Bags for ABQ & AUS

Seeing the massive crafting efforts for our neighbors in the Southern Hemisphere ignited a spark in me to figure out a way to participate.  I found many instructions for the various types of animal pouches on line, and they were a little overwhelming . So when our school director decided on a school service project, I opted to organize something I was already familiar with.

Re-enter the Boomerang bag.  A trend started in Australia of up cycling fabrics that might otherwise find their way to the landfill, then distributing these to library patrons and encouraging them to bring the bags back with their books for reuse.  I adore that the design is fabric efficient.  Two bags from one yard of fabric, and no waste!

To incorporate this service project into the art class I teach weekly, we shopped local and purchased 10 different prints of fabrics designed by aboriginal artists.

There is quite a bit of prep work before any sewing can happen, and this is how I did it.

With one yard fabric that is 44 inches wide, folded like it is from the shops, cut a seven inch strip parallel to the fold.  From this strip, cross cut an 8 inch piece, then cut this on the fold and you have two 7 x 8 inch pockets.

Fold down 1/4 inch and one inch again and press.  Below, I made one pocket “portrait” and the other “landscape”.  Stitch across both of the folded edges of that one inch to hem the upper edge of your pocket.  After that fold in the other three sides of the pocket 1/4 inch and press.

Fold under the short ends of the larger pieces you have left by 1/4 and again by 1 inch and press.  Set these aside till later.

For the straps, take the remaining 28 x 14 inch piece of fabric and cut it into four 3.5 x 28 inch strips.  These will be your straps.  8CE33159-9A5D-44A9-8E8A-91E0C407890A

Fold each strap in half lengthwise and press to crease. Open that, the fold the raw edges to almost center, press, then fold that in half to form your strap and press again.  Sew the open edge of your strap closed, 1/8 inch away from the edge.  Do the same with the other side.  My Bernina has a #20 foot that is perfect for this!


Pin your pocket on the inside or outside of your bag where you would like it.  I like mine centered and about four inches down from the raw edge of the body of the bag.  With the hemmed edge of the pocket pointing up, sew around all three edges, making sure to reinforce the top edges of the stitching with a short parallel row, so that your pocket is secure.

Each of your bag bodies will have one selvage edge.  Clean finish the other edge.  In the photo below, I used a narrow zig zag stitch.


Next stitch the side seams.  Once those are done, square off the corners of the bag, making marks that create a square from the sewn or folded edge.  The handy tool here is a needle case that is 1.75 inches square.  01002685-1144-4A89-87CB-98467C9D8356

From here, we will box our corners.  With one hand in the bag, open it up, so that all you see is a diagonal line across the corner.  The seam line will match up with the folded edge.  Keep the seam open and stitch across this corner along the lines you have drawn. Do this on both bottom corners of your bag.   D5520D87-26A4-4704-806C-B5AD23314F9B

Mark strap placement.  From the seam line, mark a spot five inches into the bag from each seam on both sides of the bag.  This is where we will insert our straps.


Here, I centered the strap on top of that 5 inch mark and snuggled the raw end up to the inside fold of the top of the bag.  Without twisting the strap bring the other end of the strap up to the other 5 inch mark.


Clip your straps in place, and stitch around the folded edge to secure it down and encase the ends of the straps in your hem.


I like to enclose a 6 inch strip of elastic in the upper hem of the bag across from the pocket.  It enables me to roll up the bag and secure it with the band for storage.


When you have completely circled the bag with a row of stitching to secure the loose end of your hem, bring the straps up out of the bag, and sew the top edge of the bag, including those straps.  You may want to back tack over the straps to secure them further.


I enjoyed sewing these bags with the students at school.  We sold them and have been able to raise $275.00 for the World Wildlife Fund, where we studied about the food drops to the affected areas of Australia.  Thankful to the families that supported this service project, and hope they remember to use their bags here in Albuquerque to reduce the plastic bag issues we have here.

Thank you to Liz at Nob Hill Fabrics, for carrying the aboriginal designed prints.  I feel a special kinship with them.  Also thank you for providing me a space to teach.  $200 in class fees from the bag class held January 25th was donated to help Wildlife Victoria.

My goal was to raise $500 total from both efforts, and we very nearly got there!



Rice Bags Made Easy

D67C67FB-F50B-4274-9961-2C09DBD09D5CWe have made a variation of these for years.  They are popular gifts, and when we saw extended family recently, there was much praise over Aunt Joan’s rice bag.  Hints about needing more were not missed.  The next generation has moved out on their own and needed more.

I had gotten pretty fancy and used coordinating fat quarters, stitched multiple channels and had gifted numerous 20 x 17 inch mini weighted blankets that after a few moments in the microwave provided instant bliss to the wearer.  In winter, I like to heat mine and tuck it under the covers like a hot water bottle, so my feet are bathed in sauna type heat when I climb into bed.

