Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Zipper Tutorial!

Hi there! If you find this, or another of my
tutorials helpful and would like to make a monetary contribution 
to help me keep my woolie ideas flowing, I would be most grateful.
By clicking the "Buy Now" button below you can 
choose your own price for the tutorial. 
It's completely optional, but so appreciated! 

=^_^=  Please Note: Freshly updated 4/2014. I hope you enjoy this tutorial and it helps you install zippers into a cardigan style sweater that has been pre-felted or knit with a finished edge!

Welcome to my very first online tutorial! I'm very excited about showing you the easiest way to install a zipper into a felted garment, or a garment made of heavy fabric. This method is best used for sweaters and jackets, and may not be appropriate for sewing zippers into lightweight garments, or ones requiring facing and linings. Please note: I developed this method myself, after several extremely frustrating years of sewing zippers into clothing, while following the manufacturers instructions. When I began sewing felted wool, I needed a better method, and developed this after starting to work with a sewing glue called Liquid Stitch.

My example that I'm working with here is a felted wool sweater, that I am going to place a separating zipper down the middle front, thus turning a pullover into a cardigan. This sweater has already been "felted" or prewashed, and the wool has completely shrunk, though you can still see the knit stitch detail. It's important to note that once you shrink, or "felt" wool, all the fibers become interlocked, so you can cut the wool and it won't unravel. Please note, after two cycles through my washer and dryer, this sweater shrunk from a woman's size Small to a child's size 2-3! The wool is now very thick and full, and the sweater is now like a coat. It's usually this result that deserves a zip front.

Ready? Here goes!

Gather the necessary materials together. Here's what I have on hand:

  • A felted sweater, or one that will not unravel once I cut the front of the sweater open
  • A "Separating" style zipper that you will use to sew into the sweater front, at least as long as the front vertical measurement of the sweater.
  • A self-healing cutting mat, approximately 12" x 18" in size
  • A rotary style cutter with a sharp blade
  • A plastic see-through ruler that works with the rotary cutter
  • Straight pins
  • Liquid Stitch sewing glue (can be purchased at Jo-Ann's stores, or any similar sewing/crafting store)
  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp scissors
  • Needle and thread in a color complimentary to the zipper

The first step is carefully measuring across the front of the sweater and determining the 1/2 way point, and where to cut for the zipper opening. The key words here are: "measure" + "carefully".

Measure across the front of the sweater in several different areas, approximately 3" apart, and pin at the 1/2 way mark, which will be the cutting line. Place a self healing type of cutting mat between the front and back of the sweater, inside the sweater. Using a rotary cutter and a straight edge, cut the opening. **Please do not put your cutting mat under the whole sweater, because you will most likely cut through the front AND the back of the sweater. That would cause some distress...

Also, please note: If you are working with an UN-felted sweater, cutting the sweater apart will mean your sweater will begin to unravel at the cut line. I DO NOT advise using this method on any sort of sweater that may unravel. 

Now you will want to get your zipper ready for the installation. Rarely do I find a zipper that's the exact length I need. You will need to buy a longer zipper, and cut it down to fit your garment. First determine where you want the top of the zipper to stop. In my example, I've determined I want to put a button at the top of the neckline, so the zipper will be set about 3/4" down from the top of the neck edge.

Next, cut off the top portion of the zipper edges, about 1" longer than what you actually need. You will need to reinforce the stop areas (where the zipper will come to a stop at the top of the garment).

Sew in the reinforcement zipper stops on each side of the zipper with needle and thread, in a color that preferably matches the zipper. You will be sewing in between two zipper teeth just above the point where you want the zipper to stop. You will want to sew around these teeth several times to make sure the zipper can't zip past this point.

Next, you will cut that extra additional zipper material away. I start by cutting the fabric area about 1/2" above the sewn area. I cut straight across to the teeth, then turn 90 degrees, cut along the teeth, and turn another 90 degrees and cut across the teeth ONE TOOTH away from where I just sewed. The extra fabric will be folded under when you sew in the zipper. Repeat this for the other side of the zipper.

Now your zipper is all ready to be set into the sweater.

Using the Liquid Stitch glue (which can be found at JoAnn's, or your local sewing store), place a bead of glue down the middle of one side of the zipper. It will be much easier if you start with your zipper closed...

