Fleecy Fun!

Hello my lovelies! Yes, two blog entries in one week! Lucky ducks. ūüėõ

Not as many pictures today, mostly because this is in response to a request/affirmation that I should do a blog entry about sewing with fleece! I don’t have any fleece projects going on right now, but I will probably end up doing at least one fleece project in the next year, so if I get my act together maybe I’ll do a more extensive walkthrough later. In the meantime, here is a cute example of a fun fleece project I made last fall,¬†using this¬†free pattern from Stitched by Crystal:


Ain’t he a cutie? I’m pretty darn proud of him! I also had tentative plans for a skunk and a raccoon, but time wouldn’t allow. Maybe next time!

I realize in most of the Northern Hemisphere it’s not exactly fleece weather! But, even if you think it’s not the greatest time of year to think about fleece crafting, I am of the mindset that there is no wrong time of year to sew, well, anything! When I worked at a big box fabric store for a few years, I¬†learned that tied fleece blankets are always being made – for babies, graduation (so. many. fleece graduation blankets! What a great gift for a grad to make for a friend!), weddings, you name it. Not only are they easy, thoughtful (who doesn’t love cuddling up in a warm fuzzy blanket??), and easily customizable, they can be inexpensive! The massive amounts of fleece I cut at my big box sewing store employer year-round still boggles me, to this day!

Massive amounts of fleece being cut also means Lots Of Remnants! Remnants from your big box sewing store are awesome for doll clothes & accessories, baby and toddler clothes, AND fleece projects. Scarves, hats, mittens, throw pillows, you name it; usually you can get around a yard of fleece (sometimes more!) for a major discount. Which is awesome.

Sewing with fleece can be tricky if you just jump in without researching and getting some tips, so guess what. I’m here to give you tips and tricks on successfully sewing with fleece!

First things first. Fleece is thick, fluffy, and stretchy, even if it doesn’t seem like a knit – it actually is. That’s part of what makes it so fluffy and soft!

There are two kinds of fleece: anti-pill, which just means that the fleece won’t pill very much; and regular fleece (called by different names at different stores), which will pill, but will still be soft and fluffy. Generally they’re interchangeable, except for personal preference.¬†I prefer using anti-pill fleece for stuffed animals, pillows, mittens, and hats – items that get a lot of use and/or are very loved! But, in reality, I basically use these two types of fleece interchangeably!

When you shop for fleece, if you’re looking for anti-pill fleece, check the end of the bolt of fleece you’re looking at – or the label on the remnant. It should say Anti-Pill somewhere, if it doesn’t, it is the other stuff. The big box stores I’ve been to typically have both patterned fleece and solids in both. Some even have micro-fleece, which is AWESOME for garments – like light jackets and leggings – it breathes a bit better, I think. Lined with regular fleece – oh boy, that makes great mittens!!

So, you’ve got your fleece picked out! Next, stop at the needles. If you are a novice sewist, chances are you’ve never sewn with knit fabric. Lemme tell ya – knit fabric is AWESOME… if you have the right tools. One of the tools you need to look for is a needle pack labeled Stretch or Jersey (see below). Typically the Stretch needles are reserved for thinner, drapier, stretchier knits, and the Jersey needles are for thicker, more stable knits. They are both ballpoint needles, which means they won’t puncture your fabric.

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (1)

A pack of jersey needles. For lighter-weight knits, use the pack labeled Stretch. You can use stretch needles for thicker knits, but the jersey needles work better. For fleece, you definitely want Jersey needles, not Stretch, for best results.

Wait. “…Why do I care about puncturing?” you ask? “Isn’t that what we’re doing when we sew – poking holes and thread through fabric??” Well, yes – but, if you’ve ever worn pantyhose – you know how you get runs? Well, the same thing happens with knit fabric – the way the fabric is made (knitted), a hole torn in the threads that make UP the fabric can unravel a massive hole if left unchecked. I don’t know about you, but I want my seams to stay together, not disintegrate! ūüôā A sharp, universal needle will poke holes INTO the fabric, a ballpoint needle pushes the thread THROUGH the fabric because it is rounded off. Pretty cool huh? (I’m such a nerd for this stuff.)

In the case of fleece, well, a hole may not be as catastrophic in your fleece blanket or scarf project as say, in a pair of silk jersey pants. But, if you’re doing something like stuffing a pillow or making a garment, you want those seams to be solid, so a jersey needle is the best way to go. If you’ve never changed out a needle for a project before and don’t know how to do it on your machine, you can do a Google search for your machine model and watch a video or find a tutorial – it will also be in your manual.

Once you’ve changed out your needle – just a few more things to note. Use a zigzag stitch – for fleece projects, length and size of the stitch probably isn’t that important – the fleece will fluff up and conceal any flaws, especially for pillows. I would suggest not using a teeny-tiny stitch though. Probably a 3 or 3.5 length would be good.

Go SLOWLY. Fleece is extremely fluffy, so feel free to take your time to make sure everything goes where it needs to. If your machine locks up on you, try lowering your feed dogs if you can, try a different kind of presser foot (again, Google your machine model # or consult your manual), lower the pressure of the feed dogs if you can, or try using a walking foot. Walking feet are AWESOME for thick layers, quilting, and projects that use a fabric that doesn’t like to stay put! They are SO WORTH IT, especially if you do a lot of home decor, quilts, and bag-making. (Plus they make a great gift idea if someone doesn’t know what to get you! :P)

Also, if you can, trim your finished seams down a little bit to cut out bulk. I would leave at least 1/4″ seam allowance, if not a little more; especially if you’re making stuffed toys or pillows.

Important Notes:¬†CLEAN OUT YOUR MACHINE after you’re done (ask me how I know!)! Fleece is fluffy and linty, and you will be shocked at how much lint you clean out of your sewing machine afterwards! Also, throw the needle you used away afterwards – fleece sewing is pretty hard on them! I used to use canned air to clean out my machine, until I took my machine in for a tune-up and the tech was very adamant that canned air is horrible for sewing machines – it forces tiny bits of dust and lint INTO your machine mechanism – all they use at the sewing repair shop is Q-tips! (Seriously!) Also, your machine¬†probably¬†came with a small brush – this works perfectly¬†for cleaning too; and you can buy cleaning brushes at most sewing stores.

Overall, sewing with fleece is a lot of fun! You can get pretty great results for very cheap, which is always my main goal when sewing!


Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial!!!

Hello! I am kind of excited about this – my first tutorial, based on a style I’ve wanted to try sewing for A for a while now- the boxy, lace-trimmed t-shirt! Here is my favorite, available at Target:

Inspiration 1

Source: Target.com

I know it looks totally 90s with the rolled sleeves and boxy silhouette, but the ones I’ve seen use soft neutral colors like taupe and grey, like this one – which is so refreshing for children’s clothes! With the addition of a soft eyelet lace at the hem to counter the boxiness, I think they are just so sweet and feminine. Classy, yet cozy – my favorite combination!¬†I’m not the only one who has fallen in love with this look, either – one of my Facebook friends who is still starting to sew was admiring¬†the look of this Gap t-shirt.

So, in between moving and Easter sewing, I decided to do a quick little jaunt down tutorial lane in case others have thought to themselves, “That’s such a cute shirt, I¬†want to make one!” ūüôā And HERE is the result!

Lace-Trimmed T-shirt Tutorial 1

So, so cute and sweet!

Cute, right?! (And, ooo, captions! WordPress is my favorite!)

I started with a T-shirt from a popular national retailer. It’s a basic T-shirt, a little longer in length, and shaped – not boxy like the inspiration shirts – but I still thought it would be pretty with some lace along the bottom! Plus, good practice for when I make a boxier, trendier version!¬†The photo doesn’t do the color justice – it’s this lovely soft butter yellow. Perfect for springtime and sunshine! (In fact, none of these photos are very good! Sorry!!)

Lace-Trimmed T-shirt Tutorial 2

Pretty yellow!

So, let’s get started!

You’ll need the following supplies:

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (43)


1) A T-shirt (sewn or purchased!). Adding lace trim to a hem is completely doable to all types of T-shirts, so even if you decide you want a boxier look than the longer, curved-hem T-shirt I’m using in the tutorial, it will still work, the steps will be the same.¬†Also, for a boxier girl’s shirt, you can cut off a boys’ T-shirt since girls’ shirts are typically fitted, and then compensate for length (if necessary) with the width of your lace.¬†For the tutorial, though, I wanted to use what I had on hand. So, just know that this will work no matter what shape your hem is. And, of course, if you have any questions, make a comment!

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (30)

Eyelet Lace with Daisies – so sweet and cute!

