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What’s Your Maker Style? ~ Eco Expert {tips & projects you need to try!}

2016 October 20

Just back from a trip to the thrift store? Got 7 shirts in your closet waiting to be upcycled? Scraps from previous re-purposed items still to be dealt with? You’re in luck! Today is all about our last Maker Style – the Eco Expert! Projects include your personal Eco Expert apron, new repurposing projects to try, clever ways to use old clothing and how to make them unique.

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada

 How do you know if you are an Eco Expert? 

Take my super fun short quiz to find your personal Maker Style! Don’t miss out on lots more great sewing inspiration, grab a cup of tea and sit down with the new M Series  look book from Janome. I really enjoyed looking through it, the project tips and tricks are great and there are free patterns too!

Eco Expert Utility Apron (+ How I Shopped for Thrifted Fabric)

The Eco Expert apron is based on a tutorial from Sugar Bee Crafts. Their Utility Apron is easy to sew and requires minimal yardage – perfect for re-purposing your old or thrifted clothing!

I went thrift store shopping and found 3 skirts. All made from heavier fabrics, since I wanted this apron to be durable. The skirts I chose had various things I wanted to incorporate: denim – because of its durability, skirt tab – a fun detail to use in a new way, and great top-stitched seams – to add detail to the finished apron.

Always check to make sure they don’t have any stains or tears (though you could use that to your advantage too!). To save myself a bit of work I took the tutorial measurements and a measuring tape with me so I could be sure the skirts had enough fabric to fit.

Creative Up-Cycling (Anything is fair game!)

Here are a few ways you can use ready-to-wear clothing details to make your up-cycled project better!

Upside Down Hems: The tops of all of these apron pockets are the hems of each skirt. It was really simple to turn the skirt upside-down and cut the pieces out.The pink skirt had a bit of a curve to the hem and I was able to use that as a design feature!
Everything Has a Purpose: The pink skirt had a cute faux-button tab on the waistband. I was able to remove it and re-sew it to the skirt side to use as a scissor holder!
You Haven’t Seam it All: #seewhatIdidthere? Sorry for the joke – but the pre-sewn seams can add a fun detail to your up-cycling! I off-set all three skirt seams to add interest to the apron. Bonus: You won’t have to sew all that extra topstitching!
Stitch it Again: On the topic of seaming things. I had to re-stitch the hem on the pink apron. It had a pleat in the back and to remove it, the hem had to be un-stitched.To make things more fun, I used my favorite “X” stitch that comes on the Skyline and M Series Janome sewing machines. Just grab the F or F2 Satin Stitch foot and stitch right across where the old hem was topstitched.
Re-Use the Pockets: This is a common one. Take the pockets off your jeans and use them in your new project. Again, all that work cutting and topstitching is already done for you! A great example of this is to use one on the lining of my new favorite purse pattern - the Chobe. (Photo via Elle Puls, via Stitchydoo)
Use Plain Space: Ok – this is stretching the use of “ready-to-wear details” a bit, but lettering is so fun! If you use some blank space to add a fun detail like the I did with the word “MAKER” here. Again, this alphabet is available on the Janome Skyline S7 I used to stitch this apron, and the new M Series machines.BONUS: If you have some pre-loved leather around, you can make a simple Leather Label too!

 You can find more ways to embellish your sewing in the Sewing Diaries: 9 Ways to Embellish and Label Your Projects.

Re-Purposing Projects to Try

I’ve found some great up-cycling sewing projects you can try. The quilts are the best since you can destash and a lot of fabric all at once! If you like these and want more, you can follow my UpCycle or Alter Pinterest board. (Made with Eco Experts in mind!)

Make a quilt from upcycled sweaters with this tutorial from Made by Barb. I have so many hearts for this! It’s gorgeous, and I imagine, quite warm. Can not wait to make one! (photo via Made by Barb)
Sweater Tote. I have seen this tutorial floating around blog-land for many, many years. I’ve never made it, but it looks amazing! Maybe this year? (Photo via Lemon Squeezy Home)
T-Shirt Quilt on a MooseRe-purpose T-shirts into a keepsake T-Shirt Quilt ~ I made this one for my husband and got rid of preserved quite a few of his favorite shirts!
This child’s dress made from a men’s dress shirt is super cute! You can find the tutorial on Made Everyday. I made my daughter a nightgown this way and she quite literally wore it out. (photo via Made Everyday)
This page in my Quiet Book tutorials uses lots of re-purposed items. You could make This “Buckle-Up” page with your child’s baby clothes to make it even more special!
Seriously #cutecats! These Cashmere Cats are handsewn and embroidered from a sweater sleeve – no side seams! A great kids project – and Bonus – something to do with the sleeves from your sweater quilt! (Photo via By Your Hands)

This Dress Shirt Quilt looks so cozy!The simple squares and high loft batting make it really appealing, and I think even more cozy if it was made with stripes and plaids! I even have a stack of shirts stashed, ready to make one – someday! (Photo via Sew Mama Sew)

Hope you had fun visiting today. What is your favorite Upcycling Project? Be sure to follow #alongforthreadride!


Another Extraordinary Shirt

2016 October 19

What do Flowers, Bunnies, and the colour Purple have to do with each other? I’m so glad you asked! I found this amazing floral fabric on the “specialty fabrics” rack at my local fabric shop a few years ago – and put it in my “stashed with no plans” category! It’s a light fabric, not see through, but comfy with some drape and good body.

