Jul 142011

My quilting group decided to do Christmas in July for this month’s meeting.  We’ve made many, many quilts for missionaries and charity, but sometimes we just stop and do a little fun project for ourselves.  On Saturday we’ll be making these:


Since I was prepping what we’d need, I thought I’d share the steps with you.  Here is where you can find a pdf with the snowman ornament patterns.

You’ll need:

  • scraps of white fabric for the snowmen (If I figured correctly, you’ll get about 10 snowmen from a single fat quarter.)
  • scraps of fabric for the hat (2.5″ x 4″) and scarf (1″ x 9″)
  • hand sewing needle and thread
  • small amount of orange oven bake clay (Fimo, Sculpey) for nose
  • small black beads or black oven bake clay for eyes and mouth
  • hot glue
  • tacky glue
  • toothpick
  • tweezers

From the white fabric cut one 4″ circle and one 3.5″ circle.


Thread a needle with white thread.  Turning under a 1/8″ inch seam allowance as you go, make large running stitches close to folded edge.


When you get back to where you started pull up gathers and flatten yo-yo so hole is in the center.  Tie off thread ends in a square knot and cut off excess thread.


Hint:  When tying your knot use a surgeon’s square knot, which simply means to make the first wrap (right over left) twice, then pull tight.  This holds everything in place while you make the second wrap (left over right.)

Repeat to make second yo-yo.


Make hat:

Fold 4″ x 2.5″ rectangle in half, meeting shorter edges.  Sew a 1/4″ seam along these edges, backstitching at beginning and end.


Finger press seam open and turn this tube right side out.

Turn one raw edge up 1/4″.


And turn up again 1/4″ to make hat brim.


Thread a needle with thread to match the hat fabric and gather remaining raw edge 1/4″ from edge.


Pull gathers tight and tie off.


Hot glue hat to small yo-yo and glue small yo-yo over large yo-yo.


Tie scarf around snowman’s neck, using a pin to fringe the ends.  Hot glue down the ends, if desired.


To make the carrot nose pinch off a piece of oven bake clay about the size of a small pea.  Roll it into a 1/4″ ball.


Using one finger, roll it on your work surface, applying more pressure to one side than the other.  This will shape it into a cone.


Use the side of a needle to mark your “carrot” to make it more realistic.

snowman-ornament-step-9c-carrot-nose close up

Bake according to manufacturer’s directions.  (Ten minutes at 250° F worked fine for me.) By the way, when using oven bake clay, never use utensils that you will be using with food.  Parchment paper here protects the baking sheet and keeps the clay from becoming shiny.

I made a bunch, figuring it’s easier to make more than I need now, rather than have to turn on the oven later to make just one. snowman-ornament-step-9-carrot-noses

While the baking sheet with all these itty bitty carrots was cooling on the counter my huband saw them and thought they were something I’d picked from the garden.  Bwahahaha!

For the eyes and mouth you can use small black beads (mine are 3mm) or make small black balls out of oven bake clay.  You can also make french knots with embroidery floss, or just draw on the face with a marker.


If gluing on the eyes and mouth, I suggest you apply tiny dots of tacky glue with a toothpick, then use tweezers to place your beads exactly where you want them.


Use tacky glue to attach the nose.

Warning:  If you use hot glue to attach the nose, then decide you don’t like the gob of hot glue that oozed out and try to pick if off, you WILL break the nose.  Just sayin’.

Isn’t he cute?


Now you can add some twine or ribbon to make an ornament, glue on a bamboo stick or some wire to make a plant poke, add him to a card… whatever you want.


Just make sure to have fun!

Happy Christmas in July.  🙂


Jul 132011

Isn’t that a great term, Frankenpattern?  I love it!  And, it’s one of the things I love most about sewing, I can have things just the way I want.  This hem with that neckline, in this color and that size.  Perfect.

I bought McCall’s 6287 only for the cool neckline treatment.  I bought McCall’s 6199 only for the very flattering hemline.  I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them until I read on Pattern Review that the neckline on 6287 is so wide, one is in danger of replicating the Flashdance off the shoulder look.

Um, no thanks.

So, I cut out 6199 and transferred the neckline markings for 6287.  Voila, Frankenpattern!

what's on your workdesk wednesday knit dress frankenpattern

I cannot wait to finish this dress and wear it.  When I tried it on for fitting it was so comfy it felt like jammies.  But first I have to finish the quilt repair in time for my hairdresser appointment on Friday.

Molly, however, had something to say about that today.

miss smugness

Can you say SMUG?

You gotta admit, though, cats have good taste.  They will always sit on a quilt whenever possible.  🙂

So, why am I posting pics of my workdesks?  Cuz it’s What’s on Your Workdesk Wednesday, silly!  You gotta check it out, creative people from all over the world post pics of what’s on their workdesks.  Fun stuff.

Happy creating


Jul 112011

Last week you saw a  quilt on my desk that I was repairing.  Many folks expressed interest, so I thought I’d share a few tips.

This quilt was made by the mother of a friend of mine.  Her mom has since passed away and my friend wants to keep these quilts usable as long as possible.  She was right in noting that with all the rips, tears and popped seams if she continued to use it, it would be beyond repair very soon.

quilt top to be repaired close up

The quilt was made of entirely machine pieced patchwork, and machine quilted with straight stitches.  Since there was no intricate machine or hand quilting, and the batting was worn and patchy in many spots, I decided to remove all the quilting, separate the backing and batting from the top and add a completely new batting.

(If the quilting had been expertly done, or had sentimental value, I would not have done so, but would have preserved my friend’s mom’s work.)

The main things to repair on this quilt were all the popped seams.  As I stopped counting at around 30 (I suspect there were over 100), this would have been an awful lot to repair by hand.  Separating out the batting & backing and working on the top alone made this job easier.

There were many of these:

quilt repair small tear

The principal thing to remember when repairing a seam is that the seams need to be sewn in the same order they were originally sewn.  If I just tried to sew up the seam in the white fabrics, there would most likely be a pucker in the dark fabric.

Instead, you have to remove a portion of the crossing seam.

quilt repair remove crossing seam

Now you can sew up the white squares, THEN resew the blue square, easing in any difference.

quilt repair completed

Once thing you’ll find helpful in working with all these small seams is to press the creases out of the seam allowances before sewing.

To get smooth seams without bulges or bumps, make sure to remove plenty of the stitching before and after the repair to be made.  If the fabric left for a seam allowance is scant you can take up a little extra, tapering in at the start and finish.

I found a few tears in the fabric and just stitched them up and press the area as flat as possible.  There’s no way this quilt is going to lie perfectly flat, anyhow.  Remember, we’re not going for perfection here, but preservation of memories.

I thought I was all done with the top repairs, but while ironing, I found many more places to fix.  These were all marked with stickers to save me from having to hunt for them again.

quilt top to be repaired with stickers

Now it’s time to relayer the quilt with its new batting and redo the machine quilting.  I’ll do it the same way the original maker did, with navy thread and straight lines.  I am reusing the old backing and binding, so the outside appearance of the quilt will be much the same as it was, only better!

By the way, you might be interested to know that to get the quilt to this point has taken 17 hours, no small undertaking!  I’m guessing that 80% of that time was spent ripping out stitching, and only 20% was doing the actual sewing.

The next quilt I’m repairing has hand quilting in it, so I won’t be removing the backing.  This will involve a completely different process, which I’ll share when I get to it.

Happy crafting!

Jul 082011

It’s finally done, phew!

wedding quilt  overall

When I put it on my bed to take these pics, I said, “Ooooo, I like how it goes perfectly in here…”  But I sternly reminded myself that I already have plenty of quilts and if I kept it, I’d still owe the newlyweds a wedding gift.  (It got wrapped and delivered that day, lol. )

wedding quilt center basket

At 96″ x 102″, queen size, it’s the biggest quilt I ever machine quilted.

wedding quilt corner close up

Diane Gaudynski’s Guide To Machine Quilting was incredibly helpful.  She has a whole system worked out which includes needle and thread sizes, how to bundle the quilt, starching the backing to make it slide easier, even propping up your left foot to the same height as the right!  Each of these steps makes the process just a bit easier, so if you implement all her suggestions you’ll have an excellent chance of success.

wedding quilt stippling close up

Just using a finer weight thread (standard sewing thread is 40, she recommends 50 or 60) and a smaller needle (#60 or #70) makes the stitches look much nicer.

wedding quilt stippling extreme close up

The feathers were a lot more fun than I thought they’d be.  The most helpful revelation to me was that each feather is just half of a heart shape.   I can manage THAT.

wedding quilt feathers close up

They’re not perfect, but they’ll do.  😉

wedding quilt flowers close up

These free motion flowers were a lot of fun.  It’s just spiral background quilting, with scallops added to the outer part of each spiral to turn them into flowers. (You can see this best in the flower in the upper left corner.)

I would NOT recommend you learn machine quilting on a quilt this size.  I’d made many, many smaller projects before I decided to tackle this huge  one.  The most important thing to developing your skills is to practice, practice, practice.  Baby quilts are great beginner projects.  Whatever you do, have fun!

Happy creating,


Jul 062011

I’m still in sewing mode, as today’s desk shows.  It’s been a while since I’ve done any papercrafting, so of course I’m itching to do that.  I think I really need at least three crafting rooms.  😉

what's on your workdesk wednesday aqua top and quilt to repair

Clockwise from bottom left:

  • A top that’s almost done, just have to hem it and trim some seams – I’ll post a review of the pattern soon.
  • Batting for a quilt to be repaired
  • The quilt to be repaired – A friend asked me if I would repair some quilts her mother had made a few years back.  Her mom has since passed away and they have sentimental value but were quite a mess.  It has been an interested learning experience.  I’ll do a post sometime soon sharing some things to  keep in mind if you have quilts of your own that need a little tlc.
  • A stack of patterns for knit fabric tops and dresses – I cannot resist 99 cent patterns!
  • At the bottom of that stack is the cutest fabric for a dress for my granddaughter, better pics soon.
  • Pattern pieces for the aqua top, think I’m going to make another out of a raspberry knit.
  • See that aqua fabric at the bottom center of the photo?  That is the top of a stack of about 20 yards of cotton knit I got at my local fabric store that just closed their doors.  It was heartbreaking that after 92 years, they could no longer stay in business.  However, I was happy to get all that fabric for less than $1 a yard!

So, why on earth I’m a showing you a photo of my workdesk?  Because it’s What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday, of course!

Happy creativity!

Jul 042011

Our 4th of July plans got cancelled, so I stayed home and sewed!  It was a great way to spend the day.

I finally finished this jeans jacket:

butterick 5402 jeans jacket

(Please pardon the weird look on my face, it’s over 95° and humid, and I couldn’t wait to take that jacket off!  Only for you, dear readers, only for you.)  🙂

I’m thrilled to pieces with how it came out, but in spite of the pattern, not because of it.  I don’t know what was going on at the Butterick company the day they designed this pattern, but WOW, what a mess.

First of all, I’m so thankful to those pattern reviewers who pointed out many of the problems with this pattern so I could make corrections before cutting into my precious fabric.

(There’s a reason why we’re always told to make a muslin, although I have to admit that I usually don’t, shame on me.)


If they had simply designed a pattern that looks like the sketch on the pattern envelope, all would be well.  The main problems I see are all a matter of proportion. If you look closely at the below photo, you can kind of see what I mean even though the busy fabric obscures many of the details.


  • The sleeves start out kind of wide at the armhole, (not TOO bad) but then they get ridiculously narrow at the cuff.  (They almost look leg-of-muttonish, ick.)
  • Most reviewers have mentioned the majorly dropped shoulder.  The sketch on the pattern envelope shows a natural shoulder line. However, when I compared the pattern to a jacket that fits well and has a natural shoulder seam, this pattern drops 1 5/8″.  Another reviewer said she had to shorten the shoulder seam a whole 2″. Yikes.
  • The pocket proportions are just silly.  The pocket finishes to 4.5″ wide and 7″ deep, which not only looks too long, but is impractically deep.  You can’t get your fingers into the bottom!  The pocket on a ready-to-wear jacket that fits well finishes to 4.5.”x4.5″, which looks nice and is quite usable.
  • The pocket flap is 1″ wider than the pocket itself, which just looks dumb.  Granted, it is acknowledged in the pattern, “Flap will extend beyond each side of the pocket to ensure that the pocket edges are covered when the flap is down.” However, on my rtw, the flap is only 1/4″ wider than the pocket, so it extends just 1/8″ on each side.
  • Finally, another reviewer stated that the pocket placement is too high.  After comparing measurements with my rtw jacket, I had to agree, and moved the pocket down 2″.

In the below photo you can see the pocket sewn on as it was originally drafted.  Terrible.

jeans jacket pocket before revision

Since it was black on black (and the eyes are getting old!) I had to wait until the next morning sunlight to rip this out and redraft the pocket.  On my rtw jacket the pocket bottom is pointed to match the flap and I decided to copy this.  You can print out the redrafted, shorter, wider and pointy pocket here.

Here’s the new and improved pocket.  Much better, in my opinion.

butterick 5402 jeans jacket pocket after revisions

Your best friend in figuring what changes to make to this pattern will be a similar style jacket that fits you well.  If you’re not accustomed to making pattern alterations, buy some inexpensive fabric and give it a shot.  You may or may not come out with a garment you like, but you’ll be sure to learn a lot.

The first changes to make are in the shoulder seam.  This means you’ll need to alter pattern pieces #1 (side front), #2 (front), #5 (yoke) and #9 (front facing.)

Make sure to mark the seam allowances for your size and then compare the shoulder seam measurements to that of your jacket that fits well.  Note how much you need to reduce the shoulder seams.  I used the slash and spread method.

  1. First, draw a line the original length of the shoulder seam on a scrap of pattern tissue.
  2. Next, mark in the distance you want to reduce this seam. This is the new shoulder seam length.
  3. Using a straight-edge, draw a line roughly perpendicular to the shoulder seam, from the seam edge all the way down to the seam allowance at the bottom of the pattern piece.  (We’ll leave just the bottom 5/8″ seam allowance as a hinge.) Cut the pattern along this line.
  4. Now, meet one edge of your shoulder seam to one end of the new shoulder seam you marked on the scrap of tissue.
  5. Pivot the other shoulder seam edge to meet the other end of you new shoulder seam.  The edges may be a little off, but just draw a straight line from corner to corner to true it up.
  6. Making sure your pattern piece has no ripples, use tape to hold the slash in place.  (I like to use repositionable scrapbooking adhesive.)

jeans jacket black denim pattern alterations yoke

I did three slashes in this yoke piece only to keep the bottom edge from having a sharp curve.

jeans jacket black denim pattern alterations side front

Since the front shoulder seam is in two pieces, I reduced one by 7/8″ and the other by 3/4″ to make my total of 1 5/8″.

jeans jacket black denim pattern alterations front

After sewing my jacket with these changes, I noted that I could have taken up the shoulder seam yet another inch.  As it is, it’s only slightly dropped and it’s fine.

Keep in mind that reducing the shoulder seam effectively reduces your sleeve length.  Take some careful measurements to determine if you need to lengthen the sleeve pattern.  I usually have to add 2.5″-3″ to sleeves, but found I only needed to add 2″ to this one to make is just perfect.  (Don’t forget to take into account the length of the cuff when measuring.)

I used flat felled seams and double topstitching wherever possible.  True flat felled seams leave a finished interior for a very professional look.

I also altered the sleeve pattern to make it more straight and less tapered from shoulder to cuff.

  1. First, compare the sleeve pattern with a ready to wear jacket to determine how wide you’d like your finished sleeve to be.  In my case I added 3/4″ to each side to make it 1.5″ wider where it joins the cuff.
  2. Use scraps of pattern tissue to add the extra width to the cuff edge.
  3. Taper this line to about the midpoint of the sleeve.
  4. Don’t forget to add the same amount to each side of your cuff.  You’ll also need to move the button and buttonhole markings out that distance.
  5. I was appalled to see that there was 3/4″ of ease in the sleeve head, and took that out with my “pin and squish” method.  That is, on the pattern piece I pinned a 3/8″ pleat at the center of the sleeve head seam.  Then I squished down the pattern, making it flat.  This removed the 3/8″ from each side seam.  Even though the sleeve had already been cut out, I could just trim off the excess.
  6. Although it may look like it, it isn’t necessary to trim the sleeve head at all.  This method may mess up matching your notches, but just ignore them, pin together the centers and edges and you’ll be fine.

butterick 5402 jeans jacket sleeve alterations

Does it seem like a lot of extra work?  It was!  However, this is a jacket that’s going to be a wardrobe staple for years to come, I hope, so it was worth it to take the additional care and time to create something I can truly be proud of.

Happy sewing!

******Update 7/5/2011*****

Only after taking another look at the photo did I realize that I’m missing a button.  Sheesh!  I think I’m also going to redo the bottom band.  Will post more pics when those redos are done.

******Update 7/29/******

You’ll find an updated jacket photo and additional review tips here.



Jun 302011

This top was finished just in time to wear it to church on Sunday and I was amazed at how many compliments I got.



Here’s my review:

Pattern Description:  An empire waist top with bias skirt and three sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing: 4, 6, 8, 10 ,12

 Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes!  I made the view C skirt with view A flutter sleeves.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were fine.  Just keep in mind that you’ll be jumping around between the sleeve and skirt variations, so don’t get confused. 

Also, I wish patterns that call for a particular kind of fabric or seam finish would take that into account in their directions.  I’ve been sewing for many years, so I know when to use french seams, but it could be helpful to beginners for the pattern to have said, “You’ll want to use a french seam here.”

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I was concerned that the style might make me look pregnant, but the bias cut kept my lightweight fabrics nice and drapey.  I would be careful about using any fabric that’s too heavy or stiff.

It’s difficult to get the back zipper to look nice on the bias skirt.  Next time I’d definitely use an invisible zipper and shorten it a bit. 

Fabric Used:  For the underskirt and lining I used a loosely woven, semitransparent fabric that I think might be rayon.  For the overskirt and sleeves I used a 4-way sheer stretch knit.  I didn’t bother to cut the knit on the bias, only the woven.

 Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  According to my measurements I needed a size 18, but it only went up to 12, so I cut all vertical seams with an extra 3/8″.  This worked out just right.  I also moved the bust gathers so they would be under the fullest part of the breast.  Seems kinda silly to have the gathers off to the side!

Instead of narrowing hemming I serged a rolled hem on the skirt and sleeve edges.

If I had it to do over I would cut out the bias skirts in advance and let them hang for a day or so to stretch out.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I would make it again, and am looking for more sheer fabrics to use. 

Conclusion:  This is a really cute top and I can see it becoming a wardrobe staple.  You just have to make sure to choose appropriate fabrics for the style.


Jun 292011

Happy What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday, all!

If you’d like to see what other folks around the world are up to on this Wednesday, go here.

My desk today shows I’m in the midst of making this jacket out of black denim:


Nearly half of the pieces require fusible interfacing, so I hauled out my press to do the job.


I inherited this press from my mother-in-law and just love it.  I wish I had a place to keep this amazing tool set up all the time, it would certainly get more use.  The lovely thing about using a press to apply fusible interfacing is that you get a complete fuse, no bubbles, no ripples and no missed spots.

This is one project that makes me very thankful for patternreview.com, as there have been several problems noted with this pattern.  Reviewers have said that the shoulders are actually far more dropped than in the sketch on the pattern cover, the sleeves are too narrow at the cuffs and the pocket placement is weird.

You can kind of see these things in the below photo of the finished garment.  (I have to wonder if it was deliberately made of a busy fabric so these problem wouldn’t be apparent?)


Anyhow, I decided to carry on with this particular pattern and make my own corrections because I couldn’t find another jeans jacket pattern with all the interesting style lines.

I hope to finish it today and then I’ll be sure to post a review, including how all the changes can be made and pitfalls to avoid.

Jun 272011

This is a fun scrapbook layout for a road trip, all the circles really give the feeling of motion.

parris island road trip scrapbook page left

Yes, those are printed maps. We didn’t have a GPS at the time, but still managed to get there.  Imagine that. 🙂

To make the map pocket on the page I cut a rectangle of cardstock about 1″ wider and 1/2″ taller than I wanted for maps and added Dimensional Adhesive squares to the sides and bottom.  When the page was added to the album I cut a slit in the page protector so the maps could be removed.  Make sure to punch little circles at each end of the slit; this keeps it from splitting further along that line.

The font I used on the capitals in the journaling is called Times Old Attic.

parris island road trip scrapbook page right

I used my Coluzzle to cut all the circles, but would definitely prefer to use the Spellbinders Large Standard Circles Dies.

parris island road trip scrapbook two page layout

The letters I used for the “Road Trip” title began their lives looking like this:


Kinda girly for the Marines, eh?

But after an application of  crackle paint, they were perfect for this page.


Don’t be afraid to take what you’ve got and alter it to suit your needs.

Happy crafting!