Julie Bowersett

juliebowersett{at}gmail{dot}com
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Sunday
Dec012013

Medicine Cup Kissing Ball

This is my attempt to recreate a Christmas decoration from my childhood.  You can read the blog post associated with these instructions here.

Here's what you will need:

Mini plastic cups -- you can use medicine dose cups or, do as I did and collect cups used for communion at my church.  These are a bit smaller than the medicine cups.  I used about 120 for this project.

4-inch styrofoam ball

Paper clip

Flame source (a candle works well)

Glitter

White glue

Snowflake sequins

Sequin pins

Ribbon

2 wood floral picks with wire

Green wool blend felt

Green wool roving

Variegated green thread

Pearl beads

Sewing thread

Begin by melting a small hole in the bottom of each cup.  I used a paper clip to do this (bend one end out straight).  My first thought was to choose a very fine paperclip so the hole would not be too big.  That was a mistake.  I ended up having to re-do the holes with a larger clip so the hole was big enough to accommodate the pin that will go through it.  I lit a candle so I could easily re-heat the wire after every one or two holes.

Next, it’s time to glitter the edge of the cups.  Assemble your supplies:  two paper plates, white glue and your chosen glitter. 

I originally planned on using a clear/white glitter.  Here are the plates, one with a blob of glue and the other with a pile of glitter, and some of the finished cups.  Simply dip the open rim of the cup into the glue and then into the glitter.  Stand on end and allow to dry.

After finishing a number of the cups in the clear glitter I decided it would not have enough presence in the finished product.  So, I pulled out my other glitters and did a little test.  Here are four different colors of glitter that I auditioned:

In the end I chose the pale green in the lower left corner (the darker green in the upper right was more like the kissing ball I remember from my childhood).

While the glue and glitter dry make your ribbon bow for hanging.  I used a pale green iridescent ribbon.  Fold the ribbon with one long loop (for hanging) and two shorter loops and wire the bow onto a wooden florist pick.

After the hanger is made push the pick into the Styrofoam ball but do not glue it into place yet.  It is easier to install the cups on the ball without the hanger in place so remove it once you have made the hole.  Use the pick to make a similar hole on the exact opposite spot on the sphere – this is where the mistletoe will go which will be made later.  So, if the sphere is hanging from the ribbon loop the other hole will be facing directly down from the bottom of the sphere (see the picture at the top of this post).

Gather your pins and sequins.  I used snowflake sequins though you could choose to use another shape if you like.

Here are the supplies you will need for the next step:  your glittered cups, an extra cup filled with white glue, pins, sequins, a short piece of dowel (or a pencil), and a hemostat (I found this invaluable for placing the pins in the cups).

Place a sequin on a pin and pick it up with the clamp then place the pin through the hole you melted in the bottom of one of the cups.

 

Hold the pin head and sequin down in the cup and dip the sharp tip of the pin into the cup with glue.

Press the pin into the Styrofoam ball.  I found it helpful to balance the ball on a small cup.

Use the dowel or pencil to make sure the pin is pushed in as far as it will go.  Continue to cover the entire Styrofoam ball in this manner, but do not cover the holes where the hanging loop and mistletoe will go.  Set the ball aside to dry well.

MAKING THE FELTED MISTLETOE

The internet is full of tutorials for making felt mistletoe.  My pattern comes from the magazine Quilting Arts Gifts, 2010.  I adapted the instructions for my own use.  You can purchase a download of the original instructions here.

I began by cutting out some mistletoe shapes from wool felt. 

Using the green wool roving (I used a variegated variety with several shades of green) cover one side of the felt pieces with a thin layer.  Needle felt the roving to the felt layer (I used a needle felting machine but this can also easily be done by hand). 

Continue adding and needle felting the roving onto the felt base.  Turn the piece over and add roving to the back as well.

This is the completed piece.

Using the green variegated thread, add some vein detail to the leaves with a machine straight stitch.  Hand sew pearls in place as desired.  I made two leaves and placed them back-to-back.

Wire the stem of the leaves to another wooden florist pick.

Once the cup-covered ball is dry, coat the wooden picks with glue and press them into the previously made holes.  Allow these to dry well before hanging.

Wednesday
May162012

French Bias Piping Tutorial

This is an easy and attractive way to finish a neckline or armhole with piping while providing a seam finish that can replace a facing.  These instructions assume the use of a 5/8” seam allowance.  Adjust accordingly if you are using a different width.

Begin by cutting a bias strip of fabric 3 inches wide and the length needed for the edge you wish to apply the piping to.  Piece the strips together if necessary.

Fold the strip in half lengthwise, matching long cut edges, and press.

Cut a piece of cording a little longer than the strip of fabric.  I like to use #1 rayon satin cord (also called mouse tail) for my piping.

