January 2014 Archives

Knitting with Beads

January 31, 2014


Great beauty comes with great challenge was never more true than working with beads. Knitting with beads is my white whale. I love the outcome but it is not the most enjoyable knitting for me. Others love it but not me. However, the finished product does make it worth it and I do love beaded knits. Oh do I! Many of my friends and family do as well so I grin and bear it but it is tricky work. Beads are slippery, elusive and seem to have a mind of their own. They will deceive you into thinking you have them right where you want them only to work a row and find they are somewhere else. Luckily beads are easy manipulated. Beads are so beautiful that any amount of funny business is worth it. IMG_5361.JPG

Preparing to knit with beads is not difficult. When pressed I would say that no part of knitting with beads is difficult just tricky. To knit with beads you must first string your beads. You can knit with just about any size bead as long as you find a yarn that will fit inside the bead. I find that lace/fingering weight yarn works the best. This doesn't restrict you to only fingering weight patterns. You can pair your beaded fingering yarn with any other weight of yarn, just knit with both yarns together. I first paired my lace weight beaded yarn with another skein of the same yarn. Two lace weight strands together was the equivalent of one strand of fingering weight so I worked with a size 4 needle.

However, I didn't like the finished weight so I paired my beaded lace weight yarn with DK weight and that gave me the equivalent of a light worsted weight yarn and I worked it on a size 6 needle. 


To string your beads you will need a tapestry needle that will fit inside your beads. I used a size 6/0 seed bead that I purchased online. This is the most popular size (it is about the size of half a grain of rice). My beads were pre-strung which was very helpful. I just threaded my needle with my yarn and strung the beads while they were still on their original string. Once all beads were strung I clipped the original string. I didn't have to deal with beads scattered all over my table and they were all lined up ready to go. Your pattern will tell you how many beads to string. Every once in a while you will come across a bead that won't fit on your needle; just skip it and string the next bead. When you clip your original string all the faulty beads will fall to the table.

knitting with beads.jpg

Once all your beads are strung lead out a good bit of yarn from the ball and push your beads all the way down. You will have to do this repeatedly as you use of the lead yarn. You will pull up a bead as you need it. Once you get to a beaded stitch, pull up a bead close to the needle and work it into the stitch you are knitting. It should sit in the middle of the loop you created. If it doesn't you can manipulate it on the next row. Sometimes a bead will pop over to the back side. Just push it through later on; it is not a big deal and easily fixed.


Beads can be added to any pattern to add sparkle to any detail you like. Add them to your collar, the tops of pockets, sleeve cuffs, blanket edgings, hat brims or shawls. I recommend if you are starting out to pair your yarn with a DK or bigger weight yarn so you can easily see your loops, bead placement and to get a feel working with beads. You will love the result whether or not you enjoy the process.  

Check out Ravelry for great beaded patterns in all sizes.


Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt

January 29, 2014


For Christmas my oldest daughter received a very special quilt from her Bestemor (Norwegian for Grandmother), a Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt. As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to share it on the blog. Typically this is a forum where I share my creations but this quilt was too delightful not to tell the world and since Fabric.com has all the Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric in stock it seemed meant to be.caterpillar3.jpgcaterpillar2.jpg

My daughter is over the moon with her quilt; can't spend a night without it. My mother-in-law did an amazing job in creating it.  She uses a machine to piece her quilt tops but always hand quilts the quilt sandwich and hand stitches the binding which just makes my heart melt. Beste (pronouced Besta- short for Bestemor) used the Fons & Porter Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt Pattern but there are several beautiful Hungry Caterpillar quilts using the multi-color transformation panel fabric (which is my favorite) and many of the coordinating fabrics in different configurations. You can get some great ideas just by googling your favorite fabric plus quilt and searching by images. Here is my search results for Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt Pattern. You can find all our Very Hungry Caterpillar Fabrics here. Beste worked on this over several months with her quilting group who helped her along the way. The quilt top is hand quilted with buterflies but hearts, leaves and apples can also be used and be very cute.

caterpillar5.jpgButterfly hand quilting


You can also find the Very Hungry Caterpillar Coloring Panel. It is a great addition for older artist kids or a way to commemorate art from a certain age. I would love to add the multi-color panel to the quilt top and the coloring panel to the back so you can have something you made on one side and the child's contribution on the other. I imagine my daughter will have this quilt for many, many years as I still have the quilt my grandmother made for me. I hope Beste has already started on a second for my youngest daughter who would love her own caterpillar quilt just as much as this one is loved. 


