This weekend I popped out a quick project that is cute, functional, and cute. I guess I said that already. A friend of mine got married this weekend, and I decided she’d love nothing better than to get some hand-made placemats with matching coasters and napkins, held together of course, with napkin rings. The project cost was a little higher since I went for cute oil cloth, which runs about $17/yard. I think I got a half yard of everything, and a yard of the napkin fabric.

Here were my two choices. I went for a double-sided placemat set so that either side could be used. A set of four would be ideal but I didn’t quite have enough fabric, so I did two double-sided.

I went with oil cloth because it resists water, liquid, and yuckies. One side is green with a yellow and blue motif (even though it looks aqua) and the other a natural color with purple, blue, and orange. They totally didn’t go! I love it.

Decide how big you want your placemats to be, cut them out, and then pin right sides together.

I did the same for the coasters, making them 5×5″

 

You have a couple options for how you put these together. One option is to surge the edges together, in which case you’ll want to put wrong sides together. I went with a turned set, so I sewed wrong sides together on three and a half sides, then pulled it inside out. To get a nice edge, I pinned the open section and sewed a second seam around the edge to finish it off. You can’t even tell where the turn was.

For the napkins, I went with two double-sided lunch-sized napkins, so with wrong sides together, we surged the edges, so they looked like this:

The result is a nice clean edge.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the final set before it was packed off to my friend. Oh well.

The napkin rings I did similarly to those in a previous post:

I picked felts to go with my placemats, embroidered the yellow, sewed on the button, glued it all together and hand stitched them up.

The entire project took two to three hours start to finish, and cost about $40.

 

It Felt Good

November 28, 2011

So a few weeks ago I promised to post pictures of my little felt gifts that I’m making for people. (If you’re getting one from me, don’t look 😉 ). Today, I bring you those items.

I love working with felt. I discovered it earlier this year and figured out that you can just make so much cute stuff with it. It’s pliable and easy to work with. It holds embroidery well. You can just DO so much with it. So I started working embroidery together with felt to make little stocking-stuffer ornaments.

I largely tackled these the same. Cut out your background, your pieces, place them, sew, stuff, and finish. That’s it. Finito. They take less than an hour a piece.

Here are some examples of what I’ve done:

I love the vintage feel of this one:

You can also add buttons or other things to add a little texture and visual interest:

All in all I think they’re turning out pretty cute. I’m sure you can make little patterns, but I just free-handed these. Layering fabric also gives a pretty effect.

The other project I’ve been working on is similar, but I’ve used small embroidery hoops as my background. Again, adding felt, fabric, and embroidery gives me a simple project that takes about 30 minutes to complete. Tie a ribbon on the top and you’re done.

I love the effect of the metallic threads:

Finally, here’s a walk-through of a cute and quick project. Napkin rings!

First I cut out two lengths of blue fabric and glued them together. This gives the ring more durability. I use a tacky glue that is good on fabric. You could also sew them together if you want.

I then cut a slightly narrower strip of white and sewed on a large button.

I then embroidered some quick snowflake shapes and glued the white strip to the blue.

Bring the ends around and sew this puppy up and BOOM. Cute gift. Total time: <2 hours. Total investment: $2.00 for buttons, about $0.08 for felt and thread, and a little bit of time.

If you’re feeling extra ambitious, you can probably sew a few quick napkins to go with your rings.

Okay okay so Katie and I have been really remiss. I mean, October 16? So unacceptable. The thing is, we’ve started a million things and not managed to finish any of them. I’m in full blown Christmas mode (since September) so I’ve been cranking out a lot of new projects that are small.

So.

Mostly I’ve been working on one of two things: embroidery, and felt. I’ll catch you up on both so that when I post pictures later, it will all make sense.

Embroidery:

Basically, embroidery is the process of making decorative stitches.

Embroidery can be machine done, which is very clean and crisp, or by hand, which is more genuine. Embroidery dates way back and was used to decorate clothing, tapestry, and other fabric goods.

I learned to embroider basically on my own, trial by fire. There are a lot of good websites out there that demonstrate the different types of stitching, as well as books. Here are the basic stitches:

 

All you need to get started is a hoop, needle, some thread, and a pencil or transfer.

1. Decide on your pattern – you can find free ones here.

2. Once you have your pattern, trace it using graphite paper, make an iron transfer, or free draw it with a soft pencil.

3. Consider your colors, stitches, and design aesthetic. For example, I almost always fill things in rather than doing an outline. As you can see in the above picture, it’s possible to do color blending for nice shading.

4. Begin!

Some of the things that I have picked up along the way include a few of the following:

  • Use a tight-weave fabric: Fabrics with a loose weave tend to pull through and not hold well. A tighter weave will give you a clean, sharp look.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix mediums: I frequently mix fabric, felt, stitching- it depends on the look you’re going for. For example, I have some projects with small hoops, a natural canvas background, and then different fabrics to represent snow and trees. Cutting out and applying these shapes gives me a background to embroider in decorations, words and anything else I want!
  • Don’t pull on your fabric too much: I like having a tight embroidery plane to work on,  but if you pull too much you can actually stretch out your fabric.
  • Keep it clean! Wrap your project in a bag or fabric to keep your work nice and clean.
Felt:
My new favorite project is applying these embroidering skills to make felt Christmas ornaments. They are a quick and easy gift.

As you can see, simple felt, a few stitches and you have a wonderful, vintage-style ornament. SO CUTE! Again it’s easy to mix and match different fabrics to create different looks.

I’ll post pictures of my projects a little later on.