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Time Warp Tote {free pattern for Cloud9 Fabrics}

2015 March 24

I am thrilled to let you know that I’ve been able to make a free tutorial for Cloud9 Fabrics! The Time Warp Tote is created using Jessica Jones’ Time Warp fabric line and Cloud9 Cirrus Solids. I love the amazing retro-look fabric.

This tote bag is a great size for carrying just about anything. Plus it’s got a great little pleat in the centre so you can add a little pop of colour if you want. It’s fully lined in a fun way, though it took me two tries and much seam ripping to sort it out!

Ready to make one? You can access the downloadable pdf on the Cloud9 Fabrics “Make it Sew” Project section. (Love the geeky reference there!)

Bark cloth is so soft and lovely to work with. It’s thicker than quilting cotton, but has a nicer drape than canvas or home decor fabric. Just make sure you finish your edges. It does tend to fray because of the loose weave. I can see an amazing retro set of curtains made with them too – the floor length ones, with the pleats at the top. *swoon*! Too bad Jessica did’t pick the colours to match my living room!

I’d also really recommend the Cirrus solids. Super soft as well and yarn dyed. So they look amazing too. I am loving the yarn dyed options lately. They really add an extra layer to the colour in the fabric. (P.S. The entire Cirrus Solid collection is currently available from my sponsor Fabric Spot.)

I’ve got another Time Warp Tote I am excited to show you, and it comes with a little tutorial! I’m 100% certain you’ll see another one after that. It is the perfect size for a gift and my kids’ teachers might be the lucky recipients of some canvas de-stashing by me!

I love working with Cloud9 Fabrics, they were amazing through the whole process. I was fortunate to be introduced to them through Esmari from Warp and Weft and Elizabeth Olwen, who’s Wildwood line inspired the Forest Glen Satchel pattern. (And I just saw on Instagram that she’s got a new line in corduroy coming out this fall!) I have to say once again that the collaborations and connections I’ve been able to make through sewing/blogging have been so much fun. The DIY community is so generous and kind. I am truly grateful to be a part of it.

10 Things I Learned from My New Fabric Collection.

2015 March 17

I have inadvertently ended up starting a Little Red Riding Hood fabric collection. I had a couple of these already and recently acquired a couple more. It’s interesting to me how many fabric designers have chosen to dedicate their lines to the little red hooded girl, and of course her wolf “friend”. I am (legitimatly, I think) obligated to like and buy these fabrics. Best stashing excuse reason ever!

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them, but I would love to know if you have seen any other Red Riding Hood collections I should get! 

Just for fun, I decided to see how much I could find out about my favorite fairy tale character from her fabrics…

  1. Red loves trees. I gather she is a nature-lover and enjoys spending time outdoors. Though, thinking more about it, the choice of background may be due to her living in close proximity to a forest…
  2. The red hood is a must. This, of course, is not rocket science. However, I did not know that she allowed patterned prints as well. Seemingly, dots are a thing.
  3. She likes dressing up. True to form (at least the form of the little girls I know) Red seems to prefer dressing in skirts or dresses. Colour does not seem to be as consistent in this case, however.
  4. Side Parted Hair. She seems to be liking the long hair with a side part. Though I am not sure about the exact cut, since it’s under the hood!
  5. Health matters. While most stories talk about Red’s basket containing cookies or baked goods, I also see that in one portrait she is carrying apples, and she’s standing next to an apple tree in another. Good for a varied, healthy diet!
  6. Red is not scared of the wolf. She is either oblivious to her peril, or knows the wolf personally and feels no need to flee. I am not sure I would be so brave, especially when surrounded by multiple wolves!
  7. The wolf is obsessed with Red. In all cases, the wolf is either following her (how creepy!) or walking/looking in her direction. In one case, with salt and pepper at hand!
  8. The wolf is a scientific anomaly. In three cases he is able to walk on two legs. In one case he has the ability to hold a fork and knife, without opposable thumbs. Yikes!
  9. Mushrooms are a key part of Red’s natural habitat. I am not certain if her grandma makes a mean Mushroom Risotto, or if they are even edible. I do know, that if you ever see a red mushroom with white polka dots Red’s home must be nearby!
  10. Might seem crazy what I’m about to say… Because, She’s happy!  Red seems to be a generally happy person, since she’s always smiling.

Reader Feedback: Do you have a collection? What made you start it? (P.S. It doesn’t have to be fabric!)

Fabric Information (Top to Bottom): Into the Forest, Michael Miller fabric. Bought from Double Decker Fabric, unfortunately sold out. Riding Hood: Story White, Blend Fabrics. Bought from Canadian National Fabric. Little Red Riding Hood Aqua Main, Tasha Noel for Riley Blake. Bought from Canadian National Fabric. A Walk in the Woods, Aneela Hoey for Moda. Bought at Creativ Festival.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. I just happened to get a couple of these fabrics from two of my awesome sponsors!

