Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Upcycle!! Feed Bag Tutorial

I love upcycling and using what would ordinarily be thrown away toward a good and useful purpose. Plus, chickens and bunnies are cute. So why not tote them with you to the grocery store?
 Start with a 40-50 pound sack of feed.  Feed the critters first and shake out all the extra feed.  Some feeds are sweet and sort of sticky, so you may need to wash out the bag.
 Using a roller cutter and a mat, cut the bottom, closed edge off straight.  
You can also use a box knife to cut it, or draw a line with a pen and use scissors.  A roller cutter will be infinitely easier.
 Then, using a ruler, cut off a 2.5" strip across the bottom of the bag, this will be one handle.
 Now move your ruler and cut another 2.5" strip for the other handle.
Turn the bag over and thinking about where you want the design to be, cut about 2 inches above that line, so you can hem the top of the bag.  I chose to hem right above the words, "Nature Wise" for my bag.
Now, measuring from the top of the bag down about 20 inches, cut across the bottom of the bag at that mark,  
making sure you are cutting at a perpendicular angle so your bag remains square.
 Cut straight across the bottom.
 Take the handle pieces, and cut apart at the inside seam. Cut on both sides of the glued portion and discard that piece.
Set your machine on a wide zig-zag setting. For my machine, it looks like this. width is 5.0, length is 3.0.
 Fold both sides of the handle piece toward the center, overlapping both edges about a half an inch.  Your handle should be about 3/4' wide.
 Stitch right down the center of the handle catching both raw edges under your stitching.
 Stitch down both handles, folding the edges in as you go.
 Two handles done! We'll cut them to length a little bit later.
 Now fold your bag inside out.  It is a giant tube right now.  We are going to sew the bottom closed.
 Fold out the natural tucks/pleats in the sides of the bag, we will make boxed corners in a minute. 
 Set your machine back to a straight stitch, and sew the bottom of the bag using a half-inch seam allowance, backstitching at both ends. Pinning this "material" isn't easy unless you have strong pins, or you can use some clothes pins to hold the bottom edge in place.  Or you can just "wing in" like the chickens do.
 For this step, we are going to do a bit of origami, or think back to those newspaper hats everyone used to make.  Fold the bottom of the bag up against the side fold and press it with your fingers. 
 Flip it over so the seam side is down and notice the folded lines where the bag sides are.
 We are going to connect the ends of those fold lines and mark across them making a triangle.
 Sew along that triangle-marked line. Back stitching at both ends.
 Now move to the other side of the bag and fold the corner again. 
 Paying attention to the direction the bottom seam folds, make it fold one direction. Mine folds to the left.
Now, flip the bag over and mark that line again like you did on the other side. stitch across, back stitching both ends.
 Fold your bag right side out, and gently push the corners out forming a box.
At the top of the bag, fold the edge down about 3/4" and finger press.
 Fold again, to make a double fold.  It should be just under an inch.
 Stitch this down, close to the folded edge.  If you have the option to use a "needle down" position, now is a good time to use it. The bag gets cumbersome.
 You can use clips like this or clothespins to hold the folded edge while you stitch.
Since the bag is so bulky, I usually "tent" the end of my machine with the bag.
Take the bag out of the machine and refold the pleat at the side.
 Now we will attach the handles.  Mark in from the outside edge a comfortable distance, 3-4 inches and make a small circle on the inside hemmed edge of the front and the back of the bag. 
 Repeat on the other side, using the same measurement. I did 4 inches, but I think 3 might be better.
 Cut your handles at about 24 inches,
and using a straight stich, sew the handles to the inside of the bag using a large X.
There you have it! A new tote bag to carry to the feed store, maybe you can bring home a new bunny inside.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Beginning Quilting Tutorial--Log Cabin Style

Quilting to me is the epitome of frugality.  I'm not a Fabric Snob, and let me just say, there are NO Quilt Police! No one is going to look at your creation that you made with your own hands and tell you that "this is wrong, or you didn't match that, etc. etc."
If they do, let them go, you don't need that kind of negativity in your life!
 So, to get started, you've got a pile of scraps. Maybe someone gave them to you, maybe you saved them from some crafty project, maybe they are clothes that you no longer wear.  Whatever the reason, this is where we begin.  I find it easiest to work with small squares and strips.  I cut my scraps into usable sizes.  I think of them like building blocks, or Legos. You are just going to take a small piece and sew it together to make a bigger piece, and so on, and so on.
 Begin by finding a strip, and a handful of squares. Lay the strip face up, and the squares on top, facing down.  Line them up in front of your needle and stitch, using the edge of the presser foot as a guide.  We aren't going to be really persnickety about a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  This is scrappy quilting!
 Butt the next square up against the edge of the last one. In our example, lay the floral up against the bottom edge of the red. aligning that right raw edge. Stitch down the strip.
Continue on until you have stitched all your squares down to the strip.  Remove the units from the machine.
 "Finger press" them to one side.  And cut in between each set using a rotary cutter or scissors. 
 Any of these blocks can be made with just scissors.  Our ancestors didn't have cool tools like we have now, but they made some gorgeous quilts!
 Lay your next strip out and lay your units from the previous set face down on top of the strip, aligning the raw edge on the right.  If you have some bump-outs from previous seams, just trim those off.  Eye-balling is fine.  Accuracy is not an issue here.
 Stitch, repeat.  Laying each unit onto the strip as before. 
 Remove the piece from the machine and at the ironing board, press the piece with the seam going towards the strip you just stitched. 
 Cut this strip apart between each "unit."
 If you happen to have a angled piece that needs squared up, fit the triangle in, making sure your triangle is BIGGER than the chunk that needs filling to allow for a seam allowance.
 Lay it face down, matching the raw edge.  Leave a "dog-ear" on each end of the seam.
 Run your stitching line in the "valley" where the two pieces meet.
 Fold the triangle back and press, finger press or press with an iron.
 As you build your blocks, feel free to trim and straighten each building block as you go.
 Again, with rotary cutter, ruler and mat or with scissors.
If you want to create a diagonal corner to create interest, lay your triangle piece on top and scoot it to the right to allow for a seam. 
 Cut off the triangle section of your block and remove.
 Lay your new triangle piece on top, right sides together and make sure you allow for those dog ears on each end.
 Stitch as before, fold back, press and trim off the dog ears.
 Continue in this manner, adding strips, and making your block larger and larger until you are satisfied with the size.  I'm cutting mine here at 6x6" square. Lay your ruler, or your square template if using scissors.  Cut to size.
 When using your rotary cutter, cut two sides and then turn the piece, and cut the other two sides.
 Be sure to carefully line up the cut edge when moving your ruler.
 Voila! Your finished block!
 I piece these when I'm bored or when I just have a few minutes to sew.  They are stacked in a drawer in bundles of ten.  I safety pin them together to help me count. 
 You can piece these together side by side or add solid colored squares.  The possibilities at this point are endless.
Thanks for reading.  I'll be posting what to do with these in an upcoming tutorial.  Keep building those blocks and we'll create something useful and beautiful!
MaryLu at Able Farm!
If you have any questions, post a comment here and I'll answer as quickly as possible! Thanks!


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