Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Christmas Ornament

 I saw this project in a magazine last Christmas and purchased the plastic ornament but it sat around collecting dust for a year. After making the Christmas stocking I remember the project and used the scraps to cover my dusty plastic ornament (after I wiped it clean). Super easy and quick to make.

clear plastic ornament

Monday, November 13, 2017

Christmas Stocking

Its beginning to look a lot like... well you know the rest.  The pattern for this patchwork stocking is in issue 35 of Simply Sewing. The fabric is a Winterfest Bundle from Joann.

Friday, November 3, 2017

The Library Book Bag

A lot of people would argue that no one visits libraries anymore, but its simply not true. I personally visit my local library weekly and on those visits I need a lightweight bag to carry home all the heavy books I borrow. The library book bag is perfect for that trip to the library. There is a front patch pocket with pintuck details for the library card. The bag base is reinforced with interfacing ( nothing worse than the bottom falling out of your bag) and  the bag is unlined making it very lightweight. Finally the side seams are neatly finished and the straps are secured with a box stitch.


24 inches (60cm) woven decorator fabric main fabric
12 inches (30cm) contrast fabric quilting cotton
2 buttons

Seam allowance 5/8 inch (1.5cm)

2  17 ¾ x 13 ½ in bag body from main fabric
2  31 x 4 straps from main fabric
1  10 x 13 ½ in bag base from contrast fabric
1  8 x 6 in pocket from contrast fabric
1  8 x 4 interfacing


Cut a 2in square from each the bag body base corners.

With bag body pieces right sides together stitch base . If using directional fabric make sure it’s running the right way.

Press seam open. Press  raw edge of seam allowance under towards  the wrong side by ¼ in. Stitch 1/8 inch from folded edge through seam allowance and bag.
Centre and fuse interfacing to bag base.

Fold under ¼ in  to the wrong side both 13 ½ in sides of the bag base.  Find the halfway point of the 10 in side and match this with the seam of the bag. Place it right side upon the right side of the bag

Pin in place. Edge stitch at the folded edge on both sides. Backstitch at the start and finish of each seam. (Optional you can use a twin needle to stitch two rows)


trim corners

two rows of stitching
Fold under top  edge by ¼in.  Press and fold again ½ in. stitch to hold (optional twin needle)

Measure and mark down from the top 1in, 1 1/2in and 2in. fold on each mark and stitch ¼ in from the fold. (Alternatively you could use a pintuck foot)

Press under the sides and bottom by ½ in. Trim corners to reduce bulk.

Place pocket ½ in up from the bag base and 2 ½ in from the edge, right side up on the right side of the bag. Pin. Edge Stitch from the top right hand side down to the base and up the left hard at the top left hand side pivot and stitch a second row ¼ in  in from the first row.. At each corner with the needle down lift the presser foot and pivot the bag. Pass thread tails to inside of bag tie off and trim.

trim seam allowance

Place right sides of bag together and stitch bag sides. Trim seam allowance of the bag body between base seam and bag base. Do not trim bag base seam allowance. Press seam allowance towards the wrong side on each raw edge as before. Stitch 1/8 in from fold edge through seam allowance only.
Fold strap  in half lengthwise with  wrong side together. Press, open and fold raw edges towards  the crease. Press and fold again to conceal raw side. Edge stitch lengthwise on both sides.

Turn bag right side out.
Place strap 2 ½ in from sides. Pin to right side with raw edges aligned. Tack ¼ in from raw edge to hold in place. Ensure strap is not twisted. Trim ½ in of seam allowance at top to reduce bulk.

