With Christmas less than two weeks away and my sewing barely begun, I needed a quick and simple project this past weekend to give our livingroom a little extra Christmas cheer. A few new toss pillow covers in Christmas red and green made from thrifted button-down shirts filled that need quite nicely! In colors to match your decor, these pillow covers would actually work as beautifully year-round as they do for the holidays. Want to make a few of your own? Just read on.To get started, you need a pile of men’s button-down shirts. I found all of these at our local Goodwill store for around $2 a piece. For larger pillows, of course, you’ll need larger shirts. You also need toss pillows. I used the ones that were already on my sofa.The first step is to remove the pocket from the shirt that you’re working with. Just grab your handy seam ripper and carefully rip it off. (If you cut the stitches on the pocket side rather than the shirt side, you run less risk of damaging the shirt.) Once the pocket is off, if you have tiny needle holes remaining, either spray them down with water from a spray bottle and press well with a hot steam iron, or place a damp cloth over the area with the holes and press well with your steam iron. Cut the front and back of the shirt apart.Measure your pillow. Mine measured 17″ square. Most shams are made to the exact size of the pillow, but since I like mine to be just a little bit snug, I’m going to make my sham 16 1/2″ square. Because I’m using a 1/2″ seam allowance, I’ll add 1″ to that measurement (seam allowance times two), and cut my front and back pieces 17 1/2″ square.With the shirt front buttoned, measure and draw your piece. I centered my button placket, but you could place it off-center if your shirt is large enough. You will want to center the individual buttons, however. To do this, I just move my see-through ruler up and down until I have the correct full measurement and an even amount above the top button and below the bottom button. Be careful not to get the top and bottom buttons too close to your seam allowance. You want them to be at least 1 1/2″ in.Cut a second piece from the back of the shirt for the back of your pillow sham.Pin the front and back pieces right sides together.Sew all the way around at 1/2″. I serged the edges after sewing, but since no one is likely to see inside these shams, you don’t really need to.Once the two pieces are sewn together, just reach through between two of the buttons and unbutton one to turn the sham right side out. Push the corners out neatly, unbutton the cover completely, slide your pillow in, button it back up and toss it on your couch!
I am over at Skip to my Lou today with a tutorial for a Kitchen Gift Set for the Holiday Bake Craft Sew Along.I think you are going to love this gift set! It is perfect for any of your holiday hostesses. The set includes these sweet fold-over, oven-mitt pot holders . . . . . . and this pair of pretty, but practical dish towels.It’s a little early Christmas gift from me to you! But, wait! That isn’t all! I also get to treat you to a SEW Amazing Giveaway as part of our crafty series.
- 2-3-4-5 stitch capability-provides more stitch variety
- 1,300 stitches per minute-professional speed for faster results
- Fully automatic self-adjusting tension system-keeps stitches balanced and even
- Easy threading diagram-easy threading saves time
- Stitch width adjustment-keep seams strong and prevent bunching on any type of fabric.
This post originally appeared in The Make for Mom Series at The Shaffer Sisters in May 2013.My husband and I have a habit of packing up our kids and heading out on road trips with stops in multiple states to visit friends, family and ministry supporters, and we always try to throw in some sightseeing (homeschooling on the road, right?), too. With so many stops, I need to keep myself organized. I put together this enormous tote bag with tons of pockets just before our last trip which included stops in West Virginia, Tennessee, Washington DC and Virginia. Crazy, right? This bag was such a great help!I knew just what I wanted from this bag, so I designed it exactly to my own specifications. It’s sort of huge at 16″ wide by 17″ tall by 4″ deep, but it holds everything that I need it to hold, and it looks pretty doing it!I added decorative pockets to the front and a zippered pocket on the back.But, what I really want to show you is the inside of the bag.Without inside organization, the size of this bag would make everything disappear. Adding pockets and loops to the inside of any bag, though, is really simple. Once you know how to do it, you can grab your favorite tote bag pattern and customize it perfectly for you!
