Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lavender Eye Pillow Tutorial

At the craft fair last weekend, my aromatherapy lavender eye pillows were a hit! I got the idea from my friend Diana for an easy first sewing project.

What you'll need:

Silk or soft cotton fabric, cut into a 4.5" x 19" piece
3/4 cup flaxseed
1/4 cup dried lavender (both flaxseed and lavender can be found at a natural foods store)

Step 1: Fold the fabric together lengthwise so the two 4.5" edges are alligned, and the nice sides of the fabric are touching each other.

Step 2: Stitch the two long edges on the side together allowing about a one inch seam allowance.

Step 3: Turn the fabric inside out.

Step 4: Mix the flaxseeds and lavender in a bowl.

Step 5: Using a funnel or something that makes it easier to pour, pour the mix into the pouch.

Step 6: Fold the top end of the pouch in about half an inch, and sew to close.

Step 7: Place over your eyes and sleep tight!

Monday, December 15, 2008

1 year and 20,000 stitches later...

Around the same time that I learned how to sew, I also taught myself how to knit. And I made this monstrosity of a scarf that took me one year to make! Who knew that 50 stitches actually makes about a 10 inch wide scarf? Oops. But a much more experienced knitter recently told me that on the label of most yarns it says how many stitches will make an inch. Good to know.

To teach myself how to knit, I found these great videos online on video jug. They teach you how to cast on (stitching the first row), the knit stitch, and then casting/binding off (finishing the scarf). I watched them over and over again until I had it down! There is also a website called Knitting Help, that has lots of videos and tutorials on knitting.

Check out these great videos if you'd like to teach yourself how to knit...

Knitting:How To Cast On

Knitting:How To Knit The Knit Stitch

Knitting:How To Cast Off

Friday, December 12, 2008

DBA Craft Fair

I'll be selling some of my homemade yoga bags, zipper pouches, and lavender eye pillows tomorrow at:

dba's 4th annual urban folk arts & craft fair
41 first avenue in the east village
between 2nd and 3rd streets
very close to the F train at 2nd ave stop (1st ave exit)
3-7:30 pm (ish)
Saturdays in December, 6th, 13th and 20th
one of a kind hand made urban folk arts & crafts
including soap, candles, pottery, cookies, granola, yoga mat bags, sock monkeys, and so much more
so come on down and do your holiday shopping in a pleasant environment, enjoy a pint of draught ale from one of dba's 18 tap beers, including two hand-drawn ales.
shop good stuff

zip zip

One of my first sewing projects was teaching myself how to make a zipper pouch. There are so many great sewing tutorials online. I used this one on the blog twelve22 to make 1o zipper pouches for an upcoming craft fair...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sewing Classes in NYC

If you live in NYC and are looking to use that old sewing machine of yours that's been lonely in your closet, here are some places to check out for sewing classes:

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) has semester long sewing classes for $213 for in-state people (look for the class label FD 131)! The classes are offered every day of the week and last 16 weeks. This class is on my list of things to do...

Etsy Labs - I just discovered that Etsy's headquarters are in Brooklyn! Etsy is a great site where you can buy and sell handmade items. At their headquarters they have The Etsy Labs, which functions as a community workspace - they offer classes, open crafting times (every Monday!), and occasional events.

Make offers a huge variety of classes, including sewing, knitting, jewelry design, and even shoe making! It's in the Lower East Side.

The City Quilter has an intro to sewing class, in addition to lots of quilting classes.

Sew Fast, Sew Easy also has all levels of sewing classes. Some of them seem a little over priced though.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fabric Stores in NYC

Working so close to the fashion district in NYC has been really helpful in encouraging my sewing creativity. New York has to be the best place to live for an aspiring seamstress. I have become a little obsessive about going to fabric stores after work and shopping for unique fabrics.

After doing some initial online research (yelp!), I found some great fabric stores in the city. For those of you looking to get started with sewing and live in NYC, I recommend going anywhere in the fashion district - if you go up and down 36th to 39th Street, between 7th and 8th Aves, you'll find a ton of small family run fabric and notion stores. My personal favorite fabric stores are on 39th Street and there are good notion stores on 38th...but I have no idea what their names are!

Some specific stores that I like:

Mood (located in the fashion district) is the mecca of fabric stores, made famous by Project Runway. Prepare to have a least an hour to shop here. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming. The fabric here can be high end, so it can get pricey.

P & S Fabrics in Chinatown has a wide selection of fabrics and yarns. There are also some smaller stores on Broadway down the street from P & S that can be hit or miss.

Purl Patchwork has beautiful printed fabrics. They bundle fat quarters of similarly colored fabric together, which are great for smaller beginner projects. They also have a great knitting store down the street from there (the original store).

Brooklyn General made me fantasize about quitting my job and starting my own fabric store. Really amazing and sizeable (for nyc) store with a whole wall full of fabrics, and the other side full of yarn. They have classes at the store and a work space with available sewing machines.

The City Quilter specializes in printed cotton fabrics for quilting. They have two huge walls filled with 3,000 bolts of different types of fabrics. You can take quilting classes that they offer on a rotating cycle each season.

So tell me - what's your favorite fabric store?

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Stocking Up and Getting Started

Half of the fun of sewing for me is going to the craft store to buy all the gadgets and notions. I love going to Jo-Ann Fabric or Michaels and just wandering the isles for inspiration.

In order to get started with my first sewing project, I bought some handy sewing tools that my teacher had recommended to me. Sewing is a fairly inexpensive hobby once you buy the basics. You can find most of these items at any craft or sewing store, and even at a store like Walmart. Here are some things that I recommend purchasing:

  • A quilter's mat (in green in the picture) is really useful when cutting and measuring fabric. I really like the Omnigrid one I purchased from JoAnn's.
  • A quilting ruler also helps with cutting and measuring.
  • Scissors, and a rotary cutter (which makes it much easier to cut fabric than with scissors).
  • Pins and a pin cushion
  • Sewing machine replacement needles and needles for hand-sewing
  • A measuring tape
  • A seam ripper (used to undo stitches without ripping the fabric)
  • Spools of thread to match your fabric
  • An iron and ironing board
  • A hobby kit to organize it all!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Favorite Hand-Me-Down

About a year ago, my sister gave me one of her famous hand-me-downs. Ever since I was a kid, I've been on the receiving end of many wonderful items that my sister has either gotten tired of or given up on. Most recently, I've gotten her old furniture, camera, bike, and car! And this past year, I was lucky enough to receive my very own sewing machine.

At first, I was having buyer's remorse, even though I didn't technically buy it. I had a vision of it just collecting dust on my desk for years to come. But after a few months, I gave in and signed up for my first sewing class with Sarah, who I found on craigslist. She teaches classes out of her Park Slope (Brooklyn) apartment and I would highly recommend her to anyone who wants a private sewing tutor.

It's been a year since I took the class, and I'm just getting into the swing of sewing. I'm working on mostly small projects now like bags and zipper pouches, but the eventual goal is to make my own dresses. I thought this blog would be a good place to share with other novice seamstresses what I've learned, and also motivate myself to create new and interesting projects! So, please leave a comment to say hello, and I would love to hear about your projects as well.

Happy sewing.