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Saturday, 21 April 2018

Amazing Transformations of Old T-Shirts & Tank Tops

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf & Infinity Strand Scarf crafted by eSheep Designs
Guess what you can do with old t-shirts and tanks?
When it comes to recycling t-shirts, I'm sure you've seen the braided headbands, the scrappy rugs and the t-shirt quilts. You've probably even seen jewelry items made with strands of jersey mixed in with chains for necklaces.

I've long stopped buying t-shirts (and tanks, which fall into the same general category), but I have a bit of a collection and sometimes they are still being given to me.

For example, my hubby makes regular trips to Las Vegas. I don't tag along anymore, having long ago tired of its excesses in everything. (It used to be the place to go for cheap eats and entertainment, but Vegas has transformed itself into a luxury destination over the past decade and I don't particularly want to partake of that when it's done with US dollars at a premium.) Anyway, even though I tell him not to bring me back anything, he very often stops at a certain shop where he can get three t-shirts or tanks for ten dollars or some other silly small amount.

Some are winners and some aren't. And then there are those that are sized the same, but fit like polar opposites. Let's just say that I have a few that are just waiting to be repurposed into something other than t-shirts and tanks.

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When I did a search for what to do with them, I came upon some surprisingly upscale ideas. I'm featuring three of those here today — in quasi-tutorial style — after putting my own spin on a couple of them.

NOTE: links to original projects can be found at the end of this post.

Tank Top to Lace Fringed Cowl

This first one was a definite "must do" as soon as I saw it. Then it instantly sparked an additional inspiration. I knew exactly what I could use as source material, instead of just an ordinary t-shirt.

Take a look here at how you can turn a lace trimmed tank top into a lace trimmed fringed cowl scarf.

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs

Got this? Turn it into this!

For a short time, I had one of these lace trimmed thingies in virtually every colour of the rainbow. I got them for like two for five bucks. Several of them have since been donated and I now have only  four — and after this project, only three — left, the ones shown above and a black one.

Since this recycle involves the bottom part of a shirt, I figured that the lace trim would make a lovely top accent on a finished scarf.

Here's what I did. (If you look carefully, you can see that this was ready to be recycled; it had some coffee stains around the neckline that wouldn't go away.) First, I cut off the top part of the tank right under the arm holes.

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs
Remove top part of the tank or t-shirt...
Next, I turned it around and sliced a series of 1/4 inch (6mm) wide strips that were 8 inches (20cm) long, starting from the newly cut edge.

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs
"Fringe" the cut edge...
Because this isn't a traditional t-shirt and is fitted, it had side seams. Therefore, I started cutting straight strips where I could and dealt with the uneven remainder afterwards.

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs
Took some time, but it's all cut.
Once the straight part was all fringed, I turned the whole thing inside out (to access the material around the side seams more easily) and cut the irregular remaining portion into strips as best as I could.

In any case, no one will notice that there are some oddly shaped fringes once the whole thing is tied. And that's precisely what's next: I tied the fringes in pairs all the way around and then went around a second time, as shown here.

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs
Tie two rows of knots...

The knot-tying was a bit time-consuming (says the person who tied it, then untied it, in order to re-tie it), but well worth the end result.

For the best effect, it's kept inside out so that the lace part can be turned right side out over the top like a cuff. Does that make sense?

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf by eSheep Designs
A lace trimmed cowl scarf recycled from an old tank top!

Recall that I bought these tanks for about $2.50 apiece? I'm sure I could turn around and sell these cowl scarves for ten bucks each. (Yes, I regret having donated those others!) Now that's what's known as a true upcycle.

Tanks to Tote Bags

Itty bitty tank top...
A t-shirt to tote bag idea made me take a second look at this tiny Vegas tank top.

Hubby didn't realize it, but he actually bought me the same thing twice. One is white (as shown here) and the other one is grey, and they are both tiny. (I mean, I can put them on, but unless it's for the purpose of being a street walker in Vegas, they aren't practical.)

