My poor dog has very sparse, short hair and next to no body fat. We don’t live in a very cold climate, but she definitely needs something to keep her warm on cold morning walks. But, in my area, stores only stock clothes for toy breeds. Time to break out the sewing machine and make my dog a coat!
Sew Everything Workshop has instructions for a self-drafted “Canine Couture Coat”. The pattern is very simple and is based on your dog’s measurements, plus added ease. The most difficult part was deciding on the dimensions for the chest and neck area- I went with wide and shallow, since this seemed to fit her best based on her muslins. My dog is very deep-chested, so I placed the belt a bit higher than the middle so that it would go around the thickest part of her body, not her skinny belly.
The pattern features decorative buttons at the chest and side. Cute! I used silver metal ones. I used my French curve to round the ends of the jacket instead of making them rectangular.
The coat I made is fastened with hooks and eyes because I was worried about my dog undoing the fastenings; you could also use snaps or Velcro. I plan to use Velcro next time.
I made one major change to the pattern; Diane Rupp drafted the pattern with a two-piece belt that meets underneath the dog’s body in the middle of her belly. This seemed like too much trouble to me, so I just made a one-piece belt that attaches to the side of the coat instead. Much easier to get on and off the dog!
This pattern is great- simple and easy. I like my single-piece belt idea, but don’t have any other complaints, As long as you make a muslin or two to tweak the pattern so that it fits your dog properly, it shouldn’t be too hard to make a good dog coat.
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.
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!
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!
Sew Everything Workshop has a pattern for men’s boxers. I decided to do try this pattern for the experience, and also to use up extra fabric I had. And, as the author points out, “nothing says love like a custom stitched pair of undies.”
I wanted to use light fabric, but I am always afraid of failing at a project the first time I do it. So, to save money I looked through my fabric stash and chose the most fabric with the most appropriate weight- leftover fabric that Wrong gave me after she finished her Tokyo Tie Bag. OK, so compared to my partners normal boxers it’s a little, um, bold, but that’s OK! He can’t complain if he’s getting free underwear, right?
This was my first time sewing a project for a man, and my first time dealing with elastic.
Most of the instructions are golden, working like magic to take a few pieces of fabric and turn them into a pair of boxers with a fly. I don’t have any complaints or comments about the instructions until it’s time to deal with the elastic- at this point you need to deviate from the instructions!
The boxers look so real! It’s great to make a project that actually looks wearable. But, sadly, they are not wearable…
There are two reasons why this project is not an “A” project. The sizing is too big, and the elastic installation technique is off.
The author tells you to use a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing. Well, maybe that’s fine if you are using flannel or another nice, strong fabric. But, since I was making summer boxers, my fabric was thin- thin enough to be ripped by the safety pin pulling through the casing. It would be much, much better if she instructed sewists to use an elastic guide or a bodkin to pull the elastic through. Use the proper tools for the job! I think the author might be trying to save people a few dollars by telling them to use a safety pin to pull the elastic through the casing instead of buying a specialty tool- but really, those tools exist for a reason! Instead of saving a few dollars, all I did was waste my time and effort by ruining my project at the end. I tried taking out the elastic and making it narrower, but the damage had already been done. Instead of following the instructions for installing the elastic that Sew Everything Workshop provides, look in Nancy Zieman’s Sewing A to Z.
Ninja Kitten also made the boxers to wear herself. She had issues installing the elastic because of the fly overlap. And, she also ran into the sizing problem that seems common in Sew Everything Workshop. Compared to my partner’s other boxers, the length seems about right, but the width is much larger than other pairs of boxers that he owns. Maybe this would have resolved itself if I had been able to get the elastic in without ripping the casing, but now we’ll never know. If Diana Rupp does a second edition of the book, I hope she re-sizes the patterns, and also has a wider variety of sizes available- small, medium and large doesn’t cut it in modern America. But, I still like the book for having detailed instructions and explaining basic sewing techniques- despite it’s deficiencies in dealing with elastic.
Would I make this again? Yes, with reservations. MOST of the instructions were good, but I’d have to use a different elastic installation technique, and go down to a small instead of a medium. It’s a B and not a C because I’m willing to admit that human error probably played a part in this failure- but since this is a beginner’s book, the author ought to use proper technique instruction to help negate human error.
