Skip to content

Quilted Pillow Tutorial with Empire from Parson Gray

2014 August 18

A few months ago I was asked to work on a new Sew Mama Sew tutorial using the latest Parson Gray collection, Empire – from Warp & Weft. I know I always rave about the fabrics I get from Esmari, but seriously – these are gorgeous! I’m hoarding my scraps until I get the perfect project to use them with. My husband even walked by and commented on how much he likes them. (Hint, hint – they’re great for anything manly you have lined up to sew!) You can get the full tutorial with printable pattern piece at Sew Mama Sew.

I decided to make a pieced and quilted 18″ pillow tutorial using a shape I’ve been storing away in the back of my head since the spring. It’s very simple, so it allows the beautiful designs to shine through. These fabrics are an amazing mix of taupey-gray, cream, white and black. I’m especially in love with the hand-drawn look of these prints. They are so earthy and organic. It’s a nice break from the crispness we are used to from most available quilting fabrics. Esmari has stocked yardage in the prints I’ve used for these pillows, and she has other colour-ways in fat quarter bundles as well.

I really love how these turned out, and they look amazing in my gray and yellow bedroom. It helps to have fun outdoor photos too – so I came up with the “great” idea to take our chair, side table and faux fur blanket out to an amazing giant loading door near our house. (Maybe a tad last minute, as usual.) My husband was kind enough (of course, as usual!) to help load everything into the trunk of our SUV as I gave my un-necessary reminder “not to get the -insert-sewn-item-here- dirty”! I’m so fortunate that he goes willingly along with my crazy ideas! 

I am also aware of the fact that I asked you all about my sewing machine decision and then didn’t follow up right away. Problem is, I am still very torn about what to do, and I haven’t had a lot of time to take a look at any machines of the serger or sewing machine variety! I so appreciate all of your comments, and, since a serger seems to be winning the race I am going to researching them seriously. Still, in the back of my head, I wonder if I could be more productive with a tad-more advanced machine… So – I guess I am still in the same place you left me last time. I think, once school starts in two weeks I will take a day or so out to make a decision. I can’t wait much longer or I’ll have to call it a Christmas present!

** I was given this lovely fabric by Warp & Weft to make this tutorial, and as always all opinions are mine.

Knock It Off: Necklace Dress

2014 August 14

I was so excited to get an email from Elegance & Elephants owner Heidi a few months ago. (Maybe you’ve heard me talking about her Bohemian Babydoll Dress/Top pattern (affiliate link) once or twice… ha!)  She was asking if I would like to be part of her “Knock it Off” series… and I didn’t waste a minute signing up. This series is so much fun, and I’ve been following it along for a few years now.  The idea is to take a clothing item found in a store – usually one at a ridiculous price you wouldn’t pay – and “Knock it Off” – self-explanatory!

When I found this Hartstrings dress I knew it was the one I wanted to make. First off, it’s made of Ponte di Roma double-knit and I’ve been looking for an excuse to work with this type of knit for a while now. I love the navy and white and simple lines – a ton of retro style. The pockets have vintage gold buttons from my husband’s grandmother and there’s a tiny pop of red in the back elastic closure in the back. There is no way I would pay the (regular price) $60 to buy it for my kids, even if both of them were to wear it, I couldn’t justify the cost. Instead I have knocked it off for around $10, if you don’t include the vintage buttons and interfacing I found in my sewing stash.

I decided to use Dana’s First Day Dress pattern again for this dress. Which coincidentally looks nothing line the empire waist party dress I made my youngest for her birthday last week! Just goes to show how you can use the same pattern and alter it to come out with radically different results. For this dress I cut a size 5 with a size 10 length, since the A-line option is a little shorter than I wanted. I also added a peter pan collar and gathered sleeves with a banded hem.

Just in case you feel like joining in and knocking off something yourself – come sew-along and add an entry to the Knock it Off Flickr group before the end of the series. Two prizes will be awarded at random and they’re good ones - You could win a $100 or $50 gift certificates to Gold Star Tool! If nothing else, go check out the amazing garments everyone has created.

Ready to make your own Necklace Dress?