My thought was to sew them back to back, turning the whole thing into a bag with three sections, and then somehow rework the straps to make handles.

I'm not going to describe in any detail how I did it, but this is what came out as the final result. (Because the tops were fitted and had a slight outward flare along the bottom, I boxed the corners to round them out.)

Tank top bag by eSheep Designs
Front, side and back views of my Las Vegas tank tops turned bag...

And here is a picture of the three sections inside this bag.

Tank top bag by eSheep Designs
Triple compartment bag...

The inside of the two original tanks obviously form two of the sections. The third is formed by sewing together the sides seams of the two backs. Due to the limp nature of this fabric, the backs of the original tanks droop when you pick up the bag by its handles, but it still provides a certain amount of separation. Oh, and of course, the seams are totally visible inside.

In the absence of any other ideas at present, I can see this being used as a shoe bag.

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T-Shirt to Instant High Fashion Scarf

During my search for ideas, I came across a blog filled with inspiration for converting t-shirts into other clothing. In this case, the blogger often uses new t-shirts (men's, typically) to make her fashion forward creations, but many of the ideas can be used on pre-loved garments.

Here is one that I did almost as soon as I saw it. It's a fashion upcycle that can definitely be done on an old t-shirt. The one I sacrificed here was white with a fireworks print of the now defunct Las Vegas Riviera Hotel & Casino printed across the top. Size was a men's large, yielding not only a lot of strands, but quite a bit of length too, as you can see below. (I cut the strands 3/8" or 1cm wide.) It's fast, requires absolutely no sewing and creates a statement accessory that you can put on top of virtually anything to give it an extra kick.

Infinity Strand Scarf crafted by eSheep Designs
A no sew infinity strand scarf...

All you need to do is slice off the top of the shirt (under the arms) and the hem. Then — preferably with a rotary cutter and ruler — start cutting strips from one side, stopping when you have about 1/4 of the width of the shirt left. (This uncut portion generally goes around the back of the neck when worn, but how you wear it is ultimately up to you.)

How to make an infinity strand scarf from a t-shirt by eSheep Designs
Just cut on the dashed lines and stretch...

When you're done cutting, stretch the strips to transform them into curled strands... and presto, instant fashion! TIP: You may want to go outside for this part, because it'll start raining little particles of jersey all over the place when you tug on these.

And here's a final look at my t-shirt/tank top upcycles worn in tandem...

Lace Trimmed Cowl Scarf & Infinity Strand Scarf crafted by eSheep Designs
Upcycled accessories that add "oomph"...

Not too shabby, huh? Fast and fashionable is a hard combo to beat!

And speaking of fast and fashionable, I was so intrigued by all of these various techniques that I came up with my own variant of a T-shirt to infinity scarf transformation. You'll probably see it in a couple of weeks.

As promised, links to all of the referenced tutorials follow below.

T-shirt to fringed scarf tutorial: http://planb.annaevers.com/en/de-camiseta-a-bufanda/
Recycled t-Shirt to tote bag tutorial: http://www.instructables.com/id/FASTEST-RECYCLED-T-SHIRT-TOTE-BAG/
Multi-strand infinity scarf tutorial: http://wobisobi.blogspot.com/2011/01/5-minute-friday.html

Saturday, 14 April 2018

New Pattern Release: Fabric Pieced Voilà Vase

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
My latest pattern... the Voilà Vase!
It's been some time since my last pattern release and today I have one for something very different from my past designs: a fabric pieced flared vase with optional permanent or removable topper.

Having previously admitted that I'm not a home decor fan, this latest creation is most definitely a home decor item.

Oh well. As the saying goes, there are exceptions to every rule. (I'd also imagine that there are probably more home decor fans out there than not.)

In any case, when I felt compelled to do more 3D "paper" piecing after making a hanging ornament, the concept of a vase was the first thing that popped into my mind.

