A twenty-something's foray into the domestic arts.
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Category — Sewing

Handmade Doll with Simplicity Pattern 1900

I LOVE handmade baby items. Don’t people make the sweetest things for the little gems in our lives?! I have a board on Pinterest just to keep track of it all. Dolls top my list though.

Simplicity Pattern 1900

When I saw Simplicity Pattern 1900 I had to have it. Bless Jo Ann’s for running their 99 cent sale every so often so I can stock up. Honestly, who doesn’t love a handmade doll with removable clothes that include a dress, shoes and a beret? (Haters… refrain.)

Handmade Doll

Per usual, I entered my local county fair and thought this handmade doll would make the perfect entry into the Stuffed Animal/Toy category. You agree it is a stuffed toy since you can play with it, right? Also per usual, there was an entirely separate category for dolls almost guaranteeing I will not place again. It’s always something!

Anyways, I thought this pattern was wonderful to work with. The directions were clear and concise, helping the doll to come together in no time. I do have a few notes worth sharing:

1. The arms & legs were a bit skinny for me. I recommend cutting those pieces thicker so they are easy to turn inside out and stuff without ripping any side stitches.

2. Based on the comment above, muslin seemed a bit flimsy for me. If little kids are really the intended audience, I think it should be made from a more durable fabric. My muslin felt too thin to stand up to a childhood of use.

3. The shoes should be made of felt. The directions don’t call for a lot of finishing, so having a fabric that won’t fray makes the most sense.

4. The boy pattern needs completely redone… I had to look 3 times on the front to determine that was a male doll. I propose he lose the scarf and overall shorts entirely and simplify with a simple short and button down shirt set. If you’re sewing for a boy, make sure you bring your creativity to the party. Or, check out these similar dolls on Etsy that have a more manly feel.

August 27, 2012   6 Comments

A Pirate Apron and Other Treasures

Ahoy Mateys! Arrgghh… OK… pirate talk is sort of lame, I will spare you the pain.

Pirate Chef Apron

I made this pirate apron for my cousin Gina for her 35th birthday. She is a lover of all things pirate. It’s the Fruit Tart apron pattern from A is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu. I didn’t make any changes to the pattern, except for my usual addition of a lining (see other posts below for details). The pirate chef appliqué was a graphic I found in Google, altered in Photoshop to be less intricate, then imported to Make-The-Cut and used my Cricut to cut out.

Pirate Chef Applique

Similar apron blog posts can be found below:

The idea for the apron came from a custom order my cousin put in for party favors. She wanted pirate earrings made to give as “treasures” to her guests. Since one might have a hard time working pirate earrings into their everyday dress, I suggested a red with white polka fabric button earring mounted on a pirate themed piece of cardstock. I came up with two designs; I think they turned out super cute.

Pirate Party Favors - Earrings

The adorable little pirate girl drawing came from a valentine printable you can find here – designed by MerMag. The Jolly Roger came up in a Google image search as a royalty free graphic.

I need to throw myself fun themed birthday parties. Perhaps for the big 3-0 in a few years. At the end of the month, my good friend is throwing herself a 10 year anniversary of her 21st. It’s a hot pink and zebra themed pole party (as in stripper pole exercise class)… that should be entertaining. I’ll be sure to take pics.

March 12, 2012   No Comments

Baby Bunting Bust

Every once in awhile, I have a major sewing fail. I blame it on my pattern reading skills. I don’t like to read patterns. The only time I break down and do so is when there’s something I can’t figure out on my own. Recently, I’ve tried to get better at this by forcing myself to read patterns start to finish. So, when I take the time to read every step of a pattern in detail, I expect things to work out. This was not the case with my most recent sewing project.

My good friend has a baby due the 12th and I wanted to make her something special. Her and her husband have chosen not to know the sex of the baby, so it had to be something unisex. For the baby shower (Labor Day weekend… yes I started this project in August!), I got them a furry car seat cover and monkey strap covers. To go along with the travel-in-cold-weather theme, I figured a baby bunting would be perfect.

McCalls Pattern M5963

McCalls Pattern M5963 Drawings

I picked design A from McCalls pattern M5693. I thought the hood and the mittens would be more practical than a design without them. Turns out, that was my demise. I redid the stupid mittens at least 4 times and re-read the directions at least 20 before I admitted defeat. On Saturday, I put the trash can up to the sewing table and swept it clean – trashing the baby bunting I’d worked so hard on for two months.

McCalls Pattern M5963

While I hate to throw something away, I hate getting stressed out when I sew even more. Sewing is supposed to be my time to relax and enjoy my work. When it stops being fun, it’s just not worth it to me.

Have you ever had a project you tried so hard to finish… but finally gave up? How did you feel? I am upset at myself for letting it defeat me, but at the same time I’m relieved I don’t have to look at it anymore.

October 30, 2011   3 Comments

Another Lorelei Apron – This Time… Nautical

While I’ve been doing a lot of it lately, it seems that sewing posts have been thin around here. This project I completed over a month ago now, but never shared. It’s another version of the Lorelei apron from A is for Apron by Nathalie Mornu.

This apron was a commissioned project for my good friend, Matt. It was a gift from him to his mom for her birthday. They have an awesome lake house and he wanted to go with a nautical theme so it would match there. He was very dedicated to making sure it turned out just perfect for her, and even drew sketches on what colors should be where, the placement and type of appliqué, etc. He was sort of like having Nina Garcia for a client when you’re a designer on Project Runway – fabulous, but frightening.

Although Matt’s sketching left me little room for creative interpretation (or so he thought), I was able to sneak in a few surprises.  The first was the anchor appliqué. While Matt wanted it a solid red, I found a sweet little red with white polka dot print that worked perfectly. I thought a solid red would have made it look cheap. The line on the collar was originally intended to be a solid navy blue line. I replaced it with a thin red ric-rac for a nice pop on top . I hate ric-rac because it takes whatever you’re working on and instantly transforms it into a “homemade craft” project, but for some reason the thin ric-rac worked here. Lastly, the lining was something Matt and I didn’t discuss. I know had he been in the store with me that the diagonal red, white, and blue fabric I used never would have made it home. However, he loved it when he saw it on the finished product. Even though the apron wasn’t his per say, it was fun working in a few surprises along the way just to see his face when he picked it up!

The modifications to the Lorelei pattern were the same as those done on the mommy/daughter aprons I posted awhile back. For this apron, I was able to find a cute pleated trim for the bottom in the store so I didn’t have to make the ruffle. Although I generally like doing my own ruffles, the nautical nature of this piece called for something crisp and perfect – so I think the store-bought white trim works well here. Also, I took off the pockets and opted for the large appliqué instead. I applied the appliqué prior to putting in the lining, of course.

August 22, 2011   5 Comments

Make Your Own Nautical Inspired Top

Fashion trends fascinate me. In high school, I devoured anything I could find on Mary Quant and the mini-skirt and it never ceased to amaze me how much fashion of that time was influenced by social movements. Today, fashion is less about making a social statement and more about repurposing trends that have been done before (although I do free boob it on a routine basis to pacify my inner hippie… TMI?). Nonetheless, I  still think it’s interesting to see how certain styles come and go – nowadays, in the blink of an eye.

It seems nautical is a popular trend right now. Last year, I tried to buy a pair of boat shoes and ended up returning them because I felt guilty at $50 a pop. This year, Payless is stacked with options under $25 – what gives?!

Getting to the point, if you want some nautical style in your wardrobe… here is a quick tutorial for you. I created this nautical top using a striped sweatshirt I found on sale at Kohl’s. You can accomplish the same affect with any striped shirt and a great appliqué.

Here are some inexpensive options I found for tops:

For the appliqué, don’t limit yourself to just an anchor. A great nautical top could also feature:

  • A ship’s wheel
  • Seagulls
  • A nautical flag
  • Sail boats
  • Stars

The ticket here is really sticking with colors that are nautical in nature. That combined with some stripes will ensure you look sea bound.

For my anchor appliqué, I used a red fabric scrap backed with HeatnBond. Working with Make The Cut and my Cricut, I cut out the anchor in no time. I used this free SVG file for the shape. Once it was cut, all I had to do was iron it on.

Voilà… a DIY nautical sweatshirt.

May 18, 2011   1 Comment

A is for Apron Lorelei Pattern

For those of you that have been reading my blog since it started, you know I adore aprons. You also know that while I love the aprons featured in A is for Apron, I despise the book itself. Despite that minor detail, I recently tackled the A is for Apron Lorelei pattern. I created two versions of the Lorelei apron, one in an adult size and another in a modified toddler version.

These two aprons were a special request from a friend. She commissioned them as a gift for a stylish mom-to-be that loves to cook, so that her and her peanut could share quality time together in the kitchen. She is such a great gift giver that she picked out the pattern herself, went to the store with me to grab fabric and added input on the modifications to make! Note to my friends: child-sized kitchen items are a great idea for my not-yet-conceived baby girl and corresponding shower. Bun-in-the-oven themed party… yes, please.

As with most of the A is for Apron patterns, reading the directions is worthless. I modified it anyways by adding the solid colored ruffle to the bottom and a muslin lining. I feel both were a positive addition. I also rounded the top of the apron off instead of having it come to a point and skipped over the tchotchke rick rack to keep it modern looking.

The child’s apron was created the same way – just much smaller. The only modification made here was to keep the neck open on one side. Instead of sewing it down on the right, I finished it off and applied a strip of Velcro. This will allow mom to easily get the apron on and off little miss.  

This pattern gave me the opportunity to try out another method for blowing up the patterns in A is for Apron. Seriously Lark Books – now Lark Crafts- the enlarging directions in the back are asinine. Anyways, I took a lesson from my days as a banner-making-cheerleader and used an overhead projector to trace these out. I’m not going to say it was painless, but it was free. Thanks teacher mom for helping me out :)

There isn’t much in the blogosphere on this pattern. However, my friend Catherine from Blonde Ambition has a great tutorial on applying the rick rack that I skipped over. Check out her post here.

May 13, 2011   3 Comments

How to Refashion a Vintage Scarf into a Flower

For those of you who don’t know, I do Internet stuff for a living. Yes, I am leaving it at that; I’m bored just thinking about explaining it right now. Anyways, when work is busy the last thing I want to do at night is continue sitting in front of the computer. That said, when days (or weeks) pass like this with no posts… you can assume I am swamped with work, hating sitting at a desk looking at the Internets and off doing something like yard work or sewing.

Today, I broke my no post run to participate in the Iron Craft challenge. This week’s theme was flowers. You can check out all of the entries in the Flickr group here.

A month or so ago I bought a bunch of vintage scarves at the thrift store with the intent of making J.Crew style flower belts out of them. This was my chance to give one a whirl. The steps on how to make a flower belt are below.

• Vintage satin scarf
• Freezer paper
• Thread
• Beads
• Pin back
• Hot glue

• Iron
• Scissors
• Needle
• Hot glue gun

Start by ironing out your scarf.

Once flat, apply the freezer paper to the scarf shiny side down with your iron.

Trace out a flower pattern onto the freezer paper slightly larger than the size you want your finished flower. Repeat this for a total of 6 flowers.

Cut out the flowers and remove the freezer paper from the back by simply peeling it off. It’s ok if your edges fray, you want it to look unfinished.

Stack your flowers on top of each other varying where the petals are. Pin all layers together on the outsides so they don’t slip as you sew them together.

Use your needle and thread to sew long stitches in the middle of the flower in a circle pattern. With each stitch, pull the thread tight so the petals begin to pull in and bunch up.

When you’ve gone around in a complete circle, come up through the middle and begin securing your beads. Sew as many beads as you’d like  into the middle and then secure the thread with a few final knots to keep everything together.

Glue your pin on to the back of the flower.

