Completed: A cover for my Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 keyboard cover

Yes, you read that correctly, I made a cover for a cover. Which may perhaps at first seem like an odd thing to do but to me it made perfect sense.

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Sometimes I want to take something with me that I can use to easily make notes on and send e-mails. A phone is a bit too small and while a laptop would work, it is also a bit heavy and large, so I bought a Samsung Galaxy Tab S3. When I bought it I could also get the keyboard cover for free which sounded like a useful addition for what I want to use a tablet for. I also liked that this tablet comes with a stylus that you can use to simply write on the screen.

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Closed cover

 

However, I wasn’t entirely sold on the design of the keyboard cover when I received it. My main objections:

  1. It looks yawn-inducing boring, I am not sure I could make it look even more boring if I tried.
  2. I am not so sure that the keys won’t scratch the screen of the tablet when it is closed.
  3. There is no real closure, it just folds over and that’s it, nothing is holding it in the folded position which seems like a bit of a risk if you throw it in a bag with other stuff.
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Boring, right?

If you would want to use the tablet for taking pictures there is also no hole in the cover for the camera. Since I think it is a bit ridiculous to use a tablet for taking pictures I don’t really find this an issue but I suppose other people might.

Ever since laying eyes on this cover I have been thinking on how to improve and prettify it. One option I even considered was making a completely separate cover and only using the keyboard cover when I want to use the keyboard, but that would mean lugging two things with me which is also a bit stupid and would probably result in me leaving the keyboard at home.

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Open cover with flap still covering the keyboard.

As I was playing with fabric and the cover I realised I could also simply cover it up and add the features I was missing. I sort of made this project up as I went along and while it certainly didn’t turn out perfect I think it will do the job just fine.

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Outside and lining before they were sewn together.

The outside of the cover contains a very thin layer of polyester batting and is quilted but without a backing. The flap that folds to the inside to cover the keyboard has a single layer of iron on fabric interfacing. To the outside I also sewed a very subtly stretched piece of soft elastic that is used to keep the cover closed. It also contains two tubes of elastic that are used to hold the stylus in place when it is not in use. The keyboard cover came with a thingy to hold the stylus that can be glued to the cover but this sewn solution seemed more practical to me.

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From left to right, the empty fabric cover, the fabric cover with the keyboard inserted and the fabric cover with keyboard and tablet.

The cover lining has a pocket on one side that the keyboard covers slips into to hold it in place. The tablet attaches to the keyboard cover via magnets and this still seemed to work just fine when there was one layer of fabric in between the tablet and the cover. I used the selvedge of the fabric so I didn’t have to do a hem or double layer to have a finished edge. On the other side the keyboard is held in place via two pieces of elastic. At the centre there is also a piece of ribbon for extra security, this was attached after partially sewing the outside and lining pieces together so I could determine where exactly to put it. The lining part of the flap has no interfacing to keep the flap thin.

I am happy with my no longer boring cover. Do you still think it is crazy to make a cover for a cover?

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More sewing room improvements or the continuing Malmification of our home

After finding a storage solution for my works in progress and frequently used tools it was time to tackle the next problem.

My sewing room has build in cabinets on one side and these offer ample storage space. In theory enough space to store everything that I have. However, the cabinets are very deep which works great for storing large things like quilt battings, but not so great for small items like spools of overlocker thread and fat quarters.

I often find myself looking for something that I know I have but I just can’t find it because there are so many other things stuffed around it. This is a waste of time and since I don’t have that much time for sewing these days I don’t want to spend it searching for that roll of wonder tape or that specific type of interfacing.

By rearranging my sewing and cutting tables I freed up the opposite side of the room for some chests of drawers. Somehow, when my husband and I are looking for something with drawers we always end up buying an Ikea Malm. I did consider getting the Nordli, because it is a bit more modular, but I realized that for the same amount of storage space I would be paying nearly twice as much. Besides, I knew I’d like the Malm since we already had six of them spread throughout the house.

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Besides offering probably more space than I need for supplies, the two lower cabinets will also be used to store my overlocker and coverstitch machine when they are not in use. This will create even more workspace on my sewing table.

We still need to attach the cabinets to the wall and then I can start sorting through all the stuff that is currently stored in the other cabinets to decide what to put where. I’ll probably find a thing or two that I had completely forgotten I had. I am already looking forward to an even more organized sewing experience!

Completed: Two Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono Tees

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Yes, there are alpacas on my t-shirt! We’ve been experiencing some uncharacteristically good weather for the past month or so and with it came the desire for some fresh new t-shirts.

I downloaded Maria Denmarks Kirsten kimono tee pattern in early 2013 (I just saw that there was a pattern update in September 2013 but I used the earlier version which apparently has a slightly different sizing). You can get the pattern for free by signing up for her newsletter.

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I believe I finally printed and assembled the pattern sometime in 2015 but somehow never got around to actually making it. During my recent sewing room clean up it turned up again and it was just what I needed.

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I made a size S without alterations and I am happy with how it fits. For my first version I used a solid rayon knit fabric that I still had in my stash to test fit and the alpaca version is a cotton knit fabric I found in a local fabric store. I really like the background colour. The alpacas are not really what I would ordinarily choose to wear, but I quite like them too.

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The top only requires 75cm of fabric and I can make one in 1.5 hour or so using my overlocker and coverstitch machines. If the good weather continues I may end up sewing another one!

Ikea hack: How to create a mobile pegboard storage unit from the Raskog cart and Skadis pegboard

Over the past two years or so my sewing room has turned into a bit of a mess. I am not a very tidy person by nature and the mess started to annoy even me. Now that I am using my room again on a much more regular basis (hurray!) things needed to change so I can make the most out of my limited sewing time. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about how to optimize the room and I have now found a solution for two of my main problems:

  • Not having a set storage space for all those things that are used on a daily basis such as rulers, scissors, rotary cutters and pins. As a result I kept moving them from cutting table, to sewing table, to ironing board, to the floor and back to the cutting table, etc.. and often couldn’t find something that I desperately needed.
  • I tend to work on several things at the same time and I don’t want to stuff these works in progress into a cabinet because I may forget about them if I don’t see them lying around, but at the same time it’s not ideal to keep moving piles of unfinished projects around the room.
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Tadaa! Sometimes, even I am amazed at the things my mind comes up with.

From looking at a lot of sewing room pictures there are two things that are being used by a lot of people that seemed to have potential as a solution for my problems. The Ikea Raskog utility cart and pegboards. The Raskog looked useful since it can be moved around and it would be great as a temporary storage unit for works in progress, but it would not change the storage issue I have with my large quilting rulers, these are 60 cm long, while the cart is only 35×45 cm. Pegboards look really useful for storing rulers, but the one thing my sewing room lacks is empty wall space. Really, the only decent amount of wall space that I have is already in use by my design wall, and no way am I sacrificing that for a pegboard.

So, I had carts and pegboards on my mind and was thinking how it would be great to be able to hang my rulers from the Raskog cart since it’s 72 cm high. I then saw that the Ikea Skadis pegboard has a connector accessory that enables you to attach it to a table top instead of a wall and I realized that it might very well be possible to use this to attach the pegboard to the smaller side of the Raskog cart which would solve both problems in one go. My husband’s initial reaction when I told him that I planned to attach the pegboards I had bought to the cart that I was still assembling was “Whaaaaaaaat?!?”, but hey, I was right, it totally works and it is really easy!

So, today I have a tutorial so you can make your own mobile pegboard storage unit for your sewing room (or any other hobby I suppose) by combining two Ikea products, the Raskog utility cart and Skadis pegboard!

Materials

I’ve added the Ikea product numbers so you can easily find them on the Ikea website of your own country, links are to the US website since I expect most people that found this blog are able to read English.

