A New Sewing Machine!

I got an award at work which came with a gift certificate of my choosing.  So I used the opportunity to a sewing machine that wouldn’t DRIVE ME CRAZY!  I researched and researched and researched and finally chose a Janome.  It was far harder for me to choose a model but I finally landed on the Janome DC 5100.

It’s been a completely new experience sewing on the Janome.  I don’t have the bobbin issues I had before, it can handle several layers of fabric.  I’ll have lots of pictures to show what I’ve been sewing up with my new machine!

I’m in love!


I really like this fabric but it’s so busy I knew I’d want to do it with a simple silhouette.  

This pattern seemed like a good fit, the only detail was some cute pleating on the front.  Actually, learning pleating was a bit challenging at first.  It was tricky to get the fabric to fold the way I wanted it to and it was hard to get the pleats even spaced.  I like the style but the shape is a little wide.  I think it will look cute with leggings or skinny pants.

Unfortunately the back looks pretty messy, I may actually unpick it and re-sew it.

I’m really happy with this.  After the Kimono PJs from the Amy Butler book I wanted to try a kimono style pattern in a knit so I worked with this pattern:

This pattern has a tie on the inside and a button on the outside
Since I’m totally obsessed with owls at the moment this fabric was an obvious choice.
I think the bias tape on each of these really made the garments look much more finished.

Kimono Style PJs

This pattern turned out really cute.  It’s another pattern from Amy Butler’s Little Stitches, the Kimono Style PJs.

I did something pretty silly here and used home decor weight fabric for this.  It’s a bit rough and will probably have to be layered over a thin tee or something but we’ll see.  I’d like to try it again with a fabric weight.

I made my own bias tape for this one and was really happy with how it turned out
 I love the matching trim at the bottom of the pants.  I’ve since made a couple pairs of pants using this pattern (including some adorable bee ones) that I’ll share soon!

Is it Cheating?

I wanted to make some mats for laying baby on for some upcoming showers.  I’d never quilted before so I took the “cheater” route and used the pre-quilted fabric that JoAnns sells.  They’re really simple with the pre-quilted fabric, high loft batting and backed in matching minky fabric:
They turned out pretty cute, I’m not SUPER proud of them but they’ll do:
(Backed in matching brown minky)

I think sometimes cheating is fine.  I would have wound up throwing this project against a wall if I’d tried to do the quilting, I’m glad I cheated but I hope to do a REAL quilt in the future.  Baby steps!

Freezer Paper Stencils are Pretty Awesome

I learned about this free animal font on Say Yes to Hoboken.  The whale tee she did was so cute so I decided to try my hand at it.

I bought freezer paper, fabric paints and an X-Acto knife and had at it.

I started with the elephant
And I LOVED it!

 So I made a giraffe
And then a horse

 And then my favorite – the seahorse

Then I had a thought.  I was spending all of this time cutting out these stencils and only using them once.  So I used a piece of our tupperware and traced a rounded edge square and created an inverted version of the stencil.
And I like this one even more!
I think I’m going to be doing a lot of freezer-paper stenciling in the future.

Lesson 6: Let the Fabric Inspire the Project

I was in JoAnn Fabrics when I spotted this adorable fabric that was reminiscent of Dwell’s Gio Fabric like this Gio Hooded Towel.  I checked the bolt and it was in fact Robert Allen for Dwell Studio.  I LOVED it so I bought TONS of it, yards and yards and yards in the different coordinating patterns.

The fabric seemed so perfect for a nursery bedding set and one of my books had the perfect pattern for it.  So I pulled out Amy Butler’s Little Stitches and made a fitted sheet, a pillow:

And the quilt:

 It’s not really made by quilting, it uses embroidery ties to hold all the layers in place.
I also made a crib skirt out of the green circle fabric so I could coordinate it with the blue and the pink set.

I made a pink crib sheet and a pillow.
The second time around I realized that when cutting the pieces I had to be careful with the print placement and was able to line them up PERFECTLY on the back!

I love this set, and I am glad that I was able to make pieces that would be useful with both sets to move through the set quicker.

Lesson 5: Simple and Classic = Cute

Simple silhouettes with cute and classic fabric can be the most adorable.  Simple details like a ribbon tie on a dress can be ridiculously cute.  I love a pinafore I made early on that’s one of the easiest to make but turned out really adorable!

Toddler Pinafore Smock Top from One Yard Wonders



I could make a million more of these!

Lesson 4: Finishing Details Take Projects from Decent to Great

Little details can make all of the difference in projects.  Sometimes the addition of bias tape, piping or pleats can take an item to a new level.

This really basic jacket for a newborn out of the One Yard Wonders book looks far more finished with the addition of bias tape.
The “Newborn Flyaway Jacket” 

The opposing lines and bias edging on this skirt give it a completely different look than a solid fabric would.
The “Twist and Shout” Twirl Skirt

I was so obsessed with lining up the lines on the skirt

I learned how to make bias tape, how to apply it, how to make pleats and how to line a garment from sewing patterns with those details in them.

Lesson 3: A Well Written Pattern is REALLY Valuable

I made a few purchases over the next couple months of 2010 as I expanded my repertoire.  One of those purchases was Amy Butler’s Little Stitches.  I also purchased One Yard Wonders an Oliver + S pattern and a couple Butterick/Simplicity patterns from JoAnn’s.  By far my favorite was the Oliver + S pattern.  The pattern had pictures at all of the crucial steps the instructions were clear and detailed and the details were meticulous, by the time you were done the garment was polished and beautiful, they looked like they were production level quality.  

I’ve abandoned projects halfway through a pattern because the instructions weren’t clear.  I’ve stared at the pieces I’ve sewn, read the instructions 32 times over and said “What?!!?” every time and then I give up on it.  I’ve realized that the reason I like sewing is that it’s a challenge but that when I stop enjoying it, when the enjoyment I’ll get out of a project is less than the frustration I’ll get from it I can give up on it without regret.  Some of those projects I’ve come back to and completed others still remain in my sewing room and a small few have been discarded.

This is a snuggly blanket from Amy Butler’s Little Stiches which I think is adorable

The instructions were confusing and I wound up with some mismatched corners

This is just a flaw in my capabilities at the point, TERRIBLE buttonhole skills

Lesson 2: Linings hide your icky stiches

So related to lesson 1 I tried things to hide the hideous rats nests that I created with my bobbin threads (obviously this was easier than fixing the problem!).  Lining something completely hid those threads so my next project was a fully lined purse.  This was one of my early favorites.  One of the first things that I made that I really liked and used.

I was really happy with the outside and got compliments on it

The inside lining hid all of those awful balls of thread from the bobbin

However, the buttonhole left something to be desired!

I learned about other tricks like bias tape and tucked hems that could hide my poor stitching skills until I could improve them!