Friday, 22 October 2021

Moto Maxx Shorts with Flat Piping


Pattern - Love Notions Moto Maxx Set
Skill Level - Confident Beginner
Fabric - Polartec Neoshell from Discovery Fabrics
Skills - flat piping, ironing

My mountain biking grandson doesn't often ask for me to make him things, but when he does, I jump right to it!  He asked me to make him some long shorts "out of the same stuff as the cross country skiing pants" that I'd made him.  They were actually for mountain biking but apparently they're excellent for skiing as well!

I decided to use the same pattern - the pants from the Moto Maxx Set - that I'd used for his pants.  It's a slimmer fitting pattern, which is perfect for biking - and skiing, apparently!  I had the Neoshell in black and tomato red, so I thought I'd try out a technique I'd seen for flat piping.  Polartec Neoshell with Stretch/Ease is an amazing fabric which is "waterproof" yet breathable and perfect for the purpose.

I cut strips 1.25" wide with the grain, which when folded over and sandwiched in the side seams, would give me .25" piping.  

And of course, I practiced first.  

I pressed the strips using a pressing cloth.  This allows you to press fabrics you can't iron.

To get the sharpest press possible, I used the clapper my husband made me.

I clipped the raw edge of the piping to one side seam of the shorts and then carefully laid the other pattern piece on top, clipping the pieces together.  The strip was sandwiched between the front and back with the folded edge in.

Then I serged the side seam being careful to make sure all the raw edges were together.  On my serger, 3/8" is right at the edge of my presser foot, so getting the seam exact was easy.  It's important that your seam is consistent.

Then to make sure that the piping would lie to the back, I coverstitched down the front beside the piping.

Once these steps were completed, it was an easy matter to finish sewing the shorts.  Now my grandson has his cycling shorts as requested, with a little extra pizzazz!

If you don't already have the Moto Maxx Set in your pattern library, you can get it from my link below:

Moto Max Set sizes 2T - 14

Saturday, 2 October 2021

Cloth Gift Bags

 Can you believe how quickly time is flying?  It's almost time to start thinking about Christmas!  In our family, we don't wrap presents with gift wrap anymore - we use fabric gift bags which continuously make the rounds.  It's a big saving on expensive gift wrap and is good for the environment as well because you can't recycle most gift wrapping paper. 

And of course, I don't just use these gift bags at Christmas.  Birthday presents, baby gifts - they all get tucked into a homemade gift bag.  For Christmas bags, I buy Christmassy fabric when the fabric stores put it on sale for a greatly reduced price.  And I check out the sale cottons and thrift stores for all the other bags.

So let's get started!  These gift bags will have channels for ties so the first thing I look for is something suitable and since I always have a good supply of homemade bias tape, I immediately checked there and found some burgundy tape that matched my fabric.  You can use so many things for ties - ribbons, shoelaces, cords - the options are endless.

For your bag, you want to cut the width you need plus about 3" for side seams and ease in the bag.  For the length you want the height of what you're bagging X2 plus about 5 or 6".  So once the fabric is cut, you're ready to assemble.

Fold over and iron 1/4" around each edge.  I just eye-balled it but you can be more precise if you want.

Then on each end, fold over and iron another 2"

Stitch along the bottom of that 2" hem.  Then taking into consideration the width of your tie, stitch another line above that.  Make sure that top stitching line is the same depth on each end of your bag so that the top hems match.

Now fold your right sides together.  I clipped the sides together and put in a pin at the bottom channel stitching line which is where I will stop.  Stitch the sides - about 1/8" from the edge, backstitching at each end to secure the seam.  Turn the bag right side out and press it.  Pressing isn't totally necessary, but it does make finishing easier and looks better, too.

Now you're ready to insert the ties in the channels.  I cut mine a couple of inches longer than the width of the bag as I didn't plan on finishing with a bow.  If you want to tie bows in each end,  you'll want a couple more inches on that.  I used a safety pin to thread my ties through.

Ties threaded - you're done!  You've made a lovely gift bag that someone will be delighted to receive and think of all the good you've done for the environment.  And it didn't take much more time than gift wrapping a present.  The added bonus is that you're bound to get the gift bag back at some point!

Sunday, 29 August 2021

Adventures in Scrap Busting


I do a lot of sewing for children and buy the quality cotton/spandex I use from l'oiseau fabrics who bring all their materials from Europe.  The patterns are so beautiful that I can't bear to throw away leftover bits.  A gorgeous digital print with foxes, chipmunks and birds on it that I purchased 5 years ago is a prime example.  I only had a couple of small pieces left - definitely not enough for much.  However, if I colour blocked with a solid - maybe I could use a bit more of it!

