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Saturday, 20 October 2018

Quasi-Tutorial: Make Your Own Slippers

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
My new Robert Kaufman slippers...
While my almost four year old kimono slippers still go on the road with me, I was recently inspired to make a pair of regular slippers for use at home.

I have slippers in my bathroom, where — on cold winter mornings — I appreciate having something to warm up my feet right after getting up. My current (store bought) pair is ready for the trash bin, with its plastic sole separating from the top part of the slipper. Upon examining it closely, it occurred to me that it should be relatively easy to make my own.

So I did.

And so can you, regardless of what size you wear.

Supplies needed...
How? Start by going to the nearest dollar store and picking up a pair of insoles. It will serve as the "template" for your personalized slipper pattern.

Be sure to pick an insole with a bit of width to it; i.e., don't choose the skinny ones that typically fit into a women's dress shoe. (In fact, I went for a men's felt boot insole and then trimmed it down to size.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
A pair of slippers made to size!

You'll also need some 1/2" double-folded bias binding, fusible fleece and coordinating fabric for this project.

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Make Templates

After ensuring that the insole was sized correctly for my foot, I traced around it on a sheet of paper and then drew a 1/2" outline around it for the seam allowance/bias tape. (I ended up drawing a narrower outline towards the back of the heel.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Making a template for the slipper sole...

Next, I made a template for the top part of the slipper.

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Make a template for the slipper's top piece...

This top piece should be about 45% of the length of your slipper's sole (i.e., multiply the length of the sole template by .45 to arrive at the length of this top piece) and should follow the same curve along the top edge.

Both sides should then flare out to become 1.5" wider along the bottom edge as shown in the picture above.

Use clips to attach the two templates together so you can check for proper fit.

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Does it fit?

Once you're satisfied with the templates, mark them appropriately for fold line (only on the top piece) and for left/right top/bottom of the sole.

Cut Fabric & Interface

Use the sole template to cut fabric for the top and bottom of the left sole and (reversed) for the top and bottom of the right sole. You will end up with four pieces in total; interface all four with fusible fleece.

Use the second template to cut fabric on the fold for the top of the left slipper and (reversed) for the top of the right slipper. Interface only the top half of these pieces with fusible fleece. (I would recommend keeping the fleece out of the seam allowance, unlike what's shown here.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Interface the top half of these pieces...

Now it's time to sew.

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Pin and then baste the top part of the slipper to the two sole pieces (which should be right sides out).

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Pin and baste top part of slipper to top of sole...

The next step depends on preference. If you want the extra thickness — and can handle the resulting slightly trickier job of sewing the bias binding — slip the insoles themselves in between the two pieces of the sole's fabric. (However, this may affect how washable the slippers are depending on what the insoles are made out of.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Optional: add the insole to the inside of the slipper...

The last step is to attach the bias binding.

I like to start sewing bias binding from the bottom, then flip it around to the top side and finish sewing from the top side. (I used my sewing machine's zipper foot for this part. Depending on the thickness — i.e., if you inserted the actual insoles inside — you may find it useful to use a zipper foot too.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
Attach bias binding around entire edge of slipper...

You may have your own preferred method of attaching binding, so I won't go into too much more of a discussion here. (If you want details, check out my Quilted Hanging File Organizer tutorial.)

DIY Slippers by eSheep Designs
View of the bottom!

And that's all there is to it! If you want your slippers to be "grippy" on the bottom, I understand applying some puffy paint will do the job.

I've been on a bit of a hunt for sewing projects suitable for guys this year and this is yet another that would qualify, when made with appropriate fabrics.

By the way, in my part of the world, we generally remove our shoes when we enter our homes. Hence, many people wear slippers indoors. Is it customary where you live to remove your shoes or do you wear them inside your house?

Saturday, 13 October 2018

More Quickie Sewing Book Reviews

Four sewing books released between 2015-2017...
Today's post was written quite some time ago, and I figured I should put it out there before it celebrated a first birthday.

Back in May, I did a quickie book review of Stitched Sewing Organizers, which featured a project very much like the five pocket, double zippered pouch project that I originally found via a YouTube video.

