Bible Covers Sewing Plan

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Each year our church hands out Bibles to the students graduating kindergarten.  Along with that, each student receives a Bible cover.  I was not aware of this.  All I knew was at the end of the list of needs for volunteers was for someone to sew Bible covers.  I was handed one of the Bibles the youth would get and a cover from a previous year to go off of and asked to avoid fabric with licensed characters.

So here are my notes for how to make more of these covers next year.  All measurements are given to fit this particular book:

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Material needed:

Fabric of choice

Iron on fusible interfacing (if fabric of choice is thin or needs strength)

Cutting mat and cutter and ruler

Pins, sewing machine, iron, your basic sewing supplies

 

Step 1: Out of fabric of choice, cut one 12″ x 24″ piece, one 6″ x 6″ piece, and two 4″ x 11″ pieces.  If needing interfacing, cut out 10″ x 22″ piece of interfacing.  Thankfully the interfacing happens to be about 20″ wide and so fits our needs.

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If no interfacing needed, skip it.  DSC05033.JPG

 

Step 2: If using, center the interfacing so you have 1″ fabric showing on each side.  Iron on as directed by interfacing.  Interfacing or none, do a 1/2″ hem, to make the whole piece 10″ x 22″

 

Step 3: Make handles.  Take 4″ x 11″ strips.  Fold short sides 1/4″ and iron down.  Then fold whole piece in half lengthwise and iron.  Then fold in the long sides into the center, so all raw edges are hidden.  Iron it in place, then sew all the way around, as close to the edge as possible.

 

Step 4:  Make a pattern piece out of paper, using measurements as shown.  Note the word “fold” penciled on there is about where you would fold the end flap up to make the cover.  I added the dashed lines to remind me to put the handle that way.

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Step 5:  Attach handles.  Pin down handle as shown using pattern.  Then sew just the ends.  I used the lower pin to show me how far down to sew on the handle.

 

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Step 6: Make strap for the snap. Take 6″ square piece of fabric, iron it in half with wrong side out.  Sew around 3 edges, leaving one short end open.  Cut off corners where it was sewn, turn it inside out (so right side of fabric is now showing), using chopstick to push out the corners. Tuck in the raw end, smooth flat, and sew around.

Step 7: Center snap strap between the two ends of one handle and sew in place.  Add male snap to lose end of snap strap.

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Step 8: Fold up the short end by 3 and 1/8″ and pin down.  Do the same on the other end.  Sew 1/8″ along top and bottom edge to hold down flaps.

Step 9: Put case on Bible to check fit, and mark where the female snap should be.  Take case off and add female snap.

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Step 10: Put back on Bible and admire your work.

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Sewing Drawer Dividers

Babies.  While babies enter the world just as is, keeping them dressed, diapered, clean, and fed can mean the use of a lot of stuff.  A LOT of stuff.  We’ve been truly blessed by many friends and family members helping us out with gifts and hand-me to help us do all of the above.  Honestly, if it weren’t for their generosity, our child would probably be wrapped in old towels most days of the week.   Which isn’t such a bad idea as I’ve realized many of their needs can be taken care of that way, but it just wouldn’t be as easy or cute or acceptable as going the usual route.  Anywho, the question is, how to organize all of this:   DSC01095

Into this: DSC01094

I am not that tidy, so a big drawer like this would just end up being a big, thrown together mess.  Believe me, that’s what’s become of my own drawers.  And that would not be useful to me, nor the other loving people who help take care of our baby as they try to find things.  The solution?  Drawer dividers.  There are plastic drawer dividers out there for sale, ready to pop into the drawers.  But they cost more than I wanted to invest in a couple pieces of plastic rectangles.  I had simply used pieces of cardboard as dividers before, but they always fell over and some websites said cardboard was acidic and could damage the clothes.  No bueno.

I had seen on google images someone using fabric storage bins in their drawers to organize.  I have been wanting to make these storage bins for other places in the house, as they are perfectly rectangular (unlike the fabric bins sold at the store which have angled sides, thereby wasting valuable shelf space, in my opinion) and use plastic canvas (found in the needlepoint section of a craft or fabric store) instead of cardboard which is genius, and the instructions are phenomenal.   Thing was, it was a lot of work to make one bin and kind of redundant for a drawer since there is already a solid base and some sides in a drawer.  A Martha Stewart website showed (after really reading through it and peering at the tiny photos and being confused for a bit) using pieces of foam board with fabric glued to them to make dividers.  The non-acidic fabric would protect the clothes from any damage the foam board may cause and linked the pieces together so the divider would stand up.  This seemed like a good idea to me, but gluing sounded tedious.  I’d have to make everything smooth, research what glue to buy, buy glue, and wait for it to dry.  A lot of tucking in fabric ends too, which seemed annoying.

