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Winter is upon us and this is the time of year that I start loading up the layers in a vain attempt to keep myself warm. So today I’m going to show you how to make this DIY ruffle sweater. It’s an easy pattern hack meets girly style! Let’s get hacking!

yellow ruffle sweater

DIY ruffle sweater

For this ruffle sweater pattern hack, you’ll need a t-shirt pattern that you love. There’s umpteen million choices here, but I’m using Burdastyle 2-2011-106. It’s a great little basic round neck tee that I’ve used before for this Hummingbird tee.

If you don’t have a favorite tee-shirt, here’s some other choices:

Fabric choice

You’ll want to choose some cozy fabric for your ruffle sweater! I’m using a sweatshirt fleece, but a sweater knit, french terry, or wool jersey are all great options too.

If you’re using a t-shirt pattern designed for more stretchy knits like rayon jersey, cut a size larger than you would normally. Sweatshirt knits typically don’t have as much stretch and definitely not the recovery of stretchier knits. If you’re going Team Lazy here, you could also get away with just adding a little extra seam allowance at the sides.

ruffle sweater infographic

1. Make the Crossover front piece

ruffle sweater pieces

To start, trace off a copy of your front pattern piece. For this project it needs to be a full piece. You can trace a full piece or go the lazy route by using your traced half as the altered part and just overlap your original piece at center front when you cut. When I’m pattern hacking, I’m all about Team Lazy!

Next, draw a curve from the middle armhole down towards the hem. It should crossover center front 1-2″ from the bottom of the hem. For this style, you want to reduce the hem allowance to 3/8″ since we’re going to add the ruffle.

To finish the front piece, add a seam allowance beyond your line that you drew and cut away the excess. You’ll need to cut 2 of these.

2. Measure for the ruffles

Next let’s make the ruffles. Take a measuring tape and measure on your pattern piece along the curve you drew. Multiply this X2 to get the length of your ruffle. Cut 2 ruffle pieces the length you need X 2.5″ wide.

Do the same thing for the back piece. Measure along the hem line, multiply X4 to get the length of the back ruffle (X2 if you’re using a full pattern piece). Cut 1 ruffle that length X2.5″.

3. Cut the ruffles

Cut 2 front ruffles and 1 back ruffle

4. Gather and hem the ruffles

Hem the ruffles by pressing up 5/8″ to the wrong side on the long edges. Topstitch the hem down with a double needle, zigzag stitch or a coverstitch.

Gather the top long edge of the ruffle by first sewing 2 rows of long stitches close to the top edge. From the wrong side, pull on the bobbin threads to gather the fabric. Repeat for the ruffles.

5. Sew on the ruffles

With wrong sides together, pin the gathered edge of the ruffle to the cut edge of a front piece. Adjust the ruffle to fit, then sew the ruffle to the edge with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat for the second ruffle and the back piece.

Stack the front pieces with the right front on top of the left and baste the armholes and neckline together. Trim away any ruffle from the armhole area so that the ruffle is flush with the armhole.

yellow ruffle sweater

*A note on the left front ruffle*

If you’re using a closer fitting t-shirt pattern as I am and your fabric is a little bulky (mine is!), you might want to have the left front ruffle end just past the point that it crosses over CF. You’ll still get a ruffle hem, but it won’t add extra bulk underneath the right front. But check your pattern. A looser fit tee might be just fine with that second ruffle.

6. Finishing up

After that, sew your shoulder seams, side seams, neck binding and sleeves as you would for any other t-shirt.

yellow ruffle sweater

Styling your DIY ruffle sweater

ruffle sweater flatlay

How do you wear something like this? I’m wearing mine with slim motorcycle leggings and boots. Other options would be to pair it with a nice cozy scarf and a pencil skirt or even over a knit dress. Leggings + a longer tunic under the ruffle sweater might be cool too. Or jeans! Always the jeans!

Winter dressing is all about layering! Have a look around your closet and don’t be afraid to experiment. For other styling posts, check out how I styled Sew Over It’s Lulu dress.

ruffle sweater

Make a DIY ruffle sweater yourself!

If you make this ruffle sweater yourself, I’d love to hear about it! Feel free to let me know about it on Instagram or you can email me elizabethmadethis@gmail.com!

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For sewists, we can feel the pressure to want to make handmade gifts for the people in our life.  We want to show off our mad sewing skills AND give something heartfelt to our loved ones.  Who doesn’t want to watch your child or your husband rip into a package and treasure it all the more because it was made just for them?  But sometimes the pressure of making all the things can get too much, especially this time of year when the calendar is already filled with so much activity.  Sewing should be fun, not stressful!  So let’s tackle how to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy.

