Sewing: School of Sewing Class

This Saturday I am embarking on teaching my second all day School of Sewing class. The class is basically a combination of 3 classes that I’ve taught over the past few years for adults: pattern reading, get to know your sewing machine and a simple sewing 101 for adults. It’s a six hour session where we start out at the very beginning and work our way through so much information and end with making simple elastic skirts.

School of Sewing 2016 spring

I combined information from the excellent book by Shea Henderson called School of Sewing and Abby Glassenberg’s also excellent Get to Know Your Sewing Machine e-book along with my own experience and some help from other blogs online and created this packet that I use for teaching my class.

School of Sewing 2016 Spring

One of my favorite parts of the class it talking through pattern envelopes, different types of fabrics and just general fabric vocabulary.

School of Sewing 2016 spring

I created this interactive activity where each person receives a set of fabric squares and other fabrics making this a hands on activity. There’s nothing like being able to actually touch the different types of something that makes learning a little bit easier. I’ve also found that talking through the different vocabulary of fabric (grainline, selvage, bias etc) is most helpful when students can actually hold the bias and pull it etc.

Interested in working through the packet yourself or even sharing it with your own class? Here’s a schoolofsewingpacket just for you!

And because I have to say it – please don’t copy these and sell them.

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Sewing for little hands: Build a Softie

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This spring I had the great joy of teaching a few Saturday sewing classes to some great girls and one of my favorite classes was our Build a Softie day. Last Sunday was Sew a Softie day around the world and while I’m a little late to the game I wanted to share this fun activity we did in our class. This is a great designing and sewing activity to fill these last, crazy hot days of summer before school starts up again.

First up, you will need to gather some supplies:
cotton fabric and felt scraps
trim, ribbon, ric rac etc
polyfill stuffing
scissors
chenille #22 needle
thread (I recommend either thin crochet thread or cotton perle embroidery floss size 5)
a needle threader (I highly recommend Loran needle threaders)
buttons for eyes
directions for making your pattern buildasoftie

How to Build a Softie:

Build a Softie Class

Using your Design a Softie sheet, first figure out what shape body you want your softie to have. Using a sheet of printer paper, draw out the shape of the body (make sure to draw it a little bigger than you want it to be. This is called adding a seam allowance – that’s the little bit of fabric that is in the inside where you sewed the two pieces together) Repeat this process for the legs, wings, arms and the rest of the body parts you want to include. Remembering ever time to draw your pattern pieces a little bigger than you want them to be. Cut out your paper pattern.

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Taking your fabric scraps and your paper pattern, cut out the pieces of your softie. Make sure you cut out 2 body parts (a front and a back), two wings, two arms/legs etc. For the ears I recommend using felt because it’s a bit stiffer and the ears will stand up by themselves.

Build a Softie Class
Build a Softie Class

Now decide if you want to add some trim to separate the head from the body. You can use ribbon, ric rac or even a strip of fabric. Pin this down to the front of your softie and take it to your sewing machine. If you know how to sew with a zig zag stitch, go ahead and sew this down with a wide zig zag straight down the middle of your trim piece. Repeat on the back of your softie (if you want).

Next up, decide what sort of face you want for your softie. Add some eyes, a nose or a beak and using a whipstitch or a running stitch sew these onto the front of your softie.

Now you need to sew your legs and arms. Match each leg up with it’s front and back with right sides facing (this means the backside of the fabric is showing). Sew a straight stitch on your sewing machine all the way around the sides – leave the top open. Check to make sure you don’t have any holes and once you’ve sewn all of them, flip them right side out. You might need to use a chopstick or a seam ripper to help you pull out all the edges.

Build a Softie Class

Now take your arms and legs and pin them in place to the right side of the front piece of your softie. They should each be laying inside. Put the back piece on top – with right sides facing – and pin it to the top.

Build a Softie Class

Sewing really slowly on your machine, sew a seam all around the outside of your softie. Make sure you leave an opening in the side for stuffing. I like to leave my hole on the side between the arm and the leg. Before you flip your softie right sides out, stick your hand in the hole and take out all the pins.

Build a Softie Class

Then flip him right side out and your arms and legs should flip out! Go ahead and start stuffing. And stuff and stuff and stuff!

Build a Softie Class

Sew up the hole with a whipstitch.

Build a Softie Class

And give your new little friend a big hug!

