Thursday, June 30, 2011

Creativity with Pillowcases

So I was packing for a camping vacation we are going on and realized my youngest sons did not have much in the way of luggage.  With the sewing streak I've been on, I knew I had to make something from items around the house.

My linen closet become a treasure trove of goodness, and it was like Christmas going  through all the pillowcases!  I wanted to create a duffle bag/knapsack type of goody for them to carry their clothes in.  It had to be soft and not too heavy for them to handle it themselves.

So this was born:

And the greatest part is all you need is:

  • Kids pillowcase
  • knit scarf
Each bag took me about an hour, maybe less.

Instructions:  Have the iron hot and the ironing board at your disposal.  Iron the pillowcase inside out to remove creases.  Cut the factory sewn seam at the bottom 1/4".  You will now have 2 open sides.  The top of the pillowcase will be where you feed the drawstring through and is already finished sewing-wise.

Now turn it right side out but tuck it back inside out to where you will double the material up.  Your pillowcase will be in half and you will sew the bottom and match the seam with the factory pillowcase stitch below where the drawstring with be applied.

Take a look at the inside to make sure all is well on the bag result and if you have it correct before sewing.  You may need to tuck the other way if you can tell it won't be proper when you sew.  My pictures beneath will show hemming the bottom.

Once your bottom and top seam all in place turn right side out and it should look like the beginnings of a carrying case.

Now iron again to make it nice and flat.  Measure across the top and find your half way point to cut into the first layer of pillowcase.  Be careful to not go through both layers.

Feed knit scarf through with safety pin after you have cut scarf and hemmed it making a "belt".

This was super easy and fun to make!

The great part about the knit scarf is you can wrap it all the way around and knot it at the bottom and it makes a handle too.

So all of this made me decide to make myself a cosmetic carrying case.  It looks kind of like a purse and very girly.  I made the same exact way as the boys, but I cut in every 5" to weave some tulle in and out and tied at one end.  Then I sewed some straps inside.

Here are the bottom and top seams I did:

(This was the factory seam that was previously cut and then turn right side out and folded in half to achieve the double material)

Iron and pin and align seam as much as possible with original factory stitch for a more flawless look.  One thing to mention is that 2 of the pillowcase were stitched at one of the sides so you will have to make your way through that when it comes to feeding the drawstring through.  The first bag I did was not stitched and the drawstring went all around with no challenges.

You can sew in some straps or just use the drawstring as a closure.  I think this was my most favorite project to date as you can tell by all the pics I snapped!!!  Much more simple than my huge robe project and less tiring.  I may be making these as gifts.  It really couldn't be easier! :o)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Repurposed Clothing and Household Items

I've been coming across some pretty cute ideas on the internet, and also imagining my own inspired creations.  The bathmat I saw on a sewing website forum and the skirt I have seen something similar out in the world; but have not seen anything on the internet, so I improvised and made this jean pillowcase skirt.

The bathmat is a fairly simple procedure but it creates a lot of terrycloth bits flying everywhere once you start cutting.  You take 2 unwanted towels.  They could be the color scheme of your bathroom decor for matching.  Simply cut the strips at about 5 inches wide and weave the strips alternating the colors in and out to form your design.  Pin everything in place and go around the outside first with your sewing machine, and then conquer the rows vertically and horizontally until the whole thing is sewn together.  I have not completed this project because I broke 3 needles on the sewing machine so I need to get some heavy duty needles to complete it.  But I think it's going to look great when all is said and done.

The skirt was fun to make!  Take any old pair of jeans and cut them off at the crotch area.  Attach a pillowcase to be the skirt part.  Remember inside out and pins!  You can cut slits on the sides at the bottom because the pillowcase will be very straight and not give a lot of range of motion to walk and move.  You could also do this with a regular free flowing skirt.  I want to try a ruffle skirt next with the jeans on top.  You can use lace through the belt loops for a cute and finished look.

*Lemon* Tiramisu, How I Love You...

Well let me tell you, my friend Ella gave me this great idea for a recent 50th Anniversary party I threw.  She sent me some recipes on a Tiramisu.  Normally, it is a chocolate/coffee confection and being in the midst of summer, the original sounds more of a winter/comforting combination.  So it was decided that Lemon Tiramisu would fit the bill perfectly.  This recipe is gluten-free and some of the folks attending do not care for chocolate.  The lemon version seemed to be right choice on all fronts.  There are several tips I will share that will make this labor intensive dessert a bit easier for you to make ahead.

I would seriously make this dish at least 4-5 days in advance.  And that is after it is all put together.  So you may be birthing this for up to a week!  I would highly recommend making the ladyfingers and lemon syrup at least 2 days before assembling, and letting it meld in the refrigerator for minimum of 3 days.

Gluten Free Ladyfingers
(adaped from Celiac Teen's recipe)
1/4 C Rice Flour
1/4 C Cornstarch
3 TB Other G-Free Flour (potato, sorghum, etc.)
3 Eggs Separated
3 TB Sugar
1/2 Tsp. Xanthan Gum (you could get away without it, so not to worry if you don't have available)

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks with slow addition of sugar.  Whisk egg yolks until frothy and slowly add dry ingredients.  Eventually fold into egg whites reserving as many air pockets as possible.

