Thursday, January 22, 2009

tutorial: woven heart bag for Valentine's Day

I've been making these little woven heart bags since I was a child - they're a great way to give little treats and presents for any occasion! Just change the colour of the fabric and they're great for Christmas, Easter or Valentine's Day.

You can make the woven heart bags out of sturdy card stock, but being the fabric hound that I am - I'm going with pretty spring prints :-)

To begin, you'll need two contrasting fabrics (I prefer a tightly-woven quilting cotton - it's less likely to fray), your favorite brand of iron-on fusible, a gridded ruler, scissors, and optional, but useful - a rotary cutter and mat. You can also use ribbon to create a handle as well:Roughly cut a piece of the fusible to 13 inches by 5 inches and fuse it onto the wrong side of the fabric:
Peel the paper off the fusible and fuse the fabric together to make a fabric sandwich approximately 13" X 5". Trim it to exactly 12 inches by 4 inches (this is why the gridded ruler is so handy):
Fold the fabric in half to make a rectangle 6 inches by 4 inches and press with your iron:
Round the corners off like this:
I usually just cut them free-hand but you can use a template to mark the half-circles if you prefer.

Using your gridded ruler, mark lines, one inch apart, from the bottom and going up 4 1/4 inches:

Carefully cut the lines, so each heart has four "fingers".

It's time to start weaving! The process actually takes longer to explain than it actually takes to make - just go slowly and make sure you're not weaving the insides together. Begin at the top and work your way down.

The basic technique is taking one strand and weaving it inside the other strand. To begin, take the left top "finger" and place it inside the top right "finger", like this:
Now take the top right finger and slide it inside the top left finger:
Top left into the top right finger again:
That's the basic pattern, just alternate weaving the "fingers" into each other!

The second row is the opposite of the first row - so the top right finger gets woven inside the top left finger:

Here's the last weave of the second row:
Keep weaving until you reach the end of the heart. The final weave looks like this:
If the heart is scrunched up and won't lie flat, un-weave everything and cut the fingers so they're an extra 1/4 inch longer. Weave it again and that should solve your problem :-)

Here's how the inside should look:

The basket opens completely and all the fingers are locked into place.
I hope you'll give this tutorial a try - it's one of my favorites :-)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

I'd like to wish you all a Happy New Year! May all your wishes come true... and have a safe and joyful one :-)

image: Stock.xchg

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I'd like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas (or whatever winter holiday you celebrate) and a Happy New Year!

I'll be back in January with more goodies and tutorials for you all. Until then, stay crafty and warm :-)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

tutorial: how to sew on a sequin

Sequins are a fun way to add some glitz and glamour to Christmas ornaments and crafts. But do you really want to just glue them on? Sewing them on means your craft will last longer and add a decorative touch as well.

As always, this is an original tutorial and may not be copied or reproduced without my permission. You're welcome to link to my site however :-)

Let's get started!

You'll need your standard sewing supplies as well as sequins, "e" beads and whatever fabric you're attaching the sequins to:

I'm using felt because it's sturdy, doesn't fray and is easy to work with. Thread up your handsewing needle (make sure the eye is small enough to fit through the beads) with four strands of thread. You can use either a matching thread, or a contrasting colour, as I'm showing here.

Take a stitch through the fabric and leave a short length of thread before the knot at the end of the thread:

Make a loop of thread by passing your needle through two of the strands of thread and pulling snug - it should look like this:

Thread a sequin and a bead onto the needle and thread:

Stitch back through the hole in the sequin so the bead is held in a little loop - like this:

Gently tighten the needle and make a knot on the wrong side of the fabric... or keep going and add more sequins and beads:

If you don't want to use beads to secure the sequins, you can use just thread. Repeat the first two steps as above, but this time, bring the needle through the centre of the sequin and stitch across it - on the edge. Repeat at least twice more:

Make a knot on the wrong side and trim the threads. You can get some lovely effects by using decorative threads as well.

