Years ago I bought a sarong for a few dollars at Old Navy. I didn’t really like it as an actual sarong – the narrowly cut lightweight cotton fabric felt all wrong after the generous, flowing rayon and silk sarongs of the Venice Beach boardwalk and the Big Island of Hawai’i – but I loved the red, orange and pink flower print (the colors of our wedding and much of our decor) and it came in a cute little bag.
When I got a sewing machine recently I pulled out that piece of fabric and wondered what to do with it. I soon came across the Tie-Back Floor Pillow Cover pattern in sew liberated by Meg McElwee which covers not only floor cushions but smaller pillows as well. Now, our couch is a very well-loved hand-me-down and the pillows that came with it are bordering on tattered (ok, they’re already there), so the thought of a colorful, new cover for one of them was delightful and just the thing to cheer up the dreary last dregs of winter.
I used leftover fabric from one of the silk eye pillows for the ties.
I didn’t want two pillow covers out of the same fabric (and didn’t have enough for that anyway) but did have a fair amount left so decided to use the colorful flowers, strategically placed, to spice up a pair of stained baby jeans. Of course, big sis had to have a pair too.
I used the majority of the remaining fabric for the lazy days skirt from oliver + s. This was the first project I’ve sewn that I needed purchased supplies; the fabric is pretty sheer so I wanted a plain, lightweight cotton for a lining (not called for in the pattern), plus the pattern called for elastic and ribbon. I have enough of everything but the ribbon left for at least one more project (maybe two for the lining), so for this particular piece, I spent around $7.
Lessons learned: None of these projects is perfect. All reflect my novice level of sewing someplace on the project (usually in more than one place). But I’m also getting just a tiny bit better with each one and learning lessons such as the following:
- The ties on the pillow were sewn, ripped back and sewn again multiple times. Something was just not right. The top looked fine but underneath the thread was all bunched up (looser than it normally was) and I couldn’t find anything helpful in the manual. Just as I was about to beat my head against the piano (ok, I was already there), I had the good sense to call my mom. She suggested the bobbin tension may be loose; when I looked that up in the manual it said that wasn’t a possibility because the factory perfectly set it, but that maybe the top thread tension was wrong and that I should adjust that. Honestly, though large and right in front of my face, I hadn’t paid the lever any attention at all before this. Turns out I should have, as everything I’d sewn on the machine to this point was way loose on the bottom. I thought it looked wrong, but ignored my instincts because it had been so long since I’d been in the vicinity of a sewing machine. Oops.
- Though the lightweight cotton will hold up fine on the baby jeans, it would’ve made more sense to use a heavier weight for Aria’s jeans. She’s a rough & tumble kinda gal and the fabric is taking a beating, as is the stitching. Embroidery thread would’ve also been better – more strands – than the doubled polyester thread I happened to have. Both the fabric and thread are fading and fraying a bit, though they are holding for now, even after several washes and an afternoon spent tree climbing.
- Sewing the band around the waist of the skirt was a cinch – until I added the elastic and had to sew the opening closed. I’m gonna have to practice that particular skill a bit more, as getting it half-way decent required some seam ripping. Please don’t look too closely there.
I’ve still got a few scraps left, perhaps for some doll clothes (once I get the dolls finished…a story for another day), or a flower decoration on a bag or a piece of a quilt – the possibilities are endless, really – and right now, I’m pretty amazed with how one piece of fabric, not even two yards long, can transform so many items.