April 2012 Archives

Pattern Review: Kwik Sew Misses Bohemian Short Sleeved Dresses

April 30, 2012

Is there anything easier for summer dressing than throwing on a frock and running out the door? The answer is no, always. I never tire of dresses. They can be so comfortable, so effortlessly girlie. There can never be enough!

The appeal of the Kwik Sew Bohemian Short Sleeved Dress pattern is its simplicity. Since I love a quick project that I can make in a night to wear the next day, this one sparked my interest. The breezy feel of it was also a draw because it looked cool and comfortable -- vital in any Atlanta girl's wardrobe once May arrives.

For my first version of this pattern, I chose a zebra printed ITY. It whipped together like a dream, and it is beyond comfy. The pattern itself really couldn't be easier. The elastic at the neckline and sleeves is inset before you close those seams, which makes it a breeze to assemble -- easy as pie to make sure your elastic hasn't twisted.

I am short -- 5'3" -- and I have a full bust, and I felt like the neckline dipped a little to low to wear without a camisole or tank top underneath it.

This dress is a packing dream -- especially in ITY. You can easily roll it and toss it in a bag. It takes up no space and doesn't wrinkle. Also, because the ITY is lightweight and glides on the body, it's great for layering. I paired it with a denim vest and really loved the combo.


For my second version, I used a printed rayon blend rib knit, and I cut the neckline about 1.5" higher than the pattern called for. This gave me better coverage through the bust line.


Rayon blend knits are always so, so soft. This version is so comfy and cozy that it made me think this would be a great pattern to make up as a nightgown. That's like two patterns in one! Score!

I already have a cheetah version of this dress cut out, but I have a feeling I won't stop there. I need one in polka dot, one in a geometric print, one in solid black ... the list goes on. It's a good thing each one will only take a couple of hours!

New Free Pattern Download by Create Kids Couture Hannah's Pillowcase Bubble Romper


I had the pleasure of getting a head start on Fabric.com's newest Free Pattern Download by Create Kids Couture: Hannah's Pillowcase Bubble Romper. Seeing this pattern brought back memories for me. My mom told me that I used to run around in these rompers when I was my daughter's age. Though I remember that all of mine featured the classic 1980's rainbow and terry cloth, I loved them anyway because as a busy kid I was able to get dressed with one article of clothing. I am glad to be able to pass this onto my daughter. This pattern was quick and fun! I did make a few adjustments for my little one and since she has been wearing it I have a few more. I will share all.


First I did not make the belt, either one. The reason for this was two fold: 1) I didn't think my daughter would tolerate it and 2) I have a limited wiggle-free time to dress her so I decided the time was better spent with socks, shoes or pony tails instead of belts (though I think both belts are adorable).


Next, I chopped off the top part of the romper right below the arm holes and stitched on a coordinating fabric (if you follow suit make sure you add in a sew allowance when cutting your coordinating piece). The bias trim matches the main romper fabric and I made the tie for the top out of my remaining bias trim, making it the same length as the thin tie. I also used the elastic at the legs since I don't have a serger. But if you want to shirr, you could add 3/4 in. to the legs when cutting, fold up ¼ in. press, fold up ½ in. press and then shirr the legs.


In the future (probably this weekend), I will pull out the ties and make straps. I recommend, folding down the front and back for the casing (before adding the bias on the arms) but adding elastic instead (I am going to use 5-6 in. for the size 3T. Then make the bias trim continue past the arm holes on the front and back to make straps that tie. This allows for younger kids to take off the romper by themselves and easily. The elastic still allows for the gathers but gives some room when pulling the romper down for potty stops and the straps mean little ones can pull it off and on by themselves without having to tie ties.


Finally, I want to add some rows of shirring onto the romper right at the waist. This will give a similar look to the belts but without the extra accessory. I am considering just two or three rows but we shall see how many I end up with. I just want to nip in the waist a bit since it so roomy.

I have to say that my little one looks so amazingly cute running around in her romper that I know more will be coming. It is perfect for hot days, playing in the sprinklers and running to the pool.

I used Moda prints for my romper and think my next will feature Moda Dottie!!





The Create Kids Couture Hannah Pillowcase Bubble Romper is now available for download. And my pattern modifications discussed above are finished and ready for posting. I was too excited to wait for this weekend. First, I pulled out the one long shoulder tie and inserted 6 in. of 1/4 in. elastic into each casing (one for the front and one for the back) and stitched them in place. First I stitched up one end and then pulled the elastic through the other end and left a little hanging out so I could hold it tight while stitching and then trimmed it off so it was invisible (very similar to adding the shoulder elastic to the Oliver + S Class Picnic top. Then I cut 4 ties, 10 in. long and stitched them onto either side of each casing to make tie-able straps. The elastic plus strap making it easy for younger kids to pull the straps off and down for changing and potty breaks but doesn't ruin the styling of the gathers and ties. You can stitch your ties tied to prevent them being untied by curious hands. 




Finally, I added 3 rows of elastic shirring at the waist. I started 6 in. from the crotch seam but in hindsight I wish I had measured higher, maybe 8-10 in. from the crotch seam or halfway between the bottom of the armholes and the crotch seam. I followed the instructions for elastic shirring provided for the shirred belt. I added 3 rows of stitching 1/2 in. apart. The shirring worked great and looks super cute. My daughter loves this even more now that she can take it off herself and I love the elastic waist that helps the romper stay in place. Share with us your modifications on our Facebook page!

2 Springtime Rope Belts

April 27, 2012

2 belts.JPG

While many of this seasons dress are considered "billowy and flowy" and trapeze and maxi are the hot new trends, it follows that you need a great belt to really pull off these looks. The extra fabric that adds femininity and style to these styles also needs a bit of the masculine touch to cinch in your waist, add definition or a needed detail to polish your look. Many of the belts I have seen and love are the rope style. They follow the vogue of Kristl and Suzie's nautical post. These belts were inspired by popular (and expensive) designer pieces but you can make them for less and make them your own.

Mambo Braided Belt:


You will need 1 skein of Martha Stewart for Lion Brand Mambo Yarn and one fastener of your choice.

Start by evenly dividing your Mambo skein into 4 strands and braiding them according to the illustration below- Do not knot at either end, zig zag over the live strands to secure.

Cut you Mambo Braid to fit your waist minus 1-2 inch to accommodate the fastener. To finish and fasten add the fastener of your choice. You can sew your sewn ends to 2 long lengths (24 in. or longer) of 1-2 in. wide ribbon. You can add a buckle or you can make a snap clasp to secure the 2 ends.


6 Strand Rope Belt


You will need 6 times your waist measurement in Size 2 (1/4 in) cotton cording and a 4 in. wide by 24-48 in. length of quilting cotton (the length depends on how long you want your sash to be. Mine is a short, small bow of 24 in.). Fold your coding so you have 6 strands with both cut ends at one end with one loop and 3 loops at the other end. Zig zag over each end to secure. To make your sash, fold your quilting cotton along the length WS facing and using ¼ in. seam, stitch down one long end and across one short end. Turn and press. Fold under the open end and topstitch closed. 


Fold the sash in half and stitch one end of your rope belt (the end with the cut ends) to your sash in the center. Wrap your belt around your waist and slip one end of the sash through the other end of your belt and tie closed.  

On Fabric.com's Fashion Radar - Nautical Inspiration

April 26, 2012

susie skirt.jpgHere at Fabric.com we are so excited about the arrival of spring! We are eagerly shedding our winter layers and readying our warm weather wardrobes.  What is not to love about all the fun and totally wearable bright and juicy color palettes, cool tribal prints and pretty floral prints that can be seen everywhere this spring/summer season?  But one of our favorite stand out trends of the season are all the nautical inspired fashions seen everywhere on the runways and  magazines.   So when we spotted Suzie, an employee here at Fabric.com, rocking this nautical inspired ensemble, we fell head over heels in love with it!  The striped cardigan, the skirt, the red shoes - seriously  what's not to love about it?  Whether you want to go all out sailor girl or just pair a classic blue and white striped top with a pair of wide legged jeans, the nautical trend is a look that anyone can pull off and put their own unique spin on it.  If you are in need of some fashion inspiration, check out the Kwik Sew Circle Thumbnail image for susie skirt close up.jpgSkirts & Tank Tops Pattern or The Favorite Things Hip Skirt Patterns to recreate Suzie's fabulous skirt.  Anchors Away by Stella Designs offers a great assortment of fabrics that are perfect for nautical inspired skirts and dresses.  The Designer Smocked Jersey Knit Striped fabric or the Designer Jersey Knit Striped Red/White fabric are picture-perfect for nautical striped tops and tanks.  And since we know it's always in the details, put the finishing touches on your skirt or top with these adorable blue anchor buttons!     

Ruffle Knit Fabric Project

April 25, 2012

ruffle knit dress1

Obsession is a bit of an overstatement (just a bit) when it comes to my desire to try out our new Stretch Ruffle Knit Fabric. I loved it from first sight and once I had it in hand it was even more delicious! The small ruffles are just right; a slight shake here or shimmy there and the whole fabric dances. It would be perfect for turning any ordinary project into something wonderful! I set to work right away on a simple little dress for my little one. I envisioned something she could run around and play in but also wear out, should we be brave enough to take her "someplace nice",  and family pictures. What I ended up with was so much more.

ruffle knit dress6

Let me start by saying that there is a fair amount of stretch to this fabric which makes it ideal for kids clothing. While this dress looked so fancy on my daughter it did not feel fancy (to me fancy kids clothing= uncomfortable). She loved wearing it. I loved how RIDICULOUSLY easy it was to make.  The dress features 2 gores in the back for extra swing and extra running leg room plus 'Y' shaped straps that fasten in the back with Velcro. This makes adjusting for a tank top underneath or slipping on over a swimsuit simple. I have also found that should your child tend toward tantrums when it comes time to undress, just a quick swipe of the fingers and the dress is off!

ruffle knit dress5

To make your own follow below:


1 yd Stretch Ruffle Knit fabric

¼ yd of Quilting Cotton

6 in. of 3/4in. wide Velcro

Cut a rectangle that is 15-18 in. long (depending on how tall your child is or how long you want the dress. Mine was 18 in. for a 3yr old) by the width of her chest. Also cut 2 gores that are the same length as your rectangle but 1 in. wide at the top and 4 in. wide at the bottom.  Cut 25 in. of bias tape from the quilting cotton as well as two 4.5 in. by 8 in straps and one 4.5 in. by 6 in. strap.

Begin by joining the gores to each side of the rectangle, RS together and stitch in place using a zig zag stitch. Then join the 2 gores together making a tube. Stitch a basting stitch around the top of the tube and slightly gather the top of your dress since the added gores have made it wider than the chest measurement. Gather until your dress is back to the chest measurement. Pin your bias tape to the top of your dress (RS facing) and stitch in place using a zigzag stitch. Fold over your bias tape and stitch in place using a small zig zag stitch or longer straight stitch.

ruffle knit dress4

ruffle knit dress2

Fold one of your straps in half along its length and press, open up and fold each edge toward the center crease and press in place (you are folding it in quarters). Fold along the center crease and press again and pin along the open edge. Stitch the strap closed using a ¼ in. seam and then added more decorative stitching at ¼ in. intervals. Repeat for the remaining straps.

ruffle knit dress3

Cut your Velcro into two 2 in. length and pull apart. On one long strap pin and stitch one female Velcro piece, pin and stitch the male piece onto the other long strap. On the shorter strap, pin and stitch one female piece on one side and pin and stitch one male piece on the other side. Mark your long strap placement by trying the dress on your child or using another dress as a guide stitch in place using 2 lines of stitching. Center your short strap on the back gores and stitch in place using 2 lines of stitching to secure.

ruffle knit dress7

You're done. The Velcro not only makes for easy dressing and undressing but allows you to adjust the angle of the straps for maximum comfort. This dress makes a great swimsuit cover up or picnic play dress- if she spills ketchup on it no need to worry about how to keep it out of her hair as your pull the dress off, just release the straps and step out! 

Braided T-shirt Tutorial

April 23, 2012


I was inspired by this blog post I found on Pinterest of a recreation of a Banana Republic T-shirt with a braided neckline. I loved it however, both the recreation and the original were loose fitting in order to create the braided neckline. I didn't want a loose shirt, I have had enough. I wanted to create the braided neckline with a fitted or semi fitted Tee (Heck, any fit that you prefer). I also didn't like the ruching-gathering that was the natural bi-product of the recreation tutorial. So I decided to find a way of adding the braiding without the extras I didn't want. Here's how to do it.

First cut out your chosen t-shirt pattern but don't assemble. From the remaining fabric cut a 4 in wide strip that is 2.5 times the length you need your finished braid to be (Ex: for a 15 in. braid, I cut a 38 in. long strip). Layout your strip and cut a widthwise slit every 2 in. down the length leaving .5 in. on each side. 


Next, we start braiding. Start at the right end, take the top most loop (there are now 2 parts to this strip, the slits and the loops. The loops are the sections of fabric in between each slit) and pull it up a bit to create a void.



Take the second loop and pull it up though the void you just created and pull it back down again.


Now take the 3rd loop and pull it up through the 2nd and pull it back down. Continue in this pattern until you have used up all your loops.  


Secure each end with a quick little zig zag stitch. Make the braid a little longer than needed so the zig zag stitch will be hidden in each shoulder seam (you can always stretch it a bit if it is not quite long enough). 


Pull the braid a bit to shape the braid and pull all the loops into place. 


Pin the braid onto your neckline, overlapping the braid over the neck edge a bit and leaving the zig zag stitch hidden in the shoulder seam allowance. Stitch in place using a medium straight stitch worked down the middle of the braid. Next stitch another line about ¼ in. away from the center stitch line on the inside edge of the neckline (Not closest to the neck edge) tucking in the edges of the braid as you go. This final stitch line will keep the raw edges hidden and keep the braid from rolling to the wrong side of the t-shirt. Add some binding to the neck edge of the back t-shirt piece. 


Assemble your t-shirt according to your pattern.


Feel free to add more than one braided piece to your neckline or at the waist. You can experiment with the size of your loops by cutting slits every 1 in or 3 in. this will make your braid more delicate or chunkier depending on the look and where you are placing your braided trim. 

I used our Rayon Slub Jersey Knit Fabric. It is soft and has a night light drape. I recommend a jersey knit because the natural curl with hide any raw edges of the braid trim. 


Getting Ready for Baby: Recreate Posh Layette

April 20, 2012

According to Wikipedia a Layette consists of a collection of clothing for a new born baby but can include bedding, accessories and care items. With my first child I had a shower and received many of these items as gifts and most of them were gender neutral (I was adverse to pink and ruffles which has declined somewhat). This is good since we do not yet know the gender of our second kid and won't find out for another few weeks. I want to start working on the layette now without knowing the gender. I am going start on the easily gender neutral items such as hood towels, blankets and hats that I have seen in some posh shops but know I can make for less.

On a recent trip to Charleston, SC I popped into an adorable kid shop that was selling super soft, super cute Aden and Anais Cotton Muslin receiving blankets. They were amazing but I'm going to recreate them using our Batiste fabric self lined and using fabric paint and stamps embellish with cute little designs just like the originals.

Another Must-have baby item that I see in every magazine in my doctor's waiting room is the Redfish Kimono Onesie. I love the bell shaped sleeves and wide leg openings. Created in a green, white or red color print, these Onesies could easily cloth a sweet little boy or girl. I, of course, will be pulling fabrics from our Retro & Mod section or maybe some jersey knit prints.

I am also jonesing to knit something for the little one. I have a ton of great yarn in neutral colors (I just love the way grey pairs so well with blue or pink or yellow or green or ...). I found these amazing garter stitch hats over at Land of Nod, hand knit from cotton with a neat little tassel at the top. So easy and quick I could make 3-4 before I was sick of the pattern. I love the creative color combinations too. Must duplicate!