This is a great technique for adding sparkle to anything from pillows to clothing - give it a try!

tutorial and image copyright C Findlay-Harder 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

tutorial: how to make a round fabric yo-yo

Fabric yo-yos are one of my favorite craft or quilt techniques - in fact, I love making them so much that I've made thousands of them into garlands for my Christmas tree!

I was taught to make them by my mother, when I was quite young, she in turn was taught as a young girl by a family friend. There is a real sense of continuity for me when I make yo-yo circles - women have been making them for hundreds of years.

I recently was asked by a reader how to make a basic, round yo-yo circle - so here you go :-) An all-new fabric-tastic tutorial!

As always, this tutorial is my original work, so please don't copy the text or photos without my permission!

To begin, cut out a circle of fabric, I normally use a template to cut out the first one - but you can even cut a free-hand circle if you really want :

The finished yo-yo will be approximately half the size of the fabric circle that you started with. I'm using a circle that's four inches across, so my finished yo-yo is just under two inches across.

Thread a needle with standard sewing thread and knot the end. Fold over a 1/4" seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric (the pale side in the fabric shown here) and using running stitches, start stitching around the outside of the circle. I use a stitch length of approximately 1/8", but it depends on the size of the circle and the kind of fabric you're using. Heavier or crisper fabrics will need longer stitches, and extremely fine fabric may work better with smaller stitches.

Don't pull the thread tight - leave a tail at the end.
Keep on sewing around the entire circle:
To make sure the stitches won't get pulled out when you start gathering them, pass the needle and thread through the knotted end of the thread (that's why we left a tail at the beginning!)

Now start pulling the thread to gather the fabric evenly. It should look like this - the circle is evenly gathered all the way around and it's a nice, even circle:
Knot the thread and trim it. You can press the yo-yo if you'd like at this stage.

Congratulations! You've made your first yo-yo! Now you can make more...

Tutorial and all images are copyright C Findlay-Harder 2008

Sunday, November 2, 2008

How to make silk paper - tutorial

I love making silk paper - it’s messy, wet and tons of fun to play with :-) Ready to get messy?

As always, just a gentle reminder - this is an original tutorial, designed and written by myself. It's copyright and may not be copied or transferred without my direct permission.

For this project I’m using raw silk in a “cap”, but you’ll probably find silk hankies (not to be confused with the kind you blow your nose with!) more easily. Meinke Toy has several different silk products, but I’d start with silk hankies.

Tease the silk out onto a mesh surface. I’m using a paper-making tray, but you can even just tape the edges of door screen mesh and use that. It’s going to look like a light, fluffy pile - but don’t worry, it’s going to look like paper soon!

Now either stick the whole pile of silk under a tap, spray it with a spray bottle, or what I’m using, a spray shower. You need to throughly soak the silk fibers - use your fingers to massage the water into the surface. Here’s what it looks like when it’s half-soaked through:

I just plopped the entire screen into my bathtub to do this. When I first began making silk paper, I would gently spray it down with a plant mister… and you know what? It takes hours to make silk paper that way! The silk must be completely soaked through, any patches that are dry or just damp won’t form a nice firm surface.

Keep massaging the silk until it looks like this - no dry patches and it’s evenly soaked through:

Now we need to glue all those lovely silk fibers together :-)

I like to place the screen onto a plastic lid, or other surface that won’t leak all over the place.

I’m using Golden’s GAC 900, an acrylic fabric medium, but you can use any textile medium - or white glue mixed half and half with water. Spread it over the surface as evenly as you can:

Use your fingers to massage the fabric medium into the fibers, until it’s evenly worked through - like this:

You’ve got a choice at this point. You can let the paper dry like this, and embellish it when it’s dry, or you can bring the paint out :-)

I’m using Dye-Na-Flo to paint the wet surface. It works particularly well for projects like this because the paint acts like water color paint on the wet fiber. You’ll get a fluid, soft surface if you paint the silk wet.