My niece keeps hers in a zip lock in the freezer and uses as a wrap for sports injuries.

The sewing teacher in me saw an opportunity.  We needed a work party!

The Friday after Christmas, we gathered at my daughters house.  She had received a serger and was anxious to use it. Coffee and tea and cousins were involved and everyone brought rice.

We made enough sixteen channeled 20″ x 20″ bags for everyone to take one home.

Then I heard a request for a knee wrap that is long and skinny and so and so would love one, my friend expecting her first baby needs this…

So we streamlined the process, and made more till we used all the rice.

My daughter was so excited, she ran out and bought more supplies, and as the professional photographer, took photos of the process, which I am pleased to share with you here.

  1.  Gather your supplies:  100% cotton fabric with a tight weave.  Non metallic please.  Quilting cotton works great.  Rice – Costco size is great- we used brown rice too.  Some people use feed corn (not pop corn).   Cotton thread!  Not sure how poly thread does in the microwave.  The biggest bowl you can get your hands on, a scoop or measuring cup, a funnel with a wide mouth is awesome- canning funnels work as do some automotive, as long as the rice can flow freely through the small end.  Alternatively, a card stock funnel could be helpful.  Optional bay leaves and whole spices or herbs like pepper, peppermint, lavender, etc.  A sewing machine, and standard tools.

2.  Cut your fabric.  We decided a 6 inch wide cut with 3/8 inch seams would work.  This was cut across the width of the fabric. In our work party, we were pressed for space, so I clipped the selvage edges at 6.5 inches and tore strips.  Either works!

CBAC2FB8-3E08-401B-8BA9-81CB49AE56B7I spy a familiar table sheet.  After she saw mine, my daughter requested one.

3.  Press down the short edges the width of the selvage.

This will give you a nice edge to work with and stitch closed at the end.  At our work party, we basted this edge so it would stay put.  Basting is a very cool step that saves ripping later.  It is also excellent sewing practice for new sewists.

3.  Stitch the side seams.  Sew with rights sides together.

2CFD59F9-135D-4E6B-A197-BB6228C6706BA straight stitch works fine.  Ms.  “must use my new serger” really enjoyed this part.  Tip- start from the open edges after you have positioned them as even as you can get them.  Back stitch at both ends or tuck in those serger tails.  Sew both sides.  A half inch seam allowance is great here!

4.  Turn your bag right side out and press. Use a chopstick to poke out those corners.

Tip- press the edges and narrowly top stitch around the three sewn edges to reinforce those seams and add spillage protection.



5.  Press well, and hot dog fold to get a crease lengthwise down the center.

6.  Starting at the open end with the edges as closely matched as you can muster, stitch along the crease.
7.  Press creases for the future horizontal seams.  We decided that dividing in thirds worked better than half, as it leaves a pocket of hot rice at the back of your neck as well as the sides.

You can also mark these with a friXion pen, chalk, or #2 pencil.  Stay away from water erasable markers.  We want to keep that rice dry.

8.  You are now ready to fill the first chambers with rice!  Get out the Big Purple bowl!
09A6537F-CF72-4EA2-BA73-FA6FD024B99DSorry I did not leave a funnel for her to use.  This might be the cap to laundry detergent.  Use what you have!

The idea is to fill both chambers evenly.  A good guide is to fill to the point halfway between markings. A57B793C-AFC0-4369-A392-97FAEFD5F5AB9.  You can pin across the bag just above the level of the rice to help hold it in place while you stitch across that first marked line.  Safety pins are nice.    Or skip the pins with only two chambers.  For the bigger bags, you will want pins to keep rice from spilling.
10.  Do the same for the next two sets of chambers, keeping your amounts/ levels of rice even.  Be sure to add a bay leaf, before you sew that last opening closed.  They keep bugs at bay.

When heating your rice bag, start with 30 second increments, as volume of rice, wattage of microwaves can vary.  For this size, 2-3 minutes will be good.  Whatever you do, do not overheat, or get this item wet.  Once your rice bag is no longer useful, accidental trip through the washer, cat got to it, etc,  I would add it to the compost.

Like a quilt, mark the date on your rice bag.  It will give you a chuckle down the road.
B1C56F2D-E179-4E45-A099-47129CC7DAA8                                                            ***Warm wishes 2002***
Below is a collection of our vintage bags.
Some are 4 x 6 grids the pepper bag, reverse side of above is a 5×5 grid made from fat quarters.  I used 1/4 cup of rice in each chamber with a 24-25 chamber bag, about 6 cups of rice.  With the 15 chamber bags (4 x 4 grid) we used 1/3 cup rice in each chamber (5.33 cups total)  One cup of the rice we used weighed 8 ounces.  So with a little math you can plan your rice needs.  These weigh 2-3 pounds.

