Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tutorial - Scalloped Ticking Stripe Hand Towel

This is an example of a hand towel made from 100% cotton "ticking stripe" fabric. I have almost finished what I am calling the "peachy/green" kitchen set and a set of two of these hand towels are part of that set. One yard of ticking fabric, along with 1/4 yard of a matching cotton print for the facing, made two towels.

The first step was to pre-shrink both fabrics and cut the towels to size. My towels were cut 20 inches in width by 28 inches in length. I used a large manilla envelope like a t-square and drew a line across the bottom of both ends of the towel to square them up.

Then I used a scrapbooking design tool draw a scalloped edge along the line at both ends of the towel. To make the scallops even I began with the center of a scallop in the middle of the towel. If you want to do the math to adjust the size of the scallops and make them come out even on the edges you may do so, I just made the scallops on the edges a little bigger to take up any extra space.

Next, I turned and pressed the side edges to make a 1/2-inch hem along the sides of the towel.

I cut four facing strips from the printed fabric that were 2 3/4-inches deep and the width of the towel. I turned and pressed a 1/2-inch hem across the long edge of each strip. I placed the facing, with right sides together, matching the bottom edge of the towel and pinned.

I used the innermost pressed line of the towel side hem as a guide and sewed down the side of the hem facing and then followed the penciled lines to sew around the scallops across the bottom of the towel. I finished with the far side edge.

I trimmed the seam and clipped the curves and points.

I turned the faced hem and carefully pressed the scallops, tucking under the side hems and pinning across the top edge of the hem.

Then I sewed the hem closed, keeping as close to the edge as possible.

I pressed again and repeated the process on the other end. The towel is finished.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Peek Inside - Painted Wall Hook

A couple of months ago I attended the State 4-H Home Ec School. This event is one of the highlights of my 4-H year and this year was no exception. I was in the track to learn about Interior Design. An instructor taught us a little bit about recycling old things into new things for the home and introduced this wall hook project. I was given an old oak drawer front. I painted it orange, attached the hooks to it and there it was - an old board turned into something nice and useful. Now I don't have to pay a small fortune to buy the same thing at Hobby Lobby. Sometimes recycling can be really great! And, I love having something so nice to put into my hope chest.

Respectfully submitted by Miss Abigail.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fabric for Kitchen Linens

I recently had an e-mail question about what kinds of fabric make good kitchen linens. This reader was interested in saving some money by sewing and decorating her own kitchen towels. I think this is a great question and thought perhaps more than she is interested in the subject.

The picture shows my favorite fabrics for making towels and other kitchen linens.

1. This is a soft "ticking" fabric. It is 100% cotton and usually 45 inches wide, sometimes 60 inches. It is called ticking because the twill weave and stripe pattern is typical of what is called pillow ticking - the fabric that used to cover pillows. There is a stiffer ticking - more like canvas, but you want to find the softer, towel-like fabric. I like to make kitchen hand towels from ticking and it works also for aprons. You can find ticking in the utility fabrics section of the store.

2. This is a plain weave fabric from the section of the fabric store called the "bottom weights." This is the fabric that is meant for making pants and skirts and other "bottom" garments. There are a number of choices for hand towels and aprons in the bottom weight section, but you want to be sure to look for 100% cotton fabric (or linen - but that would defeat the money savings wouldn't it!) The fabric could be either a plain weave or a twill weave - either one would work. Bottom weight fabric would also make nice place mats, napkins, or a small tablecloth.

3. Flannel makes a great kitchen hand towel. I like to sew two panels together to make it thick enough and then quilt or otherwise stitch it to hold it together. I like the many patterns and prints now available! Diaper flannel (if you can find it) and quilters flannel are sometimes a little thicker than regular flannel. The more you wash flannel, the better it gets. Flannel also works for dishcloths.

4. This is a piece of diaper fabric. You can buy diaper flannel, but diaper fabric is woven in a "birds eye" weave. It is 100% cotton and is 36 inches wide. Diapers, even the ones you buy already made (get the open, flat kind, NOT the pre folded ones) are truly wonderful dishtowels! I had a set in my own hope chest, painted with liquid embroidery by my cousin.

