Handmade Holiday: Pillowcases

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When this time of year comes around, I’m always at a loss about whether or not I should make something for gifts for family and friends. I have really good intentions and well, you know what they say about that. This year, I happened upon an idea – pillowcases and thought I should share. I was doing some housecleaning and upkeep one weekend and noticed that the mister and I could use a new set of pillowcases. Instead of purchasing some from the store, I thought it would be easy enough to take some of my stash and make a set. It was easy, in fact and it was so easy that as I was cranking them out in the space of 30 minutes or so, I instantly thought these would make great gifts. The key feature for me being that these are very doable in a reasonably short timeframe and yet, they still add a nice handmade touch to your gift giving. Never thought my 7th grade home-ec project would turn into a gift giving idea – but I’m hooked now! Not to mention, I have to admit, sometimes it feels really really great to crank out an easy project and you can go a little crazy personalizing them for each family member or whom ever you are planning to give them to.

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Here’s what I did. I took an old pillowcase that I liked and measured the dimensions. Mine measured 38″ x 30″. I opted to add a 4″ contrast hem, so the dimensions I cut for the body of the pillowcase were 39″ x 27″ which included seam allowances of 1/2″. The contrasting hem was cut to 9″ x 39″ which also included seam allowances. I cut these so that only one of the long edges of the pillowcase had a seam – it was just easier.

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From here, all you have to do is sew up the bottom edge and side seam and seam finish them off. If you’ve don’t have a serger, a french seam would be very easy to do.

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For the contrast hem, I stitched the short ends together first and folded the long edges wrong sides together. Stitch to the raw edge of the pillowcase with right sides together, finish the seam and voila! Done!

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I added a triple stitch to the top to hold the contrast hem seam in place. You could do some fun stitches that you never use or keep it simple. I opted for a quilting cotton I had in my stash, which is an easy natural, fun and colorful choice. Seriously, these are so easy and look how exciting they are – something you definitely aren’t going to pick up at a department store!

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Additionally, these are easy enough to change up a little too and who said you only had to use quilting cotton? I made this gorgeous set for my mom from some silk jacquard with a silk satin contrast hem and then for my darling little nieces, I went wild with prints, added a ruffle edge and some contrasting trim. All the fabrics were from stash and the ones for my nieces were scrap fabric! The design elements are all up to you and how personal/economical/time consuming you want to make them.

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The more I think about it, the more I would love to receive a gift like this. So personal and functional – both things that I love! So if you’re in the hustle and bustle and are wondering what in the world you’re going to do for gifts this year, consider pillowcases! Enjoy friends!

the Way Sewing Used to be

This is the tiniest peek into my sewing room today. One of these days, I should show you the whole joint. Not because it’s really spectacular, but because I’m asked about it quite a bit. I’m grateful – beyond measure – to have my own dedicated sewing space. I know many don’t have that and I totally feel for ya sister – I’ve been there!

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Maddie, from Madalynne, sent me this uber lovely photo art print that she created from a series of photos that she’s been taking called the way sewing used to be. There are several more that I would love to have from her shop, so I did the only thing a girl can do and bought a couple more that are on their way to me as I type. I was so impressed with this one, had to have more, what can I say? The nice thing about these prints is that you can get different sizes and when you’ve got a small space and not a lot of wall space, a small print to jazz up the digs is lovely. Maddie has an incredibly artful eye for all things sewing and it comes through in these photos. Very beautiful. It’s a lovely reminder than even though a lot of things in life can and are practical, they can also be translated into beautiful.

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They would make great gifts, don’t ya think? Hint, hint. I can honestly say, I think every sewing enthusiast would find a little pleasure in putting one of these prints in her/his sewing space. Just had to share. It’s been quite a space of time since I actually thought about making my sewing space more beautiful (instead of just able to fit more fabric!!!). Now hop on over and think about a print for yourself, eh? Tis the season to be nice to yourself! Selfish sewing and selfish sewing space beautifying, coming right up!

xx, Sunni

an Aside to Monday’s Sofa Slipcover

Friends, Thank You for your very kind words about my sofa slipcover! I’m so happy with it I could cry. It’s kind of brightened up the entire apartment space we live in and its given me the bug for a few more home dec projects. I just finished up a shower curtain and bought a second hand kitchen/cafe table to boot. I’ll also be installing coat hooks and a boot tray by the door soon. Nothing too glamorous really, but while I’m at it, I might as well give the couch a little something to compete against.

Since many of you were curious about the process, I decided to give you my inside info on how I did it. As this was my second time giving my sofa the slip – pun intended of course – I had a much better idea of what I needed to do and how to do it. So if you too are interested in giving a piece of furniture a slipcover, here’s a few ideas/suggestions for you.

Ideas for the Rub Off/Pattern
To start with, there’s actually a great pattern put out by McCall’s (3278) that walks you through the process of how to plan and sew a slipcover. I pulled the pattern out of my stash – which really its not a pattern per se, but more of a guide for how to make your own slipcover – and started perusing it and planning my slipcover back in May. McCall’s 3278 walks you through measuring your sofa or chair so that you have an idea of how much fabric to purchase, in addition it gives instructions on how to make welting for the slipcover and how to rub off the pattern utilizing muslin from your original sofa. If you want to sew a slipcover, get this pattern – you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.

For box cushions and throw pillow ideas, definitely read this Thread’s article. It would have been impossible to get great looking corners on my sofa cushions were it not for this article and I would never have come up with the idea of putting a buttonhole in the throw pillows – to make them washable – on my own. Also, this blog had a very helpful suggestion when it came to sewing a slipcover – as you go along, pin test the slipcover to the sofa by pinning the seam allowances together and draping it over the sofa to get a really nice and form fitting fit.

Sewing Notions for DIY Upholstery

There’s actually some great notions out there, at your local fabric store (amazing right?) that are easy to find and great to use for upholstery. I found all of the notions that I used in the making of my slipcover at Joann. It was really crazy that I didn’t have to go anywhere else to find any of it either. Hmmmm….. Anyway, let’s talk about them. First there’s upholstery thread which is a really fat heavy duty thread and it only comes in a few colors. I used this in the top thread of my machine only and it works really well in conjunction with your regular bobbin thread. I used the Coats and Clark brand, but Gutterman also has some and you can find it online here.

Heavy duty zippers. These are found only in the home dec isle too. I used a metal zipper in the slipcover portion of my couch – at the center back – and for the cushions I used this heavy duty zipper that comes in a 3 yard roll with something like 12 zipper pulls on it. You just cut off the amount of zipper you need and bar tack it at the bottom and top and there you go. These things have big sturdy zipper pulls and coils and their not going to just fall apart at the drop of a hat.

Drapery weights come in really handy if you need to add some weight to the hem of the skirt section of the slipcover. Just tack them into the corners of the slipcover and they’ll make your slipcover hang nice and straight.

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Upholstery needles are the only way to go if you plan to do any buttons on your throw pillows. Super long and they can hold about a million threads too.

Steam-a-Seam. I love this stuff. I think its the best stuff since sliced bread. I use it all the time and I really put it to work in my slipcover. Use it instead of hand basting – it’s the bees knees!

Welting cord can be found along with the other items above and it’s usually sold by the yard. There’s a few different sizes too.

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Fabric Ideas & Resources
I most definitely recommend scoping out your local fabric scene to see if there are any shops that specialize in upholstery fabric. Personally, I wish I had done this a bit more. I saw the fabric I chose online and went with it because I knew what the weight and quality of those Amy Butler cotton sateens would be like. It was only after I had purchased the fabric online that I started scoping out my local fabric scene. Surprisingly, here in SLC, Utah, there’s several shops around that have an amazing collection of home dec fabrics. Crazy. I’m still happy with what I chose, but I might have picked something different had I visited these shops first. Awww well. I found my fabric at fabric.com and I was very happy with the service – I also like the idea that I could reorder more of the fabric if I needed and I did because originally I only started out with 10 yards and had to order 5 more later.

For my sofa slipcover this time around, I decided to go with a print instead of a solid. Having grown up with printy couches my whole life, I didn’t realize why my mom had picked printy couches until I had a solid colored one. With my red sofa slipcover – the one I had previous to my now gorgeous new one! – there ended up being all sorts of stains and what nots all over it. I don’t even have kids friends. The solid red didn’t hide anything. So I decided on a print this time around and let me tell you it hides alot! For anyone first attempting a slipcover, I highly recommend using a print as even sewing mistakes and mishaps are not nearly as visible as they are on a solid.

I interfaced a few sections of the slipcover with some high quality muslin namely the seats on the cushions (the part you sit on), the back of the slipcover (the part you would have your back against were you to sit down on the sofa and also the skirt.