  1. 1x Ikea Raskog ultility cart (white: 203.829.32, beige: 202.718.92, black: 903.339.76 or dark blue: 304.017.89)
  2. 2x Ikea Skadis pegboard 36×56 cm or 14 1/4×22’’ (white: 503.208.05 or wood: 703.471.73)
  3. 2x Ikea Skadis connector (2/pack, so you have 4 in total) (white: 103.207.89 or black: 703.207.91)
  4. 1x Ikea Fixa stick on floor protector set (241.556.00)
  5. 2x (white) tie wrap (I used ridiculously long ones, but 25 cm/10” is probably long enough)
  6. 4x screws/bolts, size M4, 10-12 mm length is probably ideal.
  7. Ikea Skadis accessories of your choice. On my pegboard I used:

Method

Step 1: Assemble your Raskog trolley according to Ikea’s instructions.

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Step 1: I decided to use the white cart with the white pegboard to make it appear that these 2 products really belong together.

Step 2: Stick a large circle of the Fixa floor protector set on each of the 4 Skadis connectors. There are 4 large circles in a pack so that works out great (we still had a pack at home with only 3 of the large circles left so I used some of the smaller ones on one of the connectors, this also worked). The connectors are made of metal and so is the Raskog cart. The felt protectors prevent scratching and also make it a bit easier to attach the connectors firmly.

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Step 2

Step 3: Attach the connectors to the pegboards, in the pegboard use the holes in the 4th column from the sides and on the connectors use the lower set of holes. Otherwise use the Ikea instructions.

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Step 3 and 4: The left picture shows the side that will be facing the cart. The right picture shows the side that will be facing out.

Step 4: Each pegboard comes with 2 plastic spacer units that are normally used to make sure the pegboard hangs some distance from the wall. These are now used to make sure the pegboards end up in a good vertical position and an equal distance away from the cart baskets. The spacers should be attached to the same side as the part of the connectors that sticks out (see pictures). The screws that came with the pegboards have already been used to attach the connectors so this is where you need the 4 extra screws or bolts. They should end up positioned in the 9th column so that the top one touches the middle basket and the lower one the lower basket (and not the bolts that were used to attach the baskets to the cart). On both sides I attached the top one in the 9th hole from the bottom, but the lower one is in the 1st hole on one side and in the 3rd hole on the other side. Apparently my bottom basket ended up a bit lopsided even though I am pretty sure I followed the assembly instructions correctly. Simply try out what fits best before you firmly screw on your spacers.

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Step 4: The plastic spacer and on the left the screw that it came with that you already used to attach the connector and on the right the bolt that I used instead. It’s much shorter than the original but this is fine.

Step 5: Attach the pegboards to the cart, this works best if you lay the cart on the floor so that the pegboard is horizontal. The spacers should end up exactly in the middle of the cart, you can use the bolts that were used to attach the baskets as a guide. Screw the connectors lightly to the cart. Test whether you can swivel both wheels of the cart. If you can’t, your pegboard is not centred correctly and you should reposition it. If you are happy with the placement, screw the connectors on tightly.

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Step 5 Please note how I positioned the white plastic part of the screw so that there is enough space for the wheel to swivel.

Step 6: Use the tie wraps to attach the pegboard to the cart just above the second spacer unit. Position the closure so that it doesn’t get in the way when you put things in the basket and cut off the extra bit. Neglecting to add the tie wrap will result in a pegboard that topples forward as you hang things from it because the connectors were made to attach things to something square like a table and not to something round like this cart. With the tie wrap attached, the whole thing becomes really sturdy and everything will stay in place perfectly.

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Step 6

Step 7: Attach your chosen accessories to the pegboard and fill it up with tools, notions and projects.

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Step 7

Step 8: Enjoy a better organized sewing experience!

 Some things to keep in mind

It is possible that not all of the Ikea products that I used are available in your country. I saw, for example, that in the US the Raskog cart does not come in white so you may have to use a different colour.

The Skadis pegboard has oblong shaped holes while most pegboards I’ve seen have round holes. As a result you may not be able to attach other accessories than the Ikea ones to this pegboard. Since the pegboards are not very large this did not really seem like a big problem to me since Ikea has several useful accessories, but you should realize this in case you have something very specific in mind.

