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How to: Flat Fell Seams

I’ve been working on mastering the Negroni shirt pattern and the flat fell seams were one aspect that I just wasn’t happy with on the first version I made. I also put the cuff buttonholes in the wrong place, so overall it wasn’t exactly my best work.

So of course for the next version I chose the softest, floppiest linen possible: Antwerp Linen in Chambray. It’s gorgeous, but made of 100% linen so there’s not much body to it and an incredibly soft hand. These are great qualities in clothing, but not so much for the construction part. If you choose to go this route, I suggest you invest in some good starch, Best Press, Flatter or something similar.

Because of my choice in fabric, I had to do a little extra with my seams, but first let me show you how to do a basic flat fell seam. These are perfect for the side seams of dress shirts and jeans, but are a good alternative with fabrics that like to fray.

First you will stitch a regular 5/8″ seam. I use my walking foot throughout because it works great and I don’t want to change feet unless I have to. If you prefer, you can use a regular foot for this part. Stitch, then press to set your seam.

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How to: Make a Needle Book

Crinkle Dreams Needle Books
photo credit: Robert Hart for Fabric Depot

For the Sew Mama Sew needle testing blog post I made up a few little needle books. They’ll be giving ten of them away, filled with the eight different needles we used in the testing. Go comment over there for a chance to win one for yourself.

In case you don’t win and want to make one up for yourself, I thought I’d let you know how I made them.  They are pretty quick and a  great way to use up some scraps.

You’ll need:

  • 4” x 7” piece of outer fabric (I used the Tula Pink Elizabeth collection)
  • 4” x 7” piece of inner fabric (I used RK’s Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in Chambray)
  • 4” x 7” piece of batting
  • 3” x 6” piece of wool felt
  • hair elastic cut in half or 2” piece of elastic braid
  • 3/4” button
  • coordinating thread

Mark center of one short end of outer fabric. This will be the back of the needle book.

Baste elastic at center point, creating a loop.


Layer batting, then outer and inner fabrics (RST) and pin at corners.


Sew around edges with a 1/4” seam, leaving a 1 1/2” to 2” gap on one long side.

Trim batting close to stitching line around entire rectangle.

Trim corners.


Turn inside out, using a point turner and press.


Using a ladder stitch, sew the hole used for turning closed.


Press again and top stitch, if desired.

Mark proper button placement by pulling elastic band around to front.


Sew button in place.

Fold felt in half and press to mark stitching line.

Fold needle book together with outer fabric touching itself. Mark center with pins.

Place felt on unfolded needle book, matching stitching line with pins. Pin in place.


Stitch along fold line, from top to bottom and back-stitching at each end.


Trim threads, put some needles in the felt, fold in half and button to keep it closed.


I decided to add a little tape measure ribbon, muslin for holding buttons and/or safety pins, and a pocket to the back for my own, but you can make it as simple or complicated as you’d like.

needlebook measuring tape

needlebook pocket

Don’t forget to read the post and enter to win, if you’d like one already made and with a trial array of needles!

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How To: Make A Coffee Cozy

Maybe you love the paper sleeves you get on your cup of joe (or cocoa or chai or whatever your beverage of choice is), but maybe you’re looking for a bit of pizzazz to throw on that boring ol’ cup. Something with some personality.

I’ve made up some little kits to make your own, including fabric, batting, elastic band and covered button. But if you wanna just make one for yourself, here’s how I do it… Continue reading How To: Make A Coffee Cozy

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How to: Make Popover’s bias straps and hem

So we got the Oliver + S Popover Sundress side seams finished and added the yoke, now we get to finish it off.

Now time to do the bias straps. You can do them with self-fabric or be justifiably lazy and use 1/2″ double-old bias tape. I bought a bias tape maker not too long ago and will be trying that out on the next dress. For this one, I just followed the directions.

Fold the bias strap in half lengthwise, then in half again, on one side only.


I followed their directions, but also added a step. The stretch of the bias and the stretch of the underarm curve made for some frustration for me. I had to re-do it on one side and decided to just stay-stitch to avoid the double stretch.

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How to: Start the Popover Sundress

finished Popover dressI wanted to find a quick and easy pattern for the orphans’ dresses, so when I found this one from Oliver+S, I thought it might just be the one. I’ve used their new Straight Stitch Society patterns [did I really not take any photos?!] and really love the way they put them together and explain the construction. I figured same people, different name–it’ll be good.

I was right, the Popover Sundress pattern is quick to assemble, the instructions are easy to follow along and it’ll sell you on their patterns.

The pattern is a downloadable which means you are going to have to tape it together to get the full-size pieces. Normally, I hate this and refuse to do it. For the sake of this project, including being able to share it all with you, I did it. I pulled out the clear tape, lined up the grids and taped it together. Just because I did it this once, don’t be expecting me to do it much more. I’ll take tissue paper patterns any day.

Anyway, you end up with three pieces: dress, yoke and ties. They also give you a matching pattern for a doll dress, which I may have to do with my scraps. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Continue reading How to: Start the Popover Sundress

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Behold the Creeper

If you’ve got a kid anywhere around the tween age, you probably know all about Minecraft. My kids were all gung-ho into it more than a year ago, but the phase was relatively short-lived. For others, it’s lasted much longer–including for my friend’s son who is still going strong with the Minecraft love.

