Monday, November 28, 2011

Getting Rid of Blueberry Stains

Just added to the Fabric Care page: Link to article on Bounty Paper Towels site describing how to remove blueberry stains.

Blueberry stains are hard to get rid of, because they are basically a dye rather than just a simple, everyday stain.

Treat these fruity stains quickly for the best results, and check out the details in the article.

Image of blueberries courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Holiday Napkin Holder: Easy Children's No-Sew Project

While most of the projects you will find on this site are sewing projects, this one, and a few others to come, are no-sew projects. (Pictures to be added soon for this project.)

No holiday table is complete without napkins, so why not let your young ones create a holiday napkin holder to brighten your holiday table? This is an inexpensive project that turns an empty food box and some basic craft supplies into a cute and useful centerpiece. Parental supervision required.
What You'll Need:
  • An empty paper-board food box, such as a stuffing mix box or a small cereal box
  • A napkin
  • A ruler
  • Construction paper (beige, brown, orange, black, yellow, and red)
  • A holiday-themed stencil, up to 3 inches tall (optional)
  • Safety scissors
  • Glue
  • Glitter (optional)
  • Crayons or markers
  1. Pick a side panel on the box to use as the back of the napkin holder. It does not matter which side because it will not show on the finished holiday napkin holder.
  2. Hold the napkin against the outside of the box's front panel, lining up the box's bottom edge with the napkin's edge.
  3. Draw an outline of the napkin on the top and front edge of the box.
  4. Place the ruler so it forms a diagonal line from the upper back corner mark to the front bottom corner. Trace along the ruler's edge.
  5. Mark the other side of the box the same way then set the napkin aside.
  6. Cut the box down, using drawn lines on the side panels as cutting guides.
  7. Cut across the back edge, lining up the cut edges on the side panels.
  8. Cut across the lower front corner of the box directly on the box's original fold line.
  9. Line the inside of the box with light-colored construction paper and glue the lining in place.
  10. Then, wrap the outside of the box with the same light-colored shade of construction paper and glue it down. Allow the glue to dry completely.
  11. Place the stencil on darker-colored construction paper and trace the stencil's outline or draw an holiday-themed shape free-hand. Make a second copy of the shape.
  12. Draw or trace other features and details from other colors of construction paper.
  13. Glue the shape and features on each side of the napkin holder.
  14. If you want to add glitter, make glue lines around the shape and around each feature and sprinkle glitter into the glue. Allow the glue to dry completely before filling your new holiday napkin holder.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Homemade Boonie Hat: No Pattern Needed

Save money on a sun-blocking boonie hat by making one at home.There is no need to buy a pattern either, with a few measurements and drawing tools at hand.

boonie hat bucket hat
Boonie hat, aka bucket hat
Boonie hats are comfortable, if the fit is correct, and they offer a certain amount of sun protection. Boonie hats are made of breathable fabric, and the full brim on a boonie keeps the sun's rays out of the wearer's eyes as well as off of the neck and ears.


Boonie Hats for Sun Protection

Boonie hats have traditionally been designed and provided as military issue, but they have also gained ground with outdoor enthusiasts in sports like hunting and fishing. While traditional boonie hats will be manufactured from camoflage fabric, home-made boonies can be crafted to match almost any outfit, and from any fabric desired.

The added fabric choices make these hats useful for any outdoor activity, from a day at an amusement park to an afternoon of yard work. Warm weather boonies should be made from a light cotton or linen fabric, while cold weather boonies can be crafted from polar fleece or soft flannel. These soft-brimmed hats are not normally reversible, but following the directions provided below gives the option of making a reversible boonie hat.

