Thursday, March 27, 2014

Basket Weave Sleeve Tutorial

Hello again!

Today I'm showing you how I made my basket weave sleeve. I used the Beachy Boatneck pattern by Blank Slate Patterns (affiliate link), but this tutorial will work with any flat insert sleeve pattern you have in your stash. If your skilled with a seam ripper, you could even take apart an existing shirt to add a sleeve insert. You will follow the same steps for either knit or woven fabric, but a bit more patience is required when working with knits to prevent any warping of your fabric.
Step One: Prepare your pattern. Trim 3/4 of an inch off of the long edge of the sleeve pattern piece.
Step Two: Cut your fabric. Instead of cutting on the fold, you will cut two separate pattern pieces for each sleeve.
Step Three: Create your paper guide. Cut a strip of paper 2 inches by the length of the sleeve edge. You will most likely have to tape an extra scrap of paper to the bottom to get your desired length. I recommend paper tape which will tear easier when we remove the paper from the sleeve. Use a quilting square or a ruler to create your grid. You can save some time by making a photo copy for your second guide.
Step Four: Cut and fold your strips. You could make tubes, but that generally leads to warping with knit fabric. Another option is to fold them like bias tape which is what I did. I cut my strips to a one inch width, and then folded the edges so they met in the middle. I then folded them in half lengthwise to hide the raw edges and pressed them closed. I used twelve 8 inch strips to make a size 7. You will also need two extra strips long enough to make a sleeve binding.
Step Five: Create your weave. Use your paper guide to arrange the strips of fabric in a basket weave pattern. Let the strips hang over a little to be sure they get caught in the seam. You can trim them back later. Play around with space between strips. You may prefer a tighter or looser weave. Pin the weave to your paper at each intersection.

Next you will sew it to the paper. Sew slowly along each strip. Stop just before the needle reaches each intersection. Remove the pin and gently guide the fabric under the needle by hand so that neither of the strips get folded over. This is the part that makes this project take so long, but it is necessary so that your weave can keep it's beautiful shape.
Step Six: Attach your weave to the sleeve. With right sides together pin the shirt sleeve to the paper and weave. Sew along the edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Repeat with the other half of the sleeve.
Step Seven: Finish the sleeve. Turn both sides of the sleeve to the right side and top stitch close to the edge.
Step Eight: Follow the pattern instructions to insert the sleeve with the paper still attached. Once the sleeve is secured tear away the paper guide. Most of it should come off easily because of the perforations from the needle, but there may be a few areas (such as the double stitching along the edge) where you are left with scraps. Don't force the paper off or you risk pulling up stitches. Instead wait until your top is finished and soak it in warm water. The scraps should pull off more easily.

Once the sleeve is attached you can trim the excess off the ends of the strips. Also check your facing to make sure it doesn't show. If it does you can trim that back as well.
Step Nine: Apply the two remaining folded strips of fabric to your sleeve ends. Use a zigzag stitch and be sure to catch both sizes of the binding. You may want to pin the ends of the weave in place so that they don't shift while you sew them into the binding. Trim the ends and finish the shirt according to the pattern directions.

That's all you get to see for now. I'll reveal the finished shirt with the rest of my Spring Break look next week when I post in on the Project Run and Play sew along.

Have fun with the tutorial. Try different widths and tighter or looser weaves to get a custom look. Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Beachy Boatneck Pattern Flip : Basket Weave Sleeves

This month's flip this pattern project was the Beachy boatneck. I fell in love with the design almost instantly and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this pattern. I just wasn't sure if I had the skills to do it.

I had to try a few different methods before a found one that worked well for me and the look I wanted. What ended up working best was creating an insert first, by sewing it to a sheet of printing paper and then sewing it into the sleeve. I also used and extra strip from the weave to create a sleeve binding. I couldn't be happier with the final results and more importantly Ashley loves it too.

I think this may even be one of her favorite shirts now. I choose projects based on what I want to sew, but I can't tell you how great it feels when the kids love something homemade as much as, or more than there favorite store bought clothes.

When I started this shirt I was planning on it being a muslin, but before I was even half way through I knew that it was going to be a keeper. It's cut from an over sized sleep shirt that I was gifted about 5 years a go and never wore.

