Open Back Spring Tank

 

 

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Between 2 hour delays and working on a separate project last week, this top didn’t come along as quickly as I had wanted it to. But it came nonetheless. It was like Christmas…it came without packages, boxes, or bags, and there was nothing that old Grinch of busy-ness could do to stop it! IMG_2814

Now, I won’t be wearing it without another shirt on under it- unless I had really, really high waisted pants on and it was like a hundred and thirty degrees outside and someone could guarantee me that I wouldn’t run into my dad, or anyone from my conservative family for that matter. I used to throw caution-and modesty-to the wind, much to my mother’s chagrin, but poor girl, she wasn’t as strong-willed as I am. I had an unshakable argument, too. She had been a hippie, a real flower child of the 60s. Like she never went braless! If I had known then what I know now that mother’s are right in ways we can’t imagine in our naive, rebellious youth! Oh well. Now I have my own children to wrangle, so the tables have turned. I’ve already told them they’ll never be more stubborn than mommy, though, so I refuse to back down on the important issues. (That’s my sometimess-too-gentle-and-peaceable mother in the background picture. She was beautiful! Man, if I could take back the misery I caused her, I would. Well, sae la vie, I suppose.)IMG_2816

Back to the shirt. I may not wear it without something under it, but sheer is hot right now! Would I send it down a runway like that or put it in a photoshoot? Heck yes! I may be a fairly modest midwesterner, but I am, after all, an Yves Saint Laurent Girl at heart. . . Mastermind behind the iconic women’s tuxedo and sheer secretary blouses of the 70s- worn, of course, sans bras.

Also, Lets take a moment of reverence for these new palazzo pants. No, I didn’t make them, but I was just as excited to buy them for $11.99 at Sears last week! I will be wearing them with everything! And, yes, they do have pockets. Thank you for rejoicing with me over that fact. I know you did. Because nobody doesn’t love pockets!

IMG_2819I didn’t want the bra strap to show, but I”ll be wearing a cami under it, so it works for me!

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IMG_2821-0That criss-cross back turned out really well. Let me just say that it was no fun sewing the straps into the back neck binding, but we’ll leave that little saga for another post.

IMG_2827This post is for you, Mom, the one who told me to follow my dreams and believed I would be a writer since my second grade teacher told you so. I didn’t want to be for quite a while-perhaps just to be obstinate-but I’m writing now. . .and I love it. I wish I had listened to you sooner, but thank you for never really backing down, even when I ran all over you. You had your way in the end. I love and miss you!

 

The Moral of the Story?

Always remember to be grateful for pockets! It’s not until you buy a pair of pants, bring them home, and then realize the front pockets aren’t real that you truly appreciate them the way they deserve.

And listen to your mothers! Unless maybe they were hippies. In that case, go ahead and have a little fun with them. I think they enjoy the banter.

Girls’ Gymnastics Shorts

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Intimidated by sewing knits? Don’t be-they’re actually really easy to work with. Whether you have a serger or not, they can easily be mastered. I used my serger on the interior seams, but since it doesn’t have that handy dandy cover stitch that’s normally used to hem knits, I used my sewing machine for the waist and legs.

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This is a stitch often used in lingerie, it’s a zig-zag, but has tons of tiny stitches within each zig and zag. It’s fancy. Plus, it has awesome stretch, which is what you need for performance knit sewing.IMG_2464

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The interior seams are serged and for the top of the waist and legs, I serged first and turned the fabric under only once and stitched using that fancy zig-zag. This makes the inside look finished without having to turn the edges under twice. Less work?Love it! The waist has 1/2 inch elastic in the band, but the legs don’t have any elastic. I thought about using the clear lingerie elastic for the legs, but I tried it without, and it worked out well. These are tight enough in the leg that they don’t require any extra elastic. Works for me!IMG_2459

A Label Garden

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I kind of need a drying rack, but hey, this is prettier.

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To see how to make these cheap and easy homemade labels for your designs and sewing projects, click HERE.

Bonus Easy Flower

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As a closer for my mini-series on quick, easy flowers, I’m showing you guys the quickest and easiest of them all. (It’s okay to talk about flowers that way-they have no feelings. Girls on the other hand, well. . .)

This gray flower is one I already had made up. It’s attached to a little alligator clip, which is really the best type for these kinds or flowers, I think. Since this is a bonus post and none of the previous posts in this series had step by step instructions, I went ahead and made another one up to show you just how easy they are.
IMG_2503-0How to Make It

Step One: Find fabric- select a jersey knit, which won’t unravel. This is a great way to upcycle old t-shirts! In fact, I used the sleeve of a shirt my daughters had outgrown that I’d already used for doll clothes. When I pulled it out, I was amused to see I had also used it as a test piece for some of the hand sewing techniques I learned from my Alabama Chanin book.
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OK, On to the Good Stuff!

Cut a strip that tapers off. This one was about 16″ long and goes from about a half inch on one side to a little over an inch on the other.

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Since this came from a sleeve, I had two layers, which I cut in half to make two separate pieces. Pay no attention to my ironing board. Or the man behind the curtain. (You have seen the Wizard of Oz, haven’t you?)

Grab some thread and a needle. Knot the end.IMG_2492-0

Begin to sew a running stitch through the skinny side. To do this really easily, keep your needle still and pile your fabric back and forth onto the needle. It goes so quickly that way!IMG_2493-0Keep sewing in that manner until you reach the end. Knot off your thread, or do like I did and use the same piece of thread to sew your piece into the flower shape.IMG_2494Spin the fabric around so you have a few layers, keeping the skinny end on top.IMG_2496-1

IMG_2495-1Once you have the desired shape, begin sewing through all the layers. Just sew from the back straight through to the front and vice versa, making sure to connect all the layers all around. Knot it in the back once you’re finished.IMG_2498

Here’s the front.IMG_2504-0And the back.IMG_2501-0

Couldn’t be simpler, right? This would be a great place to start for kids (and adults) who want to learn to sew. I think my kids are big enough to let them try to tackle this project now. If we do that, I’ll be sure to let you all know how it goes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Flower Hair Clip Fiesta Tres

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“Oooh La La La! That’s the way that we rock when we’re doin our thing.” Remember that song? If so, you’re getting old, but that’s ok. I am too.  Need an explanation? Flowers make me think Oh la la, which made me sing the song in my head, and presto change-o, I’ve shared it with you for your enjoyment. That is, if you were a Fugees fan. If not, this is one paragraph you’ll never appreciate, but don’t worry…it gets better.

On to the Flower!

Supplies You’ll Need to Make It: 

This one is made using jersey knit (t-shirt) fabric, hand sewing, and a cute little silver bead left over from the time I made wrap bangle bracelets.
Remember that? If not, check out the post and tutorial Here.photo (4) ..

How You Make It:

Cut a rectangular piece of knit fabric. (I made these flowers months ago, so I don’t remember the exact dimensions I used. 3″ X 12″ should do it.

Cut that rectangle into two scalloped strips by cutting lengthwise nearer to one side in a wave motion, creating one thin strip and one thick strip. (I hope that makes sense. If not, hit me up in the comments section. If you want, I’d be glad to re-do some of these flowers and get step-by-step pictures for a bona fide tutorial! Just let me know-I love your feedback.)

Gather both pieces separately by sewing a hand running stitch down the straight edges and pulling until they are long enough to wind around 3 or 4 times.

Once they are both gathered, put the thin piece on top of the larger one and spin both pieces around until you’ve got a flower shape. (If you want, you can sew as you spin. Stitch each new round in place before making a new layer.) The two sizes layered together give the flower more dimension and texture, which you can see in this picture.f (3)

This fabric is super easy to sew and thin enough that I made the flower shape first and then sewed through all layers. If you didn’t sew along as you were forming the flower, do so now, holding the flower in one hand and you sewing from back to front, front to back through all layers, making sure that all areas of the flower are in place and attached. Knot off in the back of the flower.

Run a line of stitching in the back to attach the very end of the fabric strip to the rest of the flower. You can see that in the picture below. Kind of. The fabric curled around the stitch line so the thread itself isn’t visible, but you can see where I sewed it together. Point is, you don’t want that piece in the back to be flopsy.b

Add your little bead, a button or other embellishment using needle and thread. Make sure it’s really securely attached, especially if you’re making it for a small child!f (3)

Attach it to a clip using felt and hot glue like my previous two flowers, or sew it directly to a garment. This flower was sewn on to a children’s dress I made a while back in This Tutorial. Check it out if you have time and let me know if you like it.klnmiulmgdf

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The Moral of the Story:

If you can’t get a song out of your head, write it somewhere on the internet- that’s what everyone does on Facebook now, right?

And if you need a really quick flower for a last minute DIY emergency, (which may seem unlikely, but the more you craft, the more it can happen) always go with jersey knit! It’s quick to sew and it never frays. A WIN-WIN!fdsa

As always, thank you for reading and stay tuned for tomorrow’s bonus post on the simplest of all the fast fabric flowers! (Hint-they can also be seen on the gray dress above.) Happy Thursday!

Flower Hair Clips

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There are about as many ways to make or sew fabric flowers as there are funny pictures of cats posted on Facebook. If you run a search for tutorials, you can quickly become overwhelmed with all the beautiful options you want to try. I prefer the faster kinds. (Some flower video tutorials are like 40 minutes long-what could they possibly be doing? I think after a few minutes the videos cut to scenes of them showing off their stamp collections, or something. I know I’m not gonna spend 40 minutes making a darn flower! If you have that kind of time and patience, more power to you! If you don’t, I have  3 quick and easy methods for constructing fabric flowers. I’ll post the directions for each one throughout this week. AND…if you guys are lucky, I’ll post a bonus easy flower not shown here on Friday. Try not to fall off the edge of your seats in anticipation, (and I’ll try not to choke on my sarcasm.)

 

TODAY’S FLOWER METHOD: Polyester Circles and a Lighter!

Just so you know, my eyes got all big and maniacal looking as I typed that title and pictured something akin to Bart Simpson with a lighter and an aerosol can.

What you do:

Find some synthetic fabric. (If you’re not sure if the fabric is synthetic, do the lighter test. You want edges that melt and crinkle up a bit, not fabric that actually catches on fire. Fire bad.)

Cut out 4 or more circles of your fabric. It’s easiest if you make a paper pattern so they all come out the same size. I used a compass to get just the right size. You could also draw around something round.f

Melt the edges using a lighter. Do not burn your house down.

Once the edges are melted and cooled off, fold each circle into fourths and sew or hot glue the corner to a small circle of felt and a hair clip. f (1)

That’s it. You’re done. You could also use a safety pin going through the circle (or oval, in this flower’s case) of felt for attaching to shirts or accessories. I like that better than sewing flowers on for certain garments if you don’t want the flowers to go through the wash.

Stay tuned this week for more flower making madness! It’s guaranteed to be a good time, and you can rest assured I will bring you the quickest, easiest methods of fabric flower production know to man, because nobody has time to make a 40 minute flower!

Baby Bib and Burp Cloth

Bib 10Babies. Just as cute as they wanna be! In this post, I’m going to show you how to make an adorable bib and burp cloth to match. While they’re definitely not as cute as babies, (nothing is!) they are quick, relatively easy, and can be a good fabric scrapbuster. I had a little of this Riley Blake animal fabric and blue dimple dot minky left over from the crib set I made a couple years ago. Click Here to see that post, Crib Set Extravaganza.

Bib 5I had started on this bib back then, but didn’t get it finished. So the above picture shows what I had cut out and ready to sew. (Yes, the gray piece had been in the embroidery hoop for 2 years. That’s why all my posts about procrastination, if you’ve ever wondered.) The hippo was just cut out of the Riley Blake fabric. I tried to leave a tiny edge of gray background around him so I had a scosche more room to sew around him. (I had no idea that’s how scosche was spelled until I had to look it up just now. Ya learn something new every day!)

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Just place your cut-out onto the bib fabric…Bib 7

And whip stitch around that little guy with embroidery thread.

Embroidery Needle Threader

Here’s a tip if using embroidery thread makes you want to jump out of a window. (Or is that just me?) Walmart and sewing/craft stores carry this gigantic needle threader, which is perfect for embroidery floss.  The thread comes as a 6 strand rope. I cut the length I needed and separated it into two 3 strand pieces. Using 6 strands would have been way too thick for this project.

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After your design is sewn onto the bib front, put it right sides together with the minky (or fabric of your choice) back. Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin, Pin! You’re working with a quarter inch seam allowance here, and the minky is stretchy and slippery, so you definitely don’t want anything moving out of place.

Bib 2This tip may be for me more than anybody else, but I hate sewing really tight curves like this, so I took a clear ruler and traced the stitch line with a pen that’s made for sewing. (The ink disappears when ironed.)

Sew around the edge at 1/4″, leaving an opening for turning out. Turn the fabric to the right side and top stitch, making sure to catch that opening so it’s securely closed.

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This is what you should have at this point.  Again, the neck back piece is a beast to sew. If it comes out horrible, take the topstitching out and try it again. Marking the stitch line with chalk or soluble ink may help you.

