Simple Gifts to Stitch: 30 Elegant and Easy Projects


Craft a memorable and personal gift in a single afternoon with Jocelyn Worrall's Simple Gifts to Stitch. Jocelyn shows you how to improvise with easy, intuitive sewing techniques and inspiring fabrics, from linen to vinyl, to create gifts with a fresh, modern look. With thirty unique and sophisticated gifts to sew, you'll have the perfect present for every party ... or just for yourself!
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Craft a memorable and personal gift in a single afternoon with Jocelyn Worrall's Simple Gifts to Stitch. Jocelyn shows you how to improvise with easy, intuitive sewing techniques and inspiring fabrics, from linen to vinyl, to create gifts with a fresh, modern look. With thirty unique and sophisticated gifts to sew, you'll have the perfect present for every party ... or just for yourself!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307347565
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.95 (h) x 0.53 (d)

Meet the Author

Jocelyn Worrall has worked as a textile designer, costume designer, and stylist.

She is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work in costume design, and she holds a BFA in textile design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Jocelyn appeared as the “Craft Lady of Steel” on the Style Network's television show Craft Corner Death Match, and she has developed craft projects for the Martha Stewart Living television show.

She is married to Jon Hokanson, a gaffer and cinematographer, and has a son, Silas.

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Simple Gifts to Stitch 30 Elegant and Easy Projects
By Jocelyn Worrall Potter Craft Copyright © 2007 Jocelyn Worrall
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780307347565

Things to Know

Before You Sew

Before you begin, read through the suggestions below to help make your sewing experience go smoothly.

1. Spend some time in fabric stores looking around and collecting swatches that strike you, even if you have no particular project in mind. Keep a box of fabric swatches for inspiration, and turn to it when you’re planning a project. In a perfect world, all the swatches would be marked with the price, the width, and the store they came from. If that’s asking too much, just storing them all in one place is a big step in the right direction.

2. Wash the fabric before you embark on your sewing project. Many fabrics are treated with a chemical “sizing” (a water-soluble finishing agent used in the manufacturing process) that you want to remove, and many fabrics shrink when washed. The fabric will just end up shrinking after you’ve spent all that time sewing it perfectly. Trim the raw edges with pinking shears before washing, to prevent the threads from becoming a tangled mess in the dryer.

3. Iron the fabric before cutting. This will help you to measure and cut with accuracy. Use a press cloth and adjust the iron temperature as needed. Fabrics like linen and cotton requiresteam or a misting of water with a spray bottle to remove the creases.

4. Use a press cloth when pressing with an iron. A small square of muslin or another lightweight cotton makes an ideal press cloth. It should be thin enough to allow the steam and heat to move through it to press your fabric, yet provide enough of a barrier to prevent the fabric from getting scorched or stained by a dirty iron.

5. Use a clean iron when pressing, even if you are using a press cloth. Irons pick up dirt and residue from fabrics, and you might occasionally melt something under your iron! Clean the iron with iron cleaner and a cloth, available at housewares stores.

6. Measure twice, cut once is a golden rule in carpentry as well as sewing. This rule cannot be emphasized enough. Once you measure and mark the fabric, do it again! It is also a good idea to keep a sewing notebook to jot down the measurements and cut-sizes of projects for future reference. You may want to make them again.

7. Use a rotary cutter instead of scissors. Now that I have discovered the rotary cutter, I almost never use scissors. A rotary cutter is used in conjunction with a cutting mat and a ruler, and will give you the straightest, most precise cuts. It is especially useful when cutting a fine, slippery fabric, and when you need to make long, straight cuts in fabric.

8. Use a clear quilter’s (acrylic) ruler and a cutting mat in conjunction with a rotary cutter. It is ideal to have a few different ruler sizes, but 6d ¥ 24d (15 ¥ 61cm) is a good basic size. Using a clear ruler allows you to line up the ruler marks with the lines on the cutting mat, making it very easy to measure and cut right angles. The clear ruler and cutting mat also lets you trim excess fabric on a seam allowance in seconds. Cutting mats come in a variety of sizes; a large one is ideal. A 36d ¥ 24d mat will measure a yard length and the diagonal lines enable you to cut fabric at a perfect 45-degree angle.

9. Always pin in the same direction, the one that allows you to pull the pins out from the fabric just before stitching over them. I can honestly say that I often stitch over the pins, but this is not recommended. You will hit a pin every once in a while, and when this happens, the needle may become bent (if it doesn’t break entirely) and result in irregular stitches, so beware. As a rule, I always pin perpendicular to the stitch line, with the pins pointing in toward the center of the fabric. On occasion, it will make more sense to pin along the stitch line; in those cases it will be obvious. There are several types of straight pins out there: quilting pins are extra long and are great for pinning thick fabrics, and the classic ball- head pins are great for all other fabrics.

10. Test the stitching on a small piece of the fabric before you start to sew your project. You may need to adjust the tension on your sewing machine, the stitch length or width, or the size of the needle.

11. Match the spool thread and the bobbin thread. The two should be from the same spool, or the same brand and type of thread. Sometimes, you may want to use green for the top stitch, and blue for the bottom stitch (for aesthetic reasons).

Four Simple Techniques

How to Make a Buttonhole

Test the buttonhole on a fabric scrap before stitching one on the actual project. Using fabric chalk or a fabric marker, mark the fabric with a single line the length of the buttonhole, which should match the diameter of the button plus a little extra. Set the sewing machine to zigzag stitch. To determine the appropriate stitch width and length, test the stitch on a fabric scrap. Adjust the tension if needed. Sew along either side of the

buttonhole mark, leaving a bit less than 1D16d (1.6 mm) in between the two lines. Set the stitch width to a slightly wider stitch to sew a few wide stitches at either end of the buttonhole. Cut the buttonhole center, using small, sharp scissors. If you inadvertently cut the buttonhole threads, stitch over them again.

How to Sew on a Button

Begin by sewing with the knot on the right side of the fabric; it will be hidden under the button. Leave a tiny amount of thread in between the button and the fabric in order to create some space for the fabric being fastened to the button. Pass the thread through the holes in the button several times and then wind the thread around itself between the button and the fabric to form a shank. When using thinner fabrics, make a shorter shank; for thicker fabrics, make a longer shank. Knot the thread by locking it with several more stitches, ending on the right side of the fabric, just under the button.

How to Sew a Double Hem

Many projects in this book require sewing a 1D4d (6mm) double hem, which is essentially using a 1D2d (13mm) seam allowance. The more often you do this, the easier it becomes to eyeball 1D4d (6mm). If you are not comfortable eyeballing the measurement, mark the fabric edges with fabric chalk or a fabric marker using a long, clear ruler in two measures: 1D4d (6mm) and 1D2d (13mm) from the edge. If hemming a hardcore synthetic material like vinyl, it’s probably best not to press the hem with an iron—either pin the hem into place or fold it over by hand while sewing. Otherwise, with most natural fiber fabrics, you can first press the fabric with your finger to create a faint crease. This is something you do as you go along the hem, just before you iron a section. After pressing the 1D4d (6mm) hem, fold the fabric over 1D4d (6mm) (the fold should be along the 1D2d [13mm] marked line) and press again. You have just used 1D2d (13mm) of seam allowance, or created a 1D4d (6mm) double hem. You may or may not need to pin the hem before sewing, depending on the fabric. It is generally a good idea to pin, even if the fabric requires just a few, as fabric tends to migrate, or shift, during the sewing. You decide if you want to wing it or play it safe. Sew the hem as close as possible to the inner folded edge, without straying into the non-hem area.

How to Sew Encasements (When Sewing Two Fabrics Together to Turn Right-Side Out)

Anytime you are sewing a pillow or anything that requires sewing two fabrics together, right sides together, think about the placement for the opening that you will need to leave in order to turn the piece right-side out. There is always an ideal place. For instance, when sewing projects with corners, like pillows, always sew the corners and place the opening somewhere along one side, at least a few inches from a corner. This way all the corners will look the same.

