November 2011 Archives

Aramaic Fabric Bracelet

November 30, 2011

Aramaic Bracelet2

Aramaic Bracelet1

The pleasure of the hunt is nothing compared to the euphoria of creating a piece that sells for $100 (retail) but can be made for little more than a few dollars. This is the case with this delicious Aramaic Bracelet. Inspired by a pricey fabric and sterling silver bracelet found here, our knock off is crafted from cotton (just like the original) but is modified with a D-ring and swivel hook closure. You could of course modify it further to imitate the original more with vintage closures and pliable aluminum but I am not a very skilled metal worker.  Here is what you need to create a 7 in. Aramaic Bracelet like mine pictured


Scrap pieces of fabric in similar colors or featuring one color, at least 24 in. long (I used Amy Butler Cotton)

1 silver D-ring

1 Swivel hook closure


Aramaic Bracelet3


Cut fabric into 1 in. wide strips (by 24 in. length). Loosely, braid your fabric keeping the print facing up. Once you reach the end, stitch across the both ends to secure. Fold your bracelet in half and slide the D-ring over the folded edge. Match up both raw (stitched) ends and stitch together. Insert Swivel Hook over this end, fold over and stitch ½ in. away from swivel hook to secure hook. Clasp the hook on the loop to close and wear bracelet. Done! This is a fast and fun gift idea for friends and family. Since the Aramaic Bracelet takes just a little bit of time to make you can stock up for teachers, babysitters and stocking stuffers!

Mambo Yarn Braided Bracelet

November 28, 2011

Mambo Braided Bracelet

mambo bracelet

While I was on Facebook the other day checking out the comments on my Mambo Yarn Review (Yes, I read all my commentsJ) I was inspired by a link I found while checking out one of Martha's Mambo sites. It was a really cool Braided Bracelet that I thought you all would love to make as a Christmas gift or a funky accessory for upcoming parties. It is a fabulous and exuberant bracelet that intrigued me more when I read the instructions. I didn't knit or crochet this bracelet at all. It is sewn and braided and the idea is ingenious. It did take longer than I hoped to sew up the first step of these instructions but thanks to a good movie on TV, time flew. The 2nd step was trickier. At this point you have 2 ends hanging off the thick middle, which is made up of the 3 strands you have sewn together. You fold this thick, middle section in thirds so that it is stacked at one end, 3 high. You sew this end together. Now you are left with 3 strands, sewn at the top and with the bottom of a loop and a loose end then other end. Now you braid your strands starting at the sewn end and moving the loose end through the loop when needed until you get to the end and then you pull the loose end and tuck it into the loop to secure. Now your bracelet is just about finished. Take your 2 tails and tie them in a knot to close the bracelet.

mambo bracelet2

·         A tip on braiding- I started out by folding my strands over as I brought them from the back to the front to pass over. This didn't give a very good look. You want to just braided keeping the same side up and not folding over. This will give a more dramatic braided style which is just like the picture

This is much easier when you read as you go instead of reading ahead. I will try to make a video while making my next bracelet to illustrate fully how to assemble this bracelet. It is easy and fun once you get the hang of it. There are several more patterns for funky accessories to create with Martha Stewart Mambo Yarn.

Get ready to fly in style!

Third up in our "From Film to Closet" series, we're borrowing inspiration from the television screen instead of the silver screen. How in love with "Pan Am" am I? DEEPLY. The show is so incredibly stylish, so beautiful and so smart. And boy, oh, boy, do I loooove those darling little Pan Am carry-on bags all the gals have.
So, enough with the envy! Time to make my own version!
For this project, I used solid vinyl (I made one in hot pink and one in medium blue). This vinyl has a fabric backing, which makes it super easy to sew and gives it a little extra strength.
Here are the pieces I cut:

1 rectangle 18"x 37.5" -- This is the main body of the bag. I wanted rounded top edges, so I used a saucer as a guide to shape the corners of the rectangle into smooth curves. The bottom of the bag is the center area of this rectangle.

2 rectangles 23"x3.5" -- These will be used for the zipper inset of the bag.
2 rectangles 12.5"x7" -- These will join with the completed zipper assembly to form the sides of the bag.
1 rectangle 4"x60" -- This piece will be used to make your straps.

You'll also need a 22" zipper.


On to assembly!


First, I inset the zipper. I first stitched each side of the zipper to a 23"x3.5" piece, right sides together.




Once both sides of the zipper are attached to the vinyl pieces, I top stitched the folded edge of the vinyl from the right side, catching in the raw edge underneath to create a smooth fold. This is what the zipper inset piece looks like:




Next, the 12.5"x7" pieces attach to each end of the zipper assembly. I used the same topstitching method with these seams that I did with the zipper.


One the top and side pieces are all joined together, that assembly is set into the 18"x37.5" piece. I made a really technical drawing of how these fit together. Basically, if you think of your large rectangle with rounded corners as a taco shell, your zipper assembly will run along the raw edges of the taco shape to form an enclosed space.




My trick to match my edges up is a little unorthodox here. I mark the centers of each piece, and then I start sewing from what would be the bag's center top edge. This means that I sew each side of the zipper assembly in two sections, each running from the center, across the top and down the side. This ensures that my zipper assembly ends at the span of the larger rectangle that forms the bottom of the bag. Once I get both sides in place, I make any adjustments necessary, and then stitch the short bottom side edges, ending up with a box.




Two tips:


1.      When applying a straight edge to a curve, clip your straight edge to ease things along.




2.      Every time you stitch vinyl, you make a hole in it, so stitch carefully!



Time to make straps!


Fold your long strip the same way you would bias tape. You can't apply heat to vinyl unless you want a melty mess, but if you fold it and run your finger along the fold, it does have some crease memory.




Once you have your fabric folded, you want to sandwich it between two pieces of tissue paper, or one piece folded around your stitching area, and stitch along the long edge where the folds come together. The tissue will keep the vinyl from sticking to your foot or your stitching plate, and the tissue tears away from the stitching easily when you're done. (So, save that gift tissue! It can be recycled!)




Once you have your strap piece stitched closed, stitch down the other side so you have symmetrical stitching.

