Wednesday, August 19, 2015

RASKOG Mini Pressing Board with Removable Cover

A couple of years ago, before I bought my RASKOG cart from IKEA, I made a mini pressing board from a scrap piece of wood in the garage, with a removable, washable cover to use while piecing quilt blocks. After I bought the RASKOG, I learned that my pressing board is the perfect size to fit on top of my RASKOG and create more functional space in my small sewing area. I use both all the time, but for the past several months, my cover has been scorched and ugly. I knew it was time to make a new cover when it transferred brown marks to a hand pieced block I pressed. This time I am making construction notes so I don't have to figure it out when it needs another new one.  

1" thick piece of wood 11.5" x 16"
Fat Quarter cut into 16" x 21" 
Felt or flannel 12.5" x 17"
Insulbrite 12.5" x 17"
Batting 12.5" x 17"
1 package 1/2" extra wide double fold bias tape
1.5 yards of 3/8" elastic (will be cut down to approximately 29" after insertion)
Staple gun 

You can use a different size board to make a pressing board, just make your felt/flannel, Insulbrite, and batting an inch bigger in width and length, and your exterior approximately 5" bigger (2.5" on each side) in length and width. 

Round edges of the exterior fabric using a bowl as a guide; I used a soup bowl.

Attaching the felt, Insulbrite, and batting:
I skipped over pics of all the pics stretching and stapling the felt/flannel to the wood. I went in this order:

Staple felt or flannel to one long side edge of the board, wrap to the other side and staple, cut square notches at the corners to reduce bulk, then staple the short sides. Make sure to pull taut and smooth to remove any ripples.

Wrap and staple Insulbrite with shiny side up, to the top side of the board in the same manner as the felt. 

Repeat with the batting over the top of the board.

It doesn't need to look pretty, just nice and smooth. I chose to staple to the sides of the board, rather than the bottom, to keep from having staples scratch surfaces and reduce bulk on bottom to keep the board flat while pressing. It will look like this when you are done:

Perspective of exterior to board:

Attaching the bias binding:

There are different ways to attach the binding; this is how I did it to make it easier to insert the elastic.

Flip bias binding with the narrow side on top

Open the bias binding on the narrow side, and fold the raw edge down approximately 1/2". Starting on the middle of one long side of the wrong side of the exterior fabric, stitch in the crease of the bias binding.

Work your way around the perimeter, stretching the bias tape around the curves.

Once you reach the beginning, continue sewing for another couple of inches. Back stitch and trim.

Stitching binding and inserting elastic:

The first time I made this cover, I attached a safety pin to the start of my elastic to keep it from moving as I stitched the casing, and then sewed it to the end of the elastic after working my way around. This time I decided to make it even faster. It is on the bottom of the board where no one will see it, so a pretty join is not important to me. I sewed the casing and insert the elastic at the same time. Here is my faster way.

Tack down the end of the elastic near the start/stop of your bias tape on the right side of your fabric. I used approximately 29" of elastic, but kept a much longer length so I wouldn't have to continually stretch the elastic as I sewed. Next time, I will draw a line at the 29" mark so I know how far I need to pull the elastic without fitting it over the board.

Fold bias tape around to front, and cover first stitching line. Stitch near the edge of the bias tape, pushing the elastic to the right. Make sure not to stitch through the elastic; it needs to be free to move inside the casing.

Take special care around the curves.

When your elastic starts getting short, give it a gentle tug and push the casing to the left to reduce the bunching in one spot. Make sure to adjust and flatten your elastic, binding, and the fabric inside the casing as you do this so it doesn't get rumpled as it is stitched. You can see in the pic below where the fabric in the casing is folding and I had to stop and flatten it.

A couple of inches from the start, back stitch and cut your threads.

Gently pull the elastic, and try to make it evenly gathered. It tends to naturally gather more at the corners and that is ok. I put it on the pressing board to get it fairly snug and checked to make sure the cover looked good. Once you have it pulled tightly, attach a safety pin on the end of the elastic so that it cannot get pulled back into the casing.

Leave about 2" extra on the elastic, so that it can overlap the start of the elastic, with some to spare.

