Friday, April 29, 2011

More Pieced Tunics

I finished up some more tunics this week.  This pattern is so fast to whip up that I couldn't help but make some more.  It used an interlock that I got from Joanns about a year ago.  I decided to make one in all white. Why?  I don't know.  It wasn't very smart.  See that baby in the corner soon as he touches me I know I am doomed.  Oh well.    I embellished it with some white flower trim to jazz it up a little since it was looking pretty plain.  

I like it, but I think it would look a little better shorter.  All I see it white.  Hehe.

I also made an upcycled version.  This one I am going to use for summer pjs.  I took a bunch of different knits shirts that had holes and such.  So fun to be able to make something that was just going to get tossed otherwise!  I also used the t-shirt from my first 5K that I ran this past November.  When we got to the race they only had large t-shirts left, and it was incredibly huge on me.  I was bummed, so it is nice to be able to wear it now! ;0)

I am not done with this pattern.  I ordered some of this modal spandex from this shop on Ebay.  He had great prices and fast shipping.  This is the type of knit that is recommended in the pattern, so I thought I would give it a shot.  It is soooo soft.  Aren't those colors so pretty?

I am linking this up to Amylouwho's Sew and Tell

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Shirts, Tops, Tunics and More!

So you are ready to make a top for Rae's Spring Top Sewalong, but you are not sure of what pattern to use?  I have compiled a few patterns that I have either tried myself or have received a number of good reviews, so that you can sew and enjoy!  There is nothing I dislike more than cutting into a cute pattern only to rip my hair out trying to figure out why it isn't working out like it should!

At first I was going to separate these patterns into beginner/ intermediate/ advanced, but I think most of these tops could be made by a beginner seamstress/sewer.  The big box patterns do usually have more abbreviated instructions, so just be aware that you may need to take your time and get more help if you are indeed a true beginner.

Also, if you haven't discovered Pattern Review, then head on over!  I always go there first before sewing up a Simplicity, McCall, Butterick, etc. pattern.  There are usually lots of helpful tips on how to adjust your pattern before you even begin!

There is the ever popular Simplicity 3835.  This is a Built by Wendy pattern that has been around for awhile and is super popular.  There is a reason!  This top is forgiving and simple.  I think it has recently gone out of print, but I know you can still order it from the Simplicity website or find someone who is willing to swap with you!

The Amelia Shirt by Froglegs and Ponytails is another super simple top.  It is very similar to a pillowcase dress, but pick a fun floral print and you have the perfect summer top!  A beginner sewer wrote a review of it for Sew Mama Sew and has confirmed that it is a good choice for a beginner.

Colette Patterns has come out with two new beginner sewing patterns including the Violet Blouse.  She promises lots of helpful hints for beginners.  It looks like a great basic button down top and perfect for
those looking for something vintage-y.

The Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated is a fun simple tunic.  I have made this tunic myself and can confirm that this is an excellent pattern.  Check out this tutorial by Happy Find to add some ruffles if you want to add some pop to your tunic! Also, Ana at Don't Fear the Ripper has a very detailed sew-a-long for this tunic for someone who would like more help!

Liesel (the creator of the awesome Oliver + S patterns) has come out with a new line of patterns for women for Simplicity, and her Portfolio Dress/ Tunic pattern is definitely on the top of my to do list.  These new patterns seem to be getting great reviews.  Check out the Flickr group for more inspiration!  Gwen of Gwenny Penny is currently hosting a sew-a-long for the Portfolio Dress.  Perfect timing!

Ruffles are in!  If you want to join in on the craze, Simplicity 2599 might be the pattern for you!  This pattern is one of Pattern Review's Best Patterns of 2010, and you can find tons of happy reviews.

The Shearwater Kaftan by Make It Perfect is a simple, long sleeved top.  It is a simple,easy construction.  Perfect to wear to the beach!  You can check out my review of this top here, and check out this cute one!

Have you tried a Sis Boom pattern yet?  Carla's instructions are the best out there!  She walks you step by step, and I have always had great success with her patterns.  I love the look of the Dana Top, especially the sleeveless version!  Plus, these are PDF patterns, so just buy, print, and start sewing!

Don't want to spend money on a pattern?  Check out some of these fun top tutorials!

Shirred Pillowcase Top
Tie Top Tank
Ruffle Shirt
Women's Corsage Shirt
Wrap Yourself Top
Undaunted Top
And don't forget Rae's Spring Ruffle Top!!

Please let me know if you have any questions!  If you have a pattern that you just love, have written a pattern review, or written a top tutorial- please feel free to leave a comment so we can check it out!  Happy sewing!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sewing 101

    I saw this post over at Whipstitch which is in response to a post over at Stitched in Color.  Deborah's post really struck a chord with me.  Her assertion is that anyone can sew, and that really is so true.  Sometimes I have people tell me that I am so talented, and that they could never do that.  Honestly, it embarrasses me a little sometimes because I truly think anyone who wants to could make the things I make. :0)  The trick is you have to practice, and you have to be willing to learn!  People assume that I have been sewing since I was just a wee child.  While it is true that my mom did try to teach me to sew and even enrolled me in a sewing class as a child, I didn't start sewing until February of 2008.  I wanted to take a drawing class, but I couldn't find one in the evening.  I needed someone to watch my baby, and all the drawing classes seemed to be during the day.  So I ended up taking a sewing class at Joann's.  I made pajama bottoms for my husband (which he still wears!).  I had fun, and I bought my first sewing machine.  I made my first Easter dress for Juliana.  I wish I had pictures!  It turned out cute, but I sewed the zipper in backwards!  Yep, and I even left it that way.  To zip it I had to stick my hand into the inside the dress and pull it up.  I didn't rip it out because it actually came out pretty straight, and I was so afraid if I did it again it would look horrible. I agonized over that dress for weeks.  I watched sewing videos I had rented from the library and read lots of sewing books.  However, that dress built confidence in me, and then I discovered the world of Amy Butler and well, my life was changed.

So all of that to say, if you want to learn to can do it!   Here are a few little tips that I hope you might find helpful if you are starting out!

  1. Take a beginner's sewing class.  It is so helpful to have someone show you in person about the grains of fabric, how to cut, use a pattern, learn the essential sewing tools, and how to thread that machine!   
  2. Buy a decent sewing machine.  I think some people get discouraged because they are using a crappy machine.  If you are constantly dealing with problems with thread jamming and the like you are NOT going to enjoy sewing!  Now I don't think you need to get a top of the line totally out of your price range machine, but before buying one ask your friends what they sew on and if they like it or go to and check out their sewing machine reviews.  They have a ton on there and lots of people are quite honest about what they like and don't like.  You can even buy a used one.  People always seem to be getting rid of sewing machines!  Just make sure to sew on it and test it out as much as you can.  My first sewing machine was this Kenmore, and I would highly recommend it to anyone just starting.  I wrote a review of it here.
  3. Buy quality fabric.  Now when you first start sewing it can be a little intimidating how expensive fabric is (especially with cotton prices rising!).  However, it really is true that you get what you pay for.  Cheapie Walmart fabric is!  It isn't going to hold up very well, and your project isn't going to look so hot.  However, you don't always have to pay top dollar.  If you have patience, you can wait for sales!  Now this might limit your choices more, since some fabric lines sell out before you can say, "Go!".  However, I try to wait for sales for the most part, and I have gotten some awesome deals.  Also, try repurposing!  Instead of putting something in the Goodwill pile I often now put it in my repurpose pile.  Also, if you don't know how to mix and match colors then try buying fabrics from the same line.  They are meant to go together and it takes out so much of the guesswork when are first starting out!
  4. Go ahead and tackle that project that you are dying to do!  When I first started sewing I made all sorts of projects that were not deemed suitable for a beginner.  However, they inspired me, and inspiration is going to keep you sewing!  The catch here is that you just have to be aware that it is probably going to take you a little longer, and you are going to become very familiar with my "mortal enemy", the seam ripper.  There are so many sewing books, tutorials, and videos for all sorts of techniques.  This is how I tackle most of my projects.  If I don't understand a step, I start reading and googling!  
  5. Mistakes happen!  It just comes with the territory.  Even the most experienced sewer/quilter will admit this.  There are very few projects that I did start to finish without some oopsie happening.  The seam I am sewing comes out wonky, I cut out the wrong piece, or I sew the wrong pieces together.   There are so many opportunities for something to go wrong. ;0p Plus, very few of my projects come out just right.  I can show you all sort of mistakes on most of the things I have made, but as you go you will get better.
  6. Follow the directions.  I have been sewing long enough that there are sometimes steps in a pattern that I do differently because I prefer a different technique, but when you first start it is best to do it the way the patterns says for there usually is a reason they are having you do it that way!  It will also help to pinpoint where you went wrong if something isn't turning out quite right.
So, how did you learn how to sew?  Are you a newbie or have you been sewing forever?

Also, check back tomorrow!  Rae has been gracious enough to ask me to be a judge again this year for her Spring Top Sewalong.  I have put together a number of pattern suggestions for those who would like to make a top but don't know what pattern to pick( and lots of them would be great for a beginner)!  I have already made three tops, and I have a huge pile of fabrics picked out for some more.  A girl can dream, right?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hunky Dory Quilt

I sewed a lot last week. I usually spend the baby's nap time cleaning, but last week I decided to sew.  I needed a break, and I let the house get messy.  I wish I could do that more often, but having a messy house really stresses me out as well.  This can be quite a dilemma at times with two little girls who like to color and create pictures that pile up and up and out, and a baby who likes to strew everything everywhere. ;0)

Today is my mother-in-law's birthday.  She is one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and today she hits the six-o. ;0)  I made her a simple quilt for her birthday.  I have wanted to make her a quilt with Hunky Dory for a long time.  I got a layer cake of this line for my birthday last year.  I wanted to do something really neat and thought and thought about it.  However, I admit to being on a quilting low right now, and I waited too last minute.

