Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Homecoming Hit

A couple of years back, my daughter was asked to a Homecoming dance
After the squeals of delight calmed down, we started looking for a dress.   
We are religious people who believe in
modesty of dress
and so the run-of-the-mill dresses found on the racks were just not cutting it. 
They either had
a) no sleeves, 
b) no straps,
c) no back
d) often too short to
leave much to the imagination or
e) all of the above. 
None would do.  
We happened to run across a store in our area that was closing down and happen, 
by pure miracle,
to find a dress not only with sleeves,
but was in the color she liked best,
really her favorite color is purple
but this was the closest without being a total pink,
in her mind anyway
I don't have a pix of the before, none turned out,
but It was floor length with a wide lace band at the waist,
neither which she cared for in the least, and
a pretty black and sparkle design around the bottom like that on the top.   
The price was right, too. 
Something like 85% off. 
Can't beat that with a stick!    
So I did my best dressing room song and dance about how I could make it over into
she wanted
and she bought it. 
The song and dance routine, that is. 
I bought the dress
with no return/refund
and so I was now committed
and hoped and prayed that I could
 I first had to separate the top of the dress from the skirt
take out the zipper. 
I now had 2 pieces. 
After some careful measuring of length
I trimmed off that length (measuring from the bottom hem)
plus seam allowance
the sheer netting, 
and still yet another layer of lining from the bottom of the dress. 
I did that all separately, of course. 
I layered them all together from the waistline seam, stitched it all together
and came up with a shorter version of the skirt
I took advantage of the hem that was already in place,
the design feature of the skirt
and the fullness of the bottom of the original skirt this way. 
Yes, siree.   
I was on my way

I did have to take in some of the seams a bit so that the skirt seams would line up nice and even with the bodice seams. 
Then, one quick waistline seam
and I replaced the back zipper with an
invisible one
and I now had a short version of the full-length formal. 
 I made a black sash that tied in the back and... 

 She looked

Don't you agree? 

Sew Happy,

Navigating a Fabric Store

Much has been said about the strategies used in the supermarket to keep the budget intact. I really do pretty well in that area except for an occastional Reeses’ Peanut Buttercup not on the list. But fabric stores? Not so well. Part of my sabbatical from sewing/crafting was an abstinence from fabric/craft stores for the most part. My budget never felt so good. Why? Because, unlike the supermarket, I had no guidance, no advice on how to keep on track. I was basically on the prowl for what ever caught my eye which I usually bought and then some. I like to think I’ve gotten smarter over the years. One can have a very productive, fulfilling craft/sewing life without going overboard. Things can add up fast when you go into one of these stores. Use some of the same strategies used in your supermarket each week and save yourself from too much stuff that cost too much money that you don’t have time nor the space for. Believe me when I say that you will have much less guilt and frustration in your creative life.

Watch the ads and plan your projects around the ads. Feel in the mood to make jammies for Christmas? Watch the sales and buy flannel/patterns as they come on sale. NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING! Wait. Be patient. Sales rotate in and out all year round, not to mention seasonal sales.

Take an inventory of what you already have on hand before you go. Build your projects around what you have on hand already, buy only what you are lacking.

Use coupons. Most fabric/craft stores offer coupons, often as much as 50% off, to draw in your business. Search them out and use them. The savings really add up. Get on mailing lists, e-mail lists, check online. They are there.

Make a list. Buy only what is on your list. Remember, you have checked the ads, you have checked your stock and you know exactly what you need and what price you are going to pay and you have our coupons in hand. You are a prepared, knowledgeable shopper who can easily resist impulse buying.

Take advantage of loss leaders. Yup.  Even fabric stores have them.  These are designed to bring you into the store with the hopes of getting you to buy stuff to go with them. Patterns are a great example of loss leaders. When you have made a plan using the strategies already mentioned, you can take advantage and save some big bucks.

Sew Happy,

Monday, September 27, 2010

So What Have I Been Up To??

Making a few items for my Etsy Shop... 

Check out these and other items I am offering now. 
Sew Happy,

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Habits to Successful Projects

People sew for a variety of reasons – necessity, self-expression, relaxation, creative outlet among a few. No matter the reason the bottom line is that everyone wants a successful project. No one ever wants to have a project that hangs in the back of the closet after all that invested time and money because it just didn’t turn out right. Here are some great sewing habits that you can develop in your learning stage that can help.

