Category Archives: sewing

Raggedy Ann for my granddaughter

15″ doll

The weather has been yucky around here for over a week. I can’t wait to go out to draw and paint, maybe some day soon. Meanwhile I made this for my granddaughter. I’ll give it to her on her 1st birthday Sept. 4.

30 some years ago I made one for my daughter’s 1st birthday and she loved it so much that it wore out fast. After I washed it a few times I knew I had to make another because the first one was getting flimsy. I started interfacing the Annies with the iron on interfacing. I made 4 because my daughter would need a travel Annie and would sometimes misplace the old one.

Interfacing the body pieces adds time to the project but I don’t care. I didn’t follow the directions long ago and I still made this one the slow way. The doll will last longer but I might have to make back up Annies for my granddaughter.

I forgot how much fun it is to make them. I don’t mind hand sewing if it makes a better finished product. I did a lot of hand sewing on this and my hand is tired.

I embroidered the face instead of drawing it on with fabric markers.

For the eyes, I didn’t want to sew a button on. I cut black circles out of felt and larger white circles and satin stitched around them. Now anyone that sees this doll will know it was made by hand and not on an assembly line.

heart on her chest

This is how the pattern tells you to do the wig. It’s a hair style but I gave the new new doll a thicker shag for hair. I thought the baby might get her fingers in and pull on the style shown on the pattern.

Instead of this style I used my artistic license and made a shag by sewing 2″ double loops and measuring them with a credit card so they would be the same. Inside the wig, I tied a half hitch behind every loop so that hair isn’t coming out. It took hours. It becomes a zen like thing to hand sew. You make some progress and take a break when you want to. Eventually you get it finished and have a sense of achievement. Also, I like digging my fingers into the shag and it’s soft and thick. No bald spots on my Annies! hahahah

I’m half way through a big curtain job

The photo isn’t showing the blue wall color right.

My daughter ordered these tab curtains ready made but they’re too long so I’m hemming them. It’s a big ironing job because they pack them in little plastic bags so they’re creased.

The first time I tried to pin the hems we hung them and I pinned at the window sill but when I got home and laid them on the table my pins were not in a straight line and varied from 13″ to 15″ from the bottom edge so I went back and pinned again but it wasn’t much better the second time. Ready made curtains don’t get checked. Custom made ones get put up on a hoist so you can see if they’re even.

I wound up cutting 10″ off the bottom of each curtain and the hems aren’t exactly even but they’ll do. I also made tie backs out of the cut off pieces but they don’t have their tie back hooks up yet.

I like the style she picked. It would be too much work for me to make them from scratch so I’m glad they only need to be hemmed. There are 3 more pairs to do.

ottoman slipcover part 3 / skirt with box pleats

This is weird but some of my photos won’t go in the file and I tried again and again. I have to start here where I’m joining the skirt in a circle. I had the 4 strips of the face fabric joined with 10″ extra on each side for the pleats. I had the pieces for the lining together in a long strip and sewed across the bottom right sides together but left the extra lining hang loose when I finished the circle in the green. That’s excess lining hanging loose in the photo.

I knew I cut the lining too long but it’s ok because you don’t want it too short and it’s hard to figure exactly.

The extra skirt lining is folded back in this photo but not sewed yet. It’s joined to the green all the way across the bottom except for the last couple inches on each side so that I could trim it to the size needed. I finger pressed the fold, trimmed it back to 1/2″ from the fold and sewed the lining circle closed and turned it right side out to press the hem.

I also had extra lining vertically and it’s folded over in this pic so I could measure the green fabric and make it an even 9″ so my skirt would finish 8.5″. I pressed with a cool iron and put pins in to hold the lining in place then trimmed the excess lining off the top edge even with the green.

Then sew the lining to the green across the top and sew over the pins. I walk the machine over the pins so I don’t break a needle because it helps to sew over the pins at this step. See that little tuck that formed in the lining? That’s a good thing. It won’t be noticeable , but if the pins didn’t make little tucks along the way you get a cumulative error which shows up as a twist in the lining. Did you ever sew two long strips together and get a twist? It’s a pain.

