Thursday, August 17, 2017

Book Launch Party!

Come meet me and get first crack at my new book, Crafting the Resistance: 35 Projects for Craftivists, Protestors and Women Who Persist. There will be samples from the book to be check out, books to get signed, donut holes to be eaten, and new friends to meet.

“Craftivism is a way of looking at life where voicing opinions through creativity makes your voice stronger, your compassion deeper, and your quest for justice more infinite.” ~ Betsy Greer

Spend your Friday evening with us and let's start Crafting the Resistance.

Let us know you're coming!

If you can't make it, try to catch me at the other events where I will be vending! No matter where you buy your book, I will sign it.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Purple Reins of Power Scarf

I had to include a small nod to Prince in the book. Now, I know that he isn't connected in everyone's mind to liberation and rights for all. But, for me, his music was a window into a world where it was OK to be a woman, man, or something people just didn't get.

I included tips in the book about how to create a very neat hemmed edge, even in a slippery fabric like polyester chiffon. I do have this warning, though - in general, more expensive materials will be easier to work with. No matter what fabric you use, make sure to test your stitching!!!! That is one of those things that is always true, but even more crucial when you're using a tricky fabric.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Freerange Pussyhat Symbols

One of my coworkers thought this looked like a bow and I spent about 4 hours brooding about it. It just goes to show that you can only see some things if you are looking for them!

This is practically a no-effort project, so, like the yellow rose pin, would make a good first project for a beginner.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Yellow Rose Pins

The yellow rose was a symbol adopted by suffragettes. It was connected with purity and truth, since it's the color of sunlight. This project is very, very easy and would make a pretty good introduction to sewing.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Nasty Nag Pouch

You don't have to use this pouch to nag yourself. It could also be used to "nag" other people. Fill it up with to-nag notes or simply use it to keep your daily supplies in order.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Jabot-Inspired Scarf

This scarf needs just a little lace and shirting fabric to come together. It's perfect for days when you want just a little more pep in your step and would also make a pretty good gift, in my opinion.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Reclaiming Our Time Socks

I was going to start a new sewing project for myself (or maybe finish one) today, but, instead, I spent a little too much time staring at Twitter and decided that I had to finish this pattern and publish it today.

These socks are knit from the toe up – with a twist. When the toe is finished, half of the stitches are put on hold and the top of the foot is worked. Then, the leg is finished. Lastly, the sole and heel are made. A little grafting at the top of the heel finishes the sock. This is all accomplished without seams, as stitches are picked up to join the top of the foot and the sole as you go.

Why put yourself through all of this? If you ever get a worn spot or hole in the sole or heel of the sock, you can simply tear it out and re-knit it. Also, in self-striping yarns, the color changes will be stretched out along the top of the foot, which is fun. If you want to save your prettiest yarn just for the top of the foot and the leg, you can work the toe, sole and heel in a contrasting color (or several colors, or in scraps).

In case you can’t tell, the message behind these socks is “we won’t stop.” We will march, speak and work to reclaim our time, and we have the everlasting, fabulous socks to prove it.

The pattern is available to purchase on Ravelry and I think there will be a kit coming up for it from KnitCircus Yarns.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PussyHat Bombs

I want to stipulate that these are 100% nonviolent bombs. Make them from leftover scraps and share them with the world!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

PussyHat Holiday Ornament

Now, I'm not saying that this SHOULD be a gift for your relatives at the end of the year who may or may not agree with you on politics. But, if you wanted to share, I would sure love to see photos of their reactions!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

PussyHat Pet Bed

This was a bit of an adventure.

You should know that the first fleece bed I made for my boys ended up being thrown away. I didn't make the fleece cover removeable and, eventually, there was just too much fur on it to make it something I wanted around. To get around that, this one has a pillowcase-style back.

One of the other issues with pet beds is that there aren't exactly a lot of pre-made inserts to stuff them. I mean, no one wants to buy a pet bed to fill a pet bed! So, I had to come up with a way to make it work.