Now, you will carefully - there's that word again! - repeat, c a r e f u l l y lay your first side of the sweater down over the glued line. The cut edge of the sweater should line up about 1/16" from the zip. Pin this in place by pinning straight down into the sweater. **NOTE: I do this step on top of my ironing board so the pins go through the sweater and into the ironing board, and I can get a good strong even glue clamp. 

NOTE: If your sweater material is thin, use a small bead of glue. You DO NOT want the glue to be so thick that it seeps through the material of the sweater to the front of the sweater. If that happens, I suggest you pull the sweater away from the zipper before the glue dries, and carefully wash the glue out of the sweater and the zipper. Set the sweater and zipper aside to dry fully, and then start all over again, remembering to use a thinner bead of glue next time. 

Do one side at a time. There's NO RUSH with this step. If you get glue on the sweater, use a little water and wash it off before it dries, and it's as good as new. Once you are happy with the first side, then go onto the second. If you have a pattern on the sweater, make sure to line up the pattern during the gluing. Once the glue dries, it's stuck for good!

Since I am adding a button at the top of the sweater, I am installing a button loop now. With a bit of the Liquid Stitch, I push the loop into the folded over top edge of the sweater. I pushed it far enough into the sweater so as to catch the loop when I sew along the edge with the sewing machine.

Here's how the glued in zipper looks. Give the glue some time to dry thoroughly before you sew it on the sewing machine. I usually wait about an hour before sewing.

Now, starting at the base of the sweater, sew along the cut edge of the sweater, an even distance away from the zipper. My sewing machine (though an oldie-but-goodie), has the ability to adjust the placement of the needle. I place the needle closest to the zipper when I'm doing this step. Sew all the way up to the neckline, and go over your stitches at the beginning and end of the stitching row to set them in place.

If the zipper pull gets in the way, with the needle sticking into the sweater, lift up on the pressure holder (is that it's name?) and slide the zipper pull past the needle. Continue stitching.

When you go to stitch the second side, you will want to start from the same end of the sweater that you started from on the first side. ie, start both right and left sides from the sweater bottom. The stitching pulls on the sweater as you stitch, and you will find your sweater is sewn unevenly if you don't begin your stitching at the same area on both sides of the garment.

Okay! Here's the finished zipper. All nice and neat, and pretty much HASSLE FREE. That's the part I like!

And, here's the sweater, all finished. The froggy face is a pocket. I'm going to name this sweater, "I Think I Love You, 'Cause You're So CUTE!". It's going to head out to Hello Bluebird because it's such a thick and cozy sweater, and perfect for a cold winter's Pennsylvania day. :o)

Now, go and sew a zipper or two, and let me know how it comes out! I'm here to answer questions too, if I didn't make myself clear enough...

Also, for more felted goodness from me, I invite you to sign up for my felt class newsletter, and be among THE FIRST to know when my new online class called "Hello Felt" launches. It's going to be so creative and enjoyable! And I just don't want you to miss out on even one minute of all that crafty FUN! Please click HERE to join. And, btw....Welcome!

xx, Val

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sewing and Pattern Making

I learned sewing from my mom, who was always sewing something as I was growing up. I used to stand by her side watching everything she did, and probably began sewing for myself at age 7. Since I wasn't very good, and easily frustrated at that age, I began asking her to sew for me, and would go with her to the fabric store, choosing my patterns and fabrics. So, at a young age, I was introduced to the limitless possibilities
sewing offered. I remember being in about 4th grade, and living in Virginia Beach. I was all about a red reversible cape, which my mother dutifully made. It was beautiful, and I wore it all winter, even when it got so cold you could hardly bare it. The cape came down around my body, and had black toggles on the front to fasten it up like a coat. There were holes where you could stick your hands out, and a hood. I remember standing in line outside the school in the mornings and after recess, and it being so cold! But I pulled my cape around me with my hands inside, and I was as warm as a chicken in a bundle of feathers! All except for my scrawny legs! (Photo courtesy of Lovely Little Sweetpeas)

When I was in my early 20s, I bought a neighbor's old Singer sewing machine for $35.00. All I wanted was a machine to straight stitch, and zig zag, and allow me to sew in zippers and buttonholes. Nothing fancy, please!! I have used that Singer faithfully since then, it's all I've ever needed and it suites me just FINE!

