Happy things (+ a freezer paper pattern tutorial)

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPYAfter a somewhat prolonged sewing slump, things are really cooking around here. We are moving and shaking at the Strzeszewski sewing studio (and by “we” I mean “I” while my obstructionist dogs lie across my machine pedal or wherever else they can most easily trip me).

What kind of moving and shaking has been going on, you ask? A garment was sewn and a Sew Together Bag  constructed. A quilt was planned and fabrics for it chosen.

Gold star earned.

Too much passive voice used.

Today, my happy thing is the garment sewn: a Fancy Tiger Sailor Top.  (The fabric you’re looking at is Canyon Wall in Canyon from Arizona by April Rhodes.)

Fancy Tiger Sailor Top

Fancy Tiger Sailor Top

Here’s to Fancy Tiger for this super fun, simple, and sweet blouse pattern.  I’m 5’7″ and made the medium size without altering anything–it fits great and is loose and comfy, but next time I think I’ll lengthen it an inch or so.  I was able to complete the whole thing in an afternoon/evening, including tracing my pattern onto freezer paper and cutting my pattern pieces.

Freezer Paper Tutorial | from Marta with Love

You guys know this trick, right?  Trace your pattern onto plain old freezer paper so you don’t EVER have to use the single-cell-wall-thick fairy wings they call pattern paper that shifts when you so much as think in its direction.  I also use it for PDF patterns that you have to print and tape together (meaning I print and assemble the pattern as normal, then trace it onto the freezer paper) because the freezer paper is just so much easier to work with and you can reuse it indefinitely.

freezer paper pattern tracing

All you do is lay your pattern underneath a piece of freezer paper and trace it (with all the markings!) onto the rough/papery side.  *You’ll notice in my picture above that I actually put the pattern itself on top of the freezer paper and traced it through the top (my marker bled right through) because the original pattern’s lines were too faint to see underneath the freezer paper.*

freezer paper pattern tracing

Tip: use a different color Sharpie for each pattern so it’s easy to identify which pieces go with which pattern.

Then cut out all your pattern pieces, but don’t worry about precision at this point because you’ll cut on the lines the first time you actually cut your fabric for your project.  The only lines you have to cut accurately at this point are any sides that you’ll place on the fabric fold.

Now just press your pattern pieces–shiny side down and with steam turned off–onto your fabric according the pattern’s cutting diagrams.  Your pieces are now adhered to your fabric!

freezer paper pattern ironing

freezer paper pattern ironing

Lastly, cut out your pattern pieces with sublime ease, peel off the freezer paper (it comes off completely cleanly), and get sewing!  I’ve sewn a couple patterns where I’ve used the same freezer paper several times and it has yet to lose its stickiness.  It’s magical.

freezer paper pattern cutting

freezer paper pattern

And there you go. Feel free to email me or leave a comment with any questions.  Thanks for stopping by and have a super sweet day!

Minky Blanket Tutorial

I just remembered I never posted about this minky blanket I made for a my guild friend, Peg! I was late giving it to her (how late? it’s February in Colorado yet my pictures show green grass –you do the math), so it’s only fitting I’m late to post about it.  Right?  Yes.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

I’m including a little tutorial, since you can never have too many pointers when sewing with minky dot fabric. I learn something new every time I sew with it! If I can save just one person from the cursing that ensues when you sew with this slippery sucker of a fabric, I’ve done my job.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

This is tutorial will help you with the method of construction. Your specific measurements will vary depending on the size blanket you want to use. I simply made a blanket whose length and width equaled the width of my dining room table! Easy, and the perfect size for a little babe.

First and foremost, I highly recommend pre-washing your fabric and minky backing before you begin. Any time you mix two types of fabrics with different shrink rates, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I did not pre-wash when I made Peg’s blanket and unfortunately when I saw it after she’d washed it I was pretty sad –it shrank weird. So sorry, Peg! Like I said, I learn something new with every project. I haven’t yet reached perfect quilter/sewist/crafter (a/k/a alien) status.

