Craftsy Class: Beginner Serging: Exposed Zipper Bag

My latest sewing project is the “Exposed Zipper Bag” from the Craftsy Online Beginner Serging Class. So far I love this class. It is appropriate for the serger novice like me. The Exposed Zipper Bag is fully-lined squared off small pouch with pull tabs at each end of the zipper. It would be a perfect pencil case or makeup bag for a quick sewing project. Um, my bag is missing the pull tabs. I am going to call this a design element rather than a mistake.

Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class
Exposed Zipper Bag from the Craftsy Serger Class

Even though my serging is still totally sloppy and uneven it is miles better than it was before I started this class. I couldn’t thread my serger, so it sat in my closet untouched. Now I am wondering if I will need a better serger someday (hmm a Babylock with auto tension?). FYI, if you are buying a sewing machine or serger it is important to look up the sewing machine review and the price that others pay for their machines first on Pattern Review, and to also post the price that you paid. The retail price is apparently kept secret by the manufacturers and customers have to negotiate price with dealers. Lame.

The Exposed Zipper Bag is the first project in the Craftsy class for serging. I haven’t done the other projects (a multi-ruffled apron and a scarf) yet. The instructor of the class does a great job, so I think I will complete these classes too. Plus the Craftsy website is actually very user friendly. The instructional videos are easy for a student to use because they let you replay a part of the video over and over automatically so you can understand that tough new technique. The videos integrate student questions and so far the instructors seem very responsive to questions.

I needed a lot of help start serging at all. I found a few websites that helped me develop some remedial serger skills. The post on Fiberosity (Serger 101) helped with basic information and balancing tensions. The post on Make it Handmade (Perfecting Serger/Overlocker tension) was particurally helpful with threading advice and stitch length and stitch width information.

This was a fun project that didn’t take long. I plan on making more of these, perhaps in some sort of waterproof fabric. I hope everyone like their Christmas presents!

Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag
Craftsy Beginning Serger Class: Exposed Zipper Bag

craftsy beginner serging exposed zipper bag

craftsy serging project 1 exposed zipper bag open

Unforgettable Elephant from Sew Everything Workshop

The Sew Everything Workshop: The Complete Step-by-Step Beginner’s Guide with 25 Fabulous Original Designs, Including 10 Patterns by Diana Rupp has many cute and fun beginner sewing projects. The projects have helpful detailed directions along with the sewing patterns so a begginner can learn how to sew with some great guidance. One of the cutest sewing projects in the book is the Unforgettable Elephant.

Sew Unforgettable Elephant
Unforgettable Elephant from the Sew Everything Workshop Book by Diana Rupp

I made the body of the Unforgettable Elephant about… oh, a year ago? Baby M is not a big fan of me getting personal time, so I never finished this project for him. The ears remained unsewn because you need to hand sew them to the body of the elephant. You also need to hand sew a portion of the body of the elephant shut once you have stuffed it with the Polyester Fiberfill. So the Unforgettable Elephant project remained unfinished because ugh hand sewing is the worst!

Sew Everything Workshop Unforgettable Elephant
The unforgettable elephant in its natural environment

There are some cute Unforgettable elephant out there! One elephant I liked was the one by School of Moxie This blog has some helpful pictures if anyone is struggling on a step of this sewing project. Of course if anyone has problems on a part of this project just let me know and I would be happy to help!

Another cute elephant can be found on E Made This. This blog has both the Baby Elephant and the Mama Elephant and they both look great.

If you want to make a stuffed elephant toy but don’t have the Sew Everything Workshop book, try the free elephant toy pattern and tutorial on Riley Blake Designs. Looks like a fun project and I would love to make this sometime!

Cut off shorts, instead of nasty, holey jeans

Short shorts are all the rage here in Texas.  Anyone over 28 is scandalized by the tiny things girls wear now.  We know we sound like a bunch of 80-year-olds, but these things are seriously short.

