Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bopple Ball

Two of my good friends from college had a little girl...last August. We usually see each other every couple of months, but I have continued to forget to give a baby gift. Have you ever had that happen? The good thing is that I can still give a gift to her when she is a baby (6 months later isn't too late...right?) - so there are so many fun projects to choose from. I love making gifts for people because it allows me to be creative for a purpose. I can enjoy the process of making and enjoy the giving of a gift. And then, there are always the fun little project leftovers that you can use for something else (the pattern, scraps, etc.) - just an added bonus!

My grandma bought this Bopple Ball pattern last summer on our annual quilting trip (8 quilt stores in two days - yes!). The other ladies who were riding in the bus with us were jealous of her find, as it was the last of this pattern in the shop. My grandma recently made a bopple ball for my sister's little one (remember - I made those cute little baby shoes!). She actually didn't have that much fun making the pattern, but she is primarily a quilter and this pattern has lots of little shapes to cut, sew, turn, and stuff. I, on the other hand, had a lot of fun putting together this project! I enjoy tedious little projects, and the result was so cute!

I chose to use two coordinating fabrics for my bopple ball (pink and dark brown).

The arms are pink on one side and brown on the other. I lined up the arms so the pink side of the arm would be touching a brown wedge and vice-versa.

There are 14 little arms and 8 wedges going around the bopple ball.
The diameter of the ball is about 8".

Two things make this pattern a little bit difficult:
#1 - The pattern pieces are confusing. The wedge pattern piece says to cut 8 and includes the seam allowance; however, the little arms say to cut 14 (but you really need to cut 28 pieces - one for each side of the arms) and you have to add in a 1/4" seam allowance around the piece. So, once I figured that out it was a lot easier - but it wasn't super user friendly from the start.
#2 - Turning the bopple ball right side out with all of those little arms. If you have patience or need patience, this project is for you!

Other notes: There is a circle of fabric that you can place on each end of the bopple ball to cover up where the seams all meet, but I omitted that. I used two 1/4 yard cuts (not fat quarters) in order to make the bopple ball - a little less fabric than what they asked for. But, I had almost no fabric leftover. I also only used about 16 oz. of stuffing instead of the 24 oz. they asked for - I stuffed it very firm too!

I would definitely make this pattern again. It was fun, and it is so cute! It will be fun for that little girl now, and it will still be fun to toss around when she is 3. Those are the best toys!

Last time I posted a baby gift, I asked about what kinds of baby gifts you like to give. I got some great ideas - including swaddle blankets, tag blankets, and crocheting beanies. Let's keep adding to the list! What else do you like to give to a new baby?

Other baby gift ideas:
Baby Kawaii Kimono Shoes
Baby Log Cabin Tag Quilt
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Monday, February 27, 2012

Tutorial: The Fabric Strip Clutch

One of my goals this year is to get around to some projects that I have been meaning to complete. I saw a zippered clutch similar to this at Anthropologie last spring, and I decided that it was something that I wanted to try and make. So one year later...

This clutch is so much fun! I chose to use a thin, pin-striped fabric for the main body of the clutch, with a black interior. I chose a pop of color with the yellow zipper (one of my 50 zippers I am using this year!), and I inset the zipper. You may notice a flower and some swirls on the outside of the purse. This is an embellishment that I added to the exterior of the purse using some careful planning and a thin strip of fabric. I cut the strip of fabric with the stripes going horizontally, so the stripes would really pop! I am going to show you exactly how I made the whole clutch - including the inset zipper and the fabric strip embellishment! After making the floral design, I got excited about all of the possibilities of how to use strips of fabric in different ways. I hope you will make this clutch and send me some pictures of how you used strips of fabric to embellish.

  • 5-1/2"x10-1/2" - cut 2 of fusible fleece, cut 2 of outer fabric (in my case, the striped fabric)
  • 1"x10-1/2" - cut 2 of lining fabric (in my case, the black fabric)
  • 5"x10-1/2" - cut 2 of lining fabric
  • 10" zipper (use my tutorial on fixing the length of a zipper to get it to the perfect size!)
  • 1/4" wide strips of outer fabric to form flowers, prepped with a thin bead of Fray Check down each side
  • a scrap of fabric for the zipper pull
  • a bowl/mug for a template to make rounded corners
  • basic sewing supplies (thread, sewing machine, scissors, pins, etc.) 

