Tuesday 29 November 2011

Flower Hair Tie...

A while ago, I saw this fabulous tutorial for a flower headband, written by Cass, over at Cass Can Sew. I've had it bookmarked for ages and today, I used the tutorial to make a flower hair tie.

Do you recognise the fabric I used? That's right, it's the same as the Lucy's Little Flower dress that I showed you yesterday. I used the floral fabric to make a covered button and the polka dot is the same as the ruffle of the dress.

To attach the hair elastic:
  • Cut a small scrap of fabric.
  • Fold in half lengthwise.
  • Wrap around the elastic, leaving room for movement.
  • Sew two lines of stitching.
I didn't bother to neaten the edges, as it's on the back and won't show.

Attach the flower to the fabric scrap, by hand stitching between the two lines of stitching.

That's it; a quick and easy little project. Thanks, Cass, for sharing your tutorial...

... Pam

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Have you seen our ongoing Hair Accessories Link Party?

Monday 28 November 2011


I did it!!! I have just completed my first sewing project using shirring!!! In the past, I had always avoided shirring, as I'd heard stories about how hard it was and how the elastic makes a tangled mess in the bobbin.

It was easy as!!! This is how I did it:
  • Wind the shirring elastic onto the bobbin by hand.
  • Set the machine to the straight stitch. You can use a stitch for elastic, but I couldn't find this stitch on my machine. I'm sure it's there, but I don't know where.
  • I set the stitch length to 3 for the neck and 3.5 for the armholes. The longer the stitch length, the tighter the shirring. I may have made the elastic a little too tight, so I'll experiment with a shorter length next time.
  • Steam the elastic with an iron. Hold the iron above the elastic and press the steam button. Don't let the iron touch the elastic. The steam shrinks the shirring elastic.
Kristy, over at Hopeful Threads, encouraged me to attempt the shirring. Thanks, Kristy. It was as easy as you said. Kristy is having a fun sew-along for the month of November, using patterns purchased from Create HOPE Designs. You can purchase patterns here and here. Head on over to Hopeful Threads to see what you could win by participating. There's still a couple of days left to enter.

This time, I've made Lucy's Little Flower Dress. The pattern fits 12 months to 7 years, with two variations included in the pattern; one with a ruffle and one with a band. I chose the ruffled version. The pattern contains easy to follow, detailed instructions, with lots of photos.

The shirring around the neck makes the dress easy to take on and off. There is also shirring around the armholes. This was such an easy, little dress to make. I'll definitely be making more.

Create Hope Designs

Lucy's Little Flower dress pattern, costing only $5US, has been created by Izzy and Ivy Designs, one of ten women who have donated their patterns to Create HOPE Designs. The pattern comes as a PDF, so you can begin sewing as soon as you make your purchase. All funds generated by the sale of patterns, benefit orphans and their communities around the world.

sew with heart 3 by Hopeful Threads, on Flickr

Now that I've found out just how easy shirring is, I'm keen to do more. I'd love to hear your suggestions for patterns that you've used, either for children or adults.

Edited to add: I've added a shirred pocket to the dress. Here's how I did it and some pictures. I also forgot to mention in the post, just how easy this dress is to take on and off.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Solids Only Tote Challenge...

I've finished my bag for the Solids Only Tote Challenge, hosted by Keren, from Sew la Vie! and Rikka, from Ricochet and Away.

Here are the challenge guidelines:
  • Project: Tote Bag
  • The Kicker: You must use solid colours only; no prints!
  • Techniques: Use at least one of the following: Appliqué, Reverse Appliqué or Patchwork.
  • Voting: A Polldaddy poll will be set up to determine the winner.
  • Prizes: Winner(s) will receive bragging rights and a snazzy button. 
Sounds easy enough. Actually, I found it hard to get started. Initially, every design I thought of, incorporated prints. After many sketches, much thinking and lots of procrastinating, I decided on a theme and I was away.

Same as for my Retro Pillow, I decided on a flower theme. This time, however, the colours are different, there is no hand appliqué, the flower shape is different and the hand stitching is on the flower instead of outside.

Double sided fusible webbing was used to attach the appliqué to the fabric. Zig zag stitches, of varying widths and lengths, were used to stop the fabric from fraying and to accentuate the flowers. I did two rows or orange hand stitching in each yellow petal and two circular rows of stitching in the centre of each red flower.

Green ric rac forms the flower stems and the leaves, of various shapes and sizes, are hand stitched. The appliqué and hand stitching were, by far, the most time consuming elements of the tote.

The bag itself, is just a simple tote, with boxed corners and a band at the top. I chose a heavy weight denim for the outside of the bag. To give structure to the bag, I used quite a heavy, woven, sew in interfacing. The interfacing in the handles, is medium weight, sew in and non woven.

The bag and the band at the top are separated with red piping; the same red fabric as the flowers. Piping is so easy to make and to sew, especially when it is in a straight line like this.

The inside is lined with quilting cotton, the same red fabric as the flowers. I've sewn two pockets on one side of the lining and three small pockets on the other side. I wish I knew how to take decent photos of the inside of a bag.

The top closes with a simple button and a plait of bias tape. I wanted to use red ribbon, but had none. The only red I had was store bought polyester bias tape. This was too thin by itself, so I simply plaited three strips of the bias tape to form the loop.

Here's my finished tote...

When I set out to make my tote, I was determined to only use items from my stash. I did it!!!! Every single item came from my stash: denim fabric, quilting weight cotton fabric, green ric rac,  green embroidery thread, buttons, piping cord, interfacing, bias tape for the plait and all threads. The orange thread used on the flowers, is genuine thread from the 70s, that has been patiently sitting in my sewing room, waiting to be used again.

Lessons learnt from sewing this tote:
  • Put the ric rac under the flowers before they are ironed onto the fabric with fusible webbing. The apppliqué stitching, where the ric rac joins the flowers, is not as neat as I would have liked, as I doubled the ends and put them on top of the flower, causing too much bulk.
  • The plait forming the loop for the button, could have been a tad longer. I found this hard to measure.

All in all, I am VERY pleased with how my tote turned out. Initially, I was unsure of the colours I had chosen, as they are rather bright, but I wanted to steer clear of the purples I had used for my retro pillow. I definitely wouldn't use this tote if I was wearing pink.

The shape, size and style of the tote are exactly as I had planned. The CD gives you an idea of the size of the tote. Yes, I know, the CD is covered with scratches. It's my coffee coaster for my sewing table.

Next time I make this tote, I'll put a zippered pocket, or maybe two, inside. I'll also take photos of each step and do a tutorial, showing how I drafted the pattern for the bag, so you can make one.

My thanks to Rikka and Keren, for once again hosting a fabulous challenge!!! It's not too late to sign up. Come and join a welcoming, friendly group...

Sunday 20 November 2011

Wedding Dress Transformation

Here's my gorgeous daughter on her wedding day, in Queenstown, New Zealand. We all travelled over for the most wonderful family holiday. Now you can see the wedding dress I've been talking about. No, I didn't make this dress.

Tasha came up with the crazy idea that I could turn this dress into a formal day dress. Come on Mum, you can do it. You just have to cut it here, sew this here.... do this... and this..... as she held the dress and a piece of denim in front of the mirror. My non-sewing daughter convinced me that she wasn't going to wear it again and it would just sit unused in her wardrobe for the rest of its life. So, with a little trepidation, I cut the dress.

Tasha had remembered that I had a piece of lightweight stretch denim in my stash and that's what we used for the bottom of the dress.

So, I sewed this.... and this.... did this.... and this... until it started to take shape. Tasha designed and I sewed. Having a designer who doesn't sew, meant that the sequence of sewing, wasn't necessarily in a conventional order. Ideas changed and evolved. There was lots of unpicking.

The process would have been a lot quicker, had I known how to draft a dress pattern. I'm perfectly happy making bags without a pattern. Draw a few sketches, do the Maths and it usually works out fine. But when the sewing has to fit a person, that's another story. Especially when the design is close fitting. There's little room for error.

I found that when I altered one thing, it affected the shape or fall of the fabric somewhere else. At one point, when the dress wasn't hanging properly, I found that the measurements from the zip to the side seams were not equal, by a substantial amount. Consequently, the seam allowance on one side is miniscule. 

In the end, it all worked out. It's definitely not perfect, but we are both very happy with the end result. We most definitely worked well as a team. Tasha is thrilled that she was able to wear her wedding dress, to the wedding of close friends.

A new dress needs a matching purse, also made from the wedding dress.

I'm sure you are wondering what's to become of the rest of the wedding dress. Hmmmm... We're thinking a tutu and perhaps a fairy dress some time in the future. No, not for Tasha and most definitely not for me.

My daughter has just told me her next crazy idea. She wants me to turn this newly made dress into a top for a less formal occasion. Come on Mum, you can do it. You just have to cut it here, take the denim from the bottom and make it into straps..... She says as she looks at me with her big, blue eyes. How can I resist? Only thing is, she wants it for the middle of December... LOL!!! Stay tuned..... 

Edited to add:
  • Read about our wedding dress transformation from Tash's perspective.
  • Those big, blue eyes won out and the wedding dress was transformed yet again. Read about it here.

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Saturday 19 November 2011

Appliqué on a Little Shopper Tote...

I recently did a Guest Post for Kadie, at Seven Alive. In case you missed it, here it is...

Hi, I'm Pam, from Threading My Way and I'm thrilled to be guest posting for Kadie today. I first met Kadie, when we both entered the Retro Pillow Challenge. Throughout the month of the challenge, I saw Kadie's ideas evolve into a fantastic pillow. In making her pillow, Kadie had to step out of her comfort zone to learn and master the skills of reverse appliqué and machine quilting. I admired the way Kadie didn't give up when the going got tough and so I started reading and gaining inspiration from Seven Alive. In case you haven't seen Kadie's fabulous pillow, here it is.

As I sewed my Retro Pillow, I also learnt new skills and became better at old ones. Today I'd like to share with you, some of the techniques I used in making my pillow; appliqué and a little hand stitching.

Appliqué and hand stitching on my Retro Pillow...

According to Wikipedia: In its broadest sense, an appliqué is a smaller ornament or device applied to another surface...... The term is borrowed from French and, in this context, means applied or thing that has been applied.

In the context of sewing, this means applying one (or more) pieces of fabric to another, in this case, sewing a star onto a child's tote. Here's how to do it:


I used cotton fabric: Troy Corporation - Riverwood Collection - Abigail's Album and Denim
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 26 cm - main colour for the outside of the bag
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - main colour for the handles
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 5cm - contrast colour for the top outside of the bag
    • 2 pieces 26cm x 29cm - contrast colour for the lining of the bag
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - contrast colour for the handles
    • 1 piece roughly 20cm x 20cm - contrast colour for the star
    • 1 piece roughly 19cm x 19cm - double sided fusible webbing for the star
    • 2 pieces 20cm x 4cm - sew in medium weight interfacing for the handles


    All seams are 1cm, unless otherwise indicated.

    Outside of bag - sew contrast fabric to main fabric:
    1. With right sides together, sew the contrast to the main fabric.
    2. Finish the seam with a zig zag stitch.
    3. Finger press the seam towards the contrast fabric.
    4. Topstitch 3mm from the seam.
    Steps 1- 2: sew contrast to main
    Step 4: topstitching

    Glueing the appliqué shape to the fabric:
    You will need double sided fusible webbing to glue your appliqué to the material. Do NOT cut the appliqué shape out until the fusible webbing is glued to the fabric. One side of the fusible webbing feels rough or bubbly. This is the side you will iron onto the fabric to appliqué. The fusible webbing should be slightly smaller than the fabric.
    1. Place the rough side of the fusible webbing on the wrong side of the material to appliqué.
    2. Place an old cloth under the fabric and on top of the fusible webbing before you iron, so glue doesn't get onto the iron or the ironing board.
    3. If using cotton fabric, set your iron to a cotton setting and don't use steam.
    4. Press the iron rather than sliding it, to attach the fusible webbing to the fabric.
    5. Trace the appliqué shape onto the paper side of the webbing.
    6. Cut out the appliqué.
    7. Peel off the paper. There will be a thin film of glue left on the wrong side of the fabric.
    8. Place the appliqué onto the front piece of the bag.
    9. Put the old cloth under the front piece of the bag and on top of the appliqué.
    10. Press as in Step 4, until the appliqué shape is glued to the fabric.
    Steps 1- 4: cloth to protect iron...
    Step 5: trace shape onto webbing...

    Step 6: cut out the appliqué...
    Step 7: peel off the paper...

    Step 9: put star on fabric...

    Sewing the appliqué shape to the fabric:
    You can hand or machine sew the appliqué to the fabric. This will help to prevent it from fraying. Experiment with stitch types, lengths and widths to achieve the look you are after. I use an appliqué foot, simply because it makes it easier to see what I'm stitching. It is not necessary. For this project, I have used a zig zag stitch, with a width of 4.5 and the length .5.
    1. If your machine has a knot stitch, begin with that. Otherwise do a couple of straight stitches and backstitch before you zig zag.
    2. Begin at an inside point on the star with zig zag.
    Begin zig zag stitch...

    Sewing the outside corners of the star:
    I find points much harder to appliqué than rounded corners. You can see from the pictures, that my points are far from perfect. If you have any tips about perfecting points on an appliqué, I'd love to hear them. Here's how I did my points.
    1. When you reach the point of the star, lift the presser foot, with the needle still in the fabric.
    2. Turn the fabric.
    3. Lower the presser foot.
    4. Put the needle in the up position.
    5. Raise the presser foot.
    6. Move the fabric slightly so it is lined up.
    7. Lower the presser foot and sew to the next inside corner.

    Sewing the inside corners of the star:
    1. When you get to the inside point of the star, have the needle on the inside of the appliqué fabric.
    2. With the needle in the fabric, raise the presser foot.
    3. Turn the fabric.
    4. Lower the presser foot.
    5. Put the needle in the up position.
    6. Raise the presser foot.
    7. Move the fabric slightly so it is lined up.
    8. Lower the presser foot and sew to the next outside point.
    Continue till the star is finished. If your machine has a knot stitch, finish with that. If not backstitch with a straight stitch. Cut the threads, thread to the wrong side and knot again.

    Hand stitching around the star:
    As you can see from the picture above, the star doesn't stand out. If I had used black thread for the zig zag, it would stand out better. However, using red zig zag will give the effect I want, when I add the red and black hand stitching. The red and black hand stitching will enhance the star. For the hand stitching, it's probably best to use 2 -3 strands of thread. On my retro pillow I used three strands of embroidery thread. I didn't have red embroidery thread and was keen to finish, so I tried cotton machine thread. 4 strands of the cotton thread ended up working just fine.

    1. Knot the end of the thread. I begin underneath the appliqué, so I can add an extra knot.
    2. With a running stitch, sew around the star using 4 strands of red thread. I didn't measure. I just eyeballed it.
    3. Make the stitches above the material, longer than the stitches underneath the material.
    4. Securely knot the red thread when you get to the end, or when you need more thread.
    5. Cut 4 strands of black thread and knot securely.
    6. Take the black thread underneath each red stitch. It's probably easier to see this in the photos.
    7. Knot securely to finish.
    Step 2: running stitch...

    Step 4: securely knot the thread...

    Step 6: take the black thread under each red stitch... 

    Detail of the hand stitching

    Sewing the rest of the bag.:
    Use these instructions to finish off the rest of your tote.

    Please feel free to let me know if anything doesn't make sense, or if you have a question. I'd love to see your appliqué and little totes...