Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interview with Suzanne of Dress A Girl Around The World

Meet Suzanne!

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Suzanne writes the blog Sew Delightful and she’s the Washington state representative for Dress A Girl Around The World.

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I first “met” Suzanne when she visited my blog last week and introduced Dress A Girl to me. I was so impressed that I wanted to know more and get involved myself. I had plenty of questions to ask Suzanne, and I thought I’d share her responses with you as well to spread the word about this wonderful organization.

What is Dress A Girl Around the World, and what do you do?

  • We are sewers from the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Uganda working with Hope 4 Kids and Hope 4 Women International to serve girls so poor they can only dream of ever owning a new dress. We transform used pillowcases, sheets and donated fabric remnants into dresses any little girl can be proud of. Our pattern is simple but produces versatile dresses quickly. And by adding a pocket, a little lace or vintage handkerchief these dresses become even more unique. Some ladies hide a handmade doll or teddy bear in the pocket for a sweet surprise making it even more special! In the last year, we have delivered over 12,000 dresses to 34 countries. Our goal for this year is 50,000 dresses to girls in need.

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How did you become involved with Dress A Girl?

  • My brother works for a humanitarian organization and about three years ago he mentioned that there was someone I needed to meet. Thanks to him, I met Rachel Eggum Cinader. Rachel is the director of Dress A Girl Around the World. Once she told me about the project, I knew that I needed to become involved. I started sewing and loved it, especially the first time I saw a girl in Uganda in one of my dresses!

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What if you don't sew? What are the different ways you can help?

  • There are lots of things a non-sewer can do…If you can come to a sewing group there are several non-sewing activities that need to be done… including cut out armholes on the dresses, ironing the casings into place and packing dresses for delivery. We also need lots of donations; including elastic (½” or ¾”), trims, thread (we use mostly white), fabric remnants (1/2 yard or bigger) and pillowcases. There is one lady that has paid for shipping costs to get the dresses to their delivery points so monetary donations are also welcomed. We also appreciate people that are willing to share the word about Dress A Girl Around the World and those that are able to go to stores and ask for donations. Lastly, there are cutting jobs that can be done at home. 

How do the dresses get to each special little girl?

  • All of the dresses that are sewn are hand delivered to the girls. There are Hope 4 Kids International teams that go and take the dresses. We also work with churches, organizations and individuals that are willing to take dresses to girls in need around the world. We just ask that the dresses be hand delivered and that the people take pictures of the girls receiving the dresses. We want to be sure that these dresses are getting to the girls that need them.

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Any tips on buying vintage sheets and pillowcases? What's the best way to clean them when we take them home?

  • When purchasing sheets and pillowcases be sure that they are not too worn or stained. Pick prints that are bright and that you can imagine as a dress. The pillowcases with ruffles are wonderful because they already have a very pretty edge that will become the bottom of the dress. Thrift stores and garage sales are both good places to find pillowcases, sheets and trims. Once they are home, I just wash them as I would my regular laundry using a good detergent and color safe bleach.

Do you have instructions and patterns available to make the dresses?

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How do you fit your efforts with Dress A Girl into your daily life?

  • I feel privileged to have found a wonderful project where I get to do something I love and where I am able to meet so many incredible people and at the same time I am able to help the little ones that are so often forgotten. I do spend quite a bit of time working on this project either sewing or telling people about Dress A Girl or finding donations but I love it and I am retired so I am happy to use my time in this way. But someone can definitely be involved with a much smaller time commitment.

Anything else you'd like to add?

  • I hear so many wonderful stories as I am working with Dress A Girl and I would love to share one of them with you. Recently, dresses went to a small village in Nicaragua. The group handed out all of the dresses and was taking pictures when another little girl came. There were no more dresses and she was so sad that she had not gotten a dress. She was about 5 and started to cry. One of the girls took off her dress and gave it to her friend. That second little girl could not go to out and get another dress and she didn’t know if she would ever be getting another new dress. But she gave what she had been given to her friend. When I hear a story like that it makes me want to keep sewing. There are too many little ones out there and we need to help!!

