Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

Creative Space

November 17, 2009

About a year ago we started renovating our tiny little garage, which is more of a shed than a proper car-storing garage, into a creative space for me.  Prior to that I was set up in our office, but it was right next to Oliver’s room and because he is such a light sleeper, I’d often wake him up if I was sewing.  So it ended up that I would be afraid to use my space.  Off to the garage I went.

Since then I’ve received a few emails requests to see the final renovations on my Studio and about the machines I have and use.

This is a before shot looking into the garage from two doors that swing open.

Garage Doors Open

Looking deeper into the mess garage.

Shelving Before

After tearing out the messed up drywall on the upper walls and ceiling and having it repainted.


A closer look at the curtain that divides the back (a 6-foot or so section with shelving for storage of gardening equipment, bikes, etc.).  I used an Ikea curtain and inserted the patchwork panel from Amy Butler fabrics.  (Word to the wise: don’t trust that the curtains are on-grain and use the fabric is the guide to insert the patchwork or you could end up with crooked curtains just like me.  DOH!)


My main work table which was made using the old desktop from the office, cut in half lengthwise and propped up with filing cabinets.  We installed kitchen cabinets from Ikea above for more storage.  The quilt on the wall is a gift from my dear friend Joansy.  We installed mirrors on the back wall to give a sense of space, for more light, and for me to be able to keep an eye on Oliver even when my back is turned to him.  (Notice the Evil Eye thingie in the entrance?  No bad spirits can enter here!)


Looking in from the side doors.  These are currently solid doors but will someday be French doors.  The rods hanging from the top of the doorway are to hold hangers (on the left) and freshly ironed shirts (on the right).  My cutting table is just inside the door in front of my ironing table.  To the right is an antique Chinese apothecary-type chest.


Looking out from the back of my studio to a small patio area.  Behind the green (bouganvillea) is Oliver’s Jungle Gym.


A shot out the side doors into our garden.  I was quilting my birthday present from Joansy.*

My Quilting "Station"

This is my combo embroidery and sewing machine, a Brother PC 8500.  I got it last year from an Angel.


This is my serger, given to me by my dear friend Joansy.  It belonged to her mother so it’s very special to me.


I don’t have a photo of my other two machines, but my backup machine is a Husqvarna Lily 545 that I bought a few years ago (actually, 7!  Just as Dear Hubby and I started dating).  My backup backup is a POS Singer.  Don’t buy new Singers, they suck (which is why it’s the backup backup!).

And that my friends is my creative space!

*Speaking of my birthday present, here’s a shot of it on the daybed in our office along with a couple of matching pillow cases I made.  There is one more pillow done and many more in the works to make it into a comfy, loungy space.

Day Bed


July 1, 2009

Why is it that I’ve been spending ALL.MY.TIME sewing for Oliver and none of it sewing for me?!

Yah, probably because it’s SO much faster to sew for him, it takes much less fabric, and it’s SO much cuter!  I mean, imagine me in a construction vehicle shirt!  NOT!

Remember about a year ago when I made him a little kimono shirt out of that adorable Naughty Monkey Japanese fabric?

Oliver's Kimono

I found that shirt in the back of his closet and tried it on him.  It still fit, although it was tight in the chest and arms.

So yesterday I made him a new one, this time out of a similar, but slightly different Naught Racoon Japanese fabric:

Summer kimono for Oliver

As with last year, he wouldn’t hold still long enough to get a decent modeling shot.

Modeled Kimono 2009

Then this afternoon I whipped out some ADORABLE (if I do say so myself!) soft-soled slippers ala Robeez using this tutorial (well, I had to size them UP for my Little Bigfoot who’s in a size 8!):

Soft-soled Slipper

The bottoms are made using some scraps of suede from Hubby (leftover from reupholstering a client’s chair or something):

Soft-soled Slipper bottom

Modeled Slippers

They were VERY quick and easy.

But NOW I’m going to work on something for myself!

More Sewing Love

June 22, 2009

This time we’re keeping it in the family. 😉

I saw the construction fabric on a sewing forum and about flipped when I saw it.  Actually I thought Oliver might flip for it, given that he loves all vehicles and heavy machinery and has ever since I can remember.  How two gay guys ended up having a capital-B boy is beyond me.  It definitely shoots my sociological training in the theoretical foot, that’s for sure.

