Part Two of my little Threads Mini-Samplers series is up over at the &Stitches blog – I hope you like it!
This is a little random, in the middle of a million embroidery and knitting posts, and since I barely ever post about sewing, but I wanted to share a little 10-minute-use-up-scraps project that I love. These little fabric bookmarks can be made in any size, to suit any book, and are a perfect use for scraps of those really precious fabrics that you can’t bear to throw away. This blue floral print by Tanya Whelan is one of favorite fabrics ever, I just can’t stand the thought of ever running out of it. So I saved even these tiny strips to make something I can use and admire every day.
Here’s what you need (my apologies that some of these photos are a little icky, the weather’s been all over the place and I figured these show what you need to see well enough):
– 2 fabric scraps about bookmark size. Any size you like, and of course it depends on the book you want it to go with. As a guide, the red one shown here is 2″ x 8″, the blue floral above is 1.25″ x 7.5″, the gray Echino bookmarks are 1.75″ x 5.5″ and 2″ x 7″. I’ve even made a tiny one from charm pack scraps (shown way below) that’s less than 1″ x 5″. None of these were measured out to be that size, they were all made from scraps I already had. Basically, the exact size is totally up to you and your scraps.
– 2 pieces of interfacing (I save those interfacing scraps for this too) to match the size of your bookmark. I don’t suppose it matters too much what kind of interfacing, it will just determine how floppy or stiff your bookmark turns out – both will hold your page just fine.
– Coordinating thread
– Ruler, rotary cutter, etc.
– Embroidery floss (optional)
This project is so simple, I’m sure you barely need me to explain it, but here goes anyhow.
First, apply your interfacing to your fabric backs, then trim both to be perfect rectangles in whatever size you’ve decided on. I usually just square (um, rectangle) it up and that’s the size it’ll be. Of course you can also trim first, then iron, that’s totally up to you.
If you’d like to embroider a little something on one side, this is the time. Do it after you’ve applied the interfacing to keep it all smooth, and keep in mind not to use too heavy a thread or else your book won’t shut all nice and flat. I’ve done a wee heart with 2 strands of ordinary DMC floss.
You probably don’t want to tie a knot on either end of your embroidery, also to keep it as flat as possible. I’ll assume you don’t need instructions on knotless embroidering for now, but of course just shout if you’d like some!
Ok, embroidery or not, next you’ll thread your machine and also set it for a slightly longer stitch, like topstitching. Mine is at a-little-over-3; I have no good reason for this length, it just works well for me.
Then sew! All around, about 1/8″ inch from the edge. Or whatever you like, just try to keep it consistent. I usually line it up with a mark on my foot and that’s about 1/8″-ish from the edge. (By the way, I pinned this one just to see if it made a difference, but it really didn’t for me.) And don’t forget to turn corners with the needle down for nice sharp angles!
If your fabric edges get a little misaligned like so:
don’t worry, you can just trim those right off. Line up the stitching with a mark on your ruler and trim that little tiny edge off like it never happened.
And, huzzah! Fabric bookmarks galore! Oh, and I know you’re thinking that these will fray and get messy with any real use. Well, yes, they kind of do, but not nearly as much as you’d imagine. The interfacing keeps them from getting too frayed, and they actually look equally cute once they’ve softened up and the edges get a little loose (like the two on the right above, which have been in use for several years now). Please stop by and show off if you ever make some for yourself!
On our etsy listings, I promised a little tutorial on how to print our larger-scale patterns over two pages, the size they were designed to be stitched. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you stitching them smaller, but the level of small detail in some of them will make that tricky. I laid out the PDF files to have them cover just one page because other layouts didn’t agree with all printers (mine included) for various reasons, and it’s very simple to enlarge them on a home printer if you know which little checkboxes to tick.
First things first, you’ll have to get yourself hooked up with Adobe Reader. It’s free, y’alls! Download it here, and install it and all that jazz. No worries, I’ll wait here …
Ok, when I first planned to do this little screenshot-tutorial, it involved a couple of ticks on the print dialog. Nothing complicated, but you kind of had to know what you were looking for. Then Adobe updated Reader … and it got even simpler! So here you go:
Open the “Little Red-Cap” (or whichever Little Dorrit & Co. larger-scale pattern you’re printing – if you’re not sure, the product listing description will make clear what size each pattern is intended to be) in Adobe Reader. I’m using the newest (as of Jan 17, anyway) version of Reader, as far as I know – version 10.1.2 – on a Mac. If yours looks a little different, the printing method should still be very similar. Ok, so go to File / Print and your print dialog should look a little something like this:
(Click for a larger version if you need it.)
Around the middle of the Print window, you’ll see the heading “Page Sizing & Handling” – this is the only section you really need for enlarging. Chose ‘Poster’, then enter ‘130’ for ‘Tile Scale’, and ‘0.25’ for ‘Overlap’ and that’s it!
The options suit printing over two A4 pages just right. If you’re using a different size paper, you might play around with the number in the ‘Tile Scale’ box to print across two of your sheets, but it should be right around 130%. The overlap doesn’t really need to be a full quarter-inch, but it does ensure that your printer gives you a decent margin and the overlap makes it nice and easy to tape together just so.
As always, please let us know if you have any problems with printing your patterns!
At Christmas, I made some of my favorite sugar cookies in snowflake shapes and wanted a simpler decoration idea than frosting. Seriously – only Martha Stewart and her army of crafters have time to draw lovely little designs on cookies at Christmastime. I decided to go with simple colored sugar, when my mother suggested saving the crazy cost of decorating sugar and just dye my own. She tells me she learned this as a Girl Scout and I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t really believe it would work, but it turns out to be crazy easy. And, since it’s made from things most of us have in the cupboard, totally free!