First, I mocked it up with a plain, rectangular pillow as a filler. It looked more like a totoro than a cat. So, I decided to use the same pattern pieces to create a custom-fit fill piece. It was surprisingly very fun and extremely easy. I included instructions in the book for making the fill piece with a zipper. This is great because it's not always easy to judge how much stuffing you need in the bed. If it zips, you can always add or remove more stuffing. Also, frankly, stitching the last little bit closed when you have stuffed something isn't my idea of a great time. I'd much rather just close a zipper!

Speaking of stuffing, I wasn't about to invest in the amount of fiber fill that you would need to fill up this sucker. Also, I'm not sure if fiber fill would feel "solid" enough to the cats for them to use it. They're both a little old and seem unwilling to stand or sit on anything that's very soft or shifty. Instead, I raided my big bucket of sewing scraps and used that as stuffing. Fleece scraps are the loftiest and lightest, but I mix all of my scraps together - fleece, knit fabrics and wovens. I'm really happy with the results I get. Travis loves the bed and basically didn't get off of it for a few days when I first made it.

The ears stay relatively plump and flat because they aren't stuffed with stuffing. Instead, a smaller layer of fleece fills each ear. I have washed this particular bed twice and both times the ears just needed a good shake to look  nice again.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PussyHat Throw Pillow

This is a simple, fleece pillow, filled with a purchased insert. If you have never sewn with fleece, this is a pretty good introduction! I just wish Sabine looked a little more happy about it.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Quilted Mug Rug

This little mug rug was too much fun to make! If you're cutting a fabric and you definitely want to place a certain motif in a certain spot, there are a few options that can make that easier. Quilters call it "fussy cutting," but it's a lot less fussy if you have the right tools!

1) Template Plastic
2) Swedish Tracing Paper
3) Just regular old wax paper

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bleeding Heart T-Shirt

The "bleeding heart" shirt was one of the first ideas floated for Crafting the Resistance. I found it really fascinating!

It's a simple reverse applique using knit fabrics, which means that you don't have to get too worked up about finishing edges or turning anything under. Certain stabilizers help make this type of sewing easier, and those tips are in the book. But, I want to point out that I made this using just my trusty Singer 328k. You don't need a special sewing machine to create this project. You do have to be a little careful when trimming away the top layer, but that doesn't have anything to do with your machine.

For the heart fabric, I cut the sleeve off of a thrift store find. Searching for just the right color of red was fun!

I really can't imagine the heart motif on any tee other than plain black, but I don't wear a lot of shirts that aren't just "plain" something. What do you think? If you added the heart to an old band shirt or a shirt from a vacation, would it make the message too muddy and confusing?

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Mobility Ankle Pocket

This is a little, zippered pocket that you wear around your ankle. I was inspired to make it by tales from my friends who grew up in NYC. They all remembered stuffing a little cash into their socks so that they could make it home even if they lost their wallet or got mugged.

Socks aren't quite as secure as I would like, so I designed this little guy. It's probably too small to hold a cell phone with comfort, but you could probably fit your ID and some cash in there without too much trouble. Before you wear one on a long day marching, test it out and make sure it's not going to bind or chafe.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Security Waist Belt

This is a pretty simple project from Crafting the Resistance. I love it, though! I included tips on sewing stretchy fabric to a non-stretchy zipper and how to make sure the end of your zipper tape is as hidden as possible.

For this project, you should measure the intended wearer's waist and make your pattern piece yourself. This automatic customization is a fun feature, unless you don't happen to have your wearer around! If you're making a gift for a family member or friend and you can't measure them, search around online for sizing guides based on clothing brands you like. I've been really happy with Title Nine, in the past, and I've used their guides for this purpose. It is stretchy, so an exact fit isn't completely needed, but it's great to have a starting point.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Persistent Marker Message T-Shirts

This shirt was made possible by a marker-based discovery that BLEW MY MIND. They make fabric markers, now, that you can use to mark fabric permanently. Not just sharpies, but pens actually designed for that purpose.

At the best drag show I ever saw (at Bryant-Lake Bowl), one of the performers ripped apart their top T-shirt to reveal a scrawled message on the white tee underneath: "This Is What A Feminist Looks Like." The crowd went wild. This is a very easy, cheap, DIY way to take any message anywhere.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

No-Purl Pussyhat

Kids all go through phases where they don't want to wear hats. Our little model, Lila, is about 3 seconds away from ripping hers off in this photo. She's wearing it backwards, but she still looks super-cute (and only a knitter would know)!

This knitting pattern is super-easy, and involves nary a single purl stitch. I don't have anything against purls, I just don't invite them to the party when they're not needed.

The No-Purl Pussyhat can be made at any gauge, with any yarn, in any size. It's the only pussyhat pattern you need!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Tiny Hem Bandana

My niece, Maxine, modeled this bandana for me. It's the one with the tiniest writing and the fabric is called Tiny Nasty Woman, so I made it with a tiny hem. Check out the artist who made the fabric - she's giving all of the proceeds from this design to Planned Parenthood.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Street Casting

I wanted a photo of some women modeling my bandanas, and I happened to run into these ladies downtown at lunch. I think they're super-cute!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Nasty Dude Bandana

My coworker agreed to model the "Nasty Dude" bandana for me. The fabric pattern is by the same designer who made the Nasty Woman fabric. I think it looks pretty cool! The hemming method on this design can be sewn on a regular sewing machine with a regular foot. It just takes a little patience at the ironing board to look great.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Pussyhat Bandana

For this little number, I used Donna Druchunas's Resist Pussyhat Pussycat fabric. It's really fun, even though the cats look super unhappy.

I used a really easy way to hem in a sewing machine for this bandana. All you need is a satin-stitch foot and a little patience.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

No-Sew Bandana

Did you know that they make pens that allow you to create your own iron-on transfers?

I did not know. Now everything in my house is in danger of being transferred onto. Even the cats.

Bandanas are important for when you are on the march. Of course, you can use them as napkins or handkerchiefs. Once you get used to having one or two on hand, they start to operate like a towel in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. However, they can also help reduce the effects of tear gas and other non-lethal crowd control propellants. Wet your bandana down with water and use it to cover or wipe your face. Don’t wear contact lenses if there is any chance at all that you will be in this situation. It ruins the contacts, anyway, and is extremely painful for you, too.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Go Anywhere, Say Anything Messenger Bag

I really love this bag! I've used it every day since I made it. It's just big enough for my essentials - wallet, phone, etc., but it's still so light that I want to wear it even while playing arcade games with Dee. As a bonus, it fits inside the backpack I use when I bike to work. So, I don't have any excuse for leaving my keycard at home.

I designed it with a full zip across the lining, so if you toss it into another bag, or anywhere else, really, you don't have to worry about it spilling.

A tiny bit of hardware makes the strap adjustable, which is handy if you're making the bag for someone else or if you're just a tiny bit indecisive about bag strap length.

Full patterns and instructions for the Go Anywhere, Say Anything Messenger Bag will be included in Crafting the Resistance, which is due out in August!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Clarity Vinyl Tote

Today, I'm starting a series of blog posts about some of the projects from Crafting the Resistance. The first one is the Clarity Vinyl Tote, shown here in my very own backyard studio. Check in every Tuesday and Thursday until the end of August for more!

I had the idea to make this bag after we used clear totes at the Women's March on Washington.

I was a little afraid of stitching through heavy vinyl, but, in the end, it wasn't any harder than working with leather or any other tough material. I included tips, in the book, about managing it.

The bag was a lot of fun to sew and I also like the idea that you could use just about any color for the straps and zipper (assuming you could find matching colors!) Conquering my fear of vinyl was exciting, but so was discovering that webbing for straps comes in more than two colors. It's hard to see here, but those straps aren't black, they're a Navy blue that matches the zipper. You may have to hunt around a bit to find a match, but if you can, it really takes the bag to the next level. There's nothing wrong with fabric straps, but they do tend to look a little homemade.

It was important to me to use materials that I hoped anyone could get at their local fabric shop, and I managed to do that for just about every project, including this one. I love ordering online, thrift shopping and hitting my favorite warehouse store, but I know that all of those methods can take an investment of time that not everyone has.

If this bag appeals to you, I hope you take the plunge and try to make it! It's much easier than you would think.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Peplum Top, Take 2

I made a version of this top back in November. I wanted to try again, with sleeves. 

This print is a bit of a departure for me. I call it "chaos plaid," or "Prince went to Scotland and had a party plaid." I saw it at SR Harris and I just LOVED it. 

I bought a little extra to make sure I would have enough fabric to make the peplum a double layer, as written in the pattern. It's interesting - basically the peplum has what I would consider a full-size facing/lining. This means that you don't have to hem the admittedly weird and very curved peplum shape, and it also gives it a little more weight. I made no attempt to match the pattern anywhere, since it's so chaotic.

The original sleeves were nuts, so I redrew the armhole to match a knit sleeve I already like, and simply slapped in that sleeve. One of these days, I'm going to actually trace off a sloper version of my favorite dartless knit pattern, without seam allowances. As it is, now I spend a fair amount of time monkeying around with different seam allowances and it feels like a bit of a waste. 

I'm super happy with it! I finished the neckline with knit stay tape, turned and topstitched it, and the sleeve hems, with a coverstitch. This is a semi-slinky ITY-style fabric, so I wouldn't normally think of it working really well with darts, but the darts in the back look really good. Maybe that's because they're vertical? 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On Making Bras

I've raved about Beverly Johnson before. (Yes, that's a long post, but it's in there.)

I'm not sure if I would have tried sewing bras without her class on Craftsy. I have a brand/style of bra that I've worn for a long time and it didn't really occur to me to try making my own.

That is, until a random, 1970 bra pattern showed up among a box of Stretch and Sew patterns that I bought on Ebay. The pattern isn't Stretch and Sew (I don't think Ann wrote bra patterns), and I didn't talk about it on the blog because the sizing was, so I threw the bra away, in frustration. But, it wasn't that hard to sew, really. It was just enough to make me curious. 

I watched all three of Beverly's Craftsy classes, bought a kit at Bravo Bella Bras, a pattern from Sew Sassy and it was off to the races. 

My first bra fit pretty well. It had a few errors that I figured were from my inexperience. So, I tried again. Bra number 2 (we're not counting 1970, thank you), was AMAZING. I felt (and feel!) so good in it! 

I'm short and short-waisted and I'm starting to think that part of why I've always had a love/hate relationship with bras is that the underwire, inevitably, is just too darn long for me. That makes it dig into my side/underarm. Ouch!

For the last few years, I've worn bras that are foam cups and very stretchy. Really - now that I've worn another style, I'm realizing that I probably liked them just because the underwire didn't actually do much. The bottom band hangs so low on my body, even when I wear a somewhat smaller size, that the underwire doesn't even really touch me, if that makes sense? The shape of the bra forces the underwire to rest lower against my chest than my assets actually are. Everything just hangs, with the bra more or less sitting like a cover, not like a sling. It looks ok, but it's not as comfortable as actually having support. At certain times of the month, everything would get so sore that I would swear to never eat salt, again. But, it wasn't the salt. It was my bras. 

I've read advice about how molded foam cups aren't great for a lot of women. As in, “(your breasts are) going to settle at the bottom of the contour cup and you’ll going to have space at the top of the strap.” I've noticed this in my foam cup bras, but I just was too afraid to try a different style and get murdered by escaping underwires, again. 

As an aside, the expert above also says that you should replace a bra after 8 months. Let's do the math. She suggests not wearing the same bra 2 days in a row. Let's assume she has 2 "everyday" bras that she rotates through every single day and never wears another kind of bra. I was told, when I was growing up, that you should really have 3 bras you rotate. If her 2 bras last 8 months, that's about 120 wears each. If I use her same idea and do it with 3 bras, I would be replacing them all after about a year. Which, actually, is pretty much what I did when I was a teenager. 

A wardrobe of 5 bras should, using these numbers, last for about 20 months, or almost 2 years! Not bad for $10 to $20 per bra, once you get into the swing of it. That comes to just over $50 per year spent on bras. I don't know about you, but there have been years where I've spent a lot more than $50 on bras. Heck, there are months where I've spent more than that. Plus, if my weight changes and I need a new bra after 3 or 6 months, I'll be way less annoyed about it, if I make it myself. 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Ball Band Dishcloth

I'm still teaching at St. Louis Park Community Ed. Right now, our "Adventures in Knitting" class is going on. I like to let my students choose among a few projects so that they can have fun and learn at their own pace, instead of forcing everyone into doing the same thing, all of the time. 