It was via the comments left under that video that I found out there was a book published last year featuring a similar project.

After some digging, I arrived at the name of the book and found out that the title was actually available at my local library and put a hold on it. Being a relatively new release, it turned out there were several previous holds on it, so I had to wait a few weeks for it to be available.

In the meantime, I took the opportunity to borrow four other relatively recent sewing books (shown above), and will share my opinions of them here.

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Hack That Tote! (Mix & Match Elements to Create Your Perfect Bag)

by Mary Abreu, 2016 (103 pages) $24.95 US

This was my favourite volume out of the four, because it goes over and above what normal sewing books do. The book features eleven projects — all based on the simple tote bag (i.e., boxed corner) construction — but you can see just in the photo below how different they all are.

sample page from Hack that Tote!...

If you look back to the photo at the top of this post, you can see the cover picture of a big bag that uses a tubular purse frame. That leads to my one big complaint about this book. In the section that covers how to make that bag, here is the instruction:

instruction from Hack that Tote!


How often do those purse hardware thingamajigs come with instructions?? (By the way, I have since found out that it's fairly easy to install one of those... a little research goes a long way!)

Anyway, getting back to what I liked about this book, the first few pages cover the anatomy of a tote bag and how to adjust the basic pattern to achieve different looks. Very informative for anyone who likes to change up a pattern.

On the Go Bags (15 Handmade Purses, Totes & Organizers) 

by Lindsay Conner and Janelle MacKay, 2015 (143 pages) $26.95 US

This one features an almost equal distribution of easy, intermediate and advanced projects created by various designers (ten of them), including the authors. With regards to the title, be aware that the projects are not all bags in the usual sense, although a case can be made for the fact that they are all meant to carry something.

Oddly enough, a lot of the fabrics featured in the projects just hit me as kind of blah. In book format, materials should first and foremost be chosen to reach out to one's visual sense and in my humble opinion, the fabrics chosen for the projects did not do that for me. (Your mileage may vary; who knows, maybe I just have crappy taste in fabric.)

sample page from On The Go Bags...

Projects include organizers for your purse, camera bag and shopping cart, a blanket that folds up into a bag (that's kinda neat), and an infinity scarf with a pocket (shown above; by the way, I did like this fabric). I'm rather skeptical about the project itself, though... not sure how nicely that scarf would hang around someone's neck if anything substantial were in the pocket, apart from a lip balm or a single key.

Overall, there are a couple of new and different designs in this book. Most, however, are re-imagined takes covering familiar ground.

FYI, this was the only book out of the four to include paper patterns.

Sew4Home Bags and Totes (10 Easy, Fashionable Projects Anyone Can Sew)

by Liz Johnson and Anne Adams, 2016 (127 pages) $22.99 US

This one is nicely photographed and illustrated but there's really nothing here that you can't find on the amazing website that was started by these talented authors (sisters). Strangely again, though, I found I didn't love most of the fabrics.

sample page from Sew4Home Bags and Totes...

There are ten bag projects from clutches to messengers to bucket bags, and none of them are meant to be difficult to do. But like I said, as a regular visitor to Sew4Home, I really didn't see anything here that I hadn't seen before.

This pretty blue bucket bag design in particular, was well covered in a tutorial that I took advantage of a few years back.

Simple, Fun & Quickly Done (18 easy to sew table runners, bags, pillows and more)

by Terry Atkinson, 2017 (96 pages) $35.99 CDN

This one I am totally ambivalent about, because while the title did indicate table runners as the first thing in a comma'd list of items, I felt that there were way too many table runner and hot pad projects here. (There was one for an interesting "citrus slice" hot pad, but you soon realize that unless you have the requisite coordinating shades of fabrics in orange, lime green, etc., the whole point of the design is lost.)

When it came to bags, one of the designs was a drawstring bag of various dimensions. Hey, we all need drawstring bags and they are a wonderful way of using up fabric for gift-giving purposes, but do they need to be featured in a book? I dunno... therefore the ambivalent thing.

sample page from Simple, Fun & Quickly Done...

