I’m Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

christmas-top-6

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 …

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How to Sew Christmas Stockings with a Faux Fur Cuff

holly-christmas-stocking

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

black-berber-vest-2

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 …

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Smile Together Sweatshirts

cat-sweatshirt-simplicity-1317

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

knitting-needle-holders

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 …

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Floral Plantain Tee

floral-plantain

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 …

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My Sewing Pattern Storage

sewing-patterns-organized-in-comic-book-sleeves

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

sewing-tools-iphone-cover-2

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 …

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Nursing Watson Bras and My Post-Natal Body

watson nursing bra green stripes 2

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 …

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A Few Summer Tops That Flopped

basic woven tank top

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 …

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Franciscan Starburst Placemats

franciscan starburst placemats with dinner

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, …

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The Pants Formerly Known As Maternity

flamingo print shirt 3

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 …

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Pillows & Our Mid-Century Living Room

pillows in 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 …

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A Mess of Baby Clothes

baby romper from vintage simplicity 5469

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 …

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Fancy Fox Diaper Bag

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 …

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Some Jersey Knit Maternity Clothes

raspberry jersey maternity dress

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 …

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

purple striped staple dress maternity 3

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 …

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How to Add In Seam Pockets to the Conifer Skirt

conifer-hack-inseam-pockets-tutorial

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 …

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How to Sew a Pillow with Piping and an Invisible Zipper

finished pillow with piping and 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 …

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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 …

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A Summer Ensemble in Yellow Cotton

simplicity 1426 and simplicity 1166 vintage

I’m not sure why, but this was a summer of yellow clothes for me. I made and adored this outfit (and then took forever to get photos onto the blog) which is obviously very yellow. And I wore any little bit of yellow I could find out of my existing wardrobe. And then bought a dozen yards of a yellow and white stripe knit that I’m sewing up as samples for a someday-to-be-released pattern. And I find this all very amusing because I’ve never actually liked yellow that much before (probably in good part because it’s honestly not the best color on me, but let’s not go there). The super-high-waist and crop top is a recurrent theme for me this summer too as I started the summer with my red and white versions of this same outfit (top is Simplicity 1426 and skirt is Simplicity 1166, both 1950’s re-released vintage …

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How to Sew a Giant Cuff on Jeans

how-to-sew-a-giant-cuff

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 …

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Presidio Purse Re-Release with Free Video Sewalong

presidio-purse-front

What I thought would be a quick and easy project (ha! as if those exist!) turned into a fair bit of work. But I’m super happy to have done it! I’ve updated and re-released the Presidio Purse pattern to keep it consistent with my more recent pattern releases. I’ve almost doubled the number of illustrations in the pattern and have included a second pocket sewing variation in the pattern that was originally only in the sewalong. Aaaand….I’ve updated the sewalong to include a full, step-by-step video sewalong! The videos are interspersed in the photo sewalong so you can watch them if you need additional clarification. Or you can find them all together in a playlist on YouTube. The video sewalong should hold your hand enough that a beginner sewist can tackle the project. If you’re an intermediate sewist you may enjoy it for the general sewing tips and tricks that I intersperse throughout. …

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How to Sew a Swimsuit with a Skirted Bottom

how-to-add-a-skirt-to-a-swimsuit

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 …

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Hack the Nautilus Bikini into a High Waist with Twists

nautilus-swimsuit-hack-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

how-to-make-a-swimsuit-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

how-to-sew-underwear-from-a-swimsuit-pattern

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 …

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High Waist Light Denim Jeans

high waist light jeans with cuff vogue v8201 3

The moment this denim arrived from Minerva Fabrics I knew that this project needed to jump ahead of my entire sewing queue because it was going to become the jeans that I had wanted since high school when I dreamed of being as effortlessly rock star as Gwen Stefani. (Okay, maybe a big part of it at the time was that I wanted to marry Gavin Rossdale myself.) I swear that I remember her wearing a similar pair and I totally ripped a picture of it out of a friend’s copy of Seventeen Magazine, although my googling abilities haven’t been able to find it again. I’m afraid that I look a little more Annie Hall than Gwen Stefani, but Annie Hall was sexy in her own right and I’m in love with these jeans regardless. I used Vogue v8201, an out of print pattern from 2006. I think I picked it …

How Hack a High Waist Swimsuit Bottom

how-to-hack-a-high-waist-swimsuit

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 …

Nautilus Swimsuit Sewalong: View C

nautilus-swimsuit-sewalong-view-c

Sewing the Bikini Bottom for View C of the Nautilus Swimsuit is quick and easy. A nice wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am to finish off the swimsuit! If you’re sewing all of View C, start with sewing the top and attaching the straps and clasps because they have more detailed sewalong information. If you’re just sewing this bikini bottom, make sure you’ve read a few of the basic swimsuit sewing tutorials like how to choose swimsuit fabric, how to sew elastic to a swimsuit, and how to add a contrast or finished edge to a swimsuit. The following steps are numbered like they are in the illustrated instructions so you can compare back and forth. [115] & [117] Sew the Bottom Front to the Bottom Back, right sides together at the sides and crotch. [116] & [118] Sew the Bottom Front Lining and Bottom Back Lining, right sides together, at the sides and crotch. …