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Saturday, 21 May 2022

Quick Craft Mondays: Tea Cup Cozy

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
A quick and elegant project...
Today's "quick craft Monday" project is probably one of the simplest things that I've sewn in quite some time.

When I saw it on HandyMum Lin's YouTube channel (uploaded May 5, 2022) as a potential Mother's Day gift, it immediately caught my eye with its quasi fabric origami look.

Seeing the little tea cup also made me nostalgic.

One of the things that hubby and I have not done since before the pandemic is go out for dim sum. It used to be almost a monthly thing for us to go and have nibbles of dainty dumplings and drink jasmine tea out of small cups.

So not only did this tea cozy project appeal to my fabric origami leanings, it reminded me of simpler times that have still not returned to normal. 

While you can go to YouTube and watch Lin sew this, it's really rather simple. Take two 6" (15cm) squares of fabric and pin them right sides together. (These are still my Robert Kaufman mystery box selections from Craftsy!)

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
Use different coloured pins to mark your start and stopping point...

Sew them together, leaving a small turning gap.

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
Press open the seams before turning...

Trim the corners as shown and turn right side out. Slide your choice of tool along the inside seams and gently poke out the corners. 

Press well and stitch up the opening with a ladder stitch.

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
Fold two opposing corners to the center on opposite sides...

Find the center of the square by folding diagonally twice (i.e., making an "X"). Then take one corner and fold it so that its tip touches the center point; pin. Flip it over and do the same with the opposite corner. 

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Hand stitch each corner down onto the top layer of fabric only. Be careful; you don't want to have to do it all again just because one stitch happened to catch both layers!

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
Carefully sew the corner down onto the top layer of fabric...

Once both corners are sewn down, pull apart the two layers so that the corners form the base of a boat like shape.

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
It's a boat!

You may want to press it at this point; it's done and your tea cup cozy is ready to use!

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
Makes an elegant addition to your tea service...

Now you can serve hot tea in these handle-less cups and have some protection for your fingers.

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I have ramekins that also fit into this. So an alternate use for this tea cozy would be for serving warm or cold desserts.

Tea Cup Cozy crafted by eSheep Designs
End view...

Hope you've noticed that this is totally reversible, too. 

Isn't it a unique way to use up some of the prettier selections in your scrap pile?

'Til next...

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Quasi-Tutorial: Any Size Square Storage "Box"

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
My new scraps container...
Over the past year, I've come to realize that my chosen container for storing fabric scraps is no longer meeting my needs.

Despite scrunching everything down, it's overflowing. Several months ago, I saw one of Don Kim's (YouTube) videos for making a simple box — there are at least two — and knew that it was going to be the basis of my solution.

If you want to join me in today's simple project, I recommend using reclaimed material. I've typically avoided making "big things" like this because of the fabric requirements. However, if sacrificing an old bed sheet or some other item of used clothing, it becomes less of an issue.

In my case, the duvet cover set that I've previously used for one of my first purse designs, my ironing mat and my sewing machine cover is still able to yield material for me to complete more than one of these, so yay for recycling!

I used ribbon to bind the top raw edge, but straight cut binding out of the same fabric will also work.

The type (and amount) of interfacing chosen will affect how well the box is able to stand up upon completion. I used only fusible fleece and the result is somewhat floppy, particularly because of the large size. A combination of Decor Bond and fusible fleece would definitely provide more body; adding interfacing to the lining would also improve stiffness. Keep in mind also that if your intention is to have this box filled, that alone will add structure.

Don Kim's versions of this project result in a 24cm square box, which is just under 9.5". I wanted my box to be closer to 12" so I used metric measurements for the first time — primarily because I had to adjust his original dimensions and didn't want to add another level of complexity to the process — and decided on a 30cm box.

Then I came up with this graphic to help you "design" your own size box, regardless of what scale you use.
Any Size Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
This math should be simple to understand...

What follows here is a tutorial where you can make a box whatever size you want. Or make several in different sizes and have them be stackable.

To show you how the formula works, I wanted 30cm — which is pretty darn close to 12" — as my desired size. So my value for A was 15cm (or 6"); i.e., desired size divided by two. Value for B was 30cm x 2 = 60cm, plus 1cm seam allowance x 2 = 62cm total. (Or, in Imperial, it would be 12" x 2 = 24", plus 1/2" seam allowance x 2 = 25" total.)

