Monday, July 27, 2015

Review ~ the Shirt Making Workbook

If there is such a thing as a bible for shirt making, this book would be it.

I was given the chance to review the book, "the Shirt Making Workbook" written by David Page Coffin who was an editor at Threads magazine as well as contributing many articals for them. David has taught and lectured all over the U.S, Canada, and U.K. He has also taught an online class for

What I love is that David did an amazing job explaining things so well throughout the book.

Yes, I can sew a garment... well, as long as it's not too complicated. I have never attended a sewing school, I have learned everything I know through trial and error. I know I still have a lot to learn. I hope my book review can give you the glimpse of how awesome this book is and how great it is for everyone; beginner to intermediate!

In chapter 1, he talks about where and how to get these five basic blocks(patterns). In the last chapters (3 through 7) teaches us details and specialized techniques associated with each of five block types in the picture in the bottom.

In Chapter 2, you can learn and review a few key generic construction techniques in common use among professionals.

Who knew there are so many different collar types!

There are some unique pocket and cuff ideas too!

He also featured some designers in his book. My most favorite designer is Morgan Meredith. Morgan and her husband Matt has a pattern line for menswear. You need to go check out their website for the unique and versatile patterns, tutorials and links. It is hard to find stylish and current menswear patterns. As my boys are getting older, I am happy to know that I have a go to pattern store with one click of a button.

Reading through the book I realized that this is not a sewing how-to book even though he shared many great techniques through out the book. This is a shirt design book which is full of information that professionals would use with a more friendly approach for home sewers like myself. Also, what's great about this book is that this workbook provides a large collection of full-size add-on detail patterns in digital, printable format. Now, we can really get rolling and have fun with it!

Intrigued? If you want to expand your knowledge in shirt making, you don't want to miss this one. I highly recommend it! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tutorial~ Half Circle Skirt {Skirting the Issue}

Hello everyone, I am participating in "skirting the issue" blog hop today! What is skirting the issue? It is a month long event where you are invited to sew along with Liz and Elizabeth of Simple Simon & Co and other participant bloggers to sew skirts to donate to local Foster Care centers. They have a goal of 1000 skirts to donate this year, so that the girls in the foster care have new skirt to wear on the first day of school.

I am sharing the tutorial how to make a half circle skirt today with knit fabric. The half circle skirt is one of my most favorite styles, because it still has a look of full circle but less drama and actually stays with your body lines better (full circle skirts tend to blow up more with the wind!). It is a perfect mix of prettiness + functionality which is perfect for school! There are a couple things before we begin.

{Fear of Knit fabric}

I know, I have been there. You don't have a serger? Not to worry, you can still sew with knits if you know some tricks to work with them. I wrote a tutorial on how to sew a knit skirt with tricks you need to know a while ago, please head over to the post and see what kind of needle and working foot you need to use.

{Drafting a Half Circle Skirt}

It is a lot simpler than you think. Once you know how, you can customize a half circle skirt for anybody! There are many great tutorials in blog land, but some are harder to understand than others. Here is a very simple explanation of how I figured out the numbers to customize a half circle skirt for my daughter.

1. Measured her waist.

2. Take the measurement and do a little math problem.

Waist ÷ 3.14 = inner circle radius

My daughter's waist was 23", so I did 23 ÷ 3.14 = 7.324.... round the number. I decided to go with 7 1/4".

3. Start drafting the pattern. I used my measurement, but when you are drafting a pattern you can use your number that you figured out for the inner circle and apply the number that you like for the length of the skirt. Remember, when you are figuring out the length, don't forget to include the number of the highs of the belt.

{Talk about Seam}
In this pattern I use 3/8" seam for all except the bottom seam of the skirt. I know this is much narrower seam compared to commercial patterns, but since I wasn't sewing with a serger I did't need a wide seam allowance. Also I don't care for wide bulky seams on my clothes. This is a personal preference, so you can change it to whatever width you like. :)

Ok, the rest is easy-peasy!

{What you need}

58/59 Wide Mid weight knit fabric ------ 3/4 yard (I used the knit from Riley Blake Designs they are easy to work with and very nice quality). My daughter is 9 years old, if you are making this for older girls, you will need more yardage.

3/4" Wide Non Roll Elastic ---- waist length + 1"

Matching Thread

{How to}

1. Fold the fabric in half in the middle and lay down the pattern you created on it. Make sure that one side of the pattern seam matches perfectly with the folded seam. Pin and cut.

