Are you still on a spring cleaning kick too? If you’re here, you know you can spring clean your tshirt drawer and turn them in to panties. But what else can you do with the humble tee?
Just for you, this week I scoured the internets for 5 great no-sew t shirt tutorials. Let the upcycling begin! :) In no particular order:
5) A tshirt rug
I know these things are magnets for cat hair and all the sweeping I don’t do in our apartment, but doesn’t it look like so much fun? Plus, it sounds like on delicate, that you can machine wash… (For a sturdier, more labor intensive version, check out this beautiful latch hook tshirt rug tutorial.)
Dear readers! Week 8 and the Summer Sewing Tutorial Series is wrapping up! Thanks so much for being a part of it! I’m looking forward to sharing more about the day to days of business owning and growing and funning and sillying as summer turns to fall, but I’m excited for one last tutorial today (well, part 1 of 2… :)). About how to fix the holes that magically (or not so magically) appear in our favorite garments.
There are a few different categories of holes that I’ve recognized (though this list certainly isn’t comprehensive):
Holes in woven fabrics having nothing to do with a seam
Holes in knit fabrics having nothing to do with a seam
So I thought I’d walk us through fixing some of the easier ones this week, and save some of the others for Part 2… :)
Holes in Seams
This is just where some stitching broke or came out, but the integrity of the garment and fabric aren’t compromised. All you’ve gotta do is turn the garment inside out, pin the two pieces of fabric together where they used to join, and sew it up (using a sewing machine, or by hand) following the old stitch line where the garment used to be joined. Good as new! If you’re working on a knit fabric (remember the difference between woven and knit?), you’ll get extra credit for using a very narrow zig-zag stitch, so that the seam line will stretch with the fabric. :)
1) Sad armpit hole… 2)Turned inside out and pinned. 3)In the sewing machine I follow the garment’s original stitch line and seam allowances. 4)Ta da!
Holes Right Next to Seams
So here, there’s a stress point on the garmentike on these tights), and the fabric has worn out. I can fix it, but it’s going to change the size of the garment slightly (which may or may not jive for your garment’s style), and the hole(s) will likely come back. But it’ll last a little while longer :)
Just like above, turn the garment inside out
Pin the two pieces of fabric together just to the inside of the holes
Use chalk (if you want, or you can eyeball it) to draw where your new stitch lines will be. Try to make a gradual line from where the fabric is currently stitched together out towards where the holes live. You’ll want to stay as close to the holes as you can without sewing over weakened fabric. I’ll go about 1/4″ from the holes.
Stitch along the line you drew and turn right side out. I did a super narrow zig zag so that it would stretch with the tights’ fabric. You did it!
1)Hole. Boo. 2)Turned inside out, pinned, and the stitch line re-drawn with chalk 3)Sewing! 4)Ta da!
Holes in knit fabrics having nothing to do with a seam
These ones can sometimes be hideable, depending on where and what type of fabric. Here’s a little cardigan with a mini-hole I’ll patch from the back using a little piece of tshirt.
Cut out a little patch and put it behind the hole. Try to choose fabric of similar type/weight. I’m not folding the edges of my patch under here- it would add bulk and my tshirt patch won’t ravel anyway, so I’m just going to leave it like you see in the photo (and trim it down a little bit when I’m finished).
Put a knot in your threaded needle and start from the inside of your garment. I always sew around the little hole like the petals on a flower- from the outside to the center. Check it out in the photos below.
After I’ve gone around the hole, I come back to the inside of the garment and knot my thread off just like I did when we were sewing a button.
Row 1: The hole and our materials! Row 2: My patch and flower petal stitching Row 3: The finished product, inside and out :)
If it’s a casual garment, or has a print like this one, it may not be noticeable at all!
Well, what do you think? Do you have any clothing you’ll be patching soon? I’d love to hear about it! Please comment below :) And see you next week!
Hello and happy Thursday :) The warm weather has finally come to Seattle (I know most of the U.S. has been sweltering for weeks, but I cannot tell you how happy I am to have 3 days in a row sunny and 80 degrees. I love the sun waaaay too much to be in the Pacific Northwest. :) How’s a girl supposed to photosynthesize? :)
Today we conquer the button! Shank buttons, sew-through buttons (the kind with 2 or 4 holes)- you name it, it’s getting put somewhere! So, without further ado, I invite you to join me, my trench coat and some pretty fabulous pink sparkly buttons. We’re sewing these puppies on!
And the finished product!
I am ready for whatever the world sends my way with these sassy pink buttons!
Where are you putting your buttons? Please comment below!