Value for C was simply 30cm + seam allowance of 1cm = 31cm total. (Or, in Imperial, 12" + seam allowance of 1/2" = 12.5" total.) Value for D was 30cm plus seam allowance of 1cm x 2 = 32cm total. (Imperial would be 12" plus seam allowance of 1/2" x 2 = 13" total.)

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Four pieces of fabric, two backed by fusible fleece or your choice of interfacing...

Using your measurements, cut four pieces of fabric (two for the exterior and two for the lining), along with however many pieces of interfacing you want. Again, I only interfaced two (would have been the exterior) pieces of fabric with fusible fleece, but you can interface them all for a stiffer structure.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Create seams along the three short edges...

The sewing part is extremely simple. Stack each pair of pieces right sides together and sew along the three short sides (the two Cs and the D from my original diagram above). Press open the seams if you can.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Box the exposed sides and sew two more seams...

Box the bottom seams by bringing together the raw edges of the cut out corners, i.e., matching one end of the D seam with one of the C seams and the other end of the D seam with the other C seam.
Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Do the same with the interfaced pieces...

What you want to end up with is the D seam across the middle of the bottom of the box.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Sew together the boxed edge seams of the lining and exterior...

Finally — and I consider this one of the best tricks that I've learned over the past year — secure the lining to the exterior by sewing them together along the two boxed seams. (Both should be wrong side out, bottom against bottom, when you do this. I should have taken a photo showing both pieces extended, but imagine that the top openings of both are at opposite ends and the joined bottom seams are in the middle.)

This ensures that the lining will never pull away from the bottom of the box once it's completed.

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Turn it right side out and pin or clip the top edge together. Baste all the way around.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Clip the top edges together and baste...

For binding the top edge, I used some 1.5" ribbon that I found in my stash. (I pressed it in half first so that it had a crease along its length, making it easier to wrap against the edge.) Otherwise, I would have made some 2" double folded binding for the job.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Bind with regular binding or your choice of ribbon...

If you do make your own binding, you can use straight 2" fabric strips; i.e., they don't have to be cut on the bias since the edge is not curved.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Measure out the corners...

After binding, measure out the distance of A from the center seam, in both directions. Do this around the top edge, close to the bottom, and somewhere in the middle. Mark with pins at each point.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Pin along the vertical edges of the "corners"... 

Pinch each corner along the pins and replace them with clips if you have them. You will sew lines here to form the corners of the box.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Sew along corner edges...

Sew about 3mm or 1/8" away from the edge, down the length of each corner, starting and stopping about 3cm (a little over an inch) from the top and bottom.

And that's it!

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Tips and variations?

Sew the lining with a slightly larger seam allowance to ensure a snug fit. (The improvement will be particularly apparent if you're making a smaller box.)

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Finished interior...

If you don't mind some wastage, for faster and easier cutting and fusing, you can cut entire rectangles — measuring B x (C+A) — first, fuse on the required interfacing and then cut away the A x A squares.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Soft, but still stands up...

You can easily add handles to this project. My preference would be to use rivets to add them after the fact, but they can also be incorporated into the top binding without the need for additional hardware.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
View of the bottom...

This fall, it will be ten years since I re-started sewing. (Wow!) I think I've been pretty darn good with my fabric usage to have only accumulated this many scraps in a decade.

Simple Square Storage Box by eSheep Designs
Should be good for some time to come...

What will you use your box for?

'Til next...

Saturday, 7 May 2022

The Sewing Equivalent of Dumpster Diving

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
Tempus fugit...
As sewers, we often need quick and easy projects to jumpstart our mojo. I don't know about you, but I often get into a funk about what to take on next, even if I've identified projects that I actually want to do.

One suggestion that I have is to dive deep into your box or bag of scraps and see if any of them "speak" to you.

You may find that the effort leads to the completion of unexpected treasures. Not to mention jumpstarting the mojo.

Today's post is about two different projects that I cobbled together (one very recently and one from over a year ago) using discards that I found in my scraps box.

Do you ever chuck entire unfinished projects into your scrap pile?

I did that with a pin cushion idea that I had, made out of two leftover pieces of my Winter in the City fabric. (It was my favourite design out of the ones that I came up with during my first attempt with Spoonflower.)

Winter in the City coaster by eSheep Designs
One side of the rejuvenated project...

I had just completed some throw pillows and sunny glasses cases with the fabric and had a couple of pieces left over that looked like they could be turned into a miniature pillow/pin cushion. My enthusiasm died, however, after I decided to bind the edge with piping and subsequently had issues doing it.

