Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sew With Me Saturdays #7

Towels 27
I know there are tutorials everywhere for hooded towels, but I have yet to see this way to make them which was taught to me by a non-blogging friend. With swimming weather around the corner--cross your fingers--it is time to beef up the towel supply!

The best part about these is the little pleat in the back that you can use to hang the towel.
Love that part!

Towels 29

Once you learn how to make these, you will be churning them out like pancakes—they are that easy!

There are so many ways to embellish towels so let your imagination lead on this one. I will share with you some of my favorite ways—all simple. A hooded towel is my go to baby gift (especially for boys) and everyone seems to like them a lot. My own children have a closet full of them and will only use a towel that has a hood. You can sew one up quickly so it is easy to whip up a new one when an idea hits.


1/2 hand towel -- *see note
1 bath towel
embellishments (ribbon, fabric, ric rac, ruffles, etc.)
pins – long ones (quilting pins) preferred
heavy duty sewing needle for your machine (Not required, but works much better!)
*note* I always buy 2 bath towels and a matching hand towel at the same time to make sure I have a matching piece for the other half of the hand towel. You can also use the extra halves for appliqueing shapes onto your towels.

Make the Hood
Cut the hand towel in half width-wise (hamburger cut).
Towels 1Towels 2

Fold hand towel in half with finished edges to the side and bottom and the fold at the top.
Cut an arc shape for the head. There is no exact science to this,
but I tend to cut off almost 2 inches and then curve in from there.
Towels 3

Sew the towel together along the arc with 1/8 inch seam allowance.
Use a stitch that is a little bit longer than your regular stitch length.
(I sew most fabrics around a 2 so I changed it to 2.5 for this.)
Towels 4

Turn towel inside out and sew again along the arc with 1/4 inch seam allowance.
This will make {most of} a French seam. It hides all of the raw edges and reinforces the seam.
(HERE is an excellent tutorial for using French seams with clothing construction.)
Towels 5

Turn the hood right side out.
Towels 6

Fold the factory finished edge of the towel towards the back (the wrong side or inside of the towel
will be flipped out). Sew in place. You will be sewing it to the right side of the hood. This will make the inside more comfortable and the top edges will be covered with your embellishments. I have also used towels with textured borders and no other embellishments.
Towels 7

Sew embellishments in place along the top of the hood. Be sure that the raw edges of the embellishments line up with, or are slightly shorter than, the finished edges of the hand towel.You do not need to finish the ends of the embellishments because the ends will get sewn into the seams when you join the hood and the towel together. Just sew in place along the sides or down the center depending on your embellishment. I use the finished edge of the towel that was flipped up as a guide to keep things straight. Mine looks crooked in every single picture, but it isn’t—just the way the pictures look!
Towels 8

There are so many ways you can do the embellishments that I won’t attempt to name them all. This picture shows a few that I really like. (The ric rac edged fabric one is a new idea I learned from The Cottage Mama which I saw HERE.)
Towels 24Towels 23Towels

Make Center Pleat on the Bath Towel
To make a pleat, first mark the center of the length of the bath towel with a pin.
Bring a small section of towel from the left side towards the center so that it makes a fold at the back.
Towels 9

Pin in place. This will be very thick.  Repeat with the right side.
Towels 10 Towels 11
Towels 12Towels 13

Sew along the pleat to hold everything in place.
It is easier to put the hood on without the pins in the way.
Towels 14
Sew Hood to Towel
Place the center seam of the hood on the center of the pleat in the bath towel with the hood on top and right sides together. Pin in place.
Towels 15

Starting from the center point, sew the hood to the towel along the edge of the towel. Since one edge is finished (bath towel), I try to sew along the part where the pile of the towel starts so my stitches are hidden a little better. Backstitch several times at the ends to secure the hood to the towel.
Towels 16

Turn everything around and sew other side of hood to towel again from the center point to the edge.
Voila! You are done!
 Towels 17

All of the edges are clean and smooth so they won’t fray or feel annoying. And, they look good!
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You can also add appliques or ruffles or whatever makes you happy to the rest of the bath towel, but I like to decorate the hood and keep the rest plain and simple. It is really up to you, though!
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Reality Check

Normally, my blogging tends to not be very personal in nature. My husband is in law enforcement and we are pretty cognizant of the consequences of letting everything hang out there. I am not vigilant or crazy about it, but this blog is about one part of my life and I try to keep things focused on that. As such, I think I am sometimes seen as not very personable or not wanting to build a relationship with other bloggers or readers. So…I think it is time for a little reality check.

Piles1Piles3Piles4Piles2Piles5 copy

My life, like the rest of yours, is busy. I struggle to find a balance between what I want to do, what I need to do and what I should do. I spend a lot of time on the piles and as much time as I can trying to get away from the piles. I am not a craft-spewing machine by any means and often feel like I can’t keep up—with any aspect of my life.

