March 2012 Archives

Recover your stroller Part 2- the Canopy

March 30, 2012

I would have thought recovering my canopy would be MUCH easier than the seat (see Recover your Stroller, Part 1) but WRONG. This sucker put up a fight and it was all about the plastic rods that give it shape. It was worth it to have it match the seat, plus it was faded but it was not fun. 
First, take off your canopy. Mine involved 2 screws (one on each side) to hold the metal rods in place (one rod at the front and one at the back). Once the screws are out the rods pop out and the canopy slides off. 
Next, I removed the bias tape from under the front puffy tube (pretty sure that is not a technical term) and released the puffy tube (the front metal rod slides into this puffy tube), indicated in red. Set the tube aside.
Below you can see the plastic rods. You want to stay out of their way. Which is why I, again, opted to hand stitch new panels over the polka dots.
Here is the pattern piece I traced of the polka dot panel. I then added a 1 in. seam allowance all the way around and pinned it in place and hand sewed it. 
Here is the recovered puffy tube. First measure the length and width and then cut out a piece the same size but add 2 in. to the length. Then double fold 1/2 in. hem on each short side and topstitch. Next, carefully fold the cover over the puffy tube and stitch is in place. It looks like I used a 1/2 seam but I really just felt the edge of the puffy tube and stitch right against it. Pin and stitch the puffy tube back onto the canopy being carefully of those slippery plastic rods (I handstitched over them since my machine refused. but only for an 1 in. or so and only on one side) Then reapply the bias tape making sure to trim your puffy tube seam before hand. Or if yours doesn't quite fit like mine, make your own. 

Then, slide your metal tubes back in place and pop them back onto the stroller frame. Secure with your screws and you are done. I love this and feel it really completes the whole recovered stroller but the canopy took as long if not a bit longer than the seat recover because the plastic rods were so sneaky and slippery and the bias tape just didn't want to fit back on. I did not recover the plastic rod covers because they were so slippery and sneaky. I figure if I don't like the light blue I can color them with a fabric marker in any color. 

Recover your stroller

March 28, 2012

You many have noticed that I have been a little off lately. Perhaps not as chatty on Facebook or not as witty in my posts that is because I am expecting a new addition to our family in Sept. Morning sickness was a close friend in my first and now my second pregnancy. However, this time around it seems a bit easier so I have been tackling projects as I can until I am back up to speed. I am taking this slow time to get to all those projects that I have planned but not attempted. A new baby has given me a real reason to recover my stroller (you may remember last year I pledged to do so on Facebook but ended up using the fabric for Cafe Curtains instead). Well, I had enough left over to recover my stroller and I want to break it down and show you how to recreate it for yourself. 
First, I took the old seat off. This involved many screws and some snaps and clips (under the seat). It was really easy and you can see more below in the reassembly pictures. Once off, I washed the cover according to the directions. 
Next, I examined the seat to see where I could dissameble. I ended up not ripping too many seams because there were so many and I was afraid that I would miss something on reassembly. So I kept it simple, stupid (KISS) and decided to sew a cover over top the old one since it was really just faded and a bit worn. The new fabric is Outdoor Fabric so this should resist fading a bit more. Below are the seams I did rip (in red) and those I did not (in green). The green indicates that there are pockets behind and mutliple seams. There is another flap that I removed is on the underside of the foot rest with a plastic plate to keep the foot rest rigid when using as a bassinet.
Here is a close up of one of the seams I ripped off. 
Here is a close up of the flap on the underside of the foot rest. The seam was double stitched and here I am working through the first seam. 
Now, all the seams I am going to rip have been and the rest is all tucked underneath so I can trace the shape on the WS of the fabric. 
Here it is all traced out and with a 1/2 in. seam allowance added. Looking back I wish I would have added an 1 in. seam allowance.
After tracing the shape, transfer all the button holes onto the cover. Transfer their placement and size. Each are a different length. I was able to sew the shoulder strap buttonholes with my buttonhole foot but the rest were too long for that. I used a very thin zig zag stitch (1-1.5). 
After all the buttonholes are sewn and opened, place your cover onto your seat and pull through all the straps and pin the cover in place at each strap. Next fold under and pin the new cover in place over the old cover all the way around.
Now you can start to sew on your cover with your machine. Topstitch using a 1/4 to 1/2 in. allowance. I was only able to machine stitch from the middle, down around the foot rest and back up to the start of the pockets I mentioned not ripping earlier. Then I hand stitched the rest. It is a bit of a pain but I didn't want to rip those pockets out and it seemed like a real hassle to try machine sewing around them. Plus, I just watched a good movie while I did it. Next, I sewed the parts I did rip back on.
Now it is time to reassemble. Each stroller will be different but mine (a Graco Quattro Deluxe) was pretty easy.
assemble col.jpg
Here is where I hand stitched so you will know more specifically. It really didn't take that long and was much easier than manuvering the sewing machine around the pockets. (By pockets I mean the pocket that hold the seat cover onto the seat frame and the canopy you see behind the seat below that folds down when the seat is reclined)
It is so lovely!

Tara's Sewing Room

March 26, 2012

Here are the details on some of the products I have in my room. Let me know if you have questions on anything else you see in the room.

My previous sewing room video

Hanging lamp (My husband added the switch, it's from the hardware store)

Scrap Drawers under cutting table

Favorite Fabric Collection: Erin Michael Uptown by Moda

Hanging clips (on thumbtacks on wall)

You can see my Lorax (Free Pattern here) in the sewing table scene

Sewing Machine Cover (This is SUPER during pollen season which coincidences with open window season)

Make the shirt I'm wearing

Fabric covered plates tutorial


Edwardian Cruise Lines: Gent's Edition

March 25, 2012

This edition of the "From Screen to Closet" series goes out to all the men in the house (and the women who sew for them)!


Over the last couple of weeks, I've posted about my dress prep for 100-year anniversary Titanic parties. But of course, I'll need my handsome escort to join me! I'm lucky to have a husband who is totally up for costumed events. He has a couple of late-Victorian suits, so after a little discussion, we decided on a brocade Edwardian dressing gown for him.


A quick historical note about this particular fashion trend. Gentlemen of the era really would come home at the end of the day and change out of their suit jacket into one of these dressing gowns for the remainder of the pre-bedtime evening. The trousers, shirt and tie were still worn under the dressing gown. As the fascination with all things of the Orient was at a fever pitch in this era, I have a sneaking suspicion that many a gent fancied himself as the perfect emulation of the Emperor of China in his fine brocade robe.


The beauty of this project is that it starts with a basic bathrobe pattern -- Kwik Sew 3177 is a perfect candidate. It's nice to be able to put together a menswear project without having to worry about tailoring!


I used Chinese brocade for the body of the robe, and made a lining with China silk.


I really only made five changes to the pattern:

--  I added a breast pocket in lieu of patch pockets.

-         --   Instead of the banded edge to the robe opening, I cut a basic shawl collar out of velveteen.

-          -- I added velveteen cuffs to the sleeves.

-          -- As mentioned above, I lined it.

-          -- I made bias tape out of duchess satin and ran it around the edge of the belt tie.

Even if you skip any or all of these additions, a robe made out of brocade with a velvet or velveteen edge would fit the bill for a Titanic or Edwardian inspired evening under the stars.

Behold, my handsome husband, ready to enjoy a snifter of brandy in the lounge.








Ask the Expert- Knitting Episode 2

March 23, 2012

Ask the Expert- Knitting

Q: What is a good way to knit in the round if I don't have a cable needle the correct length?

A: As long as you have a cable needle the correct gauge you can knit in the round. If your cable needle is longer than the recommended length you can try using the Magic Loop method. Or if you have 2 cable needles the correct gauge you can knit in the round using the 2 needle method. If you need to make something small in diameter I would recommend DPN (Double Pointed Needles).

Q: I don't do a lot of knitting in the spring and summer. What is the best way to store my yarn for the fall?

A: It depends on what kind of storage you have. If you have a cool dark area to tuck away your yarn than you can get away with a clear plastic bit with a bit of paper or fabric at the bottom. The clear plastic will allow you to see your yarn and the paper or fabric can absorb any moisture in the box. It you don't have a cool dark place, at least find a cool place and then store your yarn in a dark colored plastic bin. The dark color will obscure your view but will also block any light that can fade your colors. The cool area will keep the moisture and mold level under control.

Q: I am halfway (or more) from finishing a project but don't have enough yarn. I don't want to buy more. How do I finish my project?

A: You have 3 options:
                1) Frog your project (This means rip is back and start over with another yarn or use the yarn for another project)
                2) Find shortcuts you can live with to finish your project in that yarn. If it is a sweater than you can shorten the sleeves or omit a tricky cable at the bottom or use a looser stitch pattern. If it is a blanket or scarf, you can make it smaller or omit a fancy border or fringe

                3) Finish it in another color. Should your project be a scarf or blanket that does call for a fancy border work it up in a complimentary color. The same with a sweater, you can add the complimentary color at the neckline, cuffs or button bands. Add the right color will look like a pattern detail not a work around.

Q: I sometimes put my knitting down for months at a time. It really helps me stay relaxed but sometimes I have trouble staying interested. What do you do to stay into knitting year round/

A: I have magazine subscriptions which deliver knitting goodies to my door every month that make me want to pick up my needles. I have this blog which means I have to prowl for great knitting ideas several times a month. And when I have free time, I check out some of my favorite site which includes Ravelry and Pinterest. Even if I don't feel like knitting I still love to look at knitting. Checking out these sites not only feeds that desire but it also shows me inspiration that is often undeniable. It is not long after I stop at one of these sites, read a new magazine or find something for this blog that I have 3-4 new projects on my needles.
Side note: I love knitting in the summer because it is easy to do in the heat. Yes, the fibers aren't compatible with the weather but the project are small, it doesn't require a lot of movement and it is a craft I can do while lounging in the chair and sipping on lemonade. You can't say that about sewing!


Miss Holiday Golightly, Traveling

March 22, 2012

This edition of the From Screen to Closet series hits near to my heart. I think you'd be hard pressed to find a person who doesn't love "Breakfast at Tiffany's" -- Audrey Hepburn is so incredibly charming! The Givenchy gown she wears in the film's opening is the original perfect little black dress. One of the things I love about this dress is its ease. It's gently fitted through the bodice, but it's not tight. It's at once dressed up and rather relaxed.

I coerced my friend Tracy (who I know to be a fan of "Breakfast at Tiffany's") into serving as my model for this project. She has a lovely figure, perfect for the simple, elegant lines of this gown. The original (well, one of them -- there were originally three!) was sold at auction several years ago, so there are some great photos of it online.

To start this project, I grabbed my trusty copy of Kwik Sew 3521. This pattern is great for this project, because version B of the dress has the perfect neckline along the front. The back, however, needs a little tweaking.

To begin with, I started sketching the design lines for the dress right on my pattern.


Once I got the design lines where I wanted them, I traced my pattern onto fresh paper for the actual pattern. (I'll draw on a pattern, but I won't cut it apart!) The key with this dress and its unique design lines on the back is to cut it so the back bodice is initially separated as a top section and a bottom section. I'll show you what this looks like mid-assembly in just a bit.

I used a black broadcloth to make a mock-up of the gown. Once I had Tracy try on the test version, it became apparent that I needed to take it in quite a bit.




I pinned out the excess fabric and marked everything that needed an update, then I cut apart the mock up and used it as my pattern for cutting out my sweetheart satin for the actual gown.

As I mentioned before, the bodice gets assembled with the rounded upper portion of the back bodice separate from the lower section of the bodice right up to the point where you inset your zipper. Here's what it looks like:


The skirting section is ultra basic -- it's a rectangle, cut so there's just a teeny bit of gathering to match it to the bodice waist -- you'll want to test this to make sure there's enough room for the wearer's hips to fit with some ease, but not so much that it gets balloony. I cut a lining out of the exact same fabric -- since the dress has a slit, I wanted to make sure that if someone sees the interior, it looks just like the exterior.

Fun trivia note: As I mentioned earlier, there were several copies of this gown made for the film. The fun thing is that each of them had a different slit length. One had no slit whatsoever, one was slit quite high, and one fell right in between the other two extremes. We opted for the middle-range slit.

An invisible zipper is vital for this dress -- it keeps the center back seem clean and smooth. Here's a snap of the back of the bodice with the zipper set in place. The hook and eye at the top have yet to be sewn in.

Once the hand sewing (which is minimal on this dress) was in place, I had Tracy try the whole thing on:



Tracy ended up taking this dress on vacation, and kitted herself out with ALL the right accessories!


Prom season is here -- do you have a starlet in your life who might like to borrow some vintage design style?

Laminated Fabric Garden Cabinet

March 21, 2012

garden cabinet4.jpg

Spring is here and that means garden season. I love to garden and hardly need a reason to poke around my seeds, flowers or tools. Finding a great place to keep all my paraphernalia close at hand is a tricky one. However, with any small (or large depending on your tools, I guess) shelving unit you can make all that dirt, seed packets and pots disappear behind a magic curtain. Here's how to make your own custom Laminated Fabric Garden Cabinet.

garden cabinet1.jpg

First, measure your cabinet for height and width of the front. Add 4 in. to the width for 1 in. double turn side hems and 5 in. for two-2.5 in. box pleat on the front (this will give you extra room at the bottom so you can swing that curtain out of the way). Here's an example:

Measured width of cabinet: 30 in.
                +4 in. for side seams
                +5 in. for box pleat
                =39 in. cutting width

You will want to do something similar for the length adding 2 in. for a double turned top hem and 5 in. for a double turned bottom hem. Example:
                Measured length of cabinet: 42 in.
                +2 in. for top hem
                + 5 in. for bottom hem
                = 49 in. cutting length

Order the amount of Laminated Cotton or Oil Cloth fabric needed to cut out your size curtain. Measure, pin and stitch your side seams and bottom hem. Mark the center top of your curtain and mark 2.5 in. on either side of the center and 5 in. out from the center. You will now have 5 marks. Meet one your 5 in. marks at the center mark with a fold in the back at the 2.5 in. mark. Repeat for the other pleat and pin both in place. Baste pleats in place. Double turn a 1 in. hem across the top securing your pleats in place. Sew a piece of ¾ in. Velcro across the top hem and two 1 in. pieces at each bottom corner to secure your curtain when windy. Staple the opposite side of the Velcro across the top of your shelving unit. Attach your curtain along the top and then mark the placement for your bottom Velcro pieces and staple in place. You are DONE!

garden cabinet2.jpg

garden cabinet3.jpg

You can use this idea indoors as well for toys, media and sewing gear.  Also try some of our Outdoor Fabric!

U-G-L-Y Glider to Ultra Cool Knitting Lounger

March 19, 2012


Back before I had my little one, I snagged a sweet deal on a glider on craigslist. I had big plans to recover it into the ultimate nursery chair. Well, my baby is 3 now and no longer uses the chair for anything other than pretending to surf. Thus it has been removed from her room and found new residence in my studio. While it was being spit up on I was able to justify putting off recovering but now that it sits in the corner of my room all day I can no longer bear the sight of it's early 90's baby blue velour (that has seen better days, mind you). So I set about recovering. No problem, I thought I can just trace some new covers, add a zipper and done! Ahh, not so much. This was possible for the back cushion since it had a weird tufted shell pattern on it that meant I had to trace and sew (the glider is similar but not exact to the one below- be glad I did not take a before picture, it would have burned your eyes). But the bottom and arm cushions involved some tricky pleating and gussets that meant I had to rip off the old cover and use them as templates. Here's how it went down.



This picture is the back cushion. You can see how the tufting makes it impossible to remove the cover for tracing. I traced the cushion and added an inch all around. I left the bottom open for a zipper so I can remove it for washing.




I was able to remove and bottom cushion and after some heavy ironing, I traced it without adding a seam allowance (just using the ½ in. seam allowance already on the cover piece). You can see the weird T shape at the top. This is pleating and a gusset that fits around the arms of the frame. When you remove the cover, leave one side (top or bottom cover) pleated and with the gusset in place and use the other side for ironing and tracing. Then when it comes time to recreate this intricate pleating you have a model to go by. I didn't do this and it took a good 30 min. with the seam ripper to finally figure it out. Also, you can see where all the pleating clips are, transfer these marks onto your new fabric. This cushion would also look great with some piping added. I inserted a zipper in the back for washing as well.


Here is the arm rest cover completely dismantles and ironed. I learned my lesson from the bottom cushion and left the other arm rest cover intact to use as a model for assembly. This one was almost as tricky as the bottom cushion but took me 1/3 the time to assemble.




Overall, I didn't like this glider to begin with but it was comfy and useful. I really wish I had updated it soon! We spray painted the frame and with the new cover (which covers the 90's styling) it is a whole new and great looking chair. It is now worthy of my studio! 

Now Boarding: Edwardian Cruise Lines (Part 2 of 2)

March 18, 2012

Last week, I started out my Titanic-inspired dress, and now, it's time for finishing touches!

First up, the dark purple under robe needs a little sparkle. Since it's chiffon and I don't want to overwhelm it, I opted for a simple line of sequins along the neck edge, applied with dark purple seed beads that I had on hand.

Next up, the brocade got a touch of sparkle thanks to my Kandi hot fix rhinestone applicator. (I love this thing. Rest assured, there will be more projects featuring its embellishing magic in the very near future.) I kept it to a gentle scatter, rather than going hog wild. I applied the rhinestones (I used the blue mix crystal compact) to the same point in the pattern repeat to keep myself on track.


For the front closure, I wanted a floral repeat. I won't lie, there was a waltz down bad idea lane that involved shabby chic chiffon flowers. It came out too poufy and didn't look right at all. So, two steps back, until I remembered this awesome fabric rose tutorial that we posted a while back!

I cut some strips of my leftover brocade and I was off to the races. I applied the blossoms to a grosgrain ribbon base as I went.


Once the front closure belting was assembled, I made a quick bead fringe for the edges:


I used the same fabric rose technique that I used for the front closure in larger scale to make a single flower to crown the back drape of the dress.

After tacking the two under robes together at the shoulder and sewing snap closures for the front belting to attach, I am now ready for high tea on the deck!



Spring 2012 Silhouettes

March 16, 2012


All the ladies should be jumping for joy this season because the trend is structured shapes and details, slimming silhouettes and feminine accents that are placed to hide or enhance the figure. I was very excited to see a heavy emphasize on 50's era style hitting the catwalk Spring 2012. The shapes are fitted but not clingy so opt for a heavier fabric or add some interfacing so your pattern will just drape your frame and not hug. I am also a huge fan of the wide, deep V-neck that was especially prevalent at Elie Saab. This shape can work on a number of figures- deemphasizing full chests when paired with a simple fabric and amping up a smaller chest when accented with added details: sequins, ruffles, or embroidery. This shape also narrows and drops the visual line of the waist and when paired with a full skirt can create hips or when worn with an A-line skirt can minimize hips. Try creating your own top using Kwik Sew's Kimono Tunic Pattern. Adjust the sleeve length to create a cocktail top like Ms. Saab's.


Structured jackets were huge Armani Prive but the structure was not limited to the drape of the fabric but also the sleeves and the cropped silhouette. These jackets were not boxy in the least but very feminine in shape despite the rigid form. Try this on a blazer style but shortened to your natural waist. Reduce the scale of all the details (like sleeve length and collar). Keep the accents and embellishment simple or minimal and choose a classic, or even a very pale color.  Try making your own using Kwik Sew's jacket pattern. It is basic structured jacket ready to be modified.

Another big craze at Armani Prive was pencil skirts with movement. I know this sounds like an oxymoron but the shape of the skirt paired with a light, delicate fabric such as gossamer or silk can create if not movement then the illusion of movement. I loved the well placed pleats and the effect they gave while walking. This detail was not overpowering and was definitely had a "gotta-have-it" effect on me. Start with Collette's beignet skirt, or HotPatterns pencil skirt pattern to create your own.

Try these patterns out to expand your Spring Couture wardrobe. I selected them based on their feminine, structured 50's inspired shapes. You will love them.

Boat Neck Dress

Lady Grey Trench

Blog of the Month: Made on Main Street

March 14, 2012


In my research for the Sophia Carry-all (I like to find tips, mistakes and recommendations from other bloggers before I start a project) I of course had to check out some weekender projects. Since I tried to make my Sophia more like the Weekender I did some checking to see which features people really liked about the weekender and incorporate them into my Sophia. It was on this foray into the Weekender that I found Made on Main Street's blog. Her weekender is gorgeous and I had to see more of her good works.

Jill (The blog mistress) is a mom of 2 kids who works in the design/architecture industry. It is this eye for detail that really stands out when you check out her quilts. They are stunning and really quite different. I admire her use of space and that each quilt is not overwhelmed by details. Her use of fabric is equally as fun. Jill has an Etsy shop where she sells her wonderful quilt top templates.


Reading her blog, you can travel with Jill and sneak a peek at the exploits of her silly kiddos as well as behold all her wonderful quilting projects. You can glean some great inspiration for projects such as the Weekender (she added some hidden pockets, awesome bag feet and an adjustable shoulder strap). As much as I love her blog and the projects it holds, I would really love to get a look at her schedule. How does she fit all those amazing quilting projects in while working with 2 kids? Maybe a future post on that, Jill?

You can read more about Jill and her amazing quilting skills as her blog: Made on Main Street

You can purchase your own Amy Butler Weekender Pattern here 

Now Boarding: Edwardian Cruise Lines (Part 1 of 2)

March 12, 2012

We're nearing the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, and many of you have probably been invited to remembrance parties that require costumes.  It's no secret that I love a costumed affair. I love recreating gowns from movies or photos of the period, but for this project, I wanted to step outside the boundaries of a pre-designed color palette and design something a little original based on an inspiration piece or two.

I looked at costume books, photos of Titanic passengers and numerous museum catalogs, but in the end, I fell in love with this beauty from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. I love the elegant lines of the dress, but I wanted to expand the design beyond the shades of gray of the original garment.