Now that we’ve established I’m human, let’s start. Lay your minky backing on your work surface, facing up, and smooth it out completely. Doing this on a table helps because the overhang keeps the fabric taught when you’ve smoothed it out.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Lay your main fabric on the minky, facing down, then lay your batting on top and smooth out all wrinkles so you have a perfectly flat surface. Note: my main fabric was 44″ wide but the minky I used was 58″ so I had quite a bit of overhang. Which is fine, because I’ll cut it off after the next step.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Now pin the living hell out of your sandwich. You will not regret this –you’ll only regret if you don’t pin enough! Treat this like a quilt and really baste it well. Minky shifts like crazy (especially this type of minky with the little knobs), so you need to stabilize! Then trim away any excess minky.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

To make your blanket a perfect square (or rectangle), here’s how you’ll line everything up.

Place your pinned blanket at the edge of your table, with at least 1/2″ hanging over. Notice my minky and fabric aren’t even, or straight, or pretty. The edge looks pretty yucky. That’s okay! Don’t fret.

Take something with a long, straight edge (I used a dowel I had left over from a home improvement project) and line it up with the edge of your table. Mark that line. I was very careful not to move (or roll) my dowel as I marked.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Next you’ll pin along this entire line. You can place pins as close together as you want but I wouldn’t put more than 3 inches between each one. You really want everything to stay put when you sew on that line later on.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Continue marking and pinning each side as you did above. You’re marking your blanket the same way you would cut fabric if you were squaring it up. Use the first line you marked–the one you know is straight–as a reference point to line up your other sides.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Using your walking foot (more stabilization? yes, please), sew on the lines you marked, stopping with your needle down at each corner, turning and going around the entire perimeter of your blanket. Leave open about a 5″ gap on one side through which you will turn your blanket right side out. I leave my pins in and just sew over them, being careful not to hit them with my needle (I read this tip on Kelly’s blog). I find this does a better job of keeping everything in place than if you remove pins as you sew.

Now take out your ruler and trim yourself a beautifully straight 1/2″ seam allowance. This is why I said not to worry if your edges weren’t perfect. It’s so much easier to sew on a straight line and trim later than it is to try to line up MINKY with two other layers of material and maintain a perfect square. Ask me how I know.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Turn your blanket right side out through the gap you left open before. Lay it back down on your table and take care to line up your edges nicely, smoothing out any wrinkles or shifting. Then pin it again, as before! You can still screw up your blanket at this point if you skip pinning because you still need everything stable when you top-stitch.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Done pinning yet? Now you can top stitch around your whole quilt, folding in the fabric at your opening to create a pretty edge. Top-stitch about 3/8″ from the outside of the blanket.

I didn’t quilt this one because I wanted it super flowy and snuggly but if you want to quilt it you can do that now too. Otherwise, take out your pins and you’re done!

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

That’s it for my minky blanket tutorial! Go forth and sew some minky. May the force be with you.

Minky Blanket Tutorial - from Marta with Love

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial

Today I’m pleased to share a DIY IKEA sewing table tutorial showing you how to make a custom sewing table from your INGO dining table.  It’s a lot easier than you think!  If I can do it, you can do it.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Please read through the entire instructions before beginning this project so you get a good overview of what we’ll be doing.  It’s sometimes easier to see photos of the later stages of the project in order to understand the earlier steps.

If you’ve just bought your INGO, make sure to fully assemble it before beginning this tutorial.  Later in the project we’ll be removing the tabletop but you need the table fully assembled to start.  Just follow the always-easy-to-understand IKEA assembly instructions and let’s begin!

Supplies:

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Disclaimer: I don’t endorse the brands pictured above and have no knowledge regarding any of their potential defects or safety issues.

