Your Dog Ate Your WHAT?

IMG_2840

IMG_2829

IMG_2828If I had a dollar for every item I’ve lost to a puppy over the years, well, I’d have enough to buy another puppy! But I won’t…because they’re terrible-and adorable! If I were as passionate about  dog training as I am at sewing, I supposed I’d have fewer mishaps, but in this instance at least, I was able to use my passion for the one to make up for the lack of the other. Yay!

I had just bought this from Aerie, and it has quickly become one of my favorites. No cheap stores carry my size, so I have to wait for sales at places like Victoria’s Secret and Aerie. I was super-dee-duper excited (anyone remember Barney? No? Just Me Then?) when I was at the mall with my husband  getting a softball glove for the league he’s in and Aerie had buy one get one FREE signs up! That’s almost unheard of. I mean, fireworks went of, guys and dolls! So, sure, this one was technically free, but it would cost about $50.00 to replace.

. . .And then my dog ate it.

When my initial upset dissipated, I realized  the cups were still intact and it was actually fairly minor damage, even though the strap had been severed. Several months ago, I may have just thrown it away, but as I’m sewing more and more of my designs, I’m also mending a lot more. That’s partly because I’m getting more confident in my abilities and less intimidated by new types of clothing, and partly because I’m broke now-between staying home with my kids and this darn puppy! IMG_2830-0

How the Puppy left it-Wonk Wonk.

IMG_2831-0

The first thing I did was cut off the jagged, mangled, dog-spitty parts (nobody wants that) to have straight edges to work with.IMG_2833-0I gave it enough overlap so I wouldn’t lose any strength in the strap. IMG_2834-1Using the closest color I had to this light lilac, I sewed the straps together, whip-stitched through the lace, and did a little reinforcing at the back.IMG_2839-0Voila!

IMG_2837-0How to dog-chewless side looks

IMG_2838-0How the repaired side looks.

It’s not beautiful, (although it wouldn’t be very noticeable at all if I had gotten thread that was an exact match) but it saved the bra. From a couple feet away, it’s not really all that visible.

IMG_2836And that, my friends, is how to save a bra!

Hand Sewing Hack

IMG_2766How do I love Duct Tape? Let me count the ways! 

IMG_2763Today’s tip is using tape to make an impromptu finger shield while hand stitching. I’ve lusted over the fancy adhesive thimbles in expensive quilter’s catalogs, but I couldn’t bring myself to purchase something that costs so much per use, since they are disposable. On this project, however, I was beginning to long for them, as hand sewing through as many as 8 layers on the seams while attaching this binding can get a little…shall we say, complicated. (Complicated is code for painful!) Thimbles suck, so they’re not a good option for me, plus I needed something for my thumb, not my fingers. What popped into my mind? Miss Liz from Swamp People- my husband’s favorite show. She wraps each finger with what appears to be electrical tape so the lines they drag the alligators in on don’t cut through. (If you haven’t seen the show, it’s worth a watch…not very cerebral, but intriguing on a very-umm-primal level.)

IMG_2764

 

How you do it: Cut several strips and layer them on your thumb or whichever finger you use to push your needle through. It’s that simple. And it’s marvelous! It’s one of those ideas you can’t believe you hadn’t thought of before. I’ll definitely be keeping a roll of tape close by my sewing supplies from now on. I will say, though, it’s not totally impenetrable, so if you try this hack, use a little finesse. Remember the back of the needle is pretty sharp, as well. Mine went through the tape when I was sewing through the side seam and just pressed my thumb down onto the needle like a madman-directly from the top, not the side. Not my smoothest move ever. This works very well as a barrier as long as the needle is at an angle-not perpendicular to your thumb if you are applying a ton of pressure.

IMG_2765

 

The Moral of The Story?

Thimbles suck-unless your goal is to see how wobbly your needle can be as you try to sew.

And there are very few problems in life that Duct tape can’t solve!

Twist on a Classic White Tee

d

 

Looking for easy sewing projects? This just might be your lucky day. You don’t need a machine to make this adorable t-shirt, just fabric, a pattern (or a good fitting t-shirt to use as a pattern,) scissors, pins, a needle, and thread.

kjhb

n

vdsa

,k,k

esa

,k;

fdx

hngs

r

szezd

uf

I didn’t post how to do it here, since I have so many other tutorials on hand sewing whole garments.

Here are the links:

Baby T-shirt Tutorial

Make Your Own Yoga Gear

Super Hero Tank Top

 

Bonus Easy Flower

IMG_2502-0

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.
IMG_2488-0

IMG_2489

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.

IMG_2490


IMG_2491
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

f (2)

“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

Etsy 1

 

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 Clip Fiesta Dos

fdsa

 

Here it is. . .part two in the series of easy-peasy flowers to make. Today’s flower is this little pink polka-dotted number in the picture above.

