Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Sewing Room Makeover, Part 1: Swivel Chair and Window Valance Update

For more than a year, I've been trying to find the time to reorganize my sewing room. Fabric and crafting supplies have been stacked and stuffed into every corner of every shelf so that there was barely enough room to work - and a lot of space was being used to store supplies for needlework and crafts that I rarely do anymore.

A total makeover and reallocation of space was needed, but I never seemed to find enough free time to tackle this project. So I decided to break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks, until I could take some time off to completely empty the room.

I had some down time in January, so I started emptying shelves and moving boxes of supplies downstairs to the dining room, for 'temporary' storage. When there was enough room to move around and take accurate measurements, I was able to devise a new, more efficient floor plan. I also started collecting storage and organization ideas on My Sewing Room Organization & Inspiration board on Pinterest.

Originally, I thought I could get the project done in my spare time, beginning in February with two relatively simple projects: re-upholstering my swivel chair and changing the window treatment.

Swivel Chair Makeover

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

I have spent many hours in this chair, sewing and machine embroidering. It used to be a pale shade of gray blue with white vinyl piping trim. Over the years, the trim yellowed, dried out, cracked and peeled off. And then the seam on the seat started to come apart. Other than those two flaws, the chair is in excellent condition, so it only needed new covers for the seat and back. This project took the better part of an afternoon and evening, with a few breaks to feed and walk the Westies.

I tackled the seat back first, since it was easier to take apart by simply removing the screws.

Swivel Chair Makeover

Next, I removed the staples along the bottom edge using a staple puller and pliers.

Swivel Chair Makeover

Here's the core of the seat back after the old fabric was removed. It's a wooden base with a gray foam cushion wrapped around it.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Rather than starting completely from scratch, I clipped to mark the centers along the top and sides of the old cover and carefully took apart the seam so the front and back pieces could be used as patterns for cutting out the new fabric. I chose a fun turquoise blue and white floral print from my stash of home dec fabrics (and decided not to add any piping trim to the new cover).

Swivel Chair Makeover

With the right sides together, I matched the clip markings on the new fabric pieces and pinned them together, easing in along the curves where needed.

Swivel Chair Makeover

I stitched the two pieces together, trimmed the seam, clipped the curves and then turned it right side out and pressed it well. Then I stretched it over the seat back cushion, smoothing the fabric and stapling along the bottom, trimming where necessary and folding to hide the raw edges (sorry, I neglected to take any photos of that step!).

Now it was time to tackle the seat. It was a little more difficult to remove from the frame of the chair because it kept swiveling. I ended up turning the chair upside and hanging it on the edge of my table to remove the screws. Then I removed the staples on the bottom of the seat, first for the dust cover and then for the old fabric cover. A small pry bar and pliers worked great for pulling the staples out of the wood. Just like the chair back, the seat cushion had a wood bottom with a foam cushion attached to it.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Since the old cover was torn in places, I didn't bother to use it as a pattern for the new cover. I just traced a circle around the seat on the back of my fabric and added a seam allowance to cut it out. For the boxing strip along the side of the cushion, I simply measured around the circumference of the seat and cut it a little longer.

After sewing the boxing strip to the circle, I tested the fit of the new cover on the cushion, then stitched the back seam so it was nice and snug. I sewed around the circle a second time, trimmed and pressed the seam. Here's what it looked like from the wrong side of the fabric:

Swivel Chair Makeover

The new seat cover and dust cover were then stapled onto the seat cushion base.

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

Finally, I re-attached the seat and back to the frame of the chair and it's makeover was complete!

Swivel Chair Makeover Swivel Chair Makeover

This chair is from IKEA and was called 'LOVE' - and I just LOVE it's new look! The color and floral print are such a happy combination!

Window Valance

This sewing room has evolved over the past 15 years. Originally, is was a spare bedroom where I also kept my needlework supplies and occasionally set up my sewing machine. When we moved into this house, my sewing room was the second or third room that I redecorated, removing little boys' wallpaper and painting it a nice soothing blue with green accents. The top section of the wall is sponge painted with various shades of ocean and sky blues and greens. When I was finished painting, I found these sage green drapery panels that helped block out the sun and keep the room cool. I didn't spend too much time working here other than to pick out threads and linen for my cross stitch and needlework projects.

Window Treatment Update

After a few years, I started spending more time sewing and machine embroidering, rearranging the furniture several times and adding shelves and a bookcase for storage. I'm tired of these plain green curtains, so I decided to replace them with a fun new window treatment to go with my newly improved swivel chair.

