Monday, June 28, 2010

Handmade Kilts at the Leslie Highland Games

I have already posted a tutorial on how to make a child-sized kilt.  The only difference between that and making an adult version is the dimensions, so I won't explain the process all over again!  The main trick to keep in mind is that whatever your waist circumference is, divide it by two, then multiply it by three to figure out the finished length of the waist of your kilt.  Working the waist in three sections, two identical flat panels that overlap in the front, and one pleated panel in the back, makes this project a lot easier than it looks!  The only hard part is figuring out how much material to allow to get the number and thickness of pleats you want.  I usually allow 4" to create a 1" pleat.

Math example for a 36" waist:  36/2 = 18"   18" x 3 = 54" finished length at waist

4" x 18" =  72" (the length needed for the pleated panel in back. This will be pleated until it equals 18")

72" + 18" + 18" = 108"  For this kilt I would need 108" of fabric by however long I wanted it to be.  Once pleated, this length will equal 54".  Not quite the 8 yards of the traditional Scottish kilt, but it looks good and is a lot cheaper to make!
These are the three adult kilts I've made.  I've also made two child-sized ones.  The two red/brown kilts were made for men, and the green one was made for myself.  I learned that making a kilt for a woman is harder because we have hips!  A large wrap-around rectangle doesn't give the right fit at the waist.  I tapered in the sides of mine to fix that problem, but really, to do it right, I think each pleat should be slightly tapered (which would make for a lot more math!)
Here I am with my brother-in-law and husband sporting the latest in Scottish fashion!  The boys demonstrated some "traditional" sword-fighting techniques.

I am not one to be outdone so later in the day I also did a bit of sword-fighting.  We engaged in some traditional Highland games including the sheaf toss, the throwing of the Wellie (a boot), a simplified caber toss using landscape timbers, and the stone put (or rock throwing!)  My best event was surprisingly the caber toss.

Here is my daughter in her kilt.  I had just enough fabric to make her a sash to wear as well.  Hers was made of the same fabric as mine (which was the closest I could find to the actual Leslie tartan).  I discovered that day that I enjoyed wielding a sword much more than I thought I would!  I recommend sewing up some kilts for your clan, Scottish or not, and having some Highland games.  It's a lot of fun!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Website Update

I recently changed the template on here, and have it set up so that it generally looks and works pretty good in Firefox and Safari, but there were some formatting errors when I checked it in Internet's a work in progress and unfortunately my programming skills are a bit weak.  Hopefully I'll be able to work out all the bugs throughout the next week, so please bear with me during this transition!  Thanks!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mommy and Daughter 4th of July T-shirt Reconstructions (with Tutorial)

I bought these two t-shirts at the thrift store last week because I love kittens, and I thought it would be funny if me and my daughter wore matching shirts on the 4th of July.  The problem is that the small one had a purple stain on the bottom, as you can see in the picture, and the big one is a large child's size t-shirt, so the sleeves were too tight on me and the picture sat too high on my chest.  At less than $1.00 a shirt, I knew it was worth it to try to work around these issues and come up with something creative.

So, here's what I did to them:
For my shirt I started by cutting off the part that didn't fit well, which was the top.  I also went back and cut the rest of the sleeves off as you can see in the picture to the left.  I decided that the easiest way to fix this shirt into something wearable was to make it into a tank top.  I started by cutting some strips from an old red t-shirt.  These were about 2" wide.

I then sewed these strips onto the top raw edge of the shirt in 4 sections (1 across the top front, 1 across the top back, and 1 longer strip around the curve under each arm).  After this I folded them over and sewed the loose side of the strips down to the seam allowance I just created forming channels.  As you can see, I left openings at the top front and back points of the shirt (for a total of 4 openings).  The back of the shirt looks exactly like the front, minus the Uncle Sam kitten.