*All seam allowances are 1/4" unless otherwise noted.

#1 - Iron the fusible fleece on the wrong side of the outer fabric (repeat for other piece of outer fabric).
#2 - Using a bowl/mug, trace and cut two rounded corners on the bottom of both pieces of outer fabric.

#3 - Using chalk (or a fabric marker), draw a design on one side of the clutch. Start on one edge and form one continuous line, ending on another side of the clutch (you should not pick up your pencil while making this line). This took me several tries, and I found it was best to practice on a piece of paper a few times before I drew on the clutch. You will need to remember the path you took, because you will follow the same path when you sew your strips of fabric on top.

#4 - Taking a long strip of 1/4" wide fabric (long enough to make it along your whole design), start on one edge. Put your presser foot down, and slowly sew down the center of the strip of fabric following your line as a guide. You can see here how I started on one end and slowly turned the clutch as I sewed. One of my favorite features on my sewing machine is the needle down button. When I use this feature, anytime I stop, my needle stays down in the fabric. I can then lift the presser foot and rotate the fabric a little bit. When making the flower, I took a couple of stitches, and then rotated the fabric just a little bit. My flower has 6 petals.

Here is what the clutch looks like from the front when completed.

 On the back, you can better see my stitch lines.

#5 - If you choose to sew strips of fabric on the back of the clutch as well (like I did), you will want to do that now.

Here is a view of the stitching I did on the back of the clutch.

Both outer sides of the clutch are ready to go! Good job!

Now we are going to install the zipper and finish the clutch.

#6 - Pin the 1"x10-1/2" piece of lining fabric on top of the outer clutch piece (right-sides-together). Repeat on both sides. Sew along the top edge of both clutch pieces.
When referring to the outer clutch piece from now on, the top of the outer clutch piece will be this 1"x10-1/2" piece of lining fabric folded open.

#7 - Round the bottom two corners of both 5" x10-1/2" lining pieces using your bowl/mug.

#8 - Make sure your zipper measures to 10". Use this tutorial if it is a little bit short or a little bit long, in order to adjust the length so it fits this project.

#9 - Pin a three-layer sandwich. The two pieces of "bread" are the outer clutch piece and the lining fabric (with right-sides-together). The zipper is the peanut butter in between and should be facing the outer fabric. When you are pinning the three layers together, pin the zipper to the 1"x10-1/2" lining fabric that you sewed onto the outer fabric. Center the zipper, leaving a 1/4" gap on each side of the zipper.

#10 - Sew along the top edge, making sure to sew all three layers together.

#11 - Now pin together another sandwich. The two pieces of "bread" are the other outer clutch piece and the other 5"x10-1/2" lining fabric (with right-sides-together). The peanut butter is the zipper piece (that is now connected to a layer of lining fabric and outer fabric). Place the zipper piece face down, facing the other outer clutch piece of "bread". You will be sewing through three layers of fabric: the black edge that was sewed onto the outer clutch piece, the raw edge of the zipper, and the top edge of the other lining fabric piece. Make sure your zipper is centered, leaving a 1/4" gap on each side of the zipper. Clear as mud, right? 

#12 - Sew along the top edge. You now will have all of your fabric pieces connected.

#13 - Open your zipper about halfway. Lay your clutch so the two outer fabrics are facing right-sides-together, and the two lining pieces are facing right-sides-together. Pin all the way around the clutch. You will see that I have two pins close together on the left side. I start at one set of double-pins (backstitching), and sew all the way around the clutch and end at the other set of double pins (backstitching). I do this so I make sure I am leaving a gap in order to turn the clutch right-side-out. Sew around the clutch, leaving a gap so it can be turned right-side-out.

#14 - Turn the clutch right-side-out.

#15 - Pin the gap in the lining closed. Handstitch or use a small seam-allowance with your sewing machine to sew the lining closed.

#16 - Pin the top of the clutch so all of the black lining is on the inside. I pressed this seam while pinning.

