Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Full Apron with Pockets Tutorial

Surprise..... Happy Birthday!!! That's what shouted to Tina this past weekend at her surprise birthday party.  Prior to said party, I crafted a really cute pink/grey/yellow apron for her gift.  Here is the tutorial for the apron.  It was really simple to make, so if you're a sewing newbie, this would be a great beginner's project.  You might be like me and practically spend more time picking out the fabric than making the apron itself.

Fabric Needed:
1 yard main fabric
1/2 yard (ish) accent fabric
1 Package Large RicRac

Cut Fabric Pieces
**** Disclaimer: I made this apron by sight & roughly copying the measurements of the starter apron.  Then, I gave the finished product as a gift before I remembered to measure it for this blog.  Oops! So, please use your best judgement and alterations to my measurements below for your apron.  The measurements are a rough guess at best.

Main body: roughly 24 inches wide (at the widest point) & roughly 36 inches long
Neck strap: 27 inches long & 4 inches wide
Side tie straps: 25 inches long & 3 inches wide
Big pocket: 11 inches tall & 19 inches wide
Small pocket: 4 inches tall & 4 inches wide
Top Trim: width of the top of the main body piece plus 1 inch & 2 inches tall
RicRac: Cut pieces as needed to cover the width, plus a little extra for around the edge (photo below shows this better than I explain it)

First, here's my inspiration - a homemade apron that I saw hanging in Melody's kitchen.  Her grandma made it (I think).
The neck strap is not adjustable.  The side ties are adjustable.  The original had a single pocket off to the right side.  You'll see (farther below) that I expanded it to be a full pocket, divided into 2 halves.  Plus I added a small pocket up top just for cuteness' sake.  Remember: Fashion first; function later. :-)

Cut out all pieces using the measurements above (by far the most time consuming and boring part of the process).
Main body: Fold the main body fabric in half length-wise.  That way, when you cut out the shape, it's symetrical. The curved part is about 8 inches tall and  cuts in about 8 inches on each side.  I recommend you measure yourself as you may be much smaller or much larger than I.  Luckily, this is an apron, not a formal gown, so measurements and sizing are not as critical.
Big Pocket: Fold over the top of the big pocket piece about 1/4 inch.  Fold over the sides and bottom about 1/4 also.  Press all.  Then, fold over the top again another 1 inch (at least) - it should be on top of the side fold.  Sew (straight stitch) the top fold only 1/4 inch from the edge of the original fold.

Small Pocket: Fold over the top of the big pocket piece about 1/4 inch.  Fold over the sides and bottom about 1/4 also.  Press all.  Then, fold over the top again another 1/2 inch - it should be on top of the side fold.  Sew (straight stitch) the top fold only 1/4 inch from the edge of the original fold.

RicRac Pocket Detailing: You'll have stitching going across the big & small pockets at this point.  Pin the RicRac to the pocket so it covers said stitch, and fold over the side edges.  Stitch the RicRac in place.
Side Ties: Fold the side tie pieces in half, length wise, right sides togeth.  Press.  Sew (1/4 inch seam allowance) along the long edge and one of the short edges.  Clip the corner. Flip right side out.  Press. Repeat steps for the second side tie.

Neck Strap: Fold the neck strap piece in half, length wise, right sides togeth.  Press.  Sew (1/4 inch seam allowance) along the long edge.  Flip right side out.  Press.
Main Body: Fold over edge of curved sides of the main body piece about 1/4 inch.  Press. Sew in place.
Top of Main Body & Top Edge: Lay main body piece right side DOWN. Lay down the neck tie so that the open short edges line up with the top edge of the main body and the outside edges of the nect stap lines up with the side edges of the main body.  IMPORTANT: Make sure your neck strap isn't twisted wrong.  Lay the top edge piece right side DOWN on top, lining the top edge with the main body piece & neck tie.  Fold the sides of the top edge piece in so the width lines up with the width of the main body piece & outer edges of neck strap.