This mod floral print is another home dec print from my stash, and since I didn't have much of it, I made a very simple window valance. I pieced together 3 panels of fabric to get the width needed (2x the window width), serged the raw edges all around for a nice clean finished edge, hemmed each side and then blind-hemmed the bottom edge. Last, I folded the top down and stitched across twice to form the header and casing for the rod.

Window Treatment Update

The gauzy panel was an early attempt at making a roman shade, but the rings that the cords are supposed to slide through had decayed and crumbled in the sunlight and it could no longer be raised. Plus it attracted too much dust, so it had to go too.

Instead of replacing it with another shade, I applied a vinyl film to the window that looks like rice paper, for privacy and light filtration (it matches the film I used in my powder room in 2012).

Window Treatment Update

This photo is a little dark, but both changes really brighten up the room and provide lots of natural light while I'm working.

* * * * * * * * * * 

After these two projects were complete, we estimated that the rest of the sewing room makeover would take about a month, so I scheduled a 'vacation' from sewing for July and August. We not only re-organized the furniture, we removed the old carpet, installed laminate floor, added a section to my shelving unit, built a new ironing station and a few other things. It was an exhausting project and I'm very happy with my new work space - it turned out great! I'll have a couple of addtional blog entries to share my new and improved sewing 'studio'!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Garden Westie Custom Cases and Covers

Some of my favorite projects are special requests, especially when I get to make them in adorable Westie fabrics!

Garden Westie Camera Case

Last June (2013), I made a custom sized camera case in Garden Westie fabric. One of my customers had ordered a Garden Westie Quilted Gadget Case along with a few matching accessories, but it was too narrow for her camera to fit inside. She sent me the dimensions needed and I came up with this two-zipper bag, made with the same quilting pattern and lining fabric to match the other accessories.

Quilted Camera Zipcase Quilted Camera Zipcase

The front has a zip pocket that opens about 5 inches across for holding a charging cord or spare batteries. The entire front section is an enclosed pocket, including the 2.5 inches above and 4 inches below the zipper.

Quilted Camera ZipcaseThe top zipper opens about 5 inches across and the photo shows my old Kodak digital camera inside (it was almost as big as her camera). There's at least an inch of space on each side.

The total height of the bag is just under 7 inches and width at the bottom is 4 inches. The bottom corners are boxed with a depth of 2 inches. I also added some Soft & Stable batting between the lining and cover for cushioning and shape. The narrow strap has a lobster swivel clasp and d-ring closure, just like the original zipper case.

I did make one minor mistake and inserted the top zipper opening in the opposite direction of the front zip and I intended them to open in the same direction. Nevertheless, it turned out well and my customer was very pleased with her new camera case.

Garden Westie iPad Mini Cover

A couple of weeks later, I received another request for a Garden Westie case - this time for a zip-around padded cover to go over an iPad mini with a leather wallet-style case.
Zip Around iPad Mini Case

I had sketched up a plan for each side of the case, but I wasn't completely sure how to join them together neatly. In my search for a pattern online, I found the Zip Around Wristlet Wallet from StudioCherie on Etsy. The size was smaller than needed, but since I was only interested in the process, that didn't really matter. 

I made a practice zip around wallet, but I used the wrong size zipper, rushed through the directions and made a bunch of mistakes on the inside and outside pockets so it ended up as a permanent working sample (and no photos taken). Happily, the instructions for joining the two sides of the case and inserting the zipper were *exactly* what I needed for the iPad mini case.

Before cutting into the Garden Westie fabric, I made a sample case in this red damask print fabric, to test my pattern size and make sure the zipper and pockets were all going in the right directions. When it was finished, I had a friend test the size against her iPad mini and made some adjustments.

Zip Around iPad Mini Case   Zip Around iPad Mini Case

Both the red sample and the Garden Westie case have nylon sport zippers that open from the bottom up, so the iPad can be charged while inside. In addition to fusible batting, each side is padded with Soft & Stable  for structure and extra cushioning. The Westie case also has a pocket on the left side for charger cords and other small accessories.

It turned out great and she loved it! I even started making a second Garden Westie case - it's currently in my UFO pile, still waiting to be finished....

Garden Westie Journal Notebook Cover

This past March (2014), I received a third Garden Westie request, for a journal notebook cover. I thought it was a great project for this fabric and was happy to find a tutorial for a Fabric Portfolio & Notepad Holder by Lindsay Wilkes from The Cottage Mama. Once again, I made up a sample, using the measurements provided in the tutorial and two coordinating cotton fabrics in plaid and polka dot prints.