2) Lace of your choice. I chose a pre-ruffled eyelet from Jo-Ann, because it was shorter, and I liked the ruffled look for the bottom of the longer shirt. Also, my starter shirt is yellow – so I thought the daisy eyelet pattern would be nice and simple. I bought a full yard because I wanted enough to play with, but if you want to wait until after you’ve measured to save a few pennies, feel free to do so. The inspiration shirts use what looks like a 2-4″ wide lace, but for smaller shirts, 1-2″ is probably fine, it just depends on how long you want the shirt to be.

3) Measuring tape – Never underestimate the power of a good measuring tape. Fiberglass is wonderful, because it doesn’t lose its shape or degrade over time.

4) Pins – The pins I use are the glass-head pins by Dritz – they are smaller, a little more pricey than the pins you would get for quilting or in a starter sewing kit, but so worth it. The smaller diameter of the pin means smaller holes in your fabric, and the glass heads mean you can iron over them without melting them. Score.

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial 5

Stretch or Jersey Needles

5) Stretch/Jersey needles – These ballpoint needles won’t punch holes in a T-shirt, and they will work fine on¬†woven fabrics, which is what most lace by-the-yard is made of. To me it’s more important not to cause runs in your T-shirt, especially considering we will be sewing through multiple layers of fabric.

6) Thread that matches, or at least coordinates with, the T-shirt. Or, it could be super fun to use a contrast thread, too, for a bright pop of color. I wouldn’t suggest using white or off-white unless your T-shirt or thread is white or off-white, however – the stitches will show on the right side of the garment.

7) Scissors to cut the lace

8) Seam ripper. Because mistakes happen, and there is no shame in repairing them. ūüôā

Let’s get started!

1. Measure the width of the bottom hem of your T-shirt. To get a good measurement, smooth the hem of the shirt out, and if your hem is curved, follow the curve with your measuring tape as best you can. Add an inch, and write that number down. Another method for measuring a curved hem might be to hang your shirt up with a hanger and measure the hem that way so you can really be accurate.¬†If your hem is straight across, it’s even easier to measure, but you will still want to add an inch to that measurement. The extra inch is¬†used for a half-inch seam allowance.

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial 7

Measure the bottom of your tee.

2) Cut your lace to the measurement you got for your hem + the extra inch.

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (33)

Cut your lace to match the hem measurement. Another way to do this is to simply pin your lace on the hem and cut off the excess before you sew.

3. Pin the ends of your lace right sides together and sew with a 1/2″ seam allowance.

4. Turn your t-shirt inside out. Pin the seam of the lace to the side seam of the shirt, then pin the lace along the inside of the hem all the way around.

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (34)

Pin the lace to the bottom of the t-shirt

5. If your lace has a finished edge, sew the lace to the inside of the shirt using your preferred stitch – I recommend a zigzag. If your lace does not have a finished edge, allow a minimum of 3/8″ for your seam allowance on the lace edge.

Tip: If the hem of the shirt has two lines of stitching, try to get your zigzag between the lines of stitching for a really finished look!4

Lace-Trimmed T-shirt Tutorial (14)

If you look closely, you can see my zigzag stitch tucked neatly between the double lines of stitching at the hem of the shirt.

6. Remove the pins, turn the t-shirt right side out, and press the hem.

7. Voila! Super simple alteration with a lot of impact!

Lace-Trimmed T-Shirt Tutorial (38)


It would be so easy to get the boxy look of the inspiration shirt by using an Oliver + S Bento Tee or Lunch Box Tee pattern – simply eliminate the pockets and add lace along the bottom. That is on my to-do list for sure! A French terry version would be perfect!

Well, that’s all for now. I apologize for the throw-together quality of it – I didn’t want to waste an almost-finished tutorial so I just finished it and didn’t worry about my other idea, for now. I may revisit this later though!

Questions or comments? Please let me know!

Later lovelies!

Brief Update

Phew. We have a ton of stuff going on! Between job hunting, packing, cleaning, and moving, we have been so incredibly busy I haven’t really had a moment to spare for my poor little blog! So I thought I would just post an update to let y’all know what’s going on!

I am working on a tutorial to add lace to the hem of a T-shirt! I am super-excited about this but it is my Very First Tutorial, and I have, since doing the project and taking my tutorial photos, determined that there is, in fact, a better/different way to do the project! So, I am tabling it for now to get us moved and I will come back to it as soon as I can take some different photos and modify some things. It’s one thing to explain in a brief paragraph how to do something, it’s another to write it out step-by-step and ensure that the photo accurately reflects what you’re doing! So please stand by for that!

ALSO – We finished our Easter garb! Woo! I want to post photos of my results, but I need to edit them. In addition to the box-pleated Fairy Tale Dress, I also made my son W a bow tie using this tutorial from Make It Love It (Thank you Pinterest! By the way – you can follow me here!) and hat band! Siblings + cousin looked absolutely adorable and the whole thing was a lot of fun!

I recently downloaded the Geranium Dress and Parsley Pants patterns by Made by Rae – super cute patterns – and I can’t wait to get started stitching them up for the kiddos. W drew me some ideas for him and I must say, the kid has good taste (bright green jeans FTW)! I also have plans for the Sunny Day Shorts by Oliver + S¬†since summer is coming quickly, and am currently deciding what my next O+S pattern purchases will be… decisions decisions!

So, that being said, keep an eye out, and hopefully I’ll get that tutorial¬†up soon! Stay bright, lovely readers!

Update: Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress – Action Shot!

Hello my lovelies! I was requested to post a photo of the finished box-pleated Fairy Tale dress with my daughter modeling it… well, since she only learned to walk a few months ago, “modeling” pretty much consisted of me following her back and forth with my camera phone out while she played and wandered and busy-busy-busied (for example, right now I’m typing one-handed because she grabbed my other hand and is swinging it around!). But, I did get one relatively good one, so here you go, my box-pleated Fairy Tale Dress, as modeled by my daughter A!

Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress by S Hamous

…Apologies for the poor quality and small, dark photo… I’m lucky I got a halfway decent shot at all with this one! ūüôā

Oliver + S Fairy Tale Dress, with Box Pleats

I have been ogling the Fairy Tale Dress sewing pattern by Oliver + S for a while now. I love its classic/retro styling, and the details like tulip sleeves, full lining, and fancy sash make it that much more special. I have been looking for a reason to make it, and what do you know, Easter is coming up soon, and my daughter needs an Easter dress! Or will, in several months… ::ahem:: Now, maybe Easter isn’t as fancy as a wedding. But, that is what is so AMAZING about this pattern. It’s really such a flexible pattern, depending on the kind of fabric you use, it is appropriate for so many different occasions!


(picture courtesy of Oliverands.com)

I’ve personally always thought that¬†Fairy Tale would look amazing with a box pleated skirt – the design is simple enough that the box pleats wouldn’t overwhelm it, but it’s got that big bow in the back to balance out the “fancy” effect of the pleats. Box pleats are sort of like the Queen Elizabeth of pleats. They are classy, polished, and formal, yet flare out beautifully into this lovely and full feminine drape that is an absolutely stunning effect for a dress or skirt! Like this one, by Alexander McQueen… (how I love their stuff… just wow.)

Alexander McQueen Leaf Crepe Pleated Peplum Mini Dress

With that in mind, I went online and found a few examples of a box-pleated Fairy Tale Dress, including three amazing ones by Rachel Le Grand for Oliver + S¬†(that link goes to my favorite – the Belgian-Style Dress – stunning!!). Being the box-pleat-geek that I am, three pleats across the front of the dress was NOT going to be enough. I wanted them all around the skirt, more like this one from Behind the Hedgerow. I’m a glutton for punishment, I know. So, I dove into my stash and discovered this adorable red and aqua polka dot fabric remnant that A LOVED to play with when she was a baby, as well as a coordinating aqua faux linen with marvelous drape, and got started.

Fabric edit

Once I added in the pleats (4 in the front, 2 per side in the back), there was a very narrow margin where the zipper would be installed, and a wide section of excess fabric at the side seam. But, since I wasn’t 100% sure what it would look like after zipper installation, I just moved on¬†and declared myself¬†ready for assembly (so exciting!! No, seriously, I was giddy, dying to see how it all worked out! – way too excited to try and re-do the pleats on the back. Yep, I know. I’m impatient. Sue me!).

Image 1

During assembly, I discovered that the front of the skirt actually had an excess of fabric of about a half-inch at each side seam (1 inch overall). Since this was a test (or at least started out that way!), I just made a note of it and tucked the excess into the seam allowance instead of trying to repair it by undoing the pleats¬†and¬†starting over again. At this point, I was pretty much just playing with the pattern, not necessarily committed to getting it exactly right the first time. So I just “Let it Go” as Elsa would say, and moved on to the back pieces.

