Category Archives: Craft Projects

Simplicity 1249

Just like last year, I made a dress for a military ball this year. My husband and I weren’t able to make it to the Navy ball, but we were able to make it to the Strike Fighter Ball. This ball is only for pilots and flight officers in the fighter community. It was a blast to say the least! As usual, the Navy knows how to party.

Out of the three ball gowns I’ve made, this one is probably my least favorite. I love the sleeves on this one much more than last year’s, Simplicity 2053, dress. My favorite, despite the color, was my first ball gown I have ever made the Simplicity 1909.

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Anyways, this year I made a Navy blue dress, it looked more like blurple (blue-purple) in the store, which made me excited. It turned out just blue in the pictures though. I used a David Tutera stretch taffeta from JoAnn’s Fabric store. I really liked working with the stretch taffeta, it was much more manageable than crepe back satin. I used view C to make my dress, but didn’t put any lace over it. I wanted a nice place dress for the ball. I also made it solely on my serger and my Featherweight! She is such a good little machine. It made making this dress fun!

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Sewing the dress on my Featherweight!

It took me about three days to make. I don’t think I’d make this dress again, I might do view B if I did and use it as a nice little black dress. I made a size 14 and should have gone with a 12. I had to bring in the dress quite a bit, which is probably why I don’t want to make this dress again. I also had to cut off about 5 inches from the skirt length so I could walk in it. I usually have to make my dresses shorter, but 5 inches is a lot especially when I am wearing platform heels that give me lots of height. I also didn’t like that my fabric I was working with didn’t have a right or wrong side. That made doing the sleeves difficult. I hate doing sleeves in the first place and luckily my husband was there to help me understand the pattern.

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Pattern pieces for the sleeves and neckline.

Once I figured out my sizing from measuring myself, I went to a 14, but should’ve stayed with the recommended 12. I sometimes think I’m bigger than I am. Haha. I guess I’d rather have made it too big than too small. So that’s a good thing. After figuring out my bust size, the directions are fairly simple in figuring out which size to cut, I started cutting the pattern. This is always tedious work.

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Pattern pieces for the sleeves and neckline.

After cutting the pattern and following the directions of putting the sides and front then back and sides together… I was at the point where in the directions, you are supposed to put the wrong sides together then add the sleeves. Then you’re supposed to try it on and make markings of where you need to take in or let out. I wish I would have gone against the directions and skipped all this. It seemed pointless to me. I guess if you’re a very oddly shaped person it could help. All I did was learn that I need to bring the waist in about 2-3 inches each side and make it all a little smaller. Then you take all the work you just did apart and assemble it the right way and sew where you made your markings.

Then you work on the invisible zipper (I still need an invisible zipper foot, FYI) and then the neckline.  From here on out the directions were simple and easy to follow.

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Before finishing the back zipper portion and attaching the rest of the skirt!

I didn’t really follow the directions for finishing the top zipper portion, I just sewed so it looked good and then hung the skirt up overnight so it could “settle” as the directions say. Then in the morning I put my heels on and had my husband help with making the marking so I could hem it. I cut about 5 inches off the skirt and them hemmed it. That’s a lot to take off especially even when I’m in huge platform heels.

Anyways… Here is my finished dress…

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Note: I am not wearing heels in this photo.

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My handsome date wearing the matching cummerbund and bow tie I made.

 

Singer Featherweight 221

Cleaned and ready to go!

My Singer Featherweight cleaned and ready to go!

This past year or so I’ve been wanting a vintage sewing machine. They were built better back in the day and looked so much more elegant. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Singer Stylist 7258 model and my new Singer ProFinish serger.I just wanted a machine that I could take apart and do my own maintenance. These old machines were built to last and it shows!

So here is my beautiful 1945 Featherweight! I know she’s from 1945 because of her serial number. If you go to ISMACS International website, you can look up your sewing machine date information from the serial number! I learned that mine also has some blackside properties. She looks like a regular Featherweight, but has some darker parts. The presser bar level is black not chrome, stitch length indicator is black, handwheel is black, and some of her accessories are also black. Some machines are blackside due to WWII and that chromium was in such short supply that it was restricted for war material use only. Click HERE for more information on the blackside Featherweight.

Before we cleaned her up.

Basically last Friday (August 21st), a man posted on Craigslist that he had a Featherweight for sale and once I saw that advertisement, I knew I had to have a Featherweight. This started my obsession. I’ve since done plenty of research on these babies and man are they popular. I actually got a pretty good deal too compared to other Ebay prices and other Craigslist ads too. She has all original parts and all her decals are in perfect condition. You’ll see a lot of these have faded decals and the paint having some gouges or chips.

On Saturday, we headed to the man’s house (he was having an estate sale) and he saved the machine for me to come look at it. The motor worked and the light worked and so we came home with her. I named her Euphagenia (from Mrs. Doubtfire) or Effie for short.

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In the middle of cleaning Effie up, her face plate is off.

We used q-tips and a clean microfiber cloth to clean her up and used kerosene to get rid of the old oil. Then we used Zymol wax to clean and put a protective coat on her decals. There are a few different places online to get info on cleaning and maintaining Featherweights. I personally like April 1930s website and Nova Montgomery’s website for useful information. I’ve also purchased from both sites. April 1930’s has excellent customer service and is extremely fast. Nova’s is great as well. They both have a plethora of information and love to help.

After waxing, we replaced Effie’s bulb and got her an LED bulb. We also oiled her and lubed her up. You can easily use the manual to teach you how to oil and lube the machine, but there are also blogs on it as well. I’d also recommend buying Featherweight 221 – The Perfect Portable by Nancy Johnson-Srebro and The Featherweight 221 and I by David McCallum. David McCallum also has a DVD and I do have it, I just haven’t used it yet. I purchased David’s book and DVD as a bundle set from April 1930s. I bought Nancy’s book from Amazon.

Helpful books for your Featherweight!

Helpful books for your Featherweight!

First T Shirt Quilt

FirstShirtQuilt

I have finally finished my first t-shirt quilt! It was, in all honesty, a fairly easy project. The hardest part is the cutting, it’s so time consuming. If I really cared about the end size of my quilt, I’d think another hard part would be figuring out how big you need to cut the shirts to make the size of quilt you wanted. I knew I didn’t want a baby/lap quilt or a king size, so I was happy with anywhere in the middle. This is going to be a quick “how to” because there are so many ways to quilt and so many blogs that do a great job and explaining the process. It is fairly simple. The one rule that I’d like to pass on, that my mother instilled in me, is… “there are no rules for quilting”

Materials needed:

  • LOTS of shirts
  • Fabric scissors
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Ruler
  • Grey thread (whatever color you want)
  • Sheet (or fabric for the backing)
  • Batting
  • Yarn
  • Yarn needle
  • Binding
  • Quilting safety pins (to baste quilt sandwich together)

20150612_120825Once I had all the shirts cut and sized, I played with the layout of the shirts. And no, I did not use any stabilizer. I wanted my quilt really soft. There are people who have to use stabilizer and those who don’t care. I find there are pros and cons to both. For my next shirt quilt, I will try and use stabilizer. I think my quilt turned out perfect without it though.

Next I had to start sewing the shirts together. I sewed them by rows  first. Then I sewed the rows together. Then I made a border with my sheet. It was a Cal king sized sheet and so there was plenty of fabric. You can click HERE to see how I did it. It actually is a great way to make your quilt even. When sewing shirts/blocks together the quilt can become uneven.

20150621_185538Once they were sewed together I cut my batting (I used cheap polyester low loft batting from Walmart). I cut it a little bigger than the shirts, basically a few inches of the batting was sticking out from the edges. I also cut my old sheet (back of the quilt) the same size.

Then I made the quilt sandwich. This is where you put all your layers together and use your safety pins to make is stay and thus… start the quilting process!!! I actually sewed around the edges (where the silver border and shirts meet) of my quilt to make sure it wouldn’t come apart. Then with my yarn, I quilted it.

Then I cut the edges of the quilt sandwich to make it all uniform and even. Last I sewed on my nice white binding to put it all together. Throughout the entire quilt, I did use a 1/4 inch seam allowance. There are plenty of tutorials on Pinterest on how to do each individual part of the quilt, if you need assistance. The part I needed the most help on was adding the border to even out the quilt.

It isn’t perfect, but that’s what makes it a quilt!

Simplicity 2053 Dress

Just like last year, I decided to make my dress for the Navy ball. I started Tuesday night and finished everything, but the hemming. I did change up the dress a little. Since I was using a polyester spandex blend fabric, I decided to not have a zipper – I would just pull it over my head. I did size 10 and it fit okay, I could have brought it in a little more, but I’m only wearing this dress once (at least that is what I plan) and so I really didn’t want to spend a bunch of time on it. I did view F on the pattern with the sleeves from view D. I also, didn’t put the buttons on the sleeves either and I gathered the back portion of the skirt so it would match up with the darts. That should not have been a problem, but since I didn’t use a zipper and I cut the back skirt on the bias, it made it a little big.

I’m glad my mother was here visiting so she could be a part of the dress! She’s amazing. The gold fabric, my husband and I chose, was chosen because he just received his wings of gold – we like to match and be cute. Haha. He’s now a naval aviator and will be flying super hornets! I am so proud!

Getting to work with my mom, who was visiting for my husband's winging !

Getting to work with my mom, who was visiting for my husband’s winging!

This pattern was fairly simple and easy to cut out. I liked it better than cutting out the satin from last year’s dress. It took me about 2 days to make. Technically, it was all done in one night (5 hours), but I just needed to put my wedges on that I was going to wear with the dress and hem it.

Here's the pinning of the pleats. They looked funky and it weird spots, but it turned out perfect when you had to match the bodice up.

Here’s the pinning of the pleats. They looked funky and it weird spots, but it turned out perfect when you had to match the bodice up.

The directions were a tad unclear about the pleats and I do not understand that extra little fabric tail – it served no purpose. I just matched up the top line with the second line and sewed those together. Then I matched the third with the fourth and so on.

Gathering at the back of the skirt so the darts would match up.

Gathering at the back of the skirt so the darts would match up.

Since I was not adding a zipper, I think I cut out a little too much fabric, especially on the bottom skirt. I just cut the pattern piece on the bias so there wouldn’t be a seam since I didn’t need one because of not having the zipper added. So to fix that and to make the darts match up, my mom and I just gathered it. It didn’t turn out too bad actually. I hate gathering, by the way. I’d rather make pleats (but NOT darts, I hate darts).

Getting ready for the ball and making sure we have everything.

Getting ready for the ball and making sure we have everything.

The dress turned out really well. I am not a fan of the sleeves at all. I should have just gathered them instead of making the two pleats. I just don’t like sleeves that come out far from my shoulders, I am kinda petite and I don’t think it looks that great on me. I fixed that by wearing my hair down, so it wouldn’t’ draw a lot of attention to that area. This fabric was not too bad to work with, it’s stretch, but not forgiving if you make a mistake. Be careful that you don’t have to seam rip anything because the holes will show. Also, if you sew too close to the edge and the thread tension messes up, it will look a little melted on the fabric because of the gathering and folding.

Front of the dress!

Front of the dress!

Back!

Back!

My handsome newly winged aviator!

My handsome newly winged aviator!

 

Double Layered Skirt

Recently, well perhaps a few weeks ago, I purchased 3 yards of Cinderella fabric form Etsy. I am absolutely in love with ANYTHING Cinderella. Seriously. It’s ridiculous. I just heard about the New Balance Cinderella running shoes coming out next year, and I already want to have them in my closet. I don’t even like New Balance, I use Brooks Ravenna running shoes – they’ve been the best for my feet. Anyways, I’m going to try to figure out a way to justify me getting them… Ideas? Send them my way! So I looked around on Pinterest for some inspiration on a new skirt style using elastic. I already have a tiered skirt that I made last year for the 4th of July. I wanted something a little special for my Cinderella fabric and something I could make easily without screwing up. I’ll also make a matching bow tie for my husband to wear with it. We like to match… Complete nerds? ABSOLUTELY! I made him a bow tie to match my American flag skirt. He was down with the idea of having a Cinderella bow tie. I have the BEST husband ever! So here is my quick tutorial on making a double layered skirt. It’s basically two skirts on top of each other with the skirt closest to the body being about 4-5 inches longer than the top layer.

Materials:

  • 1.5-2 yards of cotton blend fabric
  • Package (usually 3 yards in a package) of bias binding (opt.)
  • Waist band elastic (whatever thickness you’d like – I personally like thinner for this skirt)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Safety pin to thread the elastic through the waist band
  • Thread to match the bias tape and skirt. (I used purple and white)
  • Sewing machine

STEP ONE:

Cut your fabric to your measurements for the bottom and top skirt. You don’t need to cut your skirt layer in one piece – if you have smaller pieces of fabric, you can cut the skirt into two pieces and make two seams instead of one. I am pretty small, my waist is 25 inches, so I just used my fabric the way it was and just cut the length I needed.

Skirt width: measure around your waist and you can double that (makes a fuller skirt) or multiply that by 1.5 (not as full). It’s a matter of preference to what you want!

Bottom skirt length: (Longer skirt length) Measure from the waist down to where you’d like the skirt to end. If you will be using bias tape then you don’t need to add any more to the length because you won’t be making a seam. If you don’t want to use bias tape then I would add 1 & 1/2 inches to the bottom.

Top layer skirt length: (shorter skirt length) My top  layer skirt was cut about about 5 inches shorter. If you’re making a child skirt, I’d probably go 2-3 inches, but to make it proportionate and look good, I did 5 inches.

Once you figure out your measurements, you can start cutting your fabric!

STEP TWO:

Each layer will be sewn separately then joined together. I put the bias tape on the bottom of the skirts and sewed them on. If you don’t want to use bias tape, then you can make your hems now. I like doing the tape/hems now, before I sew the side seams because when I make my side seam on the skirt, I like the tape to look good and go in the seam, if that makes sense. If you aren’t sure how to sew bias tape to a fabric edge, click HERE.

STEP THREE:

You should have two skirt layers now. Stuff the longer layer inside the shorter layer and match them up at the top of the skirt. Make sure you have the fabric facing the way it should look when you’re wearing the skirt. Now, pin the two layers together and baste stitch at the top of the skirt.

STEP FOUR:

Once you baste stitch, you’re going to fold the top part of the skirt over, to the inside about 1/4 inch or smaller, and sew it in place. This will finish the top of the skirt and make it look good. Or you can use bias tape at the top to bring it together. I didn’t like the look of it, so I didn’t use bias tape.

STEP FIVE:

Cut your elastic to your waist size minus an inch (or however you’d like it to fit) and then use your elastic to gauge how wide the casing needs to be. Make sure you leave an opening for the elastic to come in and out! I used pins to help me remember to start and stop. Then you’ll sew around the skirt making the casing – sewing the two skirt layers together.

STEP SIX:

Now, insert the elastic between the two skirt layers and into the opening hole using the safety pin to weed it through. Then sew the ends together, make sure the elastic is flat and not twisted inside the casing. Unless it doesn’t annoy you. Then sew the casing hole shut.

And you are FINISHED!

Tulle Skirt From An Old Skirt Tutorial

Lately I’ve been looking for some good tulle skirt tutorials. Read a lot of different blogs and watched quite a few on YouTube (here are two blogs that have really great tutorials that are worth checking out! Click HERE and HERE). I love tutus! I’ve been wanting one for a long long time! I never really thought about making my own until I bought a new sewing machine and finished some projects. Then I thought, why not make my own? I really like the semi-puffy looking ones not the flat looking ones. If you’re going to wear tulle, why not have it be semi-puffy like a mild tutu?! Well, I had an old white tiered skirt that I bought from K-Mart forever ago in the little girls section that was ripping on the tiers and I thought why not upcycle it into something else? So that’s what I did. I made it into a tulle skirt! Here is how I did it.

Materials:

  • Old skirt (or a skirt lining – 2 yards of satin and a waist band)
  • 8 yards of tulle (180″ wide tulle)
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Pins
  • Thread to match
  • Sewing machine
This was my old skirt that I will be converting into the tulle skirt.

This was my old skirt that I will be converting into the tulle skirt.

STEP ONE:

You will need to seam rip your old skirt. Separate the skirt, lining, and the band. You’ll need a lot of patience and you will definitely become best friends with your ripper.

*If you don’t have an old skirt to convert then you can get about 2 yards of satin for the lining. For the lining, you can cut it the same length as the tulle (I like it when they’re shorter, but whatever you want), and as wide as your hips plus about 10″. Make your lining. It’s really simple, not complicated. Then stretch your elastic around your waist and cut a comfortable but snug length (plus 1/2″ for seam allowance). Use a zig-zag stitch to bring the waist band together. Click HERE for a skirt tutorial, but don’t attach the lining to the band!

STEP TWO:

Once you have all the pieces seam-ripped, you can throw the old skirt away. Don’t forget to clean up the thread from the old skirt so your band and skirt lining are nice and clean.

STEP THREE:

You’ll need to cut your tulle. First, measure the skirt lining, which was about 32 inches around for my old skirt. I actually left the tulle folded in half (the way it looks on the bolt), I measured 64 inches across and cut then cut 6 inches off the bottom for my length I wanted. So I was basically working with two layers at a time. Since it was folded in half. You can cut more or less depending on your desired length. Then I pleated and pinned the tulle so it would fit perfectly around the skirt lining. It took about 10 pleats to make it fit around the lining. Don’t worry if it doesn’t match up or over lap because you’ll be doing two more layers of tulle. Since the tulle is folded over, your skirt will end up being six layers.

STEP FOUR:

Now you will want to baste stitch the pleats to make them stay. Do this for all three folded layers.

STEP FIVE:

Next you will pin the tulle to the skirt lining and stitch then sew it on. I used a zig-zag stitch, but you can use whatever stitch you want for this. Then do it for the next two layers of tulle.

STEP SIX:

Then with the right sides together (sides that will be showing on the outside), pin the band to the skirt. First pin the back to the back of the skirt, then the front to the front of the skirt. Then I did the sides to the sides of the skirt. Lastly, pin the fourths of the dress to the fourths of the elastic. Now you’re ready to sew the band to the skirt!

YOU’RE DONE! Whoopie!

Make A Baggy Shirt Into A Fitted Shirt Tutorial

I’ve been searching around online for a DIY fitted shirt tutorials and found a few that I liked. Most of them are on YouTube and some are on blogs. After searching I decided to combine what I learned along with my own ideas into my own tutorial on my blog. I started this venture because I bought an adult-size Barbie shirt off Ebay and I’m tired of all the adult shirts (shirts that are given out for races, concerts, etc) being bagging on me. Plus, I’m going as Barbie for Halloween and my husband will be GI Joe. We wanted something cheap and easy this year and we have all of his costume (compliments of his Naval Academy days), minus the beret. We actually bought a velvet black hat from Goodwill and turned the bill inside the hat and it works. So today I decided to try out a few ideas on making a loose shirt fitted; so when I make my Barbie shirt fitted, I would be a “pro” at it. What kind of Barbie wears loose clothes anyways? 😛

Materials needed:

  • Fitted shirt to use for a pattern
  • Pinking shears or fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • Matching thread
  • Sewing gauge
  • Sewing machine
  • Double needle for machine – optional (I like it for the bottom and sleeve hems – looks more professional)

The blue shirt will be the one used in the tutorial for making it fitted. The mint shirt is the fitted shirt that I’ll use as my pattern. The red shirt has already been fitted and will be what the blue shirt will end up looking like.

STEP ONE:

Fold your loose shirt over with the fitted shirt on top. Make sure everything is lined up perfectly! Check the collar and shoulders. If you would like, ironing would be a good idea.

STEP TWO:

Start cutting your shirt with your scissors and don’t forget the seam-allowance! When I get to the shoulders I cut off a few inches of the sleeve and then curve, the arm-pit area, to the body of the shirt.

STEP THREE:

Next you need to hem your sleeves and the bottom if you cut it to make it shorter. I used a sewing gauge to measure the distance from where the shoulder seam meets the sleeve to the edge on each side so both sides are balanced. Then I used an iron on the sleeves to keep them in place. Then I cut the bottom of the shirt so I can shorten it a little and add a hem it with the white thread to match my sleeves.

STEP FOUR:Pin the right sides together and sew! Make sure that the sleeves are lined up and the bottom too! Then turn it right side out and…

YOU’RE FINISHED!

Simplicity 1909 Dress

Today, I finished my dress for the Navy ball this weekend! It’s my first big project I have ever actually done. I read some reviews that said this dress is hard and not for the beginner. That may be true, but I finished it and I must say that it looks pretty good. I made a few changes to the pattern to make it more modest for my taste. The back went super low and I was not a fan of that, so I just brought it up. I also didn’t add any liner to the skirt of the dress and didn’t add the buttons to the back. I thought it would be too bulky and heavy for a ball gown. I did view C on the pattern (the top left of the packaging). I made a size 10 and brought it in a little to fit my waist and I used crepe back satin fabric.

Getting to work!

The most daunting task of anything related to sewing, at least to me, if you are using patterns is cutting and making sure everything lines up. It’s so tedious and I just want it to be over. I really just want to see the finished project. This one took me about a week with a couple days of not even touching it. So pretty much 4 days total. I also had to buy a new cutting mat because this one got too warped from our PCS (permanent change of station – military lingo for moving). We tried everything to fix it. Thank Heaven’s for Jo-Ann’s and their coupons! Also, be sure you actually read if the pattern goes side up or writing side down when you’re cutting out the fabric… It’ll help not waste fabric. Haha.

Here is the front part of the bodice.

The bodice is the first part you make according to directions. When I first bought fabric (5 yards), I wasn’t going to make a lining at all. I didn’t want the extra bulk and to be honest, the work. But after making the bodice, I decided I definitely needed to make a lining for it since it would help with the seams and make the dress look attractive. I actually didn’t even buy more fabric or any special lining fabric, I used the same fabric for it all and didn’t need extra. While making this dress, I learned what darts were and pleats. Near the shoulders, you were instructed to make pleats, but I just made darts and it turned out fine.

Working on the sleeves. Definitely need the liner.

The hardest part in making the dress was attaching to sleeves on correctly. I had to rip seam them a few times. Good thing I’ll probably just wear this dress this one time for the Navy Ball. I just got so excited and happy with my basting abilities and attaching the sleeve to the bodice, I wasn’t paying attention to which way I was sewing it. It’s hard to explain, but I made the back (where the zipper will go) the front. Then I did one sleeve correctly and the other was backwards. Ugh! After I got past this part, it wasn’t too bad. YouTube tutorials and blogs are amazing for helping with sewing definitions. It turned out well!

Working on the invisible zipper.

The invisible zipper was a little tricky, but wonder tape did WONDERS! Haha. Also, I have an amazing husband who would help me when I got frustrated and wanted to seam-rip the mess out of it all! I really want an invisible zipper foot. It’ll help the zipper be more invisible and so I don’t have to do some of it by hand. After I did the zipper, I put the dress on and decided how much I wanted to hem. I took about 3-4 inches off and then hemmed (I am about 61.5 inches tall). I did leave the train in the back because I thought it was adorable on me!

Ready for the Navy Ball 2013.

Back side of my dress.