Monthly Archives: July 2011

Simplicity’s Fabric Guide: A Review

Using the wrong material can be devastating to a project – one of the key factors in making a garment look professional is the fabric that’s used and knowing how to work with it. So how can a home sewer learn this? Books like Simplicity Fabric Guide. This new title covers everything from how fabrics are woven and manufactured, how to burn test fabrics to find their content (10 different fabrics are listed and identified according to how they burn), listing a variety of underlings, interfacings and stabelizers, how to work with fabric (nap, determining and straightening grain, understanding repeats and plaids), and needle and thread selections that work best with your fabric choice. There’s also a handy measurement section of the book that not only has a fabric conversion chart, but how to measure for bed coverings, window treatments, and table cloths as well as a how to on taking body measurements.The bulk of the book, however, is devoted to the variety of fabric types out there – what they are, how they are use, and a few sewing tips on work with it. Believe it or not, there’s a lot more to this book, too – so the best way to describe it might be: Everything you wanted to know about fabric and more.

Overall, I found Simplicity Fabric Guide to be a good resource of information. Being a person who does a lot of shopping online, I find it helpful to have a quick reference as to what I may be purchasing and how I might use it. Once I have the material in my hands, this book can take the guesswork out of figuring out what needle and thread works best (and even a few good tips as to how to deal with the fabric). I also have to admit, I really love the burn test information, too – I can never remember what materials burnsmell like and am always trying to look this up on the internet. It’s great to have it handy on my bookshelf!

The Bottom Line: A great reference tool to have on your bookshelf, whether you’re a beginner or advanced sewer! (Now to go find some of my mystery fabrics to burn!).

Linky Thursday

A great gift idea for a wedding, shower, or just a couple’s Christmas: His & Her aprons. Of course if you’re looking for something fun for yourself, why not try this Craft Vendor Apron? I think it might work for the gardener too.

A seriously cute wrist pincushion. It might actually be too adorable to use!

Easton is getting way too big for his current hooded towels. I think this looks like a quick and easy replacement (and maybe one for the pool, too?).

Whether it’s dinner out or a summer road trip, this quiet art pack is a good solution to keep the kids busy.

Another way to cover your Kindle.

Turn an infant romper into a hat. Simply adorable!

This tutorial for a keyhole shirt geared toward a child’s shirt, however, it really should work with any size raglan tee.

There’s really a backlash against Anthropologie clothing – and for good reason, why would you pay over $200 for a skirt you can easily create (or at least be inspired by) for well under? This is a cute interpretation and a great pattern modification.

Another cute t-shirt to tank refashion.

Don’t toss your fabric scraps – turn them into a belt!

A cute tote with lots of pockets from Happy Zombie blogger, Monica Solorio-Snow.

I’m always going to stores (and a few doctor’s offices) where they have those cute flower pens. Now I can just make some for myself (and a vase to put them in).

Corseted Skirt Tutorial, Part 2

If you’re following along with yesterday’s Corseted Skirt Tutorial, then at this point you have the beginnings of a waistband. Now it’s time to put it all together! Before we do, let’s talk a little bit about the skirt tiers.

First you need to determine how long you want your skirt to be. For this swap, my partner wanted her length to be right around 30″. Next. decided how many tiers you want your skirt to have (I went with 4). Now comes more math. Subtract 4 1/2″ from you length (this is the size of the waistband). In my case it was 30 – 4 1/2 = 25 1/2. Now divide that number by the number of layers to your skirt (25.5/4 = 6.375) and add your seam allowance. This would make your number 6.375 + .5 = 6.875 or 6 7/8. For cutting purposes I find it easier to round up and make these squares a full 7″.

Now that you have your width of your skirt layers. It’s time to tackle the tier length. The question you want to ask yourself is, “How full do I want my layers?” (As a reference, the skirt in yesterday’s photo is slightly gathered)

For a slightly gathered look:
Tier one: Add 5 inches to your hip measurement width.
For example if you had 40″ hips, your first tier would be 45″ long (plus seam allowances)
Subsequent tiers: Multiply the previous number by 1.3
For example: My second tier you multiply 45 x 1.3 = 58 1/2″ (plus seam allowances), my third tier is 58 1/2 x 1.3 = 76″ (plus seam allowances), and my fourth tier is 78 x 1.3 = 99″ (plus seam allowances).

For a very gathered, fuller skirt:
Tier one: Add 10 inches to your hip measurement width.
For example if you had 40″ hips, your first tier would be 50″ long (plus seam allowances)
Subsequent tiers: Multiply the previous number by 1.5
For example: My second tier you multiply 50 x 1.5 = 75″ (plus seam allowances), my third tier is 75 x 1.5 = 112.5″ (plus seam allowances), and my fourth tier is 112.5 x 1.5 = 168.75″ (plus seam allowances).

Whew, now that we’ve tackled that, let’s get back to sewing.

1) For the first tier, sew the short ends together 1/2 way – this area will eventually be closed with velcro after being attached to the waistband. Fold back the raw seam allowance on the back edge of the tier (the one that will be attached to the open end of the waistband).

