Craftsy Pants Blog # 3

Lesson 4: Tummy & Waist Alterations

Right off the bat in this lesson I realized the huge mistake I made… I traced all the pattern pieces I needed in the size I thought I needed, but it looks like that size may not be the one. The first thing to do in this lesson is something I will do from  now on any time I make a skirt or pair of pants! Make a muslin waistband in the size the pattern packet says you should use according to your measurements. SO simple, right? Definitely a “Why didn’t I think of that” kind of moment! This would have saved me from giving the last pair of trousers I made to Goodwill because they were too small and there wasn’t enough fabric in the seam allowance to alter them. (I was SO proud of them when I finished… until I tried them on.)

Trying on the waistband muslin. The purple line is where I drew in the correct side seam. You can see how big it is by the excess fabric in the back.

use 1use 2

Anyway, I had cut a pattern size C only to discover the waistband was way too big, so I cut another in a size B. It seems like it fits pretty well. Now I’ll have to rework the other pattern pieces I already traced, but I guess it’s not such a big deal, since this entire class is about pattern alterations.

I’m off to finish watching lesson 4 and hopefully finish the tummy and waist alterations. I’ll let you know how it went shortly.

I’m back after having completed lessons 4 and 5, and you know what? When it’s all said and done, there’s not really a lot to do in each lesson. I let myself get a little overwhelmed at a 40 minute lesson on each type of alteration, but it actually takes much less time to complete the alterations. A lot of the class time is seeing different alterations that you won’t actually be using. I’m glad to have this class to refer to in the future for those, though! I ended up taking the pattern pieces I had traced and tracing them in the next size down so that my pieces had both sizes drawn on them in case I need to combine the two sizes anywhere. I used a green colored pencil to mark my new size and a red one for the further alterations. I love her advice for adding color coding. I’m not confident enough to use the colored sharpies she suggests, however.

Retracing the pattern in a smaller sizeuse 4New size in Green, Alterations in Red

use 3

Lesson 5: Rear and Thigh Alterations

   I actually measured my thigh and then the thigh of the pattern and had to adjust the pattern down about 1 1/2″.  Doing that took some length out of the back crotch seam, so I got to skip that step for the butt alterations. (It’s all very experimental at this point for me, however, so I won’t be sure I got the alterations right until my test muslin.) The instructor, Sandra, is so knowledgeable about which body types need which alterations and the counter-alterations that need to be made for each change you make. (For example, if you scoop out the curve of the back crotch, you need to add some to the other side of the pattern to keep the correct circumference.) I think that’s one of the things that intimidates me about pattern alterations. I’m afraid I’ll make a change that too drastically alters the pattern or that I’ll forget one of the counter-measures I need to take after changing something. The thing is, though, you don’t know those rules necessarily by commmon sense- it takes experience. I’m glad I’m getting it! I had no idea just how intimidated I was by pattern alteration. I always avoided it and kind of hoped for the best, but I always thought that was because I was just in a hurry to be finished. I’m sure that’s part of it, but I’m realizing now how I simply skipped it because it was too hard. It’s only too hard because I’ve never done it before…not in the meticulous thought out beforehand way I’m having to do in this class. I would make a pattern in design school and make a sample and figure out how to fix any fit flaws by trial and error by draping and pinning. And I’m finding myself very anxious to get to that step in this class. I know if I went ahead and made these pants, I could find the flaws and adjust the pattern from there. That is very simple to me. But anticipating how a flat pattern will fit and what changes to make to it so it will fit my body seems a little like divination to me at this point. I’m not there yet. But I’m learning. And this class is step one.

The Moral of the Story?

What the Pro’s do  seems like magic , but it can be learned. And always allow a little ease for your [mini?] muffin top!

Girls Racer Back Jersey Knit Dress

I just opened an Etsy Store so from now on I’ll be building an inventory of items to sell. I’m a little apprehensive of listing women’s clothing right now because I feel like the fit should be personalized since women’s shapes are so varied. Maybe that’s just my hang up, though. We all buy off the rack, right? Nonetheless, I felt a little more comfortable for now working with kids clothes since the patterns and sizing are so much simpler. I definitely didn’t want to list something made from someone else’s pattern, so I designed a simple little dress that is easy to care for and wear, but still so cute with the flower embellishments!

Etsy 1


I used a pattern I made a couple years ago from a great fitting tank top my daughters loved. I used it originally to upcycle a men’s T-Shirt into a girls tunic shirt. I decided to remake the pattern into a dress by adding a dirndl skirt to it. I shortened the pattern from the tunic length I used last time, but left it long enough to make this a drop-waist dress. I used new fabric, but this would be a perfect project for upcycling T-Shirts. Here’s how to make one of your own. First, make a pattern for the bodice by tracing a tank top and adding seam allowance. To make it even easier, you could choose a tank that has the same pattern pieces for front and back. You could also use a t-shirt or a long sleeve style for variation. Then cut a rectangle for the skirt. I made mine 12″ long X the width of the fabric I had.


Step 1: Sew the Bodice together at side and shoulder seams. I used my serger, but you could use a zigzag stitch on your regular sewing machine.




Step 2: Sew a narrow or rolled hem. This is actually really easy to do with a knit.eaa




Step 3: I sewed the back seam of the skirt at this point. You could do this before hemming, also.



Step 4: Run a hand gathering stitch along the top edge of the skirt. I used red so it would stand out and be easy to remove once I sewed the skirt to the bodice.



Step 5: Gather the skirt and slide the gathers around to distribute the fullness evenly.nbv

jytAll The Pieces Before Sewing Together


Step 6: Pin the skirt to the bodice and sew together using a zigzag stitch or serger.xdf


Step 7: Sew the neckline and armhole binding on. I measured around each opening and cut my pieces 1-2 inches shorter than the opening. Iron the binding strips in half and pin on with raw edges together on the outside of the garment, stretching to fit as you pin. Sew on using a zigzag stitch, then flip so the raw edges of the binding are turned to the inside and top stitch near the seam with a zigzag.

Etsy 2;jk



Step 8: Create Flowers using either scraps from the dress fabric like I did or a cute contrasting fabric. I found it super easy to make flowers out of the jersey knit.  For the big light gray flower, cut a strip about 2 ” wide and then cut scallops into one edge and gather with a running stitch down the length of the straight side.  Sew the flower together in a circle starting with the center and moving around. I put a bead in the center of the big flower. The smaller flowers are made in the same manner, but using strips of fabric that are 1 and 2 inches wide, tapering down to 1/2″ on the other end. The flowers are simple and fun to do, and you can just experiment until you get some you like. (If you end up with any extras, you can just hot glue them to some little hair clips and you have some cute new accessories. You could also use them for a matching headband.)



Step 9: Decide where you want the flowers to be and hand sew the flowers onto the dress. This can be a little tricky, especially if you’ve never done it before. Just be careful to sew them on firmly, but don’t  pull the thread so much that it bunches the dress fabric up.

Etsy 3

Etsy 4


I hope everyone enjoys this project and if you make one of your own, I’d love to see it in the comments section!

Etsy 5

The Moral of the Story?

Start small- literally: kid’s clothes are a good way to work on your sewing skills.

And diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but flowers make her feel pretty!

Also, I enjoy starting sentences with conjunctions… a lot! And I highly recommend it!










DIY Infinity Scarf

photo 1


    Infinity scarves. I loved them. But I didn’t have one yet. So when I realized I had majorly over-purchased  this cute bow print fabric for a dress I was making, I got right to work looking for tutorials! There are zillions of tutorials out there on how to make one, so I’m just posting the pictures. I serged my seam with white thread since I didn’t have navy and it was already threaded with white. Black would have been less visible, but it really isn’t noticeable under the dark fabric.

photo 3

I like the idea of tying one side so it doesn’t slide and choke me. I only had a short length of this creme colored ribbon, but would like to buy some taupe fabric and make a longer tie for it so I can make it into a bow. (Yes, more bows. I love them. I would drown in cute little bows every day if I could. One simply can’t have enough of them!)

photo 2

The moral of the story?

    When buying fabric, always get a little extra. You may need it for your project. And if not, you can still put it to use.

