances = 66”
Once you have the diameter measurement you would like then you want to select your fabric. The width of fabric varies and this in many cases will determine the yardage. We are going to make one large square that we then round out so take this diameter measurement you want and this will not only be the length of your fabric, but also your width. The fabric I selected is a solid cotton and 44” width with a price of $7.99/ yard. As the fabric width is less that the diameter I want, I am going to have to add two panels together to get the desired width and this will require doubling the fabric length needed.
Take your desired fabric width and subtract the actual fabric width. The tablecloth diameter I want is 66” and my fabric is 44”, the difference is 22” and this is what I will trim off of the length of the second fabric panel. Match up the ends of the first and second panel and sew the panels together.

Now that you have one large square that is the correct diameter you want, you are going to want to turn it into the shape of a circle. Fold the square panel in half vertically and then fold the piece horizontally, matching up the corners. Take your tape measure and holding it at the point of the folded center of the cloth, measure outward and upward 33". Mark the point and continue moving your right hand downward and outward 33" until you reach the lower right of the cloth, marking the curve as you move the tape measure.

Trim on the curve and you now have your round tablecloth piece. Score the edges with small cuts and with a wide zigzag stitch, fold over the edge and sew all the way around. Trim any excess on the underside and trim excess threads. Next you are going to want to place your tablecloth face up when you align it in the machine and this time change your sewing machine to a straight stitch. Sew all the way around the edges, and repeat this final step one last time if you find you want the edges flatter, it may not be necessary but you can decide for yourself at this point.

*If you are making an oval tablecloth then you will measure the tabletop. Then measure down from the tabletop to determine the length you would like the piece to fall. As you started with a square piece for a round tablecloth, this time we will go with a rectangle. Take the length of the tabletop and add the fall length twice, including 4” for seam allowance. This will be your fabric cut length. Do the same for the width. If you need to add two panels together in order to make a large rectangle then do so, keeping in mind it may best to put the seam on a diagonal if you are using a solid fabric. I would suggest at this point putting the fabric piece out over the table before you cut any of it to determine if this will work best. Either way, your panels will make up a rectangular piece that is the full length of your sides, top and seam allowances, and the same for the width.

Now, unlike folding the fabric and trimming on a curve, I suggest doing something slightly different here where you score the center mark with a fabric marker or pin and have someone hold the center for you (or place something with weight in the center) to keep the fabric from sliding. With tape measure and fabric marker/ sewing pins in hand (I like fabric markers for these big sewing projects but your choice really) measure from the tabletop down to the skirt area to the length you want and include the seam allowance. Mark this length area all the way around the tablecloth and then trim on that mark all the way around. At this point you can fold the piece in half horizontally and even out the sides if needed, trimming slightly at the inner most cut. Open the piece up and then fold it vertically and trim the same way if needed. At this point follow the directions provided above for finishing the round tablecloth in which you score the edges before adding the first folded hem will help curve the fabric more easily. 

The tablecloth is now either finished or is ready to be hand dyed. If you are going to dye the piece then you are going to want Dying Materials.

Fabric Dying Materials: a bucket, gloves, a 1-2 gallon bucket of water, eye safety wear, a clothes line or area to hang and dry the fabrics, and a stir stick-or something similar that you can designate to this dye crafting cause (Don’t use good silverware. Your sweetie might want to know where it all went and you will have to confess to craft mania. Also you could end up with blue pasta for dinner hours later. p.s. you should not eat this pasta...).

Your best bet when dyeing materials is to have a decent space prepared because dyeing large pieces of fabric and linens is a messy project. I have had dye in the eye, been splattered with a rainbow of colors and wrestled with large tablecloths that don;t want to unrumple and hang properly so when I say it is a messy project I am not kidding, and definitely don;t forget those goggles!

