10

Smile Together Sweatshirts

Even in challenging times, especially in challenging times, we must continue to create things of beauty and joy. I fully admit that these sweatshirts aren’t works of beauty. But they are certainly joyful. I know nothing about the politics of the man working the checkout counter at Target, the woman waiting for coffee in line next to me at Starbucks, or my neighbors taking their dog for a walk. What I do know is that this sweatshirt made them each smile. We shared in a moment of togetherness, of community, of joy, because of giant furry cat noses. And I guess that does make this sweatshirt something beautiful. If you can believe it, this ridiculous cat fabric came from the thrift store this week. Total serendipity and exactly what I needed. The contrast is a heavy t-shirt weight double knit I bought at Joanns and stashed forever ago, knowing I’d …

How to Sew a Knitting Needle Holder for Circular Needles

I’ve tried a bunch of different ways to organize my circular knitting needles and have never been completely happy. My mom just gave me the rest of her knitting supplies which caused my circular needles to explode out of their most recent not-quite-good-enough configuration which precipitated some emergency sewing of a circular knitting needle holder as I’ve been working hard to get my studio more organized, not less! I really like the solution I came up with. It’s pretty similar to my double-point knitting needle holder with a slightly different configuration. I used some treasured fabric that I bought in Japan when I was in high school – about time I used it! To make the circular knitting needle holder you need: 2 rectangles of fabric 2 pieces of ribbon 2 zippers longer than the length of your fabric tailors chalk (I love chaco liners) straight edge Cut 2 rectangles of …

6

Floral Plantain Tee

Fall is here and with it comes long sleeve tees, flannel shirts, denim, vests, boots, and pumpkin spice all-the-things. Well, it should come with all of those things. But, at 5 months post-baby, my garment pickins are pretty slim (I’ve got plenty of boots and oh boy do I have plenty of pumpkin spice!) . Time to sew is pretty slim as well (I know I keep saying that), so I figured I’d start with the long sleeve tees as they are fastest item on the list. I chose Deer & Doe Plantain tee to start since I’ve made it successfully a couple of times before (with distressed bindings and as a maxi dress). Sewing for my current body is an unfamiliar and moving target (I keep changing size and shape, being 5 months post-baby) but it was pretty easy to try on the shirts I already had to see …

11

My Sewing Pattern Storage

I hoard stash pretty much anything related to sewing. Patterns are no exception. I’ve been through a few different sewing pattern organization systems but I think I’ve finally hit on one that works well for me. It’s systematic, thematic, and allows for both easy perusal as well as easy growth (because, let’s be honest, I’m constantly adding new patterns to my collection). I store all my patterns in storage systems meant for storing comic books – cardboard boxes, tagboard backers, and plastic sleeves – and it works a charm. (This is not my original idea. I know I got the idea from another sewing blogger, but I can’t for the life of me remember who!) My organization system goes deeper than just “boxes”, so I thought I’d share in case it helps or inspires anyone else. Since I have a lot of patterns, I have them organized into boxes by type …

Sewing Tools iPhone Covers

The moment I take a new phone out of the box I put a cover on it. Seriously, I have to have a cover ready and waiting next to me before I can open the new phone box. Okay, so a big part of it is that I’m a total klutz and I drop my phone all the time. But a big part of it is the excitement of having a decoration for my phone that makes it uniquely mine. I’ve had many different cases over the years, but I’ve never had one that showed off my love of sewing – so I decided to do something about that! I designed an iPhone case based on the tools of our trade – sewing tools! They feature tailor’s chalk, snips, a tape measure, scissors, a seam ripper, tomato pincushion, and a thimble. They are available with an orange, purple, or aqua …

1

Black and Pink Joggers

So, I’m a little behind on the jogger fashion trend. Yeah, more than a little behind. But I got there. That’s what matters, right? Actually, what matters is that I now have a pair of sweatpants that I can wear in public (heck, that I can wear in front of my husband) without being embarrassed by how grubby and ill-fitting they are. Dare I say it, these things are even kinda cute! I used my jeans block as a base, graded up a size, and added in a little bit of wearing ease. Both the black and pink sweatshirt terry were from the thrift store. I opted to add a contrast trim to the front pockets and was going to have hanging pocket bags, but I got excited and sewed on the contrast trim before I sewed on the pocket – oops. I had to modify my plans to add …

