Altering a great top

I usually don’t do alterations but it was my daughter so I caved in.  She loved this top at the thrift shop but it was so huge.















We marked where she wanted it to be.


At first I thought I would use some of the fabric I cut off from the side and make sleeve binding but…


The binding was already made so I just used a seam ripper and removed the sleeve binding and then bound it to the new sleeve.




Zipper Pencil Case

2 pieces of fabric for the outside of the bag – 5″ x 11″
2 pieces of fabric for the lining – 5″ x 11″
2 pieces of medium weight fusible interfacing 4.5″ x 10.5″
10 inch piece of 5/8 inch wide ribbon2 pieces of fabric 2″ x 3″
14 inch (or longer) zipper




Place the fusible interfacing on top of the lining, centering it so that there is about 1/4 inch around all sides of the interfacing. Make sure the glue side is facing the fabric. Place a pressing cloth over the top and press hard with high heat on the iron for about 10 seconds overlapping as you press. Use a little steam if you want. Set them aside.

pencilzip002        pencilzip002a

To make your tabs press under on the longer side of the 2″ x 3″ pieces of fabric. Fold the tabs in half and wrap them around the zipper. Make sure you open the zipper a little so you don’t lose the zipper pull. Place the tab on the zipper so that one inch of the tab overlaps the front piece. Stitch across the folded part of the tabs across the zipper.

pencilzip004    pencilzip005

Once you have stitched across the tab, peel back the other end of the tab and cut away the zipper.

pencilzip005b    pencilzip007

Place the lining right side up on the table in front of you. Place the zipper right side up on top of the lining with the top edges even. Place the outside fabric right side DOWN on top of the zipper. All the top edges are even.


Pin with your pins faced so that it will be easy to take them out as you sew.


Move your sewing machine needle all the way to the left as far as it will go. Look underneath to see where the zipper teeth are. Your sewing machine foot will need to run right up against that “ridge” that the zipper teeth form. Now place the top fabric back on top. You can also feel where the ridge is. Just be careful that you don’t accidentally stitch over the zipper teeth. Stitch all the way across the top where you pinned.

pencilzip009    pencilzip010

Fold back the fabric from the zipper and press it away from the zipper. Now you will repeat what you just did with the other two pieces of fabric at the other side of the zipper.

pencilzip011    pencilzip012

Once you press the fabric away from the zipper nice and flat you can topstitch if you want to. Move the needle to the right until it is in the position that you like and top stitch where the zipper is. You might need to move the zipper pull out of the way when you go half way. Cut away the excess tabs on the side of the bag.

pencilzip013      pencilzip014

Cut the ribbon in half so you have 2 pieces that are 5 inches long. Fold each piece in half and place them over the zipper at both sides. Stitch across them to hold them in place.


OPEN THE ZIPPER half way. Place the 2 outside pieces right sides together and 2 lining pieces right sides together.   Stitch across the bottom and top, leaving about 4 inches open in the LINING.


Fold the sides of the lining piece so that the seam (with the opening) is centered on top. Turn it over and do the same thing with the outside fabric piece.

pencilzip017      pencilzip018

This is what it should look like. Everything is layered.


Stitch across all thicknesses at both short ends. Pull out the inside through the opening you left in the lining.

pencilzip020    pencilzip021

Fold in the raw edges of the opening in the lining. Pin and stitch to close it up.  At this point you have a finished bag! Yippee! If you like it flat you can be done but we’re going to do some squared off corners so it stands up.

pencilzip023     pencilzip022

Pinch each corner so that you get a triangle with the side seam running through it. Stitch across the triangle 1/2 inch from the point. If you want a really tall bag you can stitch 1 inch from the point.

pencilzip024    pencilzip025

You’re all done!  Enjoy your pencil case!  By the way…you don’t have to put pencils in it.  Use it for anything!

pencilzip027    SCJuniorNG3







Maxi Skirts ~ so IN right now!

Everyone’s wearing them!  Maxi skirts galore.  I had to make one, or two, or three.  My mantra for clothing…if it feels like pajamas, it’s perfect for my wardrobe!

These are so comfy.  You just throw them on and your done.  They’re so easy to sew too.

I used McCall’s 6966.  This one is for sewing with knits (stretchy fabric) but I also wanted to make one using non-stretchy fabric.  Choose something that is flowy.  It also has a special color block version or you can do it with stripes.  I did that too.

M6966   M6966b








So the main version I wanted to make was the striped one.  Boy, was that hard to layout and cut.  And it takes a lot of fabric.  I used a double sided knit.  It turned out SO HEAVY…so I recommend using a lightweight drapey knit like a rayon or polyester.  I’m not thrilled with it but it’s OK.  It’s just a little too bulky.










