How To Make a Waterproof Baby Changing Mat / Simple Sewing Tutorial

baby changing mat
BABY CHANGING MAT

In this simple sewing tutorial, I show you how you can make a waterproof baby changing mat.

changing mat diaper bagIt’s the perfect size that you can fold up and throw in your diaper bag. 

They’re easy to wash and really easy to make and they make really fun baby shower gifts.

I’m going to show you two different methods that you can use to finish the edge of the changing mat: how to apply double fold bias tape with a mitered corner edge and how to sew a very simple unbound edge.

baby changing mat supplies

CHANGING MAT MATERIALS & ITEMS NEEDED

  • ½ yard waterproof PUL fabric ( polyurethane laminate)
  • It’s a fabric that has one side that’s woven and one side that’s plasticky and waterproof.

You can find this online or at most fabric stores. Sometimes they’ll have prints, but most likely you’ll just be able to find a white, which is just fine.

When you buy the pull fabric it comes on a bolt that’s really wide, almost 60 inches wide.

You can make several of mats if you buy a 1/2 of a yard of the pull fabric.

 

  • ½ yard flannel or cotton print fabric or fabric cut to (25 x 18 inches)
  • fusible fleece or light colored flannel cut to (25 x 18 inches) for lining

tip

I like using an upcycled fabric when I can. For this changing mat project I used a flannel sheet that was white and of good quality that I no longer needed.

  • double fold bias tape (2 ½ -3 yards) OPTIONAL
  • fabric clips (pins will put holes in the PUL fabric)
  • scissors/rotary cutter, mat and ruler (optional)
  • iron/ironing board
  • sewing machine
  • turning stick
  • label/tag (optional)
how to make your own bias tape binding

***LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN BIAS TAPE HERE

If you’ve been intimidated by bias tape and haven’t applied that yet, no worries, I’ll show you how easy it is to apply.

After seeing this tutorial I hope that you’ll find it’s really easy because it does add a lot of charm to your projects.

INSTRUCTIONS

Simple Unbound Changing Mat

CHANGING PAD FUSIBLE FLEECE1- Fusible Fleece Application

The first thing to do, if you’re using fusible fleece, is to iron that to the back side of your front piece of fabric. (bumpy side of fleece will be facing down).

One thing to mention though is you do not want to iron on any of the fusible fleece directly on that bumpy side or the sticky stuff will get onto your iron.

2- Tag/label Application (optional)

If you are wanting to add a tag, to the mat, this is the time to do it.

The cut edge of the tag will be along the raw edge of the fabric.

adding tag changing matThe seam allowance is 3/8 inches, so take note of that when placing the tag in place.

Clip the tag in place and then take the time to go to the sewing machine and baste that in place. You’ll be glad you did.

changing mat fabric sandwich

3- Making a Fabric Sandwich

Now you are ready to make a fabric sandwich and sew it all together.

If you are going to use a flannel lining, place that on the table first.

Then place the front piece on top of that with the WRONG SIDE FACING DOWN.

The pul fabric goes next with the RIGHT SIDE FACING DOWN.

HOW TO DETERMINE WHICH SIDE IS THE RIGHT SIDE OF PUL FABRIC:

Look real closely and you can see that the WRONG SIDE has a pattern to it (grain of fabric weave).

THE RIGHT SIDE is more shiny and a little bit more plasticky looking with a smooth finish.

Line up the edges and clip all three layers in place.

changing mat sewing

4- Sewing the Changing Mat Together

This first basic method you’ll sew all the way around, leaving a 4 inch gap unsewn for turning. Really simple.

Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

The straight stitch is 2.5 in length.

Sew to the corner, stopping 3/8 inch from the edge. Leave the needle in the down position, lift up your presser foot and pivot the fabric to continue sewing all the way around.

clip corners changing mat

5- Clip the Corners.

changing mat

6- Turning Right Side Facing Out

Find the opening. Reach inside between where the right side is facing right side, and pull it out.

Take the turning stick and poke the corners out.

changing mat pressing

7- Pressing the Edges Out

Take it to the ironing board. DON NOT PRESS THE PUL FABRIC! It will melt.

Fold the edges of the opening up, the same seam allowance and press. Apply a few clips to hold it in place.

BE CAREFUL NOT TO PRESS THE LABEL IF YOU HAVE ONE!

topstitching changing mat

8- Top Stitching the Changing Mat

Okay, now we’re ready to topstitch all the way around the changing mat.

Change the stitch length to 3 instead of 2.5. This will give you a much better finished look.

The seam allowance will only be 1/8 inch. (You can apply a strip of tape on your sewing machine to help as a guide. (watch video tutorial for the details).

Clip the threads.

Wasn’t that simple?

mitered corner changing mat

CHANGING MAT BIAS TAPE METHOD

Let’s start on the second method, which is applying a mitered corner with double fold bias tape.

I am going to go over the basics here in this post, but you can watch the video tutorial here to get all the details and tips.

For this changing mat, I chose a cute orange flannel polka dot fabric with stripe bias tape that I made.

I used a rabbit tag, from my LOVE LABELS collection. (you can get the PDF file here).

CHANGING MAT

1- Making the Fabric Sandwich

***THE FABRIC WILL BE PLACED IN A DIFFERENT ORDER FOR THIS METHOD!

Layer 1: Pul fabric (right side facing down)

Layer 2: Fusible fleece ironed on the back of front piece or flannel fabric

Layer 3: Front fabric (right side facing up)

2- Fabric Prep

Line up all the edges. You may need to trim some of the edges so they are even.

Flip the fabrics over to make sure the Pul fabric is not bunched up.

Once it is lined up, clip in place.

Using a long stitch (basing stitch) sew all the way around using a ¼ inch seam allowance.

This step will save you a lot of grief and is worth the time to do.

It will keep the three layers stable while you put on the bias tape.

3-  Tag/label Application (optional)

Add the tag now if you want one. 

3- Bias Tape Application

Apply the bias tape to the back side (Pul fabric side first, and then you will wrap the tape around to the front, and then top stitch it.

WATCH THE VIDEO FOR COMPLETE DETAILS AND TIPS!

This little changing mat is the perfect size to use, fold up and toss them in your diaper bag.

I hope you enjoyed that tutorial!

baby gift changning mat and burp clothMake up a few and add some burp cloths and you have the perfect baby gift!

burp clothes chaning matI have a tutorial showing you how to make these burp cloths (which are super simple to make!

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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Make Your Own Adorable Bias Tape Binding the Easy Way

diy bias tape binding
how to make your own bias tape binding

Bias tape binding is used in a lot of sewing projects, and I love working with it. But did you know that you can make your own?

Why would you want to make your own bias tape when you can go to the fabric store and buy a package of bias tape already made?

bias tape at the store

If you’ve ever gone to the fabric store to buy bias tape, you’ll notice that they only come in a selective amount of solid colors, and that’s boring!

You’ll find the color to match your sewing project fabric if you’re lucky.

What you’re not going to see is bias tape that is made from cute colored prints.

FAT QUARTER BIAS TAPE binding

In this post, I’m going to show you how you can get five yards of bias tape binding by using just ONE fat quarter of fabric. Making bias tape is quite simple.

It only takes about 30 minutes to make five yards.

I’ll show you how to make a single fold bias tape, a double fold bias tape, and bias strips for binding a quilt.

Be sure to watch the video tutorial at the end of the post because I show you throughout the video several different tips that maybe you haven’t seen before, and I show you how I store and organize my bias tape.

I do have a previous post where I showed how to make bias tape using a different method and in that tutorial, I go over in more detail about what bias tape is, what it’s used for, so you might want to check that out.

Watch the video tutorial at the end of the post because I show you several different tips throughout the video that you haven’t seen before, and I show you how I store and organize my bias tape.

In a previous post, I showed how to make bias tape using a different method, and in that tutorial, I went over in more detail what bias tape is and what it’s used for, so you should check that out.

 

bias tape binding supplies

Bias Tape Binding Materials and Items Needed

Bias Tape Instructions

1 -Fabric Prep

The first thing that you’ll do is press the fabric to get the wrinkles out.

If using a FAT QUARTER, which usually measures around 21×18 inches, you’ll need to cut it into a square. (18×18 inches).

bias tape binding

FAT QUARTER INSTRUCTIONS

***If you’ve cut your fabric 18x 18, you’ll, you’ll skip this part.

Place the fabric with the RIGHT SIDE FACING UP.

Square up the fabric by bringing the short edge to the long edge.

Line up the edges so it makes a perfect triangle. (You may need to straighten off the edges because they don’t always cut it straight at the fabric store).

Cut off the excess. So that you have a piece of fabric 18×18 inches. It can be bigger or smaller, it just needs to be square.

cutter blad tipIf it’s been a while since you’ve changed your rotary cutter blade, you may want to do that. I have a post showing you all about rotary cutters, including changing the blade.

It makes a big difference if you have a sharp blade.

You can READ THIS POST for more details about “how to change the blade”.

bias tape binding folded triangle

2 -Cutting Two Triangles

Before you open the triangle up, cut the fabric into two separate triangles.

Cut it along the fold of the triangle.

Take your scissors, lay them flat like this, and push them out onto the fold.

Cut down all the way with the flat edge of your scissors on the table.

bias tape binding

Flip both layers of fabric to the right.

Take the top layer and flip it to the right

Line the top edges up. Leave an ¼ inch tail on that side where indicated in the photo.

Pin it in place.

bias tape binding seam allowance guide

3 -Sewing the bias tape binding fabric.

You can put a quarter-inch presser foot on your sewing machine, but if your sewing machine doesn’t come with a quarter-inch presser foot, you can take a piece of masking tape, washi tape, or painter’s tape and put it down on that quarter inch seam marking on your sewing machine plate.

bias tape binding top seam

Sew the top edge using a quarter-inch seam allowance.

Change the stitch length to a 2 instead of a 2.5. This will keep the stitches just a little bit more secure.

***Check out the video for a great tip on starting a seam without the fabric bunching up.

bias tape pressing

4 -Press the seam allowance open.

bias trape binding drawing lines

5 -Marking the bias tape strips

Place the wrong side facing up and mark two-inch strips starting at the bottom of the fabric and work your way up until you’ve filled the fabric with 2-inch increments.