More Very Hungry Caterpillar Quilt Patterns here


Snuggly Valentine Project: A Cuddle Bug Built for Two

January 26, 2014


Valentine's Day is approaching, but because this winter has been ridiculously cold, all I can think of are projects to keep me warm. Even so, I have to give credit for this one to my dear friend Phred, who, when I said, "What's a romantic stitching project?" immediately came up with a sleeved blanket for two people. Hilarious and genius! I will totally make these for couples I know. They'll either love the idea or laugh at it, but both are wins in my book.

When I first made a Cuddle Bug several years ago, I wasn't sure how I felt about this craze. I am now a convert. I LOVE being able to use the remote while curled up in my little cocoon without having to send my poor arm away from the comfort a cozy blanket. I can also administer scritches to the cats while keeping totally toasty. What's not to love?  Add my beloved to the equation, and it only gets better.

This project takes a little less than 5 yards of fleece. If you're making it for tall people, you might want to cut it a little longer.



-Cut two pieces 1 2/3 yards each for the Cuddle Bug body. You'll basically be assembling two blankets and then joining them.
-About  15 inches down from the top of each body piece, cut 2 circles 10 inches in diameter. See the diagram above for placement. The sleeve holes are skewed off center because you'll eventually join the pair of blanket pieces together along the edge 7 inches away from each hole. This way, two people can sit side by side and still have plenty on each side to tuck around them.
-Cut two 25-inch long pieces along the grain.
-Cut the 25-inch in half lengthwise, so you have four sleeve pieces which are each 25" by approx. 30"

-Finally, cut two rectangles 8.5 by 11 inches. These will be made into pockets for the front of the Cuddle Bug for stashing remotes, smartphones or even snacks (I'm not going to judge).

Most fleece has a funky distorted selvage edge -- just trim that right off. I tie mine into little bundles for the cats to play with:



-With the right side up, fold down about 1 inch at the top of the pocket. Sew along all edges 3/8 inch from the edge, leaving the folded edge unstitched.


-Flip your fold to tuck in the seam allowance and stitch close to the raw edge to form the top of the pocket. The stitching around the edges of the sides and bottom of the pocket will help you turn the raw edges under without entering the danger zone of pressing fleece -- the stitching sits at the fold line.


- Center the pocket piece between the two arm holes and stitch around the sides and bottom. I set mine about 10 inches down from the arm holes, but if you want your pocket to sit further up the chest rather than in the lap, you can of course move it. I stitched first at 1/8 inch from the folded edge, and then a second time at 1/4 inch from the edge. Then I added a vertical stitch to break the big pocket into two smaller sections.


-Fold each sleeve in half lengthwise, and stitch closed along long edge. 
-Sew the sleeves into the sleeve holes, orienting the seam towards the bottom and easing in as necessary. 
(Since fleece is so easy to work with, I don't even bother with pins or clips on this step - just go for it!)

-Once your sleeves are in place, it's time to join the two sections at the center. I like to stitch mine with one side overhanging the other a little, then I fold it flat and stitch the seam allowance down.



-If desired, finish the edges of the blanket body. I hemmed mine, but you can leave them unfinished, serge them, or fringe them.

I'm short (5'3") and my husband is 5'10" -- so you can see that this length won't fully cover his feet if we're stretched out, though it also won't trip us up when we stand. If you want a longer blanket for more coverage, be sure to factor that into your fabric allowance.

And now it's TV time!


Easy-peasy lounge pants

January 24, 2014


We work hard and when it's time to relax we want to do that hard as well. When we go to work we wear work clothes, when we go someplace nice we wear nice clothes and when we relax we wear relaxing clothes.


