Animal Hospital: How to Restore Lost Limbs

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Sewing, tutorials | 2 comments

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?


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!

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Sewing Basics: How to Hem Pants

Posted by on Jan 11, 2014 in Sewing, tutorials | 1 comment

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


  • 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.


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).


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?

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Capes for Kids

Posted by on Jan 8, 2014 in Sewing | 2 comments

One of the joys of being able to sew is to share the things I have made for others.  Sometimes that is through gifts to friends and family, sometimes that is through selling items in my shop, and other times it is through donating handmade items to charitable organizations.  I love to think of my handmade things being used by those who could use it most!

In the summer of last year I was introduced to the Craft Hope website.  Every other month or so the author posts a new opportunity for crafters to get involved in, using their talents to help others.

This month, the project was capes for kids.  Believing in the value of dramatic play as I do, how could I pass this one up?

Using this awesome tutorial for reversible capes, this is what I made:

Capes for Kids

The pink fabric was gifted to me by an on-line friend who was clearing up her stash (check out her amazing patterns!) and although flannel might be an odd choice for a cape, I loved the pattern too much to pass it up for this project.  As a child I loved absolutely anything soft and cosy (who am I kidding?  I’m still a sucker for anything soft and warm) so hopefully that will just be a bonus for some cape-wearing kiddo.

Aren’t the guitars and hearts fun?  Who wouldn’t want a cape that does double duty – is she a superhero, or a rock star?  :)

Capes for Kids

If you want to make some capes yourself, there is still time (the deadline isn’t until Jan. 31), and there is even a new-sew version of the cape for those who don’t sew!


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Sewing Basics: How to Hem Curtains

Posted by on Jan 4, 2014 in Sewing, tutorials | 0 comments

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!


  • 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.


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.


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!


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Minion Madness

Posted by on Jan 1, 2014 in Knit and Crochet, Sewing | 2 comments

Happy New Year!

It was a bit of a different Christmas holiday around here, with so many people out of power, but we still enjoyed many beautiful moments with family and friends.

And, of course, there was time taken to make a few handmade gifts.  Although I did not take photos of everything I made, there were a few that had their moment with the paparazzi.

And how could you resist when the subject is this cute?

Minion Stuffed Toy

This is Phil.  And although we are still waiting for him to put on his maid’s outfit and clean our house,  it’s been fun having him around.  (Although all of our bananas seem to have gone missing….)  I used the fantastic free pattern and tutorial on We Lived Happily Ever After.

And because we are such big Minion fans here at the moment, I also crocheted this minion hat:

Crocheted Minion Hat

This was another free pattern and comes in all sizes from newborn to adult!  (Oh how thankful I am for all of those generous crafters out there!)  I also really liked this pattern I found on Pinterest, but didn’t think Hubby would like the braided tails!

Then, when our Christmas Eve plans were cancelled due to the crazy weather and power outages, I spent the day on the couch next to my beloved and whipped up one of these for my friend’s little one:

Crochet Puppy Dog Hat

It was fun to get the crochet hooks out again and to make something so little and cute!  This was another great free pattern from Repeat Crafter Me.

What about you?  Was there holiday crafting at your house this year?


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The most amazing plant discovery ever!

Posted by on Nov 23, 2013 in Gardening | 0 comments

Last year I made the most amazing plant discovery ever.  Seriously.  This plant is a medicinal powerhouse.  Chew it or chop it up and apply it for immediate relief from bug bites, bee stings, nettle stings, and rashes.  Apply it to a deep sliver and it will actually pull it out of the skin.  It cures infections, stops bleeding, and, oh yeah, you can eat it too.

As you are probably imagining, this is a rare rainforest plant only recently discovered and this is why the general public doesn’t know about it yet.  It is sold at such high prices that only the elite have access to it.  Um, not quite.

This plant is actually a “weed” that grows prolifically just about everywhere.  Even city dwellers can probably find it sprouting between side walk stones.  But somehow, in the ease of plunking down our money at the nearest drug store, it’s medicinal use has been long forgotten.

This amazing plant is the topic of my last instalment of the Forgotten Plants series over at Gnowfglins.   I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this garden weed in the pages of my medicinal herb book and I can’t wait to make better use of it in my garden, and medicine cabinet, in the spring.

If you know of any other “forgotten plants” I’d love to hear about them!

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Surprises in the Wall

Posted by on Nov 20, 2013 in Everything Else | 0 comments

We have had a few surprises since moving in to our new house.  Some good (like the laundry shoot), and some bad (the roof started to leak the day we moved in), but none quite as interesting as the discovery we made this past week.  We were having some issues with the electrical in the kitchen/dining room, and in order to fix the problem we had to remove the electric fireplace the previous owners had (mis)installed.

Once we had the fireplace out, we had an open view into the wall.  And guess what we found in there?

Vintage Little People Toys

Can’t you just imagine some small child sitting there the last time the wall was open, watching their toys fall into the abyss?  I wonder if there is a parent somewhere who could never figure out what became of this lot…

As the fireplace will not be returning to this spot, Hubby and I have been throwing around a few ideas of what to use the space for.  We have a few good ideas, but I’m curious, if this was your home, what would you do with this opening in the stone wall?  

Fireplace Opening

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