Once all stitching is complete, cut your strap in two so you have two pieces, each 30" long.


Next, you'll mark the positioning of your straps on the outside of the bag. Mine are 4.5" from the side of the bag, and 2 1/4" from the top. I made tiny marks in each position with a ballpoint pen.


Here, you can see my positioning mark (you want to make sure marks won't be seen when you're finished), my strap and a scrap of tissue paper all sandwiched together.






Next, I folded the strap up to conceal the raw edge, and topstitched the strap into place. Complete that step with your other three strap points, and you're done!






This is a very basic bag, but the sky's the limit (pardon the pun) when it comes to all the ways you can customize it. You can line it, add pockets, add piping -- whatever your heart desires! How fun would it be to make one using glitter vinyl, or contrasting colors? Or, you could use a stencil to paint your own personal logo on it. I can name a dozen things you could do, but what's more interesting is what you come up with! Bon voyage!


Gathering Foot Review

November 25, 2011


I HATE gathering. It just seems so tedious: sewing 2 lines down the edge of a really long piece of fabric and then carefully pulling the bobbin threads until it is just so and then carefully arranging the gathers and THEN sewing it onto the fabric. Something always goes wrong and I have to rip or I get frustrated. I wish there was an app for that or at a tool. Oh, wait there is- A gathering foot. This handy foot does all the work for you. All you do it load it on your machine and then sew one line of stitching. You can either use it just to gather and then join pieces or you can gather and join at the same time. I recently used it on my HotPatterns Cabriolet Skirt but I have used it many times in the past, most notably on my daughter's Halloween Costume last year: Little Red Riding Hood.


I prefer to use this foot to gather first and then join because I have found it difficult to control both pieces of fabric. The gathering goes so smooth and fast but once you get two pieces going at once at different speeds, I get flustered. I am more confident since I have studied this video by Bonetge (which gives some great ideas on gathers) but I need to practice more. It is just so easy and still cuts a lot of time to just gather and then join separately that I am not sure if I really will practice.

To use the gathering foot I like to set up my machine as though I were going to do gathers the old fashioned way: tension as high as it will go (9) and a long basting stitch. If you want less gathers you can adjust by lowering your tension and shortening your stitch length on a practice piece of fabric. Then line up your fabric edge with the edge of the gathering foot -this will give a ½ in. seam allowance--and start slow working up to a comfortable speed. What I love most it that these gathers stay put better than those formed by pulling thread and so need less supervision when joining. When joining, place right sides together and the gathered piece on top to make sure no gathers get tucked up in the seam.  

Cable Knit Guest Towels

November 23, 2011

cable guest towel1

I want any guest to feel comfy and cozy in my home so I try to incorporate items of that nature everywhere in my home. I know that if I feel comfy and cozy that chances are friends and family will as well. This is even more important now with the beginning of the holiday season. Guests will be in and out of your house, some just for the afternoon and some for longer (MUCH, much, much longer). Some sneaky ways to bring a touch of cozy is to put it in unexpected but appreciated places like your bathroom guest towels. One of the first rooms anyone visits is the bathroom and what a way to shake off the road weariness than with a plush and gorgeous cable knit towel. Let this be the first in a long line of luxurious amenities with which you pamper your family and friends. The guest towels are deceivingly fast and simple--your guests need never know.

cable guest towel2


2 skeins of Lion Brand Baby's First Yarn in Pixie Dust

Cable needle

Size US 10.5 needles

4 stitch markers



PM: place marker

M: Stitch Marker

LC: place 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in front, p3, knit 3 from cable needle

RC: place 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in back, p3, knit 3 from cable needle



Cast on 48 sts and work in garter stitch for 1 ½ in.

Row 1 (WS): knit 4, PM, purl 14, PM, k3, p6, k3, PM, p14, PM, k4

Row 2 (RS): k to 2nd M, p3, k6, p3, k to end

Row 3: k4, p14, k3, p6, k3, p14, k4

Row 4: k to 2nd M, LC, RC, knit to end

Row 5: k4, p14, p3, k6, p3, p14, k4

Row 6: k to 2nd marker, k3, p6, k3, k to end

Row 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11: repeat rows 5 & 6

Row 12: k to 2nd M, RC, LC, knit to end

Row 13: repeat Row 3

Row 14: Repeat Row 2

Row 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19: repeat rows 13 & 14

Continue repeating Row 4- 19 until piece measures 22 in. in length, work in garter stitch for 1 ½ in. and bind off. Weave in ends and block as needed.

The cozy cotton blend knit into a cozy cable knit towel will set the tone for comfort and love that rest of your home will offer to your friends and family this holiday season. Knit some up as gifts as well!  

cable guest towel3

Martha Stewart Mambo Yarn Review

November 21, 2011

mambo 1

When I first saw Martha Stewart Crafts for Lion Brand's MamboYarn, I was speechless for a few sec. I mean it is a lot to take in. I had never seen a yarn like this and I had to get my hands on it to check it out. Don't get me wrong this is a weird yarn but in a good way. It is weird in a way that reminds you of the first time you went outside your comfort zone (Thai food for me) and then were floored that you hadn't done this sooner. This is weird yarn but it is cool. It is also a bit tricky to work with for a number of reasons. First among them being you need some BIG needles to knit this up. I mean big, size 19 needles. Second, the white threads that encase the wooly goodness inside can sometimes get caught on your needle and snag. Third, it is hard to hold a good tension with this yarn because it is so mammothly big (practice will help this). But OH the results! It looks so edgy, so trendy that you can't believe that you just knit this up. Surely you just purchased this from a downtown boutique and will be hiding the receipt from your loved one in order not to divulge the enormous sum of money spent on this knitted goody. But no, even though each skein possesses 5 yds, those are 5 yds to be coveted and used wisely. You can make a super comfy and cuddly pillow, an uber cozy and stunning cowl or a knitted bracelet or necklace. You don't want to venture into anything that needs more drape than those listed above. Even a hat would be too stiff from the bulky of this yarn. However another bonus of the unique nature of this don't need fancy stitches. Just stockingette or garter will be amazing and it will (of course) knit up fast!

mambo 2

A Message of Thanks from


Good Morning and Happy Wednesday! I hope this note finds you well and preparing for a terrific Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

As I reflect back on all that has transpired this year, I am overwhelmed with a deep feeling of gratitude for the many blessings I have received. I have been blessed with good health in my immediate and extended family. Our " family" here in Marietta has grown beyond my wildest dreams. Today, we are able to provide good and meaningful jobs to almost 200 people! Our larger extended family of customers has also expanded beyond anything I could have ever thought possible. Today, over 150,000 people from all over the world visit each and every week. How could we possibly say "Thank You" enough to all of you for your friendship and support! You are our reason for existing and I hope our commitment to serve you is evident in everything we do.

This Thanksgiving celebration will be particularly meaningful for our immediate family. Our oldest daughter, Alexandra, has gone off to college in Philadelphia, which feels a long, long way from Marietta. We will get to spend 4 days with her, and my wife's extended family, during our annual Thanksgiving visit to Joliet, IL. To say that we are excited to all be together is a huge understatement. It seems like only a year of two ago when I was sharing details with you about her early days as a swimmer in junior high school. The time passes so fast.

On behalf of everyone here at, please accept my warmest personal wishes to you and your entire family for a happy, meaningful, and safe Thanksgiving holiday!

All the best,
Stephen Friedman

Continue reading A Message of Thanks from

It's a mad, mad 'Mad Men' world!



For the second installment of my From Film to the Closet series, I've got "Mad Men" on the brain. I super love the swell of popularity that retro looks are experiencing. It's crazy fun to walk through the mall and see all the shop windows styled to look like a previous era.

I fell in love with this Kwik Sew pattern quite a while back, but I've never really loved the lower half of it.
I'm hippy, so I like skirts with a little more swing. It didn't occur to me until recently to use the skirt from this Kwik Sew pattern to make a dress with a silhouette more to my liking. Pattern mashup time!
The only real trick here is figuring out where to cut the bodice to attach the skirt. For me, this meant cutting the bodice pieces a little long, and then trimming them once the bodice section was together and fitted to me.
Here are the bodice pieces being cut using the full-length pattern pieces -- I opted for a pink Duchess Satin.

I didn't cut any length off the paper pattern -- I just used the cut end of the fabric as the bottom of my pieces. I also didn't worry about making the bodice pieces all perfectly match, length-wise. I just left enough on each that I felt comfortable that I wouldn't fall short, and then I was careful stitching to match up any notches. The bodice underlap piece on this dress cuts off close to the waistline. Taller gals than me might be able to use it as your waistline marker. I had to clip about 1.5 - 2" off of it.
I made a quick fabric belt out of the same satin I used for the rest of the dress, and tacked it into place along the waistline. If I were to make this dress again,  I think I would incorporate the belt along the waist seam.

I think this is such a fun dress! I can so easily see an entire "Mad Men" style wedding party, or just a fun retro-themed soiree. Who wants to host?



Knit your own Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer

November 18, 2011


With some simple modifications and one super-genius knitting pattern you too can knit your own knitted reindeer. I know it sounds too good to be true, but I speak the truth and here's what you will need.

1)      Danger Craft Tofu the Dachshund Knitting Pattern

2)      US size 7 needles (DPNs if you prefer or cable for your magic loop lovers)

3)      1 Ball of worsted weight yarn in an reindeer-ish color

4)      1 small pom pom (you can make or used a readymade)

5)      Size 6 mm safety eyes

6)      Contrasting worsted weight yarn for antlers, tail, belly button


To get started, follow pattern as written except for making the tail, ears and belly button.

I hand sewed my red nose on right after I light stuffed the nose. Then I added the eyes and finished stuffing. I found whip stitching gives the best finish for sewing on the arms. For the belly button, I didn't think an X was christmasy enough so I added a few more stitches to the X and made it a Christmas star.


The tail I cast on as described in the pattern but after 4-5 rounds, I started to decrease every 4 sts, skip a row and decrease again until there were 2 sts left and then I cut my yarn, wove it through the remaining stitches and pull tight and knot.

To make the antlers I used a 4 st i-cord. After working 4 rows, I slipped 2 sts to a cable needle, working with the remaining 2 sts on my working needles, increased using the Make 1 increase. The next row, I  increased again to regain 4 sts. After 4 rows, I repeated  the above and once I had regained 4 sts a second time I broke my yarn, wove it through my remaining sts and pulled tight and secured. I then picked up my first 2 sts from the cable needle and working in i-cord, increase using Make 1 (3 sts) work 4 rows and break yarn, weave through remaining sts, pull tight and secure. Repeat for 2 set of slipped sts on cable needle for 2nd antler branch.


Repeat all of the above for 2nd antler. You can choose to thread pipe cleaners though your main branch of the antlers for shape. I didn't because I liked how silly and floppy they were but older children may prefer be able to manipulate the antlers.

Make 8 companions for your Rudolf so he doesn't get lonely and embroider their initials to their chests so you little ones can name their reindeer as they sing Christmas carols. 

What We Love - November 17, 2011

November 17, 2011

The Merchants and I have gotten together and created a list of What We Love among the new items that have been added to the website recently. Since it's the week before Thanksgiving, my thoughts are churning with ideas for quick holiday gifts I can make next weekend after the turkey has been cooked, eaten and the leftovers taken care of. I have a couple for you based on the new fabrics we wanted to show you today.

Collage 300 px double sided voile plaid.jpgEveryone in the office went crazy for these Double-sided Yarn-Dyed Plaids our Apparel Buyer, Elizabeth, found. The fabric is two pieces of yarn-dyed voile in coordinating plaids connected together to create a lightweight ''double cloth.'' Here's what we all decided to do. We cut along the plaid lines for a straight edge and made a 36'' square. Then we fringed all four sides to create a fabulous scarf. No sewing required! The guys in the office are begging us to fringe some for them. That's quick gift number one.

In the Home Decor world here at, new premier prints twill.jpgPremier Prints Rules for some of the trendiest, contemporary prints at bargain prices. Recently, they have been adding new fabrications to their incredible line up of prints. This week we added a terrific medium weight twill collection that could be used for apparel as well as home dec. Personally, I'm seeing a couch-full of new pillows. And, at these prices, $7.48 to $10.98, I can make the pillow backs and fronts from the same fabric. That's quick gift number two.

