Category Archives: sewing

St. Patrick’s Day Runner and Other Gifts From Mom

I haven’t had much time to craft lately, but my thoughtful mother sent me this surprise in the mail:

With Valentine Towel!

Gifts from Home -- Thanks, Mom!

The St. Patrick’s Day towel and runner are especially fantastic because I have a love of four leaved clovers. I love the fabrics she chose for the towels, too. Or perhaps they are heavy duty napkins? I suppose I could use them for either task.

She has used that runner pattern a lot recently — I’ve had a runner for almost every season for the past six months and I know my sister has received a few. No complaints here!

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One Night, One Fabric, Two Projects

My sewing machine was still humming late into the evening yesterday as I anxiously attempted to wrap up the last few details. There are few things worse than going to bed with a nearly complete craft project — only a really good book is worse to walk away from. So I stayed up past my usual time.

One reason I was trying to wrap it up before bed is the two projects were (literally) cut from the same cloth — I had already finished one and felt I should complete the second one, too. The other reason is I am stubborn and I wanted to finish everything that night. Unfortunately, I got a bit sloppy and I was working with a few materials I’m not as used to.

The first project was a fabric waste receptacle to hang in the car. I’m hoping my husband and I will actually use it, but even if not, it’s pretty cute. The pattern is from the first One-Yard Wonder book and the fabric is Odyessa by Momo for

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

"Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag" from One-Yard Wonder pattern

I love that fabric! I bought it quite some time ago with the intention of doing just this. The One-Yard Wonder book doesn’t always use up a whole yard, and that was the case with this one. I lso just noticed the loose thread on the bag in the first photo. Luckily it wasn’t attached — just a scrap.

It fit nicely on the passenger’s seat:

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag

Not-Ugly Car Trash Bag in the car

It may have used half a yard or less, which is why I had enough to make this DIY Kindle cover:

Handmade Sewn Kindle Cover

DIY Kindle Cover to protect my little e-reader

Maybe I should call it a Kindle cozy? I just made up the pattern as I went. Basically, I cut two long strips of fabric a couple inches wider than my Kindle. I determined the length by doubling the height of the Kindle and adding five inches for the flap. I bought some batting to place between the two, then I sewed the red bias tape from my grandmother’s stash all the way around (this is where I got sloppy). I then folded the piece to create a pocket for the Kindle, leaving enough to create a flap over. I sewed the two sides together to create the pocket, and then I turned it inside out.

Unfortunately, my sloppy stitches meant that the bias tape had not been sewn in place on the bottom side (though it was all stitched on the top side). I had to make the pocket even smaller to make the stitching work, but that turned out to be a bit of a blessing. The Kindle now fits much more snugly than it otherwise would have.

Fabric Kindle Cover -- handmade!

My little Kindle fits nicely in my finished e-book cover.

I still haven’t decided how I want to keep it closed. I added that ribbon as a last minute effort, as I was fading and didn’t want to mess up any more stitching. I may actually stitch the ribbon in place to act as a tie or I may just use no-sew Velcro.

All things considered though, late night sewing or not, my DIY Kindle cover and car trash bag turned out pretty well, actually. Even more importantly, one of my craft New Year’s resolutions was to finish that trash bag project! On to that dress …

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Halloween Recap

I’d been so busy planning a Halloween party that I had no time to write about it!

Blood Spattered Halloween Invites

I invited four couples over, and everyone RSVP’d yes minus one husband who was buried in Physics homework. I had a lot of fun pulling together a bunch of different tutorials to decorate for the party.

Clothspin Bats on curtains and lamps.

I did the Clothespin Bats from Martha Stewart, the Bloody Invitation from HGTV, and Bat Straw Name Tags from Scrapbooks Etc., though I modified it and did it tied around the wine glass stems so that people would know which glass was theirs.

Wine glasses with bat nametags.

I also did a Henna Pumpkin from Think Crafts Blog, but I didn’t get a photo of it, and I wasn’t too thrilled with my work, even though it was really easy to do.

For costumes, the Mister bought a Robin Hood costume (minus the tights), and I made myself a regency dress to be Elisabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I used Simplicity 4055, with View A, except no overskirt.

It came together really easy. It took me probable about 8 hours total between cutting out pieces on a Friday, Sewing about 5-6 hours on Saturday, and all of the hand sewing and finishing that I did on my downtime in the week leading up to Halloween.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Liz and Lisa dressed up for the Halloween party at work.