I blog about the stuff I make for my family and friends and realize it isn’t always interesting to you. So, thank you for supporting me by following along. I truly appreciate each and every one of you. Some days, your kind comments are the only thing that motivates me to keep blogging and sharing tutorials. Blogging is a “job” I chose, but it’s not like I am getting paid for it. The pay is a kind word or a bit of gratitude when you like something I‘ve posted. Thank you!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blog Swap: Creative Cain Cabin

I’m swapping blogs today with Dawn from Creative Cain Cabin.
You can hop over there to find out how I made these:


Charger 13

You can use them for your Mother’s Day celebration or any other festive occasion.
They are simple to make, inexpensive and add a bit of flair to any table!

Go HERE for the full tutorial.

And, on my blog today…
Dawn has a wonderful budget-friendly Mother’s Day gift to share!

                         Hi, I'm Dawn from Creative Cain Cabin.

I'm a country girl with a New York attitude, living in a small village in the mid west.  I run our family's environmental business from home. I love family, shoes, fashion, and home decorating.  My blog has a regular Monday DIY and Tutorial post, a Wednesday fashion post, a Friday Recipe, and frequent Giveaways going on. 

Drop by the cabin, put your feet up, and take a tour.

Mother’s Jar of Love
I wanted to show you how to created a Mother’s Day gift on a budget and still be heart felt.

This is the one I made for my Mom several years ago and I wanted to share it with everyone.

What you will need:
1 pickle jar or similar
(If you don't have one on hand, stop at any local diner and they will normally have one they can give you.)
365 note cards
Scrap of fabric for the lid

The idea is to come up with 365 memories shared between you and your Mom.  I know it seems like a lot and even overwhelming, but, believe me, once you take the time to sit down and start thinking the memories will flow.

If you have siblings, split the cards up and have everyone write down memories.

I had many laughs and some tears writing my Mom’s and even some memories she had forgotten but, once she stared reading the note card, it came back to her.

Add some potpourri and the note cards.
(Now every card will smell pretty.)
Let your Mom know she is to read only one memory per day. This will give her something to look forward to every day.

As we all know--memories are precious!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ruffle Dress for the Ruffle Event


You just have to know how excited I was when Kate from See Kate Sew invited me to participate in her Ruffle Event. SO EXCITED!

Of course, when she actually asked for our ruffle projects so she could plan the specifics for her event, my mind was a complete blank for days. When you check out all of her ruffle projects and her awesome guests (and the rest of her amazing blog), you will see exactly why I was stressed out!

For my project, I had to go with a little girl’s dress—my favorite place to put ruffles. I ran through so many ideas, but decided I would challenge myself on this one. With three girls of my own, (yes, the oldest two are fraternal twins—lots of emails about that last week ;) I have lots of opportunities to sew dresses, but I don’t always get to try out my ideas on them.

I call this my Idol Style Dress because I was inspired by a blouse on American Idol (yes, I am a groupie) worn by Ashton Jones the night she was eliminated. I loved the look, but wasn’t so sure I could really replicate it in a way I was happy with. I wanted it to have both sleeves and I wanted to use silky fabric, but I really don’t like sewing on silky fabric. I finally figured out how to make this dress work and decided to go with a washable polyester fabric that was also inexpensive.

Right look, right style, right price!

Tutorial Button

coordinating thread
1/4 inch elastic

Make a pattern to cut the armhole.
Use an armhole from a blouse or dress to get the arc for the armhole. Trace the arc shape (and shape it up a bit like I did) on the corner of a sheet of paper. Be sure to make it 1/2 inch longer on each end than the actual armhole so you have enough fabric for a seam allowance. Make the corner into a rectangle (last picture) and cut out the armhole shape.
Circle Ruffle Dress 2Circle Ruffle Dress 1Circle Ruffle Dress 3

Cut 2 rectangles for the dress front and back.
You will need to estimate on this one. I googled average chest and waist sizes by age and then actually checked a few patterns to get an idea of finished sizes to help figure out how big to make the rectangles. I wanted the dress to be gathered a little at the top so I wasn’t too worried about it being too big there, but didn’t want it to be huge around the legs. If you aren’t comfortable with this, you could always cut newspaper to size and check it on the child. (Remember, the top will be gathered so it will have to be “too wide” at the top.)

Cut out the armholes.
Fold the rectangles in half lengthwise. Place the armhole pattern along the top and side edges (raw edges, not folded edges) and cut out the armhole openings.
Circle Ruffle Dress 4

Cut out 2 circles for the ruffles.
Straight cut gathered ruffles don’t work for this dress—it turns out like a clown collar. I thought bias cut ruffles would be perfect, but they didn’t add as much flounce as I wanted. Circle cut ruffles are perfect for this because they are flouncy ruffles and they give enough room for the collar to be a collar and still drape nicely over each shoulder. If you haven’t used circle cut ruffles, you have to try it. They are gorgeous and they even ruffle (flounce) without a gathering stitch.