I have been experimenting with mixing wovens and knits in shirt patterns this year. Some unblogged, due to the backlog of things I’ve sewn #cantpostthemall!  Since making 5 Extraordinary Girl Shirts for my youngest and I last year, including one mixing wovens into the knit pattern. I wanted to try it again.

The first knit/woven Extraordinary Girl shirt I made – with Ann Kelle’s super-cute mermaid fabric – only fit my youngest for about 2 weeks. The woven back didn’t allow enough stretch for her arms and it really didn’t work. Which made me sad, since it was SO CUTE! Ack…

This time around, I was smarter! Practice really does help.

  • Added a back yoke in the knit material to help with the stretch and gathered the woven fabric in the center to add some extra ease.
  • To capitalize on the long shirt-tail hem trend, I added a longer rounded hem to the shirt front and back as well. Looking at the photos – I think I could have sized up on the shoulders, my daughter is about a size 4 around – but likely needs a size 8 shoulder. Next time I will adjust the width, but leave the shoulder alone.
  • Shortened the sleeves (this pattern includes long and 3/4 sleeves).

De-stashing is fun, and you might find the purple knit again on the blog. Turns out little girls’ projects don’t use much! I’ve already sewn an Exposed Zipper Banyan Tee out of it. The knit is super comfy and washes and wears really well. Now the purple Banyan is being worn by the second child. Much to the dismay of the older one who grew out of it… I’ve written an Exposed Zipper tutorial if you want to check it out.

We took these photos on a trip to the Royal Ontario Museum this summer – along with the photos of my youngest’s quilt. I try to capitalize on all opportunities for great photos shoot locations over here. Oh, and the purse! The girls have carried their cross-body purses around everywhere this summer, they are super-cute and really useful.

What’s Your Maker Style? ~ Workshop Wizard {+ leather label tutorial}

2016 October 14

Today’s post is all about giving our Workshop Wizards (including me!) the stuff their heart pitter-patters after. I’ve collected a round-up of fun stuff today – details about the Workshop Wizard apron, must-have tools for a Workshop  maker space, and a new tutorial – how to use any sewing machine to make leather labels!

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada

Cross Back Apron Close Up

Essex Linen

Workshop Cross Back Apron

Machine Stitched Leather label

Workshop Wizards Rejoice! Today is all about you…

Pssst… If you haven’t found out what your personal Maker Style yet, click on the photo below to take the super-short fun quiz! And be sure to check out the new Janome M Series of sewing and serging machines – they’ve put together a gorgeous look book full of free stuff and  maker inspiration!

Purl Soho Cross Back Apron Review

This is the Workshop Wizard’s Apron of Choice, and unlike last week’s new free pattern (the Design Diva Apron) there was no need to re-invent the wheel. The Cross Back Apron tutorial is free, and really straight forward. The seams are all fully finished, and it’s super comfortable to wear. Definitely going to keep your clothes clean no matter what you are doing!

Apron Details:

  • Fabric: Indigo Essex Linen (#bestillmyfabriclovingheart!) This linen is gorgeous, easy to use and sew.
  • Make it Yours: To make it more unique add a decorative stitch to the top of the pockets and the apron bib. Tip: To have the stitch to meet in the middle of the bib, sew in from each edge to the center! The Skyline S9 I have on loan from Janome also has a button that will automatically mirror the stitches – making this even easier!
  • Watch Out! The Purl Soho tutorial calls for 55-60″ wide linen. Essex Linen and most quilting cottons commonly come it 42-44″ wide bolts. I purchased 3 yards for this and ended up squeezing the entire apron out of just over 2 yards.
  • Pre-Measure: The apron straps are really, really (really) long to accommodate for for multiple sizes. I ended up cutting my 50″ straps down to 31″ each – #argh for the wasted fabric.

Cross Back Apron Bib Stitching Detail

Workshop Apron Maker Leather Label

Must-Have Tools for the Workshop Wizard

You’ve got to keep your wizardy-self happy am-I-right? What better way than to stock a maker sewing space full of expected and unexpected things you can use to #makeallthethings.

Do you use an unexpected tool on a regular basis to make your sewing easier? 

Workshop Wizard Sewing Tools

(1) Straight Stitch Needle Plate: For stitching absolutely every fabric that comes your way – no matter what. The small area under the needle is great for thinner fabrics, there’s less chance they get pushed down into the plate.  (P.S. it comes with the Skyline S9.)

(2) Needle Nose Pliers: Great for messing around with all sorts of purse hardware. Especially good when Changing a Zipper Pull to suit your own needs.

(3) AcuFeed Flex (Dual Feed): This replaces the more common walking/even foot. It’s job is to feed the layers of fabric through the machine from the top and bottom. Bringing all layers through the machine evenly. Find out a lot more about the AcuFeed Flex with these tips for sewing knits and these quilting tips. (BTW – the Skyline S9 comes with multiple dual feed feet, including a quilting and zipper foot among others. You can basically sew everything with the AcuFeed Flex installed!)

(4) Hammer: This is my (politically incorrect) small “girl” hammer! It’s been used to apply grommets, snaps and eyelets. It’s also great when pounding thicker seams in leather so they are easier to sew.