Project Notes:

  • I lengthened the pattern by 7 inches because I’m ridiculously tall, and ended up turning up the hem 2.5 inches.
  • I cut out a size 16, and used size 18 for the sleeves because I am not a fan of tight sleeves.
  • I left off the overlay dress for view A, lined the top, but didn’t line the skirt.
  • I really should have paid attention to the notes on PatternReview because the top really could have used lenghthining. The bust line hit just under the swell of my girls, and the bust seam would creep up while I was sitting so I spent a lot of time at the party and at work on Halloween making sure that it was pulled down.
  • I finished off the costume with a long strand of pearls and long white gloves.
P.S.: Standing next to me is my co-worker and friend Liz. She made that costume all by her self after I sent her a picture of a pregnant skeleton. She cut-out a freezer paper stencil by hand (no printouts) and painted it onto her shirt and leggings. I think she might be craftier than me!

12 hours to Make a Mermaid Costume for Halloween

It was my step-daughter’s first Halloween to trick-or-treat this year and she had a blast with the costume I made her … yesterday. While I was working all day today and did not get to enjoy the festivities with her, she was able to go to two carnivals plus door-to-door with her father. She picked out all the fabric from Joann’s a few weeks ago — going for the satin and princess-style fabrics, of course.

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

Mermaid Costume from McCall's pattern M5498

The pattern was McCall’s M5498 — unfortunately there was a misprint in the mermaid costume instructions, mislabeling the skirt pieces with the wrong numbers. Fortunately the cut out instructions were right or else I wouldn’t have been able to make the dress at all.

I’m still not much of a seamstress, so I had some trouble following the instructions and messed up the bodice quite a few times. I did decide to use Velcro and snaps instead of a zipper to close the skirt and shirt. There is also a crown that goes with this and I cut it out, but after 12 hours I didn’t have the time or energy to sew it together. Maybe next year? The costume was a bit big on her so she may be able to use it again next year.

She had a blast for her first Halloween in Humboldt County, so the labor was completely worth it!

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One-Yard Wonder Purse Needs Some TLC

One-Yard Wonder purseIt took me years to finally admit that I owned a purse. When I was a tomboy in high school and middle school, I kept everything either in my backpack or in my pockets. I didn’t need a purse!

However, I needed something to carry my wallet, chapstick, phone and other assorted necessities in when I wasn’t lugging around a 50-pound backpack (and young lady jeans don’t have much in the way of pockets). Someone bought me a little tote bag with Hello Kitty (my one weakness!) and I carried it everywhere. It isn’t a purse, I would insist. It’s a bag!

But as with more than a few of my teenage ideas, I finally realized the reality behind my delusion. I owned and used a purse. And there was nothing wrong with that. I recently discovered I get much more satisfaction in making them myself than buying one from the store.

That’s why I was so excited when I picked up One-Yard Wonder — I could make my own purse with my own handmade style! With plenty of patterns to choose from and only needing one yard of fabric, I was good to go.  Check out a One-Yard Wonder photo group on Flickr for a view of these awesome projects.

This is the purse I chose to make with some canvas fabric that my mother gave me — she was going through the stacks of fabric she had stockpiled without any specific purpose.

I loved it and wore it everywhere for a few months. Then I discovered a few problems …

This particular purse includes a magnetic snap closure. Never having installed a snap closure before, I had to research the process. After a few months of use, the closure ripped off from one side. My mother has infinite wisdom when it comes to sewing and so I asked her what might have gone wrong — she told me more fabric backing for each closure side and some reinforcing stitches may have prevented the problem.

I had also misread a few of the instructions, so the interior pocket came a little loose and not all of the stitches along the top edge were perfect. Gaining experience comes at the price of mistakes, I suppose. Maybe I will fix it one of these Mend it Mondays, but until then, I’m using a store-bought purse from a few years ago.

Topsy Turvy Doll Finds a New Home

I was really proud of how this topsy turvy doll turned out. It was the first doll I had ever sewn together and she is now safely in the care of my sister-in-law, who is soon to be the mother of a sweet baby girl (aside from already being an awesome “bonus mom”).

For those who don’t know, topsy turvy dolls are reversible dolls that when flipped upside down reveal a whole other doll that has a different outfit.