I had a couple of pairs of worn-out jeans, so I figured I could make them into a couple pairs of comfortable, casual shorts, instead of wearing them around my apartment and feeling embarrassed when I go walk the dog or take out the garbage. I have used jeans to line bags instead of canvas, but wanted to go the shorts route this time, since I needed more things to wear in warm weather.

I decided that slightly above mid-thigh would be an acceptable length for me.  Short enough to not look matronly, but not scandalously short.  This length is also short enough to encourage me to make sure I exercise,  so yay healthiness!

cut off shorts
Lay out the shorts so they mimic how they actually fit on your body.

To get this length, I put on the jeans, stood in front of a full-length mirror.  Making sure to allow for a fold-up hem, I marked where I felt I should cut.

Once decided on my length, I laid the jeans out on my cutting mat and got out my rotary cutter.  I made sure to lay them out flat, doing my best to make sure the crotch and inner thigh seam lay flat and to the front, so that the front waistband mimicked how it actually sits on my body.

I didn’t cut straight across, instead I cut at an angle, making the seam of inside thigh about an inch shorter than the outside thigh. To make sure I was cutting at the right  area at the right angle, I put a measuring tape in line with the front waistband and ran it straight down the seam I was cutting.

Cut-off shorts inside seam
Run the measuring tale straight down the seam from the front waistband.

To me, it seems like cutting at an angle his helps my legs look longer, and helps to disguise my chicken legs by making my thigh look smaller. I tried them on to make sure I was happy with the length before doing anything else.

When I knew I was happy with the length, I used my overlock foot to stitch the edges so they wouldn’t unravel.

I wanted the shorts to look nice and neat, so I made a hem by folding up the edges by one inch, ironing, then folding the edge inside the fold and ironing again. Now that I have worn then, I realize ironing was more or less a waste of time unless I am willing to sew a real hem.

Since I made two pairs of shorts, I immediately got an excuse to harp on one of my favorite annoyances- artificial fabric.  One pair of cut-offs is 100% cotton, while the other is 80% cotton and 20% polyester.  Ug, there is such a difference between the two!  The 100% cotton shorts will hold the fold and get a crease with ironing, but the ones with polyester will not.  So annoying, especially because manufactures are adding more polyester to jeans lately.  Do they live in the Arctic? Do they not know what wearing polyester in the summer feels like, and how it makes you smell? Ug. So annoying.

Anyway, my cut-off shorts were a success!  Instead of gross, holey jeans, I have casual shorts that aren’t a complete embarrassment.

Finished cut-off shorts 2
Finished cut-off shorts 1



Megan Nielsen Ruched Maternity T-Shirt Sewing Pattern

megan nielsen maternity t shirt
Megan Nielsen Maternity T-Shirt

Well now that I am 40 weeks pregnant I am FINALLY getting around to sewing the Megan Neilsen Ruched Maternity T-Shirt pattern! After all, the pattern package says it is great for post maternity too, so why not? For this maternity top I used the leftover turquoise cotton jersey fabric from one of my Vogue 8390 wrap shirts.

This maternity top sewing pattern is simple, with only three pattern pieces and four total pieces of fabric to sew together. Megan Nielsen sewing patterns are printed on nice thick paper, so no messing around with annoyingly fragile tissue paper. My swollen and clumsy hands can’t handle tissue paper right now, so this is great. I used a walking foot and a stretch stitch.

Simply put, this pattern was great! I would recommend it even for beginners. Of course its a maternity t-shirt pattern, so you will want a fabric with stretch (like jersey). If you are okay sewing with jersey, then I think you should try out this pattern!

Megan Nielsen Maternity Shirt
Megan Nielsen Maternity Shirt

There is one change I would make to this sewing pattern. I wish there were some notches or markings on the arm holesfor the sleeves. Even though you are supposed to ease in the sleeves, there is no guidance on the pattern for doing so. Now I admit I have hardly ever sewn sleeves, so maybe this is just the norm and I am in the wrong. Still, if I had my way the armscye and sleeve would match up more easily. I got around this by ironing the sleeve in half (before sewing them to the shirt) so I would have a nice crisp line to match up to the shoulder seam to pin in place. I then stretched out each half of the armscye to the point where it matched the sleeve edge and started pinning like crazy so I could sew it in place.

