Archive for the ‘DIY tips & tutorials’ Category

fabric wrapped presents // four

December 15th, 2014

You guys! This is the fourth year that we have wrapped our Christmas presents in fabric! I am SO excited! When i started doing this i really hoped that it would be something we could continue each year, and i’m just thrilled that it’s worked so well! In four years we haven’t bought any wrapping paper! YAY! Now if only i could reduce the amount of waste packaging in the presents themselves i would be a really happy girl (sigh).

If you’d like to try this yourself, click through for all the info, tips and tricks you’ll need to know!


how to measure yourself

December 6th, 2014

This is one of those things that seems really obvious when you’ve been sewing for a while, but is a question i get from beginners all of the time, so i figure its worth a mention!

When making yourself a garment there are a few basic measurements you’ll need, and it’s important to get them right:

BUST // The measurement around the fullest part of your bust. Ensure that the tape measure is level with the ground and flat, don’t pull too tightly and ensure that you are wearing the bra you will wear when your garment is completed. Keep in mind that the bra you wear can greatly impact not only your bust measurement but also the fit of your garment.

WAIST // Measure around the narrowest part of your midsection. Again ensure that the tape measure is level and flat, and please for goodness sake don’t “suck it in” you will not be doing yourself any favours. Breath normally and relax. Note that where your natural waist sits can be vary for different body shapes, but it is generally above your bellybutton.

HIP// This is different to your anatomical hip, when we talk about hip in garment making we are talking about the widest part of your lower body. This may be closer to being around your bottom, or upper thigh. As a trick try shifting the tape measure up and down a bit until you find your widest part.

These are the basics that you will find in size charts on sewing patterns, and are generally pretty easy to measure on your own. You may find that you sit in different sizes for each section, and that’s okay! Simply cut the size that is appropriate for each section and grade between them on the pattern. Personally i am a M bust, S waist and M hip, so i alter patterns accordingly cutting a M in the bust, grading down to a small in the waist and back out to a M in the hip.

UPPER BUST // I just want to mention upper bust quickly as there has been a lot of discussion about upper bust in sewing blogs, and personally, i think this measurement gets misused quite often. The upper bust is the measurement just above your bust, you take a tape measure around your back inline with your bust, then tilt it upwards around the front of your body so that it sits above your bust point. This measurement is useful for those who have large cup sizes, as most patterns are drafted for B or C cups. It simulates the measurement you would have if you had a small cup size. You would then use this measurement in place of the bust measurement, and then do a full bust adjustment on your pattern. Thus ensuring that the pattern fits appropriately across your shoulders. Unfortunately I see this measurement get misused all the time, and there is a trend of thought going around at the moment that you should use this measurement in place of your bust all the time. This is not true. Patterns are generally not drafted using the upper bust measurement – mine certainly are not – so if you use this measurement in place of bust when you don’t need to, you will always end up with garments that are too tight. So please be careful.

HEIGHT // Obviously you need to take height into consideration, though you’re probably never going to use your complete height in sewing. I am not particularly tall at 165cm /5’5″ so i always need to adjust hemlines on myself. My fit model is taller than me, and all my patterns are drafted for around a height of  172cm/5’8″, though in some patterns like the Virginia leggings i provide a tall height and petite height to cover those on either side of that spectrum. Keep in mind the height that patterns are drafted for, and adjust accordingly.

SKIRT LENGTH // This obviously isn’t really a body measurement per se, but i think it’s important to keep in mind your preferred skirt lengths so that you can easily adjust patterns and choose patterns appropriately. This is hard to measure alone, so either get some help, or measure a favourite skirt or dress hem, or stand in front of a mirror and hang your tap measure down until you reach your preferred length. Most pattern companies will provide finished garment measurements for their styles, and  you should pay attention to these. If you note the finished lengths and compare to your preferences before you begin sewing, you will never be surprised with how things turn out.

Id say these are the most basic measurements you should keep in mind when sewing – obviously if you get serious about your sewing you may want a more custom fit, in which case you can take as many minute measurements of every part of your body as you’d find useful hehehe

Did i miss anything? Any questions or thoughts to add?