B198E6B9-0207-4D98-A2FA-E157D9E0D6D1This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission from the seller if you purchase an item with them.  Thank you.

Warm Wishes to you in 2020, and happy sewing!  Joan


Blanket sleeper tweaks Jalie 3244

This brings back so many fond memories of my babies in blanket sleepers. Cool nights and blanket sleepers go together like tea and crumpets!7747B0A7-824A-4DDB-A51C-1972DF68C463My oldest mentioned she was having a hard time finding the footed version for her baby.  Baby is not yet crawling. Once she is standing there will be appliqués of gripper fabric on the soles of these.

Grandma to the rescue!

I started with Jalie 3244.  Love the extended sizing in this pattern line.  Maybe next year the adults will all get one!

I made a first version in red that was perfect for holiday wear.  Took photos as I put this together yesterday morning.

In order to extend the zipper to the ankle, I extended the back inside leg from crotch to hem by one inch, and took one inch off the width of the front inside leg also from crotch to hem.  This is for a 12 month size.  A larger size may need a proportionally larger adjustment.

I serged the center back seam, and top stitched that.  Then serged the inside leg of one front to one back, and top stitched that. The top stitching makes the seam lay flat against the inside of the garment and not bug baby.

Three parts sewn together look like this:


Next, I clipped/pinned a 22 inch long zipper right sides together to the single remaining leg/body piece. A longer zip will be needed for larger sizes.
2859EEA6-F91F-4124-81DF-507A5A7A6FFA Using my quilting foot, since my zipper foot was no where in sight, stitched the zipper along the long side of the center front/leg. Flipped the zip over and top stitched.

Next, I matched up the notches of the front piece with the zip to the three pieces sewn previously.  Right sides together stitched the zip to that assembly. Thank goodness for the notches.  They are key to making this look good!

CD34296F-D8CE-4311-A949-CE72305D082FThe front section where three seams intersect are a lovely match up to the “notch” on the single front side where i decreased that inch.


Top stitched this side of the zipper.

Attached and top stitched the sleeves. Remember we want baby to be so comfortable, sleep comes easy.
CE69D473-A316-4E42-AC86-9CCB3AF1F1ECI made the little feet separately, since the side seams would not line up.686EE9E1-D6A4-43D3-A696-5F8B9C040355It was simple to slip them inside the PJ legs, match up notches and sew them on.

7147FF7D-DBFE-4BA6-B263-8BD1534084C2I found this cotton lycra polka dot for cuffs and neckband, and zipper cover tab.  It was a scrap from another project and just enough.  In more than one pattern review I read that cuffs were snug.  I cut these a bit bigger.

I stitched one edge of the collar to the pj neckline with a narrow zig zag (.5 wide 2 long).  Right sides together.  Although next time, I might sew the band to the back side and wrap around to the front.

To make a nice front edge, this is how I interpreted the instructions.  Wrap the front edge of the neck band around itself, sandwiching the zipper top and sew to the notch.  Have I mentioned how much I love notches yet?  Do the same for the other side. Perhaps trim if your fabric is bulky.

I would have hand tacked this band down if there was more time.  Instead I pinned and topstitched.

Also added a tab to cover the zipper pull. Hand stitched a hook and eye to the tab and reinforced section of Pj in the car on the way.  Thank goodness for gift bags!

7747B0A7-824A-4DDB-A51C-1972DF68C463This post may contain affiliate links, which could pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you if you choose to use them.

Happy winter sewing – Joan

Reusable produce bags

EEA87258-75BF-47CC-A310-2E1E395663C7Decades ago, I made fabric gift bags for my children’s birthday party favors.  We still use the versions I made in rip stop nylon for vacation packing and pool visits today.   There is a collection of bags we pull out at holiday time to wrap gifts in.  I enjoy sewing a few every year to add to the collection or give away.

This batch of bags is made from a thrifted cotton sheer curtain.  Nylon would also work nicely, perhaps a cooler iron setting would prevent mishaps?  I washed the curtain and cut it into rectangles roughly 13 inches by 36 inches.

I pressed the short edges after folding them over about a half inch.  Spray Starch is super helpful here.


Then I folded the short edges over another inch and pressed again.


To create the casing for the ties, I opened up the second fold, imagined a 2 inch square box on each of the corners.  I folded each corner down diagonally across this box.



Pressed again, then refolded that one inch back down across the short end. 1F8D3328-ACFF-4283-94BF-211FE2A1ACC1

It was simple to sew across this edge to form the casing.  I made sure to back tack the beginning of each seam and the end  of the casing.


with the sheer fabric it is hard to see the layers.  Here is another photo. Seam ripper shows casing opening.

With the wrong sides together, I stitched each side seam with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Trimmed this down to 1/4 inch.

Turned the bag wrong side out and stitched a 3/8 inch seam on both side seams.


When opened up that seam looks like this (without drawstrings).


