Tag Archives: Sewing

making, weaving

Last week, I did a bunch of sewing.  I made leggings and a t-shirt for Anne, a baby blanket, two pair of shorts for Evva, and a dress for a one year old.  Some of these makings were prototypes I was experimenting with, and I had children and friends to give them to, but the dress (and bloomers) for the one year old, I made because I loved the look and wanted to see how difficult it would be to make (not nearly as hard as I thought).  But, I have no one to give it too!   I loved this little dress.  I’ll hold on to it (maybe sell it?), and see what happens.


Then, Hythe came up to me this weekend and said, I want to make something.  What do you want to make?  I want to weave, he said, and brought me a craft book with a picure of a loom set up inside a shoe box.  So, I found a shoe box, put in some warp yarns and gave him a large darning needle and yarn.  He loved it.  He made his own pattern of yarn colors, and started out with the ambitious plan to weave a blanket.  I told him the loom would only allow each piece to be a few inches wide, so he said he would weave lots of them and I could sew them together.  I think he soon realized that a weaving the size of a coaster was good enough, and satisfying enough.  I don’t know anything about how to take handwoven things off of a loom, or how to finish them, but I did my best and tied everything together.  Hythe trimmed up all the ends and he was so proud of his little woven coaster (or hot pad, as he calls it).  I have been using it to set my tea on for the last two mornings, and he likes to see it being used.





sweet pink shirt, a little boy, and spring




I was looking for a skinny pants pattern for Anne who wanted them to wear for her uniform for school, and I came across a new pattern company, Simple Life Pattern Company (and they are having a sale this week!).  I loved this cute shirt, so I bought that pattern too.  It was instantly a favorite.  I sewed this one up in an organic cotton jersey from Organic Cotton Plus.  I love pink, and I love this shade of pink (I made a little cardigan for myself from the same fabric).  But, this shirt is just perfect.  I made it long sleeve so that it could be worn in winter.  Evva loved the twirl of the peplum and the open back.  It will be in heavy rotation in her wardrobe, and that makes me happy.  Not all my sewing projects, despite the initial gladness the garment excites, make it into regular wardrobe rotation.  I will definitely be making more of these – and dresses too!

Of note this week – the crocuses (or croci) and snowdrops are blooming!!  My favorite sign of early spring.  The sign that gives me hope each year during the cold, gray days of winter.  And, bees were visiting these flowers!  Even though we don’t keep bees, I like that we have flowers for so many months of the year that help feed them.

And, Steven found a water gun from the summer and when I found out (at this moment) I had to explain that he could not shoot in the house – but it was awfully cute.  He also put on a set of glow bracelets from this weekend.  He was wearing a t-shirt I made for Hythe, but that now fits him.  Steven always liked that lightening bolt fabric and used to ask  (in his baby talk) to make one for him.  I never did get around to it, but when I pulled this out for Steven to wear the other day, he said “You made it for me!!”  Yes, baby, I did.  He was so happy.


glow sticks



sewing pattern organization





pattern org

I am working on getting my sewing area organized.  I have a very small area of our relatively small house for my sewing – and I have 2 sewing machines and a serger, plus loads of fabric, patterns, and notions.  I got more fabric, patterns, and notions from my grandmother over the last few months.  I have also inherited my grandmother’s sewing table (as well as one of those machines mentioned above) which we have no room for at present.  It is waiting in my mother’s house for when we might have room for it – we are hoping to build another room onto the house in the next year.

Anyway, I decided to start with my patterns.  I have “vintage” patterns from my grandmother, recent “big 4″ patterns, and quite a few indie pattern designer patterns.  I have children’s patterns, adult patterns, dresses, tops, pants, skirts, aprons, bathing suits.  The collection was in many bags and boxes scattered around my sewing area and office.  They were hard to locate or appreciate and they were getting more a more beat up every time I went through them. I bought 3” 3 ring binders and heavy duty page protectors, and I started sorting the patterns into age group (or size, I guess) and type of garment. I can now store nearly all of my patterns in these binders on the bookshelf in my office.  And, the binders can set upright as soon as I (or William) change the shelf height of one of the shelves!

For the pdf patterns I own, I keep them on file in my computer where I can sort them by type of garment, where they came from, etc.  I try to print my pdf’s at a local print shop with a large file.  Those patterns, I store in a corner of the sewing area, rolled up.  I usually print out instructions and trace the size I need on tracing paper – so those I am storing in the 3 rind binders.  It seems like a good system so far. I have over 100 patterns, but it seems like a reasonable amount – well, maybe slightly over reasonable, but that’s ok. I got a lot from my grandmother (cool vintage, crazy 80s and 90s – pretty cool Pucci, right?!), and I try to source indie patterns and small businesses.  So, I feel good about the amount of money I spent and how it was spent.  Now, I feel they are more organized and I can appreciate and use them much more!

This is such an improvement from my previous system, and I am happy with it so far.  Now, how to tackle the fabric stash??

quilt for the little man









with Frasier

None of the women in my family quilted. My grandmother was an amazing sewer/seamstress, but she did not quilt.  Apparently my great-great-grandmother quilted (I have a hexagon quilt she made when my father was born on our bed right now), but I did not know she quilted until earlier this year.  But, my childhood neighbor (nearly like an aunt to me) did quilt.  I did not realize she did until I was an adult, and she made beautiful quilts for each of our daughters when they were born.  Those quilts are still on their beds.  Nita inspired me with her beautiful, artistic quilts.  She also encouraged me to try an quilt, lending me books to read about it.  But, I have been very slow to get into quilting, feeling it was a bit too overwhelming of a project to launch into – it seemed to take lots of planning, fabric, steps, and precision.

Then, just after Christmas, I was at a slight loss about what to sew next.  There were a few projects I wanted to do, but I was without one of the machines I needed/wanted for the project (it is being repaired) and I didn’t really have the desire to fish out fabrics to experiment with for other projects.  I really wanted to reduce the fabric stash I have, seemingly stuffed in every nook and cranny in my sewing rooms/mud room.  I spied the fabric I bought last year to make a quilt for Hythe and decided to get to it.  Last winter I decided to try to make quilts for the children.  I made two very small knotted ones for Anne and Evva and thought I might try a real quilted quilt in a real bed-size for Hythe.  Hythe sat with me last winter as I browsed fabric collections and helped pick out this one of blues and whites with little accents of red and orange.  I ordered the fabric, washed and ironed it, but then set it aside to work on other projects.

So, it felt great to get it out, and I had an idea for a simple quilt of panels of these fabrics.  I cut them into strips and cut them again, somewhat haphazardly, into rectangles.  Then, I sewed them back into strips and sewed the strips together.  And, instead of sewing I used my serger (new from just before Christmas).  It was surprisingly quick and easy.  I also used an old toddler demin shirt that had some Latin embroidery on it.  I loved the embroidery and it worked well with the quilt.  On one corner of the quilt, there is the front pocket from the shirt.  I love working old clothes into quilts, and I especially love working little pockets in.  It seems like a little secret.

I decided to back the quilt with a simple gray fabric and edge it with some brighter color.  The orange of the binding coordinated and brought out the bits of orange in the quilted fabrics.  This is the first quilt I have really quilted, and I was very happy with how it turned out.  Hythe was too.

I finished hand sewing the binding down one night after the children had gone to bed, so I slipped the quilt over Hythe in his sleep.  He woke up under it, was delighted, and has not let any other blankets on his bed since.  I can tell he feels love through that quilt, and that is special.  I overestimated the time and precision needed for quilting (at least for this type of quilt), and I really enjoyed making it.  And, I really loved how wonderful it made Hythe feel to have this made for him.

holiday makes

I sewed up a few things for holiday gifts this year. Not as many as I had in mind at first, but about a week before Christmas I told myself it was ok if I did not make all the things on my list, and I believed myself!

First, I made Seamwork Mag‘s Denali vest for my brother-in-law.  Each year the siblings and in-laws in William’s family draw names, and I drew my hard-working farmer brother-in-law.  I knew I wanted to make something for him and saw the vest.  Perfect.  I ordered the fabric and got the pattern printed.  I am not a huge fan of pdf patterns (patterns only available to download and print yourself), but most independent patterns that I love come as pdfs.  They either have to be printed on your home printer as 8×11 pieces of paper that you have to line up and tape or glue together, or you have a print shop print off the pattern on large paper.  I usually, now, choose the later because I can get our local print shop to do it for me for a few dollars (and that is totally worth the time and tedium of taping all those sheet together).  I picked up the printed pattern and the fabric arrived and I set to it.  This fully lined vest came together quickly and I was very happy with it, so I put it aside for other projects until Christmas Eve night, when I went to put in the (expensive) snaps.  And of course, everything went wrong from there.  Every other snap seemed to bend, but I got one side done.  Then, when I went to put in the male snaps, nearly all of them just punctured holes in the vest and pulled right out.  I was very frustrated and was left looking at a ruined garment and gift.  Kindly, my brother (Will) who had come by, getting out of the house he was staying in while Santa was visiting, was very positive and helpful with suggestions of what to do to fix the problem.  He and William found some tools to help get the remaining snaps removed from the vest.  I gave up the idea of gifting the vest for Christmas, but planned to fix it and deliver it sometime later.  William and Will suggested I cover the strips of holes with fabric and put in a zipper.  That is what I did.  And, it turned out great.  I gifted it on the 30th, and I think he liked it!