Note: this is the actual girl who gave her dress away to the little one she is holding.

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Suzanne’s blog also shares even more beautiful stories such as this about the little recipients of these dresses, as well as the generous volunteers who donate, make, and deliver the dresses. Makes me want to sew and sew and sew for these sweet girls! I’m so excited for all the pillowcases I found this week at the thrift store and I can’t wait to get started.

For more information on how to get involved, please visit Sew Delightful or the main Dress A Girl Around The World website.

Thank you so much Suzanne for all that you do!

All pictures from Sew Delightful.

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Spring Yarn Embroidery Hoop Wreath

Time for a springtime wreath for our front door!

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This one is made by wrapping yarn around two embroidery hoops with some yoyo flowerness on the sides.

Here’s how I made mine:

Materials

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  • Embroidery hoops: The big one is 10 inches. The small oval one is the flexible kind, about 3.5 inches long. 
  • Yarn: A small ball about the size of your palm is much more than plenty to cover the big embroidery hoop. Choose a contrasting color for the small hoop.
  • Springy fabric for the yoyos
  • Not shown: Embroidery thread/needle and light fabric (I used twill) for the small hoop, covered button kit and fabric scraps, circle templates in different sizes i.e. various round objects around the house, jute twine, needle and regular thread, hot glue gun.

Directions

It’s easiest to pull out a small ball’s worth of yarn for each color for wrapping, as shown above. For the big hoop, pinch the end of the yarn in between the embroidery hoops, wrapping the yarn around both hoops, and then knot the two ends together when the hoop is covered.

For the small hoop, wrap only the outside hoop as we will be inserting fabric (and the inner hoop will be behind the fabric so no need to wrap it in yarn). Then write in the word “Spring” onto the fabric with a pencil and embroider over it.

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Wrap some jute twine around the yarn on the big hoop, first tying one end to the screw of the embroidery hoop (and leaving some length). Finish by tying the two ends together, again leaving length. The wreath will hang using this length.

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Make yoyos and covered buttons. I used the top and bottom of this vase plus a bowl as my circle templates, giving me three different sizes, to trace onto the fabric.

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To see a quick tutorial on how to make the yoyos, here’s a link to my Christmas wreath where I also yoyo’ed it up (and covered-button’ed it up, and embroider’ed it up and embroidery hoop’ed it up).

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Do a practice run to figure out placement. Hmmm I need one more up top!

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Fire up your glue gun and start gluing everything in place.

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As a finishing touch, I added a little bit more jute to the wreath, by simply tying a bow and pushing it underneath the yoyos (so it’s tied to the embroidery hoop). Repeat on either side of the small hoop.

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Hang it up on your door, and you’re done.

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Yay for Spring!

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Linking: Sand and Sisal

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Craft Tutorial: Embroidery Hoop Wreath

The Silly Pearl - Holiday Embroidery Hoop Wreath

This was the wreath I made this past Christmas, but it can be adapted for any time of year with a change in color scheme so I thought I’d post it again. It was also the inspiration for my Spring wreath (right above this post)!

I was originally going to make one wreath using a big embroidery hoop, but using my existing over-the-door wreath hanger, it would have blocked the peephole. Over the weekend I found two smaller embroidery hoops at the thrift store for 25 cents each (or maybe even less) and thought instead I’d make two wreaths to position around the peephole. There’s two of everything around here anyways, right?

