How To Clean Spray Baste

I’ve updated this post here. Better camera, better photos, better tutorial, less editorial. 😉

 

I really think that sometimes people like getting offended just for the sake of being offended. Or they like to argue, get their panties in a bundle, feel personally affronted….all because they are bored with their lives. These people must have all kinds of extra time on their hands that I just can’t fathom and, honestly, wouldn’t want. I like being busy.

Let’s take spray baste as an example. You mention spray baste on a quilting forum and you’re going to get a lecture on how you should really put 5000 pins in a quilt while in a cabin in the woods while making your own goat milk cheese because spray baste is so toxic and the fumes and you’re going to die and it’s so bad and evil…from people typing this on plastic computer, using wifi, with minerals from slave labor in the African Congo….yeah. Shut up. I don’t want to hear it. I just wanted to know how to get off too much spray baste.

I like spray baste. I have a can of June Tailor right now from Joann’s and it’s just fine. At least I think it’s June Tailor…I don’t really care. It works. I sew woven fabric to minky a lot, and it’s a life saver. See. I make cute stuff:

Baby Shower Gift Set
Baby Shower Gift Set

Minky, with all the pins in the world, using whatever foot you want, serger or sewing machine, will stretch, move, go to 7-eleven, and make sewing really difficult. Spray baste solves that. It’s a light, tacky spray that just barely holds the two together long enough to get the job done, which is all I require of it. I can adjust the minky over and over until everything is together, and it stays together through sewing.

spray basted, adjusted and cutting
spray basted, adjusted and cutting
sewing together
sewing together

Now, occasionally, I will get a little heavy handed with the spray, as anyone will, and there will be some residue, which will grab lint in the washer and you’ll get something like this.

The Gunk
The Gunk

I looked for help, hence the rant about zealots. The most helpful person was Julie at Crafty Quilter but it wasn’t quite enough info as she’s a pro and I screw up.  So, I went through a few cleaners, of course all non-toxic, super good for the environment, blah blah blah to find what would work to clean it off…ok, mostly to find what would take off the adhesive but not melt the minky or stain the fabric. I love, LOVE Bio-Kleen products. The Bac-Out is better than Spray’n’Wash x1000 and the cleaner/degreaser stuff is wonderful for everything else and can be quite strong depending on the concentration level. Did. Not. Do. A. Thing.

Bac-Out cleaner
Bac-Out cleaner

Then! THEN!! I remembered my friend, Sabrina. Oh, Sabrina is a goddess of stage and performance. The woman wrote her college thesis on corsetry. CORSETRY! That blows my mind. I’m not sure I even know how to spell cooorrrssseeetttrrryy. Anyway, Sabrina is the person theatres call for help and one time she was telling me about working backstage at The Lion King, and how they spray down the costumes in between with alcohol in spray bottles. Sometimes, they use 50% diluted cheap vodka in a spray bottle.

Vodka!

I don’t drink because I become an entire episode of Cops if I do, BUT I do have isopropyl alcohol on hand because when you have 4 kids, there will be blood.

Oh, hotdog, that did the trick! Just brush in one direction with toothbrush dipped in booze isopropyl alcohol and it comes right up.

toothbrush magic
toothbrush magic
not VODKA!
not VODKA!

 

Open a window if you get high from the fumes, throw the blanket back in the wash one more time so the baby doesn’t get high from the fumes, and you’re golden.

Oh Sh*t, That’s Not Right – Stocking & Toner Fail

So, yesterday I posted my most professional, lovely, perfect stockings.

What I didn’t say was how many times *&$%@ came out of my mouth.

Toner. Laser printer toner is adhered to paper by heat – it’s melted to the paper. Soooo, let’s say one prints a pattern with a laser printer, it gets a little wrinkled, so one just nonchalantly decides to iron it out….the toner WILL MELT AGAIN. Now, my work background is such that I know this. I have lectured people on passing laser printed paper back through the printer. I know printing. What did I do?

Toner Fail
Toner Fail

I did my damnedest to make sure I can buy myself a new iron.

blurry is bad
blurry is bad

The poor, 2 year old T-fal is toast. So, I’m hoping Santa brings funds for a nice new Oliso. I’m not going to hold my breath.