I then cut strips to make ties with.  I used 4 separate ties.  Two ties were threaded through the channels that run under the arms, (1 under each arm) and 2 were threaded through the top front and top back of the shirt (1 in front, and 1 in back).  Where the ties met at the openings, I tied them together, adjusting the length for a good fit.  I then tied the remaining lengths of my ties together on my shoulders to form straps and trimmed the excess.  I later went back and hand-sewed the channel openings closed around the ties and sewed the bows on the shoulders together so they wouldn't come undone.

For my daughters shirt, I started by cutting off the offending stained part of the t-shirt.  Since her shirt fit just fine, I didn't have to do as much altering to it.

I cut out a long strip of a cute polka-dotted fabric (it was twice as long as the circumference of the bottom of the shirt), narrow-hemmed one side of it, gathered the other side of it and pinned it to the bottom of the shirt.  I then sewed this piece to it.  That was it!

And here are the finished t-shirts!  Not exactly "matching" but pretty close.  My daughter loves the ruffle on hers and my tank top fits a lot more comfortably than the little girl's t-shirt did!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stuffed Fabric Vegetables

Back in May I made these vegetables (and fruits!) for my Mother-in-law for Mother's Day.  I don't have a tutorial for making these because I just sort of made them up.  I played around with how to cut the fabric pieces and stitch them together, as well as with colors.
The eggplant is probably my favorite one, but I also like the the colors I chose for the carrots.  I like how the leaves look on both.

This could be a beet, although it looks kind of like a radish it's whatever you think it is.  I made another one that was a lot fatter.

To the right is what was supposed to be a green pepper, but everyone thinks it's a green apple.  I think I chose too light of a green.  I'm not offended though because it does look like an apple.
These onions were the most difficult.  I made the tops out of long tubes of fabric that I stuffed with rolled up paper to make them stiff.  It's hard to see in this picture, but the bottom is made of white cotton alternated with a white and green striped flannel that I though looked "onionish."

This is an apple, but it's more obviously an apple because I used an apple fabric for one part of it.  After finishing these I decided my green pepper does indeed look more like an apple but if you think about it, apples and peppers have a similar silhouette.

If you look in the basket picture at the top you'll notice there is also a yellow squash, but I didn't take an individual picture of it because I think it looks wonky.  It's too narrow in the middle and not big enough on the bottom.  But it looks a lot like some of the very wonky squash that come out of my parents' garden!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Quick and Easy Lined Tote Bag Tutorial

Making a lined tote bag isn't too difficult once you do a couple.  The secret is knowing the mechanics of boxing out the bottom corners and how to insert and sew in the lining.  Step 1 is to cut out two big rectangles-one of your outside fabric and one of your lining, then fold each of these in half.  The pieces you see in this photo are folded in half.  I don't use measurements because I just eye-ball how big I want the bag to be.  Your final bag will be a few inches shorter than the size of your original folded rectangle.  You could also cut out two separate pieces and sew them together for your outside fabric if you want the front and back of the bag to be different fabrics, just as long as you end up with a big rectangle of fabric!  (Note: I also cut out one of these pieces in a heavy canvas that I'm going to line my bag with to make it more durable.  This is an optional piece depending on how sturdy you want your bag to be)

Step 2 is to form your outside fabric and your lining into the boxy shape you need for your tote bag.  I discovered the trick I'm going to demonstrate for boxing out corners in a book.  Since I'm using canvas to make my fabric sturdier, I'm simply putting it with my outside fabric and treating them as one piece.  In front of you should be the large folded rectangle your using for the outside of your bag.  Lay it on the table with the folded end towards you.  I like to pin this fold down to help hold it steady.

Step 2.1 Fold down the top layer of your rectangle like you see in this picture.  The amount of overlap you create will determine the size of the bottom of your bag.  For instance, in this picture the overlap is approximately 3", so my bag will have a bottom that is 6" across.  Pin down the top of this fold as well.  You can see my pin in the picture
Step 2.2 Pick up your fabric by pinching it where it is now three layers thick, near your pins on each side, and allow the side furthest from you to drop down and create a fold like you see in this picture.  This is harder to explain than it is to do!  Once you get your fold right, pin it down.  (I promise, once you figure it out, Step 2 takes about 2 seconds to do)

Step 3 Sew up the sides (over the folds you made).  When you flip your bag out you will have nice boxed out corners like this! 