Image 4

Oh, the back pieces. Rachel Le Grand’s box pleated Fairy Tale dresses gathered the back of the dress, but I wanted to see how the pleats would look in the back, so I went ahead and installed the zipper and lining. It actually turned out kinda cool after the pleats went in! There ended up being a set of pleats in the center, on either side of the zipper, a really cool coincidence!


After getting the dress bodice and skirt assembled, I again deliberated on continuing with the dress at all – my question had been answered, and I had a baseline for the official Easter dress, as well as a notion of what needed to be shifted around (I’ll get to that in a minute). But… Oh, I LOVE that cheerful red bow against the pale turquoise and the box pleats. And I had red piping sitting in my stash from Halloween 5 years ago. And how CUTE would a pale turquoise and aqua shirtwaist style dress with red piping be?!!

So, yeah. I finished it. And it was a PAIN to install the piping on the armscyes. Good heavens. I botched the first one attempting to sew it on my machine, so on the second one, this girl, who never ever hand-stitches anything if she can avoid it, hand-stitched the lining to the piping on the second armscye. It turned out lovely, too. I’m not a hand-stitch/couture sewing convert though. I promise. Really. ::shifty eyes::

Cherry Soda Thumbnail

With that being said, TA DA! Here is the finished dress, with cleverly staged, Pinterest-worthy photos and all:

Resized Cherry Soda Pop FrontCherry Soda Pop Back

Isn’t it awesome?! I’m so happy it turned out so well. You can barely tell the side seams are tucked into themselves…? Well, this is a dress for my 1-year-old daughter and she will probably wear it maybe once or twice. Or more, because I love it. Regardless, it’s for a toddler, so it really doesn’t need to be perfect, right? It was a learning experience! Now, the official Easter dress, on the other hand, will need to be done better.

SO! WHAT I LEARNED: On the official dress, I am going to alter the positioning of the pleats a little bit. On the back pieces, I’m going to move the pleats closer to the side seams. On the front, I am going to narrow the pleats enough to, perhaps, add another pleat, and shift everything enough so that the center line has a pleat ON it, instead of on either side of it.

I’d like to give credit to the Oliver + S message boards, especially Rachel Le Grand, who posted her versions of a box-pleated Fairy Tale dress, and is (hopefully!) going to do a tutorial on how to do it!

Edit, 3/23/15: Since I initially posted this, the official Oliver + S blog has done an amazing tutorial, with math and everything, and linked to my blog entry! Which is awesome, I’m so flattered and thrilled! So, I took the opportunity during my DD’s naptime to enlarge the photos and polish it up a bit, as well as adding a photo of the back of the dress to better illustrate what happened with the back pleats. Thanks again to Rachel LeGrand, Behind the Hedgerow, Oliver + S, and Shelley, the author of the O+S blog post and tutorial!


So, last summer I decided that my daughter needed twirly skirts. I’m not sure why I felt this way, as I am sooo NOT a twirly skirt person! However, as those of you who have a daughter, granddaughter, or niece (or have ever ventured near a shopping mall, the girls’ clothing section in the department store, or the PINK toy aisle, for that matter) are probably aware (or, maybe not – you do you!), leggings and twirly skirts are all the rage (or at least were in the later summer and early fall). But, I had been shopping for legging patterns with the intent of whipping up a few pairs, and ran across Simplicity 1785. Seeing that it had a one-piece legging pattern (sooo much easier than two!), I snatched it up at a $1.99 sale at JoAnn. In addition to the leggings (I made three pairs, they are so fun and easy!), the cute skirts caught my eye, with their clever pleats and tutu-style poufiness.

During this episode, I was also emailing back and forth with my sister about skirt designs for a skirt for her daughter, and I was also in the process of gathering together inexpensive mix-and-match pieces for my daughter’s fall wardrobe, gathering cute sale leggings and onesies for basics, with the intention of adding cute flairs of style here and there through T-shirts, dresses, and blouses that could be layered together for lots of great looks. (Me, obsessing about baby fashion… well, in my defense, I had a lot of free time, okay?)

The two main items I had fallen in love with were a pretty floral sheer tulle skirt and a pair of cable-knit leggings, and the skirt was SOOO expensive for a baby skirt!! So, I took another look at the skirt included in Simplicity 1785, read through the instructions, and decided to give it a shot. I dug through my stash and got to work, quickly finishing one as a trial in a cute graphic floral. The tulle underskirt failed miserably, which is fine, I’m not a tutu fan, but the skirt turned out super cute without it! After I finished it, I started the second one, a heavier-weight brushed cotton flannel (Plaiditudes from JoAnn, for curious readers) in an awesome purple herringbone pattern.

