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Outside the Box Sewing


To think outside the box is to give always-by-the-book rigid thinkers, make-no-waves conformists, or perpetual naysayers something seriously worth considering.

In 1899, Charles H. Duell, Director of the US Patent Office, opined, "Everything that can be invented has been invented." A vastly different perspective on invention was offered by Thomas A. Edison, "To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." One of the world’s most prolific inventors, Edison amassed 1,093 patents by 1931. Duell was an in-the-box thinker while Edison, clearly an out-of-the-box thinker.

With a little time and a modest pile of fabric leftovers, it is possible to apply out-of-the box thinking to proposed sewing projects when seeking sewing solutions. Results are what count.

A few no-commercial-patterns-needed sewing ideas:

Dislike those flimsy dry cleaner plastic bags to keep dust and/or stray animal hair off your seldom used clothes? Make your own hanger dust covers out of just 1/2 yard (more or less)] of fabric of your choice. Natural cottons and muslins work best. Using a wooden or plastic hangar, first trace the triangular shape of the hangar onto paper to make your own pattern. Then add about 8” to 10” to lengthen the bottom of the paper pattern. Add 3/8" to 5/8" (your preference) all around for the seam allowance. Use this pattern to cut 2 out of your fabric. Sew around each side of the hanger cover, stopping at the top to leave about a 2” opening for the hangar’s hook to pass through. Hem the bottom; add ribbon trim or any embellishment if desired.

Sew your own practical pattern weights that are extremely useful for keeping pattern pieces in place on your fabric during layout and cutting. No pinning needed. Cut out 3” squares of your fabric choice using pinking or regular shears. Felt or fleece fabric works well as does muslin or most any fabric except those prone to extreme fraying. Sew all round, wrong sides together is ok, leaving a space to fill with fishing weights (tungsten or lead), small sized beans, or clean sand. If desired, make the fabric pattern weights smaller than 3” square, using a few heavy metal washers tapped together for the weights.

Make your own unique wrapped pillow shams (pillow will be visible on each short end) using one yard of fabric 45” wide. For each 22-by-18-inch standard size pillow sham use the fabric folded lengthwise with right sides together. Sew one short end and the one long end opposite the fold using a 1/2-inch seam allowance. Turn fabric right side out, press, and sew closed the remaining short end. Sew two or three lengths of 12-inch twill tape or ribbon to each short end to use as ties. Wrap the rectangular sham around each pillow and tie shut.

Use a large, clear plastic container to display cut off fabric selvages. They are often a riot a colors. What was once thought to be scrap for the wastebasket can now be sewn together and made into very unique projects –sew selvages together and use for scrap fabric projects like totes, charming clutches, recover a faded foot stool, kitchen hot pads, unique quilting squares, wine bottle covers, the list is truly endless.

Sewers are a resourceful group to begin with sewing outside the box should be a creative endeavor.

Sew happy, sew inspired.

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Content copyright © 2015 by Cheryl Ellex. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Cheryl Ellex. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Cheryl Ellex for details.

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