Press to wrong side ¼ in top of bag and again 1 inch. Tuck straps into bag. Topstitch lower  fold, start stitching at side seam. Pull straps out of bag and top stitch edge of bag stitching straps down.



mark and stitch triangle
 From right side flatten base corner to create a triangle. Make sure that side seam and base seam are open and lying flat on the inside.  Fold triangle back so point meets the top of the base. Press to crease. Unfold triangle mark crease and stitch across. Fold triangle back towards bag and stitch at top to hold triangle. Backstitch to secure. Sew a button  at each triangle point for decoration. Give the bag a final press with the iron.
decorative button

box stitch for straps

seams finished neatly

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A New Skirt

After the success of my Erin skirt I have made another skirt. This time however I had many false starts. Firstly I purchased the wrong size pattern. Then the fabric I wanted to use sold out and finally I had set my mind to using white bias tape only to discover that the white of the fabric is not the same white as the bias tape back to Joann for more bias tape. In the end I went bold with my favourite colour combination red, white and black.
Pattern- Simplicity 8420 or D0718. The skirt comes in two lengths and four patch pocket options. I made view D.
Fabric- from, its a 100% cotton corduroy. The bias tape is by Wrights/Simplicity.
Techniques learnt and final thoughts- I learnt how to sew double fold bias on the pockets and hem. Also how to sew a waist facing.
I made a size 16 since I measure 30 at the waist and 40 at the hips but when I tried the skirt on it gaped at the back ( I often have this problem with RTW jeans). I took in the excess fabric at the back darts. This is the only adjustment I made to the skirt.
I like the pockets but I don't think them useful. I suspect anything I place in them will slide right out when I sit down. I plan to make this skirt again with different pockets.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

How to Tuck

A tuck is a fold in the fabric that is intentionally stitched in place. It sits on the fabric's surface and can be sewn vertically and horizontally. Each tuck reduces the fabric size by its width.  A tuck can be functional, removing excess fabric or purely decorative adding visual interest to plain fabric. They can be placed close together without any spacing, with spacing, in groups or randomly stitched.
When estimating how much fabric you need add the width of a tuck plus the space between each tuck this will tell you how much fabric each tuck needs. Hide any joins of fabric within a tuck.
Three Basic Tucks

Spaced Single Tucks

Single tuck- Sewn with a straight seam that runs parallel to the fold. It can sit flat or centred over the seam. From the wrong side the tuck looks like an ordinary seam.
Double Tuck

Double tuck- Has two seams that run parallel  to the fold. The second seam forms a narrower tick within the wider first tuck. The double tucks are centred with the second tuck sitting on top of the first tuck.

Grouped Pintucks
Pintucks- similar to a single tuck but very narrow. For quick  and easy pintucks a pintuck foot and twin needle are useful but not essential. A pintuck foot has narrow grooves on the underside. These grooves help sew rows of evenly spaced pintucks. A pintuck foot works best with light weight fabrics.

How to Tuck using an All Purpose Foot and Single Needle
1. Decide on the width of each tuck.
2. Mark a fold line on right side of fabric, on either side of the fold line mark the stitch line. The distance away from the fold line in which the  stitch lines are placed equal the width of the tuck.
3. Pinch the fabric at the fold line with wrong sides together. Follow the stitch line to sew the tuck.

Pintuck Foot and Twin Needle

How to Tuck using a Pintuck Foot and Twin Needle
1. Attach foot and switch to a twin needle. Increase tension to 7 and set stitch length to 2.
2. Thread the machine with two spools. One spool going clockwise the other counter clockwise. Use the same thread for the bobbin.
3. Mark the first tuck on the right side of the fabric.
4. Sew following the marked line to from the first pintuck.
5. Place the first pintuck so it nests in a groove to the left or right of the centre. The further way from the centre the first tuck is  the wider the space between tucks. Sew the second tuck. Repeat as desired.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Erin Skirt

Pattern- The Erin Skirt (short version) from Sew Over It. A button up high waisted skirt. I followed the sew along from issue 22 and 23 of Simply Sewing.
Fabric - Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in black. Its a 55% linen/ 45% cotton blend.

I made the skirt in a size 12 and it fits perfectly without any alterations. My favourite feature are the pockets. I can carry  my phone and keys without the need of  a bag. This skirt is a zero additional cost make, in that the fabric, interfacing and thread are all leftovers  from a previous make. The buttons recycled from an old jacket.

