Tag Archives: sewing

Tutorial: The most awesome rainbow tiered skirt *ever*

30 Jun

A few days ago I was lurking around the internet, bored senseless, and not a single crafty project that sounded remotely interesting, then I stumbled across perhaps the most lovely skirt I’ve ever seen and I knew I had to have it. And so, I made one for myself!

Obligatory spin shot!


The San Diego LGBT Pride parade is coming up in about a month and I’m planning on marching in it. I just had to have this skirt in time for the parade! So that night I decided I was going to do it. I spent about 3 hours planning everything out and went to the store the very next day to get my supplies.

Turns out my 3 hours of planning was totally wasted! My initial measurements included over 1400 inches worth of fabric for the bottom tier! I also had wanted to copy the patchwork design of the original but I am not a patient lady. Thankfully the lady at the sewing counter suggested I just use strips of a single fabric (the poor lady probably thought I was going insane, I was sitting on the ground talking to myself and angrily scratching out numbers while looking at a million different quilting packs). Ok, so first simplification complete–this project seems more manageable now!

At this point I still planned on having about 1400″ of fabric for my final tier. I picked out my favorite fabric and calculated the costs. Over $60, ouch! Ok, so being a broke crafter I needed to bring that down a LOT. So instead of each tier being 1.5x the tier above it I figured I’d do 1.25x the tier above it. This brought my 1400″ final tier down to a “measly” 370–way more manageable. It also brought my costs down closer to $25, about what I’d pay in a store for a significantly-less-awesome skirt, which was easy to justify (especially after my initial estimate of costs, eesh!).

After congratulating myself on being both frugal and maintaining the inherent awesomeness of this project I spent the next 15 minutes or so having the sewing counter lady cut my fabric into chunks as small as 1/4 of a yard. All in all I spent over an HOUR just picking out fabric and figuring out exactly how much I needed. What’s worst is that I nearly forgot to grab extra thread on my way out! But I remembered before hitting the check-out lane and all was well. So, let’s give this thing a look, shall we?

Just after completion–I didn’t take it off all night!

Very tired, but so proud!

Outside in the sun

I tried to get progress shots of this but being so big and bulky it was pretty difficult, so this tutorial will mostly be words. if you need clarification just leave a comment and I’ll do my best to clear things up.

First, get your measurements. All the fabric I got came in 44″ lengths and I decided the easiest way to get my measurements was to do strips and just sew them into one longer strip, the seams mostly get hidden in the ruffles and even if the seams show…who cares? Cheaper is WAY worth it for this. The second measurement is how much of a yard I bought of the fabric.

  • Waist – 40″
  • Tier 1 (pink) – 50″ (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 2 (red) – 62.5″ (1.25x tier 1) (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 3 (orange) – 78″ (at this point I started to round the numbers) (1/4 yard)
  • Tier 4 (yellow) – 97″ (3/8 yard)
  • Tier 5 (light green) – 122″ (3/8 yard)
  • Tier 6 (dark green) – 152.5″ (1/2 yard)
  • Tier 7 (light blue) – 190.75″ (5/8 yard)
  • Tier 8 (dark blue) – 238.5″ (3/4 yard)
  • Tier 9 (light purple) – 298″ (7/8 yard)
  • Tier 10 (dark purple) – 372.5″ (1 and 1/8 yard)

To get my strips to the length I needed I cut everything into 4.5″x44″ strips, then measured my final length for that tier and evenly divided that amongst the strips. For example, tier 4 was 97″, I cut 3 strips and trimmed them to approximately 32.5″ each, then sewed them together to create the final 97″ strip.

Everything cut into strips and sewn to their final sizes

I decided to do the easiest step next: hemming the bottom tier. I did a simple fold, I didn’t even fold it under itself, though I may go back to hem it properly.

After that came the hardest part: figuring out how to ruffle 370″ of fabric @.@ I did it wrong TWICE before finally giving up and freehanding half of it. I used a basting stitch but pulled it far too tight. Despite the frustration I’m glad I started on the longest strip: every strip after it was easier and easier than the one before! By the time I got to the final strip I was breezing through them.

Ruffles, ruffles, everywhere!

