August 28, 2010

Polly’s Diaper Bag: Crunching Numbers

Posted in Don't Buy It!, Katie's Gallery, Polls, Contests and Giveaways! tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:42 pm by kdthreads

Bitty Baby - $45

(See post from August 26 for original article on this project.)

Here is the breakdown of the materials cost for this project:

Green Print, 1/2 yard @ $3.99/yd. = $2.00

Pink Plaid, 1/3 yard @ 2.99/yd. = $1.00

Cotton Batting, 20″ x 24″ = $1.88

Ric- Rac, 20″ = $.32

I couldn’t tell you the exact cost for threads and two buttons, but we will add this amount = $.20

Grand Total for Materials: $5.40

Baby accessories from Dollar Tree: $3.18 (incl. tax.)

Bitty Baby's Diaper Bag - $36

(Keep in mind, the need for quantity in the materials for this bag are small, I chose to buy new fabric, but I  could have made this without any of these costs.)

It did take me a few hours to turn this out, but I had fun, it is unique and Polly is happily mothering with her own special essentials.  Now, I am not the first person to think of this, am I?  Christmas is coming, with good planning, you can spend $8.58 instead of $36 (with shipping.)    How do you plan your projects so that you aren’t up all night on Christmas Eve or stressed out on Thanksgiving?  Share your experiences in the Comments section below!


July 18, 2010

Is “Project Runway” the Motivation Behind Your Sewing?

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 2:59 am by kdthreads

Project Runway Season Four

It is time for true confessions!  If you have watched more than 5 episodes of this favorite reality show, leave a comment!  If you are a fan of Seth Aaron Henderson, leave a comment!  If you wish Tim Gunn would pop up in your life every few hours to check on you, leave a REALLY long comment!  For those of you who don’t know what on earth I am talking about, visit at your own risk.

I avoided this show for a while convinced that it was obnoxious, tacky and tasteless, but then my boys went camping for a weekend and there just happened to be a Project Runway marathon on Bravo.  I went from hating Heidi Klum to thinking she is adorable and an incredible business woman.  I had no clue Tim Gunn existed, but now “make it work” and “you need to resolve this” are part of my daily conversations.  Michael Kors was just another random store and Elle magazine was something I avoided, but now I keep Michael and Nina Garcia’s (now Fashion Director for Marie Claire instead of Elle) critical voices in the back of my head because they know their stuff! 

I would probably never wear 80% of what went down the runway in the last 7 seasons, but I can appreciate the work (or sometimes lack thereof) that goes into each challenge.  Personally, I don’t think making a garment in 24 or 48 hours is intimidating (especially with no kids running around,) I would struggle most with having to sketch, design and commit in 30 minutes then shop at Mood and purchasing everything in 30 minutes!  I have spent over 4 hours in a fabric store firming up a design, calculating yardage, choosing fabric and trying not to forget all the notions I need. 

One thing I’ve discovered about the show is the level of sewing skill impacts the competition.  Many a tasteful and prioneering designer were booted off due to poor “execution.”  Yet the designers who know how to sew but have done very little fashion designing often stick around (like Wendy Pepper or Laura Bennett) and even show as finalists at Fashion Week.  Could this be you?  Absolutely, but you will need to add some additional items to your Shopping List (see my page about assembling your tools .) 

Tools Specifically for Fashion Design:

  • At least one dressform sized for the person modeling the garments (this could be you, a friend, spouse, etc.)
  • Draping tape (the ribbon-like strips you see designers sticking to the dress form to create style lines.)
  • A full-length mirror or three full-length mirrors that can be placed in a corner for enhanced viewing.
  • Muslin and pattern-drafting paper for creating (and saving!) your patterns.
  • Curved and straight styling ruler
  • Patternmaking tools such as a tracing wheel and pattern punch.
  • Awl
  • Hand tools and hammer for applying snaps, eyelets and other hardware.
  • Fashion Design textbooks: either visit your local library, or shop online towards the end of Spring and Fall semesters for students selling their books.  Books on fashion history, fashion drawing, figure drawing, patternmaking, and a basic concepts and techniques book should get you off to a great start. 

Project Runway has a retail website which includes suggested sewing kits and other fun stuff (Prym USA is the parent company for Dritz, Omnigrid, Project Runway sewing supplies and more.)  Threads magazine has a great article on making your own dressforms here.  If you make a purchase from Fabulous Fit, you get free access to comprehensive information on designing, draping and fitting with a dressform; visit and click on “ebook.”

Note: if you just want to sew clothes from commercial patterns these items are optional.

Whether you are an aspiring Project Runway contestant, or you just want your own clothes to fit like a glove, you do not need a pricey degree from a Fashion Institute.  If you are on a budget, grab your duct tape and follow the tutorials with Threads magazine.  A video tutorial by me on how to measure for clothing is coming soon!  Thanks for reading and please subscribe.

