May 062013

These Chan Luu style bracelets are quite popular now.  I love the slightly earthy, hippie vibe you get from the cord wrapping. They’re also amazingly simple to put together.


The website has some gorgeous combinations, with Swarovski crystals and semi-precious stones, and if you can afford it, the prices are well worth it.

However, if like me, you’d prefer to make your own, here’s a video showing you a fun version. I’ve made a 5 wrap bracelet here, but I give directions so you can make a single, double, triple, quadruple or as many wraps as you like.


If you want the look of several different bracelets, just bead a wrist’s length of beads in each color before going on to the next.

This is another project where all the different color combination possibilities totally fire the imagination!

Happy creating and enjoy the video. I’m still waiting for WordPress to solve the video embedding problem so here’s the tutorial over at YouTube:  Multiple Wrap Beaded Bracelet

Quintuple/Multiple Wrap Beaded Bracelet

Difficulty: Medium


  • 1 mm Leather Cord, approximately 2.5 yards (see directions for more precise measurement)
  • 5-6 yards silk cord (see below for sources)
  • 7-8 inches each of five different kinds of beads
  • button for closure, 3/4-inch to-1 inch in diameter
  • 7mm-10 mm jump rings, 10-20 or so
  • needle & needle threader
  • super glue


To determine length of leather cord needed measure around your wrist for a comfortable bracelet size. Double this measurement. For a quintuple wrap bracelet, multiply this number by 5. Add 12 inches to get the length of leather cord you will need.

For example: Your wrist measures 7.5 inches. Double this to get 15 inches. Multiply 15 by 5 to get 75. Add 12 to get 87 inches. Feel free to cut a little extra for insurance.

  1. Slide button onto leather cord. If using a shank style button, just slide cord through shank. If using a button with holes, slide cord from the back through one hole and from the from the front through another hole. Center button on leather cord.
  2. Thread 2-3 yards of silk cord onto needle. Pinch end of silk cord between two leather cords, right next to button. Wrap silk cord around silk cord end and leather cords for about ¼ inch. Apply a drop or two of super glue and allow to dry. Trim any excess silk cord end.
  3. Tape button down to work surface. Keeping leather cords parallel, tape them down about 12 inches away from button.
  4. Slide threaded needle under top leather cord.
  5. Slide a bead onto needle and slide down silk cord until bead touches leather cord.
  6. Bring silk cord up over and then back under bottom leather cord, then back through bead, being careful not to split the silk cord.
  7. Bring silk cord over the top leather cord and repeat steps 4-6 with remaining beads, moving and retaping cords to work surface as you progress.
  8. To add a new piece of silk cord, first cut new length of cord. Pinch end of new cord and about ¼ inch of old cord between two leather cords below last bead added. Use remaining end of silk cord to wrap for about ¼ inch. Apply a drop or two of super glue and allow to dry. Trim any excess silk cord end.
  9. To cover this wrapped cord, slide jump rings onto two leather cords and new silk cord. Resume adding beads.
  10. Before finishing bracelet check to make sure it wraps comfortably around your wrist the number of times you want. Finish bracelet by pinching about ¼ inch of silk cord between two leather cords below last bead added. Use remaining end of silk cord to wrap for about ¼ inch. Apply a drop or two of super glue and allow to dry. Trim any excess silk cord end.
  11. Hold two leather cords together and tie into an overhand knot, including wrapped silk cord into knot. Make another overhand knot about 1 inch away. The space between the two knots should be just large enough for the button to go through. Make one more overhand knot the same distance away from the second knot. Trim any excess leather cord.

Sources for silk cord:

For 2 meter cards of silk cord with wire needles already attached (you’ll need 3 cards to make a quintuple wrap bracelet):  Silk cord No. 5

This spool is far more economical, since you get 115 yards, but you have to choose one color and stick with it. Also, you’ll have to thread your own needles.  Silk Beading Cord Size FF Black

May 022013

Have you ever bought a garment that turned out to be an absolute favorite, and then were heartbroken once it was too worn out to wear anymore?  Or maybe you wished you had it in a different color, different length, etc.


I got this top at Macy’s a few years back and just love it.  It’s a simple sleeveless knit top, but there’s something about it… it’s super comfortable, fits well and looks kinda classy.  Of course, all that sparkly stuff around the neckline is rather fun, too.

Anyhow, I decided I wanted to make a pattern from it so it can be made over and over.