How To Make Embroidery Hoop Wreaths

Materials:

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  • Embroidery Hoops
  • Fabrics for the yoyos (or rosettes or pom poms…is there an official name for these?). I chose red and green fabrics in my stash…some are vintage, some are modern, one I picked up in Hawaii during our honeymoon and I threw in a scrap of a vintage sheet I found last week...only one or two fabrics are actually holiday ones!
  • Fabrics for the embroidery hoops (I used heavier fabrics)
  • More heavy fabric for hanging strap, or ribbon/trim.
  • Needle and Thread
  • Washable fabric pen
  • Various round-shaped objects for tracing various-sized circles (or a compass…I would have used mine but I think I left it in the 5th grade).
  • Button cover kit, or regular buttons
  • Fabric scissors
  • Not pictured: Embroidery floss, embroidery needle, and sewing machine (optional)

Directions:

Trace and cut out circles in different sizes

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Make yoyos out of the circles (the red with white flowers is the Hawaiian fabric...I just omitted the sea turtles). Am I the only crafter on the planet who has never made these yoyos? I remember my mom made a boatload of them, not knowing what she’d make, and then ended up giving them away when she and my dad moved. Therefore, I’ve only watched her make them but never made them myself until now. So here’s a quickie tutorial…I’m definitely not a yoyo aficionado so I’m sure you can find better instructions out there. From left to right:

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1) Gather along the edges with your needle and thread 2) pulling along the way 3) until you’ve gone around a full circle and 4) flatten into a yoyo, pull the starting end out about an inch and cut off the other end about the same length, and knot together tightly.

Then make covered buttons (or use regular buttons. But I heart covered buttons. I’ll find any excuse to use them).

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Cut out heavy fabrics about 2 inches or so bigger than your embroidery hoop. Insert into the embroidery hoops. Don’t trim yet because you may need to reposition it (in the pic below I tucked the excess fabric underneath). Position the yoyos and buttons on your embroidery hoops until you like how it looks (and take a picture to which to refer back!). Also, write out the holiday word you’d like to use on a piece of paper and position that as well.

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Sew buttons onto yoyos and yoyos onto the embroidery hoop fabric. I ended up just free-handing the word with my washable fabric pen and embroidered over it. Make sure the fabric in the embroidery hoops are taught, and trim off excess fabric.

Then use some ribbon to figure out how you want the embroidery hoops to hang and what length you need.

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Of course, you can always finish it with ribbon or other trim, but I wanted to use the same ticking fabric to make a strap. Cut out a 3-inch wide strip and fold the long sides to meet in the middle then fold down the middle again and press. Topstitch both edges. It’s just like how I made the strap on my patchwork pocket tote bag.

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Thread the strap through the space under the embroidery hoop screws

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And using pins, do one final check on the length you’d like to use. I ended up going shorter than with the ribbon.

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I simply knotted the strap to the embroidery hoop like an upside down necktie. I trimmed the ends with pinking shears.

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In a world with no peep holes, this is what it would look like.

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With the peephole showing.

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And a close-up of a bunch of yoyo and covered button bliss:

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Cookie Cutter-Stamped Memory Books the Kids Can Make

Tonya at Create-Celebrate-Explore shows us how kids can make their own Spring Memory Books on the Multiples and More Blog Network. I love how she used cookie cutters as stamps…at first glance, I thought they were pre-printed! I knew I should have bought that Tub O’ 10000 cookie cutters at Target, as my girls would have a blast with this.

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See how she and her little ones made them here. Have a great weekend!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Craft Tutorial: Knit Fabric Necklace

Today I’m sharing how to make a necklace out of strips of knit fabric, connected by ribbon crimp ends. This is a fun necklace to make and to wear that you can customize in lots of different ways.

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Here’s how I made my knit fabric necklace:

Materials

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  • Three strips of knit fabric, cut to 1x19 inches (I just cut across the fabric from selvage to selvage and divided it into thirds.
  • One strip of knit fabric, 2x7 inches pressed down the middle (or you can cut two strips, 1x7 inches each).
  • Ruler, rotary cutter/scissors, and self healing mat to cut fabric.
  • Four 3/4-inch ribbon crimp ends. If you use the brand I used (Jewelry Essentials from Michaels), you will need to buy two packs as each only comes with two of the large size (3/4 inches). There is pack under a different brand with more of this size at JoAnn, or you can buy individual ones at bead stores.
  • Craft glue (I used Aileen’s Jewel-It, but any kind should do).
  • Pliers: for the crimp ends, I used nylon-coated pliers which prevent scratching. Or you can just be really careful with regular flatnose pliers (or put a piece of felt in between).
  • Jump rings in different sizes
  • Optional: Beads and jewelry wire, round-nose pliers for wire-wrapping beads
  • Not shown: Jewelry clasp, serger (optional).

