The Sweatshirt That Shouldn’t Have Been a Flop

fuchsia and scuba sweatshirt

I love the pattern (having drafted it for myself and used it for another sweater that gets tons of wear). I love the fabrics (having made several pairs of leggings from the ridiculous scuba print that I adore). I love the color (me and fuchsia get along real well). I love sweatshirts (I wear a seriously high quotient of sweatshirts). And yet this combo of fuchsia and scuba sweatshirt is a flop. I really tried wearing it for a couple of weeks but I just gave up and sent it to the thrift store. It’s funny because I don’t think it looks that bad in the photos – but part of the reason is that I figured out exactly how the sweatshirt needs to sit to look right, and it only does that when I’m carefully posing for a photo. A big part of what was so successful in the first go …


Southwest Eyeblinder Dress

southwest eyeblinder dress

Occasions often inspire my sewing, and there’s no occasion quite like traveling to Borrego Springs, in the middle of the Anza Borego Desert, in SoCal, to visit my mom for a week. I love visiting the desert and I will admit to some slight disappointment when I arrived in the middle of the worst week of weather they’ve had all year! Fortunately, it warmed up by the end of the week and I got to wear my new dress. Of course I had a great time visiting my mom, regardless of weather. Just for the occasion, I sewed Vintage Simplicity pattern 6926, from 1976 (so it’s another Vintage Sewing Pledge). I bought the pattern this winter in New Zealand and happened to find the ridiculous/perfect cotton fabric at the thrift store two weeks ago. It’s so bright and patterned that it’s a little harsh on the eyes, which is exactly what …


A Couple of Sweatshirts

raglan sleeve cardigan

When I ordered both solid grey and maroon fleck sweatshirt fabrics from Minerva Crafts (free as part of their blogging network), I had grand visions of a colorblocked sweatsuit. When the fabrics arrived, I changed my mind because I didn’t like the two colors together like I thought I would (it’s so hard to order fabric online sometimes) and I realized that, now that I work at home, I really don’t need any more excuses to not actually get dressed for the day and sweatpants barely count as getting dressed. So, I rattled through about 400 different permutations of what these fabrics could become and I am absolutely thrilled with where I ended up! For the grey fabric, I used a vintage Butterick pattern from 1976, Butterick 6336. Although the pattern calls for a woven, I thought that a stable knit like the grey sweatshirt fabric (which has almost no …


Nanny Sheila’s Sewing Tin

nanny sheila's sewing tin 2

Nanny Sheila was Adam’s grandmother and, from the moment I met her almost 4 years ago, like a grandmother to me too. She died this week and I was given her sewing tin. Judi and Brian (Adam’s mom and uncle) can remember this tin from when they lived in England after their father’s death, making this tin about 50 years old. Nanny didn’t do much sewing later in life (although she showed me pictures of some very smart suits she sewed for herself as a young woman!), but she was sure to have the basics on hand as, having lived through WWII in England, she was firmly of the Make Do and Mend mindset. A large portion of the tin is spools of thread and a few assorted notions – the odd recycled zipper, rolled up bits of elastic, some stained bias tape – that I will put to use, …

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 …


New Life for an Old Archer

rayon challis green archer 3

I call his heavy forest green rayon challis Archer old because I sewed it almost 2 years ago, but it’s got a lot of life left in it because I barely wore it in its original incarnation. Why? Because I had the genius idea to add 9″ inches to the bottom so that it could be a dress. Except for it never looked like I was wearing a dress – it looked like I was wearing a nightgown. Not good. So, rather than let it languish in my closet, I decided to cut off the length that I originally added. And *bam* I have a new blouse. Yay! As you can see, I originally sewed the blouse too large – although the Archer is meant to be loose fit, I have a ton of extra room in the shoulders and bust. I don’t know why I did that. To give …


Sproingy Grey Knit Cardigan

gray drape sweater back

This was some weirdly sproingy fabric to work with which might have had me grumbling in frustration at other times, but I was SO excited to be back to my sewing machine and drafting kitchen table after 4 months away that I would have happily suffered through just about any fabric weirdness! I don’t have a lot of winter clothing (since winter in San Francisco barely counts as winter. I know Seattle is relatively weather-tame, but it was below freezing for much of last week and that’s winter in my book!) and anyway most of my clothing is stuck somewhere in storage for the next few months (while we live in a furnished rental and then housesit for my snow-bird parents). So my nights and weekends are going to be full of sewing practical, warm items for a while. This drape cardigan kicks off my practical winter(-ish) sewing. Of course, …


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 …


How to Sew the Easiest Skirt

rectangle skirt in white and orange

Even the most advanced sewists occasionally crave super simple projects. Sometimes you want to wake up, have a cup of tea, and sew a new skirt to wear before you need to eat breakfast. That’s not just me, right? Beginning and advanced sewists alike, this is a super-easy skirt worth remembering because it is just that – super easy! To make this skirt you need fabric and elastic. You can use just about any kind of woven fabric. For this skirt, I used a basic lightweight woven cotton because I wanted a breezy summer skirt but you can definitely use a heavier fabric to wear in other seasons. The width of your fabric will be the length of your skirt, so go ahead and cut your skirt to the right length at this point (but don’t cut the length of the fabric as we will determine how much we need …


A Singer Featherweight Named Rosalyn

singer featherweight

Hello Everyone. I would like to introduce you to my new friend Rosalyn. She’s a sturdy gal that’s already had a lifetime full of adventure, her most recent escapade being a journey across the pond to live with me! We share a birthday (November 7th), although she’s a fair bit older than me, having been made in 1949. Even though I knew that my mom was going to be buying me a featherweight as a graduation gift (mostly so she had an excuse to buy one for herself at the same time ;) I still gasped with awe as I unwrapped this beautiful little black case. So plain and unprepossessing. And yet what beautiful glory doth wait, nestled inside! (Okay, I’ve never been much of a poet. Sorry for inflicting that upon you.) But really, isn’t she gorgeous, nestled in that little black box? My mom bought her machine (named Rosie) …


I Am My Own Von Trapp Family

von trapp family outfit

Several sources of good ideas and grand intentions went into making this monstrosity of an outfit. First, I wanted to try sewing another Summer Concert Tee but thought it would be an interesting experiment to use a woven fabric. Second, I seem to be on an orange kick recently and this thrifted duvet cover in my stash that kept catching my eye. Third, Seattle summers are way warmer than San Francisco summers so I actually needed a couple more light-weight cotton pieces to get me through comfortably. Fourth, I’ve been working on high-stress (i.e. wedding) sewing all summer and I wanted a couple easy projects in contrast. Add all these influences together and what do you get? I am a one-person Von Trapp family. When I initially put on the outfit, I thought that I was drowning in fabric and it was hideous. Oversized top and full skirt in the …


Knit Robe as Bridal Shower Gift

light weight pink grey stripe robe

My go-to present for every wedding shower and bachelorette party is a handmade robe. It’s a garment that’s easy to make for others, can be alluring without being overly sexy, and is both pretty and functional. This week I had a joint wedding shower with my godsister Rachel (who gets married this weekend!), thrown for us by my mom (her godmother) and her mom (my godmother) so I got the chance to whip up a robe for the occasion. The fabric is a light weight knit that I had stashed. It is quite loosely knit, giving it a sheerness that is a little bit sexy. But, there’s just enough warmth and coverage to make it functional as well. A major win in my book! The great thing is that each time I sew a robe I use totally different fabric so that it comes out completely personalized for its recipient. …


Cotton Lawn Wedding Ties for Groomsmen and Fathers

hand sewn purple cotton lawn floral ties

Since I’m sewing dresses for our female wedding attendants and knitting shawls for our mother figures, I wanted to come up with a wearable gift for the male wedding attendants and father figures and ties seemed the logical choice. Of course, going into sewing the ties, I didn’t realize how handmade they really are – by which I mean every single stitch is sewn by hand! But I’m thrilled with the results – I made a lot of absolutely gorgeous ties! Since our wedding is pretty casual, I bought a gorgeous cotton lawn from Britex with a delicate grey floral print – it’s not a Liberty Lawn (it’s from Italy) like I had in my head to find, but it was filed right next to them and fills the role beautifully. I picked a coordinating color to sew a tie for Adam so that he stood out (he is the …


Vintage Rayon Crepe Pleated Dress (Butterick 6927)

butterick 6927 vintage style dress

I feel pretty in pink. And not just any pink, this daring fuchsia is a dream come true for a girl who dreams in bright colors like I do! A light and floaty crepe rayon with a silk habotai lining means that this dress is as yummy to wear as it is to look at. The vintage silhouette is a little bit demure and the sassy color is anything but, and oh boy do I love being a walking contradiction. I used Butterick 6927 vintage reproduction (currently out of print) from a 1951 pattern.  I used a delightful rayon (viscose) crepe from Minerva Fabrics that they supplied for me as part of their blogger network, although it has unfortunately since sold out. They called the color cerise which I think is a prettier word than fuchsia (just as aubergine is prettier than eggplant. I need to learn the British-isms for all …


Baseball is a Summer Staple Dress

baseball staple dress 3

When we first arrived in our summer home, of course I got my sewing machine set up right away. But, despite (or perhaps because) of the giant list of things I have to sew this summer, all I wanted to do was whip up something silly and easy. Certainly influenced by the very summery weather (that I’m not actually used to after 7 years of San Francisco summers), I wanted a sundress. And, despite the fact that I kept out many nice cottons that would have done very well, I got it in my head that I absolutely had to turn this ridiculous 1980’s baseball print that I had found at a thrift store forever ago into a dress. Since I didn’t have much of this print, the dress was going to have to be something without a lot of volume. I ended up choosing the Staple Dress by April …


My Summer Sewing Space

summer sewing space

It may not look like much, but this quirky little sewing space already feels like home to me. We’ve been in our summer cottage for a week now and it’s starting to settle into a routine. Adam is off on a business trip, I’m home sewing for the wedding. It’s taken a bit longer to get to routine than I thought it would – at first there was unpacking, and then time catching up with all the to-do’s that got dropped in the rush of the move (turns out you still have to pay your bills, even if you’re busy), and then a couple days spent on my butt on the couch decompressing (at least that’s what I’m calling a couple days of the blahs). I picked the sun room, what was probably a sleeping porch when the house was built in the 1800’s, as my sewing space. There’s a …


Aubergine Hoodie Tunic V8951

vogue v8951 purple tunic hoodie

The highlight of the last couple weeks of my life? Not getting a subwoofer for my car. Not my brother’s 30th birthday. Not even buying a wedding band for my fiancé. It’s the fact that I can finally wear my leggings in public!! Okay, maybe that’s a bit of hyperbole, but I’ve pretty much worn only this tunic since finishing it! I used Vogue 8951. The cover art didn’t do much for me (frankly it looked a little boring and, well, middle-aged). But I love hoodies as comfy clothes and it is tunic length (a must since leggings are not pants) and I figured I’d give it a shot. And I’m so glad I did! (It wasn’t until after I sewed it up that I remembered my friend Shams of Communing with Fabric had made a great version although, since she has the opposite body shape as I do, the final …


Pink Sequin Lace Shift Dress

pink sequin lace shift dress

Pink and lace and sequins, oh my! When told to make a fancy dress, lace seems appropriate. Sequins are also appropriate. And in my mind, pink is appropriate for every occasion. So when I found this delicious fabric that combined all three, it obviously needed to become a fancy dress! I underlined the dress with silk habotai (the lining that Minerva included with the kit was a bit heavier than I had in mind) so oh boy does it feel dreamy to wear. I bound all of the seams and the neck in the same habotai. I opted to leave the sleeves unlined for a little bit of sex appeal, but it’s quite subtle as the pink underlining isn’t too far away in color from my pink skin! Yes, my choice of vintage McCalls 9575 dress pattern was heavily influenced by Heather Lou’s lovely sequin shift. Fortunately, my sequins were much, much easier …


Bombshell Bikini

bombshell bikini botton and twist top

I am a total bombshell in this swimsuit. The first time I sewed the Bombshell Bikini by Closet Case Files I made a few design decisions that left me feeling like an almost. But this time? Total Bombshell. So, what did I learn that made this one a rockin’ success? Better color choice, for sure. Instead of a pale pink the color of my skin, I picked an iridescent purple that I bought at Britex Fabrics that actually compliments my skin tone. I left off the halter top that (although I like halters sometimes) made me feel like a line-backer, emphasizing my strong shoulders in the wrong way. And, I made the bikini bottom version of the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern and drafted my own bikini top. I love the full coverage of the bottom and the slip of skin showing at my waist, an asset that I like to highlight. For …


Oakshott Lipari Rainbow Stripes Tote Bag and Tutorial

pieced oakshott lipari tote rainbow

This Oakshott Lipari is OMG gorgeous. They are jewel tones like none I have ever seen. After getting my hands on this fat eighth pack I immediately understood why quilters hoard Oakshott like garment sewists hoard good border prints. I was sent the Oakshott from Sew Mama Sew to make a tote bag, but I immediately started to rethink my original tote design so that I could use less Oakshott so I had more for other selfish projects. And then I had a stern talking-to to myself and told myself that I was being silly and greedy and I should go ahead with my original plan because I can always buy more fabric. Well, that bit about “always buy more fabric” was music to my ears, so I continued on with the plans for a large tote. To make this tote you need: 13 fat eighths of Oakshott Lipari, 3/4 …


Laptop and Bamboo Tablet Cases Quilted from Jacket Scraps

tribal print laptop and bamboo tablet cases

Having nice things means taking care of nice things. Not only am I a klutz, I also have a penchant for cramming way too many things into my shoulder bags. That means that things in my life get dropped and smushed. Since I like my nice things to stay nice, I decided to make cases for my laptop and bamboo tablet. An added bonus to this project was finding another way to use this fabric that I’m completely obsessed with and getting to look oh-gag-me-adorable with my matchy-matchy jacket, backpack, and technology cases, as well as getting to use scraps from my oh-so-awesome South African wax print that I just used to line a different jacket. I didn’t write this up as a pattern because everyone’s technological-item-of-choice is slightly differently sized, and there are dozens of other patterns and tutorials out there for similar projects. However, I thought I would share …


10 Tips for Sewing With Leather

Tips for Sewing with Leather

Leather is the oldest material used for clothing and yet is always au currant. It can seem like such an exotic material to work with, and while it certainly can bring its own challenges, those challenges can be overcome. Here I share some tips that I have learned through my experiences in sewing with leather (for some recent examples and inspiration, see my Cooper backpack, my giant leather snail and its smaller friend). Some of these tips I was taught in the PopUp Britex class where I sewed my burgundy leather clutch. Preparing your sewing: 1) Lay the entire skin out on a table and lay all of your pattern pieces out on the leather before cutting to ensure that they all fit. Remember that leather doesn’t have a grainline so you can get creative with your pattern piece placement. 2) You can use a fine tip permanent marker to draw on the …


Presidio Purse Sewalong: Inserting the Zipper

zipper sewn to top of presidio purse

If you want to insert piping at the edges of the zipper tape, sew it on now, following the “how to add piping” part of the sewalong. The way that this zipper is inserted, part of the zipper tape is visible, so your piping won’t show up much if it is the same color (like I did with mine, unfortunately. Turns out black on black doesn’t show up a whole lot.). If you are using a separating zipper, which is easier because you don’t have to worry about twisting your zipper tape, unzip the zipper all of the way. Pin it to the top curved part of the bag with the teeth facing down so that the teeth are more than 1/2″ away from the top of the bag. (Teeth facing down means both teeth are pointed away from raw edge of the bag and the right side of the …


Grey Plantain with Distressed Binding

plain gree long sleeve tee plantain

While most American sewing bloggers seem to be caught in an arctic chill, preventing them from wearing anything but the most warmest of outerwear for blog photos, I’m over here in sunny (northern) California, where I’m dreaming of snow, and puffy coats, and thick wool sweaters, and warm boots and stuck in 70F weather that is going to cause an alarming drought later in the year. (Although I will admit that my delicate west coast self would freeze her toches off if I were to actually get what I’m dreaming about!) I thought that sewing up a lightweight long sleeve tee would be a good compromise – it feels like winter wear because it’s grey and long sleeves, but it’s actually pretty lightweight. This simple long sleeve tee is the Plantain by Deer and Doe, available for free. I love the elbow patch detail on this shirt – something little that does add …


Presidio Purse Sewalong: Marking the Fabric

tracing paper on fabric

There are several different places to mark on this pattern to help you get everything lined up perfectly and several different ways that you can make those marks. First, we need to mark the cut line for the insets on the Front (NOT on the Back, Front Lining, or Back Lining). [If you are interfacing your Front, Back, and Bottom/Sides (only for lightweight or drapey fabrics), go do that now. And then come back. But DON’T interface your straps yet. That comes soon.] If you don’t want insets (totally okay, I’m not gonna judge), you can skip this step. The first method that you can use to mark the cut line is to simply cut through the pattern piece along the cut line. It does ruin your pattern for future use, but it’s certainly the easiest method. If you want to be able to use the pattern again (without reprinting …


Presidio Purse Sewalong: Choosing Fabric

presidio purse interfacing interlining

Let’s get this sewalong started! [If, during this post or any other in the sewalong, I don’t cover your specific question, just ask! I’m happy to continue updating these posts as I go so they are as comprehensive as possible.] The first step is choosing fabric. In this post, I’ll talk through fabric choices for the body, lining, and interfacing. The pattern calls for canvas, upholstery fabrics, denim, corduroy, or heavy twills for the body of the purse. You want something sturdy. If you are a beginning sewist, I recommend canvas, denim, or a heavy twill as cotton is easy to press (unlike many upholstery fabrics) and corduroy requires working with a nap. The thicker and stiffer your fabric is (i.e. the less drape it has), the more the purse will hold its shape on its own. However, I think it also looks lovely as a slouchy bag, so this …


Presidio Purse Pattern Release

Presidio Purse Illustration

Let’s start this year off with a bang! My Presidio Purse pattern is live! Find it in my pattern store and keep an eye on the Presidio Purse page on my website for a summary of all things Presidio Purse as they are posted. There’s so much in store for this coming year – I’ll be finishing graduate school, moving to Seattle, and getting married (although I’m not yet sure in what order). This should be a great year for me and an exciting year for SeamstressErin Designs and I’m thrilled to start it with my first big sewing pattern launch. What is the Presidio Purse? My pattern testers said: “This is the perfect purse for a woman on the go! It will stylishly hold everything you need for a day out, while the pockets inside keep important items handy. The handle length is perfect for throwing over your shoulder …


Announcing the Presidio Purse!

presidio purse plum tweed oversize purse

    For my December Minerva Crafts Network Project, I’m thrilled to show off my Presidio Purse. I was carrying my purse for the first time yesterday and plopped it down on the counter of a craft supply store while I dug out my wallet to pay for some last minute stocking stuffers. The gal behind the counter exclaimed “What a wonderful purse! I’m a total purse junky. Where did you get it?” I was pretty stoked to be able to say “I made it! The pattern is mine and I will be releasing it on January 1st!” A pattern release, you say!?! Yes, I say!! Check back into my website on January 1st for the official release of my Presidio Purse pattern. I’ll have some gorgeous photos of gorgeous finished purses from my wonderful pattern testers. And over the course of January, I’ll host a full step-by-step sew-along. The pattern …


1959 Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress

McCalls 1959 vintage cotton dress

Well, I’m a day late to my own party with this dress. But I think I have a pretty good reason. You see, I sat down to write this post, showing pictures of my Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress (for my final contribution to my Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong), on the day after Thanksgiving. I found a quiet corner amidst the chaos of a house very full of family.  And then Adam asked if he and I could get a bit of alone time together, maybe go out for a cup of tea, because I had been in the kitchen cooking for two days straight (one day to bake 5 pies, one day to cook our Thanksgiving meal), and he thought a spot of fresh air away from the chaos would be good for both of us. Apparently, the offer of tea was just a ploy, as he took me to …


Pink Silk Retro Bow Neck Blouse Simplicity 2154

simplicity 2154 in pink silk

Is this outfit too much? No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know the answer. I am overcompensating with this outfit. You see, yesterday was not a good day. It poured down rain on my ride into work and the crotch of my rain pants split half way through the ride. So all the water that was puddling in my lap leaked into my crotch. And when I got into work and took off the failed rain pants, it looked like I had peed my pants. Not a good look and certainly not very comfortable. Fortunately, a co-worker had a pair of sweatpants I could borrow (thanks again Alex!). Unfortunately, they were the exact same color as the sweatshirt I was already wearing. So I ended up in a navy sweatsuit. (Oh, and I was wearing an oversize beanie because my hair was due for a wash and I …