Journal/Notebook Cover

The outside of the cover was just about perfect and I especially liked the closure, which is a loop of skinny elastic and a fabric covered button. Inside the cover, the pockets on the left side were a little wonky, but since it was a practice piece I didn't bother to go back and fix them. The 5x8 notepad just about fits into the pocket on the right side. The two side panels on the inside of the cover are vertical pockets and the cover gets added structure by inserting cardboard wrapped in scrapbook paper inside them. I cut up an empty cereal box for mine.

For the Garden Westie version, I made a few changes. First, the outside of the cover is all one piece of fabric instead of two different prints. I also increased the overall size of the journal cover just a bit so that the notepad would fit better into the pocket. As a result, the folded cover was just about the same size as an iPad mini. I decided to add fusible batting for light padding, just in case the recipient wanted to slip a mini or a cell phone inside the vertical pocket (instead of the paper-covered cardboard).

Garden Westie Notebook/Journal Cover Garden Westie Notebook/Journal Cover

Garden Westie Notebook/Journal Cover

This project turned out so well, I added a listing for one more Garden Westie Journal Cover to my Etsy shop. I decided to keep the sample journal cover for myself and it's very handy to have around. :-)


Westie & Scottie Accessories

As soon as I downloaded these in-the-hoop embroidery designs from Five Star Fonts, I knew I would eventually stitch them up in terrier fabrics. It was just a matter of time... and back in Spring 2013 I finally had the opportunity to make a few matching sets of quilted monogram checkbook covers, sunglass cases and keychain pockets in Westie and Scottie fabrics. The in-the-hoop design files for each accessory come with single letter monograms as well as blanks (for even more customizing options), in at least 2 choices of quilting patterns. 

Quilted Accessory Set
This mini Scottie Dog embroidery design from Embroidery Boutique was another must-have for my collection and I envision stitching it on all sorts of projects. Of course, the color had to be changed to white so I can call it a Westie! 

For this first three-piece set in black and white, I used the blank monogram designs with a diamond quilting pattern and added the tiny white terrier. (This set was sold in my Etsy shop last summer.)

The sunglass case is generously sized and can double as a cell phone sleeve - my Samsung Galaxy S3 fits nicely inside with room to spare. The checkbook cover holds a check register and checks, replacing the vinyl cover from the bank. And the keychain pocket is just the right size to carry business cards, gift cards, loyalty cards, credit cards, identification or folded money. A snap closure on the back keeps everything securely inside.

Quilted Accessory Set
This adorable Garden Westie fabric is perfect for these accessories! For this set, I used a blank embroidery design file with diamond quilting, carefully cutting and centering the Westie face instead of a monogram.

To maximize the use of the Westie design, the inside lining of the checkbook cover and sunglass case have a coordinating fabric in black with white polka dots.

The pocket keychain has a special heart shaped split key ring for added cuteness.

In 2011, I made some coin purses and gadget cases in the same Garden Westie print, but at that time, the print was a slightly lighter shade of green. Until a month or so ago, I hadn't had a chance to make new gadget cases.

I received a request through one of my shops in June for this zippered case, so I made up a few in the darker fabric - it coordinates perfectly with the three piece set above.

I like to add a short strap with a swivel clasp to each case, so it can be attached easily to a purse or bag. This one is lined with white cotton fabric and has a sweet little dog bone charm attached to the zipper pull.
In my fabric stash I had a sweet Scottie print in both pink and red colorways that just begged to be turned into something special. To change things up a little, I made the pink version with stipple quilting for the checkbook cover and sunglass case. The matching gadget case was made using Embroidery Garden's Monogram Zipper Case with a wavy quilt design, to go with the stippling on the other pieces.

Pink Scottie Dog Quilted Accessories Pink Scottie Dogs Gadget Case

For the red version of the Scottie dog print, I liked the diamond quilt pattern in black thread for the checkbook cover and matching sunglass case. The lining for both pieces is a coordinating black and white paw print fabric.