What You'll Need
  • 1 yard fabric, 45 inches wide or 2 pieces of color-compatible 1/2 yard fabric
  • Tape measure
  • Drawing tools, or a large coffee can and ruler
  • 1/2 yard square pattern paper or newspaper
  • Pencil or pen
  • Scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Tailor's chalk
  • 1 yard seam binding
  1. Measure the wearer's head, going around the forehead and the upper back area of the head. This is the dimension that will be used for the top of the hat.
  2. Draw an oval in the center of the pattern paper, using the dimension of the head. If drawing tools are not available, a large can can be positioned on the paper when drawing the curved ends of the oval. This will be the pattern piece for the top of the hat.
  3. Measure two inches past the drawn edge of the oval, and mark the spot. Repeat every two inches all the way around the oval. This will be the hat's brim.
  4. At the edge of the paper, cut one long rectangle that is one inch longer than the dimension of the hat's top oval.
  5. Fold the fabric, or stack the two layers, and pin the long rectangular pattern piece 1/2 inch away from the edge. Add a 1/2 inch seam allowance by measuring and making tailor's chalk marks 1/2 inch away from the edge of the pattern,all the way around the piece.
  6. Position the remaining pattern pieces on the fabric, and mark out the 1/2 inch seam allowances.
  7. Cut out the pieces by following the tailor's chalk marks.
  8. Fold the rectangles with the right sides together, and sew across the short ends,making a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
  9. Place the top, oval pieces with the wrong sides together. Baste around the edges 1/4-inch from the edges to hold the two ovals together.
  10. Position and pin one sewn rectangle face down to the top of the oval, all the way around. The seam in the rectangle should be centered in one of the short ends of the oval. If two fabrics are being used, make sure the fabrics are matching. Pin the other rectangle to the under-side of the oval.
  11. Sew around the oval, making a 1/2-inch seam allowance.
  12. Turn the rectangles out, and inspect the seam to make sure the edges are completely sewn. If the seams are secure, top-stitch on the edge of the rectangle, 1/8-inch from the seam.
  13. Position and pin the hat brim to the rectangular piece with the right sides together. The inner oval of the brim will line up with the outer edge of the hat's top. Also pin the other section of the hat brim to the inside of the rectangle.
  14. Sew all the way around the edge connecting the rectangular piece to the inner oval's edge. Turn the brim out and inspect to make sure the edges of the seam are all sewn.
  15. Turn the brim edges right side out, and top-stitch the inner edge of the brim,1/8-inch from the seam. Sew around the brim repeatedly, moving 1/4-inch out with each pass around the brim.
  16. Finish the edge of the brim by wrapping the binding around the raw edge, and sewing 1/8-inch from the folded edge of the binding.
A chin strap, grommets or 1/2-inch vents can be added to the finished boonie hat if desired. The hat brim will be slightly floppy, but can be starched if a crisper look is wanted.

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

Friday, November 18, 2011

How to Pre-Shrink Wool Material

Pre-Shrinking Wool Material

Like cotton, wool has the potential for a great deal of shrinkage. Wool is, however, different in that it does not possess cotton's easy care attributes. Wool does not respond well to being tossed in the washer and taking a trip through the dryer.
  1. A steam iron set on the wool setting, one of the iron's hottest, is the best way to prepare this strong but also vulnerable fabric. The combination of heat and the moisture from the steam work togerther to shrink the fibers with the stretching and potential breakage that can happen to wool in the laundry cycle.
  2. A steamer is a second option when prepping wool, as long as the piece is not too large or too heavy, because fabric needs to hang during steaming and the weight can damage the moistened wool fibers near the top.
  3. If you are uncomfortable trying to treat the wool on your own, after all, wool can be pretty expensive, take it to a dry cleaner and have it steamed professionally.
Final Tip: Before preshrinking, serge the raw edges of the material, or sew across the edges on a regular machine, using your preferred finishing stitch.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

How to Pre-Shrink Cotton Fabric

One of the most frustrating things that can happen to a home-sewing enthusiast is to make something and have it turn out perfectly only to have it shrink in the laundry after the first use. Pre-shrinking normally involves the combination of moisture and heat, but it's important to consider the fabric's basic care directions before pre-shrinking.

Pre-Shrinking Cotton Fabric

Untreated cotton fabric shrinks - a lot. This includes most denims and also cotton/synthetic blends.
  1. The first option for pre-shrinking cotton fabric is running it through the laundry in a warm water cycle and then a dryer set on the normal heat setting.
  2. The second option is using a steam iron, filled with distilled water and the temperature set to high.
  3. The third option for shrinking cotton is a steamer. Hang the fabric and slowly pass the steamer over the material so the hot steam seeps into the fabric's fibers.
Final Tip: If you choose to use the laundry method (number 1 above) finish the fabric's raw edges by serging them or sewing over them with one of your sewing machine's finishing stitches to prevent fraying.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Challenging How to Project: Lining a Pair of Jeans

    After you've completed a couple of easy sewing projects and are ready to take on something more challenging, or if you're just a go-for-it kind of person; lining a pair of jeans might offer just the right kind of challenge.