I don't mess around with my lounge clothes. I want soft. I want comfy. I also want cute; it makes me feel good. But, and please bear with me, I don't always want yoga pants. Wait, don't stop reading. The only reason I say that is because sometimes, just sometimes, I want a slimmer fit. Some days, I am clumsy and the wider leg of my yoga pants is not condusive to walking, running after kids or even watching a good movie. So I created an alternative version for those days. You decided for yourself or better yet make both so you can have another reason to relax.


I started with my previous yoga pants pattern that we drafted back here but from the just above the knee down I tapered the leg all the way down to the ankle taking off an 1.5'' on the inside and outside of each leg. This is not enough to give the pant a tapered look when wearing, it appears as a straight leg when worn. I cut the pattern pieces out of ITY Jersey Knit Fabric and stitched the two front pieces together at the crotch. All seams are 1/4'' unless otherwise noted. 

Next, cut 4 patch pockets from printed Jersey Knit Fabric using this pattern piece and with right sides together stitch two pieces together leaving the top open for turning. Press. You can finish the top with your serger, bias trim or fold over and top stitch. Repeat for second pocket. Pin pockets to the front of your pants 1'' from the top and 1.5'' from the center seam. Top stitch each pocket in place. 

Finish assembling the pants by sewing the two back pieces together at the crotch seam (right sides together) then stitch the side seams, inseam and assemble the yoga band and stitch it to the top of the pants. (see this previous post for instructions). Finish the bottom legs with a turned hem. 


Now cut four pieces of 1/4'' elastic to 4'' long. With pants right side out, pin one piece of elastic 1'' above bottom hem on the side seam. Using a small zig zag stitch (your machine may have a elastic zig zag stitch, see your manual) start sewing about 1/2'' from the edge of the elastic, back stitching in place. Sew for about 1/4'' then start stretching the elastic. Keep sewing and stretching until you reach the last 1/2'' of elastic then back stitch in place and clip your threads. Repeat for the remaining piece on that leg and the other 2 pieces of elastic on the other leg. This will give you a ruched effect at the bottom of each leg. 

These lounge pants are just the thing for hanging out, running errands, making sure you don't look like you just rolled out of bed to drop off your kids at school though you totally did, pajama pants, and yoga pants. Add your own style with different pocket shapes or add length to your pants and increase the length of the elastic for a greater ruching effect. The pockets are just the right size to fit an MP3 player, cell phone, lip balm or to hide chocolate candies which you can eat unseen during a movie. 

What's that Fabric: Awards Season

January 22, 2014

Awards season is upon us (insert squeal here) and the dresses are breath-taking, chic and inspiring. Bu,t before you start sifting through your pattern collection let's take a look at one very popular award show dress fabric: satin. Satin has a high sheen due to its weave. The warp yarns (finely spun threads that are tight) are floated over the weft. Floats create a more uniform surface unlike a typical weave which is over-under, over-under. This uniform surface can reflect more light than tradtional weaving. Think of the smooth surface of water without wind (satin) and with wind (tradtional weaving). Unfortunatly, the floats are also the reason this fabric is prone to snags. There are many types of satin; some with oodles of drape and plenty of body. Let's discuss. 

Satin Charmeuse: This is the satin that comes to mind most readily when you think of satin. It is light with a lot of drape and can be shaped easily but it is also tricky to sew because it is so slick. It is very important to choose a pattern that includes alot of drape with this fabric. Charmeuse cannot hold a shape very well, it depends on the body to give it shape but it can be manuipulated with gathers, ruching, swags to highlight body assets. 

Duchess Satin: This satin has a great deal of body making it very unlike Charmuese. It shares the sheen but must be approached differently in terms of shaping. Your best bet is to create shape with creative seam lines instead of gathers. Duchess is a very dramatic fabric which makes is a favorite during award season.