The subsequent plan to turn it into a pattern was two-fold. First, I hadn't written up a pattern in about a year and needed "the exercise", so to speak. Second, it seemed like a unique item to write up as a pattern, made more appealing by the fact that it's not too difficult to sew up.

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
My smaller proof of concept vase standing alongside her big sister...

If you're wondering how big this is, let me say that it was designed to be a statement piece. With the topper, the vase is about 13” (33cm) high by 8" (20cm) wide, with a 4” (10cm) square base. Without the topper, it's 10” high (25.5cm).

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
To give an idea of scale...

So it's not small. Choose your fabric wisely and you'll have a one-of-a-kind designer vase to highlight that special spot in your home.

Which leads to the reason for the name: it's the Voilà Vase. (Yes, read carefully, that's voilà, not viola.)

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Getting back to the topic of fabric, my test vase was made out of two black and white selections. The one with the white leaves on a black background was originally a duvet cover from Jysk. (First seen in a bucket bag lining, it's also been used as the lining for my custom messenger bag.)

The other fabric is part of my Spoonflower Zen collection; specifically, Untangle My Zen (Multiples), the creation of which was documented in this blog post. I managed to "stretch" the use of a fat quarter for all of the contrast panels. (The only one that couldn't be accommodated was the contrast part of the base, so I merely used the other fabric for it.)

While my proof of concept vase ended up featuring the contrast panels on the exterior, with this one, I decided to switch it up and alternate all the panels. It did require me to pay more attention in the final assembly stages (and yes, I had to take out my stitch ripper more than once), but I like the result.

I would imagine that using four different contrast fabrics on top of a main fabric would also make a striking vase.

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
My old dusty flowers have been given new life in a new home...

After a rough start looking for testers, Sarah at Cozy Nest Design came to my rescue and put me in touch with some talented bodies who were up for the challenge. Here are the the results of their pattern testing, in the order in which I received them.

Marilyn (of ShadesofBold)

Of the testers that were sent my way, I was already familiar with Marilyn. I've always admired her selection of fabrics along with her meticulously crafted end products.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Marilyn (Shades of Bold)

She made her version of the Voilà Vase with a permanent topper.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Marilyn (Shades of Bold)

A handy tip from Marilyn: "I used 1/4" washable wonder tape to turn in the sides of the contrast fabric and it worked like a charm. It was an easier way to measure the 1/4" turn under and it stayed in place until I attached it to the main fabric and Peltex."

Mary Ann (who can be found on Facebook as SewMe Creations)

Mary Ann also made her Voilà Vase with a permanent topper.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Mary Ann (SewMe Creations)

If you're observant, you'll notice that some of her cardinals are not perched upright. ;-) However, if you're even more observant, you'll notice that none of her stitching shows.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Mary Ann (SewMe Creations)

Mary Ann used invisible thread on her vase. When I asked about how difficult that might be to sew with, she says she's had no issues using the ones from Superior Threads.

Synthia (who can be found on Facebook as SynSewn)

I definitely learned something new when I heard that Synthia's sewing machine didn't have a zigzag stitch. That possibility never, ever occurred to me, so it was serendipitous to discover it during pattern testing.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Synthia (SynSewn)

On the down side, this meant that Synthia had to hand sew all of the panels together. Despite physical challenges, she ended up being proud of her persistence in finishing.

Voilà Vase by eSheep Designs; crafted by Synthia (SynSewn)

By the way, Synthia's Voilà Vase is the basic version without a topper. And given the eclectic fabric and her choice to alternate the panels, I had to share with you this shot of the inside of her vase.

A huge thanks to my testers and most particularly to Sarah for being so amazingly supportive. (A couple of testers had issues beyond their control that affected their schedules, so any other project photos I receive will be posted directly to the Craftsy pattern page.)

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The PDF for this pattern is 34 pages long, with full-size templates, detailed instructions and over 60 photos to help you create your own Fabric Pieced Voilà Vase. Measurements are provided in both metric and imperial.

