Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Recycled Denim and Scrap SOFT BINS

So last post I linked to these: Denim Bins!
and when I tried to make them, the measurements were so off...I was challenged beyond belief to pull it off. So this is MY version. The only thing you need to measure with is your eyeball...
Find a great piece of denim! Trim all thick seams off. Make it a nice even rectangle.

Find a lid the size you'd like the base to be. Wrap the denim around it , making sure you have a  1/4 inch amount of fabric to "pinch" (that's the seam allowance). Look! Mine is perfect! Otherwise, trim OR find a smaller base...

Find a scrap of fabric just as wide and twice as tall...oops, mine isn't tall

so I sewed a band of red fabric to the top to help it out.

The middle layer needs to be somewhat thick. For this one I used felt, and ran a stripe of glue down the center to hold it together. Later, I used a piece of batting, but either works.

Remember the lid? Cut a circle from each fabric used the same size as the lid.
 OOPS. Forgot a photo. So, You'll need to pick up that denim piece, flip it to the wrong side and place it UP, aligned on the top edge of the printed fabric and the felt in order to sew them together. Right sides together. Here's the order:
Felt (bottom), Printed fabric right side facing you (middle) and denim wrong side facing you (top)
This photo should show that I flipped the denim to the wrong side up and placed it at the top, right along the edge of the red fabric...

Sew the three layers together.

Pull the denim layer up away from the print and the felt and press flat.  Fold the long way. Sew along the long, open edge, BUT!!!! see the 2 chalk marks on the top edge of the felt? Leave that gap open...don't sew. Very important for turning!

Now you have a tube. Pin the print and felt circles to the end of the print and felt  end and sew.

Do the same thing to the other end with the denim. pin and sew.

Carefully press this new center seam open. Clip carefully around the curves of the circles in the seam allowances.

Through the gap you left open, turn the whole thing inside out.
Hand stitch the gap closed. Or if you're lazy like me, run it through the machine.

Push the print and felt half down into the denim half, using your fingers to press and pull the fabric into the curves.

Fold down the top to make a cuff. Oh rats! Monkeys are hidden. Oh well.

The ones left and center are made from the original tutorial. I like mine way better. The thick seams look great, but my machine did NOT like sewing through them and I hate to break a needle when I don't have to.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who ya gonna call? Scrap-Busters!

 Once upon a time there was a craft lady (me) who couldn't bear to throw any scraps away (hoarder!) and was soon drowning in a scrap pile the size of a Mini Cooper....(ahem).

Earlier this month, I began the GREAT SCRAP PILE REDUCTION CRUSADE and here are a few things I've made and links to other great ways to deal with those precious scraps we sewers/crafters never can seem to throw away. Look, I know I can make a quilt or a pillow cover or...a zillion other things...but I was looking for FAST and EASY and as little PIECING as possible...
These are ideas that I considered fresher and more inspired than quilts.

Valentine necklaces for my kindergarten class. They have a similar fabric on the back and felt in the middle (made a good dent in my felt pile too). I dipped them in starch, squeezed them out and let them dry a bit. Then I ironed them and re-trimmed the edges.

I started to make each child in class their first initial...why? Who knows. But I'm half-way through and I'm determined to finish.

The last of the letters. There are loads of these on Pinterest, and that's where I was inspired. These are felt in the middle but no starch and are from my vintage sheet scraps. Very cozy and feminine.

Scrap covered basket. Scraps, Mod Podge and thrift store basket. Tutorial coming soon.






little houses!
Oh my goodness gracious, I was addicted to making these. During the whole scrap-purge and reorganization, I came across scraps from a cheap Home Depot drop cloth I'd used for a soccer banner back in the day. I tossed it. 2 days later, I saw these on Pinterest and dug that fabric outa the trash can like nobody's business. It looks just like linen! I made houses till I ran out of drop cloth. I like the houses with window boxes the best. The cat wasn't so hot and I'm sick of the bird motif. The original ones were used as Christmas ornaments and were a little smaller and stuffed with fiberfill.
From the web:

These look easy enough, strips of fabric, styrofoam balls, twine.

same kinda thing...nice gift...
Coasters! Link here...

Oh yeeessss! here, NOW A WORD about this link. I used the measurements they gave and have concluded this
person was h-i-g-h if they think there's any way on God's Green Earth those measurements will work. I will post a tutorial soon.

This is interesting...

No link, but those colors are to die for:

Again, no link but these were easy enough...2 circles of fabric, gather the edge and sew binding all around.
So I made these below and I'd make them smaller next time, however I think they would be adorable for the next time I take cookies to the neighbor's or a pot luck...

And lastly, a huge gobbler of fabric scraps...the reusable GIFT BAG.