Satin Chiffon: This is a lighter fabric than Charmeuse with an tranlusent quality. Typically chiffon is matte but with some stretch and satin has a sheen and no stretch but together, satin chiffon, has some stretch with more shine. Notice how the green gown above has less of a sheen than the previous two dress but it still has the sexy drape similar to charmeuse but it is not as clingy. It is lighter than charmeuse which allows it to drape the body but also float around it. This is my favorite of the three satins. 


Knitting: Slipped Stitches

January 17, 2014

It is just like a knitter to turn a seeming mistake into a design attribute. Slipped stitches in most contexts are not good at all but when weaved into your pattern a slipped stitch or a few can create interesting color changes, complex textures and even add a curve to the bust of a sweater. Slipped stitches are a vital part of any pattern designer's bag of tricks because slipped stitches are so versitile. 


westknits brioche.jpg

Borrowed from Bundled in Brioche by Stephen West

Slipped stitches when worked in one or more colors (as shown in the Peaches n' Cream Ball Band Dishcloth above) can bring color from a row below. This can create a brick pattern, or create a dual colored ribbed as with brioche (Check out Stephen West's free pattern Bundled in Brioche). Be careful when drawing up slipped stitches from rows below, as with the dishcloth pattern, if you continue pulling the stitch up beyond 3-4 rows then you run the risk of bunching and gathering. 

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You can create amazing textures with slipped stitches, whether it be the brioche mentioned earlier or the linen stitch I worked up last year which created a very dense and stable knitted fabric. Brioche has the amazing ability when knit in two colors to create a subtle color shift effect but when knit in one color the texture takes center stage and creates a denser, stable and less clingy ribbed effect.

Slipped stitches are also a key ingredient in short rows which can add a 3D shape to your knitted garments. Short rows, with the help of cleverly placed slipped stitches, can add ease in the bust, hips, neckline or create a perfectly shaped shawl collar. It is the pairing of slipped stitches which are later picked up and wrapped that make this three dimension shaping possible. The shape created is not mearly an increase or a decrease which can a triangle shape but rather a bowl or rounded shape which is perfect for certain areas of the body.

Slipped stitches are also used in lace knitting, textureal decreases, changing the side edges to make them more presentable and sometimes easier to pick up stitches later on, and creating mock cable stitches. I encourage you to embrace this would-be mistake and make it your own, be it for color changes, texture or for create design features in any knitted project. Don't forget to use a life line when experimenting.  

Expand Your Shoe Wardrobe!

January 16, 2014

I hate to be all predictable when it comes to gender generalizations, but I really can't get enough shoes. And boots ... oh, how I love them. I do run into a little bit of trouble with boots though -- I have thick calves. Sometimes I find wide-width boots that fit and look good, but the delight of being a stitcher is being able to solve problems like this myself. So I decided to make some boot shafts to top off regular shoes.

I started with McCall's 6615. As written, it calls for a two-part lining, one part intended to fold down and show at the top of the boot, and the other part intended as a lighter-weight lining for the lower area of the topper. The pattern instructions have you line the boot, then use elastic to gather both the exterior and the lining in one fell swoop. Instead of doing that, I did the gathering/shaping with elastic on the lining and the exterior fabric separately, and then joined them together. 

As for that wide calf problem, I opted to extend the pattern by about half an inch past its original cut line along the calf, then eased back to the normal cut line as I approached the ankle.


I also opted to use elastic for the under strap instead of the two-part velcro strap called for in the pattern. 

For the photos below, I wore each pair showing both options of the reversible boots so you can compare them. 

This first pair is made with Perfection Fused Leather on one side and Antique Cotton Velvet on the other. 



The second pair features a combination of Deadwood Faux Leather and a stretch velvet. For this pair, I also took out the curvature at the top. So when it's folded down, it's more of a straight line. 



One thing I really love about these reversible faux boots is that they are WARM. If you're hot-natured, though, it could be a bit much, so factor that in when you consider fabrics for a project like this. 

And now I have to build some fun outfits around these ... 