Even though this shirt didn't stay a muslin, I am still planning to make one more for a Project Run and Play Sew Along. I'll be going up one size just so she has a little bit of room to grow into it. I'll also take some in progress pictures this time, so that I can post a full tutorial. Fair Warning. This is not a quick and easy project. While the Beachy Boatneck pattern goes together so easily on it's own, adding the basket weave insert can take a couple of hours per sleeve.

I think it was well worth the amount of time put into it and I am looking forward to doing it again. It's always fun to learn new skills and I would much rather spend a full day making a shirt that she loves, rather than a half hour making something that will get worn once or twice.

Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Minute Tulip Skirt for 18 Inch Dolls : Free Doll Clothes Sewing Tutorial

Here is the tutorial I promised for a quick and easy skirt for your 18 inch dolls. You can make the skirt with left over scraps of any knit fabric. I like to use an old T shirt. In order to make this skirt work with the least amount of fabric, making it a perfect scrap project I omit seam finishes that won't show on the outside. Because we are using knit you don't have to worry about fraying.


  • Knit Fabric Scrap: 13 inches wide by 5 inches for a mini skirt. Add one inch for knee length or 2 inches for below the knee.
  • 11.5 inches of 1/2 in. elastic
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Any standard sewing machine with an adjustable zigzag stitch.
Step One: Turn 3/4 of an inch of fabric to the wrong side and stitch in place. This will become your elastic casing. 

 Step 2: Insert elastic into casing and stitch ends in place.

 Step 3: With right sides together fold skirt in half and stitch closed with a quarter inch seam allowance. This will become the center back seam. Trim ends of elastic.

 Step 4: Complete the skirt with a lettuce hem. A lettuce edge can be done with a standard sewing machine as long as you can adjust the width of your zigzag stitch. Practice on a piece of scrap if you have never done this before. You will see that you can adjust the size of the waves by adjusting the amount that you stretch the fabric as you sew. You will want to clean your machine out as soon as you are done, because this technique always seems to leave a ton of lint behind.

  • Set you machine to a long tight zigzag stitch
  • Start sewing at the center back seam
  • Line the fabric up so the stitch reaches right to the edge of the hem but does not go over or cause the fabric to curl in on itself as you sew
  • Stretch the fabric while you are sewing
  • When you reach the center back seam where you started you can stop or go over it one more time to fill in any missed areas.

 Step 5: Try your new skirt on your doll

Thanks for checking out my tutorial. Doll clothes are my favorite thing to sew and I planning to add more tutorials for both doll clothes and matching girl and doll outfits in the future. Check out my archives in the meantime. If you would like to see more subscribe to my blog via your favorite method. 

Feel free to post a link in the comments section if you want to share a picture or blog post of what you made using this tutorial. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Dresses for 18 inch Dolls

The great thing about this holiday day is that you can make absolutely anything green and call it St. Patty's Day outfit. So this week I gathered up some green from my stash and sewed up a couple of good luck dresses for our dolls. 

Mia (the dark haired doll) is quickly becoming one of my favorite dolls to photograph I just love her features and the range of motion in her head that you don't get with the American Girls Dolls. If only I could get the pen marks off of her face. I would love some tips for getting ink off of dolls without damaging the paint if anyone knows any.

Her Dress is made from a thrifted T-shirt that has been sitting in my refashion pile for over a year now. I was originally drawn to the beautiful shade of green and the darling little hearts, but unfortunately I didn't think about the the complete lack of recovery in the fabric, so the dress may not last very long before it becomes completely misshapen. Sadly the tights are destined for the same fate. They are made with a cheap rib knit that I picked up from a local discount store, and also has no recovery.

Despite the problems with the fabric, I do love the pattern. I used Eden Ava Couture's Peppermint Snow Pattern for the dress and tights, as well as the shirt on the second doll.

Caroline's tulip skirt was made using leftover scraps from the dress. This is one of my favorite doll skirts to make and it only takes about 5 minutes. Keep checking back. I'll post a tutorial soon so you can make your own 5 minute tulip skirts for your dolls. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Realistic Look At Turning Your Hobby Into a Business or What I Learned from Working On A Boat

If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Sounds like wise advice. To bad it’s a load of crap.

