Posted in At The Sewing Table

Ask LJ: Sewing Beginners

Sewing questions! I get a lot of them. So for those too timid to ask, benefit from the asking of others.

Dear LJ,

I want to start sewing but I don’t know what kind of machine to buy.

In The Market

Dear In The Market,

Most people start off with a cheapie machine. And that is totally fine. That is where I started, too. You don’t want to throw down $600 on a machine for a craft you don’t even know you’ll like. It is perfectly reasonable to start cheap.

Now, cheap machines tend to be snobby about thread and fabric. You are not going to want to sew a bunch of fleece or gauze on a cheapie machine. You want good quality quilting fabric. And you want good quality thread. Cheap machine + cheap thread = disaster. I’m saving you some frustration up front. Just go with good thread from the start. (I use Gutterman.)  And I’m not saying you have to buy designer fabric, but steer clear of anything with a loose weave for now.

I also recommend Brother over Singer. I started with Singer. So many problems. Easily overwhelmed is how I would describe that machine. People have much better luck with cheapie Brothers than cheapie Singers. Just my experience.

As far as what features you want, well, kind of up to you. Really, you NEED a straight stitch. You could USE a zig-zag and one step button hole. Anything beyond that is just fluff. 99% of my sewing is just a straight stitch.

I now sew with a Babylock sewing machine. It is dreamy. I have the now discontinued Crafter’s Choice model. I love it. I upgraded after about a year of sewing on my cheapie. When I realized this was going to be something I did on a regular basis.

LJ

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Dear LJ,

What project should I try first?

Eager To Begin

Dear Eager To Begin,

There are dozens of projects to start with! Pick something you want to make. And don’t start with a gift. Too much pressure. Here are some ideas:

Pillowcase Dress

Pillowcase

Twirly Skirt

Burp Cloths

Napkins

Envelope Throw Pillow Cover

Apron

Personally, my first project was a throw pillow. When I revisited sewing as an adult, I started with a pillowcase dress. Just pick something you want to make. Check out Pinterest and get going!

LJ

(One of my very first projects.)

Dear LJ,

Should I use a pattern or what?

Paper?

Dear Paper?,

Some people love patterns. I am not one of those people. I prefer to follow tutorials or draft my own patterns. I do use patterns on occasion. I have friends that only sew using patterns. Really, you are just going to have to try it and see what you think.

LJ

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Dear LJ,

I’m nervous about ruining the fabric. How do I do this?

Ready To Cut

Dear Ready To Cut,

Fear of the first cut is common! I still have that feeling at times with certain fabrics or projects. You just have to dive in and go for it. Measure twice. Then go!

LJ

Dear LJ,

Do I need a serger?

Edgy

Dear Edgy,

Sergers are overrated. I might have some folks disagree with me on that. I rarely use mine. I have a Babylock Lauren serger and it just sits around for the most part. I sometimes just use it because it is there and I feel obligated to use it. So, no, in my opinion, you do not need a serger.

LJ

Leave any other sewing questions in the comments. This post contains affiliate links.

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Hand Embroidered

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I hand embroidered an adorable shirt for Topher’s first birthday party. Hand embroidery is so easy. Really. No rules and counting like cross-stitch. Just draw or copy a picture and embroider on top of it. Easy. I call it drawing with thread.

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I printed out a gnome from my Doodle Stitching Motif book. This was not a gnome party, so I had to transform him into a lumberjack. I rounded the hat, added legs, added a belt, added an arm with an axe. made the shirt plaid, and called him a lumberjack! Ta-da!

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I printed out the Impertinent Birch free pattern from Wild Olive. Isn’t it cute? I made the face match in style to my lumberjack.

I transferred both onto the shirt, embroidered, and had an adorable shirt for an adorable baby! ( I also used backing and hooped it, both are easy.)

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If you’ve considered taking up hand embroidery, do it! It is a cheap craft. It is appropriate for kids who are old enough to be trusted with pointy things. It is so much fun! You can draw anything you want and then embroider it! Fabulous! I really think hand embroidery should be way more popular than it is. Try it.

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Another book or two to get you started: Doodle Stitching Transfer Pack, Little Stitches, The Original Doodle Stitching book if you can find it. **This post contains affiliate links to support my crafting.**

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Easter Outfits

You know I go ALL out on the Easter outfits. Every year, I find myself in the fabric store searching for a fabric line that is masculine and feminine and shouts spring and, now, has at least 5 unique prints that I like. I want coordinating, not matching. Every kid unique, but blending with the group. And every year, I think, “Why am I doing this to myself again?” Every year, I tell myself that Target would have been both cheaper and easier. But that never stops me. I’m sure I’ll do it all again next year. Fancy fabric and all.

IMGP0286I found the Fox Field Fabric by Free Spirit (Westminster Fibers) fabrics at a local fabric shop. I mixed the Dusk and Shade color ways to get a unique blend that wasn’t too much of one color. (Composing outfits to coordinate is very much like making a quilt. You want them to stand well alone and with the group. Be unique but not too close to the others. There are a million ways to do it well. This Easter, two of the fabrics are from the Dusk color way and three are from the Shade color way.

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This is my favorite romper pattern ever. I have made probably a dozen or so of these. Sometimes I do snap crotch. Sometimes I don’t. I used my snap press to add snaps to the top instead of buttons. (I love my snap press.) The pattern is Simplicity #3808. (It isn’t currently in their catalogue, or I’d link it.) I skip the front pocket when I have busy fabric. It is a super roomy romper that my baby boys have loved. And I think it is stinking adorable!

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She wanted the Bloomshine by Pink Fig dress. But I didn’t have the pattern. And I’ve been holding onto the Emmaline by Violette Field Threads pattern just waiting for the right time and right fabric. I was so, so tempted to just make her a peasant dress and call it a day, but she really wanted a long maxi dress. So, I decided to go for the Emmaline, since I had that one already. (And had already paid a small fortune for the fabric.) This is without the optional extra ruffles around the bottom. The bottom ruffle ended up being 108″ around, and I just didn’t want the hem that again twice! (And honestly, I ran out of fabric and it wasn’t worth the trip and extra money for more fabric for a few more ruffles.) I might, maybe, possibly will one day make it with the full three bottom ruffles. We’ll see if I ever feel up for that. Honestly, I thought this pattern was going to take so much time. I set aside two full days to sew this dress, convinced it would take every bit of 16 sewing hours to complete. I was very surprised when it took me only 4 hours including all the cutting. 3 hours of sew time. It was so ridiculously simple. Almost makes me a little upset that I needed a pattern for it. (Like people that buy patterns for a pillowcase dress. It seemed so ridiculously stupidly easy after the fact, I was wondering why I thought it’d be so complicated.) It has two elastic casings on the back to hold the top tight. It is a halter, but doesn’t look too halter like. It looks very “little girl” to me. (Although, I will admit, she isn’t looking so “little” anymore. *sniff*sniff*) I would definitely recommend this pattern. It is easier than it looks and it is beautiful. She loves it. LOVES. IT.

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The three “big” boys did not want ties this year. They wanted me to make them button up shirts. Um. Not happening this year, boys. Dream on. They needed shorts, so I made shorts. I used this tutorial by Dana Made It to make these awesome retro racer shorts. The pattern was free on her website. It was sized a 2T/3T. I found it to be pretty much a 3T. I did a little drafting and got it sized up to a 6 very easily. (I knew how wide I needed the waist and that I needed more length, so I printed a copy of the 3, then added about 1/2″ to the sides and 2″ to the top and bottom. Easy.) I have already made another pair of these and plan to make at least 2 more. I used store bought bias tape (because I thought I was  going to be strapped for time) and each pair of shorts used almost a full package. There was extra, but not enough for another pair of shorts. These shorts were super easy to make. You can make them any length you want. I opted for longer shorts because my boys like long short. I bought 3 cheap-o tees from the local Megalomart. And we have Easter outfits that my boys LOVE.

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He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!

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Posted in At The Sewing Table

Child’s Half Gardening Apron Tutorial

 

half apron 2For the little lady’s birthday, she had a gardening party. I grabbed fabric to make her an outfit and then after her outfit was made, I realized I had lots of extra fabric. The boys were asking me if they got aprons, so I decided to make all the kids a half apron as a party favor. (They also got a little pot of lavender seeds they each planted.) Really, I’m not usually so crazy when it comes to parties. I blame pregnancy for making me do these things. The aprons are super easy to make. I made 12 with 1 yard of the blue dots, 1 yard of red dots, and 1/2 yard of each green solid and yellow solid. (And I did still have fabric leftover.)

Here is what you’ll need:

fabric

ribbon (I used random scraps I had.)

clips (I had a bunch of pacifier clips that I bought on Etsy.)

half apronCut your rectangle for the apron front 12-15″ wide (depending on what scraps you have) and 8-10″ tall. Cut the waistband 2″ x the width of the fabric. Cut a small length of ribbon to make a loop for the clip. (It can be anywhere from 4″-8″.)

First, finish the sides and the bottom of the apron panel.

Next, attach the looped ribbon with the clip attached to the top left of the apron panel. Just sew it close to the edge so the waistband will cover it.

Now, take your 2″ strip of fabric and iron in half. Tuck the cut ends toward the center and iron. (You now have double fold tape.) Line up the center of the strip with the apron panel. Sandwich the apron panel into the waistband strip. Sew along the open edge all the way to the end. (I start at the apron panel, sew to the end, then flip and sew from where I started to the other end.) Tie a knot in the end of the strip.

Done.

7 party emery 3Clip a paper towel or rag to the clip when gardening for hand wiping.

Make these to give away, to use, to sell- just make sure you share the free tutorial!

 

 

 

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Easiest Necktie Ever

 

My boys love neckties. They get it from their dad. We’re talking real neckties. They very much dislike clip on neckties. They seem offended by them. They get that from their dad, too. I have made quite a few neckties for my boys and finally found the absolute easiest way to make a real necktie.

NT Main Image FIXED

 

 

Grab your supplies. You’ll need about 1/3 of a yard of two fabrics. I like contrasting ones. One will be on the inside and will only peek out a tiny bit, so it can be anything, really. 

NT pattern paper

Essentially, this is what you’re doing. You’re going to use a yard stick to make a straight line across the width of your fabric. Then you’ll draw in your points, connect the dots, sew, flip, sew, flip, and you’ll have a tie. Super easy. After you make the first one, you’ll see. 

NT Pattern End 4

Place your contrast fabric right side up on you cutting surface (ironing board, floor, whatever you use). Place your main fabric right side down, lining it up with the contrast fabric. (If you’re using a dark pen or marker on light fabric, you may want to put the main fabric on bottom and the contrast on top so you won’t see the marks through your fabric. It really doesn’t matter as long as you know what you want to be the main fabric.)

Using a yard stick (or whatever straight edge you’ve got), draw a line from one side of the fabric to the other. If you’re making this for a toddler, 36″ in long enough. For a bigger boy, you’ll want to use as much width as you can. (Also, check out the variation at the end of this tutorial for making older boy and man neckties using this same method!)

NT pattern end

Using a quilting ruler, line up your ruler so you’ve got a right angle going on at the tip. (See the photo.) Make a line 4″ long from the center. 

NT pattern end 2

Using your quilting ruler, line up the other side. You want the tip of the tie to be a 90 degree angle. (See photo for help lining it up.) Mark 4″ in that direction. 

NT Pattern End 3

At the other end of the line across your fabric (also known as the other end of your tie), do the same thing, only mark that side 3″ from the center line. Make sure the tip is a 90 degree angle. 

NT Pattern End 4

Use your yard stick to connect the ends of your 4″ line to your 3″ line. This is the side of the tie. It should look something like the picture.

 

(You can tweak the measurements if you want a fatter or more narrow tie. I do 4.5″ for an adult tie. 3.5″ for a toddler tie. Just don’t make the small end smaller that 2″ or you’ll be kicking yourself when you try to turn it.)