One of the things that fascinates me about the Edwardian period is the heavy saturation of Orientalism and obsession with the Far East that was evident in Western design. So, a Chinese brocade was a natural choice for the outer robe of my gown. I selected two colors of chiffon to go with my brocade, and then it was time to get down to business.

For the chiffon robe layers, I first examined the photos of the inspiration garment. I like the way you can tell that each layer closes on its own before the next is put on over it -- and that it happens on both the front and the back of the dress. To replicate that look, I opted to construct my robes  each in two separate pieces -- a right and left -- so I could overlay the v-shapes of the neckline and tack things in place.  I will leave most of the back sections open, as they'll be covered by the outer robe.

Here is the innermost layer, back and front, to illustrate the two-piece robe:



The next chiffon layer has a long, open sleeve. I cut an elongated leaf shape and hemmed the edges, then attached it to the robe so the side edges of the sleeve meet at the shoulder. This is a shot of the sleeve laid out so you can see the shape:



Once the blue robe was assembled, I layered it over the inner robe and pinned the closures in place.




Here's a tip on making rolled hems on chiffon -- a task that most stitchers avoid like the plague. Don't sweat it. Even though most of the time, the hem that emerges from under the presser foot looks like a puckery train wreck, in most cases, a spritz with water and a good pressing will smooth things right out and will often hide a few sins, so long as they're not too crazy. Here's one of my hemmed edges pre- and post-pressing:




Once the chiffon under robes were more or less squared away, I moved on to the brocade. An examination of the inspiration garment shows that there isn't a seam joining the bodice front to the skirt, but there is one joining the back skirt to the bodice. So, the bodice and front skirt are cut as one contiguous piece, in what's sometimes called a kimono style, and then the back skirt is cut as a separate piece.

Here is a wrinkly (but labeled) snapshot of one of the bodice pieces so you can see how it's cut:



And then, the top of the back skirt piece:



To create the fall at the back of the dress, I cut a rectangle of chiffon, then finished the sides and bottom before gathering it and basting to the back skirt piece.



Once my fall was basted into position, I joined the back skirt to the back bodice, and then stitched the sides of the outer robe closed.





I didn't really use a pattern for this project, though I did borrow design lines from a couple. If you think you'd like to start your own Titanic-inspired project, but you like to work from a pattern, Laughing Moon Mercantile has a great one, and Simplicity offers one that's easy as pie as well.

I know what you're thinking: "Holly, this dress isn't finished!" And of course, you're right. For part two of this project, I'll finalize the fitting and make sure things are stitched into place so they won't shift. I'll also add decorative closures, and even add a little extra sparkle. (Squeeeeeeeee!)


Stay tuned! We'll soon be ready for cruising!

Amy Butler's Sophia Carry-All

sophia 5

I fell in love with this pattern at first sight but felt overwhelmed by the amount of cutting and interfacing called for so I put it off- for a good long while. But when Spring Break came around I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and get to sewing up what is the perfect bag for a week-long break of school, work or life in general. I'm glad I did. The Sophia Carry-All is not small but not quite medium; it falls into the happy Goldilocks category of "Just Right". I am not a big lining pocket person because the pockets are typically not integrated well but in this bag they are simple and again just right. I can see what is in there but they are just stiff enough to keep it all in. The inside is ROOMY. Much more than the outside lets on. It is the perfect size for toiletries plus hair care tools plus jewelry or knitting or it makes a great Grandma's weekend bag for the kids.

sophia 2

Here are my modifications since I just can't help it.

1)      I did not add the fleece but upgraded the stiffness of the interfacing. It is not all full-on Peltex but I used the heavy weight sew in just like the Sophia's sister bag, The Weekender.  I wanted the bag to really look like the weekender and didn't care for the puffy, pillow-like look on the pattern front.

2)      I eliminated the piping. The main reason I did this is because I thought the piping used in the pattern pictures looks too big for the bag and I didn't have any smaller piping. I really like the clean look that came out. Does this pattern really need the competition?!

sophia 3

3)      I constructed the lining, especially the top panels, just like I did the exterior. This means that when I sewed the top panels together, I sewed to the marks and then lengthened my stitch, basted to the next mark, shortened my stitch and then stitched to the end (I backed stitch at the beginning, end and at the marks). This really helped shave some time and make for a clean look. It was easier to sew in the lining and I knew my seam was straight all the way.

