Hand Sewn Embroidered Long Sleeve Tee- Geesh That’s a Mouthful!

fdsafWhat you’ll need:

Jersey knit fabric– I used an old maxi dress of mine that I bought becasue it was super cheap (Half off at Goodwill ain’t bad!) but it never really fit right. Ever been in that boat, Ladies? Just kidding, I KNOW you have!

Thread- I like to use a contrasting color.

Embroidery floss– There are so many to choose from- go nuts!

Hand sewing needles– one regular and one with a larger eye for embroidery thread.

A good-fitting shirt- You’ll use this to make the pattern from.

Paper- This is to make your pattern- any will do! I love using kraft paper, but you can tape together printer paper, lined paper, or tissue paper, too. (I use tissue paper a lot because it stores so easily. I just keep a few packs of white at home.)

Pencil– To trace your pattern

Quilter’s ruler- To add seam allowance to the pieces. I always add a half inch. If you don’t have a clear ruler, you can improvise with a regular one, it will just take a lot longer. Ooh, OR-and this just came to me-you could cut a piece of  cardstock  in a rectangular strip that is a half inch wide and use that as your guide to trace around the pattern.

Stencil– Again, if you don’t have any, make your own! Print a template you find online and cut out the shapes. You could also freehand the design if you’re brave.

Fabric marker- You could use tailor’s chalk or a kid’s washable marker as well, or, heck, even a crayon if you use one in a similar color to the embroidery thread.

Optional: Stabilizer fabric, Embroidery hoop. These really are optional, because I didn’t use either. I will say that it probably would have gone a little easier if I did, though.ERFDS

I always like to emphasize that if you have the desire to sew, you CAN SEW!

Don’t ever let not having a machine or the right equipment hold you back. Make due with what you have! No money for fabric? Buy a 99 cent thrift store t-shirt and cut it up. If that’s not enough fabric, but two colors  of t-shirts and make something color-blocked! No money for pattern drafting paper? Tear a bunch of sheets out of a notebook and tape those babies together! The point is, whatever you don’t have is irrelevant. Designers are creative, but also inventive. Just take it from Tim Gunn and “Make it Work!”



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I’m not breaking this down into tiny steps and I don’t have pictures for each step, but I will tell you what to do start to finish to knock-off a favorite shirt of yours or your kid’s and assemble and embelish it by hand. It’s really very simple.

1.Trace your shirt onto paper. There will be three pattern pieces…Front, back, and sleeve. I didn’t use it here, but if you want to use neck binding, just measure around the neck and subtract a couple inches for the binding piece and cut a strip that length X about an inch.

2. Add seam allowance to your pattern pieces. Measure 1/2 in out from the traced lines.

3. Cut out the fabric. I use pattern weights instead of pins to make this process even simpler and quicker!

4.Sew the pieces together using a hand running stitch. This is explained on previous posts of mine on hand sewing. (You can fold the seam over and sew it down for a flat- felled seam and it makes a really beautiful top stitch.)

5. Hem. Sew the hem, neckline, and sleeves the same way. You can use a hand stretch stitch, or even a running stitch, as long as the opening doesn’t need to stretch much. The shirt I made is kind of a boat neck, so I could have gotten away with a straight stitch if I wanted.

6. Trace the stencil. Figure out the placement and draw it onto your sewn garment. I used a FriXion pen by Pilot that disappears when it’s ironed.  I got it from Missouri Star Quilt Company online, but again, improvise if you need to.

7. Embroider. Ok, easier said than done here. I was a total newbie, but it was pretty fun. I don’t even know the names for the embroidery  techniques I used. I just wrapped the thread around the scroll designs and then did a little running stitch and one cross stitch above that. I didn’t practice any before hand, I just went for it. And I’m glad I did! My kids love this shirt! Maybe I’m getting over my perfectionism. Mary, are you…chuckling?





The Moral of the Story? You already KNOW! Just get up and make something! Don’t let what you don’t have hold you back. ..And stop laughing at me, I know I’m not over perfectionism. One day, maybe.

Ruffled Girls Leggings With a Twist

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The twist being…my daughter doesn’t like ruffles.

Sure, my husband was aware, but I was somehow oblivious. When I made the pattern, I left an extra two or three inches on the bottom and marked it “Very Long, Check for Fit.” Did I check for fit or show any kind of foresight at all? Well, that’s an easy one if you know me! What I didn’t anticipate was that with all that extra length, they would still be substantially too short for her when I had her try them on once I had finished all but the seam. (My kids are, apparently, half giraffe.) She loved them. She insisted on wearing them around the house for the rest of the day. But that unfinished hem.

The perfectionist side of me won out (she’s a tough cookie) and I decided they would absolutely need a hem, even if I just turned under an eighth of an inch. I sat down to do it and- BA BAM– as my daughter says, it came to me! The crinkly edge you get when you sew a knit with a tight zigzag stitch while stretching the crap out of it. (I managed to lengthen several of my pajama pants in high school using that method. Adding a cute little ruffle to the bottom of a 3 inch strip of differently colored fabric makes is juuust less-tacky-enough to make it work…for a teenager.)

I have virtually shunned such juvenile and unprofessional finishing techniques because of my uber-creative stint in high school. (Fringe, lace, corseting, you name it, sheesh!) But the finish does lend itself to children’s clothing, and I was all about bringing it back. A treatment that would not only keep the length in-tact, but make the very basic pants look fancier? H-Yes!

I proudly displayed them for her this morning. I thought they would be a great item to wear to her cousin’s birthday party. Poor girl. By her account, her mother had ruined her new pair of leggings by fancying them up.

Luckily for her, I have a black pair cut out, which she said she’ll wear “if they don’t have ruffles.”
Luckily for me, she has a twin sister who has a true diva’s love of anything with ruffles and bows.

The moral of the story: Don’t make notes you don’t intend to keep. And have your kids in twos.