How to make handmade gifts for the holidays without going crazy

First, we’ll dive into helping you define your why when it comes to creating handmade gifts.  Next, I’ll share some strategies that will help you identify projects that make great handmade gifts.  Last, I’ll show you how to organize all your goods for a successful gift sewing experience.

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Why do you want to make handmade gifts?

Before we start talking about what projects that make awesome handmade gifts, let’s define your why.  Why do you want to make handmade gifts in the first place?

Do you feel like you have to sew all the things?  Do you feel like buying something seems impersonal vs. making something?  Does it feel like because you have this skill of sewing, you’re a bad sewist if you don’t make at least 1 thing for all the people on your list?  Friend, you might be setting yourself up for stress if you believe these things.  But…

Do you love sewing for others?  Want to be able to show your love for your family and friends through your sewing?  Is there lots of fabric in your stash ready + an easy project that you can sew up quickly for gifts?  Good!  Those are all great reasons to make handmade gifts.  Which ones to choose???

Choose an easy, fast, repeatable project

What projects are good choices for handmade gifts?  Things that don’t take a lot of resources and are easily repeatable can make wonderful handmade gifts.  If you can cut out 10 and make it in a couple hours, you’ll be well on your way to being able to love your family and friends without a lot of headache.

Here’s a whole list of easy video tutorials I put together last year for quick and easy projects for handmade gifts.

Small projects like bags, scarves, mittens, or hats take very little fabric and can all be made in just a few minutes.  If you’re looking for a slightly bigger project, pajamas are a wonderful option.  Sewists of all levels can easily tackle pajama bottoms for anyone.  Pajamas get an extra vote because virtually every pattern company under the sun has an easy pajama pattern.

Use the same pattern

Once you’ve found some projects that you might be interested in, do yourself a solid and use the same pattern for your gift sewing adventures.  It might seem boring to do so, but once you’ve made up a project in multiple fabrics, each one will look totally unique.  And shoot, if you want to use the same fabric, that could be cool too.  Everybody loves a good matchy matchy pic of your family!

Patterns that come in multiple sizes are perfect for this kind of thing.  A pattern that’ll work for every single person on your list is pure gold.  It’ll save you time of searching through your stash or looking online for that perfect pattern for every member of your family.  Don’t forget the power of the one-size fits all pattern too!

handmade gifts
Some of my favorite pj patterns–they have been loved through nearly every size!

So you’ve identified your project, you’ve found the perfect pattern that’s going to serve all your needs.  Next, how do you prepare for the best, non-stressful sewing session?

Clean your sewing space

Ok, cleaning your sewing space isn’t fun to do, but a clean work area will really help clear your mind for a round of stress-free sewing.  You’re going to have a hard time making all of your handmade gifts in a cluttered room.  If cleaning the whole room is going to be too much, just clear out a small area that can be totally uncluttered and dedicated only to your project.  You’ll be amazed at how much a little organization can help!

Check out my sewing room tour.  You’ll walk away with some great thoughts on organization. 

Identify and prep your fabric

Determine which fabric you’re going to use.  Will you be using the same fabric?  Did you buy enough to cover all your needs?  I know certain fabrics like flannel come in obnoxiously and seemingly ever-shrinking narrow widths, so I have to constantly remind myself to buy extra!  What if you’re using stash fabric?  Will this be a scrap-happy project?

Whatever fabric you choose, wash and dry all of it.  If you’re using scraps from another project that you’ve saved, set them all out in a work area and double check to make sure your pattern pieces will fit.

Do you need any special notions like zippers, interfacing, bias tape, or buttons?  Gather all those things out and set them in a pile with each fabric.

Sew with love

Mommy made dress + squishy face =the best

Finally, don’t forget to sew with love.  Remember who you’ll be making things for, and the affection you want to share with those people.  With these things in mind, your work will become a joy and not just one more thing on your list!

So we’ve looked at defining why you want to make handmade gifts, what projects make awesome handmade gifts, and how you can begin to set yourself up for a stress-free gift sewing session.  Stay tuned next week when I’ll be sharing some awesome pajama patterns that are perfect for handmade gifts!

Until then, you can sign up for my newsletter and get a free Holiday Sewing Project Planner.  It’ll help you organize your thoughts and get you going in no time!  Just click on the image below to join my newsletter, and you’ll have happy mail from me in no time!

