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Quilted Velvet Puffer Vest

When winter set in and I started thinking about what I wanted to wear, vests were at the top of my list. I tried a quick-and-easy vest and it was a hilarious flop, so I started working on making myself a quilted velvet vest. And I slooowly worked on it, and worked on it, and worked on it. It’s finally done (just in time for the weather to warm up, of course) and I don’t want to take it off, inside or outside. I think it’s the perfect blend of unique, comfy, practical, and pretty for me. I’m kinda obsessed. Before you get too gaga about my velvet puffer vest, I have to admit that it’s not actually a silk velvet. It’s an upholstery velour or velveteen (I so remain perpetually a bit confused about the nuances of difference between velvet – velveteen – velour) which sounds decidedly less glamorous, …

3

Fabric Selection for the Electron Layette

I’m talking about fabric selection for the pieces of the Electron Layette together since it’s likely you’ll be picking out fabric for more than one of the patterns at a time. If you like watching videos, I’ve talked through each garment with example fabrics in the video above. In general, the most important things to consider when choosing fabrics for the Electron Layette are weight and stretch. For weight, you can generally use your gut – feel the fabric and think “would this be appropriate for a hat/bib/sweatshirt/pants?”. For the Electron Layette hat, the most important thing to consider is stretch. The hat needs to stretch to comfortably fit onto baby’s head. The pattern calls for at least 30% stretch though the more stretch the merrier. Jerseys (left) are a good choice but you can also use fabrics like ITY knits (right). You probably want a fabric that has recovery to it – when …

1

How to Set Snaps in Clothes

I love using snaps in clothes. Whether it’s attention-grabbing snaps to give a hint of cowgirl on a blouse or subtle snaps down the crotch of  baby clothes to make ins-and-outs easy, snaps are a fun substitution for buttons and useful addition to any sewing project. I use and adore and swear by my SnapSetter tool for how it makes setting snaps almost mistake proof (nothing’s completely mistake proof, if you’re me ;). It’s what I recommend you use and it’s what I’ve geared this tutorial for. If you have snap pliers or an anvil snap setter, I recommend this Seamwork tutorial for using them. But seriously, pick up a SnapSetter for yourself – you won’t regret it! To set snaps you need: Snap Setter snap components (Make sure they are all the same size and the same size as your snap setter. Size 16 is a pretty standard clothing size.) cap …

11

How to Make and Use Tailor’s Tacks

Allow me to wax poetic about tailor’s tacks for a moment? When I first started sewing, I figured tailor’s tacks were archaic and complicated and I never bothered to use them because they were hard and I could always use pins or chalk. Well, it turns out that pins fall out and chalk rubs off and tailor’s tack are actually really, really easy to use. I wish I could jump back in time and tell myself this so that I could have fallen in love with tailor’s tacks sooner. Instead, I’ll wax poetic here on my blog and hope that I can jump-start someone else’s love for tailor’s tacks before they might have otherwise fallen in love on their own. So how do you make tailor’s tacks? Easy! Use a contrasting thread doubled through your needle. Bring your needle through both layers of fabric, coming back up as close as possible. You can …

3

How to Sew a Cat Bed

I just got another 2 cats. But that doesn’t put me in crazy cat lady status, I swear, since it still adheres to the n+1 rule (where n= number of adults in a household and n+1 is the number of allowable cats before you have a “problem”). I intended to just get one more cat so that Tig could have a companion again, but when we went into the shelter room to meet Etta, Bandit jumped into my lap and started purring and playing with Evie. So I managed to convince my best-ever-in-the-whole-wide-world-husband to let me bring both Bandit and Etta home. Tig still isn’t quite convinced that she wants companions, but a sort of detente has been reached, and I know they’ll be friends soon. Since Bandit & Etta started their introduction to our home by living in the bathroom, I needed to quickly make them beds so they …

3

Red Winter Skirt – Butterick B6219

Working through my #ootd project has already taught me many things and one of them is that I need more skirts I can wear in the winter! I decided that something I could whip up quickly would be a good start (even though I’m fantasizing about elaborate wool concoctions) so I grabbed Butterick B6219, some fabric from my stash, and got to it. It took me 1.5 baby naps (how I measure everything these days), so Fast & Easy is right! I made a couple minor fit changes to the pattern. I added a few inches in length (which is standard for me since I’m 5’10”). I also added more shaping to the yoke and shortened the waistband piece as I wanted to reduce as much bulk as possible from the elastic gathered waist. I generally make elastic waistbanded garments with as little gathering at the waistband as possible (my Conifer …

5

Introducing the Electron Layette!

The Electron Layette is so named because it’s a current take on a baby layette – modern, full of personality, and gender-neutral. It includes easy-to-sew patterns for harem pants, drool bib, hat, and sweatshirt in newborn through 2 year sizes. Buy the Pattern Now Drop-crotch (or harem) pants are easy to fit and easy to sew. They’ve got plenty of room for baby to walk and crawl and wiggle around. Trust me, I can vouch for this one personally. Evelyn is just figuring out how to crawl and the little wiggler won’t hold still! The pants also fit nicely over both disposable and cloth diapers. We cloth diaper Evie and you can see in these photos that she’s got plenty of room to wear the pants comfortably over her big cloth diaper. I went up a size for the purple pants pictured here so she has room to grow but you can also choose …

2

Top 5 Sewing Misses 2016

I think this year had a much higher ratio of flops:successes than normal (see my 2015 year in review, 2014 year in review, and 2013 in review for comparison). I was a bit surprised when I looked back to write this post to see that I’d consider so much of my sewing this year to be flops (though I did have some great successes too!), but I think the same things that kept me from doing much sewing (sickness, new-baby-induced sleep deprivation, and post-partum depression) kept me from sewing my best. Oh well. They were learning experiences. In no particular order, my top flops: I think this vest was a lesson in I-should-have-left-well-enough-alone. Its first draft was okay (pictured above) but it felt a little viking-y and then I tried to make it better and it turned into a totally unflattering mess. Oh well. I have another two vest WIPs at the moment so …

10

Top 5 Sewing Hits 2016

2016 didn’t see me sewing a whole lot, unfortunately. Between being sick through my whole pregnancy, having a baby in May, and then struggling through post-partum depression, I just didn’t have the ability to create. I love reading (and compiling) end of the year roundups (see my 2015 year in review, 2014 year in review, 2013 in review, and 2012 roundup for a glimpse through my sewing past), so I went ahead and post-mortem’ed this year’s sewing too. Even with very little output, I had some notable successes, which is nice to see and reflect upon. In no part particular order, my Top 5 Sewing Hits of 2016: These nursing Watson bras are my biggest hit of the year. I wear them almost every day (I have a couple of RTW bras that get swapped in occasionally) and love that they are fun, functional, and a bit sexy. I particularly …

7

70’s Muted Funfetti Knit Wrap Blouse and Skirt

Once I got the idea into my head to sew this fabric into a 70’s wrap dress (when I was talking about it in my Sunday Stash post) I had to drop everything and make it happen. I rushed to get it done in time for Thanksgiving and used all my free time the week before (including a bit of my work time. Shhh. Don’t tell.) and I’m glad I did. It was comfy and cute and felt nice to wear something festive that actually fit and was nursing friendly. The fabric is from Girl Charlee and is a hacci knit (so very lightweight, drapey, and stretchy). I don’t know quite what I pictured when I ordered it (because it was the middle of the night and I was making an I’m-feeling-sorry-for-myself purchase), but this wasn’t quite it. I guess I pictured it being brighter – more like funfetti cake. It’s a …

I’m Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

This is not the year for fancy Christmas party dresses. However, I can’t let the holiday season go unmarked by some thematic outfit because, well, I just can’t! This top came together in a matter of minutes and I know it’s going to get some pretty solid wear until Christmas. The bodice was originally a maternity shirt and had long ties that wrap around the belly. I wore it once and hated but I adored the fabric so I just couldn’t let it go. I cut off the ties and sewed down the cross-over but it’s kind of an awkward cropped length so I didn’t wear it. The red stripes were scraps left over from my 80’s striped dress. I had to piece together several scraps to make this skirt (and I wish I had had enough I could have made it dress length!), but I saved every little bit of …

2

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 …

Not Viking-esque But Still Not Good Vest

This vest is a woof. And apparently it started off mediocre and my repairs made it worse. I thought I could get away with wearing it regardless because it sure is cosy, but after looking at these photos I’m sending it off to the thrift store. Fall kicks into vest season, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. I like that I can still wear skirts and long sleeve tees, but I do start to need an extra bit of warmth now that the days are shorter and greyer and blusterier, and vests are the perfect thing, even as we move into winter. I have two vests in my closet right now, but only one actually zips over my bust (thank you nursing), so I figured some vest sewing action was in order – and quickly before fall leaves and winter is here because winter really is sweater season, not vest …

10

Smile Together Sweatshirts

Even in challenging times, especially in challenging times, we must continue to create things of beauty and joy. I fully admit that these sweatshirts aren’t works of beauty. But they are certainly joyful. I know nothing about the politics of the man working the checkout counter at Target, the woman waiting for coffee in line next to me at Starbucks, or my neighbors taking their dog for a walk. What I do know is that this sweatshirt made them each smile. We shared in a moment of togetherness, of community, of joy, because of giant furry cat noses. And I guess that does make this sweatshirt something beautiful. If you can believe it, this ridiculous cat fabric came from the thrift store this week. Total serendipity and exactly what I needed. The contrast is a heavy t-shirt weight double knit I bought at Joanns and stashed forever ago, knowing I’d …