You made it! Week 6 of our Summer Sewing Tutorial Series- Making our shopping bag! We’ve waited so long to get here, let’s just dive in! :) Husbie Zac will be our guinea pig and model again this week. So, without further ado…
Zac with his cut out pattern pieces! What do yours look like?
You’ll also need:
Thread that matches your project
A colored pencil, pen or sewing chalk
A safety pin
Your threaded sewing machine, bobbin and all (for a how to, check out last week’s post)
An hour or two :)
First things first: Seams and seam allowances. A seam is where two or more pattern pieces join with a row of stitching (you might’ve heard of side seams before? On a skirt, this is where a skirt front and skirt back fabric pieces join together on the side of your body). This pattern calls for 5/8″ seam allowances (which are pretty standard for home sewing). What is a seam allowance? It is the amount of fabric you leave between the row of stitching that you make with the sewing machine, and the edge of the fabric pieces. If it doesn’t already, it’ll all make sense in a minute.
You can’t stitch right on the edge of the fabric, it’s always got to be just a little bit off. And your sewing machine will have marks like the ones pictured below that act as a guide to help you keep your stitch line straight (for more practice/help sewing a straight line and how to use these guides, check out the video tutorial here). To help Zac keep his line of stitching straight, I put some blue painter’s tape on my sewing machine to extend the 5/8″ guide.
Check out these seam allowance guides next to the presser foot- you’ll notice Zac pointing to 5/8″, but there are also other measurements labeled too.
Step 1: Prep Bag Bottom
Alright! So to get started, you’ll want to take your bag bottom (piece #1 from the pattern download), and fold it in half right sides together*, matching your notches. You’ll notice that if you fold it in one direction, the notches won’t match, but if you fold it in the other direction, they do. That’s how notches work- they help you make sure you’re putting things together in the right direction! :)
*Rights sides together is a super basic sewing concept that will all make sense in a moment. So most fabrics have a “right” side and a “wrong” side. The right side is the side you want the world to see, while the wrong side is the side that doesn’t have the print, or looks funny, or is whatever you want on the inside of the garment. So when you’re sewing, you typically don’t want your seam allowances (described above) on the outside of your garment or shopping bag. (It would be like wearing your clothing inside out). The way that you get the seam allowances on the inside of your bag or garment is by sewing with right sides together. It meanssewing on the wrong side of the fabric, with the right sides of your fabric pattern pieces folded together (if there’s folding involved, like in this step), or laid together so that they face one another (like we’ll do in the next step). This means too that you’ll always usually have to turn the garment (or bag) right side out at some point during the process. Which is super fun! :)
Zac has his bag bottom folded in half- yours should appear in similar proportions :)
You’ll want to pin the sides together to hold them in place. Too many pins and it’ll slow you down a ton while sewing, too few and your fabric will be slip sliding allover while you’re trying to sew. Check out the video below to see where/how Zac pinned his fabric. He left the pin heads off the edge of the fabric so that they’d be easier to pull out as he was sewing, and so that if he accidentally sewed over a pin, it wouldn’t cause problems. Not a bad idea! :)
If you measured your own pattern pieces rather than using the download (and so don’t have notches), you’ll want to fold the bag bottom so that the fold is in the side that’s 11.625″ wide. You want a long skinny piece after you make the fold, like the photo above.
Alright! So now you’re going to sew along the two short edges of this bag bottom piece. Watch Zac do his second in the video below. Remember, if you need some guidance taking that first stitch, this video will be a big help!
Hooray! You did it! Now iron those two seams open (you don’t want to iron the seam like how you sewed it- flat- you want to iron it open so that it’s one layer thick. Make sense?), and move on to step two! :)
Step one is done! We also used a serger to stitch in white on the edges of our fabric to finish them so they wouldn’t fray. You can achieve a similar effect by doing another row of stitching with your sewing machine (zig-zag is good for this- refer to your manual for getting into zig-zag mode) right on the edge of the fabric. It’ll keep it from fraying when you throw your bag in the washing machine.
On to Step 2! Bag Bottom Corners
Next you’re going to fold your bag bottom so that it lays flat like a triangle on one side- see the image below, or check out this video where Zac walks you through it.
Take a ruler and find the spot on the hypotenuse/longest leg of the triangle (hello 10th grade geometry :)) that is 4.5″ long.
Draw a line directly on the fabric here with chalk or colored pencil. This will be your stitch line!
Pin along the stitch line (either across like in the last example, or along, like below. Either way, be careful not to sew over your pins).
(Left) See how we folded the bag bottom to make a triangle? (Right) Find the spot on the triangle that is 4.5″ long, and mark with a line to make it easier to sew. Then pin.