Once you have the space prepared then you will want to follow the directions on the dye pack. If you do not have directions or are using your own dye you will find it is really all about submerging the fabrics in the dye, rinsing, and drying and the ways we go about each of those will determine the final outcome of the finished project. When dying something like the Quarth khaleesi gown I use a regular old 5 or so gallon bucket and crush the fabric in there but it works for that finished gown because the materials are a sheer crushed voile and the overall dye look is perfect. If however you are dyeing something like a tablecloth you are working with a larger piece and probably want a more even dyed look to the piece in which case something like a flat tray and instead of putting the fabric in the bucket you will find applying a more evened pour of the dye over the fabric in a flat manner and hanging will offer more of an even dye.

Vinegar is an excellent ingredient for setting the color so having some on hand regardless of what the packet directions say will come in handy. In a lot of cases you may not need it but if you want a more enhanced color then it is a good addition to your dyeing process. You will dye the materials and then either pour a vinegar wash over the fabrics as you are rinsing the excess dye out or simply dye the fabric and then soak it in a vinegar wash to help set it. Either way you will want to rinse the fabric again before you hang it to dry to get rid of the excess vinegar. Due to the strong odor of the vinegar I like to mix up a green tea or lavender wash to rinse it once more before hanging it to dry. This acts as a fabric softener and leaves the fabric drying with a nice scent as opposed to a strong vinegar odor. The choice is yours. If you do opt for a herb tea rinse it is just as it sounds, you boil up a pot of water and toss in a few green tea bags into the water rinse bucket. For lavender you can make your own little pouches, use a little muslin bag or you can even make your own little tea bags. You will find tea bag supplies at a number of shops locally and I would start at a place like New Season's, they might have them. You will also find them online at a number of locations, my personal favorite is www.Brambleberry.com and you should find the items you need in the supplies section most likely.

Prices for Custom Projects (for Tablecloths): Fabric Yardage + cost for the work + shipping. If you would like a tablecloth dyed a certain color then you can expect the piece to be a lighter color and have a bit of a hand dyed look to it. The cost of the dye wash is $9 additional. If you are going with a fabric that has a pattern then the pattern needs to be matched up. Please take this into consideration when totaling the yardage needed. The best way to do this is to see what the measurement for the repeat on the pattern is (some prints will tell you, if not then it is probably about half a yard repeat). You will want to add this additional amount to your final yardage amount so as to have enough fabric to match the overall print for the tablecloth. If you are going with a print however it is very unlikely that you will also want the tablecloth dyed.

As with all fabrics, cottons range in width however generally speaking we find that basic light to medium weight cotton solids and prints, also commonly referred to as quilters’ cottons, are 44”/45” in width (the 44” should be the measurement you go by as the extra inch is salvage and should be cut off). Fabrics such as linens and linen blends are usually 54”/55” in width though again the width of fabrics changes so take this into consideration when purchasing your fabric. Cotton fabrics can range in price from about $7.99-$14.99 depending on the print and popularity.

Work prices: $15-$18 for a tablecloth 60”-90”, and $22-$30 for a tablecloth 120”-188”.

Shipping: Shipping varies slightly with costs internationally being the highest and taking upwards of 14 days to arrive based on your location. International items are shipped first class unless otherwise requested and will be subject to additional costs for upgraded shipping. Shipping is usually around $6-$9 for a small- medium sized tablecloth of medium weight cotton, and around $12.50 box rate for heavier or bulkier items.

Yardage based on diameter: Tablecloths that are smaller such as 36” diameter can be made using one panel and the small extra can be used with excess cut off from the salvage once you trim the square shape into that of a circle. For those with a wider diameter, the yardage will need to be doubled or tripled in order to cover the overall width needed. Depending on the width of your fabric and the desired diameter of the tablecloth you want, you may be able to use salvage pieces left over in which case you would want to assume you have a square shape and cut the square to round and then use the salvage where needed to make a full circle only make sure when doing this that you take into consideration that if one side is missing a bit of width that when you fold your piece to make the square you do not fold down the center but where the center would be if you had the correct width. Otherwise the bottom will be trimmed incorrectly and you will have to either suffice with a weird edged look to your tablecloth or have to add a small patched panel on two sides of the circle to make up the difference (neither of which is ideal).