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Wardrobe Architect 2: Defining a Core Style Part Two

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When it comes to defining a core style, the first task was to take a look at style icons I might have. This proved to be a bit challenging, but I pulled something together.  This second part of Defining a Core Style is all about actually putting together vision boards for different categories of my wardrobe. This wasn’t quite as hard.  Even though I’m only at the beginning of this whole wardrobe project, I can already tell how it’s making me really process the clothes I have, the clothes I’m drawn to and the ones that I think I want to buy (or the patterns I want to buy).

I have started a board over on Pinterest that has lots of clothing styles, patterns and more that I am drawn to so head on over and check that out for more visuals.

 

pjs

 

When it comes to pajamas and loungewear I like things loose. But if I’m being completely honest, I have a soon to be teenage boy in the house, so I’ve reached this point where I truly have to be conscious of what I’m wearing to bed. When it comes to pajamas, I’m not really a robe wearer, so I need to have at least some sort of tee that I can wear to cover up any sort of tank or something that I’m wearing to sleep in. I’ve never been a fancy pajama wearing gal, but I do like a nice, soft pair of pjs. No silk or satin for this chick. When it comes to activewear, I’m sort of in transition. If there’s one area of my wardrobe that is seriously in dire straights it’s this part. I recently cleaned out all my old, old tanks I was wearing to exercise in along with some old yoga pants. I don’t really do much more than going for good brisk walks and some yoga at home, so it’s not an area of my closet I need to spend tons of money on (oh…Lululemon I wish I could) so I’m really trying to be intentional about what I’m buying in regards to activewear. I prefer some loose fitting knit shorts, versus tight bike shorts and while I do like my pair of running tights, I wouldn’t say I’m totally comfortable in them.

 

casual

Next up is casual outfits. I’ve been a work at home mom for a while now and I do think that’s one reason why my wardrobe has suffered so greatly. The need for a great closet just hasn’t been there. But as I begin to realize that I’ve got few things to wear for church on Sundays and the realization that I’ll be doing some more formal teaching next year outside of my house, I need to really start building this area back up again. I love layers and could have a whole closet full of light cardigans. I like a loose flowing top and I’m just now starting to relax with the whole tunics and leggings thing (which means that people will probably stop wearing them). I used to be a big lover of wide leg pants, but I’m not sure if I still am or not. Colorwise, I’m pretty neutral. I’ve got auburn hair which makes creams, browns, blacks etc work best for me. While I like purple, it’s one of those colors I buy and then never wear. Grassy green is probably hands down my favorite.

 

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If I think that my casual closet is lacking, oh man. It’s the dressy closet that is almost nonexistant. It truly is the one area I really need to do the most planning and buying. I love a flowy long skirt, but I also love the 40-50s dresses too. I love the idea of these layered dresses, but honestly I don’t know if I could truly pull it off. Colorwise, I’m still pretty neutral.

 

outerwear copy

 

When it comes to outerwear, I really don’t wear that much. While I live in the South, the winter here can get chilly but not for months and months at a time. A good cozy coat is good enough. I pretty much live in my puffy vest in the Fall (layers!) and a good raincoat is pretty necessary too. As much as I think I like a good hoodie, that’s just not my gig really. Now, when it comes to color, this is an area I’m not all that neutral. I’ve currently got a bright blue winter coat and a very red raincoat. Not neutral at all.

 

So there it is. My core style. Next up I will be working through Exploring Shapes.

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Sewing: Part Review – Part Tutorial

So my girl child has started swimming and she has been needing a good swim bag desperately. I looked around for something to buy and then I started looking into bag patterns. I found a tutorial that I thought would work and even better it had a built in “wet bag” so I went for it. I ordered some canvas cotton material and this past weekend I got to work.

This is the tutorial that I used. Now, the tutorial does mention that this bag is big. But honestly – this bag was big. Think Ikea bag. It was too much and I was so frustrated. I checked the dimensions on my cutting mat and it seemed like a good size, but really it was too large. I spent the next few days taking the bag back apart and today I shrunk it down and finished it up. I made a few modifications along the way so I thought I would share them.

This is the original bag. It’s really hard to tell how big it is, but there is a giant bag of fabric sitting inside of it – like a trashbag size bag. I’m telling you this bag was super big.

