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!

Strap Sewing Hack

 Confession: I procrastinate. I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve had this little top cut out and pinned onto one of my dress forms, but it’s been more than a couple months. I had the lining sewn together and the exterior fabric together-and even top stitched, but joining the two pieces was something I just didn’t seem to ever “get to.” You know those things you put off because of something silly? I was not looking forward to sewing this together or turning it out. Crazy, I know. But I think when we break down the stuff we put off, a lot of times it comes down to something we’re dreading, but isn’t really that bad. That being said, I’m going to give you guys a little life hack to make turning out a top with straps a little less procrastin-able. That’s right. . . Procrastin-able: The ability to procrasinate. (I think I actually medaled in that sport in Middle School.)

The problem with sewing lining onto a garment with straps is that they tend to slide around inside and can get caught in the stitching. You can pin them to the fabric, but you still have to turn it out after. Serious Ouch Potential.

Here’s what I did to avoid the ouch: Tied a little ribbon on it! Well, it’s actually a knit fabric scrap, which works better because of the stretch. I just wound up the strap until I was pretty close to where it’s sewn onto the top and tied it. Then I tucked it into my meticulously pinned packet, closed it up, and continued to pin.



    

I was then at the refreshing liberty to sew without any fear of my strap sliding over and getting sewn into the darn seam.   If you don’t know what that agony is like,

  

And this is me turning my garment out without bleeding on it from pin pricks. That’s always a really good thing!
I hope this little trick helps you guys out. Let me know in the comment section if you have any other tips and tricks for sewing lining or straps! I’m a lifelong learner and I hope you guys are, too!

How to Fix Holes in Jeans: Jazzy Style

My daughter is rough on jeans, and really, what kid isn’t? She wears holes in pants so frequently that she usually wears them completely unbothered. (Why yes, grammar nerds, I did make that word up. Thank you: freedom of the … Continue reading

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turn a T-Shirt into Leggings!

IMG_2622T-Shirt into leggings- Why not, right?

Upcycling T-shirts is all the rage these day. One needn’t wander any farther than Pinterest, Craftsy, or just a good, old-fashioned Google search to stumble upon oodles of ideas: tank tops, boy shorts, purses, rugs. You name it; crafters have probably thought of a way to make it using repurposed t-shirts.

When repurposing garments, I typically like to take them completely apart and use the fabric, not too much of the stitching. That way, it’s like making something from scratch, which I feel better about. That’s not to say I haven’t cut off ugly sleeves, shortened hems, and revamped old dresses and other articles of clothing. That can be really fun and definitely makes great before and after shots, but my preference is really to design from the ground up.

Upcycling is a great way to get your feet wet in the sewing world. Whether you’re brand new to sewing and just want to get in some practice or you’re an experienced seamstress and are just looking for economical projects, it’s a fantastic option. And as my followers know, you don’t even need a machine to get started sewing clothes. I used my serger for this project, which made it super fast, but if you don’t have a machine, aren’t comfortable sewing knits yet, or if you just love the artistic goodness of the hand-stitched look, whip out your needle and thread and read a couple of my tutorials and posts on hand sewing knits to get started!

Baby T-shirt Tutorial

Upcycled Tank Top

Little Girl’s Tank

Here’s what you’ll need for this project:

    A Pattern (If you don’t have one, use a pair of leggings as a guide to make one. Just add seam     allowance.)

    One or multiple T-shirts

    1/2 Inch elastic for the waistband

    Thread

    A sewing machine, serger, or hand sewing needle

    Scissors

Step 1: Prepare or make the pattern. I used a pair of yoga pants to make this pattern.
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Step 2: Cut out the fabric. I used a cool graphic tee and one with a contrasting color for the foldover waistband. Ideally, I would like these leggings to be a little longer since my daughters are so tall, but since this t-shirt is very soft and thin, I decided these would be for Spring/Summer wear anyway and they’d be fine as capris.

I kept the hem at the bottom for ease of sewing and because I don’t have a cover stitch machine that will do that type of hem yet. I like to avoid the zig-zag stitch for knits if I can. Another option for taller kids would be to use another t-shirt and extend the pattern. Just sew the extra piece to the bottom of the pant legs before sewing the pant. IMG_2623

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Step 3: Cut the elastic. You can measure the waist of the pants you made the pattern from, follow the pattern package directions, or measure your child’s waist. I prefer the third method. That way, you get a wonderful fit the first time around.

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Step 4: Sew the pants together. I don’t have step-by-step pics for the sewing portion, but if you’re a sewing newbie, feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

My favorite way to sew pants is to sew the inseam and outseam (this pattern only has one seam per leg, so I just folded each leg over and sewed that seam) and then turn one leg right side out and put it inside the leg that is right side in, so that the right sides of each leg are facing each other and sew the crotch seam, being careful to match the inseam up on both sides. (Click here for an easy tip on how to do that well.)

If there’s a waistband, sew it on with the elastic inside. If there’s no waistband, sew the elastic together at the ends and roll the top of the pants down over it to make a casing and sew, using a zig zag stitch or cover stitch.

   For an example of an elastic casing, click on the picture below.photo 10

Do not sew the waistband or crotch with a straight stitch, because the threads will break as soon as the pants stretch! I wouldn’t recommend sewing the vertical seams with a straight stitch, either. With knits, your stitches must allow for stretch, or your kid may be looking at a pretty embarrassing day at school.

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The Moral of the Story:

If you have more time than money, upcycling is a fabulous way to pursue a hobby and get in your sewing fix.

Also, make use of that zig-zag stitch, please! Friends don’t let friends rip their pants.

How to Match Seams Easily

As you already know if you read this blog, I’m currently trying to get rid of some of my bad sewing habits, like sewing too fast and not doing enough prep work. Good preparation really saves you a lot of time in the end, and today I’m sharing this quick and easy tip for ensuring that your seams match up when joining two pieces.

Step 1: Pin the pieces together, putting the pin right through the stitch line, making sure it’s dead center in both pieces. If you do it correctly, the pin doesn’t even go through any fabric, just the tiny openings between stitches.

This pinning technique is one I actually learned from my quilter friend and I’d been pinning this way for a while when sewing things like a bodice to a skirt to make sure the side seams were in the same spot. Even so, I was still having a little trouble with the seams not ending up exactly straight. The reason for that is that I was skipping step 2.

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Step 2: Baste at that point using the width of your actual seam allowance. This allows you to open the fabric out and be sure the seams match. If you skip this step, you can end up with unmatched seams because as you sew (especially on curved or gathered areas) the fabric can shift slightly as you take out pins. There’s nothing like sewing an entire seam before realizing the pieces have moved around on you, right?

IMG_2912Step 3: Flip your pieces open and check the placement of the seam lines.

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IMG_2913Step 4: Do the same thing to any other places that need it. For example, if you’re pinning a waistband to a skirt, you’ll need to do this to both side seams. Then pin the rest and sew your entire seam.

Step 5: Enjoy the peace of mind you get from sewing KNOWING that your seams will match up! If you’re at all like me, you’ve probably lost a little sleep over that at some point in your life.

Happy Sewing!

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!

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 Tres

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“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

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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

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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