Trim away any extra fabric at the corners and on the seam allowance before turning right-side out. Be careful not to cut too close to the seam. Don’t trim fragile fabrics that fray and unravel easily, or any project that will experience excessive wear and laundering. If possible, press the seam allowance around the opening before hand- sewing it closed. That way the fabric seams will match cleanly and the hand-sewn closure will be imperceptible.

Use a slipstitch to close the opening. Place the two fabric seams together and pin the opening closed. Draw the thread up from the wrong side and begin stitching by piercing through both fabrics on the seam and sewing a tiny stitch on the fold, picking up only two or three threads of each fabric. Space the stitches 1D8d (3mm) apart for finer fabrics or 1D4d (6mm) apart for heavier fabrics. When you’re done, press the area of the hand-sewn opening lightly.


Techniques and Terms

bias: A true bias runs at a 45-degree angle to the straight grain of the fabric. Fabric cut on the bias drapes more fluidly and has more stretch. Raw edges will fray much less when cut on the bias.

binding: A length of fabric, either in a single or double layer, used to finish raw edges. Binding is usually cut on the bias so that it is slightly stretchy.

cross-stitch: A decorative hand-sewing technique consisting of two stitches that cross to form an X.

dart: A stitched triangular fold in the material, used to give shape and form to the fabric. Often used in garments to fit curves of the body.

ease: An even distribution of fullness when a piece of fabric is joined to a slightly smaller piece.

fringe: A decorative edge formed by pulling the warp or weft threads away from the fabric.

grain: The direction of the warp threads. Usually refers to the lengthwise direction of the fabric, how it comes off the loom. Cross- grain is the opposite, the direction of the weft threads.

hem: A finished edge made by folding back the raw edge of the fabric and stitching it by machine or by hand.

machine quilting: Using the sewing machine to quilt by topstitching over the fabric and batting.

mitered corner: A corner created by joining the fabric with a seam at a 45-degree angle.

nap: A very subtle, fuzzy surface on a fabric, created by raised fibers.

pintucks: Tiny pleats stitched close to a folded edge, usually used for decorative purposes.

placket: A finished opening, usually closed with buttons, snaps, or zippers.

pleats: Folds in a fabric made by doubling the material on itself, then pressing or stitching into place.

pulled and drawn threads: A centuries-old embroidery technique for which select threads are pulled and drawn out from the fabric. These areas are then embroidered over, creating a decorative lacy effect.

seam allowance: The fabric that extends beyond the stitching line, often 1D4d (6mm) or more if the fabric is coarsely woven. An ample seam allowance is essential for preventing the stitches from falling out. Fragile fabric should have the seam allowance zigzag-stitched to prevent it from fraying.

selvedge: The tightly woven border on the lengthwise edges of the fabric.

shank: The “stem” between the button and the fabric to which it is sewn. May be a part of the button or may be created by wrapping the thread around itself, like a cord, when sewing the button on.

shirring: Parallel rows of machine- or hand-stitching gathered to create a textural effect.

slash: Straight lines cut into fabric, usually into the seam allowance (perpendicular to the stitch line), for easing curves or angles.

slipstitch: Tiny, almost invisible hand-stitches sewn through and under a fabric fold.

tack: A small stitch or stitches, done by machine or hand, used to secure fabrics together at a particular point.

topstitching: A line of stitching on the right side of the fabric, often decorative or sewn along a finished seam or edge.

trapunto: A centuries-old Italian quilting technique in which only the designs on the fabric are padded, producing a raised, decorative surface.

wale: The rib or raised cord that runs lengthwise on the grain of a corduroy fabric; Used in reference to the width of the rib (i.e., wide wale or narrow wale).

warp: The threads stretched under tension on a loom. Warp threads run the length of a fabric.

weft: The threads woven into the warp, shot across a loom in shuttles. Weft threads run across the width of a fabric.

whipstitch: Hand-sewn stitch used for finishing or joining raw edges or for attaching trimmings. Whipstitches are worked right to left, taking

diagonal stitches over the edge(s).