The two draw strings pictured are nylon cording cut about 5” longer than the full Circumference of the bag.  This gives room for tying knots at the end.  If your cords fray, you can carefully melt the ends over a candle before running through the casings.  This time I used a bodkin, but a safety pin, hair pin or crochet hook have all been handy.  The two drawstring method makes it fun to pull on each end to cinch up the bag!
I thread both through at once, tie off ends and pull one cord to have one knot at each opening.

Ambrosia Apron

A92B993F-F972-4877-98F2-C099E280D0B8My earliest memories of Ambrosia were from Thanksgiving, when it was the most delightful part of the meal.  According to Wikipedia:

Ambrosia is an American variety of fruit salad. Most ambrosia recipes contain: canned or fresh pineapple, canned mandarin orange slices or fresh orange sections, miniature marshmallows, and coconut

We have always made ours with pineapple, bananas, oranges, and coconut.  Maraschino cherries were added when our middle child became aware of them.

Intrigued by the pattern name, and impressed by the affordability, and two sizes (most apron patterns I have seen are only one size) I was totally convinced by the princess seams.  Princess seams are rather magical in the lines they can create.  Oh, did I mention it has pockets.  And it does not hang on the back of my neck.  As far as aprons go, this one ticks all the boxes.  I had been meaning to make one since it was released.

This apron will make an amazing gift, and is a super use of scraps of fabric for the eight or so different pieces.  Once you have your pattern traced, and pieces cut, the sewing part is quick!  It is fun to experiment with the color blocking aspect of this apron!  Please read the designer’s instructions before making your Ambrosia.  This is how I made mine.

Important tips.  Mark the tops of your pockets and be sure to cut the notches of the pattern outwards (inwards notches will weaken a seam).

Ambrosia #1 included some Frida Kahlo fabric, which makes me happy.  Thank you Alexander Henry, and some Tula Pink purple skulls which are non directional since they tessellate, and a hot pink blender that was on sale.  I had planned to make a shop sample, but fell hard for this one.

Ambrosia #2, was intended to be the apron made in the demo I had scheduled.  I had my eye on the bees fabric forever, and could not figure what to make with it.  I opted to include it in my Ambrosia, and to mix it with a batik, that was involved in a Style Arc Lacey dress I planned to wear when weather cooled enough for sleeves.

Ambrosia #3 was totally unplanned, until I ran across this fabric from Studio E that was the perfect match to the molecule fabric.  My son and his girlfriend had spent a bit of time trying to solve the math equations on a print on a dress I made for my first grand child.  I can totally identify with Ms. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus, and wearing something super fun and geeky.  I think she can too, and it would be nice to make an Ambrosia in the smaller size.  So a yard of each went home with me.  I took photos of the construction of this one, and will share them with you.





The Ambrosia is constructed back to front.  Yes, I had to read the directions.  First I serged the back to the side pieces, and then top stitched that with my Bernina.  Top stitching reinforces the serging and helps to make everything lay flat.




Next, I sewed the tops of the pockets together, those markings and notches you made earlier will really help with this, as the deeper part of the pocket is in the back of the apron.  Pull the shorter pocket (lining) up and under stitch that seam.  Under stitching helps to roll the lining/facing towards the back so that it does not show on the front side.  It stitches the layers as follows.  Lining on top, and seam allowances on the bottom.

734ECABD-36C8-4131-B796-381607AA1F03Those can be pressed before under stitching and pressed before top stitching for a really professional look.  Both top stitched pockets below.

7BF19962-A996-4EC0-9060-12F193D520BBNext stitch the bottom of the pocket to the bottom of the side/back piece.  This can be french seamed, sewn and zig zagged, or sewn and serged.  Just a single row of serging will need reinforcement here if you plan to put heavy stuff in your pockets.  You may notice that I serged across the bottom hem of the outer pocket already.  Wasn’t sure which would need white and which would need red serging, so I serged as I went. EAC63FA6-09F7-4E5D-9629-8DA716F18391Pin the sides of the pockets so that they are flat with the side/back piece, and stay stitch on the edge of either side of the pocket, so that the layers behave on the next step.

E2835A30-AAC6-4CE2-AC27-57C9E6629E66Next comes the tricky part.  the curved princess lines of the assemblage above is attached to the center front.  You can baste this first on a sewing machine, but I just went for it, and matched up my seams at the hem and serged away  (left photo).  When I got to the part where the con curve meets the convex pieces, I had to stop (center photo).  I had more red fabric than molecules, so I turned my fabric over, and started from the top and serged till I met my previous stitching (right photo).  The feed dogs did the easing of the longer piece into the slightly shorter piece.