I love the Ball Band Dishcloth for what I call a "second step" student. They should be confident knitting and purling, but maybe they don't have a lot of experience reading a pattern or following a pattern repeat. The dishcloth is just difficult enough so that they can learn those things, but not so difficult that it's discouraging. 

Plus, they're relatively cheap to knit and make great gifts. What's not to love?

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Crafting the Resistance

Those of you who follow me on social media already know this, but just in case you missed it, I have a new (co-authored) book scheduled to come out in August. It's called Crafting the Resistance.

Like many of you, I was a little bit consumed at the end of last year. When the chance came to do something, I grabbed it with both hands. I hope that, in a small way, my work will help other people resist, insist, persist, and enlist.

This work is very personal for me for many reasons. Here's one that I hope will resonate - Heather and I wanted to use many different skill sets to make the book as open as possible to all kinds of crafters. 

Craft books that cross lines from knitting to crochet to sewing and beyond don't always hit it off with crafters. There's a risk of not pleasing anyone as you attempt to reach everyone. It's a bit of a gamble, but I hope it works! 

Crafting the Resistance includes projects that use sewing, hot-iron transfer, knitting, stenciling, needle felting, wet felting, very basic quilting, and (a very little bit of) crochet.

The book is available for pre-order now and is set to release in August. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Stretch & Sew 1550: Fitted Basic Dress

Seriously, how could I resist this beauty? 10 darts - 6 on the bodice and 4 on the skirt. I think it was first released in 1967, but this is the 1974 version. 

I changed the neckline to make it more of a scoop, and finished it with French trim. I also swapped out the sleeves. This dress only went to size 40, and I wanted size 42 sleeves at elbow length. So, I used the sleeves from a different Stretch & Sew pattern. I've noticed that some of the earliest Stretch & Sew patterns max out at size 38 or size 40. Later ones tend to go higher. It's not a problem, but just something to keep in mind as you're browsing around for these patterns if you are in the higher size range.

I did a small FBA on the bust, which moved the front waist darts over a little. So, I moved the front darts on the skirt over, too, so that they would still line up. 

I'm really pleased with how well I put in the zipper. It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. I love the 1974 instructions - which basically say, "Do whatever it says on the zipper package." I interfaced the edge with 1-inch-wide knit fusible interfacing, then basted the seam shut, used basting tape to connect the zipper to the seam allowance, and topstitched all of the way around the zipper.

Check out my awesome ponte knit! In some light, it looks purple. In some light, it looks royal blue. I love it all of the time!

I wanted to be able to fine-tune the fit, so I put the back together, the front together, and put the sleeves in, flat, before I basted the side seams and tried it on. I ended up leaving the top alone, but changing the side seams on the skirt from 5/8 of an inch to 3/8 of an inch, to get just a little more room in the hips. 

I used fusible web, for the first time, for the all of the lower hems. This is mostly because my fabric/thread match wasn't perfect, so I was afraid that even an "invisible" hem would show. I didn't think that a coverstitched hem would look right with a pattern this non-tee-shirt-ish. We'll see how it holds up, but I like it, so far. 

Looking at it on the dress form, I probably should have raised the waist a little bit. For my next version, I'll try to put it 1/2 an inch higher, and see how that goes. Otherwise, I'm very happy with the fit!

The bottom of the skirt hits me exactly at the middle of my knee. I'm only about 5'4", so a taller person might want to lengthen the skirt. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Darts in Knits and Stretch & Sew 1505

I had a little of that wonderful bird fabric left over, so I made a Stretch & Sew 1505.

It's a lovely pattern! I did a small FBA and lowered the bust dart a little bit, and ended up with this unholy mess of a pattern piece. I've become a bit stingy with my Swedish Tracing Paper, so I use scraps to fill in when I do pattern adjustments. 

I promised myself that, if this shirt came out well, I would retrace the pattern piece so that I would have a "clean" copy to use later. So, that's what I did before I put everything back in the package. 

