Tag Archives: free tutorial

How to insert grommets

Yikes– it’s been too long since I’ve had the time to post. Last week went by in a blur of the very type of activity that make me GRUMPY! I find that at my certain stage of life, I don’t manage well when I’m pulled and pushed in different directions every hour or so. Oh dear– I’m starting to whine, and I promised myself I would spare you all. Suffice it to say that I am very glad it’s a new week!

To the Great Grommet Tutorial!!

The area that is to be grommet-ed needs to be sturdy enough so that the grommets don’t rip the fabric. For my shower curtain, that meant folding the top hem an extra time, to give me 3 layers of cotton. If that’s not possible for your project, you can face your hem with interfacing or a separate strip of fabric. If you use a strip of fabric, you can use a glue stick to hold the strip in place while you are inserting the grommets– no need to sew the strip in place.
Grommets are widely available in different sizes in silver and gold color. I wonder if they come in other metallic colors?

There are two different types of packages– one with the grommet tools, and one with only the grommets. If you don’t have the grommet tool, make sure you purchase the appropriate package! I bought one pack of each type, as I needed additional grommets to complete my project.
When you open the grommet package (with the tools) you will notice that there are two parts to the grommet: the bottom is a metallic circle with a tall center (it is shaped like a metal top hat), and the top is a metallic circle with “teeth”. There are also two tools: the bottom tool is a thick metallic circle with a dip in the circular part, and the top tool is a longer tube of metal with a circular protrusion towards the bottom of the tube. Both parts of the tool are shown in the third photo, so scroll down to take a peek, then come on back up here for more directions!

Let’s begin grommeting!

  • Mark off the grommet spacing onto your fabric. You can use whatever marking tool you like for this part– the mark will be cut away underneath the grommet. I used an ordinary pencil. Make sure that you leave enough space at the top edge of your fabric to accommodate both the thickness of the grommet metal ring, plus some extra fabric extension beyond that–about 1/4″ is sufficient. To see a finished example illustrating this spacing, scroll down to the last photo of this post.
  • Once you are happy with your marks, cut a small circle out at each mark. Make sure your cut circle is a bit smaller than the inner opening of your grommet! The cut circle doesn’t have to be pretty.
  • Place the bottom grommet tool (the thick circle of metal) on a hard, flat surface that can withstand the vibrations of hammering. Granite countertop= bad choice. Concrete floor = good choice. In the photo below, you see the bottom grommet tool on the concrete floor. I am holding the bottom “top hat” part of the grommet that will sit in the grommet tool’s “dip”.
  • In the photo below, you will see how to insert the “top hat” part of the grommet into the fabric. Push the top part of the grommet’s “hat” into one of the holes you cut into your fabric.
  • Once you’ve got this bottom grommet part inserted into your cut hole, rest the grommet on the bottom grommet tool. (Notice the top “tube” tool in the photo below.)
  • Take the top part of the grommet– the metallic circle with the teeth– and place it on top of the protruding bottom part of the grommet. The metallic “teeth” face down towards the fabric. See photos below:
  • The second piece of the grommet tool is a solid tube of metal with an extended circle towards the bottom of the tube. Place the tube inside of the protruding “hat” of the bottom grommet. The shorter edge of the tube goes into the “hat”, which leaves you with a longer tube to grab onto while you hammer. See photo below:
  • You will now hammer on top of the tube– hold onto the tube while you do this. I couldn’t photograph myself holding onto the tube while hammering while holding the camera because I misplaced my third arm that day. This process flattens the protruding top hat of the bottom grommet and secures the two pieces into one solid grommet-y circle of metal.
  • Make sure that you pound hard enough to flatten everything in place. You’ll get a feel for this. If you don’t think the grommet is secure and settled into the fabric, give it all another whack. Here are my finished grommets, ready for action in the new shower curtain!


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Tutorial: how to make a shower curtain

Making a shower curtain from your own fabric is a really simple project.  This tutorial is in two parts.  Part one will deal with creating the fabric curtain.

First, measure your space. You need to know how wide the tub is (usually 72-74″) and how long you want your curtain.

