2015 Second Quarter Finish Goals

I can hardly believe we are entering the second quarter of 2015!  This time around I have a unrealistically long list and a mix of goals: a dozen mini quilts, a few larger projects, a couple bags, a some smaller gifts.  2015 Finish Along Q2

I am excited to once again join in the Finish Along fun with Adrianne at On the Windy Side!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Goals 1-12

In order to keep up with Mini Quilt Mania I am planning to make a dozen more mini quilts for the second quarter of this year.  These are in various stages of completion: sketches, patterns drafted, fabrics chosen, and a couple are even being sewn!

Quilt 5 / 50

Goal 13

In January I started a starburst quilt based on my Happy New Year! mini quilt, and this project is a rollover from Q1.  I have this piece about half quilted right now, and I would really like to get this one finished up this quarter!Starburst process

Goal 14

For my Modern Quilt Guild Riley Blake challenge quilt I am making a “potholder” style quilt using hexagonal bound blocks rather than the more traditional squares.  This quilt will be completely reversible, with one side being predominantly turquoise with the other side leaning toward the pinks in the collection.  Right now the quilt is about halfway pieced.Riley Blake process

Goal 15

I knew as soon as I saw the Viewfinder fabric in Melody Miller’s Playful collection by Cotton and Steel that I wanted a Quilted Purse made with it.  I am slightly scaling up the pattern I created for my current purse.  I have set the zipper into the top panel, quilted the main fabric, and made the handles.Purse process

Goal 16

Sometimes I wish I had a Cross-body bag to carry when I need a more hands-free shopping (or quilt show) experience.  I have sketched the design, pulled fabrics, and I am looking for a source for a double tab purse zipper that is at least 30″.  This shouldn’t be so hard to find- I mean- you must be able to buy luggage zippers, right?  Any sourcing suggestions?

Goal 17

I designed and made these cute little blocks for my Baubles Quilt months ago.  I need to put together a top and get this thing quilted and finished!Baubles Blocks

Goal 18

This Secret Project (roll over from Q1) is still quilted, ready for finishing, and needs to stop hanging out under my work table! Here’s hoping this quilt makes it into a finished pile this quarter!secret project process

Goal 19

I am going to be needing a few small thank you gifts for this summer, so I am hoping to get six (or more) cord/coin pouches made.Cord pouch fabric

Goal 20

This quilted pillow top needs a zippered back and finishing.Pillow Top

Goal 21

I bought this fabric last summer to make a skirt.  Now that it is warming up again I need to get this made up!Skirt Fabric

Goal 22

I recently started another Bionic Bag, and I will be finishing it up in Q2.  I have all my pieces cut, interfacing fused, zippers installed, sides assembled, and the outer panel quilted.Bionic Bag process

Goal 23

I started a set of placemats last fall.  I have a set of four that just need the binding finished.

placemat process

Goal 24

I started sewing this hexagon project when I needed some handwork.  I’m not entirely certain how large this is going to get, but I’m hoping to discover what exactly this wants to be.Hexagon process

Goal 25

In the first quarter I created a baby quilt sized Sweet and Simple Hashtag Quilt.  This quarter I will be making a lap quilt size version of this quilt.

Sweet and Simple Hashtag Quilt

Goal 26

This summer I’ll be working as a theatrical cutter/draper. (A draper uses the performer’s measurements to create patterns for a costume.)  I haven’t done this in awhile (I’m pretty excited to return to it!), and when I pulled out my sewing apron it was really worn.  I will definitely need to find time to make a replacement before I leave for this job!  I have some denim left over from another project, and I am still deciding what fabric to use for the accent.  These are my top choices right now.Apron fabric

This list is super long, and I recognize that a some of these projects may not get finished (or even touched) this quarter, but a lot of items are pretty far along, so once again I am cautiously optimistic!