2. Cut 1 strip of fabric 2 1/2" Wide x the length of the waist + 3/4" seam allowance.

3. Fold the half circle fabric right side together. Match the seam perfectly and sew with 3/8" seam. Then treat the edge with your preferred stitches. Fold the seam towards one side and press with iron.

4. Bring both ends of the waist bands right sides together. Leaving a small opening for the elastic to go through later and sew.

5. Open the seam and press with iron. Then, fold the waist band in half horizontally. Match the top edge of the skirt and the edge of the folded waist band and pin. Make sure that the seam of the skirt and waist band match perfectly in the back and the opening for the elastic will show in inside of the the skirt.

6. Sew all around it and treat the edge as well. fold the seam toward the skirt and press with iron.

7. Top stitch to secure the seam and give a finished look.

8. Fold the bottom seam by 1/2" and sew with double needle to finished it up.

I knew the polka dot navy skirt would be so cute and versatile same with the gray polka dot as well. Because it was so easy and fairly inexpensive to make, I made two to add to her wardrobe.

Time for a test run... I hope she likes it!

You can find many free skirt tutorials at Simple Simon & Co. Visit them and discover lots of other participant bloggers! :)

Monday, July 13, 2015

Orange Peel Quilt

The busyness of summer is a bit different than the busyness of the school year. I still drive my kids to activities and to play dates all on top of the places I want to take them. Sometimes it crosses my mind "How many more summers do I have where I have all my kids with me?". Therefore I have been out a lot or even when I am home, my time is consisting of activities with kids. I manage to squeeze some time to sew still, and I just finished with this orange peel quilt I started last fall.

Our family vacation is coming up and I have so much to do before we leave, but I just wanted to drop in to say "hi" and share my quilt. :)

Oh! Update about my van... we talked to the dealership and we are still seeking the best option. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your comments and emails about the accident and I will let you know when I have more to tell. :)

I hope the summer is good to you and your life is filled with happiness and laughter.



Monday, July 6, 2015

Screech- Bang! ... and Much More

I have written about one of life's curve balls in the past; this post is one of them... as you can see in the picture, that's what happened to my minivan last Monday.

I took my car in for an oil change. I take mine in to the car dealership where we bought our car brand new almost 5 years ago. Even though I made an appointment for the oil change, there were so many cars in the garage. So I talked to a person who works there, did the paperwork and signed my name and headed in to waiting area. I found a spot and sat down and started to read. After a short while, I heard,


Everyone in the waiting area looked up, including myself. "That didn't sound good" I thought.

Many people stood up and headed to the garage to see what happened. I also saw many people come from the sales area and from upstairs to go see what had happened. I sat and waited for a while.

As some people came back they were saying that "Man, that didn't look good." or "Boy, I feel bad for the owner..."

I thought "ok, maybe I will go check this out myself too" then I stood up and walked to the garage. There is a large glass window where you can see the whole garage. As I was getting closer to it, I saw a white minivan and a truck unnaturally close to each other.

NOTE: Does this happen to you? In your mind you can see things and be able to process what might have happened but you are in denial and try to direct your thoughts to somewhere else? Basically that was happening in my head. Ok, you can keep on reading...

I thought well, this is a Toyota dealership, of course there are gonna be other white minivans just like mine. That's not mine.

I got closer... then I saw a rectangle blue handicap sign hanging in the middle of the front windshield. Ugh... That moment, I knew, that minivan is mine. I kept the same pace and got closer to my van and saw some damage even from behind. My van was rammed into the truck that was in front of it. When they backed out my van it made a horrible sound and revealed its damage. My jaw dropped and for a moment I could only stare at it blankly, but I took a picture and sent it to my husband with short message that said "Look at what happened to my van".

He was on his way, but in the meanwhile my head was filled with our schedule for the next few weeks. The thing is, I can't drive any other car except ours. Because I have prosthetic limb on the right leg, I have a special pedal installed in my van so I can drive with my left leg. Mr. TRH's sedan has the same pedal and I can drive it, but we bought the minivan to meet our family's needs. (I did by the way, tell them that there was a left foot accelerator that can be easily removed and to be careful.)

My boys are doing a lawn mowing business for the summer and I was helping them out to haul the lawnmower... they need to call their customers and tell them what happened...

