August 2012 Archives

Create Kids Couture Millie Schoolhouse Skirt Review

August 28, 2012


Once again I am going to give raves reviews for our new Create Kids Couture  Free Pattern Download: the Millie's Schoolhouse Skirt. This skirt is, of course, totally cute but also great for any girl given the options to customize it. You can just go with the skirt, add suspenders or tie on the sash. Anything goes. It is great. It also doesn't take that much time to make. By the time you can get your kids in the car with all their gear/snacks/toys, drive to the mall, unpack everyone, get them to the store and try on clothes, then get everyone and everything back in the car, drive home and unpack, I guarantee you can make this skirt. All in the comfort of your home, with a nice cup of tea by your side and maybe your kids watching a movie so you can relax. Which sounds nicer to you?


I made my Millie Skirt ready for fall in some nice Gold, Garnet, and Raspberry tones from Denyse Schmidt's Flea Market Fancy Legacy Collection. You can find plenty more fall collections in our Holiday Section. Just click on Quilting Cotton on the left sidebar and look for the Holiday Fabrics section and fall is nestled in there with Halloween, Christmas and Chanukah. I opted just for the 3 prints and ordered ½ yd of each and found that by mixing up the patterns I could get 2 skirts from my fabric purchase.


My skirt is just the skirt since my daughter while a big twirling advocate will climb into a skirt readily, but once she has one layer of clothing is off to play. Any additional layers can only be added via fierce negations in which I often concede more than I gain or tears are involved. She loves the skirt though since it looks like a bell and twirls nicely. It is a size 4T since she will be 4 in the winter and the fit is just right. I love where the skirt hits at her knees; it will look great with leggings once the weather matches my fall fabric choices and the gathered waist means I can tuck her shirt in, leave it out or add a sweater without too much bulk.


I was able to practice more with my serger on this skirt and loved finishing my edges as I sewed up the skirt. I did have some trouble when it came to adding the waist band so I left the hole open, added my elastic then sewed it closed with my sewing machine then went over it again with my serger to finish the edge.


You will love making this skirt and your little girl will love wearing it. It goes on with a quick tug for those learning to dress themselves and is easy to remove for potty breaks. And if you want to pair it with some shorts for playtime,  the Create Kids Couture Aiden Shorts fit perfectly underneath this skirt!



Knitting Video: How to Knit Backwards

August 27, 2012

Otherwise known as: avoiding the Purl Stitch at all costs!

Velvet Ric Rac -- Upgraded!

August 26, 2012

Velvet ric rac is one of those trims that I love, but I sometimes struggle to find the right application for it. I adore its yummy texture, but the wavey shape doesn't always translate as sophisticated. So, I decided to do some experimenting to come up with ways to add a little extra style to my already-beloved trim. For all of these projects, I used Riley Blake velvet ric rac.

For my first project, I sewed black velvet ric rac to a satin ribbon as a base. I ran two lines of stitching down the middle section.

1-velvet-ric-rac.jpgNext, I plugged in my hot fix rhinestone applicator and some jet rhinestones, and added a little off-center sparkle to each interior arc of my ric rac. The glittery result would be great as an embellishment for holiday party wear, I think.

2-velvet-ric-rac.jpgThe second approach I took was to intertwine two different colors of ric rac, and stitch them together, picking up clear seed beads in my stitches. I love the combo of pink and black, because it always makes me think of Art Deco design. This trim makes me think of beaded handbag ideas ... 

3-velvet-ric-rac.jpgNext up is a project I like to call the nature stack. Since autumn will be here soon, my mind is already on the changing of the leaves. I selected three colors of velvet ric rac that reminded me of fall. I machine stitched the bottom two layers together, and then used a needle and thread and seed beads to assemble the last layer of the stack. I think I'm going to use this trim on autumn home dec projects like plump pillows and table runners.

4-velvet-ric-rac.jpgThe last trim treatment I came up with turned out to be my favorite, and it's so, so simple! I used a bit of 1/4" ribbon, and carefully wrapped it around the ric rac, ironing it gently as I went. (NOTE: Velvet ric rac does NOT play nice with the iron! You need to keep the heat fairly low and iron from the backside.) Because the pile of the ric rac is not terribly deep, I didn't bother with a velvet board or towel for pressing. Here's the backside of the twist method in process: 

And here are two finished samples of this trim. I LOVE the angled stripes this little trick creates -- and it's so transformative, it doesn't even look like ric rac any more. I am already thinking of ways to use a red and white version for holiday dressing this year!
So, those are four ideas I came up with, but I bet our creative customers can come up with dozens, hundreds, even thousands of their own! Got a great trick that takes ric rac to a whole new level? Share it with us on our Facebook page!

Back Seat Car Organizer

August 24, 2012

car seat organizer1

This is the best picture I can offer in the car because of my seat configuration. I spared you the goldfish and pretzels scattered all over the floor though.

I run a mobile library out of the back of my car. The book list is ever revolving and there always seems to be at least 10 books back there at a given time. My little one loves books and if I need to run errands, I need to have a constant supply. I designed this Back Seat Car Organizer to fit her mobile library but it can easily be used for art supplies, toys, diapering needs (for the babies) or whatever your child needs to get through a trip out and about. My organizer slips onto the back of a car seat and features 3 pockets, 2 big and 1 small. While looking for a great place to take pictures I discovered that this organizer is perfect for other locations in the house that need a space to store kid supplies. You can hang it on your stairs for the "you need to take this stuff upstairs" stuff, hang it from a coat hook for school supplies in the mud room or mount it by bunk beds for books or in a closet for hair and toiletries. The ideas are endless as long as you have a need. The finished Back Seat Car Organizer is 21'' h by 13.5'' w.

