2014_November-advent-calendar-final

Remember when you were a little kid and you just couldn’t wait for Christmas to come? You could make a paper chain or open the doors of an advent calendar to count down the days. Today we have a reusable, no-sew idea for a Christmas countdown or advent calendar that you can make for your kids, grandkids, or even just for yourself!

For this Christmas countdown we made 25 little fabric pouches, one for each day in December leading up to Christmas. Inside the pouches you can hide candy, gifts or even ideas for holiday activities. We added an ornament hook to the back of the pouches so you can hang them on a tree or a garland to make a display.

There are many different ways to modify this project to make it your own. For example, we used two different fabrics, but you could make your pouches all look the same, or you could use up scrap fabrics and have each pouch be unique! Also, we used tags to display the numbers, but you could use a fabric marker and write the numbers on the bag or use iron-on numbers. The possibilities are endless!

Christmas Countdown Materials:

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  • • 2 yards of fabric (or enough to make 25 11” circles) we used Harper Home Abbot London Red and Astrid Sandstone
  • • Cardboard or something to make a template
  • • Scissors
  • • Christmas Candy or other filler
  • • Tags or other numbers
  • • Twine
  • • Ornament Hooks (optional)

How to Make a Christmas Countdown

1. Create a template for your circles. On a piece of cardboard, measure out a circle that is 11 inches in diameter and cut it out.

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2. Using your template, trace your circles on the fabric. If you stagger the circles and keep them close, you can get all 25 on two yards of a 54” fabric.

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3. Cut out the circles using pinking shears.

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4. Take one circle and lay it out flat. Place several pieces of candy or a small prize in the center of the circle.

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5. Gather the fabric around the candy, cinching it with your hand right above the candy, creating a little round pouch.

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6. Wrap a length of twine tightly around the bag where you hand was, to cinch the pouch tightly shut. Tie the twine in a bow so it’s secure but easy to untie later.

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7. Prep your number tag. We used pre-made tags and I wrote the numbers on them with a marker. Tie your number to the twine, and snip off any excess string from the number.

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8. If you want to hang your bags from a tree or garland, slide an ornament hook under the twine at the back of the bag. Pinch the hook shut to secure.

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9. Now you’re all set to display your Christmas countdown!

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You can find great fabrics for this project and many more at www.sailrite.com!

Does your family keep a Christmas countdown? How do you keep track? Share your traditions and stories with us in the comments!

2014_November-quilted-placemats

The holiday season is quickly approaching and Thanksgiving is just a week away! If you’re looking for new ideas to make your dinner table look festive and fresh this holiday season, we’ve got a great, easy DIY for you. We’re going to show you how to make reversible quilted placemats.

Placemats are both practical and decorative and many people use them on a day-to-day basis. They are great for protecting your table from heat, moisture and scratches and, depending on the style, they can give your table a more formal feel. Plus, placemats are easier to clean than a tablecloth and can be quickly switched out depending on your mood or season.

We made our quilted placemats reversible so you can easily switch from one pattern to the other. The quilting gives the placemats a unique and more casual look. We used a Sunbrella Upholstery fabric for our placemats to keep them easy to clean and stain resistant. The quilting was created by sandwiching a layer of thin, polyurethane backed foam between the two decorative fabrics. You can use either thin foam or batting for this project, both are machine washable (let air dry).

Watch the video to see step-by-step how to pattern, sew, trim and finish your own quilted placemats.

 

How to Make Quilted Placemats

  1. Standard placemats are 19” x 13” finished. Cut your foam 1” larger on all sides.
  2. Using the foam as a template, cut out your fabric panels, each a little bit larger than the foam.
  3. Use a spray adhesive to baste the foam to the fabric for easier sewing.
  4. Sew the quilting across the assembly. Start by sewing diagonally across one corner and then measure down 2” and start the next line. It is helpful to draw out the quilting pattern with a soapstone pencil to know where to sew.
  5. Create a cardboard template the exact finished size you want the placemats to be. Trace the template on your assembly and cut it out.
  6. Add binding to the edges to finish the placemat!

Materials List

All of the materials needed to make your own quilted placemats are available at www.sailrite.com.

Do you use placemats everyday, just for special occasions, or never? Have you ever sewn your own? Share your placemat opinions and tips in the comments!

