19 December 2013

Tissue box holder

I found a hanging cover for a tissue box on Pinterest (http://www.apalog.com/studio-clip_craft/archive/76#BlogEntryExtend). There is a PDF of instructions how to make it on the website. One small issue - everything is in Japanese.

I decided it wasn't too difficult and I could probably fudge my way through it. To be on the safe side, I chose a piece of scrap fabric with a bit of a stretch. I won't attempt to give you a full tutorial, but perhaps just a brief overview.

The features of the bag is that it holds a normal size box of tissues, has a flap at one end to change the boxes when empty, and a strap that buttons on to enable it be hung. It's the hanging that appeals to me. I like to keep a box of tissues in the car, but they're a bit awkward to stash. This bag will allow the box to be hung behind a front seat.

The seam of the main body piece will form the opening for the tissues. I stitched normal from the end to the beginning of my opening; lengthened my stitch to 6 for the opening, and reverted back to normal for the other end of the seam. I made the lining and outer exactly the same.

The flap is slightly rounded on the front. I really wasn't sure how to tackle the flap, so I don't know if this is the best way. I sewed a flap piece to the outer and to the lining of the body, opposite the seam for the opening. That is, the opening is in the middle on the front, the flap is on the back. I sewed the lining to the outer around the flap and the three sides of the top.

I then sewed the base out to the outer. I only partly sewed the base onto the lining - so I could turn the entire bag in the right way. Later I realised I could leave the base of the lining until the end.

With the bag in the right way, I top-stitched around the flap and the top.  To create the opening, unstitch the basting on both the outer and lining, then topstitch the outer to the lining. This is where I realised that after unstitching the basting and before the topstitching, I could sew in the base of the lining - because you can pull it out through the opening.

Last step is add a strap at the top. It's sewn onto one side, and buttoned on the other. The button allows you to use a shorter strap and still get over the car seat headrest.

Clear as mud? You can always try the Japanese instructions (which do have some very helpful diagrams).

I haven't attached the strap on this side yet. It is for hubby's car, and it's not here for me to check just how long it needs to be.

With the flap open, to show how easy it is to change boxes.

18 December 2013

Storing fabric

Every quilter loves fabric. Every sewer loves fabric. Not so sure as many love storing fabric. There's lots of theories as to the best way to store fabric. I don't think any of them are particularly wrong, just some work better for some people than others. For example, I know some people store lengths of fabric on pants' hangers. That just isn't going to work for me. Firstly, I have too much fabric, secondly, I have too little hanging space (actually, none), and thirdly, I can't even use these things for pants without making a mess. However, I know this would work for some people.
Image from: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/reader-space-working-wow-factor.html
You might think fabric is pretty easy to store - just fold it, and stack it in a drawer or shelf or box. Ah, nice theory. My fabric collection is not limited to quilting cotton; it includes an array of dressmaking fabrics. Have you ever tried to fold organza? Or tulle? How do you stack leather offcuts? And if you stack fabric, I can almost guarantee that the piece that you think you want, will be the piece on the bottom.

For the past eight years or so, most of my dressmaking fabric has lived in one of two places. A big plastic storage tub for folded lengths, and a variety of 'stash holds' for everything else. A stash hold is any place where you stash something to deal with it later.

The fabric in the big tub was stored vertically, and to find anything I had rifle through the whole lot, making a mess as I went.

I've slowly gained more fabric in stash holds than any where else. My major stash holds were two large tubs in an Ikea drawer system. I'm hoping to not need the drawers once the sewing space is complete, so I had to deal with stash hold. I thought it would take forever, but it's actually only taken about 24 hours (minus sleep, cooking, taxi driving for the Teen).

I dropped by our local "$2 shop" (ie the cheap bargain place). And I scored! They had small tubs, on wheels, with lids, for $4.50. They're about 11 x 14 inches, by 7 inches high. I decided these would be perfect for separating "speciality" fabrics - at the moment, organza, lace, stretch, fleece, and lining. This dealt with some of the harder fabrics to fold and stack. I may go back and a get a couple more. At the moment they're stacked under a desk, but they're small enough to go on shelves eventually.
This afternoon I pulled out my biggest tub of fabrics and I ran a burn test on each piece. If they were cotton and a quilting texture I separated them out. Anything that wasn't cotton, or was cotton but not suitable for quilting, has now been designated as "dressmaking".

The burn test is quite simple. You burn a snip of the fabric (with proper precautions - use tools to hold it over a fireproof vessel). If it is cotton it will smell like paper burning, the ash will be fine and powdery, and it will ignite when the flame gets close to it. If it is synthetic, it will smell like burning plastic (some bad fabrics smell when you iron them), it will melt near the flame, and the remnant will be a hard blob.

