Sunday, January 31, 2021

Pillow case

The seat cushion of the armchair has flattened so much over the years that the chair is now too hard to sit on. I started using a pillow on it, and the Moomin pillow is perfect for this purpose (it's too flat for sleeping). I was using it as it is, but today I decided it would be a good idea to make a cover for it to make it last longer.

I didn't have a suitable zipper, so I decided to make the cover the same way we made the pillow cases. After all, nobody's going to look under the pillow, just the top of it matters. The photo below shows the parts: top in the middle and the bottom parts on both sides of it. The fabric I used for the bottom parts had some stains (it was from the yesterday's 5 € batch), but as it was similar on both sides, I just turned the pieces so that the stains went on the inside.

First you combine the pieces. I used seam allowances of 1 cm. The sewing machine has measurements marked in it, but I decided to use a magnet just to make sure that the seam is straight. I don't have the kind of magnet that's meant for this, so I just picked a rectangular one from the fridge door.

When you have combined all the pieces, hem the ends, fold the fabric and sew the side seams.

Finally, turn the pillow case right side out and put the pillow inside. In this case, the pillow required quite a bit of reshaping to get the insides spread evenly as the pillow case was slightly smaller than the pillow.

This is probably a temporary solution, and I'll make a better one when I get a long enough zipper. Still, it's a perfectly good way of making a cover for a pillow.

One thing I noticed as I was sewing this is that my sewing machine is slow. I hadn't used it after I started using the industrial machines, so I was surprised by the difference. Today was the first time I set the machine to the maximum speed and pressed the pedal all the way down as I was sewing the long seams. It still felt sluggish.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

What to put inside the duvet cover?

Once we had made the bed sheet sets, we were told that a duvet would be the next project. I've never made one before, so that was interesting. The fabric we used was really difficult as it stretched in all directions, but somehow I managed to stitch it. The colored band shown in the picture wasn't in the original plan, but the sewing machine caused some tearing in the fabric due to the presser foot pressing too hard and that had to be fixed somehow.

The result was actually quite nice, considering it was my first ever attempt at something like this. I'm tempted to try making a full size one at some point.

Today, I went to a fabric store as I was going to the shopping mall where it is. Last weekend, they had this offer for a plastic bag full of fabrics for 5 €. You get a bag and you can pick what you want from a big box of fabrics. The photo below shows what I got that time. I especially like the swatches, because it's the same fabric in various colors, so the pieces are easy to combine.

Today they still had that offer, so I picked some more fabrics, because it's nice to get cheap practice materials. And more swatches, a lot more. The set in the middle has 32 different colors of the same fabric. This week, we were making some shopping bags in which you had to use at least three different fabrics. The structure is quite simple, and the hardest work is combining the pieces to form a 40x90 cm piece for making the bag. I'm thinking that those swatches would be perfect for making a couple of bags. The other swatches here are too thin for that purpose, but I'm sure I'll find some use for them. 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Stuff done in the past couple of weeks

It's been a busy week, but I'm really enjoying learning about types of seams and how to make patterns correctly. This post is a sort of recap on all the projects done so far (after the pot holders).

First, some things from the previous week, starting with a set of two simple pouches. Basically an exercise in sewing zippers.

After that, we made a set of makeup pouches, and these were much more complicated. Sewing those rounded corners wasn't easy. The two photos below show the sides of the large pouch (26 x 18 cm).

Here is an inside view. We could pick the fabrics ourselves, and I liked having a bit of pink in the lining as well.

The smaller pouch is 14 x 12 cm. Same pattern, just smaller, and the same fabrics as for the larger one. This particular fabric works better in the larger size as the patterns are so big, but it's okay also in this size.

After I had made this set, the teacher asked me to make another set using the same fabric for the outside. That's what I was doing at the beginning of this week. That set will go on sale at the shop at our school later.

The last finished project so far is two sets of bed linen for babies. These are for a charity that collects items for maternity packs to be delivered to Romania. Each set consists of a duvet cover, pillow case and bed sheet.

The first set is made of a full-size duvet cover made by Benetton. The basic design for this small duvet cover calls for a single color reverse side, but as the original had patterns on both sides, so does the smaller version, which can be used with either side on top.