You’ll want to have your inner bag pieces cut and any interfacing added before starting on these little extras. Have a quilting ruler and a washable or disappearing marker handy. If you’ll be making custom-sized pockets for anything (cell phone, notebook, etc.) then have those ready to be measured, too. I’m using a 1/2″ seam allowance on everything and assuming a 1/2″ seam allowance on your bag pattern.Let’s start with the loops. These little loops are really the most basic thing you can add to a bag, but you’ll be so surprised at what a difference they make! With a bag this big, you simply must have a way to clip in your keys or anything else that you need to be able to access quickly. With a loop or two sewn into the side seams and a carabiner clip, you’re good to go!Fold your loop piece over to form a loop, matching up the raw edges. Pin in place as shown and baste it to one side of your unfinished bag inner.Now, let’s move on to the pockets. I designed this smaller pocket to hold a pen, a pencil and my little notebook.To make your own custom-sized pocket you have to do a little math, but it’s really simple, I promise! For pens or pencils, a 1″ wide pocket is perfect. I usually make credit card or loyalty card pockets 3 1/2″ wide. (That width works for my I-phone, too.) If you have something specific, like my notebook, measure it across and add 1″ for your pocket width. My notebook is 5 1/2″ wide, so its pocket needs to be 6 1/2″ wide. With me so far? The height of your pocket should at least 3/4 of the height of the things you’re putting in it. That will keep them tucked nicely in place. For a standard pen/pencil/card pocket, I usually go with 4 1/2″ finished height. My notebook is taller, though, so I made this pocket with a finished height of 5 1/2″. Now you should have all your measurements. Here are your formulas: pocket width + pocket width + pocket width + 1″ seam allowance + 1/4″ topstitching allowance = fabric width and pocket height x two + 1″ = fabric height. Just keep in mind that you are limited by the width and height of your bag. Pretty easy, right? Here are my formulas:I’m going to cut my pocket fabric 9 3/4″ wide by 12″ high (or long, I guess). Your pocket width and height may be different, though, based on what you’re putting in it. (If you want to cheat a little, for two pen/pencil pockets and two card pockets, I generally go with 10″ x 10″.) Now that you’ve survived that math, sewing the pocket is super simple. Just fold your pocket piece in half with right sides facing and match up the edges that measure the width of your pocket. (In my case, I’m matching up the 9 3/4″ edges.) Stitch along sides and bottom, leaving a 1 ½” opening in one side for turning.Trim your corners and turn your pocket through the opening. Press it really well. Center your pocket with the folded edge facing the top of the bag on one of your inner bag pieces. You can place it at whatever height you’d like, but I usually go with about 3 ½” to 4″ from the top edge. Topstitch around the sides and bottom 1/8″ from the edge. Once your pocket is sewn onto your bag panel, just use a quilting ruler to measure your pocket widths, then draw lines with your disappearing marker. Stitch down each line, remove the marker and your pockets are done! (A little tip here: stitch from the bottom up to avoid any puckers!)Whew! That wasn’t too hard, right? Ready for one more set of pockets for the other side of your bag?For this set of pockets, you’ll cut your fabric width the same as the width of your bag. You’ll use the same formula that we used above for your fabric height. Since I wasn’t exactly sure of what I’d be putting in these pockets but I wanted them to be pretty roomy, I went with 9″ for my finished height. The width of my bag inner piece was 21″, so I cut my pocket piece 21″ wide by 19″ (9×2+1) high. To sew this pocket, you’ll only need to stitch across the bottom edge because the sides will be tucked inside your bag’s seam allowance. Fold your fabric over with right sides together, the same way you did with the smaller pocket and stitch across the bottom edge.Turn your pocket through one of the short ends and press it well. You can see in the photo above that I tucked another little pocket inside this big pocket. That’s a designated spot for my cell phone. To determine the size of this pocket, simply follow those instructions for the small pocket above. Once you’ve sewn your cell phone pocket, turned and pressed it, you’ll simply topstitch it to the inside of one of your large pockets. Let’s decide on the width of your large pockets first. These pockets can be as wide as narrow as you want them. For mine, I just divided the width of my fabric into thirds. Since my fabric was 21″, that made each pocket about 7″ wide. Using this measurement to be sure my cell phone pocket didn’t end up chopped in half between two pockets, I marked a spot and topstitched my cell phone pocket inside what would become one of the pockets closest to the edge of my bag.Now you’re ready to sew your large pockets to your bag. Position your pocket piece on your bag inner piece. The positioning with change depending on how tall your bag is, but I placed mine with the top edge 5 1/2″ below the top of the bag. Topstitch the bottom edge at 1/8″. Use a quilting ruler to measure your pocket widths, then draw lines with your disappearing marker. Stitch down each line, remove the marker and these pockets are done, too!Now all that’s left is to finish your bag according to your pattern instructions. Then fill it up and go!
