Posts Tagged ‘ how to ’

So those old beaded appliques

I was looking at this little cardigan, wondering how these beaded appliques happened. Since, you know, I haven’t seen them anywhere.

Like this one:

pearl cardigan

Ah! It’s a backing, like a Bedazzler backing,

pearl cardigan

hooking in the stone PLUS a bead on a wire on the bottom prong, the kind of wire not unlike an earring or a charm.

pearl cardigan

Now I know why I haven’t seen these anywhere. You have to make them yourself…

How to add easy elastic ruching

I often lean on elastic ruching to get things to fit better, because my sewing sometimes takes shortcuts.

Like adding dimension to long t-shirts and tops. And taking up mermaid skirts without hemming. And sucking in the backs of dresses that don’t have much shaping.

It’s really easy to do. You need thin elastic or elastic cord, pins and a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

First, figure out where you want the ruching to go and how long you want it to be. You can do this by stretching the elastic out, or by measuring with a tape. Measure out elastic in that length, plus one inch so you’ll have half an inch on each end.

ruching measure

Pin the elastic at the top point, sticking pins in perpendicular to the elastic you’ll sew. Pin the elastic at the bottom end. Now match the middle of the elastic to the midpoint of the fabric and pin.

ruching pin middle

Keep stretching, matching the middles…

ruching stretch then pin more

…and pinning a few times until you’ve secured the elastic in place.

ruching keep pinning middles

ruching all pinned

Set your machine to a middle-wide zig zag. My machine uses a 1-5 scale; I use the #3 setting.

Drop in a few stitches, stretch the fabric and elastic and sew slowly until you’ve secured the whole piece.

ruching drop needle

ruching pull taut while stitching


ruching stitched

ruching finished right side

(I tell you this, though, knowing I ended up putting darts in the back of my dress remake. Didn’t want to lose my waist.)

How to… add simple belt loops

My new dress-from-dress came with its own belt. I didn’t want to lose the belt, so I added some belt loops which are super easy to make.

All you need is crochet thread or embroidery thread in a color that matches your dress, a sewing needle with an eye big enough for the thread and a crochet hook. (Though you can also do the crochet on your fingers if you have no hook.)

belt loops thread

Start the crochet with a long thread tail several inches long. That’ll anchor the loop to the garment.

belt - start with loop and tail

Crochet, counting the stitches, until you have a length that’s double the width of the belt, plus two stitches. Mine needed 32.

belt - keep crocheting until long enough

belt - crochet until twice the belt

(If you’re using your fingers, make a slip stitch, leaving a long tail of thread. Stick your index finger in the loop at the first knuckle joint.

belt - finger - loops

Loop the thread over your finger and wrap the loop over the thread.

belt - finger - wrap pull

Tug on the loop until the stitch tightens.

belt - finger - keep pulling until tight

Repeat until the crochet’s long enough.)

Leaving another long thread tail, cut the thread. Pull the tail through the last loop to secure the stitches.

belt - leave long tail before cutting

If you want loops on both sides, make another one the same way.

belt - loops - make two

Now thread the big needle with one of the tails.

belt - loops - thread tail on big needle

Then you sew the loop in. Some people anchor the top and then the bottom. I like the kind where the loop hangs down. So I poke the needle through from the right side and pull one tail through, and then do the same with the other end.

belt loop push needle through

Even better if you can catch the seam allowance.

belt loop back side

I knot them tightly on the back and voila!

belt loop knotted

That’s it.

belt loop finished

Then, should the belt get lost or something, the crocheted loop will cut out easily without harming the dress.

Conquering silky fears

Clearly I’m scared to cut the purple silk dress because I keep inventing other things to do instead of it.

Like posting this fitzfab tracing technique on Burdastyle. Drafted some more posts about all the red and white dresses I thrifted for spring, how to fix a brown print dress so it looks like me. Totally getting stuff done. Just not the one thing I should be doing.

Now I tell myself Mister’s taking up the kitchen — the only spot in the house where I have enough space to cut —making chili.

How do you conquer your fear of ruining fabric and just dive in?

How to… trace a pattern without cutting it

I didn’t want to cut this Cynthia Rowley tunic pattern because I wanted the other size options, perhaps for other ladies in my life. With only five pieces, two of them bias strips, I thought I could do it.

The straight lines were easy enough to mark and connect with a yardstick. But the underarm curves on the dolman sleeves, the neck? I don’t really trace with chalk, and drawing through the pattern lines with marker threatened to weaken them.

Time to start engineering. I weighted the pattern on my kitchen floor, using cans and jars. Started tracing the lines.

pattern weighed down

When I got to the curves, I started gently peeling the pattern back, slowly, a bit at a time, and then making a marker dot on the fabric at the pattern line.

pattern how to: start folding, dotting

Fold back a touch more, make another dot.

pattern how to: keep folding pattern back, dotting

As the underarm curved more, I dotted more frequently.

pattern how to: make dots closer on the curves

pattern how to: see the curve

When all the pattern was folded back, and the curve was visible on the pattern, the work was done.

pattern how to: finished dots

Voila, a curve good enough to cut confidently.

How to…make a tiered skirt

dress-ruby-closure button

The bodice is done, the button and loop attached, now the top of the Rooster’s skirt needs to be 25″, which is the circumference of the bodice’s edge. I’m going for as many tiers as I can stand to gather. So at least four and maybe even five. Yep, in the end it was five.

dress skirt tiers

Using the old 3 Peas tutorial (c/o Kuky), my top loop of fabric needs to be 39″ total, gathered to fit the 25″ bodice. Since my fabric’s 60 wide, I’m using one 39″ wide strip. Each subsequent tier is made from strips that are 1.5 times the width of the tier above it. Kuky tells you how to do the math and cut out all the pieces.

But then it occurred to me, two tiers in, that instead of cutting all these chunks, since I’m using the same fabric all the way down, I could make a long strip 5.25 inches deep of my 59″ wide fabric. I could join the 59″ lengths then measure and cut 1.5 times each round.

Now so can you.

1. Start at the bodice, or your child’s waist (plus 2-3) and multiply out 1.5 for each tier. 

2. Divide a measurement between the waist and knee by as many layers as you’d like, and then add 3″ to the top one for a waistband.)

So I need 39 x 1.5 or 58.5″ for the second tier.
88″ for the third.
132″ for the fourth.
198″ whopping inches for the fifth. That’s a lot of gathering.

3. Sew the strips together and then into loops. Finish the seam allowances as you will. I did Hong King finishes on the seams binding the strips together, now that I’m a giant fan

4. Start assembling from the top down. If you’re attaching the skirt to a bodice, do it now. If it’s a freestanding skirt, fold over 1.5 inches for the top, and stitch, leaving a small hole about 2 inches wide to fish through elastic or a ribbon drawstring.

5. Take the next biggest loop and prepare it for gathering. I like to drop in a couple of straight stitches at the end of the loop, raise the presser foot, and pull the threads long back to the start. Now set the machine to a wide, long zig zag, and stitch the zigzags over the pulled threads.

6. Divide each loop into quarters, marking each fourth with a pin. Match up the pins and gather the bigger loop to fit. Pin in place, then stitch. Work your way to the bottom. 

7. BUT before you attach the bottom  loop, hem it. I used a length of satin ribbon as a hem binding on the bottom tier BEFORE gathering it. Dang, that took forever, both the hem and the last gather.

ribbon-bound hem

It is in fact the twirliest skirt.

But I don’t know how to finish the gathered seams inside the unlined skirt.

dress inside gathers

inside gathers


A top from a skirt!

I had one of these:

skirt metallic brocade before

Remember? I didn’t want a shiny tush.

So now I have one of these:

skirt to top after
Here’s how to make a top from a straight skirt.

Unpick the elastic waist. Remove the side hanger loops. Open out the waistband casing.

skirt to top refashion

Unpick the skirt’s side seams far enough to comfortably fit your arms, the same distance on both sides.

skirt to top refashion

Turn the skirt inside out. Press down the seam allowances to sew — don’t open them out. I used a long stitch set to wide zig zag.

With the skirt still inside out, pin a few inches at the top of what used to be the waist. These are about to become your shoulder seams. Keep fitting and pinning until you like the way it looks and fits.

skirt to top refashion

skirt to top refashion shoulders

Stitch both sides.

Press down the seam allowance at the neck, what used to be the waist, between the shoulder seams. Stitch both sides or finish as you like.

I used a knit skirt with a little stretch so the top fits over my head. You could also put in a keyhole closure in the back if you need to get the thing over your noggin. I might try that on the next one.

In the end, since the skirt had some curves in the sides to accommodate hips, I ended up straightening the side seams a bit so the thing wouldn’t poof out.

skirt to top refashion

skirt to top after