Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble

I wanted to share a great tutorial using my Halloween potions labels (available in the Silhouette online store).

Joy shows you how to start with shiny new wine bottles, age them using Mod Podge and other fun stuff, glue the labels on, and create fantastic Halloween party decorations. Or set them up on a shelf in your kitchen any time of the year and make visitors really nervous. :)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tiered skirt tutorial

I've been thinking, if I'm going to be designing fabric, I should probably start sewing more. And taking pictures of my projects and posting them. And hopefully putting together tutorials about what I make. So here goes.

It's my first tutorial, so please let me know if something makes no sense or if you need more explanation.

My oldest loves skirts and especially ones that flutter out when she spins. She also loves robots, Spider Man, He-Man, bugs and playing in muddy puddles. So just for her, I designed this skirt.

It's based on a very simple tiered style skirt, where four rectangles of increasing width are gathered and sewn together. The waist is a channel folded over and sewn shut with elastic threaded through it. Easy, even for me!

You can buy my preprinted robot skirt kit here (the photos show how the printed yard looks), or just follow the instructions and use any fabric you have on hand. My preprinted fabric, and the below measurements and instructions make a mid-calf length skirt that fits about a 5T/6T.

- You'll need a length of 1" wide elastic (about 1" longer than the diameter of the waist measurement of the wearer), some fabric (one yard should do it; either one color or a bunch of coordinating patterns and colors), and the usual stuff: thread, scissors, sewing machine, iron.

Here's how to make it:

1. Measure & cut: You'll need 4 rectangles to make the four tiers. Measurements are 30" x 7.25" (A, in photo above), 44.25" x 4.75" (B, above), 56" x 4.75" (C, above, in 2 pieces), 100" x 4.75" (D, above, also in 2 pieces).

In my limited sewing experience, I've found that a rotary cutter, straightedge and cutting mat are invaluable. Without them, I'd never be able to cut a straight line.

In the photo above, you'll see the pieces cut from my preprinted pattern. Since the two largest rectangles are wider than the yard of fabric, I had to make them in sections and piece them together. You might have to do that, too, depending on the width of your fabric.

Because of the crazy busy pattern on my fabric, once the skirt was sewn together the seams were pretty much invisible. My fabric also has a robot doll and a little bag to put her in printed on the yard, so you'll see pieces for those on the right side of the photo.

2. Gather tiers: Adjust sewing machine to longest stitch length and sew a straight stitch along top edge of tiers B, C and D. Pull bobbin thread to gather fabric into a ruffle (see photo, above) until the width of each tier matches the bottom of the tier it will be sewn to.

For example, you'll gather the top of tier B until its gathered width equals 30", which is the width of tier A. Tier C's gathered width should equal 44.25". Tier D's gathered width should equal 56".

3. Sew tiers together: Pin right sides of the four tiers together (see photo above), A at the top, then B, then C, with D at the bottom, adjusting the gather if necessary so the widths match up. Sew using a straight stitch. Zigzag stitch along the edges you just sewed to prevent fraying.

I always put the gathered piece on top and the flat piece on the bottom when sewing; that way I can make sure the presser foot isn't pulling out the gather as I sew. I get so frustrated when I mess up and have to rip out all the seams and start over, which happens a lot, so I'm all for tips and tricks to prevent that!

Here's what it looks like with all the tiers sewn together. This is my favorite part... it actually looks like a skirt here!

4. Sew side of skirt: Pin right sides of skirt together and sew, then zigzag the edges to prevent fraying.

(Note: It seems to be easier, for me at least, to sew the tiers together when they're flat. Some tutorials have you sew each tier together on the short side, then gather, then sew all the tiers to each other. I think having them flat makes it easier to measure and pin, so that's what I'm recommending here.)

5. Create waistband: Fold over 1/4" of top edge (on tier A), press. Fold sewn edge down again, creating a 1-1/8˝ channel, press and sew again. Feed the elastic through the channel. Put a safety pin on one end of elastic to help it slide through more easily. Overlap ends of elastic, hand sew or machine sew together. Blind stitch the channel closed.

6. Hem: Fold over 1/4˝ of bottom edge (on tier D), press. Fold entire seam over again, press, and sew in place.

7. Topstitch: Sew a straight stitch just above the seam where each of the tiers are sewn together (it's the white dashed line in the photo above. Forgot to take a picture of it!). This is totally optional, but I think it gives the skirt a really nice finishing touch and makes it look more professional.

That’s it… now have a little one try it on and twirl away!

Font nerd

This is a darn cool site for retro style fonts. I love stuff with a sense of history that also looks really cool.

They have it set up so you can pay what you want for any font, which would have been a godsend about 15 years ago when I first started freelancing and had around $500 to my name.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Someone besides me likes old neon signs! It really makes me happy knowing I can design something people like enough to want to buy.

I have no idea what in the world you'd use this fabric for, besides the obvious (bowling shirts? bowling bags?), but it does look pretty cool. I would love to see whatever anyone comes up with using the fabric.

So counting this week, I've won four Spoonflower fabric of the week contests. According to the Spoonflower people, I'm in danger of becoming a SF celebrity! That's pretty darn awesome. :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Color challenged

Every time I choose the perfect color to paint a room, it's wrong. I have a very hard time picking palettes. I can't decide on the right green. You'd think I'd have an easier time of it, having a BFA in visual art plus a certificate in botanical illustration.

Most of my classes pretty rigorously emphasized the basics: cool vs. warm colors; the fact that value is actually more important than color; the properties of paint and other mediums; how colors change depending on where they're viewed, what they're next to, and the light they're viewed in; how reflected light affects a color.

Still, I feel like I'm lost when it comes to choosing colors. For any purpose. Like when I have to choose a fourth color to complete my limited palette Spoonflower fabric of the week contest design: black, white, sage-y green/blue, and one color of my choice.

I tried light salmon pink, orange, rust, dull brown, warm gray, periwinkle, yellow, gold... and settled on a darker version of the aqua. Maybe I'll upload the others and see what everyone else thinks.