2014_November-canvas

Stitches in 4 layers of scrap denim

We get a lot of questions from customers who are new to sewing heavy canvas projects. Helping people get started on doing their own canvaswork is one of our favorite things to do! We hear a lot from people who want to start sewing, but aren’t sure if their sewing machine will be up to the task. If that sounds familiar, this post is for you! We’re going to share with you a quick and easy way to test out your sewing machine’s capabilities.

1. Select a Heavy Thread

You’ll want to thread your machine with a strong thread, preferably one that is recommended for use with Sunbrella. If you have a home machine, the largest size we suggest using is a V-69 thread, but if you have a heavy-duty machine, try a V-92. You may need to increase the upper tension on your sewing machine to handle the heavier thread.

2.Try Sewing Several Layers of Denim

Take a pair of old jeans and fold them up so you are sewing through about 4-5 layers of the material and see how your machine fairs. If you can easily sew through 4 layers of denim, then you can also sew heavy canvas, like Sunbrella.

If you find that your sewing machine balks at 4 layers of denim, you probably don’t want to try canvaswork on that machine. If you’re ready to take the plunge and upgrade your machine, the Sailrite Ultrafeed Sewing Machine can sew through 10 layers of heavy canvas.

Want more great tips on starting canvas work? Check out our guide “What Do I Need to Start Doing My Own Canvaswork?” which includes a list of Matt Grant’s top 11 tools for Canvas workers and some helpful materials to keep on hand.

Find all the tools you need to do your own canvaswork including thread, material, sewing machines and much more at www.sailrite.com.

Do any of you sew heavy canvas on a home sewing machine? What tips and tricks have you learned along the way? Share your advice and experiences in the comments!

2014_November-grab-rail-covers-

Teak grab rails give sailboats a beautiful, classic aesthetic, especially when the teak has been newly oiled and refinished. The sun will quickly cause the teak to fade so keeping those grab rails looking fresh and new can take a lot of work. Adding a UV resistant cover to your grab rails will keep the teak looking fresh for longer so you can spend less time polishing and more time enjoying your boat. Today we’re going to share with you how to make your own custom grab rail covers.

Our grab rail cover is a simple design. We used Sunbrella Marine Grade fabric and secured the cover with snaps on webbing straps. This method gives a secure attachment and does not require you to put snaps in your boat’s deck. To give the cover a professional, finished look, we added a Sunbrella Acrylic Binding to the edges.

Watch the video for step-by-step instructions on how to measure your grab rails, pattern the fabric, sew the cover together, install edging and snaps, and secure the cover on your boat.

Materials List:

You can find all the materials needed to make your own custom grab rail covers at www.sailrite.com.

Have you ever made your own grab rail covers? Share your tips and advice in the comments!

Hole cutters are the tools used for punching holes through fabric to make way for grommets and fasteners to be installed. Over the course of several big canvas projects your hole cutters can see a lot of use. If you start to notice that they aren’t cutting as well as they used to you can sharpen up your hole cutter. We’re going to show you how and give you some helpful tips for using your hole cutter.

How to Sharpen a Hole Cutter

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Hole cutter with a Dremel tool

If you take a close look at the cutting end of your tool, you’ll notice that the metal is slightly beveled. This bevel is what helps make the tool sharp. If the tool needs sharpening, the bevel might look worn down or be hard to spot at all. Sharpening your tool is basically just recreating that bevel.

To bring back the bevel, you’ll want to use a Dremel tool with an Aluminum Oxide Grinding Bit (we like the cone shaped ones). Run the tool around the outside of the hole cutter’s cutting end to sharpen. This can also be done by taking the hole cutter to a grinder.

Hole Cutting Tips

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  • • To keep your cutter sharp, use a proper cutting block whenever cutting holes. Hitting into softer materials, like pine, will cause your cutter to dull quicker.
  • • When cutting, place your block on a concrete surface. This will eliminate the bouncing you would get on a table and give you a better direction of force, making your cut smoother and easier.
  • • For the best cut in one blow, use a mallet instead of a hammer. Mallets send the best amount of force to your cutter. You can use a hammer, but you will need to hit the cutter several times.

Find the perfect hole cutter for installing fasteners, grommets, and eyelets and all the right accessories at www.sailrite.com.

