Monthly Archives: March 2014

Pot ‘o Gold

03-potHappy St. Patrick’s Day! As rivers are fading from green to their normal shade(s) and parades are winding down, it’s still a holiday in my sewing room as I managed to finish this cute little pot of gold! My neighbor’s mother asked me to make this for her as a present for a gift exchange. I used my tutorial that was featured in Sew News several years ago. I had to make a slight modification to it as it seems that the handles to a lot of paint buckets have plastic handles are are not inserted back into the bucket as easilythe same so I just skipped that part all together – plus it definitely looks more ‘pot like’ anyway… now all it needs is some chocolate gold coins and it would definitely look like a leprechaun’s treasure!

On a completely different note, don’t forget today is the last day to enter to win a copy of More Felt Friends from Japan!


03-quiltbarLet me start off by saying, I am not a quilter. I’ve tried it. I don’t mind piecing things together, but I don’t want to do the actual ‘quilting’ – especially on large projects. With that said, quilters have some awesome tools – clear plastic rulers, Wonder Clips, neat fabric markers (water and heat soluble), and unique cool feetnotions for their machines (I love my BSR for small projects). Quilting tools don’t just have to be for quilting, though – sometimes they are perfect for garment sewing projects, too.  The quilting barseam guide is a prime example. This little guy attaches to your machine foot and is adjusted to your desired width so that your stitches are evenly spaced…. which is perfect for the yoke and upper arm segments of your Ziggi!

Since I’m working with leather, I needed to avoid tracing wheels (the prongs in the wheel can leave permanent marks on your material) and water soluble markers wouldn’t show on my dark fabrics (I am not a fan of chalk, either – I’ve found that on leathers sometimes the chalk gets trapped under the stitching so I can still see it which requires me to wipe it clean… I’m lazy, I don’t want to add another step). Consequently, I turned to my Seam Guide! All you need to do is create one row of stitching, set your seam guide width (mine is 1″), and place your seam guide over your original stitching for perfectly spaced rows of sewing!

Tackling the Front

03-sidesattachI know, I know. You were expecting Linky Thursday. There were so many fabulous things going on the blog this week (did you see the Felt Friends book giveaway and the metal zipper tutorial?) that it was time to catch up with some Ziggi sew-along posts. I promise, next week will be back to ‘normal’! So, about that Ziggi! If you haven’t attached the (mid) front and back pieces together at the sides, now is the time to do it.  Be sure that you are only sewing the side and not the shoulders – this is where the yolk will be eventually sewn connecting the front and back together (I’m holding my jacket up by clips so you can see what we have so far).  If you want to top stitch this area, go ahead and do this now – I left this area free from stitching only because a lot of my ready-to-wear jacket tend not to topstitch the side seams.  Hmmm, I wonder why?). Next grab your Front Jacket pieces.

Here is where I deviated from the instructions (again). I have to admit, I just didn’t like the way they have you inserting the zipper – it seems unnecessarily difficult and isn’t typically a method that I’ve used for other jackets. Here’s what I did: First, I worked from the left side of the jacket: I placed my shortened zipper with the bottom stop at the bottom mark (or bottom hem depending on how your zipper was shortened) RIGHT SIDE DOWN on the mid front section (where the hem is indicated). If you shortened your zipper, the top stop of the zipper should end at the top hash mark of the jacket mid front and pinclip in place (Photo1). Fold the excess zipper tape away from the jacket (toward the raw edge) – this will create a nice finished to your zipper when everything is sewn together. Now place your front jacket piece on top of your mid jacket section, matching the notches and sandwiching your zipper in between it all and pin in place (the jacket front is pulled back in Photo 2 to show you how the the zipper is sandwiched in between the layers).



Using your zipper foot, sew the left side of the jacket together. Press your seam open toward the mid-front section of your jacket. This will ‘turn’ the zipper so that the right side is exposed and allow you to top stitch this section of the jacket if desired (it will also help hold the zipper in position).

03-rightfrontThe right side is much easier. Match the notches of the right front to the right mid-front section of the jacket and sew. Press your seam toward the right mid front and topstitch if desired. If you haven’t already, remove the other half of your zipper from the left side of the jacket (I like to keep mine together when I sewed the left side of the jacket because things have a tendency to ‘walk off’ in my sewing room). Place the edge of the zipper RIGHT SIDE DOWN on the (right-side) right front section of the jacket. The end of the zipper should be aligned with the bottom hash mark (or the bottom hem depending on how your zipper was shortened) and the zipper stop at the top has mark. Fold over your excess zipper tape toward the raw edge and stitch the zipper in place using your zipper foot. Do not fold over your zipper and top stitch  – we’ll be attaching the facings very soon and will tackle that next!

Whew! The front is almost finished! Don’t forget to post your progress photos in the Flickr group and show off your work so far!

More Felt Friends From Japan

Following up on the popular Japanese book, Felt Friends from Japan comes a new title, More Felt Friends From Japan.

This book is filled with 80 new projects including stuffies, clothing, and accessories all made with felt, thread, hand sewing needle, and a little love. Characters range from a cat (seen on the cover) and dog to a giraffe and even a chimpanzee(there’s also retro, posable girl dolls, too!) – all ready to be dressed up with clothing you make for them to wear. Best of all? They don’t have to be just stuffed animals, the author teaches you how to transform your favorite creatures into puppets!
Stuffies not your thing? There’s plenty of other projects to be made including tote bags, glass cases, coasters, and more! Great projects to make up with your children over spring break or just to engage in some casual, late night sewing.

All the patterns needed to make each project are included in the book. However, most of them require you to enlarge the pattern(s) on a copy machine prior to sewing. The instructions are clear and are followed up with great illustrations, plus there is a section in the back of the book that demonstrates stitchestechniques you will you to create your stuffie – making this a perfect book for beginners.

Intrigued? Dreaming up new projects from the book? How about winning a copy of More Felt Friends From Japan for yourself? Kodansha has generously donated a copy to be given away! Just leave a comment on this post by 12, noon (CST) Monday, March 17 to be eligible for the draw (don’t be concerned if your comment doesn’t appear automatically, if you’ve never left a comment before it will likely need to be moderated. I’ll be doing that manually all this week). Good luck!

Pretty Hardware

03-hardwareThere’s nothing better than opening up your mailbox to find that the pretty new hardware you ordered has finally arrived. Aside from the Ziggi, I have the opportunity to work on a new bag project and it calls for some fabulous notions. In addition to the items I needed, I also broke down and ordered stamped zipper pulls – I am so very excited to get to add them to my next project!

Now it’s time to put this hardware to the test and get sewing… although the time change has really put a damper on my productivitymotivation. Anyone else having this problem?

DIY Your Metal Zips

03-newzipHow’s everyone’s Ziggi coming along? Hopefully everyone has survived the zippered pocket construction and are ready finish your moto! As we move on to front assembly of the jacket, you may have found that purchasing an appropriately sized zipper difficult. So, what do you do when you can’t find what you want? You could always take to internet (some online retailers will cut to size the zipper length you need) or you could DIY it! I know what your thinking, metal zippers look impossible to shorten yourself, but when you have the right tool, it takes just minutes to fix!

03-nippersThe first thing you need is a pair of Nipper Pliers (sometimes they also called End Nippers) – which is pictured on the left. Often times you can purchase these nippers online from zipper stores (around $20), but they are typically much more expensive than finding them at your local home store (or if you husband has an extensive tool chest, chances are you already have them!) – I found mine as a set with several other pliers for around $10.

03-zippatternNow determine the length you want your finished zipper to be. I placed my zipper on the “Front Main” pattern piece along the “Left Zip” marking. Make sure that the bottom, zipper stop is even with at the hash mark on the bottom edge of the pattern. Keep the zipper along the pattern edge and make a mark on the zipper tape to indicate the top, hash mark of the pattern (The pattern notes that the zipper runs along the marks. However, if you want your jacket to look like the illustration on the front, you will need to measure from the top hash mark to the bottom hem). You could also use a ruler to adjust to the size called for in the pattern (20, 21, or 22″ depending on the pattern size you are making). However, I found that while my pattern calls for a 20″ zipper, the length needed is actually slightly less than what is noted in the materials section of the pattern (when I measure from the bottom hem to the top hash mark, it is slightly larger than the 20″). Why does this happen? If you notice, there are several size ranges listed for one size zipper (for example a 20″ zipper is needed for sizes 4-12) – since patterns are adjusted both length and width slightly, it only stands to reason that there will be a few variances within that range.

03-nipactionThe mark you just made on your zipper tape will be your new zipper stop. Unzip your zipper past this point and begin removing the metal teeth, starting at the mark you made. The nipper pliers will ‘grab’ the metal teeth so all you need to do is pull straight forward and they will pop off – there should be no need to twist to remove them so you don’t need to worry about damaging the zipper tape. Continue removing the metal teeth on both sides of the tape about 1″ above your mark.

03-zipstopIf you are able to find “zipper stops” in the notions isle your store, go ahead and apply them at the mark you made on your zipper tape. If not, you need to do what I do and remove them from the zipper tap and reattach them. I found that a standard set of pliers work much better than the nippers and pulling them off. Once removed, you will probably have to pry the stop open slightly so that it will easily fit onto the new zipper tape location easily. Once on, use your (standard) pliers to crimp it back into place. Voila! Your new zip is ready for action!

Note: You can see my new zipper is at the top of this post – I left the teeth on the top edge just to show you how I made mine, but be sure to snip off the tape where you stopped removing metal teeth before you start sewing.

03-splitringEDITED TO ADD: My husband pointed out that he has a nifty tool that is PERFECT for removing (and prying apart) the zipper stops: Split Ring Pliers! These pliers have a ‘wedge’ at the top that will easily open up the zipper stop so it can be removed from the tape. This also opens up the stop enough so you’re able to to re-attach it to the zipper tape at it’s new location without having to pry it apart with another tool (then use pliers to squeeze the stop so it doesn’t fall out of position). Split ring pliers can be found at your local home store, online, and in fishing stores!

Zippered Pockets

03-pocketIf you’re following along in our Ziggi sew along then you know we’re up to what is probably the most challenging portion of the pattern – The Zippered Pocket. What makes it so challenging? The instructions are lousy. Have no fear, Maris’ post  will help clear things up and make it much simpler!  But wait, if you’ve never made a zippered pocket like this before, I highly recommend you watching this Sew Gertie Welt Pocket With Exposed Zipper  video first. While it’s not exactly the same as what we’ll be sewing for the Ziggi, it is along the same principal (she’s creating a welt in once piece of fabric, we have two. her pocket bag is one piece ours is two) and should definitely help you ‘see’ what we’ll be doing in today’s post. Plus Gertie is a great teacher and you can apply these techniques to future projects as well.

My finished pocket is featured on the left. For my version, I used a lightweight black, cotton instead of organza for the pocket window (I didn’t have organza to start with and the black cotton was the same color as my leather). I also did not lengthen my pocket length any since I had already cut my fabric(s) prior to sewing this area and didn’t have any lining material to spare so that I could recut. Lastly, I followed Shams suggestion of stitching the pocket width to 7/8″ when making the window. This gave me plenty of exposed zipper to work with, but it also makes for some seriously careful stitching when attaching your pocket bags – there’s just not a lot of material to work with to attach it to (maybe 1/8″?).

WHEW! Now the hardest part is behind us! Give yourself a huge pat on the back for putting this section together successfully and be sure to take a few minutes to admire your work before we move on! Questions? Comments? You can leave them here, on Maris’ post, or share with our Flickr group!  Missed a post? You can catch up here:



Linky Thursday

What do you give the (new) mom who has everything? A very cool burp cloth that not only holds a bottle, but keeps it warm.

Easy to wear, but dressy enough for the office: The Asymmetrical Sheath Dress.

I think the new trend in (small) purses are frames because I’ve been seeing them a lot lately. This linen and lace version has a nice ‘dressed up’ feel.

It’s not secret that my favorite style of knit tops is raglan. Now it’s easy to make the little ones shirts this style too.

These fabric covered notebooks would make the perfect gift (especially for teachers). Add a journal pen holder and it’s even better.

There may still be snow on the ground, but I’m dreaming of the beach when I look at these seahorse pillows.

A different take on the high-low skirt style – this version has a faux wrap look.

It won’t be too long before your kids will be running around outside with one of these tanks from Fishsticks Designs.

Need more seating? Make some poofs! I guarantee your kids will fight over who gets to sit on it!

Not only is this messenger bag large enough to hold all your essentials, it’s reversible – so it’s two bags in one!

Keep the dust off your machine when you’re not using it with this easy machine cover tutorial.

Need a shirt that’s casual, quick to whip up, and goes with almost everything? Check out this Shoreline Boatneck Shirt. Make it even more fun by adding a sequin phraseword to the front, too!

I’m still on the fence as to how I feel about cocoon coatscardigans, so free tutorials and patterns are always a great way to test out the design. Here’s one for a casual cardi and a dressier coat.

Give Me An ‘E’

03-eIf I could hashtag today’s post, it would read: #TooManyIronsInTheFire. Generally, I like to sew one project at a time – I seem to work best when I am not so spread out. But somehow, I’ve managed to start not one, not two, but 4 things at once (with a 5th in the ‘planning stage’)! In addition to our Ziggi, I’ve begun work on an article (with a sample), a commissioned piece, and am testing a bag pattern for a fantastic designer! My dilemma? I love all of them so much, I’m having a hard time deciding what to work on each day! So, today’s post is a glimpse of something I’ve recently started – it’s fun, cheerful, and I can’t wait to finish it so I can ‘get the project out of my head’ and see it completed in fabric…. that, by far, is my favorite part of sewing. What’s yours?

The Ziggi Backside & Top Stitching Basics

Now that the collar is finished, it’s time to tackle the back of the jacket.  This part of the instructions is fairly straightforward. However, if you haven’t decided if you want to top stitch or not, now’s the time to decide!

Why bother top stitching your Ziggi?

  • It makes bulky fabrics ‘behave’. If you’re working with leather, wool, or denim, chances are you’ll find that your seams never quite lay flat enough. Top stitching helps tame weighty material and smooth garment seams for a polished look.
  • It adds interest to your finished garment (to add even more interest you can use a contrasting thread). This style of jacket typically has quite a bit of top stitching, however, if you’re going for a ‘dressier’ look, you may want to skip it.
  • If you’ve decided to leave your jacket unlined, it’s a nice way to create a more finished interior look (especially if your material doesn’t ravel).

Top Stitching Basics

  • Always lengthen your stitch (especially when top stitching heavier fabrics). Using longer stitches will keep them from ‘sinking’ into your material, make them smoother in appearance, and more visible on your garment.
  • Most top stitching is done 1/16 – 1/8″ away from the seam line.
  • Press. Press. Press. A good press before top stitching will help produce crisp lines for a professional finish.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the tension on your machine. Doing this can help prevent puckers (tighten your tension) or too tight stitches (loosen your stitches).
  • Sew slowly. This helps give you precise results – no wants a wonky line!
  • Save your scraps! Before you start top stitching on your actual garment, practice on some fabric scraps. This allows you to gauge what tension settings and stitch length is necessary to produce your desired results.

03-patternNow that we’ve talked about top stitching it’s time to dig in and start the back of your jacket! To start, you’ll need 3 pieces: The center back (2 pieces), lower back (1 piece), and the hem facing (1 piece). By now you’ve probably noticed the illustration shows the center back is one piece, but as we all discovered when cutting, it’s two – go ahead and sew these two pieces together at the center seam (indicated by the CBK label on the pattern piece, I’ve also highlighted it in the photo with a green line). If you’ve decided to add top stitching in this area be sure to put it in place prior to the next step.

Next, attach the lower center back section to your completed center back piece (the ‘notch’ of the lower back section will match up with the center back seam) and top stitch, if desired. Lastly, sew the hem facing to the lower back section (do not top stitch this section) – your jacket back should look like this right now:


To finish up the backside, you’ll want to take the (2) back side pieces and attach them to either side of the constructed jacket back (don’t forget to top stitch when you’re done). The notches help match everything up and I found that it came together nicely.


Looking good, right? You can really see the shaping taking place in your jacket already!