    Also, bows make the world go round. Let’s remember that, people!photo 4

A Very Pinterest Christmas

photo (4) 4


   Pick one project. Stick to it until it’s finished. Pick another project. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? So why is it such a hard concept to master? While looking at Pinterest and adding pictures to my “Make for Christmas” board, I though to myself “Am I actually going to make all of these gifts?” I decided that I am. Or at least I’ll make several. Heck, a few would be better than any other year! I invited all my facebook friends over for a weekly DIY Christmas gift party. Two came. Hey, it’s a start, right?

I had a blast!!! Well, I may have talked more than I crafted, but it really inspired me to be around people doing their own projects. One of my friends was making a picture frame with her niece’s initials inside for her bedroom wall, and the other was working on a quilt made from her daughter’s old clothes. I went for a set of wrapped bangle bracelets.

The pin I found was originally from:


The project required:

Bangle Bracelets

Embroidery Floss

E6000 Jewelry Glue


Jewelry making Rings

(All of which I found economically at Walmart!)


photo 1


The wrapping process is mesmerizing and addicting. (And a lot easier than I thought it would be. Just squeeze a bead of glue in the inside about 3/4 of an inch long and wrap until you come to the end of it.) This step did require that I put the embroidery thread on a cardboard spool. . . These would have been a hot mess without doing that!

photo 2


The Complete Set of 5photo 4photo 1.
photo 2. photo 3.
photo 4. photo 5 photo 5. photo (4) ..

Tied with a Bow for Presentationphoto (5)..


The project was easy and SO much fun!!! I absolutely LOVE wrapping things in string.  : ) One Christmas present down!

The moral of the story?

Finished is better than perfect! So don’t switch projects when they get tough or boring. And when in doubt, wrap stuff in sting!

Craftsy Pants Class Blog# 2


Pattern Packet

Pattern packet back

The class is Pant Fitting Techniques with Sandra Betzina.  She’s been teaching sewing and making patterns for years. Her strong point is great fit. In fact, she has a line of patterns with Vogue called “Today’s Fit.” She uses more measurements for personal fitting on these patterns and the sizing is different. I want to learn about fitting ready made patterns,so  let’s learn from the best!

The pants we’re making in this class aren’t my style- at all. I don’t think I’ll like the finished project and that’s one of the reasons I’ve procrastinated on starting this class. (I really like some of the other patterns that she shows us in the introduction class, however. maybe I’ll make some of those eventually.) But I really want to learn the skills she teaches, so I’ll suck it up and get started! Also, the class is about personalized fitting, so I could always change them to be more my style, I guess.I have a ton of leftover bottomweight fabric, so it’s not like I’m sinking a bunch of money into this project. And the pattern came free with the class, which was nice. They shipped it to my house once I paid for the class. It’s been a while, so I don’t remember the exact timeline, but it did ship pretty promptly. Also, some of my hesitation about the pattern may just be the picture on the pattern envelope. I would use a different color and style them a lot differently.

Now, these pants have a princess seam, which kind of freaks me out. But I can see why that would help with fit. I guess we’ll just see how they turn out. My goal really is to build experience and skill, so I’ve got to get past the fact that this project may not fit in with my taste.

One more thing: (And by thing, I mean reason for procrastination.)  I HATE cutting patterns apart! They are so expensive, and I always think I may need to use them again in a different size. If it’s a pattern that’s small like kid’s clothes or a top with few pieces, I just trace my size onto my own tissue paper so I can preserve the original pattern. I’ve definitely put off starting to make projects because I don’t want to cut into the pattern and ruin the other sizes, but I don’t want to take the time to trace the whole pattern, either. I haven’t figured out if this is smart and economical of me, or if it’s stupid and just getting in the way of me finishing projects. I’d love to hear responses on who else shares my apprehension and whether anyone else traces patterns to save them. I did work for a dressmaker who would buy multiples of patterns when they were on sale and cut one of each size. But she had a lot of work and used them a lot. The perfectionist in me wants to have the perfect plan of pattern preservation before I start a project. I probably need to tell her to just shut up!

Here’s the class overview:

Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Pant Fit & Patterns
Lesson 3: Taking Measurements
Lesson 4: Tummy & Waist Alterations
Lesson 5: Rear & Thigh Alterations
Lesson 6: Crotch & Calf Alterations
Lesson 7: Testing Your Pattern
Lesson 8: Finalizing & Balancing Your Pattern
Lesson 9: Preserving the Pattern

Lesson 1: Introduction

The introduction is mostly learning about the teacher and talking about various pants options. Her background is inspiring and people like her really get me fired up about sewing!