The other thing…yeah. I get a little hurried and arrogant when I’m on a roll, and this happened:

Christmas Stocking Fail
Christmas Stocking Fail

I don’t want to talk about it. This is between me and my seam ripper.

 

DIY Christmas Stocking – Strip Quilting

The hardest part about making a Christmas stocking, in my opinion, is finding the right-shaped pattern. So many are too pointy, too skinny, too small, too…not what I envision to hold a bunch of fun little gifts.

Finally, just weeks before Christmas, I found a pattern I like. Sure, it’s been there since 2010 and it’s on one of my favorite sites, but why make it easy on myself? It’s this one here on the fabricworm.com blog and even has a tutorial, but I’ve discussed before time and again how I have issues with instructions. The shape is perfect, the size is perfect, but I didn’t really want a cuff and I wanted to add in the complication of strip quilting. Ok, strip quilting is really easy, I just like to make it sound hard and all fancy. It’s really just taking some fabric which can be scraps, a bundle of fat quarters or whatever you want, cutting it in strips of whatever size, then sewing it together in stripes. Quilt/top sew it down to the batting – done.

Here’s an example of a pile I gathered:

fabric pile for the man
fabric pile for the man

I had been saving the Moda Japanese-modern looking fabric for ‘just the right project’ for at least 8 years and it’s perfect for my man’s stocking (and I still have > 1.75 yards left to covet.) I cut them in strips, sewed them together, pinned the fabricworm pattern to it, and cut it out.

cut out pattern
cut out pattern

Cut out 2 pieces of batting – I prefer front and back batting, but you may not. I certainly do NOT recommend the synthetic batting you see here, but I have some left over from a Halloween project and decided to use it up. I wasn’t terribly concerned about it not being flat because once I quilted it down, I just trimmed the excess. Not a big deal.

cut out batting
cut out batting

Next, cut 2 of the lining and sew together, wrong sides facing, then turn right side out.

cut out lining x2
cut out lining x2

Put the lining in the sock, right sides facing. Start sewing an inch from where you’re going to insert your loop and stop an inch before. This gives you a hole to turn the thing all right-side-out.

lining in stocking and sew
lining in stocking and sew
hole to turn right side out
hole to turn right side out aka birthing

I cut about a 4 inch length of white grosgrain ribbon, folded it in half, and pinned it in the hole.

pin in loop to top-stitch
pin in loop to top-stitch; try not to flip the bird to the camera

Top-stitch around and presto, chango, MAN stocking.

 

MAN stocking
MAN stocking

He said it looks a little “David Bowie.” I can live with that.

So, maybe you have a kid that really wants a StarWars stocking?

Yoda Stocking
Yoda Stocking

You can’t deny the Yoda. What? You don’t have scorpion camo in your fabric stash? Pfft. here’s a different look at sewing in the right side to right side lining in and MORE Scorpion Camo!

Scorpion Camo!
Scorpion Camo!

Yoda looks completely indignant against paper garland.

Indignant Yoda
Indignant Yoda

Did I stop at just one stocking? NO. Did I stop at two stockings?? HELLS NO. (do people still say hells no?)

Baby's Stocking
Baby’s Stocking

This last one, I had a 4 fat quarter pack that I bought, loved and didn’t know what to do with (familiar theme again) so I thought I’d see if I could make a complete stocking out of it….and BAM!

Fat Quarter Stocking
Fat Quarter Stocking

Epic Quilting Fail

My brain is such that I like to just start working on a project. It doesn’t really matter if I know anything about HOW to work on said project, I’ll get it in my head to just start. Git’in and git’er done. I’ll have the line of Point A to Point X lined up in my head and I’ll figure out the details as I go.

This works for me. I will fail, I will have epic mistakes, I will learn hands-on, and I will obsess and THEN go back and read destructions instructions. I will read, research and devour everything on the subject until I get frustrated that I can’t find something I haven’t already read/done/know.

This makes for a fantastic blooper pile that I get to giggle over. I’m happy to say the blooper-to-success ratio is moving more in my favor as I go along, but my “git’er done” mentality still makes for some hilarious F-ups.

Take my first quilt, for example. I love it. It’s on our bed. It’s ginormous. And it was all done completely wrong.