Of course you’ll work. It’s a job. It will always be something you have to do, even when you’re not in the mood, when you’d rather be doing something else that you also love to do. Whether you do this job for someone else or work for yourself it is still an obligation that you have to complete in order to support yourself.

Chances are that you will only love part of the job, but you will have to complete other tasks as well.

An Example:

I once had a job where I worked on a boat. It was a neat little Air Boat similar to the one in the picture above but bigger. It had a flat bottom so it could go where no other boats could reach, and a Chevy 350 big block engine that made it faster than most of the other boats on the water. This boat was bad ass, at least by Pennsylvania standards. Most people in the area had never seen a boat like ours because they were made for navigating swamps in the south. Everyone, and I mean everyone who saw this boat wanted to ride on it, but they couldn't. Only I could, because I was the lucky son of a gun who got paid to do it.

I loved that job. But it was still work. In order to get to the point where I could go out and cruise around the lake on a gorgeous summer day I had to do all kinds of other stuff first, including get my tired tush out of bed at 6:00 am and drive the kids to the babysitter so someone else could witness all of their milestones like first steps, first words, first high fever and such. 

Once I got to work I had to do inventory and load hundreds of pounds worth of chemicals onto the boat and truck. Occasionally I had to drive the truck towing a boat through insane traffic and terrifying narrow allies with less than an inch of space on either side.

There were other people in this truck. People who liked to listen to country music and only country music on long 4 hour trips across the state day after day. And people who had colds and coughed and sneezed there germs in the tiny shared space, all but guaranteeing I would be sick within a week.

If I wasn't sure that my mother would most likely read this post, I could tell you a rather unflattering story about the day I learned that boats and hangovers don’t mix. It was a lesson that my boss made sure to teach me, and I’m fairly certain she chose the most amusing teaching method she could think of.

At the end of every single day the boat had to be unloaded and scrubbed down. Empty chemical bottles had to be tripled rinsed and prepared for disposal, and paperwork had to be filled out and turned in.

Once my husband got the bright idea to surprise me by renting a boat for a holiday weekend. I was horrified. I finally get away from work for three whole days and he wants me to spend it doing the exact same thing that I do every single day!

Despite all that I still loved the job. Just because you love your work doesn't magically transform it from work to a hobby that you get paid for.

What’s the point of all of this you ask. How does that relate to starting your own sewing business?

  1.     Sewing will only be a small part of your business. At least half, if not more of your time will be taken up by the various everyday tasks of running a business. Including but not limited to paperwork, bookkeeping, marketing, and customer service. Even after your business has become so successful that you can hire help you will still have to oversee most of these tasks yourself because you will be the one responsible if something goes wrong.
  2. It will take up your time. There may be a little more flexibility in your schedule, but you will still have deadlines to meet. The customer is now your boss. This will mean less time with your family, less time for relaxing and less predictability in your schedule. How will you handle it if your website goes down an hour before your daughter’s birthday party?
  3.  You’re going to have to find a new hobby. You don’t necessarily stop loving your hobby when it goes from being something you want to do, to something you have to do, but you can get burnt out. If you want to keep sewing as something you love, you’ll have to remind yourself not to overdo it.
  4. You will deal with people you don’t like. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my coworkers. They were great, even when they were oozing viruses into my breathing space, but they had bad days too when they were not the most fun people around. When you run your own business you will have to deal with customers and vendors even on their less than spectacular days. You can’t just hang up the phone. You need them. They are what keeps your business open.

All of this has been on my mind lately. It's been years since I have worked outside the home, but we are at a crossroads in our lives. My medical condition has been taken care of and I am now able to work. Not only am I able, but I need to work if I ever want to buy fabric or patterns again. While I am looking for a regular job working for someone else, I am also thinking about the long term. I've always wanted to turn my hobby into a business, and with all of the resources available on the internet, it seems like an entirely plausible goal.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Have you ever considered turning your hobby into a business, or actually taken the steps to do so. What other factors do you think someone should consider before making the leap from working for someone else to working for themselves in a hobby based business? 
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