I love the scoop neck on this one and the neck treatment is great. It's not just an attached knit band - it's what Ann Person calls a "French Trim." Or, rather, it looks like she had to start calling it a "French" trim after she couldn't call it Chanel Trim, anymore. 

A lot of people who sew seem to be shy about using darts in knit fabric. So far, I've had good results as long as the fabric is 100% cotton or a double knit. I've seen darts in higher-end polyester/spandex blends in ready to wear, though, too. If you snoop shop at White House, Black Market and St. John Knits, you'll see a lot of darts.

The main things that lead to successful darts in knits, it seems to me, are:

1) Use the "right" fabric. It would be asking a lot for a very slippery or thin knit to hold a dart. It's not impossible, I'm sure, but I would test, a lot, before I tried it. Right now I'm saving darted styles for more structured fabrics and dart-free styles for more floppy/stretchy fabrics.
2) Make sure the dart point isn't too close to the apex. This is always important, but looks extra-bad on knits, in my opinion. The dart is sometimes a little more stiff than the fabric around it, so instead of just crawling up the apex, it actually sticks out, away from the body! Not cute.
3) I use a stabilizer under the dart as I sew it, then tear it away after I'm done. This allows me to both  not worry about the dart stretching out as I sew and makes sure I can stitch off the end of the dart without worrying about the machine tangling up. I keep a big pile of 1-inch strips of stabilizer by the machine, to make this easier. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Stretch & Sew

I have a bunch of these patterns. So, I made a spreadsheet. As you do. 

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Butcher Apron

Just a reminder that the Textile Center's garage sale is coming up. I picked up this pattern at their smaller sale last Fall. Fair warning - I'll be the one elbow-deep in the vintage patterns. I really do use them, too. Take that, person who asked me if I do at that sale. Then, she called them "paper dolls." Weirdo. She was probably a crocheter.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Pink Out Day

I just found out that today is #pinkout day! The high temp. here today will be in the 50s, and, believe it or not, that's waaaay too hot for me to actually wear a hat. So, I'm sporting a little PussyHat pin on my bag. I designed it myself and I don't know if I can share too many details, yet, but you should be able to get the super-easy instructions for it soon.

There's more information on #pinkout day here and here.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Work Friend: You didn't make your own leggings, did you?

Me: Of course I did!

I used Stretch & Sew 313, which is barely even vintage, in my opinion, since I was 14 in 1993, but I digress. 

Which means that I remember stirrup pants and I still hate them, so I made my leggings/tights stirrup-free but pretty long. 

I found a fabric at JoAnn's that is pretty heavy, has amazing recovery and was marked "workout to weekend." The pattern uses a cut-on elastic waistband, where you stitch the elastic to the inside of the tights, then turn it down and topstitch it in place. 

I used a tip that I read in one of the Stretch & Sew books for this - instead of pinning the elastic in place before you topstitch, just baste it down at the center and back seams (and side seams, if your garment has them). Then, you don't have to try to pull pins out as you're stretching your elastic to fit. 

Ann Person was on record as hating the look of zig-zag stitches on the outside of the garment, but I see this A LOT in activewear, so when my coverstitch refused to cover the super-thick elastic plus two layers of fabric, I just used a fairly wide zig-zag to topstitch. 

I hemmed the legs using the coverstitch, though. The leg and crotch seams were serged, with an extra line of straight-stitching inside the seam allowance of the crotch seam. 

It really is a fast pattern to put together, since it only has the two inside leg seams, the crotch seam and the waistband. 

And, yes, leggings aren't pants. But, they aren't supposed to be. If you really want to complain about this "new" fashion, it's been growing on us, as a society, for about 900 years. They're just more comfortable now that we have spandex.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Plain Black Skirt

Gym selfie, again. I know. 