Wear your flower on a headband, attach it to a purse, throw some ribbons on to a shirt dress and place the flower on top for a flower belt, or come up with your own way to display it :)

May 4, 2011   8 Comments

Two Birds… One Stone

Last night during the Friday Night Sew-In, I completed my entry for this week’s Iron Craft Challenge. The theme: money. I’ve never made a coin purse before, so I thought this would be a good time to give it a whirl.

My concluding thoughts are that I will most likely never make a coin purse again. If I do, I certainly will not be an idiot and buy the kind of purse clasp you sew on. It simply was too much work for me. I mean seriously Everything Mary, you call this a tutorial?!

If you find yourself in a position where you have to buy one of these miserable things, please hear this: You must make your pattern larger than the purse clasp, especially if you’re lining your bag. Otherwise, it will end up being too small. On my second try, I made mine 5/8″ larger than the clasp and that seemed to work fine.

I’m not in love with the finished product, but I don’t despise it either. I had to throw the little seagulls on there to spice it up. Everything is nautical this season, why not make my lame coin purse as well? Hopefully better sewing awaits this weekend :)

April 16, 2011   6 Comments

Overnight Tote Bag Project

On Friday, my good friend Claudia turned 30. I think every holiday in the last several years has included me making a bag of some kind for her (she has an accessory problem). So for this milestone, I chose an overnight tote bag.

Nautical was the theme for her gifts. It’s Claudia’s goal to own a lake house by the time she is 35… so I thought now would be a good time to start collecting treasures for it. Along with the tote, I got her a sailor knot bracelet,  a book called Lake Erie: A Pictorial History, these awesome boat shoe style wedges from Payless, and a striped sweatshirt with an anchor appliqué (tutorial coming soon).

I made the overnight tote bag using Simplicity Pattern 2274. When looking at the pattern, I was worried I’d bitten off more than I could chew… but it was actual quite easy to follow. Here are some things to note about it:

  • Jute webbing (used on the handles) can be found in the home decor section of your craft store.
  • Jute webbing shrinks and bleeds (if you have a red stripe in it), so wash it by itself and dry prior to use on the bag.
  • Tracing paper is not optional for this bag; there is no way to free-hand-determine where these pieces go.
  • It will hold more than a load of laundry. It is huge!

I will definitely be making one of these for myself. This is a wonderful pattern! I was also happy I finally found a project to showcase the blue circle and red stripe fabric on. I found it in NYC last summer and fell in love, but wasn’t sure what it would become. I think this bag was its destiny all along

April 3, 2011   2 Comments

Goldfish Catnip Toy

This week’s challenge for the Iron Craft was “Best in Show.” The only requirement was that your project be about animals. To see all of the entries, check out the Iron Craft group on Flickr.

For Christmas, my husband bought me a box of catnip to plant in our Aerogarden. Although gifted to me, this was really a present for his loves – Gracey and Layla. We planted it and have since been harvesting it and drying it out in the basement.

While growing the catnip was easy thanks to the Aerogarden, drying it was a bit more complicated. I left the hubs in charge and he did his research. This article on WikiHow outlines the processed he followed and just recently our catnip was ready to use.

To prepare the catnip for the toy, I simply pulled it off the stems with my fingers into a bowl and crunched it up in the process. I then made a little pouch of muslin to stick inside of my felt goldfish. I left a small opening to put the catnip in and sewed it up when I was finished filling it.

The goldfish pattern I used was from the book FaLaLaLa Felt. It’s a bit odd that it’s in a Christmas book, but I found it was perfect for this project. The only modification I made was enlarging the pattern – and filling it with catnip instead of stuffing. The embroidery was super easy and I was done start to finish within a 1/2 hour or so.

We haven’t given our cats any toys with catnip in them yet, so this was especially entertaining for them. They are really possessive over it and fight with each other. They are also all about laying on their backs and munching on the fish on their bellies. I left the goldfish catnip toy out while I went to work today. I can only imagine what the house will look like when I get home; they are probably high and destroying it as I write this.

March 30, 2011   5 Comments