Category Archives: tutorials

Machine Sew a Button

Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Button by Machine

Machine Sew a Button

 

Sewing a button by hand is quick and easy.  But sewing buttons by machine is even quicker and easier, especially if you are already familiar with a sewing machine.  I don’t often use the machine when I’m just sewing on an odd button here and there.  But I always used the machine if I am sewing multiple buttons, such as after sewing a shirt, or if I am replacing all of the buttons on a thrift-store find.

Materials

A sewing machine, capable of a zigzag stitch, threaded to coordinate with the button.

Step 1: Set up the Machine

Zigzag stitch

  • Set your machine to a wide zig-zag stitch
  • Drop the feed dogs (If you aren’t sure how to do this with your machine, check the owner’s manual)

Drop the Feed Dogs

Step 2: Set the stitch width

  • Place your button in the proper place on the garment under the presser foot.
  • Place the needle down into the first hole
  • Carefully place the presser foot down on the button.  If the pressure of the foot moves the button out of place, I release the presser foot and use my fingers to hold down the button instead.  Just keep them out of the way of the needle!
  • Manually make the first “stitch”  This is where you will want to play around with the width of your zigzag so that your needle slides into the next button hole.   Keep making manual stitches until you are sure that the needle moves from one hole to the other.  (This is really important to avoid breaking your needle once you get going!)

Sew a Button by Machine

Step 3: Sew

  • Now put your foot on the peddle and let it go!  Make about 10 stitches and your button is secured!
  • If you have four holes like my button, move the button up so the needle will slide into the lower button holes and sew another 10 stitches or so
  • Trim your threads and you’re done!
  • Repeat for any other buttons you are sewing on your garment

Sewing a Button on by Machine

That’s it!  Don’t forget to raise your feed dogs up when you’re done so you will be ready for whatever you want to sew next!

Sew a Button On

Have you ever sewn buttons by machine?  Any tips or tricks to share?

How to Sew a Button

Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Button

How to Sew a Button

This is one of those basic sewing tasks that everyone should be able to do.  Seriously.  Everyone has had a button fall off at some point in their life and it only takes a minute or two to sew it back on, and no stellar sewing skills are required.

Materials

How to Sew a Button

  • needle
  • thread that is close to the colour originally used
  • scissors

Step 1: Thread the needle

  • Cut a piece of thread about the length from your fingertips to your elbow
  • Tie a knot in one end

Beginner’s Tip:  if you are a total non-sewer (and don’t want to be one) make this even easier by cutting a piece of thread as long as your whole arm, putting it through the needle and pulling until both ends meet.  (The needle will be in the middle of the thread.)  Then tie your knot using both ends at the same time.  This keeps the thread securely on the needle and you won’t have to worry about holding onto it as you pull.

An easy way to make a knot:

Wrap the thread around one of your fingers several times.

How to tie a Knot

Using your thumb, push the threads off your finger.  They will sort of roll over each other and form a tight circle.

Sewing: Tie a Knot

 

Tying a knot Sewing

Hold the “circle” between your fingers and pull on the thread.

Tie a knot sewing

Voila!  A knot!  (It might take a try or two to get the knack for this, but once you’ve got it, you’ve got it!)

How to sew a button

Step 2: Sew on the button

Hold the button in the correct position.  Working from the back of the garment, push the needle up into one of the button holes.  This will leave the knot on the back of your clothing where it won’t be seen.

How to Sew a Button

(My button still has a bit of thread on it as it hadn’t quite fallen off the sweater yet.  If you are replacing a button that has completely fallen off, all your holes will be empty at this point. )

Then push the needle down the opposite hole.  When you do so, try to aim the needle point so it comes through close to, or on top of,  the knot.  This will keep all of your stitches in one place and even the back of your garment will be tidy looking.

How to Sew a Button

Come up again into the first hole.

Sewing a button

Go down the second hole.

Repeat a number of times until the button seems good and strong.

Sewing a button tutorial

If your button has 4 holes, like mine, come up into one of the other holes and do the same thing on that side.

Step 3: Secure the thread

Now that your button is nicely sewed on, you don’t want to lose it again!  Tie a good strong knot to keep it in place.

An easy way to do this is to make a stitch on the back of the garment.  Pull the thread, but leave a loop as shown.

Tutorial How to Sew a Button

Pass the needle through this loop and then pull on the thread to close the loop and create a new one.

Sew on a Button Tutorial

Repeat three times, then pull tightly to create the knot.  There are step-by-step photos to show this process at the end of this tutorial.

Clip your threads close to the knot.

That’s it!  Pretty simple, right?

Next week I’ll show you how to do the same thing using the sewing machine!

Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital: How to Restore Lost Limbs

Animal Hospital Restoring Lost Limbs

Did you ever have a stuffed animal or plush toy who lost a limb?  We are big stuffie lovers at this house, and sometimes a precious stuffed friend just gets loved too much.

But never fear!  A quick trip to the animal hospital (or sewing room) can have him all fixed up in no time!

Step 1: Clean the Wound

Sometimes, as in this case, part of the limb is still attached.  Other times, the whole limb might be detached from the body. Either way, we want to clean up all those loose threads before we start stitching.  Simply clip them off with a pair of sharp scissors.

Repair a Stuffed Animal

Step 2: Prepare the Needle

Thread a needle with some thread that matches the fur of the stuffie (as close as you can.)  Tie a knot on the end and you’re ready to go!

Threaded Needle

Step 3: Stitch on the Limb

Start by burying the knot inside the stuffie where it won’t be seen, and pulling up the needle at the edge of the hole.  If the limb is no longer attached to the body, choose a spot to start stitching and hold the limb in place as you stitch.  The arrow in this photo shows where I buried the knot.

Repairing Stuffed Animals

When you are finished stitching, you won’t want to see your stitches on the outside of the stuffie.  Keep your stitches small, tight, and close together.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the fabric along the opening.

Replace a Lost Limb on a Stuffed Animal

Pull the thread tight and then take a stitch in the limb, down close to where you want it to sit in the opening.

Stitching a Stuffie

Pull your thread tight and take another stitch along the opening.

Then take a stitch on the arm.  You’ve got the idea.  Keep doing this all the way around the limb until it is all stitched on.

As you go you may have to keep tucking the limb back into the hole.  If it’s really being stubborn you could try keeping it in place with pins.

Voila!  The limb is repaired and there is not a stitch to be seen!

Save a Stuffed Animal!  Sew on his lost limb.

Step 4: Tie a Knot

This is an important step.  After your stuffie is healed, you don’t want to see him back in the hospital for a long time.  To keep that limb secure you want to make a good knot.  There are a few ways to do this, but this is the method I use.

Begin by taking a small stitch in the crease where the arm meets the body.  Pull the thread, but not all the way.  Leave a loop as shown below.

Fix a Stuffie

Take your needle and pass it through the loop.

Pull on the bottom thread (see arrow below) to close the original loop, and to make a new one.

Animal Hospital Sew on a Lost Limb

Pass your needle and thread through the new loop and pull on the bottom string again to create a loop.

Pass your needle through the loop for a final time and pull on the bottom thread to create one more loop. At this point there will be a spot where the threads overlap, close to where you made your first stitch.  This will become your knot.

Stick your finger on this spot to keep the knot in place and pull on the thread until your last loop is gone.  You now have a knot!

Stuffed Animal Repair

To tuck the knot back into the stuffie where it won’t be seen, pass the needle down into the fabric as close to the knot as you can get, and take it out about an inch or so away.  Pull the thread through, and pull tight (you don’t want to break the thread, but you want some force to pull the knot into the fabric.)  Cut the thread close to the stuffie.

Stuffed Animal Hospital

Step 5:  Give Your Stuffie a Hug!

All fixed!  Don’t you think he deserves a hug for being so brave?

Garfield

Do you have a stuffed animal lover at your house?  Have you ever had to repair an over-loved stuffie?  What was your favourite stuffed animal as a kid?  I’d love to hear your stories!

How to Hem your Pants tutorial

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Pants

How to Hem your Pants tutorial

This is the second post in the Sewing Basics series.  Of all the things I get asked to do as a seamstress, this one probably tops the list.  Unless you are lucky enough to be a standard size, you have probably at some point purchased a pair of pants that were too long and required hemming.  Professional hemming usually costs somewhere between $10 and $20, depending on the type of pants and who is hemming them.  If you have several pairs that need hemming, it can add up quickly.  And lets not talk about those other ways of “hemming” – scotch tape, duct tape, staples, and safety pins are just a few I have personally seen, and I am sure there are other creative ideas out there!

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when their pants are too long?  Learn to hem them yourself!  It really isn’t that difficult, and it’s much better than the alternatives! :)

How to Hem Your Pants

 Materials

  • A pair of pants in need of hemming, washed and dried (If they are new and will be going in the dryer, sometimes I’ll wash them twice, just to make sure they have finished all of their shrinking!)
  • A sewing machine and matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Step 1:  Mark the ideal length

This is much easier to do with a friend to help, but it is totally doable on your own.  What you want to do is fold the bottom of the paint leg up at the ideal length and then pin it.  Rather than pulling it up on the outside (like a cuff) you are going to tuck it under and up inside the pant leg (like it will be when you are finished hemming.)

