November 2013 Archives

Quick Gift Pattern Hack: A Handy Roll for Makeup Brushes

November 28, 2013

Quick Gift Pattern Hack: A Handy Roll for Makeup Brushes

It's officially time to churn out some gifts, especially if you like to keep a few around. (I also like to make a few small things for myself while I work on gift projects.) And one of the projects I'm making this year is a simple little travel roll for keeping makeup brushes organized when you're going glam on the road. 

This one makes use of a free pattern download from our friends at Hot Patterns! It uses the outer section piece from the Bijoux Baby Jewelry Roll pattern. For my makeup brush roll, I untaped this piece at the join and retaped it so it's not as long, but if you or the person you're making this project for has a lot of makeup brushes, you might want it wider than mine. 

Continue reading Quick Gift Pattern Hack: A Handy Roll for Makeup Brushes.

Hostess Apron Tutorial- Inspired by Threshold

November 26, 2013

Hostess Apron Tutorial- Inspired by Threshold

Tis the season for hostess gifts which are one of my favorite gifts to make and give. I love reciprocating when I've been invited for a good time and good food. One of the best gifts to give is an apron. An apron doesn't need to be sized, is easy to make and easy to customize with colors, details and embellishments. I saw this version at Target a few weeks ago and fell in love. My family spends Thanksgiving and Christmas at my parents' house and twice my mom creates an incredible meal in which I usually repay by cleaning the kitchen. This year I thought I would step up my game and make her a beautiful apron as well, in her favorite color: pink. 

Continue reading Hostess Apron Tutorial- Inspired by Threshold.

Prim Fur Collars

November 24, 2013

6-fur-collars.jpgOne of the trends that appeared on runways over and over this year is faux fur, in everything from capes and coats to handbags.

I wanted to get in the trend without going fur crazy. I love faux fur, but my aim was to create a project that I could mix and match with existing wardrobe pieces that would also be functional in terms of warding of the cold. And it had to avoid that problem of bulk -- one of my most problematic issues with dressing to stay warm. So I settled on the idea of simple fur collars.

Continue reading Prim Fur Collars.

Knitting: Calculating Yarn Yardage

November 22, 2013

When creating a new project it is always handy to have the correct amount of yarn needed to see your project to fruition. If you enjoy math (or can easily tolerate it) then read the following paragraphs. If you despise math and don't mind rough estimations or need the easy but less percise way of calculating yarn then please skip down to the * at the bottom of the page. If you are looking for a math-free and precise way of gaining your yardage then: sorry, you will have to settle or one or the other. 

Continue reading Knitting: Calculating Yarn Yardage .

Product of the Month: Nu-Foam Bumper Pads

November 21, 2013

crib bedding3.jpg

If you haven't yet checked out the new selection of pillows, pads and stuffing that has in stock than you are sorely denying your stash and missing out. My favorite new products are the Nu-Foam Bumper Pads. I recently had a chance to work with them when I created some crib bedding in bright colors from some Amy Butler and Premier Print Fabrics. A few years ago when I had my first born I created some bumpers from poly fill stuffing and the results was great and did the job but it was nothing on the professional look and feel that I achieved with the Nu-Foam pads. Plus since the pads are pre-cut and all set to go I didn't have to measure or cut which saved a few hours at the least and I was confident that everything would all measure up. Couple that with the great Sew-4-Home tutorial that I used and it was a home run. I did modifiy the pattern just a touch by swapping the flat piping in for the large piping and I left my turn/stuffing gap for the bottom of the bumper pad not the side as suggested to hide the seam more but the results were still gorgeous. The bumper pads were a piece of cake to work with as well. I rounded the corners just as in the tutorial and just cut the pads with a regular 60mm rotary cutter and it cut fine.

crib bedding5.jpgcrib bedding2.jpg

I can recommend this product as a great beginner project because it is so simple and the results are very encouraging. It is hard not to get great results with Nu-Foam Bumper Pads. They are actually a thick batting, not foam, which means you do not need to add batting to get a soft, smooth result. Any irregularities in cutting disappear and the result is very professional. These pads would also work well as small window seat cushions, built-in eating area back cushions or for those Pinterest nap mats

Yummy, Versatile Faux Suede -- With Sparkle

November 17, 2013

LIa-redford-suede.jpgI'm always on the lookout for a good faux suede. Often, faux suedes never quite fulfill my desires. I want super ultra soft, but also easy to stitch. I want it to feel luxurious without breaking the bank. 

