One Little Word 2015: STEWARDSHIP

Aaahhh!!  Only MARCH and I’m posting my first One Little Word video update for the year.  You can see my 2014 updates here, or on my YouTube channel.

The Maya Angelou quote I mentioned is actually a Zora Neale Hurston quote (oops), and is from Their Eyes Were Watching God: “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”  You can find more Zora Neale Hurston quotes here (and quotes that are actually from Maya Angelou here).

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2015 Sewing Buddy Project: Sign-Ups OPEN!


Short version: The Sewing Buddies are BACK!!  Sign up here for 2015.

Long(er) version:  I started the Sewing Buddy Project six (!!) years ago in response to a survey I conducted here on the blog that seemed to indicate that one of the biggest things that would help most of us get more of our sewing goals met was to have a friend who would sew alongside us (literally or figuratively) and keep us motivated and excited about our sewing projects.  Sewing Buddies were my answer: a system of pen pals who all love to sew and want to get to know other sewing folks.

I never imagined it would last so long or be such a big hit.

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Printable: Bias Tape Makers & Measurements

While I was at QuiltCon, I had the privilege of teaching a quick demonstration at the invitation of the ladies from Cotton + Steel.  Naturally, the first idea that popped into my head was to share my on-going passion for continuous bias tape.  Yes!  More CBT converts!  More bias tape projects!  BIAS TAPE FOR EVERYONE!!

continuous bias tape

I made little giveaways to share, lengths of bias tape wrapped around cardboard, as takeaways for the folks who came by to visit.  Doing a demonstration in a setting like this is always a little funky–it’s a little bit of a fishbowl, and it’s hard to tell if no one is paying any attention or if everyone is paying attention.  Turns out, having some goodies to give away is a great method for giving folks a heads-up that something fun is about to happen.  YOU get some bias tape!  And YOU get some bias tape!  EVERYONE gets some bias tape!!

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QuiltCon 2015: I Hate What I Made. And I Learned So Much.

QuiltCon, QuiltCon, QuiltCon!  WHEN will everyone STOP talking about QuiltCon?!?

Not today, I’m afraid.

I was there in Austin when 10,000 modern quilters gathered from all over the world–as far away as India, over 9500 miles–to learn and be inspired and meet up and hug a LOT.  It was, honestly, everything everyone has said it was and maybe even a little bit more.  Imagine: every time you turn a corner, you see another dear, dear friend whom you don’t see often enough, and you race toward each other for giant hugs and super fast chatter.  That’s what this was like.  Like a junior high dance, except everyone was really nice and in an incredibly good mood.  I’m totally in withdrawal.

quilt con cotton and steel make and take

Make-and-takes at the Cotton + Steel booth! Image via the MQG blog.

I volunteered while I was there, and it was such a great way to visit with friends and make new ones, to see the show and to feel like I was contributing to something that makes an enormous impact in a lot of people’s lives.  I helped set up booths and hang quilts on the show floor before quilters began arriving, I welcomed folks in as they entered the ballroom for the QuiltCon Awards Ceremony, and I even spent a day with Anna Maria Horner in her Mod Corsage workshop (along with Denyse Schmidt, pretty much guaranteeing that the entire day was both magical and hilarious, because those ladies are hysterically funny).

Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt at Quilt Con 2015

I even took one whole day to enjoy a workshop for myself–I know, you can really pack some stuff into four days, right?  I was actually scheduled to do another half-day workshop during the weekend, but as I was packing my bags to leave on the plane, realized that it was just too much.  I dropped the half-day workshop so that someone else could pick it up from the wait list, and stuck with just the one full-day class: the Emphasis quilt with Carolyn Friedlander.

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Intimidation Factor

I really love a challenge.  I do.  Sometimes I like to see if I can do something JUST to see if I can do it, whether I’m especially interested in the final product or not.  But other times…man, I just get too intimidated.

I’ll be all super excited about making something I’ve never made before and become CONVINCED that I am able to climb any mountain, as the nuns sang.  I’ll get all the supplies and all the patterns and all the equipment.  And then I’ll freeze.

