How to Sew Narrow Swimsuit Straps

There’s something ever so satisfying about a crisp little spaghetti strap. Did you know that narrow swimsuit straps are actually really easy to sew? It’s true! Both 1/4″ and 3/8″ spaghetti straps for swimsuits are deceptively easy because we can sew them around the right size elastic for crisp perfection! Start by cutting a strip of your swimsuit fabric that is 1.5″ wide (works for either 1/4″ or 3/8″ elastic. You can use the same technique for wider elastic to make wider straps though you will need wider fabric strips to start). You can sew a single strap that is twice the length of your finished strap and cut it in half when you are done. Align your elastic to one long edge of your strap on the wrong side of the fabric. You can pin it in place before sewing if you prefer or just feed it carefully as …

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How to Sew the Laminaria Swimsuit with a Mesh Insert

When I was designing the Laminaria Swimsuit I intentionally placed the contrast insets such that they could be sewn in mesh without the swimsuit becoming scandalous. The easiest way to do so is to use mesh for the inserts in View A and use a mesh or skin color lining. However if you take the easy approach your seam allowances may be visible at the edges of your mesh. If you want to guarantee that the mesh looks as clean as possible there are a few changes that you need to make to cutting and construction. They’re not technically challenging but they do require understanding the suit construction so I’d strongly recommend sewing the suit with a standard inset following the normal directions once before attempting mesh. Start by cutting View A out of your fabric using mesh for the inserts. Instead of a full lining, you will cut the lining out of …

How to Sew the Sharp V Neck on the Laminaria Swimsuit

The sharp V neck on the Laminaria swimsuit is a bit tricky to sew. I recommend trying it at least once on a scrap of fabric before you do it on your actual swimsuit. If you find this too hard or don’t want to bother you can always sew the soft V neck instead! So why are we even doing all these weird fussy steps? It effectively adds a seam allowance to the center front V so that you can sew elastic to the edge and turn it to the inside without stretching the center front. The first step is to stabilize the center of the V. If you already basted the body to the lining along the center front that should be enough. If you haven’t, sew for a few inches on either side of the center V 1/4″ from the edge using a straight stitch and pivoting at the …

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Evelyn Rose’s Nursery

As much as I might have had fun gathering inspirational images of the perfect nursery while I was pregnant, when it came down to it, I didn’t have the energy for much of any follow through. And since then? There’s always been something higher on the priority list. But that’s okay. Evie’s got a cute little nursery and while it may not make it into any magazines, it makes her happy, and that’s what matters. Of course it only took me a year to finish it. Ha! You’d think it wouldn’t take so long since the room is tiny. It’s actually just the second closet in our bedroom but it’s been perfect for use as a nursery. (Evie will move downstairs to an actual bedroom at some point in the future.) In my defense, the room has been essentially done since Evie was a couple of months old. There was …

How to Attach the Laminaria Swimsuit Straps

The Laminaria Swimsuit really can be sewn by a confident beginner sewist. I have a selection of photo and video tutorials to give an added boost of confidence. Today, I’ll show you all the steps involved in attaching the straps to the front and back of the suit. I’m showing the steps out of order but clustered by back and front strap attachment so that you can understand the process to the finished swimsuit which should hopefully make the steps intuitive when you reach them in the instructions. Remember, there are 3 options for how you attach your straps. If you want them to go straight in the back or cross in the back, start by attaching the straps to the back of the suit. If you want halter ties, skip over the back attachment steps and only attach them at the front. BACK: In steps 36/37 we pin and baste the …

Shortening/Lengthening the Laminaria Swimsuit

One of the coolest things about sewing your own swimsuit is that you can make the torso the right length. As a tall gal, 1 piece swimsuits have always been my nemesis as there’s nothing worse than rocking a wedgie every time you put on your swimsuit. The Laminaria swimsuit has printed shorten/lengthen lines on the pattern pieces to make shortening and lengthening easy. How can you tell if you need to add/remove length from your swimsuit? The size chart tells you the crotch length that the pattern is designed for which is average for an average height woman (5’6″). If you need more/less length in ready-two-wear swimsuits, you’ll probably want more/less in this swimsuit. However, the only way to tell for sure is to make a muslin out of the same fabric that you will be using for your final suit as small differences in horizontal and especially vertical stretch …

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How to Print a Layered PDF Sewing Pattern

From here on out, SeamstressErin Designs patterns are being published as layered pdfs (wahoo!). What does this mean? It means that each size is on a different layer so that you can select only the size you want to sew for printing. You can also select a cluster of sizes in case you need to grade between sizes or even two totally different sizes if you want to print out your size and your best friend’s size at the same time! Why bother, you might be asking? Of course you can still print all of the sizes like before (pattern pieces are still nested). But you might find it handy to print fewer sizes at a time because the markings on nested patterns can get a bit hard to discern, especially on small pattern pieces. Start by opening your pattern in Adobe Reader. (There are many different programs that open …

