Category Archives: Sewing Projects

Re-Sew-lutions 2014: Drafting a Pattern

We’re halfway through 2014 and I’ve only got one of my three 2014 re-sew-lutions under my belt;
1. Sew a jacket
2. Participate in Me-Made May
3. Draft a pattern

I’ve got the fabric for a jacket (a nice blue twill), so that counts as started. Right? That left me with figuring out what pattern I wanted to draft. With so many amazing indie pattern designers out there, I feel like there’s an already existing and easily adaptable pattern for most things I’d like to make. So stop being so awesome, fellow sewists! Sheesh! I also have a lot of trouble imagining clothes out of thin air.

I’ve definitely constructed clothes without a pattern before, but I’ve never made a paper pattern. Which is a bummer because sometimes my self-drafted garments turn out well I’d like to actually replicate them. And sometimes those self-draft garments don’t turn out so well and taking the time to draft something thoughtfully would have likely done me some good.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve found my inspiration piece. Introducing……the Ask the Anthropologist Dress!

Ask the Anthropologist dress

Source: Modcloth.com

This dress has a few things going for it that I think make it a good inspiration for my first self-drafted paper pattern;
1. The dress is out of stock (and wasn’t available in my size to begin with) so I can’t just buy it
2. More forgiving shape than something very fitted
3. Sleeves – Simple sleeve style – won’t need to worry about facing or fitting sleeves into an arm scythe.
4. Experience – I’ve sewn a cowl neck before.

So far, the tools I have in my arsenal are;
Patternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman LoPatternmaking (Portfolio Skills) by Dennic Chunman Lo….annnnnnnnnnnd……that’s it. What, not enough? Well, that’s where you come in.

Can anyone recommend some great starting places for me? Craftsy classes? Bare essential tools? Awesome blog tutorials?

Sometimes I just blindly run headfirst into things like this and this time I’d like to slow down a little and really try to learn a new skill.

Back to Basics Sew-Along: Blue Afternoon Skirt

Back 2 Basics Sew-AlongAs I mentioned yesterday, Katie at the Creative Counselor is hosting a Back to Basics sew-along this week to help everyone fill in some holes in their me-made wardrobe. Me-Made May ’14 made it abundantly clear that I am missing bottoms. So I decided to make a super simple, super comfy skirt that I’m calling my Blue Afternoon Skirt.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt I used about a meter of medium weight cotton knit with two-way stretch to make this skirt and no pattern. I hesitate to call this skirted “self-drafted” because I think that implies that I actually made a pattern instead of just vaguely tracing a skirt shape onto fabric in chalk, quickly sewing it up then trimming away bits as I tried it on. But hey, close enough to “self-drafted”, right?

I originally intended for this skirt to have a high, flat waistband that could be worn under shirts without making bumps and lumps or over a shirt for a nice neat high waistband. After I made it though I realized that I basically just sewed a yoga pant waistband onto the skirt. I think it can still be worn up…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.com….or folded down…..

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.com

Looking at these pictures confirms what I’d feared……I think I’ve gotta straighten that hem out. It started straight. But after some adjustments to the waistband I guess it ended up a little wonky. I’m currently out of the matching thread so for now I’m just going to have to wear it as-is and hope that no one notices the uneven hem as I’m swooshing along.

Swoosh, swoosh!

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comTo make this skirt I cut two big triangles, one for the front panel and one for the back. The waist was cut about 4″ smaller than my actual waist measurement and since I didn’t have quite enough fabric to make a true circle skirt, the bottom of the skirt was just cut as wide as I could. As an after thought, I also cut out some pockets. When I sewed up the side seams of the skirt, I inserted the pockets about 3″ below the waist. As it turns out, this is a little lower than my liking and I would have preferred them more like 1″ below the waist.

The waistband was made from a band cut 4″ shorter than my waist and about 6″ wide. I sewed it into a loop, then folded it in half lengthwise and attached it to the top of my skirt piece with the seam at the center back. If I had thought that I’d be wearing the skirt with the waistband folded over yoga pant-style, I probably would have made some effort to hide the seams. As it was though, I just sewed the two pieces together.

I’ve actually worn this skirt a couple times already. It’s sooooooooooo comfortable for lazing about the house and does a surprisingly good job of staying wrinkle free. The only issue so far is that the waistband seems to stretch out a bit as I wear it. I’ll see where we’re at after I wash it, maybe I’ll have to add some elastic to the waist.

Crafty Little Secret - Blue Afternoon Skirt craftylittlesecret.comThanks so much to Katie for organizing the sew-along and inspiring me to get Back To Basics!!!!

Vogue 8469 Maxi Dress

Vogue 8469 Maxi

I finally got around to making something out of the knit I bought on my trip to the LA Mood! I bought it with the intention of making a maxi dress but was flip-flopping a lot on what pattern I wanted to use.

I knew it needed to meet a few criteria for me to actually wear it;
– be able to wear a normal bra with it
– not be too low cut
– but also not cut to close to my face
– be casual

Turns out Vogue 8469 (Very Easy) was the winner! I sewed up View B, but I still made some alterations to make it work for me.

Vogue 8469 back

I increased the overall length of the dress to make it a full maxi (the pattern is more of a midi). I’m still not 100% sure that I prefer the maxi over the midi length, but I figure I can always go back and shorten it later.

What do you think??

Vogue 8469 shorter

Should I shorten it?

I also left the ties off the waist. I thought it would add unnecessary bulk and I was running low of fabric. This fabric is just a one-way stretch so even though the print isn’t directional I still ended up with a bunch of wasted fabric because I had to make sure I kept the stretch in the right direction. Something to keep in mind for next time.

Vogue 8469

The pattern isn’t designed for knits so rather than trying to redraft the bodice with negative ease I just cut a smaller size. That worked well except that the waist band is hitting me a bit high now. Not a big deal on a knit dress like this but would’ve looked pretty weird if I’d sewn this up in a non-stretch fabric.

Vogue 8469

In the interest of keeping this dress a little more casual I opted to sew in neck and arm bands instead of using a facing.

Vogue 8469

I used Rae’s fantastic tutorial for this over at Made By Rae. In fact, she’s got a whole awesome series on sewing with knits and has tutorials for a few different neckline finishes. I didn’t quite cut my neckband short enough so it gapes a bit (as you can very slightly see in the picture above). Luckily, while I’m wearing it the gaping is more at the neck rather than at my bust. Definitely an improvement over my first neckband attempt with my Scoop Neck Tee. I’m learning!!!!

Vogue 8469

I opted to top-stitch with a twin needle around the neck and arm openings with white thread to add a nice finishing detail and keep the casual look of the dress. I finished the inside of the dress with French seams everywhere but the neck and arm band attachments. For these, the twin needle top stitch helped finish the inside and then I just trimmed up the excess fabric.

Vogue 8469

Seriously though you guys, attaching the neck and arm bands totally had me dreaming of sergers – #1 on my sewing toy wish list!!! (Followed closely by #2 – an adjustable bust form).

Ok, here’s the summary:

Fabric: one-way stretch cotton jersey, 3.25 y
Pattern: Vogue 8469 View B
Alterations:
– added 12″ to length
– eliminated waist tie
– finished with neck and arm bands
– eliminated facing

Vogue 8469

I think I’ll have to wear this dress with one of my bright pink cardis to keep it from looking a little too goth! LOL!

So what do you guys think? Keep it long, or cut it to below the knee??

Refashion: Aqua Goodwill Find

 

Whenever I’m flipping through the racks at Goodwill I always keep an eye out for fabric that jumps out at me. I thought the aqua and white print on this dress was so cute. There was just one problem…refashion before…..the dress needed a wee bit of altering.

I liked the overall idea of the dress but, honestly, I just don’t seem to wear my dresses much. So I decided to turn it into a top. I didn’t like where the waistline was hitting me so I thought that was a good place to take out some length.

Refashion cuts

Knowing my bust would be the most difficult part to fit, I started work on the top of the shirt. I put it on over a tank top and pinned the shirt to the tank in the center and at the side seams to keep it in place, then gathered the fabric on one side of the bust and pinned it.

refashion bust pleat pinning

I carefully took the top off and pinned either side of where the gathers began, then pulled the pin holding the gathers out so the top would lay flat.

refashion bust pleat pinning2

I measured the distance between the pins and the distance from the button stance so I could replicate it on the other side and make even bust gathers. I quickly stitched them down to keep them in place while I made some other adjustments.

The original sleeves on the dress gaped open too much and there was still a lot of bulk on the side of the shirt. Once I had the bust darts figured out I put the top back on to figure out how to take in the sleeves.

refashion sleeve pin

The arrows are pointing out the pins, not side boob.

I omitted the middle elastic section I had cut out of the shirt and sewed the top portion to the bottom (I had to take in the bottom a little to account for the fabric I took out of the top).

refashion during

The refashion could have been done at this point, I guess, but I wasn’t satisfied with the fit yet. The sleeves looked funny with my arms down so I took them in along the dotted line I drew in the picture above to produce the sleeve in the photo below:

refashion sleeve

I also felt like the waist seam was sagging at the side seams and on my back, so I needed to bring that up a bit. I wanted it to be just a wee bit more fitted around the waist too.

refashion during back

The waist seam adjustment left me with some extra fabric that I was able to use to form an elastic casing.

refashion back seam

refashion elastic casing

I reused the elastic from the original top and cut it to fit tightly across the back of my new shirt. It did the trick!

refashion after front

refashion after back

I think this will be a great easy-to-wear and easy-to-care-for summer top!

Anyhoo, I’ve got a trip to New York to pack for so for now I’ll just leave you with this series of goofy poses:

refashion after goofy3

refashion after goofy4

refashion after goofy1

refashion after goofy2

Hot Air Balloon Themed Baby Shower Gifts

For someone who doesn’t have kids I sure spend a lot of time sewing for ’em! I actually really enjoy it. The projects are so small they are easy to finish before I got bored. Most of my friends who’ve had kids live back home in Canada so I usually just make my felt embroidered onesies that are easy to mail back home. But now some of my city friends are pregnant and I’ve gone a little crazy sewing up a hot air balloon themed baby shower gift! Hot air balloon DIY baby shower gift The hot air balloons are a totally random theme and I hadn’t meant to go crazy with them, but I just kept sewing! See, it started with the quilt. I was hunting around for a cute gender neutral fabric bundle and fell in love with the Blown Away collection by Josephine Kimberling. blown away fabric bundle I thought the hot air balloon print was the cutest and used that as the backing for the quilt I made, then had a bunch left over. So then I made a onesie to match. And then I thought how perfectly the green matched some left over flannel from my Halloween costume and decided to make some burp cloths. hot air balloon baby onesieTo make the hot air balloon applique I used the same technique I used when I made plaid elbow patches for my husband’s sweater. It looked a little plain so I embroidered some happy puffy clouds around the balloon to add a some interest. hot air balloon baby onesie detailThe burp cloths are just ~18″x25″ pieces of flannel with a strip of the balloon fabric sewn across the end for some detail. From what I’ve read, people seem to like flannel for burp cloths because it stays in place and is more absorbent than something like quilting cotton. hot air balloon DIY burp cloth I caught myself getting a bit carried away with these. As I was thinking about making some binding to go all the way around the cloth I remembered; I am sewing something whose sole purpose is to be barfed on. So I reined it in a little and contented myself instead with a nice neat double turned hem all the way around. Hot air balloon baby quilt frontIn my humble opinion, the quilt is the star of this baby bundle! It is my second quilt but my first was a t-shirt quilt. Sewing quilts with actual quilting fabric is soooooo much easier than with knits! I knew I didn’t want a pattern that was too finnicky so I chose this pattern from Two Little Banshees and it came together in two days – one day to cut and sew and one day to bind and quilt! To do the binding I pieced together leftover bits from the quilt front and followed this tutorial for making an invisible joint and mitered corners. It was a really helpful video! hot air balloon baby quilt detail I opted for super simple quilting and only had to unpick one extremely wonky row of stitches that was over two inches off from one side of the quilt to the other! I think you can see the quilting better on the back; hot air balloon baby quilt backI hope my friends like hot air balloons!!!!!!!!!

