Friday, August 24, 2012

Sewing Apron Giveaway!

Back in the day when I used to design costumes for theater, I worked with Claudia Echols of Not the Norm. She sewed some of the more difficult designs for me, so I came to trust her work and knew that the project would come back perfect - and in theater, that's a rarity! Recently I called her up to find out what she was up to these days. Turns out she is now selling kits and manufacturing sewing aprons, and she brought me one!

This apron sells for $65 on her website:!store
and looks to be very practical and sturdy. The top pocket flap has built in space for straight pins and sewing needles:

Open the magnetized flap to reveal more pockets and slots for your sewing tools:

All the bigger things like scissors will easily fit in the lower pockets.

Wouldn't you like to have one of these to carry around all of your sewing tools! September is national Sewing Month, so it seems a good time to give this apron away to one lucky winner on Labor Day, Sept. 3rd. If this fabulous apron is something you will make good use of, all you need do is make a convincing comment below. PLEASE make sure I can contact you by email, and that it's an email you actually use. Sorry, but because of the high cost of shipping, this giveaway is open to US residents only.

UPDATE: Sept 5, 2012: Thank you to everyone that entered this giveaway. Congratulations to our winner, Kristie!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Make your own Ironing board pad

As a little girl I remember my mother sometimes ironing on a  doubled up towel over a table. The fact that steam and heat can really damage wood probably never crossed her mind since ironing boards were once made of wood. As a little girl, she would have ironed on a board like this, using a snazzy "Steam-O-Matic" iron like this one. Seems like everything was an O-Matic back then.
 Anyway, the point of my mother's method is that it's really hard to iron on a completely flat surface, so the board, whatever it is, must be padded. Too much or too little, and it's hard to get a smooth finish, and what is just right is likely a matter of opinion. Here I will show you how to piece and pad your ironing board and then you can take it from there.

 My ironing board has 3 layers of the standard "market" purchased padding, but let me say that this is likely the most expensive kind. You can cut your own using 100% cotton batting, the kind we put in quilts. Several thin layers will usually be better than one thick layer because the thicker batting has too much loft, or air. This will lead you down the road of  too much softness.

You might wonder, why cotton? Because it can easily handle any amount of heat and moisture from your iron without damage. Polyester batting will melt in high heat situations, it won't absorb moisture, and besides, they usually have too much loft. Commercial pads can be made of polyester, but they will have the addition of a heat retardant, like fabrics made for kids sleepwear. They still don't absorb moisture well.

 Let's take a look at these commercial pads to see what kinds of features you might like to add to your padding collection. Working from the board up, the first pad on mine is extremely thin. I would guess this is the pad that is original to the ironing board. What you are looking at is the muslin cover, made just like the top cover with a draw string. This layer is meant to be added protection from burns and water spills, but is totally optional. Should you like this idea, this muslin should be the last layer, going over all layers of padding, not the second layer as I have it! In my case, this muslin would be too small to cover all these layers so it will stay as it is.

Next you see two more layers of commercial pad. Another extra detail they both have is a cotton end pocket for you to slip your ironing board into. This feature is also totally optional, but helps them to sell the product for a higher price.
 Here is a close up of that pocket.
Another feature of this middle pad is a serged edge. Also completely optional. Makes the edge look nice I guess- but who is going to see it? You'll want to be careful that you don't stretch the batting while you serge or you'll end up with ripples.
 This top pad is a mix of cotton and polyester that has been pieced. This pad was probably the most expensive of the three for that reason. Because polyester can be made retardant, but never will absorb moisture, the manufacture decided to add a little of that spendy cotton batting just in the middle where the board gets most use. Cotton batting is expensive- so if you have a polyester pad that is damaged just in the middle, it would be very frugal to piece in the cotton just where needed. Or if you want to replace the whole thing, use cotton batting left over from a quilt project and splice those pieces together.

Here on the back side you can see they used a tricot (also a very meltable fiber!) tape to stabilize that pieced seam. I recommend a cotton bias tape pressed flat instead. Use a three step mending stitch, or even a zig-zag stitch across the seam, butting the ends, and centering the bias tape. It can also be done in two steps if you feel more confident with that. Sew the batting first then sew over it again with the bias.