I am so, so excited to be teaching at Riley Blake’s Cutting Corners College today! I would love if you’d click over and check out my tutorial for making comfortable knit pants for your whole family. There are tips for sewing with knit fabrics, instructions for making an elastic-free waistband, and directions for making your own pattern using a good-fitting pair of pants! Just click right here: Comfy Pants for the Whole Family
Ready to sew up some cute shorts for your little guys this weekend? As promised, here’s my No-Buttonholes-Needed Drawstring Tutorial so you can give your Mud Puddle Splashers that great boardshort look! (You can really use this tutorial with any pants pattern that uses 1″ elastic pulled into a channel that is created by folding over the top of the waist.) If you missed yesterday’s post, just click here to go back and see my cuties modeling their new shorts.
An important note here before we move on: please be careful to keep your drawstrings safe! On items sold for children here in the US, the law allows for a waist drawstring to extend only 3″ past the opening when the garment is expanded to it’s maximum width: CPSC on Drawstrings in Children’s Clothing. Also, always be sure to secure the drawstring by stitching across it at the back or side seams so that it cannot be pulled out. Finally, don’t tie knots or add toggles to the ends of your drawstring.
In this tutorial, we’ll be creating two separate channels, one on the inside for the elastic and one for the outside for your drawstring. This method does take a bit more time than just putting in a few buttonholes and feeding the elastic and drawstring through the same channel. It’s probably not something that I’d want to do every time, but it’s not difficult at all, and it adds a fun new design element to your shorts. (And, it’s a great option if your machine doesn’t have an automatic buttonholer!)Let’s get started!
To begin, you’re just going to follow the pattern instructions to completely assemble your shorts or pants except for the waistband. If you’re using the Mud Puddle Splashers pattern like I am here, skip the memory creases on the waistline.Measure the waist. (A flexible tape measure is probably a better choice for this, but mine has mysteriously disappeared.) The waistband on this pair of shorts measures about 26″ all the way around. Write this measurement down because you’ll use it again later to find the length of your drawstring.Cut a piece of fabric to make your waistband channel. This piece of fabric should measure 2″ x the measurement you just took of the waist of your pants.Fold in each short end 1/4″, then 1/4″ again. Press and stitch across to secure.Fold up the bottom edge of the drawstring channel piece 1/4″ to the wrong side and press well all the way across. (Do not sew this down yet.)Fold the waistband of the pants down 1/4″ to the wrong side and press well all the way around. (Do not stitch this either.)Fold your drawstring channel piece in half the long way and find the center. (I generally just press down at the center quickly with my iron, but you can also mark the center with washable or disappearing marker.) Match the center of the drawstring channel up with the back center seam of the pant. Pin in place here, right sides together, with the folded edges of the drawstring channel and the folded edge of the waistband aligned.Wrap the drawstring channel around the front of the pants and pin it in place. (You only need a few pins for this step because you’re going to re-pin along the lower raw edge before sewing.) The front ends of the drawstring channel should fall about 1″ apart or 1/2″ from the center front seam of the pants. (Mine are a little further apart because my waistline measurement wasn’t as accurate as it would have been with a flexible tape measure.)Pin the lower raw edge of the drawstring channel evenly all the way around the pants.Stitch the lower edge of the drawstring channel in place 3/8″ from the raw edge as shown.Fold the drawstring channel down away from the top of the waistband and press all the way around.Fold the waistband down inside the pants. Fold the top 1/8″ of the drawstring channel to the inside, as well. This will make the bottom of the inside elastic channel fall slightly lower than the bottom edge of the drawstring channel, in turn making it much easier to catch both edges with one row of stitching. Press the waist really well before moving on.If you’re adding