Here is an example -> 60” round tablecloth in a solid linen blend with a fabric width of 54”. Need 66” (with seam allowance) of a $12.99/ yard fabric. 66” x 2 (two strips of fabric needed to cover 66” in width total) is 132”, divided by 36” (the total inches in a yard) and this will determine the yardage you need, which in this case is going to be 3.6 yards. Multiply this number by the price of your fabric (for this example) which is $12.99 and your cost for fabric is going to be $47.63. The work based on the size is going to be $18, shipping is going to be $9, and your final price for the item is going to be $74.63.

Here is another example: White cotton tablecloth 120” diameter with a fabric width of 44” and a price of $7.99.  Due to the fabric width being 44” width and your need for an overall width of 120” you are going to need three panels pieced together instead of two. This will increase your fabric yardage by a third, and you will want to add an additional 2” for seam allowance for that final panel, not including the original 4”. Therefore, assume your fabric pieces will be 126” in length and you will have three of them, all with slim and clean French seams.  Here’s the math -> 126 x 3= 378. Divide this number by 36 and you find you need 10.5 yards of fabric. At $7.99/ yard the fabric cost comes to $83.89. Include the work price of $22 + $12.50 shipping and your final price for a handmade tablecloth is going to be $118.39. If at that point you want a color dye wash added, you will add $9 additional for a final cost of $127.39.

For dye colors your choices are: light blue, light turquoise, light teal, light green, orange, light purple, navy blue, charcoal, strawberry, wine/washed mauve, honeycomb yellow, light beige, light pink, washed fuschia, sunflower yellow, washed brown. 

* A dye fee of $9 is added to each tablecloth made, smaller items are priced lower such as placemats at $3 each. 

Placemats: The next project I will lead you through is how to make placemats and these can be made in a variety of styles and shapes and sizes. I generally go with a size of about 18” length x 16” width, and that is seam allowances included. For everyday use I personally like to go with a solid for one side, and a print for the back with a thin batting for the inside. This offers two color options when setting the table. They are also machine washable and dryer safe. For these, assume you want an extra ¾” for seam allowance. Place the fabrics right side together with the batting piece behind the printed fabric or lighter fabric selected. Sew the sides for all but about 4” opening, turn right side out, press flat and sew the seam opening closed. Repeat for the desired placemat count and you are all set.

You will find ironing the fabric pieces before sewing and after the placemats have been made helps a great deal in making these look professional when finished. I prefer the thin batting insert as I have an old vintage wooden table and in many cases do not bother with a tablecloth so the placemats serve as my buffer for plates and glasses on the table. For placemats with a raw edge and no need for a seam allowance, drop an inch for the suggested measurements offered above.

Napkins: I like fabric napkins, mostly because they are reusable and environmentally friendlier than paper products. As I make my own placemats with a print on one side and a solid on the other side, I also like a set of solid and then a matching printed napkin set to go with the rest of the table. This also gives me an opportunity to wash a set of napkins and still have an extra set ready to use while I await the return of the first set. Napkins are very easy to make and the general size is usually 17”x 17” sq. and you should assume that you are going to need at least a half inch for seam allowance. I personally like napkins that have a straight stitch, are trimmed and then pressed and have another slim folded over straight stitched seam added.

Napkins are made in the same way as a handkercheif would be and you should think about the edges of your napkin edges similarly. With this in mind you are going to want a water spray bottle, iron, ironing board, scissors and either a measuring stick or tape measure and a fabric marker. If you do not have a fabric marker don’t worry. You’ll live but I suggest either way that you cut all of the pieces the same size once you have ironed the fabric. You also don't really need the sprayer, I just like this more than the steamer on my iron. Next, before you sew any of the pieces, layer them on top of each other and  press, trimming as needed so that all of the napkins are exactly the same size. Then press under the edges about ¼”-1/8”, sew, trim and repeat. Repeat these steps until you have all of the napkins you would like. Once finished you can use, gift or even embellish as you wish.

The fabric needed for each napkin is 18” sq. which means you will be able to cut four napkins from a yard and a half of fabric, and as the fabric you selected will most likely have a minimum width of 36” (narrower width usually doesn’t come up unless you are using a Japanese fabric) so you will be able to cut two napkin pieces on the top and two on the bottom half.

Table Runners: These are great and actually serve a decent purpose when it comes to decorating the table in that they do cover a seam in a tablecloth if there happens to be one, they serve as a cover to the tablecloth since this is where you usually place the food and candles, and yes, I have had table runners save the prettiest of tablecloths from both food spills but also hot wax so as foofy as these seem to be, they are actually a great idea. You won’t need it with very meal but it is nice to have for when you do pull out the holiday meals and candle votives. Table Runners are popular for weddings and holidays and the style is entirely up to you as is the fabric you pick but the way in which they are made is pretty much like that of a rectangular tablecloth. For weddings sometimes the intent is simply for color or added texture but is essentially a strip of fabric that runs the length of the table, or longer or shorter if desired. They can also be rounded, peaked or rectangular in shape in the ends, have trim as well. You will want a piece the desired length by about 18” width. This gives you a seam allowance of 1”, and you will want to add more for upholstery fabric, or you may want to back the runner in a basic thin cotton so you have a seamless underside to the runner. 

Pot Holders are very easy to make and surprisingly expensive in the stores. You are going to want a heat resistant insert and you will find this material at your local craft store though you may have to ask. I sometimes find it on a top shelf sort of tucked away but they usually carry it. It is going to look like this -> http://www.joann.com/insul-bright/7145857.html and you will find you want at least one piece as an insert between two layers of fabric for the square potholders and you want two  layers of the heat resistant insert for each side of a mitten styled potholder. You should find directions and details on use on the paper sheet when you buy the heat resistant material so follow those directions. I personally like to limit my chances of getting burned in the kitchen so I like to double up on heat resistant material but in some cases it can make a piece too bulky. Your best bet is to layer the fabrics before you cut anything to determine the safe thickness but also have it not too thick so it doesn't bend properly. You will also find this material on the market -> http://goo.gl/0pmwnZ and I have not used this before but it is heat resistant so it should be fine. I thought that back in the day some of this silver heat resistant material had asbestos in it but today I think we're safe. Just to be safe though I am going to suggest not using any vintage heat resistant material or recycled heat resistant material in case it does contain something bad. If you know what it is made of you're fine though.

Cut all pieces with a 1" seam allowance. Either stitch the fabrics down across the piece so it has a bit of a quilted look or sew around the edges. Trim close to the seam and then add a fabric trim around the edges for the square styled pot holders. For the mitt styled pot holders you will want to sew the edges of the layers of fabric for bot the top and bottom separately, then outward fabrics facing in, sew the edges to attach the front and back together. Next add fabric trim around the opening of the mitt, and for this you will probably find taking off the arm of your sewing machine to fit the piece in more easily while sewing will help a great deal. You are now finished!

Note: Please keep in mind that potholders are made with the intent that you will be holding very hot items. Do use the reflective heat materials sold at the stores. If you do not, and I do not recommend this, then you know you will have to really layer those fabrics, and you absolutely without a doubt want 100% cotton fabrics. Do not go with a fleece or a felt because you have them as scrap fabrics and think they will work well because they are a bit plush. They will not work, they will melt, and you can hurt yourself. Using materials in order to make a mock up of what you intend to make with better materials is one thing, but using the wrong scrap fabrics for removing hot items from heat is not a brilliant idea. So, be careful and please please please use your smarts, that's what we've got them for ;)