Now that you have your pad fixed up and ready to lay out, how big should it be? Because the edges get a good amount of wear, cut it long enough that it will easily cover the sides of your board. Just trim it right on the board to fit. Together, my last two pads cover well enough. We like to use the end a lot, so my end is much longer than it needs to be. It goes well under, and as you can see I do not need and cannot use those end pockets. Yours does not need to be this long.
It does not need to be cut exact either. Just remember that your cover has to be big enough to handle all the padding that you give it!

Here is the link for how to finish the job right with a cover that is custom sized to your board:

Happy Ironing!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Illustrator Annie Jones sews with free patterns

Hey, Sew Chic followers!
My name is Annie and I get to do the illustrations on the front of Laura’s pattern covers. 
I had never even thought of doing fashion illustration until Laura asked me to do it for her, but now I LOVE it! I love how classy and vintage Laura's patterns are, it’s so fun to get to draw them! 

Laura asked me do a guest post for her blog and I was so excited when she asked, and then I panicked because I had no idea what to talk about. 
So I figured that sewing might be a safe topic because most likely all of the followers of this blog enjoy sewing. (Annie gives links to the printable patterns for all her projects)

To be perfectly honest, I'm not a very advanced sewer.
I bought my first sewing machine less than a year ago. 
It’s a simple Brother machine that I found on for $64. 
It has this really awesome zebra pattern on the front. 
But I really enjoy sewing!
I bought my sewing machine while I was pregnant so that I could make things for my soon-to-come baby. 
 I thought I would post some of my favorite little sewing projects on this post.
Most of the projects are for a baby.
All of these projects come from free patterns or tutorials that I found online, so I'll link each project to it's tutorial.
These projects are easy, fun, and cute.

K, first off, these baby shoes.
A beautiful friend of mine pretty much made these for me, with my occasional assistance. 
She made them in just a few hours.
I cannot get enough of baby shoes and I think these are to-die-for adorable. 
They stay on my baby's little feet really well because of the elastic. 
The pattern is free online. Thank you, Pinterest, for this find!
One of the things that I use ALL THE TIME is this changing pad. 
I keep it in the diaper bag and I use it when there isn’t a changing station to use and even when there is a changing station because, I don’t know, I don’t like laying my baby on that dirty plastic that plenty of other babies have put their poopy bums on. 
(Um, yes, I did use the same fabric for the shoes and for the ties on the changing pad and I may have also used it on her car seat cover as well. I kind of really like it.)
For some bizzarre reason I thought that my baby would be in newborn sizes for less than a week (maybe because my husband’s siblings were all huge babies, one was almost 11 pounds) so I didn’t buy any newborn clothes for her. 
Seriously, none. 
Turns out, she was in newborn clothes for more than a month. 
Luckily I had a pattern for this newborn dress
and it was one of the only things that fit her in that first month.
Adorable and easy. 
I completely messed it up and it still turned out cute.

I think decorating onsies is fun! 
I especially loved how this onesie turned out with the little flowers
 on the front. 
So easy to make and the onesie goes with so many things.
My mom made my baby several fat quarter skirts
and the cool thing about these is that, with the elastic, that chicken skirt that she’s wearing at 9 months also fit her when she was a newborn.
A cute, easy-to-make nursing cover .

And here are a couple non-baby projects:

Here are two different tutorials for a bow tie, both of them can also be used to make a hair bow. 
took 20 minutes at most to make.
takes a bit longer to make, but I think it looks more professional than the one on the left, which I liked for a bow tie.
You can also make mini versions of both of these to make a bow tie for your baby boy, or mini hair bows for your baby girl.
And last but not least, I needed something to jazz up this cute and simple dress and this fabric belt
was perfect! 
Most of the links lead to websites and blogs that have lots of other sewing patterns and tutorials, so if you are looking for more ideas, those links are worth looking at.

Thanks for having me on the blog!