Sunday, March 25, 2012

Embellishing Burp Cloths

Skill Level: Beginner
Skills Attained: Pressing and Straight Stitch Sewing

Embellished Burp Cloth

          Sewing machine
          Scissors (or rotary cutter and mat)
          Plain burp cloths/cloth diapers 
                (Gerber and Dundee both make plain white cloths 
                  with three panels)
          Coordinating thread
          Decorative fabric 

Have you ever walked through a store, saw something that you really liked, and thought, "I could totally make that"? I had that thought when I received an adorably embellished burp cloth as a baby shower gift. So, this week, I will show you how to embellish a burp cloth using a plain, three-fold cloth diaper and some decorative fabric. This is a straight-forward, simple sewing project that requires minimal supplies, yet the finished product has that extra pizazz sure to impress.

Embellishing an existing product is a great way to get your feet wet in the world of sewing. You don't have to start from scratch, and the most difficult steps are behind you. Rather, you can focus on your creative side and turn a blasé item into something unique with your own style. So, let's get started!

1. Measure the center panel of your burp cloth, and cut your fabric 1" longer and 1" wider than the size of the center panel. In this example, I used Dundee burp cloths, so the center panel measures 21" by 4", so I cut my decorative fabric 22" by 5". 

Cut decorative fabric 1" wider and 1" longer
than the center panel of burp cloth
2. Lay the fabric wrong-side up on the ironing board and press over each edge 1/2 inch.  Press the fabric on all four sides. 
Press over 1/2" on all four sides
3. Pin the fabric on the center panel of the burp cloth. Place pins approximately every 3 - 4 inches to secure the fabric. 
Place pins ever 3 - 4" to secure fabric
4. Sew a straight stitch around all the edges of the fabric to secure the fabric on the burp cloth. When you reach each corner, place the needle in the down position before you pivot the fabric to begin sewing on the next edge to ensure a continuous seam. Try to sew as close to the edge of the fabric as possible as this will give the finished burp cloth a more professional look. I used a 1/8" seam allowance (see picture below). Sew around all four sides until you reach the beginning. Remember to use a back-stitch at the beginning and end of your stitching to create a knot.
Try to use a 1/8" seam allowance

Easy as that!

Finished Burp Cloth

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Linen Napkins

Skill LevelBeginner
The Final Product: Linen Napkins

Supplies Needed:
17" Square Fabric (one per napkin)
Iron and ironing board
Sewing Machine

Over the last six months, a few friends asked me to teach them how to sew. Since January, these women and I gather together in my home one Friday night per month to work on various sewing projects. Our first endeavor was making linen napkins. In honor of our monthly gathering, my first blog illustrates how to sew a linen napkin.

Sewing on a sewing machine can be an intimidating task. Start with something small and manageable so you are not overwhelmed. If this is your first time sewing, I recommend practicing with scrap fabric. Once you feel comfortable with the sewing machine, then you can use better quality fabric and give the project a try!

Linen napkins are a great gift you can give as a set of four, six, or eight napkins. If you make one and decide you have had enough, you may use the single napkin as a breadbasket liner. In my case, I am using this project as a way to deplete the abundance of Christmas fabric I have on hand. 

A quick word about the type of fabric you should use. You may use any type of fabric for this project, but I would consider the functionality of the fabric. Using an absorbent cloth may be more practical. Perhaps you are throwing practicality out the window and are purely going for style. That’s great! However, I recommend steering clear of stretchy or spandex material if you are a beginner. This material is difficult to cut and sew evenly.

Use a rotary cutter to
cut the fabric 17" x 17"
Cutting your fabric: You need a 17" square for each napkin. You may either cut the fabric by marking it with a straight edge and cutting it with scissors, or you can use a rotary mat and rotary cutterUsing a rotary cutter can be an adjustment if you have never used one before, but you will notice straighter edges and more precise measurements. You do not need to invest in a rotary cutter and mat for this project as these items can be pricey. However, if you intend to do a lot of sewing, these items may be a worthwhile investment.

Press 1/2" on all four sides.
Do this twice. 
Pressing your fabric: We will be sewing a double-turn hem. Ironing your fabric is an essential step of is project and definitely pays off. Lay one of the squares wrong side up on the ironing board. Starting on one side, press over 1/2 inch of the edge of the fabric. Rotate the fabric to the next side and press 1/2 inch; repeat on all four sides. When you reach the side that you started with, fold the fabric over another 1/2 inch, press, and repeat on all four sides.

Creating a mitered corner: Creating a mitered corner on the napkin provides a more elegant look. Unfold the edges that you just pressed and flatten with your hand. First, trim a small section of each corner to prevent the corners from bunching up. Next, fold over approximately 1/2 inch of the snipped corner; press this part down with the iron. Finally, fold the edges back over where you previously pressed and pin in place.  See the following video for more explanation.

Align your needle as close
to the fold as possible
Place a pin every 3" - 4"
Sewing the napkin: The final step is to pin and sew. Pinning is also an essential step in sewing. The more precisely you pin, the easier it will be for you to sew. The more experienced you are, the fewer pins you will need. If you are a beginner, I recommend pinning every 3 to 4 inches. Be sure to use two pins on each corner. Begin sewing a few inches away from one of the corners. Your stitch should be as close to the folded over seem as possible. 

When you get to a corner, put the needle in the down position (the needle is in the fabric), raise the foot, then rotate the fabric so the foot is aligned with the next edge. Finally, lower the foot and continue sewing.  These steps ensure a continuous seam. Sew all four sides of the fabric until you return to where you began. End with a backstitch.

At the corners, put the needle in the 
down position and pivot the fabric

There you have it, your first linen napkin!