This project was one that I did find appealing, since it is somewhat of an original take on a wine bottle cozy. Looks almost too nice to be given away. ;-)

Oh, and she had a neat idea for a zipper pull made out of a zipper fragment; it's actually seen in the photo above.

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In terms of sewing enthusiasts, there are those who take classes, those who read books, and those who surf online. They may all be inclined to favour one method and be not so much enthused about the others. In that sense, I'm primarily an online surfing kind of person and am confident that I can find what I need that way. Taking a traditional sit-down class is not for me, and buying a book is also not for me.

However, having the option to examine some books from the library is a total bonus... even if I am able to flip through four books in the (less than) ten minutes it takes to get home from the library!

Hubby, sitting in the driver's seat: "You're finished looking at them all??"


Saturday, 6 October 2018

A Fabric "Exploding" Box

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Just a box, right?
I'm always on the lookout for paper crafts that can be converted into fabric-based projects.

So when I saw an "exploding box" on Pinterest — I'm not on that platform personally, but occasionally follow links that lead me in that direction — I immediately knew that I had to make one out of fabric.

I also knew which fabric: the fat quarters of linen that I found at Dollarama earlier this year. My initial plan for it was to make a box very much like the one that you see here in the above photo.

However, it was not meant to "explode" into this much fun!

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Not just a box!

Is this or is this not aptly named??

You can probably think of many different applications for this kind of box, but my first thought was to use it to organize my sewing machine needles. (The plastic pill bottle in the middle holds needles ready to be discarded.)

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Another view...

Up to now, my sewing needles have been stored in various places, to the point where I sometimes forget where they are. With this box nearby, that will not be a problem ever again.

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It may not look that way, but this is a very quick project. I turned this around within a day of getting the inspiration... and I had to start by working out the dimensions to make the most of my fabric. (In the end, I went over my one fat quarter limit by a 2" x 10.5" strip.)

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
A peek from the top...

The box is constructed out of fabric and Peltex, which was both fused and glued together.

Fabric is fused to one side of Peltex and glued to the other...

All raw edges were zigzagged with a short stitch length (not quite a satin stitch).

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
The interior box...

The interior box is made out of four rectangular pieces on a small square base.

Each collapsing side panel can be embellished in different ways to arrive at desired functionality. (Just make sure that if what you want involves sewing, do it before you glue the fabric to the Peltex.)

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
A mesh pocket bound with ribbon... sewn onto the fabric before gluing...

For the main box, I played with some leftover ribbon and mesh to come up with a pocket for two of the sides. (It shows a gift card here, but in the other photos those pockets are being used to store packets of needles from Mom's sewing kit.)

For the remaining two sides, I used hot glue to attach velcro dots.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
My original set of Kenmore needles...

These velcro dots are the adhesive "peel and stick" variety, so I just stuck half of one set onto the back of the needle pack.

For the interior box, I hot glued magnets onto a couple of the sides. (The other two sides have velcro dots also.)

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Magnets are great for keeping needles in place...

Like the linen fabric, both the magnets and the adhesive velcro dots were dollar store purchases.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
View of box on its side...

With the fabric coming in at $1.50 per fat quarter — and I still have most of the second fat quarter intact — the supplies for this project come in at less than $5 (not including thread, the ribbon and mesh scraps, and the glue).

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Here is a summary of the basic dimensions and steps if you want to make your own exploding box.

Cut 15 pieces of Peltex: five 4.25" x 4.25" (main box sides and base); one 4.5" x 4.5" (main box lid), four 4.5" x 1" (lid edges), four 2" x 3.5" (interior box sides), and one 2" x 2" (interior box base).

Cut 30 pieces of fabric: ten 4.25" x 4.25" (main box sides and base); two 4.5" x 4.5" (main box lid), eight 4.5" x 1" (lid edges), eight 2" x 3.5" (interior box sides), and two 2" x 2" (interior box base).

Fuse half of the fabric pieces onto the Peltex pieces.

Sew any desired embellishments onto the remaining fabric pieces and then glue them onto the reverse side of the appropriate Peltex-backed pieces.

