Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sleeve Sweater Dress Tutorial: for your AG doll

I was in the mood to up-cycle some old clothes, and sweaters have so many possibilities. In my pile of too worn out, too small, too dated clothes, I found my husband's sweater that has shrunk. It was an XL, it looks more like a large now. The sleeves are perfect for making 18" doll clothes (American Girl).

 So, here's what you've been waiting for... the Sleeve Sweater Dress tutorial...

Materials and Tools:
A sweater: Mens large or bigger or a Woman's equivelant size
A doll for fitting (This is designed for an 18" American doll)
Pinking Shears (optional)
Sharpie Marker
Sewing Machine
Optional Materials (see Accessorize)

Cutting: First measure and cut about 12" up from the bottom of the sleeve (this will be the body of the dress). Next measure about 6" up from the remaining sleeve and cut again (the arms of the dress). None of these measurements are real exact for 2 reasons, 1) you're dealing with sweaters that stretch, and 2) dolls will vary in size. Feel free to trim during this process to make a better fit for your doll.

Take your sleeve piece and slip it on your doll's arm, slide the fabric all the way to one side against the existing seam (see picture below). Pin the sleeve according to what shape and fit you want. I left a slight "bell" at the end of the sleeves on my dress. Once pinned, take the sleeve off, draw with a Sharpie the general shape of the sleeve. With the fabric still pinned together, cut along your line. Take your newly cut piece (still folded), flip it over, and use it as a pattern on the other existing seam. Trace, and cut.

Try it On... On the doll of course... position the dress piece where you want it to rest, folding the top down to fold under her arms (see picture below). Mark (I used a sharpie) on the fold where and what size the arm holes need to be. This doesn't have to be exact since your sleeves can stretch to some degree to accommodate a larger hole.

While the dress is still on her, pin the back to fit, sort of a dart, but instead of sewing up the triangle, you'll be cutting instead (I used pinking shears).

Sew: Right sides together, sew the long end of the sleeve (see picture below). I used a zig zag stitch as well as a top stitch. You'll probably need a lot of reinforcement because of the nature of the fabric. With the body of the dress inside out, slip the sleeve through the hole with the right sides out. Pin the sleeve around the hole. Pin the top and bottom of the hole first and stretch the rest of the fabric to meet the sides (see picture below). Zig zag and top stitch around, attaching the sleeve. This can be tricky, so take your time and make sure you're not sewing layers together that don't belong.

You may finish your rough edges with hems, zig zag stitches, or even  pinking shears . I chose to leave mine raw... my preference.

Assemble: Where you've cut a slit in the back of the dress, attach snaps.

I created a cowl neckline in front by hand stitching a few stitches to secure the shape of the fold. There is a lot of fabric, so you can shape your neckline however you'd like.

Accessorize: Side ponytail... optional, but encouraged.

You should have a small scrap piece from the center of the sleeve, great for making embellishments for your dress (possibly a belt or tie). I used a scrap piece of leather and a metal rectangle ring for the belt. I sewed one end and used sticky "hook and loop" at the other.You have only used one sleeve, you have the rest of the sweater still to up-cycle, a matching beanie hat, headband, leg warmers or fingerless gloves would finish the look nicely. Good luck!

In the comments, We'd love to see your finished sweater dresses, please post links!

Please join our flickr group and upload pictures of your Sweater Dress or any other Finding Pins and Needles projects. I'd love to see them!

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A thanks to CraftGossip.com for showcasing this post!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Little Red Embroider Hood

The embroidered Christmas pillow, a gift for my mom. Click to see a larger version.

From the moment I pinned this, I knew I wanted to embroider it!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Warm Hands, Warm Heart

I was in need of small handmade gifts to give my kid's bus drivers. I figured I'd make hand warmers and dress them up with a novelty bag. SEW SIMPLE! Credit, but I've added my own twist.

Materials & Tools
  • Flannel (2) 3.5in x 7in
  • Scrap flannel and felt
  • Muslin or other solid fabric for bag 11in x 7.5in
  • White rice
  • Essential oils (I used cinnamon vanilla), you can find this by the candles in Walmart
  • Brown paper bag (optional)
  • Thread
  • Fabric glue
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • Bowl
  • Spoon or popscile stick
  • Small funnel (optional but really nice)

Hand Warmers
  1.  Cut the fabric for the hand warmers from a soft flannel. Take your 3.5in x 7in piece and fold it in half creating a 3.5in x 3.5 in square. Pin front sides together and top stitch all around the edge, leaving a small opening. Turn your square right side out. Do this again for the second bag.
  2. Take your rice and mix in a bowl with a few drops of your chosen essential oil. You'll want to use a Popsicle stick or a spoon so that your hands don't get messy.
  3. Take a small funnel and pour the rice into the bags. Don't over-stuff, you want to be able to play comfortably with the bag in your pocket and not have the seams pop.
  4. Close up the hole by top stitching that side or hand stitching it shut.

Hand Warmer Bag
  1. Take your 11in x 7.5in  muslin or other solid fabric, turn under and hem the top (I used a contrasting thread color).
  2. Fold your fabric in half so you know where to apply your decorative touches. I free handed a mitten, cut it out and used fabric glue to temporarily hold it while I top stitched around the edges. I like the frayed look of the flannel. The black part of the mitten is felt.
  3. Fold the bag's right sides together and sew up side.
  4. Cut a strip of flannel to create a mini scarf, cut ends to make fringe. This will be your bag tie.
Instructions Insert
I literally tore up a paper bag and fed it through my printer for the instructions. I liked the tattered edge so I kept  it, in other versions, I used pinking shears.

Cozy Hand Warmers- Place warmers in microwave for 25-30 seconds. Let cool for a few moments and pop them in your pockets!

Please join our flickr group and upload pictures of your hand warmers or any other Finding Pins and Needles projects. I'd love to see them!

Knock off of a knock off: Christmas wreath pillow Tutorial

I got this idea from this site, a knock off of a Pottery Barn pillow. I wanted to change a few things, so I created my own tutorial. I wasn't so keen on the idea of gluing the pieces on (my kids would pluck those suckers off in no time), nor using buttons for the berries. So here's my version...

Materials & Tools:
  • 2 cuts of fabric (back and front) for your pillow (I used tan for the front and a red stripe on back)
  • stuffing
  • thin cardboard or card stock for leaf template
  • green felt (varying green colors optional) an 8x10 sheet is sufficient
  • red pom pom fringe (I used 3/4)
  • a circle template (I used an embroidery hoop, a plate or bowl will work also)
  • green and red thread
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • pins
  • pen (preferable disappearing ink or water soluble pen)

Freehand a simple leaf for a template. I drew it on thin cardboard. Using a disappearing ink pen, I traced leaves on my green felt. I would also recommend using varying colors of green for a richer look. The number of leaves you need will be determined by the size of your pillow, and size of your circle.

Next with the same pen I traced a circle on my fabric. I used a 7" embroidery hoop, but a plate or bowl will work too. Next, draw random clusters of 1-3 circles in varying positions around the circle, this is where you're "berries" will go.

Next take your pom pom fringe and cut individual balls off, leaving the tails (see picture). Place the balls on the circles you just drew and using the sewing machine, sew the tails onto your fabric (try to get as close to the ball as possible, this can be TRICKY!). Run stitches forward and backward a number of times over the tails.

Next, lay out your leaves, overlapping and pinning them. Make sure they fit snuggly up against the berries so that the tails are hidden.

With green thread, sew the stem lines of your leaves, affixing them to the fabric underneath. Make sure to secure your stitches by back-stitching at the beginning and end of your stem.

Your wreath is done! Now, take your pillow back fabric and right sides together, stitch the perimeter of your pillow leaving a small hole for stuffing. Pull right side out, stuff and hand stitch up your hole. Whaala!
Please join our flickr group and upload pictures of your wreath pillow or any other Finding Pins and Needles projects. I'd love to see them!