Thursday, August 30, 2007

my next project

I'm feeling mostly better from 2 colds in a row and I'm going to finish up that scrappy log cabin quilt. I'm going to make a free-motion machine quilting tutorial while I work on it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

look what I just made!

I decided to make some scrappy quilts and use up some of my quilting fabric stash. I have a lot of fabrics in there that I don't really love any more, so I'm going to make some charity quilts. I don't know exactly what organization they will go to yet, or even how long it will be until I finish them, but it felt good to get this part done:

I cut 6.5" squares when I could, and the fabric that was not big enough for squares, I cut into rectangles that were 6.5" on 2 sides so I could still use them in the rows between the squares. Something happened with my planned/random look while I was sewing the rows together and I don't think it looks quite right between rows 3 and 4 but, oh well, it'll do.

Sometimes it's really satisfying to make up a quick project that hasn't been planned out for weeks or months.

Friday, August 24, 2007

what to do next...

I could show a couple pictures here, I've finished up a skirt and dress for the older sisters to the new baby next door. But I need to figure out what I'm going to work on next as well. I'm going to be quilting my friend's baby quilt and also the scrappy log cabin one I started a while back. Maybe I need to get busy with basting them so they'll be ready.

I'm also making up some trick-or-treat tote bags for my etsy shop. I've finished one and have fabric to make a few more.

Some other things on my list of future projects:

navy linen skirt for me
knit wrap Ottobre top for me
applique dinosaur tees for my boys
baby quilt for my new nephew
sling for my SIL
hemming (ugh) those cute Old Navy pants I got a while back. I'm going to prewash them a couple times first so they get as shrunken as possible before I hem them. I've hemmed pants before and then had them shrink too short after laundering and I hate that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Serger Rolled Hem Tips

More than once, I have been ready to do a rolled hem on my serger and then I couldn't find the book. It took me a while, and some time spent reading library books about sergers so I could better understand what's going on with that machine, but I figured out how to adjust from regular seams to the rolled hem settings. Here's a picture of my serger (a trusty Brother 1034D), ready to sew a pretty rolled hem:
And here are the steps, with handy explanations:
1. Remove the left needle. (I left the cone on but the needle is out, for now.)
2. Remove the stitch finger. On my machine there is a lever to press in order to remove the stitch finger.
3. Adjust the dials on the side for rolled hem stitch width (really narrow) and length (really short). The dials have "R" markings for the rolled hem setting.
4. Adjust your thread tensions. This is the thing that I had a big a ha moment about. The rolled hem is going to be rolled down to the underside of your fabric.

You want the upper looper thread to be looser, so it can be pulled down slightly to the underside of this hem stitch. Smaller numbers=looser tension (this one took a while to sink in for me). So if I'm normally on about a 6 for the upper looper tension, I change it to a 4 or 5.

Now you want your lower looper thread to be tighter, so it will pull the upper looper thread down to the underside of the hem stitch. Adjust the dial to a higher number. I adjusted it up to between 7 and 8 from the normal 6.

Finally, your right needle tension needs to be loosened. And I didn't change mine very much. The handbook says to put it at 4 but I've had success with it a bit tighter.

Now you can try this out on a swatch before you actually start on the garment you're hemming. If it doesn't look right, adjust one thread tension at a time and see if you can get it. Hope this helps!

Oh yeah--I also took a photo of the correct stitch finger storage position since I can't ever remember the way it goes in:

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Where I've been.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

And, I haven't been out of the US, ever.

What brings me joy?

Jessica over at kerflop is having a contest. Here's my entry:

What brings me joy?

Blessed time alone. Especially time in the morning, although I'm still working on executing this one more reliably. Even better, and even more rare, time alone in the morning after exercising.

Connected, peaceful time with my children and husband.

Chatting on the phone for a couple hours, or 10 minutes, with my best friend.

Making progress in my life. I'm running, I'm blogging about something useful and interesting (well I think so at least), my husband and I are making progress on our money communication and our debt reduction plan. I'm doing the grocery shopping and having fun being frugal (see for more info). Before I got this nasty cold I was making progress on daily decluttering and better home maintenance. (I'll be back on that one right away, I promise.)

Finishing projects brings me joy.

Wisely managing my time and commitments brings me joy. Another thing that I'm working on.

