Thursday, September 25, 2014

Gadget Guard Padded Tablet Cases

A few months ago, I received a request for a custom-sized tablet cover to go with some of my Watermelon Westie accessories (blogged in March 2013). The request was very specific about the size and features needed: an envelope style flap closure with two compartments, one a padded section for the tablet and the other for holding a charging cord, stylus and other necessities - she even attached a sketch! I was thrilled, that she knew exactly what she wanted because that made it SO much easier to look for a suitable pattern!

Not finding the perfect pattern in my collection, I turned to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. After sorting through various designs, I found the Gadget Guard PDF sewing pattern by Dog Under my Desk. This pattern was already on my 'wish list', and this was a good excuse to buy it! I was confident I could make a couple of modifications to incorporate the requested design features for a customized tablet cover.

After downloading and printing out the instructions, I made my first sample Gadget Guard, sized to fit my Samsung Galaxy tablet and using the same fabrics as my sample journal cover, blogged last month.

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

The pattern instructions are extremely detailed and each step has a helpful photo illustration. The design is versatile and with a few calculations, it is easily adapted to fit any device. It can be customized so that the zippers open along either the long or short edge of the case. As designed, the case has a padded zippered compartment for the tablet, with one expandable pocket on the front for the accessories. I switched up the fabric placements a little, so it would resemble my journal cover.

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

I like the way the zippers are installed, and I especially like the way the top zip opens wide for a snug fit - and the fabric tab on the end is quite clever! My Samsung tablet with a Belkin bookstyle cover fits perfectly inside this case. I really like this pattern and would happily make more!

Gadget Guard Tablet Case

I needed to make a second sample so I could test adding on a flap closure and ruffling the front pocket so it would resemble the pleating on the Watermelon Westie Sunglass Case. For this sample, I used some black and white damask print fabrics from my stash.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

To create the ruffled look on the pocket, I tried using a gathering foot, but the two layers of fabric were too heavy and didn't gather up nicely. Then I remembered I had a ruffler foot in my collection, but had never used it before. It took only a few minutes to set up and stitch out a test piece of fabric - and it worked perfectly! It was a little tricky sewing the ruffled fabric to the zipper, though.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

The flap I added is loosely modeled after those from the Embroidery Garden iPad cases in my previous blog entry. I added it to the 'front' side of the Gadget Guard in Step 4 of the instructions, inserting it between the zipper and the 'front' pocket side. The flap closes on what used to be the 'back' of the original Gadget Guard design and the pocket side is the 'new' back.

Modified Gadget Guard Tablet Case

Finally, I was ready to make the revised version of the Gadget Guard in Watermelon Westie fabric. I carefully cut the fabric so that one Westie is featured on both sides of the flap closure and two repeats of the design are on the front of the tablet case.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case


I don't have any more of the tiny watermelon fabric that I used on the other Watermelon Westie accessories, so the ruffled pocket is made in a print that resembles a watermelon rind.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case

This version is sized a little larger than my samples, to fit the custom size requested. The flap is secured with velcro.

Watermelon Westie Tablet Case

I thought it turned out well and was quite pleased with the finished tablet case. But what really made me smile was the note I received from my customer saying it's a perfect fit and she loves it. :-)

Quilted iPad Cases, In-the-Hoop

Last year I made some quilted iPad cases using in-the-hoop embroidery designs from Embroidery Garden. Originally, I bought only the design for the iPad mini case; later, I purchased the design for a regular size iPad case, after a friend liked the mini sample and wanted the larger size.

Both versions of the case are made mostly in-the-hoop, then are finished on the sewing machine. The flap is made first, then the body of the case is made in a second hooping.

Kris gave me two bunny fabrics from her stash to use on her cover. I used the larger scale white rabbits for the outside of the cover and the smaller print for the lining.

iPad Case

The flap, front and back are all padded with cotton batting. The front and flap are lightly quilted.

iPad Case

After the embroidery and sewing steps are complete, the case is turned a couple of times so that the cover and flap are on the outside and a pocket is formed on the back side. The tablet slips into the front and the back pocket is for holding charging cords and other accessories, secured with a snap closure. I used pink ribbon to match the bunny ears for the tab closure on this iPad cover.

iPad Case

A velcro or button closure are optional for the front flap but I did not add one because I was certain that Kris would have some cute carrot buttons in her stash.

I liked the way this case turned out, so when my niece got an iPad for her birthday last August (2013), I made one in red, her favorite color at the time.

iPad Case

The closure for the back pocket is made of black ribbon with a red snap.

iPad Case iPad Case

I forgot to add the elastic when making the flap, so stitched in on by hand afterward, along with a shank style button for a closure.

iPad Case

I recently made an iPad mini case in the same fabric for another friend, using fusible Velcro instead of the button closure.

These are handy little cases, but I haven't made more of them, partly because I don't have an iPad and my Samsung tablet just barely fits inside, and partly because the regular iPad only fits inside without a protective cover. The iPad mini design comes with 2 sizes - one for the mini only, and one for the mini with a cover.

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. :-)




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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.


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