Step 4 Repeat Steps 2 and 3 for your lining.  If you would like a pocket inside your tote bag, sew it in first.  Making a pocket is simply a matter of sewing two rectangles together (right-sides together).  Leave a small gap to turn it inside out from and then top stitch it to the right-side of your lining.

 Step 5 Put your outside fabric (right-side out) inside your lining fabric.  Your right-sides should be facing each other.  As you can see in this picture, the Spiderman fabric is right-side out, and the lining fabric isn't.  Line up your seams and sew around the top of your bag, leaving a gap big enough to pull your entire bag through.

Step 6 Pull your bag through the gap then tuck your lining inside.  Your bag should now be right-side out and looking like a tote bag!  Top-stitch all the way around the top, closing the gap you left.  I pulled my lining fabric down a little so there would be a red border on the top, but you don't have to do that. 

Step 7 Attach your straps.  You can use all kinds of things for straps, but to make it super strong, sewing it like you see in this picture works well (sew a box with an X in it).  I made my straps and eye-balled how long to make them and where to attach them to my bag.  You can insert your straps earlier to have them sewn in between your outside and lining fabrics, but I like to attach them last because I have an easier time lining them up.  Here is my tutorial on how to make straps.

Here is my finished product--a Spiderman tote bag!

If you have any questions about this, feel free to email me, or contact me on Facebook.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

How to Make Sturdy Straps for Purses and Bags

Step 1 Cut out your straps from both your fabric of choice and some durable interfacing or canvas.  The width of your straps should be twice as wide as you want them.  The length of course is up to you!
Step 2 Heat up your iron and iron the edges of your straps in towards the center.  If you cut your fabric right, the raw edges should meet in the middle.  I cut mine a little too narrow so I'm only folding them over part of the way, but they still will be pretty sturdy straps.
Step 3 Once you iron over the edges, fold your strap in half and iron it down again.  Your strap is now 4 layers of fabric and interfacing thick.  Pin this fold down to keep it together while you take your straps to the sewing machine!
Step 4 Sew your straps closed, and then top-stitch along the fold as well to make it look more uniform.  If you want, you can sew a couple more lines down the center of your strap to really hold it together and make it stronger yet.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Apron Reflections

This is a photo of my daughter about 10 months ago wearing one of the first aprons I ever made.  I decided after making that one that I wanted to do more and then it sort of grew into an obsession.  Within two months I had so many aprons in the house it was ridiculous. 
This photo is of my holding some of the many many many apron straps that I made.  Each apron has 4 straps and when you make over 100 aprons...that's a lot of straps.  I would try to estimate how many I've made over the past year, but that might make me look insane.
This photo is of one of two racks of aprons I made last fall...these are all "Mommy and Me" matching sets.  I still have 5 left I think.  Since then I've started making more interesting aprons and have made dozens more but I've never sat down and made this many at one time since!  That was a crazy couple of months!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mr. Incredible--The Apron

Making this apron was a lot different from the hyper feminine styles I've made in the past.  I made it out of a heavy red canvas cut into a "chef" or "barbecue" style apron.  I did not have a pattern...I just sort of knew what an apron like this should look like and cut out that shape (on the fold).  I did a little math to figure out how long and wide it should be, but pretty much eye-balled it.

Here all the parts.  I needed a symbol, a black pocket, and a belt.  All of the measurements on this stuff were estimated by sight and comparing it to the main body of the apron.

The symbol was sort of tricky because of the way the orange border goes from thick to thin, but once I got it all cut out, it was easy peasy.

I edged the entire body of it in a nice clean narrow hem.  I thought this would be really hard around the under-arm curves, but it really wasn't.  I guess the curve was subtle enough.  Anyone who has hemmed armholes or other tight curves knows what a pain that is!

I ironed under the edges of the belt and top-stitched it down, finishing up by placing the pocket.

And here is the finished product!!! This is a gift for a good friend of mine.