Directions

As mentioned, there are different ways you can customize this necklace. I serged the edges of the short strand, and left the edges raw for the long strands. For the short end, if you don’t have a serger you can use a zig zag on your regular sewing machine, or you can also leave the edges raw. If you leave the edges raw, you can cut the 2x7 inch strip into two 1x7 inch strips and stack them as I did with the three long strips (see further below).

If you are serging the edges of the short strand, fold the 2x7 inch strip into half lengthwise. You'll trim it while serging to fit the crimp, as the folded width is wider than the crimp itself which is 3/4 inches. I used a rolled hem stitch with just two threads in the serger.KnitNecklace4

Apply some glue to the ends of your short strip. I used a toothpick because too much glue squirts out directly from the bottle. Allow to dry a little. The hardened glue will give the teeth of the ribbon crimp ends something to grab onto.KnitNecklace5

Apply some glue to the inside of the ribbon crimp end.

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Grasp the ribbon crimp end with your pliers in one hand, and place the end of the strip into the ribbon crimp end with the other hand. Press down with the pliers in the middle then scoot it over and press down on the sides. Just make sure it is pressed down evenly and the teeth have grasped the fabric. Repeat on the other end and set aside.

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Take the three long strips and stack them. If you’re using printed fabric, stack them so the non-printed side is in the inside. So I have one with the right side facing down, and two with the right side facing up (and the white is in between). This is so you don’t have a “front” and “back” of the necklace.

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I left these edges raw on these strips, so I just need to taper the ends to fit into the ribbon crimp ends by trimming with scissors. Then follow the directions above to apply just one ribbon crimp end.

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Leave the other end un-crimped for now. Take each strip and twist it, so that the unprinted end is on the inside. This is another place you can customize…you can stretch the strips out so the edges fray more and curl inward, or you can just leave them as is.

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Before you apply the last ribbon crimp end, check out the length and how it drapes, etc, and check out how it looks with the other strip. Now’s your chance to shorten the long strand, if you wish. When you’re satisfied, apply the final ribbon crimp end.

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Now let’s connect the strands to create the necklace. If you’re not comfortable working with beads, an easier way to connect the strands together is to just use jump rings, which are available at your craft store or bead store. Make sure they are open, and not closed or soldered, jump rings.

This particular pack that I bought (picture below left) has an assortment of 3 different sizes. To open a jump ring, take a pair of pliers in both hands and hold the jump ring in them both as shown, with the opening in the middle (center picture). Then push one plier away from you and one plier towards you so it’s kind of like a twist or a slide rather than pulling them apart. So you end up with something like this (picture on the right). To close them, you do the opposite…slide the pliers back to where you started.

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Using just jump rings results in a nice, clean look.

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I used three of the larger jump rings to connect the strands in the front, and two small ones for the clasp in the back.KnitNecklace14 KnitNecklace15

If you would like to add beads, I wire-wrapped a big bead and connected the two front ends that way. But instead of showing you how to wire-wrap here, there’s already a great tutorial on the BeadStyle Magazine website (or at the back of each paper issue). Scroll down on their website further and you’ll find a better tutorial on how to work with jump rings than mine!

Each time you wear the necklace, I would undo the clasp rather than throw it over your head to avoid over-stretching (though of course, since it’s knit, it will stretch over time). Undoing the clasp also lets you twist the three strands together or even make the short strand twisty if you like.

Knit Necklace

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! There are so many ways to make this necklace. I'd love to see your interpretation, so please please let me know if you make one yourself!

This was originally a guest post on Crystal’s Craft Spot. Stop by there today, as she has some huge giveaways going on to support Austin, a brave little boy in need of a kidney transplant. Your donation earns you entries in the giveaways. Click here to see how it works.

Linking up with these craft linkys.

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