#17 - Sew around the top edge of the clutch using coordinating thread (I used 1/8" seam allowance at this point).

#18 - Optional: Tie a small strip of fabric to the zipper.

And you are done!

Please ask questions if any of the steps were confusing to you.
And, of course, share what you made!

Happy Sewing!

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Car Play Mat Nostalgia (with a Hemming Tutorial!)

Awhile back when I was at my local thrift store,
I ran across an item that brought back a lot of memories:

I grew up with a car mat (or at least that is what we used it for) very similar to this. We would lay it on the floor in my brother's room and take out his cases of hot wheels cars. He had this fancy light blue case with a handle on one end that had a separate section for each car. We would drive the cars up and down the road and make believe that our passengers were making stops at the bakery, the police station, or the mall. I loved driving this little white ambulance van around that had a red light on the top. My favorite cars were always the ones where the doors actually opened. When I was older (probably starting in middle school), my brother would give me a hot wheels car for a gift every once in awhile. It was kind of a throw back to our car mat playing days. We spent hours and hours playing cars on that car mat. And we loved every minute of it. It was probably our second most popular toy (Legos were the most popular).

I don't remember for sure if this car mat is exactly the same as the one we grew up with (the teddy bears seem a little bit unfamiliar). But, the green grass and the buildings are just what I remember.

So, in short, I bought this car mat for $1 at my thrift store (a little more than a yard of fabric). The edges were a little bit roughed up, so after washing it I trimmed the sides and hemmed it. I am not sure if you have completed a rolled hem before with your sewing machine, so I took some pictures of the process in case you have something you need to finish off. This was a perfect project for a Tuesday afternoon, in which I wanted to sew, but I actually wanted to finish a project and I didn't want to take out too many supplies.

After squaring up the corners, I simply folded over the edge about 1/4" towards the back of the fabric and ironed it down. On some projects, I will take out my ruler to be as accurate as possible. For this project, the finished dimensions didn't matter too much, so I just took my best guess at what 1/4" was. (You can choose whatever size hem you would like/feel comfortable sewing - just make sure you are consistent throughout the project.)

I then folded over the edge one more time (so the raw edge was on the inside). I pressed this again, and then I added some pins to keep it secure.

I sewed with about 1/8" seam allowance all the way around.

And, now I have one more project checked off of my list!

Has anyone else ever ran into an item at a thrift store that brought back a lot of memories?
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Monday, February 20, 2012

Tutorial: Zipper Bracelet

Remember how I have 50 zippers to do projects with this year?

Well, I used two more of them to make a couple of zipper bracelets.
This project is fun, simple, and has so many options to make it uniquely yours!

I had fun picking out the zipper and the button to go with it. I actually used buttons that were my great-grandmother's on these bracelets. I remember walking through her house when I was little and picking out this little container of buttons that I wanted to keep. This is the first time I have ever used any of those buttons. Most of the buttons are just regular, but there are a few that are unique. I used one that was unique with a black zipper and one that was less exciting with a white zipper.

1 zipper
1 button
about 2" of elastic cording (or an elastic hair tie)
Colored thread (either coordinating or contrasting)
Fray Check
Sewing machine/thread/needle, scissors

#1: Open the zipper, and cut off the end that is still connected.
Now you have two zipper pieces.

#2: Pin your two zipper pieces together so the teeth are on the outer edges.
Overlap the fabric portion of the zipper about 1/4".

#3: Sew down the center of your bracelet using your choice of stitch.
Make sure you catch both sides of the zipper as you sew.

#4: Cut the zipper to a comfortable length around your wrist.
(I cut mine to 6-1/4" length, but I have small wrists).
#5: Add a small amount of fray check on each end of the bracelet.

#6: Hand sew the button along one edge.
#7: Sew your elastic cording in a loop along the opposite edge of the bracelet
(with the raw edges of the cording on the back of the bracelet).

#8: Try on your new bracelet!

I also tried out the heart stitch on my sewing machine for fun.

I just think this project is so versatile.
I would love to see the zipper, button, and stitch combination you would choose!

Other projects with zippers:
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