Seafarer Top Pattern {review}

2015 March 14

Alright – poll? How much did you get sewn so far during Selfish Sewing Week? Me? ummm… a big fat Zero! But I did sew this Seafarer Top last weekend (with 3/4 sleeves, tutorial coming soon!) and I LOVE IT. It’s so comfortable. I think I may have worn it more than half of the days last week. And yes – I did wash it (at least once) in between!

I bought the Indie Sew Mini Spring Collection recently. It’s made up of the Sailor Top, The Marianne Dress and the Seafarer Top from Sew Much Ado. I fell in love with Abby’s girl version of the pattern – the Skipper Top – when I was on the pattern tour a few years ago. It was only natural to get the women’s top as well!

Here are a few things I love about it:

  • This shirt is such a great easy wearing style.
  • It’s easy to put together – with out any set-in sleeves you can stitch one up in about an hour.
  • It’s knit, so easy wash and wear is not a problem.
  • You don’t need a serger for this one!
  • Since knits usually fit great the first time around, I don’t usually make a muslin for them. (YAY!)

I always get into conversations with people about the cost of sewing. It used to be that making clothing was more cost effective than buying it. Now, especially with the “fancy” quilting and organic cottons, this is not so much the case! However, on occasion I am happily surprised. I found the sweater knit I used in this top on sale for $5/metre. Since I used just over a metre, it technically cost me about an hour and a half, some thread and $6.00 for the fabrics – win, win, I’d say! And it seems to be washing well – and I’m hoping the fabric will hold up over time.

Thoughts on the pattern:

  • It is a pdf pattern – easy to print out and tape together. No tracing involved!
  • The steps are very clearly illustrated with clear, easy to follow photos.
  • Abby includes professional tips, like adding clear elastic to the shoulder seams.
  • There are lots of options – hemmed vs banded neckline, sleeves & hem. Optional Hi-Lo hem. Super-cute pocket.

Thoughts on the fit:

  • Again, knits are easy to fit because they stretch – making a very satisfying project if you measure yourself correctly first!
  • The length is purposefully long, and easy to lengthen or shorten.
  • I made a small, based on my measurements, and it fits perfectly.
  • Dolman styles can be up-sized easily to wear with a baggier fit, without any alterations to the pattern.
Things I might change next time:
  • Grade the waist out to a medium so the hips are looser, but it really depends on how much stretch is in the knit I’m using.
  • I’d love to try making more of a boat-neck shaped neckline.
  • I might use some thicker sweatshirt fleece and re-print and cut a medium-large to wear as a comfy at-home shirt. (Who am I kidding, I’d likely wear it everywhere!)

I picked up a perfectly striped XL men’s shirt yesterday, so I’m hoping to make another one of these shirts soon, exactly the same as this one. That will bring the total of shirts I’ve made myself (that I can actually wear out of doors!) up to 4 in the past month or so. I’m pretty excited about that!

Reader Feedback: What have you made yourself lately? Hint: It doesn’t have to be clothing!

Disclosure: I had way too much fun making the photos on this post. You can relax now, there are no more unexpected silly photos. I promise to be more sane next time! Oh, and I did not receive this pattern or any compensation for this post, it’s just really great. And Abby is amazing too! Sew Much Ado is one of my all-time favorite blogs. (Gorgeous photos!)

Cat-Eye Zippered Pouch {free pattern & tutorial}

2015 March 9

I’m excited to finally share a pouch pattern and tutorial with you! I figure all good sewing blogs generally have a free pouch tutorial and here’s mine. It’s high time after 2 1/2 years! My sponsor Double Decker Fabric supplied the fabrics for this project. Aren’t they gorgeous?! They are listed below if you’d like to get some with the discount she’s graciously offering as well. (Find it below!)

This pouch has been in my “ideas” envelope for a good long time now. The front curves form a unique area that frames your favorite fussy-cut fabric. There are so many possiblities for it! My husband says the shape looks like a Cat’s Eye – and that’s how it got its name.

The finished pouch is 8″ wide and 5 1/2″ deep. Perfect for those miscellaneous things you need to carry around. Pretty things like nail polish, jewellery and makeup, or useful things for jotting down ideas on-the-go! It would be a unique entry for one of those handmade #pouchswaps I see all the time on Instagram too. We’ve used ours already to hold markers and paper for the kids on a trip out for dinner.

I love the little leather tassel. It adds a bit of extra oomph to the design, I think! It’s easy, and you can add it to any zipper you like – not just this pouch. I’ve included a little trick for how to get the thick leather through the itty-bitty hole in the zipper pull at the bottom of the tutorial!

Head on over to Double Decker Fabric and use the code” march10″ to get 10% off your purchase (including sale items!) for the entire month of March. Discount expires Tuesday, March 31, 2015.

