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Posts Tagged ‘sewing’

  1. Emma’s Nemo Dress

    November 14, 2013 by Daniora


    Strike a pose!

    I mentioned the other day that independent pattern designers are becoming very popular, especially with the kids’ clothing set. I happen to agree with this. The patterns are generally reasonably priced (though not as cheap as when I buy my paper patterns on sale for a dollar) and most have the added benefit of being an instant download pdf. Who doesn’t love instant gratification?

    One of my absolute favorite independent designers is Jen over at Tie Dye Diva Patterns. Her patterns are impeccably drafted, and her instructions are always crystal clear. Even better, she has a very active Facebook community page, so if you do have a question, you can ask her directly.

    While most commercial paper patterns are printed on large (36″x48″) pieces of paper, most instant download patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter size paper and taped together. All you have to do is print and assemble them, then cut whatever size you need. I’ve read a tip about using tissue paper to trace the size you need, but I haven’t gotten around to giving that a try yet.


    Finding Nemo? More like Found Nemo.

    When Sue told me Emma was having a Finding Nemo themed birthday party, I offered to make a dress. Unfortunately, Nemo fabric is hard to come by. I was able to find a really cute Nemo applique from The Enchanted Hollow on Etsy.


    When it arrived, I was delighted with the quality, but was a little concerned about the size. There were several size choices available, and I thought maybe I had gone a little crazy and gotten one a bit too big. I got over that and decided it would work well on one of the Tie Dye Diva “Perfect A-line” dresses. I found a cute teal corduroy with silver sparkle. The lining (though actually, the dress is designed to be reversible) is an orange print. I put the Nemo applique down the bottom. The simplicity of the dress and the solid colored fabric were perfect to go with the somewhat over-sized applique.


    All I had to do was add a couple of orange buttons and it was all set for Little One’s birthday. She loved her dress and just kept pointing at the applique and exclaiming “Nemo!” That’s what makes sewing for the kidlets so much fun.


    “Nemo, Nemo, Nemo, Nemo, Nemo!”

  2. Auntie’s Fairies: A pattern review

    November 5, 2013 by Daniora

    Little ladies

    There are a couple of highlight events that we participate in every year. One of them is PAX East, in the spring. The other is King Richard’s Faire, every fall in Carver. The Faire is like my costume Olympics. This year was pretty tame; I only made two and a cloak. Last year I had 8!! costumes that I made. So far next year is already looking like it’ll be another big year.

    One of the problems I run into with doing a lot of costumes for the little ones is that I can’t start them too far in advance; I’ve run into problems with them sprouting up in the time between when I take their measurements and when the Faire happens. As a result, I have to find patterns that are quick, easy, and reliable.

    There’s been a lot of backlash lately in some of my online sewing groups against the big pattern companies (Simplicity, McCalls, Butterick, Vogue) in favor of independent designers. I’m all for supporting small business and independent artists. They are fantastic. I’ve also run into some less than stellar patterns from the big companies. For now, though, finding the costume pieces I need from a small designer is tough to do, and I haven’t quite reached the level where drafting my own patterns is practical. So I keep buying the big patterns when they go on sale for a dollar or two and, as my husband can tell you, I’ve created quite a collection.

    One of my absolute favorites is Simplicity 1792: The Disney Fairies.


    Simplicity 1792: Toddlers’ and Child’s Disney Fairies Costume Sewing Pattern

    For the last two years, Auntie Mimi’s little girls have been pretty, poofy fairies. These costumes are a delight to sew and are so adorable. The fabric requirements are fairly minimal, which means that you can splurge a bit and get some of the fancier special occasion fabrics to make your fairy a little extra sparkly.

    Because it gets a little chilly here in New England in the fall, they usually wear long sleeves and tights under their dresses, but it doesn’t take away from the cute factor of these costumes.

    My favorite part about making these is putting together the tulle layers. It’s a little tricky and you wind up with a circle about 6 yards in circumference that gets gathered down to a little 20 inch waist. It’s crazy. Since the skirt is so full, it bounces and sways as the little ones run around. They always turn heads, especially in a group (It helps that they are completely adorable little girls).

    I will say that having a serger definitely comes in handy for this pattern. The waist is made up of the bodice, two layers of petals, two layers of tulle, and a cotton lining. This can get a little… out of hand.


    So many layers and loose threads.

    However, one quick pass on the serger and everything is all neat and tidy. This is even more important since a lot of the costume and special occasion fabrics that make a fairy sparkle and shimmer have a tendency to fray pretty badly. Plus, a nice finished edge is much more comfortable for little ones to wear.


    Neat and tidy!

    For that little something extra, I whipped up some double layer fabric flowers. Two of my little ones got headbands, one got a hair clip. I’ll do a tutorial on them soon, since they were so fast to make and created such a big impact.


    I think I could dress my little ladies up as fairies forever. Watching them dance around and run through the trees, it’s hard not to believe in magic.

  3. Ava and Emma’s Quilts

    April 3, 2012 by Daniora

    I would like to apologize for the color quality on the images in this post. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I took these pictures.

    Companion quilts

    Ava and Emma are sisters and two of the most precious little girls on the planet. When I decided to make quilts for them, I wanted to make two that would go together and that would reflect their playful attitudes. Ava is two (almost three!) and Emma is still pretty new, so I wanted to make something kid friendly, but not something they would grow out of in a couple of years. The Moda “Amelia” line was absolutely perfect. Since I wanted the quilts to go together, I chose a pattern from another of my favorite jelly roll books, Two from One Jelly Roll Quilts. I wound up using the same pattern for both quilts, but I swapped out the dominant color; one pink, one blueish purple.

    Emma's Quilt

    Ava's quilt


    Each quilt is made up of a series of nine patch blocks, some with borders, some without, alternating with special blocks designed to make it look like the blocks are overlapping. I was able to make all the nine patch blocks for both quilts at the same time.  Then I made all the other blocks and assembled the quilt tops. My biggest complaint with any of the Lintott jelly roll patterns is that their borders are never big enough. I opted to put a thin black border and a wider colored border to match the dominant color in the quilt. I love the way the black really makes the patterns in the other fabrics pop.

    These are also the first two quilts that I’ve quilted using the longarm machine. My favorite local quilt shop, Bits and Pieces, does machine rentals. You can bring in your quilt and use their machines to quilt it. The fantastic thing is that they have the computer driven machines that you only have to program and it does most of the work for you. This is so fantastic and definitely on the top of my wishlist for when I have way more money and space than I do now. Both quilts have a solid pink backing (cute backing fabric is so hard to find), so I wanted to pick different quilting patterns for each. One has a star pattern and the other has an adorable loopy daisy pattern.

    A loopy daisy pattern I used for one of the quilts.

    I also tried a new binding technique for these quilts. I’m terrible at hand sewing and I don’t trust my stitches to stand up to the kind of wear that I hope these quilts will get. As a result, I’ve been machine sewing all my bindings. The thing is, until these, I’ve been doing it all wrong. I had been sewing the binding to the front, turning it, and then blind sewing it to the back. I always wound up with uneven binding on the back, which I would then hide with a decorative stitch. A little poking around online and I discovered that the way better plan is to stitch the binding to the back of the quilt, fold it to the front and then sew. I did still use a decorative stitch and a variegated thread to make everything just a little cuter.

    Binding stitch with variegated thread.

    I loved making these quilts and I hope my little girlfriends enjoy them for years to come.

  4. Jo’s Knitting Bag

    January 25, 2012 by Daniora

    There’s probably no one that appreciates a handmade gift better than a fellow crafter. This past Christmas, I tried to keep the number of gifts I had to make down from my usual unrealistic goals. I couldn’t help making this kitting bag for my very talented friend Jo.

    Jo's Knitting BagJo, whose amazing work can be seen here, is a fiber artist extraordinaire. She spins, knits, crochets, and now weaves. There is nothing this girl can’t do. It seems like she’s always going off to meet with one group or another or take a class here or there. What better gift could I give her than a bag to carry all her supplies in?

    Given her love of sheep and sheep related products, I figured they would be the obvious choice for fabric for her bag. How happy was I to find knitting sheep along with two awesome coordinating fabrics?

    How cute is this knitting sheep?

    This bag pattern was really great. It’s a ton of pieces, which worried me, but it actually went together really smoothly. It’s got lots of pockets on the outside, and the inside has plenty of space for anything you might want to carry.

    Knitting Bag Lining

    Cute lining fabric with knitting phrases.

    Since giving Jo her bag a couple weeks ago, I’ve received orders for three more in varying fabrics. I guess the bag market might be something I want to look in to.

  5. Finding Patterns

    September 23, 2011 by Daniora

    Finding Patterns

    Great patterns can come from almost anywhere.

    With both Halloween and Christmas right around the corner, this is one of my busiest crafting times of the year. When making stuff to sell, you generally have to make your patterns from scratch, but when making gifts for others, finding a pattern that suits your needs can be a huge time saver. There are plenty of places around the web that can help you get your hands on these patterns quickly and cheaply.

    1. Simplicity, McCalls, and Butterick: Unless I’m in a bind, I’ll only buy these patterns when they’re on sale for one or two dollars at my local Joann Fabrics. However, looking around online can help you make a shopping list for the sale. These usually occur on the weekends, and the pattern books can be crowded. If you’ve got a list of pattern numbers, you can skip the browsing and head straight to the pattern drawers. These patterns are great for costumes, clothing, and some gift items like bags or purses. These site also sell a variety of supplies and notions that can be hard to find at your local fabric store.

    Note: I generally don’t use any patterns from Vogue. They tend to be overly complex and don’t usually go on sale. Vogue also carries very few patterns for the type of items I make.

    2. Etsy: This is one of my new favorite places to look for inexpensive and unique patterns. They’ve got everything from sewing and quilting to knitting and crochet. Many of them are available as PDF downloads and will arrive in your email inbox within a few hours of your purchase.  This instant gratification allows you to get to the crafting faster. Another added benefit is that many pattern designers allow you to use their patterns to make things to sell, at least in limited quantities. Etsy is also a great place to find out-of-print patterns from the larger companies. These are usually pricier, and you have to make sure the listing states that it is uncut and complete.

    3. Moda Bake Shop, Connecting Threads, Freespirit Fabric: These are three great places to find free quilt patterns. They are available as downloadable PDFs that can be printed when you need them. In addition to traditional quilt patterns, there are also a variety of quilted gifts including stockings, bags, and these adorable floor pillows. If you have a favorite fabric line, be sure to check out their website. Many fabric designers also put out free patterns that they feel will best showcase their prints.

    4. Books: There are an endless number of books devoted to any craft you can think of. Most contain instructions or patterns that you can copy. It’s easy to wind up with a large pile of these books, so check and see if your local library has any books on the subject. While brand new fiction books can be hard to get your hands on at the library, the crafting section is usually well stocked. To top it off, most libraries have copy machines, so you can get your patterns copied before you even get the book home.

    A larger number of crafting books are also becoming available as e-books. One of the nice things about this format is that they are easy to carry, easy to store, and you don’t have to figure out how to hold the book open while you’re working. If you don’t have an e-reader that does color, however, you might want to skip this format; many of these books lose a lot when only in black and white.

    5. Magazines: I especially love special issues of magazines, like those devoted to special holidays or one particular craft. Some of my favorite special issues come from Martha Stewart and Better Homes & Gardens. The best specialty crafting magazines tend to be available at large bookstores and craft stores, but I’ve even picked up some great ones while waiting in line at the grocery store. The benefit to a magazine over a book is that they tend to be less expensive and have a wider variety of projects. They’re a great introduction when you’re getting into something new. These will also include patterns, often as a pull out section on a special pattern paper, no need for copying.

    6: Google: It’s amazing the results you can get just by Googling the pattern you’re looking for. I’ve had great success with things like “Free Stocking Pattern” or “Plush Bunny Pattern”. You might have to refine your search as you go, specifying whether you’re looking for a sewing pattern or one for crochet or knitting, but you can almost always be guaranteed good results. Google is also really great for solving any problems you might be having.  Starting your search with “How do I” can often find the answer you’re looking for in the first couple of links. Don’t be afraid to use too many words in your search; you can always remove some if you’re not getting the results you’re after. The internet is full of blogs and sites dedicated to the hobbies people love, and they are almost always willing to share their knowledge and experience with you.

    Searching for instructions and patterns online is a great way to kick start your projects and often save you time and money as well. Start saving your favorite free patterns today!

  6. Nerdly baby quilts

    April 11, 2011 by Daniora

    These quilts appeared in a post on my other blog, but I thought they’d fit very well here.

    There has been a bit of a baby boom in my group of friends.  There are now six children three years old or younger.  As a result, I’ve been making a lot of baby quilts.









    It’s hard to believe that the twins I made these quilts for are almost a year old. Usually these baby quilts come one at a time. I usually prefer patterns that are a little complicated to hold my interest.  In this case, I had to make two at once.  Since the father is a big D&D and Warcraft player, I wanted to make sure that the quilts had a nerdy vibe to them. I had to balance making them different from each other but still make production easy enough to make two at once. In the end I opted to use the same pattern but with different fabrics.

    The first was based around a fantastic fabric I found with a large print of knights and dragons in a castle.  I fussy cut the center squares and pulled coordinating fabrics for the borders.

    I wasn’t sure about using black on a baby quilt.  However, it really made the outlines in the large print pop. Without it, the entire quilt would have looked pretty flat.   My only regret on this one is that the two green prints are a bit too close in color and design.  From far away, they really blend together.

    The second quilt was based around a set of robot and gear fabrics that I’ve loved for a long time.  I had bought a set of fat quarters a few years ago just because I thought they were so adorable.

    The great thing about these fabrics is that the colors are so different from what you typically see in baby quilts.  That made color matching a bit more difficult, but there were quite a few coordinating fabrics available.

    Both quilts were hand tied; machine quilting is still something that I find a bit intimidating.  I’m hoping to work on that for the next quilt I do.  I think it will go a lot faster and hold up a lot better in the long run.

    The boys love their blankets, and at least one of them is always on hand at all times.  With their first birthday coming up at the beginning of next month, I’m not sure how I’ll be able to top myself on this one.