That was 2017.

Winter in the City coaster by eSheep Designs
Reverse side...

In March last year, I found it while digging to the very bottom of my scrap bin. I didn't take a before picture, but it was the two pieces of fabric stuffed with polyfil and finished off with some ragged red piping. It was truly rather sorry looking.

I unpicked the binding and tossed it aside, removed the polyfil, and put a piece of fusible fleece between the two pieces of fabric. Then I quilted it as you see here.

Winter in the City coaster by eSheep Designs
This coaster has been well used over the past year and some...

Using regular binding that wouldn't call as much attention to itself (and also narrower than the previous version), I finished it off properly and it's been sitting on my desk ever since.

It's home for my cup of coffee or water whenever I'm at the computer. From something that was ignored and virtually forgotten at the bottom of my scrap heap for years, it is now something functional that I see and use every day.

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Part of this next item was also an entire project that was abandoned before it could be finished. (It was supposed to be a customized peanut shaped zippered pouch.) I cut the number 10 out of the leftover floral linen piece. The oval fabric is from a dress; I had used part of it to make a couple of no sew masks for Mom last year.

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
Finding fabrics that complement each other well...

Two weeks ago, I decided to go scrap diving to find something that would inspire me to make a memorial piece for a hero from my teen years. I had no idea of what that would be, however, until I saw this sitting in front of our fireplace...

House number sign...
We kept this when we sold our vacation home. (It used to be propped up on the ledge inside the front window. That is, it wasn't permanently installed outside; we wouldn't have taken it if that had been the case.) Hubby and I decided that it would be the perfect memento of our old home, even though the sign itself was purchased in faraway Mexico.

Once I took notice of the first two digits, I decided that my tribute project would be modelled after a door plate or a house number sign.

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
Determined to add hand finished touches...

The dress fabric was a knit, so I interfaced it with some Decor Bond to make it easier to handle. It was eventually fused onto Peltex to provide structure for hanging.

The floral linen had already been interfaced previously with some SF101. As a result, it wasn't fraying so I didn't bother finishing the edges in any way. (The numbers are fused onto the background with pieces of Stitch Witchery.)

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
One of two flowers I stitched onto the background...

Apart from the white stitching around the numbers, I used a couple of different red threads to add some other decorative bits to the background. (It helps that the fabric's print looks like stitching.)

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
Closeup of other hand stitching...

No, I do not normally like hand sewing, but in this case, it was truly therapeutic... and an intentional and genuine labour of love.

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There is a closeup of the brad that I attached to the number 1 at the top of this post. It's a clock with hands held at about twelve minutes after ten.

#10 Tribute Hanging Plate by eSheep Designs
My finished tribute to Flower...

I don't look for meaning in everything, but in this case, I couldn't help but notice. First of all, it's ten, then it's ten plus twelve which is twenty-two. April 22nd marked the passing of a hockey hero who lifted people out of their seats in anticipation like no other before or after.

"My Way" lyrics
It totally sucks to lose the unique individuals who made huge, indelible marks on your childhood. Judging by the emotional rollercoaster that I've been riding these past couple of weeks — while watching old footage, new tributes, and finally, an absolutely surreal funeral — le numero dix certainly did that for me.

Good night, sweet prince.

'Til next...

Saturday, 30 April 2022

Car Caddy & Waste Bin

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Modified Sew4Home Car Caddy & Waste Bin...
Over the past decade and a half, hubby and I have taken several road trips a year out to our vacation home and beyond.

During these trips, we usually stop for fast food along the way. Every time, I've had to fashion some sort of waste container with a plastic or paper bag for discarded packaging or even chicken bones.

How many times have I said to myself — usually as I attempt to hang and prop open a plastic bag from the glove box door — why don't I make myself a fabric trash bin? Many times. Many, many times.

And yet for whatever reason, it never got done. (Part of it might be that I never came across the right project.) 

Until now, when — ironically enough — we've sold our vacation home and won't be doing those long drives on a semi-regular basis any more.

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Back view...

This combo car caddy and waste bin was made just in time for our last trip out. It's a modified version of a project from Sew4Home, searchable on their site via that name.

My modifications weren't major, but involved both design elements and supplies used.

