Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How to Make Simple Beanbags

I thought I would kick-off my sewing projects for beginners with one of the most simple projects I could think of--beanbags.  I like beanbags for several reasons: you can use fat quarters, it is a super quick project, you can get the kids involved, it is just straight lines, you can almost always make them without a trip to the store, you can make them completely individualized, etc.  The reasons are really endless.

Here's What You'll Need:
  • Fabric (I would recommend basic cotton for beginners: a fat quarter is a good place to start)
  • Thread
  • Sewing Machine (you can sew by hand if you prefer)
  • Iron & Ironing Board
  • Pins
  • Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Board
  • Scissors
  • Piece of Paper
  • Filler (I used rice for these bags, but I have used beans, and popcorn kernels in the past)
Most of these items can be found on this list of the Ten Tools Every Sewer Needs.

Now that you have gathered your items, we can begin!

Iron your fabric flat, then fold it in half along the grain line.  Fold in half again the same direction (so it becomes much skinnier).  When cutting with a rotary cutter, you only want to fold one direction to keep the fabric as flat as possible with consistent grain lines.  Your fabric should now be four layers thick.  Cut in the opposite direction of your folds in 3.5 inch strips.  


Unfold your strips and line them up along the lines of the cutting board.  


Cut in the opposite direction of your original cuts to create squares that are 3.5 inches wide by 3.5 inches tall.

Adjust your sewing machine needle to the right, so you get a 1/4 inch seam allowance (the distance between your seam and the edge of the fabric).  Set your stitch length to 2.

Take two squares, and place them right sides together.  Be sure to line up the edges and corners; you can pin them together if you wish, but with this project, I do not.  Line up the edge of your fabric with the edge of your presser foot about 1 inch from the corner.

Sew to1/4 inch from the corner and leave the needle down in the fabric.  Some machines will have a button for this, but if yours doesn't, then just manually move the needle down at the corner using the hand winder on the right side of your machine.  With the needle down, lift the presser foot, and rotate your fabric 90 degrees.  Lower the presser foot and sew the entire side.

Repeat the corner turning process until you have sewn three complete edges, and most of the final edge.  You will leave a hole in the center of one edge.

Clip each corner like pictured above.  This helps with your corners when you flip the beanbag right side out. Be sure to clip close to your seam without actually clipping your threads.

Using the hole you left, turn the beanbag right side out.  Make sure to poke the corners out to crisp corners. Iron the bean bag flat.

This step is not necessary for the construction of the bean bag, but I think it lends it a finished and more professional look.  Begin in one corner.  Leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance, fix your thread (set your stitch length to zero and sew a few stitches to knot).  Sew along the side the same way you did previously, turning the corners until you have sewn along three edges with 1/8 inch seam allowance.  Fix your thread in the last corner.

Now we are ready to fill our beanbags.  Roll up your paper into a cone, and place the small end in the opening of your beanbag.

Fill with your filler until the bag is about 2/3 of the way full.  You should be able to fold the fabric back, and pin with a pin close to your fold to hold your filler away from your seam.

Sew your last edge shut leaving a 1/8 inch seam allowance; be sure to fix your seam at the beginning and at the end.  Then clip your threads.  I didn't pin on my first beanbag, but I did on the rest.  I found it much easier to sew the final seam when I pinned the filler back.

Here's your final product.  You can experiment with different fabrics, contrasting or matching thread, different sizes, and even different shapes.

We played with the beanbags in a pretend snowball fight.  We stacked them to see who could make the tallest tower.  We tried to throw them through the post in the stair rail.  How will you play with your beanbags?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Slice {It's a Party} #5


 
 
Thanks for coming to the party!  I know I always feel awkward when I'm not sure what to wear, or if I should bring a gift, so if you are unsure of the expectations or etiquette for this event, please see this page.  Please, mingle, meet new people, and have fun!
There are so many great ideas out there; it is truly a pleasure hosting this each week.  Thank you for inspiring me.

Don't forget to come back Saturday to see the features.  Did you check out the features from the last party?






Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday is a Special Day {Party Features} #4

Whew!  The past two weeks have been CRAZY!  I made my yearly California trip with my sister and our friend Kelsey.  We had a blast visiting Disneyland, Sea World, the beach, The Original Pancake House (so yummy), Old Town San Diego, and a Padres Game.  When I was all set to come home, I got stuck at the Orange County airport for two days.  I was flying standby, and the flights all got booked in a couple of hours.  When I finally got home, we had to make an emergency room trip (don't worry--everyone is fine), I had a coaching conference, and then I was sick: hence the non-posting for two weeks.  Thanks for sticking around!

I don't like to post in advance that I will be out of town because I feel that is a risk.  I know that can lead to people wondering about the blog, but I am not sure the best way to handle this.  The good news is that my three absences have already passed, and I will be here for the remainder of the summer.  How do you feel about posting online that you will be on vacation?

Wedding Gift Shadow Box {Hello Kirsti}
On to the features!  There are so many great projects each week, it is always hard to choose who will be featured.  I always feature the top viewer favorites from the week, and my favorites are usually posts with great pictures, explanation, and directions for how to replicate the project.  Thank you for coming each week and inspiring me with your creativity!
Limeade Sherbet Fizz {Shaken Together}
Box Sign from a Box {Krafty Kat}
DIY Lid Sorter {Naptime Review}
Eggless Chocolate Cake {Trick & Treat}
This cute top was inspired by this tutorial at Pocketful of Dreams.
Bandana Top {Navy Wifey Peters}
Gender Reveal Party {Moore Babies}
Classic Gold Wedding Set {Goldschmiede-Plaar}
Raw Mango Squash {Simply Sweet 'N Savory}
Chevron Print Bow Wall Art {Clare Patricia Purvis}

Grab a button from my sidebar if you have been featured, and spread the word about the party!  I hope to see you tomorrow!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sunday Slice {It's a Party} #4




 
 
Thanks for coming to the party!  I know I always feel awkward when I'm not sure what to wear, or if I should bring a gift, so if you are unsure of the expectations or etiquette for this event, please see this page.  Please, mingle, meet new people, and have fun!