Then I realized I could make basically the same thing, but just by sewing fabric tubes and sliding the plastic sheeting into them.  This seemed easier to me, as it would require just cutting and sewing some straight lines.  I also have tub loads (literally) of fabric from my grandmother, so I found some sturdy material for the job.  Sorry if these instructions are not clear enough.  I find writing them tedious, and this is more for my memory than to be a Pinterest superstar.

I made my game plan.  DSC01068My drawer is 38″ wide x 14 1/8″ deep x 6 1/2″ high.   I decided on the layout I wanted.  I decided that the dividers would stand up better if made into U shapes and if they pressed against each other to hold each other up.  How big each section is and thus how big each divider is is up to your desires and the drawers size, but the height must be slightly shorter than the drawer height or else things will get stuck.  As you can see in the top drawing, I made mine 6″ high (gives me 1/2″ clearance) by two 9″ panels on either side of one 7″ panel.  (I later found it worked better just to make most dividers go 7″ panel, 9″ panel, 7″ panel, but whatever.  Back to the drawing.)

To make my tube, I added up the length of the panels I needed: 9+7+9= 25 and then added an inch to each side for seams on the ends and in between the plastic pieces.  Length= 27″

For the width, my panel is 6″, double that to make the tube, plus 1″ allowance for the seam and wiggle room to get the panel in.  Width= 13″

I cut my fabric to size.  DSC01071Then I folded it lengthwise in half and pinned the long cut side and one of the short sides.  DSC01072I sewed a bit less than 1/2″ from the edge so it’d be easy to slide the plastic in, but still tight enough to look nice.  Turn tube inside out, so rough edges are on the inside.  I cut my plastic canvas (two 6″ x 9″ pieces and one 6″ x 7″ piece).  After sliding the first 6″ x 9″ piece to the end of the tube, I sewed as tight as I could to hold the plastic piece in place. Do again with the 6″ x 7″ piece.  After inserting the second 6″ x 9″ piece, I tucked in the end fabric into the tube, with a little leway, and then sewed across to close it all in. DSC01080DSC01081DSC01085And there’s your divider!  Here’s the drawer with several dividers in it.  DSC01099While I wrote these instructions for using the plastic canvas in it, I found it was cheaper to use foam core board, so that is actually what is in the pictures here.  The only difference with using foam core board is they are much thicker than plastic canvas, so their extra width must be taken into account when measuring and cutting the fabric tube. So tidy!  I planned to add labels to the sections, so visiting family members and other helpers would know what was what, but I still haven’t gotten around to it and have basically given up on doing so.  DSC01100Yay organization!

T-shirt Quilt- what not to do next time

  Back at the end of January, I went to my friend Jenn’s house and she greeted me with a massive stack of t-shirts and sweatshirts.

Jenn: “I have all these t-shirts I don’t wear but want to keep.  Can you make me a t-shirt quilt out of these?”

Me: “Uh, well, I’ve never made a quilt.  I have barely started sewing again.”

Jenn: “I think you’ll figure it out.”

I did have a vague idea how to make a quilt as I had started looking into making one for my sister’s bridal shower last year.  That never happened.  I got as far as cutting out some rectangles to sew together, but that’s it.  I did make dish towels for each the girls to decorate to give to my sister.  Which, are just a bunch of rectangles with the edges hemmed with the corners nicely folded.  Still a feat for me that required some how-to research and refreshing of my sewing machine knowledge.  It was slightly cheaper than buying a pack of similar towels from the store and seemed more fitting of my sister since she often sews gifts for other people and their bridal showers and such.

This is no tutorial on how to make a quilt or a t-shirt quilt.  There are many websites that offer that information and that is how I figured out how to make mine.  Still, I have a lot of notes on how I made the quilt and pointers I want to record for next time.