Nancy Zieman did a series on her TV show a while back called Copy Cat patterns.  She showed how to use paper and a tracing wheel to copy the pattern right off a garment without taking it apart.

I could not find the original TV series anywhere online, but these two videos give you the general idea.

I used the last little bit of raspberry knit (also used in this draped top, this faux shrug top, this skirt and this dress.) Phew, got my money’s worth out of that fabric!

It had to be quite a bit shorter than the original as it was the very last of that fabric, but it’s long enough.


Do you think I should add some sparklies around the neckline like in the original?

The trickiest part was figuring which steps to sew first. Once that was  sorted, I made sure to write down the directions for next time.

So, my challenge to you is to try copying a favorite garment from your closet.  You’ll be glad you did.  🙂

Happy creating, ya’ll!

May 012013

Phew, got Tim Holtz’s tag for April 2013 done just in time!


Here’s how my desk looked whilst in progress.


I probably should have put away all the polymer clay stuff, but we all know how to work in that remaining 12 inches of space, right?  😉

(Pssst, just to let you know, those pearls and that spool of black thread will be showing up in a jewelry video real soon.)


It would have been great to have tried Tim’s techniques for using the new Distress Paints, but none of my local stores have them yet.  So instead, I used a panel made ages ago when experimenting with alcohol inks and Gold and Silver Metallic Mixatives.

The collage stamping was done with a variety of stamps I had on hand and Jet Black StazOn Ink.

Did you know that instead of using the “clearly for art” plastic, you can just use scraps of plastic packaging?  Worked great for me.  Stamp with StazOn and then color the back with Snow Cap mixative (alcohol ink.) After doing that I then added Lettuce and Meadow alcohol inks.


Instead of using Distress Paints to get a faux patina, I used Ranger’s Vintaj Patinas in Clay, Cinnabar, RustVictorian Gold and Nouveau Silver.  My Lettuce Paint Dabber is rather dried up, but was still soft enough to rub into the crevices.


Finishing details: washi tape, Tissue Tape, a coil of craft wire for the butterfly body, a Word Band and a bit of silk ribbon colored with Distress Stains.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why I posted a pic of my workdesk, it’s because it’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday.  The link will whisk you away to a world of creativity via the desks of crafty people from all over.  Have fun!

Apr 292013

The great thing about taking the time to make fitting adjustments to a pattern is that you can go back to it time and again, confident of good results.


This tropical print fabric wanted to become a summer top.


No, it did NOT want to be pants, like Threads magazine did here.  ===shudder===

I was thinking of a simple button-down Hawaiian shirt, but all the button down shirt patterns in my collection have princess seams.  I didn’t think chopping up this large scaled print would do it any favors, and so decided to make another version of Butterick 5218, (this link brings you to a review of the pattern) which I had just completed in a different fabric.


Since I’d just made it, and did all the fitting work, it went super quick.  


The only change was to make it a tad bit shorter, as the rayon is more drapey that the linen I used in the other tunic.

Count another project down and onward to the next!

Happy sewing. 🙂

Apr 262013

I’ve been sewing like crazy lately, really wanting to finish up several projects that have been hanging around undone for way too long.  It was over two years ago that I bought the fabric to make this dress.


This is another in Simplicity’s line of Amazing Fit patterns.  They are great for those who are learning how to fit patterns as they give tips and instructions throughout telling you where to baste, then check for fit and what you should be looking for.  Also, key fitting areas have 1-inch seam allowances.


Today I sewed the last stitch on this dress.  If I’d realized how light the fabric was before I got started, I may have underlined it for a bit of support.

Time to get some strappy black sandals so I can wear this to a wedding next month. 🙂

Simplicity 2174 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Dress in 2 lengths, with short, three-quarter sleeves or sleeveless, two shaped neckline options and in-panel pockets.

Pattern Sizing: My pattern envelope only went up to a 14, but I needed a few more inches. I was very thankful for the 1-inch seam allowances!

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it’s cute.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions are great for those learning how to get a good fit in garments.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I Love, LOVE patterns that have different pattern pieces for A,B, C & D cups; this saves so much aggravation. I wasn’t sure about the pockets, but they turned out surprisingly flattering and very practical.

All that basting and trying on for fit is tedious, but worth it. 🙂

The short sleeves are quite short. I debated about making the longer sleeves and wish I had (but I was thinking about this being a summer weight dress.)

Fabric Used: A 100% rayon challis from It’s a bit flimsy, and could have stood an underlining.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used much narrower seam allowances in order to get a good fit (probably could have started with a size 16.)