Upcycled Whale Plushie

I made a whale!

I’m not really sure why. Or what I’m going to do with it. But you can make one too! I followed this fabulous tutorial from Valaan Villapaita. It’s a Finnish blog and when I first saw this whale plushie popping up all over Pinterest the tutorial wasn’t in English (though the pictures are detailed enough that it doesn’t really matter), but now the author has translated it. Pictures and instructions – how could I not sew the whale?!

Jean whale

Jeans whale plushie

jean whale plushie

Ele-Fun Refashion (And Blue February Sew Along)!

So I have this skirt that I never wear but won’t throw away because the fabric is just so cute!

Before Refashion Skirt

Look how happy I am to be wearing my skirt!

It’s comfy and a nice length but really, really hard to find tops to pair with it. I have both mustard yellow and navy tights that look quite adorable with it but have never been able to find the right top. And so it sits, languishing in my wardrobe, tiny little elephant eyes forlornly begging to see the light….

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress printWell little elephants, your day has come because I have decided to kill two birds with one stone; make a refashion, and participate in my first ever sew along! This month is Blue February which was the final push I needed to actually get started on this project!

Truth be told though, this skirt is actually already a refashion of a dress I bought a couple years ago that was just nowhere near fitting around my bust. But those darn elephants implored “You can find something to make with us!”. Here’s the original dress from ModCloth;

ModCloth EleFun in the Sun Dress

Truth be told I think the original dress was the cutest variation. Sigh…..if only it had fit!

So I guess this is really a refashion of a refashion!

Anyhoo, I started by ripping out the zipper I had carefully sewn into the skirt and removing the waistband (which I saved to use as bias tape later!).

Stitch RippingI figured that if I made the skirt into a top it would be way easier to wear because it would look great with a pair of jeans. Easy peasy!

The first time I refashioned the dress into the skirt do you think I saved any of that extra fabric? Nope! So I only had what was in the skirt and unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to cover my shoulders and my tummy at the same time (something I consider a minimum criteria for shirts these days). I went out and bought myself a half yard of navy chiffon for $3 to create a sheer detail across the shoulders of the top I was making.

I used the yoke from a pattern with a nice neckline (my favorite Mathilde blouse), altered it (somewhat successfully) to include sleeves, and used that to make the front and back sheer portion of my new top.

Refashion arm detail

Remember that waistband I saved? I used it to make bias tape to add a fun sleeve detail. Well actually, it wasn’t cut on the bias but it was folded and attached like bias tape. So what is it? Just tape? Hem tape? Oh the things I have to learn…

Refashion arm detailThis was my first time working with chiffon and boy oh boy does it fray, so there is a rolled hem under the bias tape to try to keep everything together. Likewise, all the seams are French seams. This also helps keep things looking pretty since the top is sheer. You can sorta see the French shoulder seem in the photo above and here is a picture of the armpit and back seams.

French seamsI toyed with the idea of putting the elephant trim around the neckline too but thought it would be too much. So instead I tried another first – my first rolled hem! Or rather, I watched YouTube videos about how to make a rolled hem and realized I would need to buy a special foot for my machine so then I just kinda did my own thing. But it turned out pretty well and hopefully if I wash it really carefully the fraying will keep to a minimum.