You will need:

  • Ponte de Roma double-knit in Navy (outer and full lining – see A-line Dress pattern option for yardage)
  • Ponte de Roma double-knit in White – aprox 1/4-1/2 yard for collar and faux pockets
  • elastic & button as per the pattern insructions
  • knit interfacing for the collar and pockets
  • tailor’s chalk or other removable fabric marker for dark fabrics
  • white fabric paint
  • small round objects for painting dots (ie. marker, pencil eraser)
  • freezer paper and/or pattern drafting paper
  • ballpoint needle for sewing knits
  • matching white and navy thread
Please Note: I did not line this dress and I wish that I had, since the knit is a little bit thinner than I would like and the construction would have been much simpler… So I’m going to write the directions as if I had, since how to sew a knit First Day Dress is on the MADE blog and I won’t be posting photos of those parts of the instructions anyhow.

When you have finished cutting all of your pieces they will look like this.

Cutting your Fabric:
  1. Main Dress: Cut 4 A-line Dress pieces from navy according to the pattern. The direction of most stretch should be from side to side.
  2. Sleeves: Cut 2 navy sleeves (these will not be lined). The direction of most stretch should be from point to point. Place the pattern piece 1″ away from the fold when cutting to leave room for the gathered sleeve.
  3. Sleeve Bands: Measure the “hem side” of the sleeve pattern and double the measurement. Now subtract 1″ – this is how long you will cut the sleeve band. Cut 2 white sleeve bands that are 2″ wide by this measurement. The direction of most stretch should be  along the length of the rectangle.
  4. Faux Welt Pockets: Cut 2 white pocket pieces 2″ high by 5″ wide. Direction of most stretch should be along the short side of the rectangle.
  5. Peter Pan Collar: (A) Draft a collar according to these helpful instructions. Before you draft the collar, trace the top of the dress front/back and measure 3/8″ to the inside all of the way around the shoulder, neckline and sleeve to remove the seam allowance.  Now draft the collar and add the seam allowance back in. I overlapped the edges about a third of an inch (3/4 cm). (B) Cut 4 collar pieces, making sure you mirror two of them.
Prepping your fabric:
  1. Interfacing: (A) Match the collar pairs together so there are two for each side of the dress. Interface one of each set. The interfaced side will be the under collar. (B) Fold each of your pockets in half lengthwise and interface the lower half (under the pressed centre line) of each one.
  2. Sleeve Band: Press each rectangle in half so the long raw edges come together (lengthwise). Press well. Fold again so the short raw edges come together. Press to mark this centre point.
  3. Mark the Pocket Placement: Fold the front of the dress in half from side to side and press to find the centre. Mark two 4″ lines at approximately hip length – or just below the middle of the dress. These lines should be about 2″ away from the centre line of the dress. This measurement will change depending on the size of the dress you are making, so take this into consideration as well.
Painting the pearls:
Find some objects that you can use to stamp/paint the pearl necklace. I used the end of a washable marker and the eraser from one of my daughter’s pencils. The contrast between the two sizes added a bit more depth to the necklace once it was finished. I was going to use the white paint pen, but didn’t end up needing it.
  1. If you have it, press freezer paper to the wrong side of the top portion of the dress to reduce movement while painting – try not to press away centre line.
  2. Draw the general curves of the necklace onto your dress front. Use the pressed centre line to centre the necklace and the pocket markings to reference length.
  3. Dip the end of your largest object in the fabric paint – I usually put mine on a small lid or piece of parchment paper – and test stamp it on a scrap of fabric. Find how much paint you need and then begin stamping the necklace. Once you have finished the large beads, put the smaller ones on top. After one layer of paint my necklace looked like this:
  4. Once the first layer is dry, add another on top of each “bead”. Keep letting it dry and adding layers until you are happy with how it looks. I used 2 layers of paint on the large beads and 3 layers on the smaller ones.

Sewing the Collar:

Note: Please ignore the elastic and finished back opening in these photos. You will finish these later when you fully line the dress.

  1. Place two collar pieces right sides together. You will have one collar and one interfaced under collar. Stitch them together with a 3/8″ seam, do not stitch the neckline.
  2. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8″ and cut the corners to reduce bulk.
  3. Turn the collar, make sure to push all seams and corners. Press well.
  4. Stitch the dress shoulder seams together as indicated in the pattern.
  5. Pin the collar to the dress neckline – the interfaced under collar is right sides together with the dress front. Make sure the front of the collar is at the centre front and the back of the collar lines up at least 5/8″ away from the centre back.
  6. Baste the collar to the dress front with a 1/4″ seam. The neckline will be properly finished later on in the tutorial.