Blog of the Month: Four Generations One Roof

January 15, 2014

We recently moved closer to my parents (umm... right next door) so I have been doing my research on multi-generational living for tips on keeping the peace. Imagine my excitement when I found a blog that covered all my bases: multi-generations and crafting! Four Generations One Roof is a well done blog that is heavy on the DIY with some very classic decorating applications. Jessica, the blog mistress, has a mellow, classic and chic vibe going on but she can throw down some holiday spice. I really appriciate her neutral palattes that she uses in her rooms. It really allows her to change a few little things (pillows, frames, accessories) to change the room for seasons and holidays.

Now, I know all of your reading this know your way around a sewing machine but should you need a quick curtain, a lazy day sans sewing machine or have non-sewing friends be sure and check out Jessica's posts on non-sewing fabric projects. They are great. Most of Jessica's projects are home based but there are plenty of small projects, kid projects and fun crafts to fill an idle day, help inspire you or keep crazy kids entertained.  This blog is also filled with wood projects. Fabric projects are all well and good but custom curtains, pillows and throws can only make an old fireplace, windows or closet look so good. 

Be sure and check out the home tours to get a sneak peek inside the home that houses 4 generations.

Fashion Flashback: Corduroy Jumper

January 12, 2014

The summer before my senior year of high school was a watershed period in my sewing development. I had convinced my mother to let me spend the money normally budgeted for school clothes in fabric, with the promise that I would make my wardrobe for the year. I still remember the giddiness of my shopping trip, picking out fine wools and plaids and a few small floral prints. Much to the surprise of many, I went very vintage with my choices -- almost prim -- opting to use patterns from the '50s that I had found in my mother's stash. I was a rebellious dresser from a young age, so my parents weren't sure what to make of the houndstooth and wool plaid and corduroy and the old-school design choices. I was just elated to be entirely in charge of what I wore. It was heaven.

I still think very fondly about that year's wardrobe, and lately I've been waxing rhapsodic about making a new corduroy jumper for the sake of nostalgia. When the embroidered corduroy showed up, I knew I had to have some -- it can't be just for kids! 

Shortly after my fabric arrived, I stumbled across Simplicity 3673 while pawing through my pattern collection. (It's out of print, but you can still get it as of this writing.) I instantly wanted to make the fuller skirt version -- so cute. I BARELY had enough fabric to get it all cut, which meant I wouldn't be able to cut for symmetry. A little bit of a bummer, but I decided I was willing to live with the situation and forge ahead.



Here's a little tip for marking dark fabrics: I use a metallic permanent marker. I always test by marking a scrap and running it through the wash, and I only mark on the back, but this has been my go-to for years. Because I hate squinting and trying to find a semi-obscure mark on fabric while I'm stitching.

2-Corduroy-Jumper.jpgHere is the finished jumper, on its own and paired with two different shirts. At the moment, I don't mind the asymmetry of where the crowns fall, but if it starts to bug me at some point in the future, I'll add a bow or belt detail, since the ones at the center front are the most obvious. 

3-Corduroy-Jumper.jpgCan we TALK about how soft this fabric is once it's washed? It's quite velvety. I loooooove it. That super softness also means it's a fab choice for kids' clothes. I would also love to make a bag or two with it and possibly some slippers and maaaaaybe even a pair of pants. What's on your must-sew list for embroidered corduroy?



Product of the Month: Clear Elastic

January 10, 2014


You may have seen this month's product countless times but have you really noticed it. It stabilizes your t-shirt shoulders so your sleeves don't end up on your waist. It keeps the stretch in your knit dress' waists. It is also used as hanging loops for your beloved jersey LBD (Little Black Dress). It has many uses but do you use it? A few month's back my mom made a t-shirt topped twirly dress for my oldest daughter. My daughter loved it but was only able to wear it once. Why? Because the skirt pulled on the top too much and holes started to appear at the waist seam. I told my mom and she went through a slew of declarations that included:

I used the correct size needle

My tension was perfect

I used a stretch stitch 

I even used a brand new stretch needle!