A good day at church, where nobody says anything off-the-wall or crazy, where a good, peaceful, spiritual feeling exists through all meetings, that brings me joy.

And since it's that time of year in my and my husband's extended families, new babies in the family bring me joy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

little serger trick

I sew both knits and wovens on my serger, and I change needles when I switch from one to the other (universals for wovens, ballpoint for knits). I don't discard my needles all that often; I do when it's obviously needed but sometimes I'll have only sewn a couple t-shirts and then be ready to switch over to wovens. I used to just keep the needles in one of those cases they come in, but I came up with something recently that I think is pretty clever. My serger tools (screwdriver for needles, big tweezers for threading, thingies to hold the thread in place when I'm not using cones) are in a little ziplock on my sewing table, and in that bag I keep a square of folded over knit fabric, and a square of folded over woven fabric. When I take my knit needles out of the machine, I put them in the square of knit fabric and then put that back in the bag. And when I'm set up to sew knits, I store the woven needles in the little woven scrap.

As an added bonus, when I take a break from sewing and can't remember what kind of needles are in the serger, now that I have this little trick I can just look at which scrap has needles in it and then I'll know which needles are in the serger.


I have a bit of a cold and haven't sewn for a few days. I did finish up two more cloth grocery bags on Friday, and yesterday I helped my son and his neighbor friend, who just got back from a summer away, sew up some pillows. The friend made a 4-patch front panel and my boy just made his out of baseball fabric.

I'm not even sure exactly what I want to make next. I should work on baby quilts. My nephew was born a week ago and I am still not even sure what I'm going to do for his quilt. I have some ideas though, I think it will be a lot different from what I normally make. And I have the scrappy log cabin quilt to continue working on as well. I guess I'll be making a trip to the fabric store this week. Maybe the quilt shop too.

I also have a dress cut out for the neighbor girl who's turning 2, and thinking about making a skirt for her 3-year-old sister. I might size down the pattern I want for her since it starts at 104 and she's probably a 98 or 92.

Friday, August 10, 2007

shirts for Webkinz

I have been making shirts for Webkinz. It's fun and funny. It makes me laugh that I've made 6 tiny shirts for stuffed dogs and pandas. My son made a crown for one of his friend's webkinz dog today. I sewed the rubies on it but he did the rest.

Sewing for your family: getting started

As early as 5th grade, I was sewing a fair amount of my own clothes. My mom helped me, and she and I made clothing for my siblings too. I continued sewing during high school and a very little bit during college. I started quilting the year I got married, and made quilts and diapers for my older son. And a few clothing items but I tell you, the big 3 patterns I used were pretty much awful, as a rule. I made this woven, collared shirt for him, using an old light blue check shirt of my husband's. A cute recycled project, you'd think. No. The collar on that pattern was gigantic, out of proportion, and the shirt never looked right. Other projects I made for him using big 3 patterns were much too big even though I made them in the same size he wore in store bought clothing. Trying to sew clothing for him was pretty disappointing.

When my second child was born I came across a sewing forum on a parenting website and discovered that there are some great online sewing resources available these days. I found better patterns, great fabric sources, and sewing communities chock full of information and support. And now, I sew a lot more, I enjoy it more, and I make cute, stylish clothes for my kids that actually fit. And, it's a bit more challenging, but I'm also having more and more success making clothing for myself.

So, here are some of my favorite sewing and fabric related websites:
Sewing Mamas is pretty much my online sewing home. Sewing Mamas has several active sewing forums, and loads of contests, swaps, and free patterns and tutorials. It's a great site with a good mix of beginner and experienced sewing moms. is an amazing site with probably thousands of user reviews of sewing machines, sergers, and just about any pattern you can find. I do still sew from big 3 patterns occasionally, but when I do, instead of going straight to the fabric store and flipping through the big book to find something, I look online at for the McCall's, Butterick, and Vogue catalogues or for Simplicity and New Look patterns. I write down the pattern numbers I like and then can go on over to to check for reviews. also has reviews of patterns from tons of independent pattern companies.

I've also used the machine reviews at to help pick out a couple of my machines and will probably go there again when I'm ready to upgrade to a better machine (soon, I hope!).

Ottobre Design is my favorite pattern source these days. They have the best patterns for sewing for boys, and of course, lots of great girl patterns too. There are 4 children's issues and 2 women's issues published each year. The patterns are printed on removable sheets in the middle of the magazine and you have to trace them in the desired size and add seam allowances. It's a little more work (and money) than a pattern you can get a JoAnn's for $1.50 on sale but it's worth it. You can subscribe directly through the Ottobre site or through the Wooly Thread. Individual back issues can also be purchased through the Wooly Thread or SewZanne's Fabrics.

Which brings me to fabric websites. SewZanne's has a great selection of fabrics (especially knits), patterns, and notions. They also have very fast shipping times and good customer service. is a great fabric source that has frequent sales and usually has reasonable prices. has a wide variety of fabrics including home dec, quilting fabric, and apparel fabric.

I have also purchased fabric occasionally from Trim Fabric and FabricLine, and Wazoodle and been happy with the results. There are also many, many other online fabric shops.

Finally, I wanted to add that you should still be on the mailing lists for your local JoAnn's and/or Hancocks, watch the sales, and use the coupons that come in your mailers. I try not to shop in either store without a coupon, and I buy most of my thread, sewing machine needles, and notions at these stores.

So, there you have it! Check out these sites and have fun sewing!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Baby Clothes

I just finished these up. The t-shirt pattern is from Ottobre Design issue 5/2006 only I made it short sleeved and just a shirt, not a onesie. Pants are from New Conceptions Baby Essentials. My favorite baby pants pattern, so simple.

Two of these sets are going to my nephew in Arizona. He's 3 days old now. The stripe shirt/red pants set is for one of my church friends.

I also found... 2 UFO baby outfit sets that I will finish up for another church friend who's having a winter baby. And some finished baby pants. I had a shirt started to go with those but don't know where it is.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New church bag.

bag front
Originally uploaded by vickivictoria

My first flickr blog post. Wow. I just finished up this bag, well almost. It's going to be my church tote bag, and it's a huge improvement over what I've been using. I'm hoping the handle will hold up ok. I used 2 layers of maybe a medium craft weight interfacing.

I know I've mentioned this bag here before but I'll just say again that I used Renee Plains' Foldover Bag pattern. I like it! I made the pocket patches frayed instead of, well, not, and I think it's cute that way.

I don't know how to have flickr show more than one photo so if you want to see the back of the bag, click the picture to go to my flickr page.

Next up: baby clothes. My sister-in-law had her baby on Monday. I have a church friend having a baby this month too. I've got some things partially cut out; I need to finish that up and rethread my machines and get busy!

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I just got my first mp3 player (it's a Creative Zen Nano Plus and I got it dirt cheap from at the end of last year and while I ripped a bunch of music CDs to listen to on it, I started listening to podcasts and that's what I mostly use it for now. I listen to podcasts while doing dishes, folding clothes, doing other cleaning jobs, or sewing. I like podcasts. And I wanted to share some of my favorites with you here.

Oh yeah, if you don't know what a podcast is, it is just like a talk-radio show, only it is on the computer available to be downloaded and listened to on your portable player whenever you want. Or you can usually listen online, as long as your computer has speakers. There are podcasts out there on all kinds of topics, and they are almost always free (I haven't encountered any that you have to pay for at least).

Podcasts I listen to:

Material Mama
Material Mama is a fashion and craft sewing podcast and it was my first podcast. Episodes are usually around 30 minutes and are informative on many topics related to sewing clothing.

Creative Mom Podcast
This show is usually an hour and there is a new episode each week. Amy talks a lot about sketching, drawing, painting, with occasional sewing and knitting content. Each episode showcases great music and, usually, books for kids or grownups. Other neat things about the CMP: thematic prompts, recipes, a monthly ATC exchange, a flickr group where CMP listeners can share photos of their creative work. I really enjoyed the CMP issue that featured journals (episode 7, I think?).

CraftyPod comes out twice a month and is usually about 20 minutes long. Sometimes there are interviews with craft people, sometimes a show will be about a specific technique or craft. The CraftyPod site also has regular blog updates.

CraftSanity is a craft interview show that usually goes well over an hour. The host, Jennifer Ackerman-Heywood, does an aftershow after the main interview that is usually about her life. She is an excellent interviewer and I think her shows are very interesting.

Cast On is a great knitting podcast. And I don't even knit that much. You've gotta listen to this one.