NT Pin

Pin your two layers of fabric together around the drawn on pattern. (Believe me, this makes your life a little easier here in a minute.) Cut out both layers of fabric together. 

NT Sew end

You’ve already got the right sides of the fabric together. It is already pinned. You’re ready to sew! Sew the end of the tie. Just the end. (Do not sew the sides yet. It only seems weird the first time.)

NT trim end

Clip the edges.

 

Repeat for the other end of the tie. Once again, just the end! Not the sides. 

NT press end

Turn your tie right side out, pushing out the points. Press. The sides are still unfinished at this point. You’ve only sewn the two end points together. 

NT Sew middle

Fold the tie in half, matching up the unfinished sides. (You’re sewing the center seam that will run down the back of the tie.) Whichever fabric is your main fabric should be on the inside of the fold. You should be looking at your contrast fabric as you sew. Sew the entire length of the tie, matching the unfinished sides together. 

NT right side out

Flip your tie right side out. Press it into the tie shape. The seam should be running down the center back. You can be done here. I do a little extra step because The Pastor (who is the tie expert in my house) says it makes a big difference in how a tie feels. 

NT optional end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See the topstitching on these ties? That is the “big difference”. Just sewing a few straight lines down the narrow 1/3 end of the tie. The Pastor says this makes a ties lay flat on your neck and makes it much more comfortable to wear. I just trust him on it. And it only takes a minute, so I go with it. 

NT adult variation

Now for the adult variation:

You’ll want the tie longer. So, it’ll have to be longer than the width of your fabric. I made mine with one 36″ piece and one 18″ piece. It was long enough. You could make it longer if your man has a thicker neck or like super elaborate knots.

You’re making it essentially the same way. So lay your fabric out the same way. I made the large end 4.5″ from the center. I made the small end 3″ from the center. Now, you’ll need to make the ends that will connect the same width. Just make sure you mark it the same on both pieces. Connect the end of the lines in the same way. (See the picture.)

NT adult variation 3

Sew the ends the same way you sewed the ends for the little boy version. Once the ends are sewn, match up the straight ends in the middle and sew them together. Sew the main fabric to the main fabric right sides together. Sew the contrast fabric to the contrast fabric right sides together. 

Flip it right sides out, pressing out the ends. Also, press the seams open. (It’ll make the tie lay flat. If you press them to the side, you’ll make little speed bumps in your tie.)

Now you’ll finish up the same way as the little boy tie. With the main fabric to the inside, fold tie in half and sew the unfinished sides together. Flip.

Press. Sew the lines on the narrow 1/3 of the tie if you want

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And that is it! You’re done! Well, if you’re like me, you repeat over and over and over and then you’re done.

 

 

 

As usual, you can make these for your loved ones, give them as gifts, sell them if you want. You made them! Just share the free tutorial if asked! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Drawstring Spring Pants Tutorial

DS Pants 2

My boys often like to point out that I do not sew enough for them. So, for Easter, I decided to sew a little more for them than their usual tie. (Although tutorial for the tie is coming soon, too.) I made them these drawstring spring pants. You could make these for girls, too. They are not boy exclusive. 

You’ll need:

– elastic

– one length of main fabric

– half a yard of contrast fabric

DS pants note

First, you’ll want to measure your boy. (Or your three boys.) You’ll need a waist measurement, a crotch measurement (from the front waist band between the legs to the back waistband), an inseam measurement, and an out seam measurement.

DS Pants Notes 3

Once you have all your measurements, you’re ready to start! I like to draw everything out and write in my measurements. (All my seam allowances are 1/2″ unless I say otherwise.)

 

Waist- Divide the boy’s waist measurement by 4, then add an inch for seam allowance. These are loose fitting pants, so no need for perfection. (For Emery, his waist was 19.25″. I rounded that up to 20″ divided by 4 would be 5″ add an inch for a 6″ pattern line.

Crotch- Divide the crotch measurement in half. Emery’s was 14″. Half of that would be 7. Add an inch for seam allowances. Now mine is 8″.

Length- On the main fabric, you’re going to make the length 2″ shorter than what you actually want. So, Emery needed 19″ outseam. Take 2″ away and the main fabric is 17″. (You’ll be adding a 4″ strip of contrast fabric that will make up for those 2″ plus seam allowances.) I use my inseam measurement as a double check to make sure they are going to be well fitting.

 

If you don’t want to go through all this math, you can just grab a pair of pants that fit your boy right now and trace them, leaving enough room for seam allowances. I prefer to write out my own pattern.

DS Pants Pattern

Draw out your pattern onto the wrong side of your fabric. Fold fabric in half, then fold in half again so that the outer edge is double folds. You’ll be cutting both legs at once. Measure your leg width so you’ll know how wide to make your contrast cuff. (Mine was 9″.)

 

I use my Varyform Curve ruler to make the crotch line. The crotch of these pants is an 8″ curve. If you don’t have a ruler like this, you can freehand this curve or you can use a flexible ruler for the curve.

DS Pants Pieces

From your contrast fabric:

Cut 2 rectangles for the pant cuffs. 4″ long and the width of your pant leg. (Mine was 9″ on the fold- so each cuff is 4″ x 18″)

Cut 1 strip the width of the fabric and 2″ tall- this will be your drawstring.

Now you should have 2 legs, 2 cuffs, and 1 drawstring piece. 

DS Pants Cuff

First, sew the contrast bottom cuff (though it isn’t really a cuff, it is just a band of contrast fabric) onto the bottom of each pant leg. 

Go ahead and finish this seam. 

DS Pants Sew Inseam

Now, sew the inseam of each pant leg. Sew both legs. Finish both seams. 

DS Pants Sew Crotch

Tuck one leg inside the other, matching up the crotch with right sides together. (You’ll flip one leg right side out, then stuff it inside the other leg.)

 

Sew this seam. Finish this seam. 

