Tuesday, July 30, 2019

SCRAPZILLA - The Giant Scrap Eating Monster! Part 1.

Do you have a scrap problem? Are your scraps busting out all over and taking over Japan your sewing space? Like this giant bag of scraps. It doesn't look giant in the photo, but this thing is one of those eNORmous laundry bags full. I'm a total scrap hog. I don't throw anything away! I even work with one inch scraps, but there are times when you just have to cry uncle and give up. Also, I've learned that mixing fabric types is a bad idea, so if the fabric is not quilting cotton or flannel, I add it to the scrap basket... er... bag. After a while, you can't shove even the tiniest scrap in there, the bag is burping scraps, you find them in weird places like door jambs and attached to a cat's nail, and you realize that you have a problem. Hi, my name's Toni, and I'm a scrap hoarder.

Enter SCRAPZILLA - the giant Scrap Eating Monster! He will totally destroy all your scraps, gobbling up every. last. one! It's your call how you use him. I made him originally as a dog bed, but after I finished and seconds before a dog claimed it, I walked over it to test the comfort level and it would make an awesome rug! I'm going to make some smaller ones for the cats too.

Here's how you put him together...

Step 1: Find fabric
Muslin is fantastic fabric to use, but any tightweave non-stretch non-textured finish will work. 100% cotton or muslin is usually the cheapest in this group, but whatever you have on hand will do. Poplin, twill, whatever. Just make sure there's no texture to hook claws and that it has a close weave. You don't want those scraps falling out anywhere! I'm using good old fashioned Walmart cheap muslin. This stuff is awesome! You get yards of the stuff delivered to your door and it works for so many things. It's worth the $27 for the bolt! Comment if you want me to post the link to the one I buy

Step 2: Not Scary Maths
Work out the length and width you want. Multiply the length by 1.3. Cut fabric to size.
Hmmm... perhaps this should have been step one? You'll need to know the size to find the fabric, right? Oh well, feel free to choose your step order.

I was lucky, my width worked out so that I could use one piece of fabric folded over. If you want something utterly enormous, you may have to cut two panels and then sew one long side together. I decided I wanted 45" long by 22" wide. How did I decide this? My dog from nose to tail is 42" long. Give her a couple extra inches for comfort. The width is just based on a garden cushion, which was 25" wide, but my fabric was 45" wide, so she got 22" because I folded it in half. I'm lazy that way!

Step 3 Draw Lines
Now, fold the fabric in half (or sew 2 panels together) so that you have it laid out with the length in front of you and begin drawing lines across the width. The first line will be about 1/2" to 3/4" in from the edge. I just eyeballed the edge of the selvedge. Then you can either carefully measure the length of the fabric and work out your exact spacing, or just position your ruler so that the bottom is about 1/2" from the edge and draw a line on both sides. Voila! 2 lines already! Then I put the ruler against the top line and drew the next line above, moving up like that until I reached the other side. Yes, I'm lazy that way too.

When I got to the top, the gap was less than the width of the ruler, so I merely eyeballed the inside of the selvedge and drew the line there. Later on in the bird's-eye view, you can see that the channels at both ends are not as wide as the rest of the bed, nor the same size as each other. If you're OCD, please feel free to work out exact spacing. I'm definitely too lazy to do that. #ihazalife

Step 4: Pin
Ignoring the stink eye from Quality Control as you move her out of the way, stick in a few random pins along each line to keep the fabric from shifting. You really don't need many. Try not to stick a pin in Quality Control either, it's a pain to clean blood out of a project half done. And she'll probably remove your eyeball.

Step 5: Sew
Roll the entire thing into itself like a giant burrito, position the folded end (or the sewn end) under the needle and sew all the way to the bottom of the line. Drop your needle, pivot the fabric, and sew all the way back to your starting point, trying to get a line as close to the first one as you can. Some of my lines merged, but that doesn't matter. All you're wanting to do is have very strong seams. Cut your thread, and repeat on the next line.