This is Stretch & Sew 445, shortened quite a bit because I am short and I wanted it to hit around my knee and not mid-calf. It's a real workhorse pattern. There's probably a way to make the encased elastic waistband less bulky, but it doesn't bother me the way it is.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Old Rotary Cutter

One of my favorite sewing tips - use an old rotary cutter to cut out your patterns! I love tracing patterns, but I always kind of hated cutting them out with scissors. This is faster and also lets you see which areas might be a little tricky to cut without the help of shears. Nice! Thanks, Beverly Johnson!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

Proof. On the left, a sewing ham that smells like a 1970s basement. On the right, one that I bought online last year. The first one could seriously be used as a club. It weighs a ton! Bonus background Travis cat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flannel Pillow Cases

I picked up about 2 yards of this awesome black and white flannel at SR Harris and knew I wanted to make pillowcases out of it. Pretty easy. I measured the existing pillowcases I had, then kind of copied them in the new fabric. I serged all of the seams and did a topstitched hem.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fabric Glue Stick For Basting Fleece

I read this in Making Trousers for Men and Women some time ago:

"Whenever I mention glue in a sewing workshop or class, everybody laughs, as if I’m cheating or something. Apparently, the word hasn’t yet gotten out: Adhesives are a sewer’s best friend! They’re the tiny fingers you don’t have and the invisible pins that don’t ever need to come out. Admittedly, I’m quite restrained here. I use only a water-soluble glue stick and, recently, a neat ultra-fine fusible basting tape —so far, no spray adhesives or glue guns—but, really, you have to try these things!

Three quick glue-stick tips: Don’t use more than you need, which is usually very little...Don’t use the glue if it’s dried out and shrunken in the tube. (You can often resuscitate a shriveled glue stick by spraying some water into the tube cover, snapping it on tight, and letting it sit overnight—but this stuff is cheap, so get a new tube now and again.)"

On the strength of that recommendation, I bought one, and haven't used it until I was thinking about how to baste the hems for more pussyhats. I thought, why not? If I waste one hat, I'll have at least learned something. 

I'm happy to report that the glue stick worked really well on fleece! I had no trouble with my hems wandering around on me. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pussyhats From Shorter Pieces of Fleece

I'm basing these projects on this version of the fleece pussyhat. I was really happy with my results, but since I bought a yard (36 inches) of fabric, and the pieces for the hats are designed to be 20 inches long, that left me with a weird strip of leftover fabric, about 60 inches wide and 15 inches long. I always seem to lose at least an inch of fabric to the piece not being completely square, or because I sometimes cut too deep as I'm cutting, and I'm ok with that.

But I'm not really ok with that much waste. Anti-pill fleece isn't expensive, but it is 100% polyester, which doesn't biodegrade, and while it's not like I'm composting my cotton scraps, it bothers me a bit whenever I waste anything, but especially a synthetic fabric. 

I thought I'd try making a version of the hat with a cuff. I tried one where I only cut 11" pieces for the main part of the hat, and it came out really small, so I'm going to go ahead and suggest that 12" might be better. Test for yourself. The original pattern doesn't specify a seam allowance, so maybe she was working at a quarter inch, while I prefer a half inch, and that would make her finished hat an inch larger around than mine, which is quite a difference when it comes to hats. 

There's another reason to check your sizing before you cut out as many of these as possible - the cuffed edge seems to make the hat fit a little more snugly than the turned-and-stitched hem. That could be because of something I'm doing wrong, or it could be inherently less stretchy. I'm not sure. There are two lines of stitching instead of one, and maybe that is enough to make a difference.

This is how I did it. Cut one piece of fleece that is 12 inches wide and 15 inches long. This is the main hat. Cut another piece of fleece that is 23 inches wide and 4 inches long. This is for the cuff.

Once you have your sizing figured out, you can cut several hats at once from your theoretical scrap above: cut one piece that is 23 inches wide and then cut three 4-inch-long pieces from that. That leaves you with a piece that can be cut into 3 pieces for the main parts of hats. If your fleece turns out to be 59 inches wide when you trim the selvedges, you can always cheat a little bit and cut the main hats at, say, 11 and a half inches, then work with a smaller seam allowance. Or make two hats that are the size you want and a third that's a bit smaller, that may fit a child. You'll have to adjust the seam allowance for the cuff on the smaller hat, so that it will still fit nicely together.

Sew the side seams of the hats and sew the ends of the cuffs together so that they form a circle. Fold the cuffs, wrong sides together.