Make sure you are happy with the length (don’t forget to try it out with the shoes you usually wear) and then pin them in place.  Then take them to the ironing board and press the bottoms well at their new length.  If the hems are slightly uneven, this is the time to fix them and make sure they are straight.

Tutorial

Step 2: Cut

Lay your pants on a flat surface and unfold the hems.  If you are lucky enough to have a decent amount of fabric between your fold line and the original hem (at least 1 1/4″ for a narrow hem) you can go ahead and cut off that original hem.  If your pants have big hems like mine, or if you only need to hem them a little, you will have to sit and pick out the stitching of the original hem. (I know, I know, it’s not my favourite job either, but seriously sit down with some of your favourite music or a good movie and you’ll have them done in no time.)

Tutorial: How to Hem Your Pants

In this photo the top fold line is my ideal length, and the middle fold line is the original length of the pants before I unpicked them.

Now you want to think about how big you want your finished hems to be.  I usually use the original hem as a guide, but at this point, anything goes.  If your pants had big hems and you prefer small, this is your chance to be the designer!  Whatever that number is add 1/2″ for folding down the raw edge, and now you know how much fabric you need to leave below your fold line.  For example, if you wanted your finished hems to be about 1″, you would want to leave 1 1/2″ of fabric.   Use a ruler to mark that amount all the way along the pant leg and then cut off the excess.

IMG_8070 IMG_8051

Step 3: Press and Pin

Take your pants back to the ironing board and press the raw edge under 1/2″ all the way around the paint leg.

How to Hem your Pants

Then fold them under on your original press mark (the ideal length) and pin them in place.  At this point I like to try them on again, just to be sure they are exactly the length I want them.  It’s much easier to fix it now, before you start to sew.

How to Hem Pants

(Okay, so you may have noticed that the pants I am hemming here keep changing colour.  As I was working on the original pair I realized there was a way to skip a few steps, if your hems happened to be in the right place, so had to use a second pair to show the longer way.   I’ll show you the shortcut at the end.)

Step 4: Sew

Now take the pants to the sewing machine and sew all the way around the hem with a straight stitch, close to the folded edge.

How to hem your pants

Repeat with the other side.

Step 5: Show Off!

You’re done!  Now you can show off your new, perfect-length pants! (no tape, staples or safety pins required.)

This method of hemming works for all pants with a visible seam.  For those special dressy pants with invisible hems, I find it easiest to hem those by hand with a blind hem.  And if you are hemming jeans, there is an incredibly easy way to hem them and keep the stitching of the original hems intact!

Hemming Short Cut

As promised, here is a short cut that might work on some of your hems.  In the photo below, the ideal length of my pants ended up being at the top of the original hem, on the original stitching line.  When this happens, it is really easy to make use of the original hem line and save yourself some measuring and ironing.

Hemline Shortcut

I cut the pants off 1/2″ below the second fold line (the original hemline of the pants).

IMG_8051

Then I refolded the fabric along the fold line to tuck in the raw edges.

Hemming Pants

After that it was a simple matter of folding them up, pinning in place, and sewing.  Easy, peasy, right?

Anyone out there willing to confess?  What is the craziest thing you have done (or seen done) to temporarily “hem” a pair of pants?

How to Hem Curtains

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Curtains

How to Hem Curtains

With the new year, new resolutions and goals, and many out there who received new sewing machines for Christmas, I thought it might be a good time to post some tutorials for sewing basics.  (And, of course, the huge pile of sewing projects sitting on my sewing table might have had something to do with the decision, too!)  The list will include hemming curtains, hemming pants, and even the super-basic, sewing a button (but I’ll show you how to do it on the machine, too). These are the things I most get asked about, and are great skills for someone new to sewing to learn.

Today we have: How to Hem Curtains.

As many of you know, we recently moved into a new house.  And although window coverings came with the house, none of them had been hemmed, which means that they went right down to the floor, covering the baseboard heaters.  And although aesthetically I like them that way, it’s not worth the fire hazard!  So, a-hemming we will go!

Materials

  • curtains to be hemmed (washed and dried.  If they are going to shrink, you want them to do it BEFORE you hem them.)
  • a sewing machine
  • a long measuring tape
  • thread to match your curtains
  • sharp scissors
  • iron
  • marking pencil (fancy fabric ones are nice, but chalk will work on dark colours, and a regular pencil will work on lights, you won’t see the markings once you are done sewing)
  • optional (but helpful): sewing gauge, rotary cutter and mat

Step 1: Measure

The first thing you need to figure out is how long your curtains should be.  Using the measuring tape, measure from the top of your curtain rod to where you would like your curtains to hang.  (For me, that was a couple of inches above the heater, which ended up being 75 inches.)  Write that number down.

Then, add the amount you will need for seams.  This is really completely up to you, but you can use the original curtain hems as a guide.  The original hems on my curtain were quite narrow, so I decided to go with 1″ hems.  Then, because the seam will be folded twice before being sewn, I doubled this number, giving me 2.”  (If your number is different mine, just double whatever you came up with and you’re all set)

Add these two numbers together – finished length + seam allowance (75 + 2 in my case) and you will have the length you will be cutting your curtains.

Step 2: Cut

Lay your first curtain panel out flat on the floor.  (Or a table if you have one long enough.)  To make things easier, I like to fold mine in half for this step.  Just make sure that you keep the tops if the curtains lined up after folding, to avoid crooked seams later on.

How to Hem Curtains

Using your measuring tape, measure from the top of the curtain and make a mark at your target number.  (Remember Step 1?  My number was 77 inches)  Use a marking pencil to mark a line on the curtains.

How to Hem Curtains

Do this several times across the width of the curtain until you have 4 or 5 marks.

Tutorial

Use a ruler to join the marks you have made into a solid line.

How to Hem Curtains

I don’t know what yours will be like, but my curtains did not originally have straight hems – about 1″ off in places!  This is why it is important to measure from the top, and not from the bottom, of the curtain.   (Sometimes when you do things yourself you end up with something better than what you started with!)

Okay, now cut across the line you just made.  You now have a perfectly straight curtains ready to hem!  Repeat this step with the other curtain panel(s).

What do I do if my cutting line runs into the original hem?

If you are lucky, you will be shortening your curtains enough that you will be able to just cut off the original hem entirely.  However, this is not always the case.  If your cutting line runs down into the original hem, you will have to sit and unpick the original stitching.  It’s a bit tedious, but I find putting on some of my favourite music or sitting down and watching a movie while I work my way through makes the time pass quickly.

How to Hem Curtains

Step 3: Press and Pin

We’re halfway there!  Now you are going to lay your newly-cut curtain bottoms across your ironing board and press the hem.  Using a ruler or sewing gauge to stay consistent, press up your hem the full amount of the seam allowance (that second number you chose in Step 1)  In my case, that number was 2″.

Curtain Hemming Tutorial

Then unfold this newly pressed hem, and fold the fabric again, but this time only until it meets the line you just pressed.  In my case, it meant folding it up 1″.  Press on the fold.

How to Hem Curtains

Now fold the hem up on your original fold line again and pin.  This tucks all the raw edges neatly away and leaves you with a nice straight edge, ready to sew!

How to Hem Curtains

Step 4:  Sew

Now the fun part!  Load up your machine with matching thread, and sew a straight stitch close to the folded edge of your hem, removing the pins as you go.  Be sure to backstitch when you start and when you stop to lock the stitches.

IMG_7991

Trim your threads and admire your beautifully sewn hem!  These curtains are ready to hang.

That’s all there is to it!  Now you are ready to hang your curtains and enjoy your handiwork!  Well done!

Finished

Pajama Monster Pillow Tutorial

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow Tutorial

This tutorial has been a long time coming – but finally, here it is!  These cute and cuddly monster pillows have big mouths just ready to eat your pajamas and keep them safe until night time.  They’re also really fun sleepover companions.  If you’d like to have one of these monsters for your very own (or for someone you love) I make them in custom colours in my shop.  Or, you could make your own!  Here’s how:

Materials

  • 3/4 yard (70 cm) of fleece for the pillow
  • piece of fleece in appropriate colours for horns, teeth, eyes and eyeballs
  • piece of coordinating cotton for mouth lining
  • stuffing

Materials for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 1:  Cut the fabric

Out of the pillow fleece, cut 2 16″ (40 cm) squares  (I made myself a cardboard template for this, but you could use a cutting grid or even just measure with a ruler!) and one 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle for the mouth

From the lining fabric cut a 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle

From white fleece, cut a 16 x 2.5″ (40 x 6 .5 cm) strip for the teeth and notch to look like teeth

Teeth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Also from white cut two ovals for eyes.  Mine are about 3 x 4.5″ (7.5 x 12.5 cm)

Cut eyeballs from black fleece.

Draw a horn shape about 5″ (12.5 cm)  tall and use it as a template to cut out four horn shapes from fleece.

Horns for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 2:  Sew the Mouth

Place the fleece mouth right-side up on a table.

Place the teeth right-side down on top, lining up the bottom of the teeth with the top of the mouth.