The next one I wanted to make was out of a woven rayon which did not stretch.  It has a border print which I thought would look really cool.  When you are working with a pattern meant for stretchy fabric and you are using a non-stretchy fabric you will need to do a couple of adjustments.  First, make sure that the smallest part of the skirt will be able to get over the largest part of your body – usually your hips.  You might need to go up a size or two or three on the pattern to get over your hips.  That’s OK.  Go up to that size for the waist and then gradually blend the pattern back to the original size once you get past the hip area.  I also didn’t like the attached waistband for this pattern so I just did a little sew on elastic right onto the skirt.  If you do that, this skirt can literally be sewn together in 2 seams, elastic, hem, boom!  You’re done!

maxi004Here’s the border print rayon.     And here’s another really pretty rayon I found.maxi003


This is a knit fabric.

This is my favorite.

So comfy, flowy and went together in about 20 minutes.





Here is the elastic tutorial.  You can add it to any waistband.  I add it to pajama pants all the time.  To add it to a skirt or pants that are supposed to have an attached waistband you will need to add a little to the top of the pants/skirt.  I’ll explain.

Decide what size elastic you will be using. If you are using 1 inch wide elastic you will double that width and add that to the top of the pants when you cut them out. In other words, you will be adding 2 inches to the top of your fabric as you cut it out. Use a French curve to draw the line.

elastic002     elastic001

Place the elastic around your waist and pull it tight, the way you would like to wear it. Cut and sew the ends together using a zig zag stitch. Reinforce it by stitching it again. Trim off any excess. Divide the elastic into four equal sections. Mark them.




Do the same thing to the waist. Mark it in quarters. The front and back seams should be marked first since the side seams aren’t exactly 1/4 the distance from the front and back seams. Pin the elastic to the WRONG side of the pants at the quarter marks. The top edges are even.  NOTE:  One important thing to check…stretch the elastic as far as you can.  It should be about equal to the pants or skirt opening.  If the waist opening on the garment is way off one way or the other it will be difficult to sew in.  Ask me how I know!







Stitch with a zig zag stitch along the top edge of the waist with the elastic pulled tight. You are sewing through the elastic and the top of the pants. Pull from the front and back, but not too hard. Pull just enough so that the elastic and waist are matching together. Use your needle down feature if you have one on your sewing machine. Go slow and stop to re-adjust often.











Your first stitching is done.elastic008




Now fold the elastic to the INSIDE of the pants. You will be stitching where the previous stitching was. Pull from the front and back to make the gathers/wrinkles smooth as you sew. Stop and re-adjust often. Go slow…use your needle down feature if you have one.

elastic009    elastic010

Now you’re all done and you have a beautiful elastic waistband! Enjoy!








The $1,000 challenge

Recently I entered a challenge where you find a garment or accessory that retails for over $1,000 and copy it for a lot less.  I found this beautiful blouse:

1000challenge91000challenge3 1000challenge4

I took a basic pattern Simplicity 8523 and used some silk charmeuse and some Chantilly lace.  I cut out the motifs and hand stitched them on.  I used covered snaps for the closures on the sleeves and the back keyhole.

I didn’t win but I think it came out nice.

1000challenge01 1000challenge04

1000challenge03 1000challenge02

Maybe next year!


Zipper Binder Case

When the Boy’s and Girl’s club posted that they needed donations of school supplies for needy children I thought about my American Sewing Guild Neighborhood Group.  We look for community service items to sew.  We feel that we should give back to the community.  These zipper bags are great to fill with supplies!  They fit in any binder when you add the grommets.  Hey…I can do that!

Binder Zipper Case


2 pieces of fabric measuring 10 1/2 inches x 8 inches

1 piece of medium stiffness fusible interfacing 10 1/2 inches x 8 inches

2 pieces of vinyl measuring 2 inches x 10 1/2 inches and 6 inches by 10 1/2 inches

1 package of wide double fold bias binding or ribbon

1 zipper 12 inches long (or more)

3/8 inch metal 2 part grommets


Attach the bias binding to one 10 1/2 inch side of the vinyl pieces.  It’s hard to see the vinyl in the picture.


Attach the zipper to each side of the bound edge of the vinyl. Place your needle in the left position sew with the edge of the foot against the ridge of the zipper. Make sure the zipper pull is out of the way.


Fuse the interfacing onto the back of one of the pieces of fabric. Place the other piece of fabric on top with WRONG sides together.


