11407268_10153318005379854_5709868883052795040_nSo my sister in law came over to my mom’s house one day last year and asked me if I could make a bag “like this one” (I don’t have a picture, but it was a simple drawstring bag with a lining).  I said I’m pretty sure I could, and shuffled off home to my sewing room to try to duplicate this bag for her.  She is a knitter, and she wanted something that could hold a ball of yarn, and would have a nice opening where the yarn would come through, keeping the yarn from tangling while she knitted.


I hit my stash and found some good options.  Good for cat pillows, anyway.






Here’s the first bag I made:


It only took about 30 mins to make this.

Basically the longest part was turning the drawstring!








Here are the pieces cut out:

10463876_10153318095404854_1111408318499740950_n  And here are two photos of a version I made for my husband: 11057778_10153316992304854_1132448930475149412_n11402780_10153316354714854_4875885530874578541_n










Ok, I’ll write up a step by step tutorial here soon…but it’s super easy.  You can probably figure it out from the cut pieces.  If not, no worries, I’ve got the step by step tutorial coming soon.


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11401428_10153303744324854_9039058975938637266_nThis is a hard post for me to write.  I loved making this dress, both because I adore the recipient and because it was a complex and challenging pattern.  However, there were some issues with the final result which broke my heart.  Unfortunately I had waited until the last minute to finish the dress and so we didn’t have time to fix the issues, instead simply pinning to overcome them.  I’m just so sad about it, I’ve procrastinated writing up the blog post on it. Anyway, here goes:

I came across the Butterick B5930 pattern, which just screamed SHERI. Sheri agreed! She picked out this delightful fabric: sheri's fabric

10450744_10153314553239854_7546217300891540272_n1607071_10153335920619854_9023904762461252737_nOne of the first issues I had was that I told Sheri to order the incorrect amount of fabric.  After washing and drying the fabric, ironing both the fabric and the pattern pieces, then cutting out the pattern pieces and placing them on the fabric, I unfortunately realized my mistake.  I had to order additional fabric, and then I had to wait for it to arrive.

Once it arrived I washed and dried it, ironed it and then finished pinning the remaining pattern pieces.  All of these were then cut out, and the process was repeated with the lining fabric.  I chose a lightweight lining fabric because this was dead of summer in South Carolina, a hot and sticky prospect on a good day.  And Sheri was doing outdoor family portraits with this dress, so the lighter, the better.





So, a long story just a bit longer, the pattern was pretty complicated.  There were several instances where I had to reread the instructions multiple times and still ended up confused.

Needless to say, there was A LOT of this handy old friend: 11667465_10153344502184854_4563662979452439546_n

Hello Seam Ripper!

Also, because I was rushing so much, I made a couple of clumsy errors.  We won’t talk about those! Haha

But the pieces started to come together:

























11540932_10153348577204854_4996084954764884988_nHere Sheri is trying it on before I hemmed the skirt.  I love the way it falls off her shoulders here.










And her is the final result, I believe with the back pinned.

11659252_10153348921499854_1616220119428397431_nLove the belt and shoes.  I wish I had pics from the photo shoot. Should have thought about that when she showed them to me.

In the end I think the dress looked great, but we still need to go back and fix the issue which required pinning.

I do feel like I let Sheri down in a huge way. I hope she lets me sew for her again some day!

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This is all you get for now. Just a small taste of what’s to come!
PetesCamera662015 111

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As I was cleaning up the sewing palace, I found a loosely folded pile of fabric and pattern pieces, which turned out to be a dress I had started working on but never finished.   This dressed straddled the time where I was struggling with the sizing of patterns vs sizing of store bought clothing.  The pattern was sized up to 20, but as I’ve previously said, my “pattern” size is really 26 or 28, depending on the pattern.  So, disappointed, I had folded up the pattern and fabric, and shoved it on a shelf.  Fast forward to this past Thursday, in my frenzy of cleaning, and after having just launched my newest web presence, Plus Sized Patterns, I decided that my buddy, Sheri, needed this dress, and it would fit her perfectly. 😀  Please excuse the state of the carpet in my photos. I desperately need to vacuum the sewing palace.  It’s all scraps of thread and fabric.


I laid out the fabric, IMG_1322

then placed the pattern pieces for cutting.


IMG_1326  In less than half an hour, I had a lovely dress nearly made.



Because the fabric is this light stretchy crepe, I decided that a nice rolled edge hem on the serger would be the proper treatment for the neckline, sleeves, and hem.  Having two sergers, one is always set up for the 3 thread rolled edge hem, and the other does a standard 4 thread overlock stitch.  I set up the rolled edge hem serger with the correct shade of thread, and started practicing on scrap fabric.  It immediately made a huge wad of thread and jammed up.  The racket it made while running was terrible to say the least!  After two hours of fighting with the serger, it dawned on me that this machine hadn’t been used in approximately two years.  AND, the last time it was used, I suspected it was in dire need of a tune up.  I took the two sewing machine repair classes, so I’m pretty handy tuning a regular sewing machine.  But we only briefly covered sergers, and what material we did cover didn’t stick at all.

Look at how fuzzy the inside is?  Haven’t touched it in forever. Due for a good cleaning!IMG_1328

So I called my local sewing machine repair guy…$150 for a tune up.  GULP.

I really didn’t want to spend that much money, but I was excited to finish my first post at my new blog.   So…I looked on Amazon, and a new serger was 189.00!

For 39.00 more, I could have a new, better, machine, delivered to my front door.

