I couldn’t resist buying some of this beautiful new Warsa linen at Purl Soho – the soft, muted colors beautifully offset the handwoven blanket I splurged and bought while visiting Swans Island Company this summer in Maine.
The pillows are 20″ square, in colors Fig, Celadon, Smoke and Coyote. In order to use some of the more vibrant colors, I sewed up a Forty-Minute Tote in colors Tangerine and Cayenne, and added handmade leather handles from Bolt Fabrics here in Portland.
This is a really great sewing project – just make sure you’re using a jersey needle and a knit/stretch/small zigzag stitch on your sewing machine. There’s only three pattern pieces – front, back, and sleeves – and then the binding for the neck and sleeves. The neck binding may appear really small at first, but it’s important to stretch it VERY tightly around the neckline – this is what keeps the neckline from hanging poorly or gapping open when it’s done.
Pattern: Lark Tee by Grainline – I sewed the scoop neckline / long sleeve option
Mods: I cut 1/4″ off the sleeves before the 3/4″ hem, and I cut the bottom of the shirt at 18 1/4″ from underarm seam before the 3/4″ hem (which meant I cut off at least 2-3″ – it would have been WAY too long).
What I like about this pattern is how it’s got such a flattering silhouette – with just a little bit of shaping in the body, combined with the knit fabric, you get a really attractive fit. I’ve got knit fabric in three more colors, just waiting to become Lark tees . . .
For the past few months, I have been inspired by several maker blogs that focus on apparel sewing. I had been thinking for some time about sewing my own clothes, but often felt too frustrated and intimidated by the process. However, the posts of other bloggers, particularly Karen Templer of Fringe Association, really made me think about some crucial issues, as well as the concept of honing down my wardrobe to several basic, well-made pieces that all worked together. What a relief it would be to go to my closet and have only a few pieces – but beautiful, well-made pieces – to pick and choose from! That might seem like a strange thing to say, but it feels like the more clothes I have, the less I appreciate each piece, and the more overwhelming it is to figure out what to wear each day. In any case, I just end up wearing the same core pieces over and over, so why do I have a closet full?
I did know how to sew, and I’d sewed clothes for my daughters, but I’d never successfully sewed my own clothes – at least, not pieces that I ended up liking in terms of fit. I was worried that if I tried it again, I’d have the same frustrating results, so I decided to buy a few private lessons at Modern Domestic, a great sewing/fabric store in Portland, and see if I could learn some tips that would get me started.
I began the lessons in late July, and since then I’ve sewn an Everyday Skirt (Leisl + Co), two Scout Tees (Grainline), two Tiny Pocket Tanks (Grainline), a Zinnia Skirt (Colette), two Aster Shirts (Colette), two tank dresses that my instructor and I hacked from a store-bought dress, the Tofino Pants (Sewaholic), and I’m currently working on the Moss Skirt and Lark Tee (both Grainline). I feel like I’ve learned so much through this process, not just in terms of technical sewing knowledge, but even more, what it takes to try to sew a wardrobe that I will actually wear. I sat down and put to paper some of those thoughts:
Lesson One: Fabric Matters I guess I should have already known this, given what I know about the importance of choosing the right yarn for a knitting project, but I think it might be even more crucial with sewing apparel projects. Unfortunately, while a knitting pattern will have a recommended yarn – whatever the sample was knit in – the same is not true with sewing patterns. Instead, the pattern lists only broad categories: cotton, lawn, etc. A good pattern might give some further recommendations about how light or heavy the fabric should be, the drape of the fabric, etc., but most of the time, all you’ve got to go on is “cotton.” Of course, that’s like listing the yarn for a knitting pattern as “wool.” What weight, gauge, hand, drape, and a million other descriptive terms? My most successful sewing projects were sewn with the exact fabric that my instructor recommended – and, I found, it’s much easier to buy a pattern you like and then find a good fabric to sew it in, rather than picking out a fabric you love, and then trying to match it to a pattern. Sometimes I was steered away from fabrics I really liked and agreed to choose something I wasn’t as crazy about, but I always liked the end result better than when I plowed ahead with a fabric I was drawn to, even if it wasn’t ideal for the pattern I was working on. The moral of this story: choose your pattern, then get help from knowledgeable experts in a fabric store to choose the best possible fabric for your particular project.
Lesson Two: The Right Tools Make All The Difference As in so many handcrafting hobbies, I found that a few crucial tools made a world of difference. First amongst these were sewing machine feet – I quickly acquired an overcast foot, an edgestitching foot, a foot with a seam guide, and several others. Even though they’re a little expensive, they’re well worth in if you plan to keep sewing clothes. The reason: they allow your sewing to be more precise, especially the stitches that you will see when the project is done, and it is the preciseness of these lines that makes your project look professional. A straight and even seam line goes a long way to making a project look well done! Sewing feet and other tools take a lot of the guesswork and struggle out of the project. Some of my favorites (all under $10): a seam guide, Wonder Tape (for adhering buttons so they stay in place while you’re sewing them on), a chalk marker, and Swedish tracing paper (for tracing and customizing your patterns – this might be more like $15).
Lesson Three: Get Help! When I began this journey, I already knew how to sew – I’d sewed many quilts, blankets, tote bags, curtains, pillows, etc – all things that didn’t require much fitting! I had also sewed a lot of cute dresses for my three daughters. But once they got old enough that they didn’t want to wear what I sewed for them, I wanted to try sewing my own clothes. The problem: every time I sewed something for myself, I felt like it fit poorly. I was following the directions, so what was I doing wrong? I decided that there must be some tricks of the trade that I didn’t know about, so I signed up for a series of private lessons with a sewing instructor at one of Portland’s great sewing and fabric stores. This was immensely helpful, not only in teaching me important techniques, but also in teaching me little tricks and tips that are never in the published sewing patterns, and in increasing my overall confidence.
Lesson Four: Be Prepared to Sew a Pattern More Than Once I almost never knit the same pattern more than once, especially if it’s a sweater – let’s face it, a lot of time and yarn money go into one sweater! Sewing a piece of clothing takes less time than knitting, although it doesn’t go as quickly as you might think when reading the pattern because set-up (pressing and pinning in a hem, for instance) often takes as much as 3-4 times as long as the actual sewing. Nonetheless, for me it was much more feasible to sew a pattern twice than it has been to knit a pattern twice. Which is a good thing, because I think you have to sew each item you make at least twice in order to achieve a good fit. Once I accepted this – and looked at it as an opportunity to try out different fabrics – I was a lot happier with my finished products. I will likely wear the “first run” items I sewed, but it’s the tops and skirts that I sewed a second, or even third or fourth time around, that I like the most. I think this is especially true with tops, because the fit tends to be much more exacting than with a skirt (unless the skirt is form-fitting- most of mine had some gathering, so the fit wasn’t so exact).
Lesson Five: Fabrics Cut on the Bias Can Help With a Flattering Fit My greatest success was when my instructor and I took a factory-sewn dress that I liked the style and fit of, and hacked a pattern straight from the dress. It was extremely easy – no sleeves – but the final result was beautiful, so much so that I sewed two of the dresses, and I’m working on a third. While working on this project, I learned a lot about cutting fabric on the bias – how it is much more difficult and expensive, since it requires a lot more fabric, but how it also can result in a much more flattering fit, because fabric cut on the bias stretches and drapes in a way that helps positively accentuate your form. I now look for patterns where at least part of the apparel piece is sewn on the bias, because I think it’s much more likely that the result will be a flattering fit.
Lesson Six: Sewing Bias Tape is an Essential Skill I discovered that of the most essential – and difficult parts of sewing any kind of shirt or top that looks like it fits well is how it fits around the neck (and armholes, if it’s sleeveless). By and large, this is a matter of how well you sew (and edgestitch) the bias tape. One great trick I learned: if the neckline seems to gap or hang open, it means that you need to tighten up the bias tape a little. In other words, when you’re pinning the bias tape to the neckline, pull on it – just a little. It’s very stretchy (of course, since it’s cut on the bias) so you don’t want to overdo it, but by increasing the tension on the bias tape, you’ll help tighten the neckline a little, to prevent gapping. Good pressing will help too, but it won’t completely solve the problem of a neckline that gaps or hangs open.