 

Bib 4

 

The last step is to attach the velcro. To do that, cut a rectangle of velcro the length you would like it according to how it will fit on the bib. Then round off the edges by cutting diagonally across the corners and then cutting tiny diagonals across the corners that last cut just made. You really can’t be too careful here…you want baby to be comfortable and safe, so just run your finger around the velcro to make sure there are no sharp points. When attaching, maake sure the hard part will be on the bottom, facing out so it never rubs baby’s skin. To sew on the velcro, I’ve found it’s easiest to just do straight stitches, forming a box.

 

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This is the finished product. If any of you make one, I’d love to see it. Post pics in the comment section, please.

 

For tips on working with minky fabric and how to sew the burp cloth below, just follow my Taggie Blanket Tutorial and don’t use the ribbons.

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Making Due and How To Make An Easy Flower

IMG_2101What do you do when the rad concert t-shirt you turned into a one of a kind, hand-sewn, work of strappy-backed art gets a hole in it? You make due with what you have, that’s what! One of my favorite sayings is “When life hands you lemons. . . you freeze ’em and throw them back so it really hurts like heck.” Or something like that.
What is design but making something where there was nothing before? So why did I let myself get all bent out of shape when the shirt I had just made ended up with a hole in it? (Stupid Cat!!!) I was just about to list it on Etsy when I noticed the anomaly, and I just let it hang in my sewing room for months. (Thanks to that lack of decisiveness that creative people are often plagued with.) I didn’t want to darn and mend it and then sell it. I didn’t want to list it with a hole in it. I felt like a flower over it may be too out of place. So I just left it. Ever been there?
But I did the brave thing and finally got it out. A flower was my only option for true repair that didn’t look awful, so that’s what I went with. It may not be part of my original design or intention, but aren’t happy accidents the part of design that I’m always touting, anyway? So now I have a kick-arse (Can I say that?) Led Zeppelin shirt that, yes, has a flower on it, and I love it. It’s edgy and pretty. Together. And because of that, in a happy accident kind of way, it embodies my whole design aesthetic. Thank you, fate. (I don’t actually believe in fate. That was a literary device lest you think I’m totally naive. I do like to personify ideas and attributes to sound like I’m talking to them. I also like to over-explain what I’m doing. You’re welcome.)

Who knew such a tiny hole could cause so much anguish?IMG_2088

Luckily, I had some scraps from the fabric I used to make the godets for this shirt. (The little triangles I added to the sides.)

IMG_2089I cut out a shape that would work for a flower-It was already there. I just tidied up the edges a bit. If you’re using this post on a tutorial to make an easy flower, take any jersey knit (t-shirt) fabric and cut it between 6-12 inches and taper it so one side is wider than the other. I liked the curved edge for this flower.IMG_2090Using a running stitch, sew near the bottom edge of the fabric all the way across. Don’t worry about the stitch being perfectly even. Unless chaos kills you inside. Then you can be perfectionistic if you want to.IMG_2092-0

I used Button & Craft thread. It’s heavy duty stuff. It’s cheap. And it will last. Highly recommend it!IMG_2091-0

After you’ve stitched the edge, pull the thread to gather the fabric so your flower crinkles up. Cute, no?IMG_2093Using the same length of thread, sew the flower together. Just take the needle in from the back and out the front and vice versa. Make sure your stitches aren’t noticeable and don’t sew down that cute fullnes in the middle of the flower! Once it’s sewn together adequately, secure it with a knot in the back.IMG_2094


You’re done with your easy flower! Now you can sew it onto a garment or accessory, or you can hot glue a piece of felt with a safety pin to the back so it’s detachable. I used black thread for this flower so you can’t see any stitching and since there are so many flower options, I’ll probably do a whole post on easy flowers and break down exactly how to sew them together for newbies.IMG_2096

I mended the hole before I attached the flower so it wouldn’t fray.IMG_2097This was the shirt’s original design.Finished front

And this is what I ended up with. I’m actually more it this way. You know, after all that unnecessary worry and feeling like I couldn’t possibly make a flower work.IMG_2098IMG_2099

And here are some of the details I love about this top.

The braided binding. Boy, this stuff takes forever to make, but it’s so versatile, strong, pretty, and unusual! Plus, this shirt was entirely hand stitched and it lends itself to that medium.

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The godet panel and hi-lo hem.Finished-sideGodet finished stitching
And this beautiful contrast stitching. The hem stitch is a stretchy one that I learned from one of Natalie Chanin’s books. Love her!Hem Stitch

Also, if this 2 for one post wasn’t enough for you, here are some other ridiculous and fun lemons quotes. Enjoy:

If life gives you lemons, keep them, because, hey, free lemons!

When life hands you lemons, slice those suckers up and grab some vodka.

