Sewing Basics Series:: Shortening a Slit

I have had a dress in my closet for years that I haven’t worn.  It fits me like a glove, but the side slits are pretty high.  Like,”back when I was single” high.  Ok, so it might even be like, “back when I was in high school” kind of high.  For some reason I just never could part with this dress.  I knew there was a way I could wear it again (I even created a pattern out of it to make this dress).  So finally, after many moons, I just altered the slits to be a lot more “married woman chasing after my baby boys….not teenage boys” kind of slits.  So here you have it.  A short sweet tutorial that will let you wear all those gonnamakeitworkeventually kind of slit dresses.

Click through below for the tutorial…

Stop by tomorrow to see this dress in action.

sewing basics series:: piping

Piping can give a great completed look to pillows, headboards, bumper pads, etc.  But finding the perfect fabric in pre-made piping is often impossible.  That doesn’t mean you can’t get the piping that you want.  Here is a tutorial on how to create your own piping:
There are a few tricks for creating the perfect piping.  I used the following technique on Cash’s bedding in the boys room.    
  • Cording (whatever length you need).  This can be purchased at Joanns or any sewing store.  There are many different sizes of cording depending on the look you want.
  • Fabric to cover the cording.  A little goes a long way, so that is pretty nice.  It took me only about 1 yard of fabric to cover 4 yards of cording.  
 The trick to getting clean looking piping is how you piece the strips of fabric together.  When you pull your fabric straight across, you won’t get much stretch.  But when you pull it on the bias (diagonal), you get a nice stretch.  You will need to utilize this stretch especially when sewing piping around corners.  If you were to cut straight across, you wouldn’t get any stretch in the fabric, and that will cause puckering in the fabric especially when stitched around curves.
note: 1 1/2″ strips covered my cording (mine wasn’t very thick).  Test out how wide your strips of fabric need to be by wrapping the fabric around your cord and allow for 1/2″ seam allowance.
note: when making this stitch, I would suggest not sewing the stitch too close to the cording.  Stitch about 1/8″ away from the cording.  Then, when you sandwich the piping in between your fabrics, use the zipper foot again and stitch as closely as possible to the cording.  This way you wont have to worry about your first row of stitching being visible.

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crib bedding 101

I have had a lot of requests for my bedding measurements, so without further ado, here are the measurements I used for my crib bedding.  The measurements should work just fine for most cribs, but just to be safe, make sure to measure your own crib to double check that the measurements will work for yours.
First things first- Here are the amounts of fabric I purchased for each section of the bedding:


4.6 yards of fabric total (168″ L X 45″ W)

If you want to do 1 print on the outside and a different print on the inside, you will need 2 1/3 yard of each fabric (84″).

Ties for the Bumper:

did 12 ties total.  You can make yours thicker or thinner, whatever you prefer.  For the size that I have, you will need a total of 1 yard (you will have a little left over).

I couldn’t find the piping color that I wanted, but they
do sell pre-made piping in a few different colors.  If you can, try to
find piping that is already pre-made.  It makes things a lot easier.

You will need 4 1/2 yards of piping
(If you are making your own piping, you only need about 1 yard of fabric to cover the piping and 4 1/2 yards of uncovered piping.)

Dust Ruffle:

1 1/2 yards of white fabric for the top part that lays under the mattress.  This can be the very inexpensive white muslin since it will not show.

2 1/2 yards of fabric for the dust ruffle.

*note:  You will need 4 of the long sides and 4 of the short sides cut total.  I specified that you will need 2 of each in the directions above assuming that a different fabric would be used for the front and back of the bumper pads.
The tie measurements above with give you ties that are 1 1/2″ wide.  Once you have your ties completed, fold them in half, and spread the ends to form a V.  Then, place them on the right-side of the bumper pad that you want to be facing out, like so:
(since the bars on cribs are not all spaced out the same, you will need to measure and mark where you want your ties to be so that they will match up with the bars on your crib)
If you are using piping, next you will place the piping along the top of the bumper, with the selvage edges matching up with the selvage edges of the bumper:
(make sure you use a zipper food when attaching the side with the piping so that you stitch as close to the piping as possible)
Make sure to add the ties to the bottom as well.  Before laying what will be the backside of the bumper piece on top of this front bumper piece (right-sides together), this is what it should look like:
If you don’t have bumpers that you are going to cover, you can just make your own.  I purchased a large foam pad from Joann’s that was 23″ X 61″ and about 2 1/2″ thick.  Then I cut 2 strips that
were 50 1/2 ” X 12″ and 2 that were 23″ X 12″ so that they would fit
snugly along the sides of the crib.
Next is the crib skirt.  This is really simple, only a few straight lines.  Just remember that you only need one long side cut for the front of the crib skirt, since nobody will see the back of the crib.

And there you go!  For some, it might be worth it to just purchase the bedding of your dreams for $300 since this is a pretty time consuming project.  But if your are a fairly intermediate sewer, make your own!  It is so satisfying to have exactly the bedding with the fabrics and colors that you have been dreaming about.
*piping tutorial coming soon

sewing basics:: the essentials

I have gotten a lot of emails asking for tips for a beginner sewer.  I am no pro by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have a system down now of what I like to use when I sew, certain stitches for different types of fabrics, etc.  So I’ll tell you all my tips and tricks throughout a series of posts I’m going to call SEWING BASICS.

Today I’m going to cover the essentials: meaning, all of the tools that I use every single time I sew.  Having the right types of tools will really help you with your sewing experience.  Now I know that there are plenty more sewing tools out there than what I have listed, but here is what has worked for me.
*cue a chorus of angels singing*

The Sewing Machine
  There are tons of different kinds in all sorts of price ranges, but I have loved every second with mine and would recommend it in a heartbeat.  My mom gave it to me for my college graduation and it is one of the best gifts I have ever received.  

My sewing machine is a Janome DC2007LE.  My mom got it from Nuttall’s in American Fork.  It came with 4 free sewing lessons that I never used and have always regretted.  I’ve read my manual from cover to cover, but it would have been nice to actually have someone walk me through my machine.  But it is really user friendly.

*One tip that I didn’t realize until a little over a year ago, is that you have an option to load your sewing thread horizontal (which I started off doing) or vertical.  It comes with a separate attachment to switch to vertical and it has made a world of difference for me.  When my thread was laying sideways it would always catch for some reason and drove me through the roof.  I haven’t had a problem since I switched to sewing with my thread sitting vertically.  

It’s really easy to change to different stitches, change the length of your zigzag, etc. The stitches I use most are 1 (straight stitch), 8 (basic zigzag), 13 (blind hem), and 16 (basic button hole).  I have also used some of the decorative stitches on baby quilts and things like that and have really liked having those options.

Now this machine isn’t essential for everyone, but I wouldn’t be able to sew without it.  I like all of my garments to be completely finished, and you can’t get a professional look without one.  I have use my mom’s old Juki serger.  It’s old….but it runs like a dream.  I know there are various serges that are really thin, or only use 3 threads, etc.  I wish I knew how to do those!  But the instruction manual is really old and I haven’t been able to figure it out.  But I have learned (through a series of stuck strings, strange noises, and swear words) how to thread this sucker.  It is HARD.

Sergers are very temperamental, and if the balance is a little off, you could wind up with a snapped thread and have to figure out how to re-thread it.  The first time it came unthread I took it down to The Cotton Shop and a nice lady there spent a good 30 minutes re-threading it for free.  So you can always try that if you really get in a bind.

A Rotary Cutter, Cutting Mat, and Clear Cutting Edge Ruler
I went waaay too long without these tools!  You WILL be cutting straight lines, and your time WILL be cut in half with this little trio.  I got them all at Joanns.  I would also highly recommend a suction gripper  that sticks to your clear ruler.  It makes it so much easier to hold the ruler in place as I cut. 

a GOOD pair of Scissors
I emphasize the word “good” because I’ve used crappy scissors and they are no good.  I invested in a pair of good quality Fiskars scissors because they were nice and heavy, sharp, and cheaper than Ginghers.  Use your 40% off coupon for an even better deal.

Seam Ripper 
When you make a sewing mistake….which you will, you will become fast frenemies with your seam ripper.  I have spent many a night curled up on the couch in front of Project Runway with a botched skirt and my trusty seam ripper.

You may think I don’t have an opinion on pins, but I do.  I started out with the sorry little miniscule silver pins, but made the change to the long pins with colorful balls at the end and they are so much easier to hold, remove, and spot on the carpet so your toddler doesn’t puncture his foot. . . . oh wait . . that last part happened yesterday.  Worst mom in the world, right here.
I also found that they are the cheapest at Wal-Mart.

Seam Gauge
I use my seam gauge as much as I use my pins.  I am constantly measuring and remeasuring hems, pleats, or seam allowances.  It is a great little tool since you work with small measurements constantly.

Vinyl Tape Measure
I don’t have an opinion on which one of these to get.  Just get one.  And you look really professional if you always work with it draped over your neck, like moi.

Tailor’s Chalk
I like this chalk a lot more than a marking pencil.  It shows up a lot easier and lasts forever.  But I have been known to use highlighters and pens as marking tools just as often as the chalk.

Extra Bobbins
I always have extra bobbins on hand in case I need to change thread colors.  I have wound the same bobbin with 2 different colors before because I was desperate, but it just makes things messy.  I would recommend sticking with 1 color of thread per bobbin.
(make sure you check the packaging on your bobbins to see if it is compatible with your machine)

Extra Needles
There is nothing worse than breaking a needle and not being able to continue because you don’t have any extra.

Last but not least, get a good storage system for all of your supplies to help you stay organized!

I used to just have a sewing box, but it became full and crowded quickly and I got sick of always digging through it to hunt things down.  So I opted for this shoe rack.  it gives me plenty of compartments, and it’s all see through, so I never have to spend time trying to find something.  Plus, it is all out of Bradley’s reach, so I never have to worry about him getting into things.

 Let me know if you have any other ideas for this series!  Like I said before, I am no expert, but am happy to share things that I have picked up along the way.
I will try to do a sewing basics post once every couple weeks.  If I try and say you will get this kind of a post every Friday I would fail miserably.