Mouth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Place the lining piece right-side down on top and pin across the top.

Mouth Construction

Sew across the top only.

Fold the lining behind the fleece mouth and press.

Mouth Finished

Place the mouth piece on top of one of the pillow pieces, lining up the bottom and sides, and baste.  (Leave the top, teeth part open.)

Step 3: Sew the Eyes

Sew the eyeballs onto the eye pieces.

Eyes

Sew the eyes to the front pillow piece as desired.

Step 4: Sew and Stuff the Horns

With right-sides together, sew the horn pieces together.  Trim the seams at the points.

Turn right-side out and stuff.  Only lightly stuff the bottoms so they can be sewn into the pillow.

Stuffed Horns

Position the horns where you would like them on the finished pillow, and baste them to the top of the pillow, lining up the bottom of the horns with the top of the pillow.

**I seem to have misplaced the photos I took of the last several steps.  Hopefully it’s clear enough without the photo help. Sorry!     

Step 5: Sew the Pillow  

Place the front pillow piece (the one with the eyes and mouth) right-side up on a table.

Place the back pillow piece right-side down on top and pin.

Sew around all the sides, leaving an opening for turning.

Step 6: Stuff and Finish

Turn the pillow right side out and stuff.

Sew the opening closed.

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow

Ta da!  Your pillow monster is finished and ready to start devouring some PJs!

If you make a pillow using this tutorial, please share your pictures, I’d love to see them!  Also, I would really appreciate it if you only used this tutorial for your own pillows or for gifts.  Those wishing to purchase a pillow can find them in my shop!  Thanks!  Happy sewing!

 

IMG_6697

Felted Sweater Laptop Cozy Tutorial – on the Canadian Living Blog!

I was featured on the Canadian Living blog today!!!  I enjoy the Canadian Living craft blog and was so excited when I was asked to contribute!  On top of the interview, I also created a tutorial for a laptop cozy made from a recycled wool sweater.

This is the laptop sweater my new (to me) MacBook travels in every day.  I’ve had a lot of positive comments on it, and once the sweater is felted, you can whip one up in less than an hour.   So hop on over and learn how to make your own!

It’s been an exciting day! :)

iPod cozies

Cute Animal iPod Cozy Tutorial

I have been having so much fun making iPod cozies this past week.  It all started when I saw a photo of a monster iPod cozy as I was researching ideas for my children’s sewing classes (I already have 17 students signed up for the first class- eek!)  A few hours later I was down in the sewing studio surrounded by felted sweater scraps and sketching up some new critter ideas when the two ideas collided and animal iPod cozies were born!

They are such a fun project, and so perfect for holiday gift giving, that I thought I would share a tutorial so you can make some too!  (or, if you’d rather just adopt one, there is a growing zoo of iPod animals available in my shop!)

Animal iPod Cozy Tutorial

Materials

You will need a felted sweater (or larger sized scraps), wool felt (I use an acrylic/wool blend felt from this shop), and embroidery floss

Step 1: Cut the basic cozy pieces

From the felted sweater you will need one 4 x 5.5 inch piece for the back, one 4 x 4 inch piece for the front, and one 4 x 2.5 inch piece for the head

Step 2: Cut ears, eyes, noses and tails

From the felt, cut the necessary facial features for whatever animal you would like to make.  For this elephant I cut two eyes, a trunk, two ears, and a tail.  You could draw these on paper first, or do what I do and eyeball it.  If you are using a really thick felted sweater you could also use the sweater felt for tails or ears.  Because I wanted to use the sweater felt but didn’t feel it was sturdy enough, I also cut a second set of ears from the wool felt which I sewed together in the next step.

Step 3: Sew on your facial features and tails

Use embroidery floss to anchor the eyes and create eyeballs.  Attach your other facial features to the head, and your tail to the back.  I prefer to attach all of my facial features by hand-sewing, as I think the stitches are less noticeable, but you could also use the machine if you prefer. I used the machine to stitch together the two ear layers and to attach the tail.

Step 4: Pin it together

Place the back of the cozy right side up.

If you have ears, place them also right side up, lining up the bottoms with the edges of the cozy.  In this case I also put them about 1/4 inch down from the top so they wouldn’t get caught in the stitching!

Place the head piece right side down on top.

Place the top piece right side down, overlapping the head piece.

Pin well.

Step 4: Sew and clip corners.

Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, sew all the way around the cozy.  Clip off the corners close to the stitching.

Step 5: Turn right-side out and do a happy dance – you’re done!

 

Enjoy!  If you make your own cozy I’d love to see it!  Please feel free to share links to your pictures in the comments.

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