Easy way to line up buttons with their holes

By Sarah

Buttons and button holes used to put me on edge and I avoided them for many years.  I worried that the holes would not line up with the buttons or that the automatic button hole feature on my machine would somehow malfunction causing a gnarled and unsightly hole.  Eventually, I overcame my fears through patience and practice and developed a method that works great for me.  Assuming you are at least comfortable sewing the actual button hole but are still having issues with having them line up with the buttons, read through this post and give this simple technique a try. If my wording is confusing, the pictures say it all, well most of it. :)

Before I make the first button hole on a garment I always do a test hole on a scrap of the same fabric. I usually fold the scrap in half so that it mimics the thickness of what I will eventually make the real hole on. I then hold this test hole up to the markings I have made on the garment and adjust the length by either shorting or lengthening the lines (button size will determine this). The next step is to make all the button holes and then split them open.    

Overlap or lay the button hole side of the garment onto the side of the garment where the buttons will be sewn. Position it appropriately and if you want, put a few straight pins to keep it in place while you do the next step.  The next step is to take a marking tool (I use the fine tip disappearing ink pen by Dritz that we sell at the shop) and push it through the center of the button hole making a dot on the button side of the garment.  

These dots are where you will place and stitch on the buttons.  This is essentially, the gist of this tutorial- using the holes you just made as a guide for where you will sew the buttons. Simple!

Stitch all the buttons on.

And there you go!  Perfectly matched up buttons and holes!  The difference between my way and the way of most patterns out there is that I make my markings after I sew the garment.  I am not a perfect sewer and my seam allowances are not always exactly what is required.  This is why I love doing buttons this way. I hope all this makes sense. If you have a question feel free to ask it in the comments.  Happy button sewing everyone!    

Stitching Green: How to Make T-Shirt Yarn

by Cameron

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If you're like most Americans you have a large stack of unworn t-shirts - promotional t-shirts, old t-shirts, ill fitting t-shirts - taking up precious space somewhere in your home. Good news! Those shirts aren't eyesores, they're future rugs and bowls and potholders and, and, and...

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Some people recommend using only t-shirts knit the round (i.e. no side seams) to make t-shirt yarn, and I don't disagree that they make the nicest yarn, but my goal is to take something unwanted and make it into something useful, so I'll use whatever t-shirts I have in front of me. In the projects I've done, the seams are easy to tuck away and not noticeable as part of a finished rug.

Start by slicing off the hem your t-shirt. It's too thick and won't roll in on itself nicely the way the rest of your shirt will.

Now you're going to cut your shirt in strips, starting from one side and stopping 3-4" short of the other side. A rotary cutter and straight edge make quick work of this project, but you can use scissors. Depending on what you're intending to make with your t-shirt yarn, you might want your strips to be narrower or wider than mine. I'm going to use these to make a crocheted rug, so I'm cutting mine between 1.5" and 2" thick, depending on the weight of the fabric. A flimsy tissue knit will need to be cut thicker than a heavy 100% cotton jersey.

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At the underarm, slice all the way across the t-shirt. Put aside the sleeves and chest for another project that can make use of smaller lengths (like a nice tassel garland or rug hooking or all manner of useful things for babies).

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The body of your shirt now looks like a rib cage. You're going to want to cut through the "sternum" to make a spiral. From the bottom of the shirt cut diagonally across to the top of that same strip. Repeat working from right to left (or left to right - it doesn't matter as long as you're consistent) until you reach the top of the tube.

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That's it! You can wind your ball up - I used a knitting ball winder - but you could also do it by hand.

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Below are two rugs I've made with t-shirt yarn. The first is a wonderfully squishy crocheted rug and the second is more of a trivet-sized braided rug. By the way - learn from my painful mistake and don't use t-shirts to make a braided rug. I think because the fabric has so much stretch to it, the process of hand sewing the braid is pretty painful.

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T-shirts come in every color you could possibly imagine and are available by the pound at Goodwill outlets and most likely for free from everyone you know, so you can cover your floors in handmade rugs without breaking the bank!

Make a Rope Bowl

by Cameron

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There's a craze sweeping the nation. A rope bowl craze. Maybe you know someone who's been afflicted by the madness. I was shocked to find myself caught up in the excitement, wandering grocery stores and hardware stores, craft stores and pharmacies looking for clothesline. You'd think it be with laundry supplies, right? But it never is. Anyway... search no more fellow and future rope bowl fiends! Your friendly neighborhood fabric boutique is now carrying cotton clothesline.

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Once you make a - shockingly easy - rope bowl, it's easy to see way they've become so popular. They're so simple to make. There's almost nothing to prepare and no fiddly finishing. Just wind up a ball of rope and sew it together.
 

To get started you'll want to use a denim needle and have a couple of bobbins wound and ready to go.

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Start by making a small coil 1"-1.5" in diameter. I stick a pin straight through it to keep it together until I get some stitches in it.

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Using a straight stitch, sew across the coil at least twice, but more is better, being sure to back stitch.

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Place the coil under your presser foot so that you'll be winding counter-clockwise, with the tail on the right side of the bowl. Set your machine to zigzag. I use the widest zigzag stitch with medium stitch length (shorter than what you see in these photos is better - oops!). Line up the gap between the coil and the tail under the center of the presser foot. Stitch slowly as you build up your coil. The bigger your bowl gets the more you can let it rip and put the pedal to the metal.

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When your coil is big enough, tilt the base of the bowl up (see above) to start building the walls of the bowl. Keep stitching until you like the looks of your bowl. To finish, cut your rope, leaving yourself at least 4". I like to fold the end in on itself, toward the rope bowl so it's sandwiched between the previous coil and the top coil, creating a small loop. Making your stitch length even narrower, I go back and forth over the end to hide loose rope threads and secure the loop in place.

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There you have the basics, now let your imagination run wild! There are so many ways to get creative with rope bowls. You can decorate the rope with dye or paint before stitching. I experimented with dyeing rope with indigo, and I really love the variegated look of the resulting bowls. You can also use different colored thread - it's a great way to use up odds and ends! - varying your stitch length, or wrapping the rope with scrap fabric while you're stitching. Whatever you end up doing, I think you'll have as much trouble stopping as I've had! Luckily, rope bowls are both practical and lovely, and make excellent gifts.

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