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.)
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 :)
It’s here! The Summer Sewing Tutorial is kicking off today with an exploration of basic pattern contents. And how! :)
Since you already know how to read the back of a pattern, I thought we’d just dive in to what you’ll find inside the pattern envelope, followed by a pictorial glossary of pattern markings. Please comment below to let me know what questions you have or if anything is unclear! I hope you leave this post feeling a little bit more confident about kicking butt on the project we’ll be working on over the next few weeks, as well as any projects you take on in your sewing nook. :)
Just in case you’re looking for more, one invaluable resource I love is the Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing. I had to buy it for college and have held on tight. An amazing resource I turn to time and again.
Let the games begin!
So the contents of most pattern envelopes are pretty much the same. Inside you’ll find:
The pattern pieces themselves (usually multiple pieces are printed on the same sheet of tissue paper). They are numbered, and each is identified by name and style (if your pattern will make more than one garment style…). Often a garment is symmetrical, so one pattern piece will work for each half of the garment. The pattern piece will tell you whether to cut 2 pieces, or one on the fold, which we’ll get to in a couple of weeks. :)
A few pattern samples from different companies
Can you find the pattern company, pattern number, piece number, piece name, and how many pieces to cut on each of these? What other information do you see? Hint- click on the image to see a larger version :)
A diagram with the silhouettes of all the pattern pieces and their names/numbers. Awesome for figuring out which pattern pieces you need for your project
What can you learn from these diagrams? Click on the photo to see a larger image and explore!
A guide for laying out and cutting your pattern pieces with fabric. It’ll help you know which pieces need to be cut on the fold and which pieces need to be cut more than once. I lovelovelove trying to squish my pieces as close together as possible and use less fabric than the project calls for. But that’s me :)
Click on this image to blow it up and then explore. What do you see? Notice fabric widths, and right/wrong side of pattern/fabric.
Sewing instructions! I’m sure you won’t have any trouble figuring these out :)
And now, on to decoding some of the typical pattern marks you’ll find when you start looking!
Center front, center back
The center front and center back of a garment are always labeled, whether through the “place on fold line” (like that below), stitch line, or just labeled solid like like the one above.
Helpful guides for matching sections that join together. They might also indicate construction details like where a zipper ends. Note that these ones are marked according to size, but they might not all be.
A heavy outer line showing where to cut. This one has different cut lines for each of the sizes indicated. You might also see cut lines within a pattern, for example, if there’s an option for a lower neckline or shorter hem.
Two legs (sewing lines) that meet at a point somewhere towards the center of the garment, darts help your clothing hug your body. The circles are there to help you match the legs when you’re sewing.
It’s a straight line that has arrows on each end- you’ll align this line with the grain of the fabric, and we’ll learn more about what that means next week.
You’ll find the hemline at the bottom edge of the garment- if there’s no line that says “Hem,” you’ll find a marking like the one above that tells you how much fabric to fold up when you are sewing your hem.
Lengthen or shorten line
You typically find these near a waistline or hem of a garment. You can use them to make adjustments for petite or long sizes. Which of the pattern pieces above has a visible shorten or lengthen line?
Single and double notches are shown above. You might find these on any edges that join another edge- when you sew, you’ll match notches to accurately join pieces.
This grainline marking with arrows means that the edge of this pattern (the black line) should align perfectly with the fold in your fabric when you’re cutting it out (we’ll talk more about what that means when we layout our project to cut out). You’ll often find this marking on skirt fronts or shirt fronts- pieces that are mirrored. :)
This shows where your zipper will be on your seamline. The top and bottom markings show exactly how long the zipper should be (remember how your notions list on the back of the pattern will tell you what size to buy? You might have to shorten it, which is super easy :))
Whew! And that about does it for today. What do you think? Did you learn anything new, or did this reinforce what you already knew? I’d love to hear what you think- please comment below!
Can’t wait to see you next week when we dive into fabric basics via video :)
It’s that time: the summer sewing tutorial series is upon us!
This summer I am soooo looking forward to taking you through some sewing basics, hearing about what you’re working on and answering your questions. Hopefully I’ll get to share in some of your sewing triumphs too :)
For the next few months I’ll be presenting a new basic sewing skill each week, whether through print and photos or video. Are you ready?!? :)
Mark your calendars (or sign up for my weekly updates in the box to the right!) The tentative schedule goes a little something like this:
July: July 5 – Making our shopping bag (I know it’s delayed gratification to cut something out and then wait a bit to sew it up together- I hope you’ll bear with me!)
July 12 – Basic mending/finishing our bag – How to sew on a button
July 19 – Basic mending – Patching a hole
July 26- Wild card- this week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question posed during the other weeks!
Anything missing (I’d love to beef up the lineup :))? What are you looking forward to?
Hooray! Welcome to my first ever tutorial- a sometimes illusive sewing basic: how to sew a straight line.
I’ll walk you through the steps and some great ways to practice, then we’ll use your new skill to embellish a fun notecard like this one I did:
Learn how to sew a straight line and make a fun notecard!
I am so excited to be sharing this with you, and I’d love to hear what you think. Did you make a card? Post a photo to my facebook page. Comment below with any thoughts or ideas for future tutorials. :) xoxo