a size tag, now is the time to pin it in the back edge of the elastic channel. (I leave this pin in place and just sew over it.)On the outside of the pants, pin the bottom edge of the drawstring channel and the bottom edge of the inside elastic channel in place all the way around. Feel through and make sure the the bottom edge of the elastic channel is falling slightly lower than the bottom edge of the drawstring channel.Stitch along the edge of the bottom of the drawstring channel catching the bottom edge of the elastic channel inside. You’ll be leaving the space between the ends of the drawstring channel open for now to insert the elastic. (If you plan to use a drawstring without elastic, you can go ahead and sew all the way across the front of the pants, closing up the elastic channel inside.)Insert elastic into the elastic channel on the inside of the pants according to the measurements given on your pattern. Sew the opening between the two ends of the drawstring channel shut.Now you’re ready to make your drawstring. You have a couple of options here. You can make a drawstring that goes all the way around the waistline. If you choose this option, you’ll cut one long length of fabric and finish both ends. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to make a drawstring with a small amount of elastic at the back. This will make it so that your child can pull the shorts on and off without having to untie them every time. (For larger sizes, you may have to increase the length of the elastic at the back so that pulling on and off is easy.)
The width of your drawstring pieces is going to be 1 3/4″. There’s a simple formula to figure out the length that you need your fabric. Feel free to skip the explanation and just use the formula below. Start with the measurement that you used for the length of your drawstring channel (the waist circumference)(26″, in my case), add 6″ for safe drawstring length, and add 1″ for 1/2″ seam allowance at each end. For a drawstring without elastic, this is the measurement that you’ll use. In my case, that would be 26″+6″+1″=33″. To create our drawstring with it’s elastic section, we’re going to divide that measurement in half for our two drawstring pieces (33″/2=16 1/2″). The elastic piece is going to add 2″ total, 1″ on each side, so I’m going to subtract another inch from that measurement (16 1/2″ – 1″ = 15 1/2″). Still with me?
THE FORMULA: Add 7″ to the waist circumference. Divide that measurement in half. Subtract 1″.
Cut two pieces 1 3/4″ x this measurement.On both drawstring pieces, fold each long edge 1/4″ in to the wrong side and press well.Fold one short end of each piece over so that the right sides are together. Pin and stitch across the folded end of each drawstring piece 1/2″ from the raw edge.Turn the sewn ends so that the wrong sides are together. Tuck the raw edges neatly inside and press all the way up. Pin and topstitch the open long edge closed on both drawstring pieces.Cut one piece of 1″ elastic 4″ long.Overlap the raw edges of each drawstring piece 1″ on opposite sides of the elastic. Stitch in place.Pull the drawstring through the drawstring channel. Center the elastic piece at the back of the pants.Stitch the drawstring in place at the back seam of the pants to keep it safely inside its channel.Tie up the drawstring, and you’re done!If you use this tutorial, I’d love to see! Feel free to add a link in the comments or add your picture to the Fishsticks Designs Flickr group!
I mentioned that I had a Thank-You gift for all of the hard work that you guys put into sewing bibs for last month’s Dinner for Two project, and here it is! I’ve sized the Big Kid Snap Bib down to Infant and Toddler sizes and put all the sizes (even the Grown-Up Bib) into one pdf file! I even added the Serged in Seconds Tutorial. Bibs in all sizes, all in one place! What more could you ask?Find the pattern download right here: Bibs in All Sizes Pattern.
Easter is coming soon! And, Easter tends to bring beautiful handmade dresses for all the pretty little girls. Piles of flowery fabric and stacks of frilly patterns have made their way to sewing rooms everywhere. Boys, on the other hand, are so much harder to sew for when it comes to dress-up clothes! Most of us tend to go for simple and traditional button down shirts and dress pants for our little guys. How about dressing up those plain tops with a fun, personalized, handmade tie . . . or two . . . or a dozen!