This shirt was pretty fast and easy to sew. And it nailed one crucial point, being long enough to cover the bottom of a belly bump. I don’t know why some of my professionally made store bought materntiy shirts are so short that they expose my stomach. Listen up designers, maternity shirts need to be wider AND longer unless you are trying to bring back belly shirts. Since I am happy with it, I am (maybe) going to make another version. I would love to have a longer, tunic length maternity shirt! The rouching will make it more flattering for the awkward postpartum period I think. Plus since this pattern was expensive at $18 PLUS shipping from freaking AUSTRALIA, I want to feel like I got my money’s worth. Still, I would definitely buy this pattern again

sewing maternity t-shirt
40 Weeks pregnant! Megan Nielsen Sewing Patterns Maternity T-Shirt
Maternity T-Shirt Back View
Maternity T-Shirt Back View











I found a few verisons online that I loved. Girls in the Garden made a cute missioni-esque shirt. Maybe I will get the courage to try a print someday! Cotton and Curls sewed a lovely floral print shirt. And Mad Mimsewed a cute turquoise print version.

My Problem: Wavy Seams on Knits/Jersey Fabric

wavy puckered knit fabric
Sleeves are wavy because I stretched out the fabric as I was sewing.

I don’t know why, but the hems on my sleeves and the bottom of the shirt are wavy. Obviously, I want the hems to lie flat so the shirt looks less homemade. I used a stretch stitch and walking foot. I am not sure what causes the puckering on the hems. I did iron the neckline flat before sewing, but not the arms or waist hems. I THINK that I stretched out the fabric as it was being sewn, which was a mistake? So next time I will try a different approach, perhaps:

  • Starch and iron, a la Fishsticks and Fries?
  • Be sure NOT to stretch out fabric as it is being fed through the machine? I need to make sure I am not stretching knit fabric, according to the great guide on how to sew knit fabrics on Prudent Baby
  • Maybe Serge??
  • Sewing Machine Tuneup for Tension adjustment?

Black and White Sheep Mobile for Baby

Black and White Felt Sheep
Black and White Felt Sheep
My latest project is a baby bassinet mobile. My friend and I made some black and white sheep out of felt to hang over the bassinet. I got the idea after looking at black and white mobiles on etsy. Those crib mobiles are super cute but also seriously expensive. The sheep mobile will replace the owls that came with the mobile on my pack n play playard bassinet.

I choose black and white sheep because apparently young babies cannot visually process low contrast colors. So all those cute pastel colors and toys probably look like boring blobs to newborns. High contrast black and white (with some saturated red thrown in for good measure if you want) is easier for babies to see and may aid in infant brain development. As babies get older the ability to distinguish more subtle colors improves (duh). Small for Big notes that black and white baby mobiles might not be the best choice for a crib, because they are stimulating and not relaxing (i.e., sleep inducing).

diy black and white baby mobile
DIY Black and White Baby Mobile

Of course, it doesn’t make sense to me that babies absolutely need special black and white accessories to improve vision and/or cognition. I bet babies have got along just fine for hundreds of thousands of years without black and white mobiles.

diy baby mobile
Angle your mobile down so baby can actually see it

I decided to keep this craft project simple. If you are feeling more ambitious, Life Sprinkled with Glitter has some cute ideas for baby mobiles that you can make yourself. To make my simple sheep mobile, my friend and I made sheep shapes and cut out the piece from some cheap felt. We sewed the layers together, then stuffed the sheep with cheap polyester fiberfill. The whole thing can cost just a few dollars if you can keep your fiberfill cost down. But keep in mind that this cost is simply for the sheep, not a mobile frame to hang them from.