5. Monks Cloth is a thick, 100% cotton plain weave fabric that is usually 60 inches wide. The weave is very large and looks like huge cross stitch fabric. You can cross stitch on it and the pattern develops quickly! I also like to do Swedish Weaving on this fabric. It makes a very nice kitchen hand towel and maybe dishcloths as well. It would make a nice table cloth or place mats with cross-stitching.

6. This is a 100% cotton "waffle weave" fabric, sometimes called waffle weave muslin. It is also 60 inches wide. I love this fabric for making dishtowels and dishcloths, but you have to preshrink it even before measuring it as it shrinks so much. Just plan for that. It is a wonderfully thirsty fabric and lends itself to several kinds of decorating. You can see one example of hand made dishtowels here and another one here. The first link doesn't mention preshrinking. I certainly would do that first! Waffle weave fabric is found in the utility fabric section of the store, along with the muslin and ticking.

7. This is 100% cotton fabric called "homespun." This fabric makes really great dishtowels! I have several in my own kitchen drawer. Just be sure to get 100% cotton. You can find homespun with the quilting cottons in the fabric store. I have made this and this set for the hope chest so far.

8. These are two plain weave 100% cotton prints that I found in the "home dec" section of the fabric store. This fabric is often labeled dry clean only, but I use it for hand towels and aprons and place mats, napkins and tablecloths. I don't dry clean them. I usually just wash them on warm and dry on the clothesline. I understand that the fabric is labeled thus because the manufacturing is so variable that it might shrink (a lot or unevenly!) or it might "crock" (which means that heavily dyed fabric transfers excess dye to other fabric), or fade or exhibit any number of other problems. So I just take a chance because there are some wonderful choices in this section. I have never had any problems, but that doesn't mean you won't... When I make things for the hope chest, I try to always pre-wash and pre-shrink - so that fifteen years from now Abigail doesn't get a nasty surprise when she does laundry.

9. This is 100% cotton terry cloth. The width varies, usually 45 or 60 inches wide. It could used for hand towels and dishcloths. A pretty cotton print bias edging looks very pretty.

10. This fabric is called "huck" toweling or huckaback. It is narrow, usually only 15 inches wide and the edges are finished with a selvage. Huck toweling has a distinctive vertical raised thread in the weave and is most often used for Swedish Weaving decoration and other embroidery. It is soft and absorbent and makes a nice kitchen towel or tray cloth.

There is one more fabric that I use for dishtowels, but I didn't have any to put in the picture. Osnaburg fabric is found with the rest of the muslins in the fabric store and is a little bit thicker than regular muslin. It is more like homespun and it makes great dishtowels. It is 100% cotton, usually 45 or 60 inches wide and comes mainly in a natural darkish tan color. Osnaburg is a plain weave, so it frays nicely and it takes embroidery really well. It needs to be washed a couple of times before it is nicely absorbent.

Speaking of muslin, I have read that some people make dishtowels from muslin. I keep meaning to try - it is very inexpensive and would lend itself to many decorative techniques. When I look at it, though, it seems to be woven so tightly that I can't imagine that it would be very absorbent. Maybe someone has experience with it...

Just a quick comment about price. Sometimes new fabric can be more expensive than just looking for a good deal on ready-made linens. I always watch for the sales or use a 40% coupon to get the best deal, and usually have a stack of "hope chest" fabric in a stash, waiting for the next creative project!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Goodies from Grandma

Well, you will never guess where I have been for the past several weeks! I have been preparing to be the head cook and dish washer for a girls camp. Ten meals for 60 people with two of them serving 140! I have been so terrified since I have never done anything like this before. But, everything came off very well and I am home and so relieved and grateful to pick up my regular life again. So back to the hope chest, I hope!