Ties are so fast and easy to sew, even ties that fasten with hook & loop tape (like Velcro) or pull on over the head with elastic! You might even find that your teenage boys will get excited about wearing something mama-made, if it’s a tie made with a great fabric! (I can’t believe how grown-up my Allen looks in this picture! And, for the record, he not only said, “That’s pretty cool,” when he saw the tie, but he also wore it to his writing class this morning.)Don’t they look handsome? (Even if they all really need haircuts!)I had to try these ties out with my Everyday Camp Shirts! I wasn’t sure at all how they would work since the Camp Shirt pattern is really meant to be worn as a more casual top. (It doesn’t even have a top button!) I think they look adorable, though! What do you think?I did find that they look much nicer with the Velcro-type fastener than with the elastic, though. I think that’s because the Camp Shirt has a wider neckline than a traditional button-down dress shirt. How can you resist a sweet little guy in a matching top and tie?! I’d say my little guys approve! (Or maybe big sister, Samantha, was making faces behind my back while I was photographing?)Ready to sew up a batch of ties for all the little boys and young men in your household? I’ve got a tutorial all ready for you! The tutorial includes patterns and instructions for Velcro and Elastic Ties in sizes to fit little ones from 2-4 and from 5-8, and it includes the pattern and instructions for a Traditional Tie for your bigger boys from ages 8 to about 14. You’ll find the tutorial right here: The Totally Terrific Tie Tutorial. If you sew one or two or more, I would love to see!
Addition/Correction: It’s been brought to my attention that I did not specify the seam allowance on the original tutorial. 1/2″ seam allowance is included. So sorry about that!
Have you peeked over at the Dinner for 2 Flickr Group lately? There are some seriously great-looking bibs showing up already, bibs for kids and adults alike. Have you sewn a bib or two yet? What are you waiting for? A quicker method of sewing perhaps? Do you have a serger? Well, then the Serged & Snapped in Seconds Bib tutorial is just for you! (Okay, so it really takes minutes, but seconds make up minutes and without seconds you don’t get the alliteration.)
Let’s get started! First, hop over to this post: Hopeful Threads & Dinner for Two. Read all about why we’re sewing bibs this month, print the Big Kid Snap Bib Pattern and get your three fabric pieces cut out: I have a front piece of cotton quilting fabric, a hidden inner layer of cotton flannel and a backing piece of PUL. (This method works well with PUL because the slippery side is hidden when you serge. Ripstop may be too slippery, but you can certainly try it!)
Grab a glue stick from your school supply closet or your junk drawer. A fabric glue stick will certainly work, but regular glue stick is cheaper and easier to find, and as long as it’s washable, it works just as well. You do want a glue stick that is new and not gummy at all. It needs to spread quickly and in a thin layer.Rub that glue stick all over the shiny side of your PUL. You want plenty of glue so there won’t be any slipping and sliding. Carefully place your hidden layer on top, line up all the edges and smooth it out.
Now glue the wrong side of your front fabric piece to the top of the flannel using the same method. It is much easier to spread the glue stick glue on cotton quilting fabric than on flannel. Flannel leaves icky fuzzy stuff on your glue stick. Check to see if you have any areas where the fabrics are overlapping and square them all up. Now you’re ready to serge. Just one second before you head to the serger, though. Do you have one of these baskets? These beautiful colored spools of Woolly Nylon have been sitting in this basket since Joanns clearanced them quite some time ago. If you have a basket like this, you might consider pulling one of those pretty colors through your upper looper. If you don’t, white will work just as well! Now, off to the serger! The seam allowance is 1/2″ so you want to cut off 1/2″ or close to that with your serger blade. It’s hard to keep that exact when you’re going around curves, but get it as close as you can. I started and stopped my serging at the back of the neckline since that’s the spot that will be least likely to be seen when the bib is worn. Zip, zip, round the corners, and all you have left to do is add the snaps.Refer back to the pattern for snap placement. Press the snaps in place. And you have a bib ready to send off with love to a sweet little one who will be so excited to receive it! Now wasn’t that fast?! Fast enough that you have time to make another one? Super! Go serge some more!