Lesson Seven: Choose Your Patterns Carefully I have found that I prefer the patterns published by independent designers much more than the traditional patterns (McCalls, Butterick, etc). However, the independent patterns are much more uneven in terms of a good fit, clear directions, etc. For that reason, once I find a designer that I like, I’m inclined to buy more of that line of patterns. For instance, I’ve found Grainline patterns to be explained clearly and to actually fit a wide variety of “real” women’s shapes. Because a pattern often doesn’t have a single photograph of the actual item, being worn by an actual person, I found it very helpful to use Pinterest and Instagram to see how the finished product was being sewn – and worn – by real women. If I saw a variety of women in different shapes and sizes, all able to wear the piece and have it look flattering on them, then I knew that it was the pattern for me!
In the next couple of weeks, I will post photos of me wearing my newly sewn wardrobe – I think you get a much better feel for how the pieces look and fit when someone is wearing them, but it’s a lot more time-consuming to put together that kind of a photo shoot
This week’s sewing projects – quick, simple, and satisfying!
A set of four placemats and napkins, sewn from Robert Kaufman’s Studio Stash Yarn Dyes. I bought one yard of the Denim and 1/2 yard each of the Spice and Denim from Bolt, without really thinking through what I would use them for. I originally thought I’d sew a shirt and maybe a skirt, but it seemed too cutesy – maybe a little too much matching going on? So, I took a look at my quantities and decided I had just the right amount for placemats and napkins. The placemats are double-sided – I just sewed right sides to right sides, with the batting in between, then turned them right side out, sewed a top stitch a little less than 1/4″ from the edges, and then quilted them with one vertical line and one horizontal line, both down the middle.
I liked the color of the fringing on the napkins, so I fringed them out a little way (I’m sure they’ll fringe more on their own with repeated washings), and then stitched a stay stitch 1/4″ around all four borders.
My idea is to give these as a gift set, along with four of my hand-thrown mugs – I picked these because I thought they color-coordinated well:
I’m lucky enough to live near the Pendleton Woolen Mill store, where you can buy a wide variety of Pendleton fabrics as either scraps or off the bolt – 1/2 yard is more than enough to make a beautiful 20″ pillow cover.
As a birthday gift, I sewed up a six-pack of cloth napkins from Robert Kaufman’s Essex linen-cotton blend (I think this color is Taupe) – 1 1/2 yards gave me six 18″ x 22″ napkins.
I usually find knit fabrics to be too thin and flimsy, not really good quality and, as a result, difficult to work with. The Birch organic knits, however, are entirely different. These knits are thick and plush, still with a lot of stretch and give, but they feel so nice, and I love the color palette!
I bought two yards of Teal and one yard of Sky and sewed up a comfy pair of yoga pants and a t-shirt to lounge around in this summer. The yoga pants pattern is here, and it’s incredibly easy – although I have to say, the sizing seems WAY off. I fell somewhere between a large and extra-large, so I went with extra-large, figuring that I could size it down as I went . . . which I definitely needed to do! I must have re-stitched the seams three times, each time cutting out multiple inches. In the end, I had to reduce the entire piece substantially, and especially the legs – even with a wide-legged look, the way I originally cut it out would have been ridiculous. So, I just kept sewing, trying it on, pinning in a new seam, re-sewing, re-trying it on, etc. In the end, I’m pretty happy with the fit – there’s still a lot of fabric around the upper thighs, but then, they’re yoga pants – they’re supposed to have a lot of flow
One note – I used metal grommets for the waist ties, and I like the look, but keep in mind that when you cut a hole in knit fabric, it will GROW – on the first hole I cut, even though it seemed really small, by the time I inserted the grommet, the edges of the hole were showing outside the edges of the grommet – so, just poke a very small hole in the knit and wedge the grommet in, that way you’ll keep from growing the hole beyond the borders of the grommet.
I had a little more difficulty with the t-shirt, largely due to the neckline. I didn’t have a pattern, so I cut the shape from one of my current tees, and cut the neckline high (as it would be for the back). Then, you need to trim down the neckline a little in the front, so that it’s not so high on your neck. Somehow, even when I was really careful trimming it only a little bit (after trying it on and marking with pins how low I wanted it to go in front), it still kind of bags and gaps once I had the edge hemmed. I even tried sewing the shoulder seams in closer to compensate, and that helped, but not completely. I’m not sure why I can’t get the neckline to lay flat – it must be something about the shape I’ve cut it in, but heck if I can figure it out!