    You might be wondering WHY someone would want to line a pair of jeans, especially if you live in a warm climate. If you live in a northern climate, however, you can probably guess one of the reasons as winter weather is rolling in right about now; warmth. The other reason to line jeans is to extend the life of an older pair of jeans.

    Lining Jeans to Add Warmth

    An extra layer of fabric, especially if you use soft flannel or cuddly fleece, helps to trap your body heat, keeping you warmer when you wear lined jeans. It's like wearing two pairs of pants to keep warm, without the hassle of tugging on two pairs of pants.

    Lining Jeans to Extend the Life of Your Jeans

    You can get some extra use out of threadbare jeans by adding a layer of lining. The extra layer forms a sort of full-body patch for your jeans. (I guess I should call that a full-leg and seat patch.) If you have any spots that are completely worn through you can either use an iron on patch on the inside of the jeans before you start or zigzag over the damaged area several times after you finish installing the inner layer of fabric.

    What You'll Need
    This supply list is for average-sized adult jeans, you might need more fabric for larger sizes or less fabric for children's sizes.
    • 1.5 yards lining fabric (preshrunk)
    • 1 pair of jeans
    • Quilting pins
    • Sewing shears or sharp scissors
    • Sewing machine
    • Thread

    1. Turn the jeans inside out and spread them out zipper side up on the table or floor (where-ever you have a big enough work space).
    2. With the fabric folded in half the long wy, with the selvage edges together, spread the fabric out on top of one leg of the jeans. The top edge of the fabric should ideally fall in the center of the jeans' waistband and the outer leg hem needs to be lined up as close as possible to the selvage edge.
    3. Pin through the both fabric layers and into the jeans' hem. Set a pin every three or four inches. Pin the fabric to the inner leg seam, too, and across the waistband and leg/ankle hem. At the center front, pin out and around the zipper placket.
    4. Get ready to cut the fabric, using the pins as a guide and cutting just outside (about 1/4 inch outside) of the pins. Remove the pins and flip the jeans over.
    5. Repeat the pinning steps on the back panel, except pin straight up the center back as there is no zipper placket to work around on the back.
    6. Pick up the two front panels, make sure the right sides are together, and stitch from the inner-thigh edge of the seat curve up to the place you cut out for the zipper placket. 
    7. Pick up the back panels and with right sides together sew from the inner thigh seat curve up to the waistband area.
    8. Open out the front and back and place them right sides together. Sew the inner leg seams, starting at one ankle, going all the way up, and then down the other side.
    9. Sew the outer leg seams on each side.
    10. Turn the lining right side out and slide the lining over the still-inside-out jeans. Make sure the lining is all the way on the jeans so the seat will not sag or feel uncomfortable when you wear the jeans.
    11. Turn the hemline of the fabric under about 1/2 inch and, aligning the inner and outer seams of the lining and jeans, sew all the way around the hemline. Sew slowly over the seams, because it will be thick and can damage a sewing machine if you try to sew fast. Hem both legs this way.
    12. Fold the lining under around the cut-out zipper placket and waistband. Pin the folded edge down if it gives you too much trouble.
    13. Sew all the way around the zipper placket and waistband, making sure the side seams and rear seam line up on both the lining and the jeans.
    Final Thoughts about Lining a pair of Jeans
    • When you wash these, they will take a long time to dry because they are thick and heavy.
    • When you sew around the zipper placket, waistband, and hemline, use denim thread that matches the jeans fabric so the new stitches won't show.
    • If you want to line all the way across the front instead of leaving the zipper placket unlined, it's only a little bit harder. Use stretchy lining fabric, and do not sew the waistband for three inches on either side of the zipper. To finish the lining's raw edge, unbutton and unzip the jeans, open the zipper edge out, fold the raw edge under, and sew it down.
    Winter Walk image (above) courtesy of Michael Trolove and Wikimedia Commons.
    Thread image courtesy of USDA and Wikimedia Commons.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Review of Butterick Pattern: Men's Pajama Pants Pattern Number 5286

    Good pajamas are expensive, but they are very easy to make if you have a good pattern. If you find a deal on fabric, you can even save a lot of money by making your own pjs. With the holidays around the corner, I would like to mention they also make nice gifts.

    (This review only covers the pants portion of this pattern.)

    I'm pretty picky about pattern labeling. If the pattern is labeled easy, as someone with a few decades worth of sewing experience plus a fashion design program under my belt, I expect the pattern to be not only easy, I expect it to be SO easy I could do it in my sleep.