I chose the Love Notions Vanguard pattern in a size 2T.  It has built-in colour blocking options but I was going to have to do some creative colour blocking of my own.

I was able to do a front panel using the Vanguard's colour blocking middle piece.  But that was all I could get out of it.  The rest of the fabric bits were too narrow for even the sleeves.  I would have to add to the sides.

I squared off the sides of one of the long narrow strips after verifying that I could get a fox in each short sleeve.

Then I cut strips of the solid colour for either side.  I serged the strips on with 1/4" seam allowance and coverstitched the seams flat.

Now I could cut out the sleeves.  I folded the new piece in half vertically and cut out the sleeves, taking care to have the foxes in the centre.

Now I could stitch all the components of the colour blocked front together, and I coverstitched above and below the centre panel.  I wish I could have gotten one of the fox's ears in the panel, but unfortunately there wasn't enough for a 1/4" seam allowance.

All of the colour blocking out of the way, it was a simple matter to put the shirt together.  I wish I could say all of the adventures were over, but unfortunately they weren't!  I discovered that instead of cutting a back from the solid brown, I'd cut a front!  Time for some more creativity!  I managed to cut an insert to fit in and coverstitched below it.  And then I had to cut a new neckband because the opening was now wider!  However, I got it done and as for the back, that was planned, right?

So here's the shirt I managed to get from tiny pieces of a beautiful fabric.

Here's the sleeves.


And finally the back on which I did some more colour blocking - so that I didn't have to bin the whole project.  

I'm pretty happy with the outcome.  This reinforces my belief that even the smallest scraps can have a use and reminds me to be more careful with my pattern pieces!

Thursday, 6 May 2021

A Gardening Apron


It seems whenever I'm out working in the garden, I haven't got everything with me that I need.  What I should really have is a proper gardening apron - and hey - I can sew - so why don't I make my own!

I spent some time on the Internet looking at gardening aprons to come up with something that would work for me.  I wanted an apron that wasn't too long so that it drooped in the way when I was bending down.  It had to have a number of pockets at the bottom and a pocket in the bib - oh, yes - I wanted a bib apron.  It needed to be relatively simple and should be made with fabrics and items I already hand on hand.  And this is what I came up with!

This apron has 4 pockets at the bottom - 6 if you count narrow pockets you could slide a pencil into!  There's a wide pocket in the bib which would be good for holding seed packets.  It has waist ties and an adjustable neck strap that knots to just the right length through a grommet.  I have heavy bottom-weight woven fabric on hand and I figured I wouldn't need much more than a metre.  So let's get started!

I planned out my pieces and cut them from a tan denim-like fabric that I had sitting on the shelf.  The apron body is cut on the fold - everything else will fit in wherever it can on my fabric.  I can even fit in a 12" square in to make my own bias tape.

So what else do you need?  A 25 mm bias tape maker will make the 1/2" tape I need plus a grommet to run the neck tie through.  Or you can buy a package of wide bias tape.   My sewing machine and serger will be put into use, although you could do the whole thing with just a sewing machine.  And of course, a steam iron.

Let's get started!

I cut out all the pieces I needed from my heavy fabric. 

The body of the apron came from a 22x10.5 piece cut on the fold.  In pencil, I drew the cutout, starting at 5" from the centre at the top and curving down to 12" from the bottom at the side.  I cut it out with my rotary blade.

The rest of the pieces I fitted in from what remained of the fabric.  

Bias Binding

Make the bias binding from the 12" square - and here's a link to a blog post I did on how to make your own bias binding.  This will be used to bind the raw bib edges and the remainder will be the neck strap.  

For a 25mm bias tape maker, cut the strips 2" wide or buy a package of wide double fold bias tape.

Bib Pocket

Serge/finish the raw top edge.

Fold over 1" to the right side and stitch the sides down.  Clip the corners.

Turn the pocket right side out.  Fold the sides and bottom over 3/8" and press down.  If you want to learn how to get crisp bottom corners, I have a link for that, too!

Topstitch the top edge.

Bottom Pocket

Serge/finish the raw top edge.  

Fold over 1" to the back and stitch down.

Pin the pocket right side to the wrong side of the apron at the bottom and serge/stitch a 1/4" seam.