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 …

6

Floral Plantain Tee

Fall is here and with it comes long sleeve tees, flannel shirts, denim, vests, boots, and pumpkin spice all-the-things. Well, it should come with all of those things. But, at 5 months post-baby, my garment pickins are pretty slim (I’ve got plenty of boots and oh boy do I have plenty of pumpkin spice!) . Time to sew is pretty slim as well (I know I keep saying that), so I figured I’d start with the long sleeve tees as they are fastest item on the list. I chose Deer & Doe Plantain tee to start since I’ve made it successfully a couple of times before (with distressed bindings and as a maxi dress). Sewing for my current body is an unfamiliar and moving target (I keep changing size and shape, being 5 months post-baby) but it was pretty easy to try on the shirts I already had to see …

11

My Sewing Pattern Storage

I hoard stash pretty much anything related to sewing. Patterns are no exception. I’ve been through a few different sewing pattern organization systems but I think I’ve finally hit on one that works well for me. It’s systematic, thematic, and allows for both easy perusal as well as easy growth (because, let’s be honest, I’m constantly adding new patterns to my collection). I store all my patterns in storage systems meant for storing comic books – cardboard boxes, tagboard backers, and plastic sleeves – and it works a charm. (This is not my original idea. I know I got the idea from another sewing blogger, but I can’t for the life of me remember who!) My organization system goes deeper than just “boxes”, so I thought I’d share in case it helps or inspires anyone else. Since I have a lot of patterns, I have them organized into boxes by type …

Sewing Tools iPhone Covers

The moment I take a new phone out of the box I put a cover on it. Seriously, I have to have a cover ready and waiting next to me before I can open the new phone box. Okay, so a big part of it is that I’m a total klutz and I drop my phone all the time. But a big part of it is the excitement of having a decoration for my phone that makes it uniquely mine. I’ve had many different cases over the years, but I’ve never had one that showed off my love of sewing – so I decided to do something about that! I designed an iPhone case based on the tools of our trade – sewing tools! They feature tailor’s chalk, snips, a tape measure, scissors, a seam ripper, tomato pincushion, and a thimble. They are available with an orange, purple, or aqua …

40

Nursing Watson Bras and My Post-Natal Body

I never really thought that I would get into sewing bras. I’ve always been fairly small busted and quite content to wear RTW foam cup bras that make my body look a little closer to hourglass than its true pear shape. I’ve loved seeing all the gorgeous bras that sewists have made, but never felt the inspiration strike to make my own. I found a RTW brand that fits me well, bought half a dozen of the same bra, and replace them when they start to wear out. Except for right now I’m not small busted and I’m not fitting the RTW I’ve tried and I’m not stoked on the nursing bras that I’ve found. So what’s a sewist to do? Start sewing bras, of course! The combination of nursing and gaining weight from pregnancy has brought my once ~32B’s up to ~34D’s. Whereas  before, I could go without a bra with …

9

A Few Summer Tops That Flopped

My quick attempts at some summer tops ended up as flops. Oh well. We had some pretty warm weather here last month and I had a grand total of one camisole that fit me, so I thought it would be a great idea to whip up a couple of lightweight linen sleeveless tops to wear in the warmth. I started by drafting a new basic block (since I’m a different size and shape than my pre-pregnancy block) for myself and sewed it up in a salmon linen I had in my stash. It’s okay. I’m not enamored with the armholes or the fit through the upper back, but it’s wearable and decent for a first draft. I’m still exploring what silhouettes work well on my current body and I’m finding that, having gotten back a little bit of waist definition, I want to wear things that show I have a …

4

Franciscan Starburst Placemats

If I was to buy myself a(nother) set of vintage china, it would definitely be Franciscan Starburst (see a bunch of examples of what it looks like on Ebay). First made in 1954, it’s everything I love about mid-century modern design – space-age, bright colors, and starbursts. I actually already have a complete set of vintage china thanks to my grandmother – the Franciscan Heritage (here’s more of what it looks like) which is also mid-century, but a very traditional design – which I love to use, but which also means I’m not in the market to buy more china. However, there are other ways to bring more starbursts into my life! Adam knows how much I like the Franciscan Starbursts so he bought me a set of salt & pepper shakers for Christmas that live on the dining room table. Since it’s not practical to buy a second set of china, …

5

The Pants Formerly Known As Maternity

I get it now. I succumbed to one of those clickbait articles “Top Secrets of New Moms” or something like that while I was pregnant and the #1 secret was “Maternity Pants.” Moms keep wearing maternity pants after they are no longer pregnant because they are so comfortable. And I was like “No way. Not me. I’m already sick of all my maternity clothes. These are immediately getting passed on to a pregnant friend.” Turns out I was wrong. I totally get it now. Maternity Pants. I sewed these while pregnant and wore them a bunch as they were the only pair of maternity pants I had that really fit me (since they were the only non-RTW pair I had). I used my perfect fitting jeans block, graded up a couple of sizes, and subbed out the waistband for extra-wide elastic. (Side note: I used a heavy-duty elastic and found it …

5

Pillows & Our Mid-Century Living Room

Although our house was built in 1920 and is true to the craftsman style on the outside, it has undergone a bunch of remodels that have dramatically changed the inside. One of the things that we love about it is the wide open living room with tons of windows. The living room was at one point mostly a covered front porch that was the entrance to the house. It was closed in and the front door was moved to the side at some point in our house’s history. At some point in the 1970’s (which may or may not have been when the front door was moved), a built-in couch was added to the living room. I wasn’t totally sold on the built-in when we bought the house, although it’s true to the mid-century modern style that we decorate, but I must say that now that we have lived here …

19

A Mess of Baby Clothes

A bunch of baby clothes has a nice alliteration to it, but it seems that the proper term for “lots of baby clothes” must be a mess, since that’s what they are all going to turn into once they actually get worn! I started working on this pile of baby clothes during my first trimester. Since it’s been a crummy pregnancy the whole way through, it took me weeks to cut out the clothes and then months to get them sewn. But that’s okay. Each bit of sewing stemmed from a small burst of energy, and I was able to pour that energy into tangible bits of love and excitement for baby’s arrival. I made a range of sizes from newborn to 9 months so that she doesn’t outgrow my work all at once and used a pile of different patterns as well, including several vintage patterns. All the fabrics …

7

Fancy Fox Diaper Bag

I’m not feeling all that cute these days. This pregnancy continues to be rough and it’s hard to feel like you look cute when you feel crummy. I hear that cute may be a little hard to come by after baby arrives as well as I’ll be sleep deprived and covered in baby’s body fluids. But you know what will be consistently cute? My new diaper bag! I mean seriously, look at these foxes. They are so. darn. cute. And the polka dots and bright orange contrast? Yeah, it makes them even cuter. I know. All of the fabrics came from Minerva Crafts. The foxes are from the Frolicking Forest by Heather Rosas line of quilting cottons. The body fabric is their spotty cotton canvas, a midweight canvas that’s a good weight for purses and bags. The orange is their plain cotton poplin, which is exactly what it sounds like – a …

7

Some Jersey Knit Maternity Clothes

When I ordered my latest assortment of fabric from Minerva Crafts, I had visions of assembly-line sewing an assortment of loose fitting raglan tees – fast and easy to sew, easily wearable post-pregnancy, but still with a bit of fun since I could make the sleeves contrast the bodies. As you see, I followed none of my plans. It turns out that my body (especially my belly) is changing size and shape faster than I imagined (I didn’t really know what to expect. I’ve never done this whole pregnancy thing before!) and if I wanted to get at least a few months of wear out of what I sewed, then my original plan wasn’t going to work. So I made 3 completely unrelated garments (because I never can do things the easy way). We’ll start with this dress which is a success in my book. The main fabric is a lovely …

3

Striped Shift, Striped Shorts, New Glasses (and Glasses Coupon)!

Last week, Adam and I spent a week in Hawaii on a babymoon (i.e. a vacation before baby arrives). We took advantage of a gap in Adam’s work schedule and used a bunch of airline miles and hotel points so that we could have a relaxing escape together now that I’m feeling a bit better. Apparently we weren’t the only ones with such a great idea, as it seemed like every third woman at our hotel was pregnant! While I was able to raid most of what I wore from my mom’s closet (thanks mom!), no vacation would be a true vacation without some frantic last minute sewing for it, right? I grabbed some purple striped cotton-blend from my stash and whipped up a little shift dress and a pair of shorts. I sewed a Staple Dress by April Rhodes since my Baseball Staple Dress is the only woven garment in my …

1

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 …

13

How to Sew a Pillow with Piping and an Invisible Zipper

Part of getting settled into our new home has been sewing a seemingly endless parade of pillows. I’ve been keeping them pretty simple since a) I needed to make a ton of them and b) I can still go back and add fancy pillows later. However, I couldn’t quite content myself with just sewing squares, so my pillows all have piping around the edge and an invisible zipper so that the covers can easily be removed for washing. Since I instagrammed a finished pillow, folks asked how I sewed the piping, so here’s the answer! Start by cutting squares of fabric for your pillows. I’m using a luscious cotton I bought in Thailand, but it’s a pretty loose weave so I serged the edges. If your fabric doesn’t ravel much, finishing the edges isn’t necessary since they will be well hidden inside the pillow. Tip: cut the fabric 1-2″ smaller than …

4

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

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 …