7

Grandma’s Sweater Elephants

Although I am very lucky to have several handmade keepsakes from my recently departed grandmother, I felt inspired to make one more. A few years ago, when I was visiting Grandma, she was sorting through one of her closets. In it was a sweater that she had knit that was quite moth-eaten. She decided it wasn’t worth repairing and was going to trash it. I thought that I’d like to give a shot at repairing it so I took it with me. Well, it turns out that those moth holes were so extensive I gave up on repairs, too. I wanted to use the textile for something special, so it sat in my scrap bin. Fast forward a few years and I knew just what to make from it. I decided to sew a stuffed animal for Evelyn out of the sweater and to make two matching animals to send to …

45

Nursing Watson Bras and My Post-Natal Body

I never really thought that I would get into sewing bras. I’ve always been fairly small busted and quite content to wear RTW foam cup bras that make my body look a little closer to hourglass than its true pear shape. I’ve loved seeing all the gorgeous bras that sewists have made, but never felt the inspiration strike to make my own. I found a RTW brand that fits me well, bought half a dozen of the same bra, and replace them when they start to wear out. Except for right now I’m not small busted and I’m not fitting the RTW I’ve tried and I’m not stoked on the nursing bras that I’ve found. So what’s a sewist to do? Start sewing bras, of course! The combination of nursing and gaining weight from pregnancy has brought my once ~32B’s up to ~34D’s. Whereas  before, I could go without a bra with …

9

A Few Summer Tops That Flopped

My quick attempts at some summer tops ended up as flops. Oh well. We had some pretty warm weather here last month and I had a grand total of one camisole that fit me, so I thought it would be a great idea to whip up a couple of lightweight linen sleeveless tops to wear in the warmth. I started by drafting a new basic block (since I’m a different size and shape than my pre-pregnancy block) for myself and sewed it up in a salmon linen I had in my stash. It’s okay. I’m not enamored with the armholes or the fit through the upper back, but it’s wearable and decent for a first draft. I’m still exploring what silhouettes work well on my current body and I’m finding that, having gotten back a little bit of waist definition, I want to wear things that show I have a …

4

Franciscan Starburst Placemats

If I was to buy myself a(nother) set of vintage china, it would definitely be Franciscan Starburst (see a bunch of examples of what it looks like on Ebay). First made in 1954, it’s everything I love about mid-century modern design – space-age, bright colors, and starbursts. I actually already have a complete set of vintage china thanks to my grandmother – the Franciscan Heritage (here’s more of what it looks like) which is also mid-century, but a very traditional design – which I love to use, but which also means I’m not in the market to buy more china. However, there are other ways to bring more starbursts into my life! Adam knows how much I like the Franciscan Starbursts so he bought me a set of salt & pepper shakers for Christmas that live on the dining room table. Since it’s not practical to buy a second set of china, …

9

VintagePledge July Dress (Butterick 3068)

To celebrate #VPJuly, I sewed a 1970’s dress (Vintage Butterick 3068) from 1970’s fabric.  To read about the pattern and the vintage aspects of the dress, pop on over to A Stitching Odyssey. (And while you’re there, look at the other inspiring vintage makes she has gathered over the course of the month!) Here, I thought I’d a personal account about why I chose the fabric and pattern. I agonized about whether or not to use this fabric. You see, I totally adore this floral fabric. Like massive #fabriccrush. It’s vintage (from a stash I inherited from a friend who inherited from an elderly friend who probably bought it new back in the day) and the flowers are a combination  of printed onto the thick, loose-weave linen and then painted on top of the print. And it seemed like it would be perfect for the bodice of this dress. So why not use …

2

A Delivery Gown to RAWR In!

It’s no secret that I really like to wear dinosaurs on my clothes. (Sidenote: It’s a lot easier to find dinosaurs on baby clothes so I’ve totally been stockpiling dino clothes from the thrift store for Evie and every time wishing that I could get the fabric or the clothes in my size). I figured that, of all times in my life that I might need an extra bit of RAWR to get me through, labor and delivery would be at the top. So I sewed myself a delivery gown out of dino print fabric (an awesome thrift store score). The gown silhouette is essentially a raglan sleeve muumuu. I added fullness for the front (to accommodate a very pregnant belly) by putting a couple of large pleats in the front neckline. They’re pulled pretty taught in this photo since Eloise is larger all around than I am, but there …