Sewing the Faux Welt Pockets:

  1. Fold each pocket piece right sides together. Stitch a 3/8″ seam on each side.
  2. Trim the seam allowance to approximately 1/8″ and cut the corner to reduce bulk.
  3. Turn the pocket right side out and press well.
  4. Align the raw edge of the pocket with the pocket line marked earlier.
  5. Stitch across the raw edge of each pocket with a 1/4″ seam.
  6. Press the pocket upwards, enclosing the raw edge.
  7. Top stitch the sides and bottom of the pocket close to the edge.
Sewing the Sleeve:
  1. Line up the centre of the sleeve band with the centre of the “hem side” of the sleeve. Raw edges are together. Next, match up the ends.
  2. Stretch the sleeve band to find the centre point between each set of pins and pin the band to the sleeve again. Continue adding pins until you are comfortable sewing the band to the sleeve.
  3. Stitch along the pinned edge with a 1/4″ straight stitch. Stretch the sleeve band to fit the length of the sleeve between stitches.
  4. Press the seam towards the sleeve.
  5. To gather the sleeve, mark the armhole side of the sleeve approximatly 3″ away from the centre on each side. Stitch a line of basting stitches between the two marks. Pull the threads to gather each sleeve until it is about the same size as the pattern piece.
  6. Pin the sleeve and stitch it to the dress front armhole, as indicated in the pattern instructions. You will only have 1 sleeve layer, because these sleeves are not lined.
Finishing the Dress:
  1. Add the lining, finish and hem the dress according to the pattern instructions. Make sure to watch out for the collar when stitching the neckline so you don’t accidentally sew over it. I would suggest hemming the lining and outer dress together to make it less awkward to put the dress on.
  2. Attach the faux pocket buttons. I stitched them through to the inside of the dress so the pocket would sit flat and not be weighed down by the button.
  3. To finish the collar, roll the lining down into the dress slightly (about 1/16″) and use matching thread to top stitch all of the way around the neckline of the dress, about 1/8″ under the collar. This will help the lining not to show when the collar is being worn.
Congratulations – you’d successfully saved yourself $50 by knocking off a really cute dress! Enjoy!

a Very Happy 4th… {+ an empire waisted First Day Dress}

2014 August 12

My youngest turned 4 a few weeks ago, and her birthday party was on Saturday. I have no idea how she got so big. She’s even starting junior kindergarten in a few weeks… I’m pretty sure there are going to be more than a few rough days at the beginning of September around here… and not for the kids.

This little monkey has grown up so much, even in the last few months. She has opinions on everything. Especially if something has not been put back in “the correct” location, or isn’t being done in the most efficient manner possible (according to her, of course). She loves to tell you about it in properly worded descriptive sentences – and usually more than one sentence is required!  She loves to make you laugh, and is our cuddly one. Of course, she’s the mischievous one too, keeping us on our toes! I hope she will always keep her fun-loving attitude (and the cuddles… please let her keep the cuddles…)

I’d promised her that she would have a new party dress to wear, so I went searching for possible patterns and printed a few pictures out so she could pick. She chose the First Day Dress made by Dana from Made, purely on the twirl factor I think! I’ve been hoping to pick it up anyhow, and I’m so glad she chose it. It’s a well thought out dress and it’s wonderfully easy to work with as a base pattern for your own alterations. Dana, as usual, has written very descriptive and fun to read instructions. And there are lots of photos throughout. The skirt is almost a full circle, providing lots of room for spinning without the need for any gathering (hooray!).

I altered the dress a bit, adding an empire waist and a sash – because every party dress needs a sash! Since the swing dress option has straight sides on the bodice, it is easy to shorten it into an empire waist. No matter where you cut the bodice shorter, the skirt will always be the correct size to fit the bodice pattern piece. I measured my daughter to see about how long the bodice should be, added a little for the seam allowance at the neckline and bottom of the bodice, and then cut the bodice straight across. Since I removed quite a bit from the bodice, I cut the skirt at the size 10 length and it worked out perfectly. I love empire waists on little girls!

The sash is extra wide, so I gathered the ends (like the oliver & s Fairy Tale dress) and inserted it when I was stitching the sides of the outer dress. I think I could have made it tie in a bow – but it was a tad too short at 24″ each, so I used a knot instead. I think 36″ long each would have been perfect… note to self for next time! The skirt fabric came from Fabric Spark (still available here) and I bought it back in the spring when I interviewed Daryl for the Canadian Online Fabric Store series. Of course, even though I had it that long ago, I waited until last Thursday to sew it up – as per the usual! Thankfully the sizing was perfect, and it is a really simple dress to sew.

I also used a different construction method to attach the lining. The instructions Heidi from Elegance and Elephants has written up on how to stitch an outer and lining together comes together much more easily. I think it’s called the “burrito” style of stitching it up. To do this, finish the neckline and back opening of the dress completely – top-stitching included. Then attach the sleeves and stitch the arm holes as per Heidi’s instructions. To stitch the side seams together, match the right sides of the outer and the lining and stitch each side of the dress with one long seam. This method has a nicer finish than ironing the edges in and then stitching them together.

How do I finish a post up about my little girl? I don’t know… right now I just want to keep her little. But of course that’s not an option, so we keep moving ahead and pray for her to grow up into a strong, amazing woman. And meanwhile, enjoy the hugs and the little hands holding ours… (is the screen blurry, or is just me…)

the World’s Fastest Pencil Case {a tutorial in 10 easy steps}

2014 August 11

I always try to make a little gift to send home with the kids at my daughters’ parties. There are quite a few opinions out there about take-home party gifts. I’ve read many a blog post about the merits of sending home items that will be used, provide entertainment and won’t get thrown out within a few days. So, my aim has always been to try to find something useful, and home-made. I am lucky because I have fun doing it, and I generally have the extra time it takes to make a handmade gift happen. One year it was homemade playdoh and cookie cutters. Another year they all got one of these beach towels. I think I also made bath crayons and wash cloths for everyone another year. This year I knew I was not going to have a lot of time, so I spent quite a while thinking about something fun that would be fast and this one is a winner!

I spent about 3 hours total making 13 pencil cases – which averages out to about 18 minutes each – and I know I took a coffee break in there a couple of times! Thirteen, of course, included one each for my kids as well – since you can’t leave them out. Anyhow, I needed the kids to have one for the photo-shoot! The packaging didn’t take long, since my husband designed-up a little 4×6 card to put in with the gift and we included a few fabric markers and a healthy snack. I even enlisted the kids to help me divide the 8-packs of markers into groups of 4. Hooray for help!

It helps to have this amazing IKEA Tidny fabric – because it definitely ready to colour. But, I think it would be fun to search through the Spoonflower library of designs and find something in just black and white that would work well. You could even design your own theme-appropriate fabric! The fabric markers I used get mixed reviews online, and I can tell you that they definitely don’t work on dark colours, but they are great for this project. And, true to the brand, they wash off of little hands just fine… I know from experience!

If you are scared off by the zipper, this project doesn’t even need a zipper foot. I used my regular zig-zag foot for the whole thing. Definitely give it a try! It might even work out to be a good project to make with your kids, since the beginning of school is soon upon us. (Don’t worry, I won’t mention it again.) And it also has a simple french seam on each edge, encasing the seam and providing an easy way to make this an un-lined, and still “nice-looking” pencil case!

 You will need:

  • 12″ zipper
  • 12″ wide by 14″ high fabric – cotton/home decor weight/canvas
  • 2 pieces of 3″ grosgrain ribbon
  • sewing machine, thread, scissors, chopstick

Here we go:

  1. Unzip your zipper and lay one side along the top of your rectangle. The zipper teeth are facing down and the top of the zipper is aligned with the left side of the rectangle.
  2. Pin/Glue if desired and stitch along the edge with an aprox. 1/4″ seam – attaching one side of the zipper to the pencil case. I put my presser foot right next to the zipper teeth and moved the needle to it’s left-most position. (I was extra quick by eyeballing the edge instead of pinning as I sewed each zipper on.)
  3. With the zipper still unzipped, fold the pencil case right sides together and line up the left side. This helps to line the zipper up so both sides match when you are finished. Pin the second side of the zipper in place and stitch as in Step 2. (I only pinned it once, making sure  it was aligned, and then lined the rest of the edge up as I went.)
  4. Your pencil case should now be a tube. Turn and press the fabric away from the zipper teeth so it lays flat. Be careful not to heat up the teeth too much, so they don’t melt.
  5. Now press the case again while it is right side out, this time measuring so the zipper is aprox. 2″  down from the top edge. Make sure the raw side edges are aligned, this will ensure the pencil case corners are squared up.
  6. Open the zipper and stitch a wide zig-zag over the zipper teeth and raw edges of your fabric. This is easier when sewn with the right side down and finishes the seam so the fabric will not fray. Fold each tab in half and pin them centred beside each end of the zipper.
  7. Keep the case folded right sides out and stitch along each raw edge with a 1/4″ seam. Catch each tab in the seam as you go, and make sure to watch for any metal parts of the zipper so you do not stitch into them.
  8. Make sure everything is well aligned and cut off the excess zipper.
  9. Turn the pencil case right sides together and use a chopstitck or similar object to push the corners out. Stitch a 3/8″ seam down each side, enclosing the previous seam and the tabs. (Your french seam is done! Easy, peasy!)
  10. Turn your pencil case right side out and give it a press. All done!