I have done this with commercial patterns in the past, so I kind of winged it for this. The first try didn’t work, but the second did. When I searched for some info to offer a resource for you, I found THIS excellent source. It describes how to make circle ruffles so you can get it right the first time. My ruffles ended up being huge and a bit elliptical, but still worked. Since I also gathered them onto an elastic neckline, it really didn’t matter. I think next time, I would make them a little smaller so the collar is still flouncy, but not as full from the gathers.

Here’s what you should have to make this dress:
Circle Ruffle Dress 5

Sew back to front. 
With right sides together (RST), sew the back to the front at each side. Press seam flat.

(Difficult to see in the pictures—sorry.)Circle Ruffle Dress 6

Finish armholes.
Turn armhole edge in 1/4 inch and press in place. Turn in another 1/4 inch and press in place. Sew along edge. Sew slowly around the curves to keep the seam in place and prevent puckering.

Repeat for other armhole.Circle Ruffle Dress 8

Turn to right side and press armhole seams smooth.
Try to lay it flat on the ironing board in the U shape of the armhole to do this.  Circle Ruffle Dress 7

Make collar.
Use a pin to mark the center of each circle piece. Circle Ruffle Dress 9

Use a pin to mark the center front and center back of the dress. Circle Ruffle Dress 10

Sew one circle to the other circle at both ends. You will now have one giant circle that is already flouncy.

Press seams flat. Circle Ruffle Dress 11

Serge or zig zag the top edge of the collar. Remove the centered pin as you come to it, but put it right back after sewing past that point for the next step.

(You can also mark your fabric with chalk, but I always lose my chalk lines--not my pins!)
Circle Ruffle Dress 12

Finish the bottom edge of the collar.
I used a rolled hem on my serger, but you can also sew a narrow hem where you turn it under 1/4 inch, sew along the folded edge, trim the excess fabric close to the stitching, then turn it again the width of the seam and sew in place close to the edge.

(I suspect that you can make your ruffle wider and fold it so you don’t even have to hem it, but I was worried that it would be too heavy and make some of my flounces hang out.)

Press hem flat. Circle Ruffle Dress 12

Sew collar to dress.
Place the collar inside of the dress to match the center of the collar (marked with a pin) with the center of the front of the dress. The right side of the collar should face the wrong side of the dress.

Repeat for the back of the dress.

Sew the collar to the dress along the top edge of the dress using a zig zag stitch. You will sew right up to the edge—there is no seam allowance. Only sew the collar to the dress along the dress section. Do not worry about the rest of the collar sections—these will become the sleeves (the top of the armhole).Circle Ruffle Dress 13

Sew along the entire collar and the dress sections with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This is kind of weird because you will sew the collar to the dress (again), but the collar sections for the armholes will just be a sewing line along the collar.Circle Ruffle Dress 14

Flip the collar over the top of the dress so the wrong side of the collar is facing the right side of the dress.

Slowly and carefully, press the entire collar section so that everything is smooth.
You will make a folded section (folding along your sewing line) where there is no dress front or dress back.

(I didn’t have a pink dress picture for the inside, but the blue dress shows the inside view really well.)Circle Ruffle Dress 15051

Slowly sew along the entire collar section using a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Leave a small opening to insert the elastic.

(Mine puckered a little on this part, but it is okay since this will be gathered anyway.)Circle Ruffle Dress 17

Insert elastic.
Cut elastic to neck measurement. Use a safety pin to slide the elastic through the casing. Circle Ruffle Dress 18

Sew ends of elastic together and ease into casing.

Sew casing closed being careful not to catch the edge of the elastic in the stitches.Circle Ruffle Dress 19

The collar is finished! {woo-hoo}Circle Ruffle Dress 20

Hem the dress.
Hem the dress by turning under 1/4 inch, pressing, and turn under 1/4 inch again.

Stitch in place.

Press flat.Circle Ruffle Dress 21

Lots of instructions (and comments), but the dress is so fast and easy to make.Circle Ruffle Dress 22

You should know that I love to sew with patterns—very precise patterns. This project was a huge challenge for me. If I can sew a dress with such general directions for sizing, you can definitely do it!

I just love the way it turned out. It’s almost exactly the way I pictured when I saw the inspiration blouse on American Idol. I can’t say I am ready to ditch my precise patterns or that I will be sewing on silky types of fabrics frequently, but I just love this dress and feel inspired and motivated to try all kinds of things that aren’t in my comfort zone.

And, really, I owe it all to Kate and her Ruffle Event! Thanks, Kate!dress4

Get over there and check it out!
(And it isn’t just girl ruffles either!)

(I'll be linking to the places in my sidebar--check them out!)

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