Thursday, January 27, 2011

The "Be Mine" Skirt

Valentines Day is right around the corner.  So sit down at your machine and whip up this super girly, super easy skirt for any little girl in your life.  Easy to adapt for bigger girls too!

-1" wide elastic
-1/4 yard fabric for skirt lining
-1/2 yard fabric for main skirt
-fabric pen or pencil

-Hips (around the fullest part of the bum)
-Length (how long you want your skirt to be)
*take time at the beginning to take these measurements.  It will make construction go much smoother.

1.  Cut.  
-Cut elastic 1" longer than waist measurement. 
-Cut skirt lining into a rectangle that is 2" longer than hip measurement by 1" less than length measurement.  My hip measured 19 inches and my length was 9.  19 + 2 = 21 and  9 - 1 = 8, so I cut my rectangle 21" x  8".  ** UPDATE:  I would add at least 4" onto hip measurement to get the width.  This will allow for more wiggle room.  Especially if making the skirt for a non-baby.
-Cut skirt tiers.  Figure out how much of each tier you want to show.  About 2 inches for a baby skirt.  

If you look at the pictures below, you will see how different it will look if you allow more fabric to show through.  The red skirt allows the bottom tiers to peek out 3" while the pink allows only 2".  I think less looks better in this case.  


For larger skirts, you will want more to show because your top tier will be larger.   As a general rule, about half the width of each tier should be visible in the end.  

I know this seems confusing, but really all you need to do is take your length measurement, subtract 1" for the waistband then divide the total by 2.  This will give you the width of your tiers.  My math went something like this:  9 - 1 = 8.  8 / 2 = 4.  My tiers should be 4" each.  I added 1/2" on to each tier to account for serging.  Add a full inch to account for a hem if you will not be serging.

One more example:

For a 15 inch skirt:

15" - 1" = 14"
14" / 2" = 7" (finished tier length)
7 "+ 1/2" = 7 1/2 "tier length to account for serging, add a full inch if you are going to hem)

-The length of each tier should be double the lining width for the bottom two tiers and double the waist measurement for the top tier.   My waist measured 17" so my top tier was 34" x 4 1/2".  My lining measurement was 21" so my bottom two tiers were 42" X 4 1/2".

The top tier will gather more with the waist band, which is why you need less length than the other tiers.

2.  Finish Edges.  Serge the top and bottom edges of both the middle and bottom tiers.  Serge the bottom only of the skirt lining and top tier of the skirt (we'll finish the upper edge of both later).  I used a rolled hem to make the finished edge smaller than a regular serge.  See your serger's manual to determine how to set your machine up for a rolled hem.

**If you are not going to serge you will need to hem the bottom of each piece by folding and ironing each piece over 1/4" and then folding and ironing 1/4" again.  Top stitch with a 1/8" seam to hold in place.  You will finish the top edge of each piece later.


Here's what my finished pieces look like.

3.  Mark lining.  With your fabric pen, mark the lining fabric by drawing a line where you want the tiers to be.  I wanted 2 inches of the middle and bottom tiers to show.  For my skirt (with 4" tiers) I drew my first line 2" down from the top of the lining and my second line 2" below that. 

4.  Sew pieces.  With skirt pieces right sides together sew down the short edge using a 1/4 inch seam.  Pin before if you'd like.  Do the same with the skirt lining.

5.  Gather.  Sew a gathering stitch along the top edge of each tier using 1/8" seam.  To sew a gathering stitch set your machine to highest tension and longest stitch length.  Using a quilting foot also helps the material gather more as you sew.  Be sure not to back stitch at the beginning or end of your line.  Pull bobbin thread of each tier until they reach the same length around as the skirt lining piece.  Spread out the ruffles or gathers by pushing the fabric along the gathering thread until they are evenly spaced.  The top tier will be slightly less gathered than the other tiers because it is shorter.  This will be fixed as soon as you add the waistband.  

6.  Pin.  Pin the bottom layer onto the lining over the lower line you drew earlier.  Pin the middle tier at the top line.  Pin the top tier along the top edge of your skirt lining.  I chose to pin all the layers first and then sew all at once.  In hindsight, I think it may have been easier to pin and sew one at a time. 

7.  Sew.  Sew each tier to the skirt using a 1/4" seam.  If you did not serge your edges, you will want to attach the layers using a zig-zag stitch to prevent from fraying and then trim the left over main skirt fabric.  Do not cut through the skirt lining.  

If you have a serger, serge the top edge of the skirt to finish the edge and get rid of extra fabric.  If you will not be serging, zig zag and trim.

8.  Attach waistband.  Align waistband to skirt (wrong side of elastic to right side of skirt-exactly how it will look when worn).  Since the fabric is slightly larger than the elastic you will want to pin in at least 4 places (more for larger skirts) and then stretch the elastic as you sew.  I do this by marking the halfway points on the skirt and the elastic with a pin and then aligning those pins.  This way I ensure that the fabric will be evenly distributed along the elastic.

9.  Sew.  Using one hand to stretch the elastic as you go, sew the elastic to the skirt using a zig-zag stitch to allow for some stretch.

**I also attached a gathered flower to the front of the skirt.  I used this tutorial for the flower and sewed it directly onto the waistband.  

Fun skirt for the fun day.

Perfect for eating grass,

hiding behind trees,

and for playing with dad.

*don't mind the crooked headband

Happy Valentines Day!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I was featured at Ziggy Crafts.  They have quite a compilation of great craft ideas and tutorials.  Worth checking out.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gathered Flower Tutorial

**Disclaimer-I swear I own a bottle of lotion.  The winter just happens to hate my skin.  

I've heard them called pinwheel flowers as well, but they don't resemble a pinwheel as much as I'd like, so I'm going with "gathered" instead.


