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Laptop and Bamboo Tablet Cases Quilted from Jacket Scraps

Having nice things means taking care of nice things. Not only am I a klutz, I also have a penchant for cramming way too many things into my shoulder bags. That means that things in my life get dropped and smushed. Since I like my nice things to stay nice, I decided to make cases for my laptop and bamboo tablet. An added bonus to this project was finding another way to use this fabric that I’m completely obsessed with and getting to look oh-gag-me-adorable with my matchy-matchy jacket, backpack, and technology cases, as well as getting to use scraps from my oh-so-awesome South African wax print that I just used to line a different jacket. I didn’t write this up as a pattern because everyone’s technological-item-of-choice is slightly differently sized, and there are dozens of other patterns and tutorials out there for similar projects. However, I thought I would share …

1

10 Tips for Sewing With Leather

Leather is the oldest material used for clothing and yet is always au currant. It can seem like such an exotic material to work with, and while it certainly can bring its own challenges, those challenges can be overcome. Here I share some tips that I have learned through my experiences in sewing with leather (for some recent examples and inspiration, see my Cooper backpack, my giant leather snail and its smaller friend). Some of these tips I was taught in the PopUp Britex class where I sewed my burgundy leather clutch. Preparing your sewing: 1) Lay the entire skin out on a table and lay all of your pattern pieces out on the leather before cutting to ensure that they all fit. Remember that leather doesn’t have a grainline so you can get creative with your pattern piece placement. 2) You can use a fine tip permanent marker to draw on the …

2

Presidio Purse Sewalong: Inserting the Zipper

If you want to insert piping at the edges of the zipper tape, sew it on now, following the “how to add piping” part of the sewalong. The way that this zipper is inserted, part of the zipper tape is visible, so your piping won’t show up much if it is the same color (like I did with mine, unfortunately. Turns out black on black doesn’t show up a whole lot.). If you are using a separating zipper, which is easier because you don’t have to worry about twisting your zipper tape, unzip the zipper all of the way. Pin it to the top curved part of the bag with the teeth facing down so that the teeth are more than 1/2″ away from the top of the bag. (Teeth facing down means both teeth are pointed away from raw edge of the bag and the right side of the …

14

Grey Plantain with Distressed Binding

While most American sewing bloggers seem to be caught in an arctic chill, preventing them from wearing anything but the most warmest of outerwear for blog photos, I’m over here in sunny (northern) California, where I’m dreaming of snow, and puffy coats, and thick wool sweaters, and warm boots and stuck in 70F weather that is going to cause an alarming drought later in the year. (Although I will admit that my delicate west coast self would freeze her toches off if I were to actually get what I’m dreaming about!) I thought that sewing up a lightweight long sleeve tee would be a good compromise – it feels like winter wear because it’s grey and long sleeves, but it’s actually pretty lightweight. This simple long sleeve tee is the Plantain by Deer and Doe, available for free. I love the elbow patch detail on this shirt – something little that does add …

2

Presidio Purse Sewalong: Marking the Fabric

There are several different places to mark on this pattern to help you get everything lined up perfectly and several different ways that you can make those marks. In short: – notches on Front/Back, Front/Back Lining, Insets (plain or gathered), Bottom/Sides and Bottom/Sides lining – cut lines on Front/Back (for inset insertion) – handle/anchor placement guides on Bottom/Sides – pocket placement guides on Back Lining – stitching guides on Small Pocket To mark notches, you can snip in, triangle out, or chalk. To mark cut lines and placement guides you can trace with wax paper, cut the pattern and chalk it, or use tailor’s tacks (How to mark tailor’s tacks). You will want to the placement/stitch lines to be on the right side of your fabric. The cut line can be on the right or wrong side. Now to go in to detail: First, we need to mark the cut …

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Presidio Purse Sewalong: Choosing Fabric

Let’s get this sewalong started! [If, during this post or any other in the sewalong, I don’t cover your specific question, just ask! I’m happy to continue updating these posts as I go so they are as comprehensive as possible.] The first step is choosing fabric. In this post, I’ll talk through fabric choices for the body, lining, and interfacing.  Above, I’ve put together an introduction to the Presidio Purse and what you can expect from the sewalong. Body: The pattern calls for canvas, upholstery fabrics, denim, corduroy, or heavy twills for the body of the purse. You want something sturdy. If you are a beginning sewist, I recommend canvas, denim, or a heavy twill as cotton is easy to press (unlike many upholstery fabrics) and corduroy requires working with a nap. The thicker and stiffer your fabric is (i.e. the less drape it has), the more the purse will …

