Sewing with Oilcloth book and free patterns

I'm always attracted to the oilcloth section in fabric stores. So shiny and retro and wash-offable. But I always stop short of buying any since I don't know what to do with it. I just received a review copy of Sewing with Oilcloth by Kelly McCants, and it's got 20 DIY sewing projects for oilcloth and laminated cotton. Download a couple sample project tutorials at the end of this post!

The book offers lots of tips and tricks for working with oilcloth. Should you pin it? Iron it? Wash it? How do you finish bias trim? Will your sweaty legs stick to an oilcloth cushion on a hot summer day? Wonder no more. (Well actually, that last question is not addressed in the book, but the rest are.)

I haven't tested any of the directions yet, but everything is super cute. You could sew a makeup bag.

Or a box cushion.

Or an apron, wallet, storage bin, baby bib, messenger bag, or the farmer's market tote above. In fact, you can download a printable PDF (5 MB) with instructions for that tote here. Or get PDF instructions (27 MB) for the book's chalk cloth table runner project here.

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Beer and baseball printable collection

Tricia of Every Nothing Wonderful has designed a free, printable invitation suite with editable text fields. Just decide what kind of celebration you'd like to have and type your info into the PDF. She suggests holding a birthday party, a baseball game championship event, a rootbeer float social, or a beer and brats cook-off. Get the invitation and labels here.

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Funny things for graphic and web designers

While poking around Don't Fear the Internet, a site that teaches non-web designers (like moi!) how to make a website, I found this desktop wallpaper. If you've ever monkeyed around with code, it will make you giggle. The wallpaper is from Jessica Hische and Russ Maschmeyer, the masterminds behind the website.

Speaking of giggling, you might be familiar with the fake Latin text Lorem Ipsum that designers stick into their layouts as placeholder copy. Lorem Ipsum is available in a variety of awesome and inappropriate flavors. Designers, check out Hipster Ipsum, Gangsta Lorem Ipsum, and Bacon Ipsum. Or head over to the Greeking Machine to pick up some Hillbilly, Marketing, or Pseudo German Ipsum (though this last site could do with a few more short words and articles to mimic the rhythm of real copy). Enjoy.

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A DIY fabric project using light-sensitive dye

Another project in the Inkodye series. This time I tried to get fancy with the light-sensitive dye and see if a drawing could be transferred onto fabric. (Click the image above to view a little larger.) Mixed results this time.

To make this fabric, I stretched out a piece of Saran wrap and taped down the corners to keep it taut. Then I drew on it with a black DecoColor paint pen. I needed something very opaque that would write on plastic, and this was perfect.

I thought the fine lines would be a good test to see how crisp the final print would turn out.

Then I removed the drawing and taped a piece of white cotton to my waterproof surface (i.e. cardboard wrapped with plastic). I applied red-orange Inkodye with a foam brush. Next I blotted off as much dye as I could. This was recommended in what I'd read on the manufacturer's site. Apparently if you plan to cover your damp surface with plastic or a piece of glass, water will tend to condense on the underside of the glass. And that will produce pale spots on your print. The idea is to get your surface as dry as possible, so let's see if the blotting method solves the problem.

I stretched the Saran wrap drawing over the treated fabric and taped it down, then placed the fabric in direct sunlight for 5 minutes. I was bummed to see some condensation start to appear between the plastic and the fabric, sure enough.

When the color looked fully developed, I immediately brought the fabric inside, untaped it, and rinsed it under a faucet. Then I washed it thoroughly by hand in water with laundry detergent. Overall the design is cute, but you can see light areas where water from the condensation diluted the dye. They're noticeable when you click the first photo in this post to view it larger. And some of the lines aren't as perfectly crisp as this stickler would like. The upshot: if you want a perfect print, this probably isn't the method to use. But it was fun!

Someone wondered in the comments on a previous post what the back side of the dyed fabric looks like. Here it is. And I haven't washed this in the machine yet, but I'll give you a report when I do. I don't expect the color will fade much, if at all.

Update: After machine washing, I'd say the color faded a little bit. But not too badly.

You can check out previous projects using Inkodye here and here.
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Picture frame project with Inkodye

Inkodye testing continues in the Jones lab, this time on wood. I bought an unfinished frame at Michaels for one whole dollar and doctored it up with the dye. This is the result.

Who are those youngsters in the frame? Beats me. Is anyone friends with them? I needed a temporary photo to stick inside so I could take a picture of the finished product. I searched online for "couple with umbrella," found this product photo, and printed it out.

At one time Alex and I owned a double umbrella. It was an impulse purchase when we were caught in a rainstorm. I think we used it twice. I wonder whatever happened to it.

But back to the project. I brushed Inkodye onto the frame with a foam brush. It doesn't take much for wood, so this won't use up much of your precious elixir.

I cut raindrops out of black paper, arranged them on the frame, and carried the ensemble out to our back stairs. After 5 minutes, the color seemed bright, so I brought it in. The photo above is probably around the 2-minute mark.

