Saturday, May 02, 2015

Book Review: Sew Classic Clothes for Girls

My teeny tiny newborn baby girl graduates from kindergarten in three weeks. How is that possible? It seems like her first day of kindergarten was either three days or three years ago! 

{first day of kindergarten}

On Friday, May 8, she has a graduates party to attend. A parents-drop-your-kid-and-run type of thing. It's at her school, they have a party instead of a graduation ceremony. The thing is, my husband works every night but Monday so it'll just be me at home. All by myself. From 7:00-10:00 in the evening. 

What the heck am I going to do with myself?

I guess I better sew the little graduate a new dress for her last day of school, right? How perfect that another book should land in my mailbox, especially since that new book is The Cottage Mama's new one, Sew Classic Clothes for Girls.
{Sew Classic Clothes for Girls 
by Lindsay Wilkes}

There are 20 different things to make in this book and six adorable chapters full of all the details and tricks on how to do it. 
{how cute is that outfit?}

I want to make just about everything in this book, starting with this:
{pocket smock top}

Roo loves pockets, she's always putting something in her pockets (flowers, bark mulch from the playground, empty balloons). When she doesn't have pockets, she sticks these things-even the bark mulch-in her shoes. That little smock top practically has her name all over it! 

{vintage ruffle capris & shorts}

I'm not sure if she would wear those pants, but oh my heck aren't they cute? 

{dainty darling dress}

I do know that she would wear the Dainty Darling Dress, and that may be the one I end up making. Isn't it precious with its puff sleeves, buttons and big old-timey bow? I love all of Lindsay's designs. She really knows how to keep a little girl modest yet modern! 

{size chart-a nice variety!}

I also appreciate that she has included ideas and tricks for making your handmade garments look professionally handmade (not homemade) with the use of trims and buttons. There are lots of little tips and ideas found in the pages of this book. She's even got a few tips on how to finish your seams, which is extra handy for me because I won't have my serger until July. (It's still in that storage unit in Seattle.)

{little lady coat}

Maybe when Roo starts back up in school as a first grader I'll make the above outfit, isn't it adorable? 

If you have a little girl in your life, you should consider purchasing this book. All of the designs are so sweet, and so precious, just the way we think of our little girls, right? 

Sew Classic Clothes for Girls: 20 Girls' Dresses, Outfits and Accessories from the Cottage Mama
By Lindsay Wilkes
KP Craft/F+W; $27.99

Happy sewing!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Playing Catch-Up With the Betsy Sew Along

I'm having the hardest time keeping up with my schedule! I've missed Week Two and I'm posting at the last possible minute about Week Three! I'm not even sure how that happened, really. 

Let's just jump right in without any further delay, shall we?

April 9: Sew Along Week 2—Add exterior corners, accordion pocket, zippered back pocket (pattern steps 11–29)

{giveaway Betsy for 2015 Stash Bash Attendees}

The corners...just one of the details that makes The Betsy Travel Bag look professional. How do you get the finished edge so perfect? Well, I'll tell you. I measure EVERYTHING. I remember when I was an intermediate level sewist making garments. I had to turn an edge under 1/2" (1", 2" whathaveyou) but it never came out perfect and I could never find that slidey ruler thingy to help me get it accurate. One day, I realized that if I needed a 1/2" hem, I could use a fabric pen on the wrong size and draw a line 1" away from the edge. If I folded the edge to the line, I would have a perfect 1/2" hem! So, that's what I do. Double the measurement that the pattern tells you, draw it on the back of the fabric and press! Voila! Perfection every time. It's so satisfying. We'll use this trick throughout the Betsy pattern, so keep your eye out!

When you sew the corners on, pin them balls in/across the triangles. This will help keep the corners in place and will keep the pin heads out of the way of the presser foot.

The accordion pocket is pretty straight-forward. Two rectangles placed right sides together and sewn all the way around, leaving a 4" opening at the bottom for turning. 
{finished accordion pocket}

It's important to pay attention to one-way design when deciding what is the top and what is the bottom of your pocket. The opening needs to be at the bottom. The reason is because the top-stitch is 1/2", which wouldn't end up closing the turning hole of it was on top. However, since the pocket is edge-stitched at 1/8" across the bottom and down both sides, it will close easily. 

Follow the marking diagram in the instructions for pressing and folding the accordion pleats. You will stitch the center line, then the sides and finally across the bottom of the pocket. It is essential to pin the pocket in place really well to make sure there is no shifting and bunching of the pocket. 

For the accordion pocket straps and strap tabs, as well as a few other things, you will be asked to stitch a "square and an X". I use a grid ruler to measure 1/8" up from folded bottom edge, draw a line. Measure the space between lines of stitching (about 3/4" or 1") measure that distance up from the first line and Mark. Connect the corners by drawing an "X". Start by stitching on the first line you drew, go up to the next line by carefully stitching over the existing stitches on the strap. Sew the full square before continuing to the first diagonal line. Go up (or down?) the original stitch line and stitch the next line in the "X". I hope that all made sense!

The back exterior zippered pocket seems to be really intimidating to most people. But, I'm telling you, YOU can do it! I just taught a class and most of my students were so nervous about this step. They couldn't believe how easy it was when they had it accomplished. Seriously, it's as simple as sewing a rectangle. You don't even have to put your zipper foot on (Gasp! Shock! For real...)
{trimmed rectangle to show the cute polka dot zipper}

Place one pocket lining right sides together on the back exterior, follow the instructions for marking the pocket line; stitch on the rectangle. Then, draw a line down the center of the rectangle and cut it open. Feel free to trim some of that seam or leave it as is. If you trim, it'll be easier to pull the lining completely out of the rectangle and towards the back. If you don't, the lining will then wrap the seam and remain exposed, which is a pretty accent, in my opinion. 
{untrimmed rectangle for accent}

If you leave the rectangle untrimmed, as shown in above photo, the pocket lining will be all weird and puckery on the sides where the zipper ends are. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THIS! Simply adjust the seam allowance to cover it when you stitch the second piece to it. This is a hidden pocket and you will not see the seams, nor will the seam allowance make a difference in pocket functionality. Just trust me, this is one of those times in sewing where you get to be wild and carefree!

When installing the zipper, after pulling the lining to the inside, you don't have to pin it. Instead, I use either Liquid Stitch or Elmer's glue to hold it in place. For this reason, I almost always do this step first. It gives the glue time to dry while I work on the corners, accordion pocket etc. Apply a thin line of glue to the long edges of the zipper tape, then carefully center the zipper on the rectangle. If you place the zipper head face down, hold it with your finger, you can sort of roll the zipper along the opening line to make sure it's centered nice and neat.

Next up is the Week Three Post, which I will finish up right now. Stay tuned!

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Book Review: Improvising Tradition...

I received this book for review at the end of last year. I remember thinking "Improv quilting?? I dunno. That's too 'art quilt' for me, but I'll try it." I guess I think crazy-weird arm flinging, stage leaping, mime faced expressive dance when I think of improv quilting. For example...
{Caterham Dance School, photo by Elliott Scott Photography} 

Graceful, lovely, unique but totally not my thing. I appreciate it, I admire those dancers for being brave and gutsy and free, but that style is not for me. Improv quilting is not for me, I need rhyme and reason. I can only express myself by refusing to make quilts entirely out of one line of fabric. Mixing fabrics, designers, prints and colors is my expressive dance in quilting! I am not a stage galloper, an arm waver, an improv quilter. No way no how. 

Or so I thought...

Well then this book landed in my mailbox and I was all "Eeewww, Improv Quilting, what the heck?" I turned the pages hoping to find that one quilt in the book that proved me to be right, that one quilt that screamed out "I am EXPRESSIVE! And FREE! I AM IMPROOOOOOV!" but they all just sat there in the book, quietly, waiting for me to realize that I was letting my preconceived notions of this form of quilting get the best of me. 

These quilts were free, yes:
{morse code quilt}

These quilts were artsy:
{mirrored sunset wall hanging}

These quilts were modern:

These quilts were adorable:
{guppies in the middle baby quilt}

And these quilts were definitely inspiring:

Oh yes, this whole book was inspiring. All  17 projects are inspiring, in fact. I found myself flipping through the pages because I wanted to see how they did that funky awesome herringbone thing again, or re-read the instructions on needle-turned appliqué once more. I especially kept finding myself looking again, over and over, at the XOXO Baby Quilt. That one...THAT one was going to be the one that kicks off my improv quilting love affair. I had to make it, so one afternoon, I did. 
{fabric selection}

If you've read my "About Me", you know I make lists. I'm never without a to-do list and for the last two years, making a mini quilt for my friend Katherine has been on that list. I decided to turn the XOXO Baby Quilt  into a mini quilt for her.

Can I just tell you how much fun the improv process is? There are no rules, no one is looking over your shoulder and saying "You're doing that wrong." because you get to create as you go. The beauty of it is that you get to make something with guidelines, you have the general idea for the end result in your head, and if you're good at being a one-step ahead thinker, you will love this process.

I haven't done the quilting on it yet, but I have a plan for it. (Weird, right? Planning on an improv piece.)

I know my perception of this type of quilting has permanently changed. I think they should stop calling it "Improv Quilting" and they should call it instead, "Choose Your Own Adventure Quilting", don't you? 

You can find this book in the InterWeave online store by clicking here.

Visit the author, Alexandra Ledgerwood, on her website here.

Happy quilting!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Betsy SewAlong!

Fun, fun, super fun. I get to have a sew-along with my publisher/co-hosts Rebel Craft Media for The Betsy Travel Bag. 

{Angela Pingel's Betsy}

Here's the funny thing...I'm co-hosting this Sew Along, meaning I have to be responsible and organized and punctual (insert "Huh, Wha??" Face here) I'm still kind of in disbelief that I made up that pattern. I mean, I keep seeing it on Instagram, I've seen the test-sewn versions in person and every time I look at it I think "Wow, that's a cool bag. I should make one!" And then I remember that I did make one. In fact, I made the pattern. How'd that happen, I mean did it go from an idea to all of this? 

{inside, sorta}

Somebody pinch me, this is pretty cool. The best part is, now I get to see what you guys make. It's pretty neat to see other people so excited about creating a bag from something I made up. I can't describe the feeling, but it's very humbling and it makes me giddy. 

{side view}

I'll be working on three Betsy's during this #BetsySewAlong. I'll be on Instagram to help answer questions, give advice, encouragement or explanations. There's nothing to silly to ask, so don't worry about that. I'd love it if you joined us! 

{fabric pull for a raffle Betsy/SewAlong 1}

The Betsy SewAlong has a weekly plan, giving you plenty of time to tackle the items on the list for that week. The pattern is available through, zippers can be purchased through Zip-It on Etsy and the hardware kit, in three different price/style options, can be found at

Check out the details below, and join us for a fun month-long sewing event. 

Show us your progress on Instagram using #BetsySewAlong and #TheBetsyTravelBag!


The Betsy Travel Bag Sew Along Schedule

Posts will go live on the below dates (Thursday of each week for 5 weeks).

April 2: Sew Along Week 1—Cut, interface, make handles/tabs/etc., make exterior quilted panels (pattern steps 1–10)

April 9: Sew Along Week 2—Add exterior corners, accordion pocket, zippered back pocket (pattern steps 11–29)

April 16: Sew Along Week 3—Make end panels (pattern steps 30–50)

April 23: Sew Along Week 4—Make interior pocket, assemble bag and lining (pattern steps 51–69)

April 30: Sew Along Week 5—Finishing steps: add top zip, binding, handles, strap (pattern steps 70–82)

May 8: Deadline to submit finished photos.

Enter to Win!

Share a photo of your finished bag on Instagram on or before May 8 at 11:59pm EST. Tag your bag photo with #BetsySewAlong and @rebelcraftmedia to enter. The bag must be completed in full to be eligible to win.

Not on Instagram? Email us a photo of your completed bag to by the deadline to enter.

One winner will be selected at random from all submitted and eligible photos of The Betsy Travel Bag.

The winner will receive a fat quarter bundle of “Biology”, designed by Sarah Watson for Cloud9 Fabrics—courtesy of Fat Quarter Shop!

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Betsy Travel Bag Blog Hop



The long-awaited Betsy Travel Bag is finally here!  You can buy your presale copy TODAY!  I can't even begin to tell you how exciting this is for me.  This bag is about 8 or 9 months in the making and it really does feel like I'm having a baby!  What will all of your Betsy's look like?  How will people like the pattern?  What if no one likes it?  Will it get along with everyone's sewing abilities?  I'm so nervous and excited and downright giddy!

{the original Betsy Travel Bag, made by me for Elizabeth Dackson/Don't Call Me Betsy}

Do you remember how this bag came to be?  If not, click here for the full story (and here for the details not covered in the story).  Check out Elizabeth's post on her bag, the original bag, here.