Sew Over It Penny dress

The light was filmy, and the woods around me positively technicolor.  Elaborate spider webs lay untouched and moss grew wild.  I half expected a gnome to jump out and yell, gotcha.  It was not the place that I first imagined my Sew Over It Penny dress in this rather tropical Lady McElroy fabric to take a walk, but a couple weeks back, as my husband and I explored The Haunted Wood at the Green Gables house on Prince Edward Island, that’s exactly what happened.

“Oh, Marilla, I wouldn’t go through the Haunted Wood after dark now for anything. I’d be sure that white things would reach out from behind the trees and grab me.” Chapter XX, Anne of Green Gables

Sew Over It Penny Dress in the Wilds of Canada

Sew Over It Penny dress

Okay, so it wasn’t that dramatic.  But still, it’s not everyday my handmade garments get to have such a moody backdrop.  Usually, the most common place my handmade garments find them is in the driver’s seat of my minivan with my crew to soccer practice in probably possibly in the form of my latest pair of crazy jams.

It’s pretty easy to see how these woods inspired L.M. Montgomery’s imagination as she wrote Anne of Green Gables.  It was too cool to get to take pictures in such a place–the inspiration itself for one of my favorite books of all time.  Dude–this dress?!  I wouldn’t wear puffed sleeves, but THIS dress!!!!!

“Anne took the dress and looked at it in reverent silence. Oh, how pretty it was–a lovely soft brown gloria with all the gloss of silk; a skirt with dainty frills and shirrings; a waist elaborately pintucked in the most fashionable way, with a little ruffle of filmy lace at the neck. But the sleeves–they were the crowning glory! Long elbow cuffs, and above them two beautiful puffs divided by rows of shirring and bows of brown-silk ribbon.” Chapter XXV, Anne of Green Gables

But let’s get into my dress itself.

Lady McElroy lawn

Sew Over It Penny dress

I was totally taken by this Lady McElroy lawn.  Last year I had seen Lauren Guthrie make it up into a project and instantly loved the peachy pinks. I may or may not have stalked this fabric for a while on about every website possible, trying to justify the price + the crazy expensive shipping from the UK.

As it turned out, Fancy Tiger stocks it which saved me a buttload in shipping plus the chance to see it in person.  This is really lovely fabric.  It’s crisp and has good structure, making for a proper popped collar, yet it has a hand that’s nearly as lovely as a silk cotton blend.  While it wasn’t cheap at $22/yd, this dress only took up 1 1/3 yds with my modification on the skirt.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Narrow that skirt, thread up a drawstring, that’s how we hack it

Just like on my shibori dress, I narrowed the skirt for this version of the Sew Over It Penny dress.  I think half circle skirts look great on other people, but they always feel like far too much fabric for my frame and height.  This slightly A-line skirt I added from my self-drafted pencil skirt is just the right amount of sweep at the hem for me on this one.

Sew Over It Penny dress

Because I’m like the Princess and the Pea with elastic, I added the drawstring.  To do so, I added 2 tiny buttonholes on either side of the center front at the bottom of the bodice.  The drawstring is threaded through the casing then.  A full elastic waist is perhaps the most uncomfortable thing to me, plus I love how a drawstring is a built-in belt and that I have the option of tightening or loosening it.  With a sewn-in elastic waist you don’t have that option, plus you’re probably adding a belt to add some waist definition.

Sew Over It Penny dress pattern review

Sew Over It Penny dress

In terms of the actual sewing of the dress, this is pretty easy sew.  There’s no darts or zippers, though there is a collar.  I think this would be appropriate for any beginning sewist who’s ready to tackle putting in a collar.  There’s no collar stand which requires more precise stitching, and the facing makes for a really clean inside.  Shoot, you could make it collarless and make it even easier.

The dress has a great silhouette to it, and I think there’s very few body types it wouldn’t work for.  Maybe consider narrowing the skirt if you’re petite like me.  Otherwise, this has a great classic look and super easy to style with a jacket, cardigan, tights, whatever!!

A better shoulder yoke

Sew Over It Penny dress

For all the loveliness of this pattern, I have a serious beef with the shoulder yoke.  For some reason, the directions would have you leave all of the seam allowances just serged/zigzagged off on the inside.

Sew Over It Penny dress
How would you sew it: Per the pattern directions (left) or with a clean finish burrito style (right)?

A clean-finish yoke like what you’d see on the inside of a RTW men’s shirt is SOOOOOOO much nicer and really doesn’t require a whole lot more in terms of the construction.  Sometimes rough inside finishes get the job done quickly, and that’s totally okay.  In this instance, why you would choose to skip a clean finish is a mystery.

Sew Over It Penny dress

But that’s one of those things.  Sometimes you follow the directions to the T and you move on.  On the other hand, when you’ve done something a certain way, you have an opinion about it.  If you like the way to construct something better than what’s in the pattern directions, make it the way you like.  The pattern police won’t come and get you!