I had this vision of a simple patchwork, country-bumpkin, 30’s influence red and green blanket of comfy.

Quilt Dream
Quilt Dream

I got a bunch of fabric from my mom’s huge 30-year stash and filled in a bit here and there. I borrowed my mom’s Kenmore, also over 30 years old, and started sewing. On the basting stitch setting.

Stitch Length Fail
Stitch Length Fail

As you can see, it’s already unraveling. My mom, a master quilter, looked at it, told me what I did, then told me about “nesting seams” (note title of linked page: Quilting Basics) all the while never snickering at this mess like I am now.

I love my mom.

Then, I sewed them all together in long strips, because then logically I could then sew the strips together, of course!

Quilt Fail
Quilt Fail

Yeah. And that is how you get colossally miss-matched seams. (At this point, I’m using a Janome 6260QC and luckily it did a LOT of the thinking for me….no more weird thread tension or stitch length issues due to user-fail.)

Quilt Piecing Gone Wrong
Quilt Piecing Gone Wrong

This made picking corners to tie-quilt….interesting. By the end, I had already read everything I had done wrong up until this point, picked random (aka creative math) corners to tie, rounded the corners to more easily bind it (LOVE Dove Trims 50 yard rolls of bias tape), threw it on the bed, and called it good.

Fail Quilt Binding
Fail Quilt Binding

I can confidently say now….I’m happy that I went the route I went. I couldn’t have learned more (or had it sink in better) any other way.

 

Velcro Fails – Making Bibs Part II

After Making Bibs Part I, the rest is really fine-tuning and the pitfalls. Like Velcro. As usual, I’m ahead of myself.

While sewing right-sides together, one must keep a place open to turn the bib right-side-out.

Keep Spot Open
Keep Spot Open

 

I tried a few places, at first thinking someplace around the neck or fastening area would be less conspicuous, but really found that just an easy 3-4 inches at the bottom of the bib is easiest, and after top stitching, it doesn’t really matter where it is anyway other than the bottom of the bib is the easiest place to line up for top-stitching and turning right-side-out. So,while the photo above shows it at the neckline, I now leave it open on the straight part of the bottom of the bib.

There are all kinds of tools you can buy to turn fabric right-side out and push out corners….

Pushing out fabric corners
Pushing out fabric corners

The fancy tool I use?

Chopstick
Chopstick

A novelty chopstick. It’s round, has a round top with an aluminum cap so I won’t damage fabric or push through a seam…and it was free. My chopstick and a baby diaper pin is all I ever use to turn fabric inside out, feed elastic or any of those things. Please don’t notice that above, the pattern is upside down. Again. Ha. At the end of the day, as long as I’m using every last bit of the fabric, I really don’t stress about it.

Ok, after turning right side out, press….

Press before top stitching
Press before top stitching

and top-stitch….

Top Stitch
Top Stitch

Top-stitching is important. Top-stitch ALL THE WAY AROUND. It may seem excessive, especially when you’re making dozens of bibs, but it’s a must. The bib will get ‘poofy’ in the wash, the layers will separate and never quite lay flat together unless you want to iron them every time (oh, hell no!), so this little bit of top-stitching does wonders for the bib to lay flat.

Here’s a photo of a used bib without top-stitching and the insanity of Velcro:

Bib Fail velcro and no top stitch
Bib Fail velcro and no top stitch

Velcro. I love Velcro, but it has it’s compromises. Velcro is plastic and there’s just no world where that plastic Velcro isn’t going to eventually chew and slice through the thread that is holding it down. The friction of the pulling, washing and just general usage shimmy that Velcro enough next to the thread, that it will break free. I’ve tried various methods of sewing down the Velcro from zig-zag stitching all around, to the X in the middle that seems popular to my final solution of just going around the outside parameter 3-4 times.

Sewing around outside
Sewing around outside

As I was making bib after bib and trying them out on my own daughter, her father suggested at one point to make the Velcro longer so that it is adjustable. These are large bibs to give good coverage, and they certainly have room to grow, so it was a brilliant idea to make the neck area adjustable. I sew down the longer side with the “loop” side, or soft side, of the Velcro. This leaves less scratchy, or “hook” side to irritate baby skin.

adjustable velcro
adjustable velcro

And that’s the general method. I buy 1.5 yards of pattern fabric and back it with either flannel or minky, and can usually get a baby blanket and 2-3 bibs out of it. Perfect baby shower gift, charity donation or craft bizarre item.

