Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Experiment

I have been working away steadily on the dresses that I mentioned in this post, but today I did something a little different. I wanted to make hats to go with two of the dresses. I had never made hats before, except for a little prairie bonnet years ago, so this was an experiment. I am happy to say it turned out well!

I got all the interfacing cut out and ironed on, and then turned my attention to the pattern. It has been a long time since I have read a pattern, and this was a difficult one. I got what I could from the instructions, then figured the rest out by trial and error. Let's just say the seam ripper was my friend. ;-)

In spite of the complexity of the pattern, I really like it, especially in this fabric. So cute!

I also made a blue hat.

All I have left to do is attach a flower or button to the front to tack down the little pleat. I can't wait to make the matching dresses!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A long time ago, over 10 years ago, in fact, my parents made a decision, and my sisters and I started taking sewing lessons. Our teacher was a sweet, short lady with curly hair named Mrs. Looyen. She had a little daughter and a little white dog. Once a week our mom would drop the three of us girls off at Mrs. Looyan's house. I still remember the first thing we made - matching plaid jumpers.

The jumpers were quite an ambitious project, complete with lining and pockets. I remember pouring over the patterns as we learned to read them, soaking up definitions of terms and learning 'sewing language'. After the jumpers, we made skirts. Mine was a full, long one, blue and white checked gingham. We made pincushions, too, out of blue fabric sprinkled with tulips.

The sewing lessons stopped when the Looyens decided to move, but my sisters and I had learned enough to get us going. When the Looyens left, they took with them my stuffed lamb, which I had given their little girl, but they left me with much more than that. Those sewing lessons have given me so much joy and opened a world of opportunities. I went from carefully following a pattern to creating things from my imagination. I grew from jumpers and skirts to formal gowns.

Everything that appears on this blog, even the blog itself, is only possible because of the opportunity my parents gave me, and because of Mrs. Looyen. Thank you!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sew Fun!

I get excited about the little things in life, like blooming flowers and pineapples and stars. I also get excited about sewing. Earlier this week, I got a bunch of fabric from a friend. That was really exciting!

I thought the fabric would make great dresses for little girls, so I dug out a few patterns and got to work!

I had so much fun mixing and matching sleeves and skirt shapes and deciding what type of dress to make out of which fabric.

A good two days work:

The dresses are sizes 7, 8, and 10. Within the next couple of weeks, I plan to have them done and up for sale on my Etsy shop! I can't wait!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Step by Step: Altering a T-shirt

You know when you are really excited about getting that free T-shirt in the mail and then it arrives and ends up being a baggy one-size-fits-most? Some T-shirts are made of soft enough material that they drape nicely and look great, but others are a little stiffer and make you look fat. Those are the kind I am talking about here. Those are the kind I like to alter.

I think this is one of my favorite projects. T-shirts are so comfortable and versatile, and I like making them a bit more flattering, too.

Step 1: Using a shirt that fits you well as a guide, pin the edges of the shirt you are altering where you want to take 
them in. You can also pin along the bottom at this point if you are going to be making the shirt shorter.

Step 2: Sew in the side seams and cut off the excess fabric. (The sleeves on this shirt were a little wider 
than I wanted them, so I took in some fabric there as well.) Cut the desired length off the hem.


Step 3: For the hem, turn the edge under once to about three quarters of an inch. This is probably the only time I will say 
this, but you don't have to worry about zig-zag stitching unless you really want to. T-shirt material doesn't unravel easily. 
Sew two lines of stitching for the hem. I always sew the top line first to make sure it catches the raw fabric edge.

Step 4: Take the ribbed edge, fold it under past the seam lines, and sew it down with two lines of stitching, 
just like the hem. This will probably create some unsightly gathering, but in my experience, a hot 
iron takes care of that. It also helps to cut off any excess ribbing, as I did in the second picture.

If the sleeves are too long, you can shorten them the same way you did the hem. 
That's all there is to it! Here is how the altered shirt compares to the unaltered one:

Altered T-shirt

Much better, in my opinion! If you're one of those people who looks great in the shirt on the right, kudos to you! But for those of use who don't, this is a quick and easy save for all those free (or not-so-free) T-shirts that we love so much.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Small Fixes, Big Differences

Sometimes an item of clothing just needs a little bit of tweaking to make it wearable. I had a shirt that I loved, but the neckline was too loose and flopped forward.

I have a spool of elastic thread that really comes in handy sometimes, and this was one of those times.

Since the thread was white, I didn't want it to show on the outside of the shirt, so I wove it through the line of too-loose elastic stitching that was already there.

I did this on two of the lines of stitching, and it fixed the problem nicely!



Since I had the elastic thread out, I decided to fix a bracelet that had broken the other day.

My needle was too big to fit through the beads, and the elastic thread was too flexible to poke through on its own, so I tied some of the broken elastic from the bracelet to my elastic thread and pulled it through.

Small fixes, big differences.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

If You Can't Find It, Make It!

Some items of clothing are really hard to jean skirts, for example. When I can't find something that I want, I usually end up making it. The best thing about that is I can make it exactly  how I want it! Today's project was a jean skirt. My mom had been looking for one for a long time, but never found anything that was her style. I bought a pair of jeans at a thrift store for $1 (One dollar! Can you believe it?!) that I thought would make a great skirt, and began sewing.

After ripping open the inside seams and cutting off the waist/pocket section, I realized that it was going to turn out a little short, so I took a strip of material from what I had cut off and added it to the top. The hem of the jeans made an excellent waistband.

And here is how it looked all sewn together:

I put in the zipper, sewed up the hem, and the skirt was finished!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Creative Combination

When you find some old cloth placemats, 'skirt' may not be your first thought. It probably wouldn't be mine either under normal circumstances. But when I am looking for odds and ends to re-make, 'skirt' is a very natural consideration.

I started with big placemat squares like the one you see above, cutting them in half at a bit of an angle. I then flipped one of the halves so that the wider edges were all at one end and sewed them together, leaving the fringes on the outside.

I zig-zag stitched each of the seams, and that part of the skirt was done.

I thought adding a jean band on the top would compliment the placemats well, so I found a pair of jeans and cut off the top just under the back pockets.

The fringes on all the placemat pieces made me think that the jean band needed a fringe, too. I don't know if this was a good idea, because it took forever, but in the end I think it was worth it.

I used a seam-ripper (and later a sewing machine needle) to rip out the white threads along the edge, then trimmed the fringe to the length of the blue threads.

I cut the top fringe off of the place mat section, zig-zag stitched the raw edge, and sewed it under the jean band.

And here is the placemat skirt!