  • I measured the maximum width of each shirt logo and then put them in piles by size.  I found that most were about the same or could look just fine if cut to a width of 15″.  With a 1/2″ stitich on either side when connecting to the next piece, this gives me rectangles 14″ wide.  The length of each varied by what suited the image and avoiding cutting into the collar.  Having them all the same width made it easy to put them into columns and arrange into a pleasing display rather than having to keep shifting them around to see how odd sizes would fit together.  The length of the shirts naturally arranged themselves into columns that fit the twin batting landscape wise, rather than portrait wise.  I also just liked how it looked better having more columns.  6 columns X 14″ = 80″   A twin batting is 93″ x 72″ which leaves me with 6.5″ for a border on either side.
  • Sewing with t-shirts and sweatshirts is a bit harder for the novice than using the quilting fabric sold at the big stores since t-shirt and sweatshirt material stretch while the quilting fabric is a stiff cotton.  Also, the print on t-shirts grips to the pressure foot, so you have to push it through rather than think it will just glide through.
  • I washed the batting in the washing machine and it turned out just fine.  I also washed the fabric for the back and borders of the quilt in the machine.  All the t-shirts and such were used and washed, so I did not want it the new fabric to shrink and then pull on the front.  Fail.  My big mistake was that I did not crimp cut the edges of the fabric so that it would not fray.  Lesson learned.
  • Pinning every inch of the way makes a huge difference. As the fabric goes under the pressure foot, the t-shirt fabric stretches and builds up until the next seam, if there is one.  Pinning like crazy keeps this from happening.

  • At least for me, using clear thread on top was awesome since I had big expanses of solid color to go through and any one color would have shown up awkwardly.  The downside of clear thread is that it is more of a plastic then soft thread.  Once the end of thread was released from its locked position on the spool, the thread just sprung away and started unwinding.  Even though it did that, when the machine was going, the thread would not always unwind from the spool evenly and then get very taunt like there was a fish at the end of a fishing line and really pull at the needle.  I think this may be why my needle broke 2x during this process.  I found that unwinding it some helped keep that from happening.
  • The other issue with clear thread is that it did not seem like it would take well to being on the bobbin.  This was a problem for when I wanted to sew down the border on the back and the bobbin thread would show on the top.  I ended up sewing the back using colors of thread I didn’t like (and then I just used whatever was left from other bobbins) so that I could flip it over and resew over the lines with the clear thread in my top thread holder.  While sewing right on the line for some reason did not automatically have the thread on the back side of the quilt to line up right, it still worked and the ugly thread was easy to pick out at the end.

  • My desire to waste nothing should have been curbed because if made life much more difficult later on.  After I had pinned the front and back of the quilt to the batting (next time, use safety pins!  ouch!) the batting that stuck out around the edges was all uneven.  I thought to myself, why waste this extra bit of warmth? and proceeded to fold it into the border.  This made it SUPER thick and was impossible at a few points to get it through the sewing machine.  Also, I spent a lot of time measuring and trying to finagle the border to get around the uneven batting edges.  Had I just trimmed the excess batting to be the same all the way around, I would have saved myself a lot of time and frustration.  (If you make quilts, this is probably a DUH! point)

Despite all these learning as I go mistakes, I am VERY proud and happy with how it came out, as was my friend who ordered it.  Only had to buy the fabric for the back and border (I used blue flannel, nice and soft!), the thread, and sewing machine needles to replace the ones I broke.  And then it just takes time.  I mistakenly thought I’d only need a weekend to make this thing, but I was wrong!  It took many evenings over several months, but it was a fun project and learning adventure.  A good challenge.  And I did send it through the wash before I handed it over, and it held together just fine (phew!) and was super cuddly.  My friend and her husband were thrilled and excitedly pointed out where all the t-shirts came from and the memories they held.  My friend especially loved that I did my first “machine embroidery” attempt (in quotes cause I don’t know if its nice enough to really be considered embroidery) to personalize it with their initials.  I even added a shirt of my own from where we worked together, mainly to give it another pop of pink, but it felt neat to have another piece of me added in.

Seed Collection

A trip to my grandmother reminded me that it was time to start gathering seeds for next season.  I came home with little baggies full of seeds for these nice border flowers, the name of which I have no idea.  I am always humbled when I fail to grow something she gives me since she grows magnificent dahlias and other flowers in this tiny strip of land alongside her building in the middle of Boston.  Year after year her garden flourishes behind its short fence made of old oven racks and refrigerator shelves even as people who walk buy feel entitled to pick her flowers without permission (how rude!).  Maybe cause she uses chemical fertilizers and I don’t does she have a visual advantage, but its still not a good enough excuse when I have much more land and a much younger body to do the work with.  In any case, next year I look forward to pink and yellow flowers framing my lamppost and mailbox.