Black & White Scottie Dog Checkbook Cover Black & White Scottie Dog Checkbook Cover

Black & White Scottie Dog Sunglass Case

And here's the matching gadget case for the Scottie dogs in red:

Black & White Scottie Dog Gadget Case Black & White Scottie Dog Gadget Case

I couldn't resist adding this Westies in Sweaters fabric to my collection - and it's perfect for these quilted accessory sets. Here are the sunglass case and checkbook cover, with diamond quilting stitches:

Westies in Sweaters Sunglass Case Westies in Sweaters Checkbook Cover

And here's the matching Westies in Sweaters gadget case:

Westies in Sweaters Gadget Case

Some of these accessories are available through my Etsy shop; most can also be found in the Westie and Terrier section of my ArtFire shop or by request.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Baseball Cuff Bracelets, Dog Bandanas, and Insulated Bottle Carrier

I can hardly believe eight months have passed since I last posted an entry on this blog! It wasn't my intention to take such a long break, but my SewAmazin shops have kept me busy sewing, sewing and sewing! I originally started choosing photos and drafting this post last summer (along with several others). I just haven't had the time or energy to come back and finish writing them. And to be honest, even this one post has taken me about two weeks to find the time to update, edit and publish.

One purpose for keeping this blog is so that I will have a virtual scrapbook of the things I make and how I make them. I actually do refer back to some of my older posts while working on similar projects, so it's been frustrating for me to allow so much time to pass. On a positive note, now I can combine several related projects into a single blog entry, like this Baseball themed post (although my memory is a little hazy now about some of the details). Hopefully I will catch up by the end of the summer...

Baseball Cuff Bracelets

Back in May of 2013, I stitched up a few samples of these baseball cuff bracelets using in-the-hoop embroidery designs from DigiStitches. They are made of white marine vinyl from my stash. I originally bought the vinyl remnant with the intention of making something Westie-shaped, but it's perfect for simulating the cover of a real baseball!

For the backing, I found a white terry type knit in my fabric collection and used it instead of a second piece of vinyl, to soften the side that goes against the skin. The embroidery design comes in 3 sizes. I made the smallest size (about 7 inches long) for my nephew with his name and little league jersey number (his younger brother got one too, with just his initials on each end). The embroidery is stitched with polyester embroidery thread; the baseball stitches are red and the name and number are royal blue. I added a red snap as a closure. As I recall, the boys both really liked their cuffs.

Baseball Cuff Bracelet

I made the largest size (8 inches long) for myself, stitched in Mets team colors. The baseball stitches and the snap closure are orange and I added #LGM in royal blue. If you're wondering what that means - it's a hashtag for Lets Go Mets!

Baseball Cuff Bracelet

Below are my samples for each size cuff bracelet. For the medium size (7.5 inches long), I stitched the sample with the name of our nieces' softball team. I wasn't happy with the density of the stitches for the letters, so I still have this one in my sample collection. I don't remember what fonts I used for the lettering, so if I ever get a chance to stitch more of these cuffs, I'll have to figure that out...

Baseball Cuff Bracelet

In addition to the cuff bracelets, I purchased DigiStitches Baseball Flowers In The Hoop; I had intended to make both and offer them for sale in my shop or at craft fairs, but I haven't had time to stitch them up.

All Star Baseball Over-the-Collar Dog Bandanas

Every year, the MLB All Star game falls on or around my birthday in July. In 2013, the game was hosted by the Mets at Citi Field!

In anticipation of the summer classic, in June I made these All Star Baseball Over-the-Collar Dog Bandanas, using complementary stars and baseball fabrics in patriotic red, white and blue. I couldn't decide whether I liked the baseballs or stars better for the front, so there are two versions of this bandana. They're available in several sizes in the Sports Pets section of my shop on ArtFire.

All-Star Over-the-Collar Bandana, Large-XLarge All-Star Over-the-Collar Bandana, Medium

Keli models the Large size with the baseballs on navy blue as the front with white stars on red as the back and casing; Penny models the Medium size with the stars in front and baseballs as the back and casing. A year later, I still like both versions!

These 'no dip' over-the-collar bandanas are made using another in-the-hoop design from DigiStitches.

Baseball Monogram Insulated Bottle Carrier

Last fall, I received a request for a custom sized, baseball themed insulated bottle carrier, similar to one I made for Christmas 2010.

I embroidered the baseball shaped applique just like the 2010 version, and added the name on top, but the white nylon fabric puckered in the middle and shredded around the edges. It looked awful. Rather than stitch it again, I considered other options - and then I remembered how well the marine vinyl looked on the cuff bracelets.

At some point I also remembered I had purchased a Baseball Alpha font from Planet Applique which was perfectly sized for this project. Using software, I added the name Riley, stacked and slightly offset on top of the applique design ( the font is Puppy Love from 8 Claws and a Paw).

Riley Insulated Bottle Carrier

The vinyl stitched up great for the monogram letter! The only tricky part that I remember was trimming the section inside the curves of the 'R' without cutting the nylon base fabric. This carrier was sized to be slightly shorter than I usually make them; it had black strap and black plastic swivel snap hooks and d-rings.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now that this post is finally published, I'll be working on several others. Hopefully I'll be able to publish them once or twice a week...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Update: RBARI Anniversary Party

We had a great time at RBARI's 35th Anniversary Party at the Shelter in September!

