Kraft-Tex Christmas

One of our Christmas traditions is re-usable gift wrap.  I’ve made a number of fabric bags for the purpose over the years, and we have lots of hemmed lengths of holiday fabric that we use for Furoshiki style gift wrap.  (Here’s a link if you want to see an expert doing a Furoshiki style wrap.)

Enter the red Kraft-Tex recently sent by C&T for me to experiment with.  From the time I saw it, I wanted to make a flower to decorate a holiday package.  It took a good bit of experimentation, but here’s what i came up with;

This is the Crimson color of hand-dyed, prewashed Kraft-Tex

I started by cutting pointed ovals about 2″ long and then sewing a little dart in one end to make them 3-dimensional.  I did tie a knot a the point of the dart, but there was no problem with back-stitching at the other end.

I glued the petals to a button with a concave surface to give them some support, then glued a piece of discarded costume jewelry in the middle.  I’m going to glue an alligator clip on the back for attaching the flower to the package.

You may wonder how this flower will do being stored with the wraps between holidays.  The answer is: just fine!  Read on for why.

This color is “Sapphire”

I recently made this little pyramid bag from Kraft-Tex (free pattern here, if you’re interested).  There was no need for batting between layers because the Kraft-Tex has enough body to hold the bag up.

It took some DOING to get this little bag turned right side out after construction because it’s so tiny.  The material actually looked better after all that squishing and twisting than it did before!  There were no permanent creases in it, and it looks much more like leather now that it’s been manipulated a lot.  So, as I’ve said before: was the Kraft-Tex, crumple it in your hands, etc, etc.  It just improves the appearance.Please note:  C&T provides Kraft-Tex for me to play with, but the links in this post are for your convenience.  I do not make money when you buy from them.

Improvised Table Runners

Several years ago I made this table runner by my own improvisational method.

modern table runner

Then I made this one, same method, using a lovely group of crossweave fabric.It was accepted for publication in a magazine, and I wrote the instructions, but the magazine ceased publication just before the issue in which my runner was to appear!

While developing the article for Crossweave Runner 1, I made Crossweave Runner 2 so I could take some process photos.

So, while cleaning the studio recently, I found two partially finished runners, the one above and the one below.

I finished these last two runners, and that’s about enough of those for now! It’s good to get even a little project finished and out of the way, especially right before the holidays when I’m thinking about gifts for folks!

Kraft-Tex Tray

The folks at C&T just sent me a package of the beautiful new hand-dyed, prewashed, Kraft-Tex. (Please note that they provide this to me with no obligation and I do not get a kickback if you buy it.  However, if your local quilt shop doesn’t carry it, you can get it directly from C&T here.)

The denim blue called to me first, and I needed a little tray to go beside my machine.  Unless my tools are “corralled” they tend to roll or bounce off the table when I sew.  The fabric tray I’ve been using was looking a little tired (the sides had sort of collapsed) and I thought Kraft-Tex would be a good material for making a sturdier tool tray.

I made a prototype from cardboard first to figure out the best size and shape for my tools.  Here are instructions for making the tray in case you want one, too:

Cut the Kraft-Tex 6-1/2″ x 8″ and mark (with a heat-erasable pen) 1″ in from each side.  Put a #70 needle in the sewing machine, lengthen the stitch a little, and remove the thread.  Stitch around the central rectangle without thread to mark the edges of the tray base and kind of score the Kraft-Tex so it will fold well on those lines.  Fold and press along these lines–it’s fine to fold all the way to the edge even though it wasn’t necessary to sew that far.

This picture was taken later in the process, but you can see where the material was pressed along the fold lines.  You can press either with or without steam; both work fine without distorting the Kraft-Tex.

Select your lining fabric and cut it 1″ bigger than the Kraft-Tex in both length and width; my lining fabric was cut 7-1/2″ x 9″.  Fuse the lining material to some stiff interfacing, then apply Heat’n’Bond or your favorite fusible web to the interfacing.

