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Autumnal Wool Floral Pencil Skirt

I am so very excited about this skirt! I found the fabric at SewExpo last year. I don’t remember the vendor and I don’t remember the exact fiber content other than mostly wool. I’ve known since June that I wanted to make a pencil skirt out of it and have finally done so. I love the print on this fabric, especially the fact that, while it is certainly mostly brown tone, there is a significant amount of black so I can wear it with both brown and black.

Pant Construction Techniques Class Review

I’ve seen many sewing bloggers write that they intend to tackle trousers this year. Might I make a suggestion? Treat yourself to a Craftsy class by Sandra Betzina on Pant Construction Techniques. (If you’re not an expert on fitting pants, you might want to try her class on Pant Fitting first). The class is a wealth of information helpful for any pair of pants you might want to construct in the future, certainly not limited to the pattern that they send you with class registration. In fact, I sewed a pair of trousers while watching the class and found her construction techniques to be very helpful.

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Black Velvet Trousers

I’ve decided that my sewing focus for this coming year is technique. I want to focus on perfection in my sewn goods. I’ve started off with a pair of black velvet trousers, Of course, it’s the exact wrong item to show off my focus on technique since it’s gosh darn difficult to take pictures of black velvet. But here goes nothing.

Handmade Hanukkah Gifts

I made it home in time this year to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah and I was spoiled rotten by my godfamily. I got a lovely assortment of handmade gifts. My Godmother was quipping that it was like bringing coals to Newcastle, but I completely disagree. I love love love to get handmade gifts even if I could have made something similar myself because I didn’t make them, someone that I love invested their time and energy and love into making them for me. As a crafter/knitter/seamstress I can truly appreciate the time and energy and love that goes into making such things and I can be that much more grateful for them.

Suitcase Cozy

Are you concerned about your beautiful vintage suitcase that you’re totally and completely and utterly in love with getting dinged up while traveling for the holidays? Because I am. So, I decided to make a suitcase cozy to keep it protected! Here I’ve written up a simple tutorial (with no measuring required!) so you can do the same!

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Grey Wool Thurlow Shorts

I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of time to sew for myself this month, even though most of my free time has been full of making Christmas gifts. I made another pair of thurlow shorts to wear for winter. This time I used some grey wool that I pulled from my stash that my mom bought forever ago (25 years?). I used the rest of it last year to recover the seats of our dining room chairs.

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Sweaters Blanket Tutorial

This is one of my favorite projects. I have one of these blankets in my living room, my mom has one in her television room, and I gave one to my cousin for her wedding this summer. It’s certainly a bit more involved than the last several days of tutorial projects that I have shared, but it makes for such a lovely finished project and is so easy to customize for anyone on your gift list (or yourself!). You will need: 4 sweaters (see info below about selection) Backing fabric (I recommend a curtain panel. The amount of fabric you need will depend upon your finished size of the blanket) Thread Fabric scissors A sewing machine Sweater selection – Here’s where you can really make the project fit your unique aesthetic by the sweaters that you select. I’ve sewn blankets made from sweaters of just about every fiber content and …

Wool Leaf Potholders Tutorial and Template

Want another gift to nicely complement the tree ring coasters from yesterday’s tutorial? How about some potholders in the shape of leaves made out of green felt? Again, you can make them in muted tones for a subtle and earthy aesthetic or go to town with bright colors and play up the kitsch! You Need: Wool Leaf Potholder Template Green (lots) and brown (a little) wool felt* Green thread Sewing machine *You can buy wool felt at the fabric store (make sure that it is wool felt, not craft felt as craft felt is synthetic and will melt when hot). I recommend buying 100% wool clothes at the thrift store to use for your felt. Cut the garment into pieces by cutting off all the seams and then wash and dry the wool on hot. I used a pair of brown trousers and a green jacket. In Short: Cut the Template …

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Thurlow Shorts in Sage Velour

For years I’ve thought that wearing shorts in the winter is a stupid trend. I resisted it vehemently. And then last year I picked up a pair of wool shorts at the thrift store. And wore them incessantly. I’ve changed my mind. Winter shorts are awesome. I love wearing them over tights and I love wearing tights. And they actually kinda make sense for locales such as San Francisco where winter is so mild (well, compared to what I hear winter is like in other parts of the country. I wouldn’t actually know because it’s milder than Seattle or Portland but apparently they’re pretty mild too).