Have you sharpened your hole cutter before? Did this method work for you? Share your experiences with us in the comments.

2014_October-romanshadeSince we released our popular How to Make Roman Shades video, we’ve been working on finding new ways to make the process of making these beautiful shades even easier. Making your own Roman shades gives your windows a stylish, custom look and is much more affordable than purchasing pre-made shades at the store. We’ve recently added a few pieces of new hardware that help streamline Roman shade construction. Today we’re sharing a new video that shows you how to build a Roman shade using our new Iron-On Roman Rib Tape.

Iron-On Roman Rib Tape gives you an easy way to attach the dowels to your Roman shade, without sewing or gluing. The tape irons right to the back of your shade and features a small pocket in the center that holds the dowels. It works great, especially with our new lightweight, plastic Roman Shade Ribs, which are plastic dowel rods made just for this purpose.

We opted to use a heavy lining this time so the shades will block out more light. Softline’s Suite Blackout Drapery Fabric can be used on its own or as a blackout lining and worked really well for us in this application. We recommend pairing this heavy liner with a lightweight decorator fabric, so the folds will train easier.

In this video, you will learn how to measure your window, pattern the fabric, sew the lining, add ribs, string the shade, build the headrail and install the shade on your window.

 

Materials List:

Find all the materials needed to make your own custom Roman shades at www.sailrite.com.

These instructions are intended for personal use. If making shades to sell or gift, they must comply with the latest safety regulations. To make your shades safety compliant, the lift rings must be no farther apart than 4 inches. To accomplish this, the stack height should be 6 inches. This will result in less visible fabric when the shade is fully open, but will prevent the formation of a hazardous loop.

Warning: Cords can be hazardous, even fatal, to young children. Keep cords out of reach of children. Keep cribs, playpens, and other furniture away from cords. Do not tie cords together or allow cords to twist or loop together.

Have you used these new Roman shade products yet? What do you think of them? Share your projects, experience and advice in the comments!

2014_October_Boat_Show_3

Brian gives a tool demonstration

Another great year at the Annapolis Boat Show has drawn to a close, the booth has been packed away and the Sailrite crew is back in Indiana. It was a banner year for us at the boat show, and the guys had a great time meeting and chatting with all of you! Not even rain on Saturday could keep you away. I asked the boat show team to share their impressions of this years show.

Every year we are surprised and overwhelmed by the creativity and passion that you, our customers, have for DIY. This year we were especially touched at how many customers went out of their way to come and thank us for the machines, customer service and especially the how-to videos.

“I was overwhelmed by the number of visitors who said they loved and used the videos that Sailrite provided to make things for the boat and even their homes using our products,” Eric said. “We also took many requests for future video projects.”

Brian agreed, “It was great how many customers went out of their way just to stop in to thank and compliment the Sailrite team. Everything from the videos to the customer service to how the orders are packed.”

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Matt & customers sport Sailrite hats

Jim, Sailrite’s founder, was pleasantly surprised to see many familiar faces at the boat show, even after having been in retirement for several years.

“It has been four or five years since I last attended the Annapolis Show. […] I was amazed how many customers from 25 years ago or more still come to the show. I really appreciate their stopping by to say hello,” he said.

Everyone has his or her own favorite part of the boat show experience. Eric loves demonstrating the Ultrafeed Sewing Machines, Jim loved working with his sons (Matt and Eric) and the exhilarating, fast pace of the show, and Brian loves sharing the DIY lifestyle with new customers.

“It is also always fun to meet new customers who have never heard of us, and who have never even considered the DIY lifestyle. It is fun to see their eyes light up when we show them how easy a sewing machine is to operate and they realized that they, too can do their own work,” Brian said.

As always, many customers walked away with new Ultrafeed Sewing Machines eager to start sewing their own projects.

“A big welcome to the new Ultrafeed owners who joined the Sailrite family during the show specials,” Matt said.

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Eric & Jim in the Sailrite booth

Matt summed up the weekend best saying, “Great show, great customers, and good times!” We’ll be back at the show next year and it’s never too early to start planning your trip! In the meantime, we’ll keep offering our great products, advice and videos, right here on the blog and at www.sailrite.com.

What is your favorite part of the Annapolis Boat Show? Do you have a great idea for a Sailrite video? Share your ideas with us in the comments!

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