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 …

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 …

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Fitting & Grading the Nautilus Swimsuit

how-to-fit-and-grade-a-swimsuit

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

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How to Choose a Size on a Swimsuit Pattern

choosing-swimsuit-size-square

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 …

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How to Choose Swimsuit Fabric

choosing-swimsuit-fabric-square

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

How to Turn a Soccer Jersey into a Bike Jersey

soccer jersey turned bike jersey

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

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How to Sew Duffel-Style Detachable Swivel Hook Straps

swivel hook clasp options

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

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How to Cut Perfect Circles of Fabric

how to cut circles of fabric

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

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 …

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Corks and Chalk Message Board Tutorial

cork and chalk message board

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

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Cabochon Keychain Wedding Favors Tutorial

cabochon keychain

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

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Painted Initials on Cork Mat

finished intial cork board

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

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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When to Underline your Sewing

Underlined Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat

Adding an underlining is one of my favorite tools in my sewing arsenal.  It’s so simple to do  – just cut all your pieces out of two different fabrics and use them wrong sides together as one. Easy as pie (which is a phrase I’ve never quite understood because baking a good pie isn’t actually that easy. Maybe easy as eating pie? Because I can easily eat a lot of pie.).  If you don’t regularly underline projects or are new to sewing, you might be wondering “When should I underline my sewing projects?” Underlining is great for garments when your main fabric is: 1) Loosely woven Anything that fits you snugly has tension on its seams. If your fabric is loosely woven, it can pull at the seams, separating the weave of the fabric, and eventually pulling apart. Underlining prevents this because you have the strength of the underlining fabric …

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How To String a Pearl Necklace

finished pearl necklace

Making simple necklaces is quite easy. But, like many crafts, you can make simple projects truly special by paying attention to  craftsmanship. I wanted to make a pearl necklace to wear for my wedding so I bought some pearls and set about to learn how to string a pearl necklace in the best possible way. When working with pearls,  you need silk thread. While there are many, many options for beading threads, wires, and cords, you want to use silk because it is very sturdy but will not wear away at the pearls from the inside. I really enjoyed working with Griffin Silk Bead Cord which comes with a beading needle already attached for easing stringing. Other than using silk, there are two characteristics that set a pearl necklace apart from another necklace – pearl necklaces are often threaded on two strands of cord and a knot is tied between each pearl. …

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How to Block Knit Gloves

how to block knit gloves

Gloves, mittens, mitts, fingerless gloves – whatever you’re knitting to put on your hands, it will be even prettier after you have blocked it, most especially if there is any lace or cablework. In my humble opinion, every knitting project is improved by a good blocking (even if I thought it was superfluous for years, I shouldn’t have, trust me on this one). I’ve gotten several questions about how to block my Queen Anne’s Lace Gloves, which is important to do because they have lace and cable stitches! Without further ado, this is how to block knit gloves: I like to steam block everything instead of wet blocking because I think it is easier to control (unless the project is in need of dramatic blocking like my Red Knit Duster). There’s nothing worse than permanently stretching out ribbing while blocking, which is a lot easier to do with wet blocking. …

How to Embroider a Lazy Daisy

how to embroider a lazy daisy

Flowers make everything happy and daisies have always seemed to be one of the happier flowers. Lazy daisies are such a simple embroidery stitch (seriously deceptively easy. There’s a reason the word “lazy” is in their name!) but they can have a great impact to perk up, spring-ify, sweeten, and otherwise improve any garment you might want to stitch them onto! I stitched them all over one arm of my Bomber Jacket and it made we want to add daisies to everything I’m making these days! To embroider a lazy daisy: With your needle coming from below the fabric, bring the needle up through the fabric where you want the center of your daisy to be. Then put the needle back through the fabric from above to below, in the same place as you brought the needle up or right next to it. DO NOT pull tightly yet. Bring the …

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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 …

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How to Hide Yarn Ends in Double Knitting

trim ends of double knitting yarn

Dealing with yarn ends in any knitting project is a drag, whether there are just a few from when you’ve reached the end of a skein or a whole bunch because you’re doing color work. The cool thing about double knitting, which I discovered while knitting my Floral Double Knit Cowl, is that you are creating a two-sided fabric so your loose ends don’t need to be woven-in in a hidden manner, they can just hang out free between the front and back sides of the double knit, as long as they are secured. To secure the ends of a yarn change while double knitting, tie the ends together (gasp! yes, tie them together) in a sturdy knot, right at the base of a knit stitch. You’re usually told not to tie yarn ends because knots are visible on the wrong side and can often be felt through the garment. …

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Handmade Pom Pom and Cork Tree Christmas Ornaments

pom pom tree ornament

Although I keep announcing that I’m not making anything for Christmas this year, I guess I keep proving myself wrong, because I got inspired and had to make a cute handmade ornaments to give out, gift, and decorate with! These handmade ornaments are made from pom-poms, corks, ribbon, and buttons – all things that I had readily in my craft supplies. Even if you don’t compulsively stash craft supplies like I do, you should be able to find what you need pretty easily. To make the pompom trees you need pom-poms, cork, something to cut the cork with (I use a little metal saw), a hot glue gun, ribbon, and buttons. If you don’t have pre-made pom-poms, it’s really easy to make your own! Wrap yarn around a couple of your fingers. Pull the yarn off carefully, and tie a knot around the center with another piece of yarn. (I …

