Sewing a Coat: Fabric Choices and Cutting

A couple of weeks ago, I accepted a challenge to myself to sew my first fully-line coat. Since then I have been tackling all the prep work before I start sewing this week. One evening I pressed both of my fabrics, the next I cut out the lining pieces, then the exterior pieces and so on. You get the idea. I can now say that I have ALL the pieces cut, interfaced and ready to sew. Let’s just say that there are A LOT of pieces but it was definitely worth taking the time to cut them all out carefully and deliberately.

Prepped Clare Coat Pieces

Prepped Clare Coat Pieces

A couple pieces of advice that I have discovered so far on this journey… Read more

A New Closet Staple: Montlake Tee

My goal this year is to continue to build my handmade wardrobe with the goal to one day have my handmade garments make up the majority of my closet. This month I really started thinking about my foundation or staple pieces that I can mix and match with other more statement makes or with each other for a fun everyday look. The question was, which patterns to choose?

New Montlake Tee

New Montlake Tee Pattern

Enter Kimberly at Straight Stitch Designs! She must have heard me and other makers like me because a couple of weeks ago, she put out a call for pattern testers for her latest pattern, the Montlake Tee, the perfect closet basic! Read more

Challenge Accepted: Sewing a Winter Coat

The task of making my own outerwear has been a bit scary. I have been dreaming about a couple of patterns over the last year or so and I finally decided to take the plunge. With winter coats popping up everywhere in the online sewing community this month, I couldn’t make any more excuses! Indiesew has highlighted some great outerwear patterns, Lucinda at Sew Wrong has been posting lots of great tips for sewing coats on her blog (she even has a special online course coming soon) and Pinterest and Instagram are filled with lots of amazing inspiration.

During this process of creating my own handmade coat, I thought I would post my progress here on the blog. Hopefully four of five posts updating you on my challenges, tricks I learn along the way and just breaking down a somewhat daunting task into smaller more manageable bites.

Let’s start with one of my favorite steps… selecting the fabric! There are so many amazing fabrics out there perfect for outerwear. Here are a few of our favorites and some great pattern choices to pair with them.

First, let’s take a look at boucles. The perfect choice if you want a more unique, vintage look with lots of texture. They come in a variety of weights and are typically going to be a bit cooler than a wool or other heavier fabrics- perfect for more temperate climates or to enjoy year round. For a winter coat, I would probably use a cozy flannel for the lining and maybe even add an extra layer in between for some added warmth. Here are a few of the textures you might find. <Learn more about the fabrics shown below HERE>

Read more

Day 12: Wrap it Up

On the Twelfth Day of Sewing…

We made it to the last day! It has been a lot of creative sewing, late nights and tons of fun. Thank you to everyone who has been following along and making some of the projects along the way with us (Keep sharing your amazing makes!). We thought a great way to finish up 12 days of handmade gifts would be some handmade cards and tags to use when gift wrapping all your hard work!

Handmade holiday gift cards and tags.

Handmade holiday gift cards and tags.

There are so many great ideas out there for handmade cards. We thought we would try to integrate our sewing theme as much as possible into our cards. The easiest way to do that is with buttons! We all have that stash of mismatched buttons that could be put to good use. You can also pick up some of the fun novelty buttons at any craft supply store- they are a lot of fun to mix in with the more traditional ones. Mix in some baker’s twine, ribbon and a few stickers and your are set! Read more

Day 11: Travel Set

On the Eleventh Day of Sewing…

We are in the final stretch of the 12 Days of Sewing and we saved our favorite handmade gift for today! We love taking inspiration from fabric and for today’s project the fabric truly spoke to us. A little unconventional, it is a printed canvas panel from Japan with fun hipster items- a tote, eyeglasses, camera, shoes and headphones- in trendy colors. (Panel is also available in Aqua here)

Printed Hipster Panel in Plum and Grey

Printed Hipster Panel in Plum and Grey

We thought, how fun would it be to make the ultimate travel essentials using each of these pieces? What a fun way to organize all of those necessities for anything from an overnight to a trip overseas! Now keep in mind any of these items could be made in any durable woven fabric, we just wanted to have a little fun and really show off how cool this “hipster” panel is.

Complete travel set created using a Japanese fabric panel.

Complete travel set created using a Japanese fabric panel.

We started with two printed panels– so that we would have a piece for each side of our travel items. We then paired it with a fun cotton print for the linings and a solid black twill as needed. Our goal was to have everything coordinate and truly look like a set- something to consider when selecting fabric. Now, let’s go through each item- here are the dimensions and steps that we used to create each one.

Cut panel accessory pieces.

Cut panel accessory pieces.