Well, I screwed up cutting the purple fabric, and had to improvise. The instructions call for cutting two skirt pieces and two yokes – the tricky part is that the skirt pieces BOTH get cut out of the fold, but I for some reason decided to NOT cut my second piece on the fold, and had to fudge because my cutting didn’t add in seam allowances (oops). I managed to figure it out, but ended up with less fabric to work with. So, I had to make the yoke narrower and leave the waistband off. But, I managed to get the thing assembled to the point where it just needed hemming and waistband, and then set it aside to work on something else, and haven’t touched it since.

Until today. For some reason, I got itchy fingers and pulled out the skirt again since it was such a quick finish. Hey, all my Christmas gift projects are done (…right? ::mentally tallies:: OK, yeah), so I had a little wiggle room. Finished up the hem, got the waistband finished, and now it’s ready to go.

Where the serendipity comes in is that I had bought a cute T-shirt for my daughter a month or so ago depicting an ice skater on a river through a forest, in gray and purple shades, but didn’t really have anything my daughter could wear it with… until today!!

I ran across the T-shirt in a pile of clean laundry shortly after finishing the skirt, and on impulse, put it together with the skirt. And Voila! My daughter has an ADORABLE holiday outfit to wear to a party tonight:


This outfit is SO cute, and she even has a cute pair of Fair Isle pattern knit leggings to go with! I do need to find a shirt or onesie she can wear under it, but. I always LOVE it when things come together in unexpected and unplanned for ways!

What projects have you worked on and set aside that you were able to come back to later and finish lickety-split with awesome results? Share in the comments!!

Have a happy holiday, dear readers!

Holiday Sewist Gift Guide 2014

Stumped on a quick, last-minute gift for your favorite sewist or crafter? These are a few things that are on MY list, and I know for a FACT that most (if not all) sewists would love any of these!

1) Gift Cards

These are the PERFECT gift for anyone who crafts, really. It is so hard to choose the appropriate gift. You may know where your loved one prefers to shop for crafting and sewing supplies, but if you’re not a crafter or sewist yourself, entering one of those stores can be intimidating at the very least and terrifying at most. Your favorite person of crafting bent probably has very specific projects in mind, and who knows if what you choose will be the right item? Solve the question with a gift card – this not only allows your sewist to choose what they would like to work with, but will be so welcome, especially if they are on a tight budget (as most of us are nowadays!). A gift card opens up the entire store for their shopping pleasure! An e-gift card from Etsy or Mood Fabrics can be an added bonus – Etsy and Mood both have amazing selections of unique, uncommon, and luxury fabrics and crafting supplies, with frequent sales from Mood on their designer fabrics opening up possibilities for a beautiful wool coat or silk blouse.

2) Sewing Notions

Believe it or not, the items I am ALWAYS hunting for when I get a spare moment to sew include measuring tapes, pins, safety pins, scissors and seam rippers. You literally can never have too many pins (glass head ones are the best, FYI!). Over the years, I’ve acquired many duplicates of these, and I can guarantee you that at any given moment I have no idea where my seam ripper is (any of them!). Extras are always a good idea, with the added benefit that every sewing supply store is going to have these on hand, and they are inexpensive. Not to mention, if you’re concerned about quality, don’t be! The seam rippers you would buy at JoAnn Fabrics or Hancock Fabrics are the exact same ones (or at least very similar) you would find at a notions shop in the garment district of New York City or at an online or brick-and-mortar specialty store like your local high-end quilt shop. Same goes for scissors – while Gingher is definitely an excellent brand, Fiskars isn’t too shabby, either. Bonus? You can usually find a coupon online to print out and take with you! So don’t be afraid to ask your friendly big-box fabric or craft store employee where their sewing notions aisle is, and feel free to go to town.

3) Storage bins

Maybe I’m alone in this (heh, I really don’t think I am!) but a bunch of storage bins, especially the shoebox-sized ones, is a good thought as well! I am always planning new projects, and way to keep everything I need for one project together is so nice to have, so when I’m ready to sit down and work on something, everything is right where I need it. Stores like Target and Wal-Mart typically have bundles of 5-6 bins that actually typically cost around $6 or $7 – and they are sooo handy. Having several of the same kind makes them easy to stack and stash!