Place the cording down the center of the folded strip and make a second lengthwise fold, encasing the cording.  You will be bringing the folded edge over to match the two raw edges.  I use a 5-groove pintuck foot to make piping (a 3-groove foot works just as well).  Place the cording in the center groove and move the needle over just enough to clear the cording.  Stitch closely to the cording making sure to not catch it with your stitches.  Feel free to use whatever method you prefer for making the piping.

You now have a length of piping with a 5/8” seam allowance (did you know the end of your 6” seam gauge is 5/8”?). 

Place the wrong side of the piping (the seam allowances with the raw edges) along the right side of the fashion fabric, matching the raw edges.  In the picture above I am holding back the folded edge of the piping so you can see the raw edges matching up with the underlying fabric.

Sewing through all layers, stitch directly on top of the previous row of stitching, attaching the piping to the fashion fabric.

Taking care not to cut the folded edge of the piping, trim the piping and fashion fabric seam allowances.  The picture above shows a portion of the seam allowance trimmed.

Fold the piping seam allowance to the wrong side, allowing the piping to roll to the edge. Press.

The inside of the garment shows the folded edge of the piping while the cut edges are sandwiched in between.  If necessary you can tack the piping to crossed seam allowances inside the garment.

Monday
Dec122011

Santa Pin Tutorial

Here you’ll find the instructions for making a holiday pin like this one.  Please use these instructions as inspiration, and create your own, one-of-a-kind work of art.  Start with a large item for the background, then layer on feathers, pearls, beads, flowers, whatever pleases you.  Then add a focal point on top.

Here’s what you will need:

This is a glittered netting available at craft stores around the holidays.  It comes in lots of colors:  white, silver, gold, red.

Some floral picks (I used ones that were covered in silver glitter), pearl sprays and feathers.

For my little Santa faces, I used Evy Hawkins' Holiday Button Covers from A Bit of Stitch.  I stitched these out on silver colored dupioni silk, then covered a Dritz button cover with the design.  You will need one for each pin you wish to make.

You will also need about half yard of strung pearl roping (this usually comes on a roll like ribbon), some craft wire,  a pin back and a hot glue gun with glue.

Begin by making the net background.  Unroll the netting into a single layer and cut a piece about 12 inches long.

Scrunch the piece into a flattish tube.

Wrap the netting around your hand, overlapping the cut ends by an inch or two.

Twist a small piece of wire around the center of the netting, securing the cut ends and crimping the center a bit.

Gently fan out the folded edges of the netting loop like you are fluffing a bow.

Cut a piece of pearl roping 16” to 18” long.  You are going to form a triple loop.  Use your hand as a guide for forming the loops.  The first pass wraps around two fingers, the second pass around three fingers, and the third pass around four fingers, as in the picture below.  Overlap the two ends by an inch.

Twist a piece of wire around all strands, securing the two cut ends.

Using the photo below for guidance, assemble the components of the pin.  Lay down the netting background and glue on the feather and the pearl spray.  The feather should hang down off the bottom right of the pin in approximately the 4:00 position.  The pearl spray should be oriented at the top left at approximately the 10:00 position.

Next add the floral element straight up at the 12:00 position.  The pearl loops hang down at the 6:00 position.

Glue the Santa button in the very center, covering all of the glue used to attach the other elements.  Turn the pin over and attach a pin back with glue or by sewing.

Tuesday
Jun212011

T-shirt Fabric Rose Tutorial

I made this little rose from scraps left over from another project.  The fabric is knit jersey but you can use any fabric you wish for these flowers.  In fact, jersey is not the easiest fabric to work with so you might try your first flower using quilting cotton or a crisp silk such as dupioni like I used for this flower.  These instructions are from several vintage flower making books written around the turn of the 20th century; this is the method milliners used to make silk flowers long before they were commercially available.

Begin by cutting out a variety of squares sized from 2” to 7”.  For this project I used three 2” squares, three 3” squares, three 4” squares and two 5” squares.  For a larger flower continue to add larger squares as needed.  Also, for your first flower you might want to start with 3” squares as your smallest as they are easier to handle.

Fold each square diagonally in half and press.

Fold the folded edge of the triangle over about ¼”.  The size of this fold is not critical and variety makes for a more realistic looking flower.

Thread a needle with heavy thread (I used buttonhole thread) and knot the end.  Stitch around the cut edges of the triangle using a running stitch.  Make sure your first and last stitches go through the folded-over bit to secure it.

Pull up the stitches to gather the petal.  For the first layer you want to gather it up tightly. When you gather the petal it will form a cup. 

You can place a flower stamen in the middle if you wish.

Make sure the folded lip is facing away from the concave part of the petal (the hollowed out side).  Knot your thread securely and cut off.