5

The Pants Formerly Known As Maternity

I get it now. I succumbed to one of those clickbait articles “Top Secrets of New Moms” or something like that while I was pregnant and the #1 secret was “Maternity Pants.” Moms keep wearing maternity pants after they are no longer pregnant because they are so comfortable. And I was like “No way. Not me. I’m already sick of all my maternity clothes. These are immediately getting passed on to a pregnant friend.” Turns out I was wrong. I totally get it now. Maternity Pants. I sewed these while pregnant and wore them a bunch as they were the only pair of maternity pants I had that really fit me (since they were the only non-RTW pair I had). I used my perfect fitting jeans block, graded up a couple of sizes, and subbed out the waistband for extra-wide elastic. (Side note: I used a heavy-duty elastic and found it …

6

Flamingos Are the New Black Shirt

I have pretty much nothing in my closet I can wear right now. I knew that I was going to need a new wardrobe for maternity, but I gave no thought to my post-natal body. It turns out that it’s a totally different size and shape than my normal body (duh). Combine that with the need to constantly nurse my adorable parasite (making most dresses impossible) and I’m pretty desperate for some clothes. Since I have so little sewing time these days (again, thanks to my adorable parasite), I figured I’d start with some basics – simple staple pieces that I can wear with anything. And this is what I came up with. #flamingosarethenewblack I’m not so sure what to wear to fit and flatter my body right now (which I talked about in my last newsletter. Oh, you don’t subscribe to my newsletter? Fix that here!) so I opted …

4

Vintage Pink Gooseberry Pyrex Inspired Tea Towels

While the the majority of our house is decorated around a mid-century modern style, I’ve opted for straight up mid-century with a nice dose of kitsch (e.g. my chicken tea cosy) for our kitchen. I think it adds quite a bit of needed cheer to what is otherwise a pretty gloomy room – the small windows don’t get much light, the countertops are dark, and there is dark wood floor, cabinets, and ceiling. Someday we’ll do a major remodel, but in the meantime I’m adding in things that are bright and happy (and by bright and happy I usually mean pink) and it’s already making a difference. My Aunt got me started on a collection of vintage pink gooseberry print pyrex bowls. I’ve kept my eye out at thrift stores and have added a couple more to my collection. They definitely fulfill my kitchen requirements of being cheerful and mid-century, and of …

5

Pillows & Our Mid-Century 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 …

9

Day-Glo Brocade Maternity Coat

Uninspired maternity style, meet your match. This day-glo orange brocade coat is the only thing I have worn during this pregnancy that feels 100% me, and I’m happily wearing it every single day for these last two months of my pregnancy. Seriously, I’m finding excuses to leave the house, just so I can wear this coat! I used Burda 7024 Maternity Jacket/Coat for the pattern with no major changes (other than major fitting changes). I did interline the bodice so it would have a bit more warmth (and if you follow me on Instagram you can see how silly the insides look as I used a bunch of random flannel scraps for the interlining!). I also fully lined the coat (as per the pattern instructions) with a polyester habotai. Pop on over to my post on the Minerva Crafts blogger network to see more pictures and read about my amazing button and the dramatic …

11

Button Storage

I know not all sewists accumulate large stashes of sewing supplies, but I certainly do. Buttons have always been something that have stymied me a bit – how do I organize my button stash so that it is functional? I’ve stumbled onto a solution that makes things both organized and pretty, so I thought I would share! I have purchased almost none of the buttons in my stash – they are the sort of thing that I have inherited from friends and family (including from a couple of my grandmothers). Accordingly, they range from single buttons to sets of more than a dozen. I divided my buttons out by the number of buttons in the set, since I hardly want to dig through all of them if I know I need many of the same button. I put together one jar of single buttons, one jar of sets of 2-5, …

20

A Mess of Baby Clothes

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 …

7

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 …

7

Some Jersey Knit Maternity Clothes

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 …

3

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

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 …

2

Achatina Applique Expansion Packs

The whole reason I designed a messenger bag with a big empty front flap was so that I could appliqué fun designs to the front (more about that in the introduction post). When I was getting ready to release the pattern for the Achatina Messenger Bag, I had a hard time deciding on which appliqué patterns to include so I decided to cluster the patterns into expansion packs so that I could release ALL THE PATTERNS! The patterns are all sized to perfectly fit the front flap of your Achatina Messenger Bag but can easily be scaled and used wherever you can imagine them! Appliqué patterns contain from 1 to a dozen pieces per pattern and include order of application and placement marks. Without further ado, here are the 6 appliqué packs currently available, each with a DOZEN unique appliqué patterns!: Tattoo Appliqué Pack: Inspired by popular old-school tattoos this collection …

Achatina Messenger Bag Testers

As I say with every pattern release, no pattern would be possible without the awesome help of my pattern testers, and of course my Achatina Messenger Bag is no exception. It’s always so inspiring to see testers’ lovely versions – I hope you find them inspiring as well! Dangerously Alice used an adorable camera-print Echino cotton with a quilting cotton for her lining. The star appliqué she used can be found in the Tattoo Appliqué Expansion pack. She suggested a bunch of fun ideas for customizing future bags including adding a key clip, adding pockets to the outside of the bag (under the flap), and making the strap adjustable. (Find Alice on her blog, instagram, or twitter) Carolyn made a super fun pirate themed bag out of a denim outer and a thrifted cotton sheet lining (seriously, how awesome is the pirate print!). She comments that the “pattern is well …

2

Introducing the Achatina Messenger Bag Pattern

I’m excited to introduce SeamstressErin Designs’ latest pattern – the Achatina Graphic Messenger Bag. It’s a large messenger bag that’s easy to sew and all sorts of fun to customize. Like the giant snail shell for which this bag is named, you’ll want to carry this bag with you wherever you go. The front flap makes the perfect canvas for graphic appliqués or for showing off unique fabrics. It closes with a velcro tab and has an interior pocket with an optional zipper closure (for intermediate sewists). I first designed the bag many years ago when my Great Aunt gifted me several bags of polyester fabric that had belonged to my Great Grandmother when she owned a fabric store in the 70’s. I couldn’t bring myself to wear the thick polyester, but it turned out to make the most wonderful bags that I sewed dozens of them. And of course I couldn’t …

Comfy Embroidered Skirt in Stitch Magazine Winter 2015

In Stitch Magazine Winter 2015 you’ll find an embroidered skirt pattern by yours truly. The pattern is simple instructions for a dirndl skirt with a narrow waistband and center back zip with a deep embroidered hem and a pattern for embroidering the hem. Working with Stitch magazine was quite fun and quite different than the experience I’ve had working with other magazines. The original pitch that I sent to Stitch was a wool pencil skirt with an embroidered hem. The embroidery was inspired by a Burmese fabric that I bought in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Over several back-and-forths with the editor, the final project became a full dirndl skirt made out of sweatshirt fleece. While there are often changes from a pitch to final project, usually I’m the one suggesting the changes as I work out kinks and details over the course of drafting and sewing a pattern. For this skirt, …

Knit Maternity Pencil Skirts (Burda 7023)

It seems that I’ve sprouted a bona fide baby bump, so what’s a gal to do other than sew some maternity clothes!? I figured I’d start fast and easy with a couple of knit skirts since I’m still getting healthy again after a rough first trimester so neither my energy nor my brain are running on full steam at the moment. I used Burda 7023 and a couple different knit fabrics from Minerva Crafts. I started with a plain black skirt, above the knee, thinking it would be a great wardrobe basic and work well as winter progresses over leggings. I cut it a little large, but I’m told that this baby bump is going to keep growing (and other parts of me along with it), so I figured I’d leave a bit of room to grow. The pattern is just two pieces with the side seams moved toward the back …

15

How to Sew a Pillow with Piping and an 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 …

4

How to Make An Ironing Board (without needing power tools!)

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 …

9

Red and White Stripe 80’s Dress (that’s surprisingly au courant)

When Minerva Crafts sent me this gorgeous red and white stripe knit I knew I was going to do something with it, since it was exactly the shade of red that I adore and a great stretchy knit. However, I had a giant list of ideas and couldn’t settle on any of them. I thought of making some super basic tees in no-, short-, and long-sleeves because I could really use some wardrobe staples. And then I thought of finally making a Drape Drape garment that would show off the stripes to their full advantage. And then I thought of a pattern that I’m currently working on, but it’s not far along enough that I’m ready to offer sneak peaks. And somehow I settled on a vintage dress pattern from 1981. I willingly chose to make a 1980’s dress even when faced with a plethora of other ideas. Never would …