Sewing Over Thick Seams Video

Hey Girl! (…Or Guy!) This is my first foray into video tutorials on sewing and design-My very first video blog! I’ve been putting off doing videos forever, but I took the plunge yesterday and made one because this little gem of a trick is too good not to share! It was very, very impromptu, but it occurred to me as I was using this sewing hack I picked up last year that it would make a great quick video. It’s a tip I learned on Craftsy, in Angela Wolf’s Jeans class for sewing over seams. It also works for sewing fabric with embellishments that make it thicker in some places than others. If you’ve ever wanted to throw your machine out of the window because your presser foot just wouldn’t go over that hump, this one’s for you!

Let me know if this was helpful to you in the comments section!

Pattern Indy Interview

Pattern Blog July Pics

I am very pleased to announce to you guys that I was recently interviewed for the Pattern magazine blog about designing for a local market and you can check that interview out by clicking the link below.

http://www.patternindy.com/2015/07/30/qa-with-designer-sarah-lalonde/

   This interview tells a bit about my design history, inspiration, my personal aesthetic as a fashion designer, and my process and personal story.

Pattern Indy and Me:

   Pattern Magazine is the first fashion mag based out of Indiana…ever, as far as I know! They put out some killer work-I definitely hand it to them for superior editorial high fashion shoots. Not only is Pattern a magazine, but it’s a collaborative effort to bring together and equip people in any facet of the fashion industry in our area. If you read me very often, you know I’m an unapologetic Christian and when I say “Thank the Lord for Pattern” I don’t just mean it figuratively.

    I touch on it in this interview, but Pattern had a lot to do with my decision to get back in the design game. When I moved back to Indiana after getting my degree in fashion design in California, I planned on it being a temporary hiatus. That is, until I had my twin girls and decided that their stability was more important than my dream. That’s when design became just that to me- a dream. Before becoming a mom, it was my plan. Afterward, it was a very abstract wish that I held onto rather loosely. It’s not that I gave up on design. I just resigned myself to the fact that there was really no fashion industry to get into here. We were just starting out with two babies at once to raise and take care of, and my full time job with good benefits took priority over fashion. Sadly, because the dream was painful to think of since I was so far from it at that point, I removed the reminders-putting away my sewing supplies, sending my final collection from school to Goodwill, and trashing my pattern sloper set (my worst mistake perhaps ever!)

    Then one day my coworker and BWFF (best work friend forever) brought in a clipping from the morning newspaper about Midwest Fashion Week. I was floored. While I had my head in the proverbial sands of data entry and such, a fashion industry had been sprouting up around me. It ignited a thought-a whisper-of possibility. A year or two later, I heard of Pattern. There was now a Hoosier fashion magazine? I sarcastically wondered if they featured Carharts and farm attire. (A little Indiana humor, folks.) They were having regular meetups to establish a cohesive industry within our state, so I went to one- and LOVED it! It was on sustainable fashion, which I’ll admit I hadn’t done a lot of thinking about, since I had abstained from fashion altogether for a few years. It struck me that not only is there growth in the fashion industry around me, but the growing societal conscience for sustainable, responsible fashion was a tremendous benefit for local designers.

    You see, we were taught in college to OUTSOURCE EVERYTHING. It took Pattern to break that mentality for me. After studying about the impacts of large scale “fast fashion” I wanted to not only get back to doing what I loved, but help lead the charge for change in the industry which glamorizes disposable fashion and making the quick buck. Learning to sew really, really well has taken me some time. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m pretty darn good. It took a ton of time to hone my pattern-making and -grading skills…and it will require more still. I’ve also had to change my outlook on the ideals of the design industry.  But you know what? It feels so good. The slow road isn’t glamorous. Operating a mom and pop design business (two people actually would be GREAT!) doesn’t equal overnight success. But I can tell all of you aspiring fashion designers that it is such a great way to develop a really strong foundation and skill set to springboard your line an ideas on fashion once you have the fundamental know-how in place.

   Thanks, Pattern, for the role you’ve played in coaxing me out of my comfort zone to jump into the industry. Here’s to making a splash!!!

Sew an Invisible Zipper Without a Special Foot

IMG_3336Almost every tutorial on invisible zippers call for a special invisible zipper foot. I’ve installed plenty, and see no real need for that foot. I’d be willing to try it out, but it’s not something I’m dying to add to my collection of sewing machine accessories. I use my sliding zipper foot (which happens to be the one I use for all zipper applications because it allows me to sew so close to the zipper teeth.) If you don’t have one of these, you should. If you have to choose between one of these and an invisible zipper foot, I absolutely recommend this one. It works for any zipper you can imagine. Well, at least for any zipper I can imagine.IMG_3372IMG_3321

Here’s the invisible zipper I used for this skirt.

(Remember: you can always shorten a zipper, but you can never lengthen one, so if you’re not positive of the length you need its’s best to get it a little longer.) The inside of the zipper package will give you instructions saying you must use an invisible zipper foot. I bestow upon you the permission to toss that constraining little piece of cardboard into the trash whilst chuckling madly and saying “Your demands have no power over me!” You know, or something like that. (If you literally do that, put it in the comment section and I’ll officially nominate you as Duke or Dutchess of this blog for a day!)

‘Nough said. . . now let’s get down to it.

Step 1: Iron the zipper teeth outward. 

If you’ve never seen an invisible zipper, this is an odd step, but once you open up the zipper package, you’ll notice that the teeth are turned inward so they are more perpendicular to the zipper tape that parallel to it. Flip them over with your finger and hold them down while you iron on a low setting.Do not iron directly on the teeth, just on the tape. The teeth can melt or warp, leaving you an unzippable zipper. Nobody wants that.IMG_3322Step 2: Pin one side of the zipper in place. 

The right side of your zipper goes onto the right side of your fabric and then it will flip out when you iron the seam allowance under. Make sure that the stitch line will be right on your seam allowance. This is easy enough to do. Just measure from the edge of your fabric 5/8″ or whatever seam allowance your pattern calls for, making sure the zipper teeth are just beyond that mark. (You don’t want to sew into them.)IMG_3323

IMG_3324See,  5/8″ puts me stitching just inside the zipper teeth. That’s where you want to work.

Step 3: Sew the first side of the zipper into place.

This zipper foot will get you right up beside the teeth. Just be careful not to sew into them, because then you won’t be able to zip it. Even if the stitches get too super close to the teeth, they can catch the zipper pull so it gets stuck. I always check to make sure it zips after I sew each side to check for that.IMG_3325Step 4: Pin the other side into place.

Use the same measuring method as before. Remember, the teeth should be facing the part of the garment that will show, not the seam allowance.


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Make sure the two sides of the zipper line up, like the picture below. if you have one side sewn on and one side pinned and then figure out the tops don’t line up, just take out the pins and line it up better. If you sew without doing this, you’ll be scradoodled and nothing but a good round of seam ripping will be able to turn things around for you.

IMG_3327Step 5: Sew the second side in place. 

I prefer to sew down one side and up the other, but to each his own. Who am I to judge? So long as the thing gets sewn in there with a straight line and without puckers, nobody cares which direction you sewed. Unless you are on an online sewing forum, in which case people will hunt you down and hen peck you until you conform to whatever “tried-and-true” method of directional sewing they subscribe to. C’est La Vie. (Ahh, the Internet-Land of a trillion sewing opinions, all of which claim to be the only way to do it. )

IMG_3328Step 6: Make sure the zipper zips up. 

Please.

Don’t skip this step.

Don’t even breathe until this step is completed.

It’ll save you heartache, I guarantee.

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Step 7: Sew below the zipper. 

Again, only if you completed step 6, people!!!

Pin from the zipper down to the hem and stitch at the same seam allowance you sewed the zipper at. This seam allowance from second line of stitching will be about 1/8″ bigger right beside the zipper pull, because you can’t sew on top of the pull. If that doesn’t make sense yet, it will when you go to sew. Just move the garment over a bit until you can sew without hitting your zipper and when you stitch down from there, go back to your normal seam allowance. Once everything is sewn and ironed, this little zig isn’t even noticeable. (See the last picture on this step.)IMG_3330IMG_3331IMG_3332IMG_3373Step 8: Iron the seam.

Be careful ironing over the zipper. If your fabric is very light, you should strongly consider using a press cloth so you don’t melt or warp your zipper teeth.

This is when it all comes together. If you’ve never used an invisible zipper before, you’ll see in this step where it gets it name. You really can’t tell it’s there except for the zipper pull. It makes a beautiful seam.IMG_3335IMG_3336IMG_3334IMG_3333Step 9: Sew the edges of the waistband down so the zipper tape can’t flip out and become visible.

(This step is only if you are making a skirt or pants with a waistband.) You can do this by hand so the stitch isn’t seen on the outside, or by machine if  you don’t care about that. Now, since I don’t mind stitch lines on my waistband and this is such a busy fabric, I went ahead and used my machine. If you feel like that defeats the purpose of an invisible zipper, you’re certainly entitled to that. In that case, hand stitch the sucker down.IMG_3338
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Step 10: (Optional) Sew a hook and eye above the zipper.

To clarify, this step isn’t really optional to me. I’m not going to insist that you do it, but I almost never make a skirt or dress without either a button or a hook and eye above the zipper. I’ve seen ready to wear garments made like that. The trouble is, the zipper does what it was made to do. It zips…and UNzips! Taking a few minutes to sew on a hook and eye is a small price to pay to avoid the potential embarrassment of a skirt coming unzipped on me or-worse- on a client!

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IMG_3342The Moral of the Story? 

When someone tells you there’s only one way to do something and you’ll need their special equipment in order to do it, proceed with skepticism. What’s more powerful? Their wonder tool or your creative genius?

. . . I thought so.

LaLove Designs

11139850_790414081043640_1519081390_n 10602945_790413951043653_1984979599_nLaLove is introducing it’s very first Spring Line!

Any of the items from my line can be reproduced for clients and made to their measurements or in different fabrics or colors. That’s the way it’s done in the world of Haute Couture, and I’m sure hoping I’ll be able to make a splash that way myself. I’ve decided to start there instead of mass-producing my lines. The reasoning is three-fold. One: Economics. Two: Customization is King. Three: I’m my only employee.

My vision is to innovate new and creative ways for independent designers to go from sewing out of their homes to building a legitimate, lucrative business. To all you designers and entrepreneurs who follow me—You’re in for a ride! Together we’re going to learn to BOOTSTRAP our way to success and fulfillment carving out a way to make a living doing the thing we love, that we were blessed by our Creator to do well. Join me as we build skills: Pattern making, sewing, altering, navigating the retail world, working with clients, budgeting our cash flow, managing time, organizing our space and stuff, and juggling our family, commitments, and outside jobs. You get to see my wacky brainstorms, my successes and failures, and tell about yours so we can all learn together.

Slow Fashion is making a comeback. I’m excited and blessed to be a part of building a community of conscientious makers and consumers!
11093191_790414054376976_1311706552_nThis outfit is a blush pink and gold jacquard crop top and pencil skirt set. The top has a flyaway open back and a comfortable gold elastic band to keep it in place. Both the top and the skirt are fully lined. The skirt zips in the back, but could be customized to zip on the side. My inspiration was the fabric! Every time I passed this in the store, the bolt called to me. I could only ignore it for so long until I purchased it. I had originally planned to make a structured sheath dress with fun, geometric cap sleeves, before I realized it would be perfect to make a crop and skirt set like I had been determined to do this year. I hope to make a dress out of this, as well. 11131789_790413934376988_614356141_n These pictures were taken by my friend Duke of 2K1 Photography here in my hometown. He always does such an amazing job, even though I’m no natural in front of the camera! He probably spends more time trying to get me out of my shyness than snapping pics, but he puts up with me.

You know, readers, that’s one of the amazing things I’m seeing about small business. (And by small business, I mean teeny, tiny, really, really small businesses like mine, where you’re trying to grow from absolutely nothing into a working, functional business.) We get to help each other out. Part of bootstrapping is teaming with other people with similar goals, or people for whom you can supply something they need through your business or talents. This is where your creativity will pay dividends! Look for ins. Look for ways you could help someone whose help you need. Are you a great bookkeeper? Maybe someone is looking for those skills, but can’t yet afford one. So trade for labor. Maybe you’re an organizing freak and addict like I am. Again, use that to help people whose help you need! You would never get free labor just because. But bootstrapping means you’re willing to do work for someone else who in turn can do some work that you need done. And don’t discount a person or a business because they look so much bigger than you are. You never know what needs a company has until you talk to them.

The bottom line is: this is your business, whether it’s a working business already or just a dream you want to pursue. Approach it like a business, but creatively. Never give up. Keep working-with your goal continually in mind. Pray. Dream. This is your business. Work for it!11134188_790413954376986_358253271_n

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LaLove Designs One-Shoulder Maxi Dress

IMG_2960How do you make Grecian modern? Sheer with stretch gold lame underneath was my method, and I’m really pleased with the result. My original intention was to make a bustier jumpsuit out of the silver fabric I used for the wrap, but I ran out of time, so I tried the gold knit I had for making my daughters’ gymnastics leotards and loved the effect! I even used it to make visible straps for the bustier underneath and a belt.