  • Ikea INGO or other dining/kitchen table with a rail under the tabletop (this tutorial is not for Ikea tables where you pick a top piece and legs separately –you need that rail underneath in order to attach the support beams that will hold your machine).
  • 1 board to use as a shelf on which your machine will sit under your table.  Must be at least 2 inches longer and wider than your machine.  I have a Janome MC 6600P and used a 12” wide, 21” long shelf left over from our new Ikea kitchen cabinets.  I left it 12” wide and just cut it to the proper length.
  • 1 wood 2×2.  It needs to be at least twice the width of your table (if you’re using the same table as me you’ll need one that’s at least 52” long so you can cut it into two 26” long pieces).
  • Safety goggles (DUH)
  • Jigsaw
  • Medium and fine grit sandpaper
  • Wood filler
  • Miter or hand saw (to cut your 2x2s to size)
  • Drill
    • ¼” drill bit
    • Countersink bit
  • Mini Kreg Jig Kit
  • C-clamp
  • 4 1 ¼” wood screws
  • 4 bolts (4” long, ¼” diameter) –it’s best to use bolts that have threading at least halfway up the length of the bolt, since you’ll be using these bolts to get your shelf to the correct height.
  • 8 washers
  • 8 nuts
  • 4 bolt caps

Construction

Place your sewing machine on top of the table and find a spot where you feel it’s comfortable for you to sew.  My machine is about 4.5” from the front edge and about 17” from the left edge.

Trace the outline of your machine onto your tabletop.  If you’d like room for your cords to tuck underneath, make sure to account for that bit of extra space when you’re tracing.  If you have an acrylic extension table, make sure you trace around it as well if you want it to remain attached to your machine.

Carefully cut along your traced line with your jigsaw to create the hole in which your machine will fit.  It helps to have someone holding the table still for you as you cut.  Go slowly, especially around the corners.  It takes some finesse to get nicely rounded corners (however, some sewing machines have square edges, in which case you’ll be cutting a perfect rectangle).  This was my first time using a jigsaw and my corners were far from perfect!

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Now insert your machine to see if it fits snugly in the hole you just cut.  Mine didn’t fit right away so I had to sand the edges down a bit more and kept inserting my machine and sanding the edges until it fit (which, with a 25-pound machine, was quite a workout!).  Don’t worry if it doesn’t fit on the first try –your tracing lines can be tough to get perfect so consider your initial hole to be a starting point (unless you are an expert tracer and jigsawer).  :)

Once your hole is the right size and you’ve made sure your machine fits snugly, sand all the cut edges, first with a medium grit sandpaper to take care of the really rough parts and then with the fine grit to get it smooth and flat.  The hole I cut splintered a bit in some areas.  I removed the splinters and filled those spots in with wood filler, let it dry completely per package instructions, then sanded those areas smooth as well until I got a nice, flat surface with no splinters or gashes.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Next, flip your entire table over and measure the distance between the front and back rails.  (If you’re using the same INGO table as me, it should measure 26”.)  Cut your 2×2 into two pieces the same length as the distance between the rails and check their placement to make sure they fit snugly in between the rails.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Now trace a line a couple of inches from each short side of your jigsawed hole (the line will be parallel to the short sides).  You’ll use these lines later as a guide to attach your 2x2s (which, by the way, are NOT 2 inches by 2 inches!  I learned that “2x2s” are actually 1.5” x 1.5” –how confusing, right?!).

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

I didn’t make any exact measurements here; I simply used the width of my level as my guide.  The only real rule is that your line must be at least 2 inches from your hole in order to accommodate the width of the 2x2s (yes, the not-actually-2-inches-by-2-inches 2-by-2s).

Whip out your NIFTY kreg jig kit, clamp it securely to your 2×2 (hint: use a paint stirrer on the underside so your clamp doesn’t dig into the 2×2), attach the drill bit that comes with the kit and use it to drill pocket holes into each end of both of your 2x2s.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS that come with the kit to make sure you’re clamping the kreg jig the proper distance from the edge.  The length of the screws you use dictates the distance the kreg jig must be attached from the edge.  Ours will need to accommodate 1 ¼” screws.  You should now have 4 pocket holes!

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Next, line up the outer edge of your 2x2s with the lines you traced on the underside of your table and attach your 2x2s to the front and back table rails using the 1 ¼” wood screws through the pocket holes we just made.  I must say, making and using pocket holes will make you feel LEGIT.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Once your 2x2s are attached, mark where the 4 bolts will go that will hold up the shelf with your sewing machine.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO MARK THEM TOO CLOSE TO THE FRONT EDGE OF YOUR TABLE, AS THAT’S WHERE YOUR POCKET HOLE SCREWS ARE.  I marked about 3 inches in front and behind my machine hole.  (I apologize for the lack of photo for this part.)