At that point in my life, I worked full time in an art gallery, where it was accepted to be a bit avant garde. I had boyfriends off and on, and when I was off the boys, I spent my nights up late sewing and painting. I'd find irresistible couture from the pages of Vogue, and do my best to copy them. After years of sewing traditional patterns, I pretty much knew how to construct any sort of garment. I learned the best way to fit myself was to try it on as I went, and to look at the construction of my favorite clothes. I also scoured my mom's closet for her favorite clothes she'd saved from the 50's, and allowed these classics to formulate my style palette.

One funny story is from when I started dating my husband, Greg. I was thick into Vogue fashions, and there was a particular bubble shaped fur skirt I was over the moon about. Of course it was made from real fur. Off I trotted to the fabric store, looking for the best imitation my cheap wallet could buy. As it was right around the holidays, the best I could do was a sort of Santa Clause beard fur... well, it would have to do! I sewed up the panels, took it in tight around my waist, and put in pockets so I could look just like that Vogue model! Well, the people at Greg's work party didn't quite know what to make of me and my fur skirt, and I'm just glad I didn't scare Greg away with my flamboyant fashion sense. He did marry me, after all! (Trying to locate a picture of this get-up, and will add it if I can find it!) Okay, (later), found it!

So, after all that sewing background, it only takes an idea and a sketch to get my wheels turning, and sewing something up. If I get stuck, I resort to, ... who else? My mom! She can always get me out of a jam. Heck, why not? I learned from a pro! Yep, that's Lizzy-Lou, that's who!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Altered Goodness Continues

The Spring 2010 issue of Altered Couture is about the hit the newstands! So, this is your notice to get out there and buy it, or at least take a look! You can find my refashioned vests on pages 76-78. The vests are a limited edition, and all one of a kind!

I will post the article very soon, just waiting to get the jpgs from Beth. In the meantime, take a look over at Beth's blog, Couture Over Coffee, where she's found the most incredible shoe planters ever! I think these repurposed stilettos were worn by call girls or exotic dancers, dominatrix types (?) (not any part of MY life!) ... or midgets, I guess. Heck, who could actually wear 10" heels?! Wonder what my Landscape Architect husband would think if I started putting these stiletto planters all around our garden (hee hee!). In any case, I love GiddySpinster's motto;

Remember, Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards and in high heels. ~Faith Whittlesey


Ok, here are the shots from my article. I know, they pale in comparison to those shoes!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

VivaLaModa #7 is Out!

... and my Mr. Toasty pillow friend is in it! Check it out by clicking the link here! What a great online publication. My Mr. Toasty can be found on page 5.... the FIRST article inside the mag. With a direct link to my shop. Wow, thanks Ainhoa. Thanks twice, once for featuring Mr. Toasty, and secondly, for making me aware of your great publication. I'm subscribed for good!

Okay, now to get back to the MOPPING UP. The rain storm has hit. Two of my three windows are behaving, but the big badboy window needs constant attention. We even had a door blow OFF the back of our house. Ooh, I'm not liking this one little BIT!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Daily Favorites

All in all, it was a very good day, considering the rough night I had last night, but that's another story...
I found myself in dreamland, finally, at 2:30am... yes, finally, ... And was all about Houses in my dreams. Houses and gardens... (These house pillow fronts were to be for pillows on their way to Beth Livesay, and an upcoming Somerset Home publication, but I'm already on to something else. I know, things change over very quickly around here!) Well, going to sleep at 2:30 meant a late wake up call, 9:30 to be exact. But, upon waking, I learned that:

a) my needle felted birdy had sold off the CraftHope for Haiti site, yea!
b) my needle felted Toasty pillow had sold off my Craft Hope section in my etsy shop, yea! (thank you, Sandy, again :o)
c) my Craft Hope Toasty pillow is going to be featured in an article by LaVidaModa, yea!
d) my needle felted Toasty sold off the Craft Hope site, too, and, yea!
e) I'd better get busy making Toasty pillows, ok, yea!
f) I had a lovely feature on the FeltPlum website, wow, YEA!

I know this image is smaller than even a good, young pair of eyes can see, but it's the upcoming article for LaVidaModa, set to come out mid-January (soon). See my little, tiny Toasty in the lower left corner? Sooo cute! You can subscribe to the magazine online by clicking here, and it will come directly to you in your inbox. How cool is that?!

Felt Plum is a great new site that I was turned onto by a fellow needle felter I've met in blog and twitter land, Wool Crazy. Well, some people are really in the know, and that would be the perfect description of Karen over at Wool Crazy! She is a fountain of needle felting knowledge. One look at Felt Plum's site, and ...bookmarked! A few emails and comments later, and sweet Rachel at Felt Plum has my number. With the gift of a Focus. Well, my husband looks at me like I'm crazy, but with all the "blog love" out here, how can I even think of not spending about 1/4 of my life in blogland?! So, yep, that's my number...