Otherwise, the t-shirt was easy – I just cut out a front and back, sewed it together at the shoulder seams, then the side seams, then hemmed the neckline, sleeves, and bottom. The sleeves are part of the front and back (that is, no separate sleeves), and there’s no yoke or facing, which makes it as easy as sewing a pair of pants – just a front and a back.
I always feel slightly dissatisfied with my sewn wardrobe – for some reason, I can never get the fit to look just right, or maybe it’s that I can never get the piece to look really smooth and finished. You’d think it wouldn’t be that way – since I can custom-size the clothing piece as a go – but I always end up feeling like whatever I sew just isn’t that flattering on me. I love the idea of a largely handmade wardrobe, but I need to first get past feeling like the FOs aren’t attractive or flattering in fit and style.
After they arrived, they sat in my sewing room for several weeks, waiting for inspiration. I considered a variety of projects – quilt top, pieced placemats, even a skirt for my youngest daughter. In the end, I couldn’t bear to cut them up – they were so perfect just as they were! – but what to do with a bunch of fat quarter squares, no matter how gorgeous the fabric was? Then last week, I was shopping at a boutique store full of handmade goods, and I kept coming back to a packet of three color-coordinated linen cloths. These linens were simple squares (or maybe a little more like rectangles) and could be used for cloth napkins, or kitchen towels, or any other “napkin or towel” use that one might have. They were so simple, yet it was that simplicity that let the texture and color of the fabrics shine, and I found that I wanted to buy them, even without any particular purpose in mind.
And then I remembered my fat quarter bundle and I thought “ah ha” . . . and I knew what the Manchester fabrics were destined to be. So, I just ironed and stitched a rolled hem – I didn’t even bother to cut the quarters perfectly square, because I liked them to be a little funky in their shape and style. I didn’t wash them ahead of time, either – I figure that if they shrink when they’re washed the first time, it won’t matter, given that they haven’t been sewn into any kind of a larger overall project.
I’m thrilled with how beautiful they are in their simplicity, and how “completing” them hasn’t taken away my enjoyment in the texture and color of the fabric itself. I think that I will bundle them in sets of three or four and give them as gifts with my hand thrown mugs or bowls – kind of a handmade kitchen set. I hope the recipients enjoy and appreciate them as much as I do!
recently saw an Eileen Fisher scarf/wrap that I wanted to buy, but when I saw what it cost, I thought it would be worth trying to find the fabric and make the simple accessory myself. I found not one but two beautiful spring scarf/wrap fabrics at Purl Soho: Kokochi Double Gauze (Silver Grey Dots) and Robert Kaufman’s Veneto Linen Gauze (Flax).
I purchased two yards of each, and then split the fabric lengthwise – this meant a length of approximately 72″ and a width of 18″ (for the double gauze) and 30″ (for the linen gauze). Then I fringed the ends of each by simply pulling the threads out one by one – by far the hardest part! I fringed the double gauze to only 1″ or so – I couldn’t stand it any longer, since it’s double gauze it’s two fabrics together, so you actually have to fringe two separate pieces of fabric for each end I fringed the linen gauge to approx 3″ and then tied the fringes, so they wouldn’t get messy and tangled.
Next, I ran a stay stitch about 1/8″ from the short ends of the scarves, so that there was no chance that the fringe would continue to unravel. Finally, I sewed a hem (1/4″ rolled under, then a second 1/4″ rolled under) along each long end. I quick press with the iron, and they were done!
We continued with our tradition of a homemade and decorated birthday cake that represents an interest of the birthday girl/boy – Alia’s lifelong love of bunny rabbits remains strong, so I’ve come up with many versions of a bunny cake over the years!
Because age ten is the first age in our household when sleepovers are allowed, this birthday was met with much excitement, and as gifts, Alia’s grandmother sewed her a bunny pillow:
And I sewed her a quick and easy sleeping bag:
I found these wonderful Cotton + Steel bunny-themed fabrics at Bolt (bunnies and moons, how perfect for a sleeping bag!) and sewed the bag and a matching pillow without a set pattern, as follows:
Exterior and interior fabrics – 3 1/3 yards each – for both the outside and the inside, cut the fabric in half lengthwise (so you have two pieces that are 60″ long), then cut each piece to 36″ wide. Sew these two pieces together, so you have one piece that is 72″ wide x 60″ long.
