Friday, May 23, 2014

Urban Exploring

Oaks Bottom Refuge

One of my favorite things about Portland is the unexpected things hidden in seemingly normal neighborhoods. A few weeks ago, I accidentally walked through part of Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge in SE and found a lake (or maybe a large pond?). Yesterday J and I went back to properly explore it. We saw some really beautiful Great Blue Herons, a gosling asleep on a log in the middle of a marsh, more blackberry bushes than you can shake a stick at, and a tadpole pond.

Oaks Bottom Refuge Oaks Bottom Refuge Willamette River  from Oaks Bottom Refuge

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tutorial: Make an RFID-Blocking Zippered Wallet

RFID Blocking Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

This tutorial is to sew your own cute wallet, but with an RFID blocker built into it. It's not any more complicated than sewing a wallet would be otherwise. And if you aren't as paranoid as I am, just leave out the aluminum foil steps. BUT. Why not protect yourself? All of your credit cards, probably your driver's license and who knows what else in your wallet all have RFID chips in them that are constantly sending information to anyone willing to listen.

If you too have looked for an RFID-blocking wallet, are you disappointed at the lack of cuteness? I read the (fictional) excellent, and supremely disturbing Little Brother a few years ago and switched over to RFID-blocking wallets quite quickly. But when I was looking for the perfect one, I found lots that were designed with techie men in mind. Black. Gray. Industrial. Boring.

This project is for a beginner to intermediate sewer. It's not particularly difficult, except for the finicky zippers. If you've sewn a zipper or two before, you'll be fine. If not, this may be a bit beyond you for now. Get some practice!

Let's get started.

RFID Blocking Zippered Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Materials You'll Need:

1. Aluminum Foil (This is the RFID Blocker)
2. Outer Fabric
3. Lining Fabric
4. Coin Pocket Zipper (4")*
5. Coin Pocket: Lining Fabric
6. Credit Card Pockets: Lining Fabric
7. Main Zipper (10.5")*

*A longer zipper is ok. But definitely not a shorter one.

Also: the pattern, a sewing machine, iron, scissors, needle, and thread.

Optional: Glue stick and interfacing.

A note on my fabric choices: I'm using lightweight gray canvas for the outside which I have ironed on interfacing for extra durability. For the lining, it's just a simple quilting cotton. You want something with a bit of weight for the outside because it's going to see some wear; try canvas, corduroy, denim, upholstery fabric, or a bottom weight cotton or polyester. For the lining, anything light-weight is good, but stay away from knits. Stretchiness will not be your friend.

Step One:

Download and print out the pattern and use it to cut out all of the necessary pieces.

Step Two:

Step 2 | Zippered Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Lay the Coin Pocket Lining (#5 in the materials photo) right sides facing against the Outer Fabric piece (#1 in the materials photo). I have the lining fabric longer vertically, approximately 1" from the top of the gray canvas and centered horizontally.

Sew a rectangle 3" x 1/2".

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet | Red Circle Crafts

Snip the inside of the rectangle as shown in the photo. Get as close to the corners as possible without snipping your stitches.

Pull the lining fabric through the rectangular hole you just made. Press the edges. You should now have a nice clean rectangular opening with the seam hidden and wrong sides of fabric facing each other.

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Lay the zipper underneath the hole. The zipper edges should be completely covered on all four sides. If you have a glue stick, put a small amount of glue on the tape where it is covered and use an iron to set the glue. This will keep it in place while you sew.

Note: If you are using a longer zipper. Before you sew the zipper into place. Sew a few stitches across the the zipper teeth approximately 3-inches from the beginning of the zipper and trim the zipper down to about 4 inches (be sure it will be long enough to be covered by the rectangle opening).

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Sew a rectangle, making sure you sew the zipper into both the lining and outside fabric.

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Fold the lining fabric in half, right sides facing, and sew the pocket closed on three sides (the fourth is the fold).

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

When you open the zipper, you should have a completed coin pocket!

Step 2 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step Three:

Step 3 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Take one of the six credit card pocket pieces cut out of the lining (#6 in the materials photo) and press each of the sides under and under again to get a nice clean hem. My finished hems are 1/4". Sew all the way around.

Repeat on each of the 6 pocket pieces.

Step 3 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Use a credit card to figure out where you need to place each pocket on the main lining piece (#3 in the materials photo). The lining will eventually be folded in half, hamburger style. So I put three pockets on each half of the main lining fabric with the the credit card pocket openings facing each of the short side of the main lining.

Start sewing the top pocket in first, as it will be layered underneath the other ones, with each subsequent pocket 3/4" beneath the one above it. I chose to sew over the side seams of all three in one go on each side so that the pockets would be more firmly attached.

Step 3 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 3 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step Four:

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Lay the lining and outer fabric down with right sides facing. Find the middle and place the end of the zipper so the tape just peaks out from between the two pieces. Be sure the right side (top of zipper teeth and side with the zipper pull) is flat against the outer fabric.

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Sew. Be sure to back stitch so that the zipper is firmly attached.

This next part may be a little confusing, so look ahead a bit to make sure you understand.

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Pull the zipper so that it follows the edge of the fabric along one side from where you have already attached it. Pin in place and sew up from the end of the zipper up around the curve and end at the next corner. I found it easiest to manage by sewing the first straight bit and then pinning the curve and sewing the rest. Otherwise the zipper kept trying to fight me.

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Trim the corner, be sure not to cut your stitches. This will help give a more rounded seam when you turn it right side out. Then turn it right side out.Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Lay it flat with wrong sides facing each other and the zipper showing again. Then fold up the outer fabric against itself, with right sides facing, and and the lining fabric against itself, with right sides facing. It should look like two loops of fabric connected by a zipper.