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To make your own you will need:

1 yd of heavy canvas fabric for lining

1 yd of quilting cotton if making all pockets the same or

                ¼ yd for small pocket

                ¼ yd for medium pocket

                ½ yd for large pocket

Plus approx. 2 yd of 2.5'' bias trim for edging and strap

2 snaps


Instructions (all seams are ½'' unless stated otherwise):

From canvas cut:

                Two 21''x13.5'' pieces for body

                One 17''x13.5'' for large pocket

                One 12''x13.5'' for medium pocket

                One 6''x'13.5'' for small pocket

From Quilting Cotton cut (sub in various prints if you want a different print for each pocket)

One 17''x13.5'' for large pocket

                One 12''x13.5'' for medium pocket

                One 6''x'13.5'' for small pocket

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The "take this mess upstairs" organizer

With RS together, pin all pocket pieces together and stitch across the top (one of the 13.5'' sides). Press seam open then press WS together and pin 3 open sides together for all pockets.  Topstitch across the top, finished edge.

Baste 2 body canvas pieces together. Pin Large Pocket in place, lining up bottom and side raw edges. On each side, mark 10'' down from top.  Starting at top finished edge, stitch down one side, pivoting at the 10'' mark, stitching across to 2nd 10'' mark and back up to the top, back stitch at both ends. This shortens the pocket so it isn't a deep cavern that will eat your books.

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Pin medium and small pockets in place, matching bottom and sides and baste in place. Square up everything with a ruler and a rotary cutter now if you want.

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Apply bias trim, starting at the center bottom and working your way around the entire edge of the organizer.

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To make your snap straps, you can either serge your straps like me or stitch up 15'' of your remaining double folded bias trim. Cut your strap into 2 pieces, one 7'' and one 8''. Double fold ½'' at one end of the 8'' strap and apply the female snap according to your package instructions (check out my post on snaps here for extra help). The snap will hold the double fold in place so you don't need to sew it first. Repeat for second strap with male snap and place a second male snap 1'' down from the first. Pin your snap straps 2.5'' in from each side on top of the organizer and stitch in place twice for extra durability.

Enjoy your new Back Seat Car Organizer. I have another on my cutting table already for baby #2. It will initially be used for wipes, pacifiers, bibs, diapers and burp cloths and hopefully evolve to books as well from there!

car seat organizer5



Knitting: Using Stitch Markers

August 22, 2012

One of the first tools you will learn to use as a knitter is the stitch marker. They come in many shapes, sizes, colors and designs. You can purchase them inexpensively, have them custom made or make them yourself. In the course of your knitting career you will use many different kinds of stitch markers depending on your yarn and needle size (Remember my mohair blog post, I recommend not using jump ring based stitch markers). Fortunately all stitch markers will work the same when it comes to using them in your knitted projects. There are basic uses and creative uses as well as desperate uses. I will cover all the basic uses and attempt to cover all the creative uses. As far as the desperate uses, I can simply recommend that you carry plenty in your notions bag. To move a stitch marker as you knit simply slip it as you would a stitch; don't work it just slip it (pass it from your left needle to your right).

Stitch markers1

Here I am using my locking stitch markers to mark where the cable begins and ends as well as to count from one cable twist to the next twist. 
Stitch markers2

Basic uses of Stitch Markers:

The most common and basic uses of stitch markers are to mark your stitches so you do not have to count every row or count to where your pattern changes every time. If you are knitting in the round you will place a marker between the last stitch of the previous round and the first stitch of the new round so you will know when a round has been worked and you can count how many you have worked. You can also use it to highlight where a pattern change is occurring such as a sleeve increase, bodice decrease or cable pattern. Place the marker at the beginning of this change and at the end so you will know where to work your changes and when to stop. This helps so you don't have to count over to a certain spot on every row. You can just work to the marker then work the change to the next marker and then continue on your way.

Markers can also help you count rows. I love to use them when working cables. With cable you must work the twist after a certain number of rows. With the stitch marker I count the number of rows from the marker up and then move the marker up when I work the next twist. The twist of cables can skew the rows a bit making it difficult to determine which row the twist was worked on and then throwing off the size of your cable. Using the stitch marker eliminates the guess work. You can also use them when you begin a decrease or increase and then count the rows since the marker instead of searching your project for signs of the beginning of the increase/decrease.

Creative uses of Stitch Markers:

I have been known on occasion to use my stitch markers to hold dropped stitches in check until I can repair them with my crochet hook. The stitch marker keeps the stitch from unraveling more and holds it in place if I don't have time to address it at present. I can also use my stitch markers to plan changes in my project before actually making the changes. If I am working on a sweater and I want to insert a dart or increase/decrease for shaping, I can slip in some stitch markers where I think the change should be made and then I can step back and determine any pattern disruptions, determine how the placement will look or try it on to see if the placement sits on my frame where I anticipated that it would. Also, when finishing a hat and I have gotten to the last few stitches and just need to weave in the tail and pull it tight, if I find myself without a tapestry needle I will slip the stitches to a stitch marker until I find a needle to finish.

My last and most creative use of a stitch marker is as a sock monkey earring for this great Sock Monkey Hat

Fall Fashion Trend: Dreamin' Of Denim



Hey Lovelies,

I hope everyone has had a relaxing summer! I know you have all been busy basking in the last rays of summer sunshine, because before you know it the lazy care free days of summer will soon bid us farewell and be replaced by crisp autumn mornings.  Even though I am in no rush to see summer go, I must admit I always look forward to finding out the new key Fall fashion trends for the season and seeing what trends will still keep going strong from last Fall. Trust me I know that staying up on the ever changing trends of the fashion world can sometimes be information overload.  But you are in luck I am going to give you a run down of the must have items that no fashionista should be without this season.   So if you are in need of some style guidance for the coming season be sure to check out our blog each week as we spotlight a key fashion trend for Fall/Winter 2012!  So lets get this fashion roll call started with one of my favorite trends of the season, can we say denim and more denim!