 

Tote Bag Tutorial Part 5: Finishing Techniques

Welcome to Part 5 in out tote bag series!  This week is all about finishing up a few details.  Aren’t you thrilled that you have made it this far?  Before you know it, you will be carrying this fabulous bag around that you didn’t just make- you designed!  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments:

When last we left our glorious tote bag, we had just turned it right side out.  Have you ever had a bag where the lining pops up almost every time you pull something out?  This next step will keep this from happening.  We are going to stitch the lining and the outer layer shaping seams together.  Make sure the lining is laying smoothly in the bag and that the side seams and shaping seams are pretty close to matching up.  Doing your best to not get things too twisted around, reach inside the opening you used to turn the bag right side out, grab the seam allowances of the lining and outer shaping seam on one side of the bag and gently pull them through the opening.  Pin the seam allowances together or use clover clips to hold the seams in place. (I just got some clover clips, and I am in love!)  This is a good time to carefully push the shaping seams back through the opening just to check that nothing managed to get twisted around during the previous process.  Note:  Count the number of pins going in, and make sure the same number come back out- It’s no fun to discover a  pin after everything is all sewn up!    Another Note: The type of lining technique in this photo is slightly different (it is a two piece lining) than the one you are using, so your’s will look a bit different with everything pulled through the lining opening.  I forgot to take a new photo when I made a bag using the new technique, but I will update the image when I make another.  The idea is the same, though.Pinning the Outer and Lining shaping seams together

Everything laying well?  Great!  Gently pull the seam back out and zig zag the seam allowances together.  As long as you stay in the seam allowance and don’t cross the stitching line, you are doing this correctly.  If you have a machine that only does a straight stitch go ahead and use it- we just want to secure the bottom of the lining to the main bag.Stitching the Outer and Lining Shaping Seams together

Looks good?  Go ahead and repeat the process on the other side of the bag.

Now you can close up the opening in the bag lining.  You can do this by machine or by hand.  When I do this step by hand, I find that a nice small slip stitch looks great.  I often sew the opening up with the sewing machine since it is rarely seen up close, remains durable over the life of the bag, and is super quick.  If you are doing the machine method, press the seam allowances to the inside, line up the edges of the opening, pin carefully and stitch across the opening about 1/8″ ( or a little less) from the edge.Closing the Lining Opening

Now we are down to buttons- Almost there!  You will want to place your buttons so they are centered with your buttonholes.  Make sure your bag is laying nice and flat and then use a fabric safe pen or pencil to make a dot where the button should be placed.  You can mark this right through the buttonhole opening to help with accuracy.

There are two basic types of buttons:  flat buttons and buttons with shanks.  A flat button typically has either two or four holes that go all the way through the top of the button.  A button with a shank has a loop of either metal or plastic on the back used to attach the button.  This type of button is often appealing since the top of the button can have a decorative design that is uninterrupted by thread crossing between holes.  Unless you are sewing a button on that is only decorative, you need to plan to have a shank, so if you are using a flat button, you will create a shank with thread as you sew the button in place.  The shank of the button provides a slight gap between the fabric and the button that allows the layer of fabric with the buttonhole to fit without any strange pulling, puckering and gapping.  A really thin blouse would require only a very short shank, but a heavy, wool, winter coat would require buttons with a much longer shank.  This tote bag will need a shank about 1/8″ long.  Don’t worry if it gets a bit too long or even a little too short.Button Types

The button with a shank is pretty easy to sew.  Use a double thread and stitch though the fabric and the shank of the button several times (I usually take about six to eight stitches per button).  It is important to stitch through all of the fabric layers so there isn’t any weird pulling.  Try to keep the back of things neat since you will see this side from time to time.  Tie a couple knots at the base of the button, bury the thread tails between the layers of fabric, and call it a button!Button with Shank