Napkin holders can be made of scrap fabric used for any of the table linens or even something entirely different such as beaded rings, or clay pieces. There are so many variations that you can craft up something lovely I'm sure. You essentially want to construct a ring of about 3.5" in diameter in which you can slip the folded or rolled napkin inside. Lace works but I recommend backing it in something stable such as a flat craft tape or what they refer to as dressmakers flat stabilizer that is about 3/4" -1" in width. You will want to assume about a 1/4" for seam allowance and I personally recommend that fabrics be sewn together or use a fabric glue. For items that are crafted, wire or a super glue will work. In a lot of cases a glue gun might but I cannot promise the finished item will last very long, it depends on how well they are cared for and not exposed to water. I would also recommend storing finished items of delicate design in a nice little storage box for when they are not in use. It might seem silly but the truth is once you have spent the time or money, caring for those items properly when not in use will only keep them lasting longer. A tin or old cigar box works.

Chair Covers are another accessory mentioned above and also several times in earlier blog posts. You can check out those details here ->  http://craftzies.blogspot.com/2012/11/custom-dining-slip-covers.html

Woven Rugs are also included in the kitchen accessories section however you can also use these throughout the home including front entrances and hallways, the bedroom or even in the bathroom. You can find additional images and details on woven rugs here -> http://craftzies.blogspot.com/2010/07/weaving-throw-rug.html

I think that just about covers all of that but as you craft or decorate your way to a happier and more efficient kitchen and or dining area you will find it starts to all come together, and that;s where perfection is reached in my opinion because as nice as it is to have pretty kitchen linens, it is even more helpful on the 'keeping it clean(er)' front ;)

Happy Crafting out there! If you are interested in having me make you an item please message me on etsy and I will be happy to help. Any questions let me know.

Lindsay :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

-Paper Dolls-

When I was little, for a few of the early years, we did not have all of the technology we have today and yes, this was obviously in the stone age... Instead we relied on other things, tangible things if you will, like crafts to keep ourselves busy. Well, that and playing outside all the time. Not that you can’t hold a controller in your hand and feel satisfied getting a wicked game score, I’m just saying crafts and outdoor play are awesome too. 

Crafting would come into play even more when my cousins and I would visit our Grandparents because let’s be honest, when young kids go see the Grandparent’s it’s like going back in time for sure. The moms get the phone calls shortly after drop off with whimperings like “mom, they ate Grapefruit for breakfast. For like an hour. And Grandma got me cereal but I don’t like Fiber Bunch, it smells like wet leaves and Grandpa wants to go for a walk in the park later just for fun.”  

Despite the sense of being dropped off ‘into the past’ I have to say I learned a lot from my Grandparents and my Grandmother was truly a crafting genius. She made just about everything but above all her creativity and ability to think about a desired project in a practical way taught me the very basis of crafting, and let’s be honest, probably a whole lot on life as well. She seemed to look at everything from the perspective as though she could probably make it, she just had to think about how. That was surely the answer because once she thought about it a while, it seemed from my observation that her ‘general wondering of how to make something’ then seemed to cleverly develop into her visualization of the process, and then finally the act of making the item itself. 

And this played out in many ways, even in the little ways like making crafting supplies including glue. My cousins and I L-O-V-E-D glue. We loved it. We liked gluing glitter things, and paper things, nature things and macaroni and ribbons and bows and you name it, we glued our way there until one afternoon we ran out of glue (“someone totally hogged the glue and it wasn’t me” was passed around a few times in bossy little girl tones). It was at this point that Grandma proceeded to make her own glue. Why? Because getting a handful of young girls packed into the car all for the sake of getting a few bottles of glue before dinner was not going to happen. It was things like this, her sense of desire to make something as well as her need for it, that brought about the crafting genius.

