Water Bottle Koozie Made From Recycled T-Shirt

Do you drink a lot of water or cold beverages? Do you hate it when your bottle sweats and leaves a trail of water everywhere?  So do I!  I drink a LOT of water and I like to reuse my water bottles and half freeze them.  I can then refill the ice with filtered water and keep it cool all day long.  The only problem I run into with that is, it always sweats.  Koozies are the way to go. They come in all colors and many merchants pass these out to their potential clients so they can advertise their businesses.  I really hate that!  When I'm drinking my water, I don't want to look at a company's name and logo every time I take a sip! I just sayin'. So I like to have my own design on my own koozie and they are so easy to make.
Start with an old t-shirt

Make a pattern from an existing koozie that you have in your possession.
Lay out your pattern on your t-shirt.  I drafted my koozie pattern on the fold so make sure to lay your pattern piece on the fold of your t-shirt.  If you are using a t-shirt that has a print on it that you "do not like",, simple put the print on the inside of the koozie.  No one will ever know it's there!
Now you simply cut out your pattern on the t-shirt.  I have my t-shirt folded in half,   When I'm cutting out my pattern, I'm cutting through 4 layers.  This will give me two koozie pieces.  One will be the outer layer and one will be the liner.
This is what your fabric will look like after you have cut out the pattern...two 
squares with a circle in the middle.
Take your fabric cut out, and place it on the fold of a piece of cotton batting.  I'm using a 
cotton batting instead of a polyester batting because my t-shirt is 100% cotton.
Now that the batting is cut out, use stitch witchery or a thin strip 
of fusible web to adhere the batting to the fabric.
Put the strips down the center, and on each side of each of the squares.
Carefully position the batting on top of the fabric.
Flip the project so that the fabric is facing up and the batting
is underneath.  Iron the fabric to insure that the fusible web
attaches and secures the 2 pieces in place.
If you are using an applique, now is the time to iron the applique
in place on either or both sides of the koozie.  In this pattern, I 
have chosen a breast cancer emblem which I'm attaching to only
one side of my koozie. (you could attach it to both sides.)
Once the applique is in place, you want to do an 
embroidering stitch to secure your applique.
Now, lay the lining piece on top of the fabric, right sides together,
and pin in place.
Leaving one of the ends open, sew the koozie together all around,
insuring to back stitch at the beginning and the end of the opening.
Clip the corners of the circle...
...and clip the corners of each of the squares
Turn your koozie right side out insuring that all corners
and curves are extended.
Press your Koozie flat and top stitch closed the opening end.
To connect the koozie, place two of the squares 
wrong sides butt up together. 
Zig zag the two ends together all the way down the koozie, which 
will leave a nice flat side seam to your koozie without the bulk.
To complete the other seam, you will do the same process of 
putting the two ends together and zig zaging down to the end. 
In this instance, you will be sewing in a hole, so to speak, in
order to close up the koozie.
And...Voila! You have your t-shirt koozie!

Would you like to see a video of how this is done?Click on the link below...Happy Sewing!

How To Make Accordion Pleats

Many people shy away from making pleats because they think that they are too hard to achieve.  That's far from the truth!  Making pleats is one of the easiest techniques in sewing, and you don't even need a pattern.  You simply pleat what you need for your garment.  Below I've listed simple and easy steps to add professional looking pleats to your garment.