Eyeglass/Sunglass Holder:

To start off these travel essentials we decided to start with one of the easiest projects- the eyeglass case. We cut out each eyeglass piece from the panels (8″ x 4-1/4″) and stitched them together giving us an 8″ square. Cut out matching squares from the lining fabric and some scrap batting and layer the pieces as follows- canvas and lining right sides together on top of the batting. Pick two matching corners to round and cut all the layers to match.

Then, stitch all the way around the square leaving a small opening for turning at the end opposite the rounded corners. Turn right side out and press. Topstitch across the end with the opening to close it, add an additional row of topstitching for an accent. Fold the holder in half and stitch along the long side and rounded end, backstiching at the beginning and end. Just like that the eyeglass holder is complete!

Finished eyeglass/sunglass holder.

Finished eyeglass/sunglass holder.

Note: You could also make a phone case using the same type of technique and the corresponding panel pieces. We chose to use the phone pieces as a pocket in our Carry-All Bag.

Camera & Headphone Pouches:

For these protective little totes we used the same technique as the zipper pouches for Day 2. Rather than run through all those steps again, here is a link to the instructions- Zipper Pouch Tutorial

Finished headphone and camera pouches.

Finished headphone and camera pouches.

Here are the dimensions of the fabric pieces we started with- each ended up being the perfect size for their matching accessory.

Headphones- Cut your fabric and batting pieces 9-1/2″ x 9-1/2″ square and we made the bottom gusset 2″ wide.

Camera- Cut your fabric and batting pieces to be 8″ x 4-1/2″ and we made the bottom gusset 1″ wide.

Note: You could also make a pencil pouch using the same technique and the corresponding panel pieces. We chose to use the “notes” pieces as a pocket in our Carry-All Bag.

Carry-All Bag:

For this handy on-the-go tote we based the pattern off of one of our favorite bag patterns, the Super Tote from Noodlehead. We simply adapted the pattern’s dimensions so that the printed purse panels could be used as the front and back. Other than that we used the same overall construction. Inside we added cell phone and note/pen pockets using those pieces from the panel as well. We also used the printed handles as one side of each handle with black twill on the other side. We highly recommend having this pattern in your arsenal of go-to patterns but if you have another favorite bag pattern you could similarly adapt that as well.

Completed carry-all bag.

Completed carry-all bag.

Our main goal when sewing up the bag was to not have any of the cream background of the canvas showing. We cut each bag panel piece out about 1/2″ larger than the outline and then went back to stitch a bit large seam allowance wherever needed to make sure no cream was showing. The result was well worth the extra time and steps.

Note: For the pockets, we cut the cell phone piece 7″ x 5″ and the “notes” piece 7″ x 7″. We then layered them on top of a matching piece of lining, right sides together, and stitched all the way around leaving an opening for turning. Turned them right side out, pressed and then topstitched them to one side of a bag lining piece.

Carry-all bag pockets.

Carry-all bag pockets.

Shoe Bag:

Time got the better of us on this project and we just didn’t get our dream shoe bag in time to post. Our thoughts are to create a simple drawstring bag to keep a pair of shoes in using the matching panel pieces. Perfect for a short trip when you want to throw everything in one bag and don’t want your shoes to get everything else dirty. We promise as soon as we get this done we will give you all an updates!

Complete Set:

Together all of these pieces make such a great travel set, modern but sophisticated and a little geeky all at the same time. We love the idea of the set as a whole- perfect to make out of any fabrics (or the panel if you like) and give to someone who loves to travel, loves to have everything in its place or just loves to have everything match!

The perfect handmade travel set to give this holiday season.

The perfect handmade travel set to give this holiday season.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 11th Only! All jersey and ponte knits are 20% off. Also save on some of our favorite tools by buying them as a special bundle. Perfect to treat yourself or to give as a gift to a seamstress friend. Shop Here

Day 10: Pillowcases

On the Tenth Day of Sewing…

One of our favorite gifts to make throughout the year is pillowcases. If we have visitors from out of town, we make them their own pillowcases using some Washington themed quilting cotton and then let them take the cases home when the leave. A small keepsake of their trip to Seattle. We are also guilty of having a whole shelf in the linen closet full of pillowcases we have made over they years. There might even be one for every season/holiday but we would never actually confess to that… A custom pillowcase is something handmade that you can enjoy everyday. The pattern, the fabric, all of it just puts a smile on your face when you crawl into bed, especially after a long day.

Our Handmade Pillowcases

Our Handmade Pillowcases

This holiday season we are kicking our handmade pillowcases up a notch- trying some other fabrics besides just flat cotton. How about lawn, voile, double gauze or even some textured cottons? All of these fabrics would make amazing pillowcases to gift this holidays season- so soft and more unique than just your standard pillowcase.

