amis au fil des ans

just a few good friends, sharing adventures in family, arts, and sometimes heavy machinery

Archive for the category “sewing projects”

dressy hooters

I finally did it! I made a dress! And guess what…it actually looks like a dress!

I used the free PDF pattern called Wee Wanderer from Sarah Jane studios. I probably should’ve started with something simple like a pillowcase dress or jumper first, but I really wanted to enhance my skills, figure out how to use my serger, and try to remember how to install a zipper. Happy to report I managed to do all of the above (with quite a few setbacks along the way of course).

My major lessons learned:

– Having a serger rocks. Even for someone who just uses it occasionally to craft, it just makes lots of things so much easier.

– I need a cheat sheet for machine feet. Between the serger and the sewing machine, I think I used 4 different feet (and could’ve used the gathering foot for the ruffle as a 5th, but I chose to go old-school to save time). Everytime I switched feet I had to take a timeout to read the manual, adjust some threading, and in some cases, look at YouTube. It was pretty time consuming.

– Having a good, well-written pattern is worth a fee. This pattern was free and it was the authors first pattern, so there were a few kinks to get through. I’m sure for someone who has made things like this before it would’ve been fine but I needed the specifics and I got hung up more than once. Thankfully YouTube has videos for everything, and I figured out how to do the zipper in my sleep last night (no joke). Ha!

I did get better at a few things: I never ran out of bobbin thread, my fabric cutting was done correctly the first time, and I didn’t need to rip as many seams as you’d probably expect. Score! I’m definitely planning on making this dress again, now that I know how to do it.

2014-03-10 14.28.11

The heartbreaking error…

2014-03-11 15.34.18 2014-03-11 15.34.33 2014-03-11 15.35.13 2014-03-11 15.35.20 2014-03-11 15.35.32 2014-03-11 15.35.56 2014-03-11 15.36.37


babydoll basket

One thing nearly everyone knows about me: I am an unconventional gift-giver.  Odds are I will never be regular about giving gifts to people, even within my own family, and odds are even better that when I do give a gift it will be nowhere near a holiday or birthday.  That said, I am an awesome gift-giver and while there is no predictability to when or where you’ll get one, there’s a pretty good chance you are going to like it.

I hope to continue this trend with my niece’s newest gift: a baby doll basket for her American Girl dolls.  Many thanks to SE for introducing me to this pattern and for the encouragement along the way while I grunted my way through this project!

There is not much of a construction story here.  We had a few days of cold, snow, cold, ice, cold, and wind.  I wasn’t interested in leaving the house.  I logged about 10 hours of work time making this, and really it would’ve been less if I would have done a few things:

1. read the instructions correctly the first time.

2. read the instructions correctly the second time.  (I should note, the instructions are EXTREMELY clear).  Ugh.

3. cut the material correctly the first time (see item #1 & #2 for explanation)

4. for the love of it all…LEARN HOW TO USE BIAS TAPE CORRECTLY.  I do not wish to discuss the inappropriate words that kept coming out of my mouth, or the number of times I managed to get a pin stuck in my hand.

5. hopefully, for the last time…PAY ATTENTION TO THE BOBBIN THREAD AMOUNT.  Such a rookie mistake, but for some reason I keep making it.  And making it.  We’re talking intensely concentrating on technical sewing for over 25 minutes before realizing the bobbin has long ago run out of thread.

If you keep up with my blog posts, you probably wonder why I continue to sew.  I guess this is why I end up with my sewing machine in the closet for months at a time.  We have a love-hate relationship.  We are currently leaning dangerously close to the hate side.  But it will all be worth it if she loves this!  (No pressure)

If you’re interested, here are the pattern and fabric links:


Amy Butler Love Paradise Garden Wine

Aunt Polly’s Flannel Small Polka Dots Pink/Purple

Pattern pieces

Pattern pieces

Basket sides

Basket sides

Outer shell complete!

Outer shell complete!



Side view with contrasting colors

Side view with contrasting colors

Reversible bedding

Reversible bedding

2014-02-05 12.57.06

death by scrapbuster quilt

I love quilts, especially quilts that have been made from fabric that served another purpose.  My mom has a quilt that my grandma made from squares of my grandfather’s old suits.  The darn thing feels like it’s 100 lbs, but I think it’s just heavy from all the stories it holds.  🙂

I have always been too intimidated to make a quilt.  Not because the sewing seemed difficult, but because it seemed like Such. A. Commitment.  All those squares!  I’m not exactly known for my ability to focus on one thing for a great length of time.  Fast forward to us moving into the Tiny House, me feeling a constant need to purge stuff…and those looming boxes of fabric scraps started to really irritate me.  It was time to quilt!

I started by watching a few videos on YouTube, getting the general idea.  Then I found this awesome Instructables lesson.  Seemed easy enough, and believe it or not I already had all of the materials including batting that I bought in (no joke) 2006 when I decided to make a t-shirt quilt (SPOILER: it never happened).  I grabbed the rotary cutter and my fabric scraps and started cutting.  You should know this was October 4, 2013.


Cutting, cutting, cutting

I read somewhere that someone used a small mason jar to put all her scrap threads in while she worked…brilliant idea!!

Once I had what felt like enough squares (turns out it wasn’t, but alas) I started piecing them together into 9-boxes.  I will say, I started by pairing up 2 different fabrics together…but now I wish I had done all random because I feel like my quilt looks like a mish-mosh.  Oh well.



After I had enough 9 boxes ready (or so I thought), I laid them all out on the table and tried to figure out the order.  This was when I first realized how I could leverage my hubby’s strength in analytics and patterns for my own use…I invited him downstairs just to take a look and he immediately started moving the blocks around, flipping them in different directions and telling me what I needed to do.  To my quilt.  I didn’t ask for his input.  I still don’t know how this happened.  He redesigned the whole thing.  I was irritated.  After he was done and left the room, I took a step back and was even more disgusted because…he had made it look better.  Dangit!


First draft.

This is exactly the point at which I got burned out.  It was October 5th.  I packed up all the squares and called it a day.

About a month later I decided to sew again, and pulled everything out.  I stitched together the 9-boxes, admired my quilt, and decided it was too small.  I don’t know why, but starting from the beginning, cutting out squares and sewing them together piece by piece…was torture.  What felt like an eternity later, I finally had my quilt top done.  It still wasn’t as large as I originally wanted, but I was starting to really hate this project.


Quilt top

That was before I started quilting.

I watched a few more YouTube videos on how to make a quilt sandwich, locked my dogs in the spare bedroom so they couldn’t get involved, grabbed a sheet out of the Goodwill pile and spread everything out on the family room floor.  While on a conference call for work (SHHHH) I crawled all over that quilt adding a million pins to keep it together.

Since I just have a standard home-sized sewing machine, I couldn’t do any kind of fancy quilting so I opted for “stitching in the ditch” which has nothing to do with going outside.  This meant hours of straight, long, boring sewing.  My back hurt, my arms hurt, my butt hurt…I never thought it was going to end.  Suddenly the quilt felt insanely huge.


Machine quilting

I couldn’t take it anymore, and had to put the whole thing back in the closet again.  I hated quilting.  It was November 16th.

And so it sat.  For two months, folded up in a nice little pile on top of the dresser in my guest room.  Still full of pins and without a border.  It ate at me every time I saw it, a nagging little project that wouldn’t end.  ARGH.

I had to figure out how to make binding.  I had this red fabric with little white dots that I had purchased for the t-shirt quilt (circa 2006), I must’ve bought 3 yards of the stuff and have been dragging it around ever since.  This was my chance.  I found this tutorial and it seemed fairly simple so I gave it a go.  Much to my surprise it went pretty quickly and BAM!  My quilt was done.  It turned out great, but it’s definitely going to be a while before I embark on another large(ish) quilt like that again.


Finally completed on January 20, 2014

dwell studio bedroom, in progress

hey, where are you guys?!  i know you’re not sitting around, so please start sharing again!!

my next room decor project is focused on our master bedroom, mostly because we don’t have anything that actually matches and is functional.  i’m a firm believer in white bedding so that’s not going to change, but i needed to spruce up the place a bit.  i fell in LOVE with the new dwell studio line of fabrics, but didn’t want to pay the prices for their bedding, so i’m trying to be a little creative and find ways to incorporate the fabric into our room.  you may recall i also used dwell studio in the mudroom redo too!

dwell studio fabric samples

what you can’t see – we used to have brown curtains on the windows, only because they were left over from my previous home.  they were too short and, well, brown, so i’ve wanted to replace them forever.  i decided on white (white?!) curtains, and i actually like them more than i was expecting!

i’m definitely not done yet, but what i have finished so far is: recovering the lampshade, adding a bench from our dining room and recovering it, and making 2 pillow covers.  small changes but the impact has been big!

for the lamp, i used bella porte charcoal.  sissy and i kind of traced the lamp onto the fabric, which worked fine and all, however the pattern is a little lopsided.  we didn’t think this through enough obviously.

the bench used to sit in our dining room since it’s technically part of our dining room seating, however we never use it.  instead i brought it upstairs and recovered it in vintage blossom in grey.  actually, i can’t take credit for this project – my very talented parents did this bench and the one in the mudroom while i was visiting hubby in japan!!  how awesome is that?

after seeing the vintage blossom on the bench, i knew i needed more, so i ordered 3 more yards of fabric and made two king-sized pillow covers using this tutorial.  i love them!!  the one change i made to the tutorial is that i didn’t do the edge.

pillow pocket close-up

next up are a few euro sized pillows in the yellow & white zig-zag pattern (premier prints line).  maybe also some toss pillows for the bench in one of the other fabrics…at any rate i hope hubby likes it when he returns!!

go fish

i’m back!!  whew, the last few weeks have been a little crazy, but my house is empty again so i was able to tear up the dining room with all my sewing gear.  the day wasn’t uneventful though – about 80% of the way through this project i snapped a needle and couldn’t find the bottom half for a while…thought it was inside the machine…until low and behold i found it stitched into the back of my project!  well, happy that it wasn’t in the black hole of my machine.

anywhoo, another month of baby showers for me!  i was getting bored with the standard issue bib & burp so i decided to get a little creative with my first applique.  since this baby’s gender is unknown, i stuck with green, yellow and orange fabric scraps.  yeah, that’s right – scraps.  i bought nothing for this project, whoopie!

i did use the fish pattern from a mccalls pattern i had, but could have created something similar pretty easily.

oh, and check out the labels, copied from se!!!!