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Brown Floral Print Jeans

Following my recent skinny jeans, I decided to make a pair of lower-waisted jeans, figuring that I would wear them more often. I’ve been trying to sew from my fabric stash but I wasn’t inspired to almost-the-same pair of jeans out of the same denim, so I got distracted by this fabulous floral print.

Mom Made Movie Theater Quilt Block

Every year, one woman on Vashon (the Island my mom lives on) assembles a completely hand-sewn community quilt that is raffled off to support Vashon Allied Arts. It’s been going for over 20 years. This year the theme is Downtown Vashon and Beyond. My mom was asked to sew a block for the quilt! She was given the Vashon Movie Theater. Her challenge was to capture the theater in a 14 inch square, entirely hand sewn, making sure to include specific fabrics. I think she did an amazing job! She makes the theater look mid-century modern and not outdated, the block is bright and fun while still being quite realistic.

Mom Made Household Dec

Welcome to my mom’s house! This is just a tiny glimpse of some of the lovely handmade touches she has added to her house to make it a home. Here is a shelf in her TV room. The folded quilt is all made of fall fabrics and is displayed seasonally. The red white and blue quilt and begonia applique (design by Primitive Gatherings by Lisa Bongean), while designed to be overtly Fourth of July, become more subtle and year-round when part of a broader decorating scheme that includes other colors (yellow) and lots of pattern.

Mom Made Quilted Baby Blanket

My mom made a blanket for her cousin Amilia’s baby. (Same cousin for whom I designed the Baby’s First Fair Isle sweater). The construction was simple. It is made from 3 – 1 1/2 inch strips sewn together dark-light-dark in what’s called a strip-set. Then the strips are cut into 3 1/2 inch squares. Mom rotated alternate blocks and then sewed them together. This makes a quilt where the finished blocks are each 3 inches square. Placing 10 blocks by 12 blocks makes a final quilt size of 30 x 36 inches – the perfect size for a baby.

Mom Made Birthday Presents

In honor of my birthday last week, and my visit to my mom’s house over the weekend, this week of posts is going to be todo sobre mi madre. In short, my mom is amazingly creative and talented and inspiring. She’s a phenomenal quilter, applique-er, and stitcher, amongst so many other talents and I’m so excited to show off some of her amazing work!

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Denim Baby Shoes

I’ve been thinking for a while of sewing baby shoes for friends that are expecting for when I don’t have enough time/stash to do a large sewing project or knit project.

Tricks, Tips, and Tools: Ripping a Seam

If you’re like me, you end up ripping a lot of seams. Sometimes it’s from dumb mistakes, sometimes it’s just part of a quest for perfection. This is the fastest, safest way that I’ve found to rip out a straight single stitch seam. On one side, rip out every 5th stitch or so. Then take the thread from the other side and pull. Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. Fewer worries about snagging the fabric with your ripper. Easier to fully remove the bits of thread that are left.

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Salvage Bra Parts

I’ve been thinking about bras a lot recently. I haven’t bought a new bra in a few years which means that my old bras have worn out. As in “OMG these are falling apart and underwires are poking out and into me and is it really possible that my cup size has gone up well I guess I have put on weight in the last few years and these straps are so stretched out they won’t stay on my shoulder ugh!” So, I bought a couple of new bras and threw all of my old ones out. And then I immediately reached into the garbage and pulled them all out. Thinking of recent posts by Aicha, Carolyn, Madalynne, and Steph about sewing bras, I figured that I would salvage the findings. This meant removing the underwire, the hook and eye sets, and the little metal things that go on the straps (I’m sure they have …

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Skinny High Waist Jeans

I made a pair of jeans! I don’t know why, but it finally struck me that I could sew a pair of jeans. While I never fear to tackle sewing just about anything, it just never crossed my mind that I could actually sew jeans. Apparently, after seeing the beautiful creations of Loran, Carolyn, Lauren, SallieOh, and Tanit-Isis it finally sank into my head that I could do the same! I found an old McCalls jeans pattern at the thrift store that I thought I would use for my pattern. However, half of the pieces were missing so ended up using the waistband and fly pieces and drafting my own for the rest of the jeans. I’ve been on a kick of making high waisted items and loving the skirts and trousers that I made. However, I’m not sure that these are particularly flattering when worn with the waist visible. I think that, given I have hips, things that fit …

