Words of late artist Frank Howell...I totally relate!

"There are few days off and no retirement from this entanglement of knowledge, passion and vision that will be molded and converted into creative expression. There are no guarantees of acceptance, understanding or reward, but...the noise inside the mind never ceases. I will paint today, tonight and for as many tomorrows as I am given..." Words of the late artist Frank Howell...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Spray Paint Shopping and Kitchen Appliance Covers Tutorial

After going to the dentist yesterday, I took advantage of my trip out and went to Lowe's to pick up some spray paint.  I had already determined that I was going to use the Tropical Oasis turquoise blue for the chandelier, so I got a couple of cans of that color...but, I also picked up a couple of other colors that looked nice with my "story board" box of goodies.  Don't know yet what I will paint, but I'm sure something else will turn up that needs a new coat of color.  I will share them as they are used...

Now, the for the appliance cover tutorial that I've been trying to post for a few days now...

Can Opener Cover

  I will show you one of many ways to complete this project...any way you look at it, it's simple.  You can use simple 5/8" seams, like in garment construction, or 1/4" seams with zigzag stitching on the edges, or if you have a serger, that would work too.  My point being, this is by no means the only way to do this.  I do an extra step with my French seams, because I like the professional look and you never have to worry about fraying or seams coming loose.  

Fabric Selection
I want to mention something that is important when doing ANY sewing project for the kitchen.  When you make your fabric selection, make sure that you pick one that is washable.  Trust me on this on this one! After a couple of months of use and food splatters, you will be glad you did!  You should use something that you can just throw into the washer with dish towels.  On most projects, you actually want to wash the fabric first to get rid of the "sizing" that's on new fabric, and to take care of any shrinkage before you start.  This is especially important when sewing garments...In this case though, I want to retain that fresh, crisp, "new" look for as long as possible, so I will keep that in mind when I cut; I will allow room for shrinkage so that it will still fit after it's washed.

A basic cotton/polyester blend thread is fine for this project.  Just make sure that the color is close to that of the main color or background color of your fabric.  You will need to wind your bobbin with the thread before you start sewing, then thread the machine with the same thread.

Pattern or Not?
I'm sure there are patterns available for appliance covers, although I'm not sure why you would need one. If you can cut basic rectangles, you're good to go on this project.  If you feel like you do need something to cut by, you can make patterns using newsprint paper*.  Just measure the appliance for size, add where you need extra for seam allowances and hem, and draw a pattern.  Cut it out and pin it on the fabric.  I have made these before, so I just used my old one as a guide (See Illustrations 1 & 3), still measuring to double check, and making changes where desired. My old one was just a simple "envelope" sort of pocket that was just slipped over the top (Illustration 2). My new one will be a little different.  I plan to make boxed corners at the top.  Either way is fine; the latter just looks a little more structured.  If you want the simple style, just don't do the step "Top Corners"...and this will give you a little more length, which you can just cut off before you hem. See Illustration 1.

Illustration 1:  Old cover- Basic flat rectangular envelope

Illustration 2:  Note the loose fit of the basic cover.

Illustration 3
Measuring for Size if not Using Pattern
My can opener measures 7 1/2 inches tall and almost 5 inches wide.  It is about 4 inches deep at the bottom. I will need to allow for looseness and shrinkage (see Fabric Selection above), so I will cut two rectangles that measure 15 1/5 inches tall, by 11 inches wide.
I just measure and do simple math, being generous with my measurements.  I am allowing for 1/2 inch side and top seam allowances.  For hem allowance at the bottom,  1/4" to 3/8" is enough if you just want to simply zigzag and then straight stitch.  If you want a more finished look, go with double this amount for turning under. 

Formula for size across and around:  (width + depth + seam allowance + extra to be loose = size
Or, in this case:  5" + 4" + 1"+ 1" = 11"
Formula for size in height:  height + width + top seam allowance + hem + allowance for box corner = size
In this case:  7 1/2" +  4" + 1/2" + 1/2" + 3" = 15 1/2" 

I am being very generous with the length of the fabric pieces, as I'm not sure how much length will be taken up when I make the box pleats at the top corners.  Any excess can be cut off prior to hemming.

Matching Patterns on Fabric
When you lay out your fabric to cut, you want to consider the printed patterns on the fabric. This is always one way to determine the quality of a finished piece, whether it's for the kitchen or a garment to be worn...patterns should always match at seams, or where a pocket is sewn on top of a larger piece, etc.   If you've never noticed this before, now that I'm pointing it out, you will begin to see mismatched patterns everywhere on items in the stores!  See Illustrations 4 & 5.