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Rainbow Raindrops Waterproof Minoru Raincoat

I live in the Seattle area. You may not have heard this about Seattle, but it rains a fair bit here (ha!). In fact we broke rain records yet again this year so a raincoat is a timely project. Of course I finished it just in time for May flowers instead of April showers (or all winter long incessant drizzle as the case may be). But I can promise you that this raincoat will be getting plenty of wear over the years. Though I didn’t finish many projects this winter, I really took my time with what I did sew to make them as perfect as possible with deluxe fabrics and this coat is no exception (my wool & silk Fumettere and quilted velvet puffer vest being prime examples of what I mean). I used Sewaholic’s Minoru pattern (that I’ve had and been meaning to sew since it came out …

Fancy Forest Pillows for a Reading Nook

I have a vision of a jewel tone rainbow forest for Evelyn’s bedroom and I’m slooowly working my way there. Evie sleeps in a nursery right now (which is a second closet in our bedroom and just big enough for a crib and a dresser) but she’ll need a bigger room eventually and it’s nice to have a playroom to contain messes because if she’s good at one thing, it’s pulling things out of bins and off of shelves. The first bit of decorating that I’ve done is to make pillows for a reading nook. The thistle and owl quilting patterns for the big pillows are from Elizabeth Hartman’s Fancy Forest quilt pattern (which I am also sloooowly working on for the room). The hedgehog pillow is a panel print intended for a baby quilt that I snagged from my mom’s stash. I sewed the log pillows out of brown …

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How I Organize My Fabric

I have a rather large fabric stash (580 yds when I counted at the beginning of the year). I’m not ashamed. It makes me happy and inspires me. I love having a whole wall of fabric to pick from any time I want to sew. The vast majority of the fabric has been gifted to me or came from the thrift store for $2/yd so it also helps me to sew frugally. However, I also like to be organized and a stash like this certainly needs an system if it’s going to stay organized! I’ve toyed around with various organizational systems, both physical and digital, and have finally settled on a pretty dang simple method that works well for me. I really wanted to find a digital solution that I loved, but there were always flaws. If it was a digital system without photos (like an Excel spreadsheet) then my …

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Wool, Silk, and Leather Luxe Fumeterre

I started this skirt at the beginning of the year. I meant it as a replacement of an old high-waisted wool maxi skirt that I loved in theory, but I had made it so long ago that the shoddy construction I used back then drove me crazy now. I used Deer & Doe’s Fumeterre skirt pattern for a replacement wool skirt. I certainly could have drafted my own 8-gore maxi skirt, but I just couldn’t get over those delicious front pockets. Again, I could have figured them out on my own, but Eleonore had already done the work to get the proportions perfect and I like to support indie designers so I went ahead and bought the pattern. This is a very deluxe skirt that also happens to be quite frugal. I used a gorgeous wool crepe that I picked up at the thrift store for $2/yard, a silk crepe de …

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How I Organize My Zippers

I love organizing things, but sometimes great organization solutions are slow to appear. I think I’ve finally hit upon a pretty dang good one for zippers and I’m excited to share it with you. My zippers were formerly all housed in a nice labelled tupperware together. The problem was, I accumulate zippers since I pick them up at the thrift store and to find the right color/length zipper, I’d have to dump the whole tupperware on the ground and sort through the zippers one by one. And then I reached a point where I had too many zippers to fit in the tupperware so it barely closed so the zippers were constantly spilling and it just wasn’t a good situation. I had a flash of genius (if I do say so myself) that allowed me to easily and visibly organize zippers by type and size. To organize your zippers in the …

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More Than “Good Enough” Nursing Bra

Apparently “good enough” isn’t good enough. I was sure that the “good enough” nursing bra that I just made was going to last me just fine until I’m done nursing. But sitting down to blog about it got the idea of making a better version stuck in my head. So I used Evie’s nap time the last couple of days not doing any of the tasks I really *should* be doing (or working on one of the other handful of WIPs I already have going) but instead sewing another bra. And I’m pretty well chuffed about it. Never mind that this set of photos look pretty dang close to the last set of photos, I swear they’re of a different and better bra! It’s the same Kwik Sew K3594. I went down one band size and used 2 layers of power mesh for the band (instead of the 2 layers …

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Kwik Sew K3594 Nursing Bra

This bra isn’t that exciting. It’s Kwik Sew K3594 that I converted into a nursing bra. As much as I want to sew only exciting things, apparently practical still wins out occasionally. This bra was meant to be a wearable muslin – I do have pretty fabrics and lace that I want to sew into a bra, but I’m not totally sure what size I should be wearing right now as my bust size has changed yet again since I have been slowly losing weight post baby. Since it’s pretty near impossible to figure out if a bra fits until it’s almost all sewn, I figured I’d start simple and then when I figure out the fit go ahead and use my pretties. I haven’t quite gotten the fit right with this bra. You can see there’s a bit of extra fabric in the bottom of the cup. The one fit …

