Wednesday, March 22, 2017


Work Friend: You didn't make your own leggings, did you?

Me: Of course I did!

I used Stretch & Sew 313, which is barely even vintage, in my opinion, since I was 14 in 1993, but I digress. 

Which means that I remember stirrup pants and I still hate them, so I made my leggings/tights stirrup-free but pretty long. 

I found a fabric at JoAnn's that is pretty heavy, has amazing recovery and was marked "workout to weekend." The pattern uses a cut-on elastic waistband, where you stitch the elastic to the inside of the tights, then turn it down and topstitch it in place. 

I used a tip that I read in one of the Stretch & Sew books for this - instead of pinning the elastic in place before you topstitch, just baste it down at the center and back seams (and side seams, if your garment has them). Then, you don't have to try to pull pins out as you're stretching your elastic to fit. 

Ann Person was on record as hating the look of zig-zag stitches on the outside of the garment, but I see this A LOT in activewear, so when my coverstitch refused to cover the super-thick elastic plus two layers of fabric, I just used a fairly wide zig-zag to topstitch. 

I hemmed the legs using the coverstitch, though. The leg and crotch seams were serged, with an extra line of straight-stitching inside the seam allowance of the crotch seam. 

It really is a fast pattern to put together, since it only has the two inside leg seams, the crotch seam and the waistband. 

And, yes, leggings aren't pants. But, they aren't supposed to be. If you really want to complain about this "new" fashion, it's been growing on us, as a society, for about 900 years. They're just more comfortable now that we have spandex.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Plain Black Skirt

Gym selfie, again. I know. 

This is Stretch & Sew 445, shortened quite a bit because I am short and I wanted it to hit around my knee and not mid-calf. It's a real workhorse pattern. There's probably a way to make the encased elastic waistband less bulky, but it doesn't bother me the way it is.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Old Rotary Cutter

One of my favorite sewing tips - use an old rotary cutter to cut out your patterns! I love tracing patterns, but I always kind of hated cutting them out with scissors. This is faster and also lets you see which areas might be a little tricky to cut without the help of shears. Nice! Thanks, Beverly Johnson!

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To

Proof. On the left, a sewing ham that smells like a 1970s basement. On the right, one that I bought online last year. The first one could seriously be used as a club. It weighs a ton! Bonus background cat.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Flannel Pillow Cases

I picked up about 2 yards of this awesome black and white flannel at SR Harris and knew I wanted to make pillowcases out of it. Pretty easy. I measured the existing pillowcases I had, then kind of copied them in the new fabric. I serged all of the seams and did a topstitched hem.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Fabric Glue Stick For Basting Fleece

I read this in Making Trousers for Men and Women some time ago:

"Whenever I mention glue in a sewing workshop or class, everybody laughs, as if I’m cheating or something. Apparently, the word hasn’t yet gotten out: Adhesives are a sewer’s best friend! They’re the tiny fingers you don’t have and the invisible pins that don’t ever need to come out. Admittedly, I’m quite restrained here. I use only a water-soluble glue stick and, recently, a neat ultra-fine fusible basting tape —so far, no spray adhesives or glue guns—but, really, you have to try these things!

Three quick glue-stick tips: Don’t use more than you need, which is usually very little...Don’t use the glue if it’s dried out and shrunken in the tube. (You can often resuscitate a shriveled glue stick by spraying some water into the tube cover, snapping it on tight, and letting it sit overnight—but this stuff is cheap, so get a new tube now and again.)"

On the strength of that recommendation, I bought one, and haven't used it until I was thinking about how to baste the hems for more pussyhats. I thought, why not? If I waste one hat, I'll have at least learned something. 

I'm happy to report that the glue stick worked really well on fleece! I had no trouble with my hems wandering around on me. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Pussyhats From Shorter Pieces of Fleece

I'm basing these projects on this version of the fleece pussyhat. I was really happy with my results, but since I bought a yard (36 inches) of fabric, and the pieces for the hats are designed to be 20 inches long, that left me with a weird strip of leftover fabric, about 60 inches wide and 15 inches long. I always seem to lose at least an inch of fabric to the piece not being completely square, or because I sometimes cut too deep as I'm cutting, and I'm ok with that.

