Category Archives: Sewing Projects

Introducing….the Crafty Little Club (+giveaway)!

I’ve hinted at it and now it’s time for the big reveal….. For the better part of this year I’ve been working on a passion project – the Crafty Little Club!

Science-themed craft subscription box

In the beginning…

I’d been wanting to start a crafty business for a long time but just couldn’t seem to come up with an idea that felt right. I worried that a business selling finished products would start to make my sewing hobby and joy feel like a chore, and I was also pretty sure that I wouldn’t have time to make much.

After I had my son early last year, I also fell into a bit of a creative slump. Those early months were a blur of wakings, feedings, and poops, then just as we started to feel like we were emerging from the fog we went and moved to a new state (Hi Oregon!)! We rented a house when we first got here but it just had a skinny little landing area at the top of the stairs as my crafting space. There was no door so I had to put things away when I wasn’t working on them. I may sound like a total slob, but having to put away my projects is such a damper on my progress, especially these days when I’m often just stealing 20 minutes here and there.

So there I was, over a year after my son was born, finally feeling like myself again, and missing my hobby. On a whim, I decided to go to the Sew Expo outside Seattle and boy was I glad that I did. I left feeling energized, inspired, and jazzed to make time for myself and my creative hobbies again. On the drive home at the end of the weekend, I floated an idea past my husband – what if instead of putting my time into making finished products to sell, I instead channeled my creative into making patterns?

As we talked, an idea started to form.

I had just signed myself up for a monthly embroidery club and I was loving it! I’d recently re-discovered embroidery and was finding myself surprised to enjoy my stitching time away from my machine. Not to mention the fun of getting a surprise craft in the mail every month. As we brainstormed, I thought about what interests me and I couldn’t help falling back to my nerdy roots – SCIENCE!

Science-themed craft subscription boxes

And so, the Crafty Little Club was born.

The Crafty Little Club is a science-themed crafting subscription box that will keep your hands busy and your heart happy, at any skill level. For just $25 per box (shipping included in the US), science and craft enthusiasts who join the club will receive a new box with a different theme every other month. Each box contains everything you need to create two embroidery or hand crafts including high quality materials and detailed instructions. The contents of each box are a surprise until they are mailed out, but receiving a crafty secret in the mail is half the fun! Subscribers receive 6 kits per year, but you can quit the club at any time.

The first kits mailed out on the first of this month and I thought it’d be fun to share a little reveal video to show folks what the first theme was and what they can expect with the kits:

It’s been such a wonderful experience to work on this project and see it through from idea to launch! In addition to the creative design aspects, which I knew I’d like, I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed some of the other things I needed to figure out: building a website, sourcing materials, budgeting….

It goes on and on. And to be honest, it will keep evolving and I will keep needing to figure things out. One of my favorite pieces of advice that I really took to heart, was from Chris Guillabeau’s book, Side Hustle¬†(not an affiliate link): don’t wait until it’s perfect, just start doing it and figure it out as you go. I have a tendency to try to plan every tiny detail out entirely, complete with backup plans, before I make a first move. But that’s a good way to make yourself feel overwhelmed and never actually start anything. The best way to get going is just to get going!

(Now if I can only figure out the best way to convey that the boxes AREN’T FOR KIDS!! Adults craft too, people!)

The Giveaway…

Well, if you’ve made it this far then you deserve to hear about that giveaway I promised ūüôā I’m giving away a free box (November’s “Virology” box) to someone in the US or Canada (sorry rest of the world….shipping….). Pop on over to Instagram and check out my giveaway post. Follow me @craftylittlesecret and tag two friends in the comments, and that’s it! Giveaway closes this Wednesday, November 21 at 16:00 PST. I’ll choose one winner at random and contact them by DM.

If you want to check out what other’s are doing, don’t forget to follow #craftylittleclub. I’m so excited for this experiment :).

