March 27, 2009

Make Your Own Stationary

Posted in Make tagged , , , , at 4:50 pm by onetinyacorn

My friends and I were discussing local places to buy statioary, when Sean asked, “Why not make your own stationary?” But of course! What has transpired has been a frenzy of cutting, pasting, and drawing, such that I’ll never need to rely on outside sources again. It’s an easy, quick little project that allows for lots of substitution.

skill level: beginner

time: roughly 15-20 minutes

materials: lame envelope and card, 1 piece of cardboard (something like a cereal box will work fine), paper to transform into your stationary (junk mail, catalog pages…I used an out-of-date atlas), X-acto knife, cutting mat or a large-ish old magazine that you don’t care about, ruler, pen, rubber cement or glue stick, scissors or butter knife, double-sided tape, adhesive labels.

For the envelope:

1. Make the template for your envelope by carefully prying apart the glued edges of your mass-produced envelope. Flatten. Place the envelope on top of your cardboard, which should be on top of your cutting mat or old magazine. Carefully trace around the envelope, and cut out your template from the cardboard.

2. On the cutting mat, place the paper that will be your new and improved envelope (outside of the envelope down). Lay the template on top of that, and either cut around it with the X-acto knife, or trace with pen and cut out with scissors.

3. Using the back of the blade on your scissors (or the non-cerated side of a knife) and a ruler as your guide, lightly score each side of your envelope to form flaps. See the red lines as a guideline:

Envelope Fold Lines

Fold along the scored lines.

4. Glue the bottom and side flaps together, using a glue stick. Or just tape them. See your old envelope for guidelines of where to glue.

5. Now, you can either place double-sided tape along the edges of the top flap, or make your own self-lick adhesive. I haven’t tried the self-lick stuff, so I’m not going to endorse it here.

6. Slap on those adhesive stickers where the address and return address go.

For the card:

1. Lay your lame card, open and flattened, on top of your exciting new stationary paper (I used cardstock–handmade paper would be lovely). Trace with pen and cut with scissors, or break out the X-acto again.

2. Score and fold.

3. I rubber cemented some details from my atlas onto the cardstock for a handsome accompaniment to the envelope.

Finished!

Presto!

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January 2, 2009

Sweater Project #4: mp3 Player Cosy

Posted in Make tagged , , , , at 3:54 pm by onetinyacorn

I inherited a nice mp3 player recently, which means that I can no longer disparage the whippersnappers who walk around in an oblivious haze. I’ll miss overhearing hilarious snippets of conversations, but relish no longer being forced to listen to loud phone conversations on the bus. Particularly when they’re boring; if you’re going to be loud, at least be interesting. Anyways…

I quickly realized that I needed a pouch for my new gadget. Something soft, so that it wouldn’t get scratched-up, and with at least two pockets (one for the device, and one for the speaker thingies–I refuse to call them earbuds. That is an uninspired and vaguely icky-sounding moniker). Velcro closure, for quick opening and closing. Enter The Sweater. At this point, there’s not a ton of fabric left, but enough to whip up a little something that meets my specifications.

skill level: beginner

time: 1 hour

materials: sweater, mp3 player, ruler, marker, scissors or rotary cutter and mat, pins, iron, thread, velcro.

1. Lay out your sweater remains on–what else?–a hard, smooth surface. Position your mp3 player on top of the fabric. I measured an extra 1 inch from the edge of the player around the bottom and sides, and 2 1/2 inches from the top, for the flap. Carefully cut out three identical rectangles from your sweater fabric.

cosy1

2. Fold over the top rectangle–this will be the flap that encloses your mp3 player in its fuzzy cocoon. I allowed roughly 1 inch between the top of my player and the fold, so that it wasn’t stuffed in there tightly.

cosy2

3. Repeat step two on the opposite side of the fabric sandwich, so that the outer layers are folded outward, but the rectangle in the middle is left unfolded. Make sure that the outer layers are the same length. Like so:

cosy5

4. Pin all three layers together, making sure that the edges align.

cosy4

5. Stitch all layers together, ignoring the top flap for now. You can machine or hand-sew, roughly 1/2 an inch from the edges of the fabric. Clearly I wasn’t too worried about perfect sewing:

cosy6

6. Now turn it right-side out. The longer rectangle, which was in the middle of the sandwich, should magically be on the outside now.