After a week of uncertainty about whether or not it might rain, it turned out to be perfect weather for the event. We arrived bright and early to set up around 8:00 am. Guests began arriving at 11:00 am and we had a steady stream of visitors throughout the day until the party ended at 4:00 pm.

My previous blog entry showed some of the new bandanas and scrunchies and other goodies I had worked on in preparation for the day. Here's our booth, all set up and ready to greet the party guests:

SewAmazin booth

Maverick was our very first customer of the day and he picked out this Candy Corn scrunchie neck ruffle. (It looks a little big on him because his neck fur is hanging loose over the edge.)

We met lots of nice doggies and their people all day long - and we got to meet many of the dogs currently available for adoption. What a bunch of cuties!
We were pretty busy most of the day and I neglected to take any other photos - before I knew it, we were packing everything up to go home.

One of the local papers recently posted this very nice article about the event: Bergen's largest no-kill shelter marks a milestone

Visit the RBARI website to read 35 Happy Ending stories.

The day was a big success. We sold a little bit of everything - bandanas, scrunchies, kitty cat and doggie-shaped coin purses and cases. After I had a chance to count the cash and crunch the numbers, we had a nice profit and had very tidy sum to donate to the shelter.

About two weeks before the event, I ordered the small banner for my table, business cards and labels with my new and improved logo from Vistaprint. My order arrived a week later and everything looked great. I stuck the business card labels on about 13 plain white shopping bags and pre-stuffed the bags with a coupon for my ArtFire shop. I had more bags and labels with me if we needed them (we didn't).

I worked almost up to the last minute on my inventory and how to display it. In my previous blog post I showed my rotating pegboard display, already set up for scrunchie neck ruffles. I was working on something new for the bandanas. Here's a photo of the pegboard display I envisioned:

Pegboard Display

It's only clamped together in the photo above, just to see if everything would fit together. I re-used my original scrunchie racks by drilling holes through the posts and using 3 inch bolts and nuts to attach the 2x4 foot pegboard. The base of each rack was then clamped at the back to the table. In addition to the pegs on the front of the board, I used the dowels to display some of the bandanas and collar slipcovers.

Table layout
The bandanas and a few other things took up most of my 6 foot table and the scrunchie display was set up on one 4 foot table, but I needed a third table for everything else.

I experimented with baskets and boxes at home until there was a place for all the dog- and cat-shaped cases and the other wristlets, sunglass cases and checkbook covers. It wasn't perfect, but it worked.

My next 'live' event is November 23 at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Maywood, NJ at their indoor holiday market. I'm planning to use most of the same displays, with a few modifications.

The bandana pegboard has been modified so it will fit on a 4 foot table. I've moved the support racks in toward the center and raised the board up about 6 inches, so the top of the board is at eye-level. The cat- and dog-shaped cases will also be on this board. The basket in front will have pre-packed sets of matching pieces, and there's room for the pound puppy bandana model.

Pegboard Display, revised

My bigger 6 foot table will have all my holiday items, wristlets, sunglass cases, checkbook covers and anything else I'm able to finish in time. Fitting everything on the table in a visually pleasing way presented another challenge. I liked the way the pegboard worked out for the bandanas, but didn't want a second 2x4 foot board taking up a full table. And I didn't have any way to support it without spending too much time or money building something.

While shopping in one of our local craft stores last week, I noticed they used pegboards and wire shelving for some of their displays, joined together using cable ties. So I 'borrowed' that idea ... remember at last year's Adorno fair (blogged here), I used some old wire shelves and cable ties for a display? Two of the shorter pieces were the perfect height for a table setup. All it cost me was the price of another 2x4 pegboard at Home Depot. They even cut it in half for me, so all I had to do was tighten a few cable ties.

Here's the result:
Pegboard/Shelving Display

The 2x2 pegboard is attached to the wire shelves on each side with cable ties at the top and bottom of the board. The shelves are a little taller, so I raised the pegboard up a few inches. The shelves set at an angle and they seem pretty steady, but I'm working on an idea to weight them down so the whole thing doesn't tip over. And there's plenty of room on the table for baskets and other things.

Pegboard/Wire Shelving Display
Here's a closer look at one of the cable ties, threaded through one of the holes of the board and around the wire of the shelf.

Now, all I have to do is get to work stitching and filling up those baskets and pegs with great holiday stuff!
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