When I was visiting my mother-in-law a couple of months ago, she presented me with a bag of goodies! She told me that she had completed all the wedding quilts for her grandchildren and that she was absolutely finished with embroidery. She remarked that she doesn't see well any longer and would I be interested in the blocks that were extra. Of course I am interested! I am really quite excited as there are six or eight of each design of the large cross-stitched blocks and eight of the little baby quilt blocks. She called the other day to report that she had found more finished blocks in the basement while cleaning house. Lucky for me and I'm hoping for more discoveries! I'll put these together with large printed fabric blocks. I can't wait to see how they will turn out.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pictures of the Quick Hope Chest

I finished most of what was on my list on the second day, but made some dumb time mistakes. So, the weekend hope chest turned out to be a three-day hope chest, rather than two. Just think in terms of a three-day weekend. I am very pleased with the results - except for that horrible bleached apron, which I will report on, but I think I'll show you my successes first! Here are the projects I completed:

1 dozen dishtowels--
Raw-edge Applique
Dyed and tucked, with button embellishment
Dyed and stenciled
Simple hemmed homespun, baby rick-rack, button magnets

10 hand towels along with a crocheted towel tender--
Printed, simple lace trim, yo-yos and crocheted chain daisies

2 V-stitch crocheted dishcloths--

5 refrigerator magnets--
Antique white button daisies and that cute baby is my grandson!

1 decorated binder--
for collected menus and associated recipes

1 set of quilted place mats and napkins--

 1 set of embellished bed sheets--
Simple "beading" eyelet lace threaded with grosgrain ribbon

 2 pair of pillowcases--
One is a simple cotton print and the other has a simple ribbon trim

1 set of embellished bath towels--

1 couch quilt--
Flannel "rag" style quilt - it still needs to be washed and fluffed!

1 birthday set--
A birthday table runner and  birthday banner

I am really glad to have some of these things finished. I work from a personal list of things that I want to do before I feel like Abigail's hope chest is finished and she now has at least one set of bed sheets and some bath towels. Each person will have different needs for her hope chest. My idea of a quick hope chest just reflects projects that could be done quickly, especially if one is thinking of creating a gift. It takes some thought to come up with a list of items that would suit each individual.

I think a very basic hope chest would include at least one kitchen set (with an apron, 7 dishtowels, 4-7 hand towels, 7 dishcloths, and a set of hot pads) a recipe box or binder with favorite recipes from home, a tablecloth or set of place mats, two sets of bed sheets and two sets of bath towels.The number of linens reflects a need to have enough to last until you could get the laundry done. Other important items, in my mind, include at least a lap quilt, a first-aid kit with a basic first aid book, basic kitchen drawer items like a small hammer, screw drivers, etc. Holiday things like Christmas ornaments and a basic family history and scrapbook are also important to me. Obviously, some things may need to be saved for and purchased, such as basic dishes, silverware and pots and pans.

I know people wonder why I am doing this. People ask me if I don't trust that Abigail will receive any wedding gifts and I laugh and say that I am hopeful that she will. But, who knows when she might get married and what those gifts might be and sometimes they can be pretty random. This is my gift - and along the way I hope I am teaching her to look ahead, to value creating a home, to develop skills, to be creative and to "prepare every needful thing."  Taking responsibility to prepare for a future need is simple wisdom. None of us knows what the future holds and if Abigail's need is not as great as the preparation, she will have an excess to share.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Update on the Quick Hope Chest

I should be busy at home on the second day of the quick hope chest, but honestly could not find two days in a row for some time yet. I am frustrated by what this says about my life right now! I think May is the busiest month of the year, even considering Christmas. I finally decided that I just needed to get started yesterday and will finish up on Friday - God willing! I have to take my weekends on odd days, I guess. I did think you might be interested to know that I started, at least.

I began working at 7:00 a.m. and finished Day One when my husband drove up at 6:00 p.m. It was a long day, hunched over the cutting table, measuring, marking, and cutting. But I took a lunch break and stopped for a few minutes in the afternoon. Everything on my list is now cut out and marked and I got a head start on the fun. A few items are finished, including the set of bath towels, one set of appliqued dishtowels, the recipe binder and the fridge magnets (these are very cute!) A few items are more than half-finished. I also crocheted a dishcloth during our regular Tuesday night TV show. The rest of the items on the list are neatly stacked next to the sewing machine, awaiting Day Two.

I did have one COLOSSAL fail! The bleached apron project took an unexpected turn! My husband expects me to report this failure, in the interest of full disclosure, but it will require a separate post, as well as a picture, to explain...
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