Once all of that is fused, cut the lining down to 7″ x 8-1/2″ using either a pinking blade in your rotary cutter or your pinking shears.  Or, if you don’t want a decorative edge, just cut the edge straight.  NOTE that if you use a pinking blade in your rotary cutter, you will want to cut on the back side of your cutting mat because the blade can kind of chew up the mat.  Also, the blade will chew up the edge of your ruler, so either use an old ruler or cut about 1/8″ away from the ruler.

Now lay the Kraft-Tex down on the fusible side of the trimmed lining.  Note that Kraft-Tex has a slightly different texture on each side, but there is no “right” side–use the one you like best.  Get everything centered, then turn the decorative edge to the outside and clip it in place with something heatproof. Fuse the edges, then the central part of the lining, to the Kraft-Tex.  Again, you can use steam if it helps.

Now put some thread in the machine!  Sew around the edges of the tray bottom where you previously pressed the sides up.  I marked the edges again with heat-erasable marker to make this easier.  This step will help hold the lining in place.  Edge stitch around the upper edge of the tray as well

Now don’t do what I did 😉  I mistakenly cut out all 4 corners on my first box.  Just cut one side of each corner to create a flap that can be used to hold the box together!

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how the corner will look finished–see the flaps?

Fold and press the box along the stitching lines bordering the bottom.  Fold the flaps in and glue or sew them in place.  I glued them, then sewed a decorative X in each corner.  I used the awl shown in the picture to punch little holes for the needle to go through when I made the X stitches by hand.

And that’s it!  The resulting tray looks plenty sturdy to hold those little tools beside my machine.  And besides, it was fun to make something new!

What have you been up to?

I Digress…To Leaf Pounding

One of the things I love about quilting is that there is an endless supply of things to learn.  That often means that I get sidetracked onto something different, but that’s OK.

Several years go I took a class in leaf pounding but I never did anything with the results (sound familiar to anyone out there?)  I recently found the prints, still looking pretty good, in my DO SOMETHING box and decided to get busy.

Here is the first, a sycamore leaf that was pounded onto Kona PFD (fabric prepared for dying).

After the fabric dried, I outlined the leaf with a brown Pigma pen.  When I took it out recently I used cotton batting and muslin backing, spray basted it, and quilted it freehand.  I used my Bernina Stitch Regulator (BSR) and found it worked quite well for this purpose.  (I haven’t been so happy with the BSR on larger projects–as a friend once told me, “It’s like training wheels”, meaning it’s just too slow on something big.) However, I was pleased with the way the BSR worked it on this little piece.

Here’s a detail, showing some of the unevenness created when part of the leaf “stuck” to the fabric more than the rest of it.  I figure nature isn’t perfect so I’m not worrying about it.

If you want to try leaf pounding, there’s a tutorial here.

And now the question:  How should I finish this?  I don’t think binding would look right.  I have seen leaf pounding pieces framed, so I guess I could mount and frame it.  Edge finish with brown satin rat-tail?  Face the piece?  Other ideas?  Thanks, as always, for your suggestions!

A Triangular Kraft-Tex Box

Some time ago I saw a little triangular container that someone was using to hold notions, and I made a mental note that it would be fun to make one.

Only problem was that it obviously involved sewing 2 fabrics right sides together, leaving an opening, turning them, etc, etc.  I do not enjoy that process.

The idea stayed in my head, though, and a short while ago it occurred to me that I could make a similar box out of Kraft-Tex without the problem of having right and wrong sides to the material!  So I got out the Marsala color Kraft-Tex the folks at C&T sent me a while ago to give it a try.

I started with cutting a 10.5″ equilateral triangle because that’s the ruler I had!

I put a dot on the Kraft-Tex where each of the arrows points here

There was an embedded central triangle marked on the ruler, so I just put a little dot at each of the points of that to determine where my fold lines would be (see above).

I used my iron and handy metal straight edge to make good creases for the initial folds.

I clipped the edges together (no pins in Kraft-Tex)

and sewed about half way up each side using the blanket stitch on my machine.  It was necessary to squish the box a little to get this done, but it was easy to get it right back into shape.  The buttonhole stitch worked just fine, somewhat wider than the default setting.

I then folded the final “flaps” over the side and stuck them down with a little glue.  Another time I think I might roll these final edges down rather than folding them to give the box more dimension.

