Saturday, November 24, 2012

Cute shoe pattern from Etsy

I got this cute shoe pattern from Etsy seller sewingwithme5 back in February, but the shoe I made turned out too short and weirdly wide. I thought it was the pattern because I thought I checked my print settings correctly.

I commented on a FB post by Erika and she said it was something she was going to watch. I was still sure I did it right, but I checked. Dang it, I didn't. The good news is now I *can* have slippers that fit! And I don't have to fuss with the pattern! 

So, I cut the correctly printed pattern out of some leftover sweater pieces, 6 year old flannel pieces from my nieces baby shower gift, and some non-slip fabric from a bin at the thrift store.

Now that is much better! I think I can use a smaller size now. My blanket stitch still needs work, but I'm very pleased with the pattern, it goes together really well!  I did put the opening to turn the shoe on the lining pieces instead of the exterior pieces. It just doesn't make sense to me to have it on the outside. Plus I can machine sew it if it is on the inside.

I think I might have to try another shoe... which one do you like??

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Great online community

Online Sewing Class

Am I the last person to hear about Craftsy?  They are an online community that offers video classes, workshops, patterns and projects. You pay a small fee (or try a free one) and you are able to permanently access the class. It can be viewed by you as often as needed, and you can save it until you have the time to work on the project. If you get stuck you can ask for help from the Instructor. They aren't just a sewing community, but have knitting, crochet and other craft choices. (but sewing is the important one, right?

I've taken a look at the Free Quick and Easy Bags course that the banner above leads to and so far watched half of it.  She does some things differently than I would (and the way she uses pins makes me cringe!) BUT, I have quite a bit of experience working with young and beginning sewers and I know she is trying to engage beginner sewersI firmly believe that successful projects are needed to grow skills and give new sewers the confidence to keep sewing. 

It IS a good first project and things can be refined later, when the desire for more knowledge starts to grow. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Book: Buckles and Bobbins: A Beginning Sewing Book for Boys

My 7 year old son and I are having trouble sewing together. He wants to make pencil thin rockets and I want him to make real things.  I think we have agreed to try this book, Buckles and Bobbins: A Beginning Sewing Book for Boys .  Then, I hope, he won't feel like I am stifling his creativity, plus he gets frustrated when the things he wants to do don't turn out like he imagines. I try to encourage a large rocket pillow, but he doesn't like my ideas! Hopefully this will give him a better idea about what is possible sewing and we can have fun together!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Cleaning and sorting

I'm kind of a pack rat. Shhhh!! if you know me in real life!  I'm moving all the sewing stuff out to the newly heated barn to make room for kids in the house.  I have way more stuff than I would like to admit, but I found some neat stuff in my notes too! Here is a poem I found. Silly, but it is a limerick!

I'm a girl who loves to sew,
I press the pedal and go!
I make some mistakes,
'cause that's what it takes
to learn all there is to know.

This is also why I have a hard time getting rid of things sometimes. Wanna know what else I found? My bank statements. Arranged neatly in a notebook from Dec. of 1989 till Sept. of 2000.  When did I meet my husband? Oct. of 2000. Heh! So its all his fault! 

The good news is I'm teaching sewing classes, all will benefit from my too much sewing stuff.  I'm glad I can supply so much to the eager learners.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Needleworks: Session 1 - Recycled T shirt drawstring bag

I'm teaching a hand sewing class at our homeschooling co-op. The class is limited to 10 students, because my brain can only stretch so far.  I thought it would be fun to post what we are doing here.

Session 1: A recycled t-shirt drawstring bag.

Supplies needed:

 This tutorial starts out the same as the no-sew recycled T shirt I wrote here.

I lay the t shirt on the fold on the table or cutting board. If you are using  scissors, chalk your line. If you are using a rotary cutter, ruler and cutting mat, cut it now.(I prefer the rotary cutter and mat because it cuts nice and straight.  Someone once told me, buy the largest mat you can afford. Mine is almost 20 years old. Yikes!)

Nice and straight.

Here I am cutting 2 inch strips for the drawstring. You need 2 for each bag. This T needs to have NO side seams. I also discovered that the strips do not stretch correctly with printing on them, so don't use that part.

  Cut each once.

I brought a pile of strips and had the kids each stretch theirs. 

Cut an opening at each side. You do have to be a little more careful if there aren't side seams, to keep it even. Cut next to the side seam, not on it, if you have seams.

Ready to thread the casing.

Patiently, all the way through.

One side done.

Repeat. This time the ends come out on the other side.

Then we turned the bags inside out and used a needle and thread to do a running stitch all the way across. Of course you can do this by machine, but it isn't possible at this time to do these by machine at our co-op. So hand sewing it is!


I did reinforce the bags with a machine stitch at home, because they were going to be used for 14 weeks to carry projects back and forth. (the link is for a good little machine, similar to what we use at the Aud, mine isn't available retail anymore)

Another option is to cut the side seams, at the bottom of the bag, about 1 1/2 inch up and put the cording through it for the straps to make a backpack!

Hope you enjoyed this tutorial, if you'd like to see it as a slideshow please visit my article here.

My entry in ASE Out of the Box Challenge

 Well, my entry is home.  I'm still very proud of it, but it turns out I do not know innovative! 

Look at the winners. Now these are innovative!

I will still enter again if I can in the future.  And I'll have to think long and hard about 'innovative'.

As I said before, I didn't make it to the American Sewing Expo this year.  Would anyone who did care to do an interview about your Expo experience for a Detroit Sewing Examiner article on

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

At the Rust Belt Market

I decided to try something new and go to the Rust Belt Market in Ferndale to sell my Reconstructed clothing.  I paid way back in April of this year, because I wanted to motivate myself.  It was a good thing I did, I would have chickened out otherwise.

Since I paid so early I accidentally scheduled it for the same weekend as the American Sewing Expo.  I needed my niece to help and was working around her schedule. Such is life, in the future I will pay better attention.

I only took a picture of the booth set up before it was open. The lights are off and the back isn't attached yet. When it was open I put some clothes on the back wall and some bags on the shelf. I recharged my camera and then forgot to take any pictures. I was even going to have one of me! Maybe that is why I forgot...

Selling my clothing takes me way out of my comfort zone.  I'm a happy sew er, for myself or others. I'm having tons of fun refashioning clothing, but I need feedback from customers.

I did OK at the Market. I made back my fee, plus a little extra.  I brought too much old stuff, and it detracted from the new really good stuff.  My booth was not as welcoming as it could have been.  I also needed more signage to let people know things were recycled.  Many browsers were surprised to find out.  I'm going to focus on for a while, it fits better into my life right now. Unless I get the chance to share some space at the Rust Belt.

I bought for my recycling clothing business, I think it has a neat ring to it. I also started a FB page, please like it there if you are inclined.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Katwise is Fabulous

I found Katwise on Etsy a while ago.  I was looking to see if recycled sweaters were selling there. I often think I'm nuts for wanting to cut up something and make it into something else.

Her sweaters are fabulous! They are probably more interesting than anything I will ever make, but I found myself squinting at the computer screen trying to get a better look.  Then she listed a tutorial! I didn't want to buy it because I didn't want to copy.  But, my curiosity got the best of me and I bought it for myself on my birthday this year.

It is well worth the price.  It is full of color and fun just like her website. She gave me a lot to think about, how to choose sweaters and how to use them.  She recommends the little Juki MO-644D Garnet Overlock that I've used and think is great.

I wasn't going to link to the video that I got in the email with the tutorial,  but it shows up on the first page of google when I put Katwise in the search box. So here it is!

She also has a great one of her spinning in her coats on her colorful farm in NY.

I'm not sure if I will ever make one, but I have a lot more to think about and I am grateful.  Well, maybe I'll make one...

Thursday, September 6, 2012

ASE Out of the Box Challenge

This photo was included in the most recent ASE Swatches email Newsletter. The caption is: ' This is what Special Events Director, Diane Kroll's office looked like on Tuesday morning after receiving a mountain of Out of the Box contest entries over the weekend.'

