Friday, December 7, 2012

Bands Away - tidy up those headbands!

I have been doing the Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society at Coursera and our homework has been to design and make an artifact to fix something that bugs us. I chose to work on finding a better way of storing my daughter's headbands. Bands Away (yes, it was also part of the assignment to name it!) is what I came up with...

It's deep hanging fabric pockets which are tapered to hold the headbands snugly and to allow the pockets to overlap so that it can fit lots of headbands in.  Each pocket can hold several headbands depending on how wide they are. Flowers, bows, tiaras all fit in beautifully. There is a hidden wooden dowel in the top to keep it rigid, and the ribbons at the top can be tied in lots of different ways to allow it to be hung almost anywhere.

It can be hung from a hook, or a door handle, or a towel rail...

...or even from a closet rail.

If you have the same problem with headband clutter that we did and would like to make your own, then there here's how I made it. Please use this information for personal use only. If you would like to make these to sell then I would appreciate it if you contact me first. (And please don't look too closely at my wonky sewing!).


Fabric for pockets. 
I used furnishing weight cotton from Ikea. It needs to be fairly heavyweight, something like denim would work well, I think quilting cotton would be too thin without some reinforcement.

30" x 9" Fabric for backing, same weight as pockets. 
I used plain white cotton canvas. It can be the same fabric as the pockets but note that the reverse will be seen when the edges are turned to hem them.

Grosgrain ribbon 48"long

Thin wooden dowel 6" long

Click here to download Pocket Pattern pdf file.

1. Print out pocket pattern and check it has printed to the correct scale using a ruler. Cut out 8 pocket pieces. I found it easiest to cut out rectangles 8" x 5.75" first then trim the bottom edge. Mark where the corner of the darts is.

2. Zigzag around all edges then turn top over by 0.25" and hem inwards. Sew darts.

3. Cut a rectangle 9" by 30" from the backing fabric. It is helpful to mark a guideline along each long edge 1" from the edge. With the top edge 4" from the top of the backing fabric align the sides of the pocket parallel to the edge of the fabric (using this guide line). Pin sides and bottom edge.

4. Straight stitch down one edge, across the bottom, up other edge, then along the diagonal lines marked on pattern piece. This creates the tapered shape of the pocket which allows them to be overlapped.

5. Pin next pocket 2.75" from the top of the first and sew as before.

6. Repeat until all pockets are sewn on. As you go it is helpful to check that the tops of the pockets are equally spaced from the top edge, as well as the pocket above, just in case something has moved along the way.

7. Cut a piece of dowel 6" long. Fold top edge of fabric over and stitch to make pocket wide enough for the dowel to slot into. Insert dowel in fully.

8. Fold the edge of the backing over twice and pin so that it covers the edges of the pockets but does not cover the diagonal stitching. Trim the corners to remove excess fabric before folding.

9. Cut ribbon into two pieces, each 24" long. Fold the end in half and pin one piece each side where the backing folds over at the ends of the dowel. Sew around the whole piece as close to the pockets as possible.

10. Your Bands Away is now finished, fill it with headbands and hang it somewhere!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Silver Danish Heart Necklace

It was the last day of my metalwork course today and I managed to finish off my sterling silver version of a Danish heart. The silver was a bit harder to weave than the copper was, even after annealing, but I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I made couple of changes to how I made it from doing the copper practice piece, and I like the shape of this one a bit better. For scale it is 3.5cm across.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Copper Danish Heart

This is the second piece I have made in my metalwork class at Shelburne Craft School. I made it in copper to test out the design for my final piece which will be made from silver, it's better to make mistakes with the cheaper metal!

It is based on a Danish heart but it is single-sided. Making the test gave me a chance to work out the dimensions I need to get this to work in metal, and how to weave the strips together. The beads are threaded onto a wire which hangs independently on the jump ring, it was fun to make the little ball on the end by heating the wire up until it melted.

I've got a few tweaks to make now for making the silver piece, which I started on this morning.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A little metal owl

It's been almost exactly a year since I've posted on here and that's been mainly because I haven't been doing very much crafty stuff since then. We moved house from Ohio to Vermont in March and most of this year has been taken up with getting us ready to move and then all settled here. Anyway, we're finally pretty much sorted in the new house, the kids are back in school and I have designated a space in the basement as my craft area. It is still to be unpacked properly, I'm saving it until last as a reward for getting the other stuff done, but it's there!

Even though I'm not doing much stuff at home I have signed up for a beginner metalworking course at the wonderful Shelburne Craft School just down the road from us. The ultimate aim is for me to re-make my husband's wedding ring, which I originally made for him in London through Wedding Ring Workshops, and is now somewhere at the bottom of the Port St Lucie river in Florida.

This little copper owl is my first piece and I decided to make him so I could experiment with all the different techniques we're learning such as texturing, soldering and riveting. I'm quite pleased with how he turned out for a first attempt, I think he will be adopted by a certain 6-year-old girl. Now I need to decide what I want to make next; my next piece will be a practice piece for a final piece made from sterling silver.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to avoid pipe insulation wreath kink!

So, there are lots of gorgeous wreath making tutorials out there and the top tip for making a wreath form on a budget is to use pipe insulation for the base of the ring. This is great because pipe insulation is cheap, this is not so great because pipe insulation is made for straight pipes, not ring-shaped ones. Wreaths made this way have a tendency to have bends or creases or kinks in them, as demonstrated below...

(Wreath wrapped in burlap and decorated with t-shirt roses made from this tutorial by Cathie Filian.)