My latest project is the Hobo Bag from Sew Everything Workshop. It’s a three-spool project (the highest level of difficulty). And, it was a success! It’s a zippered hobo bag that is big enough to carry a laptop in.
This is a self-drafted pattern, but drafting it was really easy- it’s just two differently shaped rectangles, one with a curved corner. Painless!
I’m excited to say that this is my first truly successful zipper installation! I carefully hand-basted the zipper, then sewed it in with my machine. The stitching around the zipper pull veers to the outside of the zipper instead of staying in the middle, but still- success! No weird gaping holes, and mostly even stitching!
I did make several basic alterations to the pattern- I added pockets on both sides. This is a large bag, so pockets are a must if you want to avoid being disorganized. I also lengthened the strap from 20 to 29 inches- the instructed length just sounded too short, and adding extra length gave me enough leeway to make sure I could attach the strap very securely, instead of with just one line of stitching. Since this bag is so big, I could see it being very heavy if it was full of stuff, and the last thing I need is a broken strap. It probably would have been fine if I didn’t lengthen the strap though- it was just a personal choice.
Overall the instructions were very clear- the only real critique I have (besides adding pockets and securing the strap more securely) is that the instructions for attaching the strap are not clear- attach the strap to the wrong side of the lining, then proceed. Yes, this is pretty straightforward and obvious- but jittery new sewists like me sometimes make stupid mistakes, and it’s nice to have everything spelled out in detail in a beginner’s book.
I do have one more alteration that I plan to make when I make another version of this bag- I’m going to add heavy duty interfacing to the handle. It has a tendency to fold up a bit, which is a little annoying.
I give this project an A. it’s a great bag that would be easy to size up and down. I’m very happy with it, and am planning to make another one in a more neutral/versatile color scheme that I can travel with. I’ve been using this as a yoga bag- it feels great to get use out of my sewing projects!
Plookiss’ Threadware has a step-by step tutorial for this bag here.
So far the Sew Everything Workshop sewing book (by Diana Rupp) has been a great resource for learning how to sew. It outlines sewing techniques in the nitty gritty detail that I (as a complete novice) need. Since I have a few sewing projects under my belt, I decided to try one of the daunting three-spools-of-thread rated projects: the Sew Everything Workshop Hobo Bag.
The Hobo Bag project uses a self-drafted sewing pattern rather than a pre-made sewing pattern printed on tissue paper. As noted by the Colette Sewing Handbook you can use freezer paper to draft patterns. I used freezer paper to make the hobo bag pattern, and it worked like a charm.
Keep in mind, this is a somewhat big bag. As a hobo bag, it folds in on itself along the vertical center, making its size less overwhelming. It is big enough to accommodate a laptop. You will need 3/4 of a yard each lining and main fabric. Of course my fabric had some fraying issues, so I had to use a different cutting layout than suggested. It still worked fine, I would be careful with directional fabric..
The great thing about this pattern is that even though I was unsure about several construction details (and made poor material choices), the bag turned out better than I expected. I was expecting for this to be a failed sewing project, but I can happily keep and use this bag!
- For this bag pattern, you are instructed to make various marks on the fabric and on the zipper, and to line them up in such a way that the zipper hangs off the fabric in a specific way. Lining up the zipper with the marks made on the pattern did not make sense to me. Maybe my zipper size was off: I bought a 20″ zipper as instructed, but it had one extra inch of material on it. Never having examined a zipper before, I didn’t know how to make the adjustments correctly. I just sewed it in and I am happy with the result.
- Why do you need to have the end part of your zipper unsewn and unattached to the bag?
- I was a little fuzzy on what to do with the unsewn end of the zipper when attaching the lining to the main body of the bag. I ended up just trying to make the lining, main fabric and zipper lie smooth while I sewed everything in place.
To help visualize some of these problems, I tried looking up this bag to see how more experienced sewers dealt with my questions. Think Liz made the Sew Everything workshop hobo bag. I am not sure but it looks like she made the bag a little bit smaller, and it looks super cute. (EDIT:her bag is the regular size– my mistake!) Plookiss’ Threadware made this bag and included some great step-by-step pictures to help you along in making this bag. Stitching Sewlo made the hobo bag in a cute black and white print.
And in conclusion…
I am very glad I made this bag! I even added patch pockets to the inside for extra organization. As with all larger bags,you can lose your stuff in a seemingly bottomless pit if you are not careful.