Flip the top edge piece over the top of the main body piece.  Press the top edge.  Fold under the exposed bottom edge of the top piece.  Press & pin.  Stitch across.
RicRac Detailing: Follow the same steps as above for sewing the RicRac on the top edge piece.
Big Pocket:  Fold the big pocket in half so the fold is vertical.  You should still have the center fold of the main body piece from when you cut it out.  If not, refold the main body piece so there's a center vertical fold.  Align the folds of the main body piece & big pocket.  Pin and sew the two side edges and bottom edge of the pocket. Next, sew a vertical line up the center of the big pocket to divide it into two pockets.
Small Pocket: At this point, you have you neck strap finished and big pocket in place.  I recommend trying on the apron as-is to find a good placement for the small pocket.  Roughly pin in place while wearing the apron. Take it off and adjust your pinned small pocket as needed.  Pin and sew the two side edges and bottom edge of the small pocket. 
Side Ties: On the main body piece, fold over edge about 1/2 inch. Take the unfinished end of the side tie and place it inside the folded side edge.  Then fold the side tie towards the outside so that the fold lines up with the inside edge of the side of the main body.  Sew down the entire side of the main body.  Repeat on the other side of the main body.

Main Body (Bottm Edge): Fold over the bottom edge of the main body piece about 2 inches.  Fold it again.  Sew across (1/4 inch seam allowance).  This will create a thicker/heavier bottom of the apron, which will help it hang better when wearing and moving around in it. 
Voila!!  I chose not to RicRac the bottom, though you can take this simple tutorial and run wild it, adding all the RicRac, bling, and countless pieces of flare as your heart may desire.

All finished and folded pretty ~ time to wrap it up before the birthday party!
So, how was my first attempt at a tutorial?? If I didn't explain something well enough, ask!  I'll make updates and answer as needed.  If you make the apron using this tutorial, please pin/link back to this blog.  Thanks!


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fat Tuesday's Vintage Skirt

My love affair with fat quarters is largely due to how inexpensive they can be; which of course naturally leads me to thrifted fabric. In the case of this skirt not only thrifted but thrifted by someone else and then given to me- i.e. free!
It began with Melody (Monday's girl) finding a darling top sheet at a thrift store and using it to back a quilt (one of my favorite quilts of hers, I'll have to make her share it with y'all). The next weekend found Holly (Thursday's girl) and I marching out of the same thrift store with three or four sheets each. The darling vintage flower print found it's way home with her, under my admiring eye, for a total of 0.95 cents. Where she proceeded to use it to make a purse that she sold at Oktoberfest and a few other little things before deciding that she was tired of working with the same fabric over and over and passed the rest of it on to me- why yes, thank you!

The pattern is a bit of a game of six steps to Kevin Bacon (did you ever play that? You try to connect everything to Kevin Bacon in six steps or less? It's weirdly uncanny how it works). About a year ago I was on a blog that I read frequently (can't remember which one), which led me to another blog, which led me to another blog, which had this darling tutorial for a forties inspired high waisted skirt. I skimmed over the tutorial and liked the skirt so much that I swear I favorited it, (this was way back in the days before pinterest), but I was never able to find it again. It was such a great skirt though that I cobbled together what I could remember of the tutorial and made up my skirt- except that this is not that skirt. This one was inspired by that one. There were a few improvements that I wanted to make to the original to make it faster to pull together and then several of the changes were due to not having quite enough yardage in my gifted half of a sheet.

Have I lost you yet? If you're still here I'll give you a quick rundown on how I made it. And please, please, please if you're interested in using this as a tutorial, feel free, but read thru the whole thing first to make sure you know everything before you cut out your pattern. You may need to adjust here and there to suit your needs (i.e. the length of skirt- I didn't need a hem so my skirt measurement is full length- if you cut that piece according to my measurments and then added a hem you'll be sporting a very full mini skirt and I don't want you to bring back the eighties on account of me).

Below is a quick sketch of the pattern pieces- not the actual pattern to scale so don't try and print it out, you'll be sorely disappointed, but an idea of the shape your pieces should be with measurements that fit my frame so that you can adjust as needed. In skirts I'm roughly a size two, just so you have a starting point for the measurements I'm giving you...

Still following me? You're brave, okay- so first turn on your iron and get that heating. Now haul out your serger (or flip to your zigzag stitch if your house is sans serger) and lets get those exposed edges taken care of. (note: when I give instructions for a piece that there are two of do the same to both pattern pieces).
           Piece #1- serge (or zigzag) side "D", iron along the fold (right sides together of course) and serge sides "C" and "B" together. (You can sew it as well if you like or if you're using a zigzag stitch you'll need to, but the serger alone works fine for me). Turn them right side out and iron them flat. Nice, now you have your two ties.
           Piece #2- Serge all four sides, turn all four sides under (just the width of your serged edge) and iron down to give a nice crisp line starting with the short sides. Now fold in half long ways (wrong sides together) and iron again as sharply as possible.
             Piece #3- Hold it up to your hips and decide where you want your pockets. (A quick note on the pockets- make sure that the wrist edge is wide enough to get your whole hand thru easily- not that I found out the hard way or anything...). Pin your pockets (piece #4) in place (wrong side of pocket to wrong side of skirt) and and serge the wrist edge to the edge of your skirt. I didn't actually pin these, but you could, if you're into that sort of thing. Now serge (or zigzag and sew) your two skirt pieces together above and below your pocket opening to make one long skirt piece.

