Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Denim Organizer - With Instructions!

I pinned this Denim Organizer several weeks ago onto my Pinterest page, but when I went back to it to look at it more closely, I discovered that the original poster's page was in a foreign language.  I never could find this project on her page.    

Pinned Image

Being pretty crafty, I decided to create my own organizer, using the photo as inspiration.

Now, I've been recycling denim jeans for years.  Here are two examples:

Using an old pair of jeans, I turned a regular sweatshirt into a zippered-placket sweatshirt. Pockets make cool elbow patches!

My sister sent me the directions for a denim throw from www.allpeoplequilt.com, but instead of making the throw as suggested, I made a double bed-sized comforter.  It was fun to use all different colors and shades of denim.  I even incorporated a pocket (for my son's cell phone) and a Wrangler label into the quilt.

So, I dug through my denim stash, and found a few things to work with. Next, I had to search every closet in the house to find a solid wood hanger.  I measured the hanger width and determined the size of the base to be 16" by 20".  I drew a quick sketch of how I thought I could place the pockets.

The base of the organizer was cut from an old denim shirt.

I couldn't use the front of the shirt, but the back was large enough for the organizer base.
Using scraps from other projects, I was able to recycle the back pockets from a pair of jeans, the front pocket from my son's old black jeans, and the sleeve of the denim shirt, which I turned into three pockets.
I had to put a seam between the two back pocket to make them even.
The finished size of this pocket was 14" wide by 8" deep.    

I chose the right front pocket of my son's jeans, because it had  the little coin pocket -- giving me three pockets in just one piece!  The finished size of this pocket was approximately 6 " square.
I cut open the shirt sleeve, and there was enough fabric to make three pockets.    The finished sizes were 5" wide by 9", 5 1/2" and 3 1/2" respectively.  After hemming the tops of each pocket, I stacked them on top of each other, and basted around the sides.   
Since I had a little more room on the base, I first decided to add a narrow pocket using the cuff of the shirt, but then changed the design to make it a loop, putting the button and buttonhole to use.

In the original photo, it looks like the base was quilted a little bit, which was a good idea in my case because the shirt fabric was very soft.  I stabilized it with fusible interfacing, then layered it with batting and backing fabric that was a somewhat stiff piece of upholstery material.  Off to my Bernina to do some quilting!

One more reason to love my Bernina...the walking foot comes with a guide attachment, which made quilting the piece very fast.  I drew one line on the diagonal from top to bottom, and stitched it first.  Then, I let the guide ride along that row of stitching, making another line of stitching 1 1/2" to the left.  Repeat several times, and very quickly, the back is quilted without having to draw all of the stitching lines!

Next, I stitched the pockets into place.
From top to bottom, left to right:  I appliqued to attach the black pocket.   First, I bound the top edge with black bias tape.  Using a wide zig zag stitch and a short stitch length, I sewed it to the base along the sides and bottom.  For the loop, I stitched from the half-way point up, toward the button (positioned at the top), across the top, and down the other side, stopping at the half-way mark.  This allows the loop to open and close.  On the right, I sewed the stacked pockets, face down, across the bottom first, then flipped them up into place, and top-stitched the left side.  I basted the right side to hold it in place...the binding finished that side.
On the bottom, I hemmed the top and stitched it in place along each side.  I basted the pocket along the bottom to hold it in place; again, the binding finished that raw edge.  
While I was at it, I added a pocket to the back, too.  I'm not sure why, but since I had the fabric, I thought, "it can't hurt to have another."
A coordinating 'secret' pocket on the back of the organizer!
It took me a little while to decide how to finish the edges.  It appears that the original designer used bias tape, so I went back to my shirt and was able to cut enough fabric to make about 80" of single fold bias binding for the sides and bottom.  After stitching the tape on the front, I folded it over, clipped it in place, and used my zipper foot to stitch, from the right side, very close to the edge of the bias tape (which secured it on the wrong side of the organizer).  The zipper foot came in handy when (finally) I was ready to stitch the organizer to the hanger.

So, here's the finished product:  it has 9 pockets and a loop on the front, and a 'secret' pocket on the back.  I filled it with desk supplies, but you could use it for sewing or crafting supplies, or cards, envelopes, stamps and an address book, or make up and beauty supplies, or fill the pockets with small toys, crayons and a coloring book to keep young visitors busy.

If you decide to make one of these yourself, the most important measurement is the width of your hanger.
You can make the base as long as you want and add as many pockets as you can recycle.

Keep sewing!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recycled Wine Bottle Luminaries

Everyone I've given this gift to really likes it...and so do I!  It's a luminary made from a recycled wine bottle.

I saw one of these in person last spring at a flea market and it didn't look too hard to make.  So, I set about looking for a way to cut the bottom out of wine bottles.

I found the Ephrems Bottle Cutter on the Delphi Glass website (www.delphiglass.com).  It costs about $42, but is worth every penny, as it made cutting the bottles go very quickly.  The principle behind the cutter it this:  you score the bottle, then use heat and cold to crack the glass along the score line.  After the bottom comes off, you sand it to make it smooth.