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Woven T-Shirts

I whipped up a couple of woven tees last Saturday afternoon. I used my bodice block and simply took out the darts. I started with a drapey purple fabric (likely rayon) that I had recently pulled out to make my Chevrons, Colorblock, and Derp Skirt. I added a little pocket to the chest to give it some interest. The second shirt I made a bit longer with a V neck. I’m afraid that with the blue color and the V-neck it looks a scrub top. I added pink piping to the neckline to spice it up. Here’s where the ends join. The third shirt I lengthened the sleeves to show off the stripe in the fabric. I widened the back a bit and added darts. I cut the back out of a different fabric because I didn’t quite have enough of the main fabric to fit it all. I played …

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1940’s Blouse

This blouse is the 1940’s reproduction from Simplicity 3688 that goes with my khaki trousers. I was reasonably satisfied with the blouse and thought that it made a nice professional looking top. My biggest complaint is that it is very loose in the waist, and must be so to fit without a closure. I’ll probably make it again, but I’ll cut the waist in and add larger darts and a hidden side zipper so I don’t have to wear a belt. I closed the neck with a creme satin covered button. And I did a lovely job of hand sewing the neckband, if I do say so myself. My problem with this blouse was the fabric I chose. I bought some cheap fabric from Joann because I had a coupon and it seemed like a good idea at the time. The first time that I wore the blouse was to …

1940’s Khaki Trousers

Here’s another derp story about a sewing project. I put these on to wear to work last week and laughed at myself, thinking “Man, I must be tired this morning because I just put my pants on backward.” Then I shook my head, pondered a little bit, and laughed out loud. Because I discovered that I didn’t put my pants on backward that morning. In fact, I had been wearing my pants backward for two weeks! These are Simplicity 3688, the 1940’s reproduction pattern that’s swept the sewing blogosphere. I’ve been planning on sewing these for quite a while, but the fact that they are Debi’s tried and true pattern and Lladybird looks so cute in hers too encouraged me to get them done.  I sewed these pretty much as-is, but added an inch and a half to the rise. I probably didn’t need to add quite that much, but …

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Chevrons and Colorblock and Derp Skirt

This skirt represents one series of sewing disasters after another. Amazingly enough, I really like how it turned out in the end, but with the series of misadventures that got me here, I never would have thought that would be the case. Hold onto your seat, because what follows is an emotional rollercoaster of sewing mishaps! I started this skirt by taking my waist and hip measurements, dividing each by 8, connecting a line from waist to hip and following it through to ankle. So I ended up with 8 triangular panels to sew together to form an A-line skirt. I wanted to make the skirt a series of chevrons, so I chalked out 8 triangles on a 45 degree angle across my striped fabric. I got it all chalked and ready to cut, when I realized that I had forgotten to pre-wash the fabric. So, I tossed it into …

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Guatemalan Cowgirl Blouse

I’ve had all sorts of time to sew because Adam has been gone for a couple of weeks for work. So, this means I get to share a whole series of finished sewing projects!  It starts with this Guatemalan cowgirl blouse. The Guatemalan fabric was part of a recent gift of fabulous fabric from a friend. I immediately thought that it would be lovely as the yoke and pockets of the blouse, so I followed through on my inspiration. There’s still quite a bit left, so more Guatemalan fabric projects await! I sewed it from McCalls 3688. The first time I sewed this pattern was 10 years ago when I bought the pattern. I didn’t fit it at all and used a stiff fabric and heavy interfacing. It was beautiful on the hanger, but unfortunately never got worn. I used the pattern to sew a pink gingham cowgirl dress a …

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Sewing Organizers Made by Mom

My mom is super crafty. I’ve mentioned before that she’s an amazing quilter. But she’s also pretty amazing at anything she does with her hands. She just texted me some photos of a project that she made this week – little booklets to organize hand sewing materials. The fabric choices are so fun, and very much my mother. You can see her experienced eye as a quilter in joining disparate patterned fabrics to make a beautiful ensemble. My mom loves detail and buttons as much as I do, so here she’s got a button closure and a button on the end of the strap. (Sorry about the fuzziness of the photo. She texted me cell phone photos, so this is what I had to work with!). The pattern she used is from Quilts and More Magazine, Winter 2011.