Sew4Home Car Caddy & Waste Bin
image courtesy of Sew4Home...
In terms of changing the outward appearance, I did away with a snap secured flap pocket on the back and replaced it with a simple open top patch pocket. I didn't see myself needing to keep money in this, especially since this caddy isn't likely to stay in any of our vehicles full time.

I also made the two front bellows pockets differently; different from the pattern and different from each other; one is bigger.

Because I wanted the caddy to hang from specific spots in both our vehicles (and not off a gear shift), the single strap as designed was omitted entirely. Instead, I used separate sections of hook and loop tape — attached to the back with a couple of rivets —to create a handle that can detach from itself.

Oh, and due to my "square shaped" fabric constraints (I used a couple of selections from my Just Sheep collection from Spoonflower), I made the entire bin an inch shorter (eight instead of nine).

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Using an old blanket as a substitute for fusible foam...

By way of supplies, I do not have — and don't ever anticipate having — fusible foam at my disposal. What I do have are remnants from a section of an acrylic blanket that I trimmed up to fit in a duvet cover for my mother.

It's not as firm as a foam interfacing and it's certainly not fusible, but I "made do" with it and some fabric glue. (Performance-wise, it serves the same purpose in making the bin able to stand up by itself.)

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Velcro handle that comes apart...

As designed, the front pockets were to be trimmed with something called foldover elastic from Dritz. Had none of that either, so I just went with bias tape.

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
What do you think of the lime green interior??

I did, however, have the elastic for the side panels (from one of my $1 belts), red grosgrain ribbon for the hardware attachments, as well as a "D" ring and lobster clasp. I also had a supply of ripstop nylon for the interior... albeit in an eye-popping shade of lime green!

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I want to draw your attention to the base of this item. The bottom of this rectangular shaped container has defined corners which are not rounded, nor boxed in the conventional way.
Sew4Home Tutorial
image courtesy of Sew4Home...
Sew4Home offers an extremely helpful tutorial for how to sew this type of inset base to a four sided "tube". (The link to the tutorial can be found on the same page as the instructions for this caddy project, or you can search for it on their site via the title shown in the graphic at right.)

It was definitely a lesson learned for me, and worth a read if you're interested in upping your sewing skills. If you're a regular reader here, you may know that I like to take on projects that offer something different, even if they're relatively simple. There's nothing otherwise difficult about this caddy/bin, but I'd never sewn in a base like this before.

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
View of the rectangular base...

Further on the topic, I applied another recent lesson learned when I sewed the short side seams of the lining base to the short side seams of the exterior base. The result is that once it's turned right side out and the top edge is sewn down, the lining will never, ever pop out. (I used the same technique when I made my duffle; thank you to various YouTubers for that lesson.)

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Side view...

As I said above, the sections of wide black elastic came from a belt that was purchased a few years ago at a discount shop for one measly dollar. This particular belt has now had its parts repurposed in three projects: the elastic on this caddy, the connector links on my Frankenpurse and the buckle on the Oriole bag.

Regardless of what economic era you care to name, that definitely qualifies as stretching a dollar!

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
A relatively quick sew....

As you may have suspected, dealing with the substitution of interfacing took up most of my time on this project. Without the fusibility factor, I was left to glue small sections at a time and wait for them to dry before pressing to remove "glue bubbles".

The sewing part was fairly easy and went relatively quickly, even with having to adjust for my fabric. For instance, the top facing that joins the lining to the exterior called for a 22" piece. Since I was dealing with fabric that only measured 18" x 18", I sewed together sections to meet the requirement.

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We once went out to our vacation home and forgot to bring the keys. Not to say that having a ring on which to hook them would have prevented that from happening, but it might have helped.

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
One of two ways to keep keys handy...

Curious as to how we use the pockets? I stuffed a small packet of tissues for the photo shoot, but in actual use, I keep my phone and some napkins in this one.

The back one is for fast food coupons. (Now you can see why I didn't want a snap/flap closed pocket.)

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
Back pocket is perfect for fast food coupons!

On the topic of fast food, whenever we buy anything that comes with fries, my other half is always quick to remind me, "Get ten ketchups!" (Lucky I don't want ketchup myself or it would be an embarrassing ask at the counter... and it's quite literally always me going in to do the purchasing.)

Car Caddy & Waste Bin crafted by eSheep Designs
A ketchup pocket!

Therefore the bigger bellows pocket is intended for the scads of ketchup packs required to keep hubby happy. (Oooh... does anyone else hear Wilma Flintstone singing??)

'Til next...