Cut off the remaining fabric.

bias tape binding excess

These two-inch strips will make a double-fold bias tape that measures 1/2 inch or one-inch single-fold bias tape.

Of course, you can make bigger strips of bias tape if you want.

The lines must be accurate.

6 -Sewing the bias tape fabric

DO NOT CUT STRIPS YET!

bias tape lining up linesFlip the right side facing up. Bring the ends towards the center. (You think you would just line up the lines straight across, right? But you don’t.

You’re going to shift the lines up one row, then line up the lines.

This is where the magic happens!

quarter inch ext bias tapeFind the point on the left piece of fabric. That point needs to extend past the line underneath by ¼ inch.

Pin the edges in place, careful not to pull the top or bottom fabric tighter than the other.

Go to the sewing machine and sew down that side using an ¼ inch seam allowance. No need to backstitch.

It will seem a little awkward, and it won’t lay flat; it will look like the photo above.

press bias tape seamPress the seam open.

***If you’ve ever made bias tape binding where you cut a bunch of strips sewn them together individually, and then pressed each individual strip seam allowance open, then you know how tedious it can be.

It also takes a lot more time. This way you have such nice, neatly pressed seam allowances.

It’s the easiest way to make bias tape!

***If you’ve ever made bias tape where you cut a bunch of strips sewn them together individually, and then pressed each individual strip seam allowance open, then you know how tedious it can be.

It also takes a lot more time. This way you have such nice, neatly pressed seam allowances.

It’s the easiest way to make bias tape!

butting bias tape strips

7 -Cutting bias tape binding strips

Start cutting the strips by following the lines.

Continue cutting until you have five yards of bias tape.

Ta-da!

bias tape binding types

There are three types of bias tape, bias strips for binding without a fold, single fold and double fold bias tape.

8 -Unpressed bias strips

Simply leave it unpressed or just fold it in half, then place it on mini bolts ready for use.

bias tape binding folding

9 -Making single-fold bias tape (manually without bias tape maker)

Fold the bias tape strip in half. Then bring the edges together in the center and press the outer folds.

Continue that process until you have pressed the whole strip.

bias tape binding maker

10-Double fold tape using the bias tape maker

This little tool is so handy!

They come in several sizes, and for this project, I am using the “blue tool”.

Slide the point of one of the points into the tool. Sometimes, it’s a little challenging to get it to come out.

Just take a pin and kind of cinch that up through that slit that’s on top of the tool.

Gently start pulling the fabric through the tool, and it will start folding the fabric sides in.

bias tape binding single fold

Start pressing it as you pull.

When you go over the seams, you may have to fuss with it just a little bit, and it can be a little annoying, but stick with it because, in the long run, it’s so worth it.

Continue to do that until the whole strip is folded.

I like to leave my strips wide because I don’t want that fold in some projects when I’m using a double, especially if I’m going around corners or things.

11- Double fold bias tape binding without the tool

To make double-fold bias tape, fold it in half again and press it in place. That’s it.

storing bias tape

How to store and organize your bias tape strips

I use comic boards to store my small pieces of fabric, as I’ve shown in this post.

These comic boards work well to also store bias tape.

1 – Making bias tape bolts.

Cut the boards. 5 X 2.5 inches. (This is the same size board that come with your store bought bias tape.)

bias tape binding mini bold

2 – Folding bias tape on boards

Take your bias tape strip and start wrapping it around the board. You don’t want to pull it too tight.

Tuck the end under the already wrapped tape.

I found the perfect box matching the bins I used to put my small fabric bolts on.

YOU CAN GET THEM HERE

They fit in these boxes perfectly!

BIAS TAPE binding CABINET

They have adhesive strips on the back so you can hang them on your sewing wall or inside a cabinet door like mine.

It’s eye candy for my sewing room.

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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HOW TO SEW A SCRAPPY FABRIC STUFFED HEART / EASY PROJECT

scrappy fabric stuffed heart
stuffed heart

In this post, I’m going to show you how to sew a scrappy fabric stuffed heart. In a previous post, I gave instructions showing how to make scrappy fabric panels that you can use to make these adorable stuffed hearts.

This is a beginner sewing project that is fun and quite addicting.

What you’ll really like about this sewing tutorial is I will show you a way to sew two pieces of fabric together that are small shapes and have small seam allowances.

This is a method that maybe you haven’t seen before and will make this process so much easier and take the frustration out of sewing small pieces together.

Stuffed heart materials

Stuffed Heart Materials and Supplies

Stuffed Heart Instructions

1 -Decide which shape of heart you want to use.

You can trace a heart cookie cutter or use the FREE HEART TEMPLATE I HAVE CREATED FOR YOU.

Download it HERE.

2 -Trace the heart onto the back of the scrappy fabric panel.

I have used a fusible fleece on the back of my scrappy fabric panels as shown in the photo.

It’s unnecessary, but it gives the fabric more stability and something flat to trace the hearts with.

You can make these stuffed hearts any size.

You must leave at least a 1/4″ space around the heart for the seam allowance.

Don’t bring the heart’s edge right to the fabric’s edge.

If you’d like to learn how to make the panels, check out this post and video tutorial.

I would save even the little scraps because you could use them to make a cute cutout to place on a gift card or something.

scrappy fabric stuffed heart

There are so many fun things you can do with this scrappy fabric.

If you use pre-made scrappy fabric panels, you’ll want to optimize and use as much of the panel as possible.

DO NOT CUT OUT YET!

You will sew around the heart first, then cut it out. This method is SO MUCH EASIER and less frustrating.

stuffed heart tracing

3 -Sewing the stuffed heart

Place the backing fabric RIGHT SIDE FACING UP.

Then place the fabric panel or heat front fabric RIGHT SIDE FACING DOWN and pin it in place.

Leave a space down on the bottom of the heart, about one and a half to two inches, for stuffing the heart, and then we’ll sew that closed when we’re finished.

stuffed heart

Backstitch at the beginning and at the end of the seam.

When sewing around the curves, if you need to leave the needle down and lift up the presser foot and adjust it just a little bit to get around that corner, you can do that. Just go slow.

When at the V in the heart, leave the needle down, lift up your presser foot, and pivot it. Then, continue to sew.

***You could also use a needle and thread if you don’t have a sewing machine. (I do have some tutorials showing you some stitches that you can use to hand sew).

trimming the stuffed heart

4 -Trimming the heart seam allowance

Cut around the heart, leaving a ¼ inch seam allowance.

Clip notches around the curves and a straight cut at the heart notch.

Take care to NOT cut into the seam.

stuffed heart seam allowance

5 -Turn the heart inside out

Take the turning stick and turn the heart right side facing out.

pressing stuffed heartPoke out the points and smooth the curves. (I like pressing the ¼-inch seam allowance so it’s easier to sew the heart closed).

stuffed heart

6 – Stuff the heart

Fill the heart with stuffing, using the turning stick to push the stuffing into points and curves.

7 – Sewing the stuffed heart closed

To sew the heart closed, take the needle, double-thread it, and knot the end.

Take the needle and insert it just at the bottom of where you finished stitching from the wrong side of the fabric to the front, leaving the knot inside the heart.

Fold the ¼ inch seam allowance inside and pin in place.

Using a ladder stitch or slip stitch, sew the opening closed.

If you’d like to watch a quick tutorial showing how to do this, YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.

stuffed heart ribbon

8 – Adding a ribbon or twine to hang the stuffed heart (optional)

If you want to hang the heart, use a thin ribbon, jute, or yarn.

Decide how long you want it to be.

Thread the yarn needle and insert it into the notch of the heart.

Pull it through and take the needle off the ribbon.

stuffed heart ribbon loop

Make a knot at the bottom and then make another knot further up to create a loop.

You can tie a bow if desired.

Ideas of how to display and use the stuffed heartsstuffed heart doorknob

Hang it over a doorknob or a peg.

stuffed heart gift bagAttach it to a gift bag

stuffed heartHang on a bulletin board

stuffed heart bowlDisplayed in a bowl or a basket

Put in a valentine envelope

Fill a portion of it with some dried lavender buds to make a yummy-smelling sachet

Make a pincushion by filling it with crushed walnut shells and stuffing

stuffed heart broachSew a broach pin on the back to put on a shirt or sweater.

stuffed heart basket

There you have it.

Are you ready to get out your sewing machine, gather up some of your fabric scraps and make a cute scrappy fabric stuffed heart?

Please comment or send me a note if you have any questions.

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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10 DIY Gift Ideas That You’re Going To Enjoy Making

GIFT IDEAS

Christmas is just around the corner. Are you looking for some fun gift ideas that you can make?

There’s no better time to show your loved ones you care than with a special, handmade gift this holiday season.

DIY gifts don’t have to be complicated or time consuming.

Here are 10 easy and affordable DIY Christmas gift ideas that will be sure to make your loved ones smile.

Most, if not all, of these projects are doable for even a beginner seamstress and a lot of them have a video tutorial available for those who are visual learners.

10 Gift Ideas

gift iedeas diy ZIPPER POUCH

1- Zipper Pouches

Putting in a zipper can seem overwhelming and intimidating, but once you sew a zipper using the techniques in this video, you’ll realize how fun it really is and want to make more!

These zipper pouches can be made any size and are great for holding cosmetics, pencils and pens, and whatever you have that need a little pouch for.

Watch the video tutorial HERE. 

 

Get the pattern HERE. 

gift ideas PILLOWCASE BURRITO

2- Cuffed Pillow Case

Making a pillowcase is a fun and simple beginner sewing project, and in this tutorial, I will show you how to add a contrasting cuff using the burrito method.

It only requires a yard of fabric and about 15 minutes to make.

I’ll show you how to make them using a sewing machine, and a serger, and how to sew a French seam if you choose.

You can also add a small strip of trim if you want and I’ll show you how easy it is to do that.

A cozy pillowcase is the perfect gift for your grand kids.

Video and Pattern links are in this blog post.

gift ideas diy utility apron

3- Utility Apron

These DIY Utility Aprons are not only cute to wear, but they are also so FUNCTIONAL!

In this sewing tutorial, I go over step-by-step instructions on how to make your own apron. These aprons are great to hold all kinds of items while going about your day in the home, garden, and office.

The multiple pockets are nice to hold pencil, pens, scissors, cell phones, garden gadgets, and whatever else you need to keep on hand.

I LOVE THIS APRON and wear one almost every day!

This is a fun sewing project and these aprons make great GIFTS!!!!

Get the free pillowcase sizing chart and video link HERE: 

4- Microwave Potato Bag

You know those times when you want to cook a baked potato, but you don’t have an hour or an hour and a half to spare?

No worries. I’ve got you covered.

In this DIY sewing tutorial, I show you how you can make a microwave baked potato bag. This is a super easy sewing project and these bags make the perfect baked potatoes. You can have a few baked potatoes cooked up in minutes.

We use ours ALL THE TIME!

Get all the details HERE: 

 

 

gift iideas gift card holder

5- Gift Card Holder

I you want to give a gift card as a gift, why not make a unique, homemade gift card holder to put it in?

They only take 10 minutes to make and it’s a project in that you can use up some of your fabric scraps.

Get all the details HERE:

6- Fingerless Gloves

These fleece fingerless gloves are the perfect thing when you want to keep your hands warm, but don’t want the bulk of a full-coverage mitten or glove.

Learn how easy it is to sew a pair in 10 minutes or less.

This sewing project only takes a minimal amount of fleece fabric, and can also be made from upcycled fleece clothing.

diy fleece neck warmerAdd a fleece neck warmer and you have a great Christmas gift.

Watch the video tutorial HERE.

 

Get the Pattern HERE

8- Pixie & Pilot Caps

Just in time for the cooler weather coming on, these cozy pixie & pilot caps are the perfect thing to keep your little ones ears nice and toasty!

These whimsical, but most importantly functional pixie and pilot caps were designed to fit snug around the face and tie comfortably under the chin.

GET ALL THE DETAILS HERE: 

gift ideas DIY DOG SWEATER

9- Dog Sweater

We can’t forget the dogs! Keep your pooch warm with style in an upcycled dog sweater.

My border collie actually likes wearing a sweater, even though with all that fluff, he really doesn’t need it.

However, there are some breeds of dogs that could use that extra layer in the cold winter months.

So if you have an old sweater kicking around, this is an easy sewing project that you can make in no time at all.

Even a beginner seamstress can make this.

I give instructions on how to make this with a regular sewing machine and a serger.

GET ALL THE DETAILS HERE

10- Foot Warmers

The weather is getting a little chilly.

Here is a fun little sewing project and gift idea for those wanting to keep their little tootsies warm.

My husband and I have been using these for years. I guess we have become wimps in our old age, because now we can’t go to bed without a heated corn bag in our bed.

We’ll heat one or two up and throw them under the covers a few minutes before we go to bed, then when we jump in, ohhhhhh nice and toasty.

These little bags are great for placing anywhere on your body that needs some soothing.

You can also place the bags in the freezer to use as a cold pack.

GET THE DETAILS HERE: 

Of course, there are a lot of other Christmas gift ideas on my site and YouTube channel, but hopefully this will get you excited and inspire you to take some time now before the holiday crazies set in to make some fun, unique gifts.

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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DIY Garden Apron / Made From Recycled Jeans / Quick and Simple Project

DIY recycled jeans garaden apron

This DIY garden apron is a quick and simple project made from upcycled jeans. The apron is handy for working in the garden, around the house, and even as a vendor’s apron.

recycled jeans garden apron

As some of you know, I LOVE to recycle, especially a pair of jeans.

There are so many fun things you can make with denim. At the end of the post, I’ll give you some other project ideas where you can use a pair of recycled jeans.

You can get fancy and edge the bottom of the apron with bias tape, which is really easy to do, or you can just leave it and finish the edge with a serger or even just use a little fray check.

recycled jeans garden apron

Garden Apron Materials & Items Needed

Here are the items and things that you’ll need for the project.

  • 10 inches of (3/8 – ½ inch) Elastic
  • Pair of jeans
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Fabric clips/pins
  • Double fold bias tape (optional) approximately 2 yards
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Fray Check (optional)
bias tape diy

If you want to make your own bias tape that has prints or different colors, I have a tutorial showing you how to do that.

When you make your bias tape, you can use fun, colorful prints you’ll never see in a fabric store.

Garden Apron Instructions

1- Take your jeans and cut off the pant legs.

Cut straight across just below the crotch seam. ***** If your pants have a front pocket hanging lower than the cut, fold the pocket so you don’t cut it.

After cutting off one pant leg, fold the pants in half and use the cut leg as a template.

Don’t worry too much about straightening the edges; you’ll line that up later.

upcycled jeans garden apronDON’T THROW AWAY THE JEAN LEGS! Please put them in a tote with all your other jeans scraps for OTHER FUN PROJECTS.

2- Cut out a section of the front pants just below the waistband.

On that left side, take your scissors and cut across just below the waistband, not into the waistband, but over about two inches, and then cut straight down towards the edge of the pant leg.

3- On the zipper side, you’ll cut away the extra fabric around the zipper.

Take your scissors and cut around that area so it looks like this.

4- To square off the bottom of the apron

Fold the pants in half and cut a parallel line straight across, leaving the length as long as possible.

Make sure you don’t cut into the pocket. Fold it up out of the way while you make the cut.

5- Finishing the garden apron bottom:

Open up the apron at the center back seam. There tends to be a little triangle piece of fabric that may stick out; just cut that off.

I like to round the corners, especially using bias tape. You can also leave it square if you want.

recycled jeans garden apron

Cut a curved rounded edge on one corner, then fold it over and use that as a template to cut the other side.

6- Pinning the bias tape:

Place the apron wrong side, facing up. Open up the bias tape, and smooth it out.

Fold the top edge of the bias tape over about a half inch, and then apply the RIGHT SIDE of the bias tape with the fold just below the zipper tab and clip it in place. I LOVE THESE LITTLE FABRIC CLIPS.

You can use the clips or pins to apply the bias tape all the way around, or can just apply the tape and sew as you go.

Do not cut the bias tape to length quite yet. You’ll do that in just a minute to make sure that you get an accurate fit. (It’s not a good thing if you cut it and then find out you cut it short).

When you get to the other side, measure just below the waistband then ADD 3 inches in length just to be safe and give you some wiggle room.

garden apron bias tape sewing

7- GARDEN APRON Bias Tape Application

Using a straight stitch, go to the sewing machine, and sew the bias tape to the apron.

Bring the needle down just to the RIGHT of the crease in the bias tape. Don’t sew in the crease.

That’ll give you a little more playroom with your bias tape when you fold it around all the fabric. The beautiful thing about bias tape is it’ will curve and work well around the curved edges.

Backstitch and sew all the way around. TAKE YOUR TIME, especially around the corners, stopping and starting as you need.

And if you mess up, go ahead and use your seam ripper and undo that portion that didn’t work out too well and adjust and re-sew.

Bias tape is really fun to work with. It may seem a little intimidating, but it’s really fun once you get used to it.

Adding bias tape adds character to your projects, especially if you have some fun prints to work with.

garaden apron

When you start to get a little closer to the other end, you can leave your needle down and then cut the bias tape to the length that you need.

Fold it over again ½ inch, and then cut it off there, make sure that that fold is just below the waistband. Finish and back stitch.

8- Top Stitch Bias Tape

Flip it over and topstitch. Use a regular straight stitch. When top stitching, I increase the length of the stitch to a 3. It gives a better-looking topstitch.

Fold the folded edge of the bias tape over the previous stitching so it covers that, and sew along the edge., just inside the fold of the bias tape. (about 1/8 inch from the left side. Make sure to catch the edge.

Take your time around the corners, and then when you get to the other side, top stitch over that folded edge.

9- Garden Apron Pockets

Let me show you what to do with the pockets if they are too long.

Not all pockets are going to be this long. Take the pocket and see how much you need to cut off so it doesn’t hang lower than the bottom of the apron.

Take your scissors and cut a curve angling off to match the side of the pocket. Sew a regular straight seam using a ¼ inch seam allowance. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

Finish off the edge using a big zigzag stitch. This will keep the pocket from fraying.

Do that with both pockets.

10- Garden Apron Closure

Let me show you how to apply the elastic to the waistband.

I recommend trying on the apron and seeing how long you need to make the elastic.

Once you have the length, take the elastic, fold it in half, line up the edges of the elastic, and stick it through from the front to the back with the edges lined up.

Secure it in place and sew along the edges of the elastic using a big zigzag stitch. I like to go back and forth a few times to ensure it is secure.

So that’s all there is to it. Grab a pair of jeans, some elastic, your garden tools, and whatever else you need to shove in a pocket in the garden, and have fun sewing!

 

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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6 Important Things To Know Before Buying a Sewing Machine

buying a sewing machine

Do you love to sew, but you’re finding yourself getting frustrated with your current sewing machine?

Or maybe you’re a beginner looking to buy your first machine, whatever your situation, buying a sewing machine can be very overwhelming.

There are so many options out there. How do you know what to look for?

In this blog post, I will review six key factors to consider when buying a sewing machine.

I’ll be going over

  • Your intended use for the machine.
  • Some features that you’ll want to make sure that you have
  • How to get the best machine for your money
  • I’ll go over some brands that I recommend and things to look for
  • Whether or not to buy a used or a brand-new machine
  • Tips from my sewing machine mechanic

There may be some things you don’t know about sewing machines that you’ll want to read below.

1- What are you going to be using the sewing machine for?

The first thing to consider, obviously, is what you are going to be using the sewing machine for.

Are you a quilter? Are you someone who just wants to sew basic sewing projects, maybe a few clothing items, or maybe you’re into embroidery?

Knowing this firsthand will guide you to the correct machine because they all do so many things.

If you’re wanting to sew on thicker fabrics or leather or bulky projects, you’re going to want something that has a good motor that’s able to handle those kinds of tasks and has a heavier motor.

sewing machine stitches

2- Sewing Machine Features

Let’s go over the features. When considering a new sewing machine, there are a lot of options of features that are available.

And they’ll be features that you’ll really want your machine to have, so you have to decide what those are.

Most machines are going to have the basic features and stitches, and you can do a lot with basic stitches!

over lock sewing machineI do have a tutorial that shows how you can use certain presser feet and basic stitches to get an overlock stitch without a serger.