Take batter and pour into large ziploc.  Snip off an end to serve as a piping tool and carefully pipe onto parchment paper or foil on cookie sheet.  Pipe out the size of a standard ladyfinger and do as many as you can and bake 350 degrees for around 10 min.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and let cool and store in refrigerator.  You will need to do 2-3 batches to get to the 40 ladyfingers necessary.

Lemon Syrup

5-6 average size lemons
1 C Sugar
1 C Water

Zest all the lemons and squeeze juice from them removing any seeds.  Set aside

Bring water and sugar to boil and add 1/2 the juice from the lemons.  Once boiled, let cool and it will develop into a lemon simple syrup.

(adapted from Lidia's Italian)
2 C Mascarpone Cheese (I bet you could substitute cream cheese) room temperature
5 Eggs, separated (the yolks will be used to make lemon curd, and the whites will be whipped into meringue)
3 TB Sugar

Lemon Curd

Use a double broiler or round pyrex dish put inside a stockpot or saucepan filled with water to create steam and slowly heat the mixture.  Put the 5 egg yolks in the dish and whisk with 1/2 C Butter and 2 TB of sugar, half of the zest, and remaining lemon juice.  Whisk until the mixture becomes thick and pudding like.  Set aside to cool.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside.  Whip the Mascarapone or cream cheese with the remaining TB of sugar.

Dip all the completed ladyfingers in the syrup and start layering your first set of fingers on the bottom of a 9 x 13 pyrex.

Now fold the lemon curd, cheese mixture, and egg whites all together very softly.  Turn it over and over until incorporated.  This is the filling and you will layer this on top of the first set of ladyfingers.  Place another row of dipped ladyfingers (or you could just pour syrup over the bottom row and repeat process on the next layer of fingers).  Now put the remaining filling on top and decorate with remaining lemon zest.  Store for at least 3 days for best results on taste and texture.

This is so good and super fancy for very special guests.  It takes a lot of work and preparation but it will pay off in the end.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Towel Robe!

Oh my gosh!  This is a great way to recycle your old or unwanted towels.  This will only cost you what you have around the house and any embellishments you might have tucked away in your sewing kit.

You will need

  • 2 Large Bath Towels for the lower body of the garment
  • 1 Medium Bath Towel for the top of the garment
  • Sewing Machine
  • optional hand towels to make pockets or to make a belt
  • optional buttons, ribbon, embellishments of choice
  • And lots of time!

This is actually the first item I have sewn since high school, so it has been a long time and believe me this item is not without its flaws and imperfections.  However, it is not the type of attire that will be worn outside of the home, so there is really no need for perfection anyway.  It's just a robe, right?!
This is actually a gift I am sending to my great Aunt.  I think she is going to really enjoy it.

So what you will start to do is attach the 2 large bath towels together.  First you take the edges that will make your first seam and sew straight away on that line inside out.  Pin everything before you start sewing on the machine.  When you are done, it will be the side of the body of the garment.  Next you will start on the top part of the robe with the medium bath towel folded in half lengthwise.  Your project will look like a "T" basically at this point and the folded part will be cut into to create an opening for your neck.  You will already start to see your robe take shape as the medium bath towel will also serve as your sleeves too.  Now is the time to cut out your neckline.  You can just wing it or you can measure the half-way point and then cut in, making a half moon cut through both pieces of material.  Now make sure the robe is turned inside out and connect the back part of the medium towel to the center point of the large bath towel back.  Measure the sleeves on both sides to make sure you have an equal amount of fabric to account for an even sleeve on each side.  Once you attach the back, you can also attach your sleeves by seam at the elbow area.  By this point you can really tell what it is you're making.  Then of course, the front part of the medium towel goes onto the front part of the large towel to complete the basic steps of the robe.  I may not be writing this in the exact order of how I completed it.  But you will be making your own mark on this basic freestyle pattern.  Also note that the terrycloth will really get thick depending on your towel thickness.  So keep that in mind with your machine, (should you need a heavy duty needle or footpress).  Remember, everything is inside out.  I only say this because I am a novice and if someone else is too, you really may not have this information.  A good rule of thumb is to try it on as you go too.  This will definitely help you determine if you are heading in the right direction!

Now you can attach the other side of the large bath towel so it will look like a "pullover" at this point.  You will now have the basic design put in place.  Your towels have now been joined at all seams.  So you have a seam going down both sides, around the back, around the front, and under the sleeves.

Now would be the time for personal choices and design.  I decided to cut all the way up the front since this is for an elderly person.  I felt easy access was safer than her trying to put it over her head.  You could very well just stop at this point and have a pullover robe.  I did try the robe on at this point, and it was kind of constrictive and a little claustrophobic.  So if I ever made one for myself, I would make the front opening style.

I preferred to cut up the center.  Make sure you measure the width and cut in at the half-way point of that measurement.  For instance, if it is 26" wide, put a pin at 13" and use a ruler or something to guide your cut straight.

The last bit of business to do is to hem your neckline, the bottom if you wish ( I had to hem because my recipient is elderly and short and did not want her to trip), and the front will need to be hemmed at about 1-1 1/2 in. for a clean look.  Now you can add buttons or tie ribbons, a belt and loops, pockets, pretty much anything you want. 
I know this tutorial isn't that graphic and you do have to use your imagination for the most part.  But any questions I can help with, please leave a comment.  Please let me know how you like this too!  I will be really interested to hear if anyone gives this a try, and what the results are.

Enjoy! :o)

Some other shots with my "sort of" willing participants: