Category Archives: Tutorials

Oilcloth Blanket

One of the best things about summer is having the opportunity to spend time outdoors. Picnics, fireworks, and lounging by the lake are made even better if you’re sitting on a waterproof blanket. What could be even better than that? A blanket that folds up into a tote – perfect for storing picnic accessories, sunscreen, or pool toys plus it’s easy to carry around. Want to know how to make one for yourself? Just check out my latest article in JuneJuly 2012 issue of Sew News.

This project uses oilcloth for the underside of the blanket (the top is cotton fabric) which repels water – so even if the ground is damp, you won’t be! Oilcloth is surprisingly easy to work with – in fact, I think I actually like working with it more than laminated cottons (I found laminated cottons are extremely difficult to topstitch because it’s ‘sticky’, while oilcloth glides through my machine). Even though I give several tips and tricks to working with this material I can’t stress one thing enough: USE PENCIL when marking the material. I thought my magical Marvy marker would be fine since I ‘erased’ the line I had made after measuring. However when I woke up the next morning, I found that even though the line on the wrong side of the material had disappeared, it had ‘soaked’ though to the front. There’s nothing like having to start a project over again because you’ve ruined your fabric!

Maxi Skirt Tutorial

Once again, Maxi Skirts are hot this season. Why spend money at a department store on one when you can try out my latest tutorial at WeAllSew! Making your own maxi skirt is remarkably easy – you just need a few quick measurements, a couple yards of material, and an hour of your time and in the end you get a skirt that fits you like a glove!

Just a few comments about this tutorial: This skirt is designed so that you do not need elastic around the waistband (that way if you have a shirt you want to wear tucked into it, you still have a pretty waistline), but you could easily add some during construction if you so desire. Because of the lack of elastic, it’s very important to take precise measurements so enlist the help of a friendspousesignificant other when you take yours. It’s ok if you’re a bit too small on your measurement (because the fabric stretches it will still fit you well), but going ‘too big’ will make this skirt fall off you you while you’re wearing it. The fabric you choose is also important – look for a light-weight (too beefy will create a bulky looking skirt) knit that has good stretch and recovery (when you stretch the fabric to quickly bounces back into it’s original position). For those of you wondering where I got this fabric: Joann‘s (they had a great selection of jersey in a wide assortment of colors – this seemed to have the ‘springiest’ vibe)

Have other questions, comments, etc? Be sure to let me know!

Shower Glam

My grandmother had an impressive collection of curler bonnets and shower caps. These were no ‘ordinary’ caps either. They were made from a variety of prints and delicate fabrics. They had lace and ruffles and pretty trims…. and I loved to wear them all. In fact, whenever she came to visit, I couldn’t wait for her to open up her suitcase so I could see which ones she brought with her. So what’s missing from the shower caps that we see today? Glam! My latest project for WeAllSew captures this retro spirit with fun chiffon Shower Caps embellished with a ribbon rosette. Not only are they super easy to stitch up, but they’ll keep your locks in perfect shape when you have to take a quick shower! Create the ribbon rosette for the shower cap or attach it to a pin back so you can wear it with anything.

Pressing Matters

Proper pressing is one of the most important aspects of any sewing project… it can make the difference between creating something professional and it looking “Becky Home Ec-y”. Even the most inexpensive pressing ham can cost you around $12, but if you have some scraps on hand, you can make your own (plus it’s fun to coordinate your sewing roomtools)! Intrigued? Then you’ll definitely want to check out my latest article in Sew News (FebMarch 2012). I will give you a heads up, this is a very messy project as it uses sawdust as a filler so be prepared to move your work outside for stuffing. Speaking of sawdust, where can you get yours? If your spouse isn’t into woodworking, then you can try your hand at askingbegging at your local home improvement center. The man who helped me was reluctant to part with it since it’s ‘company policy’ that what’s inside the ‘vacuum’ is owned by the store… after he saw we had a cart full of other items, he was more willing to part with it. You can always substitute with fiberfill, but you’ll want to pack very firmly and smooth out any lumps and bumps.

Have questions about this article? Like to share your finished project? Post your links or comments here!

Door Organizer

If you have a teenager, you know that most of them have ‘organizational’ problems. Their rooms are a mess, they’re always looking for ‘lost’ items, and they rush out the door for schoolpracticeworkfriends scrambling to find everything. Now there’s an easy way to keep all their ‘essentials’ together: a Door Organizer! My latest project up at WeAllSew keeps all your small items together as it hangs on the handle of your door. There are two front pockets (perfect for iPods, money, pens, and even a small set of keys) and a tab in the back that is large enough to hold envelopes, coupons, etc. Now there’s no excuse not to have everything handy!

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.

Chalkboard Placemats

One of the hottest new fabrics out there is chalkboard cloth – it’s sewable (it’s very ‘user friendly’) and it’s easy to write on. The problem is, finding unique ways to use this material. My latest tutorial for The Sewing Republic should help you with that problem: Placemats! It’s a fun way to serve breakfast in the morning (think writing little messages to the kids before they go to school), a great way to keep little kids entertained at the table, or dress it up with some elegant fabrics and use them at a dinner party (you can write the night’s menu on the chalkboard section of the placemat). I used a combination of chalkboard cloth and novelty fabrics for this tutorial, but you can make your versions entirely ‘wipeable’ by using laminated cottons around the boarder and backside.

While chalkboard cloth is very easy to work with, here’s a few tips on making working with this material go more smoothly:

Prime it! It’s important to rub a piece of chalk across the material (back and forth, up and down) then wipe with a damp cloth. Priming will allow the chalk to ‘stick’ to the material. You may find after repeated use that your fabric will need to be primed again.

Roll it! Never crease your chalk cloth. This will crack the surface of the material, making it unusable.

Press it! When you’re ready to press your chalkcloth fabric, be sure to use a press cloth and the synthetic setting on your iron. Using direct heat will melt the the material, making it unusable (not to mention make a mess of your iron!).

Men’s Apron Tutorial

You don’t see much of my husband on my site – I suppose it’s because I don’t always sew up a lot of items geared towards ‘the guys’. However, he recently became the model for my latest Sewing Republic tutorial…. a men’s BBQ apron (this apron will work perfectly fine for women as well, just change up the fabric)! I’ve always found that ‘standard’, purchased aprons are never big enough for the guys. So what makes apron work so well for men is the larger width and metal grommets that hold the neck and side ties (it seems to give it a more ‘manly’ look when you toss in a bit of metal). Pair this up with a vertical stripe, sport, skull or tattoo novelty print (I used an Alexander Henry flame fabric) and you’ve got yourself the perfect Father’s Day gift!

And many thanks to my husband who begrudgingly posed for the photos. If he continues to be this cooperative, I might make him more ‘stuff’!

Sock It To Me

My latest tutorial for The Sewing Republic is live – learn how to make a ‘classic’ Sock Monkey! For this one, I used women’s knee high socks, although smaller socks would work just as well (however, the long arms and legs would be much shorter). If you’re looking to make your own, I found some of the cutest (and most reasonably priced) ones at Target….. and they even have (Paul Frank) sock monkey printed ones!

Love the concept, but not into monkeys? Purchase an extra pair of socks (or shorten the armslegs of this version), eliminate the small ears, and cut some long, bunny ears instead – it’s perfect for a quick basket stuffer.

Customize A Robe

My latest tutorial for the Sewing Republic is live – learn how to make yourself a Customized Lounge Robe. The great thing about this project is that it’s designed by you – plug in your measurements, determine your length (I made mine a fun kimono length), and make your own ‘pattern’!

One thing you may notice about this project is that there are no fabric requirements listed in the materials section. Since this robe is customized, your unique body measurements and desired robe length paired with the fabric width can greatly vary the amount of material needed. Consequently, it’s a good idea to take your measurements first so you can determine how much fabric you’ll need – this way you won’t end up with too little to start with or too much material left over. Cant find the fabric you want or the width you need? You can skip heading to the store and raid your linen closet instead (this is a great project to use up sheets or fleece blankets).