Sew along your 4.5″ long line.
Repeat the above steps with the other side of your bag bottom.
Check Zac out! You could have also put your pins in going perpendicular to the stitch line. Just be careful not to stitch over them either way :)
Step 3 – Attaching the bag bottom to our tshirt/bag middle. We’re working our way up!
Turn your tshirt section inside out- this’ll make it easier to put right sides together.
With right sides together, match the side seams of the tshirt to the side seams of your bag bottom.
See how he matched the side seams, and pinned them right away? Then he moved to the rest of the shirt and pinned the two pieces together all around.
Pin the two pieces together all around. If piece is a little bit bigger than the other, you can lightly stretch the pieces to work together (this is called easing the two pieces together).
Pin the bag bottom to the tshirt loop all the way around and then sew them! Our bag is getting bigger!
After pinning the two pieces together, sew them. It doesn’t matter where in the circle you start (I usually go for a side seam). Check out the video of Zac sewing here.
Next, iron the seam open. Zac chose to iron on the right side of the fabric, but I usually go for the wrong side- that way if the iron is too hot any marks might be kept to the inside…
Iron the seam open so that where the middle and bottom section of the bag meet is crisp. Lots of sewing blunders can be covered up with a good ironing :)
Step 4 – The bag’s top band!
Grab your top band piece and start by folding it in half along the long edge (wrong sides together this time…) and ironing a crease in the middle.
Next, unfold the band, and this time with right sides together, sewing the band along the short edge to create a circle of fabric.
Iron the bag’s top band in half, wrong sides together, then with the right sides together and the band folded in half in the opposite direction, sew it up, making a loop.
Next, iron the seam open, and then fold the circle back in half longways along your ironing line. Re-iron your original crease here. So pretty!
Iron your band’s seam open, then fold it back in half longways and re-crease. Getting closer!
Next we’re going to attach the top band to the rest of the bag. It’ll seem like this piece doesn’t have a wrong side, folded in half the way it is, and that’s kind of true. What we need to do is line up the band’s seam with either of the bag’s side seams, then pin the raw edges of the band (doubled like they are since it’s folded in half) to the raw edge of the right side of the bag:
Zac has attached the raw edges of the top band (doubled) to the top edge of the bag, on the right side, with pins, all the way around. The folded side of the band is to the left.
Sew, then iron open. Now your bag has a beautious top band! :)
Step 5 – Strappy straps!
Fold each strap in half long ways and pin.
Then sew along the long edge of each of the strap pieces.
The raw edges of the strap are on the right, and the fold on the left.
Next, turn your bag straps right side out using a safety pin:
Next, iron them flat, and now we’ll attach the straps to the bag! Left photo: On our bag, we measured 4″ from the side seam on either side and pinned each end of the strap to the bag (strap end on the inside of the bag so that it’s hidden from the outside). Right photo: We also folded under the bottom edge of the strap, towards the inside of the bag so that the raw edges of the strap were hidden.
Left: Check out where we pinned our straps- 4″ from either side of the side seams (on both sides). You can pin yours wherever your want, just make sure to measure it so that they’re even :) Right: See how we folded under the bottom edge of the strap?
Now we’ll sew the straps onto the bag!
First you’ll sew a box, then put a check in it. Watch Zac sew it in the video below.
And there you have it! You just finished your shopping bag! Kick butt! Please take a photo and post it over on my facebook page- I’d love to see what you did! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post below!
Oh man! The weeks march on and now here we are- how to thread your machine! Are you ready? I know you can do it!
So just like in last week’s diagram about the parts of a sewing machine, although each machine will be threaded in a slightly different way, they are all fairly similar. Your sewing machine’s manual should have a diagram (and you’ll likely be able to find the manual for your sewing machine by googling), but I’ll show you how mine works below both in photos and with a video.
Let’s start with the bobbin!
The bobbin lives under the needle and feed dogs and all the glory that happens under the fabric. I happen to have two machines whose bobbins load very differently, so I’ll show you both.
But first things first- we need to wind the bobbin. Though you can wrap your bobbins by hand (just be sure not to wind it so tight that you stretch the thread or do it so loosely that you have saggy thread), most machines will wind your bobbins for you. Side note: There are a few different size bobbins; your machine will have bobbins that fit it specifically. My two machines have two different size bobbins. See if you notice a difference in the videos below. :)
Let’s check out how my newer machine works:
Yours will probably be pretty similar. Check your manual for any quirks- I know on my older machine, you have to turn a knob inside the handwheel for the bobbin to wind. Quirks! :)
So now we have a threaded bobbin. Where to put it? Check out the videos below for two common, yet very different, bobbin casings. Which one does yours look like?