Then I top stitched.  Because the pocket makes a lot of layers, I top stitched towards the center panel, so that those layers could lay a bit flatter. 31E10A7E-F039-4ED2-8EC1-A66EE534B71C

Straps. Learn from my initial mistake.  The pattern piece is on the fold, and the smaller size has a narrower strap.  I cut this strap the width of fabric, serged the edge with the selvage folded back on itself, turned then top stitched.  On the small apron, I cheated a bit, and cut four inches off the end of each strap to use as my loop.   I used a foot with a guide to create tidy top stitching on my apron straps.




Either a separate piece or just a bit of the strap. It is time to attach the loop to the side of the apron.  I put the selvage edge up, and raw edge down, so it it is less noticeable.  Stitched it back and forth just inside the serging. 1989075B-D38F-4091-8C52-3460F9EC5015

Well, darn, I did not get a lot of photos of the facing assembly.  What I did, was  first to clean finish the bottom edge of the facing.  Then aligned the facing to the apron top right sides together.  I  serged the outer edges of each side of the facing from the top of the shoulder to the armpit, where the facing fades away, and kept serging till I got to the end of that underarm curve.  Then I made sure all of my raw outer edges were serged.

I under stitched the facing to the seam allowance on this outer edge.  Then I took the raw edge of my strap and sandwiched it in between the right sides of the shoulders and sewed as per pattern instructions.  Take care to shorten your stitch length just before and after the v.  Then clip to a few threads of your seam line.  A2C4E89A-4D9B-4AD4-B063-80CE720DBADCHopefully, you can pull on your straps and the apron will turn right side out.  If you got a little edge of  strap caught up in your seam, like I did, just pull out those few stitches, press, and top stitch close to the edge and no one will be the wiser.


Press all of the raw (serged) edges towards the inside of the apron, and top stitch.  One last press, and you are ready to channel your inner Nigela Lawson, and make (or eat) pie.  Or maybe some Ambrosia.254EE412-D5F8-414F-8EAE-19AB7B05A42C


This post contains affiliate links.  It costs you no more to use them, and I may receive a small commission if you do.  Thank you.  Happy Sewing!  Joan


Perfecting the V neck

3D2AB8D0-2EFC-405F-88A9-F3192FDA530FJust yesterday was my youngest’s birthday.  On the phone he lamented that his last good solid tee had seen better days, and that he would be glad of a replacement or two for his birthday, but Christmas would be good too.  He is a patient man.  He also specified that he likes the shirts with the 3/4 sleeves that are a different color.  I remember picking some of these up for him 10 years ago, and they were his favorites forever.

A good raglan shirt is also my favorite to make.  However, I am becoming more of a perfectionist in getting that v neck just so.  Do you cross the neckband over, or sew the band together in a v shape then attach it?

It occurred to me that the issue I have when attaching the band to a v neck is that what I see when sewing is the underside of the band, not the band that actually is attached to the shirt front.  Any slippage there, and the v does not match up with the seam on the band.  Wearable, but disappointingly not perfect.

Light-bulb moment!  Instead of basting that inch-either-side-of-the-v with both layers of the band, why not baste A SINGLE LAYER of the band to the front side of the shirt?    That way, the needle can pivot exactly at the seam line of the band, instead of a stitch or two off center.



The above two photos are just after sewing the first inch of the basting, and the needle is sunk into the center of the seam line of the band.  Next, the presser foot is lifted, and the fabric adjusted so that the second part of the neck band is aligned with the second part of the shirt front, so it looks like the photo below.

090A2196-9B74-4F4D-8D20-CA5F732D3ECAHere we are with both sides of center front sewn.  I used a shorter stitch length (2 on my Bernina).  Next step is to flip this assemblage over, and snip into that v on the front of the shirt, just a few threads from your stitching line.  After that,  fold that band in half so that the center front seams line up.  Match up center back of band and shirt, match up quarter marks, and serge around as normal.  This is where the underside of the band is caught in the seam!

4C293E94-41C8-4BDC-8084-9365D30CAB3CIn this photo, you can see that my snip was not exactly center, but it works to spread out the front, I serge from point, around back to point.  I might go back and even out the machine stitching line with the serging line so it looks even on the front.


0DAE3797-93C5-4F4D-8CC4-668913EA3116Just a press and a top stitch away from being finished.  I love that I can have control over the front side.

The back side looks like my old way of sewing the front side. Close, but a little off.  You can see how the feed dogs pulled the fabric just enough to make it a little off center.  My patient son will not notice or care about this.  He will be happy for a v neck raglan that he can wear out!   Seeing him for birthday brunch shortly, and more fabric ordered for Christmas!

2F56CE3D-C0D4-42A0-81C9-BC5C8EA22DDCJust a note about the pattern.  There are a ton of great raglan patterns out in the PDF world of sewing.  This one is the Ryan Raglan from 5oo4 patterns.  There is a women’s version, Nancy, and a kids version, Rocket.