I went ahead and bought the new one, got it 3 days later, and executed a perfect rolled edge hem within minutes of turning it on.IMG_1360

IMG_1361Can’t hardly see the rolled edge, the color of thread matches so perfectly.


I Finished the dress this evening and gave it to Sheri.  She reports it fits well, but is uhm…rather see-through.  She is going to find a slip and see if it’s useable then.


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This project was one of the more challenging of my sewing career (going on 40 years now), but I was able to get it out the door in a short time frame, and my friend is finding it very useful, so it’s a win all around.

So here’s the story of the walker bag:


My friend Tricia posted on Facebook that she was struggling to carry items while using a walker.  I remembered seeing a walker bag pattern in a pattern book the last time I was at the fabric store, so a quick trip to the Googles, and I had found this pattern.














I even offered to make it for her, and she excitedly took me up on my offer.  I had the PERFECT fabric for this techie girl, Mod Geek Eyeglasses Atmosphere Grey . FabricChoices I sent her the link and she quickly gave her approval.  We were off!!










My friend Sheri graciously picked up the pattern for me at Joann’s, using a 40% off coupon, getting the pattern for 9.60.  Better than the online sale that Simplicity was currently having.  I thought I had several yards of the fabric, but when I pulled it out of my stash, I only had one yard!  When I got the pattern, I read the back and realized it called for 1 and 1/8th yards.  Doh! First fail.

Second fail realization came shortly after.  I looked at the “recommended fabric” and was shocked to find “Double-Faced Pre-Quilted Fabric” as the fabric choice.  Grrr.  The nerdy fabric didn’t meet that requirement either.


Now.  At this point I SHOULD have gone back to my friend and pointed her to’s dizzying array of Pre-Quilted fabrics (I love the owls).  But I was determined to make this happen for her.  Instead I found a semi-matching nerdy fabric, Science Fair Formulas Grey, which I would use for a backing, and grabbed some cotton batting from the stash to MAKE some quilted fabric.  I cut the backing to a yard, and ironed it, then laid it on top of the Eyeglasses fabric.  Oddly, it wasn’t as wide (was a yard long, but wasn’t 44-45 inches wide!).  It was only about 42.5 inches wide!  Oh well, I thought, won’t be an issue.  I use basting spray and made a quilt sandwich with the fabrics.














I cut out the pattern pieces and ironed them,PatternCutoutIroned and then looked at the layout for cutting. LayoutForCutting



The major piece used all assumed 45 inches of the width of the fabric.



Now.  At THIS point I should have stopped, gone back to my friend and said, “Hey, can you pick out some different fabric from”  But NO.

Stubbornly, I instead PIECED another 3 inches onto the backing fabric, just wide enough for the front/back pattern piece.  This upset me terribly.  I wonder if anyone notices it when they see the bag now, but honestly at the time, I was on the verge of tears over having to do this.


But, we make do, right?!?! And I did.


PiecesCutOut I cut out the rest of the pattern pieces and fabric from my impromptu quilt (which I didn’t quilt, as my husband’s Poe quilt is still on the long arm and I was too lazy to run it through the DM – instead I’m relying on the basting spray and a hopeful idea that it won’t need to be washed frequently), and read the instructions step 1.

(I left the picture of this on my camera, I’ll add it tonight)

Um.  WTH?  I had no idea what it meant.  First I’m to sew the bottom and sides of the side tab, then center the long seam, then sew across the bottom again?  In the picture it looks perfectly flat, but in real life, it’s physically impossible.




Here’s a pic of the side and bottom sewn:SideTabSewingAcrossBottom

Did they make a mistake on the instructions?  It looks like a horrible mess.  I was once again on the verge of tears.  I walked away from it twice, thinking I clearly couldn’t read instructions properly.  I examined the diagram.  No, it was clearly telling me to sew the bottom, shift the seam then sew the bottom again. Which DOES NOT WORK.

Then I struggled to turn the damn thing right side out.

There were 7 total tabs that needed this treatment, so in the  end I scrapped the pattern instructions and just “did my own thing.”  I didn’t sew the bottom ¼” seam, and instead sewed across the bottom after centering the lengthwise seam.  This made really nicely squared tabs, unlike the previous attempt. Here’s a pic of comparing the two:

Having tried one other way of doing the tabs, there was another wonky one, but the rest came out ok















The rest of the pattern went ok.  It was tough sewing several layers of the quilted tabs, Velcro, and the back, or the pockets with their gussets made it three-dimensional and hard to manage under the presser foot.  I should have engaged the Feed thingie (technical term) on my Pfaff, but honestly I forgot about it until the very end, when it snagged the bias tape and caught my attention.


Here’s a collection of pictures of the sewing progress:SewingOnVelcroPinningBindingOntoPocket  GussetSewnOntoPocketOtherSide BindingSewnOntoPocketPocketsSewnTogether SloppyBindingSewing














The final problem I encountered with this pattern and the construction was with adding the bias tape binding.  The directions indicated if you put the wider side underneath, then you simply sewed through all the layers and magically it would catch the bottom.  Well, that really didn’t work when the fabric you are encasing was SEVERAL thicknesses of the “quilt.”  It slipped and in several places I went back and whip-stitched the bias tape into place rather than re-sew the seams and junk up the front.  The exception I made was to re-inforce the tabs with an extra row of stitches.  This was to A) capture the underside of bias tape in many cases and B) give extra strength to the seam.

Here’s the final two pictures, one of the bag in use
























(Photo Credit, Tricia Owen)

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