My smaller sized quilting fabrics are all already sorted, but a lot of lengths of cotton were mixed in with the big tubs. These I folded into 6.5 x 6.5 squares (near-ish). Simple process - folded them to a manageable size - no bigger than 1.5 x 1.5m, then wrapped it around my 6.5 inch wide ruler in one direction, removed the ruler and wrapped it the other way. Ideally, I'd like to store these fabrics in smaller tubs, hence the size. In the short term, they're stored in a drawer of the Ikea system.
Told you it was a small stash!

My dressmaking fabric - anything that isn't cotton - I folded the width of the drawers, and a little shorter than the height (to allow for the folding to add to height). Coincidentally, I found a 14 x 4.5 inch ruler in the tub, which was the perfect size for folding around.

I have two of these drawers, full of dressmaking lengths.
After folding the large pieces I was left with a tub of 'bits'. I'm still deciding what to do with those. Some of them are big enough to be useful; if not for clothes, then for things like pencil cases and bags. The best way to store them is a problem for another day.

The last task, and perhaps the most important, was to label everything. I found that labels help me store things correctly. It's not just that they help me remember what belongs somewhere, they also remind what doesn't belong somewhere. I'm far less likely to just 'stash' something if the label doesn't match what I'm stashing. If a label says "dress making scraps", I probably won't think, "Oh, I'll just put this length of fabric in there for the time being."
For anything that's plastic, I love my label maker. For the wire baskets and my storage tubs with handles, card on a string works well. I have corner punch, which rounds off the corners. It's a minor detail, but I think it makes the labels look nicer.

I have no idea what I do if I buy more fabric - I have no more space in the drawers. Mind you, I've got so much fabric in the drawers that should be used, I probably shouldn't be buying more fabric anyway.

If you've got a blog post on storing your fabric, or a favourite system, I'd love to hear about it.

11 December 2013

New sewing space (update)

We've been busy with life, and this weekend busy installing new front doors. Yep, doors, plural - two lovely big doors right in our lounge room. The room is unfinished - we have most of the internal walls, but not all; no skirtings or cornices or niceties; and only an undercoat of cheap ceiling white on the walls. But the doors are lovely and wonderful and beautiful; and the rest is livable. I will post photos, once the mess and debris is cleaned up!

With the new doors in, and, more importantly, the old door replaced with a wall, I could move into my new sewing space. It's taken nearly two full days. Yesterday I focused on organising the old sewing room into a library, sitting room, family storage room. My sewing stuff was moved into the new space and basically just "put".

Today I organised my stuff. It's not a final, but here are some progress photos.

This end used to be the front door. Eventually there will be a cutting bench, kitchen bench height, the full width of the room. Shelves will go behind it and to the right. The baskets will be sorted and no longer needed. They will be sorted! One day. As I no longer need to pack away my every day machine, the Horn cabinet now becomes an overlocker storage and embroiderer bench.

This end will be renovated some time next year and the weatherboards replaced with 'internal' walls. The area was originally part of a covered front porch. When the weatherboards are removed I will shelve the back wall as well. I've got a couple of tubs under the desk. Big one in the corner is for wadding, and I can't think of a way around that at the moment. The drawers hold FQ (I have a very small stash) and the tub on top is my "do next" project box.

I'm considering blinds for the window. The fabric bags hanging on the wall are the last two of my scraps to be sorted and cut. When they are done, I will reward myself with shelves for the rest of that section of wall. The machine on the left is my every day machine, a Pfaff Expression 4; the one on the right is my embroiderer, a Janome.

One of my goals is to get everything out of boxes and to create a "treasure trove" I want people to walk in and go, "wow". I'm also trying to recycle as much as possible. Shown here: ribbon stacks (tutorial planned, easy-as to create) with soft drink bottle dust covers; zippers and lace and ribbons stored in old food jars (post to come); bottoms of soft drink bottles creating useful catch-all containers.

Some of my scrap fabric collection. Fabric boxes contain pieces smaller than a FQ but bigger than 10x10 inches. Plastic tubs contain 2, 3.5 and 5 inch scraps. Currently none of this is sorted by colour.

One of my fabric boxes of large scraps. The boxes were originally very simple single layer 6" calico - four squares sewn in a loop, a fifth square sewn in to create a bottom. I've now added a layer of bag wadding, and re-used my scrap bags to create a liner and coloured edge on the outside.

Spinach leaf container from the local shops holds 3.5 and 2 inch squares.

Writing and drawing shelf. Each container contains a different type of pen - fabric markers, fabric decorating, normal textas, gel pens, fountain pens, and every day writing pens.
All my rulers hanging on the wall. I started this in my old space and I love it. So easy to grab what I want. This wall will eventually be right near the cutting table. The last little bit (on the far right of the photo) is still to be panelled.
My plan (hahaha) is add my posts as I go of specific ways I use to organise the space. It is both a small space and a large space. It is small in that is only a half room; it's large in that it is purely for my sewing and nothing else. I know I will have to be smart about how I choose to furnish it and how I organise my stuff. Hopefully, as I go I can share some of my ideas and help someone else.