Saturday, May 28, 2011

How to Make a Summer Beach Tote Bag from a T-Shirt

Transforming a t-shirt into a tote bag is an earth friendly way to recycle old clothing into a useful new item.
Clothing sent to landfills is often made from synthetic fibers that are not biodegradable, so finding ways to reuse old clothing is one eco-friendly way to help reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills.

A few alterations will turn an unused t-shirt in a handy tote bag that is suitable for a day at the beach, or anywhere a tote bag is needed. Making a t-shirt tote is less expensive than buying a manufactured tote, so it saves money while doing a good thing for the planet.

Sewing Supplies Needed to Make Beach Bag Totes

Selecting the proper size t-shirt to hold a beach towel, bottled water, sunscreen, and other items needed for a day at the beach is the first step. Almost any size shirt will work for a t-shirt tote bag, but a medium will generally be the smallest size that accommodates a beach towel and other summer necessities. For best results, in addition to a suitable t-shirt, gather the following sewing supplies before beginning this project.

  • Ruler
  • Cutting scissors
  • Tailor's chalk
  • Ball point straight pins
  • Sewing machine with ball point needles installed
  • Lightweight nylon strap, about 4 feet for short straps or 2 yards for long straps
  • 1 foot Velcro hook and loop, optional
Steps to Follow When Making an Earth Friendly Beach Bag Tote

  1. Turn the t-shirt inside out.
  2. Insert the ball point needle in the sewing machine. Ball point needles and pins, are designed for use on knitted fabrics. Ball points do not cut the fabric fibers and cause runs, while sharp needles and pins will damage knits.
  3. Sew across the bottom hemmed edge of the t-shirt, using a sewing machine set to make a tight zigzag or other stretch stitch.
  4. With the t-shirt still wrong side out, measure 4 inches up from the bottom seam and make a small tailor's chalk mark on each side.
  5. Turn the t-shirt right side out, and tuck the bottom seam up, into the body of the shirt. Look inside, and align the folds with the tailor's chalk dots. Pin the folds in place with straight pins.
  6. Tack the fold in place by sewing over the side seams, catching the fold in the anchoring stitches. This will give the bottom a boxed edge that will sit flat when the bag is filled.
  7. Use the cutting scissors to cut the sleeves off and open the shoulders. Begin cutting the underarm area of the shirt, and continue cutting right on top of the seam. Follow the shoulder seam across to the neckline. Leave the ribbing intact, but finish opening the seam.
  8. Cut the nylon strap in half. Place the raw ends of the strap against the raw edge of the fabric, then making a 1 inch overlap, pin one piece to the front of the shirt, at each edge of the neck ribbing. Pin the other half to the back of the shirt at each edge of the neck ribbing.
  9. Stitch over the end of the strap, using a 1/4 inch seam allowance the first time and a 1/2 inch seam allowance the second time.
  10. Fold the raw edges of the fabric under, and sew the folded edge with a zigzag or other finishing stitch to finish the seam. Make sure the top-stitching goes over the strap ends to add an extra layer of strength.
Adding a Hook and Loop Closure to the T-Shirt Beach Tote

Adding a hook and loop closure to the beach tote will reduce the likelihood of lost items. Cut the hook and loop to the same length as the neck ribbing between the handles. Position the Velcro 1/2 inch down from the top edge. Then, using a long, straight stitch, sew over the hook section, and then the loop.

Copyright Laure Justice. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication. Originally published on

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sewing Thread

A special thanks to Stacy McDougall and for this informative article about sewing thread.

What kind of sewing thread should I use? This is one of the most common questions we hear. The answer is simple, and difficult, at the same time.

The first thing to decide is what fiber to use. Rayon, polyester, cotton, silk, or metallic? All have their pros and cons, but basically it comes down to personal preference. I believe in using whatever threads work for your project. If it works well in your machine, and you like the effect you get while using it, then don't hesitate, enjoy it! Don't let the sewing "police" tell you what you should or should not use in your project. As odd as it sounds, sewing machines have preferences too. So experiment, and don't be afraid to use a particular thread just because it's not "made for that".

Polyester Thread

Polyester is far and away the most popular thread for general sewing. It is a very strong economical thread. Polyester thread won't fade or shrink in the wash.

The luster, or sheen, of polyester thread falls between that of cotton and rayon. A medium luster thread, it is suitable for almost any sewing project.

Polyester threads do have some give or stretch to them.

Polyester threads are available in a wide range of solid and variegated colors. The most popular thread size for sewing is 50wt, but many other weights are used depending on the project.

Cotton Thread

100% cotton sewing thread is the traditional choice. Cotton is a natural thread that gives a soft, matte look.

Cotton thread is available in a wide range of weights, and is suitable for most sewing projects. 40wt and 50wt are the most common, but cotton threads range from 8wt to 100wt.

Cotton thread does not stretch a great deal, and will break if pulled too tightly. Cotton threads will fade with the sun, and shrink in the wash, so treat them as you would cotton fabrics.

Most cotton threads sold now are mercerized. This is a chemical and heat process that increases the luster of the thread. During the mercerizing process, fuzzy threads are burned off, creating a smoother surface. This smooth surface reflects light, increasing the luster of the thread. It also has the effect of increasing water absorbency, making the thread easier to dye.

Long staple cotton is finer and stronger than regular cotton. Most high quality threads are made with long staple cotton, creating a softer, stronger, higher luster thread. Long staple threads tend to have fewer slubs, lumps of lint spun into the cotton threads.

Silk Thread

Silk is an elastic, though very strong, sewing thread, and is among the most beautiful of natural fibers. It has a high sheen, and creates a distinctive look when used in sewing projects. Silk threads are used in many high quality sewn garments.

Pure filament silk is the highest quality silk, as the fibers do not need to be spun; they come naturally in long strands from the silkworm.

Spun silks are made of shorter fibers. They come from broken cocoons or the beginning and end of cocoons.

Silk thread, and projects created with silk thread can be gently washed in the washing machine with a mild soap. Bleaching agents should not be used as they can damage the threads.

Rayon Thread

Rayon is a high sheen sewing thread, and often used as a lower cost alternative to silk threads. It performs well in high-speed sewing machines without breaking or fraying.

Most Rayon threads are available in 40wt, though 30wt can be found without effort. A wide range of colors and shades are available, including variegated colors.

Though some brands can be, rayon threads are not generally colorfast. It is best to avoid using any bleaching agents, including those made for colors.

Stitches sewn with Rayon threads create a very smooth consistent stitch, leading to a higher quality project.

Rayon threads do deteriorate over time, so attention should be paid to how it is stored. In low humidity regions, rayon threads can be stored in the refrigerator to extend thread life for a long as possible.

In most cases, when it comes to sewing thread, you get what you pay for. Good thread will stand up to high-speed machines without breaking or shredding. Bargain bin threads are inexpensive, but of poor quality, and will cost you in time and frustration.

Have fun, and don't be afraid to experiment with thread.

Author Bio

Stacy McDougall's company, Red Rock Threads sells quilting, sewing and embroidery thread online. View the Sewing Thread that Red Rock Threads has to offer.
Article Source:

Sewing thread image courtesy of Dvortygirl and Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Steaming Linen Material

You can steam linen material to preshrink it, or as a way to iron linen garments and drapes. Steaming will even remove some dirt from linen.

EHow article about: Steaming Linen Material

Steam iron image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Half Price Drapes

Window drapes

It can be rewarding to make your own drapes, but if you want to save your creative energy for other projects, check out this great online drapery supplier's discounts. Fine Italian drapes, that you don't have to sew, to go along with your own beautiful, decorative sewing projects.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Stitching it Right Zazzle Store

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

These customized items, shown above, are available exclusively through the Stitching it Right Zazzle Store.

Our goal is to add new items daily, so check back often to see what we're up to...

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Exclusive Stitching it Right Merchandise

While the selection is meager, at the Stitching it Right Zazzle Store as of today because it's a pretty new experiment for us, new custom items will be added daily.
Check it out, and let us know what you think, or if you are looking for an item you don't see in the store.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Discounts on Delta Burke and Longitude Swimwear

30%-50% off Longitude and Delta Burke swimwear

I know this is a site about sewing, but it is HOT here today, so I am thinking about swimwear.