They go together like a dream. I'm using all the saved "tops of sheets" (you know, where it's been doubled over) as the casing on top. I am NOT spending too much time worried about raw edges, just plowing through. its v-e-r-y satisfying to be able to churn out 7-8 of these an hour. What will I do with them? Who knows. But! They are no longer misc. scraps littering my craft room and for this, I am pleased.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Valentine House

 Crafty people are thick into their Valentine's Day crafting frenzy, but I'm too wrapped up in sewing to give it a moment's thought. So no Valentines this year. However, I made these two years ago, and like most projects, once I started....I couldn't stop.

These couldn't be easier to make, but the trick is to use very stiff royal icing, made with egg white powder powder or egg whites---they are not for eating, so it doesn't matter about raw egg consumption, but not icing made from just powdered sugar and water. The egg white is the cement, baby.

The house is constructed with grahmn crackers. I only "cut" the corner off the top edge of the "lean-to" structure on the side so the roof will lie flush against the wall..

If the icing is thick enough, it's like the greatest tacky glue on earth and it lets you build without stopping for things to dry. Put it in a pastry bag with a generous tip/or hole, round or star, about as big as a pencil.

In my neck of the woods, any unwrapped hard candy starts to ooze---so all candy you use for these must be room temperature stable: jelly beans, conversation hearts, gum drops, skittles, whoppers (the strawberry ones look great but don't eat one---yech!). I don't know why hard candy gets so wet and sticky. In my desert hometown, nothing like that ever happened. I'm sure it is the humidity here.

Anywho, I build these on inverted chinette plates and give them away to teachers/neighbors etc. Once they are dry, you can spray them with some clear Krylon--lightly-- and that helps them live a little longer. Once you start building, it is hard to quit. Two years ago, I made 8 of 'em.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What To Do With Left-Over Candy Canes

The Trader Joe's Pound Plus bar is your best friend here. Just take away 2-3 squares.

 Got a few (dozen) candy canes left over from Christmas? We do. And we bake them into cookies. 2 of my top-all-time-super-duper cookie recipes are here and both are great with or without candy canes.

Chocolate Bliss

Such a great cookie. So amazingly delicious and easy to make! This has been doubled, so you can cut it in half, but I wouldn't recommend it. The doubles version makes 4 dozen cookies which really isn't that many. And they don't last long.

In a large glass bowl, melt 1 pound of semi-sweet chocolate with 1 stick of butter in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir well and let the residual heat melt the rest of the chocolate over the next few minutes.

 Stir in 4 eggs, mix well.
 Add 1.5 cups of packed brown sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla, mix well.

 Add 1.5 cups of flour and .5 teaspoon of baking powder.

 Now the fun part: the add ins.
We love Chocolate nibs. A by-product of the chocolate making process, they are so unique and good they've become a staple in our pantry. Go get NOT look at the price, just do it.

 Add 1.5 cups of chocolate chips and some add ins of your choice. Today, it's .5 cup of nibs and about 8 smashed up candy canes. Chopped nuts, dried cherries, etc. are other options
  When I worked at that BAKERY-THAT-SHALL-NOT-BE-NAMED, I was taught the importance of the scoop. This is a #40. But you can always use a teaspoon and your finger. Bake at 350 for 13-14 minutes till puffed and set. They will be loose, but not raw when they come out. Let cool on pan for 5 minutes or longer.
 Part of the fun with the candy canes is the ooze of melted candy from the cookies. If you don't like that look (I don't), push the candy back into the cookie with a fork after it's cooled about 45 seconds. If you do it too soon you will make a mess. If you do it too late, the candy won't move at all.

That extra chocolate? You put it out for your chocolate-crazed daughter who, is such a chocolate snob that not only does she have her very own CHOCOLATE SHELF, said shelf is most always empty due to her voracious appetite for chocolate. Note the chocolate mess on the floor of the cupboard. She won't really like that Trader Joe's chocolate (remember? she's a super-snob), but it may do in a pinch. I set it to the side, thus communicating "I know you don't really consider this worthy of your time, but I'm making this token gesture to show you I feel your pain". These are the games you play with chocolate snobs.
Next: Velvet White Cut-Outs

Can you believe it? I got this recipe from a SEVENTEEN Magazine when I was a mere maiden in my little desert hamlet. It was a contest winner and has proven over the ensuing thirtyfuckingfouryears to be hands down the BEST sugar cookie I've ever had.

2 sticks of butter, softened
4 oz cream cheese AT ROOM TEMP!
1 cup white sugar
1 egg yolk
.5 teaspoon vanilla
2.5 cups flour

Cream together butter and cream cheese till absolutely, positively smooth.
Beat in sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, mix.
Gather dough into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill several hours or overnight.
Roll dough on lightly floured board to .25 inches thick, cut with cutters.
RE-roll scraps one more time only. I take what's ever left over at that point and make jam thumbprint cookies...
Bake at 350 till edges are just lightly turning golden.
Cool on racks, frost with royal icing if desired.

For these, I cut a small heart out of the centers and filled them with crushed candy canes and baked as above.
So pretty! They MUST be stored in an air-tight container or bag, or the candy gets sticky and gooey.