Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Book Highlight

Author Maya Donenfeld, presents a versatile book for sewing recycled, and reusable items into useable items.  If you enjoy utilizing old and vintage materials for your "upcycled" product, you will enjoy this book.

Learn how to sew your own Traveling Hamper, sew wool trivets, sew a Little Forager skirt, make a Reversible Summer Sling, sew a Little River Rug (made from recycled denim jeans), an Inspiration Board (made from a recycled burlap coffee sack, scraps of linens, lace and doilies), and a lot more.

These projects would be great for homemade gifts for an occasion as well as for home use.

Book Information:

Written by Maya Donenfeld
"Sewing with Rescued Materials"
© 2012
ISBN:  978-1-118-07753-5
$24.99 US/$29.99 CAN      

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Horse Sculpture

I want to share a sculpture that my oldest daughter made for her college art class.  It's made from packaging foam (base), scrap chicken wire, and scraps of denim jeans. She straightened out the wire for a horse tail.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Easy Bookmark ~ Weaving Scraps of Embroidery Floss

You can easily use embroidery floss scraps to hand weave a fun bookmark.  

I happened to pick up a few bags of embroidery floss (on spools, in skeins, and scraps on cardboard) at a thrift store, and used it to make a bookmark. 

There are simple instructions, on how to hand weave your bookmark, at:  Handwoven Bookmark Craft Project

Instead of using worsted weight yarn, I chose to use the thinner string, such as embroidery floss.  I felt it would make a more suitable bookmark (not so bulky).  I used a tapestry needle to weave the thread.  I used scrap crochet thread for the basic starting threads.  You can typically find small scrap amounts at thrift stores or ask any folks who use such items. 

The cardboard was cut from a box that I was about to take to the recycling center.  Use thicker cardboard for easier weaving.

Tip:  Variegated thread/yarn will make a very colorful bookmark. 


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Braided Rag Rug

There are many tutorials on the Internet, to help guide anyone with making a braided rag rug.  And there are many books that are also helpful (listed at the end of this post).

This particular rug that I made, measures about 26 inches by 19 inches, and contains 60 feet of 1/2 inch wide braid.

Items Needed:

~ old bed sheets, pillow cases (see tips below) 
~ quilting thread
~ scissors
~ needle
~ optional: duct tape to get you started
~ optional: sewing machine and thread

The traditional rugs were made from rags, but if you are not a patient person, you could spend the extra money and buy other fabric.

1. Cut your fabric into 2 1/2 - 3 inches strips.

2. Sew shorter strips together using a straight stitch on your sewing machine (or by hand), or using the no-sew method. 

a. Lay your ends at shown, right sides together, and sew at a diagonal.

b. Fold the fabric so that it is straight again, and continue braiding.

The no-sew method:

3. Roll the strips into rag balls.  Don't make these too large, or you will have a difficult time braiding.

4. Chose 3 rag balls.  Sew all the ends together using a straight stitch on your sewing machine, or hand stitch them together.
 (photo from when I started this on Feb. 11 2012)

5. I used a piece of duct tape to hold the fabric in place, so that I could start braiding.  

 (source: What Can I Do Today? by Joan Fincher Klimo, ©1971)

Braid the fabric, and continue by sewing new rag balls into the strips as you go.  I used a wooden clothespin to hold my braid when I was not working on it (see tips below on tri-folding your fabric).

6. Use quilting thread and sew, on the backside, catching the braids on both sides as you go. Contine until you have the size rug you wish to have.  You can make these rugs oval or round.  
(source: How to have fun making rugs, by Sister Albertime, SSND, ©1974)

There are different ways to do this, according to the books that are available on making these.

More Tips:  

This was my first braided rag rug.  I have made crocheted rag rugs, but not a braided one.  After making this, my tips are

1. Cut the strips at the larger size width to keep your braid at a nice width.  My rag balls were cut at about 2 inches, as I had been crocheting my rag rugs. 

 (source: Handmade Rugs from practically anything, by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken)

 I was not able to tri-fold as most books suggested, so I simply folded my material once, while braiding.  There are also tools you can purchase called "braid aids" that help beginners keep their fabric tri-folded.  You can simply type in the name of the tool, in your internet search engine, and you will be able to see many sites that sell this tool, and see photos of it.

2.  Don't make your rag balls too big.  If you want a more colorful pattern in your rug, and want a smaller center color, you will want smaller rag balls.  You will want larger ones for the larger rings in your rug.

3.  When hand sewing your braid together be careful not to sew too tightly, or your rug will buckle up and will not be flat.

4.  Start sewing your braid together as you braid more.  You can gauge your rug much better than by how many feet you braided.  

5.  Use a thimble.  I had a very sore finger from pushing the needle into the braid, so I do suggest this. 

6. Use a woolen material if you wish to have your rug last longer.  According to "Braiding Rugs" by Nancy Bubel, cotton is stiffer to work with and wears out faster.  I did not know this until I was finished.  However, I do like the way my rug turned out.

Books that you will find helpful:
~ Braiding Rugs, by Nancy Bubel (A Storey Country Wisdom Bulletin)

~Handmade Rugs from practically anything, by Jean Ray Laury and Joyce Aiken, © 1971).  Those hula hoop rugs you read about on the Internet are not a new pattern.  
 (photo from the book)

This book has photos and instructions on making those hoop rugs.

Sites that you will find helpful: 

More:  Braided Rugs - Mother Earth News

           Handmade Braided Rugs - Mother Earth News

Making More with Braids:
 ~seat covers
 ~stair step covers
 ~cat mats
 ~pot holders
 ~mug rugs (coasters)
 ~use as a doily (under lamps, plant pots, etc)

More notes:  As I was sewing my rug together, one of our cats started "baking bread" on it and simply plopped onto it.  I do think cats would enjoy these in the beds.  I know our dogs enjoy any rug I put on the floor.  I don't think I'd use these to place under the food/water bowls, as they would get wet and possibly mold, if not dried out.

Here is a photo of a rag rug I crocheted, using strips of old t-shirts:

You may also be interested in this one.  I crocheted it with strips cut from old sheets, pillow cases and an old apron:

    Click "Here" to read about it.