Arrange the five pieces for the main box in the way that you want them to appear. (This same process — involving the placement of a piece in the middle and four pieces on each side — will be repeated for the lid and the interior box.)

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Use clips to help you keep track of how the pieces go together and where you need to sew...

Attach a clip to the inside edge of each of the four surrounding pieces; i.e., the edge that will ultimately be attached to the middle piece. Zigzag stitch around the other three edges of each surrounding piece.

Do the same for the five pieces for the lid and the five pieces for the interior box.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
These are the five pieces for the lid...

Complete each of the main box, the lid, and the interior box by taking each outside piece and zigzag stitching it together with the middle piece.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Sides attached to the main lid piece...

A tiny bit of hand sewing is required to secure the four corners of the lid.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
The only bit of hand sewing that you'll have to do is for the four little corners...

To finish, hot glue the inner box to the base of the main box. And of course, add whatever embellishments are desired to the various side panels.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
Side panel with a magnet hot glued onto it...

I made another similar box project that will be posted as a quasi-tutorial in the coming weeks.

Fabric Exploding Box by eSheep Designs
A worthwhile addition to my sewing table...

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this project, maybe you'll also like my hanging fabric pieced ornament. With the holidays coming up, you can make it with seasonal fabrics to decorate your space.

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Two Fat Quarters = One Tunic

Sewing Machine Zen fabric by eSheep Designs
What will I make with a couple of Spoonflower fat quarters?
Spoonflower holds two "buy 1 get 1" fat quarter sales a year, in July and November. I've taken sufficient advantage over the past few years that during this past July's sale, I only ordered two, both the same: Sewing Machine Zen (from my Zen collection). With shipping, it came to a total of $12.80.

An idea had popped into my mind to make a tunic with two fat quarters out of some sort of knit fabric. It had to be a knit for two reasons: they come in wider widths and they're stretchy. The performance pique that I chose to go with has a 56" width, which when divided into a fat quarter, measures 18" x 28".

The 28" width allows me to make a tunic with that length, when the fabric is turned around.

This idea likely germinated last year when I made my Canada Day crop top. After confirming that something could fit me using the 18" across the width, I was curious to try something longer.

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
Sneak peek at the lower half of my Spoonflower fabric fat quarters tunic...

Using the surrounding white border of all Spoonflower printed fabric, I was able to get some bonus built-in contrasting trim for my tunic. I don't know if you can see it clearly, but there is a white edge along the open sides of the lower part of the tunic in the above photo. This is due to my using the white border as the 1/4" seam allowance, thus preserving as much of the printed fabric as possible (since it did shrink a tad when I washed it).

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Here you can see that the white border provided the contrasting boat neck and cap sleeve openings.

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
Close-up of top part of tunic with contrasting white trim...

And because this fabric doesn't fray, the entire garment was made with just four lines of stitching. (I actually did five, originally sewing a curved seam at the neck, thinking it was needed. In the end, a cut curved raw edge worked better.) Not much of the fabric went to waste; the only pieces cut away were the triangles at the shoulder and the rounded edges at the bottom corners.

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
I love the way the performance pique feels...

Here is how the shoulder seam was formed.

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
Two sewing lines for the shoulders...

The other two sewing lines are along the sides, after leaving a gap of several inches for a sleeve opening. The bottom 10" of the sides are vented, as it would otherwise be impossible to sit down while wearing it.

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
How to make your own fat quarters tunic...

The drawing above shows the simple scope of this project using two fat quarters. If you want to try something similar for yourself with two rectangles of any size, I suggest that you use a top from your current wardrobe as a guide to come up with specific measurements for the sleeve opening.

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I used a ball point needle and a stretch stitch for this project, which is highly recommended. (Just be aware that while a stretch stitch helps, it is a pain in the butt to unpick if you make a mistake.)

Fat Quarters Tunic by eSheep Designs
Cinched up with a belt for a different look...

For those of you old enough to understand the reference, don't you think there's a late '60s "go go" vibe about this? Hard to imagine that girls once walked around in mini dresses and skirts about this length! For me, it'll go over shorts or leggings, depending on the season.

And of course, I have several belts that can change up the look.