29 December, 2017

Simple Round Clothesline Bowl Tutorial aka Rope Bowls

 You will need some cotton clothesline. Some clothesline comes with a polyester core and some without. Your bowl will be sturdier with the poly core. There is also polyester cord aka paracord but it doesn't give the organic look regular old cotton clothesline does.
I used 3/8", 7/32" & 1/4" inch clothesline.

Your basic sewing machine with a zigzag stitch.

Size 14 sewing machine needle.

Neutral threads -whatever colors you want to use up.
This tutorial is just for a basic bowl. Any color comes from the thread.

2-5 bobbins filled with thread. This is actually a great time to use up those bobbins that are partially used up. Whenever your bobbin runs out, get up and stretch.

 I start coiling the rope on itself, utilizing four straight pins to hold my disc steady. The pins won't penetrate the poly core so just skim the pin thru on top.

I  clip a wee bit of the core out and smush the cotton fibers close. You can also utilize some glue/fraycheck to help.
 Wind until you get a 2 inch disc.

 To start a circular bowl, you'll need to wind your cord in a circle and stick some straight pins through from the side to secure. Then carefully start zigzagging so the stitch catches both coils.
At the beginning,  take two stitches, lift your presser foot, pivot, and sew another two stitches and repeat. At about 2 1/2" wide (see photo) you don't have to lift your presser foot so much and can start feeding it through on the curve.

I tried to sew over my pins at the beginning and ended up hitting one and breaking my needle. This is really the trickiest part of making the bowl. Keeping the bottom coils flat enough as you zig zag in stops and starts. Maybe pull your pin out enough as you pass and then stick it back in. The pins are only there for a few rounds.

My machine has a needle down button. The needle stays down while you pivot the disc.

My zigzag varies according to the diameter of the rope. You'll need a wider zig on wider cord. Mostly, I'm somewhere around 4.8 - 5.0 in width.
The zag is set around 4.0 - 5.0 length.

Some tutorials have you do a cross on the bottom disc with your zigzag stitches. They mostly don't show unless you are using up strong colors.

I tend to criss-cross the bottom with my zigzag until I feel it is secure. Moving pins in/out as they get in the way. Then as soon as I can see clearly, I start zigzagging around the circle joining two coils together with the zigzag stitch.

I also have my disc with the coil feeding off to the right towards me. If it goes to the left then you can stop and cut threads and flip it over to match the photos above.

Remove the pins at about 2.5". Or when you don't need them to help hold things steady.

The neutral threads don't show. If you can't sew a straight line, this simple project allows do-overs. Just sew again - right on top of your wayward stitches. They won't show, I promise.

When I first started making these bowls, I would occasionally wander in my stitching as I did the endless circles. Easy fix - just make sure thread in bobbin and spool is neutral colored like the clothesline. No one will notice.

For most bowls, I sew a flat disc until 6 inches. Then, I raise the whole bowl against the machine for several rotations. If you want steeper sides, smash that bowl against your machine. Easier sloping sides, use your left hand to gently lift as you sew.

 Sloping sides here. My hand is not lifting as I sew.

 Here is my hand gently lifting. straighter sides result. Straighter? Smush it against your sewing machine - up high.

 A close-up of my bottom - ha! not mine, the bowl's bottom. That first darker teal is where I broke the needle. The second is where I ran out of bobbin thread and started again. The thread tail got caught up in the stitching.

 Here's my wobbly stitching. Which no one has ever mentioned.
Run with it.

How to finish.

Well - you have to eventually. I liked a knot here so I sewed up to the knot as close as I could get and then back-stitched the end in place.

I've seen handles. Holes left purposely to make handles, etc.
You just sew to the place where you want a handle in place and run your zigzag so it doesn't catch the upper coil for 3 or 4 inches (5?). The handle will be a bit fuller than the previous coil so when you want to end the handle hole, you bring the outer coil down with enough give to create a visible hole. Move your zigzag stitch back so it catches both coils.  Continue sewing to the other side and repeat. It probably would be helpful to mark those places with a pin or wonder clip to keep handles at even intervals.

I have a pinterest board with several finishes I liked (K8hobbies under Rope Bowls). Some people hide the end join with a piece of leather riveted on. I tend to just make knots.

At times I hand-stitch my coils or knots down. Have fun and let your creativity loose.