Next, unscrew and remove JUST your tabletop from your table and set it aside.  Everything else (the table legs, the rail around the perimeter, the 2x2s) should remain intact.  You are JUST removing the table top so you can install your bolts, which will be countersunk into the 2x2s.

Attach your ¼” drill bit and drill 4 holes all the way through your 2x2s, at the spots you marked previously (you’ll notice that the mark in my photo is NOT where I’m drilling the hole.  That’s because the first time I drilled at my mark, I hit the wood screw attaching my 2×2 to the rail!  Hence the disclaimer above about making sure your marks aren’t near your wood screws!  Trial by fire, folks.).

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Now attach your countersink bit and drill sink holes into the top of the 4 drilled holes you just made.  The countersink bit only goes about ½” inch deep so that your bolts, when inserted, are flush with the top of your 2x2s but do not go all the way through.  Test that your bolts fit by sliding them through the holes you just made and ensuring that their tops are nicely flush with the top of your 2x2s.  You should be left with a flat surface on which to reattach your tabletop.  Remove the bolts and set them aside for now.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Now turn your table base upside down, setting it on top of the shelf you’ll be using to hold your machine (mine in the picture has NOT been cut to its proper length yet, which is why it looks too long).

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Line up your shelf about ½” past each 2×2 and use the 4 holes you just made in the 2x2s as a guide to begin drilling those same holes into your shelf (it helps to have someone holding your table and shelf steady as you do this).  This will ensure that the holes in your 2x2s and the ones in your shelf line up perfectly for the bolts that will be holding them together.  DON’T DRILL ALL THE WAY THROUGH YOUR SHELF AT THIS POINT.  RATHER, DRILL LITTLE PILOT HOLES, THEN REMOVE YOUR SHELF FROM UNDER THE TABLE AND PLACE IT ON A STURDY SURFACE TO FINISH DRILLING THOSE 4 HOLES ALL THE WAY THROUGH.  Put your shelf aside.

It’s time to put the table back together!

Assembly

First, place your bolts through the holes you made previously so that the top of the bolts are pointed up, and the threads are hanging underneath your table.  Again, the tops of your bolts should be flush with the surface of the 2x2s, thanks to the countersink holes we drilled earlier.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Hold the bolts in place so they don’t slip out, and carefully flip the table back over onto the tabletop.  Reattach the tabletop to your [revamped!] base per IKEA’s original assembly instructions.

Once you’ve reassembled your table and place it right side up, it should basically just look like a table with a hole in the top.  It’s only upon looking underneath that you’ll be able to see your masterful carpentry :)

Finally!  Let’s attach the shelf upon which your machine will live.

Your bolts will now be hanging down underneath your table.  Mount the shelf by assembling in the following order for each bolt:

NUT –> WASHER –> SHELF –> WASHER –> NUT

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

You’ll notice that my bolts in the picture are a BIT too long.  The ones I used on my table are actually ½” longer than the ones I recommend in my supplies list, so if you buy them per the supplies list you should be good to go.  I’ll probably cut these down or disassemble my table and replace them with 4″ bolts one of these days, but for now my too-long ones aren’t proving to be a problem.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

(For an ultra-stable shelf, we’re securing nuts on each side of it rather than just underneath it.  This adds some extra tension to keep your nuts from loosening from the shaking that occurs while you sew.)

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

 

Once you’ve installed the shelf by assembling the nuts and washers for all 4 holes in the order listed above, place your machine on your shelf and simply tighten or loosen the nuts until your machine is sitting at a height that is flush with the surface of your table top.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Put bolt caps on the bottoms of your bolts, especially if you have kiddos!  You really want to protect your littles from hitting the bolts if they decide to play underneath your table.  If you can’t find caps the size of your bolts (I had a hard time), I would try sticking some cotton balls on the ends and covering them with duct tape to provide some cushion and protection.

Now set aside your machine, pull your cords up through the hole, and place your machine back on the shelf.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Plug in your cords, turn on your machine, and put the pedal to the metal!  You’re finished!