I used an invisible zipper, so didn’t sew the bottom of the center back seam until the zip was installed.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I don’t wear dresses very often, so I probably won’t. Also, after looking at this one, I think I prefer princess seam dresses without a waistline seam.

I would recommend lining at least the bodice if you use a lightweight fabric.

Conclusion: A cute and easy dress with helpful fitting tips in the pattern.

Apr 222013

Next up in my list of sewing accomplishments is this knit wrap skirt by Vogue, 8711. vogue-8711-wrap-skirt

The lines are interesting and the pieced yokes are flattering. vogue-8711-line-drawings

I could not find the finished garment measurements anywhere on the pattern, envelope or online, so I resorted to pinning together the tissue pieces and measuring.  I realized that the size I would need was nowhere near what I had in this envelope.

To add the width I needed to get my hip measurement plus 2 inches ease, I taped in strips of paper along the center front and center back. I lightened it up quite a bit here so you can see the design lines on the navy blue fabric.


My finished results are somewhat less than spectacular.  It looks kinda loose and sloppy and doesn’t have that nice curve-hugging fit.

I realize now that since this is a knit and a closely fitted garment, I probably should have not added in any ease; maybe even had a bit of negative ease.

Ah well, at least this fabric was only $1 a yard and was meant for testing.  🙂

Vogue 8711 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Fitted, above mid-knee or mid-calf length, mock wrap skirts.

Pattern Sizing: 8-12

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, except mine was too big.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, it looks complicated but goes together easily.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I always hate having to cut out pieces in the flat. The two largest pieces in this garment had to be cut in the flat, and at a weird angle.

I’m not loving the look of the elastic waist in this skirt, either.

Fabric Used: A cotton-poly knit blend.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I had to pin together the pattern pieces to find the finished garment measurements, since that info wasn’t available. I pieced in strips of paper to make it my hip measurement plus 2 inches ease.

I realize now that adding the ease was a mistake. I’ll remove 2-3 inches from the width if I make this again.

After adding the elastic I stitched the waistband along the lines of the side seams to keep it from twisting. Before I did that I scooched the excess fullness in the waist to the back to make for a smoother front waistline.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I’d like to make it again, as it would be nice to see how it looks with a good fit.

I would recommend it to others, as it goes together easily.

Conclusion: A flattering skirt with interesting design lines.

Apr 192013

I’ve been sewing up a storm this past week.  After going through my stash of patterns and fabrics I really felt like it was wrong to have spent so much on that pile of supplies and not have anything to show for it.

I am determined to empty at least one of my two boxes full of patterns & fabrics before working on anything else.

So far this week I’ve made:

Anyhow, today’s post is about this dress:


This pattern first came to my attention through another blogger.  I loved all the flowing drapey-ness (if that’s not a word it should be) and got it at Joannes’ next 99¢ pattern sale.

I bought the jaguar/leopard print fabric from last fall.  I have NO idea why.  (It was the same order in which I got three yards of grey sweater knit which I will never, ever wear, so I’m guessing my state  of mind was  in a very weird place.)

As it turns out, there was exactly enough and it was the right kind of fabric for this pattern, so here it is.


Um, yeah. Me Jane.

This look is WAY more bold than I usually do, but it was an interesting project to sew.

By the way, which boots do you like better?  The tall calf hugging ones above or the wider but shorter ones?


Butterick 5749 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Partially lined dress has bias front pleated bodice, bias midriff, slightly shaped front hemline, invisible side zipper and narrow hem. Designed for soft two-way stretch knits.

Pattern Sizing: According to the measurements I needed an 18. I cut out the 16 and it was perfect.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, although the print hides the pretty, drapey lines, so I think I’d do it in a solid if I did it again.

Were the instructions easy to follow? They were fine. Other reviewers mentioned some errors in the photos in the instructions, but I didn’t notice them. I read through the directions before I started, getting a visual of how things went together. I didn’t refer to them much after that.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I love the side zipper, don’t think I’ve done one before. I also really like the style of this dress. It’s very flattering.

I like that the dress was lined, but thought it was silly that only the bodice and midriff were lined and not the skirt. I lined the skirt as well. Just purchase the same amount of lining (in a stretch knit) as dress fabric.

Fabric Used: A hatchi sweater knit from It has a lovely soft cottony feel, but is actually 75% poly, 20% rayon and 5% lycra. Never would have guessed.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: A few reviewers mentioned that the neckline was a bit low so I shortened the length of the cowl neck edge.

To do that adjustment, draw a line along the center front of the bodice front piece, from neck edge to waist edge. Decide how much you want to reduce the neckline. Make a mark half that distance to either side of the drawn line at the neck edge. (I reduced mine by 3 inches, so my marks were 1 1/2 inches to either side.)

Next, cut along this line, leaving just a bit of tissue connected at the waist edge for a hinge. Pivot the two pieces until the marks at the neckline meet. Secure with tape or my personal favorite, repositionable scrapbook adhesive.

The skirts looked rather short to me on the pattern cover, so I added 6 inches to the length.

Finally, I forget where I read this tip, but thought it was brilliant.  I tacked a small drapery weight to the inside center of the cowl neck edge.  This keeps the wrong side from flipping out and keeps it draping nicely.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would recommend this to others. It’s a pretty style, and goes together fairly easily. I don’t need many dresses, but like it enough to maybe make another.

Conclusion: A pretty, flattering dress. Make it in a solid for maximum impact of the drapes and curves.

Apr 172013

We can all use a few more basic tops that can be dressed up, or just worn with jeans.  Butterick’s 5218 tunic top pattern fits the bill perfectly.


For a bit of interest I chose this black linen with a tad of lycra and silver metallic pinstripes. Click on any of the pics for a closer look.


As usual, before I started sewing I checked out the reviews on pattern review.  I came away wondering if I should even bother, but then decided to go for it.  I especially love the folded-up-and-held-with-a-tab style of sleeves. b5218-tunic-black-silver-sleeve-cuff

Aren’t those pretty buttons?  I think they go perfectly.

The notes I made from other pattern reviewers were as follows:

  • eliminate dropped shoulders
  • runs really long
  • adjust sleeve length
  • add curved hems

After looking at the pattern pieces I realized the armscye was ridiculously deep, so decided to take that in as well. (This alteration also reduced the sleeve width by 2 inches, which was just fine with me.)

To reduce the armscye by 2 inches, draw 2 parallel lines on the front pattern piece.  These lines should be 1 inch apart, perpendicular to the center front line and should cross the armscye. Like this: (the lines going across the “1”)


Cut on one of the lines and slide the cut line to meet the other drawn line.  I like to use  repositionable scrapbook adhesive.  It’s much better than tape because you can iron over it without it melting. This adjustment shortens the tunic top and the armscye by 1 inch.  Repeat the alteration on the back pattern piece as well. b5218-back-illustration  

To make the alteration on the sleeve, make two pairs of parallel lines, 1 inch apart, one pair one either side of the center line, perpendicular to the hem.


Repeat the cutting and sliding with each pair of lines.


Here’s how it looks on the actual pattern piece.

Some measurements confirmed that the shoulder dropped 2 inches, so I wanted to take it up that much.

To get rid of the dropped shoulders, draw a line perpendicular to the shoulder.  (It should be near the center, but positioning isn’t crucial.)  Make a mark 1 inch to either side of this line at the shoulder. Draw another line about 90° from this one going to the side seam (NOT into the armscye).


Cut on both lines, leaving a small bit of tissue intact between them for a hinge.  Rotate this wedge shape until your two marks at the shoulder meet.  Use scraps of tissue to fill in the gap along the side seam and true up the side and shoulder seams.


Here’s my back pattern piece with both the armscye and the dropped sleeve alterations.


Repeat the procedure on the front pattern piece.


Since this pattern piece is cut flat, not on the fold, I have to make the adjustments on each side. (Oh, and you’ll need to shorten the front facing by 1 inch as well. The rest of the details are covered in my review of the pattern.

Butterick 5218 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Loose-fitting, pullover tunic tops have collar variations, front button closure with front pleat, back gathers, dropped shoulders and sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing: If I’d followed the pattern’s recommended sizing based on my measurements I would have made an 18. Instead I looked at the finished garment measurements and made a 12. Can you imagine how ridiculously huge an 18 would have been?

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instructions were fine.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the folded sleeve cuff held up with a button and tab. I didn’t care for how humongous it was.

Fabric Used: A linen with a bit of lycra and metallic pinstripes from Joannes.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I didn’t care for the dropped shoulders and altered the pattern to elminate them. I also raised the very deep armscye by 2 inches and reduced the sleeve width by 2 inches.

Since raising the armscye effectively shortens the sleeves, I added 2 inches to the sleeve hems.