Tools, Notions,

and Materials Design

batting: The layer of stuffing between the top and bottom layers of a quilt, available in various lofts, in cotton, polyester, and wool.

bone folder: A bookbinding tool that resembles a letter opener, made of bone. An excellent tool for pushing out corners in sewn casements (like a pillow), though a chopstick or the blunt end of a pencil will do the job, too. Can be found at art supply stores and bookbinding supply stores.

cutting mat (self-healing mat): A plastic/rubber work mat printed with a grid of measurements, available in several sizes. Used in conjunction with a rotary cutter and a quilter’s ruler for cutting fabric.

elastic: A flexible band of woven rubber threads available in various widths, weights, textures, and colors.

embroidery floss: Thick, mercerized cotton thread composed of six strands of thread, available in a wide range of colors.

embroidery hoop: A pair of wooden or plastic rings, one fitting inside the other, available in various sizes. Fabric is stretched taut between the two rings, allowing for precise and controlled hand- stitching.

fabric marker: A special pen with ink that disappears after a few hours; used for making temporary marks on fabric. Always test on fabric before using.

fiber filling: Lightweight synthetic fiber used as stuffing.

fray check: A liquid seam sealant used on ribbon ends to prevent fraying.

handkerchief linen: A thin, lightweight linen, usually of very high quality.

hook-and-loop tape (Velcro): A fastening material consisting of two layers—a hook side, which is a piece of fabric covered with tiny plastic hooks, and a loop side, which is covered in equally tiny soft loops. Available in a variety of colors and widths.

interfacing: A stiff woven or non-woven material used to stabilize or reinforce fabrics. Usually available in black, white, or gray. Fusible interfacing has an adhesive coating on one side that adheres to fabric when ironed.

iron-on vinyl: Clear plastic vinyl that adheres permanently to fabric when the heat of an iron is applied.

pinking shears: Scissors with zigzag blades, often used to finish fabric edges to help prevent or delay threads from fraying.

press cloth: A square of light cloth placed in between a hot iron and the fabric being pressed, to protect the fabric from scorching. A piece of lightweight muslin makes an excellent press cloth.

quilter’s ruler (acrylic ruler): A clear plastic ruler available in various lengths and widths, the quilter’s ruler is an excellent tool for cutting precise lines and right angles. It is used in conjunction with a rotary cutter and a cutting mat.

quilting pins: Extra-long straight pins used for quilting or pinning thick fabrics.


Excerpted from Simple Gifts to Stitch by Jocelyn Worrall Copyright © 2007 by Jocelyn Worrall. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction     8
Things to Know Before You Sew     10
Four Simple Techniques     12
Glossary     14
Gifts for Special Occasions
Button Scarf     20
Botanical Tiara     22
Tri-pocket Ticking Tote     25
Ribbon Hair Clips     28
Fanned Bag     30
Ribbon Wrap Skirt     33
Spiral Change Purse     36
Rickrack Purse     40
Silk Loop Scarf     43
Accordion Wallet     46
Pleated Wool Scarf     50
Beaded Silk Wrap     52
Stitched Gift Wrap     54
Gifts for the Home
Fringed Sachets     58
Speckle Pillow     60
Shirred Pillow     62
Wave Place Mats     65
Pintucked Table Runner     68
Shirting Stripe Duvet Cover     70
Luxurious Throw     74
Modern Apron     77
Pulled-Thread Coasters     80
Button-Stitch Dishtowels     82
Fabric Box     84
Gifts for Babies and Children
Oilcloth Magnets     88
Quilted Baby Blanket     90
Gingham Bear Bib     93
Baby Bubble Hat     96
Fleece Imp Hat & Mittens     98
Terrycloth Bunny     102
Magic Rain Poncho     104
Leaf Cushion     108
Sewn Star Card     110
Templates and Guides     112
Acknowledgments     126
Suggested Reading     126
Resources     127
Index     128
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