Thursday, August 12, 2010

It's So Easy!

Simplicity has a line of patterns called "It's So Easy, It's Simplicity" and most of these patterns are fairly easy for a a novice seamstress such as myself.  A couple years ago I bought some fantastic fabric from WalMart (who don't usually have a really great variety of fabric choices) and I just had to use it for something that I could actually get use out of before I used it all up on other projects!  This is what I made:


Isn't it cute?? Here it is up close (the fabric is a really pretty cherry blossom print...click to make larger):


And here is the pattern I used to make it, so you can make one too, if you choose:


A perfect 'back to school' top!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Growth Chart Tutorial


For the past few days, I have been working on creating the growth chart pictured above.  I didn't use a tutorial, I just used my imagination (which is probably why it took my so long to make it)!  But, since I've already done all of the work, I thought I would show you how to make one of your very own!

Supplies:
-one vinyl pull-down window shade (minimum 12" across)
-craft paint (and brushes)
-Modge Podge
-ruler
-rotary cutter & mat
-sharpie
-scrap book paper (and either scissors or a craft cutter...I used my Slice machine)
-ribbon
-sewing machine and thread
-small dowel or stick from outside



Step 1:
Take the shade and cut out a piece that is 12" in diameter and about 42" long, being sure to start cutting at the bottom of the shade (the bottom is already 'hemmed' and has the space to for the plastic rod that comes with the shade).

Step 2:
-Take your craft paint and paint the entire shade. Mine took about 3 coats.  In the future, I would probably try spray painting it as an alternative to see if it was any faster. 

Step 3:
Once the paint is dry, you will need to fold each of the sides 1/2" over to the back and then sew up each side.  You must do this because after you've painted the vinyl, the sides curl up as they dry.  BUT FIRST, you must cut the plastic rod that came in the bottom of the shade to fit the size of your chart bottom and thread it into the bottom BEFORE you sew up each side. So, it will be the length of your bottom minus a half inch on each side where you will be folding and sewing the sides.  Then at the top, fold over 1/2", then 1" and stitch .  You are forming a little pocket at the top through which you will thread your ribbon to hang the chart.
Step 4:
-Next you can decide what design you'd like to paint on the chart.  I chose to paint a simple tree.  I used templates cut out of paper because I don't trust myself to do it free hand!
Just trace your design on the chart with a light pencil, then paint away!

Step 5:
-Once all your paint is dry, next comes measuring and drawing on your lines for the chart.  Overall, you need enough room for 3 feet (plus a few inches on the bottom and top) of lines.  The chart should be hung two feet off the ground so I started with 2 and ended with 5 feet.  My lines for the feet were 
2 1/2", and my lines to mark the inches were 1/2" each.  I used a ruler and a pencil to mark my lines first, then used a black sharpie to mark the lines.  Measure twice, draw once!!!  I did try using a black paint marker first, but it created a huge mess that I had to go back and fix, so I would just stick with the sharpie!
Step 6:
-Once all your lines are done, next is creating the numbers and embellishments.  I used scrapbook paper to cut out the numbers with my Slice paper cutting machine.  You can also just print numbers and images from your computer on to card stock and then trace onto scrapbook paper and cut out (you know, the old fashioned way)!  My numbers were about 3 1/2 inches tall.  I chose a nature theme so I also cut out butterflies, birds, flowers, and a rabbit in different papers. 
Use Modge Podge to glue the cutouts onto your chart and then spread a thin layer of it all over the entire chart.  This will dry clear and act as a sealer.  I also used another product from Modge Podge that you spray over the entire thing to seal it up and keep it get rid of the tacky feeling.

Step 7:
-Use ribbon to thread through the top of the chart, tie in a bow.  Then insert either a small wooden dowel or a straight stick from your backyard into the top to keep the sides from bending in when you hang it. Voila!  a beautiful and one-of-a-kind growth chart!
Alternatively, you could also get a piece of lumber from the hardware store and paint/embellish it just the same...you'd just have to drill two holes at the top to thread the ribbon!