Carry On!

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July 16, 2010

Free Online Printables for Sewing

Posted in Assemble Your Sewing Notebook, Sewing 101 tagged , , , , at 3:56 pm by kdthreads

Prym Consumer USA is the parent company for popular brands like Dritz, Omnigrid and Fons & Porter.  Their website contains a summary of useful tools for any seamstress, and these free sheets with tips and concepts are a great way to start your reference library.  If you are like me, any chance to turn a three-ring binder into some kind of organizer provides an odd sense of accomplishment.  Sewing will be no different.  If you haven’t grabbed an old binder, page protectors, three-hole punch and some tabs for labeling, get to work and start printing the first pages of your own sewing manual.

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July 3, 2010

What do You Really Need to Get Started?

Posted in Sewing 101, Videos and Step-by-Step Tutorials tagged , , , , , at 3:22 pm by kdthreads

You probably already know what tools are necessary for basic sewing, but here is a little more information.  Start gathering these items together to join stitch-alongs in future posts.

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Just a Needle, Thread and a Pair of Hands

Posted in Sewing 101 tagged , , , , , , at 5:17 am by kdthreads

I grew up watching my mother sew.  Trips to the fabric store, digging through old patterns and a healthy stash of fabric were all parts of my childhood.  I wore homemade outfits to school thinking this was normal, and when no one believed me when I claimed “my mom made it,” no one believed me!  Time and energy (and my own behavior) kept my mom from intentionally teaching me how to sew until I was 16.  At last I could trade in my toy Singer machine (used to make hundred’s of pincushions) and my parents bought me a high-end Kenmore machine.  It was on this little machine that I made my first dress, countless bags, skirts, baby quilts and much more.  I took the Kenmore with me to college and even lent it out a few times to the two other girls on campus who knew how to sew. 

It was around this time when I realized that not every woman knew the basics of sewing and schools were no longer teaching it in home ec.  I cannot imagine my life without this skill!  My dad always said learning to sew was more important than most of what I would learn in college (he was right.)  Even on the projects I consider setting on fire, sitting down at the machine, smelling the hot iron and even the fibers that get stuck in my nose all calm my soul. 

I am still no where near the skilled seamstress my mother is, but I’ve come a long way from my Kenmore in the dorm room.  I now own four machines: Husqvarna Viking Iris, Husqvarna Viking Freesia, Pfaff Hobbylock Serger, and Huskystar Felting Machine.  I am also married and mother to three sons, each adopted with special needs from foster care.  I also own a 1910 Sears’ Bungalow.  I have 14 nieces and nephews and one more on the way.  I’ve made wedding gowns, covered sofas, made diapers, covers, wipes, toys, curtains and the list goes on.  When I am stressed, I make an accessory.  If I am behind on washing diapers, I whip up a new one.  If I see something around my house or in a store that could have a fabric, sewn-by-me equivalent, I will try it.  (For example, sandwich bags, shower caps, feminine products, teething blankets, I will try to sew anything!)

Now, I know what you are thinking.  I am a crazy granola crunchy tree-hugger who says sewing is easy because she has four machines and a mom as a sewing oracle.  I do not hug trees, I hate granola, and though I am not at my mother’s level, I can draft patterns and construct beautifully.  As for the four machines, my mother works as a dealer and teacher at a Viking Sewing studio.  All the machines I own where either gifts to me on various occasions, or a hand-me-down when my mother bought a newer and more advanced model.  So basically, I am just blessed.  But I am assuming that most of you have the basics necessary to get started and keep going: one sharp, metal sewing needle, thread (even if you harvest it from an old hem) and your hands.  I have watched women sew with no scissors and no eyesight!  After machine sewing and quilting for 15 years, I am slowly doing more and more by hand.  It is accurate, portable, and relaxing.  It requires no electricity, and if you do not have access to a reliable machine, it is not necessary.  If you pass by the sewing machines at Target and sigh, “I would love to be able to sew,”  STOP!  One, never buy a machine at Target (or rely on consumer reports,) and Two, don’t stress about a major purchase when you have no knowledge, practice or skill.  Pick up supplies for a sewing kit and head home.  Brew some tea, find a comfy chair near a window or bright lamp and start stitching. 

It is my desire to teach you to sew.  I don’t want you buying Martha Stewart’s Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts!  

Beautiful and Tasteful, but.....

First of all, I loathe the word “craft.”  It makes me think of camp, popsicle sticks and visors made from foam.  Secondly, this book will not teach you to sew.  I have no doubt that anyone could complete any of these projects, but all of you are  perfectly capable of learning and mastering a few classic techniques that will build your confidence and lead you to creating beautiful garments for yourself (that will actually fit) gifts for your friends or curtains for your windows.  Your list of projects may grow and your unfinished or never started stash may threaten your sanity, but you will be a capable and talented seamstress who may take joy in the fruit of her hands.

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