The instructions are easy to follow, my only hiccup in making the skirt is the waistband was  1cm short for my skirt. The instructions state that the waistband should extend by 1.5cm on each end for the seam allowance. On my skirt one end was only 1/2 cm. However this turned out to be no problem at all since the seam allowance needs to be trimmed down to 1/2 cm anyway.
I also spent some time fiddling with the buttons especially the waistband button. I have lost count how many times I stitched and unstitched that button, I think I have the placement right now.
The Erin is super easy to make and I love wearing it.

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Joni Dress

The Pattern- The Joni Dress from issue 22 of Simply Sewing is a long sleeve shift dress with front placket, contrast collar and cuffs, pleats and inseam pockets.

Fabric- Cotton twill in burgundy for the dress and a quilting cotton for the collar, cuffs and placket.

Struggles and Triumphs- I struggled to match the bodice and skirt side seams and bust darts. They are slightly off.
When sewing the sleeve seam at the cuff I used a zipper foot and the needle all the way to the left to get a perfect 1.5cm seam allowance.
I hand stitched the under collar in place using a ladder stitch for a neat finish.
I finished the hem using a blind hem stitch.

Final thoughts- I enjoyed making the dress. It gave me the opportunity to learn new skills like sewing cuffs but it also taught me the importance of choosing fabric. In future I will not be using cotton twill to make a dress. It creases. Also the solid colour is a mistake. Originally I was not going to include the placket but without it  the dress looks frumpy. One of the difficulties of making your own clothes is not knowing how the finished dress will look until after you have invested a lot of time sewing. This dress looked so much better in my mind.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Work in Progress- The Joni Dress

My first step when beginning a new dress is to highlight my size on the pattern. Then I  trace it onto white craft paper and cut it out, thus preserving all sizes on the original pattern. This is all very time consuming. I am wondering if there is a better solution?

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review

So much information is available online today that buying a reference book can be seen as redundant. But for me a book I return to time and time again for inspiration and knowledge is more satisfying that typing a word in a search engine.
Recently I purchased 'Dressmaking - The indispensable Guide' by Jules Fallon. Retail price $35.00. Its a how- to book covering every technique you need to successful teach yourself to sew with clear step by step photographs. There are 5 chapters that each cover a step in the sewing process.
Chapter 1  Equipment - This chapter covers the equipment needed to sew, needles, scissors , machine, presser feet, notions and threads.
Chapter 2- Prep. Covers fabric, interfacing, understanding a pattern, measuring, and cutting fabric.
Chapter 3 - Constructions. This chapter covers the how-to sew of seams, pockets, zippers, sleeves, collars, yokes and more. Often with more that one way shown. There are 7 different ways of inserting a zipper.
Chapter 4 Stretch.You will find information on stretch fabric and how to sew it without an overlocker in this chapter.
Finally chapter 5 - Finish. This is the chapter I am most excited about because it covers lining a dress. For some time now I have wanted to add a lining to the dresses I make but lack the knowledge, not anymore. This chapter also covers hems and hand sewing with instructions for both right-handed and left - handed people. For left- handed person like myself that's awesome.
I am happy with my new purchase and see myself referring to it a lot.
'Dressmaking - The Indispensable Guide'  is a book that every home sewist should own.

Do you have a favourite sewing book?

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Machine Sew a Button

Buttons used as a closure on clothing for 5000 years are  available in many different styles and colours. However all buttons fall into two groups. Flat buttons with holes and shank buttons.

The shank is a small loop on the underside of a button. It creates space between the fabric and button. This allows the top fabric to sit smoothly when buttoned. Shank buttons are ideal for heavier fabrics. A shank button cannot be machine sewn by the home sewist.
The flat button with two or four holes lies flat against the fabric and can be machine sewn. You can create a shank with thread if needed.

