Category Archives: DIY

Sundays are for Shibori.

Indigo hand - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

A friend of mine attended a shibori dying workshop a couple months ago and has been addicted to shibori ever since. I’d been toying with the idea of working on a shibori quilt or other project, but just never really got my rear in gear. So when he offered to spend a Sunday teaching me about shibori dying and generously sharing his tools, I jumped at the chance!

Ryen already had the indigo all set up and ready to go when we got there, and I didn’t really take enough pictures/notes to make a tutorial, but I thought it’d still be fun to share some of our experiments.

Shibori Inspiration - http://www.urbanoutfitters.com/urban/catalog/productdetail.jsp?id=32197162&category=A_FURN_BEDDING_THROWS

I hunted around online a bit for inspiration before I started and found this pillow from Urban Outfitters. I loved that the fabric was left with a large amount of white space and very little had actually been dyed.

shibori foldingThis isn’t really the best photo, but to get the look I was after I started by ironing the fabric into a long accordion. So much ironing.

Shibori wrapping - Crafty Little Secret - craftylittlesecret.comNext I laid the accordion-folded fabric against a PVC pipe and wrapped it with twine. Once it was all bundled, I smooshed the fabric until it looked as it does in the photo above. With shibori, any of the fabric that is against the pipe or the string will not take the indigo and will stay white. Any fabric that’s smooshed up away from the pipe will take on the indigo dye and end up colored blue.

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comWho knew that indigo dying could be so time-intensive? Turns out that to get that nice deep dark indigo color, you need to dip the fabric multiple times. The exact number of dips depends on the type of fabric, and natural fibers are required. I was using some nice white Robert Kaufman Kona cotton. You start off by soaking the fabric in water for 20 min; this prevents the dye from bleeding through the bound areas of your fabric. You then cycle your fabric, 20 min in the dye, 20 min drying on the line. Repeat until desired color is achieved. I had two pieces of fabric, one tied to either end of the pipe, so I was just flipping the pipe every 20 min.

shibori on the line

I didn’t catch any pictures of it, but when the fabric comes out of the dye bath it’s actually a lime green color. The deep indigo color develops through an oxidation reaction that occurs once the dye is exposed to the air.

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis is how my first piece of fabric turned out! Stay tuned to find out what it gets sewn into….

I also brought a long scrap of cotton knit fabric and decided to play with some different techniques and made a sampler scarf.

Shibori dying tools - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comRyen had a ton of tools that he’d laid out for us to play with, and I was drawn to the little wooden beads.

shibori beadsI wrapped the fabric around individual beads in clusters of 4-6, and wrapped each cluster with an elastic.

Shibori Sampler Scarf - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comI also tried some popsicle sticks, which I hoped would make stripes, and some plastic furniture coasters held in place with clamps. The tied up cones are a technique known as “kumo” in which the fabric is wrapped around a dowel (or chopstick, in this case) and tied in place using thread or string. Here’s a great example of kumo, that Ryen made:

Kumo Shibori - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd here’s how my sampler scarf turned out:

Shibori Sampler Scarf - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

On the left is the pattern that was created by the little wooden bead and elastic clusters. I love it! Very microbial, no? Next to that are the strips created by the popsicle sticks, the kumo twists, and the polk-a-dot pattern on the right was created using the plastic coasters. Since this scarf was made out of a scrap of fabric I had in my stash, there’s a chunk cut out of it on the right. But fear not, I’ve got a plan. So stay tuned for that too!

Anyhoo, that’s all that I dyed, but check out some of the awesome things my friends made!

Shibori butterfly - Crafty Little Secret - www. craftylittlesecret.com

Ryen used these little wooden leaf cut-outs that he found at the hardware store to make the butterfly effect shown below. I really wish I had taken a picture of Kristy’s finished product using the same technique to show how differently different fabrics take the dye.

Shibori Butterfly napkin - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comKristy brought some linen that she cut into 20″x20″ squares to make napkins. You can see in the photos below that the dye penetrated the fabric really, really well making clean sharp lines and consistent dye patterns.

shibori napkin lattice Shibori Napkins - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.comRyen also played with placement of simple patterns and made the tank top below. The stripe is on the back of the tank top so it makes a really cool spinal effect.

Spine Shibori - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

And here it is, all our beautiful work hanging on the line! What a way to spend a lazy Sunday…

Shibori Dying - Crafty Little Secret - www.craftylittlesecret.com

 

 

 

WIPs and WIIs

Works in progress and works in imagination. Or maybe they count as in progress if you’ve purchased the materials????