cosy7

7. Sew the edges of the flap, folding each edge in approximately 1/2 inch. Fold in towards the inside of the cosy, so that those exposed edges aren’t visible when it’s closed.

cosy9

8. Now sew on the velcro strips. I used the softer piece of velcro on the flap, in case the player brushes against it when I’m removing it. What I did was position one piece of velcro on the edge of the flap (but not to the very edge–I left about 1/4 inch of fabric around the velcro), sewed it on, and then aligned the complimentary piece (you might want to have your mp3 player inside the cosy at this point, to account for any warping of the fabric that may take place). I pinned the complimentary piece in place, then sewed that.

cosy10

9. And…presto! A cosy with two pockets: one for the player, and a separate one for the headphones. The cord easily extends outside of the flap, without it being too roomy inside.

cosy11

If you’ve made four projects out of your sweater, and you’re still hungering for more, you can use those scraps to stuff inside of a homemade pincushion. It’s a great use for those teensy little fabric bits that are pretty useless otherwise. For instructions on making your own pincushion, I recommend searching for “pincushion tutorial.” There are tons of good tutorials and photos out there.

December 14, 2008

Sweater Project #3: Arm Warmers

Posted in Make tagged , , , , at 10:25 pm by onetinyacorn

Okay, this one is kind of a no-brainer. Nevertheless, I love arm warmers, and my new pair is warm yet lightweight–perfect for throwing into my bag in the morning, and whipping out as the climate changes.

skill level: beginner

time: 15 minutes

materials: sweater, ruler, marker, scissors or rotary cutter and mat, elastic thread and needle (optional), buttons (optional)

1. Fold what remains of your sweater so that the sleeves are aligned on a hard, flat surface.

2. Determine how long you want your arm warmers to be, and measure up from the ends of the sleeves. I left the edges raw, and haven’t had any problems with unraveling. If you have a loosely knit sweater or just don’t like the look of raw edges, add an extra 1/2 to 1 inch to your arm warmers. Of course, this will add bulk at the tops, so be forewarned if you’re working with a thick sweater. You could also cuff them at the tops. Maybe add a few buttons along one side…go crazy.

3. Mark a dotted line where you will be cutting. You could cut it at an angle for superhero-esque cuffs (I think that in that case, you’d definitely want to eliminate the raw edge. If the knit is too bulky, you can just machine-finish the edges with an elastic thread (or with a stitch designed for stretchy fabrics).

4. Cut along the dotted line.

5. That’s it! If desired, finish/embellish as stated above.

armwarmers

November 30, 2008

Sweater Project #2: Professor Sweater

Posted in Make tagged , , , , , , at 3:48 pm by onetinyacorn

I’ve always wanted a jacket with elbow patches–the kind that professors are purported to wear (although I’ve never actually seen one wearing them). I decided to use leftover cashmere from my hat project to make my own patches.

Professor Sweater

skill level: intermediate. Beginner if using non-stretchy fabric (corduroy, for instance).

time: 1 1/2-2 hours

materials: 2 sweaters, cardstock or scrap paper, scissors, marker, pins, iron, spray starch (optional), needle and thread (preferably embroidery thread).

1. Lay out what remains of your sweater on a hard, even surface. Use a large-ish expanse of the fabric–enough to accommodate two of your ovals. I used the back of the sweater. Don’t use the arms, as you’ll be using those for project #3. Smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric.

2. On cardstock or scrap paper, sketch an oval shape to the dimensions that you desire for your patches. You could use a template if you’re a symmetrically-challenged artist. Draw a larger oval around your first oval–make it approximately 1/2 an inch larger all around.

3. Cut out your larger oval, and position it on the sweater remnants.

4. Using a marker, gently draw a dotted line around the oval template. Be careful not to pull on the sweater. Repeat once.

5. Using sharp scissors, carefully cut out each oval. Check to ensure that they are the same size.

6. Generally, there’s a “right” side and a “wrong” side for fabric. In knits, the “right” side usually looks like a series of v shapes with a vertical orientation, and the “wrong” side like horizontally-oriented dashed lines.