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Chemistry Oven Mitts

They’re baaaaaaaaaaaaaack! And only 5 years after I originally hinted they may be available in my Etsy shop ūüėÄ

Robot Lab oven Mitts from Crafty Little Secret

Oh my dear friends, I have been gone for so long and I have so much to tell you! But much of it will have to wait because [Spoiler Alert] one of the reasons I’ve been gone so long is that I was busy birthing and raising a child. And boy oh boy, turns out that takes a chunk out of your free time.

I’ve also been busy working on a passion project and I’m just about to burst with excitement because I’m very near official Launch with a capital “L”. So stay tuned for more on that soon!

And, oh yeah. In the past 16 months I’ve also moved. Twice! One of those times was across state lines and the other was into my very own house. [Another Spoiler Alert]¬† Buying, moving into, and making a home out of a house also takes a big bite out of your free time. Who knew?

Science and Chemistry Oven Mitts by Crafty Little Secret

Babies, new businesses, big moves. It all adds up to me being terribly neglectful to this here poor blog. But I’ve got some fun projects that I managed to work on during all the Busy of the past 2 years that I’m dying to share with you and I’m scheming on a way to make some more time for myself to actually manage that.

So until then, I leave you with this PSA to let you know that you can, finally, have your very own pair of sciency oven mitts. Ta-ta for now, but hopefully not for long!

 

My Big Book of Sewing Awesome (aka My Project Book)

Project Book

I think it was when I was working on my second Mathilde blouse that I realized I needed to start keeping notes on my sewing projects. I remembered that I had to make some alterations to the first version, but couldn’t remember the exact¬†changes I had ended up making and found myself wishing I had written them down somewhere.

And so my Project Book was born.

Each time I start a new sewing project I write down the date I started and all the pattern information, including what size(s) I cut. I will often print out the line drawing from the pattern envelope as well, and make my alteration notes right on the sketch. I love being able to mark up the patterns with my own notes and measurements.

Project BookRecently I have started getting a little more regimented about it and have even started stapling fabric swatches to each project page. I’m still not very textile savvy, so I figure it may come in handy one of these days to have those swatches. I could bring my little book to the fabric store with me and have all the information I need in there, including an example of the type of fabric I’m looking for, if I ever want to replicate a project.

Project Book

A nice little side effect of my project book is that it’s becoming a little trip down sewing memory lane for me. Sometimes I sit and flip through it, reminiscing about all my makes. I love having them all recorded in one place (besides here, lol)!

So how about you, do you keep notes on your projects?

 

Ahoy, Bronte!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comAhoy, Bronte! I’m still in love with my first Bronte top and I’ve been thinking that I need some more long-sleeved t-shirts this winter, so a long-sleeved Bronte was a nautical….ahem, natural….choice.

I’ve been obsessed with nautical prints lately. Maybe it’s because I got married on a boat (well, the actual wedding was on land, but the boat took us there), maybe it’s because we almost moved onto a boat last summer. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because nautical prints are super cute and super trendy right now. Whatever the reason, I had anchors on the brain and Robert Kaufman was more than happy to oblige with the Laguna Stretch Jersey Knit in Anchors Nautical Navy.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Based on my last Bronte top, I knew that I need to cut 2″ out of the hips, so I cut a size 20 in the bust and waist¬†then scaled down to an¬†18 for the hips. I also knew that I needed to add 2″ in length to the body, so I¬†assumed that I needed to add 2″ in the sleeve length as well. Not so! Once the shirt was assembled, I promptly cut that 2″ right back out, did a double turn hem and¬†still have plenty of length in the sleeves!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comMy obsession with the twin needle continues. It just makes such a lovely edge, how could I resist?

Unfortunately, it makes it quite a pain in the butt to unpick it if you make a mistake.

So imagine my dismay when I realized that I had somehow managed to turn my hem the wrong way when I was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Duh! I thought about unpicking the entire circumference of the shirt (which, of course, is how long it took me to realize my error) for about a millisecond before I rejected the idea as ridiculous and just did a¬†triple turned hem instead. The result is a bulky hem and a shirt that is about an inch shirt than I had intended. But you know, that’s still¬†way better than unpicking them hem. Ammiright?