If you have any questions I’d love to help – you can email me: or contact me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

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.

This tutorial is for personal/charitable use only. Thank you!

Add-a-Bow in 9 Easy Steps

2014 August 6

Hi! This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase items through the links below, I receive a small percentage of each purchase. Thanks so much for your support!

I love the Bohemian Babydoll dress pattern so much I’ve made 3 of them already and I’ve got a 4th cut out! When I pattern tested it, I was smitten with the high-low bodice and hem, and the girls love how easy and pretty it is to wear. Each of the last 3 I’m sewing have a tutorial attached to them, so you’ll be seeing a few more soon.

This dress, honestly, is in my top 5 favorite things I’ve sewn. I love the Heather Ross, Lilac Frog Pond skirt fabric I found at Modern Bee this spring. They are one of my favorite local quilt shops and I posted a review of their old location under their previous name, last year. (They now ship within Canada and the US!)

These photos are from another Quebec photoshoot, at the Fontaine de Tourny in front of the Parliament Building. I’m not certain we were allowed to stand in the fountain, but it sure was fun (and a bit cold…)! It was a gorgeous day out with great weather. We walked from here, through the old city and made some fun memories we could bring home with caricatures we had drawn of the kids.

Seems this pattern is all over the internet, it’s lovely and simple to make, just Google it to see all of the options. I made this version without the flutter sleeves, so it was extra quick. Elegance and Elephants has quite a few patterns on my to-do list, including some free ones at the bottom of the purchase list! I’m excited to be participating in her Knock it Off series that’s running right now, so you’ll see my knock-off next week!

Ready to add-a-bow to your dress?

You will need:

  • a square of fabric 7″ wide by 7″ high for the bow
  • a rectangle of fabric 3″ wide by 4″ high. for the centre of the bow
  • thread
  • bohemian babydoll pattern (or other pattern where the outside bodice is attached last)

Before going ahead with these steps, follow your pattern instructions until you get to the place where the lining is fully attached and the outside bodice is being attached to the skirt from the outside.

Step 1: Fold the bow fabric and bow centre fabric in half as shown in the photo.

Step 2: Stitch the raw edges of the long rectangular bow centre with a 1/4″ seam. Stitch the two short edges of the bow fabric with a 1/4″ seam. Clip the corners to reduce bulk when turning.

Step 3: Turn the bow and bow centre through the openings. Press flat, making sure the edges and corners are pushed out properly.

Step 4: Pin the edges of the bodice to the skirt, leave a gap at the dress centre front that is about 9″ wide. This is where the bow will be sewn in. Find the centre of the bodice and the centre of the bow rectangle. Pin the bow centre at the centre top of the skirt, with the bow rectangle over it, matching the raw edges of the bow and bow centre with the top raw edge of the skirt. Be sure to centre everything on the dress.

Step 5: Bring the bow centre up around the bow rectangle to create a loop and pin it. Adjusted how tightly the bow is wrapped to what you like, but leave it a little loose so the bow centre can be sewn down in the last step. Trim any excess from the bow centre.

Step 6: Pin the bodice over the bow, aligning all raw edges of the bow, bow centre and skirt top edge when pinning.

Step 7: Top-stitch the bodice to the skirt as indicated in the pattern instructions. This encloses the raw edges and attaches the bow as well.

Step 8: Push the bow up within the bow centre loop and pin the bottom of the bow centre to the dress skirt.

Step 9: Top-stitch along the bottom of the bow centre loop to attach it to the dress skirt, and you are done!

I hope you like this little way to add your own pretty details to a pattern. And of course, 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.

Question for you…

2014 July 31

I am hoping you all won’t mind helping me out with a decision I’m trying to make… and I’ve included some of our Quebec vacation photos along the way.

My husband surprised me in Quebec with this #isew bracelet, it even has Thread Riding Hood written on the inside. Yay! But, on top of that he gave me an amazing birthday gift, the opportunity to buy a new sewing machine! And I am so grateful and surprised, because I was not expecting it. (He’s amazing too!) Here’s where you come in… I’m not sure if I should take him up on it… Wait… I know, I’m not crazy – there’s more…

Here’s my reasoning… I love my machine – it’s a Janome SUV1122. Not fancy in any way, but it has served me well for quite a few years and I know my way around it. I know what it likes and dislikes. I’ve sorted out zippers, button holes, simple quilting, elastic thread, sewing knits and even a rolled hem or two. When I bought this machine it came with about 10 different feet that I have found invaluable as I’ve learned how to use them. It even arrived with a walking foot – which alone costs a third as much as my machine did when I bought it! I’m not sure the feet would fit on a new machine – and buying the same feet would be a big investment.

