Sunday, August 2, 2015

Upcycled Chair Cover Tote Bag

I received a few chair covers that were sort of a hand me down, but never opened so it is a bit unfair to call this an upcycled item, but one of them has been given a new life. 

A few pictures of it in its intended use, as a chair cover.  It had a nice canvas weight and the front areas were actually a quilted fabric.

Here are the main components dis-assembled, there was a front, back and the arm areas.  I removed all the hems, seams and elastic

The tote completed, I used the quilted fabric for the sides and the handles.  I paired this with a quilting fabric in an olive floral, the front which is the side shown, has a pocket, that does not show in the floral fabric.

I made the handles out of the quilted fabric and added a band of the floral to break up all the green.

Inside it is lined with the plain canvas that was the back of the chair cover, I added a magnetic snap as a closure.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sewing for American Girl Dolls

I have had some downtime sewing for shows and decided to work on some American girl items.  The clothes below are mostly worked from patterns.  The above pink and black outfit is a replica of an AG item, Julie's Calico Dress.  I drafted a pattern from the dress which we recently got, it is below.  It took me a few hours to fashion the pattern, make a practice dress then create the final above.  I also made some leggings from rib-knit, so they sort of look like tights.  I paired the outfit with a pair of AG boots, from the Sparkly Camp Outfit.  I really love this dress and the updated fabrics, I also love the AG version, below I have it paired with purple leggings, that were made from the same as the black above.

 Julies Calico dress, from AG it comes with red tights and cute brown boots, that remind me of "goucho boots" I myself had in the 70's.  I made to go with this set a yo-yo headband, it came with a bandana type of scarf which I could not get to work.

Continuing to sew above is the same purple leggings and a long sleeve T-shirt in a sweet floral and butterfly print, and to top it off a matching headband.

Another long sleeve T-shirt and a collection of mini purses, I added these to my craft shows during the holidays, I am going to add a few to my etsy store.

Below just a few examples of the tote by itself with a doll, this is MYAG #53


I will be listing these over the next few weeks, they are on sale for $5.00 each, and work great for American Girl as well as other 18" dolls, they are about 3.5" wide, and 3" tall, they have ribbon handles and many have embellishments such as ribbon, rick rack and buttons.  Totes are fully lined and interlined with fleece for shape and durability, they can be found in the "Something Different" section in my etsy store. 

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Review Juki DDL-9000B-SS 4 Years Later

How does this happen, four years gone by and never done a proper review of this machine.  Well this may not be a proper review but some thoughts on it.   I got my Juki DDL-9000B-SS in early 2011, I got it brand new from a local dealer.  I did several blog posts as I went through the buying process at that time. 

I use this machine (at the time of this post) for 99% of my sewing, both for items for sale and personal items as well.  It is really my only fully functioning machine, I have two home machines, a Viking which is considered my back up and an old Kenmore which has not been turned on in over 10 years. 

My first thought to share is this was absolutely the best decision for my sewing needs, four years later I know it was the right decision.  I love this machine, its reliability, speed and power and quality of stitching with little thought to running the machine in terms of adjustments and tension quality.

The pros and cons, I took care to not look at an much earlier post on this topic as to live in the now of using this machine, though I am guessing some of the pros and cons will be the same. 