Double Decker Fabrics provided the following Art Gallery fabrics free of charge for use in this project. EMMY GRACE from Bari J: Painted Ladies Flutter, Budquette Dayspring, Knotty Rain (lining)  WINGED by Bonnie Christine: Aves Chatter Shine, Nesting Blooms Cool, Wingspan Melon (lining)

As usual, please feel free to use my patterns/tutorials for your personal projects and gifts and for charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything made with this pattern. If you are interested in making them for sale, please contact me and I will set up a license for it in the shop.


  • 1 fat quarter outer fabric
  • large scraps of fabric for pleat & lining
  • 9″ zipper
  • medium weight fusible interfacing
  • scraps of 1/4″ ribbon or about 3″ x 1/2″ of leather for zipper pull (if desired)
  • PATTERN PIECES: Free download, click here.
Printing the Pattern:
  • Download the Pattern Pieces using the link in the Materials listing. Print out all 3 pages of the pdf on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size. Once you have printed the pages, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  1. Pre-wash and press your fabric if desired.
  2. Cut all fabric and interfacing (except the Front-Inside Pleat) according to the pattern piece instructions.
  3. Fussy Cutting the Front-Inside Pleat:
    • Fold the fussy cutting template in half along the dashed line. Cut out the marked area.
    • Unfold the template and place it over the fabric as desired. 
    • Use the Front-Inside Pleat pattern piece to ensure the entire pattern piece will fit.
    • Trace around the template and mark the centre fold from the template as well.
    • Use the centre line to fold the fabric in half.
    • Cut according to the Font-Inside Pleat pattern piece, lining it up against the fold line from the Fussy Cut Template.
    • Leave the side lines marked on the fabric – you will need these to fold the pleat later.
  • Trim and discard 3/8″ from the bottom of the Zipper Side INTERFACING (NOT the fabric!), to reduce bulk in the seam allowance. Fuse to each Zipper Side.
  • Adhere 1 piece of Outer Back interfacing to wrong side of the Outer Back fabric. Set second interfacing piece aside.
Helpful Notes:
  • If a more structured pouch is desired, you can add interfacing to the Front Inside Pleat, Lining and Outer Sides . Be sure to trim ALL SEAM ALLOWANCES (3/8″) off the interfacing before adhering. The added thickness makes it hard to stitch and the front does not lie flat where the layers come together.
  • Note that you can top stitch both outer and lining together along the zipper side, but the top corners of the pouch will not lie as flat. I have made one pouch each way. I like only top-stitching the lining to the zipper tape best – it is cleaner and has nicer corners. This is what I have instructed in this tutorial.
  • There is a 3/8″ seam allowance allowed throughout unless otherwise noted.

Here we sew!

Pouch Front:

  1. Place Front-Inside Pleat right side up. Match outer curve of both Outer Front Sides right sides together (RST) with the Pleat fabric. Stitch curves with a 3/8″ seam.
  2. Trim/clip seam allowance along the curve.
  3. Turn, press well & top stitch starting about 3/4″ from the ends of the curves. I like to leave a little bit of the Pleat fabric showing along the curve edge. It acts a bit like faux piping.
  4. Fold the Pleat fabric RST along the two marked lines. These were the side markings from the fussy-cut template. 
  5. Lay the  front sides and pleat over the Outer Back interfacing piece you set aside. With the Pleat folded, match the Outer Front Sides to the shape of the interfacing.
  6. Fuse interfacing as per manufacturer’s instructions. Press well.
  7. Cross the Pleat ends as desired (see photograph). Baste into place with a 1/4″ seam.
Finish Pouch Front/Back:
  1. Match bottom (un-interfaced) edge of  a Zipper Side to the top edge of the Front Pleat & Sides RST. Match the edge of the second Zipper Side to the top edge of the Outer Back RST. 
  2.  Stitch with a 3/8″ seam. Press seam towards Zipper Side. Top stitch as shown.
  3. These pieces are now called BACK and FRONT.
Zipper Ends:
  1. Fold Zipper End in half. Top stitch the folded edge. Cut it in half to make 2 pieces that are 1″ square.
  2. Lay the zipper along the top of the Front or Back for easy measuring. Glue (use this trick!) or baste one Zipper End at each end of the zipper according to the length of the outer.
Install the Zipper:
  1. Lay the Front right side up, align the zipper along the top edge. Make sure the zipper pull is down and on the left. Match the Lining RST with the Front and Zipper along the top edge.
  2. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam.
  3. Press the lining open. Top stitch the edge of the zipper to the lining ONLY.
  4. Open the Front so it is wrong sides together (WST) with the lining.
  5. Match second edge of the zipper to the top of the BACK Lining. The zipper pull is up and to the left. Match the Back Outer RST with the Back Lining. (The Front & Front Lining will be sandwiched in between the two.) Stitch with a 1/4″ seam.
  6. Press the lining open. Top stitch the edge of the zipper to the lining ONLY.
  7. Open the Back so it is WST with the lining.
    • Important! Open the zipper 1/2 way! If you forget this step it will be hard to turn the pouch later.
Stitch the Pouch:
  1. Fold the pouch pieces in half temporarily along the zipper edge. The Outer pieces should be RST. Match the Zipper Side edges and pin to prepare to sew the pouch sides.
  2. Unfold, refold and pin all edges so the Outers are RST and the Lining pieces are RST. The pins from the last step should hold the zipper teeth down on the lining side.
  3. Stitch the outer edges of the pouch with a 3/8″ seam, leaving a 4″ opening along the bottom of the lining. Take extra care and stitch slowly through the zipper tape and teeth. Once I am sure my stitching is straight I like to double-stitch over this area to make sure it is held securely.
  4. Clip or Trim the curved corners of the Outer and Lining with pinking shears. Grade or Trim the excess zipper length. Use Fray Check on the zipper tape if desired. Press the lining seam allowance up to prepare for turning.
  5. Turn the pouch inside out through the opening. Push out all corners/edges and press.
  6. Match the edges of the Lining opening. Stitch across close to the edge or slip-stitch by hand to close.
  7. Push the lining into the pouch.
Attach the Tassel: 
  1. Cut a 3″ long piece of leather into 1/8″ strips, or gather two 3″ long pieces of 1/8″ ribbon.
  2. Thread an extra 6″ excess piece of ribbon or string through the hole in the zipper pull.
  3. Place the leather or ribbon strips through the loop in the excess ribbon.
  4. Gently tug and wiggle the leather/ribbon through the hole in the zipper pull using the excess ribbon.
  5. Remove the excess ribbon and thread the ends of the leather/ribbon through the loop on the right side of the pull. Tug the ends of the leather/ribbon until they are tight against the zipper pull.

Press the pouch again neatly and VOILA, You are finished, Enjoy!

I’d love to see your creations! You can share your projects on Twitter and Instagram @sherrisylvester with the hashtag #alongforthreadride or #threadridinghood, or post them on the Thread Riding Hood Facebook page.

Thanks for reading! Follow along to get more great tutorials and posts:

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Double Decker Fabrics. They are also a Thread Riding Hood sponsor, I always share my honest opinion. Thanks for reading!

In Progress: a new Quilty Project

2015 March 7

Oof! I’ve found it so hard to stop and blog this week! I’m in a mood to just sew, sew, sew and not stop. I’ve made a muslin of the Sailor Top and Bess Top, started finishing my quilt, worked on my CBC logo pillow… Tonight I’m trying to sew up a quick Seafarer top, after I blog this of course (and I know, it’s late here!). Anyhow – the purpose of this post is to  show you some pretty fabric and prod myself into getting started on yet another project (see below) – ‘cuz that seems like a good idea too!

For two months now I’ve been aiming to follow along with the Simple Simon and Co. monthly block tutorials. Since I’m a newbie at quilt blocks I figured it would be useful to practice making some of the more common ones. And, since I’m a creative person with too many “good” ideas, I’ve been trying to do that since January!

The good thing is, though, that I picked out a group of fabrics right away to use for this. I’m hoping that I can make 2-4 of each block and then put them together at the end of the year to make a semi-random quilt top. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get it quilted before Christmas?! (Just don’t hold me to it!)

The farther I get into these tutorials, I’m finding that it is a super-beginner friendly process. January – Half Square Triangle (HST) Block. February – Rail Fence Block. March – Square Block. Maybe too beginner-friendly for me? Not sure, but I’m excited to see what comes out at the end of the year. It’s very mysterious not knowing what’s coming next month!

I pulled out the Tula Pink fat quarter bundle I got from Fridays Off Fabric Shop at Creativ Festival in November 2013! Some solids and a few stashed fat quarters got added in as well. I happened to have a large cotton tablecloth that was gifted to me in a box of random fabrics to go with it. I’m excited to use the white throughout the quilt, I love how it makes the colours brighter.

So my quilt “sampler” will be a random bunch of fabrics from all over the place sewn from a bunch of random quilt block tutorials! If you are looking for something a bit more advanced, Caroline from Sew Can She has posted monthly blocks as well. You can find her tutorials within the others she has written, look for the words “Classic Quilt Blocks” on the photos.

I’m off to sew… again! I really hope to have lots of clothing for myself soon. It would be great to have a more handmade wardrobe!

Reader Feedback: Do you sew a lot of clothing for yourself? Do you have a favorite pattern you’ve used a lot?

Cargo Duffle Backpack {mini tutorial}

2015 March 4

Wow – it’s been a long week! I feel like I haven’t been back at my computer in ages. I’ve used this time away to think about lots of things that are going on over here and re-calibrate. It’s been nice to plan a bit about how best to move ahead. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere – things have just been a bit disorganized lately. I’d like to be scheduling things early instead of writing them at the last minute.