Whew, still with me? Let's keep going...

          Piece #3- Grab a piece of 1" no-roll elastic and cut it to fit the top of your hips plus 1/2". Mine was 31.5 for reference. Fold the top edge of your fabric over 1.25" and iron down. Don't sew it down yet. A few notes on the hem. I used a sheet and I used the top (4" hem) of the sheet as the bottom of my skirt, which I think turned out nicely. If you happen to not use a sheet you'll need to add extra length (4.25") to piece #3 and add in a hem, now is the time to do that if you need to- go ahead, I'll wait..... Okay, done? Great. Now serge the two ends of your long skirt piece together above and below your other pocket (right sides together of course) to make a circle of skirt. Now you can go ahead and stitch that top fold on your skirt in place so that you have a channel for your elastic. Remember to start at the back of your skirt and not at a side hem and remember to leave about an inch and a half open to fish your elastic thru. Go ahead and fish your elastic thru and sew it together by overlapping it 3/4" and giving it several strong lines of stitching back and forth. Now sew your hole that you fished the elastic thru closed (this is also where you would put in a tag if you want to be all cute like that- I always want to and often forget). I like to catch my elastic here just a tiny bit so the bump of the elastic that was sewn together can't work it's way around to the front. Grab your pocket flaps and serge those right sides together so that you have pockets instead of flaps. Turn your skirt right side out. Set this aside and lets get the waist band going.
          Pieces #1 & #2- Take one of you Piece #1's and sew it down to the folded (remember we folded in just a quarter inch and ironed it?) edge of either side "B" or side "D" of Piece #2. Do the same thing with your other Piece #1 to the opposite side of Piece #2.

Hang in there, we're almost done...

           Now this next part is a bit tricky to explain without photos but I'll give it a whirl for you... take Piece #2 and stitch the wrong side of it to the inside of your skirt waist band with the rest of it above the band. You want Piece #2 to eventually fold over and for the ties to be on the outside of the skirt when it's folded over. Like Piece #2 is an upside down bun and the skirt is a hotdog but I only want you to sew the inside part right now and I want you to sew it very close to the elastic but be careful to not actually catch any of the elastic. And be sure to line this whole thing up so that the middle of Piece #2 is at the middle of the front of the skirt (Piece #3).  Clear as mud? Good. (I should mention here that the waist band is not meant to go all the way around- there should be about 4" of exposed skirt in the back- this is both for ease of putting it on and for aesthetics).
           Last part. Fold your waist band over, (being careful to keep your ironed 1/4" tucked under), and stitch it down to the front of your skirt, again being very careful to not catch your elastic. I stitched it down and then gave it another line of stitching 1/8" lower just to give it a bit of a more professional look. Done!!! Slip on your skirt, (the elastic should move freely and make it very easy to slip on), and either tie a big bow in the back or just give the ties one tie around each other in the back and do a cute little knot in the front.

There you have it folks- my one of a kind, so far from the "can't find it" tutorial of the inspiration skirt that I'm considering it an original design, fifty cent, thrifted vintage skirt. Like it? I do, especially with a bold pair of $5 blue Target tights. Happy Tuesday my lovely sewists. Hope I didn't make your ears bleed too badly with that one. Feel free to put questions in the comments and I'll do my best to help.

Monday, February 27, 2012

unnamed quilt...finished.

Meet ______________.

 I have yet to name her.  She's a surprise gift for a friend, whose husband asked me to "make her a purple quilt....and grey.....king size...."  We later nixed the king size for a throw size that she could still "throw" on to her "king size" bed if she wanted to.

My proudest accomplishment on this one:  four awesome corners.  I've never had all four corners look...well, like corners.  I'm going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for this one!

I had a wonderful lady that I met at a quilting class last year do the quilting on her long-arm quilting machine, and she did it for a great price!  It makes me want to get started on my next quilt!  She has made a loyal customer out of me...look at those awesome flowers/leaves/squiggles...  Love it.