When creating your own thread shank, you will need to leave a slight gap between the fabric and the button that will become the space for the shank.  To help with this spacing you can place something like a toothpick, a couple straight pins, or a thin skewer under the button.  You can also purchase a little plastic sewing device that helps you achieve a consistent spacing.  Using a double thread, sew through the holes of the button and the fabric about six to eight times total (you can split this number of stitches between two sets of holes).  Flat Button A

Next, remove any spacing tools and wrap the sewing thread around the thread gap between the button and fabric.  You will want to go around 3-5 times for most button shanks.Flat Button B

The last time around tie a knot at the base.  I always do a second knot for security before burying the thread tails.Flat Button C

There you have it- your custom designed tote bag!  Congratulations!  All that is left is for the complements to roll in!Tote Bag A
I’m linking this post up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Tips and Tutorials Tuesday at Late Night Quilter.  Please stop in to see all of the inspiring works in progress and useful tips and tutorials!

Tote Bag Tutorial Part 4: Assembling the Bag

Welcome to Part 4 in out tote bag series!  This week is a lot of fun because we get to see our bags really come together.  All of these tutorial posts are pretty long, and this is no exception.  To keep it a bit more manageable, I have added a section to this site for Tips and Techniques, and I will be linking to topics within that category throughout this post.  The addition of this section will also make basic techniques more easily accessible as a reference.  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

The following Technique pages are referred to in this post:

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments (links are updated as posts are added):

Pull out all of the beautifully cut tote bag pieces from last week and locate the canvas pieces and the bag top and bottom exterior fabric pieces.  Flatline the canvas pieces to the outer fabric pieces.  For this project you will want to finish the edges of the pieces as described in the flatlining tutorial.Pressed Flatlined Pieces

In a few steps, we will need to see the precise placement of the bag handles on the exterior of the bag.  To achieve this, we need to Thread Trace the bag placement lines.

Front View of the Uneven Basting Stitch

Front View of the Uneven Basting Stitch

Next we are going to prepare the pockets to be attached to the bag.  The pocket sides will be incased by the bag handles, and the pocket bottom will become a part of the seam attaching the bag top to the bag bottom.  That just leaves us the top of each pocket to deal with right now.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the rectangular pocket.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the top line.  Grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Carefully press the seam allowance toward the lining fabric.  Understitch the seam allowance to the lining fabric.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the pocket with flap.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the flap edge, pivoting with the needle down at any corners.  Notch and grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.  Under-stitching is really difficult on seams of this shape, so careful pressing is essential.

Find the exterior (with interfacing attached) and lining pieces for the curved top pocket.  Place the pieces right sides together and pin and stitch along the curved line.  Clip and grade the seam allowance before turning the pocket right side out.  Carefully press the seam allowance toward the lining fabric.  Under-stitch the seam allowance to the lining fabric.  Lay the pocket out flat and give it a final press.

There are button closures on two pockets which require a buttonhole on both the curved pocket and the pocket with a flap.  Pull out the buttons you plan to use for these pockets.  Determine the size of the button hole by measuring the thickness of the button and adding it to the diameter of the button.  You will always want to make a test buttonhole on a scrap of the fabric you are using for the project.  Follow the buttonhole directions for your sewing machine, cut open the sample hole and test the size by moving the button through the opening.  If it is too loose or too tight, adjust the size and make another test buttonhole.  Once you know the size of the buttonhole, determine where you would like it to be placed on the pocket.  I usually use a center placement since I like symmetrical pockets, but an asymmetrical pocket may look better with a different buttonhole placement.  Mark your buttonholes on the pockets using a fabric pencil or pin that will disappear over time or with washing.  Make the buttonholes and cut them open.