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe furthest along project first. I’m working on my first pair of dress pants! Well, okay, not my first ever, but my first since I started sewing seriously again and am trying to do things properly. I’m using some fabric I picked up in the NYC fabric district and an old sewing pattern (Vogue 7301). I’m going to have to improvise some pockets because pants without pockets shouldn’t be allowed to exist, but I’m not worried about that.

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd next….a sweater for my nephew. I’ve kinda started making him a sweater a year for Christmas or his birthday (whenever I finish it). Since it’s only been two years I guess that’s not much of a streak but I’m gonna try to keep it going. Can’t give away too much though because I think he’s parents read this blog and I don’t want to give away the surprise. I just hope they appreciate that I made sure to buy washable wool for a toddler sweater (hand washable still counts, right?)….

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This final one is still very much in my imagination and still needs to go through its “experimental” phase. I’ve been turning an idea for a quilt over in my head (you can check out my Pinterest board here) that would be some sort of shibori-inspired blue and white quilt with embroidery. So when I was at Walgreen’s and saw some Rit dye calling to me, I remembered I had some old sheets at home that I could practice shibori dying! Yay mess!

And that’s all the projects I’ve got going these days, hopefully I’ll be sharing the finished pants with you sooner than later but I’m finding them oddly intimidating right now…..

DIY Grill Apron: Tutorial

Crafty Little Secret Tutorial: DIY Grill Apron - www.craftylittlesecret.comWow. Kudos to all you out there who post detailed tutorials regularly. I always forget how long I take to edit all the photos and get the posts up! This one has been in the making for a month….which I guess isn’t so bad.

What you’ll need for this project…..
– 1 yard of fun fabric (quilting cotton)***
– 1 yard of backing fabric (like a duck or light denim weight)
– 16/100 denim needle
– matching thread
– chalk
– ruler/measuring tape
– scissors

**** You could actually get away with less depending on which way the pattern runs, but for most patterned quilting cottons, you’ll need the full yard.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCut the following pattern pieces:

A (Apron) – 20″x36″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric

P (Pocket) – 14″ x 9″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric (or two backing fabrics if you want a solid pocket)

W (Waist Tie) – 36″ x 3.5″
– Cut two of backing OR fashion fabric

N (Neck Tie) – 24″ x 3.5″
– Cut one of backing OR fashionfabric

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comUsing chalk, make a tick mark on the apron pattern pieces 15″ down from the corner on the long side, and 6″ from the corner on the short side. Draw a line connecting the two pieces and cut the corners off.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

To make the waist and neck ties, fold and iron fabric as when making bias tape. Fold the tape in half lengthwise and sew it up as close as you can to the open edge (I kept my seam allowance about 1/8″).

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis is where it’s very important to have that 16/100 denim needle. Once you start sewing through multiple layers of the heavy duck (or similar weight) fabric, needle shards go flyin’ if you’re not using the right size.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo finish the ties I just double overed the ends a couple times and sewed through the bulk of it….carefully. Watch for breaking needles and take it slow. No one likes a needle shard in their eyeball.

[ASIDE: The alternative method for making the waist ties is to fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together, sew all the way up the open edge then turn the tie inside out. I find this technique annoying enough on lighter weight fabrics that I didn’t even entertain the though on these heavy ones. But if you opted for a quilting cotton for your ties, it could be an option if you don’t like the futzing with folding and ironing.]

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAttach the ties by sewing them into the side seams (I attached them at the point where the angled front of the apron meets the straight sides). Since the ties are so long I found it helpful to keep them contained by pinning them into a coil to keep myself from sewing them into the seams at wonky places.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo attach the apron front to the apron backing, place right sides together and sew with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Sew all five bottom edges together (I went back and forth over the spot where the waist tie joined to add a little extra strength) but leave the top open. This allows you to turn the apron right-side-out again. Which you should do now. Flatten the apron and adjust the seams so that the corners are nice and neat (you can use a pencil to help turn them) then iron all the seams so they’re nice and crisp.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Sew the neck tie the same as the waist ties, but leave the ends open and unfinished. Fold the top edges of the apron pieces toward the inside about a half inch.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comPin the neck tie in place with about an inch of each end tucked between the apron layers. Top stitch the neck closed and all the way around the apron with a 1/4-1/8″ seam allowance. The top stitch adds a little extra strength and gives a nice finished look to the apron.