Oh, and my handsome husband is already testing out its comfy rating before we give it to the recipient. Verdict:  8.5 out of 10.  And that's pre-washing!  

Here's the big picture of the quilt, where you can see the pattern.  I used the Seville pattern  by one of my favorite quilter/bloggers, Cluck Cluck Sew.

Any suggestions on names?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sneak Peek

So Monday was a holiday and I was given a few child free hours by my awesome husband to sew with no interruptions. I was getting tired of sewing the tumblers together for my scrap quilt so I pulled out my cut pieces for my king size bed quilt. I put on pandora to a little 90's/early 2000's mix and got to sewing. Also because is was a Monday sewing night I got a few more hours in the evening and to my delight I was able to finish my quilt one day!

Here is a sneak peek, I don't want to show the finished product until I quilt it.

I was super happy with how the colors turned out together. I really love the center blue which is actually the main color of the quilt which you will see later on.

Besides that we have been enjoying the wonderful 80 degree San Diego weather this week and yesterday we decided it was a perfect day to dig in the dirt.

See you next week!!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Happy Day-After-Fat-Tuesday aka the start of Lent aka 40 days til Easter! Whoa, time flies.

Last week, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I had Presidents Day off from work.  So, I took full advantage of that 3 day weekend opportunity to sew, and finish my projects I had been lagging on finishing lately.  Are any of you like me?  Here's how I go...  1. Get excited for a new piece of fabric or a new project started. 2.  After putting in significant time on said project, lose interest and/or get stuck on a difficult step in the process. 3.  Find another exciting new piece of fabric and/or project to start.  4.  Oops, now I have multiple almost-done projects that I just can't get motivated to finish.  Just me or can you relate?

Well here are some updates and final products that I kicked in gear this past holiday weekend.

The thread board that my honey designed and made for me.  OK, actually, HE finished the project.  I really had no hand in it and can take NO credit.  Great job babe!!!.  He painted it a vibrant turquoise color.  Now I just need to buy more thread to fill all the available places for the spools!

The Christmas (yes, that's right CHRISTMAS) dish towels that I hadn't finished yet for my Grandmother.  I had finished one for her by Christmas, and wrote an IOU note for the rest.  I bought the dishtowels at Target, and sewed in 2 strips of matching Christmas fabric on each.  My beverage of choice that easy-going afternoon was a delish brown ale, Newcastle.  Yum.

Here's the progression of the birthday tote bag that I started on a Sew-Day with my girlfriend, Catherine a while back.  It is a good Spring time bag - big & sturdy, definitely able to hold the kids' towels and toys for a beach adventure day.  I found the blog with the tutorial via my friend via TipNut (Tote Bag Tutorial).  Here's the free tutorial and PDF pattern, should you want to make this cute and useful bag.  Be forewarned - if you're not a quilter (which I'm not), be aware that the bag calls for a significant amount of binding, which can be difficult and time consuming.  Overall, the bag turned out really well, and I'm glad I made it.

There are a bunch of steps in the process that I forgot to capture on my camera - oops!

These two are of Catherine's bag in progress.  She and I made the same bag.  I love her color and pattern choices!

Happy days to all!

Cheers ~ Nina

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The humble beginnings of Fat Tuesday

 So, waaaay back two yearsish ago, our beloved nanny, Ledah, decided to go and graduate college and get married. I know right? Uncalled for- we miss her terribly, still. Her husband is lovely though and I suppose everyone has to grow up sometime... She told me about her engagement by way of asking if she could have the kids (just Squeaker and Odie, who were barely four and two at the time. Missy was just a large bump on me) in her wedding. Yes!! Yes, you may!  Now what to wear? My first thought was tutu and when she called and said "well, I know it's unconventional, but what about something in the tutu sort of genre?" I knew I was going in the right direction. Except that we couldn't find anything in ivory- only white. Her dress was decidedly ivory with touches of a darker coffee with cream color- white just wouldn't do. So I opened my big mouth and offered to make it... What was I thinking? I didn't sew! My machine was given to me by my grandma (another story for another time) and was circa 1950's. Plus it had serious bobbin issues... Hmmm... Well I was committed, so I borrow my neighbors sewing machine and set off to find a base shirt to work with.
(the dress)

Baby Gap tank in the clearance section- score!  I bought a lightly patterned quarter yard of ivory cotton to be the under skirt, a yard each of ivory and shimmery ivory tulle, and a quarter yard of white jersey knit for the sleeves. 