Now, onto the end of my day, when Greg and I had a very good chuckle over our outdoor creation... rather a crazy window sculpture, I think. What do you think of this:

So, what is IT???

I know, it really looks crazy! Well, here in SoCal, we are supposed to get 6" - yes, SIX INCHES OF RAIN over the next 3-4 days. See, that's how things happen here. No rain for 99.9% of the year, and it all comes in 3-4 days. Okay, this makes me rather tense, because we live in an old house, and when it rains hard, it not only rains outside, but it rains INSIDE as well. Three of our old windows are unable to keep out the rain, even as hard as they try! When it rains hard, you should see me in action. Running to the dining room to mop up inside the side window, then to the large arched window where many panes leak, then to the bedrooms, while all the while placing towels, wringing out towels, plastic everywhere, dryer running full tilt. Wow, can you see me doing this for the NEXT 3-4 days? Well, I CANNOT. So, my solution came in the trip today to Home Depot, where I bought flashing and flashing glue. I cut the flashing and Greg and I glued it up above the windows in an effort to shield the tops of the windows from the driving rain. Well, the first one fell down flat after we glued it, so out came everything and the scissors, to hold the flashing until the glue dries. It's quite the site outside!

Then, here's the supervisor, Lola. How she manages to stand in the spot with just enough light, I'll never figure out. I say she's taking notes for when she comes back, as a handywoman. She'll be extra good at vacuuming, and in hanging flashing, no doubt!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My CraftHope for Haiti Donation

... can now also be found in my ValsArtStudio etsy shop! Since the two women who are "working" the CraftHope etsy shop are overwhelmed with donations, getting all the donated items up on their site is taking them a long time. So, with Sandy's suggestion, I've decided to take matters into my own hands, and plan to put a few CraftHope items in my own shop. What this means is you buy an item from my "CraftHope" section, and 100% of the proceeds from that item will be donated to Doctors Without Borders. THe shipping fees will be included in the price of the item, just like on the Craft Hope for Haiti site. I think this will make things a bit easier if you'd be interested in a Val's Art Studio item... like a stuffed Needle Felted Toasty :o)

Craft Hope for Haiti

For a very good cause...
Visit the Craft Hope for Haiti website, where all the craft projects have been donated by etsy sellers. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders, and their relief efforts for Haiti. Here's my donation, a happy Birdie Brooch, which will hopefully be up on their site soon. Also, if you are interested in buying anything from my etsy shop, I am offering a 5% donation to Haitian relief efforts, AND free shipping on your order! Just list "Haiti" in the Message to Seller box, and your shipping fees will be refunded after confirmed receipt of payment.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Heart Handmade Marketplace

... have you heard of it? Well, I found out about this site on Twitter, so I submitted my shop for their Valentines Market, and was accepted! It's a great concept, they do seasonal feature shows, with new sellers for each market. The idea is to promote a Grand Opening for each show, with a big dose of excitement! I love it! My shop is all set up, and it goes live on Jan 16th, tomorrow! You can check it out by clicking on this link here, or visit my shop directly here.

I am offering a few specials. The first is that I'm donating a portion of each sale to the relief efforts in Haiti. The second is free shipping on any order of two or more items from my shop. Just list "Heart Handmade" in the Message to Seller box at check out, and I'll refund your shipping fees!

There will be plenty of fantastic finds, no doubt, so be sure to check it out. :o)

These fantastic Felt Fortune Cookie instructions are available on Martha Stewart's website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Best Architectural Garment

... hands down. It's from Celapiu's shop, who is from Cracow, Poland. Wow, if this is how they do things in Poland, well, I want to see more! Celapiu knits all the accessories in her shop, from what I can tell. This piece has sold, but there are other, equally memorable pieces in her shop as well. Enjoy a moment, and take a visit to Celapiu. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Heart Handmade

This is when a wide angle lens camera would come in handy...