I assured her it was nothing that she did. She needed to add clear elastic to the waist as a stabilizer. "But that wasn't in the pattern" she replied. I know, I know it rarely is. Clear elastic is a key notion needed for sewing knit garments but I rarely see it in pattern instructions. Perhaps this post can get the word out that although not mentioned, it is best to be safe and order some clear elastic for any knit garments you are making. Add it to shoulder seams (sew it inside the seam allowance so it doesn't show on the right side of the garment), gathered waists (pulling on the elastic while you sew it in place will create great gathers) and necklines. It will prevent the floppy look that knits can adopt when under strain for too long or stretched out. The clear elastic helps by absorbing some of the stretch of the area and then it bounces back, helping the knit fabric to recover as well. Clear elastic is tricky to work with at first because it is more rubbery than the more common elastic and you must use one hand to steer the elastic and one to steer the fabric but it doesn't take long to get the hang of it. I used a stretch stitch that my machine's manual suggested for sewing on elastic and a stretch needle as opposed to a ball point. The stretch needle pierces the elastic better than a ball point and I don't have to switch needle to sew the rest of my garment. 


Fabric.com carries 3/8'' elastic. You can find it here. My knit fabric is Organic Interlock Navy. 

One Size Casserole Carrier

January 9, 2014


I love casseroles. I really really love them. While I do love to cook I am not about 30 ingredients and several hours of tastings and seasonings. I love chopping a few things, throwing them in a dish and tossing that into the oven. 20-40 minutes later I expect my nose to be in ecstasy and shortly there after my belly to be full and happy. Soooo, since I am such a casserolian I realized one day that I need a mode of transportation for my beloved one dish wonders. The glass lids on my corningware are not suitable for car trips so I improvised something that ended up doing the job but was a one-way venture only.   I was lucky enough to be dropping off a casserole to a friend who happened to have a casserole carrier she inherited from her grandmother. I stole it quickly and used it until it disintergrated. In this post I will remake this carrier and show you how to make your own to fit your casserole dishes. I made mine out of only lightweight cotton but feel free to add insultating batting.


1) Grab your biggest casserole dish and place it on a large sheet of paper (I used the butt end of a roll of newspaper print) and trace your dish, rounding any sharp edges. Next, measure the height of your dish, divide it in half and add that all around your traced shape. Add your seam allowance (I prefer 1/2'') all around. Cut out your pattern piece. 

2) On a fold piece of quilting cotton (I used Clothworks), trace your pattern piece and cut it out. You should have 2 pieces, a top and a bottom. Set your bottom piece aside. On your top piece, measure and mark 3.5'' in all around your piece. With a fabric marker connect all these marking until you have a shape similar to your top piece. Cut it out so you have a hole in the middle of your top piece and the remaining top piece is 3.5'' wide. 


3) Cut 2 straps 15'' long by 4'' wide. Fold strap in half lengthwise and press. Open and fold each long side toward the center and press. Fold the strap in half again with raw long edges tucking toward the center fold and press again. Top stitch down the strap on both sides. Repeat for second strap. Fold your top piece in half along the length and mark the center. Pin each strap short end 2-3'' from the center mark on either side of the center mark, matching the raw short ends with the outside edge of the top piece. Baste straps in place. With wrong sides together, pin and stitch the top piece to the bottom piece. 

4) Cut 4 yds of 2'' wide bias trim from a coordinating solid quilting cotton and 1 yd of 4'' wide bias trim. Press both trim pieces into a double fold. Using the 2'' trim apply it to the outside raw edge of the casserole carrier. Apply the 4'' bias trim to the inside hole of the casserole carrier leaving a 2'' gap for the drawstring. Serge or zig zag stitch the remaining 2'' bias trim to use as the drawstring. Thread it through the casing your created with the 4'' bias trim with a bodkin or a safety pin. Knot each end several times until the knot is bigger than the opening. casserole7.jpgPlace your casserole in your carrier and pull the drawstring. It will tighten the whole carrier around your dish to secure it and the lid in place. This carrier can adjust to any shape dish. I've used mine for oblong and round. It is great and very handy. 