Press the seam towards the apron.  This makes it easier to flip the pocket to the right side without the seam at the bottom showing.

Now turn the bottom pocket up onto the front of the apron and press.

Decide where you want your dividers and draw the lines with tailor's chalk or a washable sewing marker and pin the lines in place.  Stitch the divider lines, remembering to back-stitch at the beginning and end of each line.  Pin the pockets at the sides for now.

Bias Tape for the Bib Sides

Open one side of the bias tape and pin the right side of the tape to the wrong side of the apron bib.  

Stitch on the fold crease.

Now flip the binding to the right side of the apron and stitch close to the edge.

Serge/finish the raw edges at the top and sides.  Turn the bib top and sides to the back 1", press and stitch down.  Attach the bib pocket - I sewed mine in place 2" from the top of the apron.


Fold the ties in half lengthwise and serge/stitch 1/4" seam down the sides and across one end.  Turn right side out and press.

Fold the raw edge of each tie under 3/4" and pin on the back at the top of the sides - stitch down.

Stitch the remaining bias tape down one side through the entire length.  

Attach one end to a top corner of the bib at the back.

Apply the grommet to the other corner.  Thread the neck strap through the grommet.  Try on the apron and tie a knot in the neck strap so the apron sits at the right height for you.

And that's it!  You now have a gardening apron - probably made from a piece of heavy woven fabric that was too small to make anything else with!

Friday, 19 March 2021

"Sprinting" to the Summer Market!

We live on a small island off the west coast of British Columbia and in the summer we hold markets every Saturday.  Of course, in 2020 this was just not possible, but we're hoping that we will be able to hold our popular markets again this year.

I have been making and selling children's clothing at the market for a few years now.  I enjoy finding fun fabrics and love to sew them up and find homes for them.  It's wonderful this year to think that I can get back into it.  I previously hadn't make the Sprint pattern for my stall, but it looked like an excellent summer pattern - sleeveless for cool and the option of colour blocking and a hood - which kids seem to like.  So I decided to add it to my collection.

The Sprint Muscle Shirt can work for girls as well as boys and I was thinking of using a pretty floral to appeal to girls.

I had made the plain-fronted version for my grandson, but with a new selection of lovely prints from l'oiseau fabrics, I wanted to try colour blocking.  The V front had me wondering how easy it would be, but as I went along, I realized a few small steps would make it easy, and I decided to document them.  I used my sewing machine, serger and coverstitch in the making.

Colour Blocking the Front

I was careful to mark the exact centre of the bottom section as that will be a pivot point for my sewing machine's needle.

After stitching a couple of inches before and after the pivot point, I carefully snipped close to the stitching line.

Next, I pinned the bodice top to the bottom, pinning in the middle, then the ends and working the pins to the middle.

I then straight stitched the seam.

Since this will be for sale, I want all seams to have a finished look, and I serged the seam, then pressed it down.  

You could topstitch this seam, but at this time I chose not to.  Once the colour blocking was done, the rest of the top is a very quick process.

Serging in the Round

Recently I've seen some questions about how to finish off when serging in the round.  There are 3 seams for this in the Sprint Muscle Shirt so I'll show you how I do it.

As I approach where I started I keep on track to trim off the excess and stay on the serging line until the excess has been cut off by the serger's blade.

I keep stitching until that excess has been severed.

Then I lock the blade off, and stitch on a further inch or so until the stitching line overlaps neatly.

Finally I lift the presser foot, angle the garment 90 degrees to the needles so that the stitching will resume off the seam, drop the presser foot again and stitch off the garment for an inch or so.  

I trim right next to the seamline - this stitching will not come undone, so no need to feed the tail back into the stitching and you still have a tidy serged edge.

Coverstitching Hems

A coverstitched hem is the perfect finish for a garment you're planning on selling.  So many people try to enclose the raw edge, and I think this is a mistake.  When you have needles going into different thickness of fabric, you are courting tunnelling on the front side which is not a good look.

I aim to stitch close to the edge, but not over it.  If I wind up with a little move over the stitching line, it's easy to trim the raw edge back for the best look.  The fabric won't fray and it certainly doesn't show on the front.

Now obviously I can't show you a modelled photo because this will be going on my stall, but I'm very pleased with the finished product and I'm sure somewhere there's an 8-year old girl who will be so happy with her new sleeveless hoodie!

You can get this pattern from my affiliate link below:

Love Notions Sprint Muscle Shirt - sizes 2T - 14