To sew the ties, cut 18 pieces 3″ x 12.5″ (you’ll have enough fabric left over to do this), fold lengthwise, sew one short edge and one long edge, leaving one short edge open. Then turn right side out and press.
Next, create a “quilt sandwich” by laying the exterior fabric right side up, then the interior fabric on top of it (right side down), and then the batting on top of both (I bought the highest loft batting I could find, and then used a double layer). Cut around all sides to get all of the fabrics and battings the same dimensions, then pin together along the edges, tucking the ties inside (unfinished edge lining up with the edge of the fabrics/batting, and the length of the tie tucked in between the two fabrics).
Sew along all four edges with a 6/8″ seam, leaving an 18″ wide hole in the middle of the top edge. Clip the corners and turn right side out through the top edge hole. Then, stay stitch around all four sides again (this will help to give the bag a defined edge, and will close up the top side hole, as well). Finally, I used a bar tack stitch approx every 10″ to give the bag “puffiness” and to hold the batting in place and keep it from shifting around.
My ties along the bottom didn’t line up as nicely as I had hoped – I’m not sure what went wrong, I measured (but apparently not accurately enough!), but my side ties line up nicely. The ties are a nice alternative to having to sew in a zipper, and they allow you to open up the bag and lay it flat, if you choose to do so.
This was a rush job and I could have done it more neatly – it was a little difficult stitching through so many layers, especially two layers of thick batting, and my sewing machine wasn’t thrilled to do it, but it came out all right in the end.
I love working with canvas fabric, and particularly when I get to add a splash of color with fun zippers and webbing for the handles. The Overnighter Bag is a well-written, easy-to-sew pattern from the Purl Bee – it can be sewn in an afternoon, and the duffel is the perfect size for, well, an overnight trip Or, in our case, a carry-on bag for the plane – I made one for myself and one for each of my daughters to take along on our impending trip to Turks & Caicos.
Per the instructions, I washed the fabric first – afterwards, at first I regretted doing so, because no matter how much I ironed it, the canvas still had a slightly wrinkled look, and I thought initially that I preferred the smooth appearance of the unwashed canvas. But after it was done, I decided it looked better after washing – and, in any case, the fabric did shrink appreciably, so assuming that I ever want to wash the bag, it definitely needed to be pre-washed.
After sewing the first one, I made a few modifications:
* I cut the bottom piece 9.5″ wide instead of 8″ wide – it then needed to be trimmed down a little, but at least it wasn’t too narrow, as it was when I went with the 8″ width.
* I used the entire 3-yard length of webbing for the handles, instead of cutting each piece as called for in the pattern – the pattern sizing is just too short, I can’t easily throw it over my shoulder. You can see the difference between the black handles (first bag completed, per pattern specs) and the blue, green and purple handles.
* I used scraps of canvas instead of scraps of bias tape for the pieces at each end of the zipper – it’s a lot sturdier and less likely to warp or tear.
Otherwise, I stuck to the pattern, which was clear and easy to understand. The only slightly challenging part was sewing the sides to the bottom, because there are some tricky curves to maneuver. However, it doesn’t have to be perfect, as the canvas is forgiving and masks a lot of less-than-perfect corners
Here are the bags “in action” at the Portland airport, getting ready to head out to Turks & Caicos . . . they all survived the trip admirably, although one had such a heavy load that one of the straps ripped out a little where it connects to the top of the bag, so I had to just quickly re-sew it when we got home.
Another of this week’s quick sewing projects – using up the rest of my Shetland Flannel from this project to make PJ lounge pants for my girls. I’ll give these as Christmas gifts at the same time that I gift the flannel robes. Quick, easy, and oh-so-comfy!
