Saturday, May 28, 2011

Sewing Snippits

I've been doing a lot of sewing lately. Much more sewing than blogging. Which is ok, since it gives me material to blog about when I don't feel like, well, sewing.  That being said, I do have some things to talk about. But they are a little random.

My sewing space is on the move. We're building an attached garage & the door leading to it will be through the kitchen. Which means we'll need to move our kitchen table. To where my sewing space is. Which means I'm moving into the "office. The lighting is far inferior to that of the kitchen, but other than that, it seems to be working out well.

I'm taking the class "Break Your Serger Out of the Box" that is being offered at Pattern Review. If you've seen any of my projects, you know that my serger has indeed been set free from the box, and that I can & do use it. But this class is going to show me how to utalize it better. Gone are the days (I hope!) where I spend more time figuring out tension than sewing. :)

I love my labels. Espcially the Dance Pants ones for the kids.  But I'm planning on making something for my sister (she doesn't know what yet-so neither shall you) and I'd love ot have a custom label that matches the fabric scheme. And I keep falling in love with different designs that I come up with. So I'm exploring ways to make them myself. Stay tuned. :)

With the release of Colette Pattern's Ginger (A-line skirt) I'm seeing lots of talk of skirts. Specifically A-line skirts. Apparently they are the ideal project for a beginner. So, I'm wondering, why haven't I made one?? I've set out to do so. In fact, my next few projects will include both an A-line skirt as well as a floral circle skirt. I'm excited. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Simplicity 4076: The Remix

When I was cutting the lining fabric for my little boy's hoodie, I thought, "This stuff would make a great t-shirt." Turns out I was right.

I decided to give S4076 another go. I had such an easy time of it last time & I love the results.  I made a few additional alterations this time around. (Side note: I'm wearing my hair the same way in both pictures...looks like it's time to branch least it's growing. And, speaking of pictures, sorry about these ones, I had a really hard time photographing this top. The black just doesn't show the details very well)

If you remember, I added a whole 3 inches to the length, and I did the same this time around. Also, I've noticed that my striped version is constantly riding up, so I added 1" to the hips, tapering to nothing at the waist.

I also ditched the sleeves! I wanted something a little dressier, and I wanted the option of wearing this top under a blazer or jacket. I used bias tape to finish the armholes & then edge stitched. I do find that  I have to tuck the bias tape in when I first put the shirt on, but the tend to stay put. I may decide to slip stitch them on the inside just in case, though.

This fabric is super slinky & when I first slipped it on I found that it looked sloppy. So, I pinched out the excess fabric at the side seams & ended up removing a whole inch (!) from each side seam.  I probably could've done a bit less, it seems I get overzealous when I take some of my seams in. 

Also, I popped the hem of my striped shirt the first time I ever put it on. So, I was sure to use Wooly Nylon thread in the bobbin when I stitched this hem & it worked great! The hem is super stretchy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A year of sewing

This month marks the {approximate} one year anniversary of my sewing journey. Since I didn't start my blog until August, I thought I'd write a synopsis of my my sewing adventures up to that point.

My absolute first utter failure project was a simple tote bag from Sew Everything Workshop. My first mistake was to just "wing it" when it came to cutting my fabric.  My lining was a plaid & I decided I would just attempt to follow one of the lines in the pattern. I failed to do that correctly (in my defense, I had no proper tools-- not even a straight edge ruler--just a pair of scissors). Needless to say, my bag lining turned out completely wonky & somehow larger than the outer bag pieces.  I set it aside, and there it remains.

After that I moved on to a tie for my little fella, which turned out ok. It's not real functional, as it is made out of quilting cotton & tends to wrinkle terribly.  This project had me in tears (I blame it on the pregnancy hormones).  I was using a solid red fabric with no discernible right/wrong side, so as the Sew Everything Workshop suggests, I chose a right side & a wrong side & labeled my fabric accordingly. Except I labeled my pieces opposite--two of the pieces were identical & I labeled side one of the first pattern piece as the wrong side, but side one of the second pattern piece as the right side. And I could not figure out why they wouldn't fit together. :) Austin (my husband) kindly pointed it out to me & I was on my way.  Shawn still wears that red tie on occasion.

Next, I set out to make a  (supposedly) simple Pillowcase dress for my (soon-to-arrive) baby girl. We went on a trip to visit my sister-in-law & I brought my shopping list with me.  At the local Joann, I picked out a pink quilting cotton with white butterflies. And some single fold bias tape (which, I had never heard of & had no idea how or what it was used for).

When it came time to cut out my fabric, I measured a RTW dress for it's dimensions. But I forgot to account for the seam allowances.  We have no pictures of Laila in this dress because it was so utterly tiny. She did wear it once, but I have no idea how Austin managed to squeeze her into it.