Adding the pegboards does change the dimensions of the Raskog cart. The width doesn’t change that much, it goes from 35 to 36 cm, but the length increases quite a bit, depending on what you attach to it. If you only attach hooks and clips it changes from 45 to around 53 cm, if you add containers to both sides like I did, it goes easily up to 68 cm. It is, of course, possible to only add a pegboard to one side or to only use the containers on one side and hooks on the other side which limits the increase in length.

On my cart I am now using the storage bag and roll holder to store my rulers. After assembling the whole thing I realized that the long rulers could also hang from the pegboard if a hook is placed in the middle column of the pegboard so the bottom of the ruler doesn’t touch the wheels of the cart. However, the holes in my rulers do not work with the white hooks that I have because they’re not deep enough. Ikea also has black hooks that are a bit differently shaped (703.216.39), I think these may work with my Omnigrid rulers, but I currently don’t have these hooks so I am not entirely certain. I’ll probably pick them up next time I’m at Ikea but that will take some time since we don’t live next door. Edit August 4, 2018: I did try the black hooks and they work with the holes in the Omnigrid rulers (see picture below). However, the 24×6 inch ruler is too long and touches the floor, for now I am sticking with the storage bag and roll holder solution since I use this ruler all the time.

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I hung the 12.5×12.5 inch and 60×15 cm rulers from the black hook and this works. The bottom of the 60×15 cm ruler is still a couple of milimeters away from the floor.

I advise against using the shelf accessory since things are bound to topple off when you move the cart around…

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So, are you dashing off to Ikea to make your own mobile pegboard storage unit? If you do, I’d love to see a picture of your unit in use!

Completed: A wedding tie and corsage

Last week I showed you the jacket I made to wear to my wedding, today I am showing you my husband’s tie and corsage.

I researched tie making for a bit and bought the PDF of David Page Coffin’s “Custom making neckties at home” booklet. If you do plan to make your own tie I can greatly recommend getting this as I found it very useful for making the tie pattern and constructing the tie.

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It was a time consuming project. Several years ago they had to make a tie in the Great British Sewing Bee and I believe they had 2 hours or so to complete it. I am not surprised most (perhaps even all?) of the contestants did not finish in time. I did do some trial pieces first for sewing the tip section of the blade to make sure I really understood all the steps when I was making the final tie.

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The outer fabric is the same as what I used to make my jacket. This was not ideal as it has a bit of stretch to it. I used a wool tie canvas interfacing and I think this worked well. For the lining I used a piece of quilting cotton.

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I also made corsages for my husband and our families. These were created by cutting 8 fabric circles which were then folded in half twice and then  the bottom of the circles were stitched together to form the flower (for a tutorial click here). I then glued the flowers to a felt circle using fabric glue. The felt circle was glued to another circles with a magnet in between the two pieces. The magnet was used to attach the corsage without having to pin through expensive suits and dresses.

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I didn’t have a bouquet because I didn’t want to have to drag it around all day. To me it didn’t really make sense to give our family a corsage with real flowers when I wasn’t carrying any. By making the corsages from the same fabric as my jacket and my husband’s tie we did have a link to what our families were wearing.

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Picture take by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

 

Completed: A wedding jacket

When my husband and I got married two years ago I knew I wanted to make some things for the wedding. I considered sewing my own wedding dress, for about 5 seconds. With all the other things going on in my life at the time, sewing a wedding dress had the potential to become a bit too stressful.

We had chosen a dark fuchsia colour for our wedding and this was featured on our invitation, a belt on my dress, my jacket, my husband’s tie and the corsages for the wedding party.

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Picture take by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

 

I debated for long time whether I wanted a white dress because white is not the best colour for me to wear and I don’t really care about these kinds of traditions anyway. To both my sisters’ relief I did eventually buy a white dress but I simply had to add some colour. The dress came with a black belt that I didn’t like so it was removed and I replaced it with a dark fuchsia one. I also made a jacket because I don’t like being cold and as it turned out I wore it for most of the day.

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Picture taken by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

My first attempt at a jacket didn’t work out at all (imagine the stress if this would have been my dress!), so I switched to the cropped version of By Hand London’s Victoria blazer that I had made once before (but unblogged). I removed some of the fullness in the back as I found it stood out quite a bit on my first version. I also moved the shoulder seams forward and made some small changes to the sleeves. I used the collar but left off the lapel.