You can stop here now if you want to….but we’re having so much fun! Let’s keep going and add some pockets.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comWith right sides facing, sew the two pocket pieces together with a 5/8″ seam allowance and leaving a 6″ opening at the bottom.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo help get nice crisp corners on the pockets, or any time you’re sewing right angles, it helps to trim some of the seam allowance off the corner. But be careful not to snip your stitches!

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comFold the edges of the opening that you left inward and iron in place.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTop-stitch a decorative border along the top edge of the pocket piece. Again, this is just adding another of those little finishing touches that will help make your apron look a little more pro.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com[ASIDE: This was a great project to practice my print matching skills. When I was cutting the pattern pieces I realized I didn’t want to cover this awesome print with a big solid colored pocket and it would look odd if the pocket print didn’t line up perfectly with the apron print underneath. So I took care to cut the pocket piece so that the prints on the two pieces would align.]

Center the pocket piece in the apron about 8″ from the bottom of the apron, or at whatever height feels comfortable for you. Top stitch around the bottom and two side edges leaving the top of the pocket open.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

The final step is to divide the pocket into small sub-pockets if you want. I found it easiest to draw a chalk line first as a guide to follow since my stitching has a tendency to get pretty wonky if I don’t have an edge to use as a guide.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd……………..done!!!

 

Refashion: Aqua Goodwill Find

 

Whenever I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill I always keep an eye out for fabric that jumps out at me. I thought the aqua and white print on this dress was so cute. There was just one problem…refashion before…..the dress needed a wee bit of altering.

I liked the overall idea of the dress but, honestly, I just don’t seem to wear my dresses much. So I decided to turn it into a top. I didn’t like where the waistline was hitting me so I thought that was a good place to take out some length.

Refashion cuts

Knowing my bust would be the most difficult part to fit, I started work on the top of the shirt. I put it on over a tank top and pinned the shirt to the tank in the center and at the side seams to keep it in place, then gathered the fabric on one side of the bust and pinned it.

refashion bust pleat pinning

I carefully took the top off and pinned either side of where the gathers began, then pulled the pin holding the gathers out so the top would lay flat.

refashion bust pleat pinning2

I measured the distance between the pins and the distance from the button stance so I could replicate it on the other side and make even bust gathers. I quickly stitched them down to keep them in place while I made some other adjustments.

The original sleeves on the dress gaped open too much and there was still a lot of bulk on the side of the shirt. Once I had the bust darts figured out I put the top back on to figure out how to take in the sleeves.

refashion sleeve pin

The arrows are pointing out the pins, not side boob.

I omitted the middle elastic section I had cut out of the shirt and sewed the top portion to the bottom (I had to take in the bottom a little to account for the fabric I took out of the top).

refashion during

The refashion could have been done at this point, I guess, but I wasn’t satisfied with the fit yet. The sleeves looked funny with my arms down so I took them in along the dotted line I drew in the picture above to produce the sleeve in the photo below:

refashion sleeve

I also felt like the waist seam was sagging at the side seams and on my back, so I needed to bring that up a bit. I wanted it to be just a wee bit more fitted around the waist too.

refashion during back

The waist seam adjustment left me with some extra fabric that I was able to use to form an elastic casing.

refashion back seam

refashion elastic casing

I reused the elastic from the original top and cut it to fit tightly across the back of my new shirt. It did the trick!

refashion after front

refashion after back

I think this will be a great easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for summer top!

Anyhoo, I’ve got a trip to New York to pack for so for now I’ll just leave you with this series of goofy poses:

refashion after goofy3

refashion after goofy4

refashion after goofy1

refashion after goofy2

Hot Air Balloon Themed Baby Shower Gifts

For someone who doesn’t have kids I sure spend a lot of time sewing for ’em! I actually really enjoy it. The projects are so small they are easy to finish before I got bored. Most of my friends who’ve had kids live back home in Canada so I usually just make my felt embroidered onesies that are easy to mail back home. But now some of my city friends are pregnant and I’ve gone a little crazy sewing up a hot air balloon themed baby shower gift! Hot air balloon DIY baby shower gift The hot air balloons are a totally random theme and I hadn’t meant to go crazy with them, but I just kept sewing! See, it started with the quilt. I was hunting around for a cute gender neutral fabric bundle and fell in love with the Blown Away collection by Josephine Kimberling. blown away fabric bundle I thought the hot air balloon print was the cutest and used that as the backing for the quilt I made, then had a bunch left over. So then I made a onesie to match. And then I thought how perfectly the green matched some left over flannel from my Halloween costume and decided to make some burp cloths. hot air balloon baby onesieTo make the hot air balloon applique I used the same technique I used when I made plaid elbow patches for my husband’s sweater. It looked a little plain so I embroidered some happy puffy clouds around the balloon to add a some interest. hot air balloon baby onesie detailThe burp cloths are just ~18″x25″ pieces of flannel with a strip of the balloon fabric sewn across the end for some detail. From what I’ve read, people seem to like flannel for burp cloths because it stays in place and is more absorbent than something like quilting cotton. hot air balloon DIY burp cloth I caught myself getting a bit carried away with these. As I was thinking about making some binding to go all the way around the cloth I remembered; I am sewing something whose sole purpose is to be barfed on. So I reined it in a little and contented myself instead with a nice neat double turned hem all the way around. Hot air balloon baby quilt frontIn my humble opinion, the quilt is the star of this baby bundle! It is my second quilt but my first was a t-shirt quilt. Sewing quilts with actual quilting fabric is soooooo much easier than with knits! I knew I didn’t want a pattern that was too finnicky so I chose this pattern from Two Little Banshees and it came together in two days – one day to cut and sew and one day to bind and quilt! To do the binding I pieced together leftover bits from the quilt front and followed this tutorial for making an invisible joint and mitered corners. It was a really helpful video! hot air balloon baby quilt detail I opted for super simple quilting and only had to unpick one extremely wonky row of stitches that was over two inches off from one side of the quilt to the other! I think you can see the quilting better on the back; hot air balloon baby quilt backI hope my friends like hot air balloons!!!!!!!!!

Ele-Fun Refashion (And Blue February Sew Along)!

So I have this skirt that I never wear but won’t throw away because the fabric is just so cute!

Before Refashion Skirt

Look how happy I am to be wearing my skirt!

It’s comfy and a nice length but really, really hard to find tops to pair with it. I have both mustard yellow and navy tights that look quite adorable with it but have never been able to find the right top. And so it sits, languishing in my wardrobe, tiny little elephant eyes forlornly begging to see the light….

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress printWell little elephants, your day has come because I have decided to kill two birds with one stone; make a refashion, and participate in my first ever sew along! This month is Blue February which was the final push I needed to actually get started on this project!

Truth be told though, this skirt is actually already a refashion of a dress I bought a couple years ago that was just nowhere near fitting around my bust. But those darn elephants implored “You can find something to make with us!”. Here’s the original dress from ModCloth;

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress

Truth be told I think the original dress was the cutest variation. Sigh…..if only it had fit!

So I guess this is really a refashion of a refashion!

Anyhoo, I started by ripping out the zipper I had carefully sewn into the skirt and removing the waistband (which I saved to use as bias tape later!).

Stitch RippingI figured that if I made the skirt into a top it would be way easier to wear because it would look great with a pair of jeans. Easy peasy!

The first time I refashioned the dress into the skirt do you think I saved any of that extra fabric? Nope! So I only had what was in the skirt and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to cover my shoulders and my tummy at the same time (something I consider a minimum criteria for shirts these days). I went out and bought myself a half yard of navy chiffon for $3 to create a sheer detail across the shoulders of the top I was making.

I used the yoke from a pattern with a nice neckline (my favorite Mathilde blouse), altered it (somewhat successfully) to include sleeves, and used that to make the front and back sheer portion of my new top.

Refashion arm detail

Remember that waistband I saved? I used it to make bias tape to add a fun sleeve detail. Well actually, it wasn’t cut on the bias but it was folded and attached like bias tape. So what is it? Just tape? Hem tape? Oh the things I have to learn…

Refashion arm detailThis was my first time working with chiffon and boy oh boy does it fray, so there is a rolled hem under the bias tape to try to keep everything together. Likewise, all the seams are French seams. This also helps keep things looking pretty since the top is sheer. You can sorta see the French shoulder seem in the photo above and here is a picture of the armpit and back seams.

French seamsI toyed with the idea of putting the elephant trim around the neckline too but thought it would be too much. So instead I tried another first – my first rolled hem! Or rather, I watched YouTube videos about how to make a rolled hem and realized I would need to buy a special foot for my machine so then I just kinda did my own thing. But it turned out pretty well and hopefully if I wash it really carefully the fraying will keep to a minimum.

Rolled hem detailI’m pretty proud of myself for all the first with this shirt;
– first Sew Along
– first refashion
– first time sewing chiffon
– first (sorta) rolled hem

Elephant shirt refashionIf you exclude the price of the original dress (which I do because I spent that money like three years ago), I spent a grand total of $3 and a couple of hours to have this completely adorable and completely wearable new shirt. Totally worth it in my book!

Before and after

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tutorial: DIY Baked Clay “Person Planter”!

Sculpey Clay People PlanterIt’s a much needed rainy day today in San Francisco and it gave me a hankerin’ for a rainy day craft. I’ve propagating some of my succulents and am in need of somewhere to put them so I’ve been imagining all varieties of little clay pots that I could make with the clay leftover from my garden markers. Of course, when I finally decided on a design I also decided it would be absolutely perfect for a little flowering cactus I have that didn’t need a pot!

Cactus FlowerOh well, no worries. I’ll just make some mini pots for my propagated succulents later…

The design for this adorable little person planter is based off one that I saw on Etsy but I didn’t pin it straight away or favorite the shop, and try as I might I can’t find it again! Sorry!

So instead, here is a little tutorial on how I put mine together.

For materials, all you need is an adorable little cactus or succulent in a plastic pot, some Sculpey clay (or other baking clay brand) and a butter knife you don’t mind mucking up a bit.

My cactus was bound in the soil well enough that I was able to gently tug on it and pull the soil out of the pot without making too much mess.

cactus red flowerThen I could use the pot to cut a circle out of some clay that I had rolled to about 1/8″ thickness.

DIY Sculpey clay person planterIt takes a little working the clay in your hands to get it soft enough to roll out. I found it easiest to work little 1-2″ balls of clay at a time then amalgamate them when I’d warmed each up.

DIY backed clay person planterThis circle that you’ve cut out will form the base of your pot and the surrounded ring can be combined back with the rest of your clay.

I next rolled out a ball of Sculpy that was….oh….I’d say a little smaller than a tennis ball, to a 1/8-1/4″ thickness. You really can’t go thinner than that or the clay won’t have enough strength to hold it’s shape. Even at the thickness I used, it was pretty delicate and warped a little with the cooking (but the plastic pot still fit in easily at the end).

Roll this piece out to be a long oval shape because it will be trimmed down to a rectangle to form the sides of your pot.

DIY backed clay person planterOf course you could easily figure out the circumference of your circle, and thus the length of rectangle needed, with a little math. But who wants to do math??? Instead, you can make a little tick mark on the mouth of your pot. Lay the pot on the clay and gently roll it around until you reach the tick again, marking your start and end points. The distance between the points should be the length of rectangle you need!

I wrapped the rectangle around the base of the pot, gently rubbing the seam where they join together being careful not to distort the shape or thin the clay.

DIY backed clay person planterNow you should have a cup shape. I had some ragged looking edges on the upper rim of the pot that I wanted to smooth out.

Smoothing Sculpey clay

Can you see? The left side has been smoothed and the right side is the original rough edge. Also, you can see the potting soil that I kept rolling into my clay because I didn’t clean my work surface well enough!

To smooth these edges out just gently rub your finger along the rim with very little pressure. Run your finger over the edge a few times and the heat from your finger should smooth out the edge. Use this technique to cover up the seam where the two short edges of the rectangle joined. Again, be careful to not push too hard and distort the shape or thin the clay.

Next, I rolled out a couple little logs of clay and cut them to size to form the arms of the person planter.

DIY backed clay people planterBaked clay plant pot tutorialGently press the arms onto the sides of the pot, supporting the back as you do so. I really rubbed the shoulders and made sure that they were well attached to the pot.

DIY Sculpey clay plant potAs you can see in the picture above, that distorted the upper rim of the planter a bit so, again, I just gently rubbed it with my finger to smooth it out.

I used the same technique to make a pair of legs that I attached to the pot and even added some cute little feet at the end. I very carefully transferred the whole thing to a Pyrex baking dish and put it in the oven for 20 minutes. The Sculpey clay packaging suggested 15 minutes in a 275 F oven per 1/4″ thickness, but you should definitely check the directions for your clay before proceeding. The Sculpey packaging also warned not to microwave or over bake the clay. I have no idea what dire consequences you’d experience if you attempted either of these things.

Sculpey clay person planterOnce the clay cooled, I plopped my cactus in and I think the end result is pretty darn cute! As I mentioned previously, I did get a little warpage as my clay heated but the baked clay products don’t dry rock hard like kiln-fired clay and my cactus was in a thin plastic pot so I was still able to fit the cactus in no problemo!

DIY Clay person planterAnd there you have it, a DIY baked clay “Person Planter”!