How to Make It:

For this flower, you can use just about any fabric. All you need is a rectangular length of whatever kind you choose. I used some “Quilter’s Candy” fabric from Connecting Threads, a website with tons of really economical quilting fabric and an amazing selection of thread. Catch them during sale time and you can really stock up!

You can experiment with the length and width, but I believe I used something like 2 1/2″ X 12″.

Fold it in half lengthwise, right sides together, and sew down the side.

Turn the tube right side out and stitch the ends closed so the raw edges aren’t visible.

Sew a machine gathering stitch or a running stitch by hand down the edge with the seam and gather the fabric by pulling one side of the thread.

Begin to roll up the flower, stitching the bottom together at each new round. I suppose you could use hot glue for this step instead of sewing. I’m not sure how well it would hold up. . . now I’m curious. If you try it, tell me how it goes in the comment section.f (4)

The last step is to attach the flower to the clip. For this step, I know hot glue works! Ask my children who wear these clips out, and my dog, whose mouth I have wrestled them from numerous times.vfvf

 

Captain America T-Shirt Remake

IMG_2416-0

Ok, so I admit it. I’ve never actually read any Marvel comics (or any comics for that matter.) I’ve never even watched the Captain America Movie. I’m a nerd, but not in that way, how’s that. Like, if Chaucer, Hawthorne, or C.S. Lewis were super heros, then I’d read the comic books! (Chaucer would make a terrible super hero, wouldn’t he? It would be like a 1400 page graphic novel on someone who describes places and people’s physical characteristics for so long that all of his enemies fall asleep and die. His name would be Canterbury Fail. Hawthorne wouldn’t be much better. 40 pages to describe a tiny fishing village in The Scarlet Letter? Really?)

But let’s face it, superheros are fun! (I’m a batman girl myself…gotta love the dark side.) Between making this shirt and the Captain America trailer I’ve watched over and over on my copy of Guardians of the Galaxy, (I think that’s the movie I keep seeing it on.) I’ll probably break down and rent it soon. And yes, that is a copy of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the background. It’s just the best. Bam! I’m not sure if you guys care, but I’m still salty because in kindergarten, I was always the only girl who wanted to play Turtles instead of house, so they ALWAYS made me be April. I just wanted to be Mikey or Donnie. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

These are just pics of the process and tips on how to add fabric if your pattern is bigger than the fabric you have to work with.

For more posts on upcycling T-Shirts and hand stitching check out these posts:

Step-By-Step Picture Tutorial

Decorate a Top WIth an Easy Flower

Girls Tank Applique Tank Top

Make Your Own Yoga Gear (A step-by-step tutorial on how to make a sports bra)

IMG_2380

The Original T-Shirt

IMG_2381

How to cut up a t-shirt for upcycling the most efficient way.

IMG_2382

Oops! Not enough room. (I had to use the bottom for binding for the neck and arm holes.) Not to worry. Just make a separate piece for the missing part of the strap! Be sure to add enough for seam allowance. I love how this turned out, anyway. It’s a cool decorative seam now because I did the contrast top-stitch. Happy Accidents! I’m tellin ya.IMG_2383

IMG_2384

IMG_2385

For the pattern for the extra strap piece, I used tailor’s chalk to mark where the fabric stopped on my pattern. Then I measured down one inch (to allow for a 1/2″ seam allowance on both pieces.)IMG_2386

I didn’t get a picture of cutting out the strap piece, but here’s what they look like pinned on.IMG_2411

Here it is, Folks!IMG_2412

Have I ever told you I love hand-stitching and contrast top stitching? A million times? Ok, well consider this a million and one!IMG_2416-0

Dun du du daaahhh!!! Is that Super-Hero-y enough? I don’t know how well theme music comes off in print.IMG_2417

Contrast Topstitching!!!!IMG_2421-0

IMG_2417-0

IMG_2419-0

IMG_2420-0

IMG_2418-0

 

Leave it in the Comment Section:

Who’s your favorite Super Hero and has that ever influenced your style or designs? 

Hand Stitched Girls Cardigan

4-7-13 038One of the forms of sewing I’m most passionate about is hand stitching. I first did a project with jersey knit by hand 7 years ago, using a whip stitch around the side seams so I could assure it wouldn’t fall apart. I absolutely loved working with jersey by hand! But I remember thinking it just wasn’t feasible…too time consuming, too likely to fall apart. So I gave it up after that project…until I found the completely hand stitched clothing line Alabama Chanin. It’s amazing! Natalie Chanin uses astonishing hand embroidery and embellishment as a trademark. I don’t have the patience or the willingness to do that on my work. My passion is more pattern making. I’d prefer to make a more complicated design and sew it simply than a simple design that lends itself to embroidery. (Not that this blue cardigan is complicated or wouldn’t look great emboidered if I had the patience to sew more than just the one leaf you can see in the left side of the picture on this cardi.)

What I took away from Miss Chanin’s work is that a simple running stitch with the right thread is more than enough to sew a garment together that won’t fall apart. And believe me, this is a tried and true method. I made this cardigan about 2 years ago and it gets washed all the time.

For a tutorial on how to hand stitch a garment, see my article A Hand Stitched Baby T. Projects like this lend themselves to upcycling, and for this project, I used a super soft T-Shirt I found at Goodwill for the light blue and a maxi dress that got too small for me for the binding.  For my other project using the dark teal, check out the pics in my article on how to make an embroidered long sleeve t-shirt. When selecting a piece to upcycle for a project like this, try to look for: the biggest sizes possible, fabric that’s soft to the touch, items that don’t have many seams, and dresses are great because they have so much fabric. When in doubt, grab your old T-shirts and turn them into a new piece of clothing instead of a T-Shirt Quilt.

 

5-3-13 164

 

5-3-13 172

5-3-13 1775-3-13 180

 

5-3-13 179

Don't Use

Easy Button Sewing Tip


IMG_2185My tip for how to sew on a button easily stems from a vast pool of ingenuity I have, which in turn comes mostly from being part of a long line of, well, rednecks. Every male in my family is like a midwestern MacGyver. They can fix anything that breaks, usually using their huge stash of-sometimes superfluous- tools and supplies. (I have one brother who actually uses the term “My Good chainsaw”) But they’re also very good at making a way to solve the problem when they have next to nothing on hand to fix it with. Knowing that, my button sewing trick will probably make a little more sense. My secret? Scotch tape.

IMG_2180

 

 

I hate getting my buttons in just the right spot and at just the right angle, only to have them slip out of place while I’m sewing. So, out of frustration, I grabbed my tape and figured I’d give it a go. It worked like a charm, and here’s how you do it. Get the button into the correct position and apply a strip of tape over it so it stays in place as you sew. Once it’s on, you can rip the tape off with no ill effect. I hand stitched this button on, but you could use this for machine sewing, as well. I’d just make sure to clean the needle afterward to remove any stuck on adhesive.
IMG_2179
IMG_2181

I always begin and finish my buttons on the front of the fabric, underneath the button so the knot isn’t exposed on the inside of the garment. I wouldn’t want that against my skin.IMG_2184

IMG_2182

IMG_2183

IMG_2185

IMG_2186IMG_2199

Becoming an Expert Seamstress

IMG_2156   I may not be big on New Year’s resolutions done the wrong way. I know how infantile it is make a long list of previously unattainable goals and go at them all at once full force…for, like, 2 weeks.But realistic goals I agree with. And what’s a better time to state a goal than the beginning of the year? -Ish.

Which leads me to my biggest work-related goal for 2015, becoming an expert seamstress. As you may know if you’ve read many of my posts, or my ABOUT page, I have a degree in fashion design. We learned everything we’d need to know to get a decent entry level job in the design industry, but sewing wasn’t up there in priorities. It wasn’t a focus in school because the idea is to graduate, get an assistant design job for a company and have your sewing work outsourced. We had a sewing class each semester and had to sew our final collection, but we didn’t get tons of practice, which is so key in mastering such a technical skill.
Now that I’m a custom designer and doing freelance stuff, I have to be able to produce it. And, because I’m me, I have to be able to produce it well. I talk a lot of crap on here about the perfectionist in me, but, God love her, she gets stuff done the right way! (Click here on one of my posts about overcoming perfectionism in your new year’s resolutions.)

If you have perfectionistic tendencies, (Here’s a little litmus test for that…if you’re not sure whether you do or not, so you made a little mental list up just now with signs you may be a perfectionist on one side and reasons you may not be one on the other, you definitely do have those tendencies!) here’s the key to conquering them. Find out how perfect is too perfect. You’re a perfectionist. Great. You’ll produce a high quality of work. Reversely, you may lose money doing it if you spend too much time on every single detail.

I’m in that stage right now, trying to figure out just how good I want and need to be and what I’ll have to do about it. This is how I make my living now, but I’m going to be candid with you guys on my sewing weaknesses. Hopefully, if you’re in the same perfectionisty boat with me, you’ll get something out of my process here. But if this is just too personal of a post, feel free to skip it and read tomorrow’s blog!

Here’s what I can do:

Basically put together any garment from a pattern, or make my own pattern and sew it together. It will look nice, but I’m not confident with my work, because I’m pretty rusty on most things. (I’ve had my sewing machine put away for most of the time since I graduated college.)

