Winter Warmers: Fresh Picks for 1.21.11

Bundle up! It’s the snow season for many of us, and that means more time indoors. Why not brush up on your sewing skills by starting a new project? Or get ready for Valentine’s Day by making a sweet gift for someone you love. Here are this week’s fresh picks:

Fleece Pocket Scarf @ Dragonfly Designs

Hand Warmer: Stay cozy inside or out in this fleece pocket scarf by Heather at Twin Dragonfly Designs. Knit your own pockets, or upcycle from a too-small sweater for a fun look!

Facing Fusible Interfacing Tutorial @ Make it Love It

Hand Cut: Do you know the different between interfacing, fusible webs and fusible adhsevie? Ashley at Make It Love It shares a very complete photo guide to interfacings and fusible sewing helpers. A must read for sewists!

The Urban Jungle Bag @ Sew Sweetness

Hand Candy: The Urban Jungle Bag combines your favorite printed fabric with smart construction and a sleek, city-girl vibe. Get the free tutorial from Sara at Sew Sweetness.

Free Valentine Printables @ Imagine Gnats

Hand Delivered: Send your sweetie a printed valentine from these adorable free downloads, from Rachael at Imagine Gnats. She shares more free printables at her Flickr album.

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
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Whirligig Quilt Block Tutorial

This tutorial will show you how to make a 12.5″ square whirligig block, alternating colorful scraps of fabric with your background or focus fabric. This is the perfect size for many quilting bees – I hope you find it helpful!

4x5 Bee (4th Qtr) for Elizabeth

To begin, make a template from cardboard (like a cereal or pasta box). Cut a cardboard rectangle that is 2.5″ x 3.25″.

With the rectangle positioned longways, mark 1.25″ from the top left and 1.25″ from the bottom right. Cut a straight line connecting these dots. In other words, you will slice the rectangle on a slight diagonal right through the center of the longer edges.

You now have a cardboard template that is 2.5″ (left side) x 1.25″ (skinny top) x 2.5″ (diagonal right edge) x 1.75″ (wide bottom). Discard the half of the template; you will only need one side.

From your white background fabric, cut 18 rectangles that are 2.5″ x 3.25″ (your original rectangle size). Now use your cardboard template to slice your rectangles on the same diagonal as your template, creating 36 individual pieces. Set aside.

Next, sort your scraps and locate 9 different fabrics. Each fabric scrap should be large enough to cut 4 pieces directly from the cardboard template. Cut and arrange your whirligig “wings” so that like fabrics are grouped together.

Pair each white background piece with a colored piece, right sides facing. You’ll be stitching pieces together along the diagonal.

Here’s another view showing how the white and colored fabrics should go together. As you can see, I let the top corner of the white piece stick out a bit (about 1/16″ to 1/8″), just as I let the bottom corner of the bottom piece poke out. This will actually help your blocks to be even when you stitch them together.

Use a scant 1/4″ seam allowance. This is just a hair smaller than a true 1/4″. You’ll probably want to chain-piece these fabrics to save time and thread. (See below.) Back-stitch at the beginning and end of each piece. After chain-stitching the blocks, snip the connecting threads to separate.

With the back of each block facing you, use the back of your fingernail to press each seam open. The other option is to push your seam over to the patterned side; however, I find that pressing seams open makes the patchwork look more exact. Arrange your blocks as shown.

To join these blocks, stitch the two left blocks together, then the two right blocks, using your scant 1/4″ seam allowance. Chain stitch as before, and snip the threads, to save a few steps.

Again, press the seams open, then join the left and right sides with your scant seam allowance. Make sure the center seam from each side matches up in your whirligig block.

Carefully trim edges even. You should barely need to trim off anything, but trim up to 1/8″ if anything is hanging over. This will help make your final block easier to stitch. Repeat this process for your other 8 whirligigs, being sure to trim as needed.

To join your whirligig blocks together, change your seam allowance to a true 1/4″. (I slid my needle just one place to the left.) If you forget this step, your block will be closer to 13″ square when finished.

Arrange your 9 whirligigs so you have a good balance of colors, then pin together and stitch the first two blocks from each row. Join the third block to each row, making sure each point matches up with the seam from the next block. Press the seams open, and trim each row up to 1/8″ to even up the long edges.