I have made swimsuits before, and I LOVE working with Spandex. (It's a surprisingly easy-to-work-wit fabric as long as your scissors are sharp and you use ball point needles and pins.

If you're not into making your own swimsuits, check out the deals offered at the site above by clicking on the link above. They have some beautiful swimsuits in different sizes, and the prices look pretty good, too.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Make a Cozy Men's Polar Fleece Scarf

Easy to Sew Outerwear Accessory: Making a men's scarf, either to give as a gift or to save a little bit of money by making it at home, does not require knitting or crocheting knowledge if fleece is used.

If you want to make a men's scarf you do not need to know how to knit or crochet. Polar fleece fabric with a finished edge makes an attractive and exceptionally warm scarf. The synthetic fibers used to make fleece traps body heat, making it suitable for winter outerwear. Fleece is easy to work with because it is durable, and it does not fray the same way a woven fabric frays.

What is the Difference between Men's and Women's Winter Scarves

The design used to make a scarf for a man is very similar, and often identical, to the design used to make a scarf for a woman. The main difference, between women's scarves and men's scarves, is the fabric colors and patterns. Look for muted tones, or masculine patterns when making a men's scarf.

What is the Best Seam Finish to Use when Sewing Fleece

Use a simple finishing stitch when the scarf. A type of sewing machine known as a serger is commonly used to finish the raw edges of fleece, making a stitch that resembles a blanket stitch. The average household sewing machine will make a zigzag stitch but will not make a serger stitch. According to The Sewing & Craft Alliance a zigzag stitch is a simple finish that is suitable for most fabrics.

What You Need to Make a Fleece Scarf

  • 1/3 yard of fleece, 60 inches wide
  • Ruler
  • Tailor's chalk
  • 1 Quarter
  • Scissors
  • Thread in a complementary color
  • Sewing machine

Fleece Scarf-Making Steps

  1. Lay the fabric out on a work table and smooth it with your fingertips until it is flat. Make a tailor’s chalk mark 1 inch in from each corner.
  2. Place the quarter on the fabric so its edges line up on the marks to make a pattern for rounding the corners. Draw around the edge of the quarter from mark to mark on the corner, but do not make the complete circle.
  3. Trim the edges off using the scissors. This will make a curved edge, and it will be easier to sew than a corner with a 90 degree angle.
  4. Set the sewing machine to make a zigzag stitch, blanket stitch, or any decorative finishing stitch you like.
  5. Fold the scarf in half, the long way, to find the center, and then begin sewing from this point. Sew close to the edge and go all the way around the scarf. Overlap the seam by about 1/2 inch when you reach your starting point.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Plan and Make a Sweatshirt for a Dog: Sewing a Shirt or Light Jacket to Keep Pets Comfortable

Some dogs really enjoy wearing sweaters or sweatshirts. Making a dog sweatshirt is an inexpensive way to help a pet be comfortable on cool days.

Some dogs do not like to wear sweaters or jackets because it makes then too hot. Dogs with thin fur - like dogs with their summer coats - and older dogs with arthritic joints - often enjoy the warmth of a sweatshirt on a cool day.

A sweatshirt is often a better choice for a dog than a sweater is because claws can get caught in the loose weave of sweaters. Sweatshirts are not as likely to snag their paws. Sweatshirts provide a smooth, tightly woven surface that provides warmth to the dog wearing the sweatshirt.

Choosing a Pattern for a Dog's Sweatshirt
Finding the right sewing pattern for a dog sweatshirt is pivotal to successfully making the sweatshirt. Begin by considering the dog's personality and also by being aware of one's own level of sewing skill. If the dog does not like to have anything touching its head it is best to avoid sewing patterns with hoods and high collars.

Experienced sewers might enjoy crafting an elaborate sweatshirt with a lot of details. Inexperienced sewing machine operators, on the other hand, would get more satisfaction from making a simple, classic style.

Finding the Right Sweatshirt Fleece
There are different types of fleece fabric. Dogs living in extremely cold climates will benefit from heavy polar fleece while dogs in more temperate climates will be more comfortable in a sweatshirt made of lighter fleece fabric. The pattern and color of the fleece should also be carefully considered when selecting fabric. A colorful or patterned fabric will make it easier for people to see the dog when it is walking outside.

Making the Dog Sweatshirt
The fleece should be preshrunk either by ironing with a steam iron or laundering the fabric and running it through the dryer. As a rule, it will not shrink, but it is easier to preshrink and be sure than it is to be sorry later. This will save the bad feeling of making something only to find it too small to use after washing.

The dog's measurements should be compared to the pattern before the cutting is started. It isn't always possible to get a pattern that is exactly the right size. If an inch or two needs to be added to the pattern - cut the pattern, place a piece of paper in the gap, slide the pattern out the inch or two that is needed, and tape the pattern to the extra paper.

Cut and sew the fleece fabric according to the pattern directions. One thing that is not always mentioned in pattern directions is - if a dog has hip dysplasia it is helpful to add elastic straps. The straps should start on each side of the dog's tail and fasten just in front of their hips. This holds the back of the sweatshirt over their hips to help keep their hip joints warm.

Planning and making a dog sweatshirt is a creative and inexpensive way to help your pet be comfortable on chilly days.

Copyright Laure Justice. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication. Originally published on

Sunday, May 1, 2011

How to Make a Therapeutic Foam Dog Bed: Help Dogs with Hip Dysplasia and Arthritis Stay Comfortable

A therapeutic foam dog bed will help make an arthritic dog comfortable. A basic foam dog bed is easy to make and the dog will enjoy sleeping its new bed.

Dogs, especially large dogs, often begin to show signs of pain when aging. Hip dysplasia and arthritis are two common indicators of dog health that result from the aging process. Nothing can stop the aging process, but making a therapeutic foam dog bed is one way to help dogs remain as healthy and as comfortable as they possible. A basic foam dog bed will keep the dog elevated - away from chilly floors and drafts. A dog sleeping on a foam mattress will be warmer and less achy than a dog sleeping on a floor.

What Supplies are Needed for Sewing a Foam Dog Bed?
The basic supplies needed to make a foam dog bed are thick foam, water resistant fabric, thread, scissors, a yardstick, and a sewing machine. There are a lot of types of foam available, and almost any kind will work. If, however, the dog has advanced arthritis or hip pain, a memory foam dog bed would offer the most comfort. Contacting an upholstery shop to get memory foam might be necessary if the local fabric shop does not have it. The best fabric will be one that is treated for stain and water resistance. Vinyl upholstery fabric is good if the dog bed will need to be wiped clean very often.

Steps to Take Before Sewing Dog Bed
Measure the dog’s height and also measure from the tip of its nose to the end of its tail. Add a minimum of four inches to get the ideal dimensions for the foam mattress. If the foam does not come in a wide enough piece, cut an extra section and glue the pieces together. Cut the waterproof fabric so it is one inch larger on each side than the foam dimensions. Cut the band that goes around the edge of the foam so it is two inches wider than the foam thickness. If the foam is four inches thick, for example, cut the strip six inches wide and long enough to go all the way around the foam mattress.

Sewing the Dog Bed Cover
Place the band against one of the large fabric pieces with right sides together. Measure three inches up the seam line – start sewing at that spot and go almost all of the way around the edges. Stop six inches from the starting point. This reduces the need to guess if the band will fit because it leaves room to work when closing the band - without leaving a big gap.

Keep the band ends right side together and sew the band closed before finishing the main seam. If turned right side out it should look something like a sofa cushion – but do not leave it turned. Position the other large piece of waterproof fabric right side down against the raw edge of the band. Sew three sides of the cushion closed. Turn the cover right side out. Insert the foam. The cover should be loose because the closing seam will be top stitched. Fold the edges under 1/2inch and hold the foam down so it will fit under the sewing machine presser foot. Finally, close the seam.

A foam dog bed creates a comfortable sleeping surface that helps older arthritic dogs with pain reduction. Less pain means a more mobility and better quality of life for the dog.

Copyright Laure Justice. Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.Originally published on

Old Dog Poster courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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