The cotton clothesline does create some lint fluff. Clean out your bobbin case after you make a few.

Fabric-wrapped bowls. Pain in the patuttie. My tip? Skip the long strips. Go with 1.25" wide strips by 3 inches long. Easier to control until you've made at least one. Put a strip here and there. Use some scraps.

Notes on time and other questions:

My first bowl took a solid hour - maybe 1 1/4 hours to make the first one. The smaller one took 15 minutes.

 I had been thinking about it for months. I knew I did NOT want to try the fabric wrapped version. Other than securing the bottom and angling the bowl 'plate' UP at 6". it was very organic. Look again at my Pinterest board. I added some ideas. Odd # stripes is from landscaping and window dressing advice: group in 3's and/or 5's.

You can only sew until your bobbin runs out. I used five on the the large bowl, most of two on the small bowl.

The body hurt is all at the beginning where you are hunched over trying to get the zigzag to catch both coils. When you angle the bowl up and start the shaping, then you can consciously sit tall in your sewing chair, relax, and find your sewing rhythm. My clear foot has two red dots on it on either side of the center 'opening' (toes). I try to eyeball the dots to guide me. Staring at the neutral rope will hypnotize you.

Because of the bobbin changes, it's easy to take breaks. The designing is very organic.

Rope tips;

1. I liked the 7/32" wide cotton clothesline to begin with. The 3/8 (6/32) was a tad more fiddly. It was a different brand as well.

2. In my little town, I have four stores that sell cotton clothesline. Varying in price, thickness, and strength. Buying for me and a few 'skeins' for friend in Japan has emptied the town. Yes, I could buy online. For cheaper. But I feel clothesline is one of those staples that if we buy online, we help close another brick & mortar store. {opinionated}  I made four bowls out of what I bought. I'll wait until someone re-stocks to have another go at it.

3. A wide zigzag of 4.0 to 5.0 is good for catching both cords as you sew the bowl together. Again, the larger 7/32 cording was a great starter.

4. Your white or off-white thread disappears into the clothesline weave. If you wobble off your join line, go back and have another go at it.

5. I have a Pinterest board to help focus my 'organic' rope sewing.

6. While out researching my town, I was tempted by some turquoise para-cord but -- I don't like the feel of the polyester stuff and I can't imagine having a para-cord bowl sitting on my counter unless a grandchild made it and I had to. Neutral, organic, cotton clothesline gave me the feel I was after.

7. Have fun. Use up some thread spools.

For more inspirational photos, you can search my sidebar on the full sized web page for "Clothesline", "Rope" and "Bowls".
(Apparently I am not good at tagging projects consistently.)

27 December, 2017

Quick Extra Christmas Gifts

 By now, you know about my fetish for quick sewing gifts.

These clothesline bowls still do not bore me. They have infinite design possibilities. With fabric and thread, each bowl takes on it's own personality. Made of simple cotton clothesline, these rope bowls are much admired which makes my heart beat in gladness.

When I start each bowl, my biggest thought is what color. Then as I wind the clothesline in on itself, ideas for what it will become, start playing through my fingers. I love the loosening of creativity. I tend to copy more than dream up projects. These clothesline bowls teach me of my creativity, that sits there, waiting for the right project. That something I view as simple, provides much enjoyment for the recipient.

 My mom and dad stopped off with a christmas bouquet for me.

My co-worker, who has worn these tights the past three christmas seasons, was told by customers that her snowflakes, weren't, ahem, snowflakes. Let me know if you see it too.

And, finally, my shining moment of Christmas cheer was with Santa.

10 December, 2017

Guinea Pig Presents

A guinea pig tunnel.

For a cousin in frigid North Dakota who recently embraced guinea pigs.

 I did a quick internet search one morning before another 11-hour work day and found that there is a thriving pet market for polar fleece hand-sewn cozies. Who knew?

And PDF sewing patterns for really simple toys for mucho dineros.
I didn't buy a pattern for a tunnel - I just winged it with some remnants from Fabric Depot that matched.
If you're interested in making your own, I added some dimensions at the end of this post.

Image may contain: food
His name is Fluffy Nocturnal

These tunnels come un-done - held together with velcro. You can use it as a lap mat to hold little Fluffy or you can connect it and let Fluffy run through. Some sites sew together one end to create a Cuddle Sack.

