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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 :)

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