Hooray! We have just put the bobbin in! Now to thread the machine. My newer machine has some quirks, so I’ll show you how to thread on my older machine. Check out the YouTube video for a step by step walk through (your manual will have a diagram that might be helpful as you walk through your own machine).
How is your machine similar or different?
So, did you do it? Any snafus? I hope this was super helpful and that you you learned a ton.
One last little side note: Often when my machine is giving me troubles, all I need to do is re-thread it and it’s happy as a clam. Keep that in mind as you work on different projects. Sometimes the only thing that’s wrong is that it needs to be re-threaded… :) And if you need a little refresher on how to change a needle, check out this video.
Thanks for swinging by dear friends! I hope you feel excited about working on our shopping bag next week. In the meantime, if you want some practice sewing a straight line, check out this great tutorial (my first) that I made last year. You’ll get lots of practice and make a cute note card to send to a friend. My husband used it to learn how to turn corners! And then he taught a friend :)
Sign up on the homepage for an email every time I make a post- you’ll get next week’s sewing instructions straight to your inbox :)
This sewing machine served me for nearly 30 years! (and my mom for 10+ years before I was even around :))
Hello hello! How do you feel? We’ve done a lot in the last few weeks- learned about what the marks on home sewing patterns mean, picked up some fabric basics including the ever illusive grainline, and just last week cut out pattern pieces for a supercute upcycled shopping bag with my husbie Zac.
This week off we’re headed to the sewing machine! We won’t sew yet- but we’ll spend a couple of weeks getting to know our machines (thanks for sticking with me through this delayed gratification). This week we’ll figure out how a sewing machine works (for reals) and then next week we’ll thread our machine, bobbin and all!
All sewing machines have the same basic parts and pieces. Your sewing machine probably won’t look like mine (pictured above). This is my momma’s sewing machine from college. I burned the motor out on it earlier this year making undies (I’m still planning on getting it fixed), but it has served her since
the 70s for all sorts of amazing and ridiculous outfits,
the outfits she made my brother and I in the 80s and the Barbie clothes I churned out. Oh, and the scrunchees. Thousands. Probably. :)
the 90s when I started sewing more than her and busted out lots of purses, homecoming dresses and body pillow cases for the entire senior class (only 55 of us),
and the 2000s- through college: a fashion degree and countless fashion shows, three wedding dresses (eye candy on the portfolio page :)), and then starting my own business. I flipping love this machine.
I’m not sure that was worth a bulleted list, but four decades of sewing? I wanted to show this machine some serious respect. :)
But how does it work? So super basic- every sewing machine has two threads: one that comes from the top and goes through the needle into the fabric, and a second thread, wound on a bobbin that lives below the needle, feed dogs, and throat plate (we’ll get there, I promise!). This diagram shows the dance that happens between the needle and bobbin threads. It’s very much based on one in the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, an awesome reference book that I turn to time and again.
So this shows how the needle and bobbin thread intertwine to make a stitch. Click on the image to check it out full size.
Make sense? The upper thread kind of loops around the lower thread and is pulled tight to make the stitch creating awesomeness. :)
You’ll see below a photo of my Momma’s machine with all the parts labeled. Every machine is a little bit different, but works in essentially the same way. Hopefully you’ll be able to guess which parts of your machine correspond with which parts of mine! :)
The bits and pieces, in all their glory! Click to enlarge the image.
When sewing, you’ll be most concerned with the stitch length and width regulators and the back stitch control. You’ll have seen the hand wheel, presser foot, feed dogs (I love feed dogs!) and back stitch control all in action in our tutorial: How to Sew a Straight Line.
Next week we’ll get to know many of these parts a lot better when we thread the machine and then away we go! :) Nothing’s holding us back in our quest to make an upcycled shopping bag :)
See you then! Comment below if you have any questions, and subscribe on the homepage to get an email about future posts :)
So one thing I really struggled with when starting my business was determining what my size chart would be. Because sometimes I wear a size 3, or a 4 or a 6, and sometimes when I’m sewing, I wear a 14. I’m 5’10” and while slender, you don’t grow to be 5’10” without some girth. Logically, (and assuming we’re keeping the current 0-20+ system) I’m sure I should wear something closer to a 14 and save the single digit sizes for petite women.
Otherwise we’re seriously looking at negative sizes. But there’s also the emotional (and societal) attachment to smaller sizes and impact on self-worth and a whole host of things that can be tied to that number…
Ranting didn’t get me any closer to having my own size chart. So I thought about who I wanted to reach- a broad range of women in different shapes and sizes. And especially some with unique fit challenges. I finally blended together the size charts of several companies I respect, and I feel pretty happy about where I’ve landed (check it out here).
But it makes you wonder how we got here, right? To a point where everyone wears like 4 different sizes and dreads jean shopping because of 14 pairs you have to try on to find one that fit. If you’re lucky! I knew about vanity sizing, but I started to wonder what else was going on.
Turns out it’s only been in the last 150 years that all garments foreverandeveramen stopped being made individually for folks by tailors. Men’s sizes started standardizing during the Civil War (1860s), when uniforms were being mass produced (their sizes have the added bonus of being tied to actual measurements, think waist/inseam, etc.). Women’s clothing wasn’t mass produced until into the Industrial Revolution. Around the 1920s catalogs became super popular and that’s really when women started buying ready-made clothing. But it didn’t really fit very well (hmm… Sounds familiar…) Wikipedia says it’s because they tried to just use the bust measurement to guess at the rest of the body (like how men’s chest measurements are pretty good predictors of the rest of their proportions. But there’s a lot more diversity in women’s proportions. :))
I remember reading in an issue of Threads that at some point, girls’ sizes used to be associated with their ages (but now I can’t find the magazine… I’m ashamed at how many dust bunnies I found looking. Will update this post when it’s finally unearthed…:))
So there have been efforts to standardize sizes by the government in the 1930s and 1960s (after ladies stopped wearing corsets, their waists changed- shocking- and clothing stopped fitting again…), but Americans are also taller and heavier than they were in back then, so sizing just continues to be a wily thing! More recently, private companies have even tried to standardize sizing. But vanity sizing is so profitable and so companies are resistant to standardized sizing- there’s no competitive edge if you wear a size 6 at every store…
So it doesn’t look like there will be any changes to our sizing anytime soon. But there is a company that will invite you to step into their body scanner, which takes 200,000 measurements, then spits out a list of which styles at which stores in which sizes will be a pretty good match. Amazing!
And then there’s me. With a tape measure, or a piece of string or ribbon, or something you don’t stretch (even a laptop cord!), you can measure your hips and be pretty darn certain you’ll get whatever size Upitees will make your heart sing. If you have any questions, please let me know!
And stay tuned as I further develop my size chart… I’ve got big dreams for adding body types into the sizing mix, so you might wear a 6 pear or a 10 apple. :) Can’t wait to go there with you!
What are your thoughts? Please comment below- I’d love to hear about where you find the perfect fit or what your frustrations are. Are you a secret (or not-so-secret) scholar of fashion history or clothing sizes? Does anything above resonate with you? I look forward to seeing you in the comments :)
So what’s your secret to prosperity in the new year? Sauer kraut on New Year’s Day (that’ s my family’s… :))? Orange seeds in the wallet (that was the rule in Guadeloupe)?
I learned this weekend that the real trick is all in what you’re wearing at midnight.
New yellow panties = prosperity in the new year. For reals. :)
I learned about the tradition from Crystal, a new customer, and the gal behind Crystal Rose Garden on Etsy. She ordered some yellow panties for her mom for Christmas, and let me know that giving yellow panties is a tradition in her family. I was fascinated, and delighted to be able to meet her in person where I heard even more!
In many Central and South American countries (Colombia, Mexico, the list goes on…), ladies wear a new yellow pair of panties at midnight on New Year’s Eve in order to ensure prosperity in the New Year. If they are given as a gift, all the better. And if you really want to ensure lots of prosperity in the new year, you’d better put those babies on inside out. :)
So lots of yellow undies are given at Christmastime. And at this time of year you can find them allover Latin America- from department stores to gas stations, to corner stores. Check out some great photos from Peruhere and here. Luckily, I know where you can find lots of yellow undies online. Where, you ask? Why at La Vie en Orange, of course! :) Check out a pair nearly identical to the pair Crystal’s mom will ring in 2012 with:
The tradition is said to root from yellow being closest to the color gold (so maybe green would work well in the States too… :)), and should your finances be in order and your heart looking for more luck in 2012, in Ecuador as in other places, wearing red panties instead of yellow will lead to romance and love in the New Year. So what do you think? Will you be wearing new panties at midnight on the 31st? Comment below :)
Does you have any traditions for prosperity or anything else in the New Year? I’d love to hear about them! Comment below :)
So I heard this story about the international rise of cotton prices on NPR earlier this week and was immediately curious about how it would/could affect my business. Will I have to dig harder and deeper to find 100% cotton tshirts? Will people start wearing them out more before giving them to second hand stores? What’s your take? Is wearing 100% undies as important as I think it is? :)