In my sample, I have just a basic simple rectangular piece of cotton fabric.  You can use any fabric that you like because most fabrics are suitable for making pleats.  Knits, however can be tricky.  I don't suggest using knits unless you are going to stitch your pleats down.  (that's another blog and another video)
 I'm using a 12" ruler to measure my pleats.
 I want my pleats to be 1/2" apart as well as the depth.  When you look at the fabric from the outside or the inside, the pleats will be the same on both sides of the fabric.
 When I'm marking my pleats, I'm using short marks for the 1/2" mark, and I'm using long marks for the 1" mark.  This will make folding the pleats a lot easier and insure that they stay uniform.
 I'm using a pen to make the makings on my fabric.  Using the ruler, I put a long mark for every 1" on the ruler and I'm making a short mark for every 1/2" on the ruler.
 For this tutorial, I'm using an ink pen, but I suggest that you use chalk as your maker. The reason for using chalk is, the chalk is not permanent like the pen is.  The chalk can be easily removed after your stitching.  Here, I'm showing a chalk pencil that I purchased from JoAnn's Fabrics.  You can also order this pen.  It comes with replaceable chalk in many colors.  If you don't have, or don't want to purchase this pen, you can use simple "chalk board" chalk...it works just as good.
 In this photo, I have made all the marks on my fabric and now I'm ready to start pleating.
 For this sample, remember you have a long, mark, then a short mark, a long mark, then a short mark...and so on.
 Take the long mark, and match it up with the 2nd short mark.  This will make your pleats 1/2" on the right side as well as the wrong side.  Every "long mark" or 1" mark will be where the actual pleat will be on either side. You will continue this process until you have pleated all of your fabric.
 Once you fold the pleat over, you want to pin it in place.  I've pinned just a few here in this sample.  You can, however, press these pleats in place rather than pinning them...as you will see in the next photo.
 Here, I've pressed each of my pleats in place, and as you see they are "perfectly" unifom.
 To secure my pleats in place for sewing, I'm using simple...TAPE!  I cut the tape in half so that when I place it over the pleats, the tape will be narrower than my seam allousnc
 Just place the tape over your pressed pleats.  I wrapped the edges around the outside of each end of the pleats.
 I put the other piece of tape, that I cut, on the bottom of the pleats to keep them in place as well.
 My tape is measuring 1/4" which is perfect for sewing a 5/8" seam allowance  That way, I won't sew through the tape, which would make it a little challenging to remove.
 I've stitched the pleats in place, and as you see, my stitching line is just below the tape line.
 Now that the stitching is done, I simply remove the tape!
 After removing the tape, you see that the pleats stay completely in place.
I like to leave the tape at the bottom until I'm ready to hem my garment.  Once my garment is hemmed and pressed, I replace the tape so that my pleats stay in place and set before my garment is ready to wear.  And making accordion pleats is as simple as that!  There's no major fuss, just simple fabric folding pinning, and pressing.  I hope that you try this technique in your next garment...Happy Sewing!

For those of you (like myself) who love video tutorials of things you are interested in, here is the tutorial video on how to make accordion pleats.

Joining Strips of Bias Trim

Bias trim, a.k.a. "bias tape" is a wonderful notion used to finish blankets, trim out garments, used for straps, and for many many other craft uses. When cutting bias strips, you have to join all these strips together to form one long strip in order to complete your project.  It's no fun when you start your project and realize that you don't have enough bias strips.  Save the frustration and make the exact amount of bias trim needed by joining all the strips together at once.  You would think that the easiest way to join these strips is to use the traditional "vertical" sewing method of sewing them right sides together.  You could do this, however, you would end up with a very thick seam that will be very difficult to sew...what a SEWING MESS!!!!  You do want to sew them with right sides together, but you will not do it the "normal" sewing way.  Look below to see the "correct" way to sew these strips so as not to have excess bulk. To do this correctly, you need to make sure that all of your strips are the exact same size in width...this is VERY IMPORTANT!
Once you have all your strips cut the same width, you now want to prepare them for joining. Work in sets of 2 strips at a time. Start with the first strip...cutting it on the diagonal. Once you have cut the first strip,
you can lay the cut strip on top of the next strip for alignment.  You want the cut strip to overlap the uncut strip.

Using the cut strip as a pattern, you want to cut this strip based upon the diagonal of the cut strip.
When the second strip is cut, it should match up with the first strip like a puzzle piece. Now you are ready to sew the two strips together.
In general sewing, you would sew a 5/8" seam allowance, but when joining bias strips, you will sew a 1/4" seam allowance.
Now that your seam is sewn, you notice that the seam is on a diagonal rather than a straight line. This is exactly what you want. It allows the bulk of the seam to be distributed diagonally, making the seam less bulky.

To insure there is no excess bulk, you want to "butterfly" the seam (press it open). You can do this with the iron, or you can finger press the seam open.
With the seam pressed flat, it is now ready for the double fold.

When you turn both edges inward, and fold them over, you will not have all the excess bulk that you would have if you had sewn the strips vertically, because the seam has been spread out.
Now that your bias strip is folded, it can be sewn together.  If you are attaching the strip to a garment, you would sandwich it around the garment.  If you are using the strip for a strap, you would simple sew a top stitch to catch both side of the bias trim.  This technique is a simple and elegant way to give your project a professional look.  I hope this tip has been helpful...Happy Sewing!

Click below for a video tutorial on how to join strips of bias trim.

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