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Pin the folded up lining and outer fabric pieces to the OTHER side of the zipper and sew in.

Again, I sewed from the end of the zipper up around the curve and to the following corner. You can see that one whole side is still open, two sides are sewn to the zipper and one is folded in half.

Step 4 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

 

Step Five:

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Carefully open the zipper and turn everything right side out, laying it all flat.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Take your piece of aluminum foil (#1 in the materials photo) and slide it in the open side of the wallet. Be careful to keep the foil from tearing or folding in on itself. Push it as far in as it will go so it's right up against the seam that connects to the zipper.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Sew a top stitch around along the edge where the zipper connects. This should go through all layers of fabric, foil, and zipper.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Because of the nature of the beast, I sewed as close the zipper pull as I could. But chose to have a break (back stitched on both sides) around the end of the zipper.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Now is the time to trim the excess foil and zipper so that the edges all meet. If your zipper is only 10.5 or 11 inches, you only need to trim the foil. If your zipper is significantly longer than needed (like mine) then trim so everything lines up with the edge of the wallet.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Tuck 1/2" of foil, outer fabric, and lining fabric inside so that no raw edges are showing. Carefully tuck the ends of the open zipper inside the seam. Press with an iron and pin to keep in place.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Using a ladder stitch, close the entire opening. Be sure to sew through both zipper ends so they stay tucked in, too.

Step 5 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Step Six:

Step 6 | Zipper Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

Fold the entire wallet in half and close the zipper. Sew the edge with a top stitch from the fold up to the zipper, be sure to back stitch the beginning and end.

Final5 RFID Blocking Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts RFID Blocking Wallet Tutorial | Red Circle Crafts

And that's it! Fill with your monies and cards and everything. My wallet has held up pretty well so far. I even put an RFID key fob inside it and tested it against my building entry to see if it would work from inside the wallet. I am happy to say it does not.

Interested in the science of why this works? The aluminum foil acts as a faraday cage. You can read all about how cool faraday cages are here.

 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

T-Shirt Upcycling Projects

It's spring, which doesn't always mean spring cleaning, but it certainly does this year. J says I'm in moving-mode only without the actual move. It's probably a little insane, but we usually move every few years. We just signed our third lease extension for this apartment. So maybe I'm a little stir-crazy. But I don't want to move again. We finally found an awesome landlord; I am not willing to give him up.

Back to the point: spring cleaning has given me a pile of clothes to get rid of. I'll donate most of them, but some of them will go into my scrap fabric bin. And I'm thinking of hoarding all the knit materials for some projects like these.

Crochet Rug from Olino HobbyI am in love with these rugs from Olino Hobby. Use google translate (it's in Russian) to read the tutorial. But to be honest the pictures are all you need. I might teach myself to crochet just to make these. Is that crazy?

 

5 Stranded Braided Headbands from Make It & Love ItThese headbands from Make It & Love It are adorable and can be re-appropriated for lots of other crafts, like handles, collars, and waist bands. If nothing else, it's an excellent tutorial for learning a 5 strand braid.

 

DIY Multi-Strand Scarf from Rabbit Food For My Bunny TeethThis scarf tutorial from Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth is super classy. I always want to wear summer scarfs, and then don't. I endeavor to wear scarves and floppy straw hats with sun dresses; my future self will fully embrace them.

 

Flirty Fringe Necklace from Brit + CoThis post from Brit + Co has 15 different tutorials for making jewelry out of old t-shirts. This fringe necklace is my speed: easy, looks good, and doesn't require a jewelry-making background or tools.

All photos in this post belong to the linked site.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Paper Gift Bag DIY

Gift Bag DIY | Red Circle Crafts

Gift bags are often my go to for giving gifts. I don't usually keep much, if any, wrapping paper on hand, so if I can I stick it in a gift bag. Plus they're reusable! I hadn't really thought about making my own. But once I saw this tutorial from A Beautiful Mess, I was surprised that I hadn't tried this earlier.

I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I may decide to write on the bag with chalk markers before I put a gift in it, but it's nice and simple just black with the black and white ribbon. And it was really as simple to make as the tutorial seems.

Gift Bag DIY | Red Circle Crafts

Friday, May 9, 2014

Happy Mother's Day (On Sunday)

Mom Made Sweater | Red Circle Crafts

My mom made me this sweater. She's remarkably talented. And I am so lucky to have such a great relationship with her.

She sent me an email recently that said, "It's a shame we have to be stuck with our daughters when they're teenagers and driving us crazy.  Then they grow up into really wonderful women and move away."

I too wish we were closer. I keep telling myself that at least we're in the same time zone. It was much harder when I was in NYC.

 

 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mini Quilting Projects

I recently made my first ever quilt. I'm really proud of myself. The hardest part was dealing with all the fabric and it was only a baby quilt. I can't imagine what I'd do if I was trying to make a quilt large enough for my bed. I would need a lot more space.

I really, really love huge fancy quilts. There are so many people making really fabulous ones with modern colors and designs. I'm more than a little intimidated. Plus working with the small baby quilt I made, I found I didn't have enough space around my sewing machine, so I'm not about to tackle anything more complicated.

There are however a number of perfect-for-me quilting tutorials to make small, useful items. The techniques range from crazy complicated to super simple, but it doesn't require much space or fabric. I love an excuse to use up fabric scraps. I also am much more likely to try an intricate technique that might be beyond my skill-level for a small project. It's a great way to practice.

Mini Quilting Tutorials | Red Circle Crafts

Links (Clockwise)

Mini iPod Pouch from Quarter Inch Mark

Quilt As You Go Improv Pillow from Quilting In the Rain via Moda Bakeshop

Make a Pin Cushion with Judith Dahmen from the Libery Craft Blog

Quilted Circle Coasters from Craft Foxes