4) Specialty PDF patterns

One item that I always really enjoy sewing is clothing for myself and my family! The big-box stores have a nice selection of what is known as the Big 3 (Butterick, McCalls, Simplicity) patterns, but while the volume and cost of these is nice (they usually go on sale for $1-2), I do enjoy supporting independent pattern designers like Thread Theory, Oliver + S, and Colette. The nice thing about PDF patterns is that you can print the same pattern multiple times, which cuts back on tracing, and allows me to make multiple versions of the same pattern with no issues. These three companies in particular have beautiful, timeless designs, easy-to-follow instructions, and lovely graphics. The price is a little prohibitive for every day, so a gift of any of these would be quite a treat, while also fairly reasonable for a gifting budget.

5) Fabric bundles

If you do have a pretty good handle on your sewist’s tastes, feel free to buy fabric bundles! Especially items like fat quarter bundles and pre-cuts (also known as charm packs, jelly rolls, and layer cakes). The nice thing about pre-cuts and pre-bundled fabric is that you get lots of coordinated fabrics in one package, so there are plenty of opportunities for projects involving several different fabrics, and no need to worry about whether they’ll like it – when there are so many patterns in one place, it’s easy to find one you love! If you are leery of picking something out, these pre-cuts and bundles can be found at nicer quilt shops, so feel free to go and ask for a recommendation. Chances are, the sales associate will know the latest trends and be able to point you in the right direction, whether it’s by most popular, latest releases, or type of project. They may even be able to point you in the direction of a pattern to go with the bundle!

Well, that’s all for now! Can you think of any other really great gift ideas for sewists and crafters? Speak up in the comments!

Simple Holiday Stockings

A few years ago, when my oldest had just turned 1, I made holiday stockings for myself, my son, and my husband based on a tutorial from fabricworm. They turned out great – it was such a fun project! Check it out (forgive the blurry, it’s an old photo!):


So, now that my daughter is a year old, I’m stuck with a dilemma. Since I got laid off, our finances haven’t been fantastic, so, I was putting off the stocking situation. I’ve been out looking for fabric (while also applying for jobs), and honestly couldn’t find any that I liked that fit in with the existing stockings, which only take about a yard total between lining, cuff, and main fabric. I want something classic, but unique, something that can grow up with her.

Last spring, in a more fluid time, I picked up a couple of pre-cut stacks of Christmas fabrics from Moda’s Basic Grey line (my favorite designer); one is a stack of Honeycombs (hexagons), and one is a charm pack. I also have 2 half yards of two different shades of red Kona cotton on hand thanks to my sister’s Christmas gift a few years ago (she totally feeds my sewing habit for me! lol) So, I could make a Christmas stocking for my daughter from a bunch of hexagons of awesome Christmas fabrics. Or even a simple red Kona cotton stocking with Honeycombs for accents – maybe on the cuff, heel, and toe (and yes, that is little miss grabby-hands grabbing the stack – she loves playing with my fabric lol):


The problem with these options is that a) I’d really like to hang onto the pre-cuts for bigger quilt projects if I can. Also b) the other 3 stockings are made from 2 different fabrics, with a trim accent, and c) I’d like to keep all four consistent, rather than having one made of lots of different fabrics, not to mention d) my son might get jealous of her (possibly) “fancier,” more elaborate, stocking.

My third option is to just go buy a cheap stocking from Target and make her one that is consistent with the other 3 later, when I can afford to be picky about fabric. What do you guys think?

Project Completed

A project that took two years to complete…! But finally, done! =)

It is a Waldorf-style soft doll, with a cotton knit body and 100% natural wool stuffing. Hand-embroidered face, multi-colored wool yarn hair, and hand-felted & sculpted head.

The principle behind Waldorf dolls and education is simple, all-natural materials and organic (naturally-flowing – not the organic you think of regarding food), imaginative play. The simplicity of the face is so the child who adopts the doll can imagine it as expressing any emotion and being a true companion who mirrors their experiences. I just think the simple faces look so sweet! And the reason for the 100% wool stuffing is because it retains warmth, so Waldorf dolls really are excellent cuddle buddies!

Next time, I plan to¬†use a heavier knit and pre-sew the leg- and arm-joints so they are easier to stuff; the knit fabric got holes in it rather quickly, even though I used ball point needles. I’m going to whip up a couple simple outfits for the doll next, and secure its hair more tightly to the head… Anyways. Fun project! Quite a challenge though…!