Here's my Valentine window decoration for Austin's Gallery. After a very late night of baking healthy apple cupcakes, and frosting paper hearts -instead of cupcakes-, with glitter and glue sprinkled everywhere.... even on the cupcakes (sigh). What can I say, I use what's handy! Those cupcakes were just what I needed to prop up the glittered hearts! It may be a little "cutesy" for the other artists who show their work there, but as Linda, the gallery owner said, "no one else is volunteering to do anything!" So, cutesy, it is. If you're in the neighborhood of 1024 C Street in Coronado, stop by to check out the cute and sparkly hearts fluttering as you walk by!

And, as for "cutes" (you know I'm all about them!), here's what I've been working on for an upcoming class at Paper Tales... Stuffed Toasts! We have Tattooed Pirate Toasty on the left, Cutie Pie Toasty in the middle, and Miss Kiss Me, I'm Toast! on the right. All with needle felted faces, a pat of butter, soft and fluffy breaded fronts and backs, and crust from recycled wool sweater fabric. Well, really... who can resist Toast?

And last but not least... remember Mr. Porcupine Pincushion? Well, even though he sits there with his back end unfinished (need to add beans to weight him properly, then figure out the best way to sew him closed), he's made his way back into my sketch book as a NEW design. Ooh, I can't WAIT to share this one with you, but I'm going to WAIT to post a picture when it's all done and ready for viewing... hee hee!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Intentions 101

My declared intentions are working out for me in a fine way so far, and that's a good thing :o) (that phrase always makes me think of Martha Stewart). In any case, my new journal has been put to work as my "idea catcher", so today I thought I'd blog about it, the goods and the not so goods. Here's the journal in action.

Today, things over here are about Stuffs, and Porcupines. Just how these things come about, I can't explain. You'll just have to go with me on this. Well, I have been pondering Pincushions too, and wondering if they should be retired from my repertoire. Then, I came across the a picture of little stuffed friends (the small colored picture above), and pincushions are playing around with the idea they might like to be reborn as small stuffs instead of what they are now (rolled and molded felt). They need to be in the "Three F's Club"; Functional, Fun, and Friendly. But what Stuffs want to be poked with pins? Why, of course! A Porcupine wouldn't mind.

So, here's the pattern I came up with...

And here's the thing; I spent the better part of this afternoon working up Mr. Porcupine Pincushion, and frankly, I just don't like him... Sometimes these things work, and sometimes not... so, for the time being, he is shelved, and we are back to the Pincushion drawing board. I'm hoping for better luck next time regarding the idea catcher, and working out the details. Mr. Porcupine will likely go to work carrying around all my stray pins, and by tomorrow he might look a tad bit better to me. His cute mug may come into play in one way or another... on a different day!

Friday, January 1, 2010

My Intentions For 2010

Intentions... might be confused with resolutions. I just think intentions sound better, don't you? Resolutions just seem like something we think about doing on January 1st, and quickly forget about them by mid-January. They just seem to come along with a "forgetaboutit" stigma attached. With an intention, I think we can give ourselves the time to allow them to unfold. Intentions may unfold right away, or they may wait... until the month of May. Or, even later still, until the winter's chill...

So, I'm setting my intentions for the year 2010, and allowing that they may change as the year unfolds. New intentions will most likely be added, and some perhaps as soon as tomorrow. But for today, this first day of a brand spanking new decade, here are my intentions...

+ I am going to reaffirm my belief in myself and my chosen path of work. I will do this every day, and I will work on chasing out all forms of doubt.

+ I am going to trust that there is a reason for things working out the way they currently are, and I will go with it. I am not going to try to control the chain of events in my life, but will surrender to the path I am on, and trust that it's the right one.

+ I am going to accept and work with my current reality, and realize that by visualizing where I want to be, I will get there, and I will be as successful then as I am now. In the meantime, I am doing just what I am meant to do, right here and right now! (this is the big one for me, because I'm always so anxious to get to the very next thing)

And, on a more concrete level;
+ I am going to stop pandering to my picky eater son's taste (he's 13), and serve him what the rest of the family is eating.

+ I will spend more quality time with my family, and less time on this computer (sorry, but I'm going to try).

+ I am going to be better about making notes in my journal when I get that major brain storm. Lord only knows how many times I've uttered "later", only to have them slip right through the cracks of my consciousness, and , float away on thin air...

+ I am going to try my hardest to do that thing I see on dog lover's shirts; "Greet others as you do your dog!" so, please don't be offended when I use my sing-song baby voice to say hello. :o)

Do you have any New Years Intentions? Well, heck, spill your guts, and tell me all about them right here. I promise not to tell anyone else... well, not unless you want me to!