Category Archives: Tips/Techniques FYI

Bling, Bling, and more Bling!

Do you like crystal designs on t-shirts, totes, or on pants? It seems that bling is everywhere. Some crystals can make a plan t-shirt look like a designer t-shirt. And, it is EASY… You can put the crystal wand in the closet; you won’t need it anyone with the Artistic Crystal Software and Cameo Silhouette cutter. Create a crystal design from a clipart, add crystals to an embroidery design, or use your fonts to create designs with team names, bridal party accessories, birthday t-shirts. You are limited only by your imagination.

The Artistic Crystal System is on display at Humble Sewing Center. Stop by the store to see a demo and some samples that we have created.  Check out the shirts that I did this weekend.

To create the crystal cross template:

  1. Draw a cross on paper and scan it.
  2. Open the Artistic Crystal software with the image as a backdrop
  3. Using your mouse, place the crystals around the cross in the desired pattern.
  4. Save the design.
  5. Turn on the Cameo Silhouette and load the template material.
  6. Export it to the Cameo Silhouette and cut.
  7. When the cutting is complete, unload the template material and pull it off the mat.
  8. Place the template on the backing board.
  9. Place the template in a tray and pour crystals on top of it.
  10. Using a trim and touch up pad from the starter kit, move the crystals on the template in a back and forth motion. The crystals will fall into the holes.
  11. Turn any upside down crystals over with the silhouette tools included with the cutter.
  12. Cut a piece of transfer tape to the size of the template. Separate the sticky top from the bottom.
  13. Place the clear tape on top of the template. Press it with your fingers so the crystal stick to the transfer tape.
  14. Pull the transfer tape off of the template and place the bottom on it.
  15. When ready to iron on the transfer, pull the bottom off of the transfer tape.
  16. Place the crystals on the t-shirt in the proper position.
  17. Place a pressing cloth on top of the transfer tape, hold a hot, dry iron on top. Hold in place for 30-40 seconds. Remove iron and pressing cloth. Lift transfer tape carefully. It will be hot. If crystals do not stay on the shirt, replace pressing cloth and iron. Hold in place a little longer.
  18. Lift transfer tape. Crystals should remain on shirt. Place the pressing cloth on top again and hold the iron for 10-15 seconds for one last shot of heat to secure the crystals.

You are finished. Save the template. You can use it whenever you want to use that design. You reuse the transfer tape as long as it remains sticky.

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.

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.

ImageNow sew down the leg seam from top to bottom with right sides together going around the perimeter of the pocket instead of going straight down the leg.

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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.

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.

Dog Bed Makeover

I absolutely love my dog. She is my best buddy and super assistant, but I’ll be honest. She has hideous taste in sleepwear. I buy her cute dog beds with shaping or cool designs and she just is not interested. This has been her go to for years now:

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It is a big pillow covered with lumberjack chic fleece with a zipper along the side. It is the cheapest dog bed ever. I bought it for $10 at Walgreen’s and it is all she uses. She also has it in tiger print in the bedroom. She totally pulls that one off, but the plaid one is in the living room and no longer matches my new super cute curtains. Now it looks like this:

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Still lumpy, but that is what she likes. At least now it is a great print that is the same color as my curtains. Here is how I did it.

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I wanted to reuse the zipper because it is so long, so I ripped it out.

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Like my new band-aid? Patrick from Sponge Bob Square Pants would like to remind us all that seam rippers are sharp. 🙂

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I got one yard of each of these to match my other home decor fabric. I love the chevrons, but decided to use the polka dot for her bed because I think it would show less dirt.

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I used a chenille for the bottom and just cut it about one inch bigger than the inner pillow of the bed.

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I cute my top fabric the same size as my bottom fabric.

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Place the zipper right sides together along one short side of your fabric and sew down the edge using your  zipper foot.

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Then flip your fabric right side up and top stitch your fabric to your zipper tape.

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Now sew the other side of the zipper right sides together with your bottom fabric using the same process.

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I noticed a lot of fabric shedding while I was sewing my zipper, so instead of flipping and top stitching like I did before I used my serger to finish the edge of the zipper tape to the bottom fabric. You could just top stitch it like we did on the main fabric.

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Now open your zipper a bit so you don’t sew your cover shut and sew around the edges of the three remaining sides right sides of the fabric together.

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My zipper was plastic, so I just sewed right over it about three times to secure it. If your zipper is metal do not sew over it. Do what you need to to avoid the needle hitting the metal zipper teeth.

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I serged my edges when I was done to finish them, but you could just pinking shear them.

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Turn your case right sides out, and make sure your zipper works.

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Reinsert your pillow and zip up. You’re done!

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Well, almost. Make sure it feels right to your best buddy. Now her bed looks super cute in the living room. Thanks for reading, and as always I would love to see if you make one.

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