Quilted journal cover for my bullet journal

bullet-journal-cover

I spend a lot of time on my phone, and it’s time to break the habit. When I heard about the bullet journal, I knew that would be a good first step.

A bullet journal follows a simple pattern. It’s contained in a blank notebook of your choosing. It starts with an index, which lets you track what you are jotting down on your pages (all pages in your journal are numbered). That’s followed by a future log, a monthly overview, and your daily tasks, notes, events and reminders. You create a key to remind yourself of the symbols you are using to track your information. You can find all the details about setting up a bullet journal at bulletjournal.com.

Once I delved more into the bullet journal, I quickly realized it’s an obsession for the doodle conscious. There are blogs, Pinterest boards, Instagram accounts, and youtube videos, all dedicated all designed to inspire you to make your journal your own. they help you create one that is as pretty and organized as you want it to be. I have no interest in spending hours creating pretty headers and pages for my journal. It’s much more utilitarian. I’m just getting started and trying to figure out what works for me. bullet-journal-daily-log

However, I didn’t like the way my bullet journal kept getting crushed in my pocketbook, and I immediately realized this was a great way for me to use my scraps on an easy sewing project. Hence, the quilted bullet journal cover I created below. I used this fantastic tutorial which was very easy to follow. I was pleased as punch when I realized I actually had scraps of the same fabric the author used for her tutorial. I sincerely hope she agrees that imitation is the best form of flattery. I think hers came out much prettier than mine, but I am happy with my results. Now, on to filling out those blank pages!

bullet-journal-cover
A personalized quilted cover for my bullet journal
Advertisements

Davie dress review take 2

Here’s my second attempt at the Sewaholic Davie dress. You can see my first attempt here.

davie-dress-me This cotton jersey was much much easier to work with than the slinky ITY I bought at Joanns. I had no problems with the fabric catching in my machine. It was smooth sailing. However, the lesson I learned from this wearable muslin is to watch my fabric pattern. I like the way the dress came out, but I don’t really like the way the pattern looks with all these seams. it was a good lesson for me to learn about choosing fabric and patterns, and watching out for how many seams a garment has and how the fabric pattern will be affected.

davie-dress-floral

I also had to alter the pattern because the arm holes are absolutely huge. Not only do they hang very low; they also gape so that you can see my bra. After reading a few reviews, and knowing that lifting the shoulder seam worked on my first Davie dress, I made two adjustments: I took half an inch of each shoulder at the top, and a quarter inch under the sleeve.

davie-dress-floral-backI bought a busy check ponte at GirlCharlee, but I think it will be way too loud. And I think the seams will cause an issue for me to really like the dress. So I’m holding off. I think I’ll have to buy a solid ponte somewhere before I splurge on Emma One Sock. I really want to make a color block Davie dress with a dark floral on the front two panels, and black or even plum or gray on the sides. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Free pattern alert: Colette Sorbetto review

Since I am not a very confident sewer, I love finding free patterns. That way I can make mistakes and not feel like I wasted my money. There are a few good free patterns out there. You can find many at this forum post on sewing.patternreview.com. The only one I can vouch for with complete confidence is the Colette Sorbetto. I’ve made it 3 times – each slightly different – and it works every time.

colette-sorbetto

This is one is by far my favorite. I bought this fabric at a local fabric shop – the only independent shop that sells fabric for apparel in my area – for $13.99/yard. I’m not exactly sure what it is. It’s cotton, it has a nice drape with structure, and feels soft. I was so afraid to cut into it. But, this is why you spend more for fabric. It wears well, washes well, and looks great.

So, as usual, I went to Joann’s first and made my first Sorbetto from some cotton lawn. (Picture coming soon.) It came out well. I purchased the dark blue binding you see on this top, and used it on my first top. I had enough leftover to do this binding. I love this top. I made a straight size 8 and it fit to a T. (Just showing you the back of it here so you can see both sides.)

collete-sorbetto-blue-back

You can find a lot of variations on the Sorbetto on the Collete blog. I inverted the pleat on my most recent one, and my own bias binding using this tutorial and a fat quarter. (The first time I made my own bias binding, I used the Colette tutorial and a Clover binding tool. I didn’t like how it came out at all. The tutorial I linked to is very similar, but my binding tape came out better since I really wanted half-inch double fold, not one-quarter single fold.)

colette-sorbetto-inverted-pleat

I’m not crazy about how the pleat puffs out at the bottom. (Picture coming soon.) I’m not sure what I would do to fix that so I don’t know if I’d do it again. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to share!

My next free pattern will be the Hemlock T from Grainline studios. It’s only available by signing up for their newsletter. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Davie dress review

This is my first attempt at Sewaholic’s Davie dress. While I’m not sure if it’s a wearable muslin – I haven’t worn it yet – I will definitely be making it again.

davie dress side

The dress is easy to make – if you’re comfortable with knits. I am not. I’m still learning my way around them, and I don’t have a serger. But that isn’t necessary for this dress. All the seams are sewn with a sewing machine, then top stitched so that they lie flat. The dress is flattering, although I think it’s sized at least one or two sizes too big.

Davie dress alterations

I picked a size 10 based on the dress’ finished measurements, but took it in a lot on the sides and at the shoulders and especially under the arm. The dress pieces are sewn together, first the front, then the back, then at the shoulders, which allows you to take it in at the sides if necessary. I liked that. I just retraced the size 8. I’ll let you know how that works out.

The arm holes are quite large and low. I tried to sew clear elastic into the shoulders but must have pulled it too much because the shoulders came out lumpy. I just cut it out – probably cut at least an inch off each shoulder – and sewed them up again. You can see that it didn’t ruin the dress at all – even lifted it up a bit so that there wasn’t as much of a gap in the arm hole.

I used a woven double fold binding tape around the neckline as indicated in the instructions by following this tutorial. Rather than follow the instructions, I used the same binding method for the sleeves. I think it made them stand up a little nicer, rather than be floppy.

Davie dress fabric choices

I bought this purple ITY knit at Joanns. It was relatively inexpensive, and I could tell it was very stretchy, but I thought it would be easier to work with. It was not easy to work with. I used a ball point needle, a stretch stitch and a walking foot, and put gift wrapping tissue under the fabric, but it caught in the machine a lot. I wish I knew why that happens. It was very frustrating and made for a lot of pulls. I don’t like how it looks in the back, which is one reason I may not be wearing this muslin. I think I should have lengthened my stitch. I did lengthen the top stitching stich. I also don’t think I’ll be top stitching in the zig zag stitch. And from now on, I’m using my teflon foot for this type of fabric. It just works better for me than the walking foot.

davie dress back

I just don’t like all the different spots I can see on this solid where the thread jammed or the fabric got sucked into the machine. That’s especially true around the curve on the breast. A pattern review that I read said to carefully snip the seam allowance around the  the curve so the fabric would lay smoother. I think that screwed up my top stitching. It bunched too much for me to feel comfortable wearing it.

Davie dress front showing keyhole

I love the way the keyhole came out and I love the overall look of the top stitching. But be forewarned: all that top stitching takes a lot of time and uses A LOT of thread. I bought a small spool of matching Guttermans thread for this dress and had to go back and get another spool. If you’re going to make this dress, make sure you have a lot of thread!

All in all, I really like the way this dress looks on me, but I feel it could look better. I’m trying it again with this fabric, and just ordered this ponte from girlcharlee.com that was on sale. If I can get good at making this dress, I’m going for the gusto and ordering a ponte from Emily One Sock. I’ll keep you posted on my results!

See my second attempt here.

Corded fabric bowl from scraps

Corded fabric bowl from scrapsI’d seen corded fabric bowls on a Facebook sewing page and thought, how hard could they be? They looked fabulous. I had to give it a try.

I found this tutorial on You Tube and it is really good. I would suggest you follow it. I made a left turn. I should have stayed the course. 



 The object of the game is to buy clothesline (I got mine at Walmart) and wrap half-inch or so WOF scraps around it. You use a regular foot and a zigzag stitch to hold the clothesline together and create the bowl.

I wanted to use up the scraps that were leftover from this table runner that I made from a jelly roll. I cut the strips in half, but I probably should have halved them again. They were a bit too fat.

Make sure you have a good base for your bowl. 



The first time I made one, I started shaping the bowl too soon and ended up with a narrow base and a wobbly bowl. In addition, when you start to craft the bowl, be sure that you are turning it up to the left of your machine so it doesn’t start to grow under the throat. I made that mistake the first time too.

Also, be prepared for the bowl to have a very scrappy, threaded look, unless you cut your fabric on the bias. It will start to shred and untangle as you wrap it around the clothesline.

So, what do you think? Do you like my corded fabric bowl? Will you make one yourself? Let me know in the comments.

Drafting my own skirts

After making my own skirt sloper following the directions from SoSewEasy,.com, I decided to delve further into pattern making and signed up for the skirt sloper class on Craftsy. It’s a really good class and Suzy Furrer is a careful, thoughtful instructor.  I wanted to experiment with the different varieties of skirts featured in the Craftsy class.

After making my skirt sloper, my first attempt was a wrap skirt. Don’t ask me why. I think it was because I was afraid of zippers and waistbands. That’s a significant concern because beyond the pattern drafting, there are no sewing instructions with this class. You make the pattern and then you are on your own when it comes to constructing the actual skirt. If you’re like me, an eager beginner, you can either wing it or sign up for another class.

wrap skirtI “wung” it and made the wrap skirt. I left off the waistband, but I also didn’t give a lot of thought as to how to close the skirt. I ended up using two snaps on one side and two hook and eyes on the other. But I have nightmares that the skirt will fall off me so I have yet to wear it to work.

Zippers and waistbands

On to skirt two. It was time to face my fear of zippers and waistbands. So I decided to start with the first skirt variation that Suzy teaches and go with the A-line. Back at Craftsy, they had a new class on, lo and behold, zippers and waistbands, offered by Suzy’s colleague, Sara Alm.

It’s good, but again, not all the instruction you need if you don’t have the experience. I started with my muslin, got the invisible zipper in, but then it came time to the waistband. As you can see, I had a problem. I sewed my waistband on upside down. I didn’t know what was wrong till I posted this photo on a sewing enthusiast facebook page and they gave me the bad news. No worries. I ripped it off, flipped it around, sewed it on again and it came out okay.

bad muslin

So it was on to the actual skirt. I bought a quilting cotton at Joann’s because it was on sale, I wanted a pattern, but I didn’t want a pattern that would jam me up – something that had to be matched or anything crazy like that. Here’s where I’m at. The pink is elastic on my dress form to mark the waist. This is a drop waist skirt so I’ll be adding the waistband soon. Wish me luck!   a line

I finished the skirt. I added the waistband, made a button hole, and even sewed on the button using my machine. I’ve never done that before! But it’s no good. Because I didn’t line the skirt, it is see through. I need a slip. And it has a funny poof going on in the back. I asked the Craftsy instructor, and she told me to fix the center seam where it  met the zipper. We’ll see how that goes.

It’s not bad. I definitely need to learn more about adding waist bands and zippers. But it’s not good enough to wear to work.

Back to the sewing machine to try again

Pattern review: Simplicity 1355 Romper

I follow waaaayyy too many sewing bloggers, who really know what they are doing. They make sewing look so darn easy. Trouble is, when you’re a beginner, things that are intuitive to others, are downright confusing. Still, I like a challenge.

When I first saw MimiGstyle modeling this gorgeous jumpsuit, I put it on my to do list. Then SewCaroline showed up wearing the shorts romper that I really had my eye on. That did it. The pattern, Simplicity 1355, says it’s easy to sew, so therefore it must be!

simplicity 1355

I figured I’d start with the shorts. While I can imagine how good it would look in a rayon challis, something in me said, buy chambray! I imagined a romper in a really soft, lightweight denim that would be fun to, well, romp around in all summer. I did not realize, until I read ImagineGnats post on chambray, that it comes in different weight. I could barely read the fabric requirements on the back of the package, so thought I’d be safe buying 2.5 yards of this chambray from Hawthorne Threads. It’s the color I had in mind, but it’s heavier than I wanted. Hopefully it’ll work. And hopefully I have enough.

andover_house_designer_chambray_in_blue
Chambray in blue by Andover House

First, I had to make a muslin. I have cut into, sewed, and ruined good (expensive) fabric enough times to know that a new pattern demands a muslin. I had some white cheap muslin, so I traced my patterns, and went to work.

I am terrible about sizing. All the reviews I read on pattern review for this romper showed people wearing mediums. They didn’t look much smaller than me, but whenever I make a medium, I end up sorry. So I figured I’d trace the pieces as larges, do my muslin, and go down a size if that was necessary. I wouldn’t waste my swedish sewing paper, and I’d be erring on the safe side.

Here’s my muslin. It was absolutely huge. Note how I just used some wrapping ribbon for the ties!

muslin jumper - first attempt
muslin jumper – first attempt

All right, down a size to medium. Now to use my soft chambray. I had some challis left over from another failed attempt, so I figured I’d make the ties out of it. I wanted the sleeves to be in that trim too, but you can’t really see it. It was better, but my family thought it was still way too big. And the material just didn’t have the drape I was looking for. I look frumpy.