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REVIEWS AND CHANGES

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For fabric, I used a cotton canvas for the print and instead of using a nylon I used PUL fabric, which is mostly used for cloth diaper covers. I wanted to use something that was more waterproof than just nylon so I splurged and spent a little more money for that. The wet bag, the lining sides and the lining bottom are all with the PUL.

First off, here’s my dimensions:

front/back panels 20×18
side panels 18×7
bottom panel – after quilting cut 20×7

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For the bottom, I actually left it the original size from the first bag and decided to quilt it to make it a little more hefty on the bottom. I sandwiched a thin piece of batting between two layers of the canvas and just quilted lines about a half inch apart.

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I am super glad that I did this extra step because it gives the bag a good shape for the bottom. I kind of wish I would have quilted the sides too, but I’m not about to take this bag apart again!

Construction wise, the biggest change was how I did the bottom compared to the instructions.  The instructions tell you to stitch up the 4 panels and then sew the bottom on and then sew the last side together at the end. I tried that the first go round and it ended up super wonky. The second time, I sewed all the sides together, leaving me with a rectangular box shape and then sewed the bottom on starting with one of the short sides.

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I added a pocket on the other inside with sections. I decided to make a larger pocket with divided sections for her glasses, goggles and hair ties etc versus just one pocket.

So there we go. Honestly it was a great lesson in what I just wrote about for Seamwork Magazine. It was crazy how confident and powerful I felt after taking this thing apart that I’d super failed at and piecing it back together successfully. It was a great way to cap off the day.

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Wardrobe Architect 1: All About Style

WAbanner

 

I have a brother that is nearly 8 years older than me and he was really the first person who introduced me to the idea of personal style. He was the person who introduced me to the idea of “pegging my jeans” and all sorts of other crazy 80’s fashions. If there was anything I would say about him though, it’s that he’s always been confident in his style and who he is with it. But me, no way. I know what I’m comfortable in but I’m still playing around with what my style is. That’s why I love and hate this wardrobe series. It’s asking questions I’ve never really considered.

The focus for this first section is all about your personal style. You can find the style worksheet here. The worksheet is broken down into different sections that should help me figure out how I dress and what I like. Here’s how my answers shook out.


History

How has your personal history informed the way you dress?
I think I started out being a little different (thanks to an stylish older brother), but over time I got nervous and I’ve gone very plain and traditional. It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve really realized what I like, what I feel good in and what fits my body well.

Philosophy

How does your philosophy, spirituality or religion affect your aesthetics and buying habits?
I’m not super fond of short skirts or showing off my back. I don’t mind a good tank top, but overall I’m pretty modest. I’m not sure if that is as much a reflection of just who I am deep down or my religion.

Culture

How did the aesthetics and values you grew up with affect your tastes as you got older?
When I was young, I wanted to dress cool to impress my older brother. But as I’ve grown up, I’ve started to slowly let go of the desire to dress to impress others and focus more on what I like.

Community

How are you influenced by the people around you?
Their encouragement definitely plays a role in what I wear and sew. I do dress for the different communities that I’m in. If I go out, take my daughter to her homeschool cooperative group, hanging out with friends or traveling to a bigger city. Each of those places plays a big role in what I’m going to wear. If I sew something and get compliments on it, I definitely get a boost in my confidence – not only in my sewing ability but also in my sense of style.

Activities

How do you day to day activities influence your choices?
I tend to be at home a lot so there are many days that I honestly just throw on something super comfortable and throw out the idea of any sense of style. When I do go out for different activities, I do try to be more intentional about what I’m putting on. But honestly, most of the time I’ve got on stretchy shorts and an old t-shirt 🙂

Location

How does climate factor in?
I live in the Southeastern US and the climate changes for sure around here. Layers are key in the spring and fall. Winter can be fairly cold and summer can be miserable humid and hot.

Body

In what ways does body image affect your choices in clothing? What clothes make you feel good about the body you live in? What clothes make you feel uncomfortable or alienated from your body?
I like fairly loose fitting tops, but yet tailored. I like skirts a lot, especially long flowy ones and can live in a soft, knit tee for days. I love cardigans.
I’m not a fan of tight tees or shirts with collars. I have almost completely lost my love of capri pants, although I do like to roll up my jeans just a little bit above my ankles. I don’t like cropped shirts and want my shirts below my hips most of the time. I’m also not a big fan of hoodies.

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