I have noticed a trend among our designer cotton print fabrics lately. Many companies have created collections around sewing themes. Since many of us have sewing rooms, these fabrics are a natural to spruce up a sometimes chaotic space. Here are the collections I like the most: Anna Griffin's Penelope, the Dress Making Collection, Make Do and Mend, Sew, Sew and Sew, A Quilter's Home. So, if you have a sewer or quilter on your holiday list, take a look at these collections and consider a machine cover or generous-sized pin cushion for her. That's the third holiday gift idea in my aresenal.

Happy Sewing!

Gumdrop Outdoor Pillows

November 16, 2011

outdoor gumdrop1

Fall is a great time to work on your outdoor space and the big trend is bringing the inside out or creating an outdoor living room. This is a great idea and can include such comfy articles as a sofa, lounge chairs and coffee tables in your yard. But don't overlook the other great living room staple: floor cushions. These are great inside for chilling while watching a movie, extra seating at a party and a handy foot stool. Floor cushions can be just as purposeful outside, especially during the fall. Us e them as extra seating around the firepit (they give a great vantage point for roasting hotdogs), seats for young children and foot stools while watching the soccer game Saturday morning. I chose Amy Butler's Gumdrop Pillows because they fit all my criteria: 1) super comfy 2) really, really, super good looking 3) just the right height to play multiple roles.

outdoor gumdrop2

I made the 18 in. Gumdrop from outdoor fabric and it turned out really well. I did not use interfacing on the top medallion, I just cut 2 from the fabric and followed the instructions since the fabric was thick enough to stable in itself. Had the fabric been thinner (like quilting cotton) I would have used the interfacing.

outdoor gumdrop3

Now remember, these pillows are big so they take a lot of stuffing. I used 2.5 big bags for the 18 in.  (smaller) pillow. I think the 24 in. would probably take 3-4 bags. You want them to be really firm, so punch down often. Also, heed my warning from previous experience with outdoor fabric and pressing: use a low setting since high heat can distort the fabric. Also, plan to spray these cushions with either tent spray (waterproofing) or scotch guard since they will be on the ground and depending on your family habits- bounced on, jumped onto from great distances, dragged or kicked like a ball. That said, these are a great investment for your outdoor space since they take little fabric, little time to cut or sew and brings a warmth and comfort that wicker or cedar just can't compete with. 

P.S. These make great seating for holiday parties and family gatherings!

Operation Care Package: Mini Drawstring Bags

November 15, 2011

    Mini bags 1a.jpg  The Christmas season is beginning. Help bring the holidays to our troops with these cute mini drawstring bags( approximately 4'' wide x 7'' tall). I spent part of my weekend experimenting with different ways to make bags. My goal is twenty-five bags. I had company but I still managed to do 10 and can easily finish the rest this week. I am also making some that are non holiday related. For your bags to be used for Christmas, they need to arrive by November 25, 2011. Do not let this deter you if you can't meet this date. Any bags will be used during the year and next Christmas. 

Shipping address:

Operation Care Package

611 Wilcox Street

Joliet, Il 60435




Leftover scraps of fabric (You will need a piece 9 1/4'' x 10 1/4'')

Matching thread

Ribbon, cording, twill tape (search your scrap trims)- 20 inch piece for each bag

Rotary Cutter

Rotary Mat

Clear Ruler

Sewing Machine



This project goes very fast with assembly line sewing:

Sort your fabrics by color.

Wind several bobbins with appropriate color


1. Turm in 1/8'' to the wrong side on the long sides of the bag and stitch. Chain stitch all bags of the same color.

Mini Bags 2.jpg2, Turn in 1/8'' to the wrong side on the bottom of the bag and stitch. Chain stitch all bags of the same color.

3. Take all of your bags to the ironing board. Fold top of bag down 2 inches and steam press. Unfold and fold down 1 inch to previous 2 inch line. Press and fold over to original pressing line. This will create your casing. Do this for all bags of the same color.

4. Sew 1/4'' from the top fold of the bag

5. Sew 1/4'' from the bottom fold of the casing.

6. Fold bag lengthwise right sides together.

Mini bags 4.jpg7. Stitch 1/4'' from edge beginning just bellow casing. Backstitch at casing point.

8. With right sides together at the bottom. Snip at corner to make a sharp corner. Be careful not to cut through your stitching.

9. Turn bag to right sides.

10. Cut a 20'' piece of ribbon or cord or twill tape. I used a safety pin to thread cord through the casing. I knotted my cord on the end to prevent fraying.

You now have a cute little gift bag. I plan on making a few extra for my own gift giving. 

Note: This is a great stash buster project. If you don't have pieces that will measure 9 1/4'' x 10 1/4'' consider piecing several scraps together until you reach the right measurements.


"It's a jolly holiday with Mary ..."

November 14, 2011

This is the first in a new series, where I take inspiration from film and television, and find ways to work silver screen style into my day-to-day wardrobe. I hope we all have fun with it!


To kick things off, I'm starting with one of my very favorite movies of all time -- "Mary Poppins." I have had a crush on Dick Van Dyke ever since I first saw this movie as a kid. The DVD is on heavy rotation in my sewing room DVD player. I hum the songs nearly constantly. Hello, my name is Holly, I and I am addicted to "Mary Poppins."

I adore the jacket Bert wears during the Jolly Holiday fantasy sequence. The stripes are so fun, and the look is just joyous. I have been lucky enough to see the original piece -- it's on display in a shop in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Imagine my delight and surprise when I saw that the fabric pattern is actually customized with grosgrain ribbon stitched onto a striped base. Instant inspiration!

I decided to make a jacket for myself based on Bert's finery. I tweaked the colors slightly, thinking that I wanted to end up with something that had a look reminiscent of ribbon candy.

Here's what I used:

-          A blazer pattern I drafted for myself about eight years ago. Almost any pattern you like will work just fine, though I'd recommend one without too many seams. The short style on this Indygo Junction pattern is a good candidate.

-          2 1/2 yards of striped fabric. I used a Premier Prints stripe as my base.

-          10 yards of yellow grosgrain ribbon

-          10 yards of orange striped grosgrain ribbon

-          2 1/2 yards of sunflower china silk lining

I cut all my pieces from my base fabric first, then I stitched down all my ribbon on the cut pieces. This was time consuming, but so totally worth it for a completely custom look. The key here is to mirror the look side to side if you want to achieve a symmetrical look. If you like to shake things up by not worrying about symmetry, that'll give your jacket a totally different edge. It's all about playing!


Once the ribbon was all stitched down (I used every bit of those 10 yards!), I assembled the jacket like normal, and ended up with some serious stripey fun!

jollyholiday2.jpg jollyholiday3.jpg


Even though the colors on mine are springy, I plan on wearing it through winter while I wait for warmer weather. With the addition of a glittery pink mini poinsettia from the local garden and craft store,  I am ready for holiday cheer! (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the trend in recent years of pastels being holiday colors? LOVE!) It'll be a jolly holiday indeed, and this look will carry me right through spring.


Imagine all the combinations you can use to make your own entirely custom look! I love the idea of making a project like this with my go-to color combo of black, pink and gray. And who says you have to start with a striped base? Applique ribbon stripes over a print base, and you can really create some amazing designs -- all uniquely you!

Knitted Darts

It wasn't too long ago that I believed that waist shaping was the extent of the tailoring I would need to know for a good fit in knitting. Boy, was I wrong. I have learned many times over that just a few increases and decreases along the side seams is not going to give me the tailored, fine fit that I need. Fitting knitted garments well is especially important for woman no matter what your size because we are not all created equal. While some may have a bigger chest, smaller waist or well rounded hips, others may be the opposite or just share one of these attributes. That means darts; or increases or decrease in a centralized area to give one the extra fabric or less fabric to create a flattering shape. Like sewing it is important to place your darts in the correct area and to use the correct shape of dart. Here are 2 dart patterns that can be modified to fit your shape and added into any pattern.


Vertical Dart: While not completely vertical, this dart does the job the same way. This dart is best used for targeted waist shaping, light bust shaping and in the hip area. You can add several of these darts with just a few increases/decreases each for dramatic shaping (i.e. if your waist is significantly smaller than your hips) or just a few with more increases/decrease for a gradual shaping.

dart1.jpg Mark your dart placements with a marker
R1: Work to your dart marker, slip the marker (SM) and increase with either M1 (make 1) or Kf&b (knit front and back)
R2: Work in pattern
R3: Work to dart marker, SM, k1, increase (here you are increasing on the stitch added from the previous increase)
R4: Work in pattern
R5: Work to dart marker, SM, k2, increase
Continue adding increases on the previous increase your dart resembles the picture or the diagram until you have added the desired number of increase. For a reverse dart, trade the increases for decreases.


Side dart: This is an excellent dart for bust lines (it is similar to short rows). This dart can also be used for collars. It is built with a number of increases followed by an equal number of decreases in a dart shape.

Mark your dart location with a marker
R1: work to marker, SM, increase (Kf&b or M1)
R2: work in pattern
R3: work to 1 st before M, increase, work in pattern
R4: Work in pattern
R5: Work to 2 st before M, increase work in pattern

Continue until you have increase the desired amount then on the next increase row, K2tog directly above the last increase. Continue moving your decrease out back to your marker every other row until you are back to your original stitch count. You will have added an amount of fabric in a very targeted area for better drape and fit. 

Femininity in Men's Suiting

November 13, 2011

I love a good juxtaposition of fashion, namely mixing men's suiting with a feminine silhouette. You will probably not find me in such a richly ruffled piece of clothing unless you can tone it down with some smooth, dark and simply decorated men's suiting. The combo is my cup of tea. I was looking for the perfect project to branch out our men's suiting and the overtly feminine design of the HotPatterns Cabriolet Dress/skirt was perfect. There are 2 layers of gathered ruffles that flow and drape to accentuate a woman's body coupled with a long tie to cinch in the waist and create a dramatic bow. If this design doesn't say "Woman" nothing does. The wool suiting I selected is dark blue with a simple and stark window pane detail in gold. That is it. It is rich and lightweight but dark and simple. The perfect fabric for a man's garment. The two together make for a striking combination that can be worn to a number of occasions. Paired with a fitted white button down shirt and red pumps makes a dramatic outfit for a work Christmas party. Worn as a dress with leggings and knee high riding boots and a fitted blazer can be fabulous outfit for Christmas shopping or an outdoor fall party. Or you can wear it as a dress throw on a shrug and a pair of bold heels for date night or girls night out!

I love this version and can't wait to wear it out. I might not be able to wait and will probably be seen sporting it at the grocery store and maybe down to the park. Nap time tomorrow might be spent finding new outfit combinations to post on Facebook!

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Some tips on the pattern:

1)      Either cut a second tie as a lining or serge or zig zag all your pieces before assembly. You can also opt for a decadent bias tape like dupioni silk.

2)      Try using a second fabric for your tie to create interest or a color block effect.

3)      You can plan and add a long button hole to slide your tie through if you want since it is not in the instructions. 

The Fabric Maverick says... Remember those who have fought for our freedom!

November 11, 2011

Normandy Beach.jpg

The picture above is of Normandy Beach June 6, 2001. It is difficult to imagine how this scene must have looked on June 6, 1944, when the Allies invaded Europe to fight the Nazis in World War II. There were five landing beaches among them was Omaha beach. Many of the soldiers landing at this beach drown in the pounding waves or were cut down by German machine-gun fire. Only 60% percent of the American dead were able to be sent back to their homeland. The remaining heroes are interred at either the Normandy American Cemetery or another cemetery in Brittany. There are over 9,000 soldiers buried at the Normandy American Cemetery.  As I stood there, I was overwhelmed at the sight of row after row of American graves. 


These young men and women gave up their lives to preserve our freedoms and liberties. The same is true for the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the seemingly endless war in Iraq. What would our world be like if these young people had been able to live their lives to the fullest? It is time to reflect on their sacrifices as we approach Veterans Day. I know everyone is grateful for a day off from their hard work but take a few moments to appreciate what these young people have given up. Do not think about just the dead. Think also about the young soldiers facing danger and boredom everyday. Honor them also. Think also about the many soldiers' families that are without a father or mother while they serve in the military. It is not easy to deal with everyday problems with only one parent in the family and having to make financial decisions with very limited resources. To some of us, war is very far away but for those with loved ones in the war it is an everyday event. Please say a prayer for all of these and pray for understanding to end all wars.  I believe humanity can better be served by finding the answers to disease, hunger and creating opportunities equally for all.

May all the soldiers everywhere know that we appreciate their efforts on our behalf. Bless you and have a Happy Veterans Day!


Figure 8 Lamp Shade Makeover!

November 10, 2011


Need to spruce up some lamp shades??? Here's a great way to reinvent an old lamp. I took three complementary fabrics and cut them into strips, and thoughtfully figure-8 wrapped them around a lamp shade frame. Here's how:


-Old boring lamp shade. Cut the 'shade' part  off to reveal just a frame.

-Two 2 1/4'' wide strips, each different fabrics

-One 1'' wide strip

I used  yellow and grey quilting cottons and the black/ivory fabric is a lightweight cotton duck home decor fabric. I did make it a point to use natural fibers. Depending on what kind of light bulb you have, you don't want your fabrics melting!

The strips will vary in length depending on what size your lamp shade is. The lamp I used measures 9'' in diameter and 8'' tall. My strips needed to be 7 1/3 yards long. The 1'' wide strip is 8 yards long because these skinny, top strips will be tied off at the end to secure the fabric.

There is no magic formula to figuring how long the strips should be because lamp shade sizes vary and the width of the strips contribute to the measurement also. Your best bet is to double and triple check with a tape measure, or a piece of yarn or long ribbon- just be sure you space out your measuring medium to mimic how the strips will wind around the frame.

Step 1: Sew the individual strips together to create the length needed, and then finish the edges of the 1'' strip only with a serger. If you don't have a serger, you can leave the rough edges, pink the edges, or zig zag stitch.

Step 2: Top Stitch the 1'' grey strip on top of the 2 ¼'' wide yellow strip, I stitched straight down the middle.

Step 3:  Join the black strip and the yellow/grey strip by serging the edges.

Now you should have one big long reversible strip of fabric, with extended 1'' strips at the ends.

Roll it up! It is way easier to deal with 7 yards+ of strip fabric when it's rolled up.


As shown in the picture, start with one end over the lamp frame. Loop it around and begin intertwining the strip in a Figure 8 motion around the frame of the lamp.


When you've reached the end, twist your last bit of strip so it mimics the rest of the figure 8 design and fold over the top frame.  Loop the bottom tie strip around the bottom of the frame, cover it with fabric already there and join with the other tie strip on the inside. 


Tie a knot or a little bow and tuck it in the inside of the fabric strip lamp shade. And voila! New and improved lamp shade. And it can be easily removed for washing, or replacing!

Fabulous Accessories Crafted from Knit Fabric

November 9, 2011

knit cowl yellow.jpg

Cowls and jersey necklaces are exploding in the fashion scene today and I am drooling. I love a good accessory because many days I only get time to pull on jeans and a t-shirt in between playing blocks, going on leaf collecting journeys and watching Sesame Street. I need some glamour most days even if it ends up just being a pair of earrings, fancy socks, or -in this case- a jersey knit cowl or stacked necklace. Both are easy and FUN to make (mostly because they are quick) and a great addition to your wardrobe whether you are an accessory queen or a busy mom looking to offset some mom jeans (that last part was, of course, hypothetical. For the record I don't wear mom jeans- no matter what anyone may tell you).

knit cowl yellow 3.jpg

To make the Sunshine Sequin Jersey Knit Cowl you will need ½ yard of Sequin Stripe Jersey Knit Fabric and coordinating thread. You can opt to serge or zig zag your cut edges or leave them raw to roll over. Match up the selvedges and stitch together using a french seam. The French seam eliminates the raw edges and gives a tailored seam. That's it. You can wrap your cowl as many times as deemed per your style or the outside temp.

knit necklace pink.jpg

The necklace is just as easy as the cowl but I did not use a French seam, just a regular ½ in. will do. Start with another ½ yd of Jersey Knit Fabric, with right sides facing, match up your selvedges and stitch them up, creating a tube. Then lay your tube flat on a cutting surface and cut your tube into smaller ½ in. to 1 in. tube strips. The bigger the strips, the thicker the strands of your necklace. Cut as many strips as needed to make your necklace the desired thickness. Once all your strips are cut, stretch them out as far as they will go and when they bounce back the sides will have curled up to give the necklace its signature appeal. Gather up all your strands and tie a bow around them at the back to keep your seams together and at the back. You can mix and match colors or tie 2 bows (like mine) to use as an accent.

Both projects make great gifts. A word to the wise: only use jersey for the necklace since it curls and don't use a jersey with details like the sequin stripe or screen printing since the stripe and ink will interfere with the curl. 

knit necklace yellow.jpg

Sew4Home Faux Leather Handbag Project

Thumbnail image for SEw4home faux leather bag.jpgAs a part of the Lush and Plush series from Sew4Home, we have a fantastic faux leather handbag project. We have everything you need to create this project including a terrific selection of faux leather fabrics, handbag handles and linings that will take your bag to the designer level.

If you have not worked with faux leather fabrics before, fear not. The experts at Sew4Home have a tutorial that will answer all your questions. So what are you waiting for! Doesn't your fall accessory wardrobe deserve a new addition?

Eyelets outside the box

November 7, 2011

Eyelets are not just for lace and doilies anymore; they can be incorporated into projects and patterns for many reasons, decorative among them.

Give me a good yarn over any day and I am a happy camper. I love just a touch of decoration to turn any old increase, dart or ruffle into something extra. I try to add in eyelets whenever possible to any project that looks a little boring.

Increases: I recently made Carol Feller's Cardigan Bay Jacket which uses eyelets as increases for the raglan sleeves and to help the jacket fit over the hips. These little eyelets really made the jacket more appealing to me (and I am not a big sweater knitter). The eyelet increases were the cherry on top and I had to make it. You can substitute a yarn over in for any increase to bring in a delicate feeling.

Buttonholes: Not every button hole has to be a production of turnings and binding off. You can just do a simple eyelet (a yarn over or double yarn over) to make a quick and easy buttonhole. Test it first to determine which size button you will need. It is a quick, easy and smooth way to finish off a sweater, scarf or bag.

Ruffles: I love tossing in some eyelets into my ruffles, not just at the initial increase for the ruffle but also into the ruffle itself to make it more feminine and a little unexpected. The eyelets give an extra swing and lightness to the ruffles as well as adding a peek-a-boo effect to whatever lies behind the ruffle.

Ribbons: a row of eyelets can be added to a project for weaving in a ribbon after. It can add color, texture and maybe even a bow. You can add a ribbon row of eyelets to a hat, scarf (across the width or length), sweater (add it right at the waist for a ribbon belt) or socks for further femininity.

Outline: Adding eyelets to outline a feature can really make that feature stand out even more. Try including an eyelet row on either side of a cable or just use the eyelets to stand in for the shape of a leaf, bear, or heart. An eyelet row before every color change is a simple way to make regular stripes amazing. (The above picture the eyelets create and highlight the swirl pattern)

The possibilities for eyelets are endless. You can add in a here and there or combine them with a standard stitch or use them to take a fabulous stitch pattern to the next level. Using eyelets is a great way to take any pattern and make it your own.


Sew4Home Faux Fur Pull Through Scarf and Cuffed Gloves Projects

0896-faux_fur_scarf_glove_trim-1.jpgSew4Home has created yet another fantastic project for the Lush & Plush series. It is a Pull Through Scarf and Cuffs for your gloves made from faux fur. As I mentioned before, Sew4Home created a great tutorial on how to work with faux fur, so this project can easily be accomplished on almost any sewing skill level.

This is also definitely gift worthy sewing at it's best. For the more experienced seamstress, this project could represent presents for all the stylish ladies on your list. For those who are new to the sewing craft, it's a terrific learning experiece, and a very impressive end result for your efforts.

This is definitely going on my project list for the Thanksgiving holidays. I'll show you the results when I'm done!

Casual Christmas Chic

One of my many personal mantras is: Any excuse to make a dress. If there's any sort of social occasion on my calendar, I want a new outfit for it. That goes triple for holidays.

I adore coming up with froufy dresses for fancy parties, so normally, once Halloween is over, it's time to plan holiday attire. The problem is, the economy has downgraded a lot of parties to a more casual vibe. Whether it's the company Christmas shindig or a friend's house party, odds are, fancy dress is not going to be on the docket this year. But I still want a fun dress!

So, for a fun outfit that won't put me in overdressed territory, I opted to shop our holiday quilting cotton prints this year. Of course, I couldn't pick just one, so I ended up with two: this adorable candy cane print, and a sparkly poinsettia print from the Festive Elegance collection.

I opted for a fun silhouette, with a fitted bodice and medium-full skirt. There's also a little bit of puff to the sleeves for a little extra girlie flair.


I like how my candy cane dress feels a little more casual and the poinsettia version is just a little more grown up. I can't wait to start hunting for tights, accessories and the perfect nail polish to complete my outfits! Now I just need to make sure I have the right parties lined up to wear them at ...


If using a full-on holiday print is just too much for you, a damask print in a holiday color way is a perfect way to keep things a little more grown-up and classic. Get creative, have fun and relish all the compliments you get at every party you attend. Cheers to originality!



First Quilt Project!

November 6, 2011

So I consider myself an avid sewer, but I have never sewn a quilt! I have been stashing these gorgeous Anna Maria Horner Flannel fabrics from, picked out a free download, Folk Dance Quilt, from Anna Maria Horner, and I am ready to go. I attempted a quilt about a year ago. A king size one. With no pattern. And no quilting experience... you can imagine how that turned out. It's a bunch of mish mash blocks sewn together in a heap in my storage fabric box...

So now I want to do this the right way! Following a pattern, step by step. Here is the beginnings of cutting out my triangles, and with stellar advice from our quilting expert, Vickie, I feel very confident now. I purchased some Kyoto batting and coordinating Anna Maria Horner Biased Binding to complete my supply list. Almost done cutting and on to the sewing! Stay tuned for first completed quilt!


French Seams

November 5, 2011

I mentioned French Seams in my Café Curtain Post so we are back today to explain with a nifty diagram how to create your own French Seams. First, I want to thank Stacy from who taught me everything I needed to know about French seams.

french seam.jpg

French seams are a very easy technique of hiding your raw edges inside your seams to give a professional finish inside a garment or on the wrong side of a home dec project (like mine) so both sides look nice. I chose to use French seams to join my curtains panels so viewed from the outside of the window, you would only see a nice finish. I could have serged or pinked but I wanted something VERY nice, so I opted for French seams. French seams are a great couture finish and a way to make your projects extra special because they will look good no matter where you look.

French seams are also easy but there is math involved. Don't move! You can use a calculator. First choose the seam amount you want to use for the majority of the project. Let's use ½ in. for the example. You will need to calculate ¾ in. for each French seam (that is ¼ in. plus ½ in.).

To complete your french seams, first place your pieces wrong side together (you read that right, we are starting off backwards), pin and stitch along the seam like using a ¼ in. seam. Press you seam open and turn your fabric over the seam. Now you right sides should be facing and your first seam is sandwiched in the middle. Press again to get everything smooth and stitch along the seam line using a ½ in. seam allowance. Press your seam open from the right side. You will see that your raw edges are enveloped inside the 2 seams and the only thing visible along the back side is a nice, welt-like seam-a French Seam!

french seam.jpg


Don's Magical Fabric Christmas Trees

November 4, 2011

I got so many compliments on the fabric wreaths, that I decided to use a similar concept to make little fabric trees for Christmas.


You will need a pinking shears/pinking rotary cutter, an awl or icepick, Styrofoam cones and some fabric glue for the top. This was an extremely quick project and took less than 30 minutes once I had pulled all my materials together.


For the Green tree:

I began by cutting 2x4 inch squares of fabric. I put them in the tree randomly and was deliberate about where I put them on each row. Once I completed going all the way around the tree, I moved up about a ½ inch and inserted another strip of fabric into the Styrofoam. I pushed the fabric in with the awl (no glue necessary). If the fabric did not stay, I pushed a little more in to hold it in place. I ran into issues at the top of the tree when I pushed too hard and the top break. With a little Arlene's Glue, put it back together and glued the last few pieces at the top together.

tree progress.jpg


tree green photo.jpg

For the Scraps tree:

My mom helped with this one - we took scraps from other projects and then started randomly putting them into the tree. She cut strips of scrap fabrics and I inserted them into the tree, with no rhyme or reason. I started at the bottom of the tree and worked my way up. We used pins when I got to the top - the Styrofoam was weak there and the pins help the fabric in place.

tree photo.jpg


Other thoughts and suggestions:

You could do an entire tree with pins which might allow you to make color designs with the fabric. I plan on adding a copper star to the top that I will be cutting out of a copper sheet of metal. For those that do not have a space for a large tree, this is a great way to bring a little holiday spirit to your desk or home.

Sew4Home Mar Bella Minky Blanket Project

0893-Minkey_Baby_Blankets-1.jpgI'm not sure how they do it, but the crew at Sew4Home has created another fantastic project that's even better than the last. And, those first two projects were absolutely fabulous! Today's projects use the beautiful and luxurious Mar Bella Minky from Shannon. The Baby Blanket Projects, one for boys and one for girls, also features a soft flannel back and silky satin charmeuse ruffles all the way around.

As we have seen in past projects, the instructions are detailed and informative. They have awarded this project with their Holiday Gift Idea seal of approval. The project is so easy and rewarding, you should make one for the child in your life and one to give. I'm considering making one of each to stash on my gift shelf until the next baby gift opportunity comes along!

Sew4Home Faux Fur Throw and Pillow Projects

November 3, 2011

0895-faux_fur_throw_pillow-1.jpgThe next projects in Sew4Home Lush & Plush series with is a faux fur throw and a faux fur pillow. These projects are quite simple. The wonderful people at Sew4Home have even created a ''Sewing with Faux Fur'' tutorial to make it even easier to make these luxurious items. We have some fantastic faux fur fabrics for you to choose from for your throws and pillows, too.

If you cannot think of an excuse to make these Lush and Plush projects for yourself, consider your holiday gift list. The throw would make an incredible gift for the Luxury Lover on your list. Depending on the style of faux fur you choose, it can go in a family room, living room or bedroom. The pillows will add a little opulence wherever they sit. The best part is that no one would guess how simple they were to make!

Tulle Party Dress for the Holidays

November 2, 2011

tulle party dress1

I have fallen in love with the tulle party dresses populating Etsy these days and have dreamed of creating one for my little lady for the upcoming holidays. I resigned to start where I seldom go: into my own stash of toddler dress patterns (with 2 grandmas that sew I can 1) fight over my daughter's wardrobe or 2)be resigned and spend the time on mine). I really loved the high empire waist styling with an over-sized tulle skirt so I picked out a few patterns that already featured an empire waist and started modifying from there. Here are a few great patterns from our store for you to work from:

Modkid Ava Dress

Indygo Junction Sister Smocks

Oliver + S Music Box Dress

The key to taking your pattern from regular to Tulle-tacular (yes, I just said Tulle-tacular. Give it time, it's gonna be huge) is the combination of colors. I have noticed the big sellers on Etsy and also the dresses that are my favorite are those that either couple rich jewel tone tulle and fabric together (think garnet, amber or jade) or just the jewel tone tulle paired with an unexpected and bold cotton print for the bodice. I considered pairing my Jade 108 in. Tulle with a complimentary Dupioni Silk for the bodice but when I found this black and white damask cotton print in my stash I knew it was the one. I assembled the bodice as instructed by the pattern but made the skirt out of a combination of tulle and matching cotton fabric (you can also use a knit fabric). The matching cotton fabric is for the underskirt which is a very important part because it will keep the tulle from touching the skin and tulle can be irritating. The underskirt needs to be invisible so it must match your tulle. My 108 in. tulle came folded in thirds from the bolt and I left it folded and cut out my skirt widths with it folded. I then layered several skirt widths until I had my desired fullness (I chose 3 layers or about 3-4 yds of tulle). I then stitched the skirt together at the back and basted through all layers across the top and then pulled the bobbin thread to gather up all the tulle to create my skirt. To create the under skirt I just cut one piece of cotton to the same width as one tulle layer and stitched it up the back and gathered it at the top as with the tulle. To attach the underskirt and tulle to the bodice I pinned the gathered tulle to the right side of the bodice (right sides facing) and the underskirt to the wrong side (the right side of the underskirt facing the wrong side of the bodice) and then stitched both in place. To make sure your hem is correct, you will need your little girl to try on the dress and then mark the length desired. Then cut off the excess with scissors. Really simple.

tulle party dress2

You can embellish your skirt from your extra bits of tulle by cutting out butterflies, flowers or ruffles. You can hand sew your embellishments on with some glitter or beads for extra glitz. A matching headband might be in order as well!

The same theory can be used for Adult dresses as well, just unfold the tulle and use much more (6-7 yds).

Sew4Home Tuxedo Pillowcase Project

November 1, 2011

0959-tux-pillowcase-1_b.jpgWe are so excited that our friends at Sew4Home have created an exciting series for that will include projects, sewing tips, product reviews and a giveaway!  The theme is called Lush and Plush and it is just in time for the cold weather and the giving season.There will be something new in the Lush and Plush series at Sew4Home every weekday through November 11th.
The first project is a fabulous tuxedo inspired pillowcase made from Timeless Treasures' Tailor Flannel collection. Sew4Home does a beautiful job of not only writing in depth instruction for their projects, but also showing you pictures of the steps involved. I am definitely one of those people that look at the pictures on a pattern to make a project before resorting to actually reading the instructions.
As you can see, these pillowcases will make a fabulous gift for the man in your life, or a terrific addition to a bedroom. I can also see a set of these pillowcases made in a white-on-white version from a luxurious fabric like 100% linen that has been washed a few times for softness and to reduce wrinkling.
Stay tuned through November 11 for more in the series from Sew4Home and!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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