Well…. I think that just about wraps it up. Believe me, I’m not a professional home-dec-er. I never do stuff like this, just on occasion. Weird though that I did quite a bit of homework on this particular make. It’s only fair that I share it with you – especially if you too are a dressmaker turned home-dec-er every now and again. Let me know if you gals and guys have any questions and I’ll try to answer them! Hopefully this is a helpful post if you want to try your hand at DIY slipcovers. Enjoy!

xoxo,
Sunni

and Now for Something Completely Different

I’m not one who delves into home dec much. Not necessarily because I don’t take pleasure in sewing up or creating items for my home (please note that I said my home, because I would never do this for anyone else!), but since the Mr. and I are still in the “apartment phase” of life, it just seems like a lot of work to make something look good against drab walls and oatmeal colored carpet and who knows what else. There comes a point though, when I get the itch for a white picket fence to do some home dec and/or it becomes absolutely necessary to do something about the state of things. The couch has been on this list even before I got married – that being nearly 5 years ago. I always thought that maybe we would just get rid of the couch some day and actually buy a new one. However, since that miracle has not yet materialized and since I’m somewhat well endowed in the sewing department, I came to the conclusion that something needed to be done about this atrocity and it needed to be done now.

So, I made this lovely slipcover that you see before you now. Crazy, I know. I totally wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t believe that I made it either because Mr. S said that no one would believe that I made it. I’ve been working on this thing, here and there, since May. Making a proper, nice looking slipcover for your sofa is not an easy feat. This is actually the second time I’ve made one for this couch – which by the way, was my parent’s sofa from the 80s. The former slipcover was bright red – when I thought red couches were in and sadly, mine never was – and it was very poorly done. In fact I can barely bring myself to say that it was indeed my own work. I couldn’t even bring myself to take photos of it either as is was so unsightly and shameful, so sadly there are no before photos here. Believe me when I say that I’m sparing you some serious pain though.

This was a hard, very time consuming project. The base  – everything excluding the cushions – was actually not too bad. The arms were pretty difficult, in fact, almost like setting in a sleeve!  The hardest part of the base was the wretched zipper at the back. It’s not my finest hour, but after fiddling with it for several hours, I was tapped out. It looks way worse when you take the slipcover off of the couch, but since the slipcover is pretty tight and form fitting, it stretches out the slight bubbling that is going back there. Oh well! It’s decent. The hardest part of the sofa were those wretched cushions! OMG, I could have spit nails by the time I was finished with those. Originally, I had plans to do the welting (the cording) in the cushion seams, but I couldn’t do it. My patience did not win that battle and so I exclaimed, rather sadly, to Mr. S that the welting had finally defeated me and I would NOT be putting it in the cushions. Mr. S, very wonderfully, stated that he felt he would rather not have welting in the cushions anyway, because he felt couch cushions are more comfortable without welting. I’m pretty happy with that. All in all, with every expletive in the book, they came out pretty damn good! I even put in a lapped zipper at the back of each cushion. Yup. This was serious.

This slipcover took 15 yards of fabric. I used a nice high quality muslin to interface certain sections. I made all the welting. by. hand. and in all there is about 20 yards of welting on this couch. I followed the couch base exactly as it was on the original couch for the pattern. To make the pattern, I used muslin, draped it over the section of the couch that I was patterning/rubbing off at the time, stuck pins in the seams of the original couch and with a sharpie marker, added dots to where the pins were on the muslin. From there I took the muslin off the couch, connected the dots and added a seam allowance and cut it from the cloth using the muslin as a pattern. And now I have a pattern for my couch, if I ever wanted to make another slipcover – haha! It was a fantastic experience for learning one version of the rub off technique and I’m very excited to try rubbing off a favorite blouse soon sans sharpie marker, of course.

I purchased the fabric from fabric.com and it’s this Amy Butler cotton sateen, home dec weight. After going to a local home dec fabric shop – anyone been to Designer’s Resource? Its INSANE! – I found out that these quilting cottons made into home dec cottons are extremely lightweight. I found it fine for my project and really for my sewing machine. Some of those home dec fabrics would require some serious machinery. The pillow fabrics are from a local joint called Home Fabrics, here in SLC and talk about cheap! The name of this fabric store was originally, $2 Fabric Store, and has since been changed. They have great basic home dec fabrics – nothing exotic or really beautiful like at Designer’s Resource – and for the price, they really can’t be beat. The slipcover and pillow covers are completely washable, which was important to me because my last version wasn’t. For those round pillows with the button, I had read an old Threads article on making these with a buttonhole in the cover – ingenious, right? I could also really use newly cut foam for the couch cushions, but for now, its all good.