Apparently guinea pigs like to be cocooned. And cozy.
 I rolled back the ends to add structure to my tunnel.

 I used this super cute turtle remnant. I was in Fabric Depot for some pearl cotton for  some hand-stitching in the photo below. I didn't have much time -- so finding small remnants that matched meant I didn't have to spend an hour looking at all of the Polar Fleece available.

This is a sneak peak at a Christmas present that I've been working on since October. I decided to do a sashiko stitch to quilt the layers together. Sashiko is just a fancy-schmancy word for a running stitch.

Guinea Pig Tunnel Tutorial

About 8" in diameter.

You'll need two pieces of matching or coordinating polar fleece and one piece of batting. I used a thin batting and my tunnel collapses unless you roll the end out. You might need two layers of batting to make this stiff enough to stay up.
10" velcro or longer if you make the tunnel longer.

Polar Fleece x 2. Cut each 26" x 13". If you want your tunnel longer, then cut 26" x 16".
Batting: cut to same measurement.

1.   Layer two polar fleece pieces rights sides together (RST), place batting on top.

2.  Sew around edges with a 3/8" seam leaving a 5 inch gap for turning. Turn right sides out and poke out corners with chopstick. Don't poke through - just enough to get corners rectangular.

3. The velcro goes at the short ends. Sew hook tape to Solid polar fleece and loop tape at opposite end to Print fleece. (I used a Print and a Solid). I double stitch at ends to reinforce.

4. Stitch parallel rows (to the velcro) about every 1 1/2". If you need to mark a straight line, use a disappearing ink pen. This quilts the sandwich together and adds structure.

5. Stitch around entire edge about 1/2" in, making sure loose fabric at gap (for turning) is tucked in.

That's it. If you want to make the Cuddle Sack, connect into roll and then sew one end flat.

I  liked the idea of it being a lap mat for holding Fluffy and that it did double duty as a tunnel.

19 November, 2017

Elvis No Sew Blankets Mini Tutorial

 My favorite neighbor girl needed help making some christmas gifts.
Polar fleece blankets. No-Sew Fleece Blankets.

Do you want to make your own? They are easy-peasy.
They even sell kits at Joann's Fabric Stores.

There are a couple of ways to tie them. We chose a low knot version.

 You will need two pieces of polar fleece in coordinating colors. Most fleece comes 60" wide. If you want a square throw, then buy 60" cut (aka 1 2/3 yard).

Neighbor Girl wanted them rectangular. She bought two yard lengths of two coordinating fleeces.
Her cut measurements are 60" wide by 72" long.

You can do this on your dining room table to save your back or sit down and lay them out on a clean floor.

Lay your two fabrics together and smooth out the wrinkles until all sides mostly match. On the 60" edges, you're going to cut off about an inch width which is the selvedge. These edges are rougher where the machinery that made the fabric gripped it.

I free-hand  cut the selvedges off. Because polar fleece hides all flaws. You're going to end up cutting fringe all around anyway. Even if you can't eyeball an inch to cut away, it won't matter in the end product.(but if you want to measure or lay out masking tape as a guide, you can).

We laid masking tape (painters tape) down 4 inches from the edge (Parallel to the edge). This was to assist in cutting the fringe. Each fringe (fringette?) is about 1 1/4" wide. I have a chalk marker that worked quite well to guide Neighbor Girl in cutting straight fringe.

She had limited confidence on the first side but by the 4th, she wanted to cut the fringe free-hand.

The trick to the fringe is to cut mostly 4" in on all four sides and evenly. So you might have to curb that enthusiasm of wanting to do freehand as your fringe starts to get wider and wilder.

Anyway, I gave her a masking tape line to cut to and chalk lines to cut straight. We didn't need these on the second blanket because of the elvis stage light design giving us fabric guidelines.

You will also need to cut out 4" squares on the corners as the fringe will fill in the corner and look seamless. I always forget the 4" squares at the corners until I cut the first fringettes. You'll figure it out, because polar fleece hides all flaws.

 Once the fringe is cut, you flip the fringette forward and snip a 1/2" cut in the middle of the four layers. My scissors aren't sharp enough to cut thru four layers with the tips, so my tip is to bring the scissors in and use the middle and/or back of the scissors to give you some power to cut through.

Neighbor Girl quickly grasped how much of a snip to make. Remember, polar fleece hides all flaws. Even if you snip too wide, it will be okay.