2) Use a long machine stitch and sew around the top edge of the tier. Gather by pulling up bobbin thread – distribute fullness evenly.

3) With right sides together, place gathered tier to waistband, matching raw edges and sides. Sew in place.

4) Cut Velcro the length of the opening (mine was approximately 7″). Stitch ‘fuzzy’ side of Velcro to the lining side of the back waistband and finished tier edge. Stitch ‘scratchy’ side of Velcro to the right side of panel and tier with the raw edge. Your skirt should now look like this:

Now it’s easy!

5) Sew the short end of the tier together. Use a long machine stitch and sew around the top edge of the tier. Gather by pulling up bobbin thread – distribute fullness evenly. With right sides together, place gathered tier to previous tier and sew.

6) Repeat until all layers are attached. For the last tier. Press up hem and sew in place.

7) Thread ribbon through loops and work that skirt!

Like any pattern, there are lots of modifications you can make.

One suggestion is adding patchwork. It’s not so noticeable in the photos, but every other layer of my skirt is made up of patchwork blocks. To do this, after you determine the length of your tiers, determine how many blocks it will take to make up that measurement… and then round up or down – whichever is closest to your original number. For example, I went with an even 7″ block so for a 76″ tier, I used 11 blocks.

Another is adding a ruffle at the bottom of the skirt… I wound up doing this at the end, last minute because I just felt like it would add ‘something’ to the finished look (especially since this was a shorter skirt). To determine the ruffle’s length, calculate it just as you would another layer. In my case, I multiplied 99 x 1.3 to get 128.7 and decided on a 3″ width.

Lastly, skip the Velcro and sew in a zipper instead. I went with Velcro, not just because it’s easy, but also because it might give a bit more room if my partner needs an extra 1/2-3/4″ in the waist area. You could also move the zipper to the opposite side of the waistband – although I really like the fact that it’s hidden behind the corset and ribbon.

With that said, I hope this tutorial works for you! I’m anxious to mail this skirt off and see how my partner likes it!

Corseted Skirt Tutorial, Part 1

When I signed up for the Over 30 Geezer Swap, I didn’t know that I would be so ‘challenged’ in the project that I was going to create… a corseted, patchwork, broomstick style skirt. Since there doesn’t seem to be a pattern out there, I decided to make my own – and thought that I would share a mini-tutorial with you for those who are interested in making their own:

1) Measure yourself. It’s important to accurately measure your waist and hip size since these numbers will determine how you will cut your material.

2) Divide your hip measurement in half, then add your seam allowance and 5″ for the width of the material. This will be your back waistband – cut two from your material.
For example: For a 34″ waist; divide by 2 to get 17. Add 1/4 seam allowances on both sides to get 17 1/2 x 5″ rectangles.

3) Determine how large of an opening you want to your corseted area to have. I went with 3″. I subtracted that number from the divided hip measurement (17), added seam allowances and 5″ for the width of the material. Cut two pieces with this measurement – these will be your front pieces.
For example: For a 34″ waist and a skirt with a 3″ opening you would subtract 17-3 to get 14. Add the seam allowances in to get 14 1/2″, with a 5″ width. Your rectangles would measure 14 1/2″ x 5″.

4) Since the skirt isn’t really designed to be cinched and closed, I decided to add a panel that fits where the front and back are joined. I cut this approximately 2″ longer than the opening area and add 5″ to the width. With right sides together, sew along 3 edges, turn right side out, and press. Set aside.
For example: For a 3″ opening, you would add 2 inches to make a 5 x 5″ square.

5) You’ll need to make loops for your skirt to hold the ribbon (I made 8). Cut a strip 1 1/2″ wide by 20″. Fold in half, right sides together and sew using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Turn right side out and press. Cut into 2″ segments and set aside.

6) With right sides together sew one front and one back piece together along one short edge. Repeat for remaining, lining pieces and set aside.

7) Along the short, free edges of the front waistband, mark the seam allowances on the top and bottom. Place 3-4 loops just under these markings and baste (this will keep the loops from getting caught while sewing the lining and skirt). Repeat for back of waistband.

8 ) With right sides together, place lining on top of waistband matching raw edges and seams. Sew along the top and side edges, leaving bottom edge free. Clip corners, turn right side out and press.

At this point you should have something that looks like this:

9) Add the panel to the front waistband. To do this overlap the the front side of the panel with the back of the waistband front by 3/4″. Stitch close to the panel’s finished edge. Do not sew the other side of the panel and the back waistband together (Velcro will later be sewn to this area so that the skirt can be opened up and slipped on over the hips).

This is a good ‘stopping point’ and a nice break away from the math! Part 2 will discuss how to finish up the the waistband and how to determine the length of the skirt tiers.

Keeping Cool

When a friend and I planned for this past weekend’s baby shower, we were given a lot of ‘creative license’. Since this was baby boy #4, the mom had already done quite a few, boy and duck themed parties – so this time we went with something fun: Race cars. Not only did dad drive muscle cars for a living, but we thought a checkered flag type theme sort of symbolized ‘the finish line’ for the mom since they’ve determined ‘this is it!’ We also wanted to do something ‘themed’ and fun for favors and came up with this crafty concoction:

“Floozy Koozies”! To make these, we spray glued glitter on the outside of a foam koozie (we found ours at Michael’s) and then hot glued a marabou boa to the top. They were simple and fun to make (we even got the kids to help out), but if I had to do it over again, I would use fabric on the koozie exterior because the glitter will eventually ‘shed’. Best of all? They were a hit at the party!

Tiny Thins Are Cute

Sometimes it’s the little things in life that get you distracted. In my case, it’s the really little things. For an upcoming project I needed small trinkets – I had asked friends and family to send me some, but one day, while surfing on a website I stumbled across an ad for…. tiny things. I wound up getting a 1 lb. jar full of goodies and it arrived the other day – I spent an afternoon sorting through everything and (Easton and I) had a blast checking it all out. I can’t wait to share this project with you when it’s finished!

Now it’s time to get ready for the big baby shower party! Wish us luck, we’re hoping to have the party before the baby comes, the mom is already dilated and baby is way down in position… I may have shower and baby photos to share come Monday!

Linky Thursday

I’ll admit, I have a ‘thing’ for bags… and the bigger the better. That’s why this Carpetbagger is high on my ‘must sew list’. (For those of you who have missed Weekend Designer, he runs a new blog here. All about bags!)

Shorts, too short? Add a few inches and a bit of femininity to your cut-offs this summer.

Update a room in under an hour by creating a one-of-a-kind lampshade.

Need a quick top? This tutorial will have you making a stylish tube top (I love the large waistband on this one).

A cute little baby tunic – I love those flutter sleeves! (Link to pattern is in the body of the entry)

Are mustaches still ‘hot’? If so, you’ll want to make yourself one of these mustache key chains.

This car mat tutorial is a perfect gift or new ‘toy’ for the boys… and it’s even ‘no-sew’.

I need to stop finding baby tutorials to sew up for friends. Now I really would like to make one of these stuffed footballs.

I’ve always wanted a Bento box (and the cute little lunches that go in them) so it only stands to reason that I would someday want to sew up this cute bento box container.

I’m not sure my daughter would ever use it (because she’s always on her iPod Touch), but I love this iPhone Sleeve, anyway.

Easton saw these Dragon Wings and said, “I want THAT. That guy’s cool”. Guess what I’ll be sewing soon?


I never really set out to ‘make’ baby shower decorations, but after several unsuccessful trips to stores to find race car themed items (they all seemed to be Cars 2 race cars), I decided to take matters into my own hands. I manged to find the perfect checkered material and set out to make several flags (hot glued them to small wooden dowels) and my first ever bunting:

This was another one of those ‘just wing it’ kind of a project. I made a triangle template (roughly 8″), sewed two triangles together, turned & pressed, then sewed them to a wide ribbon. I added letter appliques that spelled out the baby’s name (Devin). My one mistake? Putting the checkered fabric on top of a white background – the lettering was so difficult to read that I wound up outlining it in red so you can make out the name.

Overall this was a quick little project that was completed in around an hour. Now, let’s hope the mom doesn’t decide on a name change between now and Saturday!

Cabriolet Wrap

This weekend, I felt the need to make a little something for myself. Since our temperatures are still in the 100’s with no relief in sight, I just can’t seem to bring myself to make something for fall – it just sounds so hot and itchy. So, I decided to make Fabric.comHot Pattern’s free pattern: The Cabriolet Wrap-Over Skirt/Dress (I liked the one on their blog so much I couldn’t help but try it out).

I found an interesting gauze at Joann’s at 60% off – I couldn’t resist picking it up because it seemed perfect for this pattern… plus it was the ‘right’ price, too! Overall the Cabriolet Wrap’s sewing is very easy, it’s predominantly straight lines and gathering so it really is great for a beginner. However, be warned, since there is so much material that you’re working with, there’s lots of hemming and gathering involved so this does take awhile to construct (my particular wrap seemed to take even longer since my gauze fabric liked to stick to itself).

When it comes to wearing the Cabriolet Wrap, I suggest having a helper… or a bit of patience to get everything arranged, wrapped, and laying correctly. This seems to be especially true when it comes to wearing this as a dress (and of course my favorite way to wear this outfit) because you’ll definitely want the ‘volume’ of the waistband and ties around your bust to give this dress some length. Overall, a wonderful free pattern and was definitely worth the time to make!

Wet Bag

This weekend is my best friend’s baby shower. Over the past month I managed to make several baby items and even a matching basket, but after putting it all together, it just seemed to be missing something. So I racked my brain as to what I could make that not only matches the other items I made, but is something she didn’t already have (she has a one year old, so she’s still pretty ‘stocked’). That’s when I came up with…. a wet bag! This little bag is a perfect way to stow dirty diapers, soiled clothing, and even wet swimsuits because it has a waterproof lining made of PUL. I thought this project was perfect not just because it was something new-to-her, but it also gave me a good excuse to try out a new material… and I have to say, it wasn’t difficult to work with at all! However, I ‘winged’ this pattern so if I make it again, I might come up with a better way to sew it up – I have a feeling I could make it a cleaner design if I did.