I learned a lot from my flag-making journey these past few weeks, figuring out how to cut nylon without egregious fraying and also making up my own technique for appliqueing with nylon. I honestly made it up as I went along, which also entailed removing and redoing about two days’ worth of work. So that future flag-makers won’t have the same problem, I humbly present to you my guide to applique for nylon flags.
Category Archives: Sewing
When I’m not doing something with needle and thread, my other hobby is creative writing. Like everybody else it seems, I am writing a novel. It’s set in an alternate universe, which meshes very well with my spouse’s hobby of designing flags. He’s been begging me for a while to make the flag of Arcadia, the country where my book is set, and I finally did it!
The flag is 3 feet tall by 5.5 feet wide (about .9 by 1.7 meters) and made entirely of nylon. The stars are appliqued onto the background fabric (a tutorial on that is coming later).
I must say that working with nylon is a pain in the butt. I couldn’t cut a good straight line with a rotary cutter, both because of the size of the pieces and because this fabric frays when you just look at it. I read a lot of different opinions on how to cut synthetic fabrics, and ultimately went with using a soldering iron. It melts through the fabric, so you get a clean, finished edge. You need a heat-proof cutting surface and rulers for this to work. I cut it on a concrete garage floor with a metal yardstick. Ventilation is also extremely important, because it smells as good as you would imagine melting, burning plastic to smell.
The sewing was also a challenge, because the fabric is very slippery and won’t hold a crease. Pinning was right out, so I ended up gluing each seam down with a washable glue stick before sewing (but you have to let it dry, or else explain to the sewing machine repair shop why there are blobs of glue inside your sewing machine).
I didn’t want to spring for a grommet setting device, so right now there isn’t a way to hang it from a flagpole. I just hung it on the wall behind my sewing table with some binder clips.
I put a lot of pins and needles in our couch’s armrest, and it doesn’t seem fair to the poor thing. We do celebrate its birthday, after all, and it is just rude to be poking it all the time. So I made a little pincushion and sewing caddy to keep all my sewing and cross stitching supplies in one place, and out of the cushions.
I roughly followed this tutorial that I found on a blog called During Quiet Time, with some extra inspiration from Poppyprint’s rendition of this armrest pincushion.
The thing I like most about this is the big pocket for holding bags of embroidery floss while I cross stitch. No more will they be strewn all over the table next to the couch!
Pictures of the work in progress, and notes on what I changed from the original tutorial, are under the cut.
Here it is, my first finished project of 2017 — and it certainly took me long enough! I made it my New Year’s resolution to finish this Adventure Time inspired needle felting project. All I had to do was felt the fire pup; I kept putting it off because I was intimidated by how small he is. And yet, it turned out great!
I made it into a bag and lined with this cotton Adventure Time print from Joann Fabrics.
It’s just the right size for a couple of books or to hold sewing projects, except I don’t really want to use it in case it gets dirty. My husband wants to frame it, but if we put it behind glass, he couldn’t pet the soft felting all the time.
In other news, summer can’t come soon enough, because when the sun barely gets 23 degrees into the sky and it’s always overcast or actively raining, it is impossible to take decent pictures — even if you turn on every single light in the apartment.
I used to keep my sewing machine feet in a bag, where they floated around my sewing drawer, getting in the way as I ignored them and only used the regular presser foot, with the occasional zipper foot rendezvous. But no more! Now they have their own secure, labelled home in a repurposed embroidery floss case:
They remind me of a fancy box of chocolates, each in their little compartment with a coordinated label.
Since I don’t have that many feet, I also put my different machine needles in the organizer, too, and a few pieces of beeswax for coating threads.
As a bonus, I had to find out what the feet I had actually were, which means I learned what they do, too! That overcasting foot is going to handy; it’s what you’re actually supposed to use to stitch over the edges of fabric so they don’t fray. I know I’m going to break that out next time I’m starting a new cross stitch project and want to keep the Aida from fraying.
If you’re thinking of organizing your own sewing machine feet, here are two posts that I found helpful for identification. My sewing machine manual was also a useful resource.
How do you organize your sewing machine accessories?
This was a productive week for me; I finished two commissioned sewing projects, most recently this fun leopard print foldover clutch:
And yes, I did take the clutch to a local café for a photoshoot. The light in my apartment has been miserable since autumn has fallen; we had so much rain yesterday I forgot the sun exists.
The leopard print, lining fabric, & the zipper were from Joann Fabrics. I made a little wrist strap from a strip of the leopard print folded over some stiff interfacing. I used lightweight interfacing on both the lining and the leopard print, so the bag is nicely sturdy and can stand up by itself. There’s also a little pocket inside for a phone.
The customer was very pleased with it and is excited to take it out on the town this season. Are you making any new accessories for fall?
I have so many cross stitch works in progress going at the moment; I had them spread all over the coffee table, in dangerous proximity to open cups of tea and such. So I decided to make a nice case to hold all my supplies, keeping them safe, clean, and easy to pick up and take with me!
I made the bag from five fat quarters that I got at the Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon, plus some interfacing I had lying around and a zipper salvaged from a bag that I bought a pillow in. Like the cat & woodgrain bags, I used the basic technique from this Design Sponge tutorial.
For the lining, I sewed three fat quarters together and folded them up to divide the inside into three sections. I put one project into each compartment, and I still have a bit more room. And the bag is big enough to fit a clipboard for pattern pages.
If I had to do it over, I would have put some more/thicker interfacing in the lining so it wasn’t as floppy. The bag stands up alright on its own, but the dividers would be better if they were stiffer.
I also made some more floss bags to hold the flosses for the Steotchalong project (which I still haven’t finished, oops), and for another surprise Christmas present project that I’m working on.
They’re so pretty and useful!
About two weeks ago I spent the day making some cute and useful zippered pouches out of fat quarters. I learned how to make these pouches from this Design Sponge tutorial and they are really so simple that I think anyone who can thread a sewing machine can make them, too. It was so fun picking out fat quarters from the quilt shop to use. Here’s what I made:
If you don’t want to make your own bags, you can buy the ones pictured above in my etsy shop. Supplies are limited (at least until I order more of that adorable cat print)!
I cut my fabric into rectangles that were 9 by 6 inches (22.9 by 15.2 cm). At that size, two fat quarters will give you 3 lined bags, or 6 unlined bags, with very little waste. Two whole yards of fabric would yield 12 bags — that’s a lot of bags, but I have found infinite uses for them. Pencil cases, holding sewing and cross stitching supplies, bags for toiletries and makeup, &c. What would you keep in a little pouch like these?