Welcome, 2014: Getting Organized With a Pocket Curtain

January 5, 2014

Time for a little new year organization project! 

When we bought our house, I was so excited about my closet. It was much more spacious than what we had available in our apartment, and it has its own window. I thought it was so magical and huge that I would never be able to fill it. Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Needless to say, I was having some sort of fever dream. My clothes never fit into that closet. And my organizational skills when it comes to closets are a little lacking, so things got out of hand in a hurry. Cut to four years later, and my very sweet husband is spending a couple of week's worth of free time helping me get a handle on the situation. In December, we took everything out and put in new shelving and things improved dramatically. 

But still, not everything fit. AND I had never covered the window. So, I decided to combine my need for a window treatment and my need for additional storage all in the same project. Time for a pocket curtain!

This curtain is super simple -- all you need is a couple of yards of fleece and a couple of yards of a cotton print. (You can, of course, make it with more sophisticated fabric choices, but I wanted to keep things fun and be able to throw my curtain in the wash.)

I started by measuring the window, and decided to make my curtain 32x58 inches. So I first cut my fleece to that size, adding about 8 inches to the top to create my curtain rod casing later.

Next, I decided on my pocket depth and opted for about 8 inches. I cut 5 strips of the cotton print that were 9x 42 inches, using the full width of my fabric for the length. 

To prep my pocket fabric, I first ironed in a narrow double fold at the top edged and stitched it for each of the five strips.

Next, I had to figure out how many separate pockets I wanted to create along each strip. I landed at 5, so I divided 32 by 5 and got 6.4. 

At the bottom edge of my fleece, I marked every 6.4 inches with a sharpie. (You can see my cutting is not the least bit straight. I'll fix it later.)


Then I measured up 12 inches from the bottom and drew a line across the fleece fabric, and marked the same places 6.4 inches apart. I made a total of 5 placement markings for my pockets, including the very bottom edge.

This photo shows one set of my markings after the pocket segment below it has been attached:


Next, I marked the pocket fabric. Because I am using a busy print (I am in love with the movie "Frozen"!), I marked right on it with my sharpie. But if you have a more subtle fabric, you might want to opt for a fabric marker so it's not permanent.

I divided the length of the pocket pieces by 5, and marked the tops and the bottoms at equidistant points.

Next, I lined up the marks on my pocket fabric to the marks on my fleece and sewed vertical lines from the top to the bottom at each mark.


Then I folded the extra fabric of each pocket into pleats, and stitched all along the bottom edge of the pocket fabric.

Here's how the whole thing looks with pockets in place before I covered the raw edges:

3a-Pocket-Curtain.jpgOnce I shooed the cat off of my curtain and got back to the sewing room, I set about adding strips along the bottom edges of the pockets. Here's a little tip for those times when you're dealing with large pieces of fabric: Roll the section that has to sit to the right of the needle into a tube. It makes things so much easier than letting it bunch up over there. 

4a-Pocket-Curtain.jpgI cut 1.5-inch strips along the grain of my cotton print to use as both a cover-up for the raw edges of the pockets, and also to add some extra stability to the curtain. Because the fleece I chose is very stretchy, these strips keep things from getting super wonky.

First I ironed one edge of my strips, turning down about 3/16 of an inch. Then I matched the raw edge of the strip to the raw edge at the bottom of a pocket section and stitched about 1/4 inch from the raw edges. I use a medium-long stitch length anytime I was stitching across the stretchy width of the fleece because it helps keep the fleece from stretching out of shape.

Then I folded my strip down so it would cover the raw edges, and stitched close to the fold. 

Lastly, I stitch close to the ironed fold to encase all my raw edges and make things neat and tidy.


Here's a section of pocket with the strip applied at the bottom:

6-Pocket-Curtain.jpgI used this method to finish off the top four of my five pocket sections. I bound the bottom edge of the curtain, including the pocket edges. I also bound the sides. I used strips cut on the straight-of-grain for my binding, but I applied it just as you would bias tape.