Electron Layette Sewalong: Sweatshirt

The first step is to select your fabric. The sweatshirt calls for a mid-weight knit with less than 20% stretch. This means fabrics like french terry, sweatshirting, even fleece or ponte. For more about selecting fabric, see the post on Choosing Fabric for the Electron Layette. Along with your fabric, the notions you need are snaps and interfacing. Cut your fabric. If you cut your pattern pieces out with your fabric on a single layer you can squeeze it into a smaller amount of fabric. Regardless, you need to end up with 2 fronts (mirror images of each other), 2 sleeves, 2 pockets (optional), 1 back, and 1 back neck facing. Note that there are two options for the neck facing piece – one has size 3 months, 9 months, and 18 months on it while the other has size newborn, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years on it. The …

Electron Layette Sewalong: Pants

The first step in sewing your Electron Layette Pants is to select your fabric. Paying attention to stretch, you can use a variety of fabrics including jersey, interlock, ponte, and sweatshirting. For a thorough walk-through, read/watch Choosing Fabric for the Electron Layette. Cutting the Electron Layette pants is quite simple. You need 1 Front, 1 Back, and 2 Waistbands. Cut the fabric on a single layer and, if your fabric is directional, make sure that your pattern pieces are facing the same direction. Make sure that the direction of greatest stretch is perpendicular to the selvedge so that it stretches most around the body of the baby/pants. Place the Front and Back right sides together and sew the side seam using a 3/8″ seam allowance. Since your fabric has stretch, you will want to make sure that you are using a stitch that stretches. If you have a fancy stretch …

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Quilted Velvet Puffer Vest

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

Electron Layette Sewalong: Bib

The first step is to select your fabric. There are many options for the bib. You can use fabric with or without stretch though it will be easier to sew without stretch. I recommend cotton for drool absorption purposes. If you use a layer of waterproof fabric in the middle it will prevent drool from leaking onto baby’s shirt. For more about selecting fabric, see Choosing Fabric for the Electron Layette. Along with your fabric, you need a piece of velcro. The pattern calls for a 3/4″ square of velcro, but really anything in a similar size will work – 1/2″ to 1″ will work just fine. If you don’t like velcro (or don’t have any on hand), or if your babe is prone to just yanking the velcro’d bib right off, you can substitute a snap for the velcro. If you choose to use a snap, make sure that you still …

Electron Layette Sewalong: Hat

The first step is to select your fabric. You need to choose a knit with at least 30% stretch so that it comfortably stretches on for wear on baby’s head. For more about selecting fabric, see the post on Choosing Fabric for the Electron Layette. You don’t need any notions for this hat. Start by cutting out your hat. You need to cut two copies of the hat and make sure that the direction of greatest stretch goes horizontally across the hat so that it stretches around baby’s head. You can cut the pattern piece twice on a single layer of fabric or once on a folded piece of fabric. The first thing to do on any sewing pattern, after you have cut out the pattern pieces, is to transfer any markings from the pattern to the fabric. The Electron Layette hat has three markings that we need to transfer …

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Fabric Selection for the Electron Layette

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

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How to Set Snaps in Clothes

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

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How to Make and Use Tailor’s Tacks

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

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How to Sew a Cat Bed

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

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Red Winter Skirt – Butterick B6219

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

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Green Jasper Sweater Sweatshirt

It’s about time that I sewed a Jasper. I’ve adored this pattern from afar since Lisa released it but my sewing queue is always so gigantic and I’m so easily distracted by shiny things (literally and figuratively) that even my grandest intentions often go a while before being fulfilled. Speaking of intentions, I do intend to sew this into a dress this winter too. Come on self – make it happen! I call this a sweater sweatshirt because the I was drawn to the sweatshirt fleece for how it looked like a sweater knit (and for how it was bright green, if we’re being honest). Something about the prominence of the knit stitches and the heathered green makes it almost look like it could be a nice heavy knit. In fact, it’s a cheap sweatshirt fleece from that big box sewing store we all love to hate. I bought it …

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Top 5 Sewing Hits 2016

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

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70’s Muted Funfetti Knit Wrap Blouse and Skirt

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

I’m Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

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

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How to Sew Christmas Stockings with a Faux Fur Cuff

December is here which means it’s holiday season! I’m actually pretty excited that Christmas and Hanukkah overlap this year because we get to have latkes for Christmas Eve dinner :) We’re keeping things pretty simple around our house because we don’t have a lot of spare time or energy this year (and at 7 months old, Evie isn’t going to know the difference). But it is important to me that we have Christmas stockings. Since I was a little girl, stockings have been my favorite part of Christmas. I was allowed to wake up whenever I wanted but I had to stay quiet until 7 am (which usually meant I would sit and stare at the Christmas tree for a couple hours in the early morning). Then I could grab our Christmas stockings, climb into my parents’ bed, and we would open them together. I’m excited to continue the tradition with …

Not Viking-esque But Still Not Good Vest

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