Since the frame was damp from the dye, you'll notice the paper curled just a bit, and some of the black ink from the paper was transferred to the frame. I managed to scrub it off pretty thoroughly, fortunately. Maybe next time I would cut up some vinyl, or contact paper with the backing left on, or something opaque and unaffected by moisture.

I quickly washed the frame with soap, water and a sponge, rinsing and scrubbing to get all the excess dye off, particularly from the raindrop areas. Do this promptly so the dye won't continue to develop in the raindrops! The result looks pretty good.

Other Inkodye projects are here and here.

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Make your own fabric prints using the sun

The folks who make Inkodye sent over a sample the other day. Inkodye is light-sensitive dye for textiles or any natural fibers, including wood and raw leather. It acts like the Sunprint paper you might have used as a kid, only you can brush this dye on anything you want and it comes in lots of colors. Like orange, of course.

For my first test of this magical stuff, I planned to make a safety pin print on fabric. Something quick and easy in case it was a flop.

I wrapped cardboard with a piece of old plastic tablecloth to make a waterproof surface. I laid white cotton fabric on top and taped down the edges to make brushing easier.

Then I poured a little Inkodye onto a paper plate, and with a foam brush, I painted it onto the fabric. It has a little color in its unexposed state, so it was easy to see where I'd already applied it.

As soon as I was done brushing on the dye, I scrambled to arrange some safety pins on top of the fabric. I was a little paranoid that the dye would start to develop before I brought it out into the sun, so in my haste I forgot to take a photo. (Turns out it's not quite that tricky, so I didn't need to hyperventilate as much.)

Outside the back door, I placed the board in direct sunlight. Immediately the orange color started to deepen. After 5 or 6 minutes it was super orange so I brought it back inside, removed the pins, and took the fabric off the board.

To keep the dye under the pins from developing, I immediately rinsed the fabric under the faucet and then washed it out with laundry detergent. (You can use a washing machine and dryer for this step if you like.)

Here's what the fabric looks like when it's dry. The color is really vibrant, and I was quite pleased. I sewed it into a zipper pouch.

I gave the Inkodye a test drive on a couple other projects, too, so I'll post those in the next few days. It's fun to play with!

Update: more projects are here and here.
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Giveaway: Kelly Moore camera bag

Anybody need a stylish way to tote your camera equipment? Kelly Moore bags are gorgeous and functional, designed by photographer Kelly Moore Clark. A few years ago, Kelly couldn't find a bag on the market that had all the features she wanted, so she forged ahead and designed her own. The result is a beautiful line of bags with repositionable dividers and a host of pockets for stashing your gear.

See that B-Hobo bag up there in mustard? I have it. I'm crazy about it. The other day I took my camera stuff out and replaced it with folders and notebooks for a meeting. Very versatile.

These aren't just for ladies—there are bags for dudes, too. This gentleman is reflecting on how he has no friends in the world, except for his trusty Kelly Boy bag.

Win the style of your choice

Kelly Moore is giving away a camera bag to one lucky somebody. For a shot at winning it, leave a comment on this post with your favorite style and color. Be sure to include a link, email address, or other way of contacting you. The giveaway closes Friday, August 26th at midnight CT. A winner will be randomly drawn, contacted, and announced here on Monday the 29th.

Save a pretty penny

Get $15 off your purchase from the Kelly Moore shop, now through Sept. 16, 2011. Just enter the code HowAboutOrange at checkout.

If you like what you see, follow Kelly Moore Bags on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Update: Giveaway is now closed. The winner is commenter #1830, Jolanda. Congrats!

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My new roman shade

Guys! Look at the latest addition to our house: a roman shade made by Rachel Epperson, owner of The Needle Shop. When we were in Stockholm earlier this year, we found this fabric in a shop and I was instantly smitten. I think I drooled on it a little. Rachel immediately snatched it up and offered to make me present. My understanding is she went to Home Depot, bought some wooden dowels and a couple doodads, waved her arms around, and this was the result. You can't even see the drool now. It's so fantastic I can hardly stand it.

The fabric is by Almedahls, designed by Kerstin Boulogner in the 1950s. It's available by the yard at Hus & Hem or as a tablecloth at Huset. And if you live in Chicago and want to learn how to make your own roman shade, The Needle Shop has a class.

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Quiz: What's your signature?

As you know, I think quizzes are super entertaining—especially the ones based on pictures. So when I saw the Ethan Allen "What's Your Signature" test mentioned on Young House Love, I was compelled to take it. I hoped to fare a little better than the Youngsters, who got some funny results.

My signature was diagnosed as Elegance, "a seamless composition of quintessentially classic design elements... a cosmopolitan mix of ornate and clean woods paired with chic, enduring fabrics." Not a perfect fit, but what killed me were the room inspirations I was offered. Ethan Allen suggested I'd like this:

It made me laugh. I hate everything about it. Well, actually the window in the room is nice, if you remove the curtains, the artwork, the wallpaper, all the furniture, the rug, and the chandelier. But to each his own.