You’ll want to check that out.

So with features, it just depends on how much you want to spend.

Some of these stitches and features do make sewing a little easier and more enjoyable, and worth the money.

There are two types of machines: mechanical and computerized machines.

A mechanical machine will have just knobs or manual buttons to push.

Computerized sewing machines will have a digital screen, and have multiple options and even software that you can download onto your machine.

Some sewing machines will have an automatic threader, needle threaders, automatic thread cutting, embroidery stitches, quilting stitches, stitch memory, and all kinds of other fancy things.

However, something to consider is, do you need all that stuff.

Here are some basic features that I recommend getting.

Most machines, even the basic sewing machines are going to have most of these features.

  • zigzag stitch/lightning bolt stitch

  • buttonhole stitch
  • having a thread cutter is nice.
  • sewing machine needle threaderneedle threader (even a basic mechanical machine will have a little lever that you can push down, or there are fancy ones on some computerized machines that you push a button and it automatically threads the needle on its own).

    Which is nice for those of us who are getting older and seeing that little hole is getting a little challenging.

  • Needle position lever (Being able to move the needle to the left or right will come in handy when you want to sew closer or further away without having to adjust seam allowance and for zipper application).
sewing machine presser feet

Your machine will come with the basic presser feet.

There are a lot of cool things that you can do with presser feet and some of the feet that come with your machine, you may not even know what they’re for.

I have a tutorial showing the basic presser feet and what to use them for.

You can get all the details here.

large sewing machine

Another thing to consider is the size of the machine.

You can buy machines that are just really small, or you can buy some sewing machines that are going to take up a lot of room on your sewing table.

3- Budget

Now that you know some of the features that you want, let’s go over how much you want to spend.

Sewing machines can range from $199 up to thousands of dollars.

It’s all about what you want and what you can’t afford.

There was a time when I couldn’t afford a really fancy machine, so I bought a used mechanical machine.

I still have that sewing machine, and years later it is still running like a champ.

So if you can’t afford an expensive, fancy machine, just be patient and someday perhaps you will, if that is what you want.

(I’ll go over some tips for buying used machines later in the post).

sewing machine dealership

The best thing to do is to try them out. Get into those stores or use your sisters or some of your friend’s machines and test them out.

Go into a dealership, see the options, and listen to their recommendations. They’ll let you sew on the machines.

SEWING MACHINE TESTINGYou can sew on different fabrics, and test different stitches.

There were times when I thought I wanted a particular machine and I went in and test-drove it and I really didn’t like it. It just didn’t feel right.

So get in there and test drive them and see what feels good to you.

Most dealerships will have sales. They’ll even have floor models that they will sale at a discount.

Sometimes they’ll offer bundles, maybe add in a bunch of different presser feet or different accessories.

SEWING MACHINE CLASSESWhen you buy a new machine at a dealership, most likely, they will offer classes for free that will help you get acquainted with the machine.

SEWING MACHINE TYPES

4- Sewing Machine Brands

I’m not going to tell you what brand to buy.

All brands are going to have models that have strengths and weaknesses even within the same brand.

Different models may have different features.

It’s like buying a car, unfortunately.

Do your research and test drive them?

Some sewing machines will seem like a great deal and VERY low in price. (Like $99).

They’re often called “disposable sewing machines”.

I don’t know about you, but if you are thinking about buying a machine, I don’t think I want to buy a machine that’s “disposable”.

DISPOSABLE SEWING MACHINE

However, if you just need a simple machine for teaching your kids how to sew, or you just to sew here and there for projects like hemming pants, one of these machines would be okay.

This is something to consider as well, if you buy a $199 sewing machine and it starts sewing wonky or needs repair, most likely you will not be able to find parts and if you can, the parts and labor would be more expensive than buying another one.

I do not recommend buying a sewing machine from big box stores such as Walmart or Costco.

I was told that some sewing machine companies will make sewing machines for the big box stores and they’ll label it with the same sewing machine name and the same model, but the components inside are not the same.

There are also sewing machine manufacturers that will make machines with the same innards, but they just put different COVERS ON THEM.

For example, one particular Brother sewing machine (MODEL NS80PRW) is the same thing as a Babylock Jubilant  (BL80B)


I had no idea that existed.

Sometimes the Babylock will be more expensive in some dealerships and sometimes it won’t.

These two machines are good and at an affordable price.

The recommendations of brands that I’m going to share below are because I’ve had experience with them and used them.

  • Bernina
  • Babylock
  • Jenome
  • Viking/Husqvarna
  • Brother

I’m sure there are other great machines out there that I’m not aware of.

(SHARE YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE COMMENTS BELOW)

5- To Buy a Used or New Sewing Machine?

Let’s go over some of the pros and cons of whether or not to buy a used or new machine.

Both options can be great choices. It just depends are what you want and need.

USED SEWING MACHINES

Where to find used machines

Many sewing machine repair shops will carry previously owned and refurbished machines to buy, which is a good option.

Other places to look for used machines are Facebook Market Place, your local classified ads, and by word of mouth.

There are a lot of good machines sitting in closets being unused.

Some people inherit machines and they’ll sell them at a good price just because they want to get rid of them and have no idea what they are worth.

Some cautions to be aware of when buying a used sewing machine

When you buy from an individual, make sure to ask a lot of questions.

  • Does it have all the components?
  • Do they have the presser feet you want? (If not, you can buy individual feet online).

  • Do they have the manual? (And if they don’t have the manual, don’t get too freaked out about that because nowadays you can usually Google or download any model of sewing machine).

  • Ask if you can plug it in and test it.

Another benefit of buying used is that many times the owner will have accumulated a lot more accessories and added them to the package.

sewing tips sergerNow, let’s talk a little about sergers. Sergers don’t last as long as a sewing machines, so if you are thinking of buying a used serger, ask if they’ve used it a lot. If it’s really old, this can be a little risky.

I would suggest buying a new serger if you can.

NEW SEWING MACHINES

If you have the money and a new machine is what you want, there are some benefits.

You’re going to get a warranty.

Classes. (Most sewing machine dealerships offer classes after you buy a new machine, which is nice because you can get some great tips on how to use the machine).

You know that straight out of the box, it’s going to work well.

SEWING MACHINE REPAIRMAN

6- Advice From A Sewing Machine Repairman

When researching what kind of sewing machine, I thought, who better to ask than someone who gets to work on all kinds of machines?

Surely he has opinions on what is good and what is not.

SEWING MACHINE EXCHANGEI went into the shop that has been servicing my machine and had a chat with Dave at Sewing Machine Exchange.

He was really great to share with me some awesome tips on things to watch for when buying a sewing machine.

He talked about brands and we were on the same page as to what were good machines and what were not.

Some of the things that he mentioned:

If you want to spend less than $600 on a NEW machine, he would recommend getting a mechanical machine.

Because when you spend less than $600 on a computerized machine, the quality’s not going to be the best.

Mechanical machines are workhorses and are good machines.

But if you want a computerized machine with more bell bells and whistles, then you’re probably going to spend more than $600 on a new machine.

SEWING MACHINE SERVICE
Get your machine serviced every 2 years.

You may not think that you need to have it serviced especially if you haven’t been sewing on it very much.

You still need to have it serviced.

He let me know that having your machine sit unused is probably the worst thing that you can do for a sewing machine.

Just like an automobile. You don’t want to park it in the garage for years and then all of a sudden start using it again.

You’re going to have problems.

Sewing a lot on your machine is not going to wear out your machine, it’s going to be better for it.

So get out your machine and get sewing.

How to keep your sewing machine in top shape and have it last longer.
  • keep your machine cleaned and oiled.

I was told when I bought my last machine NOT to oil it. There are machines that they recommend not oiling.

For those machines that do require a little oil (your manual will tell you where and how if you are supposed to).

3 in one oil sewing machineDO NOT USE 3 IN 1 OIL! Make sure you are using the correct type of oil for your machine. Most likely it will come with a little vial of oil. 

oiling sewing machine The place that you’ll want to oil the machine is just in your bobbin case, whether it’s a top loading or a front loading right on the hook.

Look in your manual. (I’ll be doing a tutorial in the future on the details of cleaning and oiling your machine, so watch for that).

Don’t go crazy and put a bunch of drops of oil in there. All it takes is ONE DROP!

If you see other holes on your machine that you THINK may be a place to put oil into….DON’T!

do not oil sewing machineThe manual for one of my machines, specifically states NOT to oil the machine.

How often do you oil your machine?

He said every eight to 10 hours of sewing.

Keep your sewing machine free of lint and dust.

cleaning sewing machineGet out your little duster that comes with your machine, or you can use a little paintbrush.

Remove the bobbin case and the top plate. You’ll be surprised of all the little dust bunnies you’ll find in there!

Keep your sewing machine covered when you are not using it.

If your sewing machine does not have a cover, take a towel and put it over the top.

It will get dusty just like everything else in your house.

Whatever your scenario is, do the research and get out and test drive some sewing machines so you can get a feel of what you like and what you don’t like.

Another thing to know is that if you buy a machine and you’re not in love with it, you can always choose a different one and sell that machine.

I’ve never had a problem selling a sewing machine.

I love to sew.

Having a nice machine, something that functions well, even if it’s just a basic model, can either make your sewing experience either enjoyable or frustrating.

I hope these tips and things to consider are helpful for you when it comes to choosing and buying a sewing machine.

Please leave a comment if you have any great suggestions or have a question.

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make a Microwave Potato Bag // Quick Sewing Project

potato bag

In this DIY sewing tutorial, I’m going to show you how you can make a microwaved baked potato bag. This is a super easy sewing project and these bags make the perfect baked potatoes.

You know those times when you want to cook a baked potato, but you don’t have an hour or an hour and a half to spare? No worries. I’ve got you covered. 

You can have a yummy, fluffy baked potato cooked in 4-8 minutes, depending on the amount or size of your potato.

This method of cooking, especially if you’re just cooking for one or two people, will save you so much time.

The bags also work well for sweet potatoes and even corn on the cob. I’ll go over the cooking instructions a little later in the tutorial. Let’s go over how to make the bag.

