Saturday, April 10, 2010

How I Made My Own Tailor's Ham In Under An Hour

I've been wanting a tailor's ham for about a year now, but the cheap one's I saw at Joann's seemed a little small and I questioned how well they were made. This morning I finally got around to looking at how they were made and it turned out I already had everything I needed! There are a number of how-to directions online, I went with the directions from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension's Make Your Own Pressing Equipement. They recommend woven wool on one side and unbleached cotton on the problem, I had a scarf from Scotland that my husband had shrunk and yards of muslin. For stuffing it said to use wool and for half a moment my heart sank until I realized that I've saved every scrap of wool leftover from making longies for my kids. My daughter who is obsessed with practicing her new cutting skills helped me chop up two giant mixing bowls of sweater scraps. In under an hour I had a perfect tailor's ham and a slightly less cluttered sewing room. :-)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free Fabric Covered Padded Clothes Hanger Pattern & Instructions

Another week of laundry, another week short on covered hangers. I decided to do some more stash cleaning and make a few. I have lots of flannel left from an unfinished crib skirt and I thought the flannel would add surface friction and prevent slipping.

The pattern is a .pdf file. Make sure that you check your print settings; the page scaling should be set to 'none.'

I started by tracing the triangular plastic hanger (Ruffies brand) and I added a 1/2 inch seam allowance to side portions and 1 1/2 inches to the bottom. For each hanger I cut out two cover pieces from the cover fabric and two pieces of batting. (I used polyester batting because I often use my covered hangers for air drying clothing and I didn't want to use a batting that would be absorbant, but normally I prefer cotton batting.) If you prefer to have the inside of the cover lined, cut two additional lining fabric pieces.

Cut 1 - 1 1/2 inch strips from the batting scraps and wrap the two short legs of the hanger. If you are using polyester batting there's no need to stitch in place. If you use cotton batting you will need to add a few stitches to secure the ends in place.

If you are using the pattern I made, you will notice that there are two 'start stitch' marks. The plastic hangers I used had the hook slightly set to one side, for balance I assume. To make sure the opening for the hook was positioned correctly, I started stitching at different spots.

Stitch the cover fabric, right sides together, from the stitch marks to the bottom corner, leaving the entire bottom open. Do the same for the batting. If you are lining the inside, stitch with right sides together sandwiched between the two layers of batting.
Finishing Option 1: Open bottom for removal and washing

Turn the batting right side out and tuck inside the cover fabric so that right sides are facing. Make sure that the hanger notches line up with one another. Stitch on the line that says 'fold under' leaving 3 inches open to flip inside out. Turn inside out and topstitch
Finishing Option 2: Closed bottom
Iron the long edge of the cover fabric back 1/4" or on the 'fold under' line. Turn the cover fabric right side out and tuck the batting inside the cover fabric so that the wrong sides are facing. Make sure that the hanger notches line up with one another. Neatly tuck extra batting in and whip stitch bottom of cover closed.

Your done!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ottobre Polka Dot Blouse or Mama-to-Daughter Refashion

My apologies for some blurry photos. I was unaware of the problem until I downloaded them.  Oops!

I've been cleaning out my fabric stash slowly but surely, when I realized I made my daughter a jumper for which she had no coordinating shirt. Mom to the rescue! I dug through the rag/refashion box and found an old red shirt of mine that would match, browsed through one of my trusty Ottobre magazines and found this super simple "Polka Dot" Blouse in the Spring 08 issue. I adapted it slightly to take advantage of a finished seam and easy knit fabric. Here's how you can do it too:

Trace pattern! Yuck. This is my only complaint with Ottobre patterns, they squeeze so many sizes and pieces on to one page and trying to sort out the lines is crazy. My favorite method is to lay tranfer paper (found in the notions department) over my paper (dollar store wrapping paper) and under the pattern sheet. I use a smooth tracing wheel and trace around the size I need.

Check to make sure all the pattern pieces will fit on the available fabric. I guestimate, but if I notice that the grain is wonky sometimes I'll trace the pieces out using a disappearing fabric marker to double check. The sleeves can be the trickiest!

Remove the collar and cut open all of the seams on the shirt. Then iron...if the shirt is a lightweight jersey that curls consider using a fabric conditioner or startch.

While the shirt pieces cool, cut the strips of fabric that will serve as the binding.

Fold the front/back shirt panel on the grain. Lay the front/back pattern piece so that the bottom hemline on the pattern lines up with the bottom hemline of the actual shirt. This will save you one step while sewing! :-)

Layout the arm panels from the shirt. Carefully line up the grain as designated on the pattern piece. If it fits and you like the look, you can use the finished hem on the sleeve just like you did with the shirt front/back. I preferred to make my own. I don't recommend cutting two layers because it is harder to line up the grain.

Pin the sleeve pieces to the front and the back shirt pieces. Be sure to mark the shoulder notch.

Using a straight stitch, sew up the sleeves, front, and backs together. Do not finish the seam with the notch because this will be the slit at the shoulder where the bow ties. Trim seam allowance and finish with a zig-zag stitch or serge.

Iron the seam with the notch open. Sew around the outside of the slit with small zig-zag stitch.

Cut the strips for the binding around the neck and sleeve edge. Pre-iron the strips into a double-fold tape (like bias tape, but not on the bias). Do this by folding the strip in half, iron, and open again. Use the resulting center line to fold the two outer edges toward the center. Fold in half again, then iron and allow to cool. Re transfer pattern markings to the binding if they've faded.


1/2" in from the edges of the neckline and sleeve hem, sew a machine basting stitch (approx. 4mm). Then stitch a row 1/4" in from the edge. Gather by holding the bobbin stitched firm and gently sliding the fabric until it is gathered slightly more than the binding.

Now tie off a set of threads on one side. Adjust the gathering until it is exactly the length of the binding (for the neckline, you will use the pattern markings that indicate the position of the slit, shoulder, center front & center back). When you have the gather adjusted just the way you like it, tie the other set of threads. This will prevent the gathering from loosening or sliding out. Pin the binding to the sleeve and neckline. Use a medium size (3.0mm x 3.0mm) zig-zag stitch to stitch in place. For the neckline, start at the edge of the binding to avoid having to finish the ties later.

I used a contrasting thread color of thread, but if you are worried about the stitches looking uneven you can use a matching thread. The purpose of using a zig-zag is so the threads don't snap if the fabric is stretched while dressing and undressing.

Pin the front & back of the shirt body and sleeves to one another. In case there has been any discrepancies pin the hemline, cuff, and arm seams first; then pin every few inches between your three points. If there is a small difference in length, you can gently stretch the shorter fabric layer as you sew to ensure the three points match. Straight stitch and then use a zig-zag to finish the seam.

Voila! You're done:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Inaugural Post or My Vision

For months I have been envisioning a way to share my sewing and craft patterns online. I poured through various blog hosts, website hoses, web design templates, etc., etc. I was looking for a format that allowed me to upload .pdf files of my patterns. I realized that I needed to just jump into something simple and learn as I go. For today, I will see if I can adapt one as a photo tutorial. Wish me luck!