10

Presidio Purse Pattern Release

Let’s start this year off with a bang! My Presidio Purse pattern is live! Find it in my pattern store and keep an eye on the Presidio Purse page on my website for a summary of all things Presidio Purse as they are posted. There’s so much in store for this coming year – I’ll be finishing graduate school, moving to Seattle, and getting married (although I’m not yet sure in what order). This should be a great year for me and an exciting year for SeamstressErin Designs and I’m thrilled to start it with my first big sewing pattern launch. What is the Presidio Purse? My pattern testers said: “This is the perfect purse for a woman on the go! It will stylishly hold everything you need for a day out, while the pockets inside keep important items handy. The handle length is perfect for throwing over your shoulder …

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Announcing the Presidio Purse!

    For my December Minerva Crafts Network Project, I’m thrilled to show off my Presidio Purse. I was carrying my purse for the first time yesterday and plopped it down on the counter of a craft supply store while I dug out my wallet to pay for some last minute stocking stuffers. The gal behind the counter exclaimed “What a wonderful purse! I’m a total purse junky. Where did you get it?” I was pretty stoked to be able to say “I made it! The pattern is mine and I will be releasing it on January 1st!” A pattern release, you say!?! Yes, I say!! Check back into my website on January 1st for the official release of my Presidio Purse pattern. I’ll have some gorgeous photos of gorgeous finished purses from my wonderful pattern testers. And over the course of January, I’ll host a full step-by-step sew-along. The pattern …

25

1959 Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress

Well, I’m a day late to my own party with this dress. But I think I have a pretty good reason. You see, I sat down to write this post, showing pictures of my Bow Neck Thanksgiving Dress (for my final contribution to my Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong), on the day after Thanksgiving. I found a quiet corner amidst the chaos of a house very full of family.  And then Adam asked if he and I could get a bit of alone time together, maybe go out for a cup of tea, because I had been in the kitchen cooking for two days straight (one day to bake 5 pies, one day to cook our Thanksgiving meal), and he thought a spot of fresh air away from the chaos would be good for both of us. Apparently, the offer of tea was just a ploy, as he took me to …

25

Pink Silk Retro Bow Neck Blouse Simplicity 2154

Is this outfit too much? No, don’t tell me. I don’t want to know the answer. I am overcompensating with this outfit. You see, yesterday was not a good day. It poured down rain on my ride into work and the crotch of my rain pants split half way through the ride. So all the water that was puddling in my lap leaked into my crotch. And when I got into work and took off the failed rain pants, it looked like I had peed my pants. Not a good look and certainly not very comfortable. Fortunately, a co-worker had a pair of sweatpants I could borrow (thanks again Alex!). Unfortunately, they were the exact same color as the sweatshirt I was already wearing. So I ended up in a navy sweatsuit. (Oh, and I was wearing an oversize beanie because my hair was due for a wash and I …

18

What Was I Thinkin’ Bow Neck Blouse

While I don’t listen to much country music, this bow necked blouse started as a straight up Dierks Bentley song. As in “What Was I Thinkin’?“. I thought that making a loose lace blouse would be a fun piece to layer, dressing up or down. But this really felt like a hot mess. I hated the shape, I hated the sleeves, I hated the placket in the front, I hated the peter pan collar (although I always think I’m going to like it) and I hated the fact that the bow wouldn’t lie straight! I bought McCalls M6648 because it was on sale. And it had a bow. And I thought it was kind of elegant. I don’t know if my choice of lace was what killed it, or if it’s just not my style. I like the blouse the model is wearing, but a close look at the line …

14

Little Birdie Bow Neck Blouse

My first blouse for the Bow Neck Blouse sewalong (oh yeah, there’ll be more!). A little birdie told me to make this one (groan. bad joke, I know). It’s the bow neck blouse pattern from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I’ve made it before in black rayon blend with big red roses (the same fabric I used for the shirtwaist dress from the same book). The fabric is a quilting cotton that I bought at Joanns quite a while ago. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, and normally don’t like quilting cottons for garments, but it was just too cute to pass up. I made several small changes to the pattern for this go-around. Since I had previously sewn the pattern in a lighter fabric with drape, I went up a size to account for the quilting cotton. I also changed the shoulder shape …

12

Just Some Flannel Pajama Bottoms

Yep, the post title says it all. I made a couple pairs of simple flannel pajama bottoms.  I really had no plan to sew pajamas any time soon, but, as I was putting on my pajamas the other night, I had an Oh-My-Goodness-I-Can’t-Stand-This-Any-More moment. See, most nights I wear oversized t-shirts and flannel pajama bottoms. And I’ve been steadily wearing out my pajama bottoms until I’ve been down to one pair. One cute pair with little pink pigs all over it that I happen to have made in high school. That was a long time ago, and it showed. And I didn’t realize it bothered me until all of the sudden it really did! The only interesting bit about these pajama pants I drafted is that they have pockets. Not that one really needs to use pockets while one is sleeping. But they’re nice to have for the Post-Wakeup-I’m-Still-Such-A-Zombie-I-Can’t-Get-Dressed-For-The-Love-Of-All-That-Is-Holy-Give-Me-Caffeine period …

12

Paisley Pashmina Anna Maxi Dress

This is my first/second Anna dress from By Hand London and I think I may be even more in love with it than the second/first. The second/first was silk, and lined, and hemmed by hand and took forever and I feel so elegant in it. And this second/first Anna fabric came from the super sale table, is an unknown fiber, and looks like a grandmother’s pashmina scarf. But I can actually wear it on a daily basis, and I know I’m going to! I wore it for the first time last weekend for a trip to Guernville, CA. We took part in a lovely gathering of folks to celebrate our friend’s 40th birthday, staying in a set of cabins “downtown”. It was a block from Johnson’s beach, where we took these photos, a couple blocks from a cute town center, and a quick drive to the redwoods where we went …

20

Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong

I don’t have enough blouses in my wardrobe. As I’ve been looking around for sources of inspiration, I find I’m drawn over and over to blouses with bows at the neck. Subtle bows that add a little spot of interest to giant floppy bows that take over the blouse, I want them all. To encourage myself to make some new blouses, and to inspire other sewists to join me, I’m hosting a sewalong! I would LOVE it if you would join me! What do you need to do to take part? Sew a blouse or dress with a bow at the neck during the month of November! The details: For the month of November 2013 (that gives you a couple weeks to plan your pattern and get your fabric!) I’ll be hosting a Bow Neck Blouse Sewalong. What does that mean? On my blog, I’ll be sharing inspirational photos of blouses …

How to Sew a Picnic Set

It may be turning into crisp fall weather in the rest of the northern hemisphere, but here in San Francisco we’re getting our little bit of Indian summer sunshine. We’re covered with fog during summer months, but right now we have a lovely dose of warm weather, perfect for picnics! To celebrate the warm weather, I sewed a picnic set of tablecloth, placemat, and napkins. If your weather is already turning, this tablecloth is a great size for a kitchen table and the placemat and napkins can be used for any dining table. The image above shows the suggested dimensions for how to sew a tablecloth, placemat, or napkin. For the tablecloth, cut it into the largest square that you can cut. Fabrics differ in widths, usually ranging from 45″-60″, sometimes larger for upholstery fabrics. Measure the width of the fabric from selvedge to selvedge and then cut that length …

2

Little Stuffed Leather Snail

My giant leather snail had babies. I had some scraps left of the leather coat that I used to sew my giant size Shelby the Snail pattern by Abby Glassenberg and decided to sew a couple of snails that were actual pattern size. I gave one to my soon-to-be-nephew Burke (along with the Northwest Baby Sweater I designed for him) and have the other earmarked for another friend’s baby. I thought that leather made for a great baby gift – sturdy, appropriate for teething, and quirkily unique. I sewed the snail on my sewing machine using a denim needle, stitching the stuffing holes closed by hand. On the giant snail, I sewed everything right sides together, as instructed, so all the seams were hidden. For these little guys, I decided to sew them wrong sides together so the that all of the seams are visible, making it a bit more …

2

Burgundy Leather Clutch

Last week I went to another PopUp Britex. The first one I attended was about textiles. This one was a leather workshop, with Melissa Fleis, an SF  fashion designer known for being on Project Runway Season 10. It was at THE NWBLK, a gallery and workspace. I hadn’t been inside before, although I often ride past their big black warehouse door.  Being nosy, I peeped around a bit before the workshop started and saw some really interesting furniture and lighting in their display space. The workshop started with Melissa giving a bit of her background and a discussion of why she loves working with leather. She walked us through the the supplies available to us, and then gave a demonstration of cutting out a rectangle of fabric using a pattern, marking the leather, punching holes for stitching, and assembling a clutch. Britex supplied a lovely burgundy cow hide for us. They …