How To Make a Microwave Baked Potato Bag

I do have a detailed video tutorial that is loaded with tips. You can watch it at the end of the post.

potato bag materials

Potato Bag Materials and Items Needed

***VERY IMPORTANT: All the contents of the bag need to be 100% COTTON!

potato bag

Cutting Out Potato Bag

1- If using the pattern, assemble it first, which is very easy to do and will only take a few minutes. Or you can just use the grid on a rotary mat and a rotary cutter to cut out pieces.

2- Cut out 2 fabric pieces 22 x 11 inches, (outer piece and 1 lining).

Cut out 1 Wrap-N-Zap piece 22 x 11 inches

Sewing

3- Place the BATTING down. Then take the OUTER PIECE and place it on top of the batting with the RIGHT SIDE FACING UP.

4- Now place the LINING on top of the outer piece with RIGHT SIDE FACING DOWN

5- Pin or clip in place.

6- Using a 3/8 inch seam allowance, sew all the way around LEAVING ABOUT A 3 INCH OPENING (UNSEWN) AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RECTANGLE. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

potate bag clip

7- Clip the corners.

8- Turn  the potato bag RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT. Using a turning stick, poke the corners out.

9- Close the opening by folding the seam allowance under and clip in place.

10- Press out the edges.

11- Top stitch the short ends of the rectangle using a 1/8-inch seam allowance.

potatoe bag

12- Fold the bottom edge up 8 inches and clip in place.

potato bag

13- Flip the top edge down 3 ½ inches and clip in place.

potato bag topstitching

14- Top stitch down the sides using a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam. *** Double-sew the overlapped area to strengthen the seam in this area.

Clip threads and you are all set!

How to use the potato bags

  • Wash and dry vegetables – do NOT poke holes in the potatoes.
  • Place items inside the bag, and put the bag in the microwave with the opening facing down.
    Select a cooking time & start

Potato Bag Microwave Cooking Times

These are approximate times, assuming the microwave is set to HIGH.

  • 2 Large Russet Potatoes: *8 minutes
  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes: *10 minutes
  • 3 Medium Bred Rolls: 20 seconds
  • 2 Large Corn Cobs: *6 minutes
  • Dinner Rolls/Biscuits: 15 seconds
  • Tortillas: 1 – 2 minutes

* Cook in 1-2 minute increments until the item is done

How to care for the potato bags

Dry the bags out after each use. The microwave potato bags are machine washable. Just don’t use fabric softener.

THESE BAGS MAKE GREAT GIFTS.

GET THE POTATO BAG PATTERN HERE

or in my 

ETSY SHOP

The PDF downloadable pattern also comes with a gift tag that has all the baking instructions on it. You can find that in my website store.

Play Video

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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2 Easy Ways To Bind a Quilt Using the Backing Fabric

quilt bindting

 Making a quilt can seem a little intimidating, especially if you’re new to sewing, but it’s actually really quite simple. In this tutorial, I’m going to show you how to bind the quilt using the backing fabric.

There are 2 easy methods that I am going to show you: hand sewing and using the sewing machine. I’m also going to show you how to add a label or tag to your quilt if you want to.

Using the backing fabric is one of my favorite ways to bind a quilt. It’s really easy, and you can use this method for any quilt that you make. If you haven’t watched my other tutorials in the quilting series, you can find them here.

quilt binding materials & supplies

Materials & Items Needed

quilt binding material and supplies

Quilt Binding: Method One

Squaring Up the Quilt

One of the first things that you’ll want to do is to square up your quilt. Now, it doesn’t have to be perfect. There’s been a lot going on with the quilt up to this point. You’ve pieced several pieces of fabric together, tied or quilted the quilt, and so there could be a lot of shifting going on. The edges are not going to be even. No WORRIES.

 

1- GET RID OF EXCESS BATTING

The first thing you’re going to do is get rid of that excess batting. Take your scissors and cut the excess batting along all edges of the quilt, making sure that you’re not cutting that backing fabric.

Of course, the smaller the blanket, the easier this process will be. Place the quilt on a big table, and if you don’t have a big table, you can put the blanket on the floor.

2- MARKING AND CUTTING THE QUILT TOP

The binding needs to be cut so it measures at least one inch. You may need to cut some off the backing or cut some of the quilt top down, so you have a straight line and that one-inch border.

Grab your rotary cutter ruler and or measuring tape. Take the chalk pen and mark it on the quilt top or the backing fabric where you need to cut. It helps to use the cutting ruler to get a straight edge.

Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect. Do this on all sides of the quilt.

*** Before you do any cutting, you’ll want to pull the backing fabric under so you don’t accidentally cut it. To do this, take the safety pins and pin the backing fabric so it’s out of the way. Pin and trim one side of the backing fabric at a time.

I love using these BIG QUILTING SAFETY PINS. However, you can use regular safety pins if you want. Using the ruler, line up the chalk-marking sand and cut off the excess fabric where needed. This is where the ruler and the rotary cutter comes in handy. Repeat this process on all sides of the quilt

After you have squared up the quilt and left a one-inch boarder, It’s time to pin everything in place.

binding backing

3- FOLDING AND PINNING THE BINDING IN PLACE

clipping the bindingGrab a bunch of sewing clips or pins and start in one of the corners of the quilt. Fold the cut edge of the binding to the edge of the top piece and then fold it again. Clip in place.

Let me show you how to make mitered corners. Take the extended rolled binding in the corner and fold it so it makes a little triangle and the folded edge is along the edge of the top piece as shown in the photo above.

quilt binding cornersNow fold the binding just like you did, and it will make a mitered corner. You’ll come back a little later to hand-sew those corners in place. Clip in place.

There are two ways that you can sew this. You can use a needle and thread, or you can use the sewing machine.

quilt binding

4- SEWING THE BINDING: Needle & Thread Method

The first method of sewing on the binding, I’m going to show you with a needle in the thread. This is one of my favorite ways to bind a quilt.

I find it quite relaxing and enjoyable, even though it takes a little longer. You can place the quilt on your lap, turn on a good movie or podcast and relax.

You can clip the whole quilt or you can clip about 5 clips at a time and work your way around the quilt.

sewing binding

Single-thread your needle with matching thread and knot the end with quilters not. (watch the video HERE for instructions). Start sewing anywhere on the quilt. You’ll be using basically the BLIND HEM STITCH.

quitl binding finished

Once you sew up to the last clip, you can fold and clip the next 5 clips. Continue this process until you’ve sewn all the way around the quilt.

Insert the needle into the fold of the binding from the back of the binding to the front. Hide the thread knot underneath.

Take a little stitch right at the side of the binding, through all layers. Insert the needle into the fold of the binding and directly across from where you came out on the last stitch.

Then go back into the quilt, and take another little stitch, then go back into the binding. Repeat this process until you run out of thread. Simply re-thread the needle and continue until you’ve sewn all the way around the quilt. Using the same type of stitch, so the mitered corners together. (Watch video to see the process).

sewing machine quilt binding

5- SEWING THE BINDING: Sewing Machine Method

Thread your machine and load your bobbin using a matching thread. Set your machine to a strait stitch. Length 2.5. You will be top stitching 1/8 inch from the inner fold of the binding using. You can adjust the needle to the left so you can use the edge of the presser foot as a guide or place a piece of masking tape for a guide.

More important is to keep the stitch at that 1/8 inch mark. Take your time. Before you start sewing. Bring the needle down by turning the hand wheel of your sewing machine toward you so you can sew exactly where the needle is on your binding. Make adjustments as needed.

5- SEWING THE BINDING: Sewing Machine Method

Thread your machine and load your bobbin using a matching thread. Set your machine to a strait stitch. Length 2.5. You will be top stitching 1/8 inch from the inner fold of the binding using. You can adjust the needle to the left so you can use the edge of the presser foot as a guide or place a piece of masking tape for a guide.

More important is to keep the stitch at that 1/8 inch mark. Take your time. Before you start sewing. Bring the needle down by turning the hand wheel of your sewing machine toward you so you can sew exactly where the needle is on your binding. Make adjustments as needed.

And you can take your, you can take your hand wheel and turn it toward you so you can see where that needle is going to come down. And I might need to go to the right just a little bit.

tip

It helps to place your machine on the right side of the table so you have something to support your quilt while you sew. If you don’t have a big table, you may want to get a chair or something else to support the quilt.

To keep the thread underneath from leaving a thread nest, hold onto the bobbin thread for the first couple of stitches and then let it go. This works like a charm. Who wants those bunched-up threads on the back side of your quilt? Not me.

I like folding and clipping a short portion as I go, or you can clip the whole quilt before you sew. Keep a little cup or your pin cushion close by to put your clips in as you remove them from your quilt.

Fold the corners as shown in method one. When you come to a corner, leave the needle down, lift up the presser foot and pivot the quilt and continue to sew. You will come back and hand-sew the mitered corners in place as shown above.

quilt label

6- ADDING A LABEL OR TAG ( optional)

binding tagIf I’m making a quilt as a gift, I always put a little heart or something on the backside.

I have available some fun editable PDF labels that you can download, edit and print. Editable files, and several sheets of love labels.

quilt bindtingThis is a tag that I made and printed onto this ribbon. LEARN HOW TO MAKE YOUR LABELS HERE.

I hope you can see that making a quilt is not that big of a deal. If you’ve never made a quilt before or if you have never sewn before, this is a good little project. You can start out with a small blanket and then work your way up to something bigger.

Have fun sewing!

OTHER TUTORIALS YOU MAY BE INTERESTED IN

HOW TO MAKE A DENIM PATCHWORK QUILT

Upcycled Denim Jeans – Ideas and Tips

My Top 10 Sewing Tips for Beginners | Know Before You Sew

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Sew a Knit Cuff to Pants and Sleeves the Easy Way

cuff

Adding a knit cuff to a pair of pants or sleeves is a very easy thing to do. You can transform a normal pair of pants or pajamas into a pair of jogger pants, and you can add a soft cuff to any sleeve.

This is a good thing to know how to do because once you know how to sew on a cuff, you’re ready to make a lot of other things with knit fabric: shirts, sweatshirts, baby clothes, and more.

knit cuff

What kind of fabric do you use to make a cuff?

