This and That

Random bits of my life

Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

Finished: Quilted Platter Cover

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 24, 2011

Finished platter cover

A platter cover is used to keep food hot while it sits on an electric warming tray during Shabbat. This is a house-warming gift for Beverly, a friend and neighbour. The construction is extremely simple: a patchwork top, an old towel for insulation, and a scorch-proof fabric lining are layered, quilted with a few lines of machine stitching, and bound like a quilt. Because sewing isn’t allowed during festivals, I cut the fabric just before the Sukkot holiday and put it away. After the holiday was over, while I was tackling the mountain of laundry, I sewed the strips of fabric into a random patchwork.

Beverly said she likes blues and purples, so I used some of the fabric I bought at the Jerusalem Quilters’ Retreat (no, I don’t belong to the organization; I just went over to buy some fabric and a few notions).

Fabrics for Platter Cover

Finished top

The walking foot I ordered from the US arrived!

New walking foot

I photographed it yesterday morning and dropped it off in the evening. They were very pleased with it and I was happy with the results, although the couple hours I spent finishing the binding by hand were brutal. Even with a thimble, it’s not easy to push a needle through the tightly woven lining fabric to make hundreds of invisible stitches, 1/8″ apart. But it’s a great way to recycle old towels!

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Linen Napkins

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 18, 2011

Finished Napkins

I used my new napkins for the first time today! They were wonderful. My husband and son kept commenting on how nice it was to have new linen napkins on the Shabbat table. I sewed them because it’s very hard to find cloth napkins in Israel. I did find one place in Jerusalem that sells them but they’re about $4 each and I’m not sure of the fabric (probably a heavy cotton/polyester). I bought the fabric at Bad Ratz and they ended up costing about $15 for 16 napkins. Quite a difference in price!

I’m not going to tell you how I made them because there are many good instructions on the Web, like this tutorial. If you have a rotary cutter, cutting out 16 napkins is a snap. I’m wondering how I managed so long without it! They’ll have to pry it out of my cold, stiff hands when I’m gone…. Here’s a pile of cut napkins, the edges turned and pressed.

Fabric Cut for Napkins

If you have the patience to sew mitered corners, I highly recommend it for several reasons. It will definitely alleviate the boredom of hemming all those napkins. It’s not a difficult skill to learn and worth having if you like sewing your table linens. Your napkins will look fabulous.

When I was halfway through the pile of fabric I started timing myself and found that it took me only 2 minutes per napkin, so we’re not talking about a major investment in time! If you want a tip on sewing fast, don’t use pins. I almost never pin anything, certainly not anything as fiddly as a mitered corner in heavy linen fabric. I use a sewing awl instead. If you have an old-fashioned ice pick, that will work. Some sites recommend using the point of a seam ripper but I worry that mine would break under the pressure. When I’m sewing fast and trying to get a bulky corner under the presser foot, I press down really hard, so I use the tip of a pair of really sturdy thread clippers, but you could use a small, sturdy screwdriver or anything that will hold your fabric firmly.

In a nutshell, a sewing awl is a long, skinny, steel finger, which you use to hold the folds of fabric in place while stitching with a machine (I’m not talking about the sewing awls with an eye for threading and stitching leather). Your left hand (or whatever hand is not holding the awl) guides the large piece of fabric, turning the edge, while your right hand feeds the fabric, using the awl, directly under the presser foot. I’ve been known to start my sewing machine by turning the head wheel with my left hand, which is a bit of a contortion, but it works. My sewing machine is a cranky old 1970s Singer that was given to me in non-working order. I had it repaired, sewed my maternity clothes, my son’s baby clothes, and it’s still going strong.

Mitered Corner

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Sewing Buttons

Posted by Avital Pinnick on February 22, 2011

My officemates, Masha and Yinnon, are the most willing models you can imagine. That’s why I have so many photos of them. No matter what they’re doing, they never mind being photographed.

Yinnon had to sew several buttons on his coat.