To join your rows, match up seams, pinning together at each intersection. Stitch slowly, slightly pulling the fabric as needed when you approach an intersection. No matter how carefully you measure, you’ll need to push and pull fabric slightly to match seams perfectly.

Using these recommended seam allowances, you should now be able to trim the block to an even 12.5″ square.  I made these blocks in assorted colors for a quilt bee on Flickr, based on this fun variation by Jessica. This is a great block to make in a variety of colors and patterns for your quilting bee.

If you make any blocks using this tutorial, feel free to send us a link, or share it in the Craft Buds Flickr pool.

 

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Valentine’s Decorations with Lifestyle Sweetheart Shapes

Lifestyle Crafts just sent me their nesting lace hearts to create a project with and I had so much fun with them! I put together this heart banner with corset style lacing between the hearts.

Their dies can be used in most roller-types of die cutting machines and I’m using mine in Lifestyle’s Epic Six. It’s easy to use. Just line up the cutting platform, dies, paper and cutting mat and use the handle to roll it through the machine. Then out comes your perfectly die cut shapes in no time at all! The dies even have white foam in the small enclosed areas of the dies so pieces of paper get pushed right out.

And here you can see a closeup of the lacing (click on the photo for an even larger view). The hearts were so easy to make, I’m planning on cutting out more so my son can decorate them to send out as our Valentine’s Day cards this year.

Sale!

Here’s the full collection of the sweetheart shapes. Use the code CRAFTBUDS for 20% off your purchase!

 

Giveaway

Enter Lifestyle Crafts’ giveaway open now through January 16 for a $500 shopping spree and an Echo Park paper bundle. Don’t forget to mention Craft Buds sent you!


Disclaimer: Lifestyle Crafts sent me the dies to use and review but all opinions are my own.

Recipe: Chai Tea Mix

Years ago after getting addicted to chai tea mix from the store, I finally decided it was too expensive and began a search for the perfect recipe. This one tastes just like store bought and for the same price as what you’d pay for a pre-made package you get a huge amount of mix! It’s perfect to keep at the office or give as gifts in a dressed up jar.

Chai Tea Mix Recipe

The recipe makes about 7 cups of mix. Use 2 heaping tablespoons (or to taste) in a mug of hot water.

1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1 cup French vanilla flavored powdered non-dairy creamer
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened instant tea (regular or decaf)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper

The last three ingredients (nutmeg, allspice and white pepper) give a nice kick to the flavor and makes it taste just like the chai tea mix I used to buy. For a milder tea, leave those ingredients out. Mix all ingredients by hand or in a blender. The texture is smoother if you use a blender. If you mix by hand the very last sip will have some spices that didn’t dissolve left in it. When I first made this I used my blender but eventually the fine dust it created killed the blender so now I just mix by hand and don’t drink the last sip! If you do choose to use a blender, first mix everything by hand then blend in small batches in the blender.

PS. I copied down this recipe years ago and just found the same one on AllRecipes so I don’t know who to credit for the original version, but thank you to whoever you are!

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How to Transfer a Sewing Pattern with Freezer Paper

How to Transfer a Sewing Pattern

The brown tissue paper that many patterns come printed on is not very durable. When you purchase any sewing pattern, it’s a good idea to transfer your pattern to paper before cutting, so you can create the pattern in multiple sizes if needed and make adjustments. I believe transferring a pattern to freezer paper offers some key advantages to other methods.

Inexpensive and found at many grocery stores, freezer paper is waxy on one side and can be ironed to fabric many times without losing this quality. It does not stick permanently to fabric and is very durable, making it an excellent medium for copying sewing patterns. Although there are many ways to use sewing patterns, I’m going to teach you my favorite way to transfer a sewing pattern, with freezer paper.

Recommended Supplies:

  • Sewing Pattern
  • Clear Ruler
  • Rotary Cutter and Mat or scissors
  • Pencil
  • Scotch Tape
  • Freezer Paper

Before you begin, read your sewing pattern to see if it is printed in the actual size, or if you’ll need to enlarge on a photocopier.

Freezer Paper Sewing Patterns

Roll out freezer paper to completely cover your printed sewing pattern. With the shiny side of the freezer paper facing down, use a pencil and ruler to trace the outline of your pattern on the freezer paper. Drawing on the matte side, you will be able to faintly see the pattern lines through the freezer paper, but you may want to hold it up to a window to get a clearer view.