To get your width, measure your tub space. You have several design choices to make at this point. You can simply measure your shower curtain liner and make your curtain the same width. This will result in a more tailored looking curtain.  You can use your curtain liner as a template to mark off the holes for the curtain rings onto your fabric curtain.

If you want more fullness in your fabric shower curtain, you have several options. You can multiply the tub width by 1 1/2 or even 2x the width to get a more gathered looking curtain.

Generally speaking, your shower curtain liner will have holes for 12 curtain rings.  To create the hole spaces for your fuller fabric shower curtain, you can take your full curtain width and divide that measurement evenly to accommodate the 12 holes. This plan keeps the full width of the curtain protected by the liner, but you might find some of the fabric curtain drooping in between the rings when the curtain is closed.

Another option for the fuller fabric shower curtain is to space 12 holes to line up with the shower curtain liner, then add extra holes for additional curtain rings to account for the extra width of the fabric curtain. The curtain will then extend beyond the curtain liner at either or both ends.

To get the length, I hung one of my shower curtain rings, then measured from the bottom of that down to the floor. Take that number (X”) and add 1/2″ to that measurement to account for the part of the curtain that extends beyond the top of the grommet and into the curtain ring itself (X” plus 1/2″). Now, subtract 1″ from the bottom edge of the curtain hem, to keep the curtain up off of the potentially wet floor (X” plus 1/2″ minus 1″). Finally, add 3″ for the top edge (2 x 1 1/2″– you will end up with 3 thicknesses of fabric at the top edge of your curtain), and 3″ for the bottom hem.

To recap the length: measure from curtain ring to floor, add 5 1/2″ to get your total length, including the top and bottom hems.

Once you have the proper width (sewing lengths together as needed) and length, you will sew the outer edge hems (or leave them as selvedges, if that aesthetic is okay).  I press about 1/2″, then fold that over and press again, then top-stitch.  Repeat for the other edge.

For the top edge, press 1 1/2″ all along the width of the curtain.  Fold over, and press again, then top- stitch.  You should now have 3 thicknesses of fabric, with a 1 1/2″ hem at the top edge.

For the bottom edge, press 1/2″ all along the width of the curtain.  Fold over 2 1/2″, press, then top stitch.   Note:  I usually wait to hem the bottom after the curtain has been hanging in place for a week, to let the fabric relax and stretch if it’s going to.

Up next:  grommets!  With photos!!


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I promised a prezzie for anyone guessing my score on the color chart quiz post– Debi guessed correctly that I scored an 8. Debi— ding ding ding– you win!!

Thanks for those of you with such confidence in my color ability! I suspect the low score less to do with my ability than it does with my good computer screen, and the ability to flip it at an angle to see the chart at somewhat of a grey scale.

While we’re discussing color, here’s a close up of one of the fabrics I dyed at Dye Day 2008:

In other news, the president of the PTA asked if I would make some Tee Bags out of some incorrectly screen school tee shirts. I made 40 bags, and some of the 6th graders will be hawking them (hopefully they will be more polite than silly…) at Back to School Night. The proceeds will go towards helping the 6th graders offset the cost of an upcoming field trip.

If you’re new to this blog, please check out the post titled “Tee Bags” for a photo tutorial on turning old tee shirts into shopping bags. The bags are really simple and fast to make (ahem, I just made FORTY!!) and they’re great for the farmer’s market, where bags can get kind of messy from all the leafy goodness. Just toss the tee bags in the wash, and you’re ready to go shopping again!


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My hand dyed projects from “Dye Day 2008”

I promised to show you some of the fabric that I dyed over the weekend. I did get sidetracked yesterday with my dye tutorial, but I try to keep my promises…especially when I make them so publicly!

Linda brought over some of the new Procion MX dye colors from Dharma— I was especially in love with Palomino Gold and Truffle. Oxblood was very bloody red. I might have to re-name it in my mind….It does make a nice deep red– not too orange, not too blue.  Kind of… bloody.

Here is an old white tee shirt that got updated with some green, royal blue, and Cayman Island:

I ended up with some white splotches which I believe are the results of the Misty Gray dye powder. The color description says it’s an “elusive gray color”. Very elusive, I’d say.

I dyed a bunch of bandanas, because I like to wrap my head in color:

I’ve been wanting to play with Dharma’s silk/rayon devore scarves, so I got one of them in a dye bath (why is the photo ginormous? who knows.)