I’ve written up a mini tutorial today! A few people have asked for the measurements I used to make my girls’ Cargo Duffle Backpacks last year.

Before we get to that I wanted to congratulate the winner of the Meerkat Shweshwe Fat quarter bundle! This unique fabric was so well received – I was excited to introduce it and hope you like it as well. The winner of the bundle was Erin A. – who already received it, despite it’s being mailed yesterday! You can head over to this post to find out where you can get the fabric and to find out more about it.

I wasn’t too sure how much to include in the mini tutorial. So I’ve taken some straight forward photos of the bag, and listed the measurements and a few simple instructions below. I can’t put in a full tutorial, since I’m not making another one at the moment, so I’ve left quite a bit up to your interpretation. Please note that the photos are of a bag that’s been used for the past year and a half, so please excuse wrinkles and threads. I’ve also included lovely shots of my super hurried inside binding (yikes, how embarrassing). Lucky you! #justbeingreal

The construction is basically the same as the Noodlehead Cargo Duffle, free pattern from Robert Kaufmann. I’d recommend that you have experience sewing one before tackling this. Either way, please use your intuition, judgement and sewing experience to help you take these measurements and sew up a backpack of your own! I am always available for questions – so don’t hesitate to ask. Just click the envelope button at the top of the blog to email me, or find my email address in the “About” section.

Helpful Notes:

  • Please use the photos as reference. Especially if you use the “Extras” section.
  • Use the Cargo Duffle seam allowance, as noted in the instructions.
  • Cut the batting smaller all around, as noted in the Cargo Duffle instructions.
  • The width of the zipper gussets should be trimmed (once sewn) to match the width of the bottom gusset as noted in the Cargo Duffle instructions.
  • Gusset length measurements are approximate. I’ve re-measured the bags, but without making another one I can’t confirm that the measurements I wrote down when I made them originally are correct. If the gusset loop doesn’t fit around your bag, un-stitch it where the zipper gusset connects to the bottom gusset and adjust it as necessary to fit.

You might find these other posts I’ve written helpful for the construction:

A note about the “lining”:

  • This bag does not have a true lining. I have simulated a different inside print by cutting an extra layer of fabric (the “lining”) and layering it over the canvas before quilting the layers together. My goal was to cover the canvas with something a bit more fun! Of course, you can leave the canvas interior as is – it looks great too.

Main Piece Measurements:

  • Front/Back: (Cut 2 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 2 Lining) –  12″ wide x 15″ tall
  • Exterior Bottom Accent: (Cut 1 Outer) – 12″ wide  x 2.5″ tall
  • Bottom Gusset: (Cut 1 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 1 Lining) – 5″ wide x 28″ tall/long
  • Zipper Gusset Sides: (Cut 2 Outer, Batting & Canvas, Optional: Cut 2 Lining) – 2.5″ wide x 22″ tall/long
  • Front Pocket & Flap: (Cut Outer/Lining/Interfacing for each) See printable pattern pieces in this “Add a Pocket” post OR Add a zipper pocket (change the width to fit the backpack)
  • Straps: Make as per the original Cargo Duffle, add strap adjusters etc. as desired
  • Binding: about 3 1/2 yards of double-fold binding (1/2″ wide)
  • Zipper: 24″ or longer (See how to change the direction of your zipper pulls in this post.)


Handle: Cut 2 aprox. 6″ x 1.5″ in outer and interfacing

  • Stitch the two pieces right sides together, leaving an opening. Turn, press the seam allowance along the opening to the inside. Stitch on the back-top zipper gusset after finishing the bag.

Luggage/Name Tag: Cut 1 Outer 5″ wide x 3″ tall, Cut 1 Clear Vinyl 4″ wide x 2.5″ tall

  • Stitch vinyl to outer on 3 sides. Finish edges of tag backing with a zig zag or pinking shears. Stitch to the inside-back of the backpack or mesh back (if using) Note: stitches will show on back of bag/inside of the mesh

Mesh Back Pocket: Cut one layer of a zippered mesh laundry bag to 15″ x 12″ (same size as the back of the bag). Baste to the backpack back before stitching the gusset. Finish stitching when finishing the gusset and adding the bias tape.

Water Bottle Pocket(s): Cut 1 piece 8″ wide by 8″ high for each pocket.

  • Hem the bottom edge & gather to 5″ to match the gusset width. Match the width of the top edge to the 5″ gusset by applying fold-over elastic to the top edge (or create a casing and insert 1/4″ elastic). Stitch the bottom of the pocket to the gusset at the bottom corners of the bag. Stitch before the gusset is sewn to the front/back. (Note: stitches will show on the outside of the gusset) Baste the sides of the pocket to the gusset. Finish stitching when stitching the gusset to the front/back and adding the bias tape.

