Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Revisiting a Past Project--Huzzah!

Since my current situation has slowed down my sewing immensely, I thought I'd share some pictures I've borrowed of some friends at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs, KS.  I have an affinity for making kilts.  Okay, so I married into the Leslie Clan and I think my hubby looks cute in them.  (Oh, and this guy is not my hubby, he belongs to my dear friend Alison.)  Anyways, a while back the cute little guy pictured here, Ian, turned 1 year old, and in honor of the event I made him his own pint-sized kilt and sash, which happened to match his daddy's fairly well.  (Please note that I did not make daddy Andrew's kilt, just the little guy's!)  I forgot to take pictures of the finished product, but seeing it modeled by a cutie is way better than seeing it laying on my table anyways!  They look like they just walked out of the Highlands, right?

Here is my original post on the making of Ian's kilt.  It is held on with Velcro and is a project that is easier than one might think (especially for children and men who have no hips to worry about conforming to!)  The original post was to help ambitious kilt-makers for the Scottish Highland Games, but now is a great time to whip one out for Renaissance Festivals!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fused Plastic Tote Bags Tutorial

To make a fused plastic tote bag, first you need to fuse your plasticI posted a tutorial detailing this process for you.  You will want to make a large sheet to make your bag out of and a smaller strip to make your straps out of if you wish to make your own straps out of plastic.  I used my strap tutorial for making the straps on this bag, except that I did not need to iron these or use any interfacing.  I simply folded my plastic, pinned it, and sewed it.  You can see the folded straps waiting to be sewn on the right.

First trim your plastic, removing all the loose and thin edges.  Aim to get yourself a perfect rectangle.  Then fold the large sheet of plastic in halfSew all the way around three sides (including the folded side), leaving the top of the bag open.  I sewed up the folded side to make the bag look more uniform, with a seam on each side.

At this point you have a basic bag.  If you would like to box out the bottom corners, you will fold down a triangle on each side and sew it down, measuring to make sure they are even.  If you are unfamiliar with this process, here is a tutorial that explains it in detail.  After sewing down the corners, trim the top of your bag (if necessary) to make it nice and straight.  Then fold down the top to make a nice clean edge.  You can fold it down as much or as little as you want depending on how tall you want your bag to be.
Sew this edge down all the way around the top of the bag.  This is easier the bigger the bag is because this fabric isn't the most flexible stuff and can be hard to turn around on your sewing machine.
Attach your straps.  I recommend using a box with an "X" in it to really secure them down.  There are certainly ways of doing this that won't leave any unfinished seams and stuff, but I'm okay with a little imperfection on these sort of projects!  Here is my finished bag!
P.S. If this tutorial is at all confusing, there are dozens of great tutorials for easy-peasy tote bags.  You can used fused plastic to make any of them, so feel free to hunt down other tutorials if you want to!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bethany Sew-&-Sew has an Announcement...

My husband and I are happy to announce we are expecting our 2nd child next spring.  Hopefully I will still be able to sew and create during this time, but I imagine I'll slow down a bit.  I will be more choosy about what orders I take but I hope to have things in gear for the Christmas season since I should be done with the morning sickness by then!  Ever heard of HG?  I had this with my first child and worry about going through it again, so if so, you may not hear as much from me, but hopefully I'll dodge it this time!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Skipping town once again!

Hello all.  I'm going to be leaving for Texas this morning to visit my baby brother, his wife, and my nephew over the holiday weekend.  I promise to put up a tutorial on how to use fused plastic fabric to make tote bags when I get back!  So much traveling this year.  It's been sort of crazy!

So for my farewell post I'm showing you a picture (that is unfortunately flipped from my webcam) of some vintage sewing needle packages that my husband and I inherited from his Great-Aunt.  These were among her sewing notions and I love them.  I hope to display them in my sewing room once I get them framed properly.  I also have some of my own grandmother's sewing supplies.  Thinking about the hands of these women that came before me using the same items I now hold fills me with delight.  Heritage is a beautiful thing.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to Make "Fabric" from Recycled Plastic Shopping Bags.

I've been meaning to do a tutorial on this for some time.  We all have tons of plastic bags we don't know what to do with.  I got this idea from my sister-in-law and sort of experimented until I figured out just how to do it.  Step 1: Create an "ironing surface" covered in parchment/baking paper.  I used jars to hold it in place.  Step 2: Gather up all your plastic bags.  I have tons because I save them just for this purpose.
Step 3: Cut off the handles of each bag and slit them up one side and across the bottom to leave you with a rectangular-ish piece of plastic.  Then do it again.  And again.  And again.  Until you have 6 or so layers laid out.  I made a big rectangle that is approximately 36" by about 24" or so I think.  It doesn't really matter.  Make as big of a piece as you need for what you want to do with it.  You can also fuse several smaller pieces together to form a bigger piece later.  Make sure all the loose ends in the middle overlap by a couple inches.  I start by layering boring old white bags and save my favorite bags for the top.
I cut a couple pieces of big gray trash bag to cover mine because I wanted it gray.  Then I cut up some of my colored bags in weird pieces and laid them on top.  This is going to be the outside of a tote bag that I intend to make from this fabric, so Step 4: Decorate your "fabric" with fun colors and stuff. I wanted it to be colorful and fun, and trust me, you can't really mess this part up.  Once you iron it, it always looks cool.  I just cut random shapes.
You don't have to do this, but I cover my decorated parts with a layer of clear plastic.  This is just because different types of plastic melt and fuse differently and I want to make sure to lock everything in really well.  By now I have probably 10-ish layers of plastic.  You can do less and you can do more depending on the plastic.  Thicker bags take less, cheaper and flimsier bags take more.  There's no magic formula.  Step 5: Cover this with more parchment paper.
Step 6: Iron your plastic on a high setting (no steam), hovering over each section for a few seconds.  I go over it several times moving my iron slowly to make sure that it fuses really well.  Your plastic will shrink down while you do this, so be prepared for that!  That's why I make a big ol' piece to start with.  Make sure you flip it and iron it on the other side as well.

Tada!  Here is my finished piece of fused plastic!  I went back and fused another piece that I will use to make straps for the bag that this is going to be.  To the right is a bag I made earlier from this same process.  This bag is sturdy and durable, can be fairly easily wiped clean, and holds its shape so that it will stand up even when empty, which I think it convenient!

I will post a tutorial on how to sew the fused plastic into a tote bag soon.  This is one of my favorite recycling projects!