Lesson 2: Pant Fitting Techniques

We learn about what makes a good fit in pants. This is something most people don’t know anything about. My muffin top can attest to this. My jeans are mostly too tight and my trousers are mostly too baggy in the back. I wish I could make all of my pants! I’ve always wanted to become really good at making pants and jeans because there is such a need for custom fitted jeans. Nobody can find pants that fit them exactly right and everybody complains about pant fit. But most people- even people who sew- don’t make pants very often. How great would it be to be the local source for perfectly fitting jeans?

She shows us several patterns she’s made and examples of pants she’s sewn from those patterns.

Lesson 3: Taking Measurements

Where the rubber meets the road. Not looking forward to measuring myself, but I’m off to watch this video and will let you know how it went.

Ok, taking my measurements took all of 5 minutes. She doesn’t just do waist, hip, and length the way I would have done it on my own. She’s got some great tips in there for really specific measurements. Still, it took a nominal amount of time to do. Why did I procrastinate? The world may never know.

Sandra goes on to show us various models with different pants-fit issues, which is great! I just wish I had a buddy taking the class with me who could objectively show me what’s wrong with my pants. Her explanations are fantastic. She shows the fitting problem, then goes over what corrections it will take to eliminate it. I know I’ll never retain everything, so I’ll probably refer back to this section of the class for years as I’m doing work for people with various body shapes.

I was never aware of just how used to seeing (and wearing) bad fitting pants I was. People just sort of wear whatever they can squeeze into or belt onto themselves, and the fit and hang is typically pretty bad. I’ve always complained about finding pants that fit, particularly since I need to buy mine in “Long” so that narrows down my selection (and ups the price) even further. Watching this really makes me want to take the altering ready to wear class! (I’ll have to restrain myself from purchasing it until I KNOW I’ll be able to complete it, but OOOH, there’s a MAJOR sale right now. Oh, wait, I’m actually enrolled in the first alterations class. Looks like that’s one of the classes I bout a year ago and haven’t got around to.)

She shows a pair of pants she made with the princess seam that she put piping down the front of the pant and I really like the look. Maybe I’ll do something like that!


I ended up tracing the patterns. I timed myself so I would know just how long it takes and wound up spending 42 minutes on it. Now, is 42 minutes quite a long time? Sure. Is it too long? Not for this project. I’m glad I did it. If I were making something for myself and had no intentions of using the pattern for anyone else, I definitely wouldn’t do it. I don’t do it for my $2.97 patterns and I don’t do it if I’m in a hurry to finish a garment. But for this, I’m going to spend so many hours on the class anyway that the 40 extra minutes isn’t that much time in the grand scheme of things.  And if the pants come out great and anyone likes the idea of custom made slacks, I still have the pattern.

Original Pattern Pieces

Pattern pieces

Traced Pattern Pieces for WaistbandTraced Waistband

Craftsy Pants Class Blog# 1

  I’ve been enrolled in the Craftsy pants fitting and sewing classes for ages now. I’ve watched a couple of the lessons, but I have yet to actually begin. (I’ll start tomorrow is a flawed ideology… who knew?) I LOVE Craftsy! For those of you who don’t know, it’s a website with a ton of classes for all kinds of creative subjects. Sewing, knitting, cake decorating, and the list is ever-expanding. I think they have free mini classes in each category. They have some free sewing classes, which are pretty cool- beginner or not. That’s where my zipper pouch design on my previous post came from. They have regular sales that highlight up to half off their classes. I’m a sucker for a sale, and sometimes my creative eyes are bigger than my belly, that is, my follow-through. I know you’re with me, fellow Pinteresters! How many boards do you have with titles like “Make Someday” or “Stuff to Sew” with gazillions of pictures, ideas, and plans?