4

How to Sew a Tote Bag

I can never seem to have enough pretty tote bags. I use them to carry groceries and stacks of library books, to organize things in my sewing room and in my car. Tote bags are simple to sew with just a few rectangles of fabric. They are perfect for any season – from carrying Halloween candy to holding ski gear or beach wear. Follow this simple tutorial to make your own pretty totes! You can cut the tote bag out of all the same fabric or a different fabric for the outside and inside. I love using medium-heavy weight cotton, but you can use a variety of fabrics. If you have a pretty fabric you want to use but it’s not very heavy, use it as the lining or add a layer of interfacing. Cut the front/back at 15″ x13″ (2 fabric and 2 lining), the base at 13″x9″ (1 …

7

Fall for Cotton Sewalong – 1976 Style

For the Fall for Cotton Sewalong I’ve sewn all four pieces from my mom’s 1976 McCalls pattern. I shared them piece by piece (read more about the skirt, pants, camisole, or jacket). Here, I show them fully styled together! I thought that there was no way I was going to wear the individual pieces from this collection together. I thought it would be cheesy and matchy-matchy and old-lady-styled and just really not me. And oh boy was I wrong! I am completely digging the way these pieces look together and I most definitely forsee further wearing of these exact same outfits. My mom and her sister bought this pattern in 1976, when it was released. They both sewed pieces from it although my mom couldn’t remember what they looked like. I was hoping to replicate the pattern cover styling for my photoshoot, but I don’t own espadrilles, I don’t know how to …

4

Fall for Cotton Jacket Top

For the Fall for Cotton Sewalong I’ve sewn all four pieces from my mom’s 1976 McCalls pattern. I’m sharing them piece by piece with modern styling (how I’ll actually wear them) before the big reveal of a full-on 1976 photoshoot. This is piece 3 of 4. I’m am so happy right now I’m riding on a cloud. I’ve been jumping up and down around my apartment (terrifying my cats, of course). I’m gushing happiness to anyone that will listen to me. I’m inspired and silly and giddy and excited. I feel like me again in a way that I haven’t felt in years (thank you, graduate school). Of course my emotional high was kicked off by a phenomenal time at Sewing Summit. But every day this week since I’ve been back I’ve gotten a piece of good news towards my dream of being a Seamstress (with a capital S). I …

1

Batch of Baby Booties

There are a lot of babies being born to people I know these days. While I like to make something involved for the babies of the people most important to me (like knitting a baby sweater for my step-sister), I like to have a selection of small handmade gifts on hand  for more casual acquaintances. I love gifting handmade because of the love given that is clearly a part of the gift. In January I made a giant batch of baby shoes from Simplicity 2278 (see that post for more details on the pattern) and I just replenished that stash. I decided to use all View B because I enjoyed sewing it the most the last time around, and using all the same pattern made it easier to streamline the sewing process. I dug through my bag of scraps and put together slippers with scraps from my Robson Trench Coat, Mad …

24

Silk Floral Print Anna Dress

I sewed the Anna dress from By Hand London out of a lightweight silk to wear to a girlfriend’s wedding this weekend. It consumed my every free moment last week since I didn’t leave nearly enough time to sew it (since I had a stomach bug on the weekend I had planned on doing most of the work.) But I got it done, and I adore the result! To make sure that the dress would work before I cut out my silk, I sewed the same version of the dress out of a cheaper fabric first, but that version is currently only basted together because, as soon as I saw that it fit and I liked it, I switched to the silk dress. (I will finish it soon). I originally had other ideas for what to wear to this wedding, but the more versions of this dress I’ve seen pop …

Sewing World Magazine July 2013

I received a free copy of this month’s Sewing World magazine in exchange for a review on my blog. They are celebrating a redesign and were looking for bloggers to get the word out. While I am used to getting my sewing community and inspiration from blogs, I must say that I really enjoyed having a print magazine to flip through. It almost made me want to sit in a bubble bath and paint my toes while I read it, just like I did as a teenager when I used to read lots of magazines (all of whose titles I am now too embarrassed to admit). In fact, I had already read on the blogs of A Stitching Odyssey and By Hand, London that they were featured in the magazine so it was great to see the printed articles! The projects were simple, suitable for beginning to intermediate sewers. I …

3

Silk Tunic Blouse

For Mother’s Day this year I made my mom a tunic blouse, just like her Sew Grateful for Mom blouse. This time I used a lightweight undyed silk that my cousin bought for me in Bangladesh years ago (Over 10 years old and it has been sitting in my stash since. That definitely makes this a stashbuster!). The silk was divine to sew with. I got such crisp seams, it pressed beautifully, and yet it still has some drape. It seems like every time I sew with silk I’m surprised by how much I love working with it. Note to self: you like silk. A lot. The back and sides have slits. It is interesting comparing this blouse to the exact same blouse in rayon. The silk does have a bit of drape, but nowhere near as much as the rayon. One noticeable difference is that the sleeves look shorter …

9

How to Make a Guy’s T-Shirt Fit a Girl

This is how I take in a guy’s tee shirt to flatter a girl (i.e. this is what happen’s when I co-opt Adam’s old shirts, as I did for this bleached star shirt). This isn’t about majorly reconstructing a massive shirt to make it tiny. This is about taking a male shirt that almost fits and making a few tweaks to make it more flattering for a female. Adam’s pretty much the same size that I am, and he wears form fitting shirts, so I could wear his old tees without any changes. However, just a few little changes make the shirt much more flattering.   The first and most visible step is to change the length and shape of the sleeve. Men’s t-shirts typically have longer sleeves that are straight across. Women’s tees typically have shorter sleeves that often curve over the arm. To get this shape, cut off …

1

Dancing Skeleton Circle Skirt of Awesome

Circle skirts make for a pretty simple project but are perfect for showing off a fun fabric of which you have ample amounts. It turns out that I had ample amounts of this awesome cotton print of dancing skeletons wearing converse tennis shoes that I found at the thrift store. The absolute best part, that I didn’t know until I had the finished skirt hanging in the closet and happened to not close my closet door before going to bed – IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!!!! I totally freaked out when I saw that to the point that Adam was scared something was seriously wrong but it turns out I was just totally excited because it was totally awesomesauce! I put in a straight 1.5″ waistband and a lapped side zipper. I opted for it to sit a bit below my natural waist (my natural waist is quite high) so …

12

How to Underline Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat

Underlining a coat like this has two major perks: It gives you the chance to really spice it up as your underlining and bias taping will be visible. It also opens up the fabric options you have for the outer fabric as you can hide ugly or scratchy wrong-sides or add weight to a not-quite bulky enough fabric. I think the underlining on my Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat is the best part and I wanted to share what I did to make it easy for you too to underline your own trench. Most of what you’ll be doing is the same as the instructions included with the pattern, so I will just be highlighting what to do differently. The major difference is that you will be finishing the edges of your pieces before sewing the coat together instead of as you go. This means that you don’t have to constantly re-thread …

8

7 Tips for Sewing with Novelty Fabrics: Metallic, Painted, and Heavily Embroidered

Novelty fabrics like painted, metallic, or heavily embroidered fabric can add great pizzaz to your sewing projects, but they can be quite challenging to work with. I’m currently working on a coat with the painted fabric whose scraps I used for my Radial Purse. Here, I’ve assembled a few hints for working with these fabrics to help you make your perfect final product. 1) Change your needle often during your project. Sewing through novelty fabrics can rapidly dull your needle and dull needles can cause a variety of problems from skipped stitches to snagged fabric. 2) Test wash your fabric. Since the embellishments can have different washing needs than the fabric, set aside several different scraps and run them through different wash treatments to ensure that both fabric and embellishment can withstand the wash settings. 3) Use a press cloth when ironing. Some people swear by silk organza press cloths, …

2

Pink Linen Trousers with Pintuck

I made these trousers using Simplicity 3688, the 1940’s reproduction pattern, out of pink 100% linen. I’ve previously made them in khaki. The pattern is so simple and easy, there’s really not much to say. I made these for the sole purpose of coordinating with my pink brocade peplum top so I could have a new outfit for a weekend in Vegas. However, for anyone that’s been following my Me Made May progress on Flickr (or read my summary post from the first half of the month), you’ll notice that I’ve worn these several times already this month. And I’m likely to continue wearing them as they are comfortable, easy to coordinate, a good weight for this time of year, and pink.