Finally, I found a Toweling Romper at Boden (My favorite site) and it was love at first sight. The idea is brilliant especially considering I had a robe for my first baby and that was a disaster. She hated bathes and trying to get a crying, thrashing baby into a robe that ties only was not working out. But this combo romper plus towel will dry your baby and keep him/her warm while you calm them down or assess the water damage. The store bought romper has a snap front but I am considering some Velcro to make it even faster!

This should keep me busy or 2-3 weeks. Look for my future posts where I will share the patterns and modifications for each item I make so you can recreate it too!

Blog of the Month: Two on, Two Off

April 18, 2012

Picture from Two on, Two off

April's Blog of the Month is Two On, Two off.  When I came across Dawn's blog I thought that she was funny and had a really great sense of style. I am amazed at all the garments that she has created. The fabric and pattern combinations are inspiring for the most jaded of sewers. If you are considering giving up garment sewing because you are bored or just aren't "feeling it" any more, check out Two on, Two off and you will be back in business in no time. It is hard not to itch for some apparel fabric and a few patterns once you read this blog. My favorite is her version of Butterick 5634 Ruffled Dress. I love this dress so much I am tempted to track this blog mistress down and steal it from her closet. Dawn is great at providing tons of well-done pictures and explains all the changes she did or didn't make to each pattern. Sometimes the piece is quick and easy and lovely, sometimes it is complicated but still lovely and each time she will let you know how it really broke down! She is honest, clever and humorous.

Picture from Two on, Two off

Dawn is also sponsored by Fabric.com which I was surprised to find out after I had spent about 45 min. cruising her blog, reading many of her posts. I rarely check out the sidebars in blogs until I am committed and I want to see what else is available (categories, archives, etc). After I was sure Two on, Two off would be this month's blog of the month, I glanced over and smiled to see our logo. This means any Fabric.com links you see on her blog, she gets a little something for sharing the love with us. Among other interesting links in her sidebar are a list of her favorite tutorials, her Sewing Pattern Review contributions and her favorite blogs. I love finding blog lists on my favorite blogs; it's like finding a list of recommended books at the end of a great book (oh how I wish this really were so!). Dawn's blog roll is quite extensive but worthy of time- should you have a long lunch break, nap or slow day at work). However, if I am going to remember anything from discovering Two on, Two off it is a new appreciation of fabric. Dawn's enthusiasm is addictive! 

Knitting on the Bias

April 16, 2012


One of my favorite ways of changing up a basic pattern or putting a new twist on an old classic is to try knitting it on the bias. If you are new to bias knitting it is definitely different but not difficult and a lot of fun. The fundamental premise is that you cast on a small number of stitches (I go with 3-4 depending on if I need an even or odd number for a pattern) and then you increase at the beginning and end of each RS row (I increase after the first stitch and decrease before the last stitch to make the edges smooth) until you have the desired number of stitches. Once you have your correct number of stitches you will start maintaining by increasing at the beginning of each RS row and decreasing at the end of each RS row. Once you get used to this you can easily add this new technique to your Knitting in Public project, knitting in the car, and movie knitting (though probably not a truly riveting movie that distracts you too much). I love venturing in to bias knitting on some of my comfort projects (those you make time and again because you just enjoy it and it is easy).

Increases on Red side and decreases on Green side

You might remember that my Swing Scarf (Free Knitting Pattern Download) is knit on the bias in a simple lace stripe pattern. It is simple but by knitting it on the diagonal it adds an element of detail that not only makes it unique but the illusion of difficulty that will make your fellow knitters and friends sit up and take notice.

Increases (M1)

If you want to create a scarf like my sample, you will need a skein of worsted weight yarn. Cast on 4 sts and increase after the first stitch and before the last stitch. You can use your preferred increase and decrease but I used M1 (Make one) and SSK (slip1 knitwise, k1, pass slipped stitch over k1) until you reach 18 stitches. Start a 6 st Left Cable in the center 6 sts (Left cable: slip 3 sts onto cable needle hold in front, k3 sts, and k3 sts from cable needle). Continue until you have a total 28 sts and 2 cables going at any one time. They will drift to the left and disappear as you decrease at the end of each RS row and will appear as you increase at the beginning of each RS row. Keep a space of 6 sts between your cables. Continue until your scarf is almost as long you would like then begin decreasing at the beginning and the end of each RS row until you have 4 sts again. Loosely bind off. Enjoy your simple but elegant bias cable scarf!

Decreases (SSK)

Spring Cleaning Made Greener With Washable Swiffer Covers

Who loves to clean? NOT ME.

Just the same, it has to get done once in a while. For me, that means it has to happen when company's coming. Please don't judge me.

Because I'm a little hit or miss in my cleaning, I sometimes find myself without the supplies I should have on hand ... usually in the middle of the night, when I finally get my rear in gear. That means that many stores are closed, and I'm probably too lazy to venture out to the ones that are open. Sewing machine and scraps to the rescue!

First off, I made a cover for my Swiffer duster. The first sample is made with my old standby fabric -- a t-shirt from the scrap bag!

First, I laid out a fabric rectangle roughly 10 inches square and three layers of fabric thick with the Swiffer's duster arm on top, and outlined the arm with a fabric marking pen.


Without the Swiffer on top, this is what the marking looks like:


I stitched right over my marks, and then testing the fit on the Swiffer. You want to make sure that it slides on easily, but is tight enough that it won't fly off while you're dusting.


Next, I cut the cover into a fringe.


I also rounded out the top corners of my duster.


Once all the fringe was cut, I felt like it was a little long.


So I trimmed it all off by about 2 inches.


I immediately decided I wanted another one out of fleece. If you've ever pulled fleece fresh from the dryer, you know it can carry some major static. In this case, that's a good thing. Static attracts dust!


As you can see, my fleece Swiffer cover picked up a boatload of dust on its maiden voyage. (Please don't judge the amount of dust I had handy for testing purposes.)


Next on my cleaning checklist: mopping (yerg).

For this recycled cleaning wonder, I started with a towel that was no longer fit for its original use. First, I set the mop on top of my trashed towel and traced it using a Sharpie. The fabric marker wasn't working fantastically with the heavy texture on the towel. If you're really reluctant to ditch a towel, just a little bit of terry cloth will work fantastically.


Here's the outline without the mop in the way:


Next, I cut around my outline, leaving roughly 3/8 of an inch around the outside.


Next, I used the towel as a pattern piece to cut a matching piece of fleece.



I stitched through both layers, just outside the marker line. Here's the fleece side after stitching:


Next, I drew a rounded shape for my cutout area on the fleece, leaving several inches on each end of the cover.


I cut along my marker line, being careful to only clip the fleece layer. This revealed my gross stained towel underneath. Yay?


Next, I flipped it right side out, and stretched it over my mop! The stretching is why you use fleece for the top layer instead of another layer of towel. It has enough give to go over the shape of the mop, but keeps everything taut while you're cruising along the kitchen floor.


Here's my Wet Jet mop in action!


And here it is, covered in glorp!


If you like to dry mop, an all-fleece version is perfect.

Now that I'm all equipped with custom, reusable, washable cleaning covers, I'll admit that I'm slightly more enthusiastic about chores. Slightly. I think I mostly get excited by the fact that it's a great recycling project that makes actual use of things that would otherwise be trash. AND it will save on cleaning as well, which is a huge win. (Seriously, who wants to spend money on disposable cleaning supplies when that money could go to new fabric?) This is also a quick-as-a-wink pair to whip up -- less than 30 minutes and you're ready to clean like a pro. These could also be made into housewarming gifts in custom colors. Just make sure you also give the recipient something cozy and maybe delicious -- it can't ALL be cleaning supplies!

Happy spring cleaning!

Top of Form

Bottom of Form



Nancy Dress Maxi Skirt

April 13, 2012


I love the Nancy Dress/Skirt Pattern (Evidence here and here). I have made 2 and I wear them as soon as the temp hits 70 deg and wear them into the fall with leggings. I wear it as a skirt or a dress and love it especially as a skirt folded over. I continue to love it in my second trimester because it fits and is so nice to wear pulled up for support or folded over. Since maxi anything is all the rage now I knew I had to modify my favorite clothing item into a maxi skirt. I love it and have gotten so many compliments so far. I hemmed mine about ½ in. above my heels so it just skims the floor and puddles on the tops of my feet. It swishes wonderfully when I walk and looks divine with just a tank top and cardi with a chunky necklace. Or you can pop on some pearls, a t-shirt tucked in and some glitzy sandals for a date night. Any way you wear you feel fabulous and sexy just by slipping on this long knit skirt. Here's how to make your own.


First, download and print the Nancy Dress Free Pattern Download and assemble your pattern. Then measure from the top of your hip to the floor. You can do this by taping your measuring tape on to the wall and marking it with a pen/pin when standing next to it right where the top of your hip bone hits. Add 2 in. to this measurement. Extend the length of the skirt pattern piece from the Nancy Dress until it matches this measurement (This will customize the skirt to your height). Your skirt will probably need from 2 to 2.5 yds of jersey knit fabric in the pattern or color of your choice. Cut out your pattern pieces and assemble according to the pattern instructions but using a double turn 1 in hem at the bottom. This will give it weight so it drapes well, hangs just right and swishes while you walk. Pin your hem before you sew it so you can determine if it is right for you. Some like their maxis a little shorter than others. Try on your skirt and turn around to you can see from all angles and take a few steps to see how it feels. Adjust as needed.

P.s. It is perfect for windy beach vacations!



Small Diameter Knitting on 2 Circulars (Video)

I also forgot to mention the main reason why you knit with the needle on the same cable, it is so each set of stitches stays on that cable. 

Amy Butler's Chelsea Tote

April 9, 2012


One of my favorite sewing patterns to relax with is Amy Butler's Chelsea Tote. This pattern is available in 2 sizes. I made the larger size for a knitting tote and have received many requests from friends for a Chelsea of their own. Of those who can sew, I tell them about the pattern and offer these tips for sewing up a Chelsea easier.

• I have read some suggestions about not marking on the outside of the fabric, as Amy suggests, and I disagree with Amy with stipulations. I used a water soluble marker and mark on the outside and then spritz it with a water bottle afterwards and it all turns out great. Some bloggers are of the mind that you would need to wash the bag afterward to get the marker off. I recommend you just spray it lightly, it disappears and your bag is good to go.


FRAY CHECK- buy some and use it! I used it along my cut lines before top stitching the handles and then again in the corners after stitching. However, I have a suggestion on the handle too, if you will read below, but if you follow the Chelsea directions to the "T" then use the fray check as suggested above.

• Fabric glue or just a plain old glue stick. On my next Chelsea, I would use glue to keep the handles in check and then construct the bag as instructed without topstitching the handles. Then once you get to the part where you are attaching the reversible side to the outside there will be no stitching on your handles. This is when you top stitch around the top of the bag to finish it off, then top stitch the handles or if you prefer hand stitch the handles together. I feel that this will insure that your handles have a nice clean look. I cannot get my topstitching on both the lining and outside to match up and couple that with the fact that I am matching up handle holes at the same time. This will cut down on stress and guarantee a nice finish.         

I recommend using quilting cotton to make sure you find the perfect print for your Chelsea bag.


Got an hour and some worn out pants? Make a new purse!

April 8, 2012

Have you ever had one of those pairs of pants that you just love so much, you wear them waaaaaaaaaay past their expiration date? I am woefully guilty of doing just that. I have a pair of corduroys that I wore for the last three years, despite them being riddled with holes. I finally had to retire them when I realized I had been flashing my behind all over Atlanta while out running errands one Saturday morning. But parting is such sweet sorrow ...

I had to find a way to keep my beloved cords with me, even if I couldn't wear them. Since every discarded garment gets treated as yardage at my house, it was just a matter of figuring out how to turn the usable parts of my trousers into something new. Voila! The Pants Leg Purse was born.

Here's how they came into being:

First, I cut a 12-inch piece off the bottom of one of the legs. I chose the leg with an intact hem, because that would be used for the top of my bag.

1-PantsPurse.jpgNext, I added an iron-on I've been hording to what would become the front. I have a pirate-themed getaway weekend coming up, so I thought this would be the perfect time to finally use my flocked velvet skull and crossbones! If you have an embellishment you want to add to this project, this is the best time. Once the zipper is in and the bottom is finished, it's harder to do any maneuvering your applique may require.

Don't miss this opportunity to do really fun stuff! You can add an applique, cut a motif out of your favorite fabric to apply, add a rhinestone design, embellish with ribbon stripes -- any kind of trim you can imagine!

Next, I sewed the zipper in at the top. I just nestled it under the hemmed edge of the pants so I wouldn't have to worry about any raw edges fraying. I left a little space on each end of the zipper unstitched. You'll see why in a minute!

3-PantsPurse.jpgHere's what it looks like with the zipper stitched in. As you can see, my zipper was too long. No worries -- I just tucked it in for the moment. Later, I'll trim it down.

4-PantsPurse.jpgNext, I removed two of the belt carriers from the pants.

5-PantsPurse.jpgHere they are, free-range (for the moment):

6-PantsPurse.jpgI folded the carriers in half, and set them into the folds on each end of the purse opening. Stitching through all those layers is tricky business. I had to take things slowly, and hand walk my machine through some of the rougher spots.

7-PantsPurse.jpgOnce both tabs were in place, I clipped the extra zipper length that was tucked inside. Here's the finished top of the bag from the outside:

Time to close up the bottom! I unzipped my zipper and turned the bag inside out, making sure the bottom edges were even.

I stitched the bag closed with a straight stitch. This is the one raw edge to the bag you'll have, since you're using a piece of pant leg, so you'll want to serge or zig-zag the edge.

To make a slight box shape on the bottom of the bag, I folded the bottom seam to make triangle corners.

11-PantsPurse.jpgAnd then I stitched the triangles into place, perpendicular to the bottom seam.

This is the interior of the bag with the corners stitched into a box shape:

Here's the bag turned right side out:

14-PantsPurse.jpgFor the strap, I used a strap I already had on hand, but if you don't have one, it's just matter of stitching webbing in your desired length to a pair of swivel clips like the ones here. I highly recommend the swivel-clip approach, because you can use the same strap on multiple bags. Because no one should have just one of these bags -- pants have two legs!

Here's the finished bag, ready for a pirate adventure!

This project works with jeans, cords, and even dressier pants. There are no rules -- just a chance to recycle in an imaginative way!

Getting Ready for Baby: Summer Maternity Wear

April 6, 2012

I know I am not that far into my pregnancy but since this is my second child, I am showing sooner and already find my pre-pregnancy clothing uncomfortable and I am ready for some maternity wear. This transition occurred just as I was prepared to pack away my family's winter clothing and bring out the warm weather wear. As I did this I happily discovered many of my favorite pieces from my previous projects could easily carry me through most, if not all, of my pregnancy. I will share with you which I am rocking currently and which I plan to modify for later wear when I am much, much bigger.

First up is my current favorite (Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress) because it is so comfy plus so chic. I instantly feel pulled together and lovely even though I am still suffering from morning all-day sickness. I cannot live without the pockets either which make it great for storing sippy cups, phone, keys and various rocks and flowers picked up on my many walks outside with my daughter. The elastic shirring means it will grow with me (everywhere it seems) and I don't show yet when wearing this dress. Free Pattern download from original post, click on link above.

Second, I am loving my Infinity Dress in ITY Knit. It is so easy to switch it up to hide or show off which ever parts I need to hide or draw attention to (to distract away from another area) since I am not in the "oh your pregnant, how wonderful" stage, more like the "I wonder if she's pregnant or just hitting the ice cream a little too hard" stage. Given this, having a dress that I can change each day and with my mood makes me feel like my old self: a million bucks. This dress can take me from school to a wedding in just a few minutes. The stretch of the ITY will accommodate my growing belly in style and comfort.