He’s smiling because Masha and I are telling him that our mothers said never to hold a needle in your mouth.


A little trouble finding the end of the thread on the spool ….


Threading the needle….


Tying the knot


The first button


My new tripod, the Manfrotto MK394, arrived yesterday. The one I had originally wanted, the 7321YB, is no longer being made. This model is its replacement. It’s a little bit cheaper, weighs 3.7 lb and holds 7.7 lb. It has a 3-way pan head, quick release plate, 4 leg sections, and measures 20 inches when closed and 56 inches when fully extended. I am a happy camper!

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1-2-3 Yoga Mat Bag Tutorial (Sewing)

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 3, 2010

Finished Yoga Mat Bag

I call this the 1-2-3 Yoga Mat Bag tutorial because it has three steps:

  1. Cut
  2. Press
  3. Sew

I don’t have enough space to keep an ironing board and sewing machine set up. I also don’t have a lot of time, so fast craft projects are perfect for me. This bag took me less than 2 hours from start to finish, once I’d figured out the method and measurements. I made a bag for myself out of scrap fabric. When Edna, my yoga teacher, admired it I offered to make her a bag if she provided the fabric. She was delighted and the fact that it gave me an opportunity to photograph and write up this tutorial was an added bonus!


  • Fabric – firm woven cotton or cotton/polyester, 26″ wide x 43″ long
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine

1. Cut

Cut out the pieces according to the diagram below  (click here for enlargement):
Yoga Mat Bag Pattern

The pattern includes 1/2″ seam allowances. If you only have a yard of fabric, you can eliminate the pocket and shorten the drawstring. Edna gave me two pieces of coordinating fabric (they seem to have been curtain panels), so I used the smaller piece for the pocket.

2. Press

1. Fold drawstring piece in half, lengthwise, right side out. Press.
2. Fold raw edges of drawstring inwards, to center fold line. Press.
3. Turn under 1/2 inch of raw edges of strap. Press.
4. Fold strap in half, lengthwise, right side out. Press.
5. Turn under 1/2 inch of top raw edge of body piece. Press.
6. Turn under 1″ hem of top edge of body piece to form drawstring casing. Press.
7. Turn under 1/2 inch of top raw edge of pocket. Press.
8. Turn under 1″ hem of top edge of pocket. Press.
9. Turn under 1/2 inch of bottom raw edge of pocket. Press.

You’re more than halfway there! With all the pieces pressed, the actual sewing process is lightning fast.

3. Sew

1. Top-stitch drawstring, 1/8″ from edge.
2. Top-stitch strap, 1/8″ from edge.
3. Top-stitch pocket edge, 1/4″ from folded edge.
Pocket edge
4. Pin pocket piece on body, about halfway between the top and bottom.
5. Top-stitch bottom edge of pocket.
6. Stitch two lines to form pocket dividers, back-stitching at top edge for reinforcement.
7. Fold the body piece in half, lengthwise, right sides together.
8. Pin one end of the strap in the seam near the bottom corner. Make sure that the other end is pinned out of the way so that it doesn’t get stitched accidentally in the body piece seam.
Pin Strap
9. Sew the main seam of the body piece, starting from the narrow end at the bottom, turn corner, stitch up towards the top. Stop 3″ before edge of top hem. This forms the slit opening at the top.
Main Seam
10. Zigzag over the seam allowance to reinforce and finish the seam. Stop 2″ before end of seam at top so that you can spread the seam allowances of the slit.
Seam Finish
11. Open the seam allowances and top-stitch the edges of the slit, backstitching at the bottom for reinforcement.
12. Stitch the hem of the top edge to form the drawstring casing.
Top Edge
13. Turn under the raw edge of the strap and top-stitch the strap end to the body, just below the slit, zigzagging for reinforcement.
14. Thread the drawstring through the casing and tie a knot in each end.

Hurrah! You’re done!

This pattern is for personal use only. All rights reserved.

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