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 …

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How to Underline Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat

cutting diagram for underlining robson trench

Underlining a coat like this has two major perks: It gives you the chance to really spice it up as your underlining and bias taping will be visible. It also opens up the fabric options you have for the outer fabric as you can hide ugly or scratchy wrong-sides or add weight to a not-quite bulky enough fabric. I think the underlining on my Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat is the best part and I wanted to share what I did to make it easy for you too to underline your own trench. Most of what you’ll be doing is the same as the instructions included with the pattern, so I will just be highlighting what to do differently. The major difference is that you will be finishing the edges of your pieces before sewing the coat together instead of as you go. This means that you don’t have to constantly re-thread …

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My Favorite Skirt – How to Make a Long Skirt from Recycled Jeans

My Favorite Skirt

This really is my favorite skirt. I’ve been wearing it just about weekly for 7 years? 8 years? I had an amazing time teaching people at Maker Faire how to make this skirt. The shape is flattering on all body types (Seriously. I have yet to see a gal that doesn’t look fabulous in this skirt) and allows for great ease of movement. (Seriously. I ride my bike and climb trees in this skirt). Added bonus – I  met my boyfriend while wearing this skirt! The basic idea behind this skirt is that we are opening up a pair of pants and setting in four triangles of fabric into the openings.

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How to Invisibly Bias Tape Arm Holes or Necklines

finished arm hole with bias tape

This is a simple technique for invisibly finishing arm holes or necklines using bias tape (seen above on the arm hole of my Pink Peplum Brocade Top. For the technique used to pipe the neckline, click here).  If you have double-fold bias tape, press it open so that it is single fold (top row). Take your single-fold bias tape and iron one of the folds open (bottom row).

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Radial Purse Template and Instructions

radial purse being held

Plastic canvas is a pretty fun material to have on hand. It’s excellent for craft projects but also makes a great backbone for sewn projects needing structure – including the radial purse I put together as a part of the Plastic Canvas Blog Hop hosted by Diane of CraftyPod. When you think of plastic canvas purses (if you ever think of plastic canvas purses) you probably think of cheap acrylic yarn in olive green and mustard yellow needlepointed onto a purse by your grandmother in the 1970’s. While there’s nothing wrong with those purses (I proudly carry one myself!), plastic canvas purses can be so much more! My Radial Purse uses a quilting technique to get the fun radials and requires beginner sewing skills.

How to Draft and Sew a Sleeve Facing

sew facing to sleeve flounce

Have I mentioned yet that I’m in love with my Mad Men Joan dress? So much so that I wrote a tutorial for drafting sleeve flounces so I can spread the love. The only problem with inserting these pretty arm flounces onto a dress sleeve is that when the flounce flops around, as it looks so beautiful doing, you are liable to catch a big ol’ glimpse of the seam where you sewed the flounce onto the sleeve, and that’s not as beautiful. So, sleeve facings to the rescue!

How to Draft Sleeve Flounces

flounce ready to sew

For my Mad Men inspired dress, I simply had to have flounces on the sleeves, which I drafted myself and added to a commercial pattern. I’ve written a tutorial so you can do the same!

How to Mark a Book for Trade or Sell in Ravelry

Ravelry Will Trade or Sell

While organizing my knitting pattern library in Ravelry, I noticed that there is the option to mark pattern books and magazines as available for sale or trade, but it took me a bit of mucking about to figure out how to do so. I put together this little tutorial to help anyone that might be curious to do so themselves.