Posts Tagged "sewing"

My First Knit Sweater! (and other March Break Projects)

Posted by on Mar 8, 2014 in Knit and Crochet, Sewing | 0 comments

It’s finished!  I can hardly believe that I have knit my first sweater.  I have been wanting to learn to knit my own clothes for so long.  There were a few hiccups in the road, but I managed to figure everything out and was blessed to have my mother-in-law for help every few weekends, too!  So without further ado……here is the finished garment!

My first knit sweater! My first knit sweater

First Knit Sweater Back

The pattern is the Waterford Cardigan, remember this post? It was actually very easy to follow and the only part I found really tricky was adding the trim to the sleeves.  I think they should be a little looser than they are, but overall, I am really happy with it, and it is super soft and warm.

I am extra excited that I finished it while there is still cold weather left to enjoy it in!  (Not that I would complain if there was an early spring…)

This was actually only the first project I finished on what quickly became a very crafty March Break.  One week off school made for lots of extra time to be spent in the sewing room!  Here are the other projects I accomplished this week:

 MArch Break PRojects

 Not bad for one week!  Now if only it were March Break every week…. :)

What about you?  How are you spending your Spring Break?

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The End of an Era – My Last Rainbow Pencil Rolls

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in Sewing | 0 comments

Today marks the end of an era.  It has been 5 years since I decided to turn my love of all things handmade into more than just a hobby.   4 years ago I opened my first Etsy shop (now replaced by artisaninthewoods), filled it will all manner of sewn and quilted things, and waited excitedly for my first sale.  I was ecstatic when I received that first “sold” email from Etsy.  And of all the items in my shop, that first sold item was…….

Rainbow Pencil Roll

A rainbow pencil holder.  24 slots, all colour-coded to match standard pencil crayon sets.  The pockets made just tight enough that the pencils are less likely to fall out during travel.

Not only were these pencil rolls my first sale, but my second as well.  They went on to become one of my Etsy best-sellers, and responsible for more custom orders than anything else (except for create-a-creatures of course!)

For the last several years I have been stitching rainbows.  I have made them from scrap fabrics, customer-chosen fabrics, and hand-dyed fabrics.  I have made them large enough to hold an artist’s set of 36 markers.  I have monogrammed them and tied them with ribbon, buttons, and velcro.  I have even made them to give as gifts myself, and two people have benefited from receiving one out of my “oops” bin.  (Like the one I made with 23 slots instead of 24 – how did I miss that???)

But yesterday, I stitched up what may just be my last rainbow rolls.  I love sewing.  I love these rainbow rolls.  But I also love new projects, and I feel it is time to move on.  So last night, with a little hint of nostalgia, I put my last 3 rolls for sale.

Rainbow Quilted Pencil Roll

It is the end of an era.  But the beginning of one too.  (If you follow me on Facebook then you will have already seen the newest in laptop fashion!)

You have been good to me rainbow rolls, but now we move on to new adventures!

If you’ve been looking for a rainbow pencil roll, you will still find a few in the shop.

What new projects are YOU embarking on?


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Sewing Basics: How to Sew a Button

Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in tutorials | 0 comments

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.


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!

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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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