Category Archives: Uncategorized

Make a Custom Air Conditioner Unit Cover

Making a custom air conditioner cover is often easier than hunting for a good replacement in stores. As a shopper, I found all sizes of barbecue covers, but nothing small enough for an a/c cover.

Making a custom air conditioner cover is often easier than hunting for a good replacement in stores. As a shopper, I found all sizes of barbecue covers, but nothing small enough for an a/c cover.

Start with a waterproof material. Good choices are the material used for tarps, tents, lunch-bags, awnings or outdoor upholstery. You will find plenty of options, but it absolutely has to withstand rain and cold temperatures.

Also, when you are choosing a fabric, buy something sturdy enough to withstand the perforations of sewing and that won’t rip away during wind storms.

For a typical a/c unit, I estimate about 2.5yards off a 54″ fabric bolt.

Carrier ac unit

I modified a large plastic barbecue cover to protect my air conditioner unit over winter. I measured height to include the stone base.

For my custom air-conditioner cover, I re-purposed a standard barbecue cover made from woven polyester (plastic with a surface grain). Luckily, the material was wide enough that I could make a  pattern in two pieces. One piece covers top and back. The other wraps both sides and the front. Pieces are seam tape sewn together, with at least one open slit to accommodate the hose and electrical connection to house.

ac cover slits for hose

Remember to leave room for hoses and electrical cords. This back vent closes up with velcro tabs sewn in along the seam tape.

ac cover velcro closure

When you assemble the pieces and finish the edges, tuck velcro tabs in under the seam tape.

To make the seam tape, I cut 2″ narrow strips from the plastic fabric. In total I needed 3.5m to join both pieces and anchor in the velcro tabs at back vent. I would need closer to 8m If I wanted to edge seam along the bottom and do both sides of open slits at back. If you want, you can create a casing along the bottom edge and insert some elastic ties for extra wind-proofing.

Seam Taping Tip: Start sewing in the middle of the front panel and leave the tape trailing at both sides. You can sew up these loose tails when you reposition your cover to sew down sides. And add short velcro tabs to provide a snug fit.

ac cover with snow

So when winter winds start howling, that’s our signal to protect outside patio furniture, barbecues and air conditioning units. If your original cover is missing or wrecked and you cannot find a suitable replacement in the local hardware store you may decide to make your own

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Sewing Pattern Challenge 2014

Over the past fifteen years or so, I’ve bought dozens of patterns. Here they are, piled on my work table, and the hard fact is, half are untouched. Never been cut, never made it to outfits. A stash of unfinished business I vow to tend to in 2014.

32 fine patterns, 50% unmade

32 fine patterns, 50% unmade

Sew Two Different Versions 

Of the patterns I have sewn, most have only been made into a single garment. A select few were made more than that, but I imagine now the untapped potential of each retired pattern.

Finding time to finish an outfit is the biggest hurdle for me. So, I’m taking some steps to improve efficiency. When I start a new pattern, I’ll make bristol card templates of the tissue patterns. Tracing these with pen or chalk will save pinning time and I can skip the re-folding hassle. If I can make a couple of items at the same time, I’ll be further ahead, faster…We’ll see how this goes.

Many of my pals have enormous wardrobes. Frankly, I am awestruck at the abundance in their closets. My own fits easily on a two-foot rack, in a few drawers, and in a suitcase under my bed. A healthy portion are “me-mades”, but I have room for more.

Shirt front, back and yoke templates in cardboard should save me pinning time and spare me the hassle of refolding tissue patterns.

Shirt front, back and yoke templates in cardboard should save me pinning time and spare me the hassle of refolding tissue patterns.

Branching out into the unfamiliar

The other thing I want to do in 2014 is push my sewing comfort zone. I have favourite things I like to make, but it’s time to venture into new territory and tackle things I normally don’t. Reading sewing blogs has totally inspired me. So in 2014, I hope to explore the appeal of quilting, home decor, and maybe even take stab at carpet-making and embroidery.

So there it is. I’m not the only sewing blogist with new year’s resolutions. Better sewers than I have gone on record to dig into great stockpiles of fabric, or stretch their skill levels. As an excited sewista, I probably plan more projects than are reasonable. But my track record is to finish half, so I better dream BIG!…. 🙂

P.S. This totally does NOT mean I won’t buy any new patterns in 2014! 

 

 

 

Craft Pony from Fabric Scraps

Stuffed animals are a perfect way to use up fabric scraps. Second in popularity only to quilts, these soft toys often turn out to be mini masterpieces, with their unexpected colour palettes and surprising texture combinations.