But… I also love the idea of a new machine, of course! More throat space, a larger area for quilting, a thread cutter, needle up/down control… speed control… maybe even a few embroidered patterns, letters and numbers built in. I could also use my current machine as a backup and for my girls to learn on. My husband asked about one at our local Janome/Bernina shop a few months ago. But in the end, he decided it was best if I chose it myself, so I could get one that has everything I need.

And… as a third option… I’m wondering if I should buy a serger instead? I don’t have one, but of course they are invaluable for finishing seams and sewing knits. I’ve only sewn with one once in high school home ec class and I don’t remember if I liked it or not… but everyone seems to use them. Or maybe I should get a Juki… but I think that’s mostly used for machine quilting?

I’d so appreciate your help to decide what to do. What is your experience… and what do you think I should do? What machines do you like? Do you have a serger and do you use it often?

Thanks so much! I’ll be back again mid-next week or so… we’re off to an electronic-free long weekend, but if I find some wifi you might catch some glimpses of what we are up to on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. See you soon!

a Flutter Sleeve Tunic

2014 July 29

I’ve been wanting to make something else with the Flutter Sleeve Nightgown tutorial I posted earlier this year. Mostly, something that wasn’t a nightgown! I managed to whip up a tunic the week before we headed off to Quebec city on vacation, so I could hopefully try a photo shoot in the old part of the city.

Thankfully my daughter decided to be spontaneous, so we got some fun twirls and cartwheels in front of the Chateau Frontenac. You can’t see much of it here, but it’s huge and beautiful – apparently one of the most photographed hotels in North America. These photos are taken on the boardwalk that runs along the outside, and parallel to the Saint Lawrence River. This day there were lots of tourists and we attracted more than a few glances from curious onlookers. I’m sure they were thinking we were either crazy or amazing and fun for photographing cartwheels in the busy area next to the hotel. (I’m hoping for the latter!)

The fabric I used for the main body of the tunic was a 1/2 metre I picked up from Country Clothesline at the spring Creativ Festival this year. It’s a beautiful print from Martha Negley called Dahlia. (I can’t find it on their site anymore, but this is similar and here is the same thing in lime. PS. This post is not sponsored by them, but I love their fabric selection!) When I brought it home my oldest was so pleased it was for her and I am glad she likes what I made from it as well. The contrasting pink sleeves and hem were a necessity due to my daughter wanting everything “as long as possible, Mom”. I’ve really got to stitch up a maxi dress for her!

The tunic is simple to make, I used the Flutter Sleeve Nightgown pattern piece I drafted for the set of nightgowns I made previously and changed the length of the nightgown main body pattern piece to fit into exactly the length of my 1/2 metre of fabric. It’s always amusing when I have to go back and print out my own tutorial so I can remember how I made the everything the first go around! Thankfully the length turned out just long enough to wear with a pair of shorts. And it’s a good, casual, “to the park” shirt she can happily twirl in it pretty much anywhere!

I’ve got one more post this week and then we are off to our annual cottage weekend with only a small amount of solar energy to keep our lamps working at night. It’s a nice break from the electronic noise we’re used to all the time! And, if you are looking for news on the Quiet Book Sew Along, it will be back soon. We are still on track to finish by the end of November, I’ve just needed quite a few more weeks off than I was expecting. Happy Tuesday to you!

Kid Art – Simple Fabric Painting

2014 July 26

A weekend nod to Kid’s Clothing Week’s end today! This fabric painting idea is a fun summer project to do with your kids. Especially if you plan to do some simple sewing with it. (That they would love to be included in!)

Fabric painting with “puffy paint” is something I immediately associate with the eighties and early nineties. In grade six I made a pair of cut off shorts (right above the knees to be modest of course!) with painted bows all over them in different colours. Very puffy, neon and verrrrry coool. If I remember it right they were the most amazing shorts ever… I wonder what happened to them! (Mom?) Anyhow – it is these memories that make me hesitate when I dig out my old-school fabric paints. The horror of the item I’m painting actually turning out puff-painted is enough to make me run in the opposite direction. Until I found this post by the girl creative.