If you happen to live in the 505 or 575 area code, you might be close enough for a class.  I am happy to teach in person lessons in the Albuquerque area.  Look for me if you are in town!

And yes, those are affiliate links.  I appreciate you using them, at no cost to you, I receive a small commission.  Thank you for looking!  Happy sewing too!   Joan

Table sheet

We are attached to our dining room table. It was purchased at an antique store and has genius leaves that are stored within the table. Over the years we have purchased flannel backed vinyl table cloths that were great when the kids were little.


My daughter agreed to take my parents dining dining room table when my father downsized and insisted certain things stay in the family. I think he really enjoyed going to their house for dinner, and sitting at the table he loved so much.


I was a bit envious of the made to order table pads that fit my parents/daughter’s table.


I thought I would emulate the table protection for myself in two layers.  I used a shower curtain to protect against spills, and some InsulBrite to protect against high heat when we could not find a flannel backed vinyl cloth to fit . Popped the nice table cloth over that and thought I would be good to go.

Until someone sat down at the table and pulled the whole thing askew.  Needed a plan b.

I had a piece of muslin colored fabric the size of the table.  Cut the corners to match the table’s dimensions, then added a 4” strip of fabric all round the edge.

Serged a piece of clear elastic on the raw edge of the 4 inch strip.  This holds the heat and water proof layers in place, and stabilizes the pretty tablecloth that goes over it.  No serger?  A zig zag and regular elastic would likely work too, or a casing and drawstring.

So while I was envying my daughter’s custom covers (that are 50 plus years old and have seen better days), she wanted a table sheet, to keep things from moving.

Yesterday I surprised her.  Made one from a vintage sheet.  She loves it.  B108118C-750C-4E90-90D7-E84B64A5FA2C

From the underside, it looks like this, like a fitted sheet.




Jessie, the dress with a secret

I tested this pattern a while back, and really had fun with it.


A tank with a cardigan is my favorite trans season combo!

A cute top, tee, tank or dress with a party in the back. The ITY print I used wanted a narrow ruffled hem.


I seamed the back due to fabric limitations.

Jessie is a great basic.  I added a shelf bra, which makes it a grab and go option, which fits my life.  After testing Virginia, Stella, and a few other favorites, it was super easy to add.  It is genius with the low back! I learned by happy accident that a shelf bra in a 4 way stretch that wicks is a beautiful thing.  Add powernet or tech sheen if you want more support/coverage!

Check out the tester photos and see how creative some folks got with theirs.

I love the scoop back, in its simplicity,  and I also love the fancy straps.  What is a sewist to do?  Both?  Yes please!

I made the loops like we did with the Key West.  About 9 inches of the 1.5 inch strip was serged lengthwise and cut into 2 inch strips.  I love a solid binding on a print garment.  It punctuates the edges and this Nylon Spandex Tricot from my stash was the perfect color.


After sewing shoulder and side seams in both dress and bra, per pattern instructions, I basted the edges together with a short zig zag stitch.  Then I carefully measured so that my loops were symmetrical, and basted them to the inside of the back before binding the edge. Raw edges of the loops aligned with the raw edges of the fabric.


loops pinned


loop basted

Then, I attached the right side of the binding cut at the pattern chart length and stitched together to form a loop, to wrong side of the dress with a 2 wide and 2 long zig zag on the edge.  Checked for fit and puckers, then serged around that seam.  When I did this, I noticed that the armscye wanted to be a little narrower, so I basted those openings  about 1/2 inch from the edge, and trimmed them before binding.

The serged edge lends nice stability.  I wrapped the binding around it, tucked in the raw edge of the binding, and top stitched.  The beauty of sewing the binding to the back and wrapping it around is that both sides are finished and the top stitching happens from the side that will be seen when wearing.


I like to use a thread that matches my fabric.



Sewing the band on a tank for my sweetie.  Same process, different color. The fabric here was reversible, so I wanted the tank to be reversible too.  More on that here.


The loops stay tucked out of sight when not used, and can be pulled out and  laced up when that look is desired.

I used the 1.5 inch strip leftover from binding to make the lace.  Perhaps the next version will get three loops on either side?

Love a dress with options and pockets!

Now to make some Ninjas from that Nylon Spandex Tricot!

This post contains affiliate links, which cost you nothing to use and incent me to share more of my sewing secrets. I may receive a small commission from the designers from your usage of the link.

Happy sewing!  Joan

Reversible tank for Mr. Charming

48B03433-9D3F-4CC9-9442-BE84E104524DOn our last little jaunt out of town, we were headed west in the car, and I looked over at my husband, who was driving.  My heart was happy, cause he was wearing a shirt I made for him.  I have more than one serger, but had been practicing my fine finishing of woven seams, with flat felled and french seams.

