My ten-year-old granddaughter received a new comforter for her daybed. The old comforter and bedskirt had a black and white theme. Now it's aqua, brown, pink, and peace signs. Not my favorite look, but to each his own.

The comforter didn't come with a bedskirt, so I was enlisted to fix that issue. My granddaughter and I found some polka dot fabric at a quilt shop in Waco, Texas (Tomorrow's Quilts). I attached the skirt to the same base that the black and white fabric had been attached to. This is definitely a "poor boy" way to do things. I made a one-sided skirt because the daybed has three wood sides and only the front skirt is visible. By the way, the other three sides still have the black and white fabric. The wood keeps them hidden.

As you can see, there is a long black and white pillow running across the back of the bed. It needs to be converted to the new color scheme, too. I have some dotted fabric left, but not enough to cover the pillow. I might try to find a solid or stripe and then applique' some of the dotted fabric onto it. I'll let you know how it goes...

By the way, if you're ever in Waco, Texas, stop by Tomorrow's Quilts. We were greeted at the door as we walked in with the comforter in our arms (for matching purposes). The lady who greeted us knew her inventory very well and began pulling bolts of cotton from across the store. We found a match in no time.

My Sewing Room

A few years ago, I enclosed my home's back porch. This 9' x 20' space is now my sewing room, and I Iove it! What looks like a wood floor in the photos is actually sheet vinyl. It was nearly as expensive as real wood. When people first step into the sewing room, they often ask what kind of floor it is. They're pretty sure it's not wood, but they don't know what else it could be. It's a lot more realistic looking than the vinyl flooring of the 70's and 80's. I wouldn't mind having this type of floor in some other parts of the house. It's much easier to care for than tile (hooray--no grout to clean), wood, or wood laminate.

Here are the members of my sewing team:
Cutting table
Cutting Table
I drew up some plans for a cutting table and talked my son into putting it together for me. The top is 3/4" plywood that is 7' x 3.5'. The frame is 2 x 4's with a couple of cross beams to keep the legs sturdy. It is equipped with casters, so it can be rolled around. Initially, I covered the top with thin batting and then stretched and stapled canvas to it. Later, I had a handyman glue a piece of Formica to the top. Formica sheets can be found at home centers for less than $20 for a 4' x 8' sheet.

Stick-on measuring tape
I found some sticky tape that has measurements printed on it and added that to the top. I also put a shorter strip of tape on the top of my sewing machine.

Before the Formica was added, I had attached some small plastic bins just under the edge of the table top. They were great for holding different types of pins, chalk, tracing wheel, and scissors. Unfortunately, the handyman added a new Formica apron to the table to cover the raw edge of the wood, so the bins don't fit anymore. I miss the bins, but the Formica top is much nicer for scooting fabrics around. I probably could attach the bins to the table's legs. 
Bottom shelf of cutting table holds bolts of fabric upright
The cutting table has a shelf that holds most of my dressmaker fabric. Here you can see the shelf unloaded when I was re-arranging my stash.

Tall china cabinet has adjustable shelves, stores books
and magazines on top, trimmings and elastic in
Storage