Pattern storage tip

      Having trouble labeling and storing those homemade patterns? This was my “necessity is the mother of all invention” solution. I simply traced my original sketch of the garments I had made my pattern from onto a ziplock bag and stored the muslin draped or paper pattern pieces in the bag. No re-drawing a flat. No need to transfer patterns. No huge Manila envelopes for undersized patterns.  All delight!
    
    
   

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!

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.

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!

Aw, Crap!


IMG_2323That moment in sewing when you’re almost at the end of your project only to realize you’ve done something wrong. . .sewn the wrong seams together, cut 2 rights instead of a right and a left, or if you’re a patternmaker like me, mislabeled the original pattern. Yay.
Remember the waistband I was so excited about and proud of in This Post? I sewed it just fine. I did everything right, according to the pattern. Problem is, I labeled the left waistband piece as Right and vice versa, so the whole thing is all wrong.  Stay Calm and Grab Your Seam Ripper and all that, right? I bet that’s a really good philosophy with patient people. For me, I’m satisfied to be able to calm back down after my initial freak out and use it for an inspirational post, hopefully. (Probably less inspiration than sharing a common rant, but I think that helps, too.)

The funny thing is I made a sample pair to test the fit of this new pattern I made. (You can see a pic of that pair at the bottom of This Post on My Easy Button Sewing Tip.) And when I encountered this problem with the waistband on that pair, I assumed I just screwed up during the cutting-I had kids running around and dogs barking while I cut out. I didn’t even think to check my pattern. At least I caught it the second time around! (This has been a real blow to the old perfectionist ego, folks!) Well, let’s all live and learn together, fellow seamstresses, designers, and DIYers!IMG_2336

The Inside of the Finished Pants.

Everything worked out all right, after all. I did not hyperventilate, I did not die of boredom seam ripping (although I thought I would do both when I first realized my mistake when pinning on the waistband.) IMG_2328 IMG_2329 IMG_2330 IMG_2323 IMG_2327 IMG_2326 IMG_2324 IMG_2325
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The Mythical Saturday

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can finish today, right? And don’t mentally put off everything in your life until that Mythical Saturday-you know, the one you schedule house cleaning, family time, grocery shopping, date night, home repair, DIY, 8 loads of laundry, sewing, sketching, and ten or twelve other things that you swear you’ll get around to, because you have that day “free.” Procrastination can be a problem for creatives, and so can overbooking our time. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a certain amount of time. And when we come across a task that we really don’t have time for today, in our mind Saturday’s an inviting blank slate- distractionless, and filled with unoccupied time. Until Saturday comes, that is, and we remember just how little time we actually have to juggle.

I have found my Saturdays completely filled up on paper when I’m planning, but none of it ever gets done! I used to attribute it to having too much time, which makes me tend to think I’m ok as the time ticks away until suddenly it’s 8 in the evening and nothing on that long list is checked off. I know that’s some of it, but I’m starting to realize that just as my expectations for myself can be unrealistic, my expectations for how productive I’ll be on Saturdays often are, too.

If you, too, suffer from The Mythical Saturday Syndrome, there’s hope! I’m not sure exactly what it is yet, (I’m still trying to figure out just how to plan attainable goals for my Saturdays and as I come across tips that help me, I’ll share them with you guys) but I know it involves battling that old monster of perfectionism. And I know one day I’ll not only defeat that monster, I’ll harness it’s energy for success in life, art, and design. It’s my quest. (And just so you know, in this fantasy quest, I’m both the Princess and the Knight in shining armor. Oh, And Bruce Willis in Die Hard.)

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.

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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.
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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

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Developing a System of Time Management

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I just found out it’s important when planning your time to schedule time for…wait for it- planning your time! Mind blowing, isn’t it? Now that I’ve had someone explain that to me and I’ve incorporated it into my life, it’s something that I simply can’t believe I’ve missed for all these years! How did that get by me?

I’m an uber-nerd and at just the thought of creating effective systems, well. . .  I hear angels sing. Or maybe it’s just the crazy person in my head singing. But it excites me! I love the idea of my life being a well-oiled machine of prioritized tasks and time investments. I love starting out, pen in hand, making– joyous gasp– a list! (If you’re reading this, I know you love lists, too! Only deranged wackos hate lists. And maybe people who are just naturally organized, but we hate those people. We could never hate them as much as we love lists, though!)

I’ve tried all my life to develop systems for creating order in my life. With my internal organization lagging behind thanks to my creative/ADD brain, I’ve had to find external ways to overcome that. Whether you have ADHD or time management just eludes you, or you just love those darn lists so much, I’ve put together some common themes for a successful time management system.

1. Make it work. . .for you, that is.

What is your life actually like? Who are you, what are your habits? Take mental note of your needs, expectations, what things come easily to you and what things are like pulling teeth to get yourself to do. Consider how your energy swings throughout the day and the week and your normal habits. (If you watch tv in the evenings, is it realistic to plan a schedule where you do all of your chores in the evenings?) Don’t mark your calendar and make your schedule based on how you would like your life to be in an ideal world and as if you had amazing energy all day long every day, while only having to sleep for 5 hours a night. THAT’S NOT REALISTIC! If you tend to be more tired as the week wears on, schedule more of your evening activities on Mondays than Thursdays, for example.

