Friday, July 27, 2012

How to make an ironing board cover

For a while I've been living with this REALLY nasty ironing board cover. It was so bad that I would not expose you to a photo...too embarrassing. Like mending, these tedious things sort of pile up on me because I don't really like doing them. Today I finally made a new cover, and it wasn't so bad. In fact, it was pretty easy, painless, and REALLY cost effective. My pad is still in perfect shape, but if yours is worn out, replace it with 100% cotton batting, at least 2 layers. It can be pieced also. Use cotton thread and a mending stitch. Here is a link to how to do it:

I found a scrap of cotton fabric that had the look that said "I belong on an ironing board!" It wasn't quite long enough, so I pieced it at the end, turning the grain.You can see the seam at the right hand arrow.

Lay the rectangular fabric on the board. Trim the fabric leaving about 3" of  hang all the way around. It doesn't have to be perfect, so don't stress over this. I wasn't very careful, and you can see by the left side arrow that I left too much hang on that side. This will be a slight difficulty for me when it comes time to tighten the cover, but nothing impossible to deal with.

Next, sew a casing all the way around. I always do this by pressing under 5/8" from the raw edge and then press under again 1/4" inside the seam allowance. Top stitch close to the inside fold all the way around. You'll have to overlap fabric in tiny tucks around the curves. If you want it to look beautiful, do a basting stitch at the 1/4" fold and pull the thread to gather the fabric in before you stitch it down. For me, I don't care. This job doesn't have to look too pretty, it just needs to get done. Leave a 1/2" opening in the stitching somewhere.
My drawstring is going to be some nylon string that I have in my junk drawer. I need to thread this string through the casing all the way around the cover. A bodkin is a fancy tool invented to do this job, but as you can see, I've never used mine. I prefer a safety pin. I put a knot in the end of the string and then put the pin through the knot. I push the safety pin which leads the string, pulling it through the casing.

Lay the cover back on the board and pull the string until the cover is tight. Tie a knot or a double bow.

My cover is clean, white, lovely, and finished.Yay! I accomplished it. I should go do some ironing now...

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Spoonflower: Make and Print your own Fabric!

Fabric and clothing design are like laces and shoes. Burgers and buns. Fountains and water. Together they help fulfill and compliment each other. Very often, but not always, my new designs start with fabrics that I find inspirational. When the design idea  comes first, I have to search around for a fabric to fit with my still imaginary style, and you can guess this is sometimes a frustrating effort. How often have you looked for even a plain fabric in the right color to use as a binding, trim or contrast and come up empty handed? There is a solution you may not have thought of: Print your own!

Last year I started designing and printing my own fabrics. Using a product called Bubblejet 2000 that prepares cotton or silk fabrics, I can permanently print any image onto fabric with an ordinary inkjet printer. Quilters have been using this product (or fabric prepared with this product) for years to make what they call "memory" quilts. But instead of printing a digital photograph onto fabric, I created my own high resolution repeatable print images from scratch on the computer. The uses, applications, and colors are limitless; the only limitation is the size of your printer. If you can print letter size only, check to see if you can set your  printer to "banner". In banner print, you are still limited by width, but not by length. If your project requires a wider width without seams, you can upload your image to and they will print your fabric for you. You can see the fabrics I uploaded to Spoonflower here:   

Spoonflower is a great place to buy fabrics designed by others too. I LOVE this fabric by Bob Staake.

Designing your own digital print is only a little bit complicated, depending on your design idea. It also helps to be familiar with the program you'll be using to design with.  If you are a graphic designer, then you're well on your way to becoming a famous fabric designer! If you are new at this, start with an idea that will be easy to repeat and execute. For the next month, I've listed my vintage fabrics tutorial CD, available on Etsy, for half price. Using a step by step format, I go through the process of designing a print for fabric printing using photoshop. If you know your way around it, just about any drawing/image editing program will also work. If you know of a good tutorial on the web- let us all know about it with a comment and I will add the link to the bottom of this post.

Using the Starter Skirt Pattern #1000, view A, here is me wearing the skirt I made from the fabrics that I printed. What do you think?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Fittings with Julie

I have so many irons in the fire right now my head is spinning. We are working on a coat- a suit- and 3 dresses, all at various stages of the game. Yesterday was to be fit model day and I had concocted a plan to post photos of little snippets of the fittings for you, but alas, she had to cancel at the last minute. :-(

To stay within the same theme, I'm going to show you some photos of fittings I did with Julie, a former student. Julie does not have too many fitting worries, though she is larger busted, and has narrow shoulders. This is a common situation.

I suggested [when sewing with my patterns] that she use a smaller bodice size to get a narrow shoulder, and then do a full bust adjustment. She then made the Fantasia Pattern and came to visit me for a follow up fitting. I should have taken a photo full front but didn't think about that until too late. The fit isn't bad, but the shoulders are still too wide for her, and the bodice length is too long.

The wide shoulders are pretty clear in this back shoulder photo. She could go down one more size, and then the shoulder and length would fit better. She would have to add a bit more width into the full bust adjustment, which would give her the width that she needs for the bust measurement, and then transition to the larger size for the waist. Since she already made this alteration, there is another easier way to accomplish the goal, which I will get to at the end. For now, here's how the fitting went:

 When making alterations, I always start at the bust and work my way down, then up. Get the armhole right, then you can deal with the sleeve and shoulders. Though the sleeve is attached, in the order of operations I pinned the sleeve on last.

The armhole was a bit sloppy, so I took in about 1/4" to make everything a bit more snug. Here's a good close up.

 Then I pinned the skirt up to the waist where it belongs.
Last I pinned the sleeve on all the way around the arm where it looks the best. See that little ripple(s) in the back? I would have liked to take that back in just a little more narrow, but she likes the room back there. We'll call that "wearing ease".

If everything else looks and feels good, here is the way to reduce width at the shoulder without messing with the rest of the pattern: 

Draw a line to cut through the middle of the shoulder, squaring off ending at the armhole just above the notch. Cut the pattern apart along this line.

Slide the shoulder piece along the horizontal line, overlapping the vertical line until the shoulder is the correct measurement.

 True the jog in the two pieces, and your pattern is done.

It's always a good idea to "walk" your sleeve pattern to to the arm hole to make sure that it still fits. On Julie's dress, all is fine because the reduction at the princess seam was taken up in the longer reach of the shoulder line.

Here is the sleeve again from the front. If I remember right, that fold in the sleeve is from a fold in the fabric- needs pressing.  Looks good, doesn't it?

I cannot say it often enough, that fit is a matter of personal taste. If YOU like the fit, then it's perfect!