The Redford Faux Suede that's now in stock not only meets all those requirements for me, but it ALSO has some shimmer to it. Heaven! The finish on this is so luxe -- it feels amazing to the touch. The drape is fab because the fabric isn't super heavy. It has a great flow to it. 

I decided to make a swingy skirt with this fabric. I opted for the shortest version of Simplicity 1500. Since I'm only 5'3" tall, the shortest version comes to just above the knee on me.


One of the fun things about the finish on this fabric is the visual delight of it. Because it has natural variation, you get a lovely effect. There's also little to no fraying.

But, just like regular leather, it benefits from some special handling. Some may find that it wants to stick to the presser foot or plate while stitching, so you may want to use tissue paper layers to sandwich the fabric and prevent drag. And, if you remove stitches, you can have residual holes showing, as seen below. A little gentle rubbing takes care of most holes, but a little extra care and patience will help prevent ever needing to think about it.


I found I could iron this fabric on a low-medium heat setting, but I don't recommend doing so on the foiled side of the fabric, as it does change the texture a bit. But it irons beautifully, and the result is nice, crisp edges.

I also wanted to give you an idea of what stitching looks like the faux suede finish. The hem of this skirt is just folded up and straight stitched; this is what it looks like on the exterior of the garment:


And here's the finished skirt:

I'm glad I stuck to a pattern with simple lines -- this fabric has so much visual play thanks to the gold finish, it might look really overly-fussy if there were a lot of piecing. This fabric makes for such a statement piece, I will probably stick to a solid black shirt and tights with black boots when wearing this skirt.

My scraps were too pretty to toss, so I thought I'd let our cats in on some stylish fun. I used a buckle set from a worn-out collar to make a new one, and the model seems quite happy with the result.  

5a-redford-suede.jpgMy remaining scraps are absolutely going to get used up! I see many possibilities, so you may see this fabric pop up again in accessory posts. I also feel a strong urge to order another color for a jacket. Maybe red ... 

One Holiday Dress, Two looks

November 15, 2013


We are busy, all of us. With 2 young girls (the youngest of which thinks sleep is optional and she is opting out) it is hard to fit in sewing time. My sewing list wants and acomplishments rarely match up. I love making holiday dresses for my girls, Thanksgiving and Christmas but fitting in 2 dress per girl just didn't seem like a reality this year. So I decided if I was creative with my fabric choices and outfit pairings then I could stretch one dress to two holidays. It worked smashingly. IMG_5120.JPGIMG_5113.JPG


I started by writing down a list of colors I thought represented each holiday and then found 2-3 colors that appeared in each list. For me, Thanksgiving is all about the jewel tones; garnet, ruby, amber, gold and topaz were on my list. For Christmas I really love red, white and turquoise with a little green and gold thrown in. I found that red and gold were two colors I loved for both holidays so I dug into my fabric stash to find the perfect match up. After choosing a cute Oliver + S dress pattern,  I ended up pairing a red & white small floral pillow case  that I've had for ages and Flea Market Fancy Legacy Bouquet Orange as my gold with some Heather Bailey quilting cotton scraps as flat piping just because it really blended well with my 2 choices. To complete each look I styled the dress with different color leggings (using this tutorial), tops and sweaters to compliment the hoilday. For Thanksgiving my baby will wear brown leggings with a light pink top (actually the same as she wore for her Shrek Halloween Costume), brown and pink polka dot shoes and a light brown cardigan. For Christmas she will wear her dress with turquoise leggings, a red top, black patent shoes and navy blue cardigan. If only hair bows would stay put for more than five minutes... 