What my living room actually looks like:

See a couple more pictures in this post. Maybe I should add some paisley for increased Elegance. Give the quiz a shot and see if you do any better!
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Make a self-zipping coin purse from a ribbon

Look what came in the mail today from my mom. That's some 7/8" ribbon I designed. Attached to a zipper. And lined with fabric on the back.

You start zipping, around and around.

And you get a coin purse!

These are made following Craft Passion's ingenious tutorial right here.

Grandma G's notes: "I followed the directions pretty much to the letter on the sewing-themed pouch, except that I did a traditional backstitch because I wasn't clear on exactly how she did hers. For the squirrel one, I again did the traditional backstitch because it ends up looking like a sewing machine stitch, and then I sewed by machine where I could to save a little time. The pouches don't need to be lined, but I'm glad I did it. Not only does the lining give a more finished look, but it also adds to the stability of the pouch."

Thank you, Mum! I already know what I'm going to use these for.

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DIY washi tape magnets

Have you seen the witty washi tape magnets at Twirling Betty? I spotted the idea at Craft the other day and immediately had to try it out. I love fancy Japanese tape. And magnets that look like fancy Japanese tape. Read Christen's easy instructions right here.

I stuck a white mailing label over the printing on my junk mail magnet and layered the tape on top of that, since there was no paper that would peel off. The label hid the printing. They're pretty believable, right?

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The Periodic Table of Typefaces

Periodic tables are always popular, but I think one of the smartest is Cam Wilde's Periodic Table of Typefaces, representing 100 of the most "popular, influential, and notorious" of the world's typefaces ranked by popularity and grouped by class. Download a high res version for yourself in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. Or head over here to order a few different prints, get desktop wallpaper, or purchase wall decals in various colors from Scribble On Everything.

Thanks for the link, CaLynn!
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Quiz: What's your fashion style?

A little frivolous Friday fun. Take a quiz at to determine your personal style. I turned out to be Classic. Apparently my dream is "to find a barely used Chanel jacket at Goodwill," but I'm afraid I wouldn't know a Chanel jacket if it reached out and poked me in the arm. One of my latest fashion purchases was a t-shirt with a waffle printed on it. Classic.
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New fonts from Lost Type Co-op

I mentioned the Lost Type Co-op a couple weeks ago as a source of retro-inspired display typefaces. The folks over there have just released a handful of new fonts you might like. (Type "0" into the price box for a free download).

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Fabric sighting: laptop bag tutorial

I was delighted to see a beautiful tutorial using some of my Outside Oslo fabric at Sew Mama Sew today. The lovely Joy Kelley of How Joyful demonstrates how to sew a padded laptop bag. The more I studied the photos, the more I realized just how special this bag is: it can levitate. I want one! Learn how to make it here.

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How to make your own perforations

The Needle Shop, a lovely DIY sewing school and fabric store in Chicago, hired me to design a flyer they could post to advertise their sewing classes. Something budget-friendly and simple, but a step up from the raggedy "free puppies" notices tacked up at the grocery store. You know the type: people tear off phone numbers from the bottom and after a few have been taken, the notices start to look like they've been gnawed by rats. We can do better! Let's perforate those tear-off strips.

The pink design was selected and printed at Then, since The Needle Shop loves DIY projects, I proposed a couple easy ways to perforate the flyers—saving them the money a printer would charge to finish these.

One option is to sew a line of stitches with an unthreaded sewing machine. The needle makes punctures in the paper that help it separate more easily.

Another option is a rotary perforating blade. These are similar to the standard blades in rotary cutters, but the edges are notched. They make a series of dashes in the paper.

I hunted around online to find a 45 mm perforating blade that fits rotary cutters used for trimming fabric. I have a Fiskars cutter and an Olfa cutter. I couldn't find anything made by either of those manufacturers, but the We R Memory Keepers blade (a mere $2.18!) works with standard 45 mm cutters.

To use it, just place a ruler along the line you want to perforate and roll the blade along it. Works like a charm.

Here's the perforating blade compared to the sewing machine. (Click the photo to view larger.) The blade gives a much easier, cleaner tear, but the sewing machine is definitely better than nothing.

You could make your own coupons, tickets, invitations, and more. I'm fighting the urge to perforate everything in my house.

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Monster-movie wallpapers for type lovers

What do you get when you mix '50s monster movies with typographic terms? Computer wallpapers! Veer's witty series of free images for desktop, iPhone, and iPad crack me up. Get them here.
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A Collection a Day desktop wallpaper

You may have seen Lisa Congdon's project A Collection a Day mentioned here and there around the internet. If you'd like to put one of Lisa's photos on your computer desktop, get three images right here at The Fox is Black. Suddenly I want to go to Athens or Cairo and place an item in a hat rack.
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