As a bonus, I have included instructions on how to create the templates needed to make the smaller proof of concept version.

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
Sample pages from the PDF...

Who is this Project For?

Fabric Pieced Violà Vase by eSheep Designs
The topper can be a decorative base as well...
I would say that you'd be perfect for this project if you have some sewing experience, have used fusible interfacing before and are interested in trying out "paper" piecing. Even though you will be producing a three dimensional result, the construction steps are not difficult. Apart from some areas where you may have to deal with thick layers, the Voilà Vase is pretty "beginner" friendly.

How Long will this Project Take?

The cutting and interfacing will take up most of your time. But since most of this is machine sewn (as long as you have a zigzag stitch), it goes quickly once you get started. It's the sort of project that, if you start in the morning, you'll be done by the end of the day.

What do I Need to Make this Project?

A complete list of what you'll need to complete this project is provided at my Craftsy Shop.

If you haven't done so already, join Craftsy and then stop by my shop
where you can grab the pattern for a time limited sale price* of only $3.00
(that's 33% off the regular price of $4.50)!

* At some point after 6:00 pm on the evening of Sunday April 15 in the MDT zone (which is GMT-6), the regular price will be applied.


If you are "sew" inclined, feel free to make and sell as many Fabric Pieced Voilà Vases as you care to; I only ask for the small favour of crediting me and this blog by attaching the following card to the item.

eSheep Designs swing tag

Saturday, 7 April 2018

One Froggy Afternoon

My webcam hiding frog...
For as long as my monitors have had webcams on them, I've had this soft toy frog sitting on top of my screen. It's part of my overall computer security. While my webcam is turned off by default, you never know if some hacking technique will turn it on remotely. The little guy's arm hangs down and covers the lens of the camera, just in case.

My new computer actually has a handy sliding cover that hides the lens, but my frog remains perched on top. I'd miss him if he wasn't there.

All of this is my way of saying that I have a certain fondness for frogs. From that mid-1950s singing cartoon frog (to which the title of this post is an homage) to the frog of frogs, Kermit, it's hard to resist those fast hopping critters.

So naturally, while browsing through some sewing patterns one afternoon a couple of weeks back, I stopped to take a closer look at a pattern for a soft toy frog. Two days later, Fritz the Frog was entertaining my husband and me with his various poses.

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
Fritz Frog freezing his butt on a snowbank...

Come on, can you actually look at him and not smile?? My other half is not known for his use of the word "cute", but he used it on Fritz.

Recognize his "coat"? It's that fat quarter of Tim Holz fabric (called Bouquet) that I didn't think belonged to his Eclectic Elements collection.

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The outside photo shoot was too cold for him (winter does not want to end this year), so I brought him inside for the remainder of his pics.

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
He's capable of a bit of "attitude"...

The little dude is 7" (18cm) high when seated. Put him into a "Burt Reynolds pin-up pose" and he's 11.5" (29cm) long.

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
Fritz is naturally flexible...

He's stuffed with fabric scraps. I was going to use some microbeads from a pillow that's bound for the trash bin, but decided against it due to the potential difficulty in handling. Just as well, as my scrap bin was getting a bit full and I managed to cull it of some fragments that'll likely never be used for anything better.

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
He knows how to relax...

Fritz is a beginner friendly pattern and I can attest to the fact that he was quite straight-forward to put together. (I've never made a soft toy before, apart from my "not quite in the same league" sheep mascot.)

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
Returning to his snow bank pose...

Made with only fabric (yes, one fat quarter and some felt) and thread, he's kid-friendly too. I interfaced the cotton with fusible fleece, which created some challenges for me, but they were not impossible to overcome and I like the feel of him with the extra softness.

His eyes are actually made out of fusible fleece also, while the green felt on his chest came from a small multi bundle that I purchased a while back from a dollar store.

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The Fritz Frog pattern is from Angela Jardine of pcbangles. And here is the rather fun story of how I came to find this pattern.

