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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


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 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 …


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 …


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 …


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 …


Presidio Purse Re-Release with Free Video Sewalong


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. …


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 …


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


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


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. …

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 …


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 …


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 …


Strawberries and Gingham Vintageish Sundress

So here’s a hypothetical question for y’all – where’s the line for calling something vintage? Or even vintage inspired? Because I just drafted this dress (and it’s 2015, in case you forgot) but it strikes me as 70’s does 50’s. As I was working on this dress I realized that with every decision that I made it looked more and more like Vintage Simplicity pattern 6926, from 1976, that I used on my Southwest Eyeblinder Dress. I pleated a dirdnl style skirt instead of a 4-panel A-line and I pleated the ruffle instead of gathering it which give it more of a 50’s feel. Oh yeah, and I added a waistband. And the straps are different. So I guess that just means that what’s similar is the fact that it’s a sundress with a princess seam bodice that dips down a little in the back. Is this dress a modern …


Announcing the Nautilus Swimsuit Pattern!

Nautilus - Swimsuit-Thumbnail

Summer is here and it’s time to celebrate. Brew up some lemonade, grab your sunglasses, and whip up a Nautilus Swimsuit! Why call it a nautilus? Nautiluses are pretty cool animals – the only cephalopods (that’s the same family as octopuses) whose bony structure is a shell. Mathematically, the interior structure of the shell is quite interesting (nerdy sidenote: Although it’s often thought of as an example of a golden spiral, as a matter of fact it’s actually a logarithmic spiral with a different ratio). So why name the swimsuit after this cephalopod? The center knot in the swimsuit made me think of the interior twists of the shell! The Nautilus Swimsuit has an elegant twist center front, like the shell of its namesake cephalopod. The pattern is fully lined and comes with 4 different cup size options (AA cup, A/B cup, C/D cup, or DD+ cup) to make fitting …


Pink Anchor Dress I Will Never Wear

simplicity vintage 6934 made modern

I guess the title kinda gives away the punchline, no? I do adore the dress in the photo above. But before I zoom in on its faults, let me step back a bit and tell you why I sewed this dress. Everyone has their least favorite tasks when sewing. Many people complain about cutting fabric, which I actually happen to love. My least favorite part of sewing is fitting. I do not have a straight-from-the-envelope body which is one of the major reasons I started sewing, so I spend a fair bit of time fitting every new pattern that I sew. I also tend to sew a pattern once and, even if I love it, never get around to a next time. Well, recently I had this revelation that if I sewed a pattern more than once, I wouldn’t have to spend time fitting it on any future versions. Duh! …


Happy Hippo Dress

happy hippo kat dress 4

I know that just about every time I sew a new dress I go on about how it’s my favorite. And I totally recognize that the sillier the fabric I use for the dress is, the more I rave about how it’s going to be a wardrobe staple (e.g. my Farm Animals dress, Southwest Eyeblinder dress, or Baseball Staple dress). And, recognizing my behavior patterns, I’m going to repeat them. Because OMG look at this dress! It’s my new favorite thing and I’m going to wear it all the time!! For serious! So where do I find all this amazing/ridiculous/awesome fabric? The thrift store. All of those amazing/ridiculous/awesome dresses were sewn from fabric I bought at the thrift store, most from Granny’s Attic, the thrift store on my island. When I lived in San Francisco I didn’t have nearly such good luck finding awesome fabrics at thrift stores because everything was …

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 …


Red & White & Retro Summer Outfit

simplicity 1426 1166

We’ve had some sunshine and warm weather the last few days that make it feel like summer is definitely on it’s way, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than with this sunny outfit! I sewed the outfit from vintage reproduction patterns from the 1950’s – Simplicity 1426 and Simplicity 1166. The fabric was provided by Minerva Crafts for being a part of their blogging network. I made the top from a lovely polka dot print cotton poplin. The poplin isn’t opaque, so I lined it with a white muslin since if I self-lined it, the polka dots would have showed through. I made the skirt from a solid cotton poplin. The color was called “claret” which I think is a good description of the true color, although I was hoping it would turn out a bit more true red like the polka-dots since …


One Hour Halter in Sew News June/July 2015

one hour halter sew news

My super fast, super easy, and super cute (if I do say so myself) one hour halter pattern is in Sew News magazine this June/July. One of the perks about needing to sew samples for magazine articles is getting to keep the finished garments, and since magazines run on such long lag times, it feels like Christmas when they come back to me – since I’ve just about forgotten them it’s like they’re brand new to me! The color of the sample on the model doesn’t look great on me but it’s good on my mom so she’s a happy recipient of that one (as well as both tunics from my last Sew News article. Lucky mom!). I’m digging the fact that I have a metallic gold version for myself now – I just have to actually go out some evening so I get the chance to wear it! I …