I tied off the threads and snipped them before moving onto the next line, you could snip yours all at the end, whatever works for you. #findyourownbrandoflazy

I also serged my completed seams. You can finish yours any way you like. It occurred to me that this would look great with bound edges, but I plan to make a cover. That will be Part 2 of this tutorial.

You'll notice my first two seams are in black thread. This was a combination reason. I had a small amount of black thread already in the machine and, when it ran out, switched to a matching color. The reason I didn't switch up front is so that you could see what I was doing. However, as you'll see later, the threads totally disappear and, if you're planning to make a cover, nobody will see them anyway. So, again, it depends on how OCD you are what color thread you put in your machine. This is a scrap-busting project. Use that thread you hate!

Step 6: Stuff
Grab those scraps and start to stuff them down inside the channels. If your scrap pieces are too big, cut 'em down! I had a pair of pinking shears on hand and just chomped through with no real size or shape consideration, but as there are a lot of scraps here of various fabrics and the muslin is heavy duty, it doesn't really matter if you use pinking shears. If it frays, it's all going to stay in the same place!

You may need to UNstuff some of your channels, if you've made them very narrow. I merrily stuffed my first channel all the way and then had to pull it out. As these are tiny scraps, using a knitting needle didn't get them all the way down and I had to scrunch the fabric to get the scraps down to the bottom. So then I stuffed all the channels at the bottom, then stuffed them all up some more, then stuffed them all up halfway, and worked my way to the ends like that. If your channels are about 5" wide and you have small hands, you might be able to just push the stuff to the ends. Otherwise, stuff with caution! I had to scrunch like this...

When you're done stuffing, it will look like this. I don't have a magic finger snap trick to do, so here's a side-by-side before and after. The eagle eyed among you will notice that the finished product is smaller than the starting size. Clever you. Whilst I'm aware that stuffing a channel will decrease the length of the item, I didn't think about it up front, so my fabulous, made to measure dog bed is now too short for the poor pup. In order to save you from reproachful puppy eyes, I incorporated the difference into my Step 2: Not Scary Math, so while you will still have a size difference, YOUR dog bed will be perfect for your pooch!

You can also see here the different widths of the ends. Not hugely noticeable, so, meh! It's going to be covered up with a Cozy Washable Cover soon, anyway, so nobody but you, me, and about 45 million other interwebz users will even know.

Step 7: Close It Up
Have you ever had the idea that it might be fun to wrangle a dozen intertwined, half inflated tractor tire tubes? No? Hmmm... well, if you did ever think you'd like to try it, you can cross it off your bucket list after this. You have to pick up this giant sausage roll scrum and wrestle those open ends under your sewing machine. Then you have to hold that 'ornery sucker in place while you stuff the escaping scraps back into their tubes and keep it steady under the needle. The fabric will buckle and roll away from you, the bed will do everything it can to pull your machine off the table and into your lap/on the floor/out the window, and the scraps will continuously make frantic bids for freedom.

Assuming you survive this for the first round, turn the thing over and sew back down again, so that your seams are secure. Then finish your seam the same was as you did your others.

It is possible that the wise among you will sit down with a needle and thread and do a neat closed seam and perhaps a rolled edge by hand. When I make my next one, it shall be both the correct size and hand finished. For now, please excuse the blue cloud wafting over this photo from all the very unladylike swearing that escaped my lips! (And hurrah for my Janome that survives all my crazy ideas and chugs away stalwartly on everything!)

Couple final notes: 
This really is a scrap guzzler. I couldn't believe how many scraps it took to fill. Which was awesome, kinda. But I wanted TWO dog beds. I'm going to have to sew like mad to make scraps for the other.