Pajamas are my other annual gift to our children.  This year, I made pjs for all but Steven.  Steven has so many pjs (some gifted, many hand-me-downs) that his drawer over flows.  Even though I did not make him any, I pulled out a pair he got last year for Christmas that were too big at the time, and he was happy.  I made sets for the other three over a few nights, using organic cotton jersey and waffle fabric from a warehouse sale at Spiritex.  I like making pjs because I can experiment with my sewing.  I self-draft the tops and use an Oliver+S pattern for the bottoms (sews up quickly and is comfy).  I can try new stitches, use my serger, do some color blocking, experiment with hem finishes, etc.  These were quick projects, and I hurried through them as well.  I gifted these on the 23rd, just before we went to the Polar Express (where they were supposed to wear pajamas).  And, just like years past, but still surprising to me, the children were absolutely delighted by them.


hand sewn




It is pretty well know that I like to sew.  I try to work on some kind of sewing project everyday.  Often at my machine, but sometimes it may be cutting out a pattern or fabric.  I love that I can get a garment finished in a relatively short amount of time.  Machine sewing allows me to whip out a simple shirt or dress or shorts in an hour or two.   Rarely do I hand sew.  My grandmother taught me to sew, starting by hand sewing dresses for my Barbies.  The second thing I ever sewed was a bright yellow jersey dress with a gathered skirt and tank top bodice for my Barbie.  I hand sewed every seam and hem.  It felt like a long and arduous process.  I wanted to use the machine and get it done faster, but my grandmother thought I ought to learn hand sewing first so I could learn, slowly, how sewing works, how stitches work, and how fabric behaves.  She did not put it in so many words, though.  But, I definitely gravitated to quicker sewing when I was older.  I love using the sewing machine.  If I have to stitch down a collar or bodice lining by hand, I will, and I usually enjoy that slower process of sewing, realizing that I get a better product when I do spend a little more time and effort, but the machine is so convenient and quick.

That said, I made a tank top with a pattern from Seamwork Magazine the other day.  I made it from an organic cotton baby rib which I dyed with goldenrod from the meadow by our house.  I realized I am not a huge fan of baby rib for garments (shirts at least) because it stretches just a little bit too much.  It is such a soft fabric with a little bit more weight than a jersey, but I don’t think I’ll use it again.  I loved the tank top anyway, though, because it fit well and it was a little more complex than a normal tank top (pleat in the back, gathered straps in the front, and a curved hem).  I decided to make another but to do it more slowly.  I had just read Natalie Chanin’s Alabama Stitch Book and thought I would like to try some of her techniques.  I would hand sew the hems and do a reverse applique.  I used an organic cotton jersey which I dyed with marigold, and the reverse applique fabric was the same but dyed with black walnuts.  I used a dark brown top stitching thread for the hems and applique stitches.  I changed the hem to be straight because I wanted to the look to be a little more different from the first tank top.  I was really pleased with how it came out.  And, I really enjoyed the slower process of hand sewing my hems and applique.  I will definitely be doing this again – probably next on a skirt (I need to make a plan).

One of the reasons I thought about doing more hand sewing recently was because the end of summer can bring some of the best weather of the season, and we had the best of it over the last few weeks.  It was warm, not too hot, much less humid and with a slight breeze.  I just did not want to sit in my sewing room/mud room/laundry room to sew.  I wanted to be on the porch, in the breeze, with a beautiful view and a glass of wine.  With this mostly-hand-sewn project, I got it all.  It was fun!