But I'm not really ok with that much waste. Anti-pill fleece isn't expensive, but it is 100% polyester, which doesn't biodegrade, and while it's not like I'm composting my cotton scraps, it bothers me a bit whenever I waste anything, but especially a synthetic fabric. 

I thought I'd try making a version of the hat with a cuff. I tried one where I only cut 11" pieces for the main part of the hat, and it came out really small, so I'm going to go ahead and suggest that 12" might be better. Test for yourself. The original pattern doesn't specify a seam allowance, so maybe she was working at a quarter inch, while I prefer a half inch, and that would make her finished hat an inch larger around than mine, which is quite a difference when it comes to hats. 

There's another reason to check your sizing before you cut out as many of these as possible - the cuffed edge seems to make the hat fit a little more snugly than the turned-and-stitched hem. That could be because of something I'm doing wrong, or it could be inherently less stretchy. I'm not sure. There are two lines of stitching instead of one, and maybe that is enough to make a difference.

This is how I did it. Cut one piece of fleece that is 12 inches wide and 15 inches long. This is the main hat. Cut another piece of fleece that is 23 inches wide and 4 inches long. This is for the cuff.

Once you have your sizing figured out, you can cut several hats at once from your theoretical scrap above: cut one piece that is 23 inches wide and then cut three 4-inch-long pieces from that. That leaves you with a piece that can be cut into 3 pieces for the main parts of hats. If your fleece turns out to be 59 inches wide when you trim the selvedges, you can always cheat a little bit and cut the main hats at, say, 11 and a half inches, then work with a smaller seam allowance. Or make two hats that are the size you want and a third that's a bit smaller, that may fit a child. You'll have to adjust the seam allowance for the cuff on the smaller hat, so that it will still fit nicely together.

Sew the side seams of the hats and sew the ends of the cuffs together so that they form a circle. Fold the cuffs, wrong sides together.


Pin or clip the cuffs to the hats, right sides together, lining up all raw edges with each other. Stitch with a half-inch seam. This makes for a really bulky seam, with three layers of fleece together, so go slowly and consider using a walking foot, if you have one. I don't have a free arm on my sewing machine, so I like to stitch anything to do with the hem or cuff from the inside of the work, as in this example and this one. You can serge this edge, too, but I would baste it on the sewing machine first, because it's so much bulk.

Flip the cuff down and look at which two seam allowances will be covered by the third one when the hat is worn. Trim the two that will be covered, to reduce bulk at the seam. Topstitch the cuff in place, using a stitch that stretches, like a zigzag or a three-step zigzag, if you feel fancy. Finish the "ears" of the hat by topstitching with a straight stitch.

To be honest, I like this method of construction more for two reasons - it uses up smaller bits of fabric and it's easier to make the bottom edge look really good. I struggled a bit with keeping the hem even on my other hats. I did my best, but I can see that they're not perfectly level. It's much easier to do this way, in my opinion. I know that some people use spray adhesive to stick their fleece hems in place before stitching, but I don't have any! Maybe someday, I'll try it.

I know I'm repeating myself, but when you are finished, clean your machine, even if you don't usually clean up after every project. Fleece tends to shed a bit and it can gum up your machine worse than most other fabrics.

More ideas for fleece scraps:

- piece them together and make a pet bed. Even if you don't have a pet, most shelters will accept beds/ blankets for their animals. Check with your local shelter before you sew!

- cut them into smaller strips/pieces and use them to stuff everything from pet beds to dolls.

- find a pattern that doesn't take a lot of yardage. Mittens and hats, especially for kids, are often really low-yardage. Again, just because you don't have a kid doesn't mean you can't sew for them. Check with a local charity to see what's needed.

- stuff them into a bag and feel guilty. This is my most common response to scraps, but it's not very fulfilling.