I used Simplicity #2290 (a repeat from this project) and sewed size eight for my 9 1/2-year-old youngest daughter, and size Adult XS for my just-turned-12 middle daughter. I only had two yards of each color, so I had to use scraps for the bottoms of the legs on the bigger size. The fit on both was right on (or at least, as much as it needs to be for lounge pants
I love finding new and creative uses for materials I love, like Mary Flanagan felted wool. Fortunately for me, Purl Bee excels in coming up with projects just like this one . . . their free pattern is here and it’s the perfect use for one of their mini textured felted wool bundles. I bought Jax Black, Cherry Pop, and Spring Green, and turned them into a litter of wooly kitties for my daughter’s twelfth birthday.
As always, the Purl Bee pattern pays close attention to detail, like using a weighted oval (they used lentils, but I used polyfil beads) to give the cats a little heft on their bottoms and help them sit upright better.
The directions were clear and easy to follow, and unlike a lot of sewing patterns, my finished product actually looked pretty close to the example!
Wow, this is gorgeous fabric! It was my inspiration for this year’s Christmas gift for all of my female relatives – flannel robes, using the Purl Bee pattern. I bought the Shetland Flannel fabric at Purl Soho – 4 yards each in colors peach tweed, pumpkin herringbone, oregano herringbone, denim tweed, and grey herringbone.
I started with size small in the peach tweed, and when that seemed REALLY small (luckily, I have an extremely petite sister to gift it to!), I moved to size medium in the pumpkin herringbone, and then up to size large for the remaining three robes. In all three, the sizing problem I experienced was how tightly the robe fit in the underarms. I suspect that this is because the pattern is just a series of rectangles, and since the sleeves are rectangles – instead of flaring larger at the shoulder, as most patterns do – there isn’t enough leeway left for adequate space in the underarms. I tried to address this in the later robes by stitching the underarm section with only 1/4″ seam, but they still fit pretty tightly.
I like the detail of the french seams at the shoulder and arms, although it does add a little bulk, especially at the armholes, so I skipped it on the last two robes, to see if it would help with the underarm fit. I think it made more of a different to use a smaller seam width, but the fit still feels a little tight to me, and unfortunately, I’m not an accomplished enough seamstress (or pattern maker / modifier) to alter the pattern to accommodate this issue.
Other than the underarm fit, I love all of the details and styling to this robe. It’s cozy without being too heavy or warm, and I think that the flannel will get softer with each wash. The great thing about robes is that they’re so forgiving size-wise – if the arms are a little long, you roll the sleeves, or a little short, and you call them three-quarter length If the hem is a little long, it’s a full-length robe, if it’s a little short, it’s three-quarter length You get the picture – as long as it fits across the back, under the arms, and can comfortably overlap and close across the front, you’ve got the “right” size!
Sometimes you see a fabric line and it’s so bright and fun, you just have to come up with something (or things!) to sew out of it . . .
This fabric is Tamara Kate’s Origami Oasis – I bought various yardages of Crossing Paths (raspberry), Floret (candy), Mountain and Valley (candy), Oasis Border (candy), Spot (tangerine), and Show Your Colors (confection).
First up: a simple tote bag with strong straps for my daughter, who hauls such a heavy load to dance class every day that she’s starting to rip out the leather straps sewn into another bag I made for her. Dimensions:
— two pieces 16″ H x 18″ W (main body of bag)
— two pieces 3″ H x 18″ W (base of bag)
— two pieces 18.5″ H x 18″ W (lining of bag)
— 7″ square piece (inside pocket)
— 4 pieces 2.5″ W x 44″ long (straps, made by sewing two pieces together, turning and then top stitching)
I used the Forty Minute Tote pattern and I like the finished dimensions – however, in hindsight, I wish that I had either used interfacing or batting and quilted the sides before constructing the bag, because ethos fabric is very lightweight and I think I would have preferred the bag to feel a little sturdier.
Next up: a whole cloth baby quilt, sewn from Oasis Border and one yard of Michael Miller’s Organic Fleece as a soft, cuddly backing. I sewed right sides together and turned, then top stitched the border (which also closed the turning hole). I machine quilted the blanket by freehand stitching around randomly selected birds, and straight-line stitching several of the trees in the pattern motif at the bottom of the quilt. Quick and easy, yet also so cuddly, bright and beautiful!