Baby bib and blanket set
Baby bib and blanket set

 

 

Iron On Appliqué Fail

I was really hoping I could give you some really great post on how “even though you don’t sew, you can make a cute baby shirt” but that isn’t going to happen.

Iron-on appliquĂ© sheets, various types of iron-on stabilizers and iron-on clothing patches are all over fabric and craft stores. I’ve had varying degrees of success with each. The cheap iron-on patches by Dritz are rock-solid. Sure, you’re melting plastic with your iron and making some crazy, stiff, oddly-colored patch, but it works, if you don’t mind feeling a little extra 1970.

Iron-on stabilizers and things like Dritz stitch-witchery for lazy seam repair, while I love, I know do not last more than a wash or two. That’s fine, that’s all I really expect out of them. I often buy the remnants of thin stabilizer in the bins at Joann’s when I see them. I have yet to do any bag or purse projects, so I haven’t really gotten into any of the heavy stabilizers. I mostly buy the stitch-witcher and the light-weight stuff.

So, when I picked up this magical package, I really thought I’d have fun, quick, easy Christmas presents AND a recommendation for all the new moms I know that don’t sew.

 

Steam-A-Seam
Steam-A-Seam

It says, right there: “Press only once for permanent bond!” Do you see that? There are five 9×12″ sheets for about $6 on Amazon. It’s “Perfect for AppliquĂ©!” Sigh.

Well, I’m not letting these cute pictures go to waste. I cut out my templates and fabric first.

z for zoe
z for zoe

Then, removed the wax paper on the first side of the stabilizer. I arranged the objects to be adhered so that I got quite a few on one sheet.

Stencil Top Side
Stencil Top Side

They advertize that it’s stick for temporary bond – and, yes, it is a little tacky. It’s not as tacky as, say, spray baste or scotch tape, but it has a little stick to it. I cut out my shapes from the stabilizer.

Stencils Cut Out 1
Stencils Cut Out 1

You can see after taking off the 2nd side of wax paper, it’s a plastic stabilizer.

Stencil Cut Out 2
Stencil Cut Out 2

I placed the stencils on the onesies and pressed for the 10 seconds the instructions said to press for – even a bit more on the StarWars appliquĂ© as I did it later. I overlapped, I followed the instructions….and, DAMN, they are cute:

Stencils Ironed On Onesies
Stencils Ironed On Onesies

So, the next day, I put Z for Zoe on, well, Zoe, and before I even left for work in the morning, her Z was peeling off.

Craft Fail
Craft Fail

The Z was some left over minky, and I gave the benefit of the doubt (although it was peeling of the cotton onesie) and put the heart version on her a few days later since it was a simple quilting cotton. It was starting to peel up from the edges by lunch.

I may not understand the meaning of “permanent” or maybe I got a funky batch, but Steam-A-Seam will not be recommended or used by me again. If I’m going to have to sew over a stabilizer anyway, I’m going to use a much lighter weight (and less expensive) version.

 UPDATE: January 9, 2013 – as of now, the cotton heart and StarWars patch are still on after multiple wash and wears. It appears that just the edge started peeling up and I don’t know if the heat of the dryer “set” them better or what, but they’re still going strong, albeit stiff feeling. The “Z” got stitched down. There was no saving it. So perhaps the lesson is don’t use it with synthetics?

Lots of Baby Bibs….Making Baby Bibs Part 1

Portland has had is having a baby boom. A bumper crop of babies. Even friends who didn’t think they could have babies are having babies.

Being that I’ve had a few babies myself and I am also included in this baby boom, I know what I like and what I don’t like out there in the baby product world. One thing I don’t like is the choice of either teeny, tiny baby bibs that are cheap and fall apart or large, comfy baby bibs at the posh boutique for $25 a pop. Riiight. So, I like to make bibs to give away (and keep). I’ve made a few. Okay, I’ve lost count of bibs….

