Completed: a set of fabric crowns

One of my nieces turned 4 years old so we needed to come up with a gift to celebrate. She likes to dress up and is very much into princesses so I thought it might be fun to make her a fabric crown. I was also in a sewing funk and thought a relatively simple project would be a great way to get out of it.

There are already plenty of tutorials and patterns out there for fabric crowns and yet I decided to make up my own. One reason was that I didn’t have a printer at hand when I wanted to make the crown so I couldn’t print a template. The main reason, however, is that I’ve realized that the designing of these kinds of items and figuring out the best way to construct them is one of the things I like best about sewing. It may take longer to make something but it is a lot more fun when you figure everything out by yourself. At least for me it is. I also understand that some people prefer to know where they’re going when they’re sewing and use a fool-proof pattern.

I did scroll through a list of Google images of fabric crowns to decide on a style before I started drawing the pattern. I liked the pointy ones where the spikes become lower from front to side so that’s what I went for. After drawing I wrapped the template around my daughter’s head to determine how far the sides of the crown should extend to allow for some room for the elastic I put in the back.

Because I used my daughter as a living dress form to determine the size she quickly realised I was making a crown and immediately decided that she wanted one as well so I ended up making two. She also specifically asked for a green one.

For each crown I cut two pieces of Decovil light slightly larger than the crown template. This is a fantastic fusible interfacing; it is firm, yet flexible and ideal for a project like this. These pieces were fused to the front and back pieces of fabric for the crown that were also cut slightly larger than the template. On the right side of the front piece I traced around the template so I knew where to put the decorations. I used a set of iron on glitter stars that were sold as elbow/knee patches. You can’t go wrong with stars and glitter on a crown. Each crown was also decorated with some sequins that I sewed on by hand. For my niece I only picked a couple of colours but my daughter wanted all the colours.

The front and back pieces were then layered on top of each other wrong sides together and I put some fusible stuff in between that had come with some IKEA curtains to make a fusible hem (I obviously used a sewing machine to hem those curtains…). During pressing I protected the sequins with a pressing cloth. Fusing the two layers ensured that they stuck together when I cut out the final crown shape. It was also very helpful for keeping everything in place when I used a zig zag stitch to finish the edge of the crown.

Deciding on what to use as a closure probably took the longest. Since I didn’t have the intended recipient on hand for try-ons I wanted it to be somewhat adjustable. I considered snaps and Velcro but both those options will probably require help from an adult to adjust and as a parent I really like it when my children can play with their toys without adult assistance. I am also not so sure that Velcro is so desirable to use close to hair as it may get tangled in the male part. So, in the end I decided that the fabric part of the crown would not go all the way around the head but at the back a piece of soft and stretchy elastic would supply some adjustability. That probably makes my crowns a sort of crown-tiara mashup. For the elastic closure I cut some fabric that was the same width as the back of the crown. Sewed the elastic to one side, folded it and attached it to the crown with some vertical stitch lines and some more zig zagging around the edges to get a neat finish.

My daughter is very happy with her new green crown!

Completed: A birthday backpack

200128_backpack1My daughter turned 3 years old and I wanted to give her a backpack designed and made by me. It was ages ago since I made a proper bag and I loved (almost) every minute of making it.

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I designed a simple bag with a main compartment with an O-type zipper (this was really hard to find so I am happy I found one in a somewhat matching colour) and two outside pockets. One that closes with a zipper and one that is a bit more open that closes with a flap with a snap. I really had to restrain myself from adding more pockets and fancy features. The bag is not very large since the intended recipient is still less than 1 meter tall so there is not really a lot of room to add extra stuff. A 3 year old also doesn’t need all those bells and whistles and they would have added extra weight which is not ideal when you want your child to carry her own bag.

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Years ago I read a blog post in which cork fabric was used to make a bag and I have ever since wanted to try that stuff. It sounded like a strong and durable material which is great for anything made for a toddler. It is also available with silver stuff in it which is great when your toddler likes anything with glitter.

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Not too shabby pattern matching on the top. I love the O-type zipper with 2 zipper pulls.

I paired it with a green Art Gallery fabric with yellow and white flowers, yellow quilting fabric for some accents, a yellow zipper, green and yellow webbing for the straps and some adjustable sliders. The print fabric was also used for the lining. On the outside the print fabric was interfaced with fusible Decovil 1 light which gives it a bit of a leathery stiffness. The front and back cork fabric were interfaced with fusible vlieseline/vilene S320, but that may not have been absolutely necessary because the fabric itself is already quite firm. Anyway, I hoped the bag would stand up by itself and it does.

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back before assembly

I sewed the outer and inner pattern pieces at the same time and finished the seam allowances on the inside with bias binding. On the front and back this turned out to be much easier than I expected. On the bottom this was quite possibly the hardest thing I have ever sewn. I was super glad that I now have a Janome Horizon MC9400 because I am not sure the 3160 would have been able to handle all the bulk in the corners. In the end I managed to get it done with a lot of patience and I am happy this binding is located in a place that nobody will ever take a closer look at. If I ever make another backpack I think I’ll have to create a different type of bottom to make the assembly a bit easier.

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Attaching the binding to the front piece and attaching the bottom to the main bag. I am not sure why I ever thought 10 wonder clips would be sufficient for this project…

My daughter loves her new backpack and I hope she will be able to use it for years to come.

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And now I really want to make another bag for myself…

Tutorial: Fabric coasters

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Lovely (can you still call it new if you’ve had it for 9 months?) dining room table deserving of pretty coasters!

In May we bought a new dining room table so we can finally seat 8 people comfortably instead of 4 rather tightly (even though we still only have 4 dining room chairs, but that’s a different story). The top of this table is a lovely piece of thick oak and we would like to keep it looking lovely for as long as possible. So, no water stains please! We already had coasters, but these are pretty old. There used to be a picture on top that has long since disappeared, leaving only glue residues. Not pretty, although still functional.

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boring old coaster

As I was pondering pretty coasters I thought of the fabric postcards that I make and realised that something similar might also work as a coaster so I adapted the postcard method to make coasters. The main difference is the type of interfacing and how it is used.

You will need:

  • Fabric for the top and bottom of the coaster, I used quilting cotton, but I think other cotton fabrics should work as well.
  • Decovil I Light interfacing (this is sturdy but still flexible and machine washable)
  • Thread

Method

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Step 1: Fuse Decovil I Light to 2 pieces of fabric large enough to make the number of coasters that you want to make. I realise there are 3 pieces in my picture, the piece of cream fabric was a bit oddly shaped so I couldn’t cut a single piece that was large enough.

 

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Step 2: Place 2 pieces of fabric on top of each other, the Decovil I Light sides should be touching.

 

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Step 3: Use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to cut fabric in 10×10 cm (4×4 inch) squares. Cut both layers of fabric at the same time.

 

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Step 4: I like to use quilting clips to keep the squares in place when sewing around the edges. Pins don’t really work.

 

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Step 5: Use the zig zag stitch (stitch width 5, stitch length 0.4 or 0.5) on your sewing machine to stitch around the edges. I usually use a Schmetz quilting needle size 90/14 and walking foot or open toed embroidery foot. I didn’t take a picture of this step but it is explained in step 7 of the postcards tutorial.

 

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Step 6: Use your coasters!

We have been using these coasters since May and I like them a lot. We’ve washed one that became stained. After washing I gave it a light press with my iron on both sides and now I can’t tell which one was washed. Huge success all around.