Topsy Turvy doll from Margot pattern in Wee Wonderfuls

Reversible for cuteness on either side.

I went a little outside the pattern, using a fat quarter of soft flannel to make the dresses (which is why there are stripes down the centers of each dress — the pieces weren’t quite big enough). The other major alteration was having different hair color on the two faces, as the book pattern had the same hair color on both sides.

The face is embroidered, which definitely put my needlework skills to the test to make each look exactly the same.

Why a topsy turvy doll? Honestly, I really loved them as a kid but never had any large ones, just a couple plastic, reversible toys. Surprisingly, very few people at the baby shower had ever seen such a doll, but I suppose that style of doll hasn’t really be in vogue for quite some time.

Any one who knows me well knows that I can hardly stand to wait until a gift-giving event to give my presents to the intended recipients, and this one was especially challenging. I finished this doll, called Margot in the Wee Wonderfuls book, a couple months ago and had been itching to send it early. The wait was worth it though, as my sister-in-law was very appreciative.

If I make another topsy turvy doll, I intend to make it a “sleeper” doll with one side awake in a bright dress and the alternate side asleep with a nightgown.

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What I’ve been working on.

Ally has been gently nudging me for oh, only a month or so now, to finally get a blog post up.

It seems that I manage to let the world get at me far too much (witness the eye twitch that will.not.quit. for the last four day), in between regular summer plans, and emergency “lets get the little sister married and moved to Texas in three weeks–with only three days for the wedding” plans.)

I made this chair cover much earlier in the summer, but I’m so inordinately proud of it. The pattern comes from one of my favorite sewing books, One-Yard Wonders. (Please see the other projects I’ve made from this book, such as the dog jacket I made for my sister’s dog and…. oh, I guess I should post about all the other stuff I’ve made).

The fabric came from Ikea, and cost almost as much as the chair it’s covering, also from Ikea, the Jeff folding chair. It’s the same chair pictured in the book, so when I saw the pattern, I absolutely knew I was going to make it. The whole thing, chair and fabric cost me $14.

So far, I’ve covered two chairs, and these chair covers were super quick, once I figured out how to fold the fabric for the top pleated portion. It took me two nights (one each night), and probably about 1-2 hours each, longer for the first one, shorter for the second when I knew what I was doing. I managed to make them in time to have my sister and her now husband (then boyfriend) over for dinner in July when he was home on leave.

The only complaint I have is that the ties are not exactly perfect for this chair. I put the forward ones–the ones for the front legs–exactly where the pattern said to, and they’re a little too far back. It was good that I had left the ribbon really long, and was able to still tie it around the front leg to stay.

I have two more chairs to cover, and will probably use a stripe pattern I saw at Ikea, or a faux bois that I saw. I’m still undecided, which is why I still have two more to cover.

As a final note, the photos in this post were taken by my mister as he has decided to make photography his hobby, and he loves encouraging me so he’s going to (hopefully) be taking my finished object pictures for me. We’re still working on the concept of photo styling, but without his help I’d have no photos to post tonight.

And now, I leave you with the sickeningly sweet photo of my sister and her new husband. Worth all the stress that I’ve had for the last month. Love you!

Twin Monster Sewing Project Complete

Two Kojis - only one can survive!

Koji 1.0 and Koji 2.0 will soon be unleashed into the hands of babes.

From the silly and sarcastic Muppets to the wild rumpus in “Where the Wild Things Are”, children love monsters. One of my favorite books as a very young kid was “There’s a Monster at the End of This Book!” featuring Grover, one of the most endearing monsters of our time (right next to Sweetums).

I want to pass my monster loving ways to the next generation, and, as luck would have it, I found the first of many an opportunity.

My friend Jessica is due to bring twin boys into the world later this year. While monster adoration is not strictly boy territory, I jumped at the opportunity to work on this project for them and wrapped it up this weekend. The pattern comes from one of my favorite pattern books — Wee Wonderfuls.

There are two differences between these nearly identical twin monsters: One has yellow eyes while the other has pink and the spike colors are reversed. If I could do one thing differently, I would likely machine sew the spikes, tail and mouth before sewing the body together. I loathe hand stitching and although the effect is nice, I’m just not good at it.

Koji Profile

The back and side profiles of the Koji twins.

Never having been a little boy, I asked those with experience in such things if my monsters are likely to win the approval of the soon-t0-be-in-this-world twins. So far, the response has been  “yes,” with a close friend of mine predicting that the boys will keep them at least well into their twenties.

Whether these monsters will survive that long in the chaos that is any child’s playtime is hard to say, but I certainly hope the boys have fun with them.

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Sewn monster seeking brother


Koji looks mournfully out the window into Eureka's foggy skies ... He knows he has a brother soon to come.

“Koji” is one of 24 patterns in the Wee Wonderfuls book and is made from corduroy, vintage buttons from my grandmother’s sewing drawer, felt and striped flannel. Angry Chicken mentioned a few times how adorable the dolls in Wee Wonderfuls are (which prompted me to seek out the book) and I have to agree. Blogger Hillary Lang  wrote the book and each doll pattern is unique, not just variations on a theme. Upon first seeing the Koji monster pattern, I knew I would have to make one but I didn’t realize when I bought the book that I would be making two.

My friend Jessica became pregnant with twins earlier this year, and I immediately set to crocheting her a bird baby mobile based on a pattern in Amigurumi Two by Ana Paula. If you want to have a project done by the time the baby shower comes around, you have to start early! I did not know the gender of the babies-to-be when I started the mobile, but I figured birds were a safe bet no matter what the kids would be.

Turns out first-time mother Jessica is destined to give birth to two boys (ack!). I knew immediately that matching Kojis would be the answer for my post-baby shower gift. Jessica and her husband are both lovers of all things tie-dye for their babies, and I happened to find hand-painted corduroy fabric from Arcata’s Fabric Temptations that looks a lot like tie-dye. I still need to add the spikes to the first Koji before he is finished, and then I will cut his brother from the same cloth (and potentially give him different colored spikes and eyes).

Until then, Koji 1.0 waits.

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A-Plus A-Line Skirt from Burda Style Pattern

Mosaic image of the A+ A-Line skirt, sewn by Lisa.

1. Left side view, 2. Front view, hanger, 3. Right side view, 4. Right side view, hanger.

Last Tuesday, I had a job interview. Which of course means that Monday was spent creating a skirt to wear to the interview.

I had decided, even before I knew that there was an interview, that I wanted to make the A-Plus A-Line skirt available for free on the Burda Style website. I had printed it out over a month ago, and had been taking my own sweet time in taping the pattern together. And let me just say, taping the pattern together took way, way more time than the actual sewing of this skirt.

I started Monday afternoon, and probably worked on it for about 4-5 hours, which got everything done except for the hems on both the skirt an the lining. There was nothing terribly complicated about the pattern. If you’ve made any sort of skirt before, this one is just as easy, even if you’ve never done a lining before (and I hadn’t.)

The outer fabric is grey wool suiting that I bought ages ago when it was on sale. The idea was to make a skirt/jacket set with it. The skirt is out of the way, now I need to improve enough to feel like I can make a suit jacket. It was my first time sewing with this type of fabric, and it was relatively easy. The hard part was getting crisp lines with the iron. The lining is purple rayon bought specifically for the skirt. I think all linings should be in fun colors.

Over all, I’m really pleased with the skirt. It fits, which I wasn’t particularly expecting (I cut the 16, but have now moved on to thinking I’m larger than I am than that I’m smaller than I am). I had decided if it didn’t fit me, I’d send it off to a friend who is a little smaller than me, and who’s mom could take it in if it so needed.

Pattern Notes:

  • The pattern took about two yards of the wool fabric, and about 1.5 yards of the lining.
  • I hemmed it up to land above my knee, but now seeing the photos, I think I’ll let it down an inch or two. It just looks too short to me to be “professional.” This length would be perfect in a flirtier fabric.
  • I am not pleased with the puckering just under the waistband at my sides. This is obviously a fit issue. My solution would be to either lose weight or to try to figure out exactly why it’s puckering. (At this point, losing weight seems like an easier option).
  • I still need to work on my zipper insertion. If I could afford a pile of zippers, I’d start making little bags to practice on. Even though the zipper is red and I didn’t use an invisible zipper, I think I shouldn’t be able to see it as much as I do.
  • I would love a blind hem foot, but that would probably require a new machine as well. But I did not enjoy hand hemming the outer skirt.
  • The mister and I really need to work on our photograph skills. And perhaps learn how to actually use the little Nikon. And wait until daytime for photographs.
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