I’d like to credit Bungalow Bear’s Etsy shop, my sister Anne, & Weir Crafts for supplies. Also, Weir Crafts, Echoes of a Dream, and Meg McElwee’s awesome book, Growing Up Sew Liberated, for tutorials, patterns, and instructions. I am not sponsored by any of these companies, nor do I work for them, but they all provided excellent instruction and quality fabrics and materials. My sister Anne is the one who got me started thinking about this style of doll in the first place, so here she is!



I just think she turned out so sweet. I love the funky, multi-colored hair too. I didn’t style it as I was making the wig, I just crocheted a wig cap from worsted-weight wool yarn, and cut lots of strands the same length, hooking them into the cap. Having the strands all the same length is what created the shaggy sort of layered look it has. It reminds me a rock star! I think it’s awesome. Next time I might try a little harder to get them all the same length, but for my first time I really just wanted to learn the technique and not worry about things like making sure all the hair strands were the same length.

Well, so she’s done! And I’m so happy. I can’t wait until the kids see her on Christmas morning! I hope they love her. ūüôā


I made the overalls and shirt for this doll out of Meg McElwee’s book as well and have plans to use a lengthened version of the blouse pattern for a flannel nightgown:



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I used some denim I already had on hand for the overalls, which I really did not cut wrong, intending to have them be two-tone when I cut the fabric. ::shiftyeyes:: (mental note: always make sure you’re cutting on the correct side of the fabric…). These were a bit of a pain, as this wasn’t thin denim, this was standard, heavy bottom weight denim I had bought as a remnant, and it is just unwieldy in this scale.

Denim is great, don’t get me wrong. I have never been fond of it for sewing, or for anything besides jeans (and I really don’t like stiff jeans at all), however, and this just confirmed it for me. This particular denim was very thick and stiff, not really conducive to maneuvering into tiny turned straps, as once i had more than two layers to sew through, my machine fought me every step of the way (even on the heavyweight woven setting!). As a result, I did not enjoy working with it for this, and kind of wish I’d gone less “authentic” and used a lightweight chambray – so keep that in mind if you decide to make your own dolly overalls – get a thinner denim, and make sure you can manipulate the fabric easily when you’re looking at it in the store.

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As you may be able to see from these photos, the blouse has a sweet little pleat detail in the front that really adds a nice touch to the simplicity of the pattern. I really didn’t think the blouse would turn out as lovely as it did in this blue floral, which I have literally had stashed in my fat quarter bin since I first started quilting. So, yes, this fabric is vintage early-2000s, and I give myself a HUGE pat on the back for finally using it with such great results. Go me!

I also used this tutorial and pattern from ruthplustwo to make a simple peasant dress:

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The dress’s raglan-style neckline was a little big as designed, but I shortened the elastic. It was a little too big around also, so I tied a simple satin ribbon around the waist to hold it on the doll. As a 1-year-old will be playing with her as well as a 5-year-old, I need to figure out how to keep the ribbon on, but I’ll get there at some point.

I also didn’t have the correct width of bias tape handy, so I just sewed it onto the back side of the neckline to create the elastic casing, instead of following the bound look the original tutorial uses. It turned out sooo darling, so thanks much to RuthPlusTwo (and Pinterest, which is where I ran across the pattern!)!

Have you finished any old projects recently? Share in the comments!! I love to hear project stories!

Tutorial time!!

So, I’m trying to keep myself occupied between resume submissions and job applications, so I think its time to get the ball rolling on a tutorial! How can I be a self-respecting sewist with a blog, yet never have any tutorials?

Of course a tutorial will have to wait until after Halloween – I have costumes to finish, after all! But, I would like some input!

I don’t know about you, but the Holidays are coming up, which puts me in a celebratory mood! So I’m thinking something festive, or autumnal.

Some of my ideas are:

Cloth napkins
Quilt demo
Christmas Stockings

So, what do you want to know more about making?? Let me know!

Current sewing project queue:

Steampunk Rogue bustled skirt
Red Riding Hood cape
Hiccup shoe covers
O+S Class Picnic Blouse
O+S Music Class Blouse
O+S Music Box Jumper*
O+S Sleepover Pajamas
BurdaStyle Military Jacket
Kennedy Bag by SewSweetness
Colette Moneta (Sewalong Here)
Thread Theory Finlayson Sweater
Colette Dahlia
Christmas Stocking for A

Recently Completed:
O+S School Photo Dress
Twirly Skirts x2
Leggings x2
Quilted Vest Material