Since that fateful day (hardy har), I have made three other BTB's and have at least five more in the works.  One is a two bag order, and I'm not entirely sure I can reveal the details of that one just yet, but I will tell you this: these two bags are going to be insanely spectacular, out of this world.  This person is a very popular fabric designer and you are going to LOVE the line I'll be using for them!

{Betsy Travel Bag number two, my own personal bag}

For my bag, I used one of my all-time favorite fabrics by Echino.  I dream of living in England someday, so anything that has the Union Jack, London, Double Busses etc on it has me written all over it.  This is the bag on the pattern cover.  OMG I SAID PATTERN COVER!  Seriously, I am so excited about this pattern, can you tell??

{finished measurements are 20" wide x 12.5" high x 6.5" wide}

{the inside of the bag, nice and roomy with two pockets and a key fob that is sorta camouflaged by the lining}

The third bag was a very special bag.  I got to make it for one of my very best friend's out of her first fabric line.  She's a little bit rock 'n roll (don't tell her I said that because she's really just as goofy and dorky as me, SH!) so I decided to add some metal studs and use all gold hardware.

{the dynamic duo!  Katy and Me at QuiltCon 2015}
{Betsy Travel Bag number three for Katy Jones/I'm A Ginger Monkey}

{those studs gave it an edgy flair}

{Betsy, as seen in Katy's Priory Square/Art Gallery Fabrics booth at Fall Quilt Market 2014}

The fourth bag isn't quite finished yet, although it's almost there.  I only need to finish the binding and the lucky recipient will soon have it in her crazy talented hands!  I'm really loving how this one is turning out, and I know she's excited about it, too.  

I love that you can use big or unusual prints (hello Kokka, Tula Pink, Echino!) with this bag.  It has tons of pockets, lots of space, an easy space for stuffing and then accessing your book, wallet, airplane tickets etc.  You don't have to set your bag down every time you need to get into it, you just unhook a zipper binding and reach in.  Easy peasy. 

I purposely designed this bag to be floppy and squishable instead of stiff.  I didn't need it to stand up on it's own.  I DID need it to be easily stuffed under the seat in front of me on an airplane, or squashed into the last available space in the trunk of my car on a long road trip.  I wanted it to open up wide so it was easy to pack and unpack.  I also needed to make sure there was an inside zippered pocket to store my laptop, magazines, flip flops or even my dirty laundry.

{bonus key fob (in blue) so you won't lose your house keys while you're out of town!}

Most of all, I wanted this pattern to be easy enough for a confident beginner or an intermediate level sewist to be able to accomplish.  If you can sew a straight line, you can make this bag.  Even if your lines are a little bit wavy, don't worry about it!  The big prints will hide that!  (I've tried to think of it all, haha!) Even if you're not sure you can sew this bag confidently, don't worry too much about it.  We are hosting a Betsy Travel Bag sew-along on Rebel Craft Media's blog starting April 2.  There will be tons of participants (oh geez, I mean I hope there will be!) lots of helpful hints and inspirational pictures to browse and we'll be giving away two copies of the pattern! Use the hashtag "#thebetsytravelbag" on Instagram to play along.

You can purchase the presale pattern starting March 17, 2015 by clicking here. Presale purchasers will receive the supplies list which will give you two weeks to gather your hardware, fabrics, notions etc.  Speaking of hardware, we've made that pretty easy for you.  Claudia, of Snuggly Monkey, has put together a Betsy Bag Hardware Kit just for you. Click here to view/order one.

We have a pretty spectacular blog hop lined up for you.  You'll get to see Betsy through the eyes of the makers, pattern testers, owners and supporters! 

Happy Reading, Sewing, Supplies Gathering etc!

The Betsy Travel Bag Blog Hop Tour

March 17
Day One:
*Rebel Craft Media*

*schnitzel & boo*

*Snuggly Monkey*

March 19
Day Two:
*Daisy & Jack*

March 21
Day Three:
*I'm A Ginger Monkey*

March 23
Day Four:
*Stitchy Quilt Stuff*

March 25
Day Five:
*Libby Dibby*

March 27
Day Six:
*Euphoria Jessica*

March 29
Day Seven:
*Karri of Berries*

March 31
Day Eight:
*Rebel Craft Media*
(photo round up)