In line with the title however and aside from my observation of the ease by which my Grandmother made everything, there was also a sense of something new when I would visit and I was more often than not surprised by her ability to captivate my interest. This was very much the case when she handed us paper doll books to play with one day. My disappointment must have been noticed because my cousin Holly said “Don’t worry. I played with these yesterday. They’re actually pretty fun” and she began to play with the paper dolls like a pro. As I watched her pop out the paper dolls, fold the edges and move them around the pages to find the girls with what she deemed ‘the perfect look,’ it slowly became clear to me that there might actually be something to these boring old paper doll books. Yes these books were a bit old fashioned with their little 1920’s girls in outdated outfits and hair styles, but never the less it was in playing with them that I began to realize this was actually a very good way of visualizing what I wanted. 

Looking back, I can’t help but see how influential those paper dolls were in that they helped provide an outlet for new designs and the opportunity to see different clothing styles before a sewing pattern is even pulled out of the envelope. They are not the ‘all,’ in the sense that one must always remember that a woman, curvy by nature, is not a paper doll nor should any one of us aspire to that, but by playing around with designs in a simple paper doll fashion we have an opportunity to view and thus create something new.  If one were to step into the past they would immediately see how our current worldview has been built up from the past. 

For some the best way to explain this might be in terms of building a computer game where the initial code is created and then duplicated over and over again in order to make the multiple trees and hills and valleys, or caves and caverns or monsters depending on the game you are playing. When the programmer wants a slightly different looking tree, the code used to create it is duplicated from an earlier source and altered in a certain way to make the new looking tree. As this is how a computer game is created (and just for the record I am simplifying the role quite a bit but hopefully you get the idea), the same application process seems to take place in our daily lives and it seems as though design is a unique element in that it brings about new, smarter living. 

Today my paper dolls are no longer little folded images popped out of a book but instead are combination of my sewing patterns and favorite designs pinned up on the board and even my sewing doll dressed in something new. It is not just those elements though but also very much an appreciation for the past as well as a desire to create more useful designs into the future that keeps me crafting. Last month for example I found myself pouring over old fashion designs from the 1920’s and though I must say it was never an era that really interested me from a fashion perspective, my appreciation as of late has most certainly blossomed.

I suppose the transformation on my part occurred when I realized that despite the popularity of the V-styled clothing designs and dropped waists (that do not look good on my body shape at all!), there was actually something really quite unique, empowering, and sexy about the styles. More to the point, the garments were in many cases designed and created by the very women who wore them and that makes me happy, primarily because I love, above all, the unique sense that each person demonstrates when it comes to what they like to wear and feel confident and happy and beautiful in. That is because it is never our sameness that makes us beautiful but our individuality.

The general population loves to love & hate the fashion industry (despite how challenging dressing a uniquely curvy female form may be) and even before the clothing industry grew into what it is today, there has always been a strong relationship between fashion and the tone of the era in which that fashion arises. With this being said, as we seem to be in an age in which we use disposable goods without much care so too is this reflected in our current fashions. 

As clothing design regularly changes we in turn should want to make it better. Just as we would not allow ourselves today to be held back by outfits from the 1900’s so too should we realize that on a shorter time scale and in relation to the very essence of our future, we need to find a happy medium between the handmade and industrial aspects of creating clothing in order to bring about long lasting progress.

Just because we have grown to the point where it may not be entirely efficient for us to make everything we need by hand, that does not mean that everything has to be produced by the industry either.  As long as we expect others to do everything for us, we can expect to lose our skills, instead giving in to a standard that in many ways doesn’t really fit anyone in particular but just sort of helps us get by in some make-shift manner. Times change, and just as many of us find some of those old concepts and views from the past are no longer valid today, we also have to remember that not everything from the past should be deemed obsolete either.

Instead, finding a balance where you begin to make a few of the items you need for yourself, support other local crafter's for the items you do not make yourself, and then from there be the best little conscious consumer you can be seems to make the most sense to me. The need for this type of change is necessary both economically, environmentally and even mentally. With that in mind I think all we really need to do at this point is assume that we really probably can make a positive change, we just need think about how.

I think we can do it.
-Lindsay ;)