After several craft nights where we have made projects for the kids I decided it was time we made something for ourselves and burlap-wrapped wreaths seemed to fit the Fall-time bill. Off I went to Lowes and bought lots of pipe insulation and came home and tried to form some rings. Not very easy to do when you want a nice round circle without any kinks. My main philosophy when I'm coming up with things for Craft Night is that they need to be easy enough for anyone to turn out something great, and I was having visions of people struggling with their foam trying to eke out something resembling a ring shape. Not good, so I decided to experiment...

I thought about stuffing, I thought about wire, (but I didn't really have anything suitable in the house and I'd left this to the last minute), so then I just thought about maths. The inside diameter of a ring is always going to be less than the outside diameter, so trying to form something that is parallel into a ring is not going to work unless one side is shorter than the other. One Aha! moment later and this is my solution for a nice circular pipe insulation wreath form:

The foam has a slit pre-cut in it to allow it to be wrapped around the pipe but usually this is not fully cut. Cut right through this along the full length.

Then tuck one cut edge into the slit.

Bend the foam into a ring. Tucking one side into the other allows them to move over each other and allow a shorter inside diameter, if you look at the ends you can see the extra length.

Cut this excess from the ends so they are parallel (this photo is before cutting). Tape ends together with duct tape.

You can see that this doesn't give a nice circular cross-section but once it is wrapped and decorated you can hardly see the difference, certainly less than you'd notice a non-round wreath.

Friday, September 9, 2011

No-Sew Swishy Superhero Cape (or Apron)

These capes require absolutely no sewing, just some scissors and an iron. I came up with the design after being asked to find something boy-friendly for our Mom's Craft Night. These are nice swishy, triangular-shaped, capes.

(The same method can be used to make no-sew aprons by following the instructions for a cape, and then cutting 2" wide strips parallel to the outer edges, to approximately waist level. These strips become the waist ties for the apron.)

To make a cape you need:
One old t-shirt plus some scraps from other t-shirts for the applique.
Fusible webbing.
Iron-on Velcro.

It works best if the t-shirt has no side seams and is completely plain on either the front or the back (unless you want to incorporate the design on your t-shirt into your cape). The length of the t-shirt is the length the cape will be so you might not want a really huge one if you're making it for a tiny person (although you could always trim the bottom). The way it is cut out uses some of the front of the t-shirt (which is why it is best to not have side seams) to give it lots of width, so you can make quite a good swishy cape from a small or medium size adult t-shirt.

Start by cutting off both sleeves at the armholes (not absolutely necessary, it just makes it easier to lay it all flat later).

Make a cut up the centre of the front (for t-shirts with printing on the front or plain ones, if the printing is on the back then cut up the back!), STOPPING ABOUT 1" FROM THE NECKBAND. Make sure you don't accidentally cut the fabric underneath!

Using pinking shears (if you have them, otherwise regular scissors will work just fine) make a cut following the shape around the front of the neckband, about 1" away from it, stopping at the shoulder seams of the t-shirt. Then cut along the shoulder seams to the armholes on both sides. Cut off the label if there is one.

Open it all out and lay the shirt flat and then fold in half down the center. Draw a straight line from the corner of where you cut around the neckband down towards the hem of the t-shirt making sure to avoid the armholes. Use a disappearing pen or chalk if you have one to draw the line, otherwise cut inside the line so you don't see it on the cape. Add a little curve at the bottom to round off the bottom edge of the cape unless you are making an apron. For an apron cut it straight and then you can add a curve once you've cut your waist ties.

Cut along your line through both layers.

Open it out and you have a cape!

You could stop here but I think they look best with some embellishment, and I like to put Velcro at the neck for safety. If you want to make an apron now is when you would cut a strip 2" parallel to the edges, stopping at waist level.

Decide what design you want on the back. For our Craft Night I made some templates that people could use as a base for their designs. It works best it there are no sharp corners so that the design doesn't peel off so easily (because we're not sewing it on!).

Cut some pieces of fusible webbing the right size for your design and iron them on the back of some t-shirt scraps (one advantage of having lots of people make these at once is that you get lots of scraps to choose from!).

Draw out your design onto the fusible webbing backing paper. Remember it will be REVERSED when you iron it on so if your design is not symmetrical make sure you flip it before you trace it out. (And yes, I know I'm ignoring my own advice about sharp corners on the F!).

Peel the backing paper off the fusible webbing.

Arrange the design on your cape and iron it on according to the instructions for the webbing you are using.

The last step is to apply some Velcro to the neck. Cut right through the neck band at the front and then cut a length of iron-on Velcro to fit. Iron it on following the instruction in the pack. For these it was 90 seconds each side with a hot steam iron. Let it cool and check it's not peeling at the edges, if it is iron again.

Try and convince your children to model them for you!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Quick and Dirty Felt iPad Case

I took advantage of the storm sirens going off today to head down to the basement and cobble together a quick case for my shiny new iPad, before I take it out of the house for the first time. I bought the Smart Cover with it, and while that is great around the house I don't fancy sticking the whole thing in my bag with just that for protection. I made it so that it also doubles as a handy mat to stand the iPad on in the house.
It's made from a felted wool sweater and the button is a beautiful old mother-of-pearl one from my Granny's button bag, which makes me happy. I made it so that the flap tucks inside, which means that the button is not on the main body and that means a flat surface to lie the iPad on.
I have great plans to come up with a fantastic case in time, but for now this works just fine. It's a bit baggy and a bit quick and dirty, but it should keep my new toy a little bit safer in my bag.