Third in my go-to maternity wardrobe is my Kwik Sew Knit Pullover dress that I modified with a scallop hem. Not only it this dress knit (stretch!) but the gathered waist features elastic meaning it is great for showing off a svelte waist when not pregnant and fitting around a growing belly when you are. The wide tank straps allow me to wear any bra I like which can vary on a day to day basis. This dress is nothing but relaxing to wear because it is just one item of clothing and I am ready to go with a pair of sandals.

Lastly, I already have the HotPatterns Cabriolet Dress/Skirt in Wool for winter but I am planning on making it in cotton for this summer. With the ties I can wrap it under my belly and as a dress I can have the ties go under my décolletage and above my belly giving me some definition but mostly style and comfort. I am torn between a bold busy pattern or a subdued floral (like Shannon's, click link above). Both shout summer to me. I guess I will just have to make it in both! This is a Fabric.com Free Pattern Download!


 Stay tuned for more in my Getting Ready for Baby series. I will be posting on this topic just twice a month and will include maternity, baby clothing, toys and gear as I get ready for Sept! Wish me luck!


Ask the Expert: Knitting/Sewing Combo

April 4, 2012

What serger do you recommend?

Tara says: Seeing as how I don't have a serger, though I desperately want one, I can't recommend any specific make or model. But I can recommend an awesome website that you can check out that will provide you will all the details and reviews. Plus if you have even more questions you can ask the members themselves. Try Sewing Pattern Review. It is great in some many more ways than just finding your newest machine.

A close relative was just diagnosed with cancer and I want to knit something for her. What do you recommend?

Tara says: Oh, Great question. If your friend has breast cancer, I am a big fan of Tit Bits: knitted breast prosthesis. These little gems are too cute not to make you smile. Each pair (or just one if that suites your needs) can be customized to any recipient's favorite color, texture or fiber. Plus the designer, Beryl Tsang, recommends using a smooth stone as a weight and she embellishes her stones with good wishes.  

If you friend is going through Chemo, I whole-heartedly recommend knitting up a chemo cap. The patterns for these are hard not to find. If you are a member of Ravelry, try this search for Chemo Caps. If you are not a member, try a Google search for Chemo Cap Knitting Patterns.

I bought some beautiful Home Décor Fabric that I want to wear; what patterns can I use with Home Dec Fabric?

Tara says: Well, it depends on how heavy the fabric is. If it feels light and comparable to any of your other clothing, you can sub it in for any apparel fabric in a pattern. I had some wonderful linen curtains that I found in a vintage store and sewed them into a summer dress. If it is heavier, I would recommend you stick to bottoms, like shorts, pants, skirts, etc. I love using heavy weight linen or cottons for shorts in the summer because they hang so much better than lightweight linen or cotton. Your pants will wear longer too with heavier weights of fabric.

I want to bring my knitting on vacation with me but not sure what to knit at the beach.

Tara says: Anything small, not too complicated and probably knit from cotton or linen. This could include dishcloths, tea towels, tank tops or socks. I love some vacation knitting because the projects are so easy to take to go and I am done in a flash. 

Tropicana, Take Me Away!

April 3, 2012

Time to test drive a new Hot Patterns free download: the Tropicana maxi skirt!

Things are already hot in Atlanta, so I'm definitely ready for summer clothes. I am eager for flowing, breezy style that doesn't drag me down when the temps are climbing, so a tropical skirt is perfect for my sewing mood right now.

The trick with maxi skirts, for me, is that I'm ... shrimpy. I stand 5'3" on a good day with perfect posture, so most maxi dresses or skirts drag the ground on me unless I make some alterations. This pattern is perfect for such alterations because of the multiple tiers. The trick is ensuring that when you make changes, you maintain the seam lines so everything still matches up. Here's how I do it on a project like this one:

First, I assembled the pattern as intended. Here is lower middle tier piece at its normal length:

1-AssembledFullLengthPatter.jpgWhen it came time to shorten the pattern, I pulled the taped pieces apart (I use an inexpensive athletic tape for assembly -- it comes apart without much struggle, but it also holds well):

2-PullingApartPattern.jpgThen, I reassembled the pattern piece so that the overlap between the two pieces of paper was much greater, shortening it by several inches:

3-ReassembledPattern.jpgTo even out the outside cutting edge, I trimmed the excess paper that prevented a smooth transition from one piece of the pattern paper to the next:

4-TrimmingShortenedPattern.jpgHere's the altered pattern piece, with the small piece I trimmed off sitting next to it:

I did the alteration for the middle two tiers. I determined after measuring the original pattern that I wanted to take between 4" and 5" off the total length of the skirt, so I divided that between the middle two tiers.

This method ensures that the seams that join one tier to the next all stay intact. Hooray!

The top tier, lowest tier and waistband are all cut as normal, and assembly is exactly the same as it would be for the full-length version. This is my black gauze, shortened version of the Tropicana:

If you notice a little bit of glimmer on the lower right, it's because I couldn't resist adding a small scatter of rhinestones. I wanted to break up the black with a little sparkle, and I have a serious addiction problem with my Kandi hot fix rhinestone applicator. Seriously, my husband may soon stage an intervention.


I also wanted to try altering the pattern in a way that makes a shorter skirt, but maintains the design lines of the original.

I decided to use the top two tiers of the skirt as-is, but then I wanted just a short tier after that to finish below the knee around mid calf. To make my third, shortened bottom edge pattern piece, I traced the lower middle tier piece, and then used the lower tier piece to determine the length of my traced piece. Again, I used this approach rather than using the existing lower layer to make sure my seams all matched up.

