Archive for the ‘sewing’ Category

Many years ago (I think maybe even decades!), I got this t-shirt because I loved the quirky picture on it. It is a very soft shirt, and I wore it sometimes as a night shirt. Recently, I’ve begun to realize that regular-ol’ crew neck t-shirts really aren’t a style that suit me, and lower necklines are more comfortable, so I’ve been wanting to refashion some of my favorite tees into tops that I can enjoy wearing more often.

A couple weekends ago, I was feeling really worn out from school all week, and I felt like I didn’t have any creative energy left. An attempt to look through my fabric stash for fun fabric for (more!) masks for our family turned into me reorganizing the closet in my craft studio where I keep all my fabric. This project was long-overdue– it was a mess in there! But look how tidy it is now:

As I was pulling everything out, I found this t-shirt, which I had cut apart with the intention of making into a differently-shaped t-shirt, but didn’t have enough fabric for the pattern I’d been thinking of using. I’d put it away, but this time, I realized I could probably turn it into a Blank Slate Kirei cami (<–affiliate link).

Since this t-shirt fabric was a lot less stretchy than the knits I would usually use for this pattern (and because I learned my lesson from a previous t-shirt refashion attempt), I added width to the bodice pieces and scooped out the underarm by just a little bit. I used some scrap grey knit to make the neckline binding and straps, and this shirt has been transformed into something that I’m excited to wear more often!

This was a really satisfying accomplishment on a weekend when I thought I had no inspiration left! I will definitely be looking at my other t-shirts with new eyes after this successful refashion!

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Little green bug

My 6-year old boy likes to “do crafts with Mommy” while my daughter and Husband are doing things together. While they went on her first long bike ride on a recent Saturday afternoon, my son asked to make a bug.

At first, he wanted to do a 3-D paper-crafted bug, but my searches on Pinterest were not yielding results that we liked. He’s done a lot of crafts with toilet paper tubes, and the more intricate 3-D paper insects that were more along the lines of his imagination were a bit beyond a 6-year-old’s capabilities (and Mommy’s patience after a long week of homeschooling! haha).

He wanted to make a smaller bug that looks like his stuffed Bug that I made him Christmas 2018, so that gave me the idea that perhaps we should find a stuffed fabric bug to make together. This time, the Pinterest search was more successful. After considering some options, we settled on a free little 3-D fleece/felt ladybug softie from Fleece Fun.

I couldn’t find anny blue and black fleece leftover from the original Bug, but I found plenty of small scraps of fleece from Husband’s squid that were just right for cutting out this cute little guy. (I am not a fleece fan, so I rarely sew with it, hence the dearth of scraps.)

In the end, my son was the official stuffer– I did all of the cutting and sewing, since we wanted to get it finished the same day. But he preferred to just watch the sewing steps, asking questions about what I was doing, rather than sit on my lap and help me guide the fabric.

The pattern is a good one, even if the instructions are sparse. The seam allowance is not specified, but 1/4″ worked well for me. It took us approximately 2 hours to choose the pattern, dig out the fleece scraps, cut everything, assemble, and stuff. I think it would be even quicker in the future if I ever make another!

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Quick sunglasses case

I have a bad habit of leaving my sunglasses loose in my purse, which means they get scratched up pretty easily. Even though I only buy really inexpensive pairs, it’s still a hassle to replace them, so this time around, I thought I’d actually make a little case for them.

I came across this sunglasses case from BurdaStyle and decided to give it a whirl. It was very straightforward and the case is a good size!

I used fusable fleece instead of felt to stabilize the outer fabric, and I used a magnetic snap, since it seemed like it would be inconvenient to latch a traditional snap to close the case. I also made the hanging loop too long by accident, but– better too long than too short! It still works to clip the case to my purse!

Hopefully my sunglasses will last me a bit longer, protected in this little case!

P.S. The fabrics I used are scraps from my self-designed camera and laptop bag.

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Here’s a little backstory. This fall, we are homeschooling for the first time, and the first couple weeks, while good, were incredibly exhausting for me. I could barely think about making dinner, let alone doing anything creative. But if you know me, you know that I can’t go too long without sewing or scrapbooking before I start to get a little crazy! So as I began to climb out of the fog, I started thinking about how to scratch the creative itch that was starting up again.

I’ve been seeing some amazing Blank Slate Patterns Esma tops (affiliate link) and hacks recently, and when I spotted a leopard print rayon skirt on clearance for $3, I knew that I had to try a ruffle peplum for myself.

In minutes here and there while my kids worked, I put together a quick muslin of the pattern, and then in one weekend, I cut out my pieces from the skirt and sewed up my top!

One little surprise that I hadn’t thought of when I snapped up the skirt was that it was actually cut on the bias… so my top ended up cut on the bias, too!

I used the skirt’s existing hem for the peplum– cutting a 10.5″ strip from the bottom of the skirt. I barely managed to eke out the rest of my pieces– I had to shorten the waistline by 1/2″ to fit the front and back, there was a bit of creative cutting in order to cut the cuffs! But I managed it! This is literally all that is left of the skirt, except for the elastic, which I will save for some other project in the future!

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Shell bag tutorial

Last winter, I made myself a shell bag to take to Sanibel Island, where we vacationed with family for Christmas. I had intended to make two more right away for my kids, but here it is about eight months later, and I’m finally getting to it. Of course, it took an upcoming beach vacation to get me going!

I decided to make a bit of a basic tutorial in case anyone is interested… or if I ever want to make one for myself again. When I made my first shell bag as a sort of prototype, I kept notes on a scraggly scrap of paper, but this will be a bit easier to find and read later! 😉

netting* or mesh
scraps of woven cotton fabric (prewashed; quilting cotton recommended)
scrap of nylon webbing for wrist strap

*Note: for these shell bags, I used very inexpensive nylon net (I think I paid $1/yard for it). This is not the ideal, but I didn’t want to spend much on an experimental idea until I’d figured it out. It turns out that one yard goes a LONG way, so I made all three bags with this netting. To prevent it from tearing too easily, I used a double layer of net for the sides of the bag, and this is also why I added a reinforcement strip at the bottom of the bag.

I am not going to give too precise of measurements for this project, because each of my bags was a bit different. However, I’ll give some general guidelines to get you started.
For each bag, cut…
netting or mesh:
–I cut my 72″ wide net into strips approximately 12″ wide, then folded that in half to create my double layer (that will be again folded in half to make the bag itself.)
cotton fabric:
–TWO side strips: (approximately 3″ wide) x (the finished length of the bag plus at least 1/2″ more for finishing). For the bags that I made while writing this tutorial, my side strip length determined the finished length of the bag, since I was using scraps.
–TWO top strips: approximately 5″ wide x 12″ long, this second measurement should be the same as the width of your netting/mesh
–ONE bottom reinforcement: approximately 5″ wide x 12″ long; again, this second measurement should be the same as the width of your netting/mesh
–ONE piece long enough to make a loop that easily slips over your wrist with a couple inches extra for stitching to the bag. Mine is about 14.5″ long. I encourage you to use a candle to melt and seal the cut ends.

Prepare fabric pieces:
1. For each of the SIDE strips:
1a. turn each short end under by 1/4″ and press

step 1a

1b. fold strips in half lengthwise and press

step 1b

1c. fold raw edges to the center fold and press
1d. all raw edges should be enclosed

steps 1c and 1d

2. for each TOP strip and also the BOTTOM REINFORCEMENT
2a. fold the long raw edges under by 1/4″ and press
2b. fold in half lengthwise and press

steps 2a and 2b

Assemble bag:
3. Fold netting in half; mark the center and unfold.
4. Align the center fold of the bottom reinforcement with the center markings on the netting and pin in place

steps 3 and 4

5. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew bottom reinforcement to netting along the turned edges. (I pinned from the wrong side, then sewed from the right side, carefully going over the pins.)

step 5

6. Refold and check bag length against the prepared side strips and trim if necessary. I also used this opportunity to true up the long edges. Netting is hard to work with in long strips, so I wanted to make sure that my double layers were even along the entire length.

step 6 and starting step 7

7. Enclose the top edge of each side of the bag in its own top strip. The netting should line up with the center fold of the strip. Pin in place.
8. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew along the bottom edge of the top strip (sewing it closed over the netting) and along the top edge.

finished step 8

9. Pin one end of the webbing strap to the inside of a finished top strip, about one inch from the raw edge.
10. Being careful not to twist the strap, pin the other end to the other side’s top strip.

step 10

11. Using a straight stitch, secure webbing in place by sewing a box with an “X” through it.

step 11

12. Enclose long edges of bag with side strips and pin in place. The netting edges and raw edges of top strips and bottom reinforcement should line up with the center fold of the strip.
13. Using a zig-zag stitch, sew along both long edges. Stitch along short edges to close top and bottom of side strips.

finished step 13

Your shell bag is complete! I hope you find lots of lovely shells with which to fill it!

finished shell bags on the beach

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Ever since I made THIS ruffle-sleeve Blanc tee almost exactly a year ago, I’ve wanted one in black. In December 2019, I placed an online order from LA Finch Fabrics that included this gorgeous black double-brushed poly, and I specifically wanted to make this top. Of course, I didn’t get to it right away, but it never left my to-make list!

And finally, here it is! I used exactly the same pattern pieces that I’d made for the original ruffle-sleeved top.

It’s everything I wanted it to be. So, so comfortable, yet at bit of flair with the ruffle sleeves. It can be dressed up or down, and I specifically made it to go with these skorts that I love to wear on hot summer days!

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And to go with my new Blank Slate Garnet shorts, here is the Blank Slate Hathaway tank! (affiliate links used where available, at no cost to you, but I may earn a small commission!)

This is a woven top pattern with V-neck or round neck options that will be a staple in a summer wardrobe!

The neckline and armholes are bound with bias binding (purchased or you can make your own), and there’s even a little pocket to add to the front. The pattern comes with detailed instructions to adjust the pattern for a perfect fit in the size, bust, and length. It is very straightforward (it doesn’t even have darts!), which makes it the perfect piece to show off a special fabric.

And that’s exactly what I did with this one. This crepe is from a dress my mom made for me when I was about 15. I loved the fabric so much that I’ve hung onto that dress all these years and finally made something else from it!

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On this May the Fourth, let me give you a little sneak peek of my R2-D2 Disneybound– part of my #epicdressproject wardrobe.

We were supposed to be in Disney World for a week in the latter half of April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that didn’t happen.  The Disney resorts all around the world are closed (still), and traveling is not happening.  We are under a stay-at-home order, and so those circumstances obviously affected this project.

I have continued to work on it, after all, I have the fabric and supplies, and making things is a kind of stress-relief for me.  I was attempting to try and finish all of my projects by our original departure date, but that didn’t quite happen.  Obviously there are extenuating circumstances.  Aside from the general shift in mood, there are some things that I needed to prioritize.  I made and donated a large number of masks, my children are home and I need to do school with them… you get the picture.

Now that it’s the beginning of May, I thought it would be a good time to just give a quick update of where my projects are at.  I had six outfits planned, and I’ll give an update in the order in which I started them.  You can see fabric peeks on Instagram (I posted each time I cut out a garment) and also in THIS blog post.

  • Belle ‘bound: the dress needs a hem, and I also need to complete the yoke (which obviously needs to be finished to hem it).  The yoke is waiting on buttons: I ordered special buttons from Joann, but they shipped me the wrong ones, and so now I need to figure out how to deal with that issue.  (I do NOT recommend Joann.)
  • R2-D2 ‘bound skirt: Finished!
  • Magical green/stars (Tinker Bell?  Magical Pandora? bound): As I started constructing the bodice, I realized that my main fabric was too heavy to also be a comfortable lining.  This was just when the whole pandemic thing really started to hit (I think it was the night that it was announced that our schools were closing), and I have not been able to go out and shop for a matching lining fabric.  The dress is cut out and is sitting in a partially-sewn state.
  • Peter Pan dress: This dress simply needs to be hemmed and I need to sew on the decorative (non-functional) buttons.  I haven’t searched my button stash to see if I have any on hand, but I’m pretty sure I have something that will work.  It’s so close!
  • Snow White ‘bound blouse: Finished!  I am so pleased with how this one came out.
  • R2-D2 ‘bound top: Finished!  I love this top, too!  (sneak peek at the top of this post: pattern is the Blank Slate Abrazo tee (<–affiliate link), to which I added circular ruffles at the sleeve hems).  I bought a great belt (<–affiliate link) to complete the look, so this whole outfit is finished!
  • Minnie Mouse ‘bound: This dress really could be finished.  All I need to do is fit the straps, hand-stitch the lining, and then give it a hem.  I think I was disappointed that the straps don’t fit better, and that combined with the disappointment of our trip being postponed for quite a while just killed my motivation.
  • Snow White ‘bound skirt: I prewashed the fabric!  Ha.  This one really won’t take long– I just need to DO IT!

I’m going to try and finish this wardrobe by the end of May (pending the acquisition of supplies like buttons and lining fabric).  I think that is a perfectly reasonable goal, and I hope that I can make it!

I realized that a silver lining of our trip being postponed means that I have a better chance of finishing my Disney 2016 scrapbook project before we go again, so I’m going to be working on that as much as I can… the Disney magic won’t stop!

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I’ve really been enjoying listening to the “Sew and Tell” podcast. They posed a challenge recently called “Sew Your Roll”, in which you roll 3 12-sided dice to determine color, shade, and detail parameters for a sewing project. I thought I’d play along!

2020-04-08 19.50.14

I rolled three dice with the following results:
Blue die = color = 7 = aqua
White die= shade = 11 = neutral
Green die= detail = 2 = ruffles

I was really excited to get aqua (one of my very favorite colors) AND ruffles, because lately, I just love all the girly details, and ruffles are right there at the top of my list!  I promise that I didn’t doctor this roll!

As I looked through my stash (no fabric shopping going on currently), I discovered a smallish (29″ x 42″ wide) piece of dusty aqua rib knit that had been handed down to me a few years ago.  I think the color definitely qualifies as “neutral aqua” 🙂

Next, I needed to come up with a garment idea that would have ruffles…and fit on a >1 yd piece of fabric! I immediately thought of the Blank Slate Patterns Kirei camisole (<–affiliate link).

But how to add the ruffles…  I did a quick Pinterest search of “ruffle tank top” and this came up:

…and that helped me envision ruffles along the front neckline. Even though I used this for inspiration, the final top looks different. As I considered how I would add the ruffles with the binding, I decided to have them point downward rather than upward like the inspiration top.


And then, as I was getting everything together, I realized that the only thread I had on hand that was even close to matching is a slightly darker teal/aqua… and one thing led to another, and then I was using a scrap of darker aqua knit that matched that thread (from this dress) to add a second layer to the ruffle that would make the darker thread look intentional!


Another little hack I did was to improvise some knit interfacing.  The pattern calls for knit or stretch interfacing for the straps, and I don’t have any on hand.  Since we’re under a stay-at-home order here, it would have been irresponsible for me to go out on a hunt for some in the stores, so I got on the Blank Slate Patterns facebook page to reach out for suggestions.  Melissa suggested cutting a thin knit fabric on the crossgrain to sandwich into the straps instead, and it worked great.

In the above photos, you can see how I laid a crossgrain strip of knit along the middle fold of the strap piece.  I basted in place with very long basting stitches so that I could remove them easily when the straps were installed.  

I left the bottom hem of my top unfinished, since the rib knit will not unravel, and I have raw edges on the ruffles, as well.

I think this ruffle cami is going to be such a cute layering piece… and I never would have thought to use this hand-me-down piece of rib knit without the Sew Your Roll challenge!



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Just an E has released another fantastic PDF pattern, the Transcendence Makeup set, including this Palette Palace bag.



This large zippered pouch (12″ wide at top, 10″ wide at bottom, 7″ tall) has an angled zippered pocket on the outside front, which I made in vinyl, but could also be made with mesh:


And a smaller pocket (vinyl or mesh) on the outside back:


Inside are slip pockets on each side; one is divided:


and the other is left as one large opening (but you could decide to divide it if you want!).


The Transcendence Makeup set also includes a pattern for a cute little Lip Color Caddy, which is a small divided pouch for organizing lipsticks– but the pattern also contains modifications and dimensions for the pouch to hold items like epi-pens and inhalers!

Not only is the end result great, but the instructions are superb.  Definitely go check it out in the Just an E Etsy shop!

Since I realized at the very last-minute that I was able to test this bag for Abbe, I was limited to what I had on hand… I used zippers from my stash, and the top zipper was 14″, so I lengthened it by attaching coordinating fabric ends.

I didn’t have enough woven interfacing, so I instead used some Pellon 931TD Fusible Midweight Nonwoven interfacing that I had on hand. My bag sides are probably stiffer than normal, but I love how stable it is!  Because I didn’t have enough (and because it’s so stiff), I only interfaced one of each of the interior pocket pieces and the exterior flap piece.

I also don’t have any transparent/translucent vinyl! I remembered that I save all the zippered bags that things like blankets, sheets, and pillows come in, and so I cut my vinyl panels from one of them that seemed to be of nice quality.

I love how the bag turned out, and I’m pretty chuffed (haha, been watching some British shows lately) that the entire thing is made from stash/scrap/repurposed materials!

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