-square piece of scrap fabric (any size will do)
-needle and thread
-coordinating button or other center for flower

*Many types of fabric will work for these flowers.  I love the way felt holds the gathers but I also like the way a knit fabric makes a fuller, softer looking flower.  It just depends on what look you are going for.


1. Fold fabric in half and then in half again.  You should now be looking at 1/4 of the original square.

 2. Cut the raw edges (unfolded) to resemble 1/4 circle.

3. Insert needle into wrong side of fabric and begin a running stitch along the outside edge.

 4.  Continue to stitch, gathering up the fabric. The more consistent you make your stitch size, the more regular your gathers will look in the end.  Note that the larger the stitch length, the smaller the gathers will be.  The opposite is also true (smaller stitch length = larger gathers).

5.  When you reach the point where you started, pull the thread tight to gather in all of the fabric.

*This fabric is a little easier to see than the black and white felt.

6.  Use your fingers to push the gathered edges in on itself and run a few stitches across the gathers to help them stay put.


*Again, this fabric shows it a little better than the felt. 

7.  Use the same needle and thread to sew on your center.  If you did not use a button, hot glue will work as well.

They look really cute on headbands.  But I think they would go well on jackets or clutches as well.

Version #2

I avoid using a needle and thread unless it is absolutely necessary. Naturally, I had to know if I could make these using my sewing machine.  I found it didn't make too much of a difference with the smaller flowers (might have even been easier to hand sew) BUT if you need larger flowers, machine is definitely the way to go. 


1.  For larger flowers I used my rotary cuter and cut around a large plate.

 2.  For a finished flower of about a 6 inch diameter, you will want to cut a circle with a 10 inch diameter.

3. Set your machine to sew a gathering stitch (longest stitch length and highest tension). 

Using a 1/4 inch seam, sew around the outer edge of your circle.  Do not back stitch at the beginning or end.  Also, be sure not to overlap threads when you circle back to your first stitch.  I suggest ending a little below where you started so that you don't leave out any of the fabric when you start to gather it.

 4. Take both ends of the bobbin thread and pull gently.  As you pull, use your other hand to push the  fabric you are gathering away from the ends you are pulling. GO SLOW!  If you try to do it quickly, you may break the gathering stitch and have to start over.

 5.  You should end up with something that resembles this.

6.  Rather than stitching the center closed as I did before, I used hot glue and pushed the edges together in the center.

7.  I also glued on my reason to break out the needle and thread now! 

*The above picture shows the difference in sewing by hand and by machine.  The flower on the left was sewn by hand and the flower on the right by machine.  It is easier to get the gathers closer together when sewing by hand because you can adjust your stitch length to very long.  Your machine stitch length has a limit so your gathers are likely to look a bit larger (smaller stitch length) than when sewing by hand.  I do like the full look of the flower on the right (machine sewn).  Both were made of the same jersey cotton.  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ruffled Headband

Headband headache- the pain that occurs when a headband squeezes too tightly just behind the ears. 

I love headbands.  I wear one pretty much everyday. They hide my curly mess and frizz and I couldn't live without them.  BUT...I hate when headbands "squeeze" my brains out.  

Not only are these headbands cute, but the entire band is made of elastic so they come with a no pain guarantee!  

-21 inches of 1 inch wide elastic
-30" x 4" of fabric
-coordinating thread
-safety pin

1.  Cut fabric and elastic.

2.  Iron each short end of your fabric down about 1/2 inch.

3.  Attach a safety pin to the middle of the right side of your fabric (this is to make turning your fabric easier after it is sewn).

4.  Fold fabric in half right sides together and sew a 1/4 in seam.  Use your hand to keep the edges together as you sew.  The picture below shows 1/2" seam which is wrong.

5.  Turn fabric right side out by pushing the safety pin towards the opposite end from where it is pinned, allowing it to pull the fabric inside the tube behind it.  

6.  Remove the safety pin from the fabric and pin it to one end of the elastic.  Use the safety pin to insert the elastic into the fabric tube.

7.  Pull fabric towards the center of the elastic leaving 3" of exposed elastic on each end of the band.  Pin the fabric in place.

8.  Using a combination of pulling on both ends of the elastic at the same time and straightening with your fingers, spread the ruffles out on the band until they look nice.  Iron the ruffles in place.  Do not skip this step.

**If you have a quilting foot, switch to it now.  It makes sewing over the bulky ruffles a bit easier.  Your regular foot will work, just be sure to iron well to get rid of some of the bulk.

9.  Topstitch across each end of the fabric to secure fabric to elastic.  Use a 1/8 inch seam.

10. Topstitch along each side of the band to secure the ruffles in place using 1/8 inch seam.  This is not an exact science.  The ruffles create an uneven edge.  I find it easiest to pick a spot on the band to focus on and then keep everything in line with that point.  The ruffled edges may not stay exactly at the 1/8 inch seam.  Do your best to keep the sewn line straight, even if it means letting some ruffles exceed the 1/8 inch seam. Also be sure not to sew over the elastic.

11.  Fold the band in half, right sides together (both sides should be basically the same).  Sew the elastic ends together using a 1/2 inch seam.

12.  Fold the elastic ends open and topstitch the loose ends down onto itself (Sew about 1/8 inch in either direction from the center seam).  See next two pictures for clarification.

And now your done.  They look really cute as is, or spice things up by adding flowers, rosettes or buttons!

 **For the smaller baby size I used 1/2 inch elastic and 24"x 3" fabric.  I measured the elastic around her head for the length.  

All headbands above are now for sale in my etsy shop, Homestitchedbyellie.  Go check it out.