  • Speed, it is fast, faster then I use and also faster in capability then I can handle, though to go along with this "pro" item two:
  • Amazing control and responsiveness from the foot pedal, I can go crazy fast, or painfully slow with a great amount of control from the foot pedal. 
  • Stitches beautifully regardless of item being sewn stitches are tight and well formed.  All this with virtually no adjustment of tensions. 
  • Machine is sturdy and steady, being of metal construction, and being mounted to a fairly hefty table, it is unwavering during sewing.  When I would sew certain items with my old machine, loud grinding, and shifting would happen and was additionally more noise in the household.
  • Lighting, I have gotten very use to the external light of the machine, the gooseneck light is bright and adjustable I can really zone in on certain items as needed. 
  • Presser foot lift with foot pedal....ahhh all I can say I got use to this feature very quickly and it is awesome.  I use this all the time, for turning corners and for manipulating layers around the needle, I can work with both hands at the same time, and raise lower presser foot with my foot on the foot pedal. 
  • Needle down positioning, this too is used during many of my creations during construction.  When turning a corner, coming to a stop, the needle stays in the fabric, I simply lift presser foot (see above), adjust then continue sewing.  I know this is a common feature on home machines as well.
  • Back tack located in two positions, this is very nice, but I could live without it.  It has a lever to the right which would be a traditional location for this, but it also has a button (it is oval shaped above) on the neck of the machine just right of the needle, this is a button I can push with my finger.  It is handy as I can reach over as needed without removing my hands from the item in construction.  It is a nice feature I and use it a lot but it is not that hard to reach over 12 inches and use the lever. 
  • Thread cutting again, this is very nice and would be hard to not have now, when completing an item a quick rock backwards on the foot pedal cuts the thread and sweeps it away to the right for the next sewing.  
  • Begin and ending sewing auto back tacking.  At the start and end of every new sewing the machine automatically sews forward, back 4 stitches, then forward again to continue to sewing.  It did take a bit of getting used to but now I know how to use it or work around it as needed, and not having to backtack all the time is nice.
  • Needle finishes "up" I do love this, when you complete sewing and clear an item away the machine is ready to go, no need to get the bobbin thread to the top of the plate, no worrying the machine will come unthreaded.
  • Quiet operation, my machine does not hum, I know there are industrial machines with motors that can sit idle and have a mechanical hum to them, this does not.  Going from memory, I believe this is because of the internal motor.  It is also a quieter machine to use then any plastic home machine I have had, my husband who is in the office next to mine also said it is significantly quieter. 
  • Winding a bobbin the same time as sewing, this is nifty to wind from a separate thread bobbins as I sew...but with this pro, there will be a con listed below.
  • Sewing with monofilament thread, in any combination this has been a nice surprise, the stitch quality and reliability is great, both when I have monofilament on top and bottom-which I could not do on my home machine, and when I have mono on top and cotton/poly in the bobbin.  I use monofilament thread often and rely on it often, this was a dreaded task on my home machine.
  • Threading this machine....I hate it, in most instances I plan my sewing by color anyway and sew large quantities not having to change threads, but when I do it is a pain.  There are from placing the spool on the to holder all the way to needle thirteen (13) points in which the thread needs to pass, and I have to stand up to start the process.  Along with this, I have had to get reading glasses to see the needle of course that is a con :(
Servicing, I have had to have this done 2 times now and being in a niche situation there are not a lot of service options available.  I have had an independent service tech out to my house on two occasions, and of course there are not a lot of people servicing this market.  I have only had to wait a few days for service, but like servicing an appliance (if anyone actually does this anymore) there is a fee for just walking in the door, then the repairs/parts fees.  In my two instances I have spent about $375.00 in servicing.  Which leads to my next con.
  • I know very little about the internal workings of the machine, I have not spent a lot of time or energy trying to figure it out.  In most sewing and use of this machine it is just fine, but I am unable to diagnose and fix bigger problems that arise, which resulted in service calls.  In both instances I sort of knew what the problem was but was incapable of fixing them.  I can add to this since my two calls, I am slightly more able to fix certain problems.  But in general if the machine stops...I need help.
  • Ordering from my dealer, there is a $20.00 minimum, now that is not very much but I had a zipper foot break, its replacement was less then $2.00 so I had to order more stuff to get to $20.00, then I needed a light bulb this was $4.00 so I had to order more stuff.  Let's just say I have enough bulbs and needles to last a good long while. 
  • It is not portable...obviously, so when I want to be on the go, out comes my old awful home machine.  Minor but one of those things to consider, not having a decent travel machine is something I want to fix.
  • Winding the bobbin, you pretty much have to be sewing to wind a bobbin, in a home machine you can just wind a bobbin when you need it.  For this machine the needle is always going up and down, and not having it sewing is bad on the machine.  So if I want or need a new color, I will just sew and waste thread to get it filled.  I am sort of use to this and can plan ahead, but it can be a pain.  Also to threading, like the needle the thread has to pass through 4 locations to be ready to wind. 
  • I cannot sew delicate items, now this may be a combination of my needles, threads, and tensions (which I have not bothered to figure) but sewing tulle is impossible as an example.  Also sewing ribbons on with monofilament thread is impossible as well.
All in all, I love this machine and would pick it all over again.  But there are a few cons that have me on the verge of purchasing a new home sewing machine, that with the portability should address my sewing needs. 