When life gives you lemonade, make lemons. Then life will be all like…What?!?

When life hands you lemons, make grape juice, and sit back and watch everyone wonder how you did it.

If life gives you lemons, sell them and buy shoes!

Unless life also hands you water and sugar, you’re lemonade is gonna suck.

When life hands you lemons, freeze them and throw them as hard as you can at the people making your life difficult. (Okay, this was the one I was thinking of earlier. I got it totally wrong!)

When life hands you lemons, it’s time for tequila shots.

When life gives you lemons, make bacon. Discard the lemons.

 

How’d The Ugly Sweaters Turn Out?

Dec. 2014 Group 2 414Like dresses for the most part.  But we did end up with a couple legitimate sweaters. I didn’t go all out and nothing lights up, so my best friend’s is still my favorite. (She had twinkling stars poking out from holes all around her sweater. She’s so stinking creative.) We didn’t win any best sweater awards at church, but they were fun to wear and pretty fun to make.

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 This dress was just so adorable the way it was. Both of my girls wanted to keep it for every day wear. Neither of their names start with a C.

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So I admit, I  kind of threw the dresses together at the last minute. I ran out of steam a bit after the sweaters, but the girls enjoyed them. They both had jingle bells on them, so it was a pretty loud church service. Fun.
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Mine was pretty silly. It wasn’t as extravagant as I was gonna go for, but I just couldn’t resist this cute ugly puppy! I did manage to add really big jingle bells to my right shoulder so I could do a little festive shoulder jig every few minutes to make sure everyone at the party was still awake and merry.
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This is the hubby! That’s the nicest thing I can think to call him since he often calls me his “ole lady.” Flattering. I’m still proud of our Goodwill crochet score. I’m extra super proud that there are jingle bells in each of those wreaths. I totally made him jiggle for everyone who complimented his sweater. The man can shimmy.IMG_2031Dec. 2014 Group 2 421

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I feel like I have a lot of explaining to do about this picture. I didn’t get any pictures of myself in the hat and the sweater together, but this is the magnificent hat I found to go with. I think I may wear it throughout the year when I have diva moments. Try arguing with a woman in that hat!

Merry Christmas, guys!!!!

Holiday Scarves

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Here’s my new reason for loving crochet: It makes excellent gifts! Here’s my suggestion for the holidays: Pick one design that you like, perfect it, and duplicate it in a bunch of colors so you can hand them out to everyone and the next year pick another item. This means you don’t lose track of who got mittens and who got scarves already, and you get the benefit of quick chain-style production and not having to switch gears between each gift. The real beauty of this manner of DIY gift giving is that it’s newbie-friendly. I JUST learned to crochet. I can only make a few things. This is the second type of scarf I made and I loved it, so I decided that’s what everyone would get. I don’t have to worry about learning how to make a ton of items right away. Next year I think I’ll work on those ear warmer head wraps. And maybe the year after that I’ll attempt mittens. Who knows? Maybe by year 4 or 5 I’ll learn how to send out Christmas cards instead of just buying them and addressing half and leaving them on my table until it’s too late to possibly send out. Maybe this blog just became fictional.

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These are the two scarves my daughters are giving to their teachers this year, and I must say I think it’s a good gift. They probably have more plaques and tree ornaments with rulers and apples than they can stand. I used the thick yarn and my blue plastic jumbo hook, which I love! If you want to take up crochet and have very little patience, I suggest starting with those two items. And a double crochet. It goes pretty quick that way.

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For the scarves, I chose the infinity style, obviously, because they are so popular and snuggly and cozy and everybody’s happier when their neck is warm. I used the double crochet and made them ribbed by only putting the crochets into the back part of each loop. (Can you tell I don’t really know all the terminology yet?) I will probably do a step by step picture tutorial at some point. If anyone is dying to see that soon, however, I would make that tutorial sooner if you told me to do it in what? Your handy dandy comment section, of course! (Can you also tell I’m really vying for your feedback?)IMG_1976

Here they are all wrapped up. And by wrapped up I mean jammed into a bag and topped with tissue paper because mama hates to wrap. Is it just me or does that cardinal look a bit nefarious?IMG_1974

The Moral of The Story?

Find something you want to learn how to do and dig in. Look at blog tutorials. Look at Youtube.  Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn everything at once. Work on making one killer item and be proud of it.  

Then, mass-produce it and stuff it down all of your friends’ and relatives’ metaphorical throats for the Holiday Season!

 

Comment Section:  Do you give DIY gifts? Which are you favorites? Which ones are well-received? Which ones bombed?