Creative people know what comes along with creativity: the desire and impulse to make EVERYTHING! For every design or idea we have time to actually make, there are probably hundreds of designs and ideas we don’t get to. Creatives tend to bounce around a lot from project to project. Let’s face it, we love a good tangent! And for good reason. Ideas spark our creativity and the more we surround ourselves with images of things we’re passionate about making, the more our brain comes up with new ideas. Great. Awesome! It’s wonderful when the creative juices flow. It’s not wonderful learning how to channel that mass of ideas into finished projects. If you don’t agree, I challenge you to walk into a large fabric store with the intention of landing on just one project without diverting to fabrics and patterns you think would be great in some other project or idea you have! Betcha can’t!!

Now, off of that tangent, and back on course. The Craftsy class. I’ve found sometimes it’s first step that’s the hardest. (Until I get to the finishing details. I’m often not so fond of those, either. ) I really hate measuring for and altering store bought patterns. I would honestly rather make a pattern completely from scratch than alter one someone else has made. I’ve been trying to determine why that is and I think it’s because I was never trained to sew from pre-made patterns. As a designer, I was trained to envision an idea, come up with a pattern, and fit it on the model to test it. It’s really a lot  more work, but I prefer it because it’s what I’m used to. You know, fear of the unknown and all that.

I’ve always wished I could have had the sewing classes that were offered mid-century! I’m so jealous of people who got to be well-trained in school to sew and then if they loved it, they could explore it further on their own…with a fairly complete skill set already under their belt. People in my generation got little to nothing as far as training in school goes. I’ll never forget how excited I was when I signed up for an advanced sewing and design class in 9th grade! All we did in home ec before that was a pillow. Snore. The syllabus for the class I signed up for was just dreamy- I couldn’t WAIT to learn all that was going to be offered. Then I was called to the guidance counselor’s office for the a huge let-down: I was the ONLY one who signed up. They had to drop the class. Now, I understand that sewing is no longer main-stream. It’s more economically feasible to buy ready to wear than to make your own. I’m not mad at schools for not spending money to teach what they consider a dying art. It’s just that in order for it not to die, our generation has to kind of take it to the streets. We have to learn somewhere. If you’re lucky, you have a relative who is a good seamstress and teacher. If not, you’re pretty much out in the cold if you want to learn how to sew. You’d be pretty hard pressed to find a class nearby if you live in a small town, and not everyone can commute an hour to a class in the city. That’s where Craftsy comes in. What a great idea! Online sewing classes to cover a huge variety of topics. I feel like there’s just so much I can learn from them.

But actually doing the class is another thing. It’s different than going to a physical class where you meet every week and have a teacher to guide you and hold you accountable to a deadline. And there are so many classes, it’s hard to choose just one. And when you do, you may decide it’s easier to just make the garment on your own than to follow that particular teacher’s method of sewing it. But if I’m really honest about it, what bothers me is that once I start a class and get to the point that I’m actually making something, I normally go off-course and just finish it on my own out of impatience. Or my half-made project isn’t satisfactory so I stop there. (I still have to go back and finish my Bombshell Dress course.)

But no more of that! I’ve decided to go ahead and blog about this class as I do it. So either I see it through or come out looking like a…donkey… in front of everyone on the internet. (Or my little handful of followers.) It’s gonna be wonderful! I’ll start tomorrow! KIDDING!

Here’s the deal: It’s gonna take two classes to make these pants. One class is all about fitting techniques and the second is how to sew.  I will try to write something on each class as I go, and I really hope this inspires all of you to find and use a forum of your choice to improve your skills! Let’s NOT let this become a lost art!

Moral of This Story? If you Love it, Learn it!    If it comes back to you, that’s how you know… wait, that’s not right. 🙂


Turn a Old T-Shirt into an Embellished Tank


Original Shirt


Finished TankHearts close up



My daughter isn’t fond of change. She loves what she loves and can’t bear to part with it, even if what she loves is ruined. When she gets a stain  that I can’t get out, I covertly sneak it into the trash can in our laundry room, invariably covering it over with mounds of lint and old fabric softener boxes! Out of the 3 hundred thousand shirts in her closet (it feels like,) she only wears about 6 of them. Over and Over. And no amount of “mommy persuasion” can get her to turn to the fancier shirts I would love to see her wear. So when her favorite pink shirt came up stained and I couldn’t Shout it out, my little heart broke. It broke partly because the pink shirt was a duplicate-triplicate, is, I guess, the more appropriate word. We had at least three in various colors. The yellow one was ruined and turned into a doll dress a few months ago, so she’s been down to two. And the green one is on its last leg with a pinhole forming in it. The other reason for my dismay is that I believe the stain was my fault. It’s a long story that’s neither here nor there and we’ll just keep this little secret between us, shall we? : ) SHHHH!


