living handmade

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DIY – Moon pillow


I can look at the moon forever. I love the surface: how it’s been beaten up and scared over time … it’s a great pattern to duplicate as a print on fabric: all you need is something round to print with, a plain pillow case and some white textile color.


What you’ll need:

– a plain pillow case in a darker color (brown, black, blue, dark grey – all will do well as the night sky)

– fillings ( I always use left overs from my fabric waste basket, see this post: http://raori.blogspot.be/2013/06/storage-inspiration-in-my-studio.html

– White screen print color

– a plastic lid to print with (I used an 8 cm wide lid for a toilet cleaning flask!)

– thick paper or cardboard (to help avoid the color going through to the other side)


How to do it:

1. Start by ironing your fabric / pillow case.

2. Put the paper/ cardboard inside the case, lay down your project on a working surface and make sure the whole thing is lying flat.

3. Decide your pattern: diagonally, next to each other, in rows … you can use a fabric chalk or marker to guide you when printing if you don’t want to “eye it”.

4. Most of the time, textile print color comes in a small and handy bucket. If it doesn’t, pour some color out on a plate or in a small bowl and start printing by dipping your plastic lid in the color, try to get the color surface as un-even as possible – lumps and thicker areas will form “the craters” of the moon. Alternatively, you can put something un-even inside, like that when you print, the color will not print the entire area and leave some parts of your moons un-printed. Just make sure the fabric is without pleats- the moon is certainly not striped, which will happen if your fabric is folded.

5. Put your project away to let it dry for a while, 4-5 hours should do it.

6. Fabric color is washable unless ironed, so make your color permanent by ironing it all over as hot as possible. Avoid steam.

7. Once dried and ironed, start filling the pillow with all your old socks (washed) and cut to pieces, your fabric left overs, your old threads, your overlocked cut-aways etc. Or you can just buy fillings (the one that looks like synthetic cotton) in any fabric store.


To make your own pillow case, please follow this simple guide.


DIY – how to make a skirt from an old sweater

I have this saffron yellow cardigan that was “hand me down” to me by my mother-in-law. I totally love the color, but the fit and the cut… it just didn’t do it for me. I used it sometimes for extra warmth, working in the garden or as a “throw on quickly” garment going to the grocery store, but I never wore it for real… so I thought, maybe I should do something else with it? Like… a skirt!
The below sewing tutorial can help you make fantastic knitted skirts from all kinds of old second hand sweaters and you will have unique pieces of clothing that no one else has 🙂 Anything goes.
How to make a knitted sweater into a knitted skirt:
You will need:
* knitted sweater or cardigan
* sharp scissors
* thread
* elastic band (your waist measurement minus 10 cm)
* pins + safety pin
How to do it:
1. Put your sweater flat following the side seams and shoulders. Make sure that the bottom hem on front and back are alined.
2. Draw a straight line with a ruler just under the arms (depending on the length you want for your skirt) and cut!
In my case my sweater was actually a cardigan, so at this point I needed to stitch the button opening together here before I could continue to the next step. Maybe there is no need to say that possible buttons has to be removed…

3. Zig zag (or overlock) your newly cut edge.
4. To make a channel for the elastic band at the waist,  fold down “elastic band width + 1 cm” (towards wrong side/the inside). Pin down all around.
5. Stitch down the fold, presser foot width from the edge and don’t forget to leave an opening about 5 cm to insert the elastic band. Use a shallow zig zag or straight seam for jersey fabric. If you use normal straight seam, the seam will break.
6. Attach a safety pin to the elastic band and slide it through the opening. Use the safety pin to pull the elastic band through the channel and secure the end of the elastic band with a pin at the opening. (It really sucks to loose the end somewhere inside the channel- all you can do is start over again – that extra pin will help you!
7. When both elastic band ends are out, make sure that the elastic band lies flat and has not gotten twisted inside. Overlap both edges and zig zag to secure, back and forth a couple of times. Pull a little so that the elastic band falls back into the channel and then close the opening.
voila, the result! My new yellow knitted skirt!
want more?
well, I figured those pretty sleeves could be made into something as well… socks! Or leg warmers inside my beige boot (I haven’t decided yet, but I thought it might be best to start with socks that can be cut into leg warmers, than the other way around). This is how I made the socks anyway.
now… what to do with the little that remains ?

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What is seam allowance?

In this post I will try to explain a little about Seam allowance.  Seam allowance (sometimes called inlays) is the area between the edge of the fabric and the stitching line on two (or more) pieces of material being stitched together. 
Seam allowances wary depending on where on the garment you put them. For example, in the fashion industry it’s common to use about 0,7-1 cm for curved areas (like the neck line, the armhole, the sleeve head, the crotch on pants, collars etc) and 1,5-2 cm on areas that require extra fabric for final fitting (the center back, side seams in pants etc).
You can either add your seam allowance ON the pattern pieces (I always do that, see above).  I think it makes the job so much easier, especially if you might use your pattern again. You can also add it once you’ve pinned your pattern piece down, with a fabric pen or tailor’s chalk, but I always thought that took so much longer time 🙂
If you have a good pattern cutting ruler, it is easy to make the seam allowance out in advance, or you can tape two pencils together, creating a double line. One pencil will follow the seam line (1.) and the other pencil will follow the seam allowance edge (2.)
The last thing I want to say is about number 3 in the picture above: it’s very important, when you cut out your pattern pieces, that you fold as you will sew… see the fold-down on the pocket up there? If I would’ve continued that seam allowance line (3.), there would’ve been some excess fabric there. When you fold and cut, the seam allowance will follow the correct angle.
Good luck!

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What is the grain line?

The grain line is the direction that the woven threads run. The most simple weaved fabrics are made of horizontal and vertical threads.
The threads that run end to end are the lengthwise grain. The threads that run from selvage to selvage are the crosswise grain line. The selvage is the firm edge that run along the length of the fabric and follows the fabric roll. 
There is also the true bias grain. It runs at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grains.
It’s very important to understand the grain line when you sew. All pieces has to follow the same grain line, see the cutting lay out for pants above. The garment will look very funny if the grain line has been ignored 😉
The true bias is slightly stretchy as it runs diagonally between the threads. Dresses on the true bias grain was very popular in the 30’s and as they were stretchy, the dresses could be pulled over the head without using zippers.