A buttonhole foot and a button foot

To Machine Sew a Button

1. Drop or cover feed dogs, Set stitch length to "0" and stitch to zigzag.

to create a shank position needle between holes
without shank
2. Attach button foot. Place fabric and button under foot with holes aligned horizontally. Turn the hand wheel towards you. Checking that the needle is positioned to go through both holes. Adjust stitch width if necessary.
3. Sew 6 to 10 zigzag stitches. Switch to a straight stitch and sew a 3 to 4 more stitches to secure button. Remove from machine and pass threads to wrong side.
That's it, one neatly sewn button.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Work in Progress

National sewing month starts today in the USA. I will be working on a half square triangle quilt top.
One morning last week I woke inspired to make a HST quilt. For three hours I picked fabrics from my collection and cut 5.5 inch squares. Then, doubt stepped in questioning the madness. This is my 3rd large sized quilt and the first using HST. There is a lot of cutting and accurate sewing involved, successfully matching seams and points, also lots of pressing. Now I have a pile of 5.5 squares sitting on my desk, I put my doubts aside and continue...
My goal is to make a quilt large enough for a single bed. I calculate that I need a total of 234 squares. The quilt is to have 18 rows with 13 squares in each row. I am using 10 different fabrics.
As of this morning I have pieced four rows.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Simple Shorts

super easy shorts with elastic waist

Pattern -K1668 by Simplicity, option D in a small, without any adjustments. There are only two pattern pieces with easy to follow instructions.
Fabric- A black and white polka dot cotton stretch poplin (97% cotton / 3% lycra spandex) 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Good for the Environment

The other day at the bookshop I bought a couple of books. The cashier put the books in a small plastic bag and handed it to me. At home I removed the books from the bag and placed the plastic bag in the recycle bin. So wasteful however with a reusable bag with me it is almost unnecessary. That's why I like this tote project. The bag folds into itself and its lightweight enough that I can carry it in my regular handbag all the time.
Recycling is wonderful however its even better for the environment when I don't have anything to recycle after a shopping trip.
Do you agree?
Fabric-Main fabric left over from the Daisy dress, stretch cotton poplin and quilting cotton scraps.
Pattern- Shopping bag from issue 29 of Simply Sewing.
Hardware- Cord stop by Dritz, cord recycled from boys swimmers.

Here is the first shopping bag tote I made.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Black and White Tunic

front view
 Pattern -K1668 by Simplicity. This pattern has a complete wardrobe to make, it includes a dress, tunic, shorts, pants and a jacket. I made the tunic-option B, in a size small. The front features gathers at the shoulders and neckline. The  pattern is well designed, but the instructions confused me a little and I found myself stitching and unstitching.   However if you transfer all pattern markings especially around the neckline it will come together nicely in the end.

Fabric- The fabric is from Joann, a light cotton shirting.

Hems- I used my rolled hem foot to finish the hem.

back view

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Sleeveless Ruffle Tunic

During my home economics sewing class I had to complete two projects, the first  a plain white short sleeve T-shirt, the fabric for this was supplied by the teacher. The second project, a long sleeved jumper with ribbing at the neckline, sleeves and waist, fabric for this project I had to buy myself. I picked a black and white stripe fabric with white ribbing. The first project was a warm up and once we finished it, the teacher instructed us to begin cutting out the jumper project.  I laid out my fabric and began cutting just as I was finishing up this step the teacher came to check on my progress and informed me that I should  PATTERN MATCH my stripes. Crestfallen, I decided right then never to buy striped fabric again. 30 years later,  ordering fabric online being a couple of dollars short for free shipping I added  2 yards of a jersey knit fabric to my order,  My package arrived a week later I was shocked to see that I had ordered a stripe. A stripe, how did I do that, what was I thinking? After I calmed down I made a dress and pattern matched, it turned out well, I no longer fear the stripe.

The Pattern-Simplicity D0657 A. This pattern is for stretch fabric. I made option 3, the sleeveless ruffle tunic in a medium.
The Fabric - A 50/50 cotton / polyester jersey knit stripe, colour pink and oat, it's 59'' wide. The pink stripe is soft and smooth, the oat stripe is rough to the touch. It was $3.45 a yard from
Stitching- I used a narrow zigzag stitch( length 3, width 1) for all seams and a straight stitch for top stitching (length 3). My needle was a ball point size 80/11 and for the hem I used a twin needle. Also I used a walking foot.
Final thoughts- no fit adjustments were necessary. I deviated from the instructions when attaching the ruffle because I was not liking the overlap hem above the ruffle. instead I pressed the seam of the ruffle up towards the tunic and top stitched it to hold in place.
This is my third make with a ruffle. I don't  like the gathering of fabric to make a ruffle but I do like the end result. so its safe to say If I can add a ruffle I will!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Open Back Top