Take out one piece of the bag top and the curved pocket.  Place the bag top piece right side up.  Place the pocket between the handle placement lines.  The bottom of the pocket should line up with the bottom edge of the bag top piece.  The sides of the pocket should extend about 1/2″ into each handle placement lines.  Baste the pockets into place either by hand or machine.  The basting stitches should fall at the edges of the pocket, well within the handle placement lines.Pocket Placement Diagram_Curved Pocket

Finished Curved Pocket with side and bottom edges incased

Finished Curved Pocket with side and bottom edges incased

For the other side of the bag you will need the bag top piece as well as the rectangular pocket and the pocket with flap.  Place the bag top piece right side up.  Lay the pocket with flap lining side up between the handle placement lines.  On top of the pocket with flap, place the rectangular pocket exterior side up.  Make sure to line up the pockets with the bottom edge of the bag top and between the handle placement lines.  Baste in place, just as you did with the curved pocket.  You will notice that you have actually created two pockets on this side of the bag.  The front pocket will be covered with the button flap.  Behind the flap layer is a pocket with an open top.Pocket Placement Diagram_Pocket with flap

Finished Pocket with flap open and side and bottom edges incased

Finished Pocket with flap open and side and bottom edges incased

Finished pocket with flap closed

Finished pocket with flap closed

Now we are going to assemble the side seams.  Place the bag tops right sides together, making sure the top of the pieces are going the same direction.  Pin and stitch the side seams on the stitching lines.  Sewn Bag Top Side Seam

Press the side seams open.Bag Top side seam pressed open

For the bag bottom, fold the piece in half lengthwise with the right sides together (when folded, it should look like the pattern piece).  Pin and stitch both side seams.  Press open the seams.Stitching Bag Bottom Side seam

Pin the shaping seam for the bag bottom.  The side seam should match up with the center of the bag bottom.  Pin and stitch on the line.Sewn Shaping Seam

Place the pieces for the bag lining right sides together.  Pin and stitch the side seams on the stitching lines, finish the raw edges, then press the seams open.  Finishing Raw Edges

Pressing the lining seam open

You will also want to pin and stitch the bottom of the bag, leaving several inches in the center of the seam open.  This opening is what you will use to turn the finished bag right side out, so don’t try to make it too small.  Pin and stitch the shaping seams of the bag lining.  When lining this seam up, the side seam will match up to the bottom seam.

With right sides together, pin and stitch the top of the bag top to the top of the bag lining.  Since this is a circular seam, you will want to match the side seams up to start with.  Pinned top seam

Grade the seam allowance and press it toward the lining.  Understitch the seam allowance to the lining of the bag.Understitching Front View

Situate the bag so the right side of the bag upper is readily accessible and the lining is pulled out away from the bag top.  We are now going to position the bag handles.  Before cutting the webbing, estimate the length you think you will need and pin it roughly in place.  Check the length and when you are happy, mark the length, unpin it, and cut two sections of webbing exactly the length.  Starting at the each end of the webbing, pin the webbing carefully in place between the handle placement thread tracing lines.  Double check that the handles didn’t get twisted in the pinning process.  Pinning the handles in place

Stitch up one side of the handle, across the top of the webbing (just before you reach the top of the bag where it joins the lining) and back down the other side of the webbing.  Make sure you have the lining out of the way, so it doesn’t get caught up in the handle stitching.  Repeat this process for each section of handle.Sewing down the webbing handles

With right sides together, pin and stitch the bag bottom to the bag top.  Hint:  I turn the bag bottom right side out, the bag top wrong side out, and slip the bag bottom inside the bag top.Bag Top pinned to Bag Bottom

Clip the bag top seam allowance just outside the bag handles.  Press the bag top to bag bottom seam open at the bag sides and down at the pocket and handle sections.

Turn the bag right side out and press the lining toward the inside at the top edge.  Pressing the lining to the inside of the bag

You are almost there- Next week we’ll be finishing up!

I am linking this post up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Please look in to see what everyone is working on!


Tote Bag Tutorial Part 3: Cutting Out Your Bag

Welcome to Part 3 in out tote bag series!  Today we are cutting out the pieces.  This is another super long post, but I hope that it explains the steps pretty well.  As always, please contact me with any questions.  You may email me or leave a comment, and I will do my best to give you a clear answer!