I hope that helps! I love these bags and we’ve used them so much that the bottom gusset is wearing through on the corners. Time to make some new ones perhaps?! (Or maybe try something new this time!)

Piles of things…

2015 February 24

See that pile. That’s my stack of things I’d like to properly photograph and share with you. Add that to the envelope full of ideas I’ve got written down and “in general” things to do this week and I’ve decided to take the week “off”! (Yup.)

I’ve been trying to plan a week to go through (absolutely) everything in our house since September. Sort, give away, throw out, re-organize… I’m so excited that the time has finally come! In fact, I’ve been trying to sew clothing for one entire week as well, but that hasn’t worked out as yet. We’ve been in our current home for just over 7 years now and we’ve done this once before – but not on such a large scale. Since it’s pretty quiet around here it seemed like a good week to do it.

I worked hard yesterday and now my basement is filling up with an ever-growing array of baskets and boxes full of “similar things“, and “things that go together” and “things that don’t go anywhere“. The plan is to go through the whole house this way. Empty every drawer, closet shelf and box in storage. Only keep what is most important – then put them away at the end. That’s going to be the hard part! I’m excited, though, that there is likely going to need to be a trip to IKEA for some organizational shelving and boxes when we are done – hooray! (Something, anything, to keep me going….)

I hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. I’ll see you next week with the shweshwe winner (Last day to sign up is today – Feb 24, 2015) and I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to post a new tutorial for a cute zippered-something I’ve been working on. (YAY!) If you want to follow along I’ll be posting on Instagram, and I’ll try not to scare you too much with crazy photos of piles of things everywhere!

5 Extraordinary Girls {pattern review}

2015 February 19

I love the chance to use a new pattern, and this one is no different! It’s my stop on the “Extraordinary Girl” pattern tour, and I get to review both the women’s and girl’s version of this pattern from Filles à Maman. This post is also a futile attempt to show you all 5 of the shirts I’ve made without over sharing and too many photos! (These shirts are addictive.)

Hang in through everything and there’s a list of blog tour stops for more inspiration, and a giveaway! {Disclaimer: I received these patterns as part of this blog tour. All opinions are my own, I wouldn’t have made 5 of these if I didn’t like the pattern! Thanks for reading.}

I love the name of this shirt. I thought it was strange at first, but when I wore it I thought about the name and it actually changed my mood, for the better. It seemed the perfect thing to put on my kids too. They are extraordinary in so many ways! I decided to focus on my youngest today, but I did make a fifth shirt for my oldest as well that you can kindoff see on Instagram (it’s behind the flowers).

I haven’t used a pattern from Filles à Maman before, and I was so happy to find it was well laid out and easy to follow. The instructions for the girl’s and women’s patterns are the same. By the 3rd shirt I got the time to make one (with a serger) down to 1 hour. I can’t complain about that – it included cutting time!

I did use my serger for every seam, except the black one I made for myself. That was the last one I made, and the seams are more precise so it fits much better than the green and gray one. I will likely use the sewing machine for each seam, then serge to finish my edges on my shirts in the future. The serger works just fine for the girls’ clothing, since the fit doesn’t need to be as exact.

Both patterns cover a wide range of sizes. The women’s pattern is sized XS to XXL. The girl’s comes in sizes 12 months through 14. All steps in both patterns are well illustrated and the instructions are very clear. If you have a good handle on sewing knits you will not have any trouble with this pattern.

The sizing is true to the measurements as well. My 4 1/2 year old daughter is wearing a size 5 with the sides graded out to a size 6 to better fit her frame. The length is a 6, since she wears a lot of leggings, I like longer shirts! My shirt is a size small with the sides graded out to a Medium through the waist to the hem, and I used the Large length – again with the long shirts! Though, I think we are long-waisted, so the extra length adds just enough extra to compensate. This shirt also has a slight high-low hem, super comfortable, and I love how it looks.

I managed to use only stashed fabrics and my shelves are a little bit more empty as a result – hooray! I finally got to use the castle scene knit I let my 3 year old pick out over a year ago. It arrived and was so bright I couldn’t bring myself to use it. Now that I have I wish I had made something with it sooner – the shirt turned out just right to match her happy personality! The gray and green in my shirt are solid jersey knit  from Jo-Ann Fabric. The purple print is as well, it’s slightly sheer and works perfectly with a tank top underneath. I really like how the three-quarter sleeves turned out on that one.

Apparently, we were supposed to look serious in this photo. #whenkidstakeover

The Ann Kelle mermaid shirt was a bit of an experiment. Actually, I had totally different knits pulled out to make her second shirt – but I wanted to try something. Something that incorporated this sewing trend to add a bit of gold to everything! I decided to make the back and top yoke panel out of a woven fabric. And I used a stretchy gold fabric for the front and back neckband. SO much more fun that way! The green striped fabric is a woven I up-cycled from a large t-shirt.