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe other thing I unfortunately struggled with this time was the neckline. In fact, it took me three tries before I got it right! When I sewed my Sangria Bronte top, I had forgotten to transfer the markings for neckline placement onto my fabric, so I kind of just estimated and moved it around until it all fit together. This time, I diligently transferred the pattern markings to my fabric, but when I tried it on for the first time the neckline was gaping so much that I thought I must have sewed it backwards!

Rather than doing something reasonable, like double checking with the pattern piece, I immediately unpicked the whole neckline and switched which piece overlapped which at the shoulder. When I tried it on that time, I realized “Oh. Now¬†this is sewn backwards”.

Unpick, unpick, unpick.

Finally I hypothesized that I just needed to tighten the neckline up a little so I pulled each piece so that it overlapped the other by about an inch more than suggested by the pattern.¬†This meant though, that now the sleeve didn’t line up properly with the armscye. Lucky for me that a little gather makes pretty much any sleeve more adorable because I sure as heck wasn’t unpicking that thing again!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comIf only I had noticed, at some point before I sewed it backwards, that I had sewn the whole shirt using a regular needle instead of a stretch needle!

Geeze Louise!¬†As I’m writing this post I’m wondering what the heck I was thinking while I was trying to sew this top!

Unfortunately, you can still see the faint trace of the holes from the top-stitching made during¬†the second neckline attempt when I sewed the front bodice piece over the back (oh yes, I top-stitched that error and everything), most visible in the white of the neckline in the close up photo above. But really, it’s not that noticeable when I’m wearing it. And it certainly doesn’t detract from the adorableness of this top. And I’m hoping it might bounce back a little after I wash the shirt. So there’s still that hope.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This fabric is a bit lighter weight and has a bit more stretch than the knit I used for my Sangria Bronte, and I’ve found it doesn’t make as much of a flattering shape as my first top from the back view. That’s not to say that it makes an¬†unflattering shape. On the contrary, I think it looks quite nice. Just that it’s not¬†as flattering as the first.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

All in all, I love my nautical Bronte! I think the choice of the white jersey for the neckline really brightens it up around my face and brings attention to the shoulder detail.¬†I’m already pairing my nautical Bronte¬†with my new Miette skirt in my head and wondering if a pair of red tights would make it all just too “outfitty”? Thoughts????

WIPs and WIIs

Works in progress and works in imagination. Or maybe they count as in progress if you’ve purchased the materials????

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe furthest along project first. I’m working on my first pair of dress pants! Well, okay, not my first¬†ever, but my first since I started sewing seriously again and am trying to do things properly. I’m using some fabric I picked up in the NYC fabric district and an old sewing pattern (Vogue 7301). I’m going to have to improvise some pockets because pants without pockets shouldn’t be allowed to exist, but I’m not worried about that.

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd next….a sweater for my nephew. I’ve kinda started making him a sweater a year for Christmas or his birthday (whenever I finish it). Since it’s only been two years I guess that’s not much of a streak but I’m gonna try to keep it going. Can’t give away too much though because I think he’s parents read this blog and I don’t want to give away the surprise. I just¬†hope they appreciate that I made sure to buy¬†washable wool for a toddler sweater (hand washable still counts, right?)….

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This final one is still very much in my imagination and still needs to go through its “experimental” phase. I’ve been¬†turning an idea for a quilt over in my head (you can check out my Pinterest board here) that would be some sort of shibori-inspired blue and white quilt with embroidery. So when I was at Walgreen’s and saw some Rit dye calling to me, I remembered I had some old sheets at home that I could practice shibori dying! Yay mess!

And that’s all the projects I’ve got going these days, hopefully I’ll be sharing the finished pants with you sooner than later but I’m finding them oddly intimidating right now…..

DIY Grill Apron: Tutorial

Crafty Little Secret Tutorial: DIY Grill Apron - www.craftylittlesecret.comWow. Kudos to all you out there who post detailed tutorials regularly. I always forget how long I take to edit all the photos and get the posts up! This one has been in the making for a month….which I guess isn’t so bad.

What you’ll need for this project…..
– 1 yard of fun fabric (quilting cotton)***
– 1 yard of backing fabric (like a duck or light denim weight)
– 16/100 denim needle
– matching thread
– chalk
– ruler/measuring tape
– scissors

**** You could actually get away with less depending on which way the pattern runs, but for most patterned quilting cottons, you’ll need the full yard.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCut the following pattern pieces:

A (Apron) – 20″x36″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric

P (Pocket) – 14″ x 9″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric (or two backing fabrics if you want a solid pocket)

W (Waist Tie) – 36″ x 3.5″
РCut two of backing OR fashion fabric

N (Neck Tie) – 24″ x 3.5″
– Cut one of backing OR fashionfabric

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comUsing chalk, make a tick mark on the apron pattern pieces 15″ down from the corner on the long side, and 6″ from the corner on the short side. Draw a line connecting the two pieces and cut the corners off.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

To make the waist and neck ties, fold and iron fabric as when making bias tape.¬†Fold the tape in half lengthwise and sew it up as close as you can to the open edge (I kept my seam allowance about 1/8″).

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis is where it’s very important to have that 16/100 denim needle. Once you start sewing through multiple layers of the heavy duck (or similar weight) fabric, needle shards go flyin’ if you’re not using the right size.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo finish the ties I just double overed the ends a couple times and sewed through the bulk of it….carefully. Watch for breaking needles and take it slow. No one likes a needle shard in their eyeball.

[ASIDE: The alternative method for making the waist ties is to fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together, sew all the way up the open edge then turn the tie inside out. I find this technique annoying enough on lighter weight fabrics that I didn’t even entertain the though on these heavy ones. But if you opted for a quilting cotton for your ties, it could be an option if you don’t like the futzing with folding and ironing.]

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAttach the ties by sewing them into the side seams (I attached them at the point where the angled front of the apron meets the straight sides). Since the ties are so long I found it helpful to keep them contained by pinning them into a coil to keep myself from sewing them into the seams at wonky places.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo attach the apron front to the apron backing, place right sides together and sew with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Sew all five bottom edges together (I went back and forth over the spot where the waist tie joined to add a little extra strength) but¬†leave the top open. This allows you to turn the apron right-side-out again. Which you should do now.¬†Flatten the apron and adjust the seams so that the corners are nice and neat (you can use a pencil to help turn them) then iron all the seams so they’re nice and crisp.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Sew the neck tie the same as the waist ties, but leave the ends open and unfinished. Fold the top edges of the apron pieces toward the inside about a half inch.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comPin the neck tie in place with about an inch of each end tucked between the apron layers. Top stitch the neck closed and all the way around the apron with a 1/4-1/8″ seam allowance. The top stitch adds a little extra strength and gives a nice finished look to the apron.

You can stop here now if you want to….but we’re having so much fun! Let’s keep going and add some pockets.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comWith right sides facing, sew the two pocket pieces together with a 5/8″ seam allowance and leaving a 6″ opening at the bottom.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo help get nice crisp corners on the pockets, or any time you’re sewing right angles, it helps to trim some of the seam allowance off the corner. But be careful not to snip your stitches!

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comFold the edges of the opening that you left inward and iron in place.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTop-stitch a decorative border along the top edge of the pocket piece. Again, this is just adding another of those little finishing touches that will help make your apron look a little more pro.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com[ASIDE: This was a great project to practice my print matching skills. When I was cutting the pattern pieces I realized I didn’t want to cover this awesome print with a big solid colored pocket and it would look odd if the pocket print didn’t line up perfectly with the apron print underneath. So I took care to cut the pocket piece so that the prints on the two pieces would align.]

