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I offered to barter my tie dye for knitting needles on a Ravelry forum and a kind knitter responded with an offer of her extra needles in a great selection of different sizes (all small sizes) and materials. Clockwise from top: two sets of long metal dpns, faux tortoise shell casein (milk protein), bamboo, nearly clear nylon circulars and birch in the middle. This will be great for trying out the feel of different needles with different yarns!

assortment of narrow gauge double pointed knitting needles dpns

And in return I sent several tie dye outfits for her granddaughter. One long sleeve onesie stamped with little flowers, a sleeveless romper with hand colored butterflies and a skirted onesie with a watermelon green stripe. I sewed the gathered skirt on before I dyed the onesie. I think it turned out pretty cute and it wasn’t hard to do thanks to the serger.

pink tie dye baby outfits with socks embellished with rubber stamps

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ruffled skirtAnother skirt for the girl . . . again made from those 9″ wide remnants. This is a beautiful butterfly print several years old from Mary Hopkins by Kona Bay.

I used the ruffle foot on the serger to gather and attach the ruffle at the same time! Now I know there are plenty of people who think this is old hat but for those of just getting into using our sergers, this is really cool. This makes it so easy to do ruffles. No pinning, hardly any fussing. Just have to remember to hem the ruffle before applying and write down the tension settings. I’m going to start pinning those up on my idea board. I’ll take a picture of that soon, when there’s a little more on it!

Also, I figured out that a wooden clamp style pants hanger works great for holding up the kids’ elastic waist skirts and pants to take pictures. Now I just need to work on my photography skills.

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This could be a very long list but I’m going to try to limit it to an arbitrary number, say 10. I do a lot of different kinds of crafts so that makes it hard but I’m trying to think of the things I use a lot and would not want to do without. Then maybe I’ll talk a bit about each one at some other point.

  1. My Mac of course. Being a graphic designer, almost everything I do gets touched by the computer at some point.
  2. My sewing machine. I do a lot of sewing and mending, I think this is a must-have for every household.
  3. My serger. Hmmmm. Yes, I could do without it but it’s fast becoming my right hand for sewing projects.
  4. My good Japanese fabric scissors.
  5. My lightbox. I think my parents got it for me when I had just started the advertising design program. This year I got another lightbox that is round! and it spins! It won’t replace my traditional rectangular box but it probably deserves its own post.
  6. An X-acto knife and a metal ruler. I’m going to lump these together because they almost always get used together. Can I squeeze the self-healing cutting mat in here too?
  7. My Japanese sewing awls (meuchi) This probably warrants its own post as well to explain why.
  8. roll of 18″ wide white paper. Someone gave this to me when I was in college and I have been using it ever since, mostly for drafting patterns but not just for sewing.
  9. Flathead pins. If you sew anything these are really the best. Get the finer size with the heat resistant heads.
  10. Beacon’s craft glue. I hesitate to single this out but I discovered it last year and now I use it for everything. It bonds in a similar way and almost as fast as hot glue but without the heat, yet you can also apply it thin and get a repositionable bond like spray adhesive, without the mess.

Well, I can already think of a few more things, like Frances, my dressmaker’s form, made by my husband. You can read about her here.

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I’m not exactly sure when I made this because I didn’t take the picture right away. The boy couldn’t wait to get into it. He’s been needing some long sleeve tee shirts so I’ve just been trying to make them from fabric or our old tee shirts that we haven’t been wearing rather than buy, especially since he is so thin that the store bought ones tend to look too wide to get the sleeves long enough. My husband donated a grey tee shirt to the cause and I recut and serged it up one night, intending to leave it plain. The boy however wanted to know what animal I was going to put on it. Since we had been watching the crows outside the window earlier he hit upon that. I looked for some pictures of crows on the internet and he chose one in flight. I printed out several and then quickly composited them on my lightbox to get the features I wanted from each, the wings from one, the open beak of another, the grasping feet of a third. I then simply cut a paper stencil and dabbed on fabric dye and heat set it with the iron. I lobbied for a small critter on the run at the bottom of the shirt but the boy preferred to have the word “crow” so that’s what I did. The boy was reluctant to help with the actual shirt but did do a second stencil of the crow onto a scrap piece of fabric that will hopefully appear on a later garment for the girl. All done in time to catch the bus to PM kindergarten. I’m afraid they are getting a little too used to this!

