Here's a quick and easy way to make a gathered, drawstring top from a man's t-shirt.
You will need: One regular fit t-shirt that sits comfortably over your chest Sewing machine Thread in a matching or contrasting colour One safety pin
We begin by cutting off the sleeves,
then cutting a straight line just under the neck.
Hold the t-shirt up to you and decide where you want the bottom edge to sit. Mark that area with tailor's chalk, or a pin. Add two inches to the final length and trim the excess from the bottom. Do not discard this piece as we'll need it later on in the project.
We need to hem arm 'holes' to ensure they don't fray.
Next we're going to create a channel at the top for the first drawstring.
Fold the raw edges under by about one inch and pin into place. Sew along the line, keeping as close to the raw edge as possible to ensure that the channel is large enough. Repeat on the second raw edge and the top portion is complete.
Decide which side you would like the drawstring on the bottom to be, and make a cut in the the side seam about an inch and a half long.
Tuck the raw edge under and pin. Sew along the line, making sure to keep the channel wide enough to pass the drawstring through.
Here's where that discarded piece from the bottom of the t-shirt comes in. Cut off the hemmed edge and set aside (for another project, perhaps...) Take the remaining 'tube' and cut along one side seam to create one long piece. Now cut along the length to make it into two long pieces.
Now we are going to tug on those pieces to make them longer and thinner. The material will shed a little at this stage, but don't worry - it won't disintegrate!
When the pieces are fully stretched out, put a safety pin on one end of the first piece and thread it through the channel at the top, ensuring that there is an even amount showing at both openings.
Now repeat at the bottom. Tie the ends of both drawstrings with a knot to help prevent fraying and you are done!
If you have a little more patience you can thread a bead onto each end of the drawstring for a bit more flair....
I've recently discovered that a good friend has cancer and, in light of that, I've decided to dedicate the folksy store (linked on the right) to raising funds for him, for all the things that people forget about in times like these - for instance, the energy companies don't let you off your bills simply because you have a life threatening illness and have to take time off work for treatment...
In addition, the store will have other crafters and artists donating their work, so there will be a lot more interesting stuff on there over the next few weeks.
The finished cushion measures approximately 17" by 14".
We're going to begin by turning two of the fat quarters into smaller patchwork pieces. Fold the fat quarter in half and cut along the fold (if you're not using a rotary cutter, and are worried about staying in a straight line, pin the open ends together to keep the material from slipping). You should now have two pieces. Fold each of the pieces in half, again, and cut a long the fold as before. Repeat the process with the second fat quarter. You should now have eight smaller pieces of fabric, plus one full sized fat quarter.
We will be using four of the eight smaller pieces so you can put the other four aside for another project, or patchwork the back of this project :-)
Take two of the four pieces, ensuring that they are contrasted, place them right sides together and sew along one side, leaving a half inch seam allowance. Open up the seam and iron flat. Repeat the process with the other two pieces. You should now have two long pieces :-)
Sew the two long pieces together, making sure that each square is sitting next to a contrasting square; open up the seams and iron as before. You now have the front of your cushion!
Place the front of the cushion and the remaining fat quarter right sides together; you will notice that the fat quarter is now a bit larger than you'll need it.* Try to place the front, comfortably, in one of the corners of the remaining fat quarter. When you are happy with how the two pieces are sitting, pin them together and trim the excess from the back piece.
Now sew the two pieces together remembering to leave a gap (about the size of your hand) for turning the cushion right side out.
Once the the two pieces are sewn together snip the corners and, turn right side out. Make sure to push out the corners (with the blunt end of a knitting needle, or something similar) because you won't have much leeway for altering the shape once the cushion has been stuffed.
Talking of which, now is the time to pop open that pillow and get stuffing! I used about a third of the Ikea pillow for this one.
Once you have the cushion as full as you want it, use the contrasting thread to hand sew the gap shut.
Your cushion is technically finished (yay!), and you can leave it as it is if you wish.
However, if you would like a little bit of embellishment, you could add a single 'tuft'.
In all honesty, tufting can be a pain in the butt, but, it does look fantastic once it's done!
I decided to add uncovered buttons to my project, but covered buttons or pom-poms also make fantastic embellishments.
Tufting is very simple in theory, but can be quite fiddly in practice. Basically, you sew an embellishment through one side of the cushion right through to the embellishment on the other side, thus pulling the front and back together and creating a little dip on each side. Mark where you wish each embellishment to sit, with dressmaker's chalk or pencil, so that you're not having to 'guess' if the needle is arriving in the right spot.
When using buttons it's easier if the first button is secured with a couple of stitches so that you don't have to worry about holding it in place whilst pushing the needle through to the other side.
Once you feel as though both buttons (or pom-poms) are properly attached, secure the thread and trim off any excess.
And you are done!
*If you've patch-worked the back of this project your two pieces should be the same size.
One of my favourite websites for recipes, both sweet and savoury is Madhuram's Eggless Cooking. Anything that isn't fully vegan, or fully wheat free, can be so easily modified that there really isn't any worry about 'cake failure'.
One of the first recipes I tried was this one for eggless brownies, which uses silken tofu as an egg replacer. The original recipe calls for one stick of butter, but I simply replaced that with Pure Soya Spread. I left out the walnuts as well, because I cannot abide walnuts (I know they are jam packed full of essential nutrients, but, to me, they taste like they were forged in Hell).
Not the best pic but they tasted heavenly....
I've since played around with the recipe and found the one that works best for me is when the silken tofu is joined by a couple of ripe bananas to add to the binding process. The bananas are incredibly helpful in ensuring that the brownies don't become too crumbly, making them easier to divide into sections.
Also substituting the vanilla extract for orange extract creates that familiar, and nicely appreciated, dark chocolate-orange combo; which tastes even better when made with this amazing stuff from Hotel Chocolat: