Category Archives: Clothing

Skirt Sew Along

I just love a skirt in the summer. Nothing fancy or lined, I just want a plain old skirt to wear. A-line is my favorite shape, and Butterick 4461 is my favorite pattern. It’s not too fancy. I can dress it up or down, and it is so much cooler to wear than shorts or pants in these hot Houston summers.



I made this version last year for the rodeo and got a ton of compliments. I used a Texas wildflower print by Michael Miller Fabrics.


I made this version this winter while wishing for spring. Sadly, I have already gotten to wear it and am wishing summer away.


I made this version around the same time. Sadly my iron wigged out and burned a hole through it. Le sigh. It was really beautiful.

I was thinking of the best way to do a sew along. Butterick 4461 the first skirt I ever made, so a very beginner could do it, but now I like fancy seams and new techniques that I would like to share. Here is what I came up with: I am making two versions of the skirt. The blue one will be a skirt that uses more advanced techniques. The pink one will be a version that uses very basic techniques that a beginner would benefit from.

Think of it this way, have you ever gotten an exercise video and the crazy buff trainer in front says if you are having any difficulty you can follow the one person doing a low impact workout? The pink skirt will be low impact and the blue one will be all out. You will be able to switch techniques I show on both skirts, and maybe you can teach me a thing or too.


Low impact pink skirt.


Advanced technique blue skirt. Isn’t it cute?

I know A-Line skirts are not for everyone. If you have a simple skirt with zipper in another shape, you may be able to follow along as well. I’m happy to try to answer any questions you have about this. In the meantime go get your pattern and fabric. As for zippers I will show how to do both an in seam zipper and an invisible zipper, so go nuts!

I’m off to complete my first important step: washing and drying my fabric on hot before I cut my fabric to thwart any washing and drying disasters in the future. I hope you do the same, and we’ll cut out fabric and patterns soon!

Random Question: Hey Stacie!  Why do you  recommend pre-washing fabrics on “Hot”?   Signed, Curious

Good question!  Sometimes my husband will do the laundry and not pay attention to temperature settings. We had an incident not long ago with a dress I had made that I had prewashed on a regular setting that he washed after it was completed on hot after several typical washings. It shrank and pulled, and I don’t think it will ever fit again. That was a huge lesson as well as a waste of money,energy, time and being upset with my husband. Now, in an effort to save my marriage, I wash on hot first to be proactive instead of reactive when someone else does laundry. If you have an alternate arrangement, washing on hot may not be necessary, but do pre-wash your fabric.

Adventures in Machine Embroidery: Cut Work

Ok all you adventurous machine embroidery ladies!  It’s time to take our hobby to the next level!!!

Yes!  We are doing some Cut Work!

What is cutwork?

Well, for some reason, looking at cut work reminds me of stained glass windows.  But that’s really not what it is at all.

Cut work is embroidery on fabric that is literally CUT OUT during the embroidery process.  So, your finished project has artistic and deliberate “holes” that are surrounded by beautiful embroidery stitches.

Here are some pictures of cut work designs by Anita Goodesign and also one by Dakota Collectibles.  You can get these and other designs from Humble Sewing Center or order them online.

Check out the pictures and then take a look at my step-by-step adventure in Cut Work on a shirt….


Dakota Collectibles File # FL1520

Cut Work Shirt Tutorial


  • one shirt
  • one cut work embroidery design
  • embroidery machine and embroidery thread
  • curved, fine tip embroidery scissors for precision cutting
  • No Show Fusible Stabilizer
  • Self-Adhesive Wash Away Stabilizer

Step One: Choose a shirt

Step Two: If you have embroidery software, print out a design template to help you with design placement on your shirt.

Don’t have software?  If you aren’t ready to invest in a full blown digitizing software, I like to recommend 2 smaller software packages, depending on what machine you own.

If you have a Janome Machine, I like Digitizer Jr.  (You can get this at Humble Sewing Center or your local dealer.)

If you have a Babylock or other brand of machine, I like to recommend: Embrilliance Essentials  (This is a smaller package that was created by the same man who created all of the Designer’s Gallery software. He’s amazing!)  He even let’s you download a free trial to see if you like it:  Free Trial    I don’t know if the trial lets you print or stitch anything, but at least you can click around and see if you like the way the software works…

Moving right along….

Step Three: Peel the paper backing off of the self-adhesive stabilizer and hoop it with the sticky side face up.

Step Four: Place your design template on your shirt and mark the cross hairs with a sticker or pins to help you with hooping.

Step Five:

Once you know where the design will be, you can fuse a piece of the No-Show fusible stabilizer to the wrong side of the shirt.  Make sure you are fusing this stabilizer in the area that the shirt will be embroidered.  This stabilizer helps keep your stretchy shirt fabric from becoming distorted during hooping and embroidering.

Step Six: Turn your shirt inside out and place it right side up on top of the hoop's sticky surface. I used the plastic grid that came with my hoop to help me align my shirt in the hoop. If my way is totally confusing you, see below to find out how Nancy Zieman does it.

(For the next two photos, I’m quoting the shirt hooping step from one of Nancy’s blog posts.  Here’s the link to the entire post:  Knit Shirt Makeovers)

“Place the embroidery hoop at the narrow end of an ironing board.  Next, position the T-shirt over the end of the ironing board. (See picture below.)  Match the neckline and center front to one of the Perfect-Placement Stitching lines and center front marking on the stabilizer. Gently finger press the shirt to the sticky stabilizer.”

Photo from Nancy Zieman Blog Post - Knit Shirt Makeovers

“Lift the back of the T-shirt to the top of the hoop, creating a nest shape. Reattach the hoop to the embroidery unit.”

Photo from Nancy Zieman Blog Post - Knit Shirt Makeovers

Ok, now we’re back to my instructions for the cut work shirt tutorial:

Step Seven: Once the shirt is hooped, make sure the needle is aligned with your target sticker or pins.

Step Eight: Stitch the first step of your cut work design and remove the hoop from the machine. Do not un-hoop the shirt!

Step Nine: Using your fine tipped embroidery scissors, cut out the fabric inside of the stitch outlines. Even cut through the stabilizers.

Step Ten: Turn the hoop over and use a piece of the self-adhesive stabilizer to patch the holes you cut. This is a very important step! Don't forget to patch those holes!!!

Step Eleven: Place the hoop onto the machine and finish stitching out the embroidery design.

Step Twelve:  Remove the hoop from the machine and un-hoop your shirt.  Trim away the excess stabilizers and use warm water to rinse away all of the wash away stabilizer.  Tumble dry your wet shirt.

Note:  If the embroidered area is stiff, you may need to rinse out the shirt again to remove the rest of the wash away stabilizer.  Once your shirt is dry, use a pressing cloth and press if necessary.

Look at my new shirt! By the way, this design is from Anita Goodesign Butterfly Cut Work Collection. I Love it!

My dog, Rilie, is very happy with the way my shirt turned out!

She's giving me her high five! What a sweet girl!

Thanks for reading!

I hope this helps you with your first try at Cut Work!

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Onesie Conversion!

Look at what I made!

Today I refashioned a ready-to-wear onesie that I had purchased at Walmart for about $2.  I used my handy dandy embroidery machine and added an applique to the front of it.  I also bursted a few brain cells and created my own pattern so I could add a mock-wrap skirt to it.  The picture above is the fruit of my experimentation.  I’m looking forward to seeing this on my niece!

Here’s a close-up of the applique that I found for FREE online.  I’m sharing a link to the website where you can download this and other free designs as well as purchase tons of very cute ABC’s etc.

Note:   To be sure you like the results, you may want to stitch out a test one on scrap fabric first.

New Video Tutorial Coming Soon:  My hubby filmed me going through the steps of stabilizing, hooping, and stitching out this applique on a onesie.  I’ll be able to share the video as soon as he’s done editing etc.  Yay!

After I embroidered my onesie, I fused a stabilizer called Fuse So Soft to the back of the embroidery design.  It’s like a tricot fabric, but it’s fusible and this keeps the rough threads from scratching or irritating a baby’s delicate skin.  You can get it at Humble Sewing Center or order something similar online.

After the embroidery was all done, I used my self-drafted miniature skirt pattern and went to town putting this cute little frock together.  My skirt pattern is basically a trapezoid shape with a rounded bottom edge.

See?  My onesie has a mock-wrap skirt.  The overlapping flap is sewn in place near my contrasting chocolate band and there are no waist ties.

I assembled and hemmed the skirt before attaching it to the onesie.

I marked center front and center back and placed some alignment dots across the onesie’s front and back so I’d be able to pin the skirt in place and sew without too much fuss.

Can you see the placement dots?

To sew the skirt to the onesie, I turned the skirt inside out and inserted the onesie into the skirt so that center fronts, center backs, and side seams were aligned and fabrics were right sides together.  Then I pinned it to death and sewed all the way around.

       My friend’s Beautiful Daughter, Marian! I get to be Auntie Jenny! Yay!!!!

I know I didn’t share a complete step by step tutorial for this project this time, but I am sharing a link to a pattern by Vanilla House that is very similar to what I have done here.  See?  Just click the images to go to the Vanilla House website and order your pattern!


P163 One-zee conversions162frontcoveronly

That’s all for now!

Let’s get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

The Refashioned Stretch Velvet Top

Hello again!

Today’s post is all about an experiment I conducted to refashion an old top of mine.  I decided to cut it open and add button holes & buttons.  Overall, it was a success, with a little bit of a fail mixed in.  See below for more….

(The following is reposted from my most recent Sew Weekly contribution.)

The day we set aside to take pictures was a very grey and blustery one so, my dear, sweet, hubby, set up his equipment for an indoor photo shoot.   We didn’t think you’d be interested in seeing our humble living room, so he got creative and hence, the custom backgrounds….

Ever since I began contributing to the Sew Weekly, he’s been faithfully helping me photograph my latest sewing efforts and this week’s button holes “experiment”.  I must take a moment to extend an official “Thank You!!!” to my wonderful Mister.

The Facts

Fabric:  RTW stretch velvet shirt

Pattern:  This is made from a hand-me-down top that I was given a few years ago.  I decided to cut it open and refashion it into a button up top that I could then wear as a blouse or leave open and wear as a dressy cover up.  (My own personal experiment… eeeep!)

Year:  2012

Notions:  Vintage Buttons from my Grandma’s Stash

Time to complete:  2 hours

First Worn:  January 16, 2012

Wear Again:  Yes!

Total Price:  Free

The Details:  Going into this, you’ll note, that I had visions of leaving the buttons unfastened and wearing this velvety top as a cover up over all kinds of other little tops.  But, as you can see, or not see, there are NO photos of me with this little gem unbuttoned.  This is because, stretch velvet rolls.  So, if I ever were to wear it unbuttoned, everyone would get a nice long look at my button hole facings…..  Not the look I was going for, but oh well.  It’s good to experiment.  Right?

If the end goal is to be able to wear the shirt unbuttoned, I think this experiment would work better on heavier weight fabrics.  With that thought in mind, here’s a few pictures of my shirt’s “metamorphosis”:

I cut 2 strips of fabric about 1 1/4″ wide & about 2 inches longer than the shirt front.Then I ironed fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric.
I found and marked center front and cut open my shirt. Eeeep!
With right sides together, I aligned one long edge of a facing strip with one long edge of my cut open shirt. Then I sewed the facing to the shirt and zig zagged the raw edge of the facing. (Next, I repeated these steps for the other facing.)
I then marked and sewed all of my buttonholes on the front of the shirt. This is a picture of my lovely facings….
Here’s a close up of my finished button hole and button. Except for the rolling velvet, this shirt turned out just the way I wanted.

Thanks so much for taking the time to read about this partially successful refashioning experiment.

If you’d like to be among the first to know when we launch our next gift give-away, please click on the side menu to “follow us by email”.

Let’s Get Sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Tips for Sewing Custom Sized Buttonholes & Sewing on Buttons by Machine

Hello and Happy Thursday!

Heads up ladies!  This post is two-fold.

First some tips about button-holes and sewing on buttons by machine and second, I’m sharing something I posted on The Sew Weekly Challenge – “StitchinJenny’s Favorite Wrap Skirt”.   (This skirt has 2 buttonholes!)

For those of you who own Janome machines, I’m linking to 3 different Janome video clips that focus on buttonholes and sewing on buttons.  Hopefully, the information demonstrated will also shed some light on the matter for those of you who own various other brands of machines.

And, I’m also posting a VERY helpful video from Nancy Zieman demonstrating:  making buttonholes, safely cutting them open, properly placing them on your project etc.  As usual, Nancy is the Queen of sharing lots of wonderful tips!


We're outside for this picture, so I could only safely show you one of the two buttonholes!

Video Links:

Custom Sized Buttonhole

Sewing on a 2-hole Button by Machine

Sewing on a 4-hole Button by Machine

StitchinJenny’s Favorite Wrap Skirt – The following is reposted from my contribution to The Sew Weekly:

Name & Location:  Jenny Gabriel, New Caney, Texas

Blog:  Sew Vac Outlet (Humble Sewing Center) Blog

How Long Have You Been Sewing:  I first started sewing with my Grandma’s needle and thread at the age of 5.  But, I didn’t really pick up sewing until 1997 when she passed away and bequeathed me her entire sewing room, machines and all.  Since then, I have become quite the sewing junkie.

Why did you want to commit to The Sew Weekly Challenge:  I’ve been following along from the sidelines for a while now, and decided it was time to join in on the fun.  I’m also hoping to bust my fabric stash by sewing out as many of the upcoming challenges as possible.

What do you love most about sewing garments:  I love the entire creative process and being able to customize the fit for my short waisted, small bosomed, pear shaped body.

What do you hate most about sewing garments:  I hate being reminded that I’m short waisted, small bosomed, and pear shaped. JK. The only thing I hate about sewing garments is that I don’t have the luxury of unlimited time to sew.

What do you want to accomplish this year with regard to the challenge:  I want to expand my sewing skills and see if I can produce something worthy to achieve the spotlight on the Sew Weekly.

Your biggest non-sewing goal of 2012:  I want to find a better balance between work and play.  I’m such a type-A personality that I will work, work, work and forget to take time to relax, play, and enjoy the people in my life that mean most to me.

What are your favorite sewing/fashion blogs: Nancy Zieman, my lifetime sewing mentor from afar, has just invited me to participate in her January blog tour! (I love this lady, her show, and her blog!)

Another blog I that I enjoy reading because it’s so fun to follow her sewing adventures and sense of humor is:  Stacie Thinks She Can.

I also appreciate the content found at anna maria horner and colette.

Lastly, when I’m on pinterest, clicking around on crafty and sewing related pins, I’m constantly stumbling into some wonderful blogs which I then pin so I’ll be able to find them again: My Pinterest Link

Me, flirting with the cameraman, my handsome hubby! All photos by Rory Gabriel Photography

My favorite garment of 2011 is the wrap skirt I made from McCalls pattern 5430.  During 2011, I made several garments, but aside from my favorite pair of pj’s, I wear this skirt the most.  It was quick and easy to make.  I like the fit, the waist tie and the button up closure.

The Facts

Fabric:  Cotton Print

Pattern:  McCalls 5430

Year:  2011

Notions:  two 5/8″ buttons from my Grandma’s button box

Time to Complete:  Start to finish, about 4 hours

First Worn:  to my friend, Shawn’s, baby shower

Wear Again:  Yes!

Total Price:  less than $20

I love these waist ties!

Skirt has 2 Buttons in waistband to keep the wrap skirt from slipping down while wearing.

Made some Scrubs Tops for my Sister! Simplicity 4378

My “little” sister just had a birthday.  Happy Birthday Kat!!!!

And, I made her something she can use for her day job at a dental office.  Her other job is sewing and designing costumes for the renaissance festival’s clothiers and of course being super Mom to my 2 feisty, um…., wild,  um…. AWESOME, nephews.

So, I wanted to share some pictures and some sewing tips for her two new tops that I just finished at about 2 am this morning…..   Sometimes I just can’t stop sewing  until it’s finished.  You know the feeling?

Photos & Close-ups of Spiffy Scrub Tops for Kat!

Please Scroll Down for some sewing tips……

Front View Teal Scrubs

Teal Scrubs Back View

Batik Scrubs Front View

Neckline Detail - Triple Row of Stitches

Neckline Detail - Decorative Stitching - MC6600

Side Slits - Top Stitching

Patch Pockets w/ Serged Band Hem Cuff

Sewing Tips:

I used my serger and sewing machine to complete these 2 tops.  When serging, I like to pin parallel to the seam so I don’t accidentally run over a pin with my cutting blade.

Parallel pinning when serging

This top has facings that are under-stitched to keep them from rolling to the outside of the garment when wearing.  I used my ditch stitching foot to help me sew close to the seam and catch the seam allowance.  I laid my fabric right side up for this.

I moved the needle slightly to the right of the flange so that I could stitch on the facing and close to the seam.

In many casual-wear patterns, you don’t have to “set-in” sleeves the traditional way.  Instead you can sew the shoulder seams first and then attach the sleeves.  After that, you can sew up the side seams….  See…?

I like to lay my garment & the sleeve right side up and align the pieces to make sure my sleeves don't end up backwards.

Can you see the triangle notches on the arm-hole area and on the edge of the sleeve cap? This helps me make sure that the front of the sleeve cap is getting sewn to the arm-hole front....

Then I lay the fabrics right sides together and pin them to death with about a million pins.

Here’s a closer look:

One million and one, one million and two... BTW, tailor's hams come in handy when shaping a garment.

After the sleeve is pinned, I use my sewing machine to baste the seam. Once it's basted, I serge the seam on my serger.

Here’s a closer look:

I love the clean finish that my serger provides.

Once the sleeve caps are sewn in, the next step is to pin the underarm and side seams and serge!

Whew! We're almost done!

The last things were to press and top stitch the side slits, hem the sleeves and bottom edge of scrubs.  I used my tailor’s ham to help with some of that and also with pressing the neckline.

Tailor's Ham: Very helpful pressing tool.

That’s all for now!

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned for my promised next blog post of:  Placemat Love Part 2 – Binding Technique (no hand sewing required – BooYah!)

Oh, and, it’s not too late to enter our current prize drawing!  Click on image below to find out more.

Let’s get sewing!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny