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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

National Cupcake Day

December 15th is.......
National Cupcake Day!
 To celebrate this magical holiday, I popped open my handy-dandy book by Betz White called Warm Fuzzies.

Here's the short version of the tutorial.......
Use 3 sweater sleeves. Cut 2 rectangles, 4" x10". Fold in half and roll, creating a gradual point. Sew the end shut. Cut the cuff off the third sweater, fit it around, sew in half, cut off the excess, and stretch it over the cupcake. Cut out a felt circle, stuff with felt scrap, and hand sew around the edge. Pull tight and sew shut. Cut out a leaf, and sew both to the top of the cup cake. Place lace around the cupcake, and hot glue the ends. Cut out a final circle from matching felt, and hot glue to the bottom of the cupcake.

Time for a scrumptious cupcake and tea!

(There may be some confusion as to when the real National Cupcake Day is; this link should clear the matter up once and for all.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cotton Sweater Scarf

Somewhere, in the vast depths of your closet, lurks the tragically bulky, lumpy, stained, torn, white, cotton sweater. This one had make-up on the turtleneck, a big hole by the arm, and stains around the bottom. A perfect candidate for reconstruction. For this tutorial, you'll need an old, bulky sweater, good pair of scissors, and possibly a bleach pen.

Before cutting, sew a line around the bottom. This will prevent it from fraying while you cut and sew later on.

Cut around the top of your sewn line.

Set your machine to a wide, but tight zig-zag, and stitch all the way around the cut edge. Zig-Zag two parallel lines and cut between to make it one long strip.

 Bleach out any unwanted stains, and you're good to go. Stitch On!

Style 1 

 Style 2

TIP: To make it more antique looking, use 3-4 tea bags in a bucket of hot water. Dip the scarf in, and rinse. Place in dryer to set the stain.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Felted Sweater Scarf

For this tutorial, you will need a denim (jeans) pant leg, buttons, and various squares of old felted sweaters.

Felted sweaters are easy to make, in fact, you may have one in your closet. Starting with 100% wool, toss the sweater into the washing machine on the HOT, heavy duty, setting. A little soap helps too. To further shrink your wool, toss it on the dryer for a while. Congratulations, you've made a tiny sweater....also known as a "felted" sweater. Once this process is finished, you can cut shapes from the sweater without it fraying.

Cut a  4 to 6 inch wide strip of denim from the entire length of the pantleg. For a longer scarf, use another pant leg. Fold into thirds, and iron flat. Zig-zag stitch down the middle.

Cut the felted sweaters into floral shapes. Sew a button to the center, and sew onto the jean strip. Continue until the denim strip is covered.

Garage Sale Craft Haul

While out and about at garage sales, I found a wealth of threads, and other craft supplies. I admit, I fell into the "scarcity" mode and started grabbing like a crazy woman at a Black Friday sale. Once I had my hoard, and could calmly look through it, I realized I had to stick to what I needed, and not what I might want to use 10 years down the road. Back went the yarn, fabric, and crochet needles....well most of them anyway.

Keeping a couple of crochet needles, my haul was narrowed to spools of thread, zippers, a pair of pinking shears, and a bobbin holder. At .20 cents each, how could I resist? (The picture only shows a fraction of the $10 bag full.) Stitch on!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

How to Find Money for a Good Sewing Machine

UPDATE! Both Singer sewing machines, along with an old, but beautiful Federal have left my house for good. After seeing a video on "free motion" embroidery, I decided I wanted a machine with drop feed dogs. After selling all my portables, I opted for the Singer Curvy 8770....and a darning foot. Amazing what a darning foot can do!
You've decided to start upcycling your old clothes, and need a sewing machine. In true "green" fashion, you begin to hunt garage sales for that lucky bargain. After briefly testing a machine, you waltz on home, ready to make one-of-a kind clothing. The machine sews several projects to your liking, and the pride from your
      thriftiness makes you stand a bit taller.

Photo Credit: eHow
The problem arises when your "bargain" becomes an aggravating monster. Thinking I had all day to prepare my state fair project, I casually took my time. About 3/4 the way through......Uhg, blarg, blat, ARRRGGG!!! Jam, break needle, break thread, jam etc.

The HULK inside of me began to rage. Hoisting the machine through the window seamed the only answer. Long story short, I ended up sewing the rest of it by hand in the passenger seat of the car on the way to the fair. (Fourth place - my fault for  procrastinating.)

Jamming is a common problem in used machines, especially mechanical ones. With a repair price tag of $65 dollars, or more,  garage sale bargains can escalate into huge money pits. 

A couple of years of this nonsense made me realize fixing second-hand machines cost more than purchasing a good electronic one. However, the fact remained, in a slumped economy, a sewing machine didn't seem like a do-able purchase. Not sure about you, but $299 is a LOT of money to pay for a sewing machine, no matter how cool it is. With patience, and a bit of ingenuity, my computerized machine slowly came into my reach. (Insert heavenly light shining down with chorus of angels here. )

How to Buy A Sewing Machine (with limited funds.)
1. Comparison shop. Know what you actually need, and avoid overbuying.
     (Yes, I fell in love with a specific machine, and could have paid way less for one that fits my needs.)
2. Know the amount you need to raise, and have a garage sale. (No garage? Borrow a friend's, rent a cheap booth at your local flea market, or hold a virtual sale on Craigslist.)

3. What items in your house can you trade for a new machine? Think Cash In The Attic !

4.  Ask your friends and family to donate items to your sale, with the promise you will make them something ultra fabulous after you get your machine. (People are more willing to donate items than cash.)
5. If you don't quite raise enough money, keep checking the internet for discounts. There's always someone out there who bought an expensive machine and never used it. Be ready with the cash to pounce on it!

Here are some places to find used, or discounted machines: Craigslist; Ebay; local fabric shop bulletin boards, and newspaper. Look for new machines at & Amazon.
Local: Check the machine to make sure it has the bobbin casing, cords, and ALL functions sew correctly. Buying a machine from a major internet retailer is usually protected, but many are refurbished.
Refurbished has a wide variety of meanings ranging from a damaged box to being thrown out the window by HULK. Be an aware buyer and look at everything in the description.

Until next time.......
Stitch On!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sewing Machine Obsession

My three favorite machines.

The Singer treadle takes me back to when I was 3; I got in trouble for repeatedly playing with my great-grandmother's machine. Come could a kid resist? I loved it then, and even more now. With a new bobbin and cord, the 100+ year old machine works GREAT!!!
(Made in 1907)

The Singer Curvy is a guilty pleasure. After using one at a Swap-O-Rama-Rama at the Maker Faire in Austin, I was hooked. No more jamming, breaking needles, or worrying if I can sew through denim.
The price held me back for a while until I found one on clearance. You bet I snatched it up!  
Of course, after I bought the Curvy, I found an Elna 8000, cheap, at a garage sale. GREAT machine, but the idea was to resell it to recover the money for the Curvy. Doh! 

Out and about at garage sales, I stumbled upon this little beauty. Imagine my shock to find it worked perfectly!  Thank goodness it came with a carrying case because this puppy is heav-vy!

My next Singer hunting treasure is (drumroll please) the Slant-O-Matic Rocketeer. I have no idea what they were thinking, other than watching too many 50s "B" Sci-Fi movies. I'm sure it weighs a ton, but still, it's really cool and I can't wait to find one.

Stitch on!