Know and Understand the Directions I know I have posted about this before, but I’m saying it again here. Take the time to study your pattern and know what steps you need to take to complete the project. Make sure you are familiar with the techniques involved and research them a bit or even work up a sample or two to make sure you understand how to do what is required. Be familiar with the order of the steps involved in the construction. Make sure you have all the notions you need. Nothing is more frustrating or overwhelming than getting into a project and finding out you are unprepared to finish the project correctly.

Measure, Measure, Measure Carpenters use the rule of measure twice, cut once. Often they won’t get a second change to fix any mistakes. Same with sewing. Fabric can be expensive and the wrong cut can ruin a project and send you sprinting to the fabric store hoping there is still enough fabric left on the bolt so you can try and save things (been there, done that!). This is especially true with quilting. Getting those pieces cut accurately can make or break a quilt top. Take the time to measure at least twice and then cut with confidence.

Pin Everything Pinning is a pain, I know, and it may seem like an easy shortcut but resist the temptation to sew without pinning things together. This will make the difference in a project that has that professional look versus one that is just okay. Keep a ready supply of pins handy. Pin as much as you need to to make sure your seams are neat and straight. I pin extra on curved seams, in collars, cuffs, sleeves, hems to hold things in place. To get that professional look, it’s so worth it.

Press Your Seams and Hems This is my BIGGEST pet peeve in sewing – people who don’t/won’t press their seams as they sew. The whole idea is to spend your time sewing something that looks professional. Avoid the “homemade” look by pressing as you sew. Invest in a nice iron. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just a good, solid iron. Have a nice, flat surface area to press on whether it be an ironing board or an ironing mat. Place them where you can get to them easily. Use them. Press before you sew your seam. Press after you sew your seam. It may seem overkill but someday you’ll thank me.

Finish Off Your Seams Even if it is as simple as a zigzag stitch, seam finishes are just plain nice. Besides the obvious of keeping the seam from becoming unraveled over time, a garment that has neatly finished seams, at least in my opinion, has seams that lay nice and flat and helps the inside look great. But, perhaps the most important of all, is that it feels great to wear. No one may ever know what your seams look like on the inside but you will. And that’s what counts, right?

Take Your Time Being rushed is a guarantee for mistakes. Be a “process” seamstress in that you enjoy the act of sewing and the experience you gain from it. Enjoy the journey. Stop and smell the roses. You get the idea. There will be plenty of time to wear/use the project, but you only get one chance at making that one project. Taking your time allows you to think through each step lessening the chance of errors that will only frustrate you. This doesn’t need to be a frustrating experience. It’s up to you, really . Choose to take your time. It’s time well spent.

Take a Break I am a veteran of marathon sew-ins. I know what it’s like to stay up until the wee hours of the morning nonstop having sewn perhaps for 12 or more hours straight determined to finish what ever it is. Believe me, when you are hungry, sleepy, sick or just plain frustrated with what ever it is you’re doing , you will not do your best and need to take a break. Frustration of that type can and will eventually lead to the I-can’t-do-it- it’s-too-hard syndrome and perhaps lead to giving up sewing altogether. Now, we all have those times when a project just won’t wait, but try your best not to fall into this trap. Listen to that inner clock that tells us it’s time to stop for a while. Even a few minutes of down time will do wonders and may save your sanity.

Lastly, Don’t Expect Perfection.  No one is perfect. No project is perfect. We want to give our best for sure, but rarely is our best perfect. Keep a good attitude about those imperfections that perhaps only you are aware of. Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty if it isn’t “just so.” The next lesson you learn will be a mistake you make. Take that to heart and embrace those lessons.

Sew Happy,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Pin Cushion Love

I personally have two of the most
tomato pin cushions.
They serve the purpose intended.
And the price was right, I suppose.
But they are just plain boring.
Can't imagine being a pin and having to reside is such
Time to make my pins do the
happy dance
and make some really great pin cushions.
So, the pattern (free of course) search begins!
I'll kick off this pin cushion party with my favorite.
This one is first on my list.
You can find the tutorial over at Creative Kismet. Love, love, love Keyka Lou Patterns
and this one is no exception!
And it's free to boot! Great Idea! A pin cushion you can hang for easy storage!
Can it get better than that?
Craft Leftovers even has a free PDF pattern to download.

