Author Archives: staciethinks

Expensive Pattern Tips

I love to buy patterns. I manage to buy most of my big 4 (Vogue, McCall’s, Butterick and Simplicity) dirt cheap at sales, but I also like buying patterns from independent companies such as Colette or Megan Nielsen. For those of you that have not tried one of these brands yet, let me show you a little about why they are more expensive.

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Yes, it says suggested retail $18. It is rare to see them marked down much. In case you can’t tell this envelope is thick.

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The pattern is printed on a more substantial paper than the tissue you find in the big 4. That book I am holding there contains the instructions.

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Here is a page out of the instruction booklet. It is very detailed and step by step. This is nice for people new to sewing garments. Sometimes the company will host a sew along for their pattern which includes alterations and ideas to try. I find these an invaluable resource. I posted on my blog a while back how I use these patterns in case I want to change sizes later on. This allows me to trace them without cutting the original.

I trace the pattern with a Sharpie in the size I need to make it darker.

I then trace the pattern in the size I need onto Swedish Tracing Paper along with any necessary markings. Why Swedish Tracing Paper? (That link is to the store on Etsy I buy it from. Support small business!)You can actually sew it together. This makes for easy pattern fittings. I just baste it, then rip it out to ensure the right parts hit in the right places. This also allows you to make any adjustments you know you need without destroying your original pattern.

“OK, stupid Stacie Thinks She Knows it All, now I have Sharpie all over my floor!”

I tell you what, Magic Eraser by Mr. Clean takes anything off the laminate flooring (and tile) including Sharpie!

About 10 minutes of extra work and your expensive pattern is still in tact and you have a personalized pattern in just your size with any adjustments you need already made! I usually include the pattern name, size and number of pieces to make it easy when I want to make it again later.

Now, I don’t do this on my patterns that go on clearance at Joann’s, but for my well loved, tried and true and expensive patterns, I don’t know a better way to do it! You can also use this when tracing patterns out of magazines.

Knit tips

I admit while I love sewing knits I still have mixed results. I was working on a dress today that is very simple to help me practice. I thought I would share a few things.

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First of all, most knits come about 60 inches wide. That is nice because knit patterns seem too use less fabric.

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The above picture is for example. I got all the ripples out before I cut my pattern. Yes, my dress pattern is two pieces, has no darts or closures. That is another bonus when working with knits. The patterns are usually less complicated. Back on subject: This pattern called for the fabric to be laid out with selvedges together which made for two folds on which to cut the dress front and back. I find laying out my knit fabric in this way is a challenge. The best way I have found is to make a small snip in the center of the fabric on both ends and work from there to bring the selvedge edges together. Be patient and really be sure you have all the ripples out.

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I like to use scissors to cut mine out, and I do use pins to keep it all together. Go slow. I also make my marks as I go in case there is any fabric slippage by the time I get all the way around the pattern piece.

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To create my seams I use my serger. The picture above is my hem. First, I like to serge the raw edge of my hem. Knits do not unravel, so this is not totally necessary, however I feel it gives me more control when finishing my hem and gives it a nicer look on the inside.

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To finish my hem I use my sewing machine. I chose to do a 3/4 inch hem, so I placed my magnet at the 3/4 inch mark on my sewing machine. I do this to be sure I stay accurate since knits cannot be pressed into place as easily as woven fabrics. I then sew along the serged edge using a thin zig zag stitch. On this dress I could have probably straight stitched, but I zig zagged because that is how I was trained. When sewing knits a zig zag on the sewing machine stretches, where a straight stitch does not. When you sew with a straight stitch if you stretch the fabric you can pop your stitches open.

If you have not sewn with knits I suggest trying it. Just go slow and do some research.

You can see my finished dress on my blog.

E-Reader Cover Tutorial

I finally did it. After reading using the Kindle app on my iPhone for over a year, and my Droid before that, I broke down and bought a Kindle. Amazon was offering a great deal on refurbished Kindle Fires. So, not only did I buy a Kindle, I bought THE Kindle. Of course it needed a case!

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Here is my case containing the Kindle Fire.