The Pattern- Its The Jenny Dress by The Fold Line. This pattern is designed for knit fabric. The pattern can be made as a dress with the open back top attached or the top can be made as a separate item. I made the open back top only. The instructions and photos provided  make  this is an easy top to assemble.
The Fabric- I used knit fabric  (about 75cm) left over from a previous project (Walkely Dress). Its has a blue background with a random green anchor print.
The Closure- The hook and eye that hold the back together was up cycled from an old shirt.
The Seams- I used a narrow zigzag stitch for the shoulder and side seams. The hems are stitched using a twin needle. I have used a twin needle before but this time I experienced problems with the threads getting tangled, so I stitched very very slowly and  what I thought would be a quick make wasn't.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Challenge- The Nina Dress

 The Pattern- The Nina Dress by Cotton + Chalk, pattern number 6. Skill level 4 out of 5. I chose to make version B. It is a sleeveless dress with front button closures. I added the hem ruffle to my dress as I really liked that feature of version A. My measurements correspond with a medium size and made the toile in that size, but it was so loose fitting that I went down a size and made a small. It fits perfectly without any adjustments.

The Fabric- Its a black and white polka dot, cotton stretch poplin from

The Seams- There are four princess seams to stitch in this dress. A little tricky, however by the fourth seam I was able to match my armhole edges evenly. (practice makes perfect). The front facing edges and ruffle hem are overcast as per pattern instructions. All other raw edges are pinked finish.

The Buttons- There are 9 buttons on this dress. I found the red buttons at Jo-ann in the clearance section, 4 for 50cents. For the first time I used my machine to sew the buttons on. It was so easy and a time saver. Why did I not try this feature sooner? The buttonholes are also machine stitched, I used my seam ripper to carefully cut them open.

So much learnt making The Nina Dress.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fold Away Tote

I have made a new bag, the practical shopping bag project from issue 29 of Simply Sewing.
This bag is an unlined tote that fold away into the corner pocket.
I already had every item on the materials list (bonus) and was able to start and finish the bag in under two hours.
The instructions are easy to follow. I only deviated from them once while making the handles, instead of the bagged out method I used the four fold method (fold strap in half lengthwise, press to crease, open and fold outer edges towards the centre crease, press, fold again along centre crease and topstitch down both lengthwise edges.) I prefer this method.
I rate this a great beginner project.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pineapple Block

This week I participated in the Pineapple Smoothie Block Sew Along, the pineapple block was designed by Heather from The Sewing Loft. Heather offers two options for making up the pineapple. I chose option 1(the easy one) less cutting and stitching. My pineapple is a little wonky but I am happy with it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Slippers

 I made a new pair of slippers this week to replace the first pair I made last year. Again I followed the same pattern instructions as before and used more of my scrap fabric (yeah!,  I am on a mission to reduce my fabric scrap pile to nothing).
To make then safer to wear on floorboards I added anti-skid gripper fabric (the stuff on kids pyjama feet) to the soles. The soles of my first pair were felt and it was easy to slide in them across the room, the anti-skid fabric should give a little traction to prevent falls.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pyjama Shorts

This week I made 2 very comfy pyjama shorts. The shorts are super easy to make. I have made them once before, this time I replaced  the drawstring waist with an elastic waist and stitched a small ribbon bow on the front. The fabric is a soft chambray with a whale print. It was a end of bolt I picked up at Joann, only 1.7yds of fabric. Not enough to make two pairs of shorts without a little creativity. After cutting out the first pair I pieced the left over fabric to make a  piece large enough to cut the second shorts  from. The pieced section I positioned on the back.
Incidentally, there was an excellent article on piecing recently in Threads magazine. The pyjama pattern is from Simply Sewing issue 7.
Happy sewing!

Breaking the Pattern- Review

I was excited to see a new sewing book at my local library last week. Without much thought I checked it out. The book is 'Breaking ...