While all this (and more) was going through my mind, many people in the garage came up to me and said "sorry this happened" or "make sure that they (the dealership) will take good care of you", trying to comfort me. I really appreciate those gestures but the storm in my head was still there and I started to tear up. Then, an older couple approached me. They were the owners of the truck that was hit by my van. Instead of being angry, they were so nice and sweet and they both tried to comfort me. We walked to the waiting area (the woman got me a tissue as well) and sat and started to talk to each other while we were waiting to talk to the dealer.

We met under bad circumstance, but as we talked to each other we found we have lots of common ground and had a very nice visit. I didn't ask their number or anything, but I really appreciated the time we spent together and their kindness to me.

So, after three hours of waiting... we were able to sit and talked to the people at the dealership. They told me that what happened was that person who drove my car was just going to shimmy the car forward while riding the brake. He accidently stepped on both the left foot accelerator and brake at the same time and the car launched forward. I always warn them about the special pedal, if you are not used to it, that could happen... it was a total accident. I am grateful that nobody got hurt because of this, it would been terrible if that was the case.

Well, a week later we still don't know what is going to happen. I think they are trying to figure out what they can do with their insurance company and all. The thing is that we bought the car brand new at the end of 2010 (it's a 2011 model) and paid it off shortly after. Our plan was to drive that van for a long time, at least until our youngest is out of the house. We were not expecting to have any car payments for years except for regular maintenance.

What is the most likely scenario for something like this? Does anybody know?

Phew... talk about a curve ball... I am just hoping and praying that things will work out ok. Hopefully I can write a good follow up post soon. :)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tutorial ~ Double Sided Placemats with Riley Blake Designs Home Decor Fabric

Have you seen the beautiful home décor fabric line by Riley Blake Designs? They have great selections, but I must say that my most favorite line is Patty Young Home Dec. There are 10 gorgeous colors to choose from and they are a perfect mix of classic and modern. I knew what I wanted to make, but I really had a hard time deciding which color to pick for the project. I finally chose Aqua Vivid and Navy Vivid, those are the colors that I am most likely to use for placemats. The great things about this project is how easy and quick it is to sew and you feel like you are getting 2 sets of placemats instead of 1!

Are you ready to jump in and start?

{You will need}

2 different fabric 1 1/4 yard each (they are 54" wide)
Thread (I just used cream)

{How to}

1. Fold each fabric in half vertically and cut out three 14 1/2" strips. Take two strips from each color and put them together with right sides on the cutting table. You will have three sets of strips.

2. Cut two 19 1/2"wide rectangles from each strip set. Then, you will end up with six sets of rectangles.

3. Leaving a 4" opening on one side, sew all around the rectangle with 1/4" seam.

4. Trim off the corners so that the finished corners will look prettier without excess fabric. Turn the fabric inside out. Press with iron.

5. Top stitch all around the placemat with 1/8" seam.

Sew 5 more...

This home décor fabric is very nice to the touch and easy to get the wrinkles out compared to other home décor fabrics I have dealt with in the past.

Here are some picture of table settings I did one afternoon to see what they would look like. With vivid Aqua I got my white dishes out and set the table.

With the Vivid Navy, I think white dishes with strong pink peony, gold accent would be beautiful too, but since I have some Japanese dishes and that's what I use often, I decided to try that type of table setting.

So what do you think? I think placemats are an easy and fun way to give a splash of color to your table. Head over to Riley Blake Designs to see more color options! :)

6/24 – Tea Rose Home
7/3 – Heart Zipper
7/6 – Quiltscapes


Friday, June 19, 2015

Privacy Screen to Headboard DIY ~ Anthro Inspired

Mr.TRH and I have been married for quite a bit, but we never owned a headboard. Why?

Reason 1. When we were newly married there were so many other things we needed to spend money on and it was never a priority.

Reason 2. I dreamed of having a four post bed for a while, but while we were staying with my in-laws, Mr.TRH would always hang things around our bed like it was our open closet, so that idea went out the window.

Reason 3. I have NEVER found a bed I liked in my price range. EVER.

Then, one day I found my dream bed... Meet Lombok Bed.

I just LOVE this bed. Talk about character... then I saw the price tag of over $3000(after tax), yikes!

So I was ok with not having a headboard or bed until I could find something I love, but the Lombok bed always stayed in my mind.
I was out shopping a few weeks ago, when I walked in to a local Tuesday Morning, the sight of a pretty privacy screen caught my eye.