If you are having trouble with your fabric choices let me suggest a few selections if you don't find anything you like in our Holiday section. Try picking just one color and then allow the accessories (sweaters, legging, shoes) do all the work. Try a white dress but use a brown, orange or yellow sweater and leggings with brown shoes for Thanksgiving and all red for Christmas or all blue for Chanukah. Or go bold with a bright pink dress and all brown for Thanksgiving and turquoise and white for Christmas. Or choose a gold dress with red accents but pair it with burnt orange for Thanksgiving and green for Christmas and silver for Chanukah. holiday dress collage b.jpg

Blog of the Month: Burda Style Blog

November 13, 2013

Burda Style Cover.jpg

If you sew and you have not heard of Burda Style then it must be because you are new (then you would have discovered  Burda shortly), live under a rock (in this case you probably don't read this blog either) or don't own a computer (see previous). It is, quite simply, an awesome resource for sewing. And when I use the word "awesome" I mean it literally- it inspires awe. I have not written about it before because I have been referencing Burda Style for so long that I guess I have taken it for granted. It is my go-to resource for techniques, fashion/project inspiration and general time-filling while I have an idle minute.

 I recommend checking out all the sections of the Burda Style blog which are listed below. I have a few favorites myself which are the Fashion & Trends and Guest Columns. 


If you don't use Burda for the sewing resourses, tutorials, videos or inside tips then use it for the Fashion & Trends. Oh, the fashion! There are many free and purchase patterns available through Burda Style's blog but there are also tons of pictures, modifications and fabric ideas to be had. This is especially true around fashion week when you can expect a slurry of posts referencing your favorite designers and some Burda Pattern recomendations. I love this and always have it open along with a window so I can match fabric as well.

Another of my frenquented spots on Burda Style blog is definitely the Guest Column section. It is like a fresh take on Burda Style. Not that Burda Style is stale but it is all the style you expect from Burda but in a different voice and with a different spin. I liken it to discovering that your favorite author's best friend is also an author in the same genre. Double Jackpot! I enjoy the different voices and viewpoints and love the modifications on my favorite patterns. 

DIY Tufting

November 8, 2013

My last project (tufted window seat) got me all excited over tufting and I could not stop researching it. I found so much useful and interesting information on upholstery tufting that I wanted to share it with you. 

Did you know there are three types of tufting: diamond, square (AKA Biscuit) and rectangle (AKA Bun)?Bun tuftingBiscuit 


  • Only use a diamond pattern that is taller than it is wide for upholstery because otherwise it looks skewed and awkward asthetically. 
  • It is generally recommended to use either a solid fabric or a small print fabric design when planning a tufted piece. This is because there is folding, pulling and distortion going on that can take away from the over all design, can hide motifs in the fabric and create weird shapes. 
  • When tufting the best results come from supporting your tufts on the back so the thread doesn't pull out. This can be done by either stapling or nailing your thread or knotting in extra material, cotton wadding or another button to the back or underside of the project. 
  • You can tuft with or without buttons but if you want a deep tuft you will need to use buttons and cut into your foam. The button distributes the weight of the thread pulling on it and the cut foam allows the button to sink further into the foam to create a deep tuft. 
  • I recommend using a fabric with medium stiffness and drape so it can be pulled and folded into place without blowing away on the breeze. Too light fabric will wear too quickly and will not with stand the stress of the tufts rendering it useless and too heavy will be uncomfortable and will not allow for a generous tufting because it will resist too much.
  • I found this great blog post on headboard shapes. I wanted to pass it along because a headboard is a great first upholserty/tufting project. 
  • It is important to add a layer or two of batting on top of the foam to soften all hard edges and to reduce friction between the fabric and the foam. 
  • Be sure to plan out with a calculator the size of the shape of your tufts, how far apart and how tall and wide each tuft will be. 

Tufting tutorials:

You must check out this diamond tufted headboard by Blue Roof Cabin. It is a recovered french style headboard that is beautifully remade. You can find the full tutorial through the link. 

Another great diamond tufted tutorial can be found on Thrifty Decor Chick's blog. It is a softer tufted look that is much simplier with less work but with added nailhead trim. This is another great first project. 

If you want to try your hand at something more advanced check out Upholstery Journal Magazine's barrel back chair. There is a complete reupholstery tutorial on their blog and it is fantastic. 

Springtime in Winter Scarf

November 7, 2013

LI-Springtime-Winter-Scarf.jpgAs we head into bundle-up season, I have already noticed how much darker everyone's clothes are. Winter just automatically brings more somber tones to the wardrobe palette, and while I love my all-black most of the time, there are days when a little dash of springtime would go a long way to keeping my mood elevated while I shiver.

With that in mind, I set out to make a little scarf that would remind me that spring will come again and bring new flowers with it.

The construction on this one is a breeze. I started with antique velvet (you only need half a yard) and cut two strips the width of the fabric -- 58 inches -- by 9 inches.

The scarf pieces get stitched right sides together leaving an opening, turned, and sewn shut. Then I top stitched all around the long rectangle 1/4 inch from the edge. Basic and simple:


Next up: rosettes! I cut three strips of stretch velvet 3 inches by 20 inches. Then I stitched them into tubes and turned them. I used these long pieces and Melanie's fabric rose tutorial to create three textured flowers. 

Once my flowers were complete, I made another small tube out of the same antique velvet I used for my scarf. This piece started out 3 inches wide and 9 inches long. 

That tube gets turned right side out and will become a carrier loop to pass one end of the scarf through.

I hand stitched my three rosettes to my band once it was turned right-side-out. You may find you prefer more roses, or a cluster rather than a straight line, or to make a wider carrier strip and fill in with smaller blooms. It's your garden!



Once my strip of flowers was done, I pinned each end of it across one side of my scarf to test placement. You want to be able to wrap it around your neck and pass one end of the scarf through the carrier created by your strip of roses.


After testing the position of my carrier, I machine stitched the ends of the strip into place (I folded the open end of the carrier closed and used this placement stitching to close it up as well as secure its position), and voila! A bright, sunny scarf for cold, dark days. 


Of course, you could make an elegant statement by choosing darker colors if you don't want to go for a pop of color, and you can change up the fabrics to whatever suits. The rosettes are a great project for using scraps from the stash!

Home: Tufted Window Seat

November 6, 2013


The secret to my success is not skill or creativity, it is my mom. She is among other great things my main babysitter and without her many of these projects would still be sketches on paper, unintelligible thoughts in Evernote or dreams that I keep captured in my head. So when she said she wanted a cushion for her window seat and that it should be smushy, cozy, and make you want to flop down and read a book, I said "Of course. I'm on it". We were able to translate smushy, etc into a picture of an old-fashioned horsehair mattress, which includes many imperfections in stuffing and tufting (Oh joy, I muttered sarcastically). The window seat is 101'' long by 24'' wide which is pretty hefty but perhaps your's will be smaller and more enjoyable because of it. Here's what you will need to get started. 



Fabric to fit your window seat (Choose a heavy weight fabric from our home decor section. It will hold up to the tufting and aforementioned flopping)

2'' thick medium density foam to fit window seat (Your finished cushion will be 3'' thick)

Poly fil stuffing (I actually pulled apart several old pillows. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)

High loft batting to fit cushion (again I reused an old fluffy blanket)

approx 10 yds of wool yarn for tufting

Doll needle or really long, thick, sharp needle (Metal tapestry needle would be my second choice)

22'' zipper (or zipper need to insert foam into cushion)



Cut 2 pieces from your fabric using this formula (width of cushion + depth of cushion + seam allowance = A, length of cushion + depth of cushion + seam allowance = B) AxB. Add in your zipper to the middle back of both panels along the width using this tutorial. With right sides facing, continuing sewing around the rest of the cushion fabric becing careful to open the zipper a bit so  you can turn it rightside out. But before you do turn it rightside out make the gussets. I added 3'' gussets since that is how thick I intended the cushion to be. Turn right side out and insert foam. Then spread the blanket on top of the foam and finally lightly (and I mean lightly) add stuffing on top of the blanket. The tufting will thicken it up and too much stuffing will prevent a good, deep tuft. tuft3.jpg


Using a long ruler and a pen mark the placements of your tufts. You can choose a square pattern like this or a diamond, off set like me. I laid mine out 6'' spacing in rows and each row was 8'' apart. Then I threaded my big needle and went down from the top and out the bottom. I left a small 14-1/2'' gap and went back up from the bottom. Remove the needle and cross your thread to make a knot and pull it tightly. Complete by knotting it 2 more times. Trim yout yarn to 1'' piece ends. These will fray and fuzz and look delightful. Once you complete your tufting you are done. Mine took about 2 hours just for the tufting but again it was a huge cushion. Get your self a nice coffee or ice cream, because you've earned it. Don't forget to dress your cushion with some cozy throw pillows, a warm blanket and a good book. 


The Yummiest Leather You'll Ever Sew

November 3, 2013

LI-Leather-Jacket.jpgWhen I got an email from Kristl asking if I'd want to make a project using the Perfection Fused Leather that had just come in, I nearly jumped for joy. 

Making myself a leather jacket has been on the sewing bucket list for years -- YEARS -- but it always gets deprioritized for other things or because I feel like I don't have the time to devote to the careful stitching that leather requires or the cash to buy a hide. So you can see why I'd be so excited to play with this new yummy textile. This leather is lightweight and has a rayon backing, making it much easier to sew than unbacked leathers.

I selected a pattern with clean, simple lines -- Simplicity 2341 -- and simplified it further by eliminating the trim and combining the snap collar of view A and the zippered pockets of view C. I also decided to line the jacket (I used a purple satin), which is not called for in the pattern.

While the rayon backing on this leather makes stitching right-side-together seams easy as pie, any time the face of your leather is going under the foot, you'll need to use tissue paper on it to prevent it from sticking to the pressed foot or the feed plate. Once your stitching is done, you tear away the tissue paper. (Sometimes, you have to spend a bit of time picking tiny bits of tissue residue from your stitching. Put in a favorite movie and have at it!)

You'll want to set your stitch length a little longer than you would set it for sewing woven fabrics. Even though the backing fabric reinforces and supports the leather, you still don't want to perforate it any more than necessary.

A lot of people like to use binder clips in lieu of pins when working with leather, because pins can leave holes in your fabric.
I prefer hair clips to binder clips, because you can more easily remove them as you stitch, and they don't leave imprints on the leather. But, they also don't grip as tightly, so you may have to experiment to see which you prefer and what the situation calls for.
For my sleeve lining, I cut leather facings and stitched them to the bottom edges of the lining pieces before assembling the jacket. That way, the interior of my finished sleeve edge still shows leather rather than lining.
I sewed the sleeves to their linings at the hem, turned them, then top stitched along the bottom to finish.  I inset my sleeves last, after the rest of the jacket was assembled, and bound the armsceye seams so there are no raw edges showing inside the jacket. Because a jacket like this is best if it has a perfect custom fit, I highly recommend making a muslin first. The sleeves as drafted in the pattern just didn't sit properly on me at the shoulder seam, so I had to make some adjustments. Since you want to sew leather as little as possible to prevent perforation and cracking, you don't want to have to take out and reset seams to get your fit right.  

I'm really pleased with how this project turned out, and I am in LOVE with the supple, buttery fused leather. As is almost always the case when I find a new textile I love, now I want to make something else (or many something elses) with it!

Knitting Techniques: M1R & M1L

November 1, 2013

M1R 101.jpg

There are many different ways to increase in knitting; some are neutral and some slant. In order to achieve the correct look it is neccessary to use the right increase for your design. Neutral increases do not slant either way but slanting increases can go either right or left. Slanting increases are perfect for raglan shoulder seams, triangle lace shawls or to shape a design to a hat or to blend in with an overall scheme. Make 1 is a simple, easy slanting increase that makes a subtle increase that can blend easily into a design. It is created by picking up the bar between stitches and either knitting into the front or back. Make 1 can slant either Right or Left  depending on how you pick it up. Besure to knit into it so it twists or else you will be left with a unattractive hole. Below I will talk you through Make 1 Right and Make 1 Left. 

M1R Collage.jpg

Make 1 Right slants to the right and is created by picking up the bar between stitches (seen in top photo above) from back to front. This means you come into the bar from behind and pick it up with your left needle. Then knit into the front of the stitch, just like regular knitting. 

M1L collage.jpgMake 1 Left slants to the left. It is created by picking up the bar between stitches (as shown in top photo above) with the right needle from front to back. Then slip the newly formed loop onto your left needle and knit into the back loop (shown in 4th photo above). 

This versitile slanting increase creates a small twisted stitch that blends well and is less noticeable to other slanted increases like Knit Front & Back. It is perfect for lace work. 

Project shown: Bloomsbury Kids Sweater in size 6 yrs in Lion Brand Wool Ease in Sea Spray. Follow my progress on instagram by following TaraDangerMiller and Fabricdotcom

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This page is an archive of entries from November 2013 listed from newest to oldest.

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