I am a serious denimholic (I know that's not a real word),  but you get the point, I seriously love all things denim! There is no better feeling that slipping on your favorite pair of jeans!  One of my favorite things about denim, is that it is so versatile.    It can be dressed up, dressed down, rugged, sexy - there are tons of style options for denim, it really just all depends on how you choose to wear it.    So I am ecstatic that the denim trend is still going strong this season.  This Fall offers a  ton of choices for denim:  colored and embellished denim, high-waisted jeans,  the boyfriend jean, jean jackets, lacquered denim, denim shirts,denim vests, flare jeans and the list goes on and on, so even the pickiest fashionista is sure to find the perfect piece of denim to incorporate into her wardrobe.  So how will you rock your denim this Fall?  Be sure to visit to shop the great selection of denim fabrics and don't forget to check out the Dreamin' Of Denim Pinterest board for lot's of great style suggestions and inspiration.  So until next time stay Fab, Fearless and Fashionable!


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Halloween Votive Luminary

August 20, 2012

Halloween luminary1

I love to decorate for Halloween but I dislike the appearance of many decorations during the day though they are amazing at night. I try to incorporate as many spectacles as possible that look great day and night. That is one reason I made these Halloween Votive Luminaries. They look super spooky at night when they are all lit up and just as festive during the day when the vinyl covered cotton print is the star. These vinyl luminaries are easy to make so you can whip up a dozen to line your sidewalk, sit in your windows or as a centerpiece for a party. You can make them for other holidays or any day just by your fabric choices. Try a Christmas print for a holiday open house. A solid in your little one's favorite color with his/her name cut out would be perfect for a birthday decoration. You can also try some burlap with ribbon trim to add some bohemian charm to a brunch. The vinyl covering makes it easier to cut out designs and adds stability so your luminaries will last well past the special occasion.

Halloween luminary2

To make your own Halloween Luminary you will need:

Approx ¼ yd of fabric for 1 luminary (Check out our Halloween Quilting Cotton section)

Approx ¼ yd of Heat n Bond Vinyl

A votive holder or pint size mason jar (like I used)

Tea light or flameless small candle or LED light


Halloween luminary3


Measure around the widest part of your votive and add 1'' for seam allowance for the width and make it about 4-5 taller than your votive. I cut my fabric to 12'' wide by 10'' tall to fit around my pint size mason jar.

Halloween luminary4

 Apply the vinyl to the RS of your fabric according to the directions. Use your paper back to draw your luminaries design and then cut it out using scissors or craft knife. Fold over the top and bottom ½'' and top stitch in place. This is not necessary to prevent fraying but does add stability to your luminaries. With RS together stitch up your 2 short sides to make a tube. Carefully turn your tube RS out and smooth out the vinyl covered cotton. Slip it over your votive, add a candle and enjoy your Halloween decoration in the day time or night.

Halloween luminary5

You can even try using your paper punches for this project to create a lace effect or add polka dots all over with a hole punch. These luminaries are fast and fun and store flat as a bonus!

***If you want to use poly fabrics instead of cottons, make sure your use a press cloth when applying the vinyl and also use a flameless or LED light instead of a real candle.

Halloween luminary6


Tara Miller

Sparkle-tastic Shoe Rejuvenation

August 19, 2012

I'm pretty open about the fact that I'm a shoe hoarder. I get emotionally attached to footwear and often hang onto it long past its prime. Lately, I've been feeling guilty about keeping shoes I don't wear around, so I'm working on ways to make old shoes new-ish again, which will in theory prevent me from buying more shoes. I don't know if this mind game I'm playing with myself will pan out, but I sure am having fun bringing new life to old kicks! This is a project that's also great for sprucing up footwear to custom match costumes. It's great to have shoes that you already know are comfy when you're trick-or-treating or dancing the night away.

WARNING: Extreme glitter ahead.

For my first shoes-periment, I decided to work with a pair of sport Mary Janes. I love these shoes -- so much that I bought several identical pair when they were available. So I can easily spare a pair for a crafty project.

After cleaning the shoes thoroughly with a wipe and some rubbing alcohol, I applied a generous amount of Mod Podge to one section of shoe at a time using a wide paint brush. Because of the sticky nature of this project, it's really best to only do a little at a time. The sectional nature of the design lines on this shoe made it a breeze to do so.

2-glitter-shoes.jpgOnce I had a section of glue applied, I doused that area with glitter. In the photo below, you'll notice that I did my glitter dousing over a large Glad Ware container. That way, I can collect all unused glitter and return it to its container. Once I had my gluey section thoroughly covered, I shook all stray glitter into my container.

3-glitter-shoes.jpgI repeated the same application method, section by section, working all the way around both shoes. I let each of my sections set for 15 to 20 minutes before moving on to the next section, but if you are adept, you can probably move around the shoe without having to wait in between sections.

My new glitter shoes are ready to sparkle all over the place! 

4-glitter-shoes.jpgI will absolutely be wearing these under some of my witch costumes this year. In truth, I'll also wear them to work, to the movies, to the grocery store, to the park ... basically, everywhere.

The next project in Operation: Shoe Sparkles involves a beloved old pair of red Converse that I have had for years. They're battered and bruised, but I really love them. Even though they've been through the wash many times, they had funky stains on the white rubber toes and sidewalls (about 73 percent of those stains were the result of spilled coffee). I first gave them a good scrub with a 1:1 mixture of toothpaste and hydrogen peroxide, which I left on while the shoes sat in the sun for about 45 minutes before I rinsed them. They didn't come out perfectly white, but as you'll see in subsequent photos, the dinginess was substantially improved.

6-glitter-shoes.jpgThe other trouble spot on these shoes was the heel cup. The fabric had worn away, and the rubber was exposed, and even cracking in some places. I first cut all this shaggy, raggy fabric away.

Then, to re-cushion the heel area, I cut scraps of fleece into arc shapes about 6 inches long by 1.5 inches high to set into the heel cups.