Then fold each side of the top piece in half and mark the center with a pin and fold each side of the skirt in half and mark it with a pin too. When you pin the skirt to the top piece you start in the center of each side matching the center pins and work your way out to the corners where the extra fabric gets worked into pleats.

This pic shows the pleat taking shape on the corner of the ottoman. I like making the loop that becomes the pleat. I’m putting the pins on the corded side and fold the skirt back so it meets on the corner. Then flatten it down into a box pleat.

That’s 9 or 10 layers of fabric on the corner pleat, and this is the tiring part to sew. The first slipcover I made wouldn’t pull through my old machine and I had to take it to work and finish it on an industrial machine. Eventually I bought a Singer 191 which is strong and never drops a stitch but I still hold the slipcover tight on both sides of the needle and pull it a little so it doesn’t bog down in one spot. A walking foot machine would do it easier but I’ll never buy one.

sewing the skirt to the top piece

With the corded piece on top and the skirt on the bottom. I have to pull the pins out as I’m going because the cord foot won’t go over it all. You can get the cumulative error at this step where your skirt moves away from where you pinned it a little but it’s not a twist, more like extra fabric that can go into the pleat if it happens.

All done! YEA! They told me not to press the box pleats with an iron, just finger press them, because the pleats will fall open in a natural way and you don’t want a sharp edge to show from an iron. This fabric isn’t good to iron anyway,

slipcover an ottoman step by step part 2 cording

You really need a cording foot to make a slipcover. Mine is 1/4″ and I use 3/16″ soft cotton cord and cut my strips on the bias 1 3/4″ wide.

This is a basic step but it makes a difference how you join the cord strips at this step and how you join it when you complete the circle of the ottoman. I worked at different sewing jobs and someone showed me how to make it look neat, so I hope this helps another person because neatness counts in sewing, unlike painting where neatness isn’t important. hahahaha

You line up the strips right side up and fold one piece back on the grain of the fabric and press it down with your finger so you have a crease to use as a guide for your seam. Then unfold it and keep the two layers together and sew across on the diagonal line.

Then trim it back to 1/2″

my cord foot

Start sewing the cording on to the top piece a couple inches back from the end with the cord on the bottom and the big piece of fabric on top.

When you get to the corners open the seam. I think I forgot to mention you should snip that top corner of the side seam close to your point. The snip is showing on top of this photo.

When you get almost the whole way around stop and turn it over right side up with extra cord for an overlap. Open the stitches on one piece back past the point where they will meet.

Fold the fabric on the grain of the fabric and tuck the one end of the cotton in on top of the fold with the extra cotton sticking out like in this photo. Then you can see where to cut the extra cotton just so the two ends meet.

Push that cotton up in the fold and lay the fabric over it so that the layers are even and sew across the joint with the cord on top and the ottoman top on the bottom.

YEA! That part’s finished! It might seem unexciting to you, I don’t know,

I just wanted to show these steps because I never knew how to make good cording until someone showed me and maybe this might help someone else who is interested.

The last and final step is making the lined skirt with box pleats on the corners. It looks like the skirt should be 9″ so it’s not on the floor, maybe 8.5″ would be ok too.

I cut some pieces for it, the skirt fabric I cut 12″ and the lining I cut 9″. That’s probably too long.

Yesterday I enjoyed painting on the beach but today it’s cloudy. I might go back to the painting tomorrow, I don’t know from one day to the next what I’m doing but I do have a lot of paintings planned and sewing jobs too, so I’ll post both when I make any progress.

slipcover an ottoman step by step

Sewing is an art equal to any in my humble opinion. I see no difference between arts and crafts. I’d bet $5 the person who coined the term “Fine arts” was some painter snob. The more you sew the better you get at it like any other art. My mother in law taught me to make slipcovers and she learned from her mother. Jackie insisted on teaching me how to do it. I wish it wasn’t a dying art but I don’t want a teaching job and my daughter isn’t interested in sewing. So I’m going to show the steps for a project that doesn’t have too many pieces. If you sew clothes from patterns or if you quilt you can do this but maybe it’s not a project for a beginner.