Over the years we have the art of perfected pillowcase construction and we thought we would share our steps with you! Quick and easy, you can have a half dozen of them made in an evening.

Pillowcase Tutorial

1. Supplies & Cutting

  • Main Fabric – 3/4 yard (1-1/4 yards if the fabric is directional)
    • For Standard Pillowcase: Cut to 25″ x 40″
    • For King Pillowcases: Cut to 35″ x 40″
  • Cuff Fabric – just shy of 1/2 yard – Cut to 14″ x 40″
  • Accent Fabric – just a few inches – Cut to 2″ x 40″
  • Our fabric choices: Lawn Floral, Handcrafted cotton, stash fabric.
Cut fabric pieces for our pillowcase.

Cut fabric pieces for our pillowcase.

2. Preparing Pieces- Press the Cuff and the Accent pieces in half lengthwise, wrong sides together.

3. Attaching the pieces- With the Main Fabric wrong side up, layer the folded Cuff and then the folded Accent piece on top along one edge matching up all the raw edges and pin and place. Stitch along the pinned edge using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam toward the Main Fabric.

Layered and pinned fabrics.

Layered and pinned fabrics.

4. Finishing the Accent Piece- Press the Accent piece toward the main fabric, covering the seam from the previous step. Topstitch in place.

Topstitched accent fabric.

Topstitched accent fabric.

5. Sewing the Pillowcase- Fold the pillowcase in half widthwise, wrong sides together matching up the seams and pinning along the unfinished side. Stitch using a 1/4″ seam allowance, backstitching at the beginning and end. Press seam to one side.

6. French Seam- Turn the pillowcase right side in and stitch along the same edge, this time with a 1/2″ seam allowance and backstitching at the beginning and end.

7. Finishing- Stitch along the bottom edge of the pillowcase using a 1/2″ seam. Finish edge as desired. Turn the pillowcase right side out and press well. Finished!

Finished pillowcase.

Finished pillowcase.

How easy was that? Just 5 simple steps and only sewing straight lines!

We went ahead and made just one more out of some different fabrics. For this one we again used a lawn for the Main Fabric but paired it with a wonderful woven cotton for some added texture.

Finished pillowcases in different cotton fabrics.

Finished pillowcases in different cotton fabrics.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 10th Only! Save 20% on Cotton Lawns, Shirtings and Double Gauze. Also one of our favorite secret weapon notions, Fuse ‘N Gather, is just $6 today only! Shop Here

Day Nine: Cozy Cowl

On the Ninth Day of Sewing…

We are in the home stretch of the 12 Days of Sewing. For today’s gift idea we thought about something extra toasty to keep you warm on a chill day- a cozy cowl. The question was… how do we want to construct it? Then we had the great idea to use the same technique that we used in for Day Three’s Infinity Scarves and they turned out perfect! So quick and easy to sew, these snuggly neck warmers are a great last minute gift. You could sew up a few of them in just an evening!

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

Cozy Cowls using Faux Fur and Shearling

For our cozy cowl we chose two soft and warm fabrics, a cotton flannel and faux shearling. We cut our fabrics to be 12″ x 30″- for wide fabrics you get 2 cowls with just a 1/3 yard of each!

Cowl Supplies

Cowl Supplies

Layer the two pieces, right sides together, and pin along both long edges. Stitch each side using a 3/8″ seam allowance.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Pinned layers of the cowl.

Just like the infinity scarves, pull one end of the cowl up through the middle matching the raw edges of both ends. You will be matching up the like fabrics- flannel to flannel and shearling to shearling. Take care to match up both seams and pin securely.

Carefully stitch the layers together starting just before one of the seams. We started on the flannel side- we thought it would be easier to whip stitch the opening closed on the flannel than the plush shearling. Leave about a 3 to 4″ opening for turning when you get all the way around. Turn the cowl right side out and whip stitch the opening closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

Remaining opening to whip stitch closed.

This shearling cowl went together so quickly we sewed up another one right away using faux fur and a coordinating woven. You can totally customize this project with any combination of fabrics. The shearling is a nice choice for one side since it is so plush and warm but it would be great paired with any knit or woven.

Here are our finished cowls- you can even wear them as a hood for even more warmth.

We also used the same technique of using two fabrics to make another infinity scarf, with the full width of the fabrics. We chose matching sweater knit dots– so that the two sides ended up being reversed. Another great project and gift!

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Opposites attract- dot knit infinity scarf.

Happy Sewing!

P.S. December 9th Only! Save 20% on select warm and cozy fabrics and our Precision Stiletto is just $10! Shop Here

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