Then you bring the end of the fringette through the hole. Tug gently. Thus making a soft half hitch knot.

The other method has you tie the fringettes together in a double knot making the edges of these blankets more lumpy bumpy. This snip in the middle and push the end through method is a much softer knot that doesn't annoy you as much when you snuggle under the throw, but is just as secure.

 This right side has been done. Look at that red line. It's the opposite side as it comes through the slit forming that cool braided border.

One last tip: the fleeces don't shift because of the friction of the material holding them secure. But the weight of the blanket will slide over the table, possibly causing you to cut crookedly. Just roll up the other side to keep the weight of the material from shifting.

See that corner above? It had a 4" square cut out and you would never know.

 It took about an hour to make the first. AND stretch frequently for your lower back if you are bending over. The second blanket was only 60" square and took just over 30 minutes.

I have some video but no time to go through the laborious process in order to post here. You can catch them in my IG feed.

Photo Credit: DD; Cape Kiwanda

 I'm busy making notecards for my kids (who write letters just like their mama and their grandma!).
I'm using their awesome photography from the year from their various travels.

29 October, 2017

Sewing, Sewing

 I finally finished these QAYG (quilt as you go) bags.

 I added a pocket specifically for essential oil storage. I have been on a scrap clean-up in my sewing room. I was guilted into sorting my scraps by color by two very OCD sewing friends and it came in handy when I needed four clothesline bowls in a hurry for gifting.

I figured I would sew together these turquoise and purple scraps too and enter Elm Street Quilt's Bag It   competition. Like, maybe, try to win some awesome prizes....

This project used up (not enough) scraps, one thread spool and one bobbin. 

 Last Saturday, I was able to hook up with Pencil Girl and I made her one of these super quick Pyramid Pouches. They are the size of a coin purse or a small  special pouch to hide some candy. (or a check for the 1/4 beef she lugged over for me)

We met up at Fabric Depot. They were running their warehouse sale. Pencil Girl was looking for fabric for Simplicity 1108. She almost suckered me into buying these two fabrics for the same cardigan. The floral would be the very drapey cardigan with the aqua blue being the bands.

Except I have little time to sew and this cardigan would force me to go buy a black/white tshirt and black jeans. Or something.  She is such an enabler.

I had a hankering for my Apple Cider Caramels. Recipe is from Smitten Kitchen.  ( I might come back and laboriously cut & paste all the hyperlinks in, or not)
 These are THE BEST caramels. They always turn out. They have that apple cider flavor from boiling down a quart of fresh northwest apple cider for 45 minutes to a thick syrup. The recipe is awesome.

 We were at Fabric Depot to buy materials to make this gingham flannel throw.

It's gonna be 70 inches square and we found the fabrics very quickly. But then, I remember WHY I DON"T QUILT. It took nearly an hour to pick out the binding. Not to mention the backing.
Good golly.

I washed all the flannel when I got home. Hung it to dry and started cutting my big 10.5" squares right away. No problem on the 'white' which is actually a textured light gray. 

 Then I started on the black and realized it had shrunk widthwise. Instead of 44" wide material, I had 40" wide material. Grrrr,... The "white' had shrunk lengthwise (which is typical!!!)

Screaming texts to Pencil Girl found a solution. Piece the squares. No one will notice - it's flannel.

And the Gray - the medium gray - did the same thing.

I spent most of today sewing all 49 squares together - see - that was the appeal of this throw. Only 49 squares. What could possibly go wrong?

Let's just say my seam ripper and I had a bit of closeness today.

And did you know that flannel stretches when you rip a seam out? And also when ironing? grrr.
Note to self: No more quilts.That's when I found this:

Yes, a gray gingham Pendleton throw. At the church rummage sale.
Alas, when I got home and shook it out, it had wool bugs. With some minuscule munched holes.

It did not save me from making this throw.
However some interesting texts back and forth put the thought of felting it into my brain for an unknown at present project. Felting it would take care of any lingering bugs. It's sitting in the garage while I catch my breath from all this sewing inspiration.

 Anyway, my quilt top is finished. All seams sewn, and pressed open.

Leaving you with some more stunning photos from the kids.

Photo credit: DS, Donner Lake, Nevada 2017

Photo credit: DS, Lake Tahoe 2017

Photo credit: DD's friend. Cloud's Rest, Yosemite, California