Baby Bibs
Baby Bibs
Boy Bibs
Boy Bibs
Girl Bibs
Girl Bibs

I’ve learned a LOT about sewing bibs. Foremost, I’m not alone in wanting big, comfy bibs! I also learned I cut the fabric pattern upside-down more than I’d like to admit. My baby has a lot of the “factory rejects.”

I started this mecca towards the perfect bib about a year ago when nesting towards the end of my last pregnancy. I borrowed my mom’s 1978 steal body Kenmore and went crazy. I knew of 4 babies on the way and even though I hadn’t done a whole lot of (successful) sewing, I was going to make stuff, dammit.

This is what I turned out in a few days. What you really can’t see, is that the blankets are very eh, I didn’t realize I did most of it with a basting-length stitch (WAY too long) and while the stabilizer worked great with the sock monkey knit, it was not so great with the dots in the minky.

Nesting Pile
Nesting Pile

However, I felt I was really on to something with the bibs.

I had picked up these three pattern packets while at Joann’s with 8 yards of brown and green fine wale corduroy, convinced I have really been bit by this sewing bug after years of my mom praying it would happen:

Sewing Patterns
Sewing Patterns

These three inexpensive pattern packs have been used so many times, over and over. The bibs’ Sew&Sew B5669 has been so used that I lost one pattern of the two in the pack, and the other has been taped to a cereal box. I should explain….I had to make a sturdier template out of it because it wasn’t going to last at this 1-woman-sweatshop rate.

Fruit Loops Bibs
Fruit Loops Bibs
Fruit Loops Bibs 2
Fruit Loops Bibs 2

So….There’s lesson one. Make a cheap template. I can run my rotary cutter around this template and through 3 layers of fabric which cuts my time down. I can pull out this handy template and cut out a pattern from a scrap piece of fabric as I’m seeing there’s enough room as I cut something else.

Superman Bib
Superman Bib

Admittedly, this is when I tend to get patterns upside down – I’m a big fan of words like Pragmatic and Efficient…..and end up biting myself in the butt because I’m too narrowly focused. Makes for a fun learning curve.

Another fun learning curve, PREWASH all cottons. I used some flannel (below) that I had leftover from the faux chenille blanket, which you’re NOT supposed to prewash, and when it shrunk and the prewashed cottons didn’t, it made for some funky curling. It didn’t even occur to me that the flannel wasn’t prewashed because I prewash everything since I never know if it will be clothes or what when I buy it. Le sigh.

Prewash cottons
Prewash cottons

Like I said, with my funky template, I like to cut multiple layers at a time. I just fold the fabric back on itself in 3rds. One of the 3 cut-outs will have the neck-tabs facing the opposite way, but when I cut the backing fabric in a 3 fold the opposite way, they work out matching up.

layers for cutting
layers for cutting
3 cut layers
3 cut layers
matching up the layers
matching up the layers

This here is 2 fabrics, each doubled, one with the print on the inside, and then cut all 4 layers at once. Made it a bit wonkier, but the seam allowance is so large on patterns, in my opinion, that it worked out fine.

lots'o'layers
lots’o’layers

Next up….sewing, top-stitching and adventures in Velcro….

 

 

 

 

Homemade T-Shirt Stencils

Freezer paper crafts are all over the internet and that’s all well and good, but what do you do when you didn’t buy the freezer paper when you saw it, and couldn’t find it the next time you went? You buy a ginormous roll of plain white contact paper for $5!!! It will last me well past the adhesive turning to a gummy, sticky mess inside the roll. Uh…that part might not be a bonus.

Anyway, Joann Fabrics and Crafts will have a sale on t-shirts at least every other month or so when they run about $3 a pop. You’re, like, losing money if you don’t buy them for your kids. Kids grow so fast and ruin things so fast that at $3 each, there is no better deal. That, and you can afford to get a $5 pack of fabric paint and some freezer (contact) paper. Honestly, I don’t remember how much the pack of fabric paint was, but here they are at Michael’s Craft Store. Paint pens are really silly when you think about it….they’re impossible to write with…they just make big globs. Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I printed a few options for the kids to choose from in making their stencils. Hazel did the Autobots Transformers symbol, Alex did a spider and I sorta winged a shot at Totoro. I just did some Google searches in images, tweaked some in PhotoShop to get make them cleaner and black/white, and the spider was actually just a stock Adobe image.