Deer in headlights.  It’s awful.  It looks like procrastination on the outside, but I’m learning to call it what it really is: intimidation.  Most projects I jump into face-first, and if it works, it works.  And if it doesn’t?  No harm, no foul.  There have been a few, however…  No matter how much I gear myself up and gird my own loins, I have simply struggled to complete these projects, even when they have gotten to well-past-the-50%-mark.

wool yarn for knitting cardigans

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Vintage Barbie Clothes Made by Someone Else’s Grandma

barbies hanging out by the closet

Two years ago, I went on a mission at Christmas: a vintage Barbie holiday for our 7-year-old.

barbie carrying cases whipstitch

I was especially focused on the carrying cases, honestly.

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Cotton + Steel Frock Rayons

racerback shift from whipstitch b

Oh, rayon.  I DO love you.  I have always loved you.  I am so glad we’re getting back together.

frock casing bow detail whipstitch

I once overheard an older woman at JoAnn saying to her friend how much she hated rayon ever since The War.  She seemed very sure of her opinion, but I think I made a noise under my breath, because I strongly disagree.  STRONGLY.  Me, I love rayon.  It’s so soft and drapey, and it feels so silky against my skin.  I love the flow of it, and the way nearly any garment made in it is super flattering.

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Giveaway with Kids Clothes Week!

Today, I’m excited to be part of a giveaway over at Kids Clothes Week! Enter for your chance to win THREE new kids’ patterns PLUS a spot in the Sewing Knits without the Serger class.
The Overmost and Pinafore are in the final phases of testing and will be available for presale in a matter of days! Eeek! And the dress featured in the Cotton + Steel booth under the Pinafore last fall will come out soon after:
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You’ll receive all three patterns when they release plus get immediate access to the Sewing Knits class–join me in stitching up all your favorite clothes in stretch fabrics!
Enter here or over on the Kids Clothes Week blog!
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Join my Sewing Knits Without the Serger Master Class on BurdaStyle!

sewing knits square

I have a new online class available!  I’ve teamed up with BurdaStyle to offer my Sewing Knits without the Serger course as a four-week, interactive online class in their Master Class series.  This course has ALL NEW content, including seven new video segments that were shot specifically for BurdaStyle.  I’m seriously excited to share it all with you!

whipstitch yellow long sleeve tee

If you’ve ever wanted to make your own tee shirts or lounge pants or yoga wear, but have avoided it because knit fabrics intimidate you or you thought you needed a serger in order to get the job done, this course is for you!  With three original patterns to sew up, you’ll practice your new skills by working through projects you already want to make.  And with printable lists of patterns to try once the course is over, this class is an excellent starting point for a love affair with stretch sewing!

heather grey jersey tee with bow

We’ll cover how to work with knits on the cutting table and under the needle, how to understand sizing and fit, and then assemble a series of mini-projects that gets you accustomed to the seam finishes you might want to use when sewing knits.  After that, we’ll sew up a sweet little tank top (camisole) with elastic straps, a fold-over waistband skirt, a pair of lounge (pajama) pants that will be the softest you’ve ever worn, and finally work on a tee shirt so you can learn to make professional finishes.  Each project has a printable instruction guide and downloadable pattern pieces, and I’m so excited to show you all the updates to this class!


Registration is open NOW.  Join the class here, and I’ll see you on January 30!

Kwik Sew 1672: Men’s Boxer Shorts

nativity boxer shorts 1

I made my husband underwear.  Yep.  UNDERWEAR.  And as one of my sweet IG friends asked, “Do you always make your husband’s underwear?”, no, I never have before.  But I uncovered Kwik Sew 1672 when I was digging through the (alarming number of) accumulated pajama patterns in my sewing area, looking for just the right ones for this year’s Christmas Eve jammies (more on that later), and it was asking to be made.  Begging, really.  Begging non-chalantly whiel leaning up against a wall.  An invisible wall.  Would YOU have been able to resist?

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This has been sitting in a basket waiting to be sewn up for about a zillion years, and I don’t know why I waited so long.  It was a fun, simple sew with just enough details to keep me interested.  The fit is pretty great (sorry, ladies, hubs was NOT down with modeling for you–which is a shame, because you’re missing out #sorrynotsorry), and the design is very much in line with store-bought boxers.  It doesn’t take a ton of yardage, and let’s be very clear here: is an EXCELLENT use for those novelty prints that you just can’t resist but neeeeeeeed to buy.

Hence the ridiculous nativity boxers seen above.  Holla!

nativity boxer shorts waistband

This print makes me laugh.  I found it at a 75% off big box fabric store sale a few years ago, and bought just a little over a yard-ish.  Plenty to make these boxers.  And I thought it was funny?  Maybe a little irreverent, but not ill-intended?  They’re Christmas pants!  Anyway, my husband is amused by them.

nativity boxer shorts no rear seam

One of the features I was most intrigued by in this design is that it lacks a center back seam–just cut on the fold for a nice, smooth behind.  I’ve seen lots of the boxers we’ve bought him have a gusset in the back, and some have just a simple center back seam (like the ones we got at Banana not too long ago), so to see a pair with neither was interesting.  I wasn’t totally sure they’d be comfortable or not ride up, but he reports back that he didn’t really notice until I mentioned it, which tells me it’s pretty good!

nativity boxer shorts sewn fly

The fly construction takes up the majority of the sewing for these, since the rest is simple seams.  The instructions are nicely written, and give good stitching diagrams to get a polished, professional finish on the fly with NO RAW EDGES.  That last is really important to me, since I want anything up close to my skin to feel as completed as possible.  The width of the waistband and (ahem) sizing of the opening seem to be in line with most off-the-rack men’s underpants.

grinch boxer shorts kwik sew 1672

The nativity boxers were rolled up and tied with a ribbon, then put in my husband’s stocking for Christmas morning.  Being me, I went ahead and cut two pair while I was at it, but didn’t quite get the second completed when I was sewing.  Those I gave him just last week (For the 11th Day of Christmas, my true love gave to meeee….):  Grinch boxers.

grinch boxer shorts fly

You can see on this pair how there’s a nice box sewn at the upper waistband, along the elastic, and a trapezoid at the lower end of the fly, to catch the raw edges of the fly facings and hold them in place on the interior.  Both the right and left fly are finished cleanly with stitches away from the opening, so there isn’t a lot of bulk.  It looks clean and professional in person.

grinch boxer shorts interior fly

On the interior, you can see the point at the lower end of the fly–the lower squared raw edges are tucked up at a diagonal and the trapezoid is stitched from the right side to keep it all pretty.

kwik sew 1672 interior boxer shorts finish

I opted to serge most of these seam allowances, rather than making French seams, partly because I didn’t want to invest the time in French seams and come to learn that the boxers didn’t fit well.  The only exception is here, the very first curved crotch seam below the fly, which is where all the assembly begins.  Because it intersects with the fly facings, and is a tiiiight curve, you can’t really get the serger in there (or, at least, I can’t), so I chose to overcast the edges and then topstitch them in place before moving on to the rest of the construction.  I serged the side seams, and then sewed the inseam (at the bottom of the image here) and serged it BEFORE adding the elastic, even though the instructions have you sew the inseam last before the hems.  This was so I could topstitch all those seams–side and inseam–to one side, so there isn’t any friction along thighs on either side.  I like a smooth finish.

kwik sew 1672 interior waistband

The waistband finish is nice in that it doesn’t involve a casing–you fold and press the upper raw edge to the wrong side, then place the underwear elastic over it and stitch in place.  Just like they do in the factories, y’all.  The raw ends of the elastic tuck under the fly facings at the center front.

grinch boxer shorts hem

The hem is just a simple double-turned hem.  My husband pointed out that these boxers are shorter than most of the ones we buy at the store, but that he thought it was a good thing, since that makes for less bulk to fit into snugger pants (like jeans, as opposed to suit pants or khakis).  When sewing these up, I made the medium, and when it comes to bulk, they seemed HUUUUGE.  But once the elastic was on, they seemed right in line with every other pair of boxers I’ve seen.  So I guess dudes just like ’em roomier?

underwear elastic shrink after washing

One final note: I did purchase the “underwear or swimsuit” elastic for these, from Hancock.  These two pair are laid on top of one another at the left side seam, and you can see how the nativity pair (which have been laundered since sewing) are narrower than the Grinch pair (where the fabric was prewashed but the elastic hasn’t been laundered).  Just FYI that, while I may have had some margin in the cutting of the elastic, for sure it shrinks up a little in the wash.  Also: I was forced to press the nativity pair for these photos, a task I never thought I’d do and quite honestly would have assiduously avoided ten years ago.  WHO AM I??

Anyone else ever sew boxers?  I can smell a new trend in sewing women’s underwear coming on, and have seen a few pair of boys’ boxer briefs, but don’t see men’s underpants very often.  Is that because we don’t sew a lot of underpants?  Or is that because when sewing we tend to neglect the men in our lives?  Something to keep in mind with Valentine’s Day just around the corner…