Then I added ruffles to the back of a simple onesie, using scraps I had from the pillow-case dress. And, because baby girls simply cannot have enough ruffles, I tackled the Ruffle butt diaper cover. Looking back, I'm a little surprised that I didn't give up on it. Those teeny tiny leg holes! But by golly, my girl was going to have ruffles on her butt, and I was not spending more than $7 on them! I got the pattern from Etsy & the instructions were fabulous.

I also revisited my pillowcase dress tutorial. This time, I remembered to account for seam allowances, but didn't quite account for how fast babies grow ;)  I also  made big brother another tie using a coordinating fabric.
This picture just makes my heart pitter-patter. Laila was 6 weeks old & Shawn was
 20 months.

What a trip down memory lane! Those first few projects were such an emotional roller coaster! (Again-pregnancy hormones). But the feeling of pride that I felt when that last stitch was sewn & the final pressing done. It's the same feeling I get when I finish a project now. Sweet victory.

Ok, your turn. How'd you get started sewing? What were your first projects. How'd they turn out? I'd love to know!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Ever since I started sewing I thought it would be neat to have labels to put in my garments--especially for gifts that I make.  As time has gone by, I've kept my eye out for label sources.

I came across Tags & Labels on Etsy some time ago. She has excellent feedback & is very accommodating when it comes to custom orders. Not to mention that fact that she was more than happy to do smaller quantities. There was no way I was going to order 200 labels.

I told my husband that I wanted to order some labels for the things I make. When he asked what they were going to say I responded, "I don't know yet. Maybe 'Stitches & Seams' by Jenna?" He replied that that was boring & I should do something like "Dance Pants". Initially, I thought that was hilarious. And though he meant it as a joke...I couldn't get it out of my head. So I ordered 3 sets of labels. Two that said "Dance Pants by Jenna"--one for my boy clothes & one for my girl clothes. And, for my own clothes & more "serious" garments, "Stitches & Seams by Jenna" (I thought I was so clever coming up with Stitches & Seams, but then Debbie wrote a new blog post & came up on my reader. Apparently I'm not so clever after all).

I had a terrible time getting pictures of the actual tags, so I just uploaded the graphics. I'm sure I'll have some "in action" shots soon! A friend of mine designed the 'Dance Pants" logo & the 'Stitches & Seams' graphic was a pre-made logo that I bought on Etsy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sewing Room Makeover: The Fabric Stash

My fabric stash isn't huge (yet) but I still find that it is typically disheveled.  Which is strange since, theoretically, it should be the least handled of all my sewing room.

I realized that it was the actual handling of my yardage that caused the disorganization. When setting out to plan my next (five) project(s), I'd take out some yardage, measure it, see that I do/do not have enough yardage for said project, and repeat throughout my stash. Of course, the measured yardage just got haphazardly thrown back in the pile.

So I decided I needed to to handle my fabrics less. I shouldn't need to measure them every time I thought about using them.

I already had a package of Avery postcards laying around the house (for recipe cards), so I designed “Swatch cards”. I've uploaded them to google documents as a way to share them. :) If your printer has the capabilities, you could certainly print these on regular 4x6" index cards.
To download the fabric stash cards, go here:
Left Page
Right Page

After testing this system, I decided that half the cards should hold the swatch on the left side & half on the right side. That way, the thickness of the fabric is more evenly distributed in the swatch book. I will also make them double sided from here on out, so that I can re-use the card even after I've sewed up my fabric (of course, if you use pencil when filling the cards out, then you could just erase). I also added a space to notate the purchase date & fabric price. 

To house my swatch cards,  I got a 99 cent photo album for 4x6” pictures. If your stash is larger, you could divide your swatch books up by fiber type or even color.

So now when I'm looking for fabric to use for a project, I can just grab my swatch book & flip through. Each card has all the information I need. And what's even better, if I need to buy coordinating notions (or fabric) I can just slip the index card in my purse & take it with me into the store. For that matter, I can easily carry my whole stash around with me, if I so had the desire.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Finished! Simplicity 2219

I'm ridiculously proud of this dress. Really. I set out to make a muslin & decided to use my $2.99 fabric from my stash.  The fabric's print is pretty busy. Very busy. In hindsight, I wish I would have paid a little closer attention to the pattern of the bodice pieces, but it's ok. I can live with it. In fact, I declared it "wearable" and wore it out in public the other day. I even got complimented on it!

It all came together pretty quick, and the instructions were very straightforward. I cut an 8, a full size smaller than what I usually do, since I wanted to bodice to be nice & fitted.  The skirt ended up being much too big, so I took the side seams in 1". The end result is fantastic.

I skipped hemming the sleeves, just because I could, but I used a double needle for the bottom hem with woolly nylon thread in the bobbin & it is very stretchy. I'll definitely be making that common practice from here on out. I was having a little trouble with tunneling at the hem, too, so I used light steam a seam & it worked wonders!

You can see my official pattern review here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Finished! Toddler Hoodie

Hi! If you're here from, I have to tell you there is no free pattern linked in this post. I'm not sure how my post got submitted to them, but I'm trying to get it removed from their links. 

When my husband saw the Heidi & Finn Unisex  hoodie pattern that I bought for the kids--he loved it. Until I told him I was going to make one for Shawn. He insisted it was much too girly for that. So, I went ahead & let him pick out a fabric to make a hoodie for Laila. He picked an adorable black & pink plaid woven. At the time, I didn't really know the whole knits vs. wovens thing, so when I brought the fabric home & did some research, I realized that a knit fabric really would function better (so the black & pink plaid remains stashed). Also, at the time, I was afraid of knits. So, the pattern got put aside.

Fast forward to Celebrate the Boy month at MADE. Lots & lots of goodies, including the Unisex Hoodie Pattern!! And let me tell you, these hoodies just scream "BOY". I found Emily's version particularly awesome.She was sweet enough to include a tutorial on inserting the zipper.

This project came together super fast; the instructions were excellent.  I did have significant trouble with the zipper (which is not the pattern's fault, since it includes button closures). Mostly, I'd sew it in, decide I did it wrong, rip it out & then realize that I was right the first time. D'oh. I found the zipper tricky for a number of reasons.First off, I don't really know how to do a zipper. Second, this zipper isn't inserted the conventional way. Third, my fabric was a pain. Both the outer shell & the lining are super thin & unstable. Nevertheless, as long as you don't look too close, it's fine. You can find my "offical" pattern review here.

And the end result? Well. It's anything but girly. 


Linked to: Made by You Monday @ Skip to my Lou

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sewing Room Organization: Magazines

My next organizational challenge was my magazines. I needed them readily available. But contained. The first thing I thought of were these:

Image Source

I always see these advertised in Threads magazine. And it's true, they do appear to keep the magazines contained. But readily available for browsing? Not so much.

Even if I knew specifically which magazine contained the article I was looking for, since I'm a visual person, I'd have to look at the covers to know. I wouldn't remember, "Oh, hey. That zipper article was from the March 2011 issue of Threads" Which means that I would have to take all the magazines out & look at the one by one. Which means I'd probably get distracted before I even found what I was looking for & forget my reason for getting my magazines out in the first place.

So I continued my search. By googleing "magazine organizer" and this is one of the things I found:

I know the picture is kinda hard to see, but if you click on it, it will take you to Amazon.  The product itself is just a little piece of plastic that you slip your magazine into & then place it in a binder. It's perfect for what I need. I ordered mine from Miles Kimball. They come in a set of 24, but when I placed my order the site said they came in sets of 10, so I ordered 2 (and received 50!) I have plenty for my sewing magazines & I even stared using them for my Simple & Delicious recipe magazines (which I highly recommend!)

I love that they are easy to browse through.  When I'm in the mood for some light sewing reading, I can just grab my binder & peruse to my heart's content. What about you? Do you have sewing magazines? Do you save them? How do you store them?

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Whole Lotta Cuteness....

I have to start of by saying that I'm sorry I missed my "Sewing Room Makeover" post last week. The kids & I were down with this cold that's been going around. And also, when I was feeling up to "activity" (and the kiddos were willing to allow it)--I had funner projects that took precedence.  

Four fun projects as a matter of fact.   Want to see the first one?? I know you do. :) Fair warning: this post may qualify for what they call "Pic Heavy". I just couldn't narrow down the cuteness. Miss Laila has that effect on me. 

It's a baby headband!!! Made out of....old t-shirts!! The black band is just a strip of an old paint-stained Hanes t-shirt (which interestingly enough, had no side seams). The pink & white rosettes are both from some sleeveless, hoodie, zip up t-shirts (they sound weird, I know) that are now too small. Which is really interesting since I'm the "smallest" I've ever been. Maybe they shrunk. But it's more likely that they were too small to start with, since looking at old pictures has made it clear that I habitually wore clothes that were on the small side as a teenager. Those pictures I will not be sharing. You're welcome. 

I used a couple different "techniques" for the roses. For the pink rose, I used (more or less) this tutorial. For the white rose, well, I just rolled that baby up and sewed it together. I much would have preferred to use my hot glue gun, but, alas, it has disappeared. Or been hidden. Our 2 year old thinks its a fantastic toy, so we hide it. And thereby lose it. Which leaves me no choice but to hand sew cute little flowers for t-shirt baby headbands.

As for the little ribbon, I basted long edge of it (using pink thread) and then gathered it. After that I just wrestled with it until I liked the results. Then I hand sewed it. At which point I had to continue wrestling it into submission. Oh, how I miss my hot glue gun.

I sewed (again, by hand) the rosettes to each other & then to thin t-shirt strip and sewed that to the headband.   

As for the headband itself, I just cut a strip (from my old t-shirt) about 3 inches wide (or tall, I guess) by 17 inches long. I serged one short end & the long ends together & turned it inside out (which reminded me to add 'loop turner' to my --already incredibly long-- JoAnn shopping list).

And I leave you with this--my absolute favorite shot from our T-shirt Headband Photo shoot

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