Thursday, August 25, 2011

wedding aprons

I was recently asked to create some aprons for the wedding of  my kid's PE teacher.  He is a special kind of fella and really quite a gifted educator- more environmental education than jumping jacks- and he and his gal needed them to wear while they were handing out pie to all of the guests as they arrived.  Love that!  He wanted some swooping swallows and hearts on the chest and a pocket for whatever one might need it for.  He also wanted a shawl with the same motif for his Granny.  All together, 6 aprons and the shawl.  I decided to use linen and keep them very raw and they really turned out lovely, if I do say so myself.
I thought I'd share how to make them so you can have one too.

What you'll need:
* an apron to copy
* a 1/2 yard of linen or other fabric of your choosing- anything will work
* another contrasting fabric- I used jersey cotton
* embroidery floss and needle
* contrasting thread for your machine
*an iron


1) Fold the apron you will be tracing in half lengthwise and align the fold with your folded fabric. Use chalk to trace the shape of the apron and cut out.

2.  Using chalk or disappearing ink, draw or stencil your shapes to be reverse appliqued onto the desired spot.  I chose the breast of the apron.

 3. Cut a piece of fabric large enough to back the chalked shapes.  Pin to the back of the apron.

4. Thread an embroidery needle with a length of embroidery thread.  I like to work with an arms length or so to keep it manageable. Tie a knot at the end and pull a stitch from the back of the apron to the front.  Continue with a running stitch around the entire shape, ending with a knot to secure the thread on the backside of the apron.


5. To create the reverse applique, use a sharp tipped pair of scissors (embroidery scissors are perfect), and carefully cut the top layer of fabric away, about 1/16" from the embroidery thread. Cut excess backing fabric off.

6. To finish the apron, I chose not to hem or tape the edges, but thought I'd leave the edges raw.  To minimize raveling (though I did want some), I sewed around the perimeter of the apron shape a few times, allowing my lines to meander a bit.

 I sewed about 6 lines across the top like this.

 7. Cut a 2" wide strip of linen fabric that is long enough to go around your neck and keep the apron top falling around the collar bones.  It should still be able to slip over your head without being too loose.  Next, fold the strip in half lengthwise and press with a hot iron. Sew a zig zag stitch along the open edges.

 8.  Pin the raw ends in place so the are on the front of the apron (again, show off those raw edges!).  Stitch a box with one or two diagonals for strength/

 9. The waist ties are also 2" wide strips.  Make them long enough to reach from your sides and tie in a bow.  This is really up to you and how much fabric you have.  Use your scraps if you can. I left the edges raw, of course, and zig zagged along the edges before attaching to the apron.

 10.  To attach ties, pin them in place where the bib panel meets the straight apron bottom.  This will be obvious.  Use zig zag or straight stitches- whichever you prefer (I changed it up on different aprons because I am like that) to attach the ties to the front of the apron.  Just be sure to backtack so they are nice and secure.

 11.  Want a pocket?  Yes, they are good to have. I forgot to write down my dimensions, but I rememebr them being about 7.5" x 11".  Again, do what you like.   Before pinning it in place, run some stitched lines or zig zags along the open edge of the pocket.  Or, even better, use a selvage edge that has a nice soft fuzzy fray that is won't ravel anymore.

Center the pocket in position, pin to secure, and zig zag along the raw edges to attach it to the apron front.  Next run a straight stitch (I used a strong double straight stretch stitch) 1/8" in from the zig zag.  That pocket isn't going anywhere.

 Look, there is my use of the selvage along the top of the pocket.  Isn't that nice?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bettering a bag

 Ava, my daughter, is a huge fan of the Japanese animation genius Hayao Miyazaki and most things from the fantastic Studio Ghibli.  If you are a parent of a young child, My Neighbor Totoro is a wonderful film of his to start with, and older kids and their adults will love Spirited Away and a long list of others.  Ava might be annoyed that I have not listed them all, to show my true respect for his work, but you can go a- looking yourself because I want to show you what she recently made of a birthday present we gave her, which will show respect enough.

I can brag about Ava easily because she is such a creative person and her art is so darn good.  You'll agree without even knowing her.  Brag, brag, brag.  With a big trip to Ireland on the horizon (we just got back.  Amazing.  More on that another time) we thought it would be good for her to have a proper art bag to carry her materials around from castle, to priory, to Abbey.  I found a plain canvas messenger bag at a local store and after she unwrapped it, we went up to the studio to make it hers.  She embellished it with, of course, a Totoro, using the freezer paper stencil technique. Here is how it works:

What you'll need:
- a canvas bag
- freezer paper
- craft knife
- pencil
- fabric paint or acrylic paint

so plain!

1) Draw a design on the paper side of your freezer paper- Ava free handed this, but you could grab an image off the net or from a book or something and trace it.
2) Cut out the main shape. We used a craft knife, but scissors might work, depending on the design.  As you can see, there are lots of details on Totoro's body, but Ava wanted his main body shape to be grey, so she first cut this out and then pressed it with a hot iron to the canvas. When she was satisfied with the freezer paper being securely in place, she painted that open space and then let it dry in the sun.
3) Meanwhile, she cut out the details or Totoro's body.
She wanted Totoro's head and ears to remain grey, so the next piece she pressed to the DRY painted body, was the following piece.  This protected that painted area but allowed the belly to show, and cut the facial features so paint could be applied there too.
She also ironed on the little belly marks so the places beneath them would remain grey after the belly was painted yellow. It looked like this before the paint was applied.

4) Paint was applied, taking care not to let it seep under the freezer paper.  Brushing from the paper in towards the area to be painted is a good technique to ensure crisp lines.

Now, this is an awesome bag.  She carried it all over Ireland this summer filled with sketch books, pens, and watercolors where she sat on ruined Abbeys and castles to draw and paint.  Fun!