     For me: A time management mistake was that I would always make my plan on paper very ideal. I always planned as if I’d get up an hour and an half earlier than I had to and as though I’d stay up late at night and maintain a consistent, high level of energy throughout the day. And since I have narcolepsy as well as ADD (the one actually accounts for the other) It’s not realistic to think my life will just change and I’ll get some magic stream of energy that never wavers. It didn’t seem totally stupid while I was doing it, but now that I’ve gotten smarter, I can see how ridiculous that notion is. (To see a post of mine about unrealistic expectations, click here.)

 

2. Plan time to plan your time. 

Such a refreshing notion! This has been a key for me..and it will be for you, too, if you haven’t done it already. The reason that it’s so important is that we take all this time to set up a schedule or an organizational system for our lives, but no time to maintain it and keep it going. (I’ve tried flylady’s control journal and the Sidetracked Home Executives card file system. I started…and gave up on, both of them, although I still have my card file system in case I ever get disciplined enough to use it and I recently went back to a modified-and easier-version of my control journal.) The problem comes after we inevitably mess it up and stop keeping up with the system or schedule. We just never go back to the drawing board to iron out the kinks in our plan and to re-motivate ourselves to keep it up. If you put the planning time in your plan, you can use that time to review your goals and maybe change your strategy if it needs to be tweaked.

For me: Sundays are now my planning time. I get out my control journal and the front section is schedule/planning. In it I have a list of the two or three main tasks for each day of the week, my work goals for the year, my work goals for the month, and the list of characteristics and habits that are important to me.  Those include things I want to remember to keep up because they’re important to me (like Bible study and family time) and also things I’m not good at yet, but want to be (like mailing out Christmas and Thank You cards.) I learned the importance of scheduling time to plan time and doing your planning based on who you want to be instead of what you have to get done from a study we did on Bill Hybels’ Simplify book.)

 

3. Forget the to-do list.

Like I said above- plan based on who you want to be, not what needs to be done. Thanks, Bill Hybels. (Although I feel like the s on the end of his name makes me sound uneducated if I say it out loud. Like I’m one of those people who just add unnecessary esses to the end of words for no reason at alls. Get it?

If you get a good, WORKABLE schedule, you will have built in the time to tackle all those to-dos throughout your week or month.

For me: I would make my  weekly plan based on everything I thought I should be doing. I’d look at all the things I needed to get done: House, work, family, projects. I’d squeeze all of those goals into my schedule as if I’d be able to get them done in the first week or month. 

 

4. Pick a lane. Or in this case, a day. 

Designate certain days for certain tasks. Especially if you’re one of those people who gets stuck doing something once you get into it and have a hard time pulling yourself away. Just allow for that in your schedule.

For me: I used to try to get like 20 minutes of every single thing I aspired to do in on any given day. I actually thought it was necessary to do all the important things each day. I figured I should be able to exercise for 20 minutes then study Spanish, then read for 20 minutes, then sew for an hour then do some pattern making…and so on…for, like, 50 items each day. Instead of assuming I’ll wake up tomorrow with a triathlete’s self discipline, I changed my schedule to match my personality. Now it looks like this:

I blog daily Plus:

Mondays: Sewing, List Items to Sell

Tuesdays: Pattern Making and Sewing

Wednesdays: Sketching, Watch fashion shows, Sewing

Thursdays: Photography practice and take pics for my blog, Learning-continuing education on blogging, sewing, Youtubing, etc.

Fridays: Craftsy Sewing Class, Look at other blogs, Social Networking

Note the lack of details. This keeps the schedule flexible and keeps me from pressuring myself into squeezing an unreasonable amount if items into my day.

 

5. Keep it regular.

That way if you skip it, it’ll come back up soon. Haaaa!!! This is like the way we get to stick it to the system…that we made, of course, but it’s still satisfying! If you do your bathrooms on wednesdays and you skip this week, don’t (metaphorically or otherwise) kill yourself over it. Don’t screw up your Thursday trying to make up for it. Just wait until next Wednesday! That sounds like freedom from guilt for me, people!

For me: I don’t really have a cute story of how I used to mess this up, because I’ve pretty much always known how helpful this could be if I could get a weekly schedule in place. I’m only now getting to where I’m using-and sticking to a system. I still don’t do it very well for chores, but I absolutely HAD to make a schedule for work since I’m working at home now and it’s going off like a charm. And by “like a charm” I mean I hardly ever do what I have listed for each day of the week, but it sure feels nice not to have to beat myself up over it, knowing that I’ll get to it next week!

 

Happy Scheduling, y’all. (Hmmm, I can’t get away with saying that, but it looks just fine when I write it. Go figure.)

How Not to Sew Buttons onto Jeans

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In light of my last several long-winded posts, I’m letting the pictures mostly speak for themselves in this one. Dec. 2014 Group 2 098

I’ve had a bunch of women tell me they iron their skirts while they’re wearing them. That seems more dangerous than this to me, but what do I know?Dec. 2014 Group 2 103Leave it in the Comment Section: Do you ever do any of these dangerous, impromptu repairs? Be honest.