I sewed and quilted this wall hanging in only two days, thanks to the kit available here. The kit comes with the salmon appliqué already cut and backed with double-sized thermo-bond. All I had to do was cut the pieces for the heads, since I wanted them a different color. A hot iron temporarily affixed the salmon pieces to the background.
I used metallic thread to freehand quilt the salmon and water-themed freestyle designs onto the background. I was able to use stash fabric for the backing, and for once, the thread didn’t break continuously as I was quilting – probably because I bought a sewing machine needle specifically for metallic threads, and I kept my pace slow and measured.
This is the start of my Christmas gifts stockpile – between now and December, I have a long list of projects to work through!
I purchased just two fat quarters of the Tiger Stripes from Cotton & Steel’s Hatbox at Modern Domestic, not knowing at that time what I wanted to do with it. My daughter has about a million dresses that I’ve made for her, and we have too many blankets, quilts, pillows, etc, around the house, but I thought she could use a pair of PJ pants to lounge around the house in.
I already had Simplicity #2290, but not near enough fabric to make a pair of pants for a nine-year-old, so I turned to my fabric stash and managed to put something together. I sewed the eight-year-old size, because I knew that this pattern ran really large. My patched-together fabric pieces were barely wide enough, but I squeaked by.
I think the scrappy look makes cute pants, and best of all, she thinks that they’re super comfortable and already wears them just about any time she’s hanging out at home
A quick project that literally only took a little more than an hour – and an excuse to get to sew something with Nani Iro double gauze, I love how this fabric feels! I bought 2 1/2 meters of this fabric in colorway Freedom Garden from this Etsy shop, and used the simplest pattern I could find for lounge pants, Simplicity #2290.
Based on the pattern measurements, I went with size adult medium – I should have known better, the pattern sizes are always so much bigger than their measurements indicate! The pants were HUGE, so I had to go back twice and sew 1 1/2 – 2″ seams, then cut away the extra. The only thing that was spot-on was the length – I only needed a 1/4″ double-rolled hem. I also had to double up the waistband, folding down the fabric 1 1/2″ twice – at first I thought it would make the waistband too bulky, but I ended up liking the look and feel of it. I used 1″ elastic, as recommended by the pattern.
I love how this fabric feels as lounge pants – it would be worthwhile to whip up a few more of these for the coming fall, although I’ll go with the size small (maybe adding a little length, as necessary) next time!
Beautiful home decor-weight fabric I found while browsing at Modern Domestic – it’s from Skinny laMinx, a fabric designer based in South Africa. Her nature-inspired fabrics are amazing, and you can buy them on Etsy The print that I used for the table runner and the tote bag is Pincushion, in colors Humbug and Khaki. I bought 1/4 meter of each (they’re pretty spendy, but the quality is really first-rate), even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them. After letting them sit on my sewing table for a few weeks, I decided on simple projects, to highlight the fabrics themselves.
First, I sewed a very simple table runner (backing it in a heavier weight neutral) and paired it with these cafe bowls from Heath Ceramics in San Francisco. I then used all of the remaining yardage to make a tote bag, based on the Forty-Minute Tote pattern from Purl Bee. I altered the dimensions a little and made the straps a little longer, so that it’s the perfect size and fit to load up all of my goodies at the Portland Farmer’s Market every Saturday.
Next, I used a fat quarter meter of Solid Orla Fog to make two boxy pouches, using this tutorial. It’s really well-done — especially in getting the details of sewing in zippers just right – and not at all complicated, but one word of advice: DON’T follow the tutorial when it comes to boxing the corners! The tutorial’s approach is very difficult – a much easier way to box corners is demonstrated on many of the Purl Bee’s tote bag project demonstrations, including the Forty-Minute Tote. I boxed each corner by sewing my line at the point where the corner is three inches wide. Then, to sew in the handle, I ripped out a few stitches in the middle of two of the exterior boxed corners, inserted each end of the handle, and sewed the corner back up.
I used decor bond interfacing, along with the canvas weight fabric and cotton batting, so the pouches are very sturdy and hold their shape well. I quilted the fabric, interfacing, and batting together before I started sewing – I experimented with quilting one horizontally and one vertically, just to see how it would change their appearance. They are really cute – not that big, but the perfect size for make-up or sewing notions or tons of other things.