April 29, 2009

Needlework: Crewel Maneki Neko Sewing

Filed under: Needlework — laupre @ 3:50 pm

I like to embroider from time to time.   I don’t think I’m too skilled at it, but it’s good practice for making nice, even stitches for those times when I have to take needle in hand. I recently came across a thrifting treasure of old crewel wool, so after checking a stack of books out of the library and trying out a bunch of stitches I decided to try to finish a crewel project. This is a design that I actually drew up myself of the Maneki Neko holding a sewing needle and thread.  His little tail wraps around a cute little pin cushion.  cute, right?


Want to look a little closer?

nekoearred stitching in ears

nekopinsNeko’s pincushion and french knot pins

nekothreadNeko’s thread.  I used some lovely green yarn for this and couched it down with some of the crewel wool.

The entire piece measures about 8 inches wide, and I think I’ll stitch this onto one of my reusable shopping totes so I can carry it around with me.  I enjoyed this project, so I think I’m going to try and so some more crewel embroidery from now on.

April 3, 2009

Mend it! Replacing worn Cuffs

Filed under: Tutorials — Tags: , , , , , , , , — laupre @ 10:54 am

I’ve got this old sweatshirt hoodie here that I’ve had for a while. When I took it out of the wash this week I found that my “ok, these are starting to wear out” wrist cuffs had exploded into a huge mess. Tatters and shreds! Instead of just tossing the hoodie out, or cutting it up to make rags, I decided to replace the cuffs with some new material to extend the life of the garment and to fight the disposable everything society that surrounds us. It’s a shame that so much of the clothing that’s produced today are made to wear out quickly and then be tossed away and replaced with new disposable fashion. So I’d like to share with you a quick 10 minute or less solution to worn out cuffs. No worn out cuffs around? That’s okay, too, you can use this same technique to add your own style to your sleeves.

Look at those cuffs!

Look at those cuffs!

The materials you’ll need are few and easy to get.

You’ll  need the shirt you want to mend, fabric for the cuffs, and sewing tools.  The material you use to replace the cuffs should be stretchy, like a knit or ribbing.  Ribbing is the best and is what you will usually find for cuffs and waistbands.  You can tell if a material is ribbed if it has vertical lines,or bumps.  A flat knit material will work, too, and that’s what I’ll be using for this demonstration.  You can get both ribbing and knit material at most fabric stores, but you’ve probably got an old t shirt laying around that would work just as well, too!

A serger can make sewing knits easier and quicker, but for this tutorial you should be able to use a standard sewing machine with a zigzag or stretch stitch with no problem.


The stretch in this fabric follows the stripes

You’re going to cut two rectangles out of your fabric, one for each cuff.  You fabric will most likely have more stretch in one direction than the other.  The stretchy direction will be our “width” or the way that will wrap around your wrist.  The less stretchy direction will be our “length” or how long you want the cuff to extend from the end of the sleeve.


Marking my fabric rectangles 9"x12"

Here I’m using just regular chalkboard chalk to mark my fabric.  Your rectangles’ width should be about 9″ and the length should be two times the final length that you want the cuff to be.  I decided I wanted my cuffs about 6″ long, so my rectangles will be 9″ wide (stretchy wise) and 12″ long (non-stretch wise).


Right sides together

Your first seams will be along the length of the cuff.  Fold it in half with right sides together and sew the fabric into a tube.

Your tube

Your tube

Now start as if to turn the tube rightside out, but you’re going to stop halfway.  You’ll want the raw edges to line up giving you a tube half as long, with both cut ends on one end, the folded end on the other, and the seam you just sewed should be hidden.

line up the cut edges

line up the cut edges

Now we’ll add the cuff to the sleeve.  First cut off the old cuff in a straight line across the sleeve.



With your sleeve right side out, you’re going to slip the new cuff onto the outside of the sleeve.  You’ll want the cuff to go on folded end first, so that the cut end of the sleeve matches up with the two cut edges of your new cuff.  You’ll be sewing through all three layers to attach the cuff.


An Important note: The cuff should be smaller than the sleeve it will go on.  You will stretch the cuff as you sew it in place.

Now sew around the edge where the sleeve and new cuff meet, stretching the cuff as you go.  Now pull the cuff down and topstitch the new seam if you wish.

img_4763Repeat the process with your other rectangle of fabric on the other sleeve, and that’s it!

Enjoy your new cuffs and the knowledge that you have given new life to an old garment or just have fun with it and try some fun colors or designs to liven up a boring sweatshirt.

All new funky cuffs

All new stripey cuffs

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