In early March, super-blogger Daryl (I call her so because she and her blog recently celebrated a 10th anniversary) over at Patchouli Moon Studio posted about a $2 pattern sale on Makerist. When I inquired about what Makerist was, she suggested I sign up with them to try out their platform for my own pattern sales.

By the time I decided to check it out, the $2 sale was on its last hours, so I paused on the way to setting up an account to browse the patterns.

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
At his most charming...

And that's when I found the Fritz Frog.

All in all, that's got to be the best $2 I've ever spent. So... many, many thanks to Daryl for mentioning Makerist, thanks to Makerist for having a $2 sale, and thanks to Angela for participating in said sale with such a sweet pattern (of which she has many more, by the way).

Oh, and were you waiting for the Burt Reynolds pose? Here it is...

Fritz Frog crafted by eSheep Designs
Fritz can be sexy, too...!

I think you can tell that this was a fun project!

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Colours, Patterns & Your Personality

When you were a kid, did you and your friends ever check out numerology and find out your "number"?

Just as with zodiac signs and horoscopes, we would occasionally gather around a table at lunch time to discuss the findings of such things that might foretell where our lives would lead. All in the spirit of fun, of course.

I had forgotten my numerology number, so looked it up before writing this post and discovered that I am a 6.

Then I read it and thought, whoa, is that ever waaaay off.

I thought it might be fun to take a similar "adult" break and look into some other ways of peeking into our personalities; namely, what do our colour and pattern preferences — so integral to what we do in sewing and crafting — say about us?

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I found a few such personality quizzes online and will share them with you here. (For me, they were just a tad more "accurate" — LOL — than my numerology results.)

The first one was created by Josephine Mayfield and is found on playbuzz.com. It's called "What Color Pattern Matches Your Life".

It consists of an interesting collection of questions (some of which you're supposed to react to quickly) that then produces a summary like this one:

image courtesy of http://www.playbuzz.com/josephinemayfield10/what-color-pattern-matches-your-life...

The part that resonates most with me is the "you're a true realist at heart. You're incredibly logical and you have strong analytic abilities." The sentence that follows is sort of funny in that I'm not sure that combination usually means, "this makes being around you all the most pleasant!"

Just for the record, I am so not the life of the party!

Okay, onwards and upwards. This second one is from Cindy at modcloth.com. It's called "What's Your Pattern Personality?"

In this one, you have to answer a series of eight multiple choice questions that will then churn out a result like this.

Image courtesy of https://blog.modcloth.com/fashion/quiz-whats-your-pattern-personality/...

Hmmm... maybe I do have a cheerful/sunny disposition! These things can't be wrong, can they? ;-)

The third one is from Cassandra Lewis on littlethings.com. The headline on this one states "The Pattern You’re Drawn To Reveals Your True Self & Your Fortune!"

This one just shows you eight different patterns in varying colour combinations. You're supposed to think on it and then pick your favourite. Whichever one you select, it will provide you with a summary.

Image courtesy of https://www.littlethings.com/pattern-personality-test/?vpage=4...

In case you thought I was very obvious in selecting the black and white chevron, it was actually a close call between it and another.

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Finally, this last one is from higherperspectives.com. It's headlined as "This Scientific Color Test Will Reveal Your True Personality Traits".

It's a series of ten "which colour do you like" type of questions that will then reveal something like this.

Image courtesy of http://www.higherperspectives.com/choose-color-1846592873.html?page=2...

I think this is a test that could have different results each time you take it, depending on your mood. In terms of the above, I've never been described as neurotic and never realized I liked green so much!

Oh, and the part about being a "sage"? Wow. Talk about lofty.

Did you enjoy this? Particularly at this stage of life (i.e., not looking out into that great expanse of "what am I going to do when I grow up"), it's kind of entertaining to examine these personality findings and be able to say with some certainty, yes, that's me or no, that's not me.

And know that it's still all in fun.