Using the bottle cutter, I score the bottom of  the bottle.
I found that it worked best if I stood at the kitchen counter.  I was able to score several bottles cleanly by applying even pressure with my left hand and spinning the bottle with my right hand.  
Heat the score mark over a candle flame.  
Using a candle, I heated the bottle along the score mark, continuously spinning the bottle.  After a minute or two, I removed it from the flame and rubbed an ice cube against the score line.  With thicker bottles, I had to do this three or four times, but with most, just one repetition was enough for the bottle to separate along the score line.  You can hear the bottle 'crackle' as it heats up the second or third time, indicating that it is breaking along the score line.  
The bottom of the bottle separates without pulling on it.
The bottle cutting kit came with 220 grit sand paper, which I moistened and used first for a 'rough' sanding,  It also included a powdered sanding grit that I used to finish the edges.  I put some in an aluminum pie plate and sprinkled it with water, and just twirled the cut bottle around in the plate to make it smooth.  Once I got the hang of it, I could cut and sand about 6 bottles in 30 minutes.  

The next step was creating a way to suspend a candle inside the wine bottle.  I stumbled upon wire snowflake forms by the Bead Smith (www.beadsmith.com).  My husband suggested using key rings to attach the chains together.  My son made a run to Home Depot and picked up some chain that cost 50 cents a foot.  It was up to me to figure out how to put these things together to hang the candle inside the bottle.  

First, I drew a circle the size of my candle.  Then I marked the snowflake, so I would know where to bend the wire to create a cage for the candle.  

Once the 'arms' of the snowflake were marked, I used my chain nose pliers to bend them up. 

To attach the chain, I needed to make some loops on the cage.  Round nose pliers were the right tool for that job. Since there are six 'arms,' I made a loop on every other arm, for a total of three.  

Determining the length of chain was difficult, as each wine bottle was a different size, but generally, I used between 8 and 10 links for each of the three pieces. At the top, the chains were joined together with a key ring.

I added a length of chain to the key ring to go up inside the bottle, and then measured how much longer it would need to be to for the bottle to slide up the chain so you can light the candle.  Once that length was determined, I cut the chain and added another key ring as a hanging loop.  

I did decorate a few luminaries with a piece of 22 gauge wire, beads and a charm wrapped around the bottle neck to add a bit more color, but even without the extras, when the sun goes down, the candles give a nice warm glow to your porch, patio or back yard. 

Many thanks to my Bunco friends and my daughter for saving wine bottles for me...I have about a dozen more waiting to be turned into luminaries!  For about $10 in materials, I think they make a great gift!  

Keep crafting!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Buy Local and Save - not only money, but jobs

Before the holidays, I got a postcard in the mail from some company selling custom t-shirt and sweatshirts with your family name emblazoned on them.  The prices, in my opinion, were outrageous!  $22 for a long sleeve T-shirt, and $45 for a hooded sweatshirt!

However, I really liked the idea...my son is engaged, and I thought it would be cute to get all of us, including my future daughter-in-law, shirts with our last name on them.

Since my husband's family is quite large, and I know a couple other people named Devine, I sent out a mass email and asked if anyone else would be interested.  With the postcard in hand, I went to a local screen-printing shop, and they were just great!  (www.goactionprinting.com)

In all, we ordered about 25 shirts, including long and short-sleeve t's, a couple of sweatshirts and hoodies, and children's sizes.  The prices were great -- they ranged from $8 to $22.  I did have to pay a 'set up' fee for the screen, but still, it was much more reasonable than the $22 to $45 the mail order company wanted!

Everyone loved them!

My son, Mark, models the final product.
So, the moral of the story...try to 'buy local'!  The prices may be better than you'll find on-line or by mail order, and you support a local business, keeping your neighbors employed!!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Turn a Fabric Panel into a Special Baby Quilt

About eight years ago, when my niece had our first grandnephew, I dug through my fabric stash and found a small animal print to make a baby quilt for her son.  At the time, my daughter warned me that I was setting a precedent.  I considered it a challenge, and since then, every grand-niece or -nephew has received a hand-made baby quilt from Aunt Renee.  Most of the time, I piece the top, but this time, I did something different.

Although we weren't sure it would be a boy, our 17th grand-nephew was born in December!  I selected the fabrics for this quilt before he was born, and tried to find something gender-neutral.

 Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts carried this darling animal print panel, as well as coordinating yardage with a smaller print that I could use for the back.  What they didn't have was a coordinating stripe to go with it, but luckily, I was able to find one that went pretty well.  

So what makes this quilt a little special?  Well, I decided to use the coordinating stripe to create 'prairie points' to trim the edges.  I found a great tutorial on-line that explained how make the prairie points using a strip of fabric, and it made the project go very fast! (http://www.favequilts.com/Borders/Video-Tutorial-How-to-Sew-Continuous-Prairie-Points/ct/1)  One caution here:  if you use a stripe, like I did, the direction of the stripe changes with each point...I kind of liked that, since it was for a child's quilt, but if you were using this technique on an adult quilt, you may want to stay away from a print with a one-way design.