Overlap the elastic ends, inserting the cut edge into the casing, and stitch into place across the elastic.

Then sew the rest of the casing. It didn't look perfect, but it was super fast, and better than stapling fabric to the bottom of the board where it can't be removed and can scratch the surface of a table.

And you have a board all ready to use!

 It works perfectly next to my sewing table. Bonus: it's on the left hand side and I am left handed.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Project Caddy Pattern by Aneela Hoey

Earlier this summer, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to test Aneela Hoey's new Project Caddy Pattern. Aneela writes very clear and detailed patterns with great design, and this pattern is no exception; I love the lid construction and zipper installation. So clever. This caddy was the perfect size for my college age daughter to take on her beach vacation to tote essentials.

Caddy Details:
Fabric: Bonnie and Camilly Daysail
Exterior Patchwork: Mini Charm Pack
One complete mini charm pack works perfectly to piece the exterior
14 squares across x 3 down
There is an extra ½” that needs to be trimmed off to make the panel 28” across. To account for that, I just chain pieced four sections more towards the side of the panel, 2 across and 3 down and then trimmed 1/8” off those four before attaching them to the rest of the panel

I absolutely love the handled lid and double zipper on the exterior of the caddy. I am always interested in learning new techniques, and Aneela made the lid construction a breeze. With an added interior zip pocket and open pocket, it is easy to keep your items organized. 

Construction options:
I appreciate that Aneela designs her patterns to be easier to assemble with less machine wrangling. I tested the pattern as written, but I am not afraid of a little machine wrangling (my motto: interface all the things and then interface some more), so I made some notes with two options in addition to the pattern instructions for the intrepid assembler to make the caddy sides super sturdy. 

1. Quilted exterior: Add batting and then fuse Peltex 71 (cut the size specified in the pattern) on the back of the batting and quilt through all of the layers (or use Peltex 70 behind the batting and hold in place with basting spray to quilt). 

When I pieced my weekender bag panels, I used the fabric with shape flex fused behind, batting behind the shape flex, and then a smaller piece of Peltex basted behind the batting. I quilted through all the layers. I was so happy with the outcome, and I think the same technique works well here.

2. Peltex 70 placed behind the exterior panel (1/2” from the bottom edge) with a piece of Shape Flex the same size as the exterior panel fused over the Peltex 70. The Shape Flex will hold the Peltex in place.

The interior has a huge amount of storage to carry projects, toiletries, toys, etc.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Hexie Box Pattern

Recently, I had the opportunity to test a fun new EPP hand sewing pattern called The Hexie Box by Amber Crawley. Amber asked me to test the large 7" box, and I knew it was the perfect project to use some of my stashed Sweet as Honey fabric.

My eldest daughter said recently that she needs more gold accents in her room, so I made the exterior the gold beehive print. I am pretty excited that I used supplies entirely from my stash, including scrap Peltex (I knew I was saving it for a good reason).

I wouldn't call the large size a quick project. Using Netflix shows as a guide on the time spent to make this box, it took approximately nine hours from start to finish. Bear in mind that I fussy cut all but the exterior side panels. I would have also fussy cut those, but the beehive print is staggered and I couldn't bear to cut holes in a half yard of fabric to make the beehives all match on each side. I feel like the lid side fussy cuts more than make up for that. I also stitched a million tiny whip stitches to make the box extra sturdy. All well worth the effort and time.

The pattern gives basic instructions on how to thread baste the fabric to the interfacing, and mentions glue basting. I usually prefer to thread baste, but on this project I am all about the glue basting. I didn't mess around with a little glue pen, and went straight for the Elmer's glue stick; I used a fair amount of glue. My one tip would be to glue the interfacing and try not to gunk the glue all over where you will be stitching because the resulting stiffness makes it harder to sew through. The patterm also calls for Peltex 71, but I didn't have even a scrap left on hand, so I just used a glue stick to baste the fabric to the Peltex, and heat set it with my iron; it worked perfectly.

I'm ecstatic with the finished project; the design is genius and flawless, and it has a very functional and satisfying sturdiness.

The Hexie Box pattern is now available to purchase on Craftsy.