So what do you guys think? It’s a pretty heavy duty project, I know. I think my sewing machine could now use a bit of a tune up only because this was a very hefty order. I’m so happy this project is off of my sewing table now. Literally. It was taking up way too much room… And I’m quite happy with the end result of my sofa slipcover – it is rather wild! Ha ha!

xoxo,
Sunni

Cramped

Last week my mojo was feeling off. Life felt a little cramped. Walls felt closer, spaces felt smaller. This kind of feeling has always cramped up my style. I’m a person who needs space. And we live in, what seems to be, an ever increasing small space. The thought that we can’t move into something bigger just yet was also cramping my style. You know how it is. You start finding small problems and turning them into bigger ones and before you know it, you’re depressed because the sky is blue. Well, at least, I know how that is because I do it all the time.

To make matters worse, last week I was working on a few projects around here and things started going missing. I searched for a good 15 minutes for my seam gauge and still could not find it. Didn’t turn up for a few days either. I nearly stabbed myself with my shears while rifling through a bin too. I was coming to my wits end. As my mother would say, “I couldn’t hack it any longer!”

I decided to do a small bit of sprucing to bring me out of the gloomy, disorganized black vortex I was building myself into. Saturday, I went out and bought a pegboard and the hooks that go into it (Lowes – about $20 for both the board and the hooks). Bought an old picture frame from the local thrift (to put the pegboard in) and as luck would have it I found a huge corkboard for Mr. S, which I traded him for a smaller one he had ($6.50). These two projects have been on my to do list for quite some time, but of course, I’ve never found time to do them, until things were getting dire. What’s even more silly is that this whole project – corkboard and pegboard organizer alike – took only a matter of hours to put together. Sigh…

These two new additions sit right above my head (but high enough up so I don’t hit my head) in my sewing station. I love that pegboard organizer! All my shears and hardware are now within arm’s reach – not in a bin clanking against each other or about to stab me as I go searching for the pair I need. My new corkboard inspiration holder is just a corkboard with a thin layer of batting over the top and a piece of white linen that I put over the top of that. Used some flame red petersham ribbon for a splash of color too. Easy. And what’s more, now I have a place to post little thoughts that pop in my head, fabric scraps for inspiration and images and patterns I want to try.

This space is so tempting now too – like I actually want to be in it, which before I was beginning to dread being in it. So I guess the moral here is that when you are feeling the sewing and creating blues, try giving your space a small facelift and see if it then invites you to be creative in it. I’m just about to go and finish up that lovely self drafted skirt – that shot of fuchsia on Ms. P – and I’m quite sure that I’m going to thoroughly enjoy myself too. Tell me, what are some of your best organizing tricks? What do you do to bring back your sewing mojo? I would really love to hear as I’ve still got quite a bit of stash organizing to get through. Bit by bit. Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that…

xoxo,

Sunni

The Making of an American Quilt

Speaking of quilting…one of my favorite films of all time is How To Make An American Quilt. Read the book too. The ideas in the film and novel speak to my sensibilities of sewing and how I feel about the legacy my grandma has given me. This is my quilt. My wedding quilt. My grandma appliqued, pieced and hand quilted every single stitch on it. It’s called The Lovebirds.

My grandma entered this beauty in her local county fair before bestowing this grand gift on me. She won the Sweepstakes. And that’s that.

Thinking about all this quilting stuff and reading over past entries I’ve written relating to this subject, I didn’t want you to get the wrong idea of what I really think about quilting. In talking about sewing with people who don’t sew anymore, many of you brought up this topic of not sewing for yourself but sewing and quilting for your children and grandchildren. I still consider this to be a sewing art. Not only that, it’s a feat. This quilt took my grandmother 2 years (approximately) to complete. And my grandmother sews nearly everyday.

I don’t even know that I feel this beautiful gift falls into the “quilty” category. I just consider it beautiful, handmade and a work of art. I, myself, don’t quilt. I’ve made a duvet cover that was pieced, but I didn’t quilt it per se. But I love this beautiful piece of artwork my grandma has given me. Everytime I take it out, it almost brings me to tears just thinking about it.

What do you think about quilting? If you don’t do it now, do you think you ever will try it someday?

How to beautify your nest of dreamzzzz….


As promised, here is something for you from my recently beautified bedroom. These shams were inspired by a flip-through of one so called “Anthropologie” catalog. They are a perfect compliment to my nightly dreaming and lend a little frill, but forgo the froofy. Yes, something even a Mr. S can like. They beckon me to my bed nightly where I dreamily stare at their beauty before removing them from the bed. Ahhh…


Without further adieu, here’s a little tutorial on how to make some gathered pillow shams, to beautify your nest of dreams and catch some of those well earned zzzzzzzs……

Pillow Shams Tutorial


Have a wonderful and restful weekend,

xoxo,
Sunni