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The girl has been mad about giraffes lately so I had to get this unusual Alexander Henry giraffe print when I saw it at the local fabric shop. There’s nothing cute about it, until you put it on the girl! I used the same A-line shift pattern but changed the shoulder seam to accommodate ribbons instead and added pockets to the side seams. I also made it a little bigger, maybe a little too much but then again she should be able to wear it in the summer without a shirt under. I had intended to use wide grosgrain ribbon for the shoulder ties but what I couldn’t find a good color match so I ended up making the ties from the lining fabric. For some reason I cut them on the bias. I really cannot tell you why. Now they are easy to tie and drape beatifully but they also do not hold a knot well no matter how hard I pull. So . . . I may have to sew the bows shut. The mock-neck shirt I made up on the serger from a rayon ponté knit bought for another project that never got used. I’m getting better at this serger thing! I also made matching wide bottom pants. The girl was not inclined to wear the pants the day I took the picture but she has since. It’s scary how mod she looks in the brown top and pants and her brown suede boots. I think she wore this dress about four times the first week.

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Hey! I’m almost caught up, we’re in January now. I got this cute bug fabric last year as a credit for something else. I really didn’t have a plan for it but I finally figured out how to use a bit of it as an applique. I took two old tee shirts, one of mine and one of my husband’s. Using the tee shirt pattern I created for the boy I cut the pieces to make a two-tone shirt, mostly because the light blue shirt was not big enough to make a complete shirt. But I needed the light blue background for the appliques to look right. I fused the bug fabric appliques to the shirt but ended up sealing the edges with clear nail polish and whipstitching by hand because I forgot to sew the appliques before finishing the shirt. I made a ton of mistakes putting this shirt together, mostly because I didn’t bother to make separate pattern pieces for the color blocking. But it fits, it looks fine, and the boy likes it. And it’s survived several trips through the wash so I think it will last the season. At the rate the boy is growing, he won’t be wearing it past the next few months whatever the weather.

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I sewed a few little skirts as Christmas presents for my niece and the girl was a bit sad to see them go so of course I had to make something for her too. Since I have so much fabric, I have been trying hard to use what I have and not buy anything new. So this skirt was made from nine inch wide remnants. I actually watched the DVD that came with my serger to figure out how to make the doubled ruffle. Pretty nifty. I used some hempcel for the ivory trim and lining. For the waist I used some buttonhole elastic to make the waist adjustable. It was pretty simple to sew it in a continuous loop with the excess coming out the back seam in the lining. If the skirt gets too short I can always add a longer ruffle to the lining to add length. I liked how this came out and plan to make a few more, with variations of course. No pattern, it’s just two tubes of fabric about 1.5x the waist, sew the ruffle on the bottom of the outer fabric. Sew the two tubes together right sides together round the top. Turn and topstitch the edge and then again down about an inch or however wide your elastic is. Don’t forget to leave the side or back seam open where you want to insert the elastic.

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There’s a bit of a story here. My good friend Jan handles the ordering and artwork for camper clothing at our summer camp, Gander Brook Christian Camp. (My husband designed and built the website BTW, pretty sweet don’t you think?) Anyway, this is supposed to be about sewing. The last few years, Jan and I have worked together on the artwork for the tee shirts and while the colors have traditionally been gender neutral we decided to try some pink. It was a big hit year before last so we did another one this past season and I designed the typography myself and we picked out three or four colorways. Unfortunately they only come in camper/staff sizes which means 7/8 years old up to adults. Jan and I both have little girls who adored these pink camp shirts and desperately wanted one. When we were packing up the left over clothing at the end of the season I had the idea to turn a ladies size medium into a little girl dress. I lucked out in finding a long sleeve tee shirt to fit underneath that matched the color of the lettering perfectly. I turned the tee shirt inside out and went to work with the serger, love that thing. The dresses turned out quite well and our little girls were pleased as punch.

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I made my own pattern for this boy’s long sleeve tee shirt based on several tee shirts from my son’s closet. I used heavy olive double knit cotton out of my stash. I layered a stripe of light blue helicopter print cotton knit across the chest. I also made a small pocket for the left sleeve which is embellished with an orange snap. The boy was quite pleased, as was I.
I’ve had my serger about a year I think and I’m really getting to know how to use it. I’ve never had any luck using a regular machine for stretch fabrics. I was initially concerned about how much I would use it but I’ve found it to be essential for working with knits and a great time saver for sewing non-stretch fabrics as well.

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