That’s my thoughts for the Sew Over It Penny dress and my walk in the woods, but I’m curious:

Are you a follow-the-instructions type, or do you go your own way when you sew?

Can you actually embroider on a regular sewing machine?  I think it’s a giant myth in the sewing world that you need a big fancy embroidery machine to tackle basic embroidery.  Pinterest image of embroidered roses on a bag and on a t-shirt

Embroidery is such a nice thing to add to any sewing project to add a little bit extra personality beyond whatever it is that you’ve made.  Let’s talk how you can embroider on a regular sewing machine.

After a rather involved violin I added to a t-shirt, I wanted to make something simpler.  So I created this Angle Roses Embroidery Template, and I’d like to offer it to you today as a free download when you sign up for my newsletter.

The goal of the Angle Roses Embroidery Template is to teach you some basics of how to embroider on a regular sewing machine.

Can I actually embroidery on a regular sewing machine?

You bet you can!  You don’t even need a fancy foot to do so.  Embroidery on a regular sewing machine can be as simple as tracing a design onto a stabilizer and tracing along with the needle as if it were a pencil.  Plus, you can always make it more complicated if you want to.  Here are some supplies that will help you, and then I’ll give some examples of how to spice up this basic design.

Supplies needed for embroidery on a regular sewing machine

  •  Your design
  • Water soluble stabilizer–I really like Solvy by Sulky.  It’s great for transferring a design and making some nice stitches.  That you can wash it out in the end makes for stitches that won’t be damaged by pulling away the excess stabilizer as can happen in a lot of tear-away stabilizers.
  • Fine line permanent marker–for tracing your design!
  • Uncut fabric or a project that’s already in progress: anything is game here, and you can even use this technique to embellish ready to wear items.
  • Thread of your choice: contrast is key, so you’ll want to practice on some scraps if possible to help you make a good decision.
  • Glue stick:  For gently securing the stabilizer to your work area.
  • Machine foot of your choice: I go into the advantages of each foot in the video for this project, but basically, my top 3 choices are straight stitch foot, clear applique foot, and a free motion embroidery foot.

How can you use this design?

After you’ve downloaded the design, the PDF file will give you a tutorial and several ideas for how you can use them.  I also give some basic directions to help you achieve what I’ve made.  There’s actually a 5th level of difficulty here that I didn’t cover with this project but that I did get to in my violin t-shirt that I’ll talk about another day.  It’s basically a hybrid of applique and embroidery, and it’s one of my very favorite techniques!

Simple and clean

The easiest way to incorporate the Angle Roses Embroidery Template is to simply stitch it out in one color.  A good strongly contrasting thread will be a great choice.  Here I’ve added to a Blank Slate Patterns Texana tank.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

If you want to spend some more time, add multiple motifs on a skirt

Punch it up with color

Before you stitch out the design, add a little color to your fabric.  Here I roughly stitched back and forth with my free motion foot to lay down some color.  It’s amazing how much the character changes with this little addition!

Color between the lines

After stitching out the design, why not go back and stitch with some contrast thread to bring it into full color?  The roses came into full bloom in this funky quilted necklace.

embroider on a regular sewing machine

I’d love it if you would join the newsletter if for no other reason than I’m itching to see what you would do with this template!  There’s so many possibilities!  To make it easy to sign up, click on any of the pictures in this post or below, and it’ll take you to the sign up.

Thanks so much!!!

Newsletter

Sign up for my newsletter

Wow, after a jam-packed week, we’ve reached the end of the vlogger/blogger part of The Day and Night Dress Challenge.  Perhaps I need a big cup of fancy tea to celebrate/be a little sad.  But before we go, be sure to catch these videos from these lovely SewTubers!  This is your daily vlogs #5.

The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018: Daily vlogs #5

Renata of Runningnstyle chats about her dresses.  There’s sass and tropical fun + working under pressure.


Speaking of working gracefully under pressure, Doja of Elewa shows off her dresses inspired by Black Panther.  Read about her process for creating her dresses here.


Myra of Myra Lorraine makes two absolutely stunning dresses.  Best. blue. ever.


The blogger and vlogger part of The Day and Night Dress Challenge may have ended, but there’s still time to be a part of this challenge! 

WANT TO JOIN IN THE FUN YOURSELF?

HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE DAY AND NIGHT DRESS CHALLENGE?