I told Mr.TRH what I had in mind with it, he got his tools out and start working on it for me! We had to take all the hinges and screws out, because each panel is put together so that they will fold accordion style. With the hinges, the screen won't be perfectly flat like a headboard would be. He screwed in some supporting wood on the back...

and screwed the panel into the wall. Viola! I have an Anthro inspired headboard in my bedroom.

I kept the same lamp but changed the shades and added a couple new décor for the night stand to freshen up the room.

A couple posts ago, I shared a tutorial for Euro pillow case from a twin size quilt. Look how they are sitting pretty on my bed.

It is not exactly like the Anthro bed, but I got the feel of it for $160 dollars instead of $3000 and I am pretty happy with how it turned out. Next time when you are out shopping, you might find a pretty privacy screen. One of the secrets for success for this project is to have the measurement of the bed you want the headboard for. Also carry a small measuring tape with you, so when you see the privacy screen, you can measure it across and see if it is the right size for your bed.

Thank you for stopping by. Have a happy summer everyone!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Blossom Dress Tutorial ~ 30 Days of Sundresses Series at Melly Sews

Guess what? I was asked to be a part of such a fun series: "30 Days of Sundresses" at Melly Sews. It is the 4th year and there are always awesome ideas and dresses. I am honored to be a part of it!

I came up with this relaxed and flowy dress for Rachel for this Summer and am loving the result! In fact I am thinking about making one for myself... of course in a bit bigger size.

It is a very simple dress to make and if you are not big on applique you can skip that part; then you can whip up the dress even faster!

When I found these fabrics and ribbon at one of my favorite local shops, I was so excited. It was very close to what I had in mind! I created this dress for my daughter and she is almost 10. Because of the nature of the dress, I assume it should fit most of the 8 to 10 year olds.

So, here is a list of things you will need to make this dress:

Shot cotton -- 2 yards
Large Flower pattern fabric -- 1 yard
Interfacing -- about one yard
Matching thread
Ribbon 2 to 3 yards

* Note --- Shot cotton is woven with two slightly different colors, creating a subtle shimmer of light and beauty! I feel like it is slightly lighter weigh than regular cotton fabric and falls nicely when you sew clothing. You can find them at Purl Soho incase you want to see more color options;

{How to}

1. Print out the PDF pattern for the top portion of the dress and for the bottom line. You might want to print out two top portions, since there are two different necklines for the front and back. Cut them out. The pattern includes the 1/2" seam allowance.

2. Right sides together fold the fabric in half vertically. Place the pattern onto the fabric; line up the straight edge on the side with folded edge on the fabric. Trace around the pattern around the neckline, shoulder and sides with washable marker or chalk. Half inch seam allowance is already included in the pattern.

3. Measure 25" from below the bust line on the pattern and mark. Extend the diagonal line on the side and use the provided template to mark on the fabric so that the bottom seam of the dress has a nice curved line.

4. With zigzag stitch (or a serger), sew on the shoulders, armhole and sides to prevent fraying.

5. Put right sides of the fabric together, sew both shoulders with 1/2" seam. Open the seam and press with an iron.

6. Sew the sides. Stop at the mark below the arm hole. Open the seam and press with an iron.

7. Fold the seam around the arm hole and press with an iron and stitch.

8. Cut 1 1/2" W x 23 to 25 inches long fabric strip in bias. Make bias tape for the neckline.

9. Line up one side of the seam to the edge of the neckline on the right side of the fabric, pin and sew.

10. Fold the bias tape towards the wrong side of the fabric, pin and do top stitch.

11. Fuse interfacing on the fabric you want to use for applique.

12. Cut out flowers...

13. Lay the flowers on the dress and pin.

14. I did free motion stitch to do this part. You will want to make sure all the outer edges are sewn (I try to stay close to the edge... about 1/8"), then you can kind of follow the design on the flowers and stitch away.

Now, the dress is completed. It is time to enjoy!

As I said in the beginning of the post, this dress has a relaxed silhouette. It is perfect for hot summer days looking pretty but super comfortable.

Psst... she is wearing short leggings underneath, she can be as active as she wants and play around too.

With a ribbon tied around her waist, the dress can transform to a different style. I honestly love both, with and without the ribbon.

When she was trying on the dress she was super excited about it and exclaimed, "I always wanted the dress like this, mom!" That, ladies...made me so happy. :)

Melissa is running a wonderful giveaway on her blog right now, make sure to hop over to see the details. Thank you for visiting everyone!

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