Make another petal in the same manner but don’t pull the gathering stitches up quite as tight.  Place the second petal on top of the first, overlapping the edges a little bit and stitch the two petals together using hand stitches.  You will continue adding petals in a circular manner.  You can add them in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, just pick one and be consistent throughout the project.

Continue adding petals one at a time, increasing the size of the square used as each layer is complete and stitching down the gathered edges as needed to hold the flower together. 

As the flower gets bigger you will need to gather each petal less and less to allow them to fit around the larger circumference. 

I try to make my last layer from the two largest squares so each goes about half way around the flower, overlapping each other just a bit.

Depending on how you plan to use your flower you might want to finish the back just a bit.  Cut a circle of fabric large enough to cover the exposed stitching and glue or stitch it into place.

You can make a leaf for your flower in several ways.  On the pink flower pictured above, I used a free-standing machine embroidery design by A Bit of Stitch.  I stabilized the jersey with some fusible interfacing before stitching.  I recommend doing this regardless of the method you choose to make your leaf to give it some stability.  For this leaf I drew a simple leaf shape on my scrap of fabric and cut it out using pinking shears.  I sketched some veins on the leaf and used a straight stitch on my machine to outline them.  You could also draw a leaf shape and satin stitch around the edge before cutting close to the stitching.  Or you could use a rubber stamp and rayon velvet to emboss a leaf design before cutting out with pinking shears (this is pretty when you are using a fabric like silk for the flower).  Glue or stitch the flower on top of the leaf.

You can add a pin back to the flower or simply use two safety pins to attach it to the garment.  Enjoy wearing your new flower!

Wednesday
May042011

Factory Technique, Ready-to-Wear Style Elastic Waistband Tutorial

I first learned this technique from my friend Patricia, the woman I count as my sewing mentor.  I’m grateful that she taught this to me as I use it frequently and find the result much nicer than elastic through a casing.  This waistband cannot be altered once it is complete so check your fit carefully before embarking on this project.  My instructions show the use of a serger but you can substitute an overlock stitch on your sewing machine if necessary.

When cutting out your garment, allow a fold over, cut-on waistband allowance equal to the width of your chosen elastic.  For instance, if you are using 1.25” elastic you would leave 1.25” at the top waist edge above the finished waist line.

Make sure you use sew-through elastic for this project.  To determine the cut length of elastic, measure the garment wearer’s waist and subtract from 2- to 4-inches, depending on how tight you like to wear your waistband.   Making sure you don’t twist the elastic, butt the cut ends together and use a wide zigzag to stitch across the cut edges, joining the two ends together.  You can also reinforce this seam by placing a piece of tricot or Seams Great beneath the seam (or wrap a piece entirely around the cut ends).  Try on the elastic and make sure it is a comfortable fit before proceeding.

Mark the elastic in quarters, using the just sewn seam as one mark.   To do this, fold in half along the seam and mark the resulting fold using a marking pen.  Next, match that mark to the sewn seam and mark the two resulting folds.  Set the elastic aside.

 

Prepare your garment in a similar fashion.  To quarter the waist line mark the center front and center back then bring these two marks together.  Mark the resulting two folds (these marks may or may not fall at the side seams).

Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the garment, aligning the top edge of the garment with one edge of the elastic.  Match and pin the center back of the garment to the sewn seam on the elastic.  Match and pin the remaining three marks.  Allow the fabric between the pins to drape naturally.

For the next step you may feel more comfortable basting the elastic in using your sewing machine the first few times you attempt this technique.  With practice you will be able to skip that step and go straight to serging the elastic onto the garment.

Serge with the elastic on top of the garment fabric.  Begin at the center back seam and sink your needle into the elastic/fabric, placing the edge of the elastic next to but not over the knife’s edge (you could also disengage your knife if you wish). 

Place your left hand behind the needle and hold the elastic and fabric together near the center back pin.  Place your right hand on the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is flat and flush with the elastic.  Holding this area taut, serge the edge.  Make sure you do not cut the elastic while you are serging and remove pins as you come to them. 

When you reach the next pin, stop with the needle down through all layers and reposition your hands, placing your left hand close to and behind the needle and your right hand at the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is taught and continue serging.  Repeat this step until you reach where you started and serge off the edge.

If you have difficulty managing the fabric, you can mark the elastic and garment waistline in eights instead of fourths.  This makes the amount of fabric you need to stretch at one time much smaller.

Fold the elastic to the wrong side of the garment so the fabric covers the elastic.  Pin the elastic in place, placing four pins roughly where your quarter marks were previously.

Move to your sewing machine.  Stretch the elastic between two pins and, using a lengthened straight stitch, edge stitch along the serged edge through all layers.  As before you will move your hands between the pins as you progress.  Leave your needle down in the elastic/fabric when repositioning your hands.  Continue until you reach where you started .

Heavily steam the waistband/elastic and watch it (literally) shrink back to its original size and shape.  Admire your completed waistband.