Quilting Stash
Quilting Stash's Annie Smith has interviews and interesting discussion of the quilting world. Recently Annie had a 2-part interview with Susan Branch; there's a great story of how Susan met the Beatles when she was a teenager included in that interview.

Alex Anderson's Quilt Connection
Alex Anderson's podcast is usually around 20 minutes and has interesting information about her quilting life now, including her work on her internet Quilt Show, as well as interviews and discussion on various quilting topics.

I'm planning on finding out about more sewing podcasts but for the most part I usually listen to new episodes of all of these podcasts.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Attached Elastic Waistband Tutorial

This tutorial explains how to do an attached waistband with enclosed elastic. I use this technique on shorts and jeans for my boys.

Step 1. Sew the waistband piece into a circle, press seam open. Sew the elastic into a circle. I overlap the elastic 1/4" and zigzag, making sure to backstitch. You will have to determine how much elastic to use based on how much recovery it has and the kind of fabric you're using. I use pretty firm elastic so I just cut the elastic the length of my child's waist measurement. If your elastic has less recovery you will need to use less.

Step 2. Turn the pants right side out and pin the waistband piece inside the pants, with the waistband piece's right side facing the pants wrong side. For some reason my waistband pieces don't always fit quite right, I had to unpin it and sew it a bit smaller before it was the right size on this pair of pants.

Step 3. Sew the waistband to the pants. I tried to keep this seam at about 1/4"-3/8".

Step 4. Fold the waistband piece up and press. Press the seam allowances towards the waistband.

Step 5. I don't know if my picture shows this well enough but I'll try to explain. For this step you will be topstitching the waistband down on the right side of the pants, so change to topstitching thread. (I use a different machine to topstitch, my more heavy duty, older machine.)

Turn the pants wrong side out. Place the elastic on the waistband and fold the waistband down over the elastic. Fold the edge of the waistband under about 1/4" (you can press this first, it might be helpful, but I usually don't.) Make sure the folded waistband edge is past the edge of the elastic and start sewing. You will need to make the folds and adjust the position of the pants as you sew. Take your time.

Step 6. Just keep going. As you sew you will need to pull the fabric from the back around to the front, since you will be sewing the circle. Another thing that will help is to adjust the fabric and elastic so the waistband is starting to get gathered.

Step 7. When you get to the last 1/3 or 1/4 of this seam, you will need to use both hands to stretch the elastic (within the waistband casing) while you sew. You can adjust the waistband and then stretch and sew a bit, and then adjust again and sew again.

Finished! You can shrink the elastic down a with some steam from your iron. It will also likely shrink down a bit after being washed and dried. I don't sew through the elastic or do anything else to make sure it won't twist in the waistband, but I haven't had any problems with it twisting in denim fabric.

Please let me know if you have questions or if something isn't clear.

Friday, August 03, 2007

posting when frustrated

I should have waited to write about those jeans. They are always a big project for me, and I don't have the perfect machine(s) for doing topstitching and hemming well. I'm usually frustrated right after and I sure was when I finished up this pair of jeans. But now I'm happy that they're done, I really like how the photos look, and I know they they will look even better after getting a bit distressed in the wash. And finally, my child will grow and they will look really cool on him eventually. I'm going to make some easier projects for the next little while.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


Big sigh of relief. What a project. These are from Ottobre Design 1/2007, made in size 116 with 128 length. (Way too long.) I realized once again my dislike of pocket flaps. I had D try these on and they are absolutely huge on him. And I already know this fabric won't shrink much. Oh well, at least he will grow. I will wash and dry them a couple times right away to break them in a bit.

I had a bit of an issue on the back pocket velcro. The back pockets themselves, too. The directions for the pleat detail weren't very clear but I figured it out. Also, I hemmed the pocket tops first, then realized I should sew those pleats and then hem after that.

I didn't figure out how the (back) pocket and flap velcro were going to match up before sewing. And I ended up having to unpick the pocket velcro... it was already after the pockets were sewn on the pants and I didn't want to undo that topstitching so I handsewed the pocket velcro on after the flaps were in place.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

working on jeans

I am making some Ottobre jeans for my big boy and they are tedious. I do not much like making pocket flaps. I just broke a serger needle going over a thick seam. I am looking forward to making something easier next. I need to find a pattern for jeans that have front pockets, back pockets with no flaps, and that's all.