Here’s what you need:
– Sugar, obviously. It’d be awesome if you could find the really-big-crystal kind, but no such luck in my area. This not-fine-not-coarse supermarket sugar worked a charm for me.
– Food coloring in whatever colors you like
– A shallow bowl (I used a plate here but discovered later a shallow bowl works even better)
– A spoon
– Measuring cup
– Not pictured: an apron, unless you’re a food coloring daredevil
– About 10-ish minutes per color, if that
To get started, spread out the newspaper and put on your apron because food coloring will go wherever is unprotected, no matter how careful you are. (Ask me how I know.) Measure out however much sugar you want to dye – I did about a half-cup of three colors and had more than enough to cover the cookies I baked – into your shallow bowl.
Drip a few drops of food coloring into the sugar. It’s best to start with too little than too much. Just like adding white paint, you can always add plain sugar to a too-dark color to lighten it, but that’s how you accidentally end up with a huge bag of a color you’ll never use. (Again – ask me how I know.) Here I’ve used 3 drops of pink coloring.
Work the color into the sugar with the back of your spoon, kind of just smooshing it in. There’s probably a million other ways to do this – with your fingers if you wear gloves, mashing it all around in a ziplock bag, etc – but I found this to be just as quick and easy to make sure it’s all even.
Keep smooshing and mixing until it’s all worked in and even, adding more food coloring if needed.
And that’s pretty much it! For this light pink, I used only three drops of color and it stayed pretty dry. Sugar with more food coloring in it might be a bit moist – it’s a good idea to leave in out in a thin layer to dry for a while.
I made three colors for Valentine’s Day:
Do yourself a favor and make these sugar cookies from Our Best Bites, which I promise is the best sugar cookie recipe on earth. Sprinkle them with your hand-dyed sugar before they go in the oven, or you could always use it to decorate cupcakes or anything else you want to sparkle!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Update: Ohmygoshohmygoshohmygosh, this tutorial was on Craft: magazine’s blog!!! This is my little blog’s most exciting day evar! A bunch of readers also left their particular sugar dyeing methods in the comments below, so have a look through them for further tips and tricks. Thanks for stopping by!
When we put up the Christmas tree this year, I noticed that one of my favorite ornaments could easily be reproduced and would be a great project for tiny scraps of cute fabric. Just a disclaimer: this is not really my original idea or anything, but no one knows where or when that ornament came from, only that it’s been on the tree for pretty much my whole life, as far as I remember. Credit for this idea goes to those unknown ornament makers out there somewhere who have charmed me for years with their adorable design.
I know I’m cutting it awfully close with a Christmas-themed tutorial, but luckily this project is so simple, it’s perfect for a last-minute gift or just a festive project to help keep you busy in the countdown to the big day. So let’s hurry up and get started! Here’s what you’ll need, and it should all be stuff a crafter will have around the house:
– 12 fabric scraps, cut into circles 3-ish” in diameter (size is not hugely important here, I used a juice glass as a template)*
– fabric marking pen (I used the disappearing kind – this is only for drawing circles onto fabric for easier cutting)
– sewing thread and needle
– thicker / stronger string (such as crochet cotton or embroidery floss) and larger needle
– a goodly amount of polyfill stuffing
– decorative trimming of your choice (I used ribbon and a button), if you like
*(NOTE: I just made a few of these as gifts, a year later, and accidentally used 11 little plops in one of the wreaths. I thought that one smooshed nicely, creating a tight and plump wreath. You might want to make 12 circles, then try your wreath with and without the 12th to see which you like better.)
If you’ve ever made a fabric yo-yo, you’ll be able to skip a whole lot of this already simple tutorial. You’re basically going to make a bunch of yo-yos and fill them with polyfill stuffing before you close them up, making 12 puffy fabric balls. But I’ll go ahead and assume you think I’m talkin’ crazy right now and just start from the beginning.
With your regular sewing thread and needle, sew a running stitch along the outside of one of your fabric circles. Make sure you have a hefty knot at the end of your thread or it could pull right through later, and make it easier on yourself by ending with your needle dangling from the right side of the fabric. Pull the thread a bit to make your circle into a little bowl shape.
Grab a small handful of stuffing.
Stick the stuffing inside the tiny bowl and pull the thread to close up the hole. (ANOTHER NOTE: Take care not to stuff them too-too full, you want them to be able to smoosh a bit when you wreath-ify it later. Fill them so they look plump, but still are squishable.)
Close it up as tight as you can and knot the thread. I do it by making a small stitch near the original knot and running my thread through the loop as I pull the thread through. (I’m sure there is a sewing term for this knot, but I don’t know it and I can’t find it. Help a sister out if you know, ok?) This is sort of a pain, because you have to hold the thread taut to keep the ball closed and knot it at the same time. I kept pressure on the hole and sides with my left hand while knotting with my right.
Run your thread through the center of the ball and back through the top and snip as close to the surface as you can. This will hide the thread end inside the ball.
Do that 11 more times.
Lay out your 12 little balls in a pleasing arrangement and grab a 18-ish” length of stronger string and needle.
Going right through the center of each ball, thread them all onto your string – no knot needed, just leave a nice tail at the end – in the order you laid them out.
Center them along your thread.
As tightly as you can possibly manage, so the balls squish in together tightly, tie the two string ends in a strong knot, making a circle of fabric balls. I tried to do it alone and couldn’t no matter what I tried. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – sometimes two hands just aren’t enough.
Run each end back through the wreath to give it some extra strength and hide the ends.
Affix the decoration of your choice, add a loop of string for hanging, and Huzzah! A scrappy wreath ornament! I actually left mine right where it is in the very first photo, looking adorable against the many inches of snow we got over the weekend. Happy last-minute crafting!
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