(5) Eyelet Pliers: My mom gave me these pliers a few years ago. They are so nice and easy to use for applying tiny eyelets. I used some on my Quiet Book “Tie a Shoe” page tutorial.

(6) Wire Cutters: Similar to the Needle Nose Pliers, I most often use these when Changing a Zipper Pull. It’s really easy to snip off the small zipper pull that comes on most standard zippers. Or use them to cut up an old measuring tape and use it in this super cute coin purse!

(7) Pliers: These are really useful for removing KAM snaps. This handy list from KAMsnaps themselves has 6 ways to remove the snaps once they are on.

(8) KAM Snap Pliers: Used to apply KAM snaps. I just started using KAM snaps this year and it’s been fantastic – very quick and easy once you get the hang of it. While you are practicing, the number (7) tip is very handy!

(9) Bobbin Case: This extra bobbin case is used to increase thread tension over and above the automatic settings on the Skyline S9. It is meant for use during the embroidery function if you are not using Janome threads. It’s included it in the must-have’s because I think it’s pretty cool to be able to take apart and put your machine back together again. Fun, fun!

(10) Overedge Foot: This foot easily allows you to finish the edges of your fabric to prevent fraying. Good for Workshop Wizards who want to sew all the things – tricky loosely woven linen included!

(11) Open Toe and Regular Satin Stitch Foot: Sew all of the fun decorative stitches with these feet. Including the Leather Labels below! The open toe especially allows you to see what you are doing for precise stitch placement!

(12) Leather Hole Punch: Rivets are my newest fun thing! I first used them on this leather and vinyl Chobe Purse, and have so many more plans for other things. They are super simple to attach, and so professional. The hole punch makes it easy to install them. I am excited to use it when installing eyelets in the future as well.

(13) Heavy Duty Washers: I got these 2 1/4″ washers at the hardware store to use as pattern weights. I always meant to make them prettier with this tutorial, but obviously haven’t gotten around to it yet. #sewcrastination

 How to Sew a DIY Leather Label Tutorial

How to Sew a Leather Label (on any sewing machine)

Leather labels look amazing! They add a super professional touch to your handmade projects, and they are surprisingly easy to sew! (If you’d like to know more about sewing with leather check out these tips and tricks.)

You will need:

  • leather, faux leather, vegan leather or vinyl scrap
  • leather sewing machine needle
  • matching/contrasting thread
  • sewing machine
  • removable marking pen
  • scissors/rotary cutter
  • ruler
  • Optional: Janome F Satin Stitch Foot or F2 Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot
  • Optional: Scrap Fabric, Fray Check and Fusible Web (I recommend Steam-A-Seam)

Plan Ahead:

  • Your machine will tell you what you can and cannot do. I will detail how to make several labels using the fancy stitches on my on-loan Janome machine, then follow up with labels you can make on any machine with a zigzag or straight stitch!

Sew a leather label with the Janome Skyline S9 Machine:

  1. Plan what you want your label to say and determine the general size of your label. No good making a 6″ long label when you only have 3″ of space for it! (TIP: If you like to plan, program and stitch the label onto fabric first for a general size gauge. The leather will feed through the machine differently though, and may be significantly shorter/longer.)
  2. Program the machine. Type in what you’d like the label to say or show. Check the preview to avoid making unnecessary holes in your leather with accidental stitches.Program your Leather Label before stitching
  3. Insert your leather needle, attach the Satin Stitch or ZigZag Foot and thread your machine. I used polyester Gütermann thread . The Skyline S9 has a fun automatic needle threader you can see in this video of the Skyline S7.Thread the Machine and Use a Leather Needle
  4. Cut a straight edge. It is easier to keep the label straight with an edge to follow.Cut a straight edge on your leather
  5. Sew the label! Make sure it is straight by following the edge you just cut.Stitch the DIY Leather Label
  6. Cut the label. If you are going to sew the label into a seam, be sure to leave the seam allowance amount above your stitching for easy placement.
  7. Optional Backing. If the back of your label will show and doesn’t look “pretty”. Cut a scrap of fabric and fusible web to the size of your label and fuse it to the wrong side of the leather to cover it.Cut Fabric and Fusible Web to sizeFuse the fabric to your leather labelFabric Backed DIY Leather Label Tutorial
  1. Repeat.This is so much fun!

    Leather Label DIY Tutorial

Sew a leather label with a basic sewing machine:

  1. Set up the machine. Set your stitch length and width. TIP: If you like to plan, stitch the label onto fabric first for a general size gauge. The leather will feed through the machine differently though, and the stitches may be significantly shorter/longer.
  2. Insert your leather needle, Satin Stitch or Regular Foot and thread your machine. I used polyester Gütermann top stitching weight.
  3. Cut a straight edge. It is easier to keep the label straight with an edge to follow.Cut a straight edge on your leather
  4. Sew the label! Here are two ideas to use basic stitches and make a nice label. Make sure it is straight by following the edge you just cut, and be sure to tie off or fray-check each thread end so they don’t come out.
    • X’s: (1) Set up and stitch a row of large zig-zag stitches in one direction. (2) Take the leather out of the machine and replace it with the stitching facing you. The needle needs to be directly above the left side of the stitch and beside the outer point of the zigzag. (I removed the machine foot for the photo so you could see the needle better.(3) Stitch back to the other side! TIP: If your X’s are slightly uneven it adds to the handmade look of your label #embraceitStitch a row of zigzag stitches on your leatherPull Threads to the back and Tie to securePlace the needle carefully before sewingCrossed ZigZag Stitch Leather Label DIY
    • Straight-ish: Pre-cut the leather and stitch angled or straight lines in groups from side to side. Different stitch lengths, thread thicknesses and colours look great too!Pre-cut the Leather to sizeTrim the extra threads on your leather labelTreat your Leather Label with Fray Check
  5. Cut the label. If you are going to sew the label into a seam, be sure to leave the seam allowance amount above your stitching for easy placement.
  6. Optional Backing. If the back of your label will show and doesn’t look “pretty”. Cut a scrap of fabric and fusible web to the size of your label and fuse it to the wrong side of the leather to cover it.Cut Fabric and Fusible Web to sizeFuse the fabric to your leather labelFabric Backed DIY Leather Label Tutorial
  7. Repeat. This is so much fun!

Hope you had fun visiting today. Be sure to follow #alongforthreadride!

Finished DIY Leather Label

What’s Your Maker Style? ~ Design Diva {free apron tutorial}

2016 October 7

October is Embroidery Month! Scary?… Embroidery sounded hard to me hard, and confusing, or at least made for people who put sayings or licensed characters on everything. Turns out it is so much easier than I thought – and fun to play with – which I found out since being loaned the Janome Skyline S9 sewing and embroidery machine. (P.S. Keep reading to get a free apron pattern and tutorial below. Or click on one of the photos to pin it for later!)

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada. I’m part of a group of Canadian Janome Artisans. Thank you for reading!

Coming Soon! In mid-November, I’ll be writing a more detailed series about embroidery – the Sewing Diaries: Embroidery Edition - tips/tricks and my honest newbie experience using one of these “scary machines”! (Including a list of things I should have done when embroidering this apron and didn’t…)

If the Sewing Diaries sounds familiar, it’s because this spring’s Sewing Diaries: Meet Your New Machine series was similar. If you haven’t read it, take a look. Lots of good general information about getting to know your machine, and how to sew almost anything on it!


Last week‘s installment of “What’s Your Maker Style?” included a super-fun short quiz where you get to choose your favorites from photos of sewing things to find out what your Maker Style is. If you haven’t tried it yet, click on the photo below! (Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you to come back!)

For all the Design Diva’s out there – this post is for you!

This apron was made to highlight the embroidery options available on the Skyline S9. Inadvertently, I also highlighted it’s sewing abilities. Since it is a 2-for-1 machine, and you can switch from sewing mode to embroidery mode with the touch of a button – literally! (On it’s pretty full colour touch screen, I might add… eeep!)

The original Design Diva Apron was made from a nice springy palette of magenta, florals and navy. The tutorial version is a little more autumn-friendly with a pretty wine coloured sash, boho pockets and navy skirt. Plus of course I made it more fun with lots of embroidery, including one of many exclusive Anna Maria Horner designs and my personal monogram. (Couldn’t resist!)


Design Diva Apron Tutorial

As usual, please feel free to use my free 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 selling aprons made with this pattern, please contact me or leave a comment and I will make a Seller’s License available for purchase in my shop.


The Design Diva Apron is *almost* a full circle skirt of ruffled goodness, the wide waistband and wrap-around sash add to the fun! This free apron pattern is one-size-fits-many and all seams are finished with a simple French Seam.

The entire apron waist measures about 34″. The back of the apron is open to allow it to fit a greater number of sizes. The sash is about 118″ long and can be tied in the back, wrapped around the front to tie in a bow or a knot to fit the wearer best. This apron is about 21″ long.


Quilting Cotton works great for this project, along with twill, linen and other lightweight woven fabrics. The materials listing is based on 42″ wide fabric (pre-washed) unless otherwise specified.

  • 1 yard Main Apron Fabric
  • 1 yard Sash Fabric
  • 1/2 yard Pocket Fabric
  • 4 yards Ruffle Binding (I used 1 1/2″ wide.)
  • 1 yard 20″ wide Medium Weight Fusible Interfacing (ie. Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex)
  • Matching/Contrasting thread for Edge-Stitching
  • Removable Fabric Marker
  • 2 Safety Pins
  • Chopstick
  • Your regular sewing supplies
  • Optional: Embroidery Machine, stabilizer and thread for embellishment



Before you begin:

  • Print out all 12 pages of the Design Diva Apron Pattern Pieces 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 first page, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut each page on the outer gray lines and tape the pages together, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.


  • Main Apron: Fold your fabric in half, matching selvage edges. Cut one Apron Front on the fold, and 2 Apron Backs as per the pattern pieces. Be careful, the yardage is tight, buy an extra 1/2 yard if you are worried.
  • Apron Pockets: Fold your fabric in half, matching selvage edges. Cut 2 of each pocket piece as per the pattern pieces.
  • Sash: There are no pattern pieces for the sash. Cut 3 pieces of sash fabric 9″ x 40″ each.
  • Interfacing: There are no pattern pieces for the interfacing. Cut 6 pieces of interfacing 4 1/2″ x 20″.

Let’s Sew!

