Book Covers

When my younger daughter was at college, she used to cover her textbooks to protect them, and she gradually perfected a method that produces a strong, long-lasting, wonderful-to-the-touch book cover. She covered one of my cookbooks, and I was so impressed that I asked her to show me how to do it.  I took pictures of her while she was making one of the book covers so that I could remember what she did.  She used wrapping paper, index cards, and contact paper.Glue on the backs of corner reinforcementsShe makes corner reinforcements out of the index cards to keep the edges from wearing.

I found a copy of McCall’s Dressmaking Made Easy at the craft thrift store, and it was in great shape except for the cover.  Sometimes publications from the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s have covers that are dyed red, and it can rub off on surfaces now that the dye has aged.  I like to cover these books or pamphlets so I can still use them without my hands turning red.  I decided to give the book cover instructions a try myself, following her directions carefully.  It is fun to use colorful wrapping papers for the book covers.  Here is the result of my first effort:DSC00927

DSC00928I’ve never been as successful using contact paper, but this project taught me to use a credit card to smooth it out when applying it to the wrapping paper.  I made the title labels with Word and cut them out with deckle scissors.  They are held down temporarily with a glue stick glue and then the contact paper holds them in place.

The sewing project in the works right now is a handbag for my MIL.  She lives by a small shopping center, and needs a nice small purse that she can carry when walking over to the shops.  Her regular handbag is large and heavy and doesn’t have a shoulder strap.  I’ve got it all cut out and am ready to start sewing tomorrow.


I mentioned that I have been cutting out bibs to replace the ones that have left the Baby Gift Box to become shower gifts.  This week I had some free time so I used it to sew up a few.  I absentmindedly cut the first one out upside down:

DSC00931I decided that this way the baby can look down and recognize a fire engine, so it’s all good.  This is a pre-quilted fabric I bought as a remnant, and the back is cute, too, so the bib can be reversible.

DSC00932Then I made another one, being more careful with the cutting out:

DSC00929The bindings are double thickness, cut from an IKEA Dvala sheet, and they are very soft and comfy.  Back in the day, a few years ago, you could buy the IKEA sheets separately, so I have several twin sheets I use to make aprons and binding.  I also picked up some fabric remnants with a sea turtle print and a panda print, and these will be nice for boy baby gifts along with these fire engine bibs.  I have quite a lot of fire engine fabric, it turns out.

I am never skimpy with the velcro because it keeps the baby from easily pulling the bib off.  I buy the velcro by the yard (2″ width) and cut the pieces myself crosswise, slightly rounding the corners so sharp points won’t hurt the baby.


This And That

Mostly just puttering around this week with a little sewing chore here and another little sewing chore there.  First, there were three lengths of decorator fabric to be hemmed into tablecloths.   Not only are these used for tablecloths, but there is always one draped over the bottom half of the bed since I often use it as a sewing/cutting surface.  The cloth keeps pins, fuzz, and threads off the bed.  The discount decorator fabric store often has fabrics like these on sale for $3/yard, and I hem a 2-yard length.


Then, since I had white thread on the machine, I pulled out all the towels that were fraying on the long sides and hemmed the edges.  This adds years and years to the life of a towel that was otherwise fine, just unkempt looking.  I just turn the sides over once and secure with a zigzag stitch.


My Baby Gift Box was put to use this weekend when my daughter took a few bibs for future shower gifts, so I cut out some more bibs to replace them:


We are finally past the horrible hot weather and into a nice crisp fall.  A storm actually dropped quite a bit of rain on our drought-parched soil over the weekend, so things are looking up.

A New Adventure

I have been reading articles about Sure-Fit Designs, and the reviews have been very positive. While trying to figure out how soon I could save up enough money to treat myself to this pattern drafting system, I remembered that I had four boxes in the sewing room of some drafting kit or other that I had never tried out. They were purchased at the craft thrift store a few years ago and only cost 50 cents each.  Sure enough, they were Sure-Fit Design kits from 1982.

Thrift store findThinking that the kits must have been updated in the 32 years since these were first printed, I emailed the company and got a prompt reply.  Their service is certainly excellent.  I was told that to update the kits I needed to buy the stylus, the new instructions for the dress kit, and a new improved pants kit.  Luckily, my birthday was approaching and the spouse had no idea what to get for my gift, so I helped him out with a suggestion.  Now I am eager to try these out, especially the pants kit since one of my daughters has been wanting me to sew her some slacks.  This will be the next thing I try after I finish a few UFOs.

Freezer Paper

Right now there is another UFO blouse on the machine. I’m going to be seeing my sister in a week or two so want to finish up at least one more blouse to give to her.  The blouse is cut out of the purple fabric shown on the right:


I like to get the collar unit out of the way first, then it is front bands, shoulder seams, sleeves, side seams, collar and hem. Then buttons and buttonholes. I’ve never been very good at sewing around small curves, and when I try to do a curved collar or collar stand without any help, one side looks very different from the other, probably because you sew from the bottom up on one side and from the top down on the other. Anyway, after I made a botch of one collar and saved the day by crocheting two lace motifs to hide the mismatched collar curves, I looked for some kind of template to make the sewing easier.

DSC00911Crocheted motifs to hide uneven collar points


This is the freezer paper I use

Freezer paper is a great tool for things like this because you can iron it onto the fabric and it will stick. Quilters use it for a lot of things like applique which is where I first heard of it. I used to use it for stencils when I was into painting t-shirts for my little girls, and baby bibs. I traced the collar pattern and removed the seam allowances, then I realized that I didn’t really need the whole collar, just the end sections.


Freezer paper ironed to collar piece


Hand basting the seam allowance on the under collar

All you have to do for nice even curves is to sew along the edge of the template.  For this kind of collar which is really a collar and stand combined into one pattern piece, it is helpful to reduce the stitch length in the ‘V-shaped’ section where the curve of the stand meets the bottom of the collar.

Road Trip

We just got back from a long, long road trip to the Midwest.  We were taking my MIL back to her hometown to visit old friends, and we ended up putting over 5,000 miles on the car.  My MIL had a wonderful time and we saw many beautiful places.  I got to visit a huge fabric outlet in Michigan, or was it Minnesota?  I’ll have to look it up.  It’s nice to get back to my sewing room, though.


More Knit Tops

Somehow I have never gotten around to getting the daughters to help me make a duct-tape double of myself, so I have to have Madame Merp model the clothes.  Just another thing to put on the to-do list.  The fabric for these tops also came from the craft thrift store at the same time I bought the royal blue haul.

Simplicity 4180

Simplicity 4180

This knit is very light weight and might have some wool content.  It is almost impossible to photograph, but at least I gave it a try.

DSC00618UPDATE:  Wow, this top turned out to be fantastic on the trip.  It was comfortable, and best of all, I could wash it out at night and it would be totally dry by the next morning.  I still have some of this fabric left so I may just make another one of these tops, but I think I will lower the top level of the insert about one inch.

These tops actually have a much nicer shape in real life and have the same comfort as a baggy T-shirt but look much better.



Today I am working on a mundane pillowcase for a car pillow.  We went shopping for an inexpensive pillow and were shocked at how much bed pillows cost in some stores.  We finally gave up and went to Target and got a nice soft fluffy pillow for about $5 instead of $85.  I am going to make a pillowcase that is much smaller than the pillow which will squish it into a more dense shape.   This whole thing makes my questionable impulse purchase of some blue fabric with giant white letters all over it at the craft thrift store not such a waste, since I am going to use it for pillowcases and maybe a tablecloth.


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