Next up, will be hauling out my serger and seeing if I can bring that back to life, and to complete my sewing repartee I would love an embroidery machine and a steam press.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Merchandise Bags from Catalog Pages

Every year we get this amazing catalog from a local mall, it is thick pages and very vibrant ads.  I always imagined I would sew up some bags from it and this year final did!  You can see above a few of my creations peeking out from one that is sewn up.
Catalog, with its lovely pages.

I used two pages per bag, and trimmed the front page (bag) a few inches lower, I chose to use a pinking blade, which would be the same effect as pinking shears. 

Simply sew the two sheets together in a U, and wella you have simple and nearly free bags, I completed about 25 bags in about an hour. 

This was actually a fun and quick little project, and I still have about 1/2 the catalog left, though admittedly I have already used most of the really colorful pages.  This will be great for an upcoming Clearance show I hope to do in early February.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Adding Bows To Totes and Purses

I often use two styles of bows on my purses and totes, and have a few tricks to share.  I use a variety of gros grain ribbon, without wire, and prefer this over satin ribbons.  I have found my machines sort of eat the satin and twist it around easily, the gros grain is more forgiving.

First I apply the wrap around ribbon, I use monofilament quilting thread on the top, and sometimes on the bottom.  You can also use a cotton on the bottom in a matching color to the ribbon.  This way if the monofilament pulls the bobbin to the top it will blend with the ribbon.

  • Bag or item to be embellished
  • Ribbon
  • Fray check
  • Monofilament thread, I prefer quilting type, I find it thinner and stronger
Using a larger basting stitch, I hold the ribbon in place as I sew, I do not use pins as I like to reduce the amount of holes put into the ribbon, also it shifts so it does need adjusting along the way.  I sew on the top of the ribbon, and again on the bottom, two rows of stitching.  I also try to sew the top in one direction, flip and sew in the opposite the bottom row.  This helps to not have it twist and pull the bag out of shape.

Once you have the ribbon around the bag, you can decide on your style of bow, either a tied bow or a looped bow, I will start with the looped bow, for this will be using a different sample from above.

Start by looping ribbon back and forth, for this tote the bow is about 4 inches, pinching in fingers add 2 loops per side.

Once you have the loops finish off with a center loop, which will form a circle, cut end off and included in the center, fray check is a good idea on this open edge.

Pin bow, now it is ready to be added to your bag.  I remove my presser foot and use the "top" of my buttonhole stitch, but a zig zag stitch set at "0" would achieve the same result.  I tack this back and fourth about 6-10 times.  You can see the tack in picture 2 - remember this is a clear thread, but it is there.  Be sure to sew through and secure all layers. 

Repeat on the bottom, I just push the bow up to do the same at the bottom of the bow, now it is tacked on top and bottom, 

 Trim the thread, to release the loops, and admire you perfect looped bow.

Now for the tied bow.  I sew my length of ribbon, in this case I use about 20 inches, I sew it perfectly perpendicular to the ribbon installed on the tote.  I fold the edges inward to the center, then I simply sew back and forth 6-10 times to secure it in place. 

Using what I call the Martha Stewart method of time a bow, I simply tie it starting like this then looping as if tying a shoe.

Trim ends, and treat with fray check, your bow embellishment is complete.

Examples of each on a completed tote.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

More Scrap Quilting Items

Continuing my scrap fabric clear out and have made quite a few new items.  Pieced cosmetic pouches, above.  Below are pieced composition books.  They were all quite fun to do and really knocked down my scrap.

 About a dozen composition book in total, in mostly random color combos.

Inside the piecing continues, the composition book slides into wrap around pockets, so when the composition book is used it can be replaced and continued to be used.

More shaped piecing, above my interpretation of a slice of watermelon, using some black buttons to be seeds.

As I worked through the scraps and make loads of yo-yo's in varying colors.  The above is a work in progress of an idea a large clutch that has been pieced and quilted with a sprinkling of these yo-yo flowers.  I have yet to complete any of these but plenty in the works.
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