If you are just joining us, this is a 5 part series.  Here are the other segments (links are updated as posts are added):

Now that you have drafted a really awesome pattern for your tote bag (see Tote Bag Tutorial Part 2), we are ready to turn our attention to the cutting of the fabric.  I always enjoy choosing pretty cotton fabrics to use for the outer fabric and lining, but you can use almost any non-stretchy fabric for this project.  The canvas used in this project will never be seen, so you can purchase fabric for this from a fabric store or use a good quality canvas drop cloth from a hardware store.  If you use this option, please make sure you read this tutorial on prepping a canvas drop cloth I published recently.  Since you will be carrying this bag a lot, I’m sure you will want it to be very washable.  It is really important to prewash all your fabrics in the warmest water you ever plan to wash the finished product in.

Cutting Out Your TotebagA note on cutting surfaces:  On this type of project, I usually cut on a surface of painted, muslin covered Homasote.  This surface allows me to use pushpins to hold down my pattern pieces.  Since this project is relatively small, a large cork board laid flat on your work surface will serve the same purpose.  (See photo above)  Another alternative is to use your regular table, and instead of pushpins, use pattern weights or straight pins to hold the paper pattern in place.

Let’s start by cutting the canvas flat lining pieces.

If you are using a canvas drop cloth, rip off a piece a few inches larger than double the size of your upper bag and lower bag pieces.  If you drafted your pattern using the same measurements that I did for the large bag, you will need a piece of canvas approximately 48″x25″.  Press this section of Canvas as well as your other fabrics.

Fold your piece of canvas in half lengthwise.  This will allow you to cut the bag bottom on the fold of the fabric and both pieces of the bag top in one go.

We are going to start with the Upper Bag pattern piece.  Place it about 1″ away from the end of the end of the canvas with the longer edge of the pattern piece toward the fold.  The goal in placing this pattern piece is to have the grainline on the pattern piece run parallel to the fold of the fabric.  To make this as accurate as possible, you will want to place one pushpin in one end of the grainline.  Using a ruler measure from the metal shaft of the pushpin to the fold of the fabric.  Remember or write down this measurement.

Grainline

Using the pushpin as a pivot point, gently rotate the paper pattern piece until the other end of the grainline is the same distance to the edge of the fabric as the first.  Then place a pushpin in this end of the grainline.

Grainline 2

Making sure the pattern piece is laying completely flat, use push pins to hold down the edges of the pattern piece.

Upper Bag Layout

Holding your pencil at an angle (see picture below), trace around the edges of your pattern.  This line will be your stitching line.
TracingNow you will trace the handle placement lines onto the canvas.  The easiest way to do this is to bring out your sheet of tracing paper.  Pull the pushpins from one half of the pattern and slide the tracing paper (face down) between the pattern and the canvas.  Use your tracing wheel to transfer the lines to the canvas.  Pin this half of the pattern back down and repeat the process with the handle markings on the other half of the pattern.

Mark Handle PlacementAt this point you are going to add seam allowances.  Using a gridded ruler or quilting ruler, measure 1/2″ away from the pattern edge.

Seam AllowanceA note on seam allowance  

Adding seam allowance during the cutting process allows you to:

  •  Line up pattern edges to check measurements easily during the pattern making process
  • Easily mark precise stitching lines
  • Adjust seam allowance widths (Do you want more SA than 1/2″?  Go ahead and make it bigger!)
  • Know that your finished seams are as accurate as possible, ensuring that your bag will fit together beautifully

The directions for this tutorial are based on the idea that you will be using stitching lines.  Are you more comfortable using the seam gauge lines on your sewing machine?  No problem!  You can add the seam allowance you are most confident using (at least 1/2″) to the paper pattern piece itself to trace around.  You could also add the seam allowance while cutting the fabric, but skip the step of drawing the stitching line.