Don’t worry about that crease in the fabric. I’ll iron it later.

You don’t need to take measurements to cut the rectangle, just lay the fabric evenly on the ottoman right side up and use T pins to secure it to the top. Pin right into the ottoman like those 4 pins on the top corners, fold the fabric down and then cut the rectangle off the big piece of fabric, just give yourself a couple extra inches all the way around. You don’t have to be exact to cut the top piece.

Pinning is important. You can make it fit exactly if you pin it right and people will think it was reupholstered instead of slipcovered.

To make the corners neat you fold the fabric in like you’re wrapping a present.. Right side out and put T pins in close to where you want the seam. On the corners be sure to only pin the slipcover fabric through all the layers without catching the original ottoman fabric. I put a hand in and pull it away from the ottoman a little to keep the T pin from going into the ottoman. I hope you can see what I mean. Then you take the top pins out and you can pull the piece off the ottoman.

When you pull the top piece off the ottoman you’ll see excess fabric on your corners. The top corner in the photo shows the corner with T pins holding a loop of excess fabric. The bottom corner shows the extra fabric trimmed off. You just hold the layers together as you have them pinned and give yourself and inch or so for a seam allowance and trim. Once again, measuring isn’t necessary because the pins are where you want to sew.

See that crease being held by T pins? That’s the seam line except the pins are on the right side of the fabric and you need to move them but still keep your sewing line.

You hold the two layers together and take the pins out one at a time and put them in where the crease was folded. Now you have right sides together and can see exactly where to sew to make the corners fit.

After sewing the corners, put it back on the ottoman right side out and draw a chalk line on the bottom edge of the ottoman, trim the fabric so you have an even 1/2″ past the chalk all the way around. I didn’t trim this yet.

This is making the slipcover right side out, cutting and pinning. Most slip cover makers cut wrong side out. Jackie did it like this. When she told me I must learn from her I told one of my sewing friends and the friend wanted to see the slipcover lessons and Jackie said that would be ok. So then my friend was asking Jackie questions like “Why don’t you cut it inside out?” “Why don’t you cut it on the half?” And Jackie was laughing because this way makes the best fitting slipcovers and she thought my friend had some nerve to think there was a better way to do it. hahahahah

Jackie said chairs are “rumpsprung” when they get old. They’re not even on both sides, the stuffing is worn down from one person’s rump. Or the frame is uneven or something. That’s why you should cut right side out.

I’ll post more steps for how to make the cording and skirt for the ottoman another time.

marine vinyl cushion cover hack job and bonus photos of the new supermodel

I thought this was the kind of cushion that has a piece of foam on top of a board and you staple the fabric to the bottom of the board. There’s no board. It’s not a stapling job it should be a sewing job.

I already know it would be difficult to sew on my machine so I just folded the vinyl around the foam and fastened it with twist pins.

I stood it on end so you can see this is like wrapping a present. We didn’t even buy enough vinyl because I thought we only needed enough to cover the top.

I might be able to tighten up the corners if I take an upholstery needle with me next time I go over there and do some hand sewing. The twist pins wouldn’t go through more than one layer of vinyl.

twist pin

Such a simple invention and it makes your slipcovers better. You can buy ready made slipcovers cheap and they won’t fit exactly like the ones I sew but with twist pins you can make tucks in strategic places and get a ready made slipcover to look custom made.

Or if you go for the “shabby chic” look you can buy a bedspread and throw it over a sofa and twist pin it to the sofa so you don’t have to keep straightening it up every time you sit on it.

my granddaughter.