Note: If you are using a “nested” sewing pattern with multiple sizes, make sure you find and follow the line that corresponds with your size.

Cut Pattern and Transfer Markings

Cut out all pattern pieces and label with your pattern’s name (mine is the Shearwater Kaftan) and the name of each piece (such as “top of sleeve”). This labeling will be helpful the next time you make the pattern. If the pattern has markings such as “cut on fold” or dots signifying how the garment should be sewn, make sure to mark these on each piece.

Tape Patterns Pieces Together and Iron to Fabric

Tape together pattern pieces that match up, such as the sleeve top and sleeve bottom, using the original pattern as a guide. Once your freezer paper pieces are ready, iron each piece on your fabric (shiny side down). Your pattern will tell you how to arrange the pieces on your fabric for the best fit. Press with iron for 10 to 15 seconds and remove.

The freezer paper pattern is now temporarily adhered to the fabric and you can now cut around the pattern without it shifting. With this technique, I don’t need to make any markings directly on the fabric. Make sure to align pieces on a fold if the pattern says (like the “placket piece” above). I like to use a rotary cutter and ruler to cut fabric quickly and accurately.

Shearwater Kaftan

The Shearwater Kaftan pattern by Make it Perfect has sleeves that can stay long or roll up.

This is my version of the Shearwater Kaftan by Make it Perfect. I made the shirt in an inexpensive fabric in order to test out the fit. This is called “making a muslin.” Because I didn’t want to spend a lot of time making a shirt I would not end up wearing, I used a fabric that would still be wearable, which makes this a “wearable muslin.”

From my wearable muslin, I chopped off about four inches from the shirt length and hemmed again. Because I noticed gaping in the back, below my neck, I also sewed a long vertical dart in the back to create a better fit. Since I created a freezer paper pattern, I can easily cut the same length off my pattern pieces and adjust the back width to change the fit for the next shirt I make (which will be in a more “breezy” fabric). This is one of the benefits to transferring your pattern!

Do you have any tips or tricks for transferring a sewing pattern? If freezer paper is not readily available where you live (I know it can be hard to come by in the U.K.), check out these online shops and buy the largest roll you can find. You can also use freezer paper to make custom painted tees and paper-pieced quilt blocks.

Craft Buds 2011 Year in Review + Link Party

On March 13, 2011, Mary and I started Craft Buds as a place to share craft tutorials and handmade business and blogging tips. Little did we know that we’d get to share our craftiness with more than 178,000 craft lovers from 176 countries over the course of that year!
Craft Buds About Us
We are so appreciative for each and every one of you that read this blog, take the time to leave a comment or pin a project for later. So with another year on our heels, let us say, thank you! There’d be no Craft Buds without you.

Here’s a little recap of the Craft Buds tutorials you visited the most this year:

2011 Craft Buds Tutorials

On the handmade business front, Mary and I were fortunate to report on the latest in craft at the CHA trade show in Chicago, host the first-ever Craft Book Month in September, and chat with some awesome crafty entrepreneurs to learn what it takes to launch a handmade business.

Here’s a look at the most-visited business and blogging tips here at Craft Buds this year!

1. Top 12 Resources for Running a Crafty Business
2. Free Pattern Feature
3. Q&A with Sarai Mitnick
4. Flickr for Crafters: Tips & Creative Photo Tools
5. Craft Book Month
6. Hosting a Successful Giveaway on Your Blog

 

2012 New Year’s Goals

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? What would you like to learn how to do (or do better) in 2012? At Craft Buds, we are excited to share tutorials and tips in 2012, including some more sewing basics. We’ll host another charm squares swap and are brainstorming ways to make the Craft Buds blog even more interactive. Perhaps a weekly link party, if there’s interest?

We invite you to link up your 2011 recap and/or 2012 goals here, whether they are craft-related, family, work or personal goals. If you don’t have a blog, we’d love to hear your goals for the new year in the comments!



Also in the comments, please let us know if you’d be interested in a Fresh Picks link party for handmade projects. We love seeing what you are working on, and would love to highlight more of our readers’ crafts, so tell us if you think you’d participate!

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