    The Butterick Men's pajama pants portion of pattern number 5286, labeled easy by the way, was actually a "sort of easy" pattern to use. With three pattern pieces - front, back, and pocket - there isn't a lot that should go wrong. The pants portion actually were very easy to make, with only one actual complaint.

    An Easy Pajama Pattern with One Small Problem

    The problem I hit when making these pj pants, which was easy to work around as an experienced seamstress but could be a problem for new sewers, the directions for attaching the pockets and sewing them to face forward were, well, kind of unrelated to actually making these comfy pants.

    If following the directions as written, the fabric's raw edges will stick out, just a little, at the top and bottom of the pocket holes.

    Work-Around Tip to Make the Pattern Easier
    • To amend the directions for those wanting to try this pattern, when you put the front and back panels together after sewing the pocket pieces to the panels, make sure the seams holding the pockets and panels together are flat on top of the pockets.
    • Starting at the top and going down the hip area, sew slowly and feel through the fabric layers as you sew, staying just to the inside of the pocket fabric layers until you are past the pocket's raw edges at the top.
    • Sew around the outer curve of the pocket as shown in the directions, then feel through the fabric layers and stay just to the inside of the layers the same way you did at the top. and bottom of the part that will form the pocket hole.
    Final Thoughts on Butterick Pattern Number 5286

    The pattern shows sewing the top edge of the pocket to the front panel. This is unecessary, unless you just like doing extra work, because it will be stitched in place when you sew the waistband casing.

    All in all, I really like this pattern and found it pretty easy to make, other than the directions being a bit off. I would recommend it for sewers of any skill level, as long as he or she is prepared to work around the enclosed directions a bit.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Review of McCalls Pattern: Comfy Blanket M9570

    If you are looking for an easy gift to sew, or you just want a unique snuggy-style blanket for yourself, comfy blankets make great gifts and they are super easy to sew.

    The McCalls Comfy Blanket pattern, envelope number M5970 if you're looking for it in the store or online, is labeled as an easy, 1 hour project, but is it really that easy and fast?

    While it depends a little bit on your skill level as a sewing machine operator, and a lot on how fast your machine will stitch, I have to say, it's a pretty easy pattern. It will probably take a little over an hour if you are new to sewing, and it will probably be done in less than an hour if you are an experienced sewer.

    Description of the Comfy Blanket Pattern

    You have three pattern pieces, four if you're adding a pocket, five if you're adding the foot pocket; and the two largest pattern pieces get taped together to form one big piece.

    If you're a novice when it comes to sewing there's more good news. Fleece is a pretty forgiving fabric to work with; making it easy to hide small errors. Just make sure you have a ballpoint needle installed in your sewing machine and, if possible, use ball point sewing pins.

    Tips for Using the McCalls Comfy Blanket Pattern
    1. My first tip after trying this pattern is, stick to the directions that come in the envelope, except for when setting the pocket, if you opt to add the pocket. Have the person who is going to wear the sleeved blanket, which is basically the same as Snuggy brand blankets, try it on and set the pocket where they like it. If you're giving it as a surprise gift, then of course just stick to the pattern directions.
    2. My second tip is, add a flat snap or hook fastener to the back of the neck opening so it won't keep falling off when worn.

    Sunday, November 6, 2011

    Protect Your Smart Phone with a Padded Custom Smartphone Bag

    So here it is, this is what I was telling you about when I posted earlier. Sorry for holding you in suspense, I wanted it to be officially for sale before I released the photo. (I'm no great shakes with the camera, and this picture isn't great but it's the best I could do with my cheap-o camera.) This is my new item that's for sale now for $20 plus shipping & handling - custom-made padded smart-phone bags.
    Get one to match every outfit because they are made to be worn with the strap draped diagonally around the body and they make a great way to complete an outfit.
    The strap holds the bag close against your body, offering more protection for your technology investment, because wow, a good smart-phone is a bit pricey.
    You can get one of these hand-crafted, custom designed smart-phone bags in black & white plaid, as shown via Stitching it Right's Big Cartel store, in your your favorite color or one to match all of your outfits by simply placing a request here or dropping an email to

    Coming Soon to Stitching it Right:
    • Smart-Phone Bag Do-It-Yourself Kits
    • Padded Netbook Bags & Kits
    • Poly-Pro Feedsaques Tote Bags - to carry the heavy stuff 

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