Woohoo! It’s February! I have been bubbling over with excitement about today for weeks now! Not only do I have the magnificent privilege of getting to work with Kristy and all of the incredibly giving Hopeful Threads followers this month, but I get to be involved in a project that I know is going to be a huge blessing to everyone involved, from those who contribute their sewing talents to the beautiful children and caregivers who receive these handmade gifts.
I was visiting with my friend, Heather, several weeks ago, and she mentioned that she was getting ready to sew some waterproof bibs to send to China with her daughter, Ransley. Actually, I think she simply asked me if I thought diaper-making PUL would work as a waterproof backing for the bibs that she was making. I thought it would be perfect and offered her some scraps that I had in a box in my garage. A few days later, she texted me about the PUL, and I called her to ask some more questions. The more I heard, the more I was sure that this was a great project for all you sewists who are so kind and generous about offering your time and talents each month to give to those in need! A quick email to Kristy and an even quicker response from her, and I was busy at work putting together everything that you would need to start sewing!
First, though, a little bit about the children who will be receiving your gifts. This is Ransley, above, on her last visit to the Hidden Treasures Home just outside of Fuzhou, China. Ransley is leaving in the next few months to go serve on staff at Hidden Treasures for the next few years. She shared with me that God showed her such peace, love and joy on her last journey there. The home is filled with children, many of whom have special needs, but it’s also filled with love and fun and hope. You can read many of the children’s stories and browse through photos on the homes’ official website right here: Loaves and Fishes International and the Hidden Treasures Foster Home. I urge you to take a few minutes to read about these sweet little ones.
When I asked Heather to tell me about the bibs she was sewing, she shared that she’d been asked to sew some when Ransley last journeyed to China. The older special needs children often need bibs to keep their clothing clean and dry, but larger bibs are harder to come by, especially in China. The staff at Hidden Treasures actually sent her a pattern drawn up on a paper bag and suggested that she sew them with cotton fronts and vinyl shower curtain backing.
Heather sent over about a dozen sewn that way, but she heard they didn’t hold up as well as she’d hoped. I was so excited to jump in and offer suggestions that I hope will produce bibs they will be able to use for years to come! And, after reading this inscription on the original paper bag pattern, I feel so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to offer my experience!
Are you ready to get sewing?
I have two different bib options for you, but let’s start with a little about fabrics and notions. For the waterproof backing, I highly recommend diaper-making polyurethane laminate. You’ll find it labeled PUL in most fabric shops. (Natures Fabrics is offering a 10% discount on PUL for participants. Just type in the code loavesfishes1 when you checkout. You must only have PUL in your cart to check out with the code.) Rip-stop nylon is an alternative waterproof backing.
These bibs will be packed into spare suitcases for the trip to China, so they need to be absorbent, but not too thick. I’m suggesting sewing them with cotton woven quilting fabric or flannel on the front and a hidden flannel layer for a little extra absorbency without too much thickness. Please pre-wash all cotton fabrics.
One last thing, the staff at Hidden Treasures has specifically asked for bibs with no Velcro (or other hook and loop) because the children tend to rub their heads against it, and it can be irritating.The first bib pattern is a traditional tie bib. These work really well for the needs of the children at Hidden Treasures. (Now that this project has ended, this tie bib tutorial is no longer available, but be sure to grab my tutorial for the snap bib in four sizes here: The Bibs in All Sizes Tutorial.)
The second bib pattern is a snapped bib with a wrap-around back. These are very quick to make and great for both the needs of the children at Hidden Treasures and perfect for your little ones at home, too. (My favorite tool for attaching metal snaps is The Snap Source Snapsetter. It’s what I use for campshirts, pajamas, overalls, anything that needs metal snaps, and at only $9, it’s quite economical, too!) Just click this picture for the Snap Bib PDF pattern download.
Be sure to add pictures of your bibs to the Flickr album: Dinner for 2 Album. Thank you so much for giving your talents, your time, your stash, yourselves for these little ones!