Pin or clip the cuffs to the hats, right sides together, lining up all raw edges with each other. Stitch with a half-inch seam. This makes for a really bulky seam, with three layers of fleece together, so go slowly and consider using a walking foot, if you have one. I don't have a free arm on my sewing machine, so I like to stitch anything to do with the hem or cuff from the inside of the work, as in this example and this one. You can serge this edge, too, but I would baste it on the sewing machine first, because it's so much bulk.

Flip the cuff down and look at which two seam allowances will be covered by the third one when the hat is worn. Trim the two that will be covered, to reduce bulk at the seam. Topstitch the cuff in place, using a stitch that stretches, like a zigzag or a three-step zigzag, if you feel fancy. Finish the "ears" of the hat by topstitching with a straight stitch.

To be honest, I like this method of construction more for two reasons - it uses up smaller bits of fabric and it's easier to make the bottom edge look really good. I struggled a bit with keeping the hem even on my other hats. I did my best, but I can see that they're not perfectly level. It's much easier to do this way, in my opinion. I know that some people use spray adhesive to stick their fleece hems in place before stitching, but I don't have any! Maybe someday, I'll try it.

I know I'm repeating myself, but when you are finished, clean your machine, even if you don't usually clean up after every project. Fleece tends to shed a bit and it can gum up your machine worse than most other fabrics.

More ideas for fleece scraps:

- piece them together and make a pet bed. Even if you don't have a pet, most shelters will accept beds/ blankets for their animals. Check with your local shelter before you sew!

- cut them into smaller strips/pieces and use them to stuff everything from pet beds to dolls.

- find a pattern that doesn't take a lot of yardage. Mittens and hats, especially for kids, are often really low-yardage. Again, just because you don't have a kid doesn't mean you can't sew for them. Check with a local charity to see what's needed.

- stuff them into a bag and feel guilty. This is my most common response to scraps, but it's not very fulfilling.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Making A Bunch of Pink Hats! + Tips for Working With Fleece

After the Women's March on Washington, my mama asked me to make her a pink hat, aka a pussyhat. * 

I'd already given away the extras I made before the march, so I needed to go buy some fleece. 

The waste I had left over the first time bothered me a bit. Each hat needs a strip that is 20 inches long and between 11 and 13 inches wide (I have a big noggin and I like to wear my hair in a bun, so, yes, my hat is 13 inches wide, when I cut it). 

If you take that out of 1 yard of fleece, you're left with weird scraps that are less than 16 inches long. Not good for a lot, although I may try piecing some scraps together into yardage.

So, I bought 1 and a quarter yards and cut it up like this: one strip that's 13 inches wide, 2 strips that are 12 inches wide and 2 strips that are 11 inches wide. Give or take. Fleece is bouncy, so cutting it is like corralling a wild animal that is made out of marshmallows. Checking the math: 13 + 24 + 22 is 59, so once you cut the selvedge off a piece of sold-as-60-inches fleece, you should have just enough. 

If the world were perfect, I would only need a piece of fabric 40 inches long to do this, but let's face it - I'm not perfect at cutting and neither are the ladies at the fabric store. So, that extra 5 inches is a little insurance for all of us, for shrinkage in the wash, and to give me something to test my machine with. 

So, I laid it all out, folded in half, and marked 6.5 inches in, 12 inches from that, and 11 inches from that, with chalk. 

This left me with 5 big strips that I then squared off and chopped into 20-inch-long pieces. I then folded them, right sides together, and stacked them to take upstairs and sew.

Folded in half. Ten pussyhats ready to sew!

Bonus Tips:

- When you're sewing a bunch of ears on hats, it can slow you down to mark where the ears should start and stop. Cut a post-it (or even just regular paper) into the size you want and use it as a template.

From the book, Wild and Wonderful Fleece Animals - "Fleece doesn’t ravel, so you don’t need any seam finishing. This fact alone makes fleece an easy and quick fabric to sew! Never press the seams with an iron, it could melt the fibers. Instead, finger-press the fabric to open the seams. You can also place a seam under a wooden block—or a heavy book, such as a dictionary—to smooth it and help it lie flat."

When you are finished, clean your machine, even if you don't usually clean up after every project. Fleece tends to shed a bit and it can gum up your machine worse than most other fabrics.

*She might not wear it now that she knows that, but I'm going to make her one, anyway.