4)      I used a regular one tab zipper instead of the 2 tab called for. I did this because I don't think I will be using this bag much for travel. I don't travel as much as I used to (My toddler is not a fan) and I have really been eyeing this as my diaper bag to real purse transition bag. It can fit all my essentials (phone, keys, headphones, wallet) plus any just potty trained paraphernalia (i.e. panties, pants, socks) plus snack and sippy with room left over for my brochure collecting habit.

sophia 4

5)      I used the recommended interfacing on the lining pieces to make it easier to sew in later. Granted the main panels are not interfaced in the lining but the others were and sewing so many thick layers was a beast with the exterior.

Overall I am as pleased as I expected with an Amy Butler Pattern. They are superbly written and well illustrated. The Sophia bag actually went together in less time than I had budgeted and the outcome is beautiful.

Fabric: Exterior Waverly Panama Wave Desert Flower
                Lining: Heather Bailey Quilting Cotton

sophia 5

Mickey Pants Café Curtains

March 9, 2012


In the ongoing effort to decorate our new house, I have moved up to our playroom. This room is currently invaded by our 3 yr old daughter, we plan on adding to her invading force in the future so I am leaning towards a gender neutral theme. She is just as happy with cars and trucks as she is with butterflies and unicorns so I went with the all pleasing Mickey Mouse when creating window treatments for her playroom. I love the idea of café curtains in this room to let in light while adding to the décor. These simple flat café curtains are perfect for appliqué work such as Mickey's Buttons so feel free to be inspired and go in whatever direction makes you happy. Mickey's Buttons are made of fleece for added texture. I love adding texture wherever possible so my little one can touch and explore her whole surroundings (because she will touch whether or not I want her to). Making your own is simple.

Each Café Curtain takes approx 1 yd of red cotton twill and ½ yd of white fleece.


Measure the inside of your window to the width and length to find your finished curtain size. Add 6.5 in. to the length (2.5 in. for the rod pocket and 4 in. for a double turned bottom hem.) and 4 in. to the width (1 in. double turn hem on both sides). Once your curtain is all stitched up and ready, draw an oval that is 6 in. long by 3.5 in. wide. Use this as your pattern piece and cut 2 from the white fleece (you can double it if your fleece is too thin). Line the buttons up by folding the curtain in half width wise pressing and then folding again. This creates 3 creases, a center and 2 side creases. Line up each button centered on a side crease, 2 in. down from the rod pocket. Pin in the place and Zig Zag around each button. You're done; now enjoy a nice break while your little one is distracted by this new addition! 

Go Camera Bag/Wristlet

March 7, 2012

Go Camera.jpg

Whether you prefer to trek to the zoo/aquarium/museum with a tiny digital camera or have your smart phone handy, a cute way to tote your precious pictures is a must. I hate to be burdened with a huge purse (a slave to style has its drawbacks) while enjoying a day of culture so if this camera tote can carry my entrance ticket, some cash and a few cards all the better. I created this easy wristlet style bag to serve all of the above. The diminutive gussets allow you to easily access your camera and other goodies inside without creating a bulky heavy weight on your wrist. Let's get started!


1 fat quarter of quilting cotton for exterior

1 fat quarter of quilting cotton for lining

1 7in. Coats n Clark zipper

1 spool of coordinating thread

Go Camera2


Measure the length and width of your camera or smart phone and add 1 in to both measurements (i.e. smart phone measures 5'' by ½'' than your cutting measurements are 6'' by 1.5'')

Using these measurements cut 2 from your exterior and 2 from your lining. Use Holly's Instructions here to insert your zipper centering it on the fabric if your fabric is smaller than 7 in.

Cut out a 10in. by 4 in. piece for the wristlet strap.

Prepare the strap but folding it in half lengthwise and pressing a crease. Fold raw edges toward the center crease and press. Fold in half again, leaving the raw edges tucked inside and press a final time. Pin and edge stitch down the strap lengthwise along each edge.  Set aside.

After topstitching, fold the exterior pieces together, RS facing and pin together. Do the same with the lining.  Pin the strap to the exterior on one short side edge, matching raw edges, ½ in. down from the zipper. I prefer to have my strap on the same side as the zipper when it is closed. Stitch around the exterior pieces using a ¼ in. seam allowance. On the lining, start stitching down one side, pivoting at the corner and stitching the long side for 1- 2, Leave a gap of 2-3 in. for turning and take up 1-2 in. from the second corner and continue back to the zipper. Add a 1 in. gusset at each corner using Holly's instructions here. Turn the wristlet right side out and press lightly. Slip stitch the turning gap closed. Enjoy your Go Camera Wristlet. It will free up your hands for hand holding, child catching or just to rest at your sides as your enjoy you day!