Wrist pin cushions are the
This wrist pin cushion is found at

I knew the Internet wouldn't let me down.:)

What are your
pin cushion finds?

Have you made any

Please Share!

Sew Happy,

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yet Still Another Flower Tutorial

If you are a first-time visitor to my blog, welcome!

It's a small blog at this point, but I'm hoping it will continue to grow and grow!!


It seems every craft/sewing site you visit has a version of some sort of
flower embelishment.

Well, this blog is no exception it seems. This is my own version of some of the

cute flowers seen on these sites. It's quick, a great scrap buster and

looks mighty nice

on stuff like bags, headbands, etc.
So here goes first tutorial.

But everyone has to start somewhere, right?

You will need:

* Sewing machine, sissors, thread, pins, etc.

*Scraps of fabric

*Button for the center of flower
*Glue gun

* Something like a pin back or tie tack

First create a pattern.

Basically, just find some circular thing that is the approximate size

that you want your flower to be and trace it.

I used a nickel to add the "scallops" that will be part of the petals
but find something

that works for the size you plan on doing.

Just make sure that there are 12 scallops around the circle.

This does not need to be perfect at all.
Cut out several flowers from your flower pattern.

I typically will cut out maybe 12-16 pieces of the pattern.

Do this in layers to save

time and sanity.

Each piece will be one petal of the flower.

How many you do just all depends on

how full you want the flower to come out.
Play around with it.

Take your sissors and cut between every 2 scallops (there should be 6 cuts).
Again, I cut these in stacks to speed things up.
But be careful not to cut too deep.

Just visualize a small circle in the middle and cut to and not into that circle.
Once you have all your petals prepared,
you're ready to build your flower.

Select one pattern piece and lay it out as your base.
Then take another pattern piece and fold it in half.

Then fold in in half again so that the layer is quartered.

Pin that quarter layer onto the base of your flower as shown below.
Fold another petal and pin down on the base beside the last layer.

Continue to do this until you have 4 quarters pinned to the base of the flower.
Set up your machine to a zigzag stitch,
drop the feed dogs if you can.
If not,
set your zigzag stitch to zero so that the feed dogs
do not advance your fabric or use a piece of tape to cover the feed dogs.
Some, not all,
sewing machines will come with a little plastic cover
that snaps on the throat plate that will cover the feed dog.
Which ever method you use, just make sure your fabric
isn't feeding through the feed dog.
The zigzag stitch should be around a 3 or so in width.

Place the first point of the layer under the pressure foot and
stitch that down using the zigzag stitch.
Remember, your fabric should not feed but stay stationary.
Sew all 4 points down securely.

This isn't the neatest example but you get the idea;
sew each point of the petals in place.
Neat doesn't matter too much at this point.
It will all be covered up anyway.Now let's add some depth to our flower by adding another layer of petals.

This time, off set the petals by placing the point in the center
but lay the petal over the gap between the
lower level of petals, kind of off set like the picture above.
Repeat the folding of the petals and pinning.

Go back to the machine and zigzag each point onto the flower as you did before.
It should look something like the picture below.
Now, you have 2 layers of petals.
It's a nice flower at this point,
but go ahead and
continue on with another layer if
you would like something more fluffy/full.
I usually do go with another layer
but for demonstration's sake, I'll stop there. Now for the center of the flower.
I usually do a button center and
I like to sew this on with my machine so it stays secure. Pull out your handy dandy button foot.
Yes, I know, you never use it.
But this is a great chance to try it out
and see what it can do for you.
It can save you TONS of time.
Follow your machine's manufactor's directions on setting up your machine
for sewing on buttons and
sew it directly on the center of your flower.
Of course,
you can always do it
the old fashioned way, I suppose. :)Viola!
You've got yourself a great little flower. Choose a pin back or tie tack.
I like to put tie tack backing on my flowers,
but choose whatever you would like to use as your means of
attaching your flower to whatever.
Simply use the hot glue gun and glue the tack in place
and then you can....
... put it anywhere you want to! It's a great little flower,
takes just about 15 minutes start to finish
and the uses, oh my, the uses are endless.

Sew Happy,



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