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Construction wise I changed a whole lot of things. The entire jacket is underlined in silk organza. The seam allowances were catch stitched to the silk organza so they remain flat. Sadly, I don’t think I made any in progress pictures of this step. I also created facings and a separate lining pattern. The lining was attached by hand.

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For the lining I originally intended to use a white Bemberg rayon, but I found it was a bit too sheer as you could see all the seam allowances (and catch stitches) through it, which for a skirt lining would have been fine, but not for a jacket where the lining can be on display while you’re wearing it. I found a pretty wild fabric that had some of the fuchsia colour in it and used that, I like how it added even more colour to my outfit.

We had a great wedding day and after two years we still can’t help but smile when we bring back memories of this day.

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Because I know some of you will be curious about the dress without the jacket. Picture taken by our wedding photographer Rita van de Poel.

Tutorial: How to sew a hem in a woven fabric using a thread guide

I used to dread hemming somewhat and would sometimes put it off until another day. When I had to fold and press a hem on a woven top I usually wished I had an extra set of arms. I am not so good at measuring a specific hem depth, keeping it folded down at the right measurement and pressing a fold using my iron all at the same time.

That’s something of the past though. When I discovered the thread guide method, life suddenly got a whole lot easier and I no longer wait before I do the hem on a garment. I took some quick pictures when I made my latest Belcarra blouse to show you how this super simple trick works.

Basically you use a temporary line of stitches as a guide for folding your hem.

You will need:

  • A garment made from a woven fabric that needs hemming
  • Seam ripper
  • Thread

Method

Step1: Set your sewing machine to a much longer stitch length, I put it on 5, which is the maximum on my machine. The longer stitch length will make it easier to remove your thread guide afterwards.

Step 2: Stitch all around the garment at the hem allowance distance from the raw edge. The hem allowance on my top was 1.5’’, so I sewed my line of stitches 1.5’’ from the edge. You can use one of the markings on the plate of your sewing machine as a guide, or, if you don’t have a marking at the right distance, put a sticky note or a piece of tape on the plate to use as a guide.

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Step 2: I used a matching thread colour because I was too lazy to switch thread to a contrasting one, so I hope you’re able to see it.

Step 3: Put the stitch length on your sewing machine back to normal so you don’t accidently end up stitching your hem with a ridiculously long stitch. This may have happened to me more than once which is why I try to remember to put it back to normal immediately.

Step 4: Take your garment to the ironing board and fold the hem to the inside using the stitched line as your guide. The stitches should fall just to the inside of the garment. You’ll find that the stitched line not only saves you from having to measure while you’re using your iron, it also helps the fabric fold more naturally at that position.

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Step 4: For me it works best if the raw edge of the fabric faces away from me at first so that I fold the hem towards me as I am pressing with the iron.

Step 5: I like a double folded hem with a completely enclosed raw edge so I fold the fabric a second time, this made the hem depth on my top ¾’’ (half of my 1.5’’ hem allowance). Alternatively, if you don’t mind a single folded hem, you could finish the raw edge with a zig zag or overlock stitch and skip this second fold, that way you end up with a deeper hem.

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Step 5: You can see how I folded the hem a second time so that the raw edge almost touches the inside of the first fold.

Step 6: Stitch your hem, make sure to catch the edge of the folded up hem allowance. I like to sew with the right side of the garment facing up, but if you’re anxious about not catching the hem you can also sew with the inside of the garment facing up.

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Step 6

Step 7: To remove the thread guide, unpick some stitches and then it should be really easy to pull the thread out.

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Step 7: You only need to unpick a couple of stitches, the long stitch length makes it really easy to pull the thread out. I normally really dislike unpicking something but this is a piece of cake.

Step 8: Give your hem a final press and wear your garment with pride!

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Finished hem from the right side.

This trick is especially great if you want to make a narrow hem (e.g. ½’’ inch hem allowance, ¼’’ hem), that has a bit of a curve to it like on a classic tailored shirt.

Were you already familiar with this method? Or is this something you’d like to give a try on your next garment?