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My Favorite Skirt – How to Make a Long Skirt from Recycled Jeans

This really is my favorite skirt. I’ve been wearing it just about weekly for 7 years? 8 years? I had an amazing time teaching people at Maker Faire how to make this skirt. The shape is flattering on all body types (Seriously. I have yet to see a gal that doesn’t look fabulous in this skirt) and allows for great ease of movement. (Seriously. I ride my bike and climb trees in this skirt). Added bonus – I  met my boyfriend husband while wearing this skirt! The basic idea behind this skirt is that we are opening up a pair of pants and setting in four triangles of fabric into the openings. You Need: 2 pairs of recycled jeans. 1 needs to fit you at the waist. Scissors Sewing Machine Thread We start with the first pair of pants. These needs to fit you at the waist. Cut off the entire …

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How to Invisibly Bias Tape Arm Holes or Necklines

UPDATE 2017: I’ve updated and greatly expanded this tutorial so pop over here to read the new one! This is a simple technique for invisibly finishing arm holes or necklines using bias tape (seen above on the arm hole of my Pink Peplum Brocade Top. For the technique used to pipe the neckline, click here).

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5 Tips for Sewing Piping to Neckline

As I show-off in my Pink Brocade Peplum top, piping can be a really fun way to spice up a neckline. It can add an extra bit of polish or help bring out a contrast color. You can find a great variety of colors and sizes of pipings in the upholstery section of your fabric store. Here I have an selection of tips for how to get the perfect piping insertion! 1. Pink the raw edge of your piping. Upholstery piping often comes on a very wide tape. You don’t need all of the width to get a stable insertion and you don’t want that extra fabric stiffening up your neckline. While you can use standard shears, I recommend trimming it with your pinking shears because it makes the edge of the piping tape less likely to show through as a crease on the right side of your fabric. 2. …

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Pink Brocade Peplum Top

This weekend Adam and I went to Vegas. I had dreams of a cute little cocktail dress out of this beautiful pink brocade that I had in my stash. I pictured something tight, short, sexy, and, well, Vegas. And this is what I ended up with. A fairly modest, slightly peplum top with a belt and bow and vintage flair. Oh well. I made the pants to go with it, but I think I may need to make a little pencil skirt instead to make the ensemble a little sexier. I started out by making the skanky dress I had in my head. It was mostly self-drafted, but took cues from Gertie’s Wiggle Dress (which I have previously made to great success). But when I put it on, it looked horrible. Even Adam, who will only ever say nice things about how I look, couldn’t find anything nice to say. …

Grainline Archer Shirt-Dress

Another Monday, another Archer. I sewed this out of a heavy rayon challis in forest green that was a gift and in my stash. The fact that it looks a whole lot like the shirt on the pattern envelope was something that escaped me until writing up this blog post. I decided to add 9″ to the pattern so that it could be a dress. The challis was a dream to sew with. I immediately want to go buy a bunch more, just so I have a fully stocked stash (ha! right! like I need anything more in my stash!). I sewed view B of the Archer by Grainline Studio, with the gathered lower back. This shirt-dress is so amazingly comfortable. I want to live in it! The only problem? Without a belt, I think it looks like I’m wearing a nightgown. So please, dear reader, tell me truthfully and …

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Clean Your Sewing Machine with a Pipe Cleaner

Seriously. The title says it all. Clean your sewing machine with a pipe cleaner. It’s the best way that I have found to get lint out of a bobbin case. I give my bobbin case a quick swipe with my pipe cleaner every time I change the bobbin. Doesn’t take but a moment and it really gets the lint out! I’m serious you guys, go try it, and quit looking at me like I’m crazy! I mean, I know I might be crazy, but this pipe-cleaner-bobbin-case-thing isn’t an example of that!

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Archer Blouse from Bangladeshi Fabric

I’ve made button front blouses with collars and placketed sleeves before but never this well. This blouse is perfection. Seriously. I set myself the goal of sewing perfect things in 2013 and this makes it high on the list. I’m in love. (My new blouse is shown here with my curtain panel skirt.) The pattern is Archer by Grainline Studio. While not typically a fan of oversized blouses for myself, I just had this feeling in my gut that this blouse needed to be made, and I was right. I like it both tucked in as well as draping open. As I was sewing it, I had fears that it would look a little too 90’s (flashback to Fresh Prince of Bel Air), but I think it errs on the side of elegant-hippy-chic and that’s fine by me. I cut the blouse out of a lightweight woven cotton that my …

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Sonja of Ginger Makes on Sewing and Style

For the latest installment in guest posts from sewing bloggers on their connection between Sewing and Style, I have the spunky Sonja of Ginger Makes. She does a great job of introducing herself, so I’ll just say that I love the fact that her giant smile is a constant accessory to her sewn creations. Without further ado… Hi, guys!  I’m Sonja, and I blog about sewing, knitting, and, well, making things, over at Ginger Makes.  I live in NYC with my husband and two pugs, and I work in the film/TV industry.  When I’m not sewing or blogging, you can usually find me wandering around the city or snacking (both on a good day!). I like to describe my style as “tomboy chic”, and that’s only half tongue in cheek!  I spend most of my time in skinny trousers, raglan tees, and slouchy sweaters, but I love having a chance to …

How to Draft and Sew a Sleeve Facing

Have I mentioned yet that I’m in love with my Mad Men Joan dress? So much so that I wrote a tutorial for drafting sleeve flounces so I can spread the love. The only problem with inserting these pretty arm flounces onto a dress sleeve is that when the flounce flops around, as it looks so beautiful doing, you are liable to catch a big ol’ glimpse of the seam where you sewed the flounce onto the sleeve, and that’s not as beautiful. So, sleeve facings to the rescue!

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How to Draft Sleeve Flounces

For my Mad Men inspired dress, I simply had to have flounces on the sleeves, which I drafted myself and added to a commercial pattern. I’ve written a tutorial so you can do the same!

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1942 Hollywood Patterns Shirtwaist Dress

I now present to you my 1940’s dress for Sew for Victory. It’s from Hollywood Patterns (No. 855), from May 1942, endorsed by Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox. Honestly, I’m not that enamored with this dress. I was talked into the fabric, a quilting cotton, by a woman at the fabric store but I really should have stuck to my guns and gone to another store to find a nice rayon. When I first envisioned this dress, I wanted it to be something I could wear to seduce Sam Spade. I feel like it ends up making me look like I should be out back mucking out a chicken coop. I settled on working for the war effort as a compromise. This was the first time that I have used an original 1940’s pattern (not a reproduction). I thought it was so fun to pull it out of the envelope …

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Ziggy Stardust Inspired Outfit

When I heard about Tempest’s Bowie Sew Along I immediately knew that I had to do something inspired by Ziggy Stardust for it is the best album ever made. Period. Of course I had a billion other ideas inspired by all sorts of other incarnations of David Bowie (including plenty inspired by The Labyrinth, for David Bowie in that movie is my definition of sex god, but I’ll save that discussion for another time), but I had to pick one for now . (If you want to get inspired, and you really should, go check out Tempest’s Bowie Sew Along Inspiration Board). I ended up making my take on a knit one-arm one-leg jumper that Bowie wore during the Ziggy Stardust tour. I made a one-arm t-shirt from my own pattern using stripes of three different fabrics. For the skirt, I folded over a piece of the red fabric for …

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Cake’s Tiramisu Dress

I think Cake’s Tiramisu dress pattern is great. It’s a wonderful blend of fun and flirty and functional. The construction instructions are clear and the sizing allows for fit on many different bodies. Unfortunately, I just don’t like how it looks on my body. I had misgivings when planning the dress but I so badly wanted it to be cute on me like it is on so many women that I went ahead and sewed it. I finished the dress and, just as I thought, it looks good on every body type but pear, and I happen to be a pear. Oh well.

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Pink Pleated Maxi Skirt

This pink pleated maxi skirt was a quick-and-simple project that wasn’t actually all that quick to sew up. But I’m happy with the time spent on it as I think it will be a wardrobe staple. Ok, so I admit that sheer striped pepto-bismol-pink maxi skirts aren’t wardrobe staples for everyone. But it will be for me!

Apple Bottom Skirt

I found this fabric recently on super-sale and couldn’t pass it up. I know that it’s probably better suited for a jumper for a 6-year-old, but I don’t care. And since it’s kitschy, I had to make it scream kitsch. So I took the fuschia skinny-wale corduroy with green apple print and added green corduroy accents to the hem, pockets, and belt loops. Oh yeah, and I added gigantic apple pockets to the bottom.

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Roses on Black Shirtwaist Dress

I made this vintage-style shirtwaist dress form Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. Like my bow-neck blouse from the same book (and made from the same stashed cotton-rayon blend fabric, incidentally), I thought I didn’t like it as I was finishing it up. However, I find myself having worn the dress several times already, so, fortunately, my initial opinion has been proven wrong!

Yellow Twill Skirt

This is a wearable muslin for a pattern I drafted for a trouser skirt. I know that “wearable muslin” is a contentious term, but that’s exactly what this is and I think it serves a purpose. Since I drafted the pattern myself, I need to wear it around for a bit to see how the fit works with use. I know it works if I’m standing still in front of the mirror, but I want to know about fit while sitting, riding my scooter, walking around.

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Red Scalloped High Waist Pencil Skirt

I added scallops to the pattern I made from Gertie’s New Book to make a red pencil skirt, just in time for Valentine’s Day. (Yes, I just posted this picture a few days ago, but that was about the blouse and this is about the skirt, so you get to see it again!) While I’m always drawn to patterns, I think that a solid colored pencil skirt (or a few!) will be a nice addition to my wardrobe as I can easily pair patterned tops with a solid bottom. And the scallops give it a bit of personality that it might otherwise lack.

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Bow Neck Blouse

I made the bow neck blouse from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I was frustrated and disappointed by the time I finished the blouse. But now that I’ve worn it a couple of times, I wish I could take back those emotions, because I disagree now. I really like the blouse! The fabric is a cotton-rayon blend (I’m guessing) and a gift from a friend. For being such a simple blouse, it took me quite a while to sew, mostly because of the bound buttonholes. I also had to futz with the neckline quite a bit to keep it from choking me. In all, I lowered the front of the neckline by about an inch and changed the shoulder seam a bit. This left the gap in the neckband in the back larger than I might have liked, but wearable. The buttonholes are bound. They turned out okay, but …

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Sew Grateful For Mom Blouse

 My sew grateful project is for my mom. Who better to show my appreciation than the woman who sewed my clothes as a kid, let me raid her fabric stash when I decided I wanted to start sewing as a tween, and taught me how to read a pattern and do things right when I finally had the patience to ask for help as a teenager.

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Baby Shoes Galore!

I got a little carried away this weekend cutting and sewing baby shoes! I decided to participate in the stashbusting sewalong and baby shoes seemed like a good way to use scraps, January’s stashbusting theme. I sat down on Saturday with my friend Beth to catch up on Season 7 of Doctor Who and while we were watching I went through my scrap bin and just kept cutting and cutting and cutting.

Maddie of Madalynne on Sewing and Style

I’m intrigued by individual style, how someone defines her style, how she finds that style. I’m particularly intrigued by how a sewer’s ability to create her own clothes influences that style. To explore this, I’m posting a series of guest posts from different bloggers who sew, each exploring their individual connection between sewing and style. Thanks to Maddie, one of the first gals I think of when I think style, for her part in this series. Hi, my name is Maddie Flanigan and I am the blogger behind Madalynne, the cool sewing and pattern making blog. If Steve McQueen was the “King of Cool,” then Madalynne is the “Queen of Cool.” My blog covers everything from how to draft a sloper to interviews with independent pattern makers/designers and what projects I’m working on. For two and a half years, my day job was in the technical design department for a …

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Grey Wool Thurlow Shorts

I’ve managed to squeeze in a bit of time to sew for myself this month, even though most of my free time has been full of making Christmas gifts. I made another pair of thurlow shorts to wear for winter. This time I used some grey wool that I pulled from my stash that my mom bought forever ago (25 years?). I used the rest of it last year to recover the seats of our dining room chairs.