Transformer Stencil
Transformer Stencil

Tape them to the contact paper at the sides. I used a box knife to cut the pattern out, but if you have an X-ACTO set, that might be a lot easier. Obviously, this is a grown-up job. I did it on a self-healing Olfa mat, but, again, cardboard is great. It may not be pretty, but that is what tape is for.

Cutting The Stencil
Cutting The Stencil

Peel the backing off the contact paper, and stick it to the shirt. Use tape to fix any cutting errors on the contact paper. The paint will bleed through the fabric, so put something between the layers of front and back, or you’ll have the front glued to the back with the paint that leaked through. I had some plastic wrapped canvas stored for more painting projects from another sale, so I slid those in between. Cardboard would work fine or even a plastic bag flattened out.

Cut, Taped and Ready Stencil
Cut, Taped and Ready Stencil
Spider Stencil
Spider Stencil

Now it’s time to paint. Like I said, the name “paint pens” is sort of a misnomer in my opinion. You can’t really write with them, however, they do allow for controlled amounts of paint which is a good thing. We each put out a glob of the color we wanted, and used our fingers to smear around in the area to be painted. This works well – just keep in mind, big globs left behind leave big, hard, plasticky dried paint spots. When smeared to a light, but saturated, coating, it dries pretty nicely and is flexible with the fabric.

Painting With Paint Pens
Painting With Paint Pens

In my experience with this and other stencils, you want to leave the stencil until the paint is still tacky, but not dry. If you wait until it dries, you run the risk of the stencil being glued to the shirt by the paint. If you do it while it’s too wet, there can be smearing or leaking/running paint. We did this on a fairly dry day outside (in Oregon, that’s saying something), and the paint was tacky in an hour. I left some of the detail bits in the Totoro stencil too long and had to pick them off with tweezers and a bit more force, but nor harm/foul assuming I never wanted to use the stencil again. I think one homemade Totoro t-shirt is plenty for me.

Will I do this again? Yes – but I admit I’ll probably try real freezer paper next time to see if it’s a little more wieldy and easier to cut. But the fabric pens were great – really easy, fun to use and what a fun, cheap day.

I dig a fun, cheap day.

Fabric or Pattern First?

Burda Style book
Burda Style book

My amazing man got me an iPad and one of the first books I bought on it was the Burda Style book. It’s really quite the steal….you get the book on your iPad, or Kindle or whatever, and you get the code to go online and download the patterns! At the price of patterns, it’s like buying a book and getting patterns for free. Or..buying the patterns and getting the book for free…

Obviously I have an issue with the whole concept of “what came first, the chicken or the egg” thing. Same goes with patterns and fabric. As I flip through the Burda Style book or any other blog, book, magazine, whatever…it’s like cooking or anything else for me. I sort of make a mental note of what is interesting or the gist of how to do it, then keep perusing at my leisure. Each pattern, or with the analogy of cooking, recipe, states exactly what you need as if I’m going to be a good little girl and notate it all, go to the store and get every exact thing so that I can make it just like it says.

burda style book
Burda Style book

HAHAHAHAHA. Never!!! My brain doesn’t work that way. I go waltzing into Joann’s or I’ll be online at fabricworm.com, it doesn’t really matter where, and I may go in for something specific, but I’ll also walk out with a fabulous bolt of coral polyester chiffon-type-thing that was on clearance for $4/yd or three yards of this yellow bird fabric even though I only needed one yard because I love it. THEN I find things to do with it. This works for me…it’s a nagging reminder on my shelf of money spent that needs to be put to use. Besides, polyester chiffon-type stuff is my Moby Dick at the moment and who isn’t a glutton for punishment?

I’m quite interested in this process for others…not that it’s going to have a damn bit of impact on me, but I am curious. I also picked up Sunday Morning Quilts while I was laid out sick, wanting some good eye candy, and the authors both discuss their fabric buying habits so I know I’m not alone. I’ve had discussions with friends on the twitters about recipe/grocery buying habits as well, and find it a similarly fascinating subject. I don’t think there’s any wrong or right way as long as it fits to each person’s needs/schedules/personalities/etc. – it’s just a fun thing to think about.

Sunday Morning Quilts
Sunday Morning Quilts