Center the pocket piece in the apron about 8″ from the bottom of the apron, or at whatever height feels comfortable for you. Top stitch around the bottom and two side edges leaving the top of the pocket open.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

The final step is to divide the pocket into small sub-pockets if you want. I found it easiest to draw a chalk line first as a guide to follow since my stitching has a tendency to get pretty wonky if I don’t have an edge to use as a guide.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd……………..done!!!

 

Oonapalooza: Tangerine Dream

Oonapalooza Sew AlongI’ve been on a really tight crafting budget lately and am trying soooooo¬†hard to stick to it. When Oonapalooza came around I had just spent a chunk of change on some other projects. Looking at my stash full of solid knits I was bummed out and uninspired.

Then one magical day the San Francisco fog parted, the sky cleared and a beautiful ray of sunlight shone down on me illuminating¬†a forgotten card in my wallet. What’s this?! A full Britex rewards card?! Worth $37 in free fabric?! How could I have forgotten such a thing?!!!!!

Oonapalooza Sew Along

This is the smug smile of a lady who made it work!

Obviously, I had some shopping to do.

I first had it in my mind that I would do a 70’s inspired denim skirt, maybe a Miette or something similar. But for some reason Britex had next to nothing in stock in their denim collection and time was of the essence. And heck, this was my excuse to experiment with color and prints! I kept searching the shelves and kept landing on the same fabric over and over.

Oonapalooza FabricOrange? Oh no, Eileen. You don’t¬†do orange.

So I would go up and down the stairs, exploring the four floors at Britex, messing up the fabric bolts and sighing heavily. Then I’d come back to my tangerine dream.

Orange? Oh no, Eileen. You don’t¬†do orange………but wait, what was Gillian’s advice again? Oh yes, to imagine Oona’s voice urging us on. So when I said “I don’t¬†do¬†orange” I heard a whisper from across the continent….”Oh yes you¬†do!!!”

OonapaloozaI got it home and fretted about what to make. I was shocked that my husband approved of the print but when I told him my ideas of either a skirt or a dress his hat was thrown mightily into the skirt ring. “That would be a little too much on a dress”, he suggested.

Oh. Would it now? Are you sure it wouldn’t be just bold enough for Oonapalooza?!!! And so, a dress was born.

OonapaloozaBelieve it or not, this is actual the same pattern as my tie-dye maxi (a dress that Oona herself had emphatically supported), Vogue 8469. But in the spirit of fearlessness I decided to tackle my first ever major pattern alterations.

I did a full bust adjustment adding 2″ total, then altered the back piece to meet up with the now lengthened front bodice. Since I had the bare minimum amount of fabric to squeak this dress out I made a muslin first and found that the neckline and shoulder straps were a bit heavier than I’d wanted so I narrowed the straps and dropped the neckline by about an inch. I also added a random dart to close up the gaping armscye.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamAnd for some strange reason I decided to lower the back neckline to that¬†exact point on the back that you Just. Can’t. Reach. This dress is nigh impossible for me to zip on and off by myself, folks. Also, it’s not totally evident in this photo but there’s a bit of weird sagging happening on either side of the zipper. I’m thinking about dropping this into a V and lowering it by a couple inches. Especially since I already perfectly placed the neckline so that my big ugly back scar is visible anyway.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamAnd I glossed over it a bit there, kids, but can we just pause for a moment and focus on how proud of myself I am for the bodice alterations! Baby fits like a¬†glove now! As a busty lady, it can be tough to find clothes that fit over the girls but still hug your rib cage where it should and if one isn’t careful, one turns into a bit of a tube. With this dress, there is no mistaking the clear distinction between bust and waist. Heck, with the gathered skirt it even gives me a wee bit o’ hip!

My only regret with the dress that I will have to figure out some way to fix is that I managed to botch attaching the lining on one side of the bodice front, resulting in some serious twisty gapage.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamI hand stitched it down which helped a little but there’s still definitely something wonky happening there. I just don’t, at this moment, have the energy to rip so much out. Especially since I chose the worst ever most slippery scrap bits for the lining.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamSo there you have it kids. My answer to the question; What would Oona do?