So I made some simple rows in four different color ways from my layer cake and added 5" rows of white sashing in between for a simple lap quilt.  It took me about an hour to put it all together.  I kept the quilting super, super simple.  I outlined along the sashing and squares, and that took me about another hour to do.

My favorite print in the whole line is a that little "flowy" flower print, and I used that for the binding (which I did completely by machine).  For the back I just used a solid white muslin.  I like to do pieced backs, but I find I so often stall out on quilts as this point.  There was no time for stalling! ;0) 

Happy birthday, Gail!  


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!!

He is risen!  Alleluia!  Easter is such a joyful, promise filled day!  These two little girls love each other so much, and it brings me such joy to see them so happy.

They were running around outside before we went to church, and they were just exuding their excitement.  I have been given so much. Yet, nothing beats the three little people I am so blessed to have as my children. 

For the girls' Easter dresses this year I used the Modkid Kyoko Dress pattern .  It was easy and fun to put together.  The most difficult part of this pattern is just making all the bias binding.  I was originally going to make a different dress for Felicity, but as I was cutting out Juliana's I decided it was going to just be easier to make the same dress.  For Juliana's dress I mostly used Nicey Jane.   I love the colors and flowers of the big print- definitely spring!

For Felicity's I used two different Hunky Dory prints, which is one of my favorite lines of fabric ever.  I made Felicity's waistband reversible so that one side is yellow and the other side is green like Juliana's.  She decided she wanted it on the yellow side today.

We had a wonderful day, and I hope you all had a happy Easter as well!

My little guy also turned one a few days ago!  I love that little face.  He is so serious sometimes.  He has grown up so fast, and he has been such a blessing to us all.

He had chocolate cake.  He liked it. He really, really liked it.  He liked it so much that he decided it was just much easier to put his head down and inhale it as fast as possible.

This is when he came up for air. 

Happy birthday, little man!  We love you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Pieced Tunic- Pattern Review

Fabric:  Top piece is an old knit shirt of mine that was too stretchy.  Dot fabric is a Patty Young knit for Michael Miller.

Yesterday was my birthday!  My last year in my twenties, and I hope to make it a good one! ;0p  Lil Blue Boo came out with this pattern yesterday.  I have always loved this tunic that they make for their shop, and have been hoping they would come out with a pattern for it.  So I splurged on my birthday and bought the pattern!  I love it!  

Here is a side view.  She shows you different ways in the pattern to make the bottom portion more patchwork-y, but I decided to keep it simple this round.  I will definitely be making more of these though!

I really love the style of the back.  

The instructions were great.  This is only my second time really working with knits.  They still really kind of intimidate me.  The pattern claims it only takes about an hour to make, an it did go really fast.  Longer than an hour, but I am always slow especially the first time I make something.  I did use my serger for this.  It is a basic Brother 1034D.  However, she does have tips in her pattern on how to sew this tunic if you only have a sewing machine.

There are only a couple of pattern pieces, and they were simple and easy to cut out.  I cut out a size medium, which fits well I think.  She recommends using a pretty stretchy knit for the top portion.  I cut mine from an old tank top of mine that always stretched out too much. 

I would definitely recommend this pattern.  Super fun and easy!

Have you seen that Rae's Spring Top Sew Along has started again?  I think this would be a great pattern to use!  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jam Packed

This month has just been so busy.  Spring break is upon us.  Yay!  With two birthdays, Holy Week, and Easter all happening within the next seven days though, I don't sense too much of a slow down.  

Yesterday I did pick up some of these fun rainbow fabrics.  Does anyone else have kids so completely obsessed with rainbows?  My oldest started it, but now both girls color everything rainbow style.  Even their teachers have commented on their enthusiastic rainbow coloring.  They both wear any sort of colorful clothing to pieces.  They yelp with delight if they see any product that is arranged in a rainbow succession, and I can't tell you how often I have heard the colors of the rainbow song sung to me.

I haven't really had the chance to touch the sewing machine, but I have been working on a little bit of cross stitch to go with those fun rainbow fabrics.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


This was one of those weeks that I came to the end of and all I could feel was pure exhaustion. It was truly a busy, full week.  So today...I have done as little as possible!  So nice!  I sat outside in the sun soaking up the beautiful sunshine weather, while the girls dug for worms and captured ladybugs.  I have done no cleaning except for some dishes.  We had donuts for breakfast and yogurt for lunch, and I am planning the extravagant meal of Costco pizza for dinner.   