DS Pants Waist

Fold the top of the waistband over about 1/2″. (You can see here that I serge the top of my pants. If you’re going to be folding the raw edge under, you’ll want a little more than 1/2″ in order to fit 1/4″ elastic in there.) Press it with the iron. 

DS Pants Waist 2

Now that you see where the top of your waistband will be, add a couple buttonholes. If you don’t like buttonholes, you could always add some grommets. I don’t think it is completely necessary to have 2 buttonholes. If you wanted, you could sew one larger buttonhole for both strings to come out of. I think 2 looks a little nicer and holds up better. 

DS Pants Waist 3

Sew the waistband closed. No need to leave an opening, you’ll be feeding the drawstring and elastic through your buttonholes. 

DS Pants Hem

Go ahead and hem the bottom of your pants. I find it easier to hem kids’ clothing before elastic goes in, so it lays as flat as possible while hemming. 

DS Pants Drawstring

Make your drawstring! Fold the 2″ strip in half and press. 

DS Pants Drawstring 2

Tuck the raw edges on each side in toward the fold and press. You can do this one side at a time if that makes it easier for you. 

DS Pants Drawstring 3

Sew down the middle of the drawstring. I use a zigzag stitch. It is just my personal preference. 

DS Pants Drawstring 4

Now that you’ve got a drawstring made, it is time to put it into your pants! Grab some 1/4″ elastic. (I used about 18″ for these pants.) Pin the elastic and the drawstring together, with the drawstring on the top. (See my picture.) Make sure you put a pin in the bottom of the elastic and the bottom of the drawstring so you don’t accidentally pull them all the way through!

DS Pants Drawstring 5

Insert the elastic and drawstring in through on of the buttonholes with the drawstring on top. (See photo.) Feed it around the waist casing. 

DS Pants Drawstring 6

When you get to the second buttonhole, go ahead and pull the elastic and drawstring out. With the drawstring out on both ends, put the elastic back in and feed it out the same buttonhole it went in. (See photo.) You want the elastic to be completely hidden inside the waist casing and the drawstring needs to be out each hole. 

DS Pants Drawstring 7

Sew your elastic together. 

DS Pants Drawstring 8

Tie a knot in each end of your drawstring. Feed the drawstring through so it is even. Make sure the elastic went into the casing. 

DS Pants

And that is it! You’re done. 

As usual, make these pants for your boy (or girl). Give them away to a friend. Sell them if you wish. After all, you made them. Just remember to give credit back this way for the free tutorial should anyone ask. Share the free! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Wide Leg Ruffle Pants Tutorial

WP TutorialThese are my new favorite pants to make for Imogene. These are her new favorite pants to wear. She is a very girl, girl. And my little ballerina has some strong thighs. So she enjoys the roomier wide leg pants. (Plus with the ruffles and the cut, these are very difficult to outgrow pants! And I love difficult to outgrow clothing.) You can make them full length or capri length. (I suggest going full length and then letting them get capri length as they grow. Sneaky mommy move, there.) You can make this in any size. Once you get to around size 7ish, you’ll need 2 yards of fabric because you won’t be able to get a full 2 pant legs in the width. Make them in flannel, and they are pretty awesome pajama pants, perfect for camp, sleepovers, or just princesses who require cute jammies at all times. You can make them in quilting cotton for a cute, boutique look. Make them in jersey for a comfy, classic look. Make them in denim to replace everyday jeans. Make them in lightweight corduroy, canvas, or duck for heavier weight pants.

So, first you want to figure out what size pants you want. If you’ve got someone to measure, measure them! If you don’t have someone to measure, look up the size chart for your favorite kid’s clothing line and use their measurements to figure out the size.

Grab your fabric. You’ll need 1 yard of a single fabric OR 3/4 yard and 1/4 yard. (If you’re making bigger girls pants, you’ll need to adjust your fabric yardage. I make larger ruffles for bigger girls, so I need more than 1/4 yard of contract for the size 6 pants.) You’ll also need some elastic. (I use 1/4″ natural colored flat elastic in kid clothes.)

 

wp notesHere are my lovely notes on making these pants. (These are my 18 month size notes.)

wp pattern

 

I draw my pattern directly onto the fabric. (This fabric is folded in half, then half again. So the side with the fold is two layers of fold to cut both the front and back at the same size. I measure across 6 inches for the waist. Added an 8″ curve for the crotch (with my vary form curve ruler). Measure 9″ wide for the legs. Measure the length (outseam, so the folded edge side) to 16″. Connect all your measurements.

For size 6: 8″ waist, 11″ curved crotch, 10″ leg width, 22″ outseam. (Plus a 5″ x 36″ ruffle for each leg.)

If you don’t want to make the pattern, you can fold and trace a pair of pants. Just make sure you extend the height a little at the top for folding over the elastic and add some width to make them wide leg. Plus, don’t forget your ruffles!

Speaking of ruffles, cut some. For the 18 month pants, my ruffles were 4″ x 24″. If you want them more ruffled, add width. If you get too ruffle crazy, it can be difficult to get them to lay down.

wp piecesNow you have all these pieces. 2 pant legs. 2 ruffles. (The green behind my fabric is fleece. I got tired of hauling my ironing board up and down 2 flights of stair every time I needed to sew. And The Pastor didn’t want to buy another one because who needs 2 ironing boards?! So, I put a few layers of green fleece on the dresser in my sewing room and I iron there. Not as convenient as a sewing board, but it works.)

wp sewing inseamsSew the inseams of you pant legs with the right sides of the fabric together. Finish them, too. (Serge. Pink. Zigzag. French seams. Whatever it is you do.)

wp finish ruffle edgeTake each ruffle and with right sides together, sew the short ends together. (Not pictured.) Go ahead and hem the bottom of each ruffle. (It is so much easier to do the hem now when you have one long loop rather than trying to properly hem it when it is all gathered and flaring.)

wp inside of my hemIf you were wondering, this is what the inside of my hems look like. I serge, then I fold them over and sew. I like to zigzag my hem. It makes it look more special than just a pair of pants you’d find in the store. It screams “custom” to me. (Plus, on kid clothes, it adds a little bit of whimsy.)

wp leg in legTurn one leg right side out and stuff it inside the other leg. Pin together around the crotch, matching the inseams. (The first time I made a pair of pants, it took me FOREVER to visualize this in my head. I spent almost an hour trying to figure out how to sew it to get the seam the way it should be.)

wp sew crotchSew the crotch. Finish it, too! Flip the pants right side out.

wp basting stitch

 

Sew a basting stitch around the top of your ruffle. (A basting stitch is just setting your straight stitch as long as the stitch length will go and sewing close to the edge.) Pull the basting stitch to gather the ruffle. Distribute the ruffles evenly around.