There is a rhythm to hand sewing – a meditative quality that makes it go by quickly – and when I can stay in that meditative state (i.e. not thinking too much about what I am doing, not over analyzing my stitches and state) I find that I sew the most even and beautiful stitches.  Like my grandmother tried to teach me – hand sewing this was been a good practice to understand sewing, understand fabric, and understand how stitches work.  And, to get a beautiful garment at the end – wonderful!

tank top


retreat (to sew)

A few weeks ago, I went on a sewing retreat with 7 other women.  I was the youngest by at least 20 years.  And, that was fine because these women were wonderful – kind, fun, and expert sewists.  We got away to a gorgeous lake in the mountains, only an hour from my house.  We retreated to get all the time we desired to sew, uninterrupted.  We also did not have to cook or clean for 3 days!  I spent much of the time sewing in the open, airy, and light space the retreat center provided.   But, I also got out each day in those beautiful mountains to hike, run, and take a dip in the lake.

I came to the retreat with projects ready.  First up was a romper (pattern by Figgy) for Evva.  I bought this pattern because I wanted to make the romper for Evva, but I’m not sure I’ll ever use it again (maybe for the dress, though).  I’ve found that Figgy patterns are not always right, or the explanations don’t make sense, or the construction techniques don’t make sense.  Sometimes they are unnecessarily complicated.  I simplified this pattern a little, but it still took quite a while to make it.  But, Evva loves it.  She wears it quite a bit and says it is very comfortable.


Then, I made a pair of shorts for myself (pattern by Colette) with a great hemp/cotton blend that feels a bit like a linen.  I love these shorts.

picture by Hythe

I made a quick pair of shorts for Anne, so she would have something for herself from the retreat.



One of my goals to was to make a shirt from some cheap (and on sale) material that I found in Hancock Fabrics.  For some reason, I really liked the fabric.  And, I found a pattern in my Seamwork collection that I thought would work well.  I got the pattern cut out before I went on the retreat, and then sewed it at the retreat.  It was such a quick and fun sew and I learned a bit about making v-neck tees.  I love this shirt!  But, I want to hem it a little bit more.


I then made a shirt from a quilting cotton that had fishing lures all over it.  I made it with my nephew in mind, but thought Hythe could wear it until we get to see him.  But, my mom (who was helping with the children while I was gone) was still at home with my nephew when I got home, so I gave the shirt to him as they were driving away.  So, I don’t have any pictures of it.  But the pattern was this one by Oliver+S – made short sleeve.

Finally, I cut out a t-shirt for myself, but did not sew it up until I got home.  It was self-drafted, a quick sew, and I love it.  So comfortable and looks good.  I used a new-to-me technique from the ladies at the retreat to make the collar cuff.


Retreat.  I had not gone off by myself, for myself, in over 10 years.  It was so nice to have all the time of the day to call my own.  To do with what I wanted.  It was a pleasure.  I have the same feeling sometimes when I go to a yoga class.   It is something I want to do more often, and highly recommend.  But, I was also very happy to get home to William and the children, my garden, my home.




I have a few sewn things that I finished over the last few weeks.  I haven’t posted about them yet, but will do them all now.

First, I made a pair of jeans!  I have been planning to make jeans for about a year, when last May I decided to try it.  I bought a Craftsy course by Angela Wolf (after hearing a podcast interview with her) about how to make jeans.  I bought her pattern sometime around Christmas, as well as the denim she recommended.  Finally, in March I started tracing and cutting out the pattern, then making a muslin.  The first muslin I made, I was having to make so many adjustments that I realized that if I made the jeans 2 sizes smaller, I would have fewer problems.  So, with a smaller size, and only a few adjustments, the muslin fit pretty well.  Then, I started on the jeans in denim.  They were much easier than I thought they would be – and actually a lot of fun.  A bit of a puzzle with lots of room for artistry (not that I could put much art in mine at this point).  The top stitching was fun and a good practice.  I used two spools of thread, twisted, to make the thread thick enough – and increased tension a bit.  Next time, I will use a top stitching thread.  I forgot to use stabilizer when I was top stitching the pockets, so they don’t look as good as they should.  I also was not totally pleased with the fabric.  It was too thin and too stretchy.  It has 3% Lycra, I think.  Next time I will choose a thicker denim with a little less Lycra (and I may have found that fabric at a local fabric store).  Also, the pocket linings did not go far enough down to look right.  The lining sticks out a bit.  Anyway, despite these problems, the jeans fit and they are very comfortable.  I used two buttons from my grandmother’s collection on these.