Kids who are helping will enjoy selecting something pretty for a neck bow from your fabric scraps.

Kids who are helping will enjoy selecting something pretty for a neck bow from your fabric scraps.

McCall’s M6136 pattern includes cut-out guides for lamb, horse and giraffe (unusual barnyard buddies). I selected the large horse. It’s really only three hands high (10″ when his ears are pricked up). There’s a smaller version but I thought it could be difficult to sew up.

 

Who can resist the appeal of a long flowing pony mane? I had plenty of yarn scraps ready to use.

Who can resist the appeal of a long flowing pony mane? I had plenty of yarn scraps ready to use.

I had some leftover plaid fabric in blue, green and tan. I originally used it for a pair of gaudy golf pants. Bottom weight solid and slightly stretchy, it was an acceptable choice. The pattern calls for cottons or cotton blends.

 

yarn finalists

Yarn Finalists: To make a mane and tail, dip into any leftover yarn balls you have around. I had fun narrowing down a huge field of contenders.

For stuffing I needed about 4oz of white poly, It is best packed carefully into the small areas first, before plumping up the main body cavity. Adding the stuffing is the best part of this project and worth all your effort. Your soft pet really comes to life in three dimensions at this stage.

Amount of fabric required:  just 3/4 of a yard for the large horse. Plus a ribbon bow or accent fabric strip.

Total sewing time including cutting: about 2 to 3 hours which can be broken up over a few days.

Fancy Formal Dresses with Gems & Sequins

Store windows are filled with satin ruffles and glitter and all that glam now for prom season. Find tremendous price mark-downs in the outlet centres here on Orfus Road, Toronto (read more about the street). Pink and red gowns above are from Diana James Dresses. Sparkle and shine in classy beaded designs or in gemstones and sequins. If you like to sew or design you’ll find lots of inspiration this month everywhere you look.

Lint Portrait, Flax Moustache, stars of Gladstone Show

No one said quilting has to be to be all straight lines and squares. The other spiral quilt in the Gladstone Hotel show was a brilliant complimentary blue.

No one said quilting has to be to be all straight lines and squares. The other spiral quilt in the Gladstone Hotel show was a brilliant complimentary blue.

This quilt at right is one of the many bright exhibits at the 7th Annual Hard Twist Textile Art Show on at the Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, until Jan 27. I went a couple of days ago and am still impressed by other entries including the flax beard, and the portrait in dryer lint (which is a LOT better than you’d think!) For a list of the artists go to the gstone blog.

Top 5 Reasons to Home Sew

Arts and crafts, which includes sewing, annually ranks among the top favourite hobbies people enjoy. It’s right up there with gardening, cooking and music. I know sewing is fun (and pleasantly addictive) for the following five reasons:

  1. Relaxation: After a tough day, sewing asks for just enough mental energy to relax me. It’s a relief to turn the brain down from a hard boil to a steady simmer, which is a comfortable human default position. Alert and motivated, open to inspiration, patient with minor frustrations. Sewing gives me a perfect mix of technical problem solving, innovating, and free-styling.
  2. Pride: When I finish an outfit that fits well and is stylish I can stand back and assess the results. Despite my critical eye, I get a sense of accomplishment. It looks good, is comfortable and holds up to normal wear and tear and is one-of-a kind. 
  3. Snowballing:  Crafters build on success every time they make something, and are aware of progress over time. If you improve steadily at sewing, you will notice how far you’ve come from a beginner. And you will be confident about how far you can go. And the more items you finish, the easier it all becomes.
  4. Quest for Technical Perfection:  Standards are always going up. You will be able to take on projects that seemed impossible to you a year ago. As your skill set expands, so to does your ambition and soon you will be looking for ways to become more efficient and economical. There is no limit to what you can learn and the creative options keep opening up before you, so it’s fun chasing your ideas.
  5. Dollars and Cents: If you factor in a modest  hourly wage, I usually do not save big money by making my own outfits. Yes, I will likely find a comparable garment cheaper on the store racks. Of course, it will not always measure up in quality. Now, fancy dresses, these can be cheaper to make than buy, but not always. But consider that some special functions are such let-downs that the highlight may very well be planning and sewing your outfit beforehand! Take heart, because there are ways to lower production costs, for instance recycling buttons and zippers, knowing exactly how little fabric to buy, patterning off existing favourites, etc. And budgeting is constant challenge too.

In the end, we all like to spend time improving at the things we love. My best advise to sewers for 2013 is to push your limits beyond the usual things you do, expand your area of expertise. You’ll find this leads to new design ideas you can’t even imagine yet.