Tracing of Bag Upper

With the bag top all traced out, you are ready to trace the bag bottom.  This time, instead of placing the pattern piece using a grain line, you will place the pattern piece with the bottom edge placed on the fold of the fabric.  Make sure it lines up really neatly!  Stick in enough push pins to hold the pattern piece really flat.

Bag Bottom Layout

Trace the stitching lines and add the seam allowances to give yourself a cutting line.

Bag Bottom Seam AllowanceGo ahead and remove the push pins and the pattern pieces for both the bag top and bag bottom.  Use straight pins to pin the two layers of fabric together- we don’t want anything to move around as we cut!  Using your nice, sharp, fabric shears cut along the cutting line (outermost line) of each pattern piece.

Cutting CanvasTo transfer the stitching and handle placement lines onto the reverse side, place your tracing paper right side up and lay your fabric pieces on top of it.  Use your tracing wheel to transfer the lines.  You can use a ruler if you want help keeping your lines straight.

Transfer Stitching Lines

Yeah!  All of the canvas is cut!  Go ahead and remove all those straight pins.

Cut Canvas Pieces

The canvas adds structure to the main part of the bag.  Interfacing will add structure to the pockets.  I usually use Pellon Shape Flex woven interfacing.  This is an iron-on interfacing, so pressing before cutting is out of the question.  Lay out these pattern pieces using the grain lines to indicate placement.  You will cut one piece for the curved pocket, and one piece of the house-shaped pocket with flap.  Once the pocket with flap is traced, remove the pattern piece, fold the flap down to get it out of the way, and trace the rectangle that remains.

Interfacing LayoutAdd 1/4″ seam allowance to the interfacing pieces.  The main fabric pocket pieces will have the larger half inch seam allowances, but smaller seam allowances in the interfacing allow us to reduce bulk.

Cut Interfacing

Now we get to cut out our pretty fabrics!  You will probably notice several different fabrics in these steps.  I seem to have forgotten to take all of my process photos for one bag, so you will get a peak at several different totes!  If you have directional prints, make sure you have them in their correct orientation as you begin the cutting process.  You don’t want to have anything upside down- unless that is a design decision!

Lay out the outer fabric for the upper bag in a single layer with the wrong side up.  Now place the cut canvas pieces on the fabric.  I usually eyeball the grainline for the outer fabric, but you can measure to the edge of the fabric using a stitching line as a grainline if you would like.  Use straight pins to pin the canvas pieces to the outer fabric.  Cut the outer fabric along the cut edges of the canvas.

Bag Upper Fabric Layout

Now do the same thing for the outer fabric of the bag bottom.  Make sure you unfold the canvas piece first!

Bag Lower Fabric Layout

For the pockets we will use a slightly different process.  Take your chosen fabric to the ironing board and lay it out flat with the wrong side up.  Place the interfacing pocket pieces you cut earlier on the fabric with the rough glue-y side down toward the wrong side of the fabric.  Try to smooth out any wrinkles in the interfacing as best you can without ironing (yet).  Try to place the pieces with the grain of the interfacing and fabric aligned.  Make sure you leave a small gap between pieces to allow for additional seam allowance.  Now press the interfacing to the fabric using the iron and following the manufacture’s directions.  When using an iron-on interfacing you want to be sure you are raising the iron up and placing it down again as you work your way around the piece.  Don’t try to glide the iron around- that is just asking for problems!  Take your time with this step.  As tempting as it is to rush the through this part, make sure you get every bit of the interfacing glue hot enough to really bond with your fabric.

Ironing Interfacing

Once you have the interfacing in place, add 1/2″ of seam allowance to the fabric.  Measure the 1/2″ from the stitching line (not the interfacing cut line).  Now cut on lines you drew.

Note on curves:  When adding seam allowance to a curve, make a series of short lines as you work around the curve.  You can then smooth out the line either by drawing it it, or while cutting the piece out.