8-glitter-shoes.jpgI used a tacky glue to apply the fleece to the interior of the shoes, also making sure any loose rubber was secured along the way. They key here is to make sure that all edges of the fleece are secure. As you slip your shoes on and off, any areas that are loose will pull.

9-glitter-shoes.jpgOnce my heels were in better shape, I started applying Mod Podge to the shoes in sections, just as I did with my Mary Janes. Working around the grommets with the paint brush is a little tricky, and my application definitely was NOT perfect. I wiped glue away when I got it onto the grommets, but I wasn't terribly worried about it. I figure all the sparkle will distract from little imperfections. For a little extra dimension on these, I used tinsel glitter. Whenever I sprinkled it onto the shoe, I actually patted it into place VERY LIGHTLY before shaking off my excess. As before, I worked my way around each shoe in sections. For the tongue, I only applied glue and glitter to the center; I left the edges alone to avoid unnecessary bulk.

10-glittershoes.jpgTo finish off my shiny new Chucks, I replaced the old laces with double-sided satin ribbon to make them extra girlie. (Because, you know, the glitter was not girlie enough. :p )
11-glitter-shoes.jpgThese are now ready for walks down yellow brick roads, Xmas elf duty, and even New Year's Eve dancing. One note: With fabric shoes like these,  the glue does stiffen and tighten the fit a tiny bit. You make have to break your shoes in gently over a couple of wearings.

12-glitter-shoes.jpgOf course, now I'm looking at other shoes in my closet with renewed interest and a madness for creation that might even rival Dr. Frankenstein. I'm going to need glitter in every color of the rainbow.

Getting Ready for Baby: Designer Hospital Gown

August 17, 2012

hospital gown1.jpg

When I first found out I was pregnant back in January, one of my first objectives was maternity/baby items search on Etsy and wouldn't you know what the top maternity item was at the time: Hospital Gowns. Apparently moms are tired of looking washed out and plain in these first pictures with baby. New moms want to look as fabulous and glamorous as they do every other day, despite the fact that they are in a hospital. So the market for designer hospital gowns took off. I put a designer hospital gown at the top of my "To Make" list, found this pattern by Lazy Girl Designs and quickly decided on my fabric. I choose Spot On Mini Dots Navy Quilting Cotton for several reasons:

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1)      I love polka dot right now and it works well with everything. I certainly don't want to clash with hospital issue receiving blankets should I forget to swaddle my little one in my own first.

2)      Navy is a good color for me; It won't wash me out.

3)      Navy should be easy to wash because, let's face it, this gown is going to get dirty. I don't want to ruin 3 yds of Amy Butler fabric and I don't want to spend my first few days at home trying to rescue my hospital gown with delicate washings to remove stains

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Now you may think why would you spend all this time on a gown you will wear once? Well, just like your wedding gown it is mostly about the pictures that you will cherish for a lifetime and you want to look good! But also after careful thought I figure that I can wear this gown many times the first few weeks or even months. It will make a great nightgown until baby gets a night time schedule. It will make night feedings that much easier and comfy. I can certainly wear it at home the first few days until I am feeling better. And afterwards I can use the fabric to make a memory quilt or some other small project. This pattern only required 3 yds of Designer Quilting Cotton so making your own is cost effective and fun!

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Shoulder facings

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Back ties- one on the edge and the right tie is offset by 2-3'' for modesty

Even more appealing for all you non-pregnant folks out there is that this free pattern is not a maternity hospital gown but just a regular hospital gown pattern that can be adapted for maternity use. I cut mine out with two left sides for the back and it fits me perfectly being 8 mos pregnant. You can make this gown for any loved one with an upcoming hospital stay. It is a great way to brighten up what is sure to be an anxiety-ridden adventure. My only changes would be to recommend lowering or widening the neckline. It is a lot too modest for me. Not that I want to look like a vixen in the hospital but I don't like my neckline crowding me. I like to have plenty of room around the neck in case I sit on my gown funny or it gets pulls accidently. I am going to lower mine at least 3'' and make it into more of a scoop neck just for the extra room for movement in the hospital bed. I do love how this pattern does away with all the gathers and frills of most maternity gowns. I enjoyed only spending a few hours on this pattern instead of several days. As stated earlier, yes I want to look good but this is not a wardrobe staple so I want to invest just enough time to look good with it being a time suck. The Velcro at the shoulders was a blessing over the snap tape I see in most hospital gown patterns. I want the quickness of Velcro over the precision of a snap. I also used self fabric to interface at the shoulder seams for looks and added double folded trim at the shoulder edge and neckline. I cut six 1 yd 2'' strips from the scraps cutting out the gown and pressed 4 of them into double folded trim. The two strips I didn't press I pinned RS together on my shoulder edges and stitched on. Then I pressed the seam towards the gown and folded the trim towards the gown and topstitched in place (see picture above). Then I added the Velcro. I omitted the button because I am not really sure of its purpose but I can always add it later. I also serged the sleeves, back edges and bottom hem to save time and because I just received my new serger and I am LOVING it! I was also able to use the remaining strips as back ties. I will add one more to just above the rump so I don't have my bottom poking out when I walk around.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pattern. It was quicker than I anticipated, looks more fabulous than I expected and it comfy, comfy comfy. I recommend it for any expecting mom or hospital go-er!

Thank you Lazy Girl Designs for your wonderful pattern!

Tara Miller

Giant Crochet Lion

August 15, 2012


Relatively speaking this is a giant crochet lion because the original is roughly 4-5'' and this monster is about 8-9''.  This cutie was a pleasure to make and a great back to school project. If it has been awhile since you have had time to hook any yarn, like me, than this fun project will ease you back in and will make any kid even happier to get off the school bus in the afternoon.