After the disaster with the longest tier I (ok…my honey) devised a new way to “ruffle”: pleating! I divided each strip into smaller sections and pleated as I went. I started by folding my previous strip (let’s say dark green) and my current strip (light green) and pinning the very far sides together to keep them from coming apart. Next, fold everything in half and pin the middle of the light green to the middle of the dark green; I found the best way to do this was just hold the two sides together as high as you can and have a friend pin the bottom of the droops together. Continue this way to find the middles until you’ve pinned everything into more manageable lengths. I suggest using safety pins, by the way, because there’s a lot of movement involved in this process. Hopefully the following picture makes at least a little bit of sense!

Weird picture but the best I could take to show the pinning

When I was finally done sewing all of my strips together I added a strip of elastic for the waistband. I used the same pinning method but instead of pleating the fabric I pulled the elastic taut and allowed the fabric to scrunch itself up. Finally, I sewed the loooong seam up the back and the skirt was complete! It’s officially my favorite piece from my wardrobe :-)


Simple Armwarmer Tutorial

12 Sep

It’s getting close to autumn, that strange season (for me, at least) where I can go from comfortable to cold in a matter of minutes. My solution? ARMWARMERS! They fit so easily in my purse and can be slipped on for comfort. I also have a bad habit of wearing through the bottoms of my socks so this is an excellent way to get more use out of a pair of socks! These can be made in about 10 to 15 minutes so they’re a great project. Before we begin, let’s see the finished project!


  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors
  • A pair of socks (knee-high for full forearm armwarmers, shorter socks for wristwarmers)

First, gather your supplies and lay your socks out. Figure out where it's best to cut off the foot portion.

Evenly trim the feet off of the socks.

Set your machine to a zig-zag stitch, remove the storage compartment/extension table and slide the sock onto the remaining part of the sewing machine. Slowly zig-zag around the edge of the sock, then repeat with the other sock. I zig-zag'd around the edge twice using two different lengths of zig-zags to ensure it wouldn't unravel. Note: the wider your zig-zag stitch, the more pronounced the ruffle will be.

Ta-da! You're ready to wear your new armwarmers!

You can also add a thumb hole by cutting a very small hole in the heel, testing to make sure your thumb fits through, then zig-zag stitching very slowly around the thumb hole as well.

A Sample of my Custom Work

11 Jul

I love doing custom work for people. When one of my friends saw my embroidered rainbow panties she decided she wanted me to do a few custom pieces for her. We talked about what she wanted and worked out a price, and ta-da! She got some custom items that she (hopefully!) loves!

Headband, two pairs of embroidered undies, and a butterfly bookmark

I even wrapped the bunny panties in a cute little carrot bag!

If you have an idea for something custom you’d like me to make, leave a comment and we can discuss the details! If not, I hope you at least enjoy seeing my custom work :-)

Some Changes and a Link to a Great Tutorial

17 Jan

First off, if you look at the side bar over there –> you may notice something new. Now there’s a “What I’m Working On…” widget that streams tweets from my new Twitter account! I’m planning on updating it every time I’m working on something crafty. I’ve also added a new pattern for sale at my store.

Now, on to the real content :-)

I love finding tutorials and letting my creative brain figure out just how to make it work best for me.

I found this excellent tutorial for interchangeable bra straps and as soon as I saw that they only used one eyelet for the straps I thought “Oh no way will that give me enough support!” Next time I have bra straps that wear out I’m definitely going to replace them with ribbon but I’m using two eyelets just to be safe…

Image from handmadeportland.com

Today I Learned! Shirring

20 Dec

Today I learned how to shirr (what a weird word) fabric!

I was looking through the archives at Ruffles and Stuff and I found this great tutorial on how to shirr fabric. It looks so much easier than I thought it was, I’ll definitely be trying it out in the future :-)

This is from the website, I haven't gotten around to trying it yet but it looks so simple I can't wait!

Renaissance Faire Costume (with Mini Tutorial for Overskirt and DIY Awl)

8 Nov

Saturday the 6th I went to the Escondido Renaissance Faire. I decided a week and a half beforehand that none of my clothes were suitable enough for the Faire, so I asked myself (and some friends) “Am I crazy enough to make a Ren Faire costume in a week?” The answer was a resounding “YES!”.

I wanted to draft my own pattern for the bodice, but after one night of trying to steal the pattern from a vest I realized there’s no way I could do that in the timeframe I had available. So I went to JoAnn’s and got Butterick 3906 and used up some of my beautiful black denim. I also spontaneously decided to make a matching overskirt but didn’t bother using any pattern because it was so simple (a tutorial for my skirt is at the bottom of this post). I’m really happy with how it all turned out.