IMG_2682

IMG_2683

I had to try again. Down another size to small. This time I went to Joann’s and got some cheap rayon. I wanted something relatively cheap that had good drape. I figured, how bad could this fabric be. When my husband first saw it, he thought it was that bad. However, the end result is actually okay! I had some trouble with the neckline because it has this funky key hole look that you can’t see at all. And, the ties were too long. You really have to keep it tied tight or else everything is let loose and the whole thing falls down. I also screwed up the elastic waist on this version but you can’t really tell.

IMG_2727

I wore this more than once. I might just make it again. Third time is the charm!

Fabric box DIY

This fabric box was so much fun to make. I used scraps and this excellent free tutorial I found at Seaside Stitches. I use it to keep my notions in next to my sewing room.

The fabric box was a quick, easy to make project, and allowed me to brush up on my straight line quilting skills that I learned from this Craftsy class. It’s titled Creative Quilting with Your Walking Foot. Jacquie Gering is a great teacher. I would definitely take more of her classes.
IMG_3013-0.JPGThat’s my ironing board underneath. Another free tutorial. I used a Batik Jelly Roll called Over the Rainbow. Here’s the tutorial from Moda Bake Shop.

Happy sewing!

 

Draft your own skirt

When I started sewing, I got on a kick to draft my own skirt. It looked easy. The key is to create a skirt sloper. It’s created by taking key measurements, carefully drawing some squares and rectangles on a piece of paper, make a pattern from that, and ta da! You have a custom skirt!

custom skirt from sloper

So, no, it’s not quite that easy, even if you are led to believe it is. I used Soseweasy.com’s tutorial to draft my skirt. While it appears my waist is too large for my body (yes, that’s something I’m going to have to work on by doing less sewing and move moving), I did eventually make myself a skirt I was very proud of. Deby, who writes the Soseweasy blog, has very good, clear instructions on the whole project.

I bought a cotton weave with spandex and black broadcloth at Joanns. I don’t usually like what they have there, but this fabric caught my eye and I think it is actually pretty nice.

skirt preparation

The instructions teach you to add a lining, an invisible zipper, and a hem. I think I did a pretty darn good job!

custom skirt from sloper2I am so impressed with my sewing machine. It’s a Brother. Every time I need something, a new foot, or new accessory, I look in the little bag of goodies that came with the machine and I find it. It amazes me because when I purchased the machine, I never expected to use all these bells and whistles. Thank goodness I bought up. Otherwise, I’d be in a position where I’d have to buy a new one.

Now, to torture myself, I bought this book which is supposed to help me draft 28 varieties of skirts. The first I’ll do is the wrap skirt. Have a few projects to finish first, but once I do, I’ll let you know how it turns out!

skirt a day

Quilted laptop sleeve tutorial

IMG_2396Is it a clutch? No, it’s a quilted sleeve for my cute little mac air laptop. I love carrying it to meetings, and slipping out my laptop. Here’s how I made it.

IMG_2400

First, get yourself a jelly roll. I used Moda Dreamcatcher batiks, which I purchased from my local quilt store. Any jelly roll will do.

Using a tape measure, measure the length of the front of your laptop, around, and up to the back, then halfway down the front again. Add two inches. This will be the full length of your project. Next, measure the width and depth of your laptop. Again, add two inches to be safe and allow for your seam allowances.

IMG_2399

I wanted to be fancy, so I cut some of my jelly roll strips in half. I also alternated their lengths. You can see what I mean here. I thought it would make the piece a little more interesting. You can choose to cut all your jelly roll strips the length of your project, or make them different widths and lengths as I did. The choice is yours.

Sew them together, and quilt as desired onto batting. I did a simple straight line along the vertical and horizontal lines of my jelly rolls. Test it around your laptop. Does it fit? Trim the top to make the curve, as I’ve done with the flap that will fold over the laptop.

IMG_2401Choose the fabric you will line the piece with and cut to fit your finished piece with curved top. With right sides facing each other, sew together, leaving about two inches open along the bottom or a side. Pull the fabric through so that right sides now face out.

Pin the opening closed using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. You will sew this together when you add the top stitching.

With your laptop inside to make sure it fits, bring the bottom up so that it just about covers your laptop. Remove the laptop, pin to hold in place, then top stitch around the entire sides, top and bottom to give it a nice finished look.

I purchased velcro fasteners and used fabric glue to hold them in place. What do you think?

IMG_2398Please share photos in the comments below if you decide to make one yourself!