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Sweaters Blanket Tutorial

This is one of my favorite projects. I have one of these blankets in my living room, my mom has one in her television room, and I gave one to my cousin for her wedding this summer. It’s certainly a bit more involved than the last several days of tutorial projects that I have shared, but it makes for such a lovely finished project and is so easy to customize for anyone on your gift list (or yourself!). You will need: 4 sweaters (see info below about selection) Backing fabric (I recommend a curtain panel. The amount of fabric you need will depend upon your finished size of the blanket) Thread Fabric scissors A sewing machine Sweater selection – Here’s where you can really make the project fit your unique aesthetic by the sweaters that you select. I’ve sewn blankets made from sweaters of just about every fiber content and …

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Thurlow Shorts in Sage Velour

For years I’ve thought that wearing shorts in the winter is a stupid trend. I resisted it vehemently. And then last year I picked up a pair of wool shorts at the thrift store. And wore them incessantly. I’ve changed my mind. Winter shorts are awesome. I love wearing them over tights and I love wearing tights. And they actually kinda make sense for locales such as San Francisco where winter is so mild (well, compared to what I hear winter is like in other parts of the country. I wouldn’t actually know because it’s milder than Seattle or Portland but apparently they’re pretty mild too).

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Brown Floral Print Jeans

Following my recent skinny jeans, I decided to make a pair of lower-waisted jeans, figuring that I would wear them more often. I’ve been trying to sew from my fabric stash but I wasn’t inspired to almost-the-same pair of jeans out of the same denim, so I got distracted by this fabulous floral print.

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Denim Baby Shoes

I’ve been thinking for a while of sewing baby shoes for friends that are expecting for when I don’t have enough time/stash to do a large sewing project or knit project.

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Meg the Grand on Sewing and Style

I’m intrigued by individual style, how someone defines her style, how she finds that style. I’m particularly intrigued by how a sewer’s ability to create her own clothes influences that style. To explore this, I’m going to be posting a series of guest posts from different bloggers who sew, each exploring their individual connection between sewing and style. First up, the wonderful Meg of Meg the Grand. I can’t thank her enough for her insightful and thorough exploration! Hello all!  I’m Meg from Meg the Grand.  I am an intermediate sewer and beginning knitter, and I love the feeling of making something with my hands … especially if it’s something geeky in nature. Many thanks to the delightful Erin for asking me to guest blog with you lovelies today!!  Erin is a true blue kindred spirit who spreads sunshine in her blog posts.  I, for one, am a huge fan and so honored to …

Tricks, Tips, and Tools: Ripping a Seam

If you’re like me, you end up ripping a lot of seams. Sometimes it’s from dumb mistakes, sometimes it’s just part of a quest for perfection. This is the fastest, safest way that I’ve found to rip out a straight single stitch seam. On one side, rip out every 5th stitch or so. Then take the thread from the other side and pull. Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am. Fewer worries about snagging the fabric with your ripper. Easier to fully remove the bits of thread that are left.

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Salvage Bra Parts

I’ve been thinking about bras a lot recently. I haven’t bought a new bra in a few years which means that my old bras have worn out. As in “OMG these are falling apart and underwires are poking out and into me and is it really possible that my cup size has gone up well I guess I have put on weight in the last few years and these straps are so stretched out they won’t stay on my shoulder ugh!” So, I bought a couple of new bras and threw all of my old ones out. And then I immediately reached into the garbage and pulled them all out. Thinking of recent posts by Aicha, Carolyn, Madalynne, and Steph about sewing bras, I figured that I would salvage the findings. This meant removing the underwire, the hook and eye sets, and the little metal things that go on the straps (I’m sure they have …