All seams are 3/8″ unless otherwise indicated. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure your stitches. Press liberally throughout to ensure a professional finished product!
Embroider the Apron (optional):

Machine embroider your apron as desired. I chose to use an Anna Maria Horner design supplied with the Janome Skyline S9 machine. And embroidered them using Janome embroidery thread.

It was hard to choose which designs to use, there are so many I like! In the end, because the apron has a circle skirt and drapes a lot near the bottom, I chose to use a simpler flower design, using colours that complimented the fabrics in the apron.

The back needed to be monogrammed, of course! I chose to use a 3 letter monogram for my initals – literally took me all of 2 minutes to program into the machine. Pretty addicting – I “need” to monogram all of our towels now!

Tips: Remember, the front will be sewn to the back at the side seams. Since it is a circle skirt, be sure to angle your design or it will not be straight when you wear it. Plan accordingly if you want to tie a bow at the apron front, some of your embroidery may be obscured by the sash ends. Also, depending on the wearer, the back may or may not be overlapped.


Prepare the Sash:

      1. Match and stitch all 3 sash pieces right sides together along the short edges. Press all seams open. You will now have a sash about 119″ long.
      2. Fold the sash lengthwise with long edges matching and wrong sides together. Press well. Open and fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of one half (4 1/2″height) of the sash length as per your manufacturer’s directions. Overlap the interfacing pieces by 1/4″ so they cover the entire sash. The interfaced side will be the front of the sash. 
      3. Fold the sash along the center line and re-press if necessary. Mark a point 4 1/2″ in m the end of the long raw edge. Draw a line from this point to the corner of the folded edge. Cut along this line, creating the shape for the angled ends of the sash. Repeat for the other end.
      4. Fold the sash in half and mark the center point (yellow pin). Set aside.

Sew the Pockets:

  1. Match a Pocket Top right sides together with the pocket curve of the Apron Front. Pin and stitch along the small curve. Trim seam allowance in half. 
  2. Flip and press the Pocket Top wrong sides together with the Apron Front. Top stitch the pocket with a straight stitch, or something fancier! I used an Heirloom stitch (#30) on the Skyline S9 to create a subtle cross-stitch in red along the edge. 
  3. Fold the Apron Front out of the way and match a Pocket Bottom to the long outside curve of the Pocket Top with Wrong Sides Together. This will be the beginning of a french seam to finish the raw edges. Stitch the outside curve with a 1/4″ seam. Trim the seam allowance in half.
  4. Turn the Pocket Top and Bottom so they are Right Sides Together. Push out the seam and press well. Pin if desired and stitch the outside curve again, enclosing the first seam. You’ve now enclosed the raw edges and finished the French seam. 
  5. Fold the pocket into place and baste the top and side edges with a  1/4″ seam to keep them in place. 
  6. Repeat for the other pocket.

Sew the Side Seams:

  1. Match an Apron Back to the Apron Front at the side seam Wrong Sides Together. We will sew another French Seam to finish and enclose the sides of the apron. Pin and Stitch the Side Seam with a 1/4″ seam. Trim the seam allowance in half. 
  2. Turn the Apron Front and Back so they are now Right Sides Together. Press well along the seam. Stitch again with a 1/4″ seam to enclose the raw edges. Press the French Seam towards the Apron Back. 
  3. Repeat for the other side seam.
  4. Fold the apron in half to find the top center waistline. Press to mark it, or use a pin.

Finish the Hem:

  1. Sandwich the curved apron hem between the ruffled bias tape. Pin if desired. Stitch the tape beginning at the top of one Apron Back edge and ending at the other. Cut off any remaining bias tape.  

Tip: This is another great place to use a fancy stitch if you’d like to. I used the same Heirloom stitch as I did to top stitch the pocket edges. This time in tone-on-tone white. It gives a nice hand-made vibe to the apron!

Attach the Sash:

  1. Measure out 19 1/2″ on each side of the center marking (green pin) you found on the sash. Mark each measurement (yellow pin). The area between these marks will be attached to the Apron along the waistline.
  2. Match the interfaced side of the Sash to the Apron Front with fabric right sides together at the center mark. Pin. Match the ruffled edge of an Apron Back with the 19 1/2″ markings you just made on the sash. Pin.
  3. Match and pin one side of the the sash to the apron waistline between the pinned areas. Repeat on the other side so the entire waistline is pinned.
  4. Stitch the pinned area from one side of the apron ruffle to the other. Open and press the sash away from the apron.
  5. Place a safety pin in each end of the interfaced area on the sash. This will make it easier to turn later.
  6. Place the apron right side up on the table with the skirt facing you. Roll the apron fabric up to the sash until you can see the waistline seam you just sewed underneath it. The rolled apron will be laying on the front half of the sash (interfaced). You may want to roll the fabric a bit at a time, since there is a lot of it.
  7. Match the sash sides right sides together at the center (enclosing the rolled apron) and pin.
  8. Measure 5″ on either side of the center pin and mark with another pin. The 10″ area between these two marks will be the opening and will not be sewn.
  9. Match and pin the remaining raw edges of the sash. Be careful to keep the rolled apron inside the sash and out of the way of the edges as you pin. You will now have a strange long fabric snake – it’s ok! We’ll make it look like an apron in the next few steps.
  10. Stitch along the pinned edges, leaving the 10″ opening un-sewn. Make sure you do not sew over the rolled apron! When sewing over the previous seam, try to sew just to the outside or directly on top of the seam, if possible.
  11. Clip the corners of the sash. Clip a large long triangle out of the end of the angle, to remove as much bulk as possible.
  12. Pull the apron out from the opening to turn the sash inside out. Use the safety pins to turn the sash ends. Be patient! It is a very long sash, but I promise – it will turn! Push out the angles with a chopstick. Push out edges and press well.