I used Palomino Gold, and the color does shift between the rayon and the silk– isn’t it beautiful?

I’ve also been toying with the idea of dyeing a silk batting. I bought a sample batt from Richland Silk. It’s a very yummy soft silk, but there is no scrim or needlepunching. This means that while the silk fibers are in a batting shape, there’s nothing to hold the silk in place. Any little burr– even dry skin on your cuticle– will pull at the delicate silk. I am becoming experienced with this process, so it didn’t bother me, and the batt turned out exactly as I’d hoped:

Unfortunately, I can’t find Richland Silk anymore (anyone out there have their information?)  The batting is really a very large silk “hankie”.  I’ll have to do some research and see if I can find more of these oversized hankies.  The new Hobbs silk batting has a polyester scrim, which makes it easier to handle, but that poly won’t take the dye.

Tomorrow, I’ll share a beautiful gift I got from Judy Rys!


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How to make an ironing board topper

As I delve deeper and deeper into mixed media, adding more and more supplies and projects to my list of art projects, I find that my studio becomes ever more filled with piles. Where does one put a pile? On top of one’s work table. Where do the other piles live? Right next to the first pile. Sigh. It’s a mess, I tell you! Now that I’m in a cleaning frenzy, life is getting less pile-y at Wild Onion Studio. That won’t always be the case though, and I want to share my secret work space with you all!

When the piles get the best of my space, where do I work?

On top of my ironing board, of course.

When I lived in Chicago, I had a teeny room in my house in which to work, and my ironing board was the only “table” I had. Now that I have a whole big studio, I have hung on to that habit. However, now I have this amazing ironing board topper that measures 22″ x 60″,  made by Mr. Wild Onion for my birthday about 6 years ago. It has become one of my favorite studio tools, second only to my Gammill longarm machine.  Due to the 22″ width of the topper, I can iron fabrics without having to work around the pointed end of the original ironing board; I can also put my cutting mat on top of it, and use the surface as a cutting station!

Here’s how my clever DH constructed the topper:

  • Cut a piece of 1/2″ plywood 60″x22″. This size is light enough to pick up off the ironing board, big enough to press yardage by the half yard without scootching the fabric all over the board.
  • DH sealed the wood by giving it 2 coats of paint, top and bottom. I don’t think this is necessary, but he was giving this to me as a birthday gift, so he felt that he needed to pretty it up a bit
  • Lay your existing ironing board on the bottom side of the plywood, with the ironing board against the plywood to use as a template. Mark around the ironing board with a pencil.
  • ** my ironing board is already finished, so for your purposes, please ignore the wood planks and the muslin! Yours won’t be in place yet.
  • Cut 5 pieces of 1 .5″x .5″ x 14″ of wood plank. Is 1.5″ x .5″ a standard size for a wood plank? I don’t know. I’m also guessing that the 14″ lengths had something to do with that wood piece coming in a 6′ length. What I’m trying to say is, don’t stress out on these sizes!
  • Nail one of the 14″ pieces of wood along the line drawn at the straight back edge of your ironing board marking. These wood pieces will keep the topper from slipping off your ironing board.
  • Nail two of the 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the tapered front edges of your ironing board marking.
  • Nail the remaining two 14″ pieces of wood along the lines drawn at each of the straight sides of your ironing board marking. These 2 steps keep your topper firmly in place when you snug it on top of your ironing board.
  • Important note: make sure to nail the inner edge of your 14″ pieces of wood along the drawn line of your ironing board marking. You can even nail the pieces a bit outside of your marked line. DO NOT nail the outer edge of your 14″ pieces of wood to the drawn line or you will not leave enough space for your ironing board!
  • Cut a piece of 100% cotton batting and 100% cotton muslin 64″ x 26″. Layer both batting and muslin on top of the topper. Fold about 1.5″ over the edge of one long side of your topper; attach to the underside of the topper (the side with the 14″ pieces of wood) with a staple gun. Pull the opposite edge of the batting/muslin over the opposite edge of the topper, staple.
  • Repeat above step on the short sides of your topper.
  • Continue smoothing the batting/muslin over the edges of the topper, stapling every 2-3″ to secure your new ironing surface.
  • You can add fresh muslin on top of this batting/muslin combo whenever you need to clean up your surface. Alternately, if you get fusible on your muslin surface, it’s a snap to rip off just the yucky muslin, leaving the batting stapled on the topper. Repeat the stapling steps with clean muslin.
  • Put your ironing board at a comfortable work height. Now you just place the topper on top of your ironing board, snugging the ironing board inside the area defined by your attached 14″ wood pieces. Make sure the ironing board sits within the confines of your nailed planks for stability!

I have become a convert to pressing on a hard surface; I find that the pressed fabric really does keep a sharper, more accurate crease. This is particularly important when pressing seams for quilting. As a bonus, the harder surface makes a nicer work space, should you plop down your cutting board and rotary cut some fabric.


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Tee bags: a tutorial to recycle a tee shirt into a shopping bag

Tee-bags is the name of my 10 year old’s new business. A tee-bag is a tee shirt, recycled (and washed in hot water!) into a reusable shopping bag! He has granted me permission to offer a free tutorial on how he creates shopping bags using t-shirts!

Since his dad (my DH) owns E-cycle Group, a green business recycling printer cartridges, DS1 is very excited to follow in his dad’s green footsteps with his own recycling business. Not only is he preventing the tee’s from becoming landfill, he is also providing an alternative to the age old question, paper or plastic!

A bonus is that the bags are machine washable, which is a nice option to have when you go to the farmer’s market and get bits of lettuce and onion skins in the bag! The tee-bags also fold up to stuff into your purse or glove compartment–so they are convenient to use, which is a key component to making recycling part of your lifestyle.  For more tips on recycling and environmentally friendly choices, visit the eCycle Group Cafe blog!

He was able to obtain free tee shirts from our local Freecycle organization (note: Freecycle is an entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving and getting stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills) He was also able to pick up unsold tee shirts from a local rummage sale.

After a quick lesson on my serger, he was able to whip out some bags. His BFF worked on the marketing end, providing a beautiful poster, as well as rigging up a wagon for a portable display. Their proceeds go towards a 6th grade (next autumn) field trip.
This morning, I took the boys to the local Farmer’s Market, to test the waters. They sold out within one hour!! The boys are really excited, and are already back at work in my studio, getting Tee-bags ready for next week!
Here’s a quick tutorial for making your own tee-bags:
(DS1 says to tell you that first, wash the tee in hot water, to get rid of any germs.)

Turn the tee shirt inside out, line up the bottom hem, and sew or serge the bottom edge together, just above the tee shirt hem.

Line up the sleeves seams and cut off the tee shirt sleeves. It works best to cut off the sleeve seams!

With the shirt still flat, cut out the neck: cut close to the neck ribbing at the sides of the neck

then cut a “scoop neckline” including the back of the tee shirt in the scoop.

Here’s what it looks like when all the pieces are cut off. Knit jersey (tee shirt fabric) doesn’t fray, so you don’t have to hem any of the cut edges!

Turn the bag right side out, and go shopping!


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How to make a duct tape dress form for sewing and quilting clothing

Most people go shopping the day after Thanksgiving– the retail industry refers to this day as “Black Friday”.

My new-found cousin (who joined us for Thanksgiving, introducing us to “Tofurkey” and it’s accompanying amino acid, Tofurkifan) and I made a duct tape dressform on the day after Thanksgiving– giving birth to a new holiday, “Silver Friday”.

I love to create wearable art, especially Wild Onion Jackets or even altered sweatshirts! I was given a dressform by a friend who moved away. It was a wonderful gift, but it wasn’t really my shape. After learning about this method to re-create your own body shape using old tee-shirts and duct tape (link) I decided that this was the perfect way to introduce this new-found relative to the craziness that is my family. (Please, if you meet relatives via the internet, be sure to vet them carefully before meeting them in person, or you too could be sucked into a bizarre situation like dressmaking dummies! Fortunately for me, Michelle didn’t vet my family!!)

So, without further ado, here is a tutorial on how to make a duct tape dress form, complete with the day’s photos!

dressform-cutting-tee-to-fit-blog.jpgFirst step, choose an old tee shirt that kind of fits. You will be cutting it up, so don’t choose a shirt you love! We cut up the back so that we could then re-tape the shirt to make it tight. You want to avoid excess fabric which creates wrinkles, which creates added inches on the finished dress form.

We re-taped the shirt to fit my figure a bit more snugly. dressform-fitting-the-tee-blog.jpg

dressform-first-tapes-blog.jpgWe (and I really mean Michelle– I just stood there, absorbing the humiliation!) criss-crossed my breasts with tape…oh, look! a Playtex living bra!

dressform-boobage-2-blog.jpg Continue wrapping your breast area using diagonal strips of tape. Make sure you don’t squish yourself!

dressform-front-vw-vertical-layer-blog.jpg dressform-back-vw.jpg Here you see the finished first layer– wrapped vertically from neck to micro mini. (***IMPORTANT NOTE!!! Do not– NOT– think that it’s a good idea to wear a pair of leggings for your bottom layer! It is NOT a good idea– how the heck do you think you’re going to get yourself out of this outfit at the end???!!! Please know that here I am serving as a horrible warning, not a good example! Wrap a plastic bag or another piece of old tee shirt in a skirt form. Muuuuuch better idea.)

dressform-armsleeve-blog.jpgWe initially thought we’d make a short-sleeved dressform, so we (again, with the “we”. Michelle did all the work, and I just stood there.) If you think you’ll make a short-sleeved dressform, cut up your sleeve and re-tape it to snug up against your arm. We ended up cutting off the sleeve for the final dressform, but who knew?

dressform-front-excess-pleating-blog.jpgI’m pointing to the beginnings of the horizontal wrapping layer. You need to pull the waist tight– don’t add pounds to your figure, unless it’s with chocolate. Chocolate is much more fun than duct tape. You can see how much excess we got with that first vertical layer– see the gathers at my waist? Cinch it in, Miss Scarlett!

dressform-finished-front-plus-original-dressform-blog.jpgdressform-back-view-plus-original-dressform-blog.jpg Hooray– we’re almost finished! See how much, um, curvier I am compared to the dressform? At that point, I felt like I was in a full length girdle. Thank goodness we don’t wear corsets anymore– this is not comfortable!

dressform-cut-up-back-blog.jpgOkey dokey. Now we’re done with the duct tape…and it’s time to cut me out. This is where we had that sinking feeling….how do we cut me out of the PANTS??? No one’s been near me down south with a sharp instrument since I had my c-sections. How well do I know Michelle? Is she trust-worthy? Shoot– I didn’t vet her, either. Deep breath, close eyes, CUT!!

finished-dress-form-w-me-blog.jpgTA DA!! Here we are– Susan and Suzette. We re-taped the duct tape dress form over the original dress form, adding stuffing as needed to pad the duct tape form. We are currently exhausted from all our hard work, but when we recover, we (meaning I– poor Michelle will have escaped by then) will take measurements. By the way, how do you gain 3 pounds from one little Thanksgiving meal??? Oh, I digress.

I had never seen a duct tape dress form put on top of an existing dress form, so I thought it might prove helpful to post a how-to for those of you with an existing dress form which didn’t fit your personal body stats! If you don’t have a dress form, there are other ways to “stuff” the duct tape form: expanding insulation foam, craft batting/stuffing/foam bits, etc. You will also need something to use as a center post stand: I wonder if you could salvage an old table lamp? Try it and let me know!

I can’t wait to use the new dress form to help me out when I make my altered wearable art, or better yet, my Wild Onion Jackets. I think it will prove invaluable to learn where NOT to place certain appliques, how best to accentuate my better figure attributes, etc.  The dress form will come in handy when I make all the new Wild Onion Jackets to show during the classes I will be teaching at Quilting with Machines!

So, statistics: about 3 rolls of duct tape, one old tee shirt, one pair leggings (but you’ll be wiser than that), one unsuspecting relative, one digital camera, one afternoon, one bottle of wine. Two good senses of humor. One blog.

Addendum: I went out to measure me/my dressform. The dressform is about 1 to 1.5″ bigger than I am– I will try to re-wrap her, cinching her in a bit. Either that, or I need to start eating more to gain the extra inch on my body so we match…


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