    1. Sew some dresses!
    2. Let other people know about it.  Use #dayandnightdresschallenge on Twitter and Instagram and follow the Day and Night Dress Challenge Facebook group.
    3. Keep reading here to find out the latest.  Follow Elizabeth Made This on Instagram andFacebook.
    4. Post a picture of your day look (coffee) and your night look (cocktail) to Instagram to enter yourself.  Don’t forget to tag me @elizabethmadethis and use the #dayandnightdresschallenge.
    5. Grab a graphic and post it on your site and/or repost on Instagram:                          The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018

During the duration of the blogger/vlogger postapalooza for The Day and Night Dress Challenge, I’ll be posting the daily vlogs that pop up on YouTube regarding the challenge.  This is my collection of daily vlogs #1.

The Day and Night Dress Challenge 2018: Daily Vlogs #1

First up is my video about my dresses.  You’ve read about them here, now see them!  I also sneak in a mini fork pleating tutorial.

Sew Saturday Snippets #2

Good morning everyone!  I’ve been looking forward to Sew Saturday Snippets #2!  If you missed Sew Saturday Snippets #1, this is a new series here where I’m highlighting cool makes, sewing community challenges, and sewing videos.  If you’re interested in being featured on an upcoming edition of Sew Saturday Snippets, email me at elizabethmadethis@gmail.com.  Grab a cup of tea and let’s be inspired together!

 

Hey all!  I’m deep in the throes of making my husband’s Doctor Who suit.  Just the finishing and bagging the lining is left, plus a little more work on the pants.  Since I don’t have a full project to share, I thought I’d pop in to catch you up on what’s happening on Elizabeth Made This on the video front.  First, here’s my tips for sewing faux leather.

Tips for Sewing Faux Leather

There’s other tips in the video, but firstly, to be successful in sewing faux leather, mostly, just be fearless.  Fear not the faux!  And practice with your scraps and start small!  My first faux leather project was a simple belt.  That belt’s chief design feature is wonky topstitching, but it taught me a lot.

sewing faux leather

Fabric Mart Fabric Haul Oct 2017


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I have yet to buy a bad piece of fabric from Fabric Mart.  Of all of the online stores I’ve bought from, they really seem to most consistently have the best prices for the quality of the goods.  It’s probably good that they don’t have free shipping, or I’d be buying from them a great deal more!

I’ll leave you today with some sneak peeks of my husband’s suit:

Pretty pockets

Oh, the matched pinstripes and that pretty shaped pocket.

While they’re not my best welt pockets, this was #5 in the jacket.  I won’t beat myself up too much either, this being only the second time I’ve made welts from lining fabric.

Tailoring guts

I couldn’t go through all of the work of padstitching without showing all of the work.  I finally get why people get into tailoring.  There’s something truly magical that you get to see as each stitch shapes those lapels.  You think that part of the jacket just sits that way on its own?  No.  Tailoring is careful manipulation of the fabric.

I did most of the undercollar while watching my sons play soccer.  And those custom shoulder pads are fusible fleece + bias cut muslin + love.

The end is in sight!
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This is a bit of a nothing sort of project, but this month I suppose I need something quick and easy. With my husband’s Doctor Who 10th Doctor suit on my docket, a super simple project is just the thing to keep my brain from being overwhelmed. There’s no less than 39 pattern pieces for the suit! This fall henley top was just what the Doctor (ha ha!) ordered!

Fall henley top

I’ve had this burnout jersey from Emma One Sock in my stash for a couple of years now. I dithered for a really long time trying to find the right pattern to show off this beautiful fabric. It’s even been washed and ready to go since Spring, yet I hesitated.

Do you ever do that? Get all ready for a project and then shelve it because you simply forget about it? I’ve talked before how I don’t often have unfinished objects (UFOs). Instead, I deal in NSOs (not started objects).

Burdastyle 12-2009-121 henley + my TNT t-shirt

I’ve made this henley top before. Burdastyle 12-2009-121 is a good basic henley, but when I went to make it, it occurred to me that all I needed to do was trace off the front placket and a copy of the neckline.

The front is a standard tee, but the CF is cut about 1/4″ away from the fold so you can sew in the placket. That’s it. There could hardly be a more simple tee variation.

Doctor Who 10th Doctor suit: the beginning

I was able to do a first muslin of my husband’s suit. The pants only need length changes, but the jacket will take a little more work.

He has a slightly more rounded upper back which will require a horizontal dart, plus he needs more width across the back and a little more breathing room in the hips. He’s traveling this week, so I won’t be able to do the changes and forge ahead, but that’s okay.
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I realized this week that planning for a big project takes up a lot of time but also a lot of mental space. While pondering this, I came up with 6 tips for planning a big project that will help you keep you from burning out when you reach the end. Have a look!

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