Today I gathered seeds from the cosmos.  It was accidentally perfect timing as many flowers had died off and only the dry seeds were left on the stem, making them easy to just brush into the bowl:

And then cut some of the heads from the cone flowers. They need to dry a bit more before I get the seeds off:

I am still enjoying the beauty of the zinnias.  I LOVE this flower since it is so stinkin’ easy to grow and makes such a great cut flower.  And they last more than a week, even when cut.  When this bunch of zinnias start to die, I will let them dry and collect their seeds to have a pink collection.  I plan to repeat with red zinnias, yellow, orange, etc.

When I left my grandmother’s, I left with not only flower seeds, but bags and bags of fabric!  As a seamstress and an immigrant, my grandmother would save the leftover fabric from where she worked.  I’m not sure how much of what she made at home was made from these scraps, but she did make much of her 5 children’s clothing as they grew up.  Here’s a sample of the loot:

She’s sorting out a lot of her fabric and thread since she’s getting older and has slowed down with making things.  I’m excited to make something with it and carry on what she started so many years ago.  My grandmother and aunts were laughing that this stuff was vintage since she’s had it stored in her room for possibly decades.  Turns out, they were right!  I found one piece of proof, right on the fabric.  It looks like it gives information on the type of fabric as well as the date May 14, 1963.  Isn’t history awesome?!

Skirt-n the issue- additional notes

In addition to what I have in the original skirt-n the issue post, another issue I found with making a pair of jeans into skinny jeans is that you can often see the woven threads in the fabric of the pants and it makes tiny lines going down the pant leg.  When the pant leg gets cut and what was once on the bottom outer edge of the pant leg gets pulled in to the center, the nice, subtle lines in the pants get redirected.  All to say, be careful of which pants you use to make into skinny jeans.

Also, when going to hem the skirt, I at first thought I would just measure down the sides to the length I want, allowing an inch for the hem, and then cutting straight across from one point to the other.  NOT the case.  Luckily I noticed before I started cutting that the front, when laid flat, dips down and the back curves up. So I put the skirt-in-progress on and then folded up the material to where I would eventually want it and marked it.  (I pinned it loosely in place so that I could mark it when I took it off.)  At least on this skirt, it came out that I needed one inch less from the top to bottom in the front than the sides, and then the back needed once more inch in length than the sides.

Skirt-n the issue

The women at my church recently had a clothing swap and I was super excited to find some new and interesting clothes.  I was also on the hunt for items I thought I could tweak since I kept seeing clothes and such and thinking, “Pssh, I can make that.”   I also wanted to remember any sewing skills I once had.  (I took sewing classes when I was 6, and got very frustrated with it because I was constantly comparing my sewing to my 8 year old sister who was also taking the sewing class and speeding her way, so it seemed to me, through the projects with ease.  The younger me did not realize that a 6 year old does not have the same motor skills and processing skills as an older kid.  All to say, the frustration with sewing stuck for a long time.)

Anyways, from the clothing swap I picked up a pair of jeans from my friend Jess with the intentions of changing them from flare jeans to skinny jeans based off of a tutorial I saw on Pinterest.  Here are the pants in original form:

The tutorial, in short, said to simply put the pants on inside out, figure out how tight to make them based on your leg, and sew up the inside of the pantleg.  Ok, that doesn’t make sense in short.  Hold on, let me use my awesome Microsoft Paint skills to show you.  If these were your flare pants, you would sew it along the red line from your ankle to your knee, assuming your jeans were fitted to the knee, it would be like this:

Anyways, this method did not work.  Sewing this way creates two different kinds of seams trying to flow into each other, and they don’t flow.  Instead, it created a bump and the only way I could figure out how to not have a bump was to rip out the entire inside seam.   I did not discover the bump issue until after I had already cut the excess material from the leg.  No going back.  I gave my sister a lengthy tale of my pants reconstruction woes, after which she asked, “Why don’t you just make it a skirt?”  Oh.  Duh.

I won’t go into details on how to convert jeans to a skirt, as it has already been documented extensively on the internet.  Basically, I ripped out the inside pants seams up to the zipper and used the extra pants leg to fill in the front.

I was going to do the same thing in the back, but doing that having the flap out in the back like I did the front was going to look funny, cause it’s quite a big flap.  Fortunately, the back had enough fabric to make a straight seam back.  Just had to re-iron and sew.  Then hemmed the bottom to the length I wanted. Ta-da!  I think it made a better skirt than skinny jeans.  As my elementary school art teacher always said, “Make the most of your mistakes!”