There are so many great ideas out there; it is truly a pleasure hosting this each week.  Thank you for inspiring me.

Don't forget to come back Saturday to see the features.  Did you check out the features from the last party?






Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday is a Special Day {Party Features} #3

Whew!  This week has been a busy one.  My posting got a little off schedule due to making this fabulous cake.  Although I love almost all the cakes I make, this one might just be my current favorite.  It was for a birthday party for a girl named Brooklyn.

Enough showing off my projects; now it's time to show-off your projects.  First let me say that I have been having so much fun with these parties.  I appreciate everyone linking their projects each week, and it is really difficult to pick the features.  Often, I just rely on the most popular links.  We had so many great projects this week, but here are the ten features.

Red, White and Blue Fourth of July Tart {Meaningful Mama}
Lime Green Adirondack Chairs {Alderberry Hill}
Chocolate Chocolate No Bake Cheesecake Pie {Shaken Together}
New Dress {Happy Momma Quilts}
Savory Bread Pancake {Treat & Trick}
Electrician Graduation Card {Indiana Inker}

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

10 Sewing Tools Every Sewer Needs

People often ask me what they really need to start sewing.  After spending a lot of time thinking about this, and looking through my sewing box, I compiled this list of tools every sewer needs to get started sewing.  This list does not include  tools for a sewing machine; come back tomorrow for more information about sewing machines.

Rotary Cutter, Ruler, and Cutting Mat - Yes, yes I know that this is a list of three things, but they all work together as one tool, so I thought it worked.  For me, the rotary cutter is indispensable; it makes cutting fabric quick, easy, and accurate.  Tara over at Happy Momma Quilts recently posted this great tutorial showing how to use a rotary cutter, so I will save time and refer you there for more info.

Seam Ripper - A seam ripper has been vital to my sewing.  There might be people out there who sew perfectly every time, and never have to unpick stitches...but I am not one of them.  Seam rippers are much more useful when removing stitches than scissors.

Pins
- They come in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes.  Find one that you like to work with, and a storage system that works for you.  You can get a magnetic pin cushion, a box/container for the pins, or a soft cushion to stick pins in like this cupcake pin cushion (click here for instructions on making your own).  Your pins should be handy when working on projects to hold your fabric together.  

Sharp Scissors - Buy them.  Label them.  Hide them.  Sharp scissors are a must when sewing.  Make sure your scissors are only used for fabric projects, and I recommend getting a new pair about once a year to make sure they are sharp.  You can then give the retired pair to the family junk drawer for whatever else you need to cut.

Iron & Ironing Board - Again, this is a set.  Your projects will always turn out better and look more professional and finished if you take the time to iron your fabric before beginning, and throughout the sewing process. (no picture because I figured everyone knows what an ironing board looks like)

Measuring Tape - I can't tell you how often I use this measuring tape.  Just trust me on this one.  You will use the tape to measure in many of the projects you create.

Needles (for sewing by hand) - Bahahaahaha.  You can tell from my picture, that I don't have to replace these very often.  I try to avoid sewing by hand when at all possible, but sometimes, it is actually easier to finish a project or sew one component by hand.  I recommend getting a set that has a variety of sized needles and eyes as well as a variety of sharps and rounds.

Fray Check - This handy tool is sort of like super glue for fabric.  It can prevent fabric from fraying (the threads from separating), and can keep thread knotted at the beginning or end of a seam if you have not knotted sufficiently.  I use fray check in every project where I use ribbon, and many times throughout other projects.

Pattern Cutting Board - If you plan on making any projects that are larger than your small rotary cutting board, a large pattern board is a must.  It provides a large, flat surface perfect for cutting pattern pieces and large swatches of fabric. (pattern cutting board as background for this t-shirt to toddler dress upcycle)

Fabric Marker - Fabric markers are useful for sewing projects because the ink disappears (usually with cold water) and leaves your fabric looking as beautiful as ever. (no picture again -- it's a marker)

Now you should be all set to learn about sewing machines tomorrow, and starting your first project on Friday.  If you have any questions about sewing machines, please comment or email me, so I can answer them in the post.  I hope you are having a great week, and you are as excited as I am about our upcoming sewing projects!

Monday, July 9, 2012

What is a fat quarter?

A fat quarter is basically what it sounds like: a fat quarter yard of fabric.  Instead of buying the typical 9 inch-wide by 44 inch-long swatch of fabric, you can buy a swatch of fabric that is 18 inches wide by 22 inches long.  This enables you to make more projects without having to buy half a yard of fabric.  Many fabric stores sell pre-cut fat quarters in a variety of colors and patterns.  One of my favorite things to do is find some fabrics that I love, buy a couple fat quarters and make a project--or save them for a future project.

Most pre-cut fat quarters are basic cotton fabric used in quilts, but can be used for much more.  I used the fat quarters pictured above in the first beginners' sewing project I will share this week.  Come back to see what I did with these fun fabrics!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday Slice {It's a Party} #3



 
 
Thanks for coming to the party!  I know I always feel awkward when I'm not sure what to wear, or if I should bring a gift, so if you are unsure of the expectations or etiquette for this event, please see this page.  Please, mingle, meet new people, and have fun!

There are so many great ideas out there; it is truly a pleasure hosting this each week.  Thank you for inspiring me.

Don't forget to come back Saturday to see the features.  Did you check out the features from the last party?