To make the hems I folded them 5.5 inches to the inside and stitched 5 inches from the folds.  Then they could be folded 2.5 inches to the outside for the cuffs.

I didn’t add the button tabs until the sleeve cuffs were completed.

I skipped the pockets because I wanted to keep the clean lines of the pinstripes.

A dinner plate was a great template for making more interesting rounded hems, but I had to chop off 6 inches from the bottom first. (Else it could have been a mini-dress on me, and I’m 5’7″!)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Now that I’ve taken the time to make the alterations, I’d like to make a couple more.

Conclusion: A nice wardrobe staple that can easily be dressed up or down. Just keep in mind it runs really HUGE.

Apr 132013

You may be under the mistaken notion that every project every sewer out there on the internet does turns out perfect. We foster that notion because we don’t often share our failures.

But failures are instructive and we can all learn from them.  In that spirit I give you the following.

The May 2013 issue of Threads magazine had a fascinating article on making bias pants.  The technique was so unusual that I just had to give it a try.  

It involved making some complicated calculations based on your measurements and then cutting out two rectangles.  The rectangles were sewn in a twisted sort of way, resulting in two bias tubes.  


Would you believe I have that very fabric in my stash?  I’m so cool.  🙂



But I absolutely could NOT see me wearing pants out of this stuff.  Nope, not that cool. Instead I opted for a solid purple linen/rayon blend with a bit of texture.


When I first considered the idea of bias pants I wondered about the bias stretch factor which I’ve observed before.  Bias garments with any weight to them tend to narrow at the top and be wider at the bottom.  Maybe not such a good idea in pants?

But I dismissed any concerns, figuring the designer knew what she was talking about.  Right?


As you can see from this pic, what I expected is exactly what happened.

I won’t subject you to pics of these pants on.  The effect was rather grotesque as they hugged my hips and thighs, then flared prettily at the bottom.  Ugh.

After excitedly trying on my new pants, then being quite disappointed, I took another look at the magazine photos.


Well of course these fit the model perfectly, as she has no hips or thighs to speak of whatsoever. Yup, they look great on her. Anything would.

So, if you have a stick-figure figure I say go for it.  It’s a cool idea and you’ll have some very interesting pants.  The rest of us should probably stick to more conventional styles.

The good news is that I still have my tropical print to use… for a summer top, I think.

I also have two purple bias tubes that I don’t know what to do with.  Any suggestions?

Apr 112013

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I decided to whip up view D of  Simplicity 2416, even though I’d bought it for the swirled styles.  It’s a Khaliah Ali pattern, and she seems to do a lot of looks for those of us who aren’t exactly stick thin.


You would think from the line drawings that this style would be flattering, but I didn’t see any finished results over at Pattern Review that impressed me.  In fact, what I saw made me decide to save the time and trouble of sewing all those curved seams.


I’m fairly happy with the results. If nothing else, I utterly adore the colors in this fabric.


However, I probably should have ironed the fabric a little more before taking pics.  (Why do I never notice all those wrinkles irl?)

Happy creating!

Simplicity 2416 Pattern Review

Pattern Description: Misses/womens skirts in two lengths. One version is composed of several curved tiers.The other is a flared skirt with overlay and optional tie belt. Both versions have an elastic casing waist.

Pattern Sizing: I made view D in the size 16, which is what the pattern indicated for my measurements and it worked out perfectly.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes, it did.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yup, they were simple.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like how quickly view D worked up. I like that if you wear your top tucked in the tie belt hides the fact that it is an elastic waist.

Fabric Used: I used a 100% cotton batik from Although this skirt would have had more drape with a different fabric, like a rayon or a gauze, this still looks nice.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I used 1 inch elastic instead of 1/2 inch. I think it’s more comfortable and it shortened the quite long skirt a little bit. I put points on the ends of the tie belt, just to make it more interesting. (Not pictured as I opted to not tuck in my top and used a different belt.)

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I may make this again, it’s a nice wardrobe staple. I would recommend this to beginners, as it’s easy to put together.

Conclusion: Views D & E are a basic 4-piece A-line skirt with a front overlay for a faux wrap look. It worked up very quickly, as all the seaming was simple. Even the waistband is cut onto the skirt, streamlining the sewing process.

At some point I’d like to make the curved tiers skirt from this pattern. After studying pics of that version completed, I think the only fabric it would look good in is a solid color gauze, similar to that on the model on the pattern envelope.