I followed the pattern from "Leisure Arts Easy Crochet Critters" (You may remember my hippo who thinks she is a mouse from last year) but I took it up a notch by using Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in Deep Rose and Pumpkin with a little Silver Grey thrown in. I also upped my hook to a K (10.5). The recommended yarn and hook from the pattern is worsted with an H hook. Upping your yarn and hook size will nearly double your lion's size and make him much more fun and cuddly. I also opted for button eyes and a felt nose. I tried for 10 min to embroider a nose that I liked but it just wasn't happening so I cut a simple rounded triangle from felt and used fabric glue to fix it in place. The rest of the embroidery was fun and easy. I also didn't stuff the legs. I pushed all the yarn tails inside the legs and that was enough to give them shape (how easy is that). Lastly, I used magic circle to start my body and legs. It made my crochet look so much nicer and was much easier than chaining and crocheting into the chain. I love it!


I have been drooling over this lion since I first ordered this pattern booklet and I can't wait to make all the animals in this book. Hopefully I can crank out more than one a year but I can assure you that all will be made bigger than instructed with chunky yarn and bigger hooks. I love the size so much more. Handheld is great but seeing your little one hugging the life out of an oversized crochet lion that you made is priceless!

Caution this lion has a dark side. Here he is stalking his prey (the cat). 


Tara Miller

DIY Custom Dressform

August 13, 2012

If you have noticed that recently my dressform has gone from gray with dials to turquoise and sleek than let me share my secret. I have turned my adjustable dressform into a custom fit dressform with the help of an out-of-commission bra, some pads and a 2-3 yds of Jersey Knit (with at least 30% stretch). Here's how to make your own. 

Here's is my dress form before. 

I adjusted all my knobs to fit my size as close as possible. The only place that I had an issue was the bust. I wear a 32d bra. When I adjusted the bust to fit my bust the under-bust was too big. 

dressform2.jpgTo solve this I put an old strapless bra on my dress form and adjusted the dial to fit my under bust then I added pads to the bra until the bust matched my own.  I reused some pads I had from other bras but you could use shoulder pads, old towels or thick blankets cut to size for hips, rump or stomach. 

Next, drape the front of your form with your jersey knit (you want a stretchy knit) WS out and with the stretch going widthwise. Leave a good bit at the top, about 6-8'' to tie off and about 10-12'' at the bottom.
dressform4.jpgStarting pinning your knit to the sides of your dressform. Pull the knit taunt but not as tight as it will go. You want the cover fitted but still able to be pulled on and off. Pin often as this will be your sewing guide to sew your seams.
Then, start pinning the knit to the back. It might help to first pin the back as you did the front, right to the dressform and once you get the back nice and smooth and tight, pin the front to the back. 
Pin it tight

dressform8.jpgTrim the seams to about 1-2''. This will make it easier to sew without all the extra fabric. Slowly ease the cover off your dressform and sew using the pins as your seam guides, leaving the top of the neck and bottom open. serge the edges or sew with a zigzag stitch.
Here is the cover WS out so you can see it sewn up. After I stitched mine I trimmed the seam again to 1/2''. 

dressform10.jpgFinally turn your cover RS out and slip over your dress form, making sure none of your pads shift. But if they do, you can just slip your hand up there after the cover is in place and adjust. Confirm the placement of all pads with your tape measure. Tie off your top with a ribbon for the top and a rubber band for the bottom. 

Enjoy your new, chic custom dressform. The plus of making your own custom dressform as opposed to buying one it that you can still adjust the size if your body changes. Plus you can save about $500 and it only takes a few hours and some careful measuring!

Vintage Goes Modern

August 12, 2012

I couldn't resist! I had to take on one more vintage dress project! I love the shape and structure of all my vintage-style dresses, but I wanted to find a way that I could incorporate a knit fabric into vintage style to make something ultra comfy and easy to wear. Enter Vintage Vogue 2787. I actually made a version of this dress yeeeeeeears ago in a two-tone taffeta to wear to a 1940s theme wedding. But I can't wear taffeta every day, alas. I can, however, wear knits all day long; I love them. For this project, I opted for a Sophia Double Knit in heather gray. I love this fabric because it's got a good weight. It's comfy like a T-shirt, but has enough oomph to look a little more structured.

I didn't want to use a zipper on this dress -- my goal was a pullover garment. But, this dress is somewhat fitted, so I needed to come up with a solution that would keep the look of the dress, but would allow me to pull it on without fuss. So, I cut the pattern one size larger than my true size, and I added ties by stitching them into the darts on the back. Problem solved!

2-Modern-40s-vintage.jpgI have mentioned on previous vintage patterns that they sometimes call for a technique that isn't often used today -- an overlay approach to stitching pieces together. Instead of sewing the elements right-sides together, you prepare each piece, pressing under the seam allowance on the piece that will be on top, and then place it on top of the other section to sew it, stitching very close to the folded edge. It feels weird to work this way initially, but I find I really like it. The S-curve at the front of this dress would be really difficult to assemble without this approach. Here's a close-up of three of the pieces coming together this way (the two front bodice pieces and the skirt):

3-Modern-40s-vintage.jpgI'm pretty pleased with this little experiment. I like that I can wear this dress on its own through the summer, and then layer it with a long-sleeve undershirt or cardigan and boots for cooler weather. Versatile is always a win in my book!


Halloween Giant Stuffed Spider

August 10, 2012


Halloween is fast approaching and I need to hurry up and get ready. This is my favorite holiday to decorate for because anything goes. This year I am going big and stuffed. It might be my nesting urge but I want to surround myself with large-eyed, soft items that are super cute and maybe a little spooky. To start my Halloween decorating off I created this giant, soft, stuffed spider that was an instant success among the 3 yr olds polled at my house. It also turned out really well according to me. I wanted something I could strap to my door, hang from the ceiling or pose on my table and it would be instantly noticed. With bigger items you need less so you can decorate faster and enjoy more. Also with small children, dogs or clumsy family members, stuffed decorations are prized over ceramic any day.


Here's how to make your own Giant Halloween Stuffed Spider.