You’ll need some knit ribbing. Knit ribbing can be purchased at the fabric store by the yard, or online. (This site has a great variety of colors and is quite reasonably priced).

upcycled cuffAnother great option, and something I do all the time, is to use upcycled cuffs from other items of clothing. Whenever I have a piece of clothing I no longer want, I check it for good buttons, zipper pulls, AND fabric (cuffs).

You can also use recycled knit clothing that has a lot of stretch to it. The fabric will need to have at least 30% stretch to it for it to work as a cuff.

I do it all the time, and you can get some really cute and unique results. Knit leggings fabric works well. You can usually tell what fabrics will work well for a cuff.

Ribbing will come in different weights and fabric content. Some will stretch more than others. Ribbing with a lot of cotton content will not stretch as much. Use your best judgment when choosing knit ribbing for your particular project.

I’m going to show you how to add a cuff to a pair of pants and sleeves. The pants and shirts can be made of knit fabric AND woven fabrics.

Materials & Items Needed

cuff pants

How to Add a Cuff To a Pair of Pants

If the pants need to be shorter, decide the length you want them to be and cut them off. If the pants are the right length, cut off the hem. (Don’t worry, they won’t be too short because you’re adding a few inches of ribbing).

1- Measure the leg opening

Once you have the length figured out, measure the width of the leg opening. If it is wider than 8 inches (adult) or 6 inches (children) then you’ll need to take in the legs. This is easy to do.

Using a writing device mark the desired seam allowance at the bottom of the pants. You may only need to take it in on one side or you may need to even it out and take a little off each side. Start half-way up the leg seam and gradually taper to the point you marked. You can use a sewing machine or serger.

If you have a serger, use it. It will save you time because you won’t have to finish the seams. Once you have the width you want, measure to see how wide it is.

2- Cutting out the cuff

The cuff measurement needs to be about 2 ½ inches less than the width of the leg opening. (Don’t measure the circumference of the leg opening, measure the width of it as it is laying flat, and the fabric doubled). I hope that makes sense.

Subtract that 2 ½ inches from that measurement and that will be how wide you need to make the cuff. (fabric doubled). The height of the cuff is up to you.

Average cuff height (the finished cuff will be folded in half)

Adult: 6-8 inches

Child: 4 inches

Cut two out on the fold.

3- Sewing the cuff

Fold the cuff in half with the RIGHT SIDES FACING TOGETHER.

Sew down the long side.

Fold the sewn cuff in half with WRONG SIDES FACING TOGETHER.

Mark the half-way point with a pin.

4- Cuff Application

If the pants only have one seam, find the halfway point of the leg opening and mark it with a pin.

With the RIGHT SIDE of the pants facing out, place the cuff over the top and around the leg. Align the half-way points and pin in place.

Take it to the sewing machine/serger and starting at the seam, sew all the way around using a 3/8” seam allowance.

Start sewing, adjust the edges and then start sewing again, stretching the cuff as you sew. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam.

If you used a regular sewing machine you’ll need to finish off the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch. (width 4, length 3).

Do these same steps on the other pant leg.

sleeve cuff

How to Add a Cuff To a Sleeve

If a knit shirt has been hemmed, most likely the opening is not really wide so you won’t have to take any off the width.

1- Measuring the Cuff Width

Measure the armhole (fabric doubled) and subtract ½ inch. That will be the width measurement (fabric doubled).

Average Sleeve Cuff Height

Adult: 5 inches

Child: 4 inches

Of course, you can make the cuffs as long as you want.

2- Cutting out sleeve cuff

Cut 2 of the cuffs out of the ribbing fabric and place RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER, with the stretch of the fabric laying horizontally.

3- Sew down the side.

Turn the right side facing out and mark the halfway points with a pin.

4- Cut off the sleeve hem.

Mark the half-way point with a pin.

 

cuff application

5- Sleeve cuff application

With the right side of the sleeve facing out, place the cuff over the top and around the sleeve. Match up halfway points and pin them in place.

 

finished edge cuff

Take it to the sewing machine and proceed sewing around just as you did with the pants. Take your time! You’re sewing through three layers of fabric and you’re sewing in a very small space. Start sewing, adjust the edges and then start sewing again, stretching the cuff as you sew.

Finish seam with zigzag stitch if needed.

That’s it! Pretty simple, right?

 

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Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make a Gift Card Holder // Simple Sewing Project

gift card holder

When you give a gift card as a gift, why not make a unique, homemade gift card holder to put it in? They only take 10 minutes to make and it’s a project in that you can use up some of your fabric scraps.

gift card holder

These gift card holders are so fun and simple to make and are great for “last minute” gift giving. This is a good beginner sewing project.

They only take a minimal amount of fabric (two 5 x 7-inch pieces) and a few snaps. You can make the gift cards a little more rigid by adding some lightweight interfacing, but this is optional.

fabric gift card holder items

GIFT CARD HOLDER MATERIALS & ITEMS NEEDED

GIFT CARD HOLDER CUTTING OUT

GIFT CARD HOLDER INSTRUCTIONS

1 – Using the free pattern, cut out 2. (1 lining/1 outer)

You can have them be different prints or the same.

2 – Cut out 1 interfacing (optional).

CUT IT ¼ INCH SMALLER

3 – Apply the interfacing to the WRONG SIDE of just one of the fabric pieces.

(bumpy side of interfacing down).

4 – Place the two pieces RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER.

 

5 – If you are adding a tag or label, do that now.

Using the pattern, apply the tag where suggested. This is totally optional. It helps to baste the tag in place before sewing the outer seam.

*** If you want to learn how to make your own labels, check out my tutorial HERE.

6 – Using a ¼ inch SEAM ALLOWANCE, start sewing at the point indicated, and continue to sew around and stop LEAVING A 1 ½ – 2 INCH OPENING.

Back stitching at the beginning and end of the seam.

7 – Clip corners and notch the curved edge.

8 – Turn RIGHT SIDES FACING OUT

Push out the corners with a “turning stick” or something with a blunt end.

9 – Tuck in the seam allowance from the opening you left.

Press all the edges well.

10 – Fold the bottom edge up 1 3/4 inches, and press.

Fold the top edge down so the height of the envelope is 2 ¼ inches. Press to make a crease.

gift card holder

11- Pin or clip the bottom section of the gift card holder in place and sew along one side, over the top, and down the other side using a top-stitch 1/8 inch from the edge.

Clip threads.

gift card holder turning

Gift Card Holder Snap Application

12- Poke Holes

Using the awl that comes with the kit, poke a hole in the top flap where indicated and mark the hole with a pencil where the second snap needs to be applied.

gift card holder snap 1

13 – Top Snap

Take one of the thumbtack-looking components and stick it through the hole you made at the top of the holder. (push through from outer fabric to inner)

14- Apply a female component.

Hold in place while you squeeze the two pieces together using the snap pliers.

15 – Repeat for the other snap.

Do the same thing with the other snap but poke the thumbtack piece through the hole from the outer fabric to the inner. Use the male snap piece this time.

16 – Tad-ah, that’s it! 

 

17- Insert your gift card into the gift card holder and you are ready to roll.

 

 

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make A Pillowcase With A Cuff // Easy Burrito Method

gift ideas PILLOWCASE BURRITO

Making a pillowcase is a fun and simple beginner sewing project, and in this tutorial, I will show you how to add a contrasting cuff using the burrito method. It only requires a yard of fabric and about 15 minutes to make.

I’ll show you how to make them using a sewing machine, and a serger, and how to sew a French seam if you choose. You can also add a small strip of trim if you want and I’ll show you how easy it is to do that.

I have a FREE printable PDF guide showing the fabric measurements for a STANDARD, QUEEN, AND KING-size pillowcase. A standard pillowcase only requires one yard of fabric.

GET THE PDF HERE

PILLOWCASE MATERIALS & ITEMS NEEDED

  • Fabric (flannel or quilters cotton)
  • Sewing machine (serger optional)
  • Sewing machine needle size (Universal 90/14)
  • Scissors (Rotary Cutter & Mat optional)
  • Pins/Wonder fabric clips
  • Seam gauge/ measuring tape
  • Iron/Ironing board
  • Label/Tag (optional)

Standard Pillowcase Instructions

When you buy cotton and flannel fabric from the store, the width that it comes on the bolt varies from 43-44 inches. The first measurement on the cutting guide shows 44 inches x whatever. That is the width (cut edge) of the fabric, not the selvage edge. So it may be 43-44 inches.

Don’t worry about that because I’m going to simplify the process by cutting off the excess in one of the steps that will save you some time. So just cut those pieces out as indicated in the photo.

TIP: Before cutting the pillowcase pieces, make sure you are starting out with a STRAIGHT EDGE. The video tutorial gives some good tips on how to do this and why it is important!

*****If you’re using a directional print fabric (images are facing one direction), you’ll need to cut it out differently. Check out the video tutorial on how to do that.

PILLOWCASE BURRITO FABRIC PIECES

CUTTING OUT PILLOWCASE FABRIC PIECES

  • Main Fabric – cut 1 piece 44 x 28 inches / 111.5 x 71 cm
  • Cuff Fabric – cut 1 piece 44 x 9 inches / 111.5 x 23 cm
  • Narrow Trim (optional) – cut 1 piece 44 x 2 inches / 111.5 x 5 cm
pillowcase burrito

FABRIC PREP

1- If you are applying the trim, fold the trim piece in half horizontally with Wrong Sides Together (WST) and press to form a crease. Set that aside.

PILLOWCASE FABRIC LAYERS2- Place the CUFF PIECE right side facing up.

3- Take the pillowcase MAIN PIECE and place it on top of the CUFF PIECE RIGHT right side facing up. Line up the edges. **Don’t worry if the side edges don’t line up. We’ll trim those off so they’re even in just a bit.

4- If you are applying trim, add that to the pile with the RAW EDGES lined up with the edges of the cuff and main piece. Pin or clip in place.

PILLOWCASE JELLYROLL

5- Take the top edge of the MAIN PIECE, and start making a little jellyroll towards the cuff.

6- Continue to roll until it is in the middle of the cuff.

PILLOWCASE JELLYROLL PINNING7- Fold the other edge of the cuff over the jellyroll and line up that edge with the others.

8- Pin or clip all those edges together using pins or clips.

PILLOWCASE CUFF SEAM

SEWING THE PILLOWCASE CUFF

1- Take the roll to the sewing machine or serger and sew along the pinned edge using a 1/2” seam allowance.

PILLOWCASE JELLYROLL2- THIS IS WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS! Grab a piece of the jellyroll from one of the ends and start pulling it out and continue until all the innards are pulled out.

3- Unroll the fabric and wallah, you have a beautiful ENCLOSED SEAM.

4- Flatten the fabric out and press the cuff so the seams are pulled out completely.

PILLOWCASE TRIMMING

5- Fold the pillowcase in half with the WRONG SIDE FACING OUT (sewing machine & serger method or RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT (burrito method).

Line up cuff, trim, and fabric edges.

Measure 20.5 inches from the fold for the regular seam method and 21 inches from the fold. Cut off all the excess fabric.

PILLOWCASE SEAMS

There are three different methods to finish the seams on this pillowcase.

  • Sewing machine
  • Serger
  • French seams
PILLOWCASE SEAM

Sewing Machine Method

1- Sew along the side and top of the pillowcase using a ½ inch seam allowance. Clip the corners.

2- Finish off the seam by sewing a simple zigzag stitch along the edges so it will not fray. There are other stitches you can use to finish the seams. WATCH THE TUTORIAL HERE.

ZIGZAG STITCH SETTING AT 4 wide, 3 length.

3- Turn the right side facing out and give it a good pressing.

PILLOWCASE SEAM SERGER

Serger Method

1- Simply sew along the edge using a ½ inch seam allowance. ***For some helpful tips on how to start and end serged seams watch the video tutorial.

2- Turn right side facing out and press.

PILLOWCASE FRENCH SEAM

PILLOWCASE FRENCH SEAM INSTRUCTIONS

1- With the right side of the fabric facing out, you are going to make the first seam using a ¼ inch SEAM ALLOWANCE. I know this may seem wrong, but trust me.

PILLOWCASE TRIMMake sure the cuff edges and trim are lined up.

PILLOWCASE TAG

How To Add A Tag or Label To The Pillowcase

If you want to add a tag or label, this is the time to do it. If not, skip to the next step.

Locate where you want to add the tag and baste it in place with the sewing machine 1/4 inch from the edge. Place the tag so the folded edge of the tag is outside the pillowcase edge as shown in the picture. **Make sure you allow space for the seam. The tag needs to stick out after sewing both seams. So find where the ¼ seam would be then account for the next 3/8 inch seam and see how the tag will be exposed and adjust accordingly. (I hope that makes sense). The video tutorial will show how it is done.

2- After sewing the first pass with the ¼ inch seam. Cut any strings stray threads from the cut edge. Turn the pillowcase WRONG SIDE FACING OUT and press out the edges.

3- Now take it back to the sewing machine and sew another pass USING A 3/8 INCH SEAM ALLOWANCE.

PILLOWCASE PRESSING4- Turn the pillowcase RIGHT SIDE FACING OUT and give it a final pressing.

Tadah! Now wasn’t that simple. Look at the tidy, professional French seam.

diy pillowcase

These pillowcase burritos make such fun gifts! Grab a yard of fabric and have fun sewing!

Have fun making PILLOWCASES!

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Sewing With Fleece the Easy Way | My Top 10 Tips

sewing with fleece

Sewing with fleece can be a lot of fun and there are so many things you can make with it, however, there are a few things that you might want to know that will make your sewing experience with fleece a little easier.

In this blog post, I’m going to go over my top 10 tips for sewing and working with this stretchy, and cozy fabric.

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #1- How to tell the right side of the fabric

The first tip that we’re going to go over is how to tell the difference between the right and the wrong side of the fabric. Sometimes this is pretty obvious. For example, when you look at printed fleece, the underside may be less vibrant but still can be kind of hard to tell.

With solid-color fleece pieces, it can be really tricky. When you’re sewing up a project and trying to put the right sides together, you’ll want to know which is the “right” side.

sewing with fleece selvage edge

Let me show you a SIMPLE HACK. Find the SELVAGE EDGE OF THE FABRIC. This is the edge of the fabric that has the manufactured finished edge. It looks like the photo above.

sewing with fleece stretchIf you take the non-selvage, the stretchy edge, and pull it, it will curl to the WRONG SIDE.

sewing with fleece non fray

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #2- Fleece fabric does not fray

The second tip and what I love about sewing with fleece is that the fabric does not fray. That means that you don’t have to finish the seam edges on your projects and it’s quite nice.

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #3- Use the correct needle and thread

When you sew on fleece fabric, you want to make sure that you’re using the correct needle and the correct size. You can get away with using a universal needle and honestly that’s what I use most, but you can also use a jersey needle or other ballpoint-type needles. This will keep the needle from putting holes in your fabric.

If you want more tips on needle sizes and needle types, you can download my FREE PRINTABLE SEWING MACHINE NEEDLE GUIDE, which shows you all the needle characteristics and how to use them.

Get the printable here.

I do recommend using a POLYESTER THREAD.

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #4- Nap

Fleece fabric does have a nap to it. The nap means the direction that the fluff or fibers of the fabric all go the same way. Corduroy fabric is a good example and is a little more obvious, but fleece also has this.

If I were to cut out a bunch of pieces and not worry about the nap, and they were going in different directions, your finished project is going to look funky and weird and it might even look like it’s a different color.

I’m going to show you on this piece of fleece and these pieces for a slipper pattern. Notice how the front of the sole piece and the front of the top slipper piece are facing the same direction on the fabric. You don’t want to flip the pattern so that the top goes in the opposite direction.

You may be tempted to save fabric, especially on pieces like this, to flip that pattern over and have it face a different direction, to save fabric. DON’T DO IT! If I have to cut out multiples of the same piece, you can flip horizontally, but not vertically. (I hope that makes sense).

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #5- Sewing machine settings

Stitch Settings: Using the correct sewing machine settings and stitching settings when you’re sewing with fleece fabric will make a big difference.

If you’re sewing an item that’s not going to get stretched, you can get away with using just a regular straight stitch, but you’ll want to adjust the stitch to be a little longer, say 3.5 to 4.

However, if you’re sewing a project that will be stretched at all, you will want to sew using a LIGHTNING BOLT STITCH or if your machine doesn’t have that lightning bolt stitch, just use a REGULAR ZIGZAG STITCH. Adjust the width to 1.5 so it’s a very narrow zigzag stitch. Set the length to be 1.5 or even shorter.

I do recommend testing out your stitches on a scrap piece of fabric before you start sewing your projects. Make sure that you’re using that zigzag or lightning bolt stitch on anything that’s going to stretch on your project because if you don’t when it is stretched the seam will pop and break, and you don’t want a hole in your seam.

sewing tips serger

If you have a serger, by all means, use it on your fleece projects. It makes the job so much faster and gives you some stretch to your seams and gives you a nice finished edge.

Another thing that you can do and I do recommend, is lowering the presser foot tension if your machine has that adjustment option.

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #6- Use long pins

Use long pins and use lots of them, especially when you’re sewing around curves or over lots of layers of fabric. If you use little short pins they sometimes can get lost in the fluff of the fleece fabric.

For blankets or items made for children, you don’t want those little pins to get hidden in the fluff.

I really like these long flower pins.

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #7- Sewing over bulky seams

When you’re working with fleece and several layers of fabric, it can get kind of bulky and things are going to shift. Here are a few tips for making this a little easier. (Watch the video for examples).

sewing with fleece hump jumperHave you ever seen this little Gadget? Most likely it came with your sewing machine. I have to be honest, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I even knew what this was strange item was.

It really is the coolest little device and it’s called a HUMP JUMPER. It levels off the presser foot when you sew over thick seams. It makes it so you don’t get those skipped stitches, and allows your sewing machine to ease over those bulky seams. They work really well when hemming jeans!

sewing with fleece diy hump jumperIf you don’t have one in your sewing kit, no worries. You can make one by folding a cereal box 3-4 times to make a rectangle as shown in the photo.

sewing with fleece bulky seamSlide it under the back of the presser foot just like you would the hump jumper. (Watch video tutorial for a demonstration).

sewing with fleece finger press

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #8- No pressing

Fleece does not need to be pressed. If you need to open up a seam or something, just finger press it.

sewing with fleece cleaning

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #9- Clean your machine

When you sew with fleece, you are going to have a lot of lint. Even when you’re cutting things out and especially inside your machines.

It’s important that you keep your machines clean. Take the brush that comes with your sewing supplies (or you can use a small paint brush) and brush out around the serger blade, the bobbin case and anywhere else you see lint.

Sewing machine repairman don’t advise blowing it with canned air or air compressors, which can lodge the lint even deeper into your machine.

It is a good idea to have your machine serviced and cleaned once in a while because lint does build up especially using fleece and upcycled sweaters.

sewing with fleece binding

SEWING WITH FLEECE: Tip #10- Use fleece for binding

I wanted to show you some ideas and tips on how to use fleece strips as binding. This binding can be used on so many projects.

Some examples are shown in the photo above with the BOWLING SLIPPERS, and PILOT & PIXIE CAPS.

sewing with fleece fleece bindingThis binding is so cozy, it stretches really nice, and it has a clean finished look. I SHOW THE TECHNIQUE IN THIS TUTORIAL.

I hope this information was helpful and that it makes your sewing with fleece a little easier.

I do have a new fleece pattern coming out soon, so make sure you are subscribed to my newsletter, so that you can be notified when new goodies and information are come out.

sewing with fleeceGet in your sewing room, get out your fleece and make something fun.

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Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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My Top 10 Sewing Tips for Beginners | Know Before You Sew

sewing tips

If you’re new to sewing or if you want to learn some awesome sewing tips, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’m going to share with you my top 10 sewing tips. Even if you don’t plan on being a professional seamstress, knowing how to sew is a GOOD THING!

These tips are not listed in any order of importance, so make sure you check out the whole thing! You can also watch the video tutorial at the end of the post.

I’ve been sewing for a long time (since junior high school) and have used these sewing skills a ton throughout my life. Not only did these sewing skills come in handy to help put me through college working in sewing factories, but I was also able to make a little money while working from home when my kiddos were little.

