Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(sigh of relief) don't look, Lori.

After much angst and re-doing, Lori's messenger bag is {finally} {thankfully} {for betterly or for worsely} done. I have a reasonable expectation that her surprise won't be ruined by this post, because I'm pretty sure none of my family reads my blog. Besides you, Chelsea. ha. I'll be giving this to her in a week or so when I'm in H-town again.

I'm finally pleased with it. My husband has been shaking his head at me for weeks, saying stuff like 'how many hours are you going to sink into this thing anyway?'. He doesn't understand the tortured artistic journey within the soul, obviously. The other night as he watched me rip off the bias binding that I decided I didn't like, he quipped "I sure hope she likes this bag." And I replied sweetly, "IT'S NOT ABOUT HER ANYMORE" as I stabbed the flap with the seam ripper.

Anyhoo, it's done. Why did I line it with green? I think it has to do something with the fact that I cut the lining out at the beginning of the process when there was a completely different flap design and also green bias binding. But I like it. Or maybe that's just the apathy speaking.

I added a little snap key holder on the inside because it is so useful. Also, because it would cover up the unplanned tuck in my lining. I'm happy to report that this snap experience was stress free.

Instead of just trucking along from memory like usual, I tried to follow my own tutorial for the messenger bag to double check it. I didn't deviate from my tutorial to construct this bag except for these three things:
  1. I used bias binding for the flap, so I trimmed off the flap seam allowance to do that. I didn't have to turn the flap.
  2. Since my pockets were not lined with a contrast color this time I cut out one big piece for the pockets and folded it in half to sew together instead of having two separate pieces.
  3. I made the strap a bit longer for my sister, at her request.

The only thing I ran into that I ended up changing on my tutorial was to make the flap .5 inch shorter. I didn't change it for this bag, it works ok if you are careful to measure correctly. Still, the bag flap comes a wee bit too close to the bottom of the bag for comfort, and I thought there should be some room built in for error. That is now changed on the tutorial, so update your flap measurement to 12 x 13.5 inches.

Monday, August 10, 2009

anthro tea towel and napkin pillows

tea towel pillow on the left, napkin pillow on the right.

In the tradition of the Anthro placemat pillows, here are two more methods to create home decor from table linens. This is a much more affordable option for me than actually buying the pillows. I drool buckets over most everything in Anthropologie's home decor section but can't get past the price tag, even with the devil on my shoulder.

I really have to give credit for this way of thinking to my bosom friend Robyn, who was the one who showed me years ago how to repurpose placemats into pillows and to use tablecloths for shower curtains and stuff like that. She opened a whole new world for me. I've even used place mats to make a really non-cheesy looking (promise) window valance.

Incidentally, once you are addicted to this method, another great place to get beautiful table linens on sale is here. I had placemat pillows from C&B on my couch for a few years before I made these latest.

Now, on to the particulars, if you'd like to make some pillows like these.

front of the napkin pillow

back of the napkin pillow

For the napkin pillow you need:

  1. a gorgeous square fabric napkin that you scored on sale, 20 x 20 inches. Okay the sale is not strictly necessary, but it is more satisfying.
  2. coordinating fabric for the back, two rectangles that are 20 x 16-ish inches
  3. an existing 18 x 18 inch pillow (don't worry -- this is a removable cover, so you don't have to sacrifice the existing pillow)

Step one: Along ONE long side of both pieces of backing fabric, sew a narrow hem. If you are not familiar with a narrow hem, you just press over 1/2 inch of fabric toward the wrong side along the edge, then fold under half of that again and edgestitch it. I don't bother pressing the second fold, I just fold it under with my finger as I'm sewing it down.

Step two: Lay your napkin down right side up, and align your backing pieces on top of it, right sides down, with the raw edges at the edge of the napkin, and the narrow hems running across and overlapping in the middle of the napkin (your backing pieces overlap to create a slit to stuff your pillow in or take it out again). Pin everything securely. I pinned along the edges of my slit as well, to keep things in place as I sewed.

Step three: Sew all the way around the edge of the square, being sure to backstitch to secure your stitches. It was preferable for me to sew along the inside of the hem that already existed on the napkin so I could save the pretty design in the corners of the napkin. That gave me about a 1/2 seam allowance all around, which yields a cover that is about 19 inches square -- a slightly relaxed fit for an 18" pillow, and no need to trim the excess seam allowance.

If you prefer a snug fit for your cover, sew a scant 1 inch hem all around instead. If you do this method, I recommend you also trim the excess seam allowance and finish the raw edges with overlocking stitches or pinking shears.

Step four: Turn it right side out through the slit and press it. Now stuff it with your existing pillow and admire your pillow makeover prowess.

This method is of course adaptable depending on the size of your napkin and the size of your existing pillow, as long as your napkin is slightly larger than your pillow. If it isn't, you could get really creative and piece some fabric strips around your napkin to make it the right size, now couldn't you? Yes, you could!

front of the tea towel pillow

Or I guess this could be the front of the tea towel pillow. I love both sides.

For the tea towel pillow you need:
  1. a pretty embroidered tea towel that you couldn't resist, and that NO one in their right mind would use to wipe up anything.
  2. floofy ball trim for two sides, optional
  3. bag of polyfil stuffing

Step one: Fold your tea towel in half, aligning the short sides. Cut it in half.

Step two: If you are using ball trim, glue or baste stitch it along the short edges of the right side of one piece, balls turned inward. I used fabric glue.

Step three: Pin the two pieces right sides together, making sure your little poofballs are out of the seam. Beginning in the middle of the bottom long side, sew a quarter inch hem all the way around, leaving about four inches unsewn on the bottom edge for stuffing. Turn it right side out and press.

Step five: Stuff that baby full of polyfil. Use small handfuls of stuffing and make sure you stuff the corners first, then the middle. When the desired firmness is reached, pin the opening closed with the quarter inch hem folded inside and hand sew it together with a whipstitch in coordinating thread. You are done, Pillow Master.