Also, trust me, you want the channels going sideways, crosswise along the width, not lengthwise. Long straight seams are a pain to sew without the fabric shifting (quilting experience for the win!) and the finished item will be very unwieldy. This style with shorter ribs is much easier to heft around. And the final item is heavy, at least at this size! Keep that in mind.

Lastly, this is entirely washable. If you can fit something this big and heavy in your washer and dryer, it can totally be washed like any garment. (If you can't, the laundromat has commercial sized machines that can!) However, I'm planning to make a Cozy Washable Cover that is easier to strip off, wash and replace... because I'm lazy that way. πŸ˜‰

Et voila! Scrapzilla has chomped all your scraps and is ready to cushion your toes, butt, dog, cat, or whatever you feel might like it. Made small enough, they'd probably do great as cushions for stadium seats, or back garden chairs. I have two dogs and two cats that have first dibs, but when I have my next round of scraps, I am thinking I'm going to make a couple of bedside rugs!

Watch out for Part 2: The Cozy Washable Cover Tutorial!

If you make one, please link and share photos! I'd love to see what you do!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Hotspur Street Quilt

Ta da! πŸ˜ƒ

This is the Hotspur Street Quilt Pattern by Eleri Taylor. Clicking the link will take you to her Etsy page where you can buy it - but I don't get a commission or anything. I just know how frustrated I get when I have to chase down a pattern that I like. It's a full size quilt, and so too big to fit on my washline - or anything else to display it full size. Even turning it sideways on the washline it was too big to fit without getting down to ground level.

Despite being the first quilt I started, it was the last to get finished. For some reason, I thought this was a quick and easy pattern. After sewing for what felt like forever, I stopped to count the pieces. Nearly two thousand of them, in total. All, except for the border, being 2.5" (5cm) square. Teeny pieces needing teeny seams. What was I thinking???

They all started coming together finally, and I was so excited to finish my first set that I made poor long-suffering Himself come out and take a photo of me with it. Especially as he wasn't that impressed. Looking back at the photos, I can see why. It definitely doesn't look as good as the finished product. 

As I don't have a design wall, my method is to lay the pieces out on my bed and match up patterns. This is definitely not a long-term solution. For a couple of reasons. Firstly, the Ninja has decided that anything laid on the bed instantly becomes her property and must be defended tooth and nail. Very sharp little teeth and nails, I might add! As I laid them out, she would jump onto that piece and when I tried to remove pieces to sew them together, she would lash out. I have no idea why this quilt has so little red in it!

The second reason has more to do with being able to see the pattern. Experienced quilters will know what I mean. On a design wall, you set out your blocks, step back and look at them, or possibly sleep on it and look at it again in the morning. Glaringly obvious pattern errors will often reveal themselves with a bit of distance. Or time. Neither of which is an option when you're using a bed. At least, not YOUR bed!

This quilt is scrappy and busy so that it is very forgiving, but I can see several areas where I should have mixed the patterns up better. The plethora of like alongside each other grinds my goat. 

It was finally all together and I put it on the spare bed to check out how it looks. It was supposed to be a full size quilt, and our bed is queen size, so I needed to check it correctly. The friends who were to receive it have a full size bed and I didn't want it to swallow their bed because it was sized wrong. In my humble opinion, it turned out just right. Although, it didn't feel finished. So I added a border from fabric in my stash, which, oddly enough, was the same designer as one of the jelly rolls I used, and finally bound it in a dark brown. 

You'll have noticed, by this point in the photos, that this quilt is being stalked. The Ninja was most offended that "her" quilt was on the washline! In fact, it was very difficult to find photographs that didn't have her in them! She adored this quilt and got on it at every possible opportunity. 

In fact, the way she was pacing around it, I'm sure she was trying to figure out if there was any way to get on it while it was hanging up! 

Photo on our bed so that the border can be seen better.

 It's backed with a blue fabric from my stash, and was quilted by my friend, Brenda Ackerman, on her longarm quilting machine. She did a great job and it looks fantastic!