Finish the Apron:

  1. Press under 3/8″ along the sash opening. Pin.
  2. Edge stitch the sash, catching and closing the sash opening.  I like to use my Janome blind hemming foot, just move the needle to the left and let the guide run along the edge of your fabric. Perfectly straight! 
  3. Press the apron well, and you are finished. Enjoy!

I’d love to see your project! You can share your apron on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!

A Fancy Dress for My Oldest

2016 October 3

Fabric comes from the most unexpected places! A few years ago, my neighbor was de-cluttering and showed up at my door with a bag of fabric. Inside were extra cuts of the specialty fabrics used to make the bridesmaid’s dresses at her wedding. Gorgeous soft green satin and a sheer green overlay – and there was a lot of it. (We still have more for another project!) I folded it all and put it on my shelf until inspiration struck. 

I didn’t want to use it for just any project, so it took a few years, but we found a good reason to use it! My youngest was asked to be a flower girl last fall, so my oldest was feeling a little left out, it seemed like a great time to make her a fancier dress. Thankfully I remembered the green fabric, and there was more than enough yardage – it was perfect! This dress emerged, a mashed-up a few patterns, into a simple maxi dress. It was almost floor length last year – but she’s grown since I made it!

All the skills I’ve learned while sewing were tested on this dress. It is definitely different using specialty fabrics. Using the right needle, thread and tension is so important. You can tell that I should have lowered the tension on the side seams, now that the dress is finished and washed a few times, they are a puckering. (Could also be that I didn’t press the dress before we took photos! #reallife)

The skirt side seams are both french seams to prevent fraying. And the hem on the overlay is a baby rolled hem, so it doesn’t look too heavy. I was really grateful for my Janome rolled hem foot here -it has been used in a lot of projects. I would never have thought to do a rolled hem before, so I’m glad they include it standard with a lot of their machines.

The bodice is based on the Secret Garden dress pattern. Since I *love* the low back. It also has a side zipper – so you don’t really see it, which made the overlay look a lot nicer. The bodice overlay was drafted to be about twice as wide as the actual bodice, so it could be gathered. In the end I think I should have added less extra around the armholes – since, if you are a picky perfectionist (#likeme) the gathers pucker a bit much there. I really like how it looks though. And I made it easier on myself by gathering the front and not the back of the bodice. The skirt is self drafted, two large rectangles, gathered at the top and attached to the bodice.

The sash created a bit of a problem. Originally it was supposed to be a big bow in the back. I borrowed the sash pattern pieces from the Oliver and S Fairytale dress. Once they were attached, though, the front of the dress needed a little something – the two layers of gathers just didn’t look right meeting at the waistline. At this point I started feeling a bit ill, all the work to draft, gather and sew the new bodice piece and it didn’t even look good… *insert desperate look here!* Thankfully, the extra-long sash was long enough to be crossed at the back and tied it in a knot on the front – much better, Whew! #ideaforthewin

In the end I’m so happy with the dress, and really happy with our photo shoot. My daughter had fun running around in the field in her ballet slippers, and it was a great almost-fall sunny day. She also felt really special wearing it to the wedding, which was so important. And the fact that my neighbor had given us her special fabric made it even better. I’m glad I can sew nice things for the girls when they need them. Really good memories.

What was something you’ve sewn that has special memories?

What’s Your Maker Style? {quiz!}

2016 September 29

We’re doing something totally new-to-Thread Riding Hood today! Take our Quiz to find out “What’s Your Maker Style?” This is a super-fun look at different sewing styles, coinciding with the release of the new Janome M Series of machines and the M Series Look Book full of “ideas, projects and techniques for the Maker in you.”

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada. Thank you for your support!

As part of the M Series Look Book I sewed-up a series of  Maker Aprons – 3 different styles for 3 different types of Maker. I’ve got lots of tips, tricks and a new free pattern download planned for the next 3 weeks, but first we need to find out What Your Maker Style is! 

Take the Quiz! 

So! What is Your Maker Style? Let us know in the comments. Did the quiz get your style right? Were you hoping for a different answer? (P.S. Share it with your friends to find out what kind of maker they are!)

Are you a Design Diva? Find your Free Apron Pattern Here!

Whatever your style, this is the first in a 4-Part mini-series. Each of the next three weeks I’ll be talking in detail about all of them, including how you can make each of these aprons yourself! The series will end just before Creativ Festival in Toronto, where you can find lots more sewing inspiration. (I’ll be there with Janome, speaking and doing a workshop, you can find out more in this post.)

Be sure to check out the M Series Look Book. It’s not just about the new machines, it includes tons of free content from Canadian Janome Artisans and more fun ideas, tutorials and inspiration. Plus, you can download the York pattern from Seamwork magazine – totally free!

Enjoy sewing! I’ll see you next week.