Folkwear’s Egyptian Shirt had been a challenge, but it has pockets and a cool reverse facing around the neckline.   I even used a fancy seam on those cuffs.  Those cuffs.  I looked over at his hand on the wheel and those cuffs, and I couldn’t reconcile them.  They were not what I remembered.  I followed the line of his arm up the sleeve, as we sped down the highway, and noticed the armscye seam.  There was something odd about it.

I realized he had it on inside out.  It was hard to keep quiet, but as we were on the interstate, I worked hard not to say anything to him.  After all, I had also worked really hard to make neat finished seams inside and out, and there really was little difference.

Same thing happened on the Breeze shirt just the other day.  Another reverse facing, another shirt put on inside out.

I had some interesting fabric purchased from JoAnn’s some time ago.  I wish I had purchased more, but…  It is a deep brown on one side and a light brown on the other.  I love reversible things, and decided to make him a truly reversible shirt.

Luckily, I had this pattern printed, and, the 52 week sewing challenge for week 34 was to make something with a bias bound edge or FOE.  Well FOE would work for this, but I had fabric, with two sides, and a rotary cutter, mat and ruler, so not bias, but bound for sure!


When making tanks, I like to cut the strips for binding/bands first.

I like this pattern, cause the front and back are the same, just a swoop from the back neckline to cut the front makes cutting faster.  Also the little bit of grading I made for his particular curves are easy if there is only one pattern piece.

Just like my mother told me to do so many decades ago, I offset the front/back by about 3/8 inch, and sewed with a 1/4 to 3/8 inch seam. These measurements work for a pattern with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  This fabric sewed beautifully across the horizontal grain, but I had to change my needle to get a vertical seam to sew without skipping stitches.


Then I opened up the seam.  Note to self to cut more neatly next time.D427BDB5-B617-42B5-B0FC-0F0D9918E744Wrapped the longer seam around the shorter seam, and top stitched that.  My #20 foot really comes in handy.  I moved the needle on my Bernina 1630 to the left (but not all the way) to make the second seam. And stitched.  If this was a woven, I might have pressed that larger seam in half so that the sewing would go easier, but this mystery poly blend was not going anywhere near my iron.

76FE130F-5218-4A1B-9432-129D4D33DDA4I stitched the shoulder and both side seams like this.

Then I sewed the short seams in my bands. Took care to keep my neck and arm bands separate. 4F406A51-82E6-4511-83EC-5CEC2B5AFED9Marked center points, and serged those bands on.  In keeping with the reversible theme, I even made a band for the hem.

Once the bands were serged on, I wrapped the bands around to the other side, tucked in that raw edge, and with my favorite #20 foot, and the needle in the almost far left position top stitched with a wobble stitch.  Wobble stitch is a Sandra Betzina term that looks like a straight stitch, but is a narrow zig zag.  At .5 wide and 2 long, it stretches nicely.  Best here, to top stitch the contrast band on top, so you can see where you are sewing and make sure that bobbin thread is a good match!

601F3BC0-ACAC-45CD-8B45-5F76ABE7633DIt did not take long, and all the seams were done!  Now he can wear this any which way he wants, except maybe backwards!

This post may contain affiliate links that cost you nothing, and give me a little incentive to keep writing.  Affiliate link usage is greatly appreciated.  Happy Sewing!  Joan


Escapade Experiment

1F9C9613-6E8C-4C59-91D3-40D383781116I grew up with a swimming pool in the back yard.

My parents signed the offer on the house at the check out counter at Safeway while we were buying candles to put on the cake for my 8th birthday.  Funny how these details stay with you.

In the mid 60’s, we were clothing frugal compared to today’s standards.  My mother made a two piece for my 9th birthday from a woven red, white and blue large floral.  She lined it with the same fabric.  It really became interesting when it got wet. Over time, our outgrown swimwear made its way to a box under the bathroom sink, so that when guests came over without suits, there might be something for them to wear.

My siblings swam competitive swimming.  One year, the team suit was a wide blue and white stripe, an inch or more wide.  The white section was not as sun proof as the blue, and my younger sister had a striped suit on, even when she took her suit off.

I am blessed to be raised by parents who sent me several different places to take sewing lessons.  One teacher asked me what I wanted to make, and I said “suits”.  She showed me men’s suiting fabrics, neither of us really knew what the other was talking about but we figured it out, and I am grateful and still use techniques I learned decades ago.

By the time I was in high school, I designed and stitched my own bikinis from triangles of scraps of my mother’s projects, and bias tape.  Ties everywhere.  I was on a synchronized swim team called the Cygnets, and our coach asked me to sew the suits for our little group of teens and pre-teens to wear to the Junior Olympics in San Antonio Texas.  They were made from an orange double knit swim fabric, and had a band of sequins.  At sixteen, I had more swimwear than any of my friends, most all of it me-made, and worn  daily in the summer.

I have lovely memories of so much time in the water, and one of my jobs was to clean the pool on Saturdays.  There is more here, but I will save it for another time.