Though I am blogging this a year later, these photos are from the second time we painted fabric. I thought it would be fun for the girls to use paintbrushes and see if their watercolour paintings could be a bit more intentional than the splatter-type art we created the first time. I love seeing just how much the girls have changed and grown up over the last year! They look so much more grown up now, time goes by so fast. My youngest had just turned 3 at this point, it’s such a great way to preserve their art in something they can touch.

To make these, you can refer to the girl creative’s post. My paintings look a lot different than the watercolour look she got on her fabric – you’ve got to check it out!

The painting is really simple and easier outside because it’s simpler to clean up, but if your kids will sit still it works indoors too. Just make sure you cover everything first because the paints do not wash out. To make each square of fabric easier for the girls to paint on I backed them with freezer paper. Just iron the shiny side onto the back of your fabric and it stays in place. (This works when using fabric pens as well!)

As a confession… I’ve still got the squares the girls painted on my to-do list. (Yikes!) Maybe another summer project I could work on with them?

5 Days of Giveaways – Winners!

2014 July 24

Thanks so much to everyone for entering the giveaways last week! I am so excited to mail out these prizes. As usual the Rafflecopter widget I use randomizes everything and chooses the winners for me.

Day 1 – Pretty Potent Bundle + Vintage Bias Tape & Rick-Rack ~ WINNER: #1396 – Robin S. who won just by clicking to enter the giveaway.

Day 2 – Handmade Fabric Tray ~ WINNER: #526 – Margo who left a comment to win. She said “Oh that tray looks just adorable! I found another pattern…but I love this one! Pick me! Pick me!”. Looks like it worked out well for her!

Day 3 – Fiskars Scissors and Clover Seam Ripper ~ WINNER: #335 – Laura E. who won by clicking to enter as well!

Day 4 – Two “I can see Clearly Now” Mini Pouches ~ WINNER: #716 – Lori M. who left a comment saying… “We have Jo-Ann’s close by…no real Quit Shops close…an hour drive or longer. So I love to buy from Bear Creek Quilting& Southern Fabrics online stores… also  Am a very Happy customer of them.”

Day 5 – Gold & Crabapple Bundle + Buttons ~ WINNER: #405 – Jacklynn G. who also won by clicking to enter!

I have everything ready to go and will get them in the mail by Saturday for sure. Save Laura, who happens to be a friend in-real-life. I got to drop hers off today! So exciting! I’ve been waiting through two years of giveaways for the randomizer to pick someone I sew with on a regular basis and it finally happened.

If you haven’t won yet don’t despair. There will be more fun happening around here soon! And, I haven’t forgotten that it is Kid’s Clothes Week this week. I’m not sewing along, since I was lucky enough to have contracted strep throat last weekend so I’ve been trying to sleep it off (along with taking some dreaded antibiotics) this week. Just goes to show you should never vacation, whenever you relax your body goes into shock and gets sick! Bad, I know – but true!

Anyhow, in a small nod to the Kid’s Clothes Week theme of “kid art”, I have a photo-shoot from last August (yes, I am that behind in blogging it!) with a fabric painting idea that my kids love, and I should probably do more often. I think I will be able to share it on the weekend. Until then, I am off to get some rest!

the Staple Dress {drop shirt-tail hemline tutorial}

2014 July 22

And now… back to our regular programming folks! Last week’s giveaways were so much fun and I will be sending out emails to all of the winners today. Thanks again for your comments, I felt so fortunate to be able to find out more about all of you! And especially thanks for the amazing birthday wishes. I had a great day and was spoiled rotten by my husband and kids. I hope you all had as much fun as I did last week!

A while ago I mentioned that I wanted to make the Staple Dress, and what happens? Daryl from Fabric Spark has given me the opportunity to make one! I have had this pattern on my list for over a year, and I LOVE the results. I made a wearable muslin with the regular hem, so I thought that I would change it up and include a tutorial for a drop shirt-tail hem in this pattern review. What is a shirt-tail hem? After some searching I found out it is curved on both sides, like a dress-shirt. And a drop shirt-tail hem is just a bit longer on the back. I really like how it gives the pattern more shape at the hemline.

And, can I say that this is the most comfortable dress I have worn in a long time. It’s perfect for hanging out with the kids – or walking around Quebec city. We did quite a few photo shoots along the way on our vacation last week and it is so nice to have something old and historic in my photo backgrounds! You’ll be seeing more of the city in the next month or so.

I had a lot of fun choosing my fabric from Fabric Spark’s shop. She has so many great fabrics that work really well for sewing apparel. In the end, I decided to chose one of her Art Gallery fabrics, since this dress looks best in a fabric with a great drape. As usual with Art Gallery I was not disappointed! The selvage says “Feel the Difference” and it does not lie. These fabrics are so smooth and the drape is perfect for clothing. I picked African Palm Indigo from the Safari Moon collection by Frances Newcombe. The colour is so amazing in person. It is a soft blue and totally wearable – and almost the same colour as my eyes… which is a fun bonus! I love the art deco palm trees, and the scale is perfect for a dress.

I got the pattern in my Perfect Pattern Parcel #3 purchase (not available anymore). But lucky for you, Daryl has the Staple Dress pattern available on her site. And, it’s the real deal paper version, so you won’t have to print and assemble the pdf pattern to make it! Now when you are choosing your fabric, you can get the pattern too – hint, hint! The pattern is well written, with lots of tips and hints on how to use elastic thread to shirr the waist, and on lengthening and shortening your dress. You can even move the shirring up or down to suit your natural waistline. And… it has pockets! I was so disappointed when I realized I didn’t take any photos of them. But, they are there and I used them a lot. Don’t you just love a good set of pockets?!

On with the tutorial then… Here is how to alter your pattern pieces and hem the new shaped hemline into a drop shirt-tail hem.

You will need:

  • Staple Dress pattern (available here from Fabric Spark)
  • large paper – I use freezer paper
  • tape
  • pencil/marker
  • french curve ruler – helpful but not necessary
How to alter the pattern pieces:
  1. Cut/trace both front and back pattern pieces in the longest length. The front will be cut on the “straight hem” line and the back will be cut on the “drop hem” line.
  2. Remember to take into account that there is a 5/8″ hem included in these measurements – whatever you draw will end up 5/8″ shorter when hemmed.
  3. I already knew that I liked the straight hem dress length, so I used the drop hem length on the back pattern piece as the length for the drop shirt tail. I wanted the top of the hem where the side seam comes together to be a bit shorter than 1 1/2″ above the straight hem length. Draw a 5/8″ wide line at that point on your back side seam, measuring up from the straight hem pattern line. The 5/8″ line gives you room to sew the 5/8″ side seam without stitching into your hemming area.
  4. Use your curved ruler to draw a curve from the right side of your 5/8″ line (Step 3) down to the drop hem pattern line. Or you can draw it by eye using the curve in the photo as a guide.
  5. Cut your pattern on the new line.
  6. Place the Front pattern piece on top of the back pattern piece. It will match from the underarm down to the hem. (The shoulder is a bit higher on the back.)
  7. Trace the bottom of the back hemline onto a new piece of paper. Also trace the bottom of the front hem.
  8. Cut the extra paper along the back drop hem line. Place it underneath your front dress pattern piece, matching the traced line so it is correctly placed. Tape. Fold up or cut off the left corner of the original dress front so the new line is visible.
  9. Now we need to shorten the front hem, creating the “drop” at the back. Draw a straight line at your new height, parallel to the straight portion of the drop hem line (furthest on the right). I drew mine about 2″ up. Cut along the new line.
  10. Place the cut piece along the bottom of the cut line as a guide, and draw a new curve.
  11. Cut the front hem line along the new line.
  12. Cut your fabric using the new pattern pieces.
How to stitch the new hem:
  1. Follow all directions (up to the hemming instructions) as per the pattern when stitching the dress except when stitching the bottom of the side seam. Leave 5/8″ un-sewn at the bottom of the dress. Make sure to iron your seam open and finish your seam allowances.
  2. When you get to the hemming instructions continue on here instead. Baste from one side seam to the other along both dress front and dress back hemlines with a 1/4″ seam. Leave long tails at either end of these separate basting lines.
  3. Press the hem up 5/8″. Pull the long threads (as if you are gathering the fabric) to help ease in and curve the fabric along the hemline. Make sure your curves are neatly pressed, use lots of steam.
  4. Fold the raw edge under to meet the pressed edge of your hem. Iron again, pin if desired.
  5. Stitch along the upper edge of the hem, about 1/4″ away from the bottom of the hem. Curve the corners up to a point at the side seam, then continue down the next curve until you have stitched the entire hem.

Enjoy your new dress! And if you have any questions please contact me by email:

** This is a sponsored post and the fabric for the Staple Dress was provided to me at no cost by Fabric Spark. However, as always, all opinions are my own and I will not promote something to you that I do not love myself. **