Knitting with Dropped Stitches

March 5, 2012

Lace work is not the only way to achieve an open and airy look to your knitting. With Spring fast approaching, I am sure you are planning some lighter garments and delicate shawls. This video will demonstrate how to work dropped stitches into your patterns to create a different kind of open work to create spring sweaters summer shawls to lighten up your wardrobe in anticipation of warmer weather. 

Pattern Review: Kwik Sew Activewear (Resolution Reboot)

March 4, 2012

We're more than two months into 2012.

If you're like me (and most other people), right about now, your fitness resolutions need a kick in the pants. Since half the fun of running and exercising is wearing new clothes, I often find that when my resolve is lagging, what I really need is a new outfit for working out. It's like magic. It gets me to the track or the gym. Whatever it takes!

Kwik Sew 3455 is a pattern I have had for a while and come back to time and time again. Both the top and the leggings in this one are total winners.


First, the leggings:


I made this pair out of a black nylon jersey. The unique thing about this particular pattern is that it uses a square gusset at the crotch, whereas most leggings patterns have a sharper curve through the backside to accommodate the seat. The first time I made the gusseted leggings, it took me a little while to wrap my brain around it, but I must admit that I love it now. It really does make a difference in how the leggings feel when I'm running -- there's less pulling when I extend my legs through the widest part of my stride. These days, I use this pattern for all of my running leggings -- and my fashion leggings, too!

On to the top:

I love this top because of its design lines. The curved seaming that joins the back to the front is so cool, and extremely flattering. For this version, I used a black nylon knit for the front, and a patterned lycra for the back and sleeves. As we're nearing springtime, I opted to cut the sleeves short on the top. (I also normally run indoors, so I don't really need long sleeves very often.)

The back and side shots of the shirt show the curved detailing of the pattern, which is so on-trend for activewear. You could even color block the whole shirt, and use different colors or patterns for the front, back, sleeves and even the collar binding.



Whether your resolution needs a little help or you want to reward yourself for sticking with your routine, this is a really fun pattern to stock your fitness wardrobe with. It's also a good fit for casual daywear. Leggings remain popular under dresses and skirts, or even on their own, and everyone needs a handful of knit tops that are as comfy as tee shirts, but have a little extra flourish of style.

Free Felt Lorax Pattern

March 2, 2012


This house is pumped about the Lorax movie opening this month. I love Danny Devito's voice for this character and my little one loves his goofy mustache. In honor of this great book by Dr. Seuss I have created my own Lorax pattern crafted after the original storybook Lorax. I really liked the details of this Lorax as opposed to the movie's CGI version. The book Lorax also looked easier to recreate with handmade details, especially his crafty eyes. I hope you enjoy this homemade Lorax pattern crafted from felt.


Two 9x12 pieces of Rainbow Felt in yellow for Lorax Body

One 9x12 piece of Rainbow Felt in gold for arms, legs nose and eye lids

1 spool coordinating thread

Dark blue or black embroidery floss

Fabric glue

3-5 yds of bright yellow yarn (any fiber)




Download your Lorax Pattern Here

Trace and cut out 2 body pieces from the yellow felt

Fold gold felt in half and trace 2 arms and 2 legs but do not cut out. Sew along trace line leaving the ends open. Cut out leaving 1/8 in. seams allowance. Set arms and legs aside

Embroider eyes with small "U" in floss. Cut a small sliver from gold for eye lids and using the fabric glue, glue the eyelids and then eyes and nose on to the Lorax face using the approx placement from the Lorax Pattern. Place book on face and leave until glue dries.



To create the mustache, wind the yarn around four fingers until your mustache is pretty thick (3-5 yds depending how thick you like it). Cut yarn and wind a 12 in. piece around the yarn and knot to secure it in place. You will now have a small thick loop of yarn tied in one spot. Cut your loop opposite from where it was tied. The tie is now the center of your mustache and you can use the ends from knotting to sew onto your Lorax's face, right below the nose after sewing and turning (below).

Pin your arms and legs onto the right side of the body using the placement marks on the pattern, matching edges. The arms and legs should go towards the center of the body. With right sides together and using a ¼ seam, stitch the body front to the back, leaving an opening at the top of the head for turning. Turn and finger press. Stitch on your moustache and stuff your Lorax. Whip stitch the head closed and your Lorax is ready for fun, story time and movie watching Galore! 

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