Tag Archives: sewing

Throwback Slipcover Project

When my son came to me a year or so ago to ask if I could make some slipcovers for his parsons-style chairs, I said “of course!”    Then I had to figure out how to actually make slipcovers for his chairs.   I looked at a few tutorials and talked with my slipcovering genius friend at Piping and Pleats, and told him we were good to go.  After that, we just needed to wait for the fabric to arrive.  The chairs were originally dark brown pleather which had been victimized tremendously by his two cats (sorry, no before picture) and were in desperate need of slipcovers.  (Actually, the chair behind the chair has the same kind of pleather, if you’re trying to visualize the before!)

The fabric he ordered was a home dec weight fabric from fabric.com which was quite easy to work with.  He decided against ties on the legs and I’m still thinking we should have added flaps with Velcro to secure them to the seat, but I do like the clean look of the hem as is.

It is amazing how much we learn by doing new things.  I’m not pleased with the area where the seat meets the back on these and while the tuck is good, the transition needs improvement.  Still, the back fits nicely and the seat fits nicely, so those are wins.  All in all, they were a success.  Sewing is one of those skills where we have to learn by doing and accepting the growth which comes from the imperfect is part of that skill building journey.  So, while they’re not perfect, I think they turned out pretty well and my son is really quite pleased.

Take Off Tote for a Friend

A birthday gift I was proud to give. Even better, I love seeing it used on a regular basis…truly the sincerest compliment I could receive.

A friend’s birthday was a wonderful reason to make this Take Off Tote from Dog Under My Desk.  For this version of the bag, I enlarged the pattern by 120% to make it the perfect size for a gym bag large enough to hold even winter clothes. This is one of my favorite patterns by one of my favorite pattern designers…the instructions are so simple to follow and the resulting bag is always something I’m proud to give to someone.

Not your typical gym bag, is it? I just love the fabric my friend picked out…so elegant.

At about 20″ long, this is a terrific gym bag.  Both the exterior and interior of the bag are made with quilter’s cotton, reinforced with Pellon SF101.  I used Pellon fusible Flex Foam to give the bag stability, which is why it is standing so nicely for the photo shoot.   Instead of using interfaced fabric for the straps, I used 1″ propylene webbing.  It holds up really well and doesn’t show dirt.  I added some feet at the bottom of the bag (sorry, no picture!) to keep it from getting too grimy at the gym. The only other “modification” I made to the original pattern was the addition of piping at the top of the both the exterior and interior pockets.

I love the circle monogram on this gorgeous fabric…the font is bold enough to hold its own against the paisley.

The simplicity of the polka dot interior is just right with the paisley print of the exterior.  It doesn’t really show well in the photo, but I topped the interior pocket with piping, as well.

Here is the view from the back side of the bag.  I sewed the optional trolley sleeve closed to provide a second exterior pocket.  With some leftover lining fabric, I added a coordinating shoe bag to keep everything nice and clean while tucked up in the bag.

Finally, I had just enough extra fabric leftover to sew a toiletries bag/wristlet.  I used Dog Under My Desk’s Essential Wristlet –this is the large boxed-bottom version of the pattern–and think it is just “sew” cute. 

Took the opportunity to play around with a new embroidery font to personalize the bag and used a rivet for the first time to secure the removable strap to the lobster clasp.  (I added a reinforcing stitch right by the rivet, just in case…)

These bags are really quite versatile and wear well.  The patterns I use from Dog Under My Desk definitely fall under the Tried And True category and they are go-to patterns in my stash.



First Applique Project

I’ve never done applique…I’ve never worn applique.  When it comes to clothing, I’m pretty minimalist.  Black, grey, white, and tan…oh, and army green!  Yeah, I’m a colorful kind of lady-not.  I’m not a fussy decorator, either.  I just like simple things…no ruffles, no florals, nothing too busy.  Couple that with the fact that all my children are pretty much grown ups and you can quickly to see why I’ve never gotten into embroidered t-shirts and/or applique.  My sewing machine is a combination sewing/embroidery machine, but other than adding names to things using the pre-loaded fonts, I’ve left the embroidery side alone.  Untouched.  Unexplored.  Uncharted territory.