Tempting New Fabric

When I was ordering the final fabric for my SILs baby present, I threw these 2 in from the Heather Bailey Freshcut line for Jordan. I can’t wait to make something fun. What should I make…what should I make? 🙂


simple layer skirt

and i do mean simple.  simple i tell you!  i think it took 30 min?  maybe less.  opens a world of possibilities for my girls’ closets…

1.  cut your fabric.  i intended to keep mine the full width of the original fabric (44 / 45″) but one piece was smaller than the other so i had to trim them to the same size.  so just pick the width you want.  for i would recommend a 1:2 or 1:2.5 ratio so it has some twirl to it.  (i.e., measure your recipients waist and then multiple by 2 or 2.5 to get the width needed.)  i also chose to have the larger piece be 2″ longer than the smaller piece.  for this skirt the larger piece is 11″ and the smaller is 9″.

2.  for the smaller width piece i sewed the salvage ends together, right sides together.  i just made sure my seam was inside the white part of the salvage.  no need to serge or zig zag stitch since the salvage ends won’t shred.  for the piece whose salvage i had to cut i sewed the raw ends together right sides together and then zig zag stitched the raw ends.  iron your seams.


3.  hem both pieces.  i opted for a small hem but you can use whatever look you like best.  i folded under 1/4″ and then another 1/4″ and top stitched.  (sorry no pictures!)

4.  put the smaller piece inside the larger piece with right sides facing up on both.  so the right side of the smaller piece is facing the back of the larger piece.  make sure your fabric is facing the right directions if you are using unidirectional fabric.  sew along the top with a 1/4″ seam allowance.  (note:  this step made me think for a bit to make sure when i turned it, the pieces would lay right.)

5.  open the skirt up and iron the seam to one side.  then fold the top over and press the seam.


6.  sew along the top with a 1/8″ seam allowance.  this will help the band stay up more.

7.  depending on the width of your elastic, sew a line the width of your elastic + 1/2″ below the top seam.  be sure to leave a 2 inch gab to thread your elastic through.  back stitch at start and finish.


8.   attach a safety pin to your elastic and thread it through.  (note:  the opening to thread it through is between the 2 layers.)  i cut my elastic the width of the recipients waist +1″.  zig zag stitch the elastic closed.


9.  pulling the skirt taught, close up the hole.



10.  done!  simple, right?

Toddler Top

I’ve had this top pinned on pinterest for awhile now and finally made it with some scrap fabrics. Now I want to make a bunch more. It was easy and so cute on her. I need to get more fun snaps though to pizazz it up 🙂

I followed this tutorial from prudent baby, but decided to do the collar and trim in a separate print. Um, her nursery print. haha.


done. whew.

9 totally and completely unique and different pinafores.  this was so fun!  as i finished each one i kept getting a new favorite.  but don’t ask me to choose.  i can’t.

i had my girls try some on today for a little photo op.  needless to say c and s weren’t as into the photo op as they were into mickey mouse clubhouse on the television.  e on the other hand gave a full performance of goofy’s dance for me.  thus resulting in really funny blurry photos.  thanks girls.  momma loves you.

p.s.  you can get one here.

new challenge(s)

i recently had someone reach out to me to make a rag quilt that was approximately 36″ by 50″.  (my hunch is she needed it for a toddler bed…)  i ran some numbers and figured out that if i used my 8″ square ruler (really 8.5″) that i could do a 5 x 7 square blanket and it would hit those measurements spot on.  i have only made a couple rag quilts with that size square and every time i wonder why i don’t make more of them…it is a nice size and really let’s you show off some of the larger scale prints that are out there.  she also requested that i use a one of the patterned fabrics for the back fabric (instead of my usual flannel).  now i have to admit that not using flannel for the back has really never occurred to me.  i was somewhat tentative at first and came up with a whole bunch of reasons why not to do it:  it wasn’t my norm, the pattern would appear choppy due to the edges being folded under, it wouldn’t be as soft, etc.  but i wanted the sale.  so i told her i could do it but made sure she knew that the way i sew the blankets it wouldn’t look like a solid backing but would have gaps from where the edges folded in to give the rag effect on the front.  she was on board so i started sewing.

i am more than pleasantly pleased with the final results.



she also asked if i could make a pillow cover for a 16″ by 16″ pillow and put a bird applique on it using coordinated fabrics from the blanket.  she even provided me the bird design so i wouldn’t have to hunt around for one.  i mean, come on?  how could i say no to a cute little birdie?  i haven’t been happy with the envelope closure on the last few pillow covers i made so i opted for an invisible zipper with this one.  i have to say that it was much easier than i anticipated.  (and i got it right on take 1!)  please ignore the missing eye in the first photo.  i got a little camera happy before i was done…



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