I considered sewing on the decorative buttons, but decided to use glue instead.  The type that is made for attaching “jewels” to fabric worked well and dried clear.

I think I may use the box for those little clips that have become indispensable for quilting! 

If you want to try this, it’s very easy.  If you don’t have an equilateral triangle ruler, borrow one from a friend or make a template from cardboard (mark dots at the center of each side).  And please send me a picture if you make one!

 

Kraft-Tex Baskets

When I finish a quilt, I cut the scraps into usable sizes.  If there’s enough for strips, I cut them and store them in bins by width.  If there are chunks that make good squares for the next scrap quilt (I always have at least one in progress), I cut those and toss them in a pile for use the next time I have a scrap quilt day.scrap block, slabs, scrap quilt

About those piles…it’s easy for the studio to be a mess, so I thought I should have a basket to hold the scrap quilt pieces until I’m ready to make the blocks!  I found a free pattern by Noodlehead that makes baskets in two sizes; you can get it here.

I made the baskets out of some of the Kraft-Tex sent to me by C&T when I agreed to be a Kraft-Tex ambassador.  The patterns have only the corner seams, which are 1/4″, so they worked out very well for Kraft-Tex.  For the smaller one, I did not use any interfacing, but for the larger one I used fusible interfacing as instructed.  Yes, it fused to the Kraft-Tex just fine.  I ironed from the interfacing side, using a press cloth, and it adhered to the Kraft-Tex without difficulty.

I made another one of the larger baskets, adding a handle, and am thinking of hanging it in the laundry room to hold stray socks.  (Although, really, does a missing sock ever show up, or is this a futile plan?)  This picture better shows the lovely color of the Kraft-Tex, which is one of the newer pre-washed offerings.

One final benefit of these baskets–they were fully washable. I have washed Kraft-Tex  in the past, and it came out just fine.   Now to organize some scraps!

Tutorial: DIY Gift Card Wrap With Kraft-Tex

We’ve been doing recyclable wraps for many of our gifts for years now, so I decided it was time for the gift cards to have their own recyclable presentation case as well. Here’s the first one.  I am a Kraft-Tex Ambassador, so I cut this from one of the free rolls of Kraft-Tex the folks at C&T sent to me for use in projects for my blog.

I took out a gift card and checked the size, then made a paper pattern 5″ x 7.5″.  I used a spool to round the corners and tested where I wanted the pocket to fold up and the flap to fold down.

I then cut a 5″ x 7.5″ rectangle from some yummy pre-washed Kraft-Tex. (The color is Madeira.) This is the first time I’ve used the Kraft-Tex that comes pre-washed, and it has a very pleasing visual and tactile texture.  I cut the Kraft-Tex with my rotary cutter as I would fabric, and it worked well.

I used the same spool and a pencil to mark rounded corners on the Kraft-Tex, then cut the corners with my good paper scissors.  Even though it sews like cloth, Kraft-Tex is a paper product, so it’s better to use good quality paper scissors to avoid dulling your fabric scissors.

To be sure the Kraft-Tex would fold evenly, I first scored it with my Hera marker then folded it along the score mark and pressed the fold by running the marker over the outside as well.  Note that the sharp point of the marker did make a mark in the material, so be careful.  The mark went into the fold, so it was no problem here.

I then sewed this gold metallic rick-rack (from a yard sale!) around the outside edge.  To do this, I lengthened the stitch on my machine to 3 (on Bernina) and sewed with a straight stitch along both edges, catching the points of the rick-rack.  It’s not a good idea to back-stitch on Kraft-Tex, so I just sewed a couple of stitches over at the finish so the start and finish overlapped.  I did treat the ends of the rick-rack, as well as the ends of the ribbon for the tie, with Fray Check, which dries clear and doesn’t show.  Here are pictures of both sides.

After the rick-rack was attached, I again folded along the lines I had scored previously and marked a spot on the middle of the lower flap that would form the pocket.  So, I made a tiny mark 2.5″ from each side of the piece and 1.5″ below the upper fold as a placement mark for the ribbon.