Here’s how I painted this piece of silk paper:

Let it dry overnight and then peel it off the screen. Leave that to dry on a flat surface until it’s completely dry. We’ll embellish and embroider it next time!

images & tutorial are copyright 2008 C Findlay-Harder

Friday, October 31, 2008

Painted Skies tutorial - whole-cloth painting for art quilts

I love to create art quilts using my own painted fabric - so I thought it would be fun to share one of my methods with you all :-)

As always, just a gentle reminder - this is an original tutorial, designed and written by myself. It's copyright and may not be copied or transferred without my direct permission.

For this project, you’ll need plain, tightly-woven white cotton fabric (pre-washed, please), a work surface that can get paint-y, a selection of fabric paints and paint brushes. I’d also recommend a spray bottle, clips or tape to attach your fabric to your work surface, and as an option - coarse salt:

Let’s get painting!

To begin, iron your cotton fabric (it’s pre-washed right??) and secure it to your work surface. I prefer to paint on fabric that’s anchored to my work table - I find it’s a lot easier. I’m using big clips to hold my sample fabric down.

Before you start painting, it’s important to have everything prepared and ready to go - you don’t want to go running around your studio trying to find something while your paint is drying on the fabric! I recommend having a good size water container handy to wash your brushes too.

I’m using a combination of Dye-Na-Flo and Lumiere fabric paints for this project. You can use your favorite paints, but these are my preference - I don’t have any commercial interest in them, they just work the way I want :-)

To begin, take your spray bottle and mist the fabric all over - it doesn’t need to be soaked through, but it’s got to be evenly damp for the paint to move the way we want.

I’ve dipped my large, round paint brush (I like Winsor & Newton University synthetic bristle brushes - the white bristle ones) into my water and then into “azure” Dye-Na-Flo. I’m using really light, loose strokes all over the fabric. Don’t try and make obvious cloud shapes, just use light strokes of paint. I’m using heavier strokes at the bottom, moving to lighter ones at the top. That will help give the illusion of depth to the sky.
I’ve mixed a 50/50 blend of azure Dye-Na-Flo and pearlescent turquoise Lumiere, thinned it with water and lightly painted over parts of the blue paint. I like the sheer sparkle of pearl paints, but you’ve got to use them sparingly in this project or they’ll overwhelm it.
I’ve added some light touches of “violet” Dye-Na-Flo. I’ve dipped my paintbrush into water first, and then into the paint - it helps to keep things really light and fluid.

The dark patches you can see in this photo is the worktable surface showing through the white fabric.

It’s important to keep your fabric evenly damp during painting. I photographed this project outside on a hot and windy afternoon, so I needed to spray the fabric down again at this point.

I’m trying to paint a sky at the beginning of sunset, so I’ve a really light layer of yellow streaks, just at the top of the fabric. I’ve used “sun yellow” Dye-Na-Flo. I decided to punch up the metallics a little, so I used a thinned out mixture of Lumiere’s “true gold” to add high lights to the yellow.

I decided that the bottom of the fabric needed a little more color, so I’ve brushed on a second layer of violet. The dark line across the bottom is actually a shadow from my house - not paint.

Spray the fabric again lightly and let it dry thorougly. You could also lightly sprinkle with rock salt at this point. Rock salt will add an interesting texture, just make sure to wash the fabric after you’ve heat set it to remove the salt. It’s not good for fabric to leave it sit for too long!

The fabric has now had a chance to dry overnight, so you can see how much the paint softens as it dries. That’s half of the fun with painting on wet fabric - you never quite now how it will dry! You can now heat-set it according to the instructions on the paint - that will ensure the paint is fully permanent and can be washed safely.

Just to let you know, the finished piece of fabric is over six feet long and approximately eighteen inches wide…

This is why I should remember to wear gloves when I paint - I don’t seem to be able to paint without wearing it :-)
Here's how the fabric looks if you salt it with rock salt when it's still wet:
I love the mottled effect and the added dimension it gives.

tutorial & all images are copyright C Findlay-Harder