½- 1 yd of minky, fleece or knit will make 1-2 spiders

1 bag of poly stuffing

Scraps of felt and 2 buttons for eyes

1 dinner plate for body template (no smaller than 9'' and no bigger than 12'')

1 thread spool for eye template



Cut eight (8) 4''x 24'' strips from your fabric for the legs. For the body trace your plate onto your fabric for the top body piece and then trace half the plate twice to make 2 semi-circles for the bottom of the body.  

Fold the each leg in half along the length, RS together and stitch across on short end and down one long end. Clip corner and turn RS out. Repeat for 7 remaining legs. Stuff each leg, leaving a 1'' gap at the open end. Baste open ends closed.

Place a pin or mark top of head on top body piece and beginning pinning legs onto top body piece starting 1 1/2'' from this mark and spacing each leg ¾'' to 1'' apart, 4 legs on each side. Baste legs in place. Pin semi circles of bottom body pieces to top body piece lining up seam with top of head mark/pin. Stitch around body using a ½ seam allowance, letting the legs hang out of the opening left by the 2 semi-circles. Turn body RS out and stuff. Stitch bottom body opening closed with whipstitch.

Trace your spool twice onto your felt and cut out using pinking shears. Sew button onto each felt circle and then stitch felt circle onto spider's head using whipstitch.

With spider RS up, fold leg in half and ½'' down from the fold stitch the leg together to create a spidery bend in the leg, stitch at front and back of the leg. Repeat for 7 remaining legs.


You can opt to add more embellishments like embroidery, a red hourglass or a small loop in the seam at the backside for hanging. The possibilities are vast. Couple your spider with my knitted spider's web for the ultimate in spider Halloween decorations. Don't forget to share your pictures on our Facebook page!


Knitting: Long Tail Cast On

August 8, 2012

Long Tail Cast On is my favorite and most used cast on. It is a stable and beautiful beginning to any knitting project. This video shows the long tail cast on from several angles. I also suggest a great way to estimate how long to make your tail so you don't have to guess or use trial and error. 

Fascinate Me! (Part 2 of 2)

August 7, 2012

If you read my last blog, you already know that I am crazy about fascinators. So crazy, in fact, that I made too many to fit into one blog post!

So, to pick up where I left off ...

In last year's Ballgown Witch post, I shared my favorite way to make quick trim. I used it again for the next fascinator. It's easy as pie -- just start with a length of ribbon and use a running stitch to work diagonally back and forth down the length of it as shown in the diagram below. When you draw your thread so the ribbon gathers along it, it creates a scalloped trim.

20-Fascinators.jpgThis is the autumnal headpiece I created using this method. I used a striped grosgrain ribbon, and added two darling acorn buttons. Ready for fall fun!
21-Fascinators.jpgThe next fascinator has a tropical vibe with a fun, cute twist. We're going to build a grosgrain flower! It looks like a lot of steps because I tried to capture the whole process, but it goes very quickly. First, I stitched together a sleeve base out of green grosgrain ribbon by sewing two 4" pieces together along the sides. The ends can be singed over a candle or hit with fray check to prevent fraying. Then I cut three lengths of the same ribbon and arranged them like an asterix on the base. I glued them in place.

22-Fascinators.jpgTo make a flower petal, I started with a length of pink grosgrain about 4 inches long. I looped it so the ends criss-crossed a little, and used a needle and thread to stitch it in place.

23-Fascinators.jpgOnce I had tightened my stitches to gather the base of my petal, I secured my stitches with a knot, and then picked up the next petal on the same needle and thread so they would be joined.

24-Fascinators.jpgI did the same with three more petals, then I trimmed the tails off all at once.

25-Fascinators.jpgI fanned the petals out to create a flower shape, and stitched things into place.
26-Fascinators.jpgOnce I got my flower shaped the way I wanted it, I added a hibiscus flower button to the center. I know, the center of a flower is not another flower, but I'm pushing science aside in the interest of artistic license on this one. 

27-Fascinators.jpgI glued the assembled flower to the leaf base.

28-Fascinators.jpgThen I trimmed the ends of the green ribbon to look more leaf like, and slid my new flower onto my headband. 

29-Fascinators.jpgNow, I will share with you a secret about where to get tiny adorable hat bases for fascinators. I buy the tiny hats in craft stores that are intended for dolls and stuffed bears. The mini size is perfect, easy to embellish, and already built, which saves me the trouble of making one!

This next piece starts with a mini top hat. I first glued striped grosgrain ribbon around the hat.

30-Fascinators.jpgThen, I added a puff of ostrich feathers that I had in my stash.

To add a little sparkle, I added a single silver blossom button.

32-Fascinators.jpgIn part one of this blog, I mentioned that I love to make a bunch of sleeves to go over headbands so I have them on hand while I'm creating. This is one of those times when I use them! I glued one to the bottom of the hat -- just on the ends where the sleeve makes contact with the underside of the brim. You want to be very careful to not let any glue seal your sleeve shut!
36-Insert-Fascinators.jpgFor me, this is a perfect New Year's hat -- fun, kicky, and a notch up from anything bought in a store.

My last fascinator is an easy quickie. I started with a simple doll hat from the craft store, made a bow out of grosgrain stripe (can you tell I love the stuff?), and then topped it off with another laser-cut flapper button, this time in red. I glued a sleeve to the underside, and I'm ready to celebrate.

I totally plan on wearing this for Valentine's Day, but I'm sure I'll find some reason to wear it (or several!) long before then.

35-Fascinators.jpgWhat I really love about making these little concoctions is the fact that I can use a combination of new items and little bits of glitz from my stash to create really fun accent pieces.

If you've got a hats-required event coming up, or if you just want to add some new accessories to your style, I hope I've helped you with ideas. Be sure to share your creations with us on Facebook!