My box is right behind, to the left of the chair, in the old blue Priority box with the stickers! :)

My guess is its OK to show you now since all the entries are in.  My four things to use in my 'quick gift' were:
 1 YKK 9" Designer Accents zipper, color Persimmon
            1 Signature spool of Size 20 Cotton Tropical Brights
            1 Robison-Anton spool Decorative Floss, color Pastoral Green
            1 Robison-Anton spool J Metallic, color Blue

OK, first off, it turns out Persimmon was BRIGHT orange.  And the other three were threads!  I was a little miffed at first, not much to go by.  A zipper, some hand embroidery thread, machine embroidery thread and some thick varigated thread.  How the heck was I gonna get all those threads to work together?  

Well, the zipper was the perfect size for a cosmetic case, and I'd been meaning to make a pattern anyway.  I was able to use the varigated stuff as topstitching, the decorative floss was really very good and I got alot of practice on my blanket stitch.  The machine embroidery thread was the hardest, but I got it in there.  It was a bear to use as hand sewing thread, but I will try it out on the Janome MC300E one of these days.

My entry:

Interior view:

The shell is recycled denim, the lining is some thrifted fabric and the pocket interiors are recycled t shirt.

It was fun! I can't wait to see what everyone else did.

Old Sewing Books

Lately, I've become enamored with 1940's and earlier sewing books. I started collecting them almost 20 years ago when I shopped vintage clothing for stores in California, Florida and Michigan. Back in the mid- nineties every church rummage sale had a bunch of them and a sewing machine for $1 on the last day. First with the invention of online selling sites and now with the help of things like Project Runway, more people are sewing and buying on and off the Internet.

I usually don't spend much time perusing the books, I've always just used them to find out how to do something I wasn't sure about. But I will be teaching a Needleworks class at our co-op and, true to form, have been digging through my collection of books for ideas and explanations.

I am especially taken with the sections on remaking and reusing clothing. The 1925 Women's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences book on Dyeing-Remodeling-Budgets as well as New Encyclopedia of Modern Sewing from 1943 actually have pictures of how to lay out patterns on previously used clothing, much like I did on my denim jacket here.

They describe a number of ways to redo dresses, shirts, jackets and make childrens clothing from adult clothing. Even the current Sew News magazine does an article on how-to upcycle three blazers into one fabulous jacket. What is old is relevant again.

Also neat about these books is how thoroughly they cover the topics. I do believe I get more out of them now than I did 20 years ago because my sewing knowledge is greater. Comparing a 1949 Singer Sewing Book to a new one is like comparing apples to oranges. Both delicious but completely different in flavor, smell and availability. Although this new Singer Complete Photo Guide to Sewing - Revised + Expanded Edition: 1200 Full-Color How-To Photos looks interesting! 1200 photos? I think I'll have to check it out!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

No-sew Recycled T Shirt skirt

I was busy in the shop, wearing blue jeans, with my pile of t's and the heat started getting to me. I came up with this great idea for a no-sew recycled skirt! A quick internet search reveals that, alas, I am not the first to think of this. I am still proud of myself and have pictures for a tutorial. Ready?

Supplies needed:
2 T shirts without side seams, one must be at least 2 inches wider than your hip measurement (Keep in mind that this is not suitable for a logo because the bottom up the skirt is up.)
scissors and/or rotary cutter and mat
safety pin

Lay out the T shirt, nice and flat. (I fold at the center front, because it is easier for me to cut straight this way)
Cut under the arms as neat and straight as you can
Cut a 2 inch strip from another T
Cut the strip.
Stretch it to form cord for the casing
Keep the center front of the T.
Cut through one layer of the hem in the front to form the casing.
Attach safety pin to cord.
Thread thru casing.
The one I made for me complete with dirty baby foot :)

This skirt is rather short, sewing ideas include:
adding length
a ruffle
a flounce
The possibilities are endless!