Since the pattern calls for knits I was nervous that it wouldn’t fit, so I added 1 1/2″ to the centre back when I cut it out. Amazingly, and hooray, it worked. Though I would cut at least one size larger through the top of the shirt if I did it again. The shoulders really are too small because the woven fabric doesn’t stretch like a knit would.

Summary? Buy the pattern (it’s only on sale until Friday the 20th!). It’s great and I really like it a lot. I’ve already got another one waiting to be cut out. It’s purple, with bunnies – for my 7 year old , ’nuff said!

Find more inspiration from the other stops on the blog tour here:

Monday Feb. 16th ~    Call Ajaire The Crazy TailorFrom a BoxSew Out of Control

The Extraordinary Girl Shirt Patterns are on sale during this blog tour – February 16-20.  The Girl’s or Women’s Pattern is $9.79 $7.00, the Girl’s & Women’s bundled together is $19.58 $13.00.

There are two prize bundles full of patterns for you to win!  Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter, the giveaway is open until February 20, 2015.

Bundle #1:• Filles a Maman 2 patterns winner’s choice
• Sofilantjes – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• Julie pattern by Muffin Head
• AimeLea & Finn – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• FABulous Home Sewn -1 pattern winner’s choice
• Fancy Schmancy – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• E+M Patterns – 1 pattern winner’s choice
Bundle #2:• Filles a Maman 2 patterns winner’s choice
• Sofilantjes – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• Fancy Schmancy – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• MCM Studio Designs – 1 pattern winner’s choice
• MandyK Designs -1 pattern winner’s choice
• Striped Swallow Designs – 1 pattern winner’s choice

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meerkat Shweshwe – South African Fabric available in Canada & US! {+ discount & giveaway}

2015 February 17

I’m excited to bring you a fun and different installment to our Canadian Online Fabric Shop interview series today! When I was at the Creativ Festival last fall I found a booth for Meerkat Shweshwe – I was super curious about their fabrics (you’ll see why later), so I stopped to talk to them. Turns out they are a wholesaler for imported shweshwe fabric from South Africa.

I was drawn to their booth because of the unique selection of fabric. Nothing like you’ve seen before. Unless of course, you’ve got some shweshwe in your stash! Today I am interviewing this wholesaler and linking over to 4 shops that carry their unique fabric. There’s a discount for one of the US shops and a giveaway too!

I’m so excited to interview Céleste, the owner of Meerkat Shweshwe, today. We’ve been working back-and-forth for a month or so to get you some great information about this unique fabric. Including lots of photos, where to get it and how to care for it!

Thread Riding Hood: How did you get connected to selling shweshwe?

Céleste: I was born in South Africa, the home of Shweshwe, and brought up in a family of sewing and knitting enthusiasts. When my family moved to Canada in 2001 I could only get hold of Shweshwe on trips “back home” or when we had visitors from South Africa. In 2013 I visited Da Gama Textiles in South Africa to investigate becoming an importer and distributor of Shweshwe.

Thread Riding Hood: What is a bit of the history of this type of fabric?

Céleste: The history of all modern printed cottons starts with indigo dyed fabric. Indigo is a deep blue plant dye that originated in India and made its way to Europe in Roman times. Shweshwe’s history is connected to indigo dyed cotton prints in Europe, called “Blaudruck”. The name “shweshwe” comes from King Moshoeshoe I, who was given a gift of indigo printed cotton by French missionaries during the 19th century. When European settlers moved into Southern Africa, they introduced these indigo prints to the ethnic groups they met, who assimilated them into their culture. Although fashions changed and technology improved, Shweshwe has remained in demand in South Africa until today. It is sometimes called the “tartan” of South Africa. Click here for a more detailed history.

Thread Riding Hood: Why is shweshwe unique?

Céleste: There are quite a few differences between shweshwe and other fabrics.

  • The designs look like reproductions, but they are authentic classics from the days of the early development of automated cotton printing in the 18th century.
  • Shweshwe is still produced using an old method of discharge printing dating back to the days of early industrialization.
  • The fabric is only 90cm/36″ wide, because it is printed using technology from a time when all fabric looms were that width – think of original Liberty Lawns.
  • Shweshwe has a distinctive smell and stiffness from the dressing still used as in days gone by when this was protection for the long sea voyage from England to the colonies. One wash and the fabric is soft and lovely to use.
  • Shweshwe has an authenticated backstamp.

Thread Riding Hood: What do you love most about working with shweshwe fabric?

Céleste: First, Nostalgia. It harks back at the classic fabrics I grew up with, in terms of old fashioned quality, versatility and a 100% cotton with a good hand. Second, Innovation. Besides producing the blue, chocolate and red classics, they keep adding modern designs in vibrant colours to their collection. Third, Social Conscience. Working with Shweshwe connects me to creating employment in South Africa, and keeping this historic fabric alive.