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I started by measuring my Kindle and it was just under 5 inches wide and 7.5 inches long.

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I added an inch to the sides (but in the future I would add 2 inches) to make both the lining and outer fabric 6 inches wide (make it 7 for a less tight fit) and 20 inches long (7.5 +7.5 for the length + 5 for the flap). I also used home decor fabric for the outside and 100% cotton flannel for the lining to prevent scratching.

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I used a quarter inch seam allowance and sewed the lining and outer fabric right sides together leaving one of the short ends open.

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I clipped the two corners that had been sewn and turned the fabric right side out.

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Press the lining and outer fabric, turning the fabric in, and edge stitch.

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Next, with my lining fabric facing out I placed my Kindle inside and decided how high I wanted my pouch to reach. I know I will probably throw my Kindle in my purse a lot, so I don’t want it to get scratched. I chose to have my edge go all the way to the top of my Kindle. I placed my edge stitched end at the top of my Kindle.

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I edge stitched up both sides to the top of the pouch and reversed a couple of stitches at both ends. Turn it right sides out and try the fit!

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Here is my Kindle inside the pouch. You could also use a button or Velcro closure if you would prefer. I just left mind loose.

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Here is the back. It is a quick and cheap Kindle cover made out of a few scraps.

Thanks for reading, and see more of my work at my blog.

Book Review: Fabric-By-Fabric One Yard Wonders

That sounds familiar, right?

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This is actually Rebecca Yaker and Patricia Hoskin’s follow up to one of my favorite books, One Yard Wonders. The original focused mainly on quilting fabric from what I understand. This one is divided into chapters for the following:

Chapter 1: Fabric Fundamentals

Chapter 2: Lightweight Cottons

Chapter 3: Quilting-Weight Cottons

Chapter 4: Home Dec Fabrics

Chapter 5: Flannel

Chapter 6: Woven Pile Fabrics

Chapter 7: Coated Fabrics

Chapter 8: Fleece

Chapter 9: Knits

Chapter 10: Wool

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Again, they have made a great hardcover book with a spiral you can see on the back to help it fold open while you work.

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The first thing I noticed is that this book is much thicker than its predecessor. The patterns at the front of the book are very substantial.

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I found this page invaluable. It is a fabric cheat sheet that tells you very specifically how to work with every type of fabric listed in the book. It even included the best way to mark and press the fabric! I see me using this as a reference often as I enjoy working with new types of fabric, but use a lot of trial and error to get things right.

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I had to show an example of how well the directions for the projects are laid out. The directions are always spot on as well.

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I love this cute travel set!

Fabric by Fabric: One Yard Wonders

What really sold me was a review by Dixie DIY of the Panties that are pictured above from the Panties and Camisole set done in knits. I have been wanting to try underwear, but just haven’t gotten around to it. She convinced me! She did at least one more project out of this book she reviewed as well that was cute.

Final Verdict: I knew this book would be a sure thing because I loved the first one, but I am even more pleased with it than I imagined. Expect to see some projects from me in the future.

Adding pockets to pajama pants

A lot of blogs I read participated in the Pyjama Party online yesterday. I showed up a day late and made an old standby – McCalls 5248 pajama pants out of seer sucker. I wear my flannel pants all the time, but it is getting hot, and flannel is no longer practical. One thing I always wish my pants had was pockets, so this time around I added some.

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Sorry for the grainy photo. I just couldn’t bother anyone to take pictures of me in pajamas today.

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I started with the pattern for the pocket from a dress I really like. I cut the pockets out of quilting cotton because seer sucker pockets would get bulky. Cut 4 – two for each side.

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Next I laid my fabric pieces out right next to each other and lined up the tops straight across.

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I measured down four inches from the top and made a mark on my pattern on the outsides of both legs.

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I lined up the top marking of the pocket with my 4″ line and also marked the bottom mark of the pocket on my pattern.

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Next I marked both marks on all four pieces of fabric. This pattern has you sew the inside leg seam firt, so I did that. But I added a couple steps before I sewed the outside seam.

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My pattern called for a 5/8″ seam allowance, so I sewed the pockets right sides together with the fabric using the same on both front and back pieces.

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I zigzagged along the edge of the raw edges of the pockets and fabric. I pressed both the pocket and seam allowance toward the outside.

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You should now have two pieces that look like this. Next my pattern directs mt to sew outside leg seams together.

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I like to pin the seam allowances together as well as a pin in the center of the pocket to keep everything in place.

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I serged around the edges to finish the seam, but as you can see the pocket is not perfect. It is trying to serge curves like that. I’m OK with it.

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I like to stick my hand in the pocket at this point for a finger check. That means do my fingers find any holes that I may have left in the pocket. All clear! Now continue sewing as directed!

I will be giving a new McCalls 5248 pattern away on my blog, so be sure to visit there.

Easy Custom Tea Towel

I love having a towel hanging over my stove handle for spills or a quick hand dry. I made a quick and easy one to go with my home makeover using some scraps left over from the bolster pillow.

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So cute! The towel took me about 20 minutes to make, and if I had an assembly line going I bet I could do it even faster.

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I bought a 4 pack of ‘barmop’ towels from Target for a little over $4. I found them on the aisle with the kitchen linens. As a side note I love how they come wrapped up. It would be fun to make a set of these for a house warming gift or newlyweds and rewrap them in the original ribbon to give as a present. You could even embroider them!

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I cut a 5 inch wide strip of fabric that hungover both sides of the towel by half an inch.

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At this point you could press in a half in an inch around all the sides and just stitch around the edges, but my fabric wouldn’t press well. So what I did was pin the edges of the towel and the fabric right sides together.

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I used about three pins and overlapped about a half an inch as you can see through the chevron fabric. I stitched right along the edge of the towel being sure to catch it under my needle.

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Flip it up and make sure you caught it all.

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Next I turned under my fabric a half an inch on the remaining three raw edges, finger pressed and pinned in place. I used extra pins at the corners to be sure they would turn out neat.

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Here are my edges all pinned into place. Next I edge stitched around all four sides of the fabric.

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Be sure to pivot at the corners for a sharp looking corner. Also, when you are going across the top of the fabric take your time and straighten out your towel as you go.

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Your fabric should be edge stitched around all four sides. This would also be a fun place to try some decorative top stitching. And you’re done!

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Here is a shot of the kitchen with the tea towel hanging over my stove handle. It is a great accessory that matches my valance.

You can see more of me (and my four legged assistant) at Stacie Thinks She Can.

Bolster Pillow Tutorial

I just made a new cover for an old bolster pillow that had been sitting in the closet for years. It was a fast and easy project!

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Believe it or not this was the best shot I could get because my assistant there is blocking out the extreme  light coming through the window. I am loving the black out curtain linings!

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Here are the two pillows I had before. The purple one had a zippered cover and the red one was a cheapy just filled with Poly-fil. I pulled the bolster shaped filler out of the purple one to work with.

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I found a saucer that was a little bit larger than the round end of my pillow.

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I used my plate to make a circle for both ends of the bolster by tracing a line around the outside of it.

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Next I cut a piece of fabric just a bit longer than my bolster. After I measured around my plate I found my fabric needed to be 24 inches long plus one inch for adding the zipper.

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Sew your zipper right sides together with your fabric .

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Flip your fabric out and top stitch it down to your zipper tape.

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Repeat the steps to attache the other side of your zipper. Sew it right sides together with the other end of your piece of fabric.

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You will have to open your zipper up to top stitch along this side.

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Your zipper tube should look like the one above.

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Now place a circle piece right sides together with your zipper tube. Pin them together and go slow. It is a bit tricky sewing this circle on, but you can do it.

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I turned mine right sides out to check I had gotten it all sewn together. Before sewing your next circle on, open your zipper up some, so you don’t sew your cover shut.

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Sew your other circle to the open side of the bolster case. Again pin and go slow. As you can see mine is not perfect, but you can’t tell once it is turned right sides out. Once it is sewn turn it right side out and stuff it with your pillow form.

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And enjoy!

You can see more of me (and my four legged assistant) at Stacie Thinks She Can.