If you care about matching up the sides of the ovals to the sides of the sweater upon which you will be sewing, mentally note which side is which now. Place oval (“right” side down) on an ironing board. Fold in fabric approximately 1/2 an inch around the perimeter, and iron gently. I held the folded fabric, a little at a time, and laid the tip of the iron close to my finger, working my way around the oval. You could also notch the fabric to reduce bulk, although I didn’t and it was fine. Don’t pull on the fabric with the iron, just lay it down and hold for a second or two. If it’s not a perfect oval, don’t worry about it too much–it can be fixed as you sew. If they’re really wonky, though, try to re-shape the oval in the weird spots and iron again (spray starch may help to create a crisper line). When you’re happy with the shape, flip them over and press them for a second with the iron.

patchpressed1

7. Take another sweater (or jacket, or whatever you want to adorn with your new patches). Figure out where you want to place the patches, and pin in place. You may want to carefully try on the garment to check your placement. I went a little overboard with the pins, placing them every 1/2 an inch or so around the ovals.

8. You might be able to machine-sew these in place, but given the stretch of the knits and the placement, I opted to hand-stitch them. I used two strands of embroidery floss (the strands being the individual threads, not the grouping of six that form the floss), carefully sewing about 1/8 of an inch inside the edge of the oval. Any small imperfections in your shape can be fixed as you sew, by carefully rolling the edge of the oval in or out as needed. Remove the pins as you approach them while sewing. As always, be careful not to stretch anything while sewing. If any pin marks remain, a quick press with an iron should remove them.

9. Tie off the loose ends, and admire your new sweater in the mirror.

November 25, 2008

1 Sweater= 4 Crafty Projects

Posted in Make tagged , , , , , , at 10:59 pm by onetinyacorn

Every once in a while, I’ll be standing in a store, fingering some mass-produced item and it occurs to me, “Hey! You’re crafty! Why don’t you just make that thing that you want?” It’s always a little funny to me that this doesn’t neccessarily immediately occur to me, despite a lifetime of Making Things. I think it says a lot about the conditioned impulse towards consumerism, but that’s another post…

So I needed a hat. My beloved cashmere sweater had a tear in the neckline, so I decided to sacrifice it. What resulted was no less than 4 independent items. Today I present to you:

The Little Edie Hat

skill level: beginner

time: 30 minutes-1 hour

materials needed: 1 sweater, scissors (or a rotary cutter and mat), marker, ruler, thread and needle, seam ripper (optional–helpful if there are tags from the sweater to remove), and brooch (optional).

1. Lay your sweater down on a hard, flat surface. Smooth out any wrinkles.

2. Measure up eleven inches from the bottom of the sweater. Use a marker to lightly draw a dotted line across the width of the sweater (uniformly eleven inches from the bottom).

3. Use sharp scissors (or a rotary cutter, if you have one) to cut along the dotted line, being careful not to pull the sweater as you go. Cut just inside of the line, so that no ink shows up on the fabric.

4. You should have a tube of fabric eleven inches high. This will become your hat. Save the rest of that sweater!

5. Mark how wide you want your hat to be. I noticed that by folding my tube in two, I had the perfect width, plus extra warmth from two layers of cashmere. (If you are not so lucky, you’ll just have to cut up one side of the tube. Wrap that around your head, and pinch the edge of the fabric where it overlaps on your head. Add an extra inch in width, cut off the excess material, and stitch it up. Presto).

Back to the doubled-up hat:

6. Turn tube inside-out, so that the side seams are visible. Align those side seams so that one rests on top of the other. You can use a machine to sew along the seams, just make sure to use a stitch made for knits. I opted to use an embroidery stitch and hand-sew up the seams with embroidery floss, for turbo strength.Tie off each end of thread.

Center Stitch

Center Stitch

Close-up of embroidery

Embroidery Close-Up

*Public Service Announcement* When you’re in a craft store, you may eye the cheap thread–maybe Coats and Clark brand. I once did this myself. However, after splurging on Gutermann thread, I will never look back. If you compare the strength of the two, Gutermann is much, much stronger. If any stress will be placed on whatever you’re sewing, I would opt for the latter brand. I don’t work for them or anything–Coats and Clark just really sucks. *End of Public Service Announcement*

7. This part’s a little tricky to explain–it’s like origami. You have a tube, bisected by a line sewn down the middle. Take one of those sections, and fold over the other tube, inverting along the way.

8. You’ve got yourself a hat! You can sew up one end, but I’ve found that my hat keeps me quite toasty without it. I’m on the lookout for a brooch to perfect the Little Edie hat…

All done!

All done!

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