Rolled hem detailI’m pretty proud of myself for all the first with this shirt;
– first Sew Along
– first refashion
– first time sewing chiffon
– first (sorta) rolled hem

Elephant shirt refashionIf you exclude the price of the original dress (which I do because I spent that money like three years ago), I spent a grand total of $3 and a couple of hours to have this completely adorable and completely wearable new shirt. Totally worth it in my book!

Before and after

 

 

 

 

 

 

Handmade Holiday: Part 2

Whooops! Looks like I got so wrapped up in the holidays I forgot to post anything here. Sorry about that!

Now that Christmas is over and presents have been exchanged I can share a couple of the things I’ve been working on over the last few weeks. As I mentioned previously, this was my first year doing an entirely handmade Christmas and even without a job to get in the way of my sewing it was still a ton of work!

Inspired by a Christmas pj post over at Did You Make That? I decided to make four people on my Christmas shopping list a pair of pajama pants in fun flannel prints using this free Simplicity pattern.

Free pajama pattern

Free pj sewing patternYou may recognize the fabric on the top of the pile from my Portland fabric shopping trip. The center two flannels were rescued from the remnant pile at Discount Fabrics in San Francisco and I found the goldfish flannel at Britex. The pattern was a breeze to sew, especially when making four in a row!

As per her request, I made my mom a set of plain navy oval-shaped placemats to match the double-sided napkins I made her earlier this year, but didn’t take a picture because, well, they’re just plain navy oval-shaped placemats.

I think my favorite thing that I sewed this year was the pair of oven mitts I made for my brother. I had found this fantastic science-themed fabric by Rebekah Ginda for Birch Organics from Fabricworm a while ago and knew I wanted to make something for the kitchen, I just wasn’t sure what.

Rebekah Ginda for Birch Organics, Robot

DIY Oven Mitts

Chemistry oven mitts

Science kitchen accessoriesI’m so pleased with how they turned out I think I’m going to use the extra fabric to make some more pairs for my Etsy shop!

The only project I didn’t finish was a cardigan for my nephew using some lovely Australian wool, but I should get that finished up and mailed off in the next week or so.

Phew! Finally done with the Christmas post! Next up…….2014 ReSEWlutions!!

 

Tutorial: Reusable Gift Tags

I originally made this tutorial to introduce a new item to my Etsy shop, but my super supportive mother-in-law already purchased the item! So it’ll be a few days before I’ve got more in there. Anyway, without further ado…..a tutorial for making your very own reusable gift tags!

Homemade Gift Tags

Materials:

– felt (one 9×12 inches makes 6 tags)
– rotary cutter and cutting mat
– thin ribbon (1/8″ width)
– white card stock

DIY gift tagsI found it easiest to build myself a card stock template to trace onto the felt. I cut each template to be 2″ wide and 9″ long, folded it in half and trimmed the corners then cut a rectangle out of one half. This rectangle cutout will make the window that the card stock will fit into.

Make your own gift tagI found it was easiest to cut the strip out with a rotary cutter. To cut out the window, I found it easiest to fold the felt in half length wise, trace the window and cut it out with scissors. I also cut a little slit above the window for inserting replacement card stock.

Homemade gift tagsAt the end, you should be left with something that looks like this:

Reusable gift tagsUnfortunately, as often happens with me, I got a little engrossed in the process and stopped taking pictures. Whoops! But it’s pretty simple so I think you can follow along without them.

If you want to sew an extra embellishments on the back of the tag, it is best to do it before assembling the tag. I just used a couple bits of scrap felt and sewed them up the center to make a pair of leaves.

Felt gift tags

If you’re going to add buttons like I did, it’s best to wait and do that at the end. To assemble, just fold the felt in half bringing the tips together. When pinning, insert a folded length of ribbon (about 6-8″) at the point and sew all around the tag as absolutely close to the edge as you can get. I used a contrasting thread for a nice extra bit of detail!