So, when Jessica, from 5 out of 4 patterns put out a call for pattern testers for a new swim top, called Escapade, it spoke to me.

I jumped all over that test.  The design is super simple, and very clever.  It lifts and flatters my three score bust like nothing else.  I have made it many times.  After testing, I opted to try my hand at making it reversible.

  1.  *In order to use this method, you will want to cut the bra one inch longer than your normally would cut it.

2.  As a bra to wear underneath a tee shirt, I opted to skip the ties, and ruche the center with elastic.  After the top center seam is sewn with elastic and under stitched,  I stitched elastic from one center front (bottom) to the top center, then back again to the bottom of the other side.  I left the first and last inch of this not stretched, but stretched the elastic while sewing in between these spots.

I remember the first time directly sewing elastic to a garment.  My mother was on the phone in the kitchen watching me try and try again on the kitchen table.  It takes practice.  She asked me to wait till she was done with her phone call then patiently showed me how to hold both ends, and sew carefully.


Under stitched with a wobble stitch =.5 wide zig zag.


Clear elastic would work well here.  I used a scrap that was handy.

3.  Next, I stitched the side seams and pressed them open.  With the right sides of the front and back facing each other, I serged around the top of the bra, from the top of one breast to the other.  Since I under stitched the front center seam, I was careful to wrap those seams to make crisp corners when I turned it right side out.


Top of bra sewn right sides together, with wrapped corners.

4.  I pressed that seam outwards, and decided which side would get the pop of color and folded back 5/8 inch of this edge (top of one breast, around the back to the top of the other), pinned, and stitched it down to make a casing.  Since that edge was finished, it turned out pretty on both sides. ** Note going forward I would leave  the back un sewn about 4 inches from either side of center.  This would make it easier to slip in those straps.


Top edge folded over and stitched down to form a casing.

5.  After that, I made the drawstring per pattern instructions.

6.  Now to finish the bottom of the bra.  If I had cut it one inch longer, then  it would be super easy to serge the ring of elastic around the bottom, flip it back twice and top stitch like I did on the agility here.

*However, I felt that there would not be enough room to turn this twice, I added a separate 3 inch strip (waistband like casing) for my under bust  elastic.


0B206287-D43C-4875-A49D-1FA943583C13 It was simple enough to figure how much I wanted to go around my under bust, serge a single layer to the same color side, right sides together, and wrap that around my elastic tuck it under and top stitch it to the other side.  Best to use bobbin thread to match the fabric underneath, to stitch on the contrasting side, so you can see where to sew!03EE5698-8255-46CB-B340-DDF8D5F2EE9F


Next, I threaded my tie/strap through the casing, and adjusted where I wanted the straps to hit on the back.  I like them closer to the center than to the sides, so I can wear them with racer back tops and tanks like the Taylor.  I suggest pinning them with a pair of safety pins, makes it less painful to take off.

To make the strap attachment look nice from either side, I sewed them with the raw edge toward the top of the casing across the area where I had stitched down that casing.  Afterwards I clipped close to that seam, brought the strap up and top stitched the top of  the bra edge.   ** going forward, I could slip the straps into the spot left open and top stitch across the seam I had made in step 4.  Still experimenting.


The house I grew up in sold to a young family 20 some years ago.  They filled in the pool, and daily swimming is no longer part of my life, but we do go on vacation a few times a year, and I relish early morning swims, when the water is like glass, and no one else is around.  Making a ton of swim wear to wear a few times a year, does not make sense, so when I read about Phee’s Nylon Spandex Tricot being useful for swimwear, It got my wheels turning.

This is my new favorite.  It is a dream to work with and a dream to wear.  It wicks, and is comfortable to wear in our super hot summers.  My plan is to make several bra/swim tops, and swim shorts/bottoms that could be worn as either depending on what is needed.  We go to the beach and sit by the pool on vacations, and swim fabric gets really swampy.  I am hopeful that this will be more comfortable sitting by the pool.  My 61 year old self  will feel 16 again with a whole capsule wardrobe of garments that can be worn year round, and to swim in!  Planning some tidal waves to wear as swim bottoms/slip shorts in this fabric.

Those who want more support or coverage may want to add a layer of power net or tech sheen.

The Escapade makes a great summer dress!  I love the swing of the skirt of the Taylor, not to mention the pockets, and mashed that skirt to the Escapade here.



I am happy for the colors and comfort of the wicking fabric in patterns that are comfortable, fun and practical.  I made a dress from regular tricot and lined the bust with circular knit from Phee.  I added a few inches to the center front and back of the skirt and pleated the front and back.   It is the most comfortable night gown I own.


Below are the Tidal Waves and  my first reversible Escapade made from swimwear scraps a few summers back. BC671D69-B0E2-4D21-9C4A-33C1677269F2

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