Then I tested the length and made a rod casing by simply folding over my fabric at the top and stitching it. (I made two lines of stitching for durability -- I have rambunctious animals in my house!)

Here is the curtain hung in place, both empty and filled:


Mine is home to leggings and sports bras, but you could easily organize T-shirts, pajamas, stuffed animals, shoes -- anything that can fit in the pockets! These work great for kids rooms, and with more grown-up home dec fabrics, they can easily move into other areas of the house. You can further refine the look by coordinating your fabrics with new drapery hardware. A more utilitarian version can also organize hats, scarves and gloves in the mud room. 

So, bring on 2014! I've got space in my closet!

Knit Yoga Pants from Pajama Pattern

January 3, 2014


I think it is a universal acknowledgment that yoga pants are awesome. I see them everywhere and I know that they are a favorite of every age. My daughters have always had yoga pants from as early as 3 mo (when I first discovered them). I can attest that I have had a pair since yoga hit the scene big. However, my only complaint is yoga pants seem to exist in black only. Black has it place and its reasoning for yoga pants is sound (its slimming) however it should not make up 90% of yoga pants produced with the other 10% being black with a colorful band. Yoga pants should be in a rainbow of colors. The only solution is to make our own. 


I decided on a combo of a Favorite Things Sleep Well Pajama Pant pattern and the band from our own Nancy Dress Free Pattern Download. I used 2 yds of Stretch Jersey Knit Fabric in Royal Blue. First I cut out my pants pattern pieces 2 sizes smaller than I would normally use. This is because the pattern is designed for a woven fabric so you need extra room for ease and movement. When using a woven pattern for a knit fabric than you need to cut it smaller since you want a knit to be fitted especially yoga pants. This will ensure that the pants move with you when you get into different positions. Next cut the band from the Nancy dress the correct size for your measurements. This pattern is designed for knits so don't go smaller. 


Finally, assemble the pants according to the pattern until you get to the elastic/drawstring waist then stitch on the assembled Nancy band instead. These wonderful pants fit like a dream and the waist band is fitted enough to hold the pants in place while also holding in and smoothing any trouble areas. 

Directional Upholstery

January 1, 2014

Reupholstery_1.jpgWhen upholstering furniture you won't always get lucky with a solid fabric. One day you will want a stripe, a velvet or an obviously directional pattern and then what? It was all so easy when you could just slap your fabric on, make your cuts and staple it in place. However, with directional fabric it is very important to pay attention to the direction of the pattern but also the grainlines. You will want your stripes to be straight and your velvet (and other nap fabrics) to all go in the same direction. When reupholstering be sure to label each piece before you remove it with a directional arrow. This will help later when you are cutting new pieces. Make sure all your arrows face the same direction and if you are using stripes that each piece is oriented straight on the stripe. WIth velvet (and other nap fabrics) you also want to make sure all your pieces are exactly on grain. Any deviation will show in the sheen and when you rub your hand across the nap. 


If you want your stripes to match cut each piece 4-5 inches bigger (more or less depending on the size of the stripe. Bigger stripes will need more wiggle room and smaller stripes less) so you can adjust from left to right to match up perfectly. 


I upholstered this chair in a scalloped chenille as a Christmas present to my mom a year ago. It was particularly tricky because the scallops did not give me an exact straight line. I started it out with a hammer and tacks as mentioned in this post so I could easily reposition as I tightened the fabric and shaped it to fit. When I was pleased I would staple it in place (its faster). Once I worked with the fabric long enough (placing 2-3 pieces) I was able to see the direction better and could eliminate the hammer and tacks. Keeping the original pieces also helped because they retain all the original folds, tucks and even dirt. If your piece is old enough the worn areas will be dirty and the unworn clean so you can easily see how to replicate any darts, tuck or folds with your new fabric. 


My advice is practice, practice, practice. If in doubt cut big pieces, use upholstery skewers to pin your fabric in place, a hammer & tacks driven in half way so you can pop the tacks back out to reposition. But don't worry, you can always start again. 


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2014 listed from newest to oldest.

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