How to Sew Shorts with a Faux Skirt Front {tutorial}

2016 September 27

Wow, these photos are from 2 years ago! I’m switching to a new, much faster (Thank goodness!), computer right now and am in the process of sorting files. Yup – super fun! (haha) But, there’s a silver lining! I found this tutorial, all photographed and ready to go. Easy Peasy! In the middle of all of the excitement and preparations (re: yesterday’s post) I am happy to have less to do!

My girls love skirts and dresses and I love the modesty that shorts provide – so the faux skirt front is a great mash-up for both of us. My oldest is still wearing them – though they are quite a bit shorter now!

This tutorial is a bit more summer- related – but if I wait another year to post it you might not even recognize my kids in the photos! Also, it seemed a better time to write it up when I was planning last week and it was still warm outside. Today is a bit less hospitable – with rain and chilly-ish fall weather. Oops!

Either way, here’s a full tutorial on how to add a faux skirt panel to the front of any shorts pattern, assuming the shorts have a side seam and separate waistband. Depending on your part of the world, you can get a jump on your summer sewing, next summer’s sewing, or pin the tutorial for later! Of course, these would look great in a nice wool plaid with tights underneath. #justsayin

For simplicity’s sake, I have referred here to the free Oliver and S Sunny Day Shorts pattern. To prepare, download the pattern and cut out all pieces according to the instructions. Make sure to leave excess fabric for the faux-skirt front. If the pattern pieces look a little different, it’s because I usually lower the rise on the front of my kids’ shorts – it tends to fit them a bit better. Here I’ve lowered the front rise by 1 1/2″.

Draft and Cut the Skirt Front

1) Fold Skirt Front fabric in half. Place Center-Front pattern piece near the fold as shown in photo. The Shorts Side is parallel to the fold. Leave 1/2″ or so before the top of the Center-Front to add ease for movement to the front of the skirt. (The curves on the top of the pattern will make it easy to ease this fabric back in later on.) Trace the top of the shorts pattern to mark the top of the skirt front – the excess at the Center-Front is free-hand marked at 90 degrees to the fold.

2) Pivot the pattern piece so the bottom of the Shorts Side is 1-2″ over from it’s original placement. The top of the Shorts Side matches up with your line from step 1. Trace the Shorts Side, including the notch placement.

3) Draw a line from the bottom of the Shorts Side to the fold. The line is at a 90 degree angle to the folded edge.

4) To make hemming easier, we need to straighten out the angle at the bottom of the Skirt Side. Line up the bottom of the Shorts Front with the bottom edge of the Skirt. Trace the side of the shorts, making a 1 1/2″ line 90 degrees up from the bottom edge.

5) Cut out the faux Skirt panel. 

6) Hem the Skirt Panel. Follow the instructions for the Sunny Day Shorts – “Finish the Shorts” Step 1.

7) Sandwich the Shorts Front, Skirt Panel and Shorts Back as shown. Shorts Front and Skirt Panel are right-side-up. Shorts Back is wrong-side up. Align the straight side edge – this is the wearer’s right side seam. You can use the notches to line everything up properly.

8) Pin the side, making sure all three layers are aligned. Fold the skirt panel out of the way. match and pin the inner leg, matching the Shorts Front and Back. Stitch as indicated in the Sunny Day Shorts instructions – “Prepare the Shorts Front and Back” Step 1.

9) Repeat step 8 for the wearer’s left side. Fold the other shorts leg and skirt panel out of the way and stitch the side and inner seam.

10) Follow ”Prepare the Shorts Front and Back” Step 2 to sew the rise. Be sure to fold the skirt panel out of the way while stitching! Pin the raw edges of the Skirt Front to the Shorts Front. Ease in the excess Skirt fabric and baste with a 1/4″ seam.

11) Continue to follow the Sunny Day Shorts instructions to attach the waistband and insert the elastic.

12) Fold up and press the shorts hem as per ”Finish the Shorts” Step 1.

13) Open the skirt panel and pin the hem where it meets the skirt panel. Stitch the hem, beginning at the pin and ending where the hem meets the skirt panel on the other side.

All done! Enjoy your new skirt :)

Let  me know what you think! Or even better – post some photos? I’d love to see them! Share your photos on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!


Up and coming (soon)!

2016 September 26

The past year has been full with preparation. I’ve been working behind the scenes and can finally share them with you. It’s so hard to keep a secret and I’ve been allowed to be a part of some super amazing projects since last April!

First off, I’ve been fortunate to work with Janome Canada as one of their Artisans for almost a year and a half now and I’m thrilled that they’ve just loaned me the next in their series of Skyline machines – the Skyline S9 – a combination sewing and embroidery machine! This baby has above and beyond the bells and whistles. (And I thought the S7 had them all!) Lots more to come about the machine later this year.

The photos above are a sneak peek at one of my first projects – a pillow with an embroidered butterfly using one of the Anna Maria Horner designs included with the machine. My girls have kept me busy with requests for embroidery on everything as I practice and prepare a new post series, coming later this year!

Creativ Festival is coming again soon – October 27-29 in Toronto – and I’ve been invited back! This time I’m speaking and teaching a Janome-sponsored workshop too – eeek! (Sooooo nervous, and sooooo excited!)