Sewing Special Occasion Fabric

August 6, 2012

Everyone needs a little something special once in a while. It could be a wedding, honorary dinner, prom or anniversary date but sooner or later you will be sewing with Special Occasion fabric. I'm talking silk, satin, or velvet. That little black cotton dress just doesn't give you the same feeling as one crafted from slinky satin or sleek silk. You will feel infinitely more elegant in a velvet dinner jacket rather than a twill. But these specialty fabrics need some TLC or better yet a different point of view than your casual fabrics. Try these tips when it comes time for you to whip up something extraordinary for your wardrobe.


Silk, though it may seem strong and resilient, is quite delicate when being sewn. Use the smallest needle for your weight of fabric (I often use a size 10 needle) and make it sharp. A dull or universal needle can run the risk of snagging and pulling your silk fibers and distorting the fabric.

Start your iron at the lowest setting and move it up if you need it. I also recommend using a pressing cloth. Any dirt or debris on your iron can easily ruin your silk fabric. Be sure to have sleeve rolls and pressing hams handy to get the prefect press so you don't distort your silk fabric.

Pink or serge your edges or use french seams because silk easily frays and you don't want wayward threads poking out at that special event.

Read about my Dupioni Silk Kimono dress for more info on sewing silk

Kimono Dress yellow2.jpg



Satin can snag or pull even more easily than silk and because of the high, smooth sheen these imperfections can be more noticeable. So use sharp needles on this fabric as well as on silk and be sure this includes your pins as well. Use long, sharp pins and work from the wrong side as much as possible.

Satin also frays easily so use pinking shears, a serger or French seams to keep your edges looking nice; you want your fancy garments to look as nice on the inside as they do outside.

I keep a can of static cling spray on hand when working with satin since it can easily pick up static electricity and stick to itself making it difficult to work with. A quick spray now and then will ensure that you don't lose your mind with frustration.

Check out my Satin Kimono Dress for more tips on satin.


Thumbnail image for Kimono Dress green1.jpg


This or any napped fabric needs special attention when ordering yardage, lining up your pattern pieces and cutting. You must make sure that all your pieces have the nap running in the correct direction. This can mean you need extra fabric for a given pattern made from velvet as opposed to a non-napped fabric like linen, seersucker or sateen. Measure twice & cut once should be a law and not a guideline or even a rule when working with velvet. You don't want to try on your finished piece and it just look off or plain wrong.

Press your fabric from the wrong side to remove wrinkles. Not only does this make it easier to iron but it also preserves the nap of the fabric. Use a pressing cloth if your iron is dirty.

I prefer to use large headed pins when working with velvet since this makes them easier to see in the thick fabric. If you have pins in a contrasting color that helps too.

Use a walking foot to prevent shifting of your velvet. Due to the nap, velvet doesn't really sit well on top of its self when RS are facing. The longer stiff fibers can shift under the pressure of the sewing foot and feed dogs. A walking foot ensures that both top and bottom fabric move together, reducing any shifting.


Check out our Special Occasion Fabric Section


You can tell there is a nap when your fingers can leave trails in the fabric like above.  


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Fascinate Me! (Part 1 of 2)

August 5, 2012

Fascinators have grown very popular over the last several years, and even though I see fashion mavens claiming their time is up each season, I still see them everywhere, from chain accessory stores to high-end boutiques. There's something so alluring and almost magical about topping off an outfit with that little extra something.

Making fascinators is always fun, because you can create a little piece of personal couture using only a  few bits and bobs.

All of the fascinators featured in this post are meant to mount on a headband. I find I get irritated with clips because they don't always stay in place, and headbands will always work, no matter how long or short my hair is. That said, you can adapt almost any design to work on a clip or barrette if that's your preference -- the whole point is that it's just for you! My headband is 5/8" wide, but you can use any size -- you just might have to alter the width of some of the ribbons you work with to make sure it fits your headband.

The first two projects use Organza Rosette Ribbon. You can make a simple sleeve to fit over your headband using just a length of rosette and a matching length of grosgrain. As you can see, my grosgrain is narrower than my rosette. I still match up the edges, and the resulting bubbling of the rosette gives it a little added dimension.  

1-Fascinators.jpgI folded the ends of the ribbons in so there are no raw edges. Here it is with one side stitched:
2-Fascinators.jpgFor a little sparkle, I added two Theater Jewel buttons to the center two rosettes.

3-Fascinators.jpgThe next project used the same rosette ribbon in black, and I made it a little shorter -- just three rosettes instead of four:

4-Fascinators.jpgThen, I slipped a feather I had in my stash into the loop of a black and white Flapper Button, and glued that into place on the headband sleeve. I am in LOVE with these buttons -- they're carved, not printed, so they have a beautiful, delicate dimension to them that feels very Art Deco.

5-Fascinators.jpgVoila! Ready for a Roaring '20s party, or a snazzy day at the office.

The next type of slide-on accoutrements features felt circles as the base. I use my headband to gauge the width of the channel I need to stitch into the circles, layer two together, and sew two lines into it. This creates the pass-through for the head band. They key is make sure your headband can slide through, but that it stays snug to avoid slipping.

7-Fascinators.jpgTo build this one, I started with a damask button. I have always thought these buttons are so cute, but it took me a while to think of them for something like this.


Then, I folded a scrap piece of satin ribbon into a V shape.

9-Fascinators.jpgI added a few more feather bits from my bin of random fun. (See? THIS is why you buy little sparkly or fascinating things with no real plan. You're laying in stock for fascinator creation.)

10-Fascinators.jpgOnce the decorative portion was complete, I glued it to my felt circle base, and slid it onto my headband.

11-Fascinators.jpgThe next fascinator base is a long, tube-like sleeve that starts with two pieces of grosgrain ribbon wide enough to encase your headband. I pass the cut ends over a candle to seal them and prevent fraying. If you choose to do this, remember to be cautious! Flame is dangerous! (Duh.)

12-Fascinators.jpgStitch down either side of your ribbon layers to create the casing.