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IMG_2958This fabric would lend itself well to so many styles, and I have 2 or 3 yards left over, so I’m excited to play with it and come up with something different. I would love to see this draped asymmetrically, or in a shorter, funkier cocktail style dress.

Basting for Better Bodices Tutorial

IMG_2905Have you ever been frustrated by sewing princess seams? It seems I always get at least one pucker each time I sew gathered curves of any kind. You have one piece that’s already longer than the other and gathered by pins to the shorter piece, then you have to sew and try to feed both pieces in evenly so the longer one doesn’t slide down and create an unwanted ruffle.

I used to be much more impatient when sewing. In college when I was learning, I would skip steps and take shortcuts which led to pumping out a garment quicker, but not necessarily growing as a seamstress. This time around, I’m determined to put extra effort into planning, prepping, pressing, marking, cutting, and basting. Those things are so key in sewing and for me, this year is dedicated to learning how to sew as well as possible. (Click HERE to see my post Becoming an Expert Seamstress.) So little of sewing is actual sewing, and most of what goes into it are items from my previous list. The prep work is important and vital. Ever try to sew without pressing thoroughly? Betcha won’t make that mistake twice.

I’m finding also that the prep work I’ve avoided for so long really saves time! Making sure to do things right the first time is really pivotal to the process. It takes a lot longer to rip out an entire seam and re-pin and re-sew it than it does to hand baste before sewing.

I had never tried hand basting a gathered seam before stitching it before, but it really worked like a charm! This is a method I’ll be using from here on out because it eliminates a lot of the problems I had sewing this type of seam before. Primarily, I had trouble with the longer fabric being pulled by the machine and then buckling beside the pin. I’ve tried sewing with both sides down and had the issue both ways. It’s so simple to hand baste before and you know your fabric’s in the right place and you don’t have to deal with all those pins.

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Step 1: Pin the pieces together, gathering the fabric with the longer edge so they fit together. I don’t use many pins on straight seams, or even curved seams that aren’t gathered, but a gathered and curved seam is no place to skimp on pins, I can tell you that much!

IMG_2901You can see in this picture how it would be easy to get puckers when sewing!IMG_2903

Step 2: Hand baste the pieces together, taking the pins out as you go. My seam allowance was 1/2 inch and I tried to baste about 1/4 inch from the edge. You don’t want to stitch over the basting because it makes it hard to take out.IMG_2904Step 3: Sew using your actual seam allowance. I sewed with the gathered fabric underneath. If you do that, just make sure it’s not folding up on you under there or you’ll end up with a mess.

IMG_2905This is how it looks after sewing.

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Step 4: Cut off the knot at the end of your basting stitch.IMG_2907

Step 5: Remove the basting.IMG_2908

Here’s the finished seam. I love this method because you know it’s going to turn out well, since the fabric can’t shift as you sew.IMG_2902Step 6: Iron your seam, using a tailor’s ham if you have one. They make it so much easier to iron curve areas.IMG_2951Tailor’s Ham: A Handy little pressing tool!

I really hope this method helps you guys as much as it did me. Thanks for reading!

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.

Whatcha Workin On Wednesday

IMG_2806 I must admit that I love the style of the teensy, squared short sleeve. I’ve doted on this style on pinterest, but honestly didn’t think about the construction until I began sewing the binding onto this tank and put the half-finished project on the dress form. Maybe next time.

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The original design- quickly sketched, not that I’m too amazing at drawing when I spend a lot of time on it. I have the pattern made for the skirt and the fabric cut out, but I haven’t begun sewing.

IMG_2799That’s my to-do list pinned to the dress form. If I leave it anywhere else, I forget about it and get off track.

IMG_2790I got a little bored and played with the scraps and I love these dainty little flowers. I have enough for several hair clips for my daughters to lose.

IMG_2807Turns out, they would be pretty cool around the neck of a really rad dress, or just as a neck piece. Boredom really does inspire a lot of my designs.

I’m excited about this criss-cross back! It’s fairly open, while still being able to hide a bra. I love fashion and fads, but not at the expense of my bras!

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.)