I used to sew dance and drill team uniforms while they were at school, and now I am able to share my passions teaching others to sew.

top 10 sewing tips

Over the years I’ve learned a few things and am excited to share with you my top 10 sewing tips. Of course, I have several other tips, (and I hope you’ve been able to catch them in my video tutorials and blog posts over time).

For this particular post, I’m going to focus on the ones I find most important. So without any further ado, let’s get into those sewing tips.

sewing tips machine

Sewing Tips #1 – You Don’t Need A Fancy Sewing Machine

You don’t need to buy a fancy and expensive sewing machine, especially if you are new to sewing. I went a LONG time without needing a sewing machine that had all the bells and whistles.

Let me tell you, there are some expensive sewing machines out there and all you need is a good solid machine with the basic stitches. I recommend looking into buying a USED MACHINE.

Check your local online local classified ads and the Facebook marketplace. Sewing machine repair shops will often have used machines that have been refurbished for sale.

sewing tips sergerAs you continue to sew, you can always upgrade to a different machine and even buy an overlock/serger machine, (which I do recommend you get if you can).

I’ve had many many different types and brands of machines over the years, and I have my favorites. I’ll go over some sewing tips in the near future on how to pick out the right machine for your specific needs.

Sewing TipS #2 – Become Familiar with Your Machine

Your sewing machine will come with a manual, READ IT! If you buy a used machine and it didn’t come with a manual, you can get online and find a copy of the model and make of your machine. You can also get on YouTube and find some great tutorials showing you specific things regarding your machine.

The owner’s manuals will show the parts, how to care for and how to use all the functions of the machine. It’s amazing the things I have learned when I have taken the time to actually read through this information.

I know, that when you get a machine, you are eager just to dive in and start sewing. Take the time to become familiar with it and you’ll save time in the long run.

presser feet youmakeitsimple.com

Another sewing tip I want to mention about your machine is that it will come with several different presser feet. I encourage you to get familiar with them and learn how to use them. 

I have a post and video tutorial showing you what the basic feet are and how to use them. 

Sewing Tips #3 – Get the Basic Sewing Supplies

When starting to sew, it’s nice to have all the BASIC sewing supplies. This isn’t going to cost you a lot of money and it will save you from being caught off-guard without an item that would really make the task a lot easier.

I have a video tutorial where I share with you a buyer’s guide and my loved recommendations.

YOU CAN WATCH THE VIDEO HERE

Here are some of those items I go over.

Sewing Tips #4 – Learn To Use A Rotary Cutter & Mat

Of course, this is optional, but I find this little tool saves a lot of time AND gives you really good results, especially when cutting straight lines. A rotary cutter doesn’t cost a lot of money and there are so many options out there.

I have a blog post and video tutorial giving you all the details on how to use them, what kind of mats and cutters are best, how to care for them, and some valuable safety tips. You can read the post and watch the video tutorial HERE.

Sewing Tips #5 – Take Care of Your Sewing Machine

Your sewing machine needs to be taken care of just like any other machine. It needs to be cleaned, covered, and occasionally tuned up. Even the best-made sewing machines will need to have a good service once in a while.

I recommend taking your machine into a sewing machine repair shop occasionally to have it serviced, especially if you’re having issues with your stitch! I do have a tutorial showing Common Sewing Machine Problems and how to troubleshoot the issue.

sewing tips threading

Most of the time, you can fix the issue with some of these simple things (Like re-threading your machine).

The sewing machine mechanic can give it a good cleaning. (You’d be amazed at how much lint and gunk can get into crevices that you can’t get to). It’s worth the money and will keep your machine running smoothly and make it last longer!

Your handbook will give instructions on how to maintain and clean your machine. With newer machines, they usually don’t recommend oiling anymore. Just check your manual.

sewing tips SEWING MACHINE NEEDLES

Sewing Tips #6 – Use The Correct Type of Needle

Most of the time you can get away with using a universal sewing machine needle if you’re sewing on cotton, cotton blends, or some kinds of synthetic fabric. Using the wrong type of needle can put holes in your material and give you a poor stitch.

For example: if you use a regular needle on a KNIT FABRIC, you will put holes in the fabric. If you use a thin needle on denim, you’ll most likely break the needle.

sewing with fleece needle guide

I have a blog post giving all these details AND I offer a free printable PDF that you can download that has a chart showing needle types, size, and what to use them on. YOU CAN GET IT HERE.

Another sewing machine needle tip I have is to use a needle sorter. If you’re like me, I put a needle in my machine and then I FORGET what type and size needle is in there.

There’s no way my eyes can read that tiny print on the needle telling what size it is. That is where this nifty little PIN CUSHION comes in handy. You can learn more about it here, and get the PDF iron-on printable to make your own.

Sewing Tips #7 – Keep Fabric Scraps Handy For Testing

I like to keep small scraps of fabric handy by my sewing machine for testing out new stitches and colors of thread. This allows me to test out the stitch length, width, and color of the thread.

You can also test buttonholes, and decorative stitches before sewing on your final project. It’s much better to make mistakes on a scrap of fabric than on valuable fabric that you’ve cut out and prepared for your project.

Sewing Tips #8 – Use Upcycled/Recycled Clothing As Fabric

If you’ve been following me, most likely you know that I LOVE upcycling. Re-purposing an item of clothing to make something else brings me so much joy, and I like the idea of recycling.

Not only do you save money, but you can also create some really cute, unique, and fun items that you don’t see everywhere. Most of my patterns and tutorials have options to use upcycled clothing.

Here is a post and video tutorial where I give several tips and ideas for thrifting and upcycling.

sewing tips upcycling t shirtsOh, the fun things you can make with an upcycle T-Shirt. Check out some of the ideas here.

Sewing Tips #9 – Be O.K. With Making Mistakes

Even the best seamstress will make mistakes. No matter how long you’ve been sewing, you’re going to make mistakes and have to unpick, and that’s o.k!

Once you understand and accept this, it won’t be quite as frustrating when you have to take out a few stitches or even start over again.

Sewing Tips #10 – Take Your Time & Have Fun!

When you are working on a project, I recommend setting up your sewing station, even if that is your kitchen table, and don’t rush.

I went many, many years without a sewing/craft room and I created a lot of items right there on my dining room table. You are going to make a mess, that’s what creative people do, and you can clean everything up when you’re finished.

If you sew in a rushed state, most likely you’re going to be stressed and more prone to making mistakes. Set some YOU TIME aside, and slow down and enjoy the process!

Check out my SEWING ROOM MAKEOVER HERE.

SEWING TIPS JAN

I hope you found these tips helpful! Please reach out if you ever have any concerns or questions and I will try to help out.

You can find my video tutorial on my YouTube channel.

My PDF sewing patterns can be found here on my site.

Have fun sewing!

jan3

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

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How To Make a Tomato Pin Cushion // Free Pattern

tomato pin cushion

This adorable tomato pin cushion is such a fun little sewing project and a nice asset to your sewing supplies. You can make this pin cushion out of quilters cotton scraps or of course, a felted wool upcycled red sweater!

tomato pin cushion supplies

Tomato Pin Cushion Materials & Supplies

zipper bracelets items and materials
tomato pin cushion cutting out

Tomato Pin Cushion Instructions

1- Cut out 4 tomato panels

2- Cut out 1 leaf and one stem from felt

tomato pin cushion panels

 

3- Place two of the tomato panels (RST) right sides together and pin in place.

4- Using a ¼ inch seam allowance, sew along one side of each set, back stitching at the beginning and end of seam.

5- Clip seam allowance with little v cuts, making sure not to cut into the seam.

 

6- Place the two tomato panels (RST), lining up the seams.

Pin or clip in place.

7- Starting about 1 inch from the top seam, sew around the tomato stopping about 1 inch from the seam.

Back stitch at the beginning and at the end of seam.

8- Turn the tomato right side facing out.

Poke out curves with your fingers.

tomato pin cushion filling

9- Fill the majority of the tomato full of the crushed walnut shells.

Use a funnel and a cookie sheet underneath to help control spillage.

10- Top off the tomato with the fiberfill stuffing.

11- Double thread a needle with red thread and knot the end.tomato pin cushion closing opening

Sew the opening closed using a ladder stitch. (the video tutorial shows close up of how to sew this stitch).

tomato pin cushion indent

Tomato Pin Cushion Indent

1- To make the tomato indent, double thread a needle with the UPHOLSTERY THREAD.

Knot the end. Insert the needle into the bottom, center of the tomato. Poke the needle out of the top center. (You may need to use a pair of little pliers to pull the needle out).

2- Take BIG stitch, and direct the needle back up through and coming out the bottom of the tomato.

Repeat this process until you have the intent you like. Take a stitch and knot close to the thread. Cut the thread.

Tomato Pin Cushion Stem & Leaf Application

1- Take the 1×1 inch stem piece and apply some craft glue to one side.

Start rolling to form a little stem.

2- Clip a little slit into the center of the leaf.

3- Slip the stem into the slit and extend it about ¼ inch pas the leaf.

4- Apply a light application of hot glue to underneath side of the leaf to adhere the stem to the leaf.tomato pin cushion

5- Using the craft glue, apply a light coat of glue on the underside of leaf.

Press the leaf onto the tomato.

Tomato Pin Cushion Stem & Leaf Application

1- Take the 1×1 inch stem piece and apply some craft glue to one side.

Start rolling to form a little stem.

2- Clip a little slit into the center of the leaf.

3- Slip the stem into the slit and extend it about ¼ inch pas the leaf.

4- Apply a light application of hot glue to underneath side of the leaf to adhere the stem to the leaf.

5- Using the craft glue, apply a light coat of glue on the underside of leaf.

Press the leaf onto the tomato.

Top Stitching Leaf Embroidery

This portion of the project is optional. I like the added character of edging the leaf with a small ladder stitch.

1- Separate out 2-3 strands of green embroidery floss. Thread a needle and knot the end.

2- Starting at one of the inner corners of the leaf, stitch around the edges of the leaf.

That’s it!

I hope you enjoyed that tutorial. Have fun sewing!

Other projects you may be interested in.

 

jan3

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Jan Howell

Jan Howell

Whether it’s a new recipe, a fun craft, or some handy tips for your garden and home, I hope to empower and inspire you with skills that you can use to create joy, improved health, and to do it in a simple way.

Read More