Check to make sure that your headband fits into the casing.

14-Fascinators.jpgI like to make multiple casing bases at once so I can just play with the trimmings to my heart's content.

15-Fascinators.jpgI found a ridiculously sparkly autumn leaf in the floral section of a local craft store recently and fell in love with it. So naturally, I want to wear it on my head. I carefully glued one of my prepared casings to the back of the leaf, making sure no glue got into the casing opening.

16-Fascinators.jpgAnd now, I'm going to have to come up with some sort of Thankgiving dress to match this!

17-Fascinators.jpgI also have a couple of feather and bell sprays that I have had in the stash for a while, and decided to glue one of them to a grosgrain casing to see if I liked it as a fascinator.

18-Fascinators.jpgAnd I did! This is obviously not for every day, but would be great for a dress-up occasion when a more dramatic look is perfect.

19-Fascinators.jpgThis is the first batch -- I've got more to show you! You'll have to tune in next time for more fascinator fun. Including tiny hats! I hope this has sparked your creativity. I find that fascinators are like potato chips -- one is never enough! The more I make, the more I want.

Getting Ready for Baby: Floor Quilt

August 3, 2012

baby floor quilt1

I am taking a break from my Denyse Schmidt Hills n' Hollers quilts to make a floor quilt. My goal was to finish a quilt before baby #2 makes her debut. My plan hinged on the idea that a precut quilt might speed my process up a bit since cutting out the Hills for the Denyse quilt (I'm 2 twin size quilts for the girls) took a LONG time. I have been eying the Charm Packs we carry for a while now and decided to make my move. The charm packs can just be stitched up and pieced together to make a very cute and just the right size floor quilt for the nursery (Why not a crib quilt? See my post on "What not to make for Baby"). After a careful selection of which charm pack to use I set to work.

Charm Packs are sample sizes of quilting cotton collections sold in 5'' squares pinked on all sides. The charm size is just big enough to show off the print and to be used as a quilt piece but small enough that you don't feel the need to cut into it, but you can! There is a wealth of charm quilt patterns out there online. My favorite place to window shop is the Moda Bakeshop. However, Charm packs are not the only precut packs out there. You can also try your hand at Jelly Rolls: 2 ½'' by 44'' precut quilting cotton bundles that are sold in rolls that look delicious. There are also Layer Cake Bundles: a collection of 10'' squares that make up one of the newer precut themes. There are several more divisions of a fat quarters out on the market but these are the major players and make up the majority of quilting patterns.

baby floor quilt2

I stitched my charm pack together using ¼'' seam allowance and a 5 x 8 grid. Next, I finished the quilt top with a 5'' border of cotton muslin (log cabin style) all the way around to make a roughly 50'' x 35'' quilt top.  This was just the right size for playing on the floor, car rides, picnics in the park and any impromptu outings that require a soft place for baby to play. I have only finished the top and while it took me a while (I really wanted everything to be perfect) most of my apprehension is for the unknown. I have never made a quilt sandwich before and this will be my first time quilting on my non-quilting machine. Though with all your Facebook tips, I do feel more confident. I have my batting and my quilt backing (the green ribbon print by Denyse Schmidt) and when next you see this quilt it will be all done and ready for baby. I have to look into whether to baste my sandwich together or pin- decisions, decisions!!!

quilt Devon7 blog.jpg

The quilt is done!! The binding was easier than I had convinced myself and thanks to all the tutorial suggestions on Facebook I was able to figure it all out. I added 1 strip of blue print to the binding to add some fun and embroidered my daughter's name on the quilt in my handwriting. She loves it and so do I!

quilt Devon5 blog.jpg

Here is an overall view of the top before I finished the quilt


Knitting: Telling the difference between Moss St. and Seed St.

August 1, 2012


For years, I knitted under the delusion that many other knitters share: that Moss Stitch (in Peacock above) and Seed Stitch (in Blue Icing above) are the same stitch. It was only recently, within the last few years, that I learned to my shame that they are not the same at all. These two stitches are similar, yes, but different. Enough so to give a different drape and texture to your knitted fabric. Let me educate you if you share my former ignorance. Seed St. is a texture stitch that alternates knit and purl (in this it is the same as Moss St.) but it looks like tiny little seed bumps on a smooth field. It gives more drape because the tiny bumps allow more movement and it has a more subtle texture than Moss St. Both stitches are reversible; they work well on scarves, blankets and turned down collars. Any project that can be seen from both sides would benefit from Seed St. or Moss St.


Moss St. is an elongated version of Seed St. and has less drape and more structure due to the elongated stitch. I feel it has a more dramatic texture that is more visible than Seed St. I love them both but feel that though they are similar, these two stitches should be applied in different capacities. I love Seed St. as a companion or background stitch. Because the bumps are so tiny, they blend well with other, bolder stitches like cables and bobbles. Seed St. would work well on button bands, sleeves, collars and hems but not as the main texture of a sweater. It needs something to work with and complement, like a micro dot with a bold print. Moss St. being elongated and more dramatic can work as the main stitch of a project but not so well as a complementary stitch. I love its application in the Cardigan Bay Jacket by Carol Feller where it is center stage. It is a structured stitch so it works well on a jacket body. Moss St. is much bolder than Seed St. and gives a nice even texture to the jacket.


Seed Stitch:

Worked on an odd number of stitches: *K1, P1; repeat from * to last st., K1. Repeat this row on both sides. You will see alternating knit stitches with purl stitches on RS and WS creating the "seeds"

Moss Stitch

Worked on even number of stitches:

Row 1 & 2: *K1, P1; repeat from * to the end.  

Row 3 & 4: *P1, K1; repeat from * to the end.  

Repeat Row 1-4 and you will see elongated bumps 2 rows high on both the RS and WS.



My swatches were worked with Martha Stewart Crafts Cotton Hemp Yarn in Peacock and Blue Icing


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

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