I'm really proud of this one. I think it turned out terrific. Our friends love it, so it was worth all the hassle!

Now I just need to make a new quilt for these two!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Ginger Pecan Apple Crisp

Kinda frankenrecipe'd this one, but it turned out really good, so I figured I'd share.

The texture is less like crisp and more like cake, in my opinion, but it was still very good!

We tucked in before it was even cold!  I do love Apple Crisp and Apple Crumble. It's a no fail recipe that can be whipped up for almost any occasion, using whatever you have on hand.

Also, for some reason, it created it's own sauce, which was rich and added flavor and moisture to the taste and texture. I'm fairly certain a fair whack of the sauce was sugar, so if you reduce the sugar in this recipe, you might want to add a little liquid to your apples.

The crust, despite being cake-y had a bit of a crumble look to it. Crumbled cake? LOL

And the pieces of apple and ginger were perfect bite size! Yum! No how-to photos, because I hadn't planned to share, but here's the recipe outline. I put together what I had in the fridge, listened to a Google Home recipe feed for a basic outline of crisp ingredients (and then put together my own mix anyway!) and threw it in the oven at the temperature I was using to cook beef chuck ribs - which was way lower than I'd usually use for a crisp recipe! However, it turned out so good, I may run this one through the motions again.


4 - 6 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into small pieces.
(I used what was in the fridge, which was a mix of red, gold, and yellow this time.)
1/2 cup brown sugar (if you reduce the sugar, add a couple tablespoons water.)
1 finger fresh ginger - literally, about the size of one finger. Peeled and chopped very small.
1/2 cup pecans, shelled and chopped into small pieces.

2 cups oats, rolled or quick cooking. Not steel cut
1 cup white sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, and cut into dice-sized cubes.


Heat the oven to 300F/150C/Gas Mark 3 (or do as I did, and work out how far into your cooking time you must put it in for the last 30-45 minutes of whatever you're making!)

Toss the base ingredients into an oven proof dish and mix well together. The recipe books all say "grease a dish" but I always forget and didn't do it this time either. I used a large oval dish, I'd say a 13"x 9" would work fine. If the dish looks a little full, use less apples. If it looks a little spare, add more apples. I did say this is a no fail recipe...

Put the dry topping ingredients into a large mixing bowl and blend. Drop in the butter and cut it into the dry mix with a pastry cutter, your preferred alternate tool, or my preferred alternate tool - fingers. Cut or rub the butter into the mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Pour the crisp mix over the fruit mix in the bowl. Mine piled high and I had to pat it down to make it all fit. It shrinks in the oven, so having a little too much is not a big deal.

Cover with tin foil and put in the oven for 30 - 45 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the oven up to 350F/180C/Gas Mark 4 for another half an hour.

Remove and eat. Covered in the fridge it lasts for several days (hahahahahahahaha! yeah, right!) and can be eaten cold, or nuked in the microwave to warm it up again. Eat as is, or top it with ice cream, whipped cream, or my personal pleasure - fresh original Greek yogurt. It cuts the sweetness, adds a delicious touch of tart, and cools it down enough that you can inhale it straight from the oven without suffering second-degree burns. Plus, it's healthy!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ruffled Wrap Skirts Are A THING, y'all!

Back in June, I posted about this ruffle wrap skirt that I made up for a sewing class.

To my absolute delight, I'm seeing more and more ruffle wrap skirts pop up on the Interwebz. Most of them have done what I mentioned I should have done on my one... made the ruffle wider. In fact, most of them have made them a LOT wider!

View the deliciousness below!

McCalls 7745: The Γ‚¡Ay, Caramba! Kente Skirt
Marcie Harriell went for an African print.

Geneva Vanderzell went all white. Her design is more fitted, like mine, but with less of a wrap.

Lauren Digby went for a high-low maxi. 

And By Hand London created a full circle two tone delight!

