Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ahoy! Pirate Apron Swap!

Argh! Be ye interested in some sewn treasure? Sewer Sluts is hosting a Pirate Apron Swap.

Treasure Map Key: You will create a pirate-themed apron for a partner and someone else will create an apron for you. Full partner assignments will be known only to the Sewer Slut Hostess. You will be given the name and address and other relevant details about the person for whom you are making the apron, but you will not know who is making the apron for you until they send it.

Walk the plank: Sign up by Friday, 7/10/09 and receive your partner assignment no later than Monday, 7/13/09.

Collect your booty: Packages must be sent to your apron partners between 8/25/09 and 9/5/09 (in time for Talk Like a Pirate Day on 9/19). Please make sure to use a tracking method for your package -- we wouldn't want your treasure to actually become buried among other postal packages! Also, please include a note to your partner revealing your identity and a recipe for some good old-fashioned pirate GRUB. When you receive your apron, please send a thank you note to your partner. Nothing rankles more than an unacknowledged gift!

If for some reason you are unable to complete your responsibilities as a Sewer Slut Swapper, please contact the Hostess (

Don't forget to share pictures of your apron for others to see! You may either e-mail them to the Hostess or you may post on this blog.

This swap is by Invitation Only.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tutorial: Bookmarks

Have you ever looked at your stash of fabric scraps and wondered why you were saving all of them? I know I have. I sometimes just cannot bear to part with a small, but lovely scrap. So when my sexy librarian friend informed me that this year's theme for the Library Summer Reading Program was "Be Creative" and that she was uninterested in purchasing generic plastic toys from Oriental Trading to give as kiddy prizes, we started brainstorming and came up with fabric bookmarks. All you need are two different coordinating pieces of fabric, some fusible web interfacing, a ribbon (optional), and thread. These bookmarks make great little gifts, either for kids or the members of your Top Secret Snooty Book Club. You can personalize them to your recipients, by choosing fabrics that cater to their interests. I made about 50 of them in two days for the Summer Reading Program, so be careful! They are addictive!!

Bookmark template
Two pieces of coordinating fabric
Fusible web interfacing
Coordinating piece of ribbon (optional)

Step One> Make your bookmark template. I used a free bookmark from the local independent bookseller as the outline and added about a 1/4" seam allowance. For the template itself, I chose sturdy paper from the recycle bin (manilla envelope). In the end, my template was 2-1/2" x 7-5/8".

Step Two> Iron your fabric.

Step Three> Using your template, cut one out of each piece of fabric and one out of the interfacing. I found that it works best using a rotary cutter and mat.

You should now have three pieces cut out:

Step Four> Fuse the interfacing (according to manufacturer's directions) to the wrong side of one of your fabric pieces. I generally used the piece that I consider the "back side" of the bookmark.

Step Five (Optional)> If you would like to have a ribbon at the top of your bookmark. Cut out a small piece of ribbon, about 3" in length. Fold it in half and baste it to one of the pieces of your bookmark.

Step Six> Pin the two bookmark pieces together, with right sides together.

Step Seven> Starting from the bottom of your bookmark, sew around the perimeter with about a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving the bottom edge open for turning. I generally used the foot as a guide all the way around.

Step Eight> Clip corners and trim, if necessary.

Step Nine> Turn the bookmark right side out. Use a point turner on the corners.

Step Ten> Press the bookmark. Fold the bottom edge under 1/4" and press.

Step Eleven> Starting from the midpoint of the bottom of the bookmark, top stitch around the entire bookmark. I stitched as close to the edge as possible. Be careful at the corners; pivot and walk your needle as needed. Slightly backstitch when you return to your starting point.

Step Twelve> Trim loose threads.

And voila! You now have your very own bookmark!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Raw Sewage: Pillows

I found this Bluebird on Velvet vintage masterpiece at a yard sale last summer in Soquel, Ca and fell in love with it. I thought it would make a great pillow with the right kind of fabric for the reverse. Unfortunately, due to other projects or perhaps just laziness, I put this on the back burner. And after a recent visit to St. Paul and Minneapolis, where I decided to hit as many vintage clothing and furniture stores as I could in one weekend, I am glad that I waited! At Swank Retro, a fantastic two-level furniture store in St. Paul, I found Bluebird's mate. After however many years apart, they have finally been reunited.

Please meet Peacock! I was thrilled to find this (for $3.50!) and I was immediately inspired to bring the two together for a grand pillow-making session. My only dilemma at this point is choosing a back side for them. So I call on you, fellow Sewer Sluts, to provide some insight. I'm inclined toward some sort of green retro-inspired fabric, because green seems to be the only common color. The blues and pinks are not quite the same. I could always do two different colored backings, but I would like to keep them uniform. Of course, there is always black velvet for the reverse side. Any thoughts on dingle balls for the edges?

One last question, does anybody know what this sort of technique would have been called? It looks like it definitely came from a kit. Here's a picture of the reverse. Perhaps this will help to identify it.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

If you're ever in Minneapolis...

...stop by Crafty Planet. I happened upon this store while doing some vintage clothing shopping in Northeast Minneapolis. The vintage place, Rewind, was not yet open, so can anyone think of a better way to kill time than in a fabric store?

The store had a cute little facade with a retro spaceship sign informing us that they were open. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was this giant red wooden robot. His belly opened up to display a bunch of wonderful craft books, one of which was Sewing Green by Betz White, which I already own. The store is painted in this wonderful hue of cornflower blue and there are white and blue shelves along the length of its walls. It is not a really big store, but it uses its space well.

They stock a lot of yarn and accessories for knitters. I do not personally knit, but if I did I think I would start here. I was more interested in the other crafts in the store. They had an impressive display of Sublime Stitching kits and I'm not talking about just five little kits, because I seriously think they featured the entire line. Moving on I found a display of crewel embroidery kits by Wool & Hoop, a company based out of Marfa, TX. I was in Marfa last year for a wedding, so I picked up one of their greeting card kits to make the couple's one year anniversary card.

Have I talked about their fabric line yet? They had so many wonderful fabrics. And not your boring, country-time-lemonade fabrics that so many other stores seem to carry. They had great animals, robots, pin-ups, stripes & dots, and Japanese imports. Oh yeah, and they had a lot of Amy Butler. They have an online store, so you can get a better idea if you browse that.

They also had a nice selection of ribbons, a significant number of books for sale, and a really nice looking space for classes. And if you have a kid, they even had a little rugrat-friendly section to distract them while you shop. They feature a weekly Friday night sewing workshop from 6pm to 9pm and they also had a bunch of classes for beginners (be you sewer slut, knitter, or embroiderer).

They had a number of patterns from Amy Butler and some other smaller designers. I picked up a wallet pattern by JennaLou, a local Minnesota designer. Speaking of locals: did you know that KwikSew is headquartered in Minneapolis? Crafty Planet had a small display of KwikSew patterns and I just happened to glance down at the label and discovered this nifty little fact. Though there were some KwikSew patterns, they did not seem to have any of the big pattern books sitting around.

Even the Boyfriend, who becomes an immediate narcoleptic whenever he enters a fabric store, was impressed. I found him pulling out bolts of fabric to show me! You know that if it can hold his interest, then Crafty Planet is in a league of its own! This place was hip and fun. It was not your usual, generic fabric store. This was not the sort of place where old-lady salespeople scoff at the idea of using woven gingham to line an apron.