(Odie 2, Squeaker just barely 4- both mine)

I started with the sleeves. All I could find was white jersey (this was way back before I knew where to look) but my mother in law had the great idea to tea dye them- which worked wonderfully and gave it a lovely vintagey look where the dye gathered at the edges of the fabric and made it darker, so cute. (I will warn you though that when I washed it-,(thankfully I had the good sense not to wash it before the wedding), the tea DID wash out and I was left with white ruffles like you see in the top photo; so beware). I cut three half moon shapes of varying sizes for each sleeve and gathered one edge and then just stitched them on in progressively smaller sizes one on top the other. 

 (Miss Odie on the swing that Mr Handsome made for photos of the bride, adorbs, I know)

The under skirt when on fairly easy, I just gave it a quick gathering stitch and then basted it directly to the bottom of the shirt. Same thing for the tulle. I cut it into strips about eight inches wide and sixteen inches long and folded it over to make an offset square. Then I gave it a gathering stitch on the fold and sewed it to the skirt alternating shimmery tulle and matte every other one. This is where things got hairy. All was well but it was getting later and later and I guess I was getting tired because I ended up catching a bit of the shirt in the stitching I was doing for the skirt. Oh horrors- I picked it out as carefully as I could, (my MIL was in town and she helped- but I was using very tiny stitches and even with the patience of both of us...well), but it was no use- there were holes in the shirt and still a bit of shirt tucked up in the skirt that refused to yield to my seam ripper...sad. Off I went to Baby Gap with my fingers crossed and a prayer in my throat. Yes! They had one more on the rack in her size, hurray! Home again home again jiggity jig. I just snipped off the skirt whole and sewed it on the next shirt. Probably not the most professional method but it looked fine and I was not starting all over again...
(Mr Handsome and one of his three favorite girls)

Lastly I stitched on a few rolled flowers at the waist, some dyed, some not, and called it good. The bride LOVED it- which is all the matters- and Miss Odie looked precious all day long. Even when she sat down at the end of the isle and bawled and refused to go down it even with Squeakers encouragement and I had to carry her down and got to be in the wedding for several impromptu seconds huge belly and all- even then she looked adorable. 


This last photo clearly has nothing to do with the dress, but aren't they the sweetest? I could just eat them with a spoon, to say nothing of that cake and our dearest Ledah's fantastic taste in flowers...

And that my friends, was my first "real" foray into sewing...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

projects in the works v. 1

a quilt for my brother
greens, yellows, blues  - using fat quarters and a few cuts of yardage from good ol' JoAnn's.

a quilt for one of my boys - inspired by his grandpa, and two of his great grandpas who were pilots.
using Paper Dolls Around the World fabric, designed by Blue Hill Fabrics 

fabric notecards
inspired by scrap fabric, my love of stationery, and Sergio Mendez, my "beloved" serger.

I will keep you updated on my progress!  And I can't wait to show you a quilt I made for a friend, commissioned by her husband (so sweet) on a surprise basis (I love surprises!).  I'm getting it back from the long-arm quilting lady I use on Tuesday...can't wait!

I'll give you a little teaser...

Check back next Monday, my friends.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sewing For Boys

It's no secret to my friends and family that I would like a girl this time round. Boys are great, and I love the two I have, but let's be honest with each other for a moment.. girls clothes are way cuter than boy clothes. That is really my only reason, so you can tell I won't be too heart broken if it is another boy.

Having two little boys and being sewing mates with Melody who also has two little boys, and Miranda who has one, we have found some fun, easy things to make for boys. There are a lot blogs out there with great ideas and here are a couple of my go to favorites for my boys and gifts for other little boys I know.

You can't go wrong with a business casual look for your little man. This tie shirt pattern/tutorial can be found on tons of websites but I got mine here. It is originally sized for a onesie but is easily transferable to toddler and little boy sizes just by enlarging and elongating the pattern. I got these shirts on clearance for $1.50 at Target and typically I use scrap fabric.

Pair it with matching pants, pattern from MADE, and you have a great outfit. I have gotten several comments on these cute hounds tooth pants I made for my little one's birthday. Although Dana from MADE must have skinny kids because I did have to add to the width of the pattern in order for the 2t/3t size to fit my 2 year old. But that's the beauty of making things more than once.. you get to prefect it and make it yours!

Well see you next week. Hopefully I will have some piecing work done on my quilt to show you, but in the mean time I need to figure out how to take better pictures of my stuff!!