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5 Helpful Tips for Great Knitting Projects

5 Helpful Tips for Great Knitting Projects

I knit a lot. Through work meetings, while watching TV at night. I love to knit sweaters for myself, which can be complicated projects, and I like to do so when my attention is divided. To keep projects going smoothly, I make sure that I have things well organized and prepped so I can pick up and put down the knitting without skipping a stitch. Just as I’ve developed tips while needlepointing, I’ve put together some of my knitting strategies that help me knit great projects. 1) Photocopy your pattern. While there are a plethora of awesome options for patterns available digitally, I still like collecting knitting books and magazines for inspiration. When I find a pattern in a magazine that I want to knit, I make a photocopy so that I can feel okay writing all over it and stuffing it into my knitting bag without worrying about marring …

How to Sew a Picnic Set

picnic set on grass tablecloth placemate napkins

It may be turning into crisp fall weather in the rest of the northern hemisphere, but here in San Francisco we’re getting our little bit of Indian summer sunshine. We’re covered with fog during summer months, but right now we have a lovely dose of warm weather, perfect for picnics! To celebrate the warm weather, I sewed a picnic set of tablecloth, placemat, and napkins. If your weather is already turning, this tablecloth is a great size for a kitchen table and the placemat and napkins can be used for any dining table. The image above shows the suggested dimensions for how to sew a tablecloth, placemat, or napkin. For the tablecloth, cut it into the largest square that you can cut. Fabrics differ in widths, usually ranging from 45″-60″, sometimes larger for upholstery fabrics. Measure the width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge and then cut that length …

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How to Sew a Tote Bag

How to Sew a Tote Bag

I can never seem to have enough pretty tote bags. I use them to carry groceries and stacks of library books, to organize things in my sewing room and in my car. Tote bags are simple to sew with just a few rectangles of fabric. They are perfect for any season – from carrying Halloween candy to holding ski gear or beach wear. Follow this simple tutorial to make your own pretty totes! You can cut the tote bag out of all the same fabric or a different fabric for the outside and inside. I love using medium-heavy weight cotton, but you can use a variety of fabrics. If you have a pretty fabric you want to use but it’s not very heavy, use it as the lining or add a layer of interfacing. Cut the front/back at 15″ x13″ (2 fabric and 2 lining), the base at 13″x9″ (1 …

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How to Tie a Yarn Hank for Dying

hank of yarn tied for dying

I have a large cone of undyed wool that is perfect for hand-dying to use in needlepoint projects. The last time that I dyed a large batch of it, I ended up with tangled messes that took me hours to untangle so that I could use them. Super frustrating. So, this time around, I decided to be smart about it and appropriately secure the yarn for dying. The first step is wrap a length of yarn off of your cone (or skein) into a circle. It’s convenient to wrap around the back of a chair or to wrap holding one end in your hand and the other around your elbow. By wrapping the yarn into a circle, you are turning it into a hank of yarn. Lay one hank of yarn down on a surface. (I made a bunch of hanks of yarn at once and then went through and tied them all). Putting one twist in …

How to Cable Cast On and Alternating Cable Cast On

cable cast on 6

My go-to cast on for knitting is the cable cast on. It’s simple to do and produces an even, sturdy stitch for perfect edges that don’t need to stretch too much. 1) How to cable cast-on: Start with a slip-knot on the left needle. 2) Knit into the slip-knot. 3) Transfer the stitch from the right needle to the left needle knitwise. 4) Insert your needle between the two stitches on the left needle. 5) Knit the stitch, and transfer it to the left needle knitwise. Continue in this pattern, knitting between the last two stitches on the left needle and transferring the new stitch to the left needle knitwise, until you have cast on the correct number of stitches. If you are casting on a ribbed edge that doesn’t need to stretch a whole lot (like the bottom of a sweater), you can modify the Cable Cast-On to be …

How to Stem Stitch

blue stem stitch demo

Stem stitch is a great workhorse stitch for embroidery. It makes a lovely straight line that has interesting texture but is quite simple to stitch. It is the only stitch that I used in my Anatomical Leg Embroidery. Start the stitch by bringing your needle up from below on the left side of where you will be stitching. Put your needle through a small section of fabric from right to left, in line with the line of the stitch or angled up very slightly. Repeat the motion, keeping your spacing even. Be careful to always keep your thread below the needle. The stem stitch demo above is shown very loose and with the angle of the stitch exaggerated for illustrative purposes. Note that, although there is an angle to the right-to-left portion of the stitch, the line as a whole is straight. This example is more illustrative of what you …

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How to Make a Guy’s T-Shirt Fit a Girl

convert mans tshirt to womans

This is how I take in a guy’s tee shirt to flatter a girl (i.e. this is what happen’s when I co-opt Adam’s old shirts, as I did for this bleached star shirt). This isn’t about majorly reconstructing a massive shirt to make it tiny. This is about taking a male shirt that almost fits and making a few tweaks to make it more flattering for a female. Adam’s pretty much the same size that I am, and he wears form fitting shirts, so I could wear his old tees without any changes. However, just a few little changes make the shirt much more flattering.   The first and most visible step is to change the length and shape of the sleeve. Men’s t-shirts typically have longer sleeves that are straight across. Women’s tees typically have shorter sleeves that often curve over the arm. To get this shape, cut off …