The duvet cover in the second set is made of several stripes to utilize smaller pieces of fabrics. The reverse side has white and light blue stripes, so this one can also be used with either side on top.

After these, we've started making patterns. The next project is making some kind of a bag totally from scratch. Meaning we start by figuring out the structure and making patterns for the bag. I'm taking my Levi's shoulder bag as the starting point and making some changes to it, such as changing the size a bit and probably leaving out the ability to adjust the shoulder strap. This practice piece is going to be for myself, and I haven't adjusted the shoulder strap in that bag in years, so it's the right length as it is.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The new book is available now

The next Doll Shoe Projects book is now available in Amazon. You can find it by using ASIN B08T7N9M68 or this referral link: For more information about the book, see the post in the Fashion Doll Shoes blog.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Industrial sewing machines

Second week started today. I'm really starting to get the hang of using an industrial sewing machine. The teacher said that once we get used to them, we won't want to use anything else. I think she might be right. 

For comparison, here is first my own sewing machine, Pfaff Passport 3.0, which is quite nice, at least for the stuff I've done so far.

The thing about it is that it has a quite plastic feeling. I mean, the sewing machine I used when I learned sewing for the first time as a kid was a 1970's Singer. All metal and very sturdy. It was one my mother got from her sister who worked in a garment factory for a long time, so she's always had nice machines at home as well.

And then there is this, the machine I'm using at school. It's also a Pfaff, but totally different from the consumer model. During one conversation, the teacher said that in all of her decades of teaching this stuff, she has never seen anyone manage to break one of these.

I've also had a chance to use an overlocker, which I've never used before. Those things are so handy compared to using zigzag for the edges of fabric. At least I had seen an overlocker before, but the third one I've used was totally new for me. It's one you use for sewing bias binding, and I used it for sewing the edges in my second project, the kettle-holder shown in the picture below. The back side is just one big piece of the blue fabric with hearts.

I made this one on Friday, and then made another one today, but didn't remember to take a picture of that. I had a lot of trouble with the bias binding on that one, so I got plenty of practice in removing stitches. I did manage to finish it eventually and start the next project, which is waiting there on my table for tomorrow morning when I will continue sewing zippers.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

First two days done

The school started on Thursday, and it's Saturday now, so the first week is done. Feeling a bit overwhelmed, but also more positive about being able to do this. Six hours a day feels okay for now, but we'll see after a few weeks how tired I'm going to get (or not, hopefully).

One consequence of the studies is that the blog posts will probably happen on weekends. Depends on how I'm feeling, but I'm not going to take any pressure about this stuff, because the studies take priority.

The first two days were spent on getting to know how to use the industrial sewing machines we have in the classroom. They're more complicated than consumer models, but not hard to use once you get the setup done right.

The first project we had was for practicing sewing straight lines on even distance from each other. The picture below shows what I managed to do. The lines are (should be) 0.5 cm distance from each other. There are two different fabrics sewn together, and I used light grey (vertical) and green (horizontal) threads.

Sewing the zipper was nothing new, but this was the first time I put that slider on a zipper, because there was just a big roll of zipper from which you cut the needed length and then inserted the slider. I've always wondered how you do that, but it's actually quite simple once you manage to do it right once.

The pouch went into use immediately as I'm going to use it for my sewing tools. The school has much of the stuff you need, but as usual, tools in common use are not that well maintained. Having your own is a good idea. This is big enough for my big scissors, so I'll be using this from now on.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Collage of old comics

This is one of the projects I did at the same time with all the repainting. I had this old horror comic book that was falling to pieces. A good example of why acid free paper is used for anything that's supposed to last. I used parts of it for various projects, but decided to make a collage of one of my favorite stories.

I used a canvas meant for painting and cut out the best panels and also keeping some that made the presentation logical. Then I planned the placement on the canvas.

I painted the canvas black (using what was left of the metal paint), used glue varnish to glue the panels in place, and then applied glue varnish on top to protect the paper.

Here is the result. It's been a few years and the collage is still fine. It seems that the glue varnish stopped the paper from yellowing more.