Pocket Seam Allowances

You are almost there!  The last piece to cut is the lining.  Since the lining does not need additional structure, you will lay out your pattern pieces and draw both stitching and cutting lines directly on the wrong side of the lining fabric.  Depending on the size of the pattern piece and the width of your fabric, you may be able to cut the lining with the fabric on the fold.  As you can see in the picture below, I had a larger bag lining that I had to nest the lining pieces to make them fit.  I also had a directional print, so I had to make sure that all of these cute little critters landed right side up!  Once the large pieces are cut, cut out lining for the pocket pieces.

Lining LayoutCongratulations!  The bag is cut out, and you are well on your way!  Next week we will put this bag together!

I am linking this post up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  Please stop by to see the beautiful projects being created!


Preparing a Canvas Drop Cloth for Use in a Sewing Project

Confession:  I thoroughly enjoy the hardware store- especially when I can find materials to use in a non-traditional manner.  One of the items I like to re-invent is the canvas drop cloth.  Canvas is really useful in sewing and craft projects, but tends to be sort of expensive (for what it is) in the big-box craft stores.  In the tote bag series I am currently writing, canvas is used to add strength to the project.  I thought I would share how I prepare a drop cloth for this type of project.

Preparing a DropclothYou will find canvas drop cloths in the paint section of most major hardware stores.  I selected the 6’x9′ size because this size fits easily into a standard home washing machine and has no internal seams.  The amount of canvas in this drop cloth is roughly equivalent to purchasing 5 to 5 and a half yards of canvas off of a bolt at the fabric store.  My experience has been that a drop cloth costs about the same as 1 to 2 yards of plain canvas from the fabric store.  This is a good deal, especially for projects that you will never see this fabric.Dropcloth PackageTake a look at the fiber content.  You want something that is mostly cotton, but polyester is fine too.  The thing you want to watch for in non-traditional sources is spandex- canvas is a no stretch zone! (Unless I change my mind for a specific project that I haven’t dreamed up yet)  The good news is that a drop cloth should never have spandex, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much!

Care LabelLay your drop cloth out flat on the floor (or a table if you are lucky enough to have a surface the cloth can lay completely flat without hanging over the edges).  Now get out a measuring tape or two.  The metal construction kind is great for this type of thing.Tape MeasuresNext, we are going to measure the cloth to determine a starting measurement.  I put a permanent marker “X” in the corner, so I will know which corner my measurements are based from.  You can see that this drop cloth is about 107″ x 70.25″ to start with.  Make note of this measurement- you will need it later!Mark Drop Cloth CornerWash and dry the drop cloth.  Use hot water.  MAKE IT SHRINK!  This is the time you want the cloth to shrink- not when it is inside your super cute tote bag!  Lay the cloth out flat and measure it again.Drop Cloth ShrinksWow!  Now the same cloth measures 102.5″ x 67.25″.  That is a big difference.  Now wash and dry it again.  Use hot water, again.  Try to make it shrink again.  Measure once more.  Did it shrink by more than about a quarter inch?  If so repeat the washing/drying process.  You want to have two consecutive washings with the measurements not changing.  I usually end up doing 2-3 passes through the wash.  (Note:  Canvas purchased off a bolt at the fabric store will also shrink a lot, so make sure that you prewash that really well, too.)

Cat HelpsOptional Step:  Ask your cat to move off of the drop cloth.  This may take awhile.

Once you have shrunk your drop cloth you are ready to get rid of those wonky hems on the edges.  We are going to rip the edges to make sure that the final piece of fabric is on the grainline.  Clip about 3/4″ into the drop cloth.  Make sure you cut through the hem perpendicular to the clip.  The cut itself should be about 1 inch.Clip FabricNow rip the fabric, starting with the clip you just made.  If the rip runs back into the hem, make another clip 1/2″ to 1″ further in on the edge of the cloth and rip again.Rip FabricRepeat the clipping and ripping process on all four sides.  Prepared DropclothNow you are ready to go!  I’m excited- Are you?