Anyway, as soon as I saw this fabric, I ordered some to make Oliver a shirt.  I’ve spent the last two or three weeks putzing around with both of these shirts, obviously spending more time on the first one by adding the striped details.

Construction Shirt

The car fabric was also a Must Have!

Car Shirt

I even had some custom tags made (and learned that I can’t write the size in marker on them because it bleeds!).

OT Tag

Here’s a quick shot I got this morning of Oliver in his Car shirt.

Modeled Cars

Good thing I got them done when I did; I don’t think they’re going to fit for long!

Sewing Love

June 20, 2009

Today we celebrated our friend Lulu’s birthday, which gave me an opportunity to set aside a couple of shirts I’m making for Oliver and work on a gift!

I used this FREE pattern and some yummy Amy Butler fabrics (of course!).

Buttercup Purse

The inside, complete with magnetic snaps and two pockets:

Buttercup Purse Inside

We celebrated in a cute little park near her house which gave Oliver the chance to eat sand play on the jungle gym.

Here Comes Peter (and Paulina) Cottontail

April 8, 2009

Hopping down the bunny trail…

Now that I have that song in your head… 😉

This is the second year that I’m making Oliver and Makende a bunny for Easter.  I used this tute for this year’s bunnies and super cute flour sack fabric gifted from Allison!  Super fun and rather fast.

Hewo Easter Bunnies 2009

Makende's Easter Bunny 2009

Oliver's Easter Bunny 2009

A bunny is just a long-eared animal without a fluffy tail, so I had to come up with my own.

Bye Bye Easter Bunnies!

Fun times in the Sewing Studio!

A Quilt Of A Thousand Pieces

February 21, 2009

Begins with, well, the first piece.

This is what I have done after about an hour and a half of paper piecing (which I now remember that I despise!):


It’s laborious, requires a lot of up and down (sit to sew, stand to trim, walk to the iron, go back and trim, repeat), and it wastes a lot of fabric.  But I don’t know how else to accomplish this part of the block, so paper piecing it is!

Before I could start sewing I had to clean up my sewing room, which was still a mess from making DH’s Valentine’s shirt.  I hope to make one for me soon, so I needed to figure out a way to preserve the pattern pieces.

When I trace patterns from Ottobre to make stuff for Oliver, I use a thin sheet of pattern paper and then iron it onto freezer paper to make it sturdier.


One side of freezer paper is dull and the other is shiny.  When you iron the shiny side onto something (like paper or fabric) it adheres to it (you can see that’s what I’m using for the paper piecing above).  (Always put the iron to the dull side, otherwise you’ll have a mess!)

So I gave it a try for these pattern pieces too.


Worked like a charm!  And when the freezer paper wasn’t wide enough for the patter, I just fused a thin strip on to the width of the freezer paper and it was wide enough.


Then I just rolled up all the pieces and put them by my other patterns, ready for me to use again in the future (maybe sooner than I thought given how much I’m dreading more paper piecing!).

Happy Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2009

Unfortunately it wasn’t such a great one for us.  DH spent most of the day in ER due to what we thought were kidney stones.  But after about 8 hours and three CT scans, the doctor said it’s not kidney stones.  So DH has to go to the urologist on Tuesday to find out what is going on.  Until then, he’s hopped up on pain killers to control the pain.

The highlight of the day was having him open his Valentine’s gift.  He LOVED his shirt!  It was really awesome to see him so happy with it.  He’s going to wear it to our friend’s house for dinner tomorrow.  (He loved it so much he didn’t care that I accidentally put the buttons on the wrong side!  Ooopsy!)

Oooh, Aaaah

(I caught him as he was saying, “Oh my god!”)

He Likes It!

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!

Blah Blah Blah

February 11, 2009

That’s likely what y’all hear when you read me blathering on about sewing this shirt for DH.

So I’ll just give a quick update to let you know I sewed the side and arm seams and hemmed the bottom tonight.  I also tried it on, since it actually looks like a shirt now that it’s sewn together.  It’s a little big on me, but DH wears a size larger than I wear, so hopefully it’ll be just right on him.

Thankfully the basketball game (Thursday) and dance (Friday) I was supposed to supervise were both canceled so I have lots more time to finish the the shirt.  All that’s left is cuffs and buttons.