The completed outfit

The back after Faire, showing my new silver fox tail <3 You can see where I altered the center of the back

Also after faire, I just love this pic <3

I had to make some minor variations to the bodice to make it fit properly. I have very odd proportions: big in the chest but relatively small in the waist, then huge in the hips. Therefore, in order to get a bodice that will fit my chest, I had to make it a size that’s too big in the waist. In the end, I probably could have just made a smaller size since it laces up, but I made the smallest size this pattern was for which was 12.

When I was all done with the bodice, I had to take in the back so it was more form-fitting, fold in the shoulders since they looked odd and weren’t comfortable, and I added a strip of elastic to the back at the base of my neck to keep the shoulders up. For the back, I turned the bodice inside-out, pinned straight up the center of the back, and took in about an inch off each side (for a total of 2 inches taken out). I sewed straight up the back from the inside, then laid the big flap down so that what had previously been the center of the bodice was laying right on top of the seam and was even on both sides. After that, I just sewed straight up the sides to keep them flat. It also gave a bit of decoration to the back. For the shoulders, I just turned them in a little since the tips were scratching at my neck and were uncomfortable. I just sewed over the edge stitching I had done before, caught the turned-under fabric beneath it, and at the same time sewed the elastic strap in place. And voilà: completed bodice that looks great and fits perfectly!

I needed to add eyelets to lace up the bodice but since there would be a lot of strain on them from being laced up, I didn’t want to cut holes in the fabric like I had for my corset tote so I therefore needed an awl. JoAnn’s is kind of far away and the cheapest they had them for was about $5, which was more than I wanted to spend. So I went to the 99 cent store right by my house and bought an ice pick, then sharpened it with a metal file. I used my little stabby to poke holes in the fabric, then used a chop stick to stretch them out, and it worked wonderfully while only cutting a couple threads in the fabric!

Now for the skirt tutorial!


  • Fabric that is long enough to go around your waist at least one and a half times and is 2 inches longer than the length you want your final skirt to be (mine was 60″x30″)
  • Elastic long enough to fit around your waist
  • “The basics” Sewing machine, thread, scissors, pins, etc.
  • One big safety pin or something else to thread your elastic through with

First, take your fabric and hem the bottom (one of the longer edges). You can pin it and then sew or just fold and sew as you go. Then hem up the shorter sides the same way. Next, take your elastic and fold a bit of fabric over it, enough that you can sew the fabric without catching the elastic. Once again, you can pin everything and then sew or you can just use your elastic as a guide.

When you’re done sewing your tunnel, take your elastic and attach the big safety pin to it (make sure you pin it in a way that the elastic won’t break off of it) and start threading it through. When the non-safety-pinned end of your elastic reaches about to the entrance of the tunnel, pin the end to your fabric so it won’t just keep sliding through! Continue threading your elastic through; as you reach the end it will get a lot harder, just hold the end of your elastic that’s inside the tunnel and scrunch the fabric up against the beginning hole.

When you’re done threading your elastic all the way through, sew the two ends of your elastic together (make sure the elastic lays flat and isn’t twisted at all inside the tunnel). I used a zig-zag stitch on my sewing machine but you could use a couple lines of straight stitches to secure it. After your elastic is sewn into a circle, scrunch the fabric around a bit so you have a nice, pretty piece of elastic in the front (just in case it shows) instead of the sewn bit. Wear your new overskirt and bodice with a nice underdress or similar clothes and you’re ready to party like it’s 1499!

Corset-Laced Tote Tutorial

25 Oct

My final item for the reddit craftit swap: The corset-laced tote! Throughout the project it gained the nickname “That Goddamn Tote”; multiple times I wanted to just give up and burn the stupid thing because it wasn’t turning out how I’d hoped. I’m so glad I stuck with it, though; when I’ve forgotten how much of a pain it was to make and I’m crazy enough to start another one I’m totally making one for myself :-D May I present to you, That Goddamn Tote!

Ta da!

