A Spring Maxi Skirt Tutorial

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Here’s a quick little tutorial on making a maxi skirt for Spring and Summer. My fabric was a super lightweight guaze, so I lined it with a jersey knit so it wouldn’t be sheer. Because, let’s face it: Nobody wants to see that. If you’re using a thicker fabric and can skip the lining, this skirt would be even simpler and quicker!

Step 1: Measure your waist. You’ll need to multiply that by 1.5 or 2 for the width of the fabric you’ll need for the skirt. If the width you need is more than the width of the fabric (they are usually 45″ wide) then just cut two panels and sew them together.

Step 2: Measure the desired length. You’ll need to know this to purchase the fabric. Make sure to add a little extra for the waistband and hem when you are buying. Remember, you’ll most likely need the length plus the extra times two. It will probably take two panels to make a maxi skirt unless you’re making one for a very small child and the 45″ width will be enough to fit around their waist and gather, or you’re making one that isn’t very full.

Step 3: Cut the fabric and elastic. Just cut a rectangle using your width and length measurements. Make sure to include extra for the hem. Also cut a waistband. I made it the same width as the skirt, because the elastic goes inside and the waistband will gather with the skirt. Then figure out how wide you want the waistband. (A good rule of thumb is to add a quarter inch to the width of the elastic you’re using. If you have 1/2 inch elastic, make your waistband 3/4″, remembering to add seam allowance to that as well.)

Here’s what I did to make cutting a little easier, since my cutting board it shorter than the length and width I needed.IMG_2715IMG_2714Step 4: Hem the skirt. Yes, you heard that right. Do it now before you sew the side seam and your life will be so much easier! One of the advantages to a dirndl, or gathered rectangle skirt, is that you can hem before it’s assembled, so you’re just dealing with a straight line instead of a tube. I finished mine with a rolled hem on my serger. If you have a serger, but don’t know how to do a rolled hem, check out some tutorials on youtube and look at your manual for the exact settings your serger needs to be on. You’ll have to remove the stitch finger, but the manual will tell you how. If your skirt will have lining, hem that as well. If it doesn’t show though the fabric too horribly, you can just serge it and no one will ever notice. That’s how a lot of linings in ready to wear skirts are done, anyway.IMG_2686

Step 5: Sew on the waistband. Just double over the fabric, right sides together of course, and pin to the right side of the skirt. Sew or serge the seam. Once it’s sewn, press the waistband up. I always love to top stitch after that so the waistband never flips back up again. Keep those waistbands in check, ladies!IMG_2713IMG_2719The inside of the skirt’s waistband with lining. IMG_2721-0Step 6: Insert the elastic. (Make sure you cut it so it stretches around your waist comfortably, but not loose enough to fall off or droop.) There are tools you can buy to do this, but I always use safety pins. They ain’t pretty, but they sure are cheap. And a penny saved is a penny earned, right? Uh, Cha-Ching!IMG_2726IMG_2728-0Step 7: Sew the center back seam. (Or the other side seam if you had to use two pieces of fabric joined together.)IMG_2730-0IMG_2731-0IMG_2737Cool Tip: If you use a serger, you can tuck in the tails using an embroidery thread needle threader. That way they won’t stick out or unravel.IMG_2732-1IMG_2733-0Step 8: Iron the back seam. You can also go ahead and top stitch if that’s what your little heart desires. It looks nice on some fabrics and not-quite-so-pleasant on others. As the seamstress and designer, you get to decide! Go nuts.

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Happy Sewing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whatcha Workin On Wednesday

IMG_2622Yoga Pants for Kids out of T-shirts! Yaya! 

IMG_2625My dad will officially kill me if he finds out I’m making clothing for kids with skulls on it, but this Tee was just too perfect for this project to pass up. I’ll just tell him it’s a pirate thing. (Guns and swords he’s totally ok with.)

IMG_2623I had to cut this a wee bit shorter than my pattern, so they’ll be long capris, but it’s getting warmer soon.

IMG_2624I had big plans for upcycling this tee, but again, it was too perfect not to use with the gray punk theme, so I went for it. Let’s all take a moment to mourn for all the glorious other projects this shirt will never be turned into now. . . A swing style tank top, a re-worked tee shirt for my daughters, a baby cardigan, and so many more that it had the potential to become. (Or am I the only one who’s hesitant to cut something up because I’m not absolutely sure I’m ready to rule out the other possible projects I could use that fabric for?) There’s still enough there for a tiny garment, anyway.

 

Leave it in the Comment Section:

What are you guys currently working on? (I know some of you have like 20 irons in the sewing fire right now! Share a few of them with us.)

 

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 Dos

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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

 

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!

Captain America T-Shirt Remake

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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)

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The Original T-Shirt

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

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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

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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

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Leave it in the Comment Section:

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

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.

Bib 1

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.

Bib 9

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How to Sew an Easy, Decorative Waistband



 

This tutorial is on how to make an interior waistband using decorative bias tape or fabric. I’ve seen this a lot lately in jeans and some trousers, but I didn’t realize how much easier it could make waistband sewing until I used it. I’m making a pair of green palazzo trousers and once I get them finished, I’ll post the whole process and let you see how this waistband looks once sewn in place. I may also do a post just about the pockets, which are out of the same brown striped fabric. (One day I’d like to do a sew-along with you guys. I have to perfect grading my patterns to fit different sizes and learn how to make them into PDFs for purchase. Let me know what you think.)

When asked what people dread most about sewing, the pretty universal response is “zippers,” but I’ll take a zipper any day over a waistband or a collar stand. Not that they are hard to sew by themselves…it’s just that I hate flipping them over once the first side is sewn and turning up just the right amount of fabric and hoping that I catch both sides and it doesn’t look too uneven. I’m definitely getting better at it, but it had been a long time since I sewed pants so when I made the test pair to make sure my pattern fit correctly before using my good fabric, the inside waistband was a little bunched up in places. Nothing horrible, but enough to make me think, “I have to find a better way!” I was just about to YouTube it when this method occurred to me. Easier and decorative? A two-fer, right up my alley! (To see my practice pair and and a tip for sewing on buttons easily, click Here.)

OK, So Here’s How to Do It:IMG_2203

1. Take bias tape or a strip of fabric 1″ wide by the length of your waistband (I had to join two pieces) and pin it to the part of the inside waistband that will be at the bottom. Make sure you’ve already attached your interfacing.

Note: The fabric doesn’t really have to be cut on the bias. Mine was really stretchy on the crosswise grain, but it doesn’t even need to be that stretchy for this project.

2. Sew or serge the contrast fabric onto the waistband at a scant quarter inch.

 

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3. Flip the fabric over, tuck it under on the back so the raw edge isn’t showing, and pin in place. (I wish I had gotten a pic of this from the back. Sorry, guys!)

 

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4. Stitch it into place.

 


 

That’s it! 4 simple steps  and you’re done!

The next part of the process will just involve sewing the top of the outer and inner waistband and attaching it to the pants. Once you attach the bottom of the outer waistband to the pants, flip this part inside and pin the waistband in place. Sew from the front, using the waistband seam as your guide. Here are two pictures of jeans I own that use this method. Isn’t it pretty? IMG_2236

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My Related Posts:

 My opinion on how spectacular pants are.

Taggie Blanket Tutorial

Girl’s Skirt From a Pillow Case

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.