RedraftedLowest-tier.jpgI chose a pink eyelet for this version, and I wanted to take advantage of the scalloped edge on the fabric, so I cut it as my hem. Here you can see how I cut the pieces for the lowest tier of this version right along the finished edge of the fabric.

CuttingEyeletHemEdge.jpgI never like to waste a good thing, so I cut a 2" strip along the second finished edge of the eyelet and worked it in between the lowest two layers of my skirt:

ExtraEyelet.jpgHere's my finished second skirt. The eyelet seriously needs a slip under it, or, as I plan to do, an underlayer worked into the skirt itself.

FinishedPink.jpgAs always, my favorite thing about the Hot Patterns free downloads is how versatile they are. I don't feel guilty hacking away at a pattern to customize it, because I can always print a fresh copy. (I use the paper scraps for notes so I don't waste, I promise!)

How will you make this summer skirt uniquely your own?

Create Kids Couture Marilyn's Slim Fit Peasant Dress & Top Pattern Review

April 2, 2012


It comes as no surprise that I am quite pleased that Fabric.com has added a kids clothing designer to our growing line of Free Pattern Downloads, Create Kids Couture. The first pattern released for free download is the Marilyn Slim Fit Peasant Dress & Top which I made this past weekend and loved. I was surprised to find what a fan I am of a well placed ruffle especially when the model is so especially cute in well placed ruffles.


First, this was a pretty quick garment to stitch up. The pattern is easy to cut and assemble with most of the pattern pieces rectangles that you cut out according to your size from the chart provided. The only piece you need to print and cut is the sleeve cup. The directions are a snap given that you are provided with pictures along with your instructions. This is a fun pattern to experiment with different fabric combos too because you can opt for just one fabric for the whole garment, 2 fabrics (one for the body and another for the sleeves and ruffle) or go crazy with 3 fabrics (one for each the body, sleeve and ruffle).


I am a really big fan of the elastic neckline. It creates a very soft shape that doesn't shift and my little one found comfy. PLUS, it can be stretched for larger heads or so you don't mess up those braids you spent 15 min persuading your little girl to "sit still" for. I chose not to add elastic to the arms because my daughter ending up not liking it (though today she might like it) and I thought it was too puffy. The plain sleeves look just as beautiful. I created the top length and am very pleased with the length. It is just right for a top though if you omit the ruffle (which I will try the next time I make it just for a different look) I will add 2 in. to the body to compensate. Despite the "Slim Fit" in the name, I found this dress very roomy for my preschool that still sports the toddler big round belly. She didn't feel confined or restricted in her movement. The top was a big hit! You can also try this pattern in a knit. Just cut a size smaller and cut the stretch widthwise on all pieces. 


Pattern Review: Hot Patterns Weekender Track & Field Cargo Pants

Who doesn't love a cargo pant? I know I do. I like the utility look of them, and I love having pockets to stash things in on the go.

I have been wanting to test drive the Hot Patterns Weekender Track & Field Cargo Pants pattern for a while. The pieced legs and topstitched detailing really appeal to me, but I also was a little fretful that it would make for a very arduous process, getting all those details in place.

So, as I was cutting, I couldn't help but think, "This pattern has 8,000 pieces. This is gonna take forEVER." But once my cutting was complete and I set to work, I found that things actually moved along at a decent pace. There is a certain measure of patience you need whenever you set your sights on a project that has a lot of details, but I generally find that patience is handsomely rewarded. I am happy to report that is the case with these pants.

I opted for an organic sweatshirt fleece for this pair. Now that I have one run through this pattern under my belt, I know I want to make another in a fabric that has no stretch, just to see how it compares.

To give you an example of the detailing process on these pants, I photographed the back pocket assembly as I went.

First up, there's a semi-circle of topstitching that goes on the assembled pocket flap. I knew I couldn't possibly just wing it and get anything even vaguely akin to a circular arc, so I cut a circle out of a scrap I had on hand and marked it's edge at four equidistant points so I could line it up consistently. Then I safety pinned it in place, and used it as a guide for my stitching.

2-HPTrackPantsPocket.jpgVoila! Circular stitching made easy.

Next up, it was time to set the back pockets into place, so that flap would have something to cover.

First comes the stitching that attaches the pocket to the trouser section and creates the pocket's finished top edge. You'll see here that I've clipped the corners to turn it:

4-HPTrackPantsPocket.jpgHere's the interior of the pants back piece with the pocket flipped in. The second pocket piece will situate right on top of this one (from this side) and then you stitch through all three layers (back of pants, and two layers of pockets) to create the enclosed pocket:

Here is the pocket from the right side, with the second layer of pocket stitched in and top stitching around the pocket shape. Ready to hold your smartphone!

The pocket flap is stitched into the seam that joins the back yoke to the back pants.

As you can imagine, each detail on these pants is comprised of a handful of steps, just as this pocket was.

I find if I think about each section as a small series of steps like this was, I don't get overwhelmed by the details on a project. I just keep plugging away, and before I know it, all of those seemingly 8,000 pieces are in play.

I love these pants. While I was photographing them. my husband kept telling me how cool he thought they were, and I have to agree. The design is fab. The pants are sporty and comfy, but all the details make them sophisticated enough that you could wear them to work if you have an office that's got a business casual vibe. Pair them with a tee shirt for weekend wear or a blazer for the office. Or, make them out of a completely luxe fabric, and they're perfect for date night. I've got my eye on a stretch sateen for my next pair!

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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