Thread Riding Hood: What types of projects would you recommend using shweshwe for?

Céleste: It is super versatile and can be used whenever you would normally choose 100% cotton prints. It was traditionally used for dressmaking in South Africa, but nowadays you can find it used for quilts, home decorating, and crafting. It has become a popular item on fashion runways with South African designers for both men and women, even for weddings and shoes. Check my Pinterest boards for inspiration.


Thread Riding Hood: Anything else we should know about working with this fabric? Prewashing? Ironing? Care? 

Céleste: You have to prewash to get rid of the dressing and then it will shrink a little, as the threads settle after the dressing is washed out. Thereafter you treat it like all other 100% cottons. You don’t have to iron it, but if you want that crisp look of ironed cotton, you’ll get it in spades from Shweshwe! It is very durable: I have a dress I still wear that is 25 years old. 

Thread Riding Hood: Do you have a personal favorite story that involves a particular shweshwe project that you wouldn’t mind sharing with us?

Céleste: In 2002 as a new Canadian I stumbled upon the Quilt of Belonging at the Waterloo Regional Quilt Festival. I volunteered to make the block for Namibia, because the South African block was already made. I used Shweshwe in the border of that block, never knowing that about 10 years later I would be importing it. You can see the block here.

Thread Riding Hood: How can we get connected to buying some of this fabulous fabric?

Céleste: At present there are four stores in Canada and the USA that sell Meerkat Shweshwe: Hyggeligt Fabrics, Greenwood Quiltery, Yardwork-Etsy and Whitby Fabrics Sewing Centre. I am a wholesaler and I do not do direct sales except for an annual promotion at Creativ Festival in the Fall.

Thread Riding Hood: How can retailers arrange to order this fabulous fabric for their inventory?

Céleste: I invite retailers to contact me if they would like to carry Shweshwe in their inventory. Minimum order is 10m and minimum cuts are 5m, but for a first time order I will make 2m cuts. I also invite anyone who uses 100% cottons to produce clothing or any other items to contact me if they want to place wholesale orders for their use. My email address is

Meerkat Shweshwe (from Da Gama Textiles) is available at the following shops. Yardwork (below) has given you a discount to use in her entire shop!  Check the locations – there are three in Canada (2 selling online) and Yardwork is in the US!

Yardwork on Etsy (Brooklyn, NY)

Get 15% off orders from Yardwork using the discount code “REDTHREAD”! This coupon applies to any order over $8.00 and is valid until April 17, 2015!

Hyggeligt Fabrics (London, Ontario – available online)

Greenwood Quiltery  (Guelph, Ontario – available online)

Whitby Fabrics Sewing Centre (Whitby, Ontario)

Here’s your chance to enter to win eight fat quarters of Shweshwe contemporary and classic prints!

 This giveaway is open to everyone, internationally from today (Feb 17th) until midnight on Tuesday evening, February 24, 2015. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter – and if you don’t have Facebook to sign in with, just use your name and email address. There’s a “click to enter” no social media login entry too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I asked Céleste to be a part of this interview, I have not been compensated by Meerkat Shweshwe to write this post. I find this fabric type interesting and thought you might too. Thanks for reading!

Feature Fabric Discount – Canadian National Fabric

2015 February 13

Happy almost-Valentine’s Day! This week brings another online fabric store and another discount. Just right for weekend shopping. Especially if you can convince your significant other that your gift should come in textiles! My sponsor Canadian National Fabric is generously offering a Valentine’s Special of 15% off purchases between now and February 22nd! (Scroll down for details.)

I always love finding an online shop with a huge collection and I was happily surprised when I checked in on Canadian National a while ago. They have 1200+ listings! This includes quilting cotton (& extra wide for quilt backs), denim, felt, flannel, fleece, organics, sateen and ribbon. Enough yet? I’m certain there’s something here for everyone! Canadian National even has a “Cash for Stash” Rewards Program. How does getting paid to shop sound?!

In other exciting news – owner Brigitte is planning on opening a brick and mortar shop in Caledon, Ontario this May. Ann, one of my Instagram friends, let me know that they visited about a week ago and had a great time. I’m so excited for her. (and me, since I’m close enough to visit!)

Here are a few fabrics from their New Arrivals section that are sure to inspire. (Did you see that red hooded one down there? Gotta get me some of that!)

Take advantage of this Valentine’s Special and save 15% on your purchase at Canadian National Fabric by using the code “TRHValentine15”! Discount available from Feb 13-22, 2015. Everyday BONUS: Canadian National’s regular flat rate shipping is $5 across Canada, and you can also get Free Shipping on orders over $50 (before tax)! (Flat rate shipping info for US and International)

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