Tutorial // How to lengthen a hem with lace

December 3rd, 2014

photography by Sabatomic

I’m not sure if you remember, but last year i posted about one of the first Tania culottes samples i made and how they were way way way too short. The only way i got away with wearing that sample was in winter with tights. Thats just sad. They needed to be fixed and i had a plan. Which i took a year to implement hehehehe.

My usual preferences for lengthening a too short skirt or dress are to let the hem out, or add a band of the same fabric or similar. Letting the hem out doesn’t work when your hem is only 1/4″ wide, and adding a band doesn’t work when there is a curve this steep, and a pattern to match, so i had to come up with a new plan. LACE!

I really love this solution because it adds a cool detail to the culottes, without them looking like they were repaired.  you know what i mean right?! Obviously they are still short, but those extra 2 inches mean that now they are wearable, and that’s a game changer.


The two seam dress revisited

November 25th, 2014

I’ve had a lot of questions about what the two seam dress i posted at the beginning of the year looks like unbelted. So now that I am no longer sporting a baby bump, i thought it was time to revisit it!

I used the exact same method as i share in the two seam dress tutorial except that this one is tunic length, and is made with a fabric with very little sretch. You can see that it has much less drape than the original. The neckline is also higher, as many of you have asked what it would look like with a higher neckline :)

I knocked this one up in about 10 minutes before church one morning – so i promise its a super easy sew! if you haven’t made one yet, head on over to the tutorial!

photography by Sabatomic

[make this look]

Tunic: Megan Nielsen two seam dress // Tutorial here
Leggings: Megan Nielsen // Virginia leggings sewing pattern
Boots: Zomp
Necklace: Merl Kinzie // Clydes Rebirth 

ideas for disposing of old needles and pins

November 22nd, 2014

I’m always really terrified of hurting someone when i throw out my old needles and pins, so i end up wrapping everything up in many layers of packing tape and then throwing in the trash. It’s not a perfect solution, and i don’t like that its not eco friendly.

So this week on Instagram i asked the question of how other people dispose of their old needles and pins, and there were so many awesome ideas that i thought it would be great to share them with you here! So without further ado, here are some awesome ideas for how to dispose of your old pins and needles

  • Wrap them up in piles of tape (I”m not the only one! hehehe partners in crime Jen, Elena, and Helene)
  • Place them in your local sharps bin (thanks to Judy and Charlotte for this fantastic idea)
  • Stick them in a cork before throwing in the trash (thanks to Sylvie for this one)
  • Take an old needle packet, write “OLD” on the front and put all your old needles in. When it’s full, tape it closed and throw away. ( idea from Measure Twice, Marilla, Kathy and Edna)
  • Put them in an old pill container (Thanks Issy, Kate, Misty)
  • Put them into an old spice jar (Thanks Issy)
  • Put them into an old tic tac container (via Janomegnome)
  • Put them in an old film container (thanks for the idea Claire)
  • Place in a mason jar labelled “sharps” and empty into recycling when full (thanks Amanda)
  • And my favourite idea, put them in an old metal mints tin, the whole thing can be thrown into the recycling (idea by Kerry)
*update* I didn’t realise this but apparently in some places recycling is hand sorted, and sharp objects are no allowed in recycling, so it’s definitely worth checking the rules where you live before you throw anything loosely into the recycling or trash bin.
Apologies if i left anyone out, SO many good ideas!! So did we miss any?? Do you have any great tips for how to dispose of old needles and pins?

Tutorial // How to pattern match with ruching and gathers

October 28th, 2014

A question i get a lot is how to pattern match designs with ruching and gathers (specifically for my Ruched Maternity skirt and Ruched Maternity tshirt). I know everyone wants their stripes to be matched perfectly all the time, but when it comes to these designs the ruching is not symmetric, so perfection in pattern matching just isn’t possible. Sorry.

You can get close though :)

The same is true for any seam that includes gathers, you can pattern match seams that are equal distances, but once you hit those gathers, everything is going to be off kilter.

So if you want to sew a ruched maternity skirt in stripes like i did when i was pregnant and have them nicely matched up at the side seams, you can only do so up to a point.

Here’s what you do: start from the hemline and go up! When you hit the ruching notches stop trying to pattern match and instead go with the flow. Once the ruching is completed, the ruched sections will be all gathered and the pattern mismatch won’t matter, but everything below it will be nice and straight! It’s that easy :)