Next, I made Evva a sweatshirt that matches (or goes with) the one I made for Anne a few months ago (I must not have posted it – her’s is black French terry with the mustangs in teal and off-white) – mustangs with an organic cotton knit fabric.  Oliver + S pattern.  You can’t see it in the pictures, but there is a front pocket that is a neat detail.  Evva loves it.

evva shirt


Finally, I made shorts for each of the girls and myself.  I love this pattern from Purlbee.  It is easy and the shorts are cute and comfortable.  Also, I used a bias tape maker I got from Purl Soho which makes bias tape making SO MUCH easier.  I love it!






a sewing legacy




A few weeks ago, my aunt was working to clean out my grandmother’s sewing closet.  She called me to see if I would like her to send me the things she was getting rid of.  All the sewing notions and stuff that my grandmother had accumulated over her many years of fine sewing.  I said to send it on with my mother when she came to visit next (thanks! Sandy).
And so, last week my mother arrived and brought in (small) box after box filled with sewing tools, notions, and “stuff”.  I put the boxes on the porch and started sorting.  There were boxes of buttons, boxes of zippers and ribbons, boxes of needles (hand sewing and machine), boxes of hem and bias tape, snaps, hook and eye closures.  There were several boxes of metal bobbins with thread still in them.  There were things that I did not even know existed (like “perfect waist maker”).  There were 3 measuring tapes!

I did trash a few things like worn our elastic and some of the many, many rolls of hem tape (since I rarely use it).  I felt that most everything might be useful.  I found some real treasures, too.  I’ve been wanting to get a wing needle (which basically makes bigger holes in the fabric) to try hem stitching, and there was one!  And, lots of cotton and linen bias tape which is hard to find now.   Also, all those pins and needles!

I was a little overwhelmed with the amount of things and how to organize it all.  But, sweet Evva swooped in and took over the piles of notions I had put on the porch.  She somehow understood where things should go (zippers together, other closures together, buttons together, ribbons together, hem tape and bias tape together) and how to do it neatly.  When she had a question about something she would ask, but she even encouraged me to go off and make supper and do other work while she put everything back together.  I ended up with 5 neat little boxes (unfortunately, 2 of which broke almost immediately – they are functional, but will be replaced soon).  While she was putting everything away, I mentioned that I would never need to shop for supplies for sewing camp anymore.  Evva got excited about sewing camp and has been asking about it (so have some mothers of friends of our girls).  I was reluctant to do it this year, but maybe I’ll try to squeeze it in somehow.  After all, I do have all these great supplies to share!

I feel blessed to have inherited this trove of sewing supplies.  They make me think of my grandmother.  To wonder what her plans were for some of the things she had.  What did she make with that purple thread left on that bobbin?  Where did that silvery tennis racket ribbon come from?  What were her thoughts about how to use it?  And, how would she use some of those notions?  I would love to have a lesson from her about what to do with some of it.  I am mostly a self-taught sewer, so my techniques may not always be correct.  I wish I could get a short lesson from her every once in a while.  But, I am satisfied to have her “stuff”.

kids clothes week – my attempt

Last week I participated in Kids Clothes Week where you are challenged to spend one hour a day sewing clothes for your children.  The idea is to find one hour in your day to do a little bit of sewing.  That might be cutting out a pattern, cutting fabric, ironing, or actually sewing a garment together.  And, if you stick with an hour a day for a week, you are likely to end up with at least one finished garment.  Last KCW challenge I did pretty well.  I won’t say I did not do well for this challenge, but I did only finish one garment.  I made Hythe a shirt.

He had been quietly longing for me to make something for him and I had him in a quilting store looking for some marking chalk about two weeks ago.  I found what I wanted and was at the checkout counter where a few bolts of a beautiful fabric with horses painted on it were leaning.  Hythe insisted I get some of the fabric for Anne and Evva.  Then, we turned around while they were cutting that fabric to find that just behind us was a bolt of the most fabulous fish print.  I knew right away this one was perfect for Hythe.  He has been asking to go fishing nearly everyday since spring has arrived (and fishing season has opened).  While we were looking at that fish fabric, Hythe said he would like me to make him something to wear from it because, “Then the fish won’t see me when I am fishing.  They will think I’m other fish and I can catch them.”

So, I made the Sketchbook Shirt from Oliver + S for him – a pattern I already had in my stash.  It turned our really well and he loves it.  He wore it as soon as I had finished it and was quite proud (just the reaction I hope for when I present a hand-made garment).  It also fit well and looked good (I was a little uncertain, thinking it might be too loud).

He has not gone fishing in it yet, but probably this weekend it will see some more use by a stream or a pond.




I think brother wants one next!