Illustration 4:  Now that the two pieces are cut, you can flip back the top one and see that the patterns match.

Illustration 5:  Here I'm showing how bad mismatched patterns look.  Don't do this!
If you have pinking shears, use them.  I have a pair of nice, old heavy ones that I like to use.  It helps prevent fraying and raveling as you handle the pieces while you work.  If you use straight cutting shears, you might want to zigzag around the edges to prevent the fraying.  We will finish the seams off nicely so that there will be no way for the completed piece to fray; this step is only to prevent fraying while you work.  Stray threads drive me a little crazy, so it's important to me.   See Illustration 6.

Illustration 6:  Pinking Shears provides a zigzag cut that doesn't fray.
Edge Finishing
I will use a French seam in this project.  Just follow the instructions, and you will end up with these beautifully finished seams...You will be so proud of yourself!  See illustration 7 below.

Illustration 7:  Fancy French seams
I use "ball point" straight pins for everything.  The ball point prevents snagging when pinning certain delicate fabrics or knits.  For this project, I will be pinning and sewing wrong sides together first, since I am doing this seam where all raw edges will be totally enclosed within the seam allowance.  When you pin, make sure that you are lining up the patterns where the seams will be.

This will be simple straight stitch sewing.  I am using ten stitches to the inch.  Your machine should have a setting for this...it will range from a long basting stitch all the way to tiny stitches.  VERY IMPORTANT:  Make sure you are sewing the two pieces together with back sides together...front side of fabric will be on the outside as you stitch...this is opposite from the way most items are constructed...It will make sense when we get towards the end.  Stitch up one side, across the top, and down the second side.

When you have sewn all the way around the three sides, you will need to clip, or miter the corners.  This will get rid of any excess fabric that would be too bulky if left.  See Illustration 8.  Then, with straight cutting shears, trim around the entire seam to 1/8", and turn inside out to press.  

Illustration 8:  Snipping corners
Set your iron to the appropriate temperature for your fabric.  I like to use steam when appropriate, as well. Turn your piece so that the stitched seam is on the inside.  Now press the seams down so that they are nice and flat. 

With the cover inside out, repeat using sewing instructions from above, and using a 1/4 inch seam allowance.  When finished, press again to get your seams nice and flat, then iron them over to one side.  At this point, you should have a nicely finished seam, both inside and out.   See Illustration 9.

Illustration 9:  Finished seams, pressed, on ironing board...
Top Corners
If you want the "square box" looking corners, this is the point where we will work on that part of the project. If you want the loose, non-structured corners, you can skip this stem and go to "Hemming".

With the cover turned right side out, put it on the appliance.  Find the center point of the top seam, and mark it with a pin.  Now, pinch up the corners, keeping the top seam and side seam aligned with one another.  Pin the perfect triangle into place and measure, using the center pin as a guide, to make sure you have everything centered.  Each side corner seam will probably be somewhere around 3 1/2" to 3 3/4" for this particular one, or somewhere near the measurement of the depth.  It is helpful to mark the seam line with chalk.  See Illustration 10.  Now, straight stitch this corner seam.  
Try it on the appliance to make sure everything still fits with a little extra at the bottom. 
Notice how the patterns match on the top seam in Illustration 10.

Illustration 10:  Showing pinned corners, seam line marked with chalk.

 Trim down the seam allowance to 1/8".  See Illustration 11.   Flip inside out and press.  Sew a 1/4 inch seam allowance and press off to one side.  See Illustration 12.  Give the entire cover a proper pressing and try it on to hem.

Illustration 11:  Trimmed box corner seam.
Illustration 12:  Final step in box corner at top.

Turn under the hem allowance to the proper length and pin in place.  If you want the more finished professional look, just press under again (this will be a total of two folds).  See Illustration 13.  Press everything so that it's nice and flat and straight stitch in place, remembering to stitch in reverse a couple of times when you start and stop stitching.  

Illustration 13:  Hemming

Well, that's it...Now that you've made one, you can make more for all of your appliances!  As I said in an earlier post, this is a wonderful way to add color to your kitchen, and protect your appliances from dust at the same time!

Notice how the pattern matches on the side view of the finished cover in this final illustration.

*Newsprint paper is usually available from your local newspaper office.  They take the rolls off the presses when it is nearing the end of the roll, then they usually make these available to people for a few dollars a roll. Just call your newspaper and check.

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