How to Sew Christmas Stockings with a Faux Fur Cuff


December is here which means it’s holiday season! I’m actually pretty excited that Christmas and Hanukkah overlap this year because we get to have latkes for Christmas Eve dinner :) We’re keeping things pretty simple around our house because we don’t have a lot of spare time or energy this year (and at 7 months old, Evie isn’t going to know the difference). But it is important to me that we have Christmas stockings. Since I was a little girl, stockings have been my favorite part of Christmas. I was allowed to wake up whenever I wanted but I had to stay quiet until 7 am (which usually meant I would sit and stare at the Christmas tree for a couple hours in the early morning). Then I could grab our Christmas stockings, climb into my parents’ bed, and we would open them together. I’m excited to continue the tradition with …

How to Sew a Knitting Needle Holder for Circular Needles


I’ve tried a bunch of different ways to organize my circular knitting needles and have never been completely happy. My mom just gave me the rest of her knitting supplies which caused my circular needles to explode out of their most recent not-quite-good-enough configuration which precipitated some emergency sewing of a circular knitting needle holder as I’ve been working hard to get my studio more organized, not less! I really like the solution I came up with. It’s pretty similar to my double-point knitting needle holder with a slightly different configuration. I used some treasured fabric that I bought in Japan when I was in high school – about time I used it! To make the circular knitting needle holder you need: 2 rectangles of fabric 2 pieces of ribbon 2 zippers longer than the length of your fabric tailors chalk (I love chaco liners) straight edge Cut 2 rectangles of …

How to Embroider the Chain Stitch

chain stitch as fill on boat

The chain stitch is my new favorite embroidery stitch. Sorry stem stitch, I’ve replaced you. I want to chain stitch all the things now! Chain stitch is fun to do and, though it takes a little bit to get used to keeping the tension even, it zooms along once you get the hang of it. It makes an interesting outline and an even more interesting textured fill, like I used on the boat above. To embroider the chain stitch, start with your needle coming up from the bottom of your work. Put your needle back into the same hole or right next to it. Pull the needle to the back side but leave the floss as a big loop. Pull the needle through to the right side of your work at the point where you would like the next stitch to start. Gently pull your thread through until the loop you created …


How to Add In Seam Pockets to the Conifer Skirt


As part of Sewing Indie Month, I’m delighted to share a tutorial from Mari of Seamster Sewing Patterns. What’s better than a pocket? Moar pockets! In this tutorial, Mari will teach you how to add in seam pockets to the Conifer Skirt to compliment the pocket already hidden in the waistband. Hello SeamstressErin readers! My name is Mari from Seamster Sewing Patterns and Sew Independent. I’m excited to bring you a tutorial on sewing stable inseam pockets for Sewing Indie Month. Like many sewers, I love me some pockets. I also love wearing knits. You know what this can lead to, saggy pockets that gape open in an incredibly unattractive way as they bulge out on the sides of your hips. But there is hope! And the secret may very well lie in your stash. For today’s tutorial I’m using Erin’s Conifer Skirt, although you can use the same techniques …


How to Make An Ironing Board (without needing power tools!)

ironing fabric on ironing board

This ironing board is quite literally a board pimped out for ironing. I think it’s a great addition to any sewing space. I used large boards for ironing when I worked in costume shops and have admired them in some friends’ private sewing spaces. Having the extra ironing surface area is so nice for ironing yardage and provides some peace of mind that my cat won’t knock over the iron when she tries to jump up onto my rickety folding metal ironing board. You don’t even need to have a lot of extra space for an ironing board like this, just a table large enough to set it on, since it can easily be tucked aside when not in use. You need: Plywood (discussed below) 100% cotton batting 100% cotton fabric – pre-washed shears staple gun & staples hammer safety goggles (if you wear glasses, they are probably enough for these circumstances) sound protection …


How to Sew a Giant Cuff on Jeans


I’m always looking for quirky details I can add to my and sewn garments. On a recent pair of jeans I sewed, I added gigantic cuffs to the bottom. It makes for a unique addition and it’s really quite easy to do. I’ll tell you how! Pattern Selection: Before making major style alterations to a pattern, you want to take a moment to consider whether the base pattern will actually look good with the alteration. (I’m totally guilty of jumping into a pattern hack without carefully considering the finished result just because I’m excited). I think giant cuffs look great on fitted jeans whereas a more modest cuff is a better fit for a wide leg pant – but that’s just my opinion. You’re welcome to another opinion, just make sure you’ve thought about it for a moment! Fabric Selection: While you can tack your giant cuff in place, this sort …


How to Sew a Swimsuit with a Skirted Bottom


Adding a skirt to the bottom of your swimsuit is a great way to give it a bit of personality while also adding a bit of coverage. You can customize the length from cheeky to modest and you can customize the fullness from girly to sporty. You can also easily add a skirt to a bikini bottom or splice it in to a full length suit. So many options! A circle skirt is a great option for the skirted portion of your swimsuit. A half-circle skirt will give you a sporty look (like this sample skirt) and a full circle skirt will give you a more ruffled look. Remember that there is a lot of negative ease in a swimsuit so the skirt fits you more snugly through the top several inches than it would if you were sewing a typical circle skirt. Remember also that the longer your skirt …


Hack the Nautilus Bikini into a High Waist with Twists


At this point in the Swimsuit Sewalong, I’ve sewn a lot of swimsuits. And I think I must say that this hack makes this bikini bottom my favorite. While it’s super easy to turn a basic bikini bottom into a high waist pattern, it turns out that it’s a pretty simple hack to turn the Nautilus Swimsuit View B (the one with the cool twists on the bottom) into a high waist and keep the twists! Yes! Before you do this hack, you probably want to read through the sewalong for View A (the one piece) as the join from top front to top bottom around the twist is very similar to the join for this hack. The first decision you need to make is how much extra height you want to add to the pattern. As written, it’s low rise. I added 3″ to the finished suit to bring …

How to Turn a Swimsuit Pattern into a Tankini


There are many reasons why you might be drawn to a tankini swimsuit, from not having to worry about fitting the length, to the ability to mix and match bottoms, to just plain liking the style. It’s actually remarkably easy to turn a swimsuit pattern into a tankini – read on to learn how! Front: Starting with your swimsuit pattern, draw a line across the front of the suit where you want the bottom of the tankini to be. (Remember that it will end ~1/4 shorter than your line because you need to hem the suit). A good rule of thumb is to slice across where the suit cuts up to go over your hips, but it’s up to you if your personal preference is shorter or longer. You probably want a slight curve to the hem line. Back: Draw a line across the back of your suit that matches …

How to Use a Swimsuit Pattern to Sew Underwear


There are a lot of similarities between a pair of underwear and a bikini bottom, so why not use a sewing pattern for one to make the other? If you’ve got a swimsuit bottom that you like there’s no reason that you can’t use it to make a stack of underwear as well! I’ve put together a few things to keep in mind when doing so – pattern selection, fabric selection, and three different ways to finish the edges of your underwear. Fabric Selection: Swimsuit patterns are designed to be sewn with swimsuit fabrics which have some key characteristics: 4-way stretch, great recovery, and some heft. You clearly don’t want to sew your underwear out of swimsuit fabric, but when you pick a jersey, you should keep these characteristics in mind. You don’t need a 4-way stretch jersey, but you do want to make sure that your jersey has good stretch …

How Hack a High Waist Swimsuit Bottom


High waist swimsuits are a fun way to bring a bit of retro styling to your swimwear. They’re also a great on-trend way to make your swimsuit just a bit more modest. It’s easy to hack your swimsuit pattern into a high-waist bikini bottom regardless of whether you’re starting from a one-piece pattern or a low rise bikini. If you’re starting from one piece pattern, it’s as simple as slicing across the pattern on the front and back pieces where you want the waist to be. The few things to keep in mind: Remember that you have to finish the top of the suit so cut it higher than you want the finished to be (or lower if you want to add a waistband). If you are attaching elastic and folding it to the inside (like most swimsuit finishing techniques) it will only change by 1/4″ but other techniques (like …

Installing a Swimsuit Hook and Straps


Sewing clasps and straps onto a swimsuit are often the final finishing touches. There both pretty easy but somehow it’s always the last steps that seem to never get done, or is that just me? While these photographs are from construction of the Nautilus Swimsuit, you can use the same techniques to sew a clasp and straps on to any swimsuit that hooks in the back and has straps that go over the shoulders. If you’re having a hard time sourcing swimsuit hooks, I can suggest 1″ metal clasps that are up for sale in my shop. Sewing a Swimsuit Clasp: Start by threading one arm of your suit back into the closed loop portion of your swimsuit hook. You want the hook to be pointing down. Depending upon the width of your back and the width of your clasp, you may have to gather your back a little in to the clasp. …


How to Insert Bra Cups into a Swimsuit


Adding cups to a swimsuit pattern is actually an easy modification that can make your suit instantly more supportive and comfortable. It’s pretty easy to slip swimsuit or bra cups into a suit or with a bit more work you can even add a cup with an underwire! Choosing cups: There are many kinds of different bra cups out the biggest consideration you need to make is whether it’s the type of cup that is comfortable to you. You can buy softer cups that don’t give a lot of support but do provide a bit of modesty. Foam cups are a great choice for both support and modesty. If your foam cups aren’t specifically labeled for swimsuits, make sure that they don’t retain a lot of water like a sponge when they are wet! I find one of the best ways to source cups is to go to a thrift …


How to Add a Contrast or Finished Edge to a Swimsuit


The standard for both ready-to-wear and handmade swimsuits is to sew elastic to the inside, fold it over, and sew another line of stitching to keep it in place. For an alternative, you can add a bit of extra pizzazz to your suit with a contrast edging using one of two different techniques – fabric strips or fold over elastic. Additionally, you can use either technique to get a much cleaner finish on the inside than you can with the traditional technique. Before getting started with this finished edge tutorial, make sure you have read How to Sew Elastic to a Swimsuit. Note: Both of these techniques increases the size of each finished piece when compared to the traditional way of folding the elastic to the inside. Why is that? You lose 1/4″ from every edge when you fold the elastic to the inside. When you use the fabric strip …


Sewing Elastic to a Swimsuit

How to Sew Elastic on a Swimsuit

For most swimsuits, ready-to-wear or handmade, the edges of the swimsuit are stabilized and finished with elastic. The elastic is sewn to the inside of the suit and then folded over and topstitched. It’s really quite simple to do and with a few extra tips and tricks, you can have a perfectly awesome elastic insertion on your own swimsuit! Stitches: When you sew the elastic to the inside of your swimsuit, you should use a wide zig-zag. If you have a stretch zig-zag stitch on your machine, this is a great place to use it. If not, use your normal zig-zag on its widest setting. This will securely attach the elastic to the suit and allow it to stretch. When you fold the elastic over, you can use the same wide zig-zag, a narrower zig-zag, or a straight stretch stitch (also called a lightning stitch) depending upon how you want …


Fitting & Grading the Nautilus Swimsuit


The principles of fitting and grading any swimsuit are pretty similar, so no matter what pattern you are using, you’ll hopefully find some helpful information to fit and grade any swimsuit sewing pattern amongst the specific example of the Nautilus Swimsuit. Before you start any fitting and grading, make sure you are starting with the best base size by reading How to Choose a Swimsuit Pattern Size. Cup Size: The Nautilus Swimsuit pattern has 4 different cup size options ranging from AA to DD+. Measure the difference between your full bust and your under bust to get your suggested size. 0-1″ = AA, 1-3″ = A/B, 3-5″ = C/D, and >5″ = DD+. However, this is just a starting point (like any other sizing) and you will want to make a muslin to determine that you are getting a proper fit. What might cause the wrong fit? The cups on …


How to Choose a Size on a Swimsuit Pattern


When I’m sewing a pattern that I haven’t sewn before, I usually jump straight to the pattern pieces and measure the high bust and the hip to choose what size I will sew. Patterns often don’t list their finished measurements and sizing charts often don’t say how much ease they include but a pattern piece reveals all. However, this technique falls apart when selecting a swimsuit size for many reasons. Below, I’ll detail these reasons and explain what to consider instead so that you can best select the size of your swimsuit sewing pattern. Note: Like any sewing pattern, when sewing a swimsuit you can have a pretty good guess about the right size to start with, but you are well served to make a muslin and use that to fit adjustments specific to your body. Ease: For fitted garments with stretch, 0-2 inches of negative ease gives a pretty …


How to Choose Swimsuit Fabric


With all of the amazing looking swimsuit fabrics out there, it can be a bit intimidating to actually choose a fabric. “What are the kind of things to look for when I buy swimsuit fabric?” you might be asking. Well, have no fear – I’m here to tell you! At least I’m here to show you the sorts of things that I look for when I buy swimsuit fabric. If there’s something you look for that I haven’t included, please chime in in the comments! Fiber Content: The first thing that I look for is fiber content. Note that there can be a fair bit of variety in the names used to label the synthetic fibers and many of them mean the same thing. Swimsuit fabric is almost always 80-90% polyamid, polyester, nylon, or another similar synthetic fiber. The other 10-20% is spandex, lycra, or elastane (all of which are …

How to Turn a Soccer Jersey into a Bike Jersey

soccer jersey turned bike jersey

If you’re a member of my family, summer means bike rides. Well, to be perfectly honest, summer means not having to ride your bike in the rain, because riding happens year-round. So summer means even more bike rides and we are all gearing up for the start of summer and the (continuation) of bike rides! My stepdad recently asked me to help convert some of his old soccer (or football since he’s a Brit) jerseys into bike jerseys so that he could get more wear out of them since you’d be hard pressed to find him on a soccer field and hard pressed to find a day that he’s not on his bicycle. You need:  – a soccer jersey (or any other type of sport shirt that breathes. Shirts from ultimate frisbee, marathon running or American football will work just as well). The shirt should be fairly fitted. – a rectangle …


How to Sew Duffel-Style Detachable Swivel Hook Straps

swivel hook clasp options

Swivel hooks are a fun piece of hardware to add to the strap of a purse or bag. They’re easy to install and add a lot of functionality, allowing the bag to exist with or without a strap. I decided to add a strap with swivel hooks to my duffelette purse – a little purse designed like a miniature duffel bag (The pattern for the purse is up on Sew Mama Sew today!) – and wrote a tutorial so you can do the same, for a duffelete purse or any other purse or bag you sew. I will show you two different ways you can attach your handle to your bag – with a D ring or with strapping loops. Either way, you want to sew the swivel hook attachment on to the side of your bag before you assemble your bag. To sew a purse strap with swivel hooks …


How to Cut Perfect Circles of Fabric

how to cut circles of fabric

There are often times when sewing that I want to cut a perfect circle of fabric – from sewing duffel bags, to circle skirts, to polka-dot appliques. There are 3 easy ways to draw a perfect circle on fabric. Trace a Circular Object In your kitchen I bet you’ll find more circular objects that you might think! Tops and bottoms of bowls, glasses, mugs, crocks – all will have slightly different size circles. The easiest way to cut a perfect circle of fabric is to find something that’s the right size and trace around it with your favorite fabric pen, tailors chalk, or my favorite – the clover chaco liner. Tracing around a kitchen object works great for things like applique projects where “close enough” is the right size, but what about when you need the circle to be an exact size and you don’t have a corresponding bowl? Use …

Monster Mittens Sewalong

MonsterWear Hat and Mittens 2

What follows is step by step photo instructions for sewing the MonsterWear mittens (hat instructions are over here). There’s some additional tips and tricks mixed in. If you’ve got any questions while sewing along that this sewalong doesn’t answer, ask a question in the comments and I’ll do everything I can to help. Before sewing along, you might want to read about Fabric Selection and Sizing for the Monster Wear and you definitely want to read tips for working with faux fur. Note as you’re sewing these mittens that the thumb and claw uses a 1/4″ seam allowance while the rest of the construction is a 5/8″ seam allowance. Before you start, you will want to machine wash your lining fabric and if you are using fleece, wash the fleece as well. Don’t machine wash faux fur. After cutting your pieces out, transfer the markings using chalk – I don’t recommend snipping the notches because the 1/4″ …

Monster Hat Sew Along

17 sew back lining

What follows is step by step photo instructions for sewing the MonsterWear hat (mittens sewalong is over here). There’s some additional tips and tricks mixed in. If you’ve got any questions while sewing along that this sewalong doesn’t answer, please ask a question in the comments. Before sewing along, you might want to read about Fabric Selection and Sizing for the Monster Wear and you definitely want to read tips for working with faux fur. Steps 1-3: Construction of the Monster Hat starts with the ears (variation idea: leave off the ears). The whole pattern uses a 5/8″ seam allowance, so use the same seam allowance throughout. We first sew the ear contrasts (variation idea: leave off the ear contrasts). Take two ear contrasts pieces and sew them right sides together. Trim the seam allowance down to about 1/4″ and notch the seam allowance. This helps the curve have the …


10 Tips for Sewing with Faux Fur

10 tips for sewing with faux fur

Sewing with faux fur is a great way to add a bit silliness or elegance (or maybe both!) to your projects. I adore a good novelty faux fur, and many of my favorite sewing projects over the years have used faux fur (my most recent favorite obviously being my Monster Hat & Mittens), but sewing with faux fur isn’t without some challenges. What follows is 10 tips I’ve learned for getting the best finished project while leaving behind the smallest mess. Minimizing Fluff: 1. Cut only through the backing and NOT through all of the fur. You can do this by using your scissors carefully (I find making short snips helps). Some people like using a straight razor to cut the back. Don’t use a rotary cutter because you will have to put too much pressure to cut through the backing and you will likely cut through the fur as …

Mason Jar Memories

mason jar memories 2

When I’m traveling, I like to stick little things that remind me of the trip in my pocket. A shell from the beach. A dried leaf from the forest. A candy wrapper in a fruit flavor I’ve never heard of. I used to stick these sorts of things in with my photo albums, but nowadays I make digital scrapbooks so I don’t really have a home for the little physical remembrances. Enter the Mason Jar Memory Jar, an idea inspired by a project from Martha Stewart. Mason jars can hold a surprisingly large collection of little bits and bobs, and when packed in, like this jar from my time in East Africa, it becomes like a game of I Spy. I have beads from a necklace a Maasai woman made for me and animal teeth I scrounged from the dust in the savannah. As I look through the jar, I …


Corks and Chalk Message Board Tutorial

cork and chalk message board

I like things to be organized, and what better way to organize than in a fun, pretty, and DIY manner! I originally made this cork and chalk message board for my cousin – since she got married in a vineyard I themed her wedding gifts around cork. But I definitely have plans to replicate it for myself since I love the way it turned out! To make the cork and chalk message board, you need: cutting board TSP (use a phosphate free version as it’s better for the environment) primer paint paintbrush non-sanded grout (to make the paint into chalkboard) painter’s tape hot glue gun corks supplies for hanging picture wire (discussed below) I found a fancy cutting board at a thrift store that was already divided into two sections, but any cutting board or slab of wood will do. Start by washing the cutting board really well. You need a …


Cabochon Keychain Wedding Favors Tutorial

cabochon keychain

I’ve always liked party favors and since a wedding is just one giant party (at least ours was!), giving out wedding favors was a given. However, I wanted the favors to be something lasting (I love getting candies but I eat them before the wedding is even over!) and I wanted them to be connected to our wedding and to be used again in the future. (It’s super fun getting sunglasses with the couple’s name on them to wear at the wedding reception, but they don’t really get worn after that, right?) So I decided to make a whole bunch of cabochon keychains using art from our wedding invitations. To make your own cabochon keychains, you will need cabochons and cabochon backs (I ordered the cabochon and backs on Etsy), mod podge, a strong craft glue that dries clear (I love Aileen’s original tacky glue), print-outs of your design, scissors, …


Kanzashi Wedding Bouquet Tutorial

kanzashi wedding bouquet

Although I made many things for our wedding, I think the pièce de résistance that made everything feel so me was the handmade silk kanzashi bouquet. I mean it’s just so bright and silly and happy and colorful! A kanzashi bouquet starts with a whole pile of kanzashi flowers – I had previously made a whole bunch from silk that I hand dyed. What makes them sparkle is a whole bunch of vintage earrings (I got these cheap in a lot since they were all missing their partners), cleaned, with their backs removed. You will also need a hot glue gun, floral wire, fabric for the stems, scraps of felt or fleece, and ribbon. On the top of each flower, hot-glue a vintage earring (already cleaned and with the back removed). Create a bunch of rouleau cord using your favorite technique (a quick google will lead you to a bunch of …


Painted Initials on Cork Mat

finished intial cork board

For my cousin’s wedding, I made a whole stack of projects themed on cork (since it was at a winery) and the color blue (her and her husband’s favorite color). After sewing a recycled sweaters blanket, and making a chalk and cork message board, I wanted to add another little something that was personalized for Lindsey & Max. While at the thrift store, I found a whole stack of large cork coasters and decided that I would paint their initials onto one of the coasters as a finishing touch. Lindsey had admitted to me that she knew they would be very short on decorative items to hang on their walls when they moved in together after the wedding, so I thought something like this painted cork mat would be a fun, personal little piece of art that would fit nicely into their house and hopefully make them think of their wedding (and …


Tutorial: Zippered Roll for Double Point Knitting Needles

double point knitting needle roll

I know I’m not the only one who struggles to keep certain things organized. Don’t get me wrong, I actually love to organize things, especially craft supplies – for example my bias tape collection is neatly organized by both width and color. But somehow my drawer of knitting supplies is always out of control and one of the biggest offenders is my double point needles (dpns) that always seem to fall out of my regular knitting needle case. So, I sewed an organizer that zips shut to show those dpns who’s boss! To make the pouch, you will need 2 identical zippers, some fabric, and a length of ribbon. The exact measurements are up to you (and I’ll talk you through them below), but for reference, I used 2 – 16″ zippers, 2 pieces of fabric that were 12″ x 32″, and 2 pieces of 28″ ribbon. The zippers will determine how …