You will need

  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Eyelets and tools necessary to set them
  • Scissors, preferably small, sharp, pointed scissors to help with putting the eyelets on
  • Seam ripper, also for putting the eyelets on
  • Pins
  • Lace
  • Ribbon
  • Fabric
    • Outer fabric, I chose black denim
    • Lining fabric, I chose a simple black fabric
    • Outer accent fabric, I chose natural muslin
    • Fabric strap or webbing, I chose webbing


I dyed my lace using coffee. Please disregard the icky background, this picture is just to show how much the dyeing affected the lace. I dyed my lace using about a cup and a half of coffee and two tablespoons of white vinegar, soaked over night then allowed to dry and ironed lightly. If I recall correctly, this is the exact same shade it looked like it was the night I put it in, so use that as a guide and add water if necessary to lighten your coffee to the right color. Just let your lace sit for a minute, check color, rinse the lace and add water to your coffee if necessary. Once the test color comes out right, soak overnight.

Gather your supplies! Top row: 2x black denim, 3.5"x9.5"; 1x black denim, 9.5"x9.5"; 2x black denim, 2"x9.5" (I used 2.5"x9.5" but it was too wide). Bottom row: 2x lace, 10"; 2x muslin (since it's thin), 3.5"x9.5"; 2x lining, 9"x9" (I used 9.5"x9.5" for mine but it was too big). You'll also need straps, I used two pieces of 1"x22.5" webbing but you could make a strap with your black denim. Iron everything (except the webbing)!

Take one of your 9.5"x2" pieces of the black denim and fold it lengthwise with the right side facing inwards. Sew across the top and bottom and repeat with the other piece. I used about a 1/4" seam on each side and it worked out wonderfully.

Tie off the ends of your thread then carefully snip the corner of your fabric off.

Turn your fabric right side out and poke out the corners with a small blunt object (I use chopsticks). Take some chalk, mark lengthwise where you will be sewing (top line in this pic) then mark halfway between your first mark and the edge (bottom line). Next, figure out how many eyelets you want (I chose 6) and draw lines at equal distances apart (vertical lines).

Place your eyelets where your chalk lines intersect. I started by taking my seam ripper and ripping a couple threads from the denim, then using my pointed scissors to bore out a hole while ripping more threads when necessary, then finally snipping the frayed edges clean. Wash off your chalk lines before setting your eyelets.

Take one of your 3.5"x9.5" pieces of black denim, pin a piece of lace, then one of your strips of eyelets (pretty side facing TOWARDS the black denim), then your muslin.

Before sewing, make sure everything is in the right order. Then sew (making sure to catch everything in the seam!!). Repeat for the other side, pinning the muslin to the eyelet strip (pretty side facing the denim you'll be sewing it to), lace, then black denim, and sew it all together!

Open everything up, spritz with a bit of water, and using a very low iron (I think I set mine to 2 or 3, not sure if the settings are universal) flatten everything out. When you're done with that side, flip it over, spritz, and iron the other side.

Pin your pretty side to the plain black denim with right sides facing one another. Sew around both sides and the bottom, being VERY careful to not sew your eyelet strips when you sew across the bottom, go really slow.

Flip it right side out, push out the corners, and admire! Set this aside for now.

Take your lining and sew around three sides (I had to keep bringing my seam in closer on one side to get it to fit nicely inside the bag). Leave an opening at the bottom center about 3 inches long so that you can turn everything right side out later.

Pin your straps in place as shown but don't sew them down or fold anything over yet!

Ok, here's the difficult to describe part. Keeping the straps pinned to the outer, turn it inside out; your pins will now be inside. Next, turn your lining inside out and place it inside your outer so that both pretty sides are facing one another and line up the seams for the lining and outer as best as you can. Make sure you move your straps out the way of where you'll be sewing, then (without letting your straps shift) unpin your straps and pin everything together.

Sew around the top to hold your lining in place. For the straps I always go over them, reverse to go over it again, then continue forward with my stitching for better strength. When you stitch across your muslin, once again go very slowly to make sure you don't catch your eyelet strip in it!

Pull your lining out and reach through the hole you left in the lining to turn everything right-side out.

Ta da! Now that everything's right side out, fold the fabric into your magic hole and stitch right across where the hole is, then stuff the lining into the purse.

With the lining inside, stitch all the way around the purse to hold the lining in place.

Thread your ribbon through the eyelets (I didn't measure my ribbon, sorry!).

Make sure to tie your bow nicely.

And you're done!