I’ve known this for quite a while, but making the leap from knowing what game he likes to coming up with something I could make related to that … well, I needed some help with that. Thankfully, the daughter (same age as his son) came up with this awesome idea. A Creeper stuffie!


I used Mary Fisher’s fabric, but if you want to get super-realistic with it, you could patchwork the whole thing. I was satisfied with quilting it to give it the ‘made with cubes’ look.

Here’s what you’re going to need to do it my way:

Head: Five pieces of green fabric that is 4-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ square and five pieces of iron-on batting that is 4″ x 4″. Mark quilting lines, centering the first block and working outward so that the quilting is 3/4″ apart. Using black cotton (with fusible adhesive already attached), cut out a piece that is 1-1/2″ square of the black fabric and cut out the parts to make it look like the Creeper face. I did this by folding it precisely then cutting. Iron onto green fabric and stitch around the edges. [You can see I forgot to do the stitching on until after I’d sewn up the edges. Oops.]

Sew sides together , starting and ending 1/4″ away from ends. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance on all seams. Sew on top and bottom pieces, being careful at the corners and leaving a 2″ gap for turning on one edge.Trim corners, turn, stuff it nice and full with batting, then hand-stitch it closed with a ladder stitch.

Body: Cut out two pieces of green fabric that is 2-1/2″ x 6-1/2″, two that are 4-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ and two that are 2-1/2″ x 4-1/2″. Iron on pieces that are cut 1/2-inch smaller each direction. Quilt these the same way, making sure that a block is centered on the side. This will help you line it up when you are assembling the little guy and make it look a bit better than random quilting. Stitch them the same way, leaving the 1/4″ loose at the ends, stitching on the end pieces, trimming, turning, stuffing and closing.

Legs: This is where it starts getting monotonous and becoming way less fun to make. Maybe you should start with the legs and then doing the head would be an exciting way to end the project rather than the drudgery of the little legs finishing it off? Either way you are going to need 15 pieces of the green fabric that is cut 3-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ and eight pieces that are 2-1/2″ squares. And the same in the fusible batting, but half-inch smaller each direction. And again with the stitching, trimming, turning, stuffing and stitching.

The only thing I did differently with the legs is that I poured in two tablespoons of short-grain rice into each leg to give him some weight and also in hopes that I could mold it enough to make him stand. It totally worked.

Once everything is stuff and stitched closed, you can sew the pieces together. I used tight small stitches since this is a child’s play thing and kids are rough on their belongings. I started by sewing the body to the head, aligning it in the center of the head (from front to back); they are the same width.

The legs prove to be a bit of a pain since there’s no clear marking on them, but let them overlap the body about 1/2″ off the front and the back, and let the legs overhang from the body about 1/4″ on the sides. Check out the picture if I’m not clear. Start stitching it to the body on the edge of the leg and stitch the inside/bottom parts first, then around the outside edge where it is easier to get to. Believe me–this will save you anxiety and pin pricks.

Wham, bam, you have made a Creeper. If you’re just not up for it, let me know and I might be willing to make one for ya.

P.S. He totally loved it.


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Boys like Creepers, right?

It’s time to make Xmas gifts. Okay, long past time, but life’s been wonky for a while. I just recently got started on gifts for my best bud’s kids. For his daughter (the one who got the owl coat), I decided to make doll clothes. I’ve whipped up a couple of things, but don’t love them enough to post. I need to use some different fabric, better suited for tiny dresses. Plus I need some corduroy for those little overalls. She just recently was gifted one of the American Girl dolls and -shrug- I figured she could use some more clothes for it. Besides they are quick projects, something that is important at the last minute and with arms that hurt so much.

For his 13yo son, though, I was stumped. I told my daughter I was trying to think of something that I could make for him that would relate to one of video game obsessions. I figured there had to be something with Minecraft that I could make; I just couldn’t think of anything.

She’s a smart one, that girl, and without a moment of hesitation suggested a Creeper stuffie. Of course, I was clueless as to what exactly a Creeper is, but Google’s here to save my brain from having to know all this. Phew.

Last night I got started, jotting down sizes and taking some inspiration from this tutorial. I wanted to add some quilting to make it look more like blocks and used a batik from Mary Fisher’s new collection.

I cut out 4 1/2-inch squares of the green fabric, 4 1/4-inch squares of fusible batting. Using scrap black and Wonder Under, I made the little face. The eyes are 3/4-inch squares and the mouth is a 1 1/2-inch square with snips in it. I was supposed to applique them on at this point, but I forgot and had reached the stuffing point before I realized my mistake and had to hand-stitch them in place.

Ironed all the pieces together:

Then set to quilting them. I had to make it work around the face, so the stitching lines are about 3/4-inch apart. I just chain stitched them, moving my handy star magnet with each new quilting line. [The blue tape marks 1/2-inch, the Izzy sticker under it is at 5/8-inch and star magnet moves wherever I want it to–there is logic, I swear!]

Each block got 8 quilting lines and I didn’t back them at all.

The I stitched them together (I’ll show that part better when I do the body), snipped it, turned, stuffed it and  -bam- it’s a Creeper head! It’s all Christmas-y with the red ball garland. :)