She didn’t know I was taking her picture. she’s used to getting her picture taken with a phone so she never saw a real camera before.

cushion cover and pillows for my son in law’s man cave

This is the second of many sewing projects recently lined up for me. My daughter and her hubby and baby moved into a big old house with a lot of windows. His man cave is the attic but it will be ok because it’s air conditioned. These go in a window seat where you can sit up high and spy down on the street.. They’re old curtains from the previous house remade into a cushion cover and pillows.

The first project was 4 pillows for the sofa out of another pair of old curtains. I didn’t take a picture of them.

Wait till I show you the curtains she ordered. They’re real pretty but I’ll have to hem them and make tie backs. I’m excited about all the decorating they’re doing. It’s so many windows it will take a while. Some I’ll make from start to finish but I’m glad all I have to do is hem the next ones because making them all would be too much for me since I don’t have a big work table or help with the job.

Stay tuned for my marine vinyl cushion cover hack. My machine won’t sew marine vinyl because you really need a walking foot machine for it so the layers of vinyl get pulled through the feed evenly. With a regular presser foot the layers don’t sew right. I figured out a way to fake it without sewing. (twist pins) That cushion is on their porch swing.

Sewing is an art. You have to figure things out then make it work but you often run into problems and the more you practice the more skill you get then you can do more variety of projects. Sewing can be frustrating like art too but then you can make what you want to your own taste when it all works out.

testing testing new laptop / sewing problem

OMG! I got this new laptop and figured out how to use it all by myself! Aren’t you proud of me?! I am because I have this aversion to computers and I thought I’d have to wait a long time for my daughter to help me since they have covid in spite of being vaccinated and boosted. I’m getting a booster next week but it seems like the shots aren’t working very well.

The weather hasn’t been good to draw in Plein air so I made this little hooded vest for my granddaughter using Butterick B6372.

The pattern calls for a 12 inch separating zipper. I checked it 3 times! I’m sure I cut on the lines and followed the directions exactly but it came out with the zipper too long! There’s not enough fabric to do a bottom hem! If I extended the zipper at the top instead of at the bottom it might get in the baby’s neck, so I let the excess off the bottom.

I figured out a way to finish it by using wide bias tape on the bottom instead of a hem. It worked and looks ok because the pattern calls for bias tape around the arm holes, so it matches. I think they didn’t try the pattern at the pattern factory because a 12″ zipper doesn’t work with a medium size. In fact I didn’t see any 10″ separating zippers in the stores. Problems like this happen all the time with sewing projects. You can spend time and money on projects that don’t work out or don’t look like the pattern, or thousands of other things always go wrong. Most sewing problems have a solution. Sometimes you have to think it over for a little while, put it aside, and the answer comes to you. Or throw it away. That’s how sewing is like painting. It could be a big waste of time. It could test your patience and it might work out, or not.

I’ll show a picture of the new princess modeling this as soon as I can.

baggy pajama shorts with drawstring hack

My daughter said she needs some baggy pajama pants with a drawstring.

I thought the bow was for a drawstring but it’s only decorative so once again I had to fake it on a sewing project. I never know if a pattern will work out like I hope. A lot of them don’t and I throw it all out. This might be ok. It would be easy to make adjustments.

For a drawstring you need buttonholes and a machine that sews a zigzag stitch. If your machine doesn’t do zigzag you can make a tailored buttonhole. Mine are a hack job but will be ok for pajama pants.

First I cut out little 1.5″ squares and sewed around the edges. I think a professional might use fusible interfacing, I’m not sure. Then place them where you want the buttonhole and draw a pencil line for the hole. Then sew around the pencil line, cut on the pencil line,

Turn the buttonhole facings to the inside and press them. Sew again close to the opening. Voila! buttonhole and drawstring hack job!

That was fast and easy. Now I’m going back to work on my painting of azaleas. This is one thing I enjoy about my amateur artist status, if I feel like sewing I can sew with no guilt over abandoning the painting for a while.