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

You’ll notice I painted my table as well.  Here’s the tutorial I followed to a tee for the paint job.

DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love DIY IKEA Sewing Table Tutorial - from Marta with Love

Looks a lot nicer than those overpriced, plastic sewing tables, eh?  It’s cheaper, uber chic, and you get the privilege of saying you made this custom sewing table with your own two hands.  :)  Win-win-win.

ENJOY, and be sure to leave me a comment here or e-mail me if you make this table yourself using my tutorial.  I’d love to hear your experience and see the finished product!

Also, please visit Carrie’s blog and give her some love.  When I came home from buying my precious Janome with a picture of the shop’s expensive custom tables fresh in my Droid, hers was the first tutorial I came across that gave me the confidence to say “You know what?  I can do this, too!”

So they want to get to know me, do they?

They wanna spend a little quality time with MOI.  (If you’re a Grinch fan, you’ll know that quote.  If you’re not a Grinch fan, leave.)

Kidding!  Welcome to my stop on the Let’s Get Acquainted Blog Hop!

First, I’ll tell you a little about me.  Then I’ll share a quick tip on how to more efficiently mark your half-square triangles.  Don’t call it a tutorial because that will embarrass me.  It’s a tip and nothing more!

How long have you been quilting:
Since May of 2010.

Favorite quilting tip:
Calculate 81,567 times, order fabric once.

Favorite blogging tips:
Be yourself. Don’t blog to impress others. Have fun. Don’t force it.

Favorite fabrics (or wish list fabrics):
Summerlove, Pat Bravo
Garden Party, Anna Maria Horner (alas, I missed out on this one)
Alpine Wonderland, Sheri Berry Designs
Modern Whimsy, Laurie Wisbrun
Newest favorite: Field Study, Anna Maria Horner

Favorite craft book:
The Practical Guide to Patchwork by Elizabeth Hartman. I learned so much and refer to it often.

Favorite books:
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut
The Stand, Stephen King

Favorite children’s book:
That’s easy. The Harry Potter series (obviously not just for children –matter of fact, I’m listening to Prisoner of Azkaban on audiobook as we speak).

Favorite quilting tool:
Microsoft Excel. I love all the math involved in quilting.

Favorite music to listen to while quilting:
Upbeat, new-agey, dancey stuff (Phoenix, Empire of the Sun, Miike Snow), and classic rock.

Favorite TV show while hand stitching:
Downton Abbey.

Binding – by hand or by machine?
Depends on how much time I have, and on the season. I tend to hand stitch more during colder months because it’s a great time to get cozy and snuggle up on the couch.

If I’d only known (before I started my blog):
How much my obsessive compulsive nature would consume me during my blog design process.

NOW FOR THE TIP.

If you don’t already know, quilting is a very involved craft.  Quilters are constantly looking for ways to cut corners (literally and figuratively), save time, and do multiple things at once.  With that in mind, I’m going to show you how to complete the tedious task of marking sewing lines on your half-square triangles in less time.

(1)  Grab a few of your squares and line their corners up with a single line on your cutting mat like so:

 

(2)  Line up the 1/4″ mark of your ruler with that same center line and draw a line down all your squares.

 

(3)  Next, carefully shift your ruler to the left and line up your ruler one quarter inch from your center line (I use my ruler’s 3/4″ mark lined up with the solid grid line to the left of my center as my reference point to make sure it’s perfectly straight –on my cutting mat, I find that easier than trying to line up my ruler with the little dots between the solid grid lines).

 

(4)  Mark that line down all your squares.

 

Bada BING!  You’ve just marked a bunch of HST’s (or however many you can fit along the length of your ruler) at once!  Beats grabbing them individually, lining up your ruler for every single one, and marking them 1,847,888 times, yes?

 

If you’re reading this and don’t know what to do next to make a half-square triangle, or you’re scratching your head and wondering what the heck a half-square triangle even is, check this page out for a quick learning experience.

That’s all I’ve got!  But before you get back to living your life, check out my fellow blog hop babes sharing their talents this week!

Marion from My Quilt Diet
Ginny from Fish Creek Studio
May from Confessions of a Fabraholic