Not Your Typical Duffel Bag

I’ve had a gigantic green duffel bag for years now. I bought it before I spent a semester in East Africa in college so that I could stuff it into the bottom of my backpack and fill it up with souvenirs as I went. I got it from a surplus store and it smelled a little funky but I figured I could wash it out. Well, many years and many washes later, it still smells funky. So, I put it in the donate pile and made a new one. I stuck with green, but I had to spice it up a little. I had a bunch of this cotton upholstery fabric that I bought on a gigantic sale at some point and had sitting in my stash. I was worried that it wouldn’t be quite sturdy enough on its own, so I fully lined the bag with the same fabric. …

Stuff Sack for Inflatable Mattress

I’m lucky enough to live in a 2 bedroom apartment, but because I live in San Francisco, the 2nd bedroom is tiny and has to serve as my sewing room, Adam’s office, and our guest room. To make this possible, we bought a really nice inflatable mattress that is comfortable enough that even our parents can sleep on it. Unfortunately, after we took it out of its nylon stuff sack for the first time, we have never been able to fold it back small enough to fit again. Because it hasn’t fit in a sack, it’s been shoved awkwardly from one closet to another, never staying together, and in constant risk of puncture. I decided to sew a stuff sack for the inflatable mattress out of some gifted upholstery fabric in my stash. Not much exciting to share on the construction end – It’s a big rectangle. I serged the …

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Gold and White Striped Long Sleeve Tee

There is a dearth of long sleeved tees in my wardrobe. Which is silly, because SF weather is perfect for long sleeve tees the majority of the year. So, this shirt is one step toward remedying the situation. I’ve had these two gold and white striped fabrics sitting on my shelf for a long time. I think I got them on the $1/yd table at the discount fabric store. This shirt is a first draft for making my ultimate-favorite-t-shirt-pattern. I cut the shirt weeks ago but finally got around to sewing it up yesterday. I did the majority of the sewing on my serger, which is atypical for me. I usually sew everything on my normal sewing machine and then finish the seams with the serger. I like the shirt well enough to wear, but there are some changes to make for the next go-round. I put too much ease …

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More Fabric Stash Additions

Many more thanks to my fabulous mentor and friend. She already sent me a box of fabulous fabric. When I got home from Alaska, I found another box waiting for me. Hooray! I was so proud of myself for recently getting my fabric all organized and nicely folded and fit into a single bookshelf. Well, with these two new boxes of fabric, it doesn’t all fit in on bookshelf any more, but I’m certainly not complaining! I opened the box to find these beautiful fabrics. I’m guessing South American? There’s not a lot of yardage, but they would be gorgeous as the yoke and pockets on a blouse, maybe with a matching purse. I love the colors. This is a blouse weight fabric with a lot of yardage. My first thought is 50’s shirtdress, but that’s my first thought when I encounter any light to mid-weight fabric in yardage. I …

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Fabric Stash Additions

I just got a box of fabric from a colleague/mentor/friend! A couple of years ago, she spent a semester sabbatical in my lab where we got to know each other and shared many discussions about knitting, sewing, and making things. I saw her again at a conference last month. She commented that she was ready to clean out some boxes of fabric from the attic/basement and asked if I was interested. Of course I am!!! The package started with these three pieces of linen. The colors look so nice together that I feel compelled to use them in the same project – a colorblock summer dress perhaps? Although each would individually make a very nice blouse. Two pieces of interesting prints. The brown and blue is definitely synthetic (probably rayon?) and is the perfect weight and strength for lining purses and bags (and I love having pretty fabrics greet me …

Can’t Stop Wearing My Jumpsuit!

I’ve been having so much fun wearing my romper, even in SF weather, that I had to make a cooler weather version – a jumpsuit. I gave a sneak peak of  it a while ago while it was a work-in-progress, but I must admit that I finished it a while ago and I’ve been wearing it incessantly since. Seriously, once (or even twice) a week. I feel like I’m wearing pajamas it’s so comfortable! I’m quite happy with my fabric and construction choices. I like that it looks a bit like workmans coveralls, but a fun and funky version. The grey is very versatile and all of the yellow contrast details (buttons, topstitching, and belt) really perk it up. I think the three-quarter sleeves and scoop neck keep me from drowning in grey fabric. I usually wear it without accessories (although it could use a big yellow bangle) and with …