The Handmade Outfit

I have been studying up on garment construction and proper tailoring techniques, as it’s a goal of mine to start sewing my own clothes. As much as I have lofty aspirations to wear fancy skirts and dresses every day, the reality is that I’m very much a pants, tank and cardigan kind of woman. And that’s okay – I’m past the age where I’m going to fight my real style and follow the crowd. But that doesn’t mean I have to be frumpy and yuck every day. So, I’ve selected three patterns I’d like to start with.

For pants, I’ve had my eye on the Clover slacks by Colette for years. They can be made in ankle length or capri, but I think my first pair will be capri, since those are great for warmer weather –

Colette Clover

For a top to go with it, a simple camisole fits the bill. This pattern is part of the Great British Sewing Bee series published by The Telegraph newspaper in the UK –


And finally – though I’m not sure how well this would pair with the slacks and camisole – a hat. The Rosabelle cloche hat happens to be a free pattern by Wendy Talene on the Sew Mama Sew site, and will be perfect for fall –

Rosabelle hat

I still need to choose fabrics for the pants and hat, but I’ve got a few cottons chosen for the camisole –


The print on the left is “Snowbird” Laundry Basket Quilts for Moda. I’m not sure what the one on the right is called, but I got them both at my favorite local haberdashery, Material Girl. I have three yards of the Snowbird, which is more than enough for a camisole, but I only have a quarter of a yard of the pink print, since that was all they had left at the time and I couldn’t pass it up. I’m fairly certain I cannot make an appropriate top out a that little fabric, so I’ll probably stretch it by doing a contrasting pink solid band along the bottom.

So.. onward to the breach!

MOSS Project – January 16 Sewing Machine Cover

You thought I forgot, didn’t you? Not a chance! My sewing machine is set up in front of a window and is a complete dust magnet. It’s a pain to have to clean it off every time I want to sew something, so I’ve been wanting to make some kind of a cover for it to keep it dust free.

I made a very simple box cover using two 23×15 pieces of fabric. You’ll see I decided to coordinate the cover with my ironing board. I simply sewed around the sides and top of the fabric (wrong sides together of course) and then fitted it over my machine to shape the corners. Shaping the corners was easy – I just pinched the top sides into triangles and slipped a pin in to mark the fit. Then I sewed across the triangles and cut the excess fabric. I finished the cover by doing a simple single fold hem along the bottom. I flipped it inside out, and onto the machine it went. It took me 15-20 minutes, start to finish. I love the quick instant-gratification projects!

The great thing about a simple cover like this is the fact that it can be tailored to cover just about anything, by changing the measurements of the fabric – toasters, computer peripherals, coffee makers, filing cabinets – whatever you need to cover up.

(Oh, and I know the calender on my sewing desk is a date ahead. Guess I got a little overzealous flipping through those little cubes.)

Helpful Sewing Tutorials

I’ve only recently starting sewing in earnest in the last year or so, and there is still so much to learn. Since I don’t have a grandma at my elbow teaching me all the ins and outs, I’m mostly relying on teaching myself from books, consulting with friends and internet projects and tutorials. Good tutorials are invaluable – the step-by-step photos are just as good as having an experienced sewer sitting right next to you. So I thought I would share the wealth – here are some of the great tutorials I’ve found really helpful in learning to sew.

Smashed Peas & Carrots has some great tutorials, including How to Sew Bias Tape and how to sew mitered corners with bias tape

Sew Mama Sew has a lot of great tutorials as well, including how to use a pattern.

Noodlehead has a super-easy zippered pouch tutorial – a great beginner project.

Grosgrain has a 5-minute pillow tutorial – another great beginner project.

2011 Goals

I feel a sudden and intense urge to get some things done and the best way for me to do that is to make them public and hold myself accountable for them out here. So, here goes…

– Finish putting together our wedding/honeymoon scrapbook. Various pages and components are sitting in boxes in our closets. Not exactly what I had in mind as a “showcase”.

– Sew a border on the bedroom curtains to lengthen them (they are woefully about eight inches short) and replace the crappy, half broken blinds behind them with wooden blinds (while I’m at it I want to replace all the blinds in the apartment with the nice wooden blinds).

– Upgrade the laundry sorter. We currently have an all-beat-to-hell mesh number that is beyond it’s last legs. I’d actually like to get a wooden bench style sorter, that holds two or three removeable canvas bags under the seat.

– Keep up with my MOSS Projects (I’ve got a lot on my list with sewing!).

– Sew a quilt.

– Replace the front hall closet door with a door that actually fits and closes.

– Build a few storage shelves into the back of the furnace closet for out of the way tool/household item storage.

Those are the big things. Okay, there. Now I’ve just got to do them all. 🙂

MOSS Project – January 9 Mini Ironing Board Cover

Our mini ironing board came into the house way back when my husband and I first moved in together; it actually belonged to him. We’re still using his original iron too. He had an ironing board because, responsible bachelor that he was, he always made sure he had crispy ironed dress shirts for work. As for me, I refused (and still do) to wear anything that requires ironing.

The ironing board was so ugly – it was a simple plywood affair with metal legs and an awful faux-denim print cover. I can’t tell you how many times I almost pitched it. But as it turns out, an ironing board is essential for professional-looking sewing projects. It’s needed a makeover for years. Today, I finally did it –

It’s a huge improvement on the old. It’s a bit hard to see in the photos, but the fabric is red/white ticking stripe. I just love ticking. It always looks good, no matter what. I created my own pattern by following the instructions in One Yard Wonders which is my favorite sewing book on the face of the planet.

My stitching isn’t one hundred percent pretty and I definiately need more practice tucking fabric around curves, but the pattern guidelines in the book are incredibily forgiving. I could’ve gotten the cover to lay a bit flatter on the board had I been more careful (or rather, more experienced) at tucking. But not bad for a first time. This was also the first project I’ve done that requires making a casing for cording and that was super easy – you just have to go slowly around those corners, so your fabric doesn’t bunch up horribily and get sewn into itself.

I was also pretty excited about this project because I found a remnant in my fabric trunk that was perfectly sized, so I only had to cut the rounded corners. And I reused the cord from the old cover in the new. All in a all, a pretty good project, and my sewing supplies are looking even spiffier now with a bright flash of color from the ticking stripe.

MOSS Project – January 2 Draft Dodger

For January 2 I decided to sew up a draft dodger for our back door. It can be a little drafty even though the door is well insulted with weatherstripping, so I thought an old-school draft dodger would help the situation. It’s beats an ugly old towel any day!

Please pardon my dirty floors. I designed to be a bit long so it can be pushed all the way into the doorframe for a snug fit, and sewed a ribbon loop into one end so it can be hung out of the way when not in use. It’s filled with almost five pounds of rice (which only cost me about $3.75). It’s about 33 inches long and 8 inches in diameter – a hefty dodger for an exterior door. The fabric is a great pine board flooring print, which Tracy of Half Pak Designs got me for my birthday in December.

Next week’s project – a mini ironing board cover!

Month of Sewing Sunday (MOSS) Projects – January

For January’s MOSS projects, I’ve decided to focus on a “home” theme for what I’m working on. You can do the same theme for yours if you’d like to, but it’s not obligatory – the point is just to get sewing, no matter what you’d like to work on!

This month I plan to do the following –

January 2 – Draft Dodger

January 9 – Mini Ironing Board Cover

January 16 – Sewing Machine Cover

January 23 – Potholders

January 30 – Sewing Kit Roll