This summer was filled with library sewing classes, camps, and enjoying time with my family. Somehow in between all of that, I managed to do some selfish sewing. Today I wanted to share some of what I made in the past few months, hoping it inspires you to spend some time with your machine.
A lightweight robe. When the morning is cool, even if it's going to be a hot day, it's nice to have a light extra layer that's not a heavy winter robe (remember I live in Rhode Island--winter can be fierce!). The pattern is from Purl Soho.
I enjoyed the Wonder Woman movie so much that I actually saw it twice in theaters! Couldn't resist this fabric when I saw it and made a few things for the shop, gifts, and a pencil case for my daughter for back to school.
We had a bathroom redone, which I adore. It needed a curtain and I wanted to have a little fun with the fabric. This octopus print is from Hawthorne Threads, one of their in-house designs that is digitally printed on demand. It's fabulous fabric for lightweight curtains!
This project is dual-duty: a garment for my handmade wardrobe, but also an example for teaching a class in how to make the shirt at Stitchery! I love it when that happens. This is the Cheyenne Tunic from Hey June Handmade. Lovely shirt that is a bit more involved to make, but very easy when we walk you through it in our Wardrobe Workshop (Sept. 24 and Oct 1).
There are two more projects I'd like to share that will have to wait for another day. One is my first attempt at the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. I'm very happy with how it turned out, but since I refuse to take a selfie in that project, I'm having a hard time photographing it. My dress form isn't my size (I know, I know), and it would look like I completely ruined it if I displayed it on the dress form at the shop!
The second is 95% finished, but I need some hardware and to finish a hem. I attempted a zip-fly pair of shorts that turned out rather well, if I do say so myself. These last two projects taught me that a little know how on the machine and a well-written pattern mean you can sew ANYTHING you want.
What have you made this summer?? I'd love to hear in the comments!
We had a special request for a sports-themed birthday party. Usually I'm not a procrastinator, but this party was an exception. Two days beforehand, I had NOTHING planned. In fact, I thought we could send everyone into the backyard with all the sports equipment in our garage and say, "Have fun!" Then I saw the forecast for rain. Flooding rain. And I decided there was no way I wanted a gaggle of 8 year old boys tracking that much mud into the house.
So, two days beforehand, I scoured my studio to see what I could come up with since I'm not one to hand out plastic goodie bags of candy. All of my childrens' friends are probably tired of getting fabric bags of one kind or another as party favors, so I had an idea. Yards of white felt left over from a holiday angel wing-making marathon would make the perfect baseball pillows. I found the giant ric rac at Michael's, and thought I would take some pictures in case you'd like to make some last minute pillows too.
Trace and cut two circles of white felt however large you want your finished pillow to be. I used a pizza tray.
Cut two lengths of extra wide red ric rac and pin them to one circle of felt in a curved shape. I held up a baseball and approximated where the ric rac should be placed. Stitch the ric rac to the felt. Either use a wide zig zag stitch to make it quick (helpful when you are making 8 pillows), or carefully follow both outer edges of each piece of ric rac with a straight stitch. Use red thread and no one will notice either way!
Sew around the perimeter of the circle, attaching pillow front to back, leaving a 3" opening for stuffing. (The back of these pillows is plain white felt.)
Trim the edges to even everything up, including the ends of the ric rac.
Use fray check on the ends of the ric rac because it WILL fray. This is a handy fabric glue that dries clear and quickly.
Stuff the pillow with polyfill. Don't overstuff! The more you stuff, the more puckered the outer edges will look. The intent is to make a decorative 2-D pillow, not a firmly stuffed 3-D pillow.
Close the open seam.
Make a bunch! When it rains on the day of the party, these at least aren't as likely to break a window when the kids play with them!
Sewing this top made me realize there are so many garments I've made this past year that I've never talked about here, so I think you can expect to see some Selfish Sewing catch-up posts.
This is a brand new make, just finished this week. It's been in my to-make queue for a long time, and I shoved it into the "wait till next summer" pile just last month when the fall weather rolled in. This week we have unseasonably warm weather (75 degrees in mid-October in Rhode Island--crazytown), so I pulled it back out.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Cotton and Steel fabric. Also, I have been itching to try a sewing pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts. Both live up to the hype!
The Sailor Top is not for a beginner, but the instructions are very easy to follow if you've sewn a few garments. This version works, but I should have gone up a size. I was in between the medium and large, based on my measurements, and should have opted for the large (the shoulders are a bit tight). That just means I need to make another! It also won't stop me from wearing this to teach a sewing class this afternoon.
What have you been sewing lately?
Like many mothers of active children, I spend a fair amount of time shuttling people to activities and then waiting. Reading at these activities doesn't work right now because I miss out on watching all the fun. Hand sewing is the perfect way to keep my hands busy, stay out of trouble, not stare at a screen, and still be able to watch the latest flying front kick or back stroke.
Until recently, I've brought my sewing to events in a drawstring project bag, which works quite well. The biggest pet peeve of mine has been thread snips. What to do with them? They either end up all over my lap or tangled at the bottom of the bag. An exterior pocket was in order. While I was at it, I prefer zip top bags, and I had been saving some selvedges that had especially interesting graphics, or meant something to me like the sheep and crabs.
The portable sewing kit was the end result.
The thread snip pocket. No more lap full of threads making me look like the crazy sewing lady! I still look crazy embroidering everywhere I go around Aquidneck Island, but the people who know me understand it's for fun and work. Those who don't? If they ask I'll gladly tell them. If they don't, well then have fun with your Candy Crush.
Some of my favorite selvedges. It's such a shame that people usually just throw these away!
Inside pockets to corral various thread skeins, marking pens, scissors, lip balm, and even my phone and keys if I'm keeping things simple.
You can see by the current contents that it holds quite a lot. This is intentional, as I am usually either stitching multiples of something and like to churn through as many as I can in one waiting period, or I have a few different projects so I don't get bored.
Portable sewing means more than just sewing while my children are doing their thing. I can take the kit almost anywhere including outside in beautiful weather, a friend's house, to the park, on vacation...you name it. TSA may not like all the sharp pointy things, so I haven't tried flying with it yet, but it goes most everywhere with me lately. How else am I going to make sure everyone has the chance to buy their own Lil Rhody bag?? See the crab mug above? I'm working on a Maryland version of the bag too!
How do you sew, knit, crochet, etc. on the go??
Honestly, I'm not sewing all that much this week. I've been in planning mode most of the week, having a "show hangover" for most of Monday after a terrific Yarn Crawl event. Ask other artisans--"show hangover" is a thing. I lost track of how much coffee I've consumed the past few days.
What have I been working on? Some side projects, plus a lot of sewing in the planning stages. Here's a peek.
The photo above is a close-up of the embroidery for my new Lil Rhody bags. I would show you a finished bag, but they are all sold out at the moment! I plan to spend part of break next week sewing more, not to worry.
Samples for a Seaside Sewing Summer Camp at the Newport Library. I'm really looking forward to teaching this camp with my pal Emma the first week in August.
Fabric shopping for Selfish Sewing happened this week. I'm planning a whole blog post about Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket--it's a local gem not to be missed. Lotta Jansdotter fabric for $2.99/yard? Yes please! The fabric above will become an Esme top from her book Everyday Style.
More Selfish Sewing fabric for another Washi Dress. See my last post about how terrific sewing with this pattern is.
A gift for a certain Maryland family member. I haven't completely decided what the final product will be yet, but I'm thoroughly pleased with the embroidery kit from I Heart Stitch Art.
Pillowcase kits. These are for a big donation the Sew Easy to Care Youth sewing group will make in a few weeks. All hands on deck to bust out as many finished pillowcases as possible, so I took a few home to sew up. It's hard not to smile while sewing for a charity.
Navy blue linen blend, my last piece of fabric from this week's Selfish Sewing shopping trip. These will become Owyn pants, also a pattern from the Everyday Style book. The patterns are so easy to follow, and so far the two garments I've made are quite flattering. I'm looking forward to making lightweight cropped pants for summer. We had snow last week, but I *know* summer will be here soon. Right??
This fabric is destined for a set of reusable book bags for my son's classroom. I'm very excited about this project, and will be sure to share more as I get to work.
What are you sewing and planning to sew these days?
The infamous Washi Dress. What is it? Rae Hoekstra, of Made by Rae designed a fantastic sewing pattern that has taken the sewing world by storm. If you read any sewing blogs at all, everyone seems to be making this dress! It's a digital download that you can get here. It's so popular, in fact, that she sells a separate expansion pack.
Why did I choose to sew it? Three reasons:
1) I wanted to see why it is so popular (relatively easy to sew, it flatters many different figures.)
2) To practice shirring, and to work with cotton voile.
3) I wanted a new Easter dress.
You can see the way the dress is blowing in the breeze on the mannequin that the drape of cotton voile is lovely. It's a thin, but gorgeous fabric to work with.
Cap sleeves that are quite flattering.
A new-to-me seam finishing technique: bias tape that only encases the bottom edge of the armhole. It was confusing until I sewed it, and then it's brilliance was quickly made clear. Very very clever finishing technique.
Subtle front pleats to camouflage the "mom bits."
Elastic shirring in the back to define the shape, but also provide easy on/off without any closures like a zipper or button placket. I wasn't sure how flattering this would be when all was said and done, but I love the way it fits!
I'm a fan! Will you do me a favor? Send me a picture if you sew one yourself!
Rope baskets are a thing now, and I thought I would see what all the fuss was about. They are easy, relatively inexpensive to make, and are quite meditative as you sew. They hog thread--about a spool per basket. I never got the hang of turning a corner to make a crisp base, but I also only made two baskets. They turned out larger than I intended, but my children thought my mistake meant all the more candy that the Easter bunny could leave them! Here are a few pictures of the basket in-progress and finished. The red marks near the handles were later erased with a hot iron (I use the FriXion erasable gel pens).
It shouldn't be a surprise that someone who doesn't like plastic, doesn't go for plastic Easter grass. Green fabric is fluffy, the right color, cotton, and reusable year after year. When you no longer fill baskets, you can sew something with it. Win win in my book.
I hope you had a lovely Easter, if you celebrate, and are enjoying that spring is finally here!
This time of year, I like to make a little something for my children's Easter baskets. If the project goes smoothly, I try to make some for my niece and nephew as well. This picture on Pinterest got me thinking. While buying the pattern would have been the easier option, I had some extra time this week and decided to draft a pattern myself and just go for it, pilfering the scrap bin along the way.
Such a sweet face!
The round body is what really struck me as interesting. I ditched the arms and legs from the original, and also rounded the ears a bit. I liked it so much I made four!
Ready for Easter with time to spare to get these cuties into the mail. If you're looking for more bunny sewing tutorials, here are a few you might like:
Bunny Drawstring Bag (top right)
Bunny Tote (top left)
Bunny Softie (bottom left)
This is a Bunny I made two years ago for all the kids in the family, a free tutorial on the blog While She Naps. The velour, which I found in the remnant bin at Joann, makes it so cuddly soft. (bottom right)
Let me know if you decide to sew some bunnies this spring. I would love to see them!
My camera was fairly neglected and needed a proper home. After seeing some really fun camera applique ideas around the net, I came up with this canvas tote.
The straps are an old karate belt that was never used. I only had to add the camera "strap" fabric to one side.
I have very few accessories, so I put two interior pockets on the lining. This holds my download cable, backup battery and battery charger.
To cushion the camera itself, I covered a piece of foam that nestles into the bottom of the bag, but is also removable if I wanted to use the bag for something different.
Now if I could only remember where I put the lens cap...
For January, the sewing project I decided to make for myself is the Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes. A goal this year is to get over my fear of sewing with knits. This dress was an easy way to gain confidence!
Everything was sewn on a regular sewing machine, no serger required. One thing I love about indie sewing patterns such as this is the instructions. They are clear, concise, tested by real people, and not overloaded with sewing jargon. Patterns by "The Big Guys" (McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity, etc.) often make you feel downright stupid. Not the case with indie designers. They will frequently link to You Tube tutorials or support links on their own website to help with techniques that are unfamiliar. This pattern includes instructions for working either with a serger or traditional sewing machine.
I chose a navy blue and white stripe knit from Girl Charlee for the main body, and a crisp white for the yolk and cuffs.
The bamboo anchor buttons come from Katrinkles, here in Rhode Island. I just love Katy's buttons!
The sizing was spot-on. I graded the pattern larger for hip size, but this lead to a bit more ease than necessary. This only adds to the comfort! I'll definitely use the same size for top and bottom on the next one. There will certainly be a next one--a print of some kind. This pic, though awkward (can you tell I'm still very uncomfortable being IN the pictures??), is one where I can brag on matching up the stripes on the side seams.
Two tricks to sewing with knits: a narrow zigzag stitch and a twin needle. For all the main construction seams, I used a stitch that looks like a lightening bolt, #05 on my machine. For the hem at the neckline and bottom, I used the twin needle. It's important not to use a regular straight stitch with knits--the stretch in the fabric needs a seam that will allow it to stretch a bit.
A very happy seamstress!
You can find my November project here. There are two smaller December projects that have been lost in the holiday shuffle. I guess that means I get to double up soon instead!
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.