Place the vinyl piece with zipper attached on top of the 2 fabric pieces and use clips to hold it in place. The vinyl might be a little larger than the fabric piece so you can trim it at this point. You want everything to match up. Trim the excess zipper tape off the ends too. Make sure you open the zipper first so you don’t cut off the zipper pull. Attach the binding on the sides of the bag first. Then attach the binding to the top and bottom of the bag. Fold over the edges on the ends.


Place the bag next to the binder rings and mark where they are on the bag. Using an awl or other sharp tool, pierce each mark and cut a small hole for the grommet.

bindercase009   bindercase010

Practice a grommet on a scrap first to see how it will work. Then attach them to the bag. Squeeze hard!

bindercase011   bindercase012

Optional rounded corners. Use something round to draw a curve on the bottom of the bag. Place the grommets at the top of the bag. This allows you to do one continuous piece of bias binding around the bottom.   I think I like this better.  As you can see, I’m having fun making them!  I used ribbon on either side of the zipper on the owl bag.

bindercase014                                  pencil case

Fill your bag and you’re done!


The Scalloped Border Pillowcase

I saw this great technique for adding a scalloped edge to a pillowcase and I wanted to try it out.  It works beautifully and I have now added scalloped borders to a Valentine table runner and a little girl’s dress too!


Main fabric – 27 inches x width of the fabric (44 or 45 inches)

Border fabric – 11 inches x width of the fabric (44 or 45 inches)

Freezer paper

The fabric you choose may be different widths.  For this project you will need to cut the selvages off of the border piece.

Seam allowances for this project are ½ inch.

Cut a piece of freezer paper that is 4 ½ inches wide and long enough to span your border fabric minus the ½ inch seam allowance.  Don’t forget to cut off your selvage too.


Fold the freezer paper strip in half lengthwise.  Unfold it and fold in the two sides to meet the center crease.  The goal is to create 8 layers of folded freezer paper.


Once you have the lines as a guide on your freezer paper you will accordion fold it (like a fan).  Draw a line

1 ½ inches down from the top of the folded freezer paper.


Using some sort of round object, draw a curved line so that the end of the curve intersects the line on the paper.

The goal is to have a gentle curve so that the ends of the curve do not go below the line on the paper.  This type of scallop would be very difficult to turn to the right side.

scallop007  scallop008  scallop009

Staple around the outside of the curve with 3 staples.  Cut along the line and discard the stapled area.

scallop010  scallop011

Fold the border fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together.  Unfold the freezer paper and center it on top of the folded border fabric with the scallops positioned about ¼ inch from the fold.  Notice NO MATH was needed to figure out where to start and stop the scallops and how many and how big to make them.  This is great!


Stitch along the curved edge carefully.  Shorten your stitch length so that you can sew the curves easily.  Pivot at the end of each scallop.  When you get to the end of the border just continue the curve to the end of the fabric.  Peel off the freezer paper.  Clip to the stitching at each point of the scallops.



Trim the fabric close to the stitching and clip all around the curves – OR – use a pinking shears and then you won’t have to clip all around the curves.  Turn and press well.  Admire your beautiful scalloped edge!

scallop016  scallop017

Now you are ready to make the pillowcase.  You can use the burrito method with the scalloped border.  You just have to be more careful than you would with a flat border.  Open out the edges of your scalloped border and lay it on the table with the right side facing you.  Lay the pillowcase body fabric on top with the right side up and top edges even.  Roll the body fabric up until you are about half way up the border piece.


Fold the other end of the border piece up to meet the top edges.  Pin and stitch across the top.  You have 3 layers of fabric that you are sewing through – the body fabric edge is sandwiched between the two edges of the border fabric.


Pull the inside out and press well.  You did it!  Look at your beautiful scalloped edge!  Now you will sew the sides and bottom of the pillowcase in either a regular seam or a French seam.


Enjoy your scalloped pillowcase!  Now…what will you add scallops to next?

It’s all about the lace!

Lace is everywhere!  You can use a little or a lot, as an accent or the whole garment.

lace inspiration V8817
    Vogue 8817
lace inspiration B6095
Butterick 6095


lace inspiration K3844
Kwik Sew 3844
lace inspiration V8927
Vogue 8927

I will be sharing some lace inspiration and techniques with my American Sewing Guild monthly sewing group so I have been gathering up some lace.  A great excuse to go shopping!

I found a nice green lace and look all over to find a knit to match.  Then I thought maybe it would be pretty with a black under layer.

Definitely nicer with the black!

green lace01   green lace03

I’m going to finish up a blouse with lace in the front panel.  Then I’ll post that one.