These gift tags are also great to use as ornaments when gifting money! (And could be easily converted into gift card holders if sewn a bit wider)

Gifting money

Gifting money ideas

 

 

 

 

Tutorial: DIY Placemats With Pockets!

DIY Table LinensWith Christmas fast approaching and my employment still in the “un” category, I’m looking at trying to do an almost entirely handmade holiday season this year. I think kitchen linens can make a great hand sewn gift, and I know my mom appreciated the double-sided napkins I made her earlier this year! Anyhoo, with this type of gift in mind I decided to try out a pattern for placemats with utensil/napkin pockets on them. Cuuuuuuuute!

DIY Pocket PlacematsMaterials (for a place setting for 6):
1 yd linen/burlap (heavy)
2 yd coordinating lightweight cotton (1 yd for placemats and 1 yd for napkins)
coordinating thread

As I’ve mentioned before, I absolutely love the fabrics available from Fabricworm.com. I came across this fabulous print from Tegan White for Birch Organics and thought it would work well with the current color scheme happening in our apartment.

Fort Firefly, Jars Gold

Awwww, I want a string of firefly jars to light up my apartment!

I liked the idea of making a place setting for 6. Even if we don’t always have that many people for dinner it’s nice to have extra around in case something gets an irreparable stain or to put serving dishes on. So. Using my roller blade, I cut out 6 15″x15″ squares from the Firefly cotton for the napkins, and 6 19″x15″ squares each of Firefly cotton and my linen for the placemats (the Firefly cotton goes on the back to make them reversible!).

Placemats with PocketsI also cut 6 8″x5″ linen pieces and 6 5″x2″ cotton pieces (or 5″ lengths of coordinating bias tape) to make a cute little pocket for your silverware and napkins!

As was the case with the double sided napkins, ironing with this project is key. Siiiiiiiigh. To make the napkins iron a quarter inch hem on all sides, then fold it over and press again with about a half inch hem. Top stitch using a coordinating thread and you’re done!

Handmade Cloth Napkins

Table Linen Tutorial

BAM! Cute napkins. Done.

To make the placemats, you’re going to want to sew the pocket to the linen before assembling the front and back pieces. This keeps the back neat, without any visible stitch lines making the placemat reversible. So pull out that iron again, we’re not done with it yet!

You’ll want to fold and press the 5″x2″ strips of cotton into bias tape (I’ve talked about how to do that before here), then sew them to one short edge of each 8″x5″ square of linen. This will be a decorative edging on the top of the pocket.

How To  Make PlacematsNext, press a half inch hem into the remaining three naked sides of the pocket piece, folding toward the wrong side.

Placemat Sewing Pattern

More ironing? Don’t say I didn’t warn you! Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh!

Next, attach the pocket to your linen placemat front. I put the pocket on the left side of the placemat (though a quick interwebs search told me that people do either side) 2.5″ from the left edge and 2″ from the bottom edge.

How to Make Placemats

Once you’ve got your pocket pinned in place, neatly top stitch the three unadorned sides down as close to the edge of the pocket as possible.

DIY Placemats

Placemats with PocketNow we’re ready to sew the backing to the placemats. With right sides facing, sew the linen to the cotton backing with a half inch seam allowances on three sides. Leave one of the short sides open. We’re going to turn this inside out so cut the corners to help the fabric lay flat when we do this. You should end up with something that looks like this:

DIY Placemats

Flip the placemat right-side-out. You might have to use a pencil to really get in the sewn corners and get them nice and crisp. Fold a half inch hem inward on the open edge of the placemat and press (siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh). Top stitch around all sides of the placemat with coordinating thread about a quarter inch from the edge.

Pocket Placemat Sewing PatternAnd blammo! You’re done!!!!!!!

Handmade Placemats

Placemat Sewing PatternHandmade Place Settings

Sewing Placemat Tutorial

DIY Placemats