Prairie points make a tactile border -- great for a baby quilt!
After I 'squared up' the panel, I created the prairie points, and pinned them to the right side of the quilt top.  I  learned that I needed to start pinning the prairie point about 3/8 inch from the corner, to accommodate the seam allowance.  I machine basted the prairie points around all four sides, then layered the quilt top, right sides together with the backing fabric, and the batting on the bottom of the quilt sandwich.  I followed my basting stitching to sew the layers together, leaving about an 8 inch opening along one side, so I could turn the quilt right side out.  (I trimmed the corners before I turned it right side out...made things go a bit easier!)  I pressed the side seams carefully, gently tugging the prairie points so they were nice and even.  Then I pinned the quilt all over to begin the machine quilting process.

It's hard to see in the photo, but I machine quilted along the outline of each animal, and in the elephant's case, around his trunk and feet.  A few of the leaves were quilted, too.  It was just enough to keep the batting from shifting during the many washings this little quilt will undergo.

Here's a funny story:  my niece called me to thank me for the quilt, but told me that her 18-month-old son thought it was for him!  He recognizes many of the animals, and just loves it!  I told her to make a switch -- let Johnnie keep the new quilt, and give the quilt I made for her oldest to the new baby.  He will never know the difference!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Collegiate Luggage Tags, using Duct Tape!

Have you seen the new patterns and colors of Duck brand duct tape? One local store carries the line of "collegiate" tapes, and even though it's a dollar more a roll, I had to buy some Notre Dame-logo tape. It is my daughter's alma mater, after all.

So, what to do with it? I didn't think she'd be interested in a duct tape wallet or jewelry. I finally found directions for something useful -- a luggage tag -- but I didn't like that the instructions called for writing your name on the tag with a Sharpie. Yet, 'luggage tag' stuck in my mind. I decided to play around with the tape to come up with a design that allows my daughter to use her business card to identify her bags.
A custom-made, Notre Dame duct tape luggage tag
To make a duct tape luggage tag, you'll need scissors, an exacto knife and ruler, and a cutting mat.  You will make three pieces:  an inner tag (blue in my sample), and outer tag, using the collegiate tape, and a flap, using the collegiate tape.

Step 1: For the inner tag, make duct fabric by cutting two pieces of duct tape six inches long; stick one to the other, overlapping them to make the piece about 3 inches wide (hint: working on a gridded cutting mat really helps with the measurements). Lay the duct fabric sticky side up on the table. Make a second piece of duct fabric about the same size, and lay it on top the first piece, sticky sides together. Trim and square up the piece to 3 x 5 inches.

Now, using the exacto knife and a ruler, cut a window 2 inches x 3 inches out of the tag you just made. Notice I made the window a little 'off-center' so I have room at add a grommet to the tag later.  Cut a piece of clear acetate (an overhead projector sheet or the cover of a report works great) 2 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches long. Center it over the window you cut in the tag, and tape it down around the edges with narrow strips of duct tape. Set this piece aside.
An acetate window allows your business card to be seen.
Step 2: Make the outer luggage tag by cutting a strip of your collegiate tape, and bordering it with a coordinating color (or a second strip of collegiate tape).
The ND duct tape becomes the focus of the outside of the tag.
Flip the piece over, sticky side up on your work surface. Cut another pieces of duct tape 5 inches long, and lay it on top of the sticky side, leaving a 1/2 inch sticky border along the 5 inch side (I used grey duct tape in my sample -- I didn't want to use the more expensive ND tape here!). Cut another piece of tape 5 inches long. Overlap the tape you put down in the previous step, and leave a sticky border along the other 5 inch side of the tag.  Square your 'fabric' up to a finished size of 4 x 5 inches.

Step 3: Center the tag you made in step one on top of the tag you made in step 2. Fold the 1/2 of exposed tape over the inner tag to secure the two together. Trim the short (3 inch) edges to square them up.

Step 4: To make a flap, cut a 10 1/2 inch strip of the collegiate tape. You will fold this piece of tape not quite in half...leave at least 3/4 of an inch of sticky tape exposed. Place the luggage tag on the table and stick the strip to the tag, so the collegiate tape folds over the end of the tag and covers the acetate piece. Affix a sticky backed Velcro dot to the flap, and the other to the inside of the luggage tag.  The business card slides into the luggage tag on the left, by the fold of the flap.
Step 5: Use a hole punch to make a hole in the luggage tag. Use a shoelace or ribbon to tie it to your suitcase. If you have the tools, you can add a grommet to the tag...this makes it sturdier, and you can use a 'zip' tie to fasten it to your suitcase without worrying that the tie will tear the duct tape.
A grommet makes the tag 'tear' proof.
I made two of these as stocking stuffers for my daughter.  She jets all over the country to visit her Notre Dame friends, and now will be able to easily identify her luggage at the airport.  Too bad she won't be using it to travel to Florida this weekend for the National Championship game!

Go Irish!!