Loving this trend, it's just so flirty and floaty. If you don't want to make one, there are a plethora of options already made and for sale. I've seen them at Gap, Loft, JCrew, H&M. Just Google it! 😊

Monday, June 25, 2018

Belly Dance Costumes

Warning! This post is photo heavy!

June began with our 3rd Annual Student Showcase. So much work to get it ready, and I ended up making three costumes. The ladies looked amazing. I looked haggard! LOL Here are the 3 together.

Breaking the costumes down, from left to right: Michelle, CJ, and Terri. Michelle's costume was easier than the other two because she used a purchased pair of pants and top as the base, and I created the oversleeve and overskirt and belt.

This is not a brilliant photo, but it's an action shot from the event taken on the night. I don't have many photos from the event, only video, so I'm very grateful to have this one.

Michelle has a broken elbow, so the sleeve was created to soften the effect of the crooked bend in her arm and hide the scars she will have from surgery. It is created from a crystal-beaded tulle. I used a microsuede to create the midriff line, sewed the tulle into the front fold so that there is only microsuede against her skin, and beaded the edging. I created an overskirt from the same fabric, and then beaded a belt to cover the elastic of the overskirt. The cuff is beaded, sequinned, and crystalled. Of course, I don't have a photo of that! ...rolls eyes...

Here is a photo I took while I was working out the design of the sleeve. The intention was that it fit directly below the strap of the top, whereas in effect, it hung down, as you can see from the photo above. In the future, I plan to correct this somehow. The problem I have is that the sleeve needs to be interchangeable with whichever outfit she's wearing, so adding clips or hooks or some such will not work. Now that the rush of the event is over, I have time to work on it.  

The fabric is blinged out to the max, but doesn't show in photos. This photo is the closest I could get to the uber shiny it has in real life!

Moving on to CJ's costume: she is wearing a bra and panties of her own. Everything else I made. The harem pants took only 4 hours to create - but an entire week to add the crystals. Every single butterfly on that fabric is decorated with crystals.

Unfortunately, they don't show up very well in the photos and the entire finished effect wasn't as blinged as the other ladies, so I had to add an overskirt for a bit of extra oomph!

Once again, the skirt is not showing up very well in the photos. It is glitter tulle and it is sparkly all over. And left a glitter trail I'm still cleaning up! The skirt is attached to a belt onto which I added more crystals and some flowers.

The top was created in a jersey knit from my stash and then adjusted to fit CJ's impressive real estate. I had to add 4" to that top! Then I sewed on satin flowers, sequinned butterflies, and glued on more crystals.

She looked great at the event and was very happy.

Lastly, Terri's outfit. Now hers looks the simplest, was the shiniest, and was the biggest headache of all! I started with a purchased bra, cut off the straps, covered it with fabric and added beaded edges that I carried over the shoulder into crossover straps. No... the beaded strip was not the strap. Hiding underneath that beaded trim is petersham ribbon in two colors, so that it is invisible beneath the beading. I may be crazy, but I ain't stupid! πŸ˜‰

The right hand side is knit crepe, which was so shiny, it needed no further embellishment. But the blue definitely needed dressing up! The addition of two rows of tassels  made it such fun, and an old earring provided the perfect centerpiece. Terri added chain drapes for the event.

Those pants though! A similar pattern to CJ's, although these have a side slit, should have only taken 4 hours to make. My mistake, however, was using vintage lamΓ© for the fabric. Turns out this "fabric" is genuine metal! And it shreds to nothing when it's punctured, like with a sewing needle. I found out afterwards that you don't sew this stuff - you glue it! It gave me the absolute heebie jeebies and, while it looked fabulous for the event, it ended up shredded so badly, it was a one-time-only affair. Now I have to make her a new pair of harem pants! Grrrr...

To end, here's an action shot of the entire troupe on the night. We had a wonderful time and all my bloodied fingers and frustrated hair pulls were totally worth it! πŸ˜ƒ