I cut an 18″ piece of 3/8″ wide ribbon and sewed it to the place where I’d put the dot.  To avoid making too many holes in the Kraft-Tex, I sewed it on with a little Z.  I then pulled the threads to the back where I tied them together to avoid having to back stitch.

Note that the ribbon has to be attached before the pocket is sewn to the back along the sides!  At that point, I checked to be sure the pouch would be the right size for the card when I eventually sewed the pocket up.  Yep, so far, so good.

After attaching the ribbon, I folded the carrier shut along both fold lines and pulled the ribbon out straight to the sides so I could see where to put the holes for the ribbon to come through.  (It may help to clip the flaps down with paper clips to hold it shut for this step.)  I made a little dot 2″ in from each outer edge so that I could punch holes 1″ apart for the ribbon to come through.  I made the holes with an ordinary hole punch.

Then it was time to sew up the sides of the pocket so it would hold the card.  I folded up the pocket and zig-zagged over the rick-rack to stitch the pocket down to the back of the carrier.

Done!  I threaded the ribbon through the holes and tied it in a bow!

And don’t forget to sign your work!

 

Three Bag Patterns That Were Worth Paying For

Just as there are lots of great free bag patterns, there are many excellent patterns for sale on the internet. Here are 3 of my favorites.

1. Divided Basket.  This is another pattern from Noodlehead, who also designed one of my favorite free patterns.  The instructions are excellent and the divided basket is cute.  It was just right for a diaper basket for the changing table for my grandson.  It is available here.

fabric basket

Divided basket made from pattern by Noodlehead

2. Clothesline bag/basket.  This pattern is from Indygo Junction and was much easier to do than I had anticipated.  You can read my review of it here, or buy it here.

3. Sweetpea Pods, by Lazy Girl Designs..  This little bag was so.much.fun that I made more than a few!  Once you learn the zipper trick it is easy, quick, and so satisfying.  I’ve given away many of them and I keep a couple on hand for when I need a little gift for someone.  (Of course it should contain chocolate!).  I even gave one to a male friend, and rather than ask “what the heck” he said he’d use it to carry his guitar picks!  The pattern is available here.

And so you know I’m not just blowing sunshine, here’s one I thought was more trouble than it was worth, even though it is very, very cute (and was all over the internet for a while):

Which bag patterns do you recommend?

Three Great Free Bag Patterns

There are so many free patterns on the internet that it can be overwhelming. Therefore, I’m here to tell you about 3 of my favorite free bag patterns.

1. Pyramid bag, I adore this pattern, and it is so easy that I’ve made a few many.  Available with an excellent tutorial at Loganberry Handmade.  After you’ve made one per her instructions, experiment with different sizes.  So cute and so fun!

2. Tote bag.   The instructions for this “market tote bag” at Bijou Lovely are very clear, with great photos.  I’ve made several of these because they are an excellent, practical size. Of course, I’ve modified this pattern, but it is great just the way it is on her site.

3. Noodlehead’s Open Wide Zippered Pouch.  Anna Graham is the queen of bags of all kinds, and there are some great free tutorials on her site, Noodlehead.  Of course, she has excellent patterns for sale, and I’ve bought some of those, too.  Anyway, go try her free zippered pouch tutorial if you’ve had doubts about zippers.  Her instructions and illustrations are clear and easy, and you CAN do that zipper!

I’ve made a bunch of these in different sizes, as well.

Please tell me if there are free online patterns or tutorials that you love!

Clothesline Basket Fun

It’s been over a year since I purchased the Indygo Junction pattern for a basket made of covered clothesline, so I expect everybody else in America has tried this already. Anyway, it was fun.

The pattern gives basic instructions for starting the basket, shaping the bottom, and then shaping the sides.  Instructions are given for two types of handles, and for making the lining.  The basket itself was easier than I expected, then the lining was a little tricky.  Probably my fault because I changed the instructions 😀

My husband sometimes asks, “What is this one for?”  The answer is, “For making something I’ve never made before.”  Which means I have no idea of a use for this basket, but I do want to make at least one of (almost) everything just for the experience!  (Bonus: this used a lot of scraps!)

What about you?  Do you have a plan for everything you make?