Yesterday we had our third sew in for the Bakersfield Modern Quilt Guild.  I was there for almost four hours, which you might think would be a lot of time to get some good work in.  It didn't happen that way.  I did finish one of the girl's Easter dresses, but still have a ways to go on the other one.  (Yes, I worked on a non-quilting project. ;0p)  There was, however, lots of chatting, praying over sewing machines (I am looking at you, Nicci!), laughter over funny photos, and eating of yummy treats.   

Also, isn't this little guy so cute?  I can't believe he is almost a year.  It really has gone by so, so fast.  I remember how much I wanted my oldest to grow up and all I want this little guy to do is stay little forever.

Also, the winner of the Heather Ross squares is #2, Mary on Lake Pulaski!  Mary, I sent you an email!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

What are you working on this week?

I am working on my girls' Easter dresses this week, but I took a little break to make some of these basic wallets from Keyka Lou's pattern.  I made some of these at Christmas for the preschool teachers, and they were big hits.  I needed a couple of little gifts, so I went back to this pattern.  This first one is actually for me.  I needed another case for my little point and shoot camera, and this pattern works perfectly for it.  I also use this wallet for my iPhone.

For this one I used this pretty oak tree from by Joel Dewberry.  

This wallet is the perfect pattern for your largish scraps.  I used this fun Japanese print that I had just perfect amount leftover from this pillow.  

Just dig through your scrap bin and wa-la!  

Keyka Lou is having her anniversary sale right now and all her patterns are only $5 right now!  I have never been disappointed in any of her patterns.  She has great details on how to make your item turn out just right.  I have a link to her shop over there ---------->; in my sidebar!  

So, what are you working on this week?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Placemats Complete and a Giveaway!

I finished the placemats for my kiddos this week!  Don't they all look so sweet together?

I put together a simple little tutorial on how to make these.  You can find it HERE.  They aren't hard to figure out, but if you are like me and sometimes don't want to do the math and figure out the right proportions please give it a try!

For Josiah's I used a fun little scrap pack that I found at my local quilt store.  Don't you just love those little characters?  Josiah isn't quite old enough to use this yet, but I thought I should just make his while I was on a roll or it would never get done!

Here is the back!  I used a green and brown stripe.  I really think these placemats are easily reversible!

For the quilting on this one I just did a simple crosshatch pattern.  I think I like this style of quilting best out of the three placemats I made.

This is Juliana's placemat.  I love the fun, bright pinks in this one.  This one is made exclusively of out my various Heather Ross  fabric pieces I have been saving and saving.

 I stippled this one in a variegated purple thread.  The quilting on this one really does pop out more on this one than the others, but I think I still like it. ;0)

I used this sweet little pink flower print for the back of hers.

You can also check out Felicity's placemat here.  

I have lots of these fabrics still leftover!  If any of you are interested, I will cut out enough squares for you to make your own patchwork placemat.  You can choose which set you would like: the boy, the pink/ purple, or the peach colorway.  Just leave me a comment and let me know which one you would like!  I will pick the winner, Sunday April 10th! Thanks for reading and happy sewing!

Patchwork Placemat Tutorial

  • fabric scraps at least 3.5" square
  • Backing fabric- piece of fabric 18' x 14"
  • Batting- 18" x 14"
  • fat quarter to make own bias binding or a pack of 1/2" bias binding
All seam allowances are 1/4".

Completed placemat will measure around 17.5" x 13.5".

1. Cut 24 3.5" squares for your patchwork front.  I fussy cut most of my pieces to make sure I got my favorite little characters in there, so I used a 3.5" ruler to center them and cut them out that way. 

 2.  Now lay out your squares and make a pleasing layout.  Try to balance out your colors.  For this one I alternated light and dark fabrics.

3.  Sew  four squares together to make a strip and do this six times.  You can see my rows in the picture above.

4.  Press the seam allowances of the rows in alternate directions.  This makes it easier to match up your seams when you sew the rows together as they will make a little sandwich.

 5.  Sew your six rows together.  Press your seam allowances to one side. This is what your placemat should now look like!

 6.  Take a dinner plate and place it on opposite corners of the top square and trace to make your curve.

7. It should look like this.  Now trace around all four corners and cut to make them rounded.

 8.  Now take your front, batting, and backing fabric and lay them together as shown.  Baste them together to make a quilt sandwich.

9.  Quilt as desired.  For this one I stippled it, but there are no rules for this one!  These are nice and small and perfect for trying different techniques.

10.  Now trim up your backing and batting.  Add your bias binding using your preferred technique.  I like this tutorial on how to make five yards of bias binding out of one FQ, except I cut mine 2".  This tutorial will show you how to add bias binding to rounded corners!

Enjoy your completed placemat!
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