Here’s what I need work on:

Different Zipper applications

Hems

My serger- basically everything other than threading it and running it on the regular settings.

Fly front zippers (Even though my final collection was separates and I had like 5 pairs of pants and I had the sewing DOWN, I totally forgot how to do it. I had to watch a youtube tutorial on it as I was sewing some trousers last night. Oh the shame.)

Jeans- I’m sure I could make them, but I haven’t tried yet

Lining methods

Finishing techniques

Fit and alterations

Ok, I’m gonna stop there, but the stupid list goes on and on in my mind!

 

   Now, here’s where a decision has to be made. Where are you at on level of quality with your work-realistically? Where do you want to be? Now, should you back off your expectations a bit? That may sound simply horrifying to you. If it does, congratulations, it’s confirmed. You are a true perfectionist.

After I was diagnosed with ADD, (which I later found out was really just a symptom of narcolepsy in my case) I remember trying to explain to my dad just how overwhelmed I was by little tasks and life in general. I was expecting him to validate me, I guess, and tell me something like, “Yeah, you’re right, you are really messed up.” So when his response was, “Don’t you think you’re expectations are a little high,” my stomache dropped to my knees. This was my father, who gave me life and raised me and told me I could do anything and do it well. This was the guy who visited my prospect college and asked the guide if there could be a real living in fashion design for me assuming I would be in the top ten percent of my field, because I would be. He’s the one who’s assured I can go so far, even when I don’t have that confidence.  For me, him asking about my expectations meant he just didn’t get it. Of course I didn’t have expectations that were too high. They were just the necessary level of expectation-near perfection. Chuckle break.

If I had just listened to him then, I could have avoided a really rough 2 or 3 year period of trying so hard to be unattainably perfect. Stupid, huh? However, I did come out of that learning that there are some areas in life I have to settle on. So my house doesn’t stay clean each and every day. So I forget people’s names immediately after meeting them. So my schedule may always be a little sporadic. I can live with those things…because not being able to live with them doesn’t mean that I can actually perfect them. It just means I can’t meet those unrealistic expectations and then I have tons and tons of anxiety and guilt built up inside for letting myself down. (It’s just me expecting those things of myself, but somehow, I always feel like I’m letting the world down.)

Enough of the backstory, let’s get back to sewing!

Bottom line: I’m not where I want to be with quality. (Or speed, for that matter.) My options are to either go ahead and run with design and not try to improve my sewing before I jump into starting a line, (or what have you) or to go overboard and get so into the details that I abandon everything else to become really spectacular at sewing. Choice A’s just not really an option for me. I want to be genuinely good at sewing because I have to be the person actually making my own designs now. Choice B is stupid, (even though I may gravitate toward it if I don’t keep the perfectionism at bay) because I know there’s a quality to price ratio in business. I could spend years to become like someone who works in the Dior atelier. I could get to a point where my sewing is so beautiful it looks like it was done by a thousand Tibetan monks while they bathed in the rivers of enlightenment. But people will still only pay so much for an item. So what if I can make a dress that rivals the quality of a $12,000 haute couture dress! I don’t know anyone who would pay that for a dress, and I know I could never sell it. So I have to get better, but not focus on becoming the best seamstress in the world or anything. I’m a designer. Sewing is a means to an end to me. I love doing it, but not at the expense of designing.

So here’s the plan: 

This year my focus is on becoming an expert seamstress. That means I’d like to be able to confidently take on any sort of garment anyone asked me to and make it very well.

Is a whole year a waste of time? Not to me, because it’s an investment in my career. If I can’t make a good product, I don’t want to be in the game! Also, it works out because the more I sew, the more I have to show people. The more I get to practice design and perfect (is that the wrong word in light of the tone of this post?) my patternmaking skills. And, maybe most importantly for me, I’ll come out of this year with confidence in my work. If someone asks for something or I go to make my own line of clothing, I’ll be able to go into it without being afraid that I’ll mess it up or that it won’t look professionally constructed. I’ll know I can sell something that will hold up well and fits well. One other cool thing is…I can and will be selling stuff I make in this year. I can sew pretty darn well as it is. I may be disappointed with my quality still, but I probably always will be. I’ll never come to a point in my life when I think I’m as good as I ever want to be at something. Never. That’s the other side of the perfectionist coin…THE DRIVE TO IMPROVE! And come 2016, the focus changes. I can’t let myself stay stuck in trying to improve my skills too much before I really dive in full force.

For me, I’ve found the right balance. My style is classic and tailored, and the construction for those pieces has to be professional or I don’t want to do it. But there’s no point focusing so much on improving my sewing skills that I never move on into designing and producing lines. So this year is practice. And only a year. After that, the focus is narrowed down to doing the type of clothing I’ve always wanted to design for women.

Come 2016, Holla at your Girl!