Still, I won’t lie,  I’ve been intrigued.  How were people making these amazingly cute little onesies or t-shirts for babies and toddlers?   Finally, I decided I had to know.  I joined a FB group specifically geared towards owners of my sewing machine and the members were a wealth of information and encouragement.  It wasn’t long before I leapt head first into embroidery and applique.  I did this little spider first and was hooked.

This little spider made applique make sense…

So, I texted a friend of mine and asked her what size her boys were wearing and devised a plan.  Her boys were perfect for my applique adventure…think about it:  toddler boys aren’t going to be harsh critics and moms of toddler boys are always willing to get a new t-shirt.  I ordered the blanks (blank items on which to embroider or applique) and set about learning what I needed to know so I’d be ready when the blanks arrived.  I honestly had no idea how to applique…minor road block, right?  Nabbing a few recommendations, I headed over to The Itch 2 Stitch , browsed through their amazing selection of applique files and watched their video tutorial.  I bought a few applique files, and got to work with my scrap fabric. After struggling to narrow down my applique choices to these two, the actual applique process was surprisingly easy.

I tried both images first on just some scrap fabric to learn how the applique would really work. Then I tried them on a scrap of t-shirt material to mimic the shirts I’d be using for the end result (I didn’t remove all the WSS from the t-shirt sample…the final applique wasn’t shiny.)

A few practice runs under my belt and I was ready to go.  These two little shirts were the end result.   Not bad for a newbie!

They’re not perfect, but they’re really quite okay for a first time. Definitely inspired me to keep playing with my embroidery machine!

While I haven’t done more applique following my success with these two shirts, they inspired me to jump into embroidery in a big way…to the point that I was still doing embroidery at 8:00 p.m. December 24!  To say I was hooked would be an understatement, but more on that another time.  In the meantime, I’ve got two February themed applique projects in the pipeline…I look forward to sharing them with you.


Why sewing?

When I was a little girl, my mom made me beautiful things…princess-y things.  I don’t mean frilly, ruffly things, I mean things that made me feel like a princess.  She made me a little cheerleader costume to match the cheerleaders at the high school where my father taught.  She made me a velvet flower girl dress which then made its way into a few Halloween costumes.


A cape fit for a princess…

She made me this lovely lined cape which I have carried with me my entire life, despite the fact that it is moth-eaten and not a little worse for wear.  It is a beautiful navy blue cape, fully lined with a silky fabric, with little hand-made loops for the buttons instead of button holes.

Epaulets, a cute little stand-up collar and loop and brass button closure…

It is definitely princess-y.  I remember slipping my hands through the vents and having a little muff I used with it. It is this cape, made 50 years ago, which inspires me to sew. Every time I look at it, I marvel at the skill and patience it took to make such a lovely cape for a little girl who would never be able to appreciate the time and effort it took to create it.


My little girl hands would slip out of this vent and its twin on the other side and slip into a little muff…princess-y indeed!

Because of this little cape,  I’ve also carted around with me my mom’s old Singer sewing machine…waiting, nurturing the dream.  I never forgot that I wanted to sew.  I never forgot that I wanted to give things to people that would tell them they were worth my time and effort; I  wanted to give things to people made especially for them.  Well-made things, worthwhile things, personal things.  I’ve also wanted to make for myself clothing that fits beautifully…designed and crafted for my body…to make me feel princess-y.   To me, sewing can do all those things and I’ve itched to do it.  As I raised my children and got busy with life, the dream sat deep in my heart…waiting.

singer 301a1

My mom’s old sewing machine has hit the modern era and has an LED sewing light to replace the original bulb…pretty cool, right?

When the kids got older and life settled down, the dream got pushier.  The sewing machine came out of storage and this part of my journey began.  Full of missteps and frustration, blessed with awesome ladies at the fabric store who would answer the most basic of questions, and armed with Craftsy classes and YouTube videos and amazing indie pattern designers, I started sewing and I kept sewing…and sewing..and sewing.  My family received a lot of flannel pajama pants while I learned to read and understand patterns.  As I branched out, I was still so slow that what someone might see as a wonky fleece pullover probably took me five hours to make.

Slowly, but surely, though, my skills improved and my efficiency increased, to the point that I was willing to go public with my hobby.   More time passed, and now I get paid to sew for people.

I still have so far to go, but I look at that little cape hanging in my closet and I know it is worth it…so I keep sewing…and sewing.