 

wp pin on rufflePin the ruffle right side to the right side of the pants.

wp sew on ruffleSew. Make sure you’re sewing further in than the basting stitch. (The basting stitch should be closer to the edge, so it won’t show.) Always sew with the gathering on top of the flat piece of fabric. Otherwise, your flat piece will inevitably end up not so flat. Remove the pins as you sew. Don’t sew over pins. You’ll snap a sewing machine needle into your eye.

wp see a ruffle

 

Now you should have a ruffle on your pant leg. Repeat for the other leg.

wp press waistNow that both ruffles are on. (And both are hemmed, since you did that earlier.) Press the waist of the pants down to form the elastic casing. (I serge mine first, then press it down so it is finished when I sew the elastic casing down. If you DO NOT have a serger, you’ll want to press it down, then tuck the bottom up toward the fold and press again. Make sure the finished casing will hold your elastic!)

Sew the waist down, leaving a small opening to feed the elastic in. (I do not like to sew the waist of pants with a zigzag. It tend to break on a waistband being pulled on. I use a straight stitch for the waist.)

wp insert elastic

 

Feed your elastic into the casing.

wp SAVE elasticMake sure you SAVE your elastic end. Put a big pin on it so it doesn’t accidentally slip though.

wp elastic stitchOnce you get the elastic all the way through, you’ll need to sew it closed. You’ll see above what the elastic stitch on my machine looks like. It is that weird lightening bolt zigzag. If you don’t have this stitch, you can just use your zigzag stitch.

wp elasticElastic is sewn closed! Pop it into the casing, then sew the hole in the casing closed.

wp 18 month pantsAnd you’re done!

wp size 6 pantsAs always, do what you want with the pants you made! Keep them, give them, sell them- you made them. However, please share the free. If someone asks how you made them, be kind and point them back here. Don’t try to sell the pattern or keep it some big industry secret. It just isn’t nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Elizabeth Pants Tutorial

My niece is turning one! I couldn’t let the occasion go by without using the opportunity to make her some clothes to begin her toddling phase in. (Let’s just face it, if I’m your Aunt, you’re going to get homemade clothes. It is just life.) So, for outfit number one, I chose to make a reversible Smocket (find the free printable pattern here) and a pair of girly, tiered pants.

Free sewing tutorial for tiered girl's pants.

I loved making these pants. So cute. So girly. So comfy cozy. I cannot wait to give them to her!

So, here is what you’ll need for the pants:

Half a yard each of 2 fabrics. (Or 1 yard of a single fabric. You could also use some of your larger fabric scraps if you’ve got any of those lying around! Those would be fun!)

Elastic. (This is my go-to kid elastic.)

Your sewing stuff.

First, I made my pattern. (I just drew it right on the back of my fabric. I’m fancy like that.) This is a size 18 months. If you need a larger size, add the inches as needed. (Don’t forget to add to the width and the length!)

Pattern Instructions

Okay, got it? Hehe. I’m just joking. This is my little sketch book drawing of what I made.

Piece 1: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric A: 6″ waist, 9″ crotch, 11″ outseam, 9″ leg width. (I used my Variform Curve ruler for the crotch. You can always eyeball it or grab another pair of pants and copy that pair.)

Piece 1A:Cut 2 on fold: Fabric B: 3″ tall by 9″ wide. (This is NOT a ruffle. It is just straight. You can omit this piece to make the pants shorter. Or you can add 1.5″ onto the length of pieces 2 and 3. Or you     can add a third “crazy” fabric into the mix with this piece. It is up to you. You’re the designer. For my pants, I have it.)

Piece 2: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric A: 5″ tall by 12″ wide.

Piece 3: Cut 2 on fold: Fabric B: 5″ tall by 12″ wide.

Pieces

This is what you should have right now. (My pieces are still together. There are two of each piece, I swear!) (And they are still folded!)

With right sides together, sew piece 1A onto piece 1.


EP gathering stitch

Now, on piece 2, you’re going to want to do a basting stitch (straight stitch, close-ish to the edge, as long as your stitch length will go) and gather the top of the piece. (The basting stitch should run down the LONG side of the fabric on whichever side you deem to be “top”.)

EP Pinned On

Once you’re all gathered up, pin piece 2 onto piece 1A with right sides together. You want the corners to match. Gather as much as needed to get the piece the same width. I gathered mine more in the middle and less on the ends. Why? The ends will be the inner leg. I wanted the ruffles to be more on the outside, with the inside of the legs being less ruffles. It’s a comfort thing.

After pinning, sew right sides together! (Sew with the gathered piece on top. Otherwise your straight piece will end up getting wonky.)

Do the same for piece 3. Baste. Gather. Pin with right sides together to piece 2. Sew.

Repeat for the other leg.

Finish the seams if you’re going to finish them. I serged mine because I have a nice serger and have to use it! If you don’t have a serger, don’t be jealous. Just finish your edges as you wish. (Clip them with pinking shears. Trim and zigzag. Do nothing. Whatever you want to do.)

EP Pant leg

Now, each pant leg should look like this. Fancy, huh? Take each pant leg and sew the inseam. (Put right sides together, matching up the outer edges.) Finish the inseam. (Serge. Pink. Zigzag.)

Now, you should have two pant legs. Do they look like pant legs? (You should answer yes. If you answered no, I think it is time to evaluate what went wrong before pressing on. Fear not. It happens to the best of us.)

EP Leg in Leg

Flip one leg right side out and put it inside the other leg. Match the inseams. Pin around the crotch area. Sew. Finish the seam. (Serge. Pink. Zigzag.)

EP WaistbandWe’re moving on! Press about an inch of the waistband down. (Wrong side to wrong side.) If you didn’t serge the edge, you’ll want to flip about 1/4th of an inch under before you sew. Hide that unfinished edge! Sew around the waistband! Make sure you leave a little hole to feed the elastic through.

EP ElasticI put a brooch pin on the end of the elastic I am NOT feeding through. It keeps the end from accidentally following the leader and ending up inside the casing. I use a safety pin to feed the elastic through the casing.

EP Elastic InPut the elastic into the casing. Feed it through. Don’t let the end follow! It needs to stay out.

EP Elastic OutNow you have both elastic ends out. Yay!

EP Elastic SewedCross the edges over each other and sew. Use a zigzag or elastic stitch on your machine. A straight stitch will break when the elastic is pulled. (An elastic stitch looks like a wonky zigzag. See above.)

Trim the edges of the elastic.

Pull on the waist and pop the elastic inside the casing.

Sew up the hole!

EP HemHem the bottom edge of the pants. (I serge mine, then flip them inside and zigzag them. I like the look of a zigzagged hem. It makes it different from things you can buy at the store. You see the zigzag and you know, those are special!)

EP All Done!And you are done! Adorable little pants to toddler about in!

As always, this tutorial is yours to use as you wish. Make them to give, keep, or sell. Just do not sell the pattern. And when someone asks where you got the pattern, share the free!

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Pocket Style Advent Calendar

So, I looked for an Advent Calendar online for weeks. I tried to convince myself just to buy a poster with little flip panels. I tried. But I couldn’t find one I liked. So, I looked at fabric ones and they were far too expensive for me. In looking at them, I thought, “I can just make it myself.” So I did. And I got it on the first try! (You know how something as simple as rectangles on a flat surface somehow becomes this ridiculously difficult project that takes you 20 tries to get right? *cough* crayon wallet *cough*)

Advent Calendar
Advent Calendar

So, here is what you need:

1/2 yard of burlap or other backing material. (Let me tell you, or remind you if you already know, burlap is awful stuff to work with. If you or your kids have allergies, you may want to consider making a burlap free home. The stuff is that bad. Plus, trying to cut it straight and sew it straight is a special kind of torture. If you’d rather use something more friendly on your nose and sanity, grab some duck, upholstery, linen, anything heavier in weight. If you want to go the trendy route or you happen to have a ton of burlap sitting in your craft room, like me, then go ahead and use the burlap, but brace yourself for the fight.)

If you want the different fabric colors, like I have, grab 1/8 yard of 5 different fabrics. You can grab 5 fat quarters, but you’ll have lots of leftovers. (The fat quarter choice is awesome if you want to make multiple as gifts! You can get at least 3 calendars worth of pockets from 5 fat quarters.) If you want all one fabric, grab 1/2 yard of quilting cotton of your choice.

You’ll need a 1/2″ wooden dowel that is 18″ long.

You’ll also need something to hang it with. Ribbon, ric rac, yarn, raffia, whatever you want to use. (I had this wide gold ric rac left over from making cowbell bibs, so I decided to use it. Gold ric rac only has so many uses in the world.)

Advent Calendar SuppliesGather your supplies and get to cutting. Remember that burlap will fray like a devil, so if you’re using it, you may want to give yourself a little extra room for error. Cut your backing 16″ x 34″. With your quilting cotton, you will need 5 strips 5″ x 22″.

burlap edgesYou’ll first want to finish the edges of your backing fabric. (Sides first, then bottom, then top- because I said so.) I zig-zagged my burlap because I felt it would hold the loose weave the best.

top of burlap

 

On the top, you’ll want to make a little channel for the dowel to go through. I made mine about an inch.

AC5Now, put the blasted burlap aside (I know, you’re excited) and focus on the pockets for a few minutes. First, we’re going to hem the sides, then the top. Fold the side and press.

AC6Flip the frayed edge under toward the fold and press. You’ll do this for both sides, and then sew.

AC7Sew the side hem. (If you need to make it a little wider, you can. You’ve got a little wiggle room here. Don’t go crazy making 1″ hems, but if 1/4″ hems are making you want to scream, you can be a little more liberal with the size. I like the challenge of the small seam.)

You’ll do the same with the top edge of the pocket. Fold, press. Fold raw edge under, press. Sew. For the top edge, I did need to pin the hem on the far right side (the side sewn last) to keep everything together while sewing. Pin as needed.

AC8One you get all your pockets sewn sides and top, you may notice that they aren’t all equal. (I did not measure out the 22″, I simply went with the width of the fat quarter, which can vary.) It isn’t a big deal. You’ll never notice. It is fine, I promise. Put your OCD away and press on. It’s cool. Part of the charm of the project. (Did that line help you? It always helps me to say my oddities are charming, rather than just off.)

AC9Now, you’re going to put it all together! First, mark off the lines on the burlap or backing fabric of where the bottom of each pocket will go. I used a marker and it took forever to mark the burlap. Use chalk. I was too stubborn to get up and go get my chalk, but I should have sucked it up and done it anyway. From the bottom of your burlap, measure 6″ and put a line, 6″ above that- another line, 6″ above that-another line, 6″ above that- another line. See how that worked? You should have 4 lines marked on the burlap and the bottom is the final line

Pin the fabric like I have it in the picture above. Right side to backing, unhemmed side up. Pin the sides first. Then gather, tuck, pin, whatever all the way across. These pleats or gathers will add depth to your pockets to hold the little treats. Here is what I did: Ever 3″, I pinned and made sure there was a bit of extra fabric between the pins, then I folded those into pleats. If you aren’t cool with winging it like that, you’ll want a pleat or small gather at 1.5″ and then 3″ from that pleat, then 3″ from that pleat, then 1.5″ from the opposite side, then 3″ from that. See why I just opted to wing it?

Once you’re pinned, sew it down. I sewed closer to the edge first, the sewed another line a little further in. This is the inside of the pocket. Perfection is not necessary.

AC10Once you’ve got the bottom of the pocket attached, pull the pocket up and sew the sides of the pocket to the side of the backing fabric.

AC11See, now you have one weirdly billowy, wouldn’t hold a thing, pocket. (And that stamp on my burlap is because this burlap was used as a tablecloth for The Professor’s first birthday party.)

AC12From the edge, measure 3″. Now sew that line. If it isn’t exact, it really is okay. You just want 5 little pockets across. They’ll be about 3″ each. If you’re picky, measure. If you’re like me, you’ll measure, hold a finger on that spot (as opposed to actually marking it), and sew about on that line.

AC13You’ll mark 3″ from the opposite side and sew there. Then 3″ from each of those lines (one of each side) and you’ll have 5 pockets. This remind me of those brain teasers they’d give you in grade school. “If you want to make 5 pockets, and the outer edges are already sewn, how many lines will you have to sew?” (The answer is 4, if you’re not so great at that sort of thing.)

Do this for all the pockets. Now, take a deep breath. You’re almost done!

AC14Slide the dowel through the top channel you made. Tie your ribbon, ric rac, yarn, raffia, whatever to each side. Now, you can hang it! (I added a little red ribbon to the corner for extra pretty.)

AC15

 

(This is an awful picture, so if you Pin this, don’t use this picture, I beg you.) Now, stuff each pocket with little treats. You can put little cards in them with Bible verses on them or different Advent activities to do. I just stuffed mine with candy. 4 pieces of candy per pocket, one for each kid. You could also number your pockets if you wanted to. I opted not to number them, but you can number yours if you want. I think these would make adorable gifts.

As always, do what you want with this tutorial. Make them for yourself, give them as gifts, sell them- whatever. Just share the free and point other crafters back this way for the tutorial. Free crafting for all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in At The Sewing Table

Half Yard Baby Shower Gift

You’ve been invited to a baby shower and you decide you’re going to sew an entire layette or possibly an entire crib bedding set for the new squishy. The you realize, dude, I’ve got four kids of my own and the shower is in a week and I’ve got no time for such ambitious gifts. You need something practical. Something handmade, useful, but quick to make. I give you the half yard baby shower gift! It’ll take you an hour to whip up and you’ll still be the talk of the party.

Or maybe you’re new to sewing and want to sew something but you know you’re skills aren’t up to a smocked christening gown. So do you just buy some old something from the store? No. You sew the half yard baby shower gift! It is perfect for beginners!

The half yard baby shower gift includes 2 burpies, 3 wipies, and 2 drool bibs. What is a burpie? A cuter name for a burp cloth. Great for protecting shoulders, putting under little prone to leak heads while changing diapers or sleeping, good for big baby messes. What is a wipie? A smaller version of a burp cloth. Can be used as a cloth wet wipe, washcloth, face wipe, booger cleaner, drool wiper, etc. Great for smaller baby messes. What is a bib? Seriously? Do you have a baby? Have you seen a baby?

You’ll need a half yard of fabric. (You can use regular quilting cotton or flannel.) If it is going to annoy you having a directional print not quite lined up perfectly, don’t use a directional print. This project leaves no room for fussy cutting.

You’ll also need one cheap (new) bath towel. You can buy the cheapies at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, or Target. (Target’s are the thickest of those three, FTR. So, if you’re a newbie, it might make it more difficult to sew.) I promise one bath towel will be enough. You’ll see that I have 2 different colors of terry in these pictures. Once I got started, I realized I’d already made a couple burp cloths out of the other half of my blue towel. So, I had to grab the half of a brown towel I had from another project.

All laid out, this is essentially what your half yard is going to turn into.

First, iron your fabric. If the ends aren’t straight, straighten them. Also, some places tend to cut a bit bigger than you request. If your fabric shop did this, go ahead and trim your fabric to 18″.

Now, measure and cut 3 burpies. You’ll use the 18″ as the length and cut 10″ wide.

Take one of those burpies and divide it into 3. Mark it along the length at 6″ and 12″. These are your wipies.

Cut the towel to match. I cut the decorative stipe off. If your towel seems small, leave one of the stripes one, just in case you need to use it. I have used the stripe on burpies and bibs. It works fine, I just prefer not to have it. Also, the width of your towel is likely the length of one burpie plus the width of one wipie. To cut the terry, I lay the cut cotton on top and use it as a template. Terry is difficult to mark and it stretches in odd ways when you pin and pull it.

You should have about 14″ of fabric left. Fold this in half and lay a bib template on top. Cutting out two bibs.

I had to turn mine a bit because this Michael Miller fabric wasn’t quite as wide as my Joann’s stuff I used in my first few of these. It fit fine, as you can see, I just have slightly slanted cowpokes. Cut 2 bibs from the towel.

About this bib template. We’re making small newborn type drool bibs. You may have a template you can use. I use on from Sweet Booties. If you don’t have a bib template, here is how you make one. (And save it so you only have to make it once! I keep all my patterns, including those I make, it hanging file folders in milk crates.)

As you can see, my bib template is roughly the size of a regular 8.5″ x 11″ piece of printer paper.

Fold your paper in half and draw a bib shape on half of it (on the fold, so it opens whole). It may take you a couple tries, which is fine, it is just paper. A couple things to keep in mind: Keep the bottom relatively perpendicular to the fold, if you are coming at the fold at an angle, it’ll be pointed or heart shaped when you open it. You’ll loose some of your pattern in sewing space, so keep in mind your finished bib will be smaller than your template. (This mean necklines will be more open, too.)

Cut out your bib shape.

Open your bib template up and see how you like it. If you don’t like it, fix it now. It is much easier to scrap your pattern than try to make it work in fabric. If the paper doesn’t look right, the bib certainly won’t. Do you see how my straps don’t quite touch each other? You want that. When it is snapped, it pulls down and makes a two dimensional piece of fabric into a three dimensional piece of clothing.

As you can see, these two bibs would look much different from one another, but they’d both be fine. The point is to make a little bib this size. How you make the bib is up to you.

Now that you’ve got it all cut out, you’ve got about this much scrap fabric. See, I told you no room for fussy cutting.

Now that you’ve got all your pieces all cut out and ready to go it is time to sew! If you’re an old pro at sewing, sew, turn, and topstitch all of it, add closures of choice to the bibs. You’re done. If you are a beginning sewer, I’m going to go through all the steps for you.

First, with the wrong side of the fabric down on the terry, sew around the edge of the burpie leaving a hole.

See the hole? That is where we’ll turn it right side out. You want to reverse stitch at the beginning and the end. You do not want your seam unraveling as you turn. Also, if you make the hole small, life will be difficult (though not impossible) in 5 minutes. If you make a very large hole, your life might get difficult in 10 minutes when you’re having to line it up and sew it shut.

When you get to the corners:

You stop about where the line going the other direction will start. Eyeball it.

Pick up your foot, but leave the needle down. If your machine doesn’t stop in needle down position automatically, make sure to put the needle down before you lift the foot.

Turn your fabric. (My needle is down, my foot is up.)

Put your foot down. Now continue to sew. See how easy that was? *Confession: There once was a time in my early days of sewing when I would have sewn completely off the edge on one side, cut my threads, sewn the entire edge of the other side, cut my threads, sewn the entire opposite side the the edge, cut my threads, and finished by sewing the entire other side and cut my threads. Such a waste of time. And thread.*

Now that you’ve sewn all the way around and turned the corners like a pro, you’ll need to clip the corners of your fabric. This makes it so you actually have a corner when you flip it. Don’t clip your corners and the fabric will bunch in the corner, making it a round more than a corner. (And it’ll be a devil and a half to sew through.) Just don’t clip your seam!

Now, your burpie looks like this. And you are pretty proud of yourself for making it so nice and pretty. Good job. Now turn it right side out. Through that hole you left.

Ah! I made a fabric blob! Keep turning. It’ll work out. Run your hand along the inside, pushing the seams outward. Push those corners out.

Now press it. Make sure that hole is lining up nicely. Press it well. This is important. Don’t like ironing? Then you should probably avoid sewing because you cannot neglect to press things properly when you sew. (BTW, I burned my arm trying to iron left handed so I could photograph with my right hand. I think I may need a left handed camera.)

Let me stop and talk about stitches before we move forward. See my #00 and my #01? The 00 aligns the needle at the far left of my foot. The 01 aligns my needle in the center of my foot. If you have this option, use it. I use the 00 to sew the inside, then the 01 to topstitch. This way, I know my topstitching is catching the right fabric. If you use the same, be very careful that the hole closes!

Also, I use a longer stitch length to topstitch. It just looks better to me. I sew with a 2.5 stitch length usually. I topstitch with a 4.0 stitch length.

Starting just before the hole, topstitch. You want to be kinda close to the edge but not on the edge. *Confession: This freaked me out when I first started sewing. Topstitching was freaking nerve wracking! I would often sew it too far from the edge, leaving the unfinished edge of my hole hanging out. I often did a double topstitch because I got it wrong the first time. I’d topstitch it too far in, then topstitch again alongside it where it should have been. I claimed I mean to do it. I didn’t. But it always worked out.*

Turn your corners the same way you did for the other side. Leave the needle down, pick up the foot, turn, put down the foot, and keep sewing. Now aren’t you glad you perfected that on the side no one could see? In the corners, if your terry is particular thick or you didn’t clip quite right or if the stars just aren’t aligning for you today, you may have to push the fabric through a bit if it seems stuckish. Don’t freak about it, just push it a bit and it’ll go through and no one will notice your stitches are a bit smaller in length at the particular point because the fabric just wasn’t moving through properly.

Now, you’ve sewn all the way around and you’re coming back to your original starting point! (Which you don’t have to backstitch on, BTW, because we’re sewing over it just a bit.) Oh! Line it up! Quick! Don’t pull too drastically, just guide it so the threads line up! If you’re slightly off, no worries. I doubt anyone will notice. You’ll be a pro by the end of this gift!

See, it lined up! Yay! *deep breath* Sew over the line an inch or so. No need to backstitch at the end.

You did it! Bravo! Now, do the other burpie the exact same way. And those three wipies.

Now those bibs! Okay, now you’ve practiced sewing, turning, and topstitching 5 times. The bibs will be ever so slightly more difficult because they are curved and curves take some patience and practice. Just go slow. Take deep breaths. You can do it. Leave the hole on the straightest part of the bib. I chose the side. Once you get it sewn, you need to clip the curves (shown in the above picture). Clipping the curves on a bib feels like you’re making fringe our of the entire bib. Try not to clip your seams. (If you do, don’t panic. Just keep rolling. It’ll work out.) Turning this will be much more difficult. You can do it. The straps will turn. Just work ’em. Now that you’re turned, press it. Now topstitch being extra careful. Don’t think you’ll be able to manage? You can zigzag the topstitch to make the ever so small mistakes much less noticeable.

Add closure to your bib. I use snaps because I have a snap press. (Not rubbing it in. I do have a snap press.) Don’t use buttons. That is just dangerous. If you don’t have a snap press or snap pliers, use velcro. I had velcro, but it is better than choking a friend’s baby with a button. Don’t use ties. Ties are for bibs from the 80’s. No one has time to tie a bib on a squirming baby. It’ll never get used if you add ties.

Now you’re done! Tie it up in ribbons and present it proudly! If you’ve got more time and a contrasting fabric (or more of the same fabric) you can make 2 or 3 or 4 of these sets. These are items every parent needs plenty of.

As usual, do what you like with this tutorial. Make these to keep, give, sell, whatever. Just give a shout out back to me and don’t take credit for the work (this tutorial) of others! Free crafting for all!