Remember the Fat Quarter Skirt tutorial above? I’ll be teaching a 3 hour hands on workshop where everyone will sew one! This is a great beginner project. And I’m thrilled to fuel lots of new sewists’ passion with the ability to sew a simple cute skirt! Of course if you are an advanced sewer and want to sew 1 or 3 of them, please come out too! I’ve got lots of tips and tricks planned, plus handouts and pattern information for sizes 2-6 available only with the class.

The Fat Quarter Skirt Workshop is at the Creativ Festival, Thursday October 27th from 9am – noon. Sign up today – the class limit is 20 people!

Be Brave and Sew – a Trunk Show

Also at Creativ Festival, I’ve been invited back to continue the series “Be Brave and Sew”, Part II! New projects, old projects and tons of tips and tricks. All to hopefully inspire everyone on the fence to become as stash-crazy as me! Or at least maybe to sew something once in a while *wink*. #sewistswillconquertheworld!

Be Brave and Sew – Part II is on the Creativ Festival Fashion Runway, Thurs and Fri at 2:30 and Saturday at 1:30. There are lots of free events planned, you can see them on the event schedule.

Last but not least (sneaky intro for later this week!) Janome has just launched the M Series and I was asked to make a set of Maker Aprons to go along with it, there’s a new blog series starting this week as well! You can check out the aprons on pages 10-12 of the M Series Look Book - almost 50 pages of free patterns, tutorials and tips from lots of super talented people.

All of these crazy-amazing opportunities couldn’t happen without you! Thanks so much for being here through it all.

My favorite part is always talking to other sewists as passionate and crazy about sewing as I am. (That’s you!)

I hope to see you at the Creativ Festival! If not, leave a comment sometime and let me know if you have any questions, or just tell me what you are sewing right now! I’d love to hear about it.

Re-purpose ruined leggings, sew them into bike shorts! {tutorial}

2016 September 20

My daughters love their leggings, into the ground – literally! They get run into the asphalt school yard, sidewalk, brick walls – you name it! Take a couple of active kids, add in some biking and school-related spills and you end up with a pile of leggings with holes in the knees.

Every year I collect the fall/winter leggings and instead of giving up on them, turn them into bike shorts. The girls wear them all spring/summer under their dresses and tees. It’s a great way to re-purpose and reuse their clothes. Chances are they will still fit and it’s not as hard as it sounds!

If you’ve sewn with knits before, you are good to go. If you’d like some tips or a refresher – you can check out 12 Tips & Tricks for Sewing Knits - lots of easy steps to get you started, and some advanced ideas as well.

It’s almost fall here and our shorts-wearing days are fast becoming few and far between. If you happen to live where the seasons are getting colder, save yourself some work for next summer and mend this year’s leggings before they are packed away – they’ll be ready to wear when you unpack them in the spring! #organized #momoftheyear

How to Mend Leggings with Holes in the Knees

Tip: This will work with track pants too!

Use this tutorial to fix your child’s (or your own!) leggings, by turning them into bike shorts. If you want, use the bonus tutorial to add in a little extra detail with some ruching and buttons.

You will need:

  • Ruined leggings (with a tear or hole at or below the knee)
  • Matching thread
  • Ballpoint/jersey or twin needle
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine and your go-to sewing supplies
  • Optional: Eight inches of ¼” elastic and six buttons



Happy mending!

My Daughter’s Quilt

2016 September 17

Whew – time flies when you are turning your house upside down and moving everyone around! I want to make sure I squeeze a post into this week though, and I’m excited to share a throw quilt with you today.

Waaaaay back at the Creativ Festival in April, Rita from Fabric Please gave my youngest the cutest bundle of Kate and Birdie fabric. Four fat quarters to use for her very own sewing project! We decided that it should be a quilt and off we went one weekend, her and I sharing the task of piecing it together on her Janome New Home 3/4 size machine.

I have to admit, when we got the bundle I was not sure how we could create something large enough to cuddle under. But with some thought and a brilliant 4-at-a-time-HST sewing tutorial, we succeeded! I added a bit of fabric from my stash to the ends,some stripey red for the binding and we were good to go.

What about the backing you say? Ummm yes – the un-matchy backing fabric… (insert blushing embarrassed emoji here) She chose the blue ice cream flannel on her last trip to the fabric store. I almost couldn’t go through with it… I mean it DOESN’T MATCH! And it’s permanent… argh – in a quilt no less! But she was five and it was “perfect” to her – so that’s what it needed to be. Don’t argue with the child that wants to learn to sew! (She was also adamant that the middle striped block should be vertical – and not horizontal…. *sigh*)

In the end, I did quite a bit of the sewing, we worked together on the fat quarter HST’s and she decided on the final layout. We sewed them together and then it was up to me to finish the borders, binding and quilting. Which, I LOVE! It is a simple diamond pattern and it turned out great! I made them as large as I could and used the HST diagonals as a guide for the stitching. I’m definitely going to do more diagonal quilting like this in the future.

By the way there’s a #momfail video of her opening her “surprise” (finished quilt) and not giving me quite the reaction I was expecting. Ooops! She’s a good sport about it anyhow :)

Do your kids like to sew? What do they like to make best?

Oh – and she sewed wearing my second most favorite dress make – ever! That she just outgrew…. argh. I may never, ever get rid of this one!

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