DIY: Fabric Pencil Case

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I somehow managed to misplace the fabric zippered pencil case I’ve used for the past several years, so when I went to pack for college, I discovered that I needed a new one.  I mostly use my pencil case to hold pens, the occasional pencil, a pencil sharpener, and a highlight, so it didn’t need to be very big.  I found this tutorial from “Say Yes” and thought that the instructions were clear and easy.  It’s not the cleanest way to make a case (many of the seams on the inside are raw seams), but it was definitely pretty easy and I’m happy with the results.

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One thing I would mention is that the finished case is not long enough to hold regular unsharpened pencils.  Mechanical pencils, pens, and highlighters all fit fine, but my longer Ticonderoga pencils do not.  I don’t use pencils often in class, so it’s not a really big deal to me.

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I used a really cute fruit patterned fabric (that I got from JoAnn’s ages ago)  for the outside and a heavier-weight maroon fabric (this one was really old, no idea where it was from) for the lining.  I was really surprised how much stuff this holds!

If you are looking for a quick and easy sew or are looking to try out zippers for the first time, this is a good project!

Men’s Shirt to Women’s T-Shirt Refashion

One of my goals when I started this blog was to post my craft and sewing creations.  Occasionally, I do so, but I really haven’t shared much in terms of my sewing, mostly because I haven’t created that much.  About a year ago, I posted some pictures of a shirt I had made using one of my brother’s old shirts, but the pictures that I was going to use for the tutorial were on my brother’s camera, so I never got to post the actual tutorial.  So I’d thought I’d (finally) share the entire project step-by-step.

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My brother is an X-Large in men’s (he’s 6’3″ and is over 200 lbs), so the original shirt was quite large on me.  It also had a wide band around the neckhole that I really didn’t like.  I took a shirt that I owned and that fit me well, and used that as my template.  I was hoping that I would have enough fabric to make my shirt long-sleeved, so I used a long-sleeved shirt as my template, but there didn’t end up being enough fabric for long sleeves.

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I just turned both shirts inside out and laid the one I was using as a template on top of the striped shirt, lining up the bottom hems.

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I tucked the sleeves in and just cut around the template shirt, adding about 1/4″ all around as I cut (in hindsight, I probably should have left about 1/2″).  This gave me the front and back, minus the sleeves.

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I then took the piece I wanted to use for the front of the shirt and eye-balled where I wanted the neckline to be.  The shirt I was using as a template had a higher neckline, but I wanted this one to be a bit lower.  Once I had a line I was happy with, I drew another line about 1/4″-1/2″ above the first.  This was the line I actually cut on.

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I folded the shirt in half length-wise and used my rotary cutter to cut along the higher of the two lines so that the new neckline would be symmetrical.

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Putting right sides of the front and back of the shirt together, I pinned the shoulder area together and sewed, using about a 1/4″ seam allowance, then used a zig-zag stitch to finish the seam.  I ONLY sewed the top together at this point.  Before you can sew the sides together, you need to add your sleeves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANext was the sleeves.  I inspected some short-sleeved shirts that I already owned and used that knowledge to help me figure out how to do the sleeves.  I used the sleeves from the original shirt and cut it out so that I could still use the original hem.  I laid my half-finished shirt over the sleeve (like above), and traced it, then added an inch or so to the bottom for the part of the sleeve that goes below your armpit (I know that’s not the best explanation).   Once that was sewn, I sewed the sides together (keeping right sides together).

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To finish the neck, I folded the fabric around the neck under 1/8″ and then again another 1/8″, then sewed along the edge.  This allowed for a simple, clean finish.

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Overall, I am really happy with how this shirt turned out. By keeping many of the original hems, I saved a bunch of time and energy, and the look is really simple and clean and nice.  And because I used a shirt that fit me as a template, it also fits really well (although I wish I had given myself a bit more of a seam allowance on the sides.  And, about a year after I made it, it’s also holding up really well.

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I’m currently in the process of doing another refashion, so hopefully I can post about that soon (assuming everything turns out the way I’m hoping)!

DIY Infinity Scarf and Tutorial

2013-11-08 19.27.31I finally brought out my sewing machine to actually sew a complete project.  I went shopping last weekend with some friends, and got the tan sweater I’m wearing in the above photo.  If you look at my most recent post, you can see me wearing it with a navy and coral scarf.  It was the only scarf that I have that went with it at all.  While we were shopping, I tried it on with a navy blue scarf, and really loved the combination of the colors.  I’ve had this blue, white, and purple floral fabric from JoAnn Fabrics for awhile.  I had intended to make a dress out of it, but I decided that it was far more likely for me to start and finish a scarf rather than a dress, so I cut into it.  I believe it is a linen-like fabric, but I’m not really sure.  Since it was a relatively easy project and I know a lot of people love infinity scarves (I love them!), I figured I’d share my method.

Step 1:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACut your fabric (I recommend using a lighter weight fabric) to 63″ x 22″.  This will make one scarf.

Step 2:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHem each of the longer sides.  Use a rolling hem if you know how to do that (I don’t).  Or just fold the fabric under 1/8″ and then fold it over another 1/8″ to enclose the raw edge of the fabric.  Sew.

Step 3:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPin the shorter sides together WRONG sides together.  Sew with a 1/8″ seam allowance.  Trim any excess (you want there to be as little as possible).

It should look like this when you are done:

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Step 4: 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATurn the scarf inside out, so that RIGHT sides are together.  I don’t have an iron with me at college, but I highly recommend ironing the seam you just created.  You want the fold where the seam is to be crisp (not like it looks above).

Step 5:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPin along the seam you just made, so that any raw edges will be between the seam and your pins.  You want all raw edges enclosed, and you also want the new seam you’ll be sewing to be as close to the previous seam as possible.

Step 6:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASew along where you pinned.  It should look like the photo above.  There is about a 1/8″ seam allowance, but just try to get as close as possible.  When the scarf is turned right side out, this seam should look like the picture below.

2013-11-08 19.18.45And your scarf is finished! Depending on the weight of the fabric, you may want to make the scarf a bit thinner/longer (for thicker fabrics).  I don’t think you’d want to go any wider.  I really love the way it turned out!

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Life Lately/Getting Out of a Creative Rut

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I’ve been in a bit of a rut the past few days.  I just don’t feel like doing anything productive at all.  In some ways, it’s probably a sign that I need a break, but I also have some things that need to be done in the next few days that I just keep putting off, which isn’t exactly a good thing.  After spending several hours on my computer today, I decided I needed to do something to get my motivation back.  I figured I might as well do a few sewing projects I have been putting off for months.  Today, for the first time since I returned to college, I finally pulled out my sewing machine.  I didn’t really sew anything new, but I needed to make a few repairs.  I’ve had a washcloth that had a seam that had come undone last year, and which I had never gotten around to repairing, so I finally sewed it back together.  I also have a sweater that has had a hole for awhile.  I repaired it last year, but apparently didn’t do the best job, so I repaired it once again (by hand).  I also plugged in a bunch of things that needed charging (like both of my cameras).  

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I think it was a good decision.  Although I’ve been painting and sculpting for my art courses, I haven’t been very good at creating things for me (or others) lately.  Perhaps this will get me going again.  I have a few sewing projects I need to do by Thanksgiving break (for Christmas presents), so I have things I could be creating, but I’ve been a bit low on motivation.  I’ve realized that sometimes, you just need to do something, anything, creative to get you back in the hang of things.  So hopefully what I’ve done today helps me in the next few weeks.

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I have a few busy weeks coming up, but it’s important to take a break, so hopefully I’ll get back to creating new things.  I only have four weeks left until Thanksgiving Break!  We’ve begun working with stone in sculpture, and the other day, we played around with some small pieces.  I made a small heart.  It’s far from perfect, but I was surprised at how easy the stone is to file away.

2013-10-25 13.33.10Hopefully my piece for the actual assignment turns out so well.  So far, I like the process much more than with wood.  In painting, we are working on our nude assignment.  We had to pick a historic nude painting, crop it to our preference, replicate it, and then add a tattoo.  I’m getting closer to being finished with the body for my painting, but I haven’t picked out a tattoo or placement for the tattoo yet.

I apologize for the random nature of this post, hopefully I haven’t rambled too much.  Have a lovely week!

Green Striped Shirt Makeover

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Towards the end of summer, I helped my brother clear out his dresser and get rid of a bunch of clothes he no longer wears.  Most of what he got rid of were old t-shirts from a variety of events and sports and such, but there were 3 shirts that I thought I might be able to make something out of for myself with.  One is a dark maroon color, one is a striped shirt with two different shades of blue, and one is a green and white wide stripe shirt.

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I decided to start with the green and white striped one first.  I used a shirt I already had (it was actually long-sleeved) as a guide, and made a simple t-shirt for myself out of it.  I used the original hem for the bottom and on the sleeves, which both made it a lot easier to sew and gave it a much more professional look.  I simply cut it out, sewed the sides, sewed the sleeves on, and finished the seam on the neckline.  It was super easy (I think I finished it in about 2 hours, start from finish) and I love the result.  It is the first piece of clothing I’ve made for myself and really worn often.  It is one of my favorite shirts now, and I have gotten so many compliments on it (they usually don’t even realize it’s handmade).

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Before I cut into the original shirt, I took pictures, but unfortunately the “before” pictures, along with the step-by-step pictures of how I did it, were taken on my brother’s camera, which I do not currently have access to.  If he decides to send me the pictures, I’ll update this post to include them or create a new post.  I had a lot of trouble getting a good picture of the shirt without a tripod (I don’t have one at college with me) and in my dorm room, so I apologize for that.