Now I’m going to bed (yes, I know it’s only 8:36pm) because I’m catching “IT”.  AGAIN.

Rippit, Rippit

February 10, 2009

No, that’s not the sound a frog makes…  It’s the sound of me pulling out stitches from a shirt!

When last I stitched I got a little bit cocky and ended up sewing a sleeve to the wrong arm scythe.  sigh…  I should have known better than to be pressing my luck when I was tired.

So tonight’s sewing session started with me ripping out that seam.  Thankfully it didn’t take too long.

And when I was done, I was 100% certain which sleeve went where (although that didn’t stop me from slipping the shirt on and making sure!).

Then I spent the next hour or so sewing in the two sleeves.  And not only are they sewn in, but they’re sewn in with flat-felled seams!  Flat-felling is a way of making seams so there aren’t any raw edges of the fabric exposed.  If you look at most off-the-rack shirts, they have flat-felled sleeve and side seams.

Just in case you’re interested (and let’s pretend you are so this blog post isn’t for naught!), here’s how you do it:

Begin by pressing about 1/4″ of the sleeve seam allowance toward the right side (without getting creases in the fabric, which I failed to do at the very top!)


Put the sleeve on the bottom with the body on top, right sides together and with the sleeve extending about 1/16″.  Match up the middle of the sleeve and the middle of the arm scythe and put in 1 pin.  (Take the time to make sure both edges more or less match (so not too much sleeve remains after you run out of arm scythe and vice versa.))  (And yes, I missed the edge of the yoke top stitching.  I’m trying to work on my perfectionistic tendencies!)


Starting at the pin (top of the arm cap), begin stitching about 3/8″ in from the edge of the body, working about an inch or two at a time and then repositioning (because you’re basically trying to sew together two U-shapes that are upside-down to one another.  Kinda tricky!).


Reposition so you’re sewing the other side (which means turning the shirt 180 degrees and using the other side of the presser foot as a guide), going from center to the outside, again about an inch or so at a time.


Press the inside seams so the sleeve seam (the one you folded over earlier) in toward the body (the non-pressed seam).  Then starting at one edge, sew 3/8″ from the seam on the body side of the shirt.  This traps the raw edges of the body within the pressed edges of the shirt.


This is what it looks like from the front.


And this is what it looks like from the back.  See, no raw edges!


It’s starting to look like a shirt, no?


Close-up of the sleeve plackets (um, sewn onto the correct arm scythe!).


Collar Woes

February 8, 2009

The shirt I’m making for DH has a stand collar.  The most difficult part about making a shirt (at least for me) is the collar, the cuffs, and the cuff placket.

But I had faith in Burda and just took the instructions for the collar one step at a time.

Unfortunately I still ended up with a collar that was about an inch too long on either end.


Thankfully I own a copy of David Page Coffin’s book, Shirtmaking.  Although it’s a very advanced book (he takes the reader through the steps of making their own shirt patterns!), there is a ton of information on how to construct the various parts of a shirt.

So when I saw that the collar was too big, I pulled out his book to see what he suggested.  His method for making cuffs and collars is amazing and results in a beautiful product!

First I pushed the collar so it was inside out again (it was already sewn onto the yoke and fronts of the shirt).


After the top and bottom collar pieces are matched up, I redrew the collar curve, but this time so it ends at the front edge of the shirt.


Then I rolled the front of the shirt back toward the back of the shirt, to get it out of the way when I sew the new collar seam.


I pinned the collar pieces together along the new seamline as well as on the bottom.  I’m only going to sew in about 2 or 3 inches along the bottom (which is why it’s important to have the shirt front out of the way; so it doesn’t get caught up in the collar seam).


I forgot to take a pic, but after it’s sewn, grade and clip the seam allowances and turn right side out.  Push the edges so they’re crisp and then iron.  Finally, fold under the seam allowance along the bottom edge of the inside collar.  I put some glue stick along the edge and then pressed it into place just to be sure everything stayed lined up.


Finally, edgestitch along all edges of the collar, being sure to catch the inside collar piece.  Voila!  A perfect (well, near perfect, I can now see some stitches I need to clip on the back of the inside collar!) stand collar!



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