stain on back

Well, when I was doing laundry and came across one of her stained under shirts, it came to me. I could turn her beloved top into a tank to go under her clothes. You can never have enough of them, and it doesn’t matter how stained they are, unless they’re under something transparent. I knew it would be a quick transformation and hopefully alleviate the pain of losing yet another tee shirt. (She hates growing out of clothes, as well.) In the end, I used leftover fabric from the sleeves to cut hearts that I sewed onto the shirt- some over the stain so she can just wear it as a tank top. Here are the few steps to make this cutesy little tank.

Find a well- fitting tank top to make a pattern from.

Tank top to copy



Lay the tank on top of the old t shirt and cut around it, leaving about an extra half inch for seam allowance.

Tank to Tee

*IMPORTANT* If the tank top you’re using for a pattern is a rib knit and the shirt you’re cutting is a jersey knit, add quite a bit of extra width. Rib knit stretches 2-3 times more than jersey. I though I gave myself plenty extra, but the shirt ended up snug on my daughter. (It fits her, but not for long, so we’ll probably have to go through one more remake on it before we’re through. I’m thinking I could add a triangle godet panel to the back of it. I think those are adorable and they’re so popular right now.)

When cutting the neckline, do each piece separately, since the front and back may be slightly different.

cut around tank


  *TIP* You can use the original hem for your hem, which is what I did. My serger doesn’t have the cover stitch, (the one used at the bottom of t-shirts that allow the hem to stretch) but has two rows of straight top stitching, so I used what was already there and avoided a zigzag stitch hem.


Cut strips for straps.

I had enough fabric from near the neckline in the back of the old shirt. One strip even had the tagless label stamped on it, but it doesn’t show up once the strap was finished, since it’s on the inside.



Serge or Zigzag stitch the side seams. I used my serger.

(If you don’t have a sewing machine, this would be a great project to do by hand. Just use a running stitch and stretch as you go.)

Side seam


Turn the neckline and armholes in twice, forming a narrow hem, and cover stitch or zigzag stitch.



Sew the straps using a serger or zigzag.

(I’m assuming you know how to sew a strap and turn it out. If not, leave it in the comment section and I’ll do a post on it. Here’s the rundown: fold the strap in half lengthwise with right sides together. Sew down the side with the raw edges. Put a safety pin through the fabric on one of the ends and push it though the strap until it comes out the other side. Now your strap is made and turned out!) Iron your straps once they are turned and sew them onto the shirt. I used two rows of zigzag stitching to attach them.

*TIP* Use this opportunity to try it on your child (or yourself.) I would sew the straps to the back and leave the front undone. You can try it on like that and find out exactly how long you need the straps to be. Put a pin in the straps to use as a marker and cut some off it they’re too long. I didn’t do this and ended up having to take the strap fronts off to shorten.

Cut out hearts



Okay, so you’re shirt is made! Add a label if you want and you can embellish now to your heart’s content. I just cut out several hearts of various sizes, placing a couple strategically over stained areas. I put some on the front and on the back. I have 8 total, but it didn’t take very long. Plus, to me, the hand sewing is always the most fun, and the embellishment was an added surprise when I showed my daughter the finished product. She’s still not happy that it’s not her trusty t shirt anymore and said she would have preferred to just wear it with the stain, but she does like the new design. A win’s a win, right?

Where the stain used to be:

Big heart close up- where stain used to be

If anyone makes one of these, I’d love to see the pics! Post them in the comment section. I think the possibilities for applique shapes are endless- a car, puppy, or guitar for a little boy, stars, flowers, rainbows for little girls. A fleur-de-lis, paisly, or initials for a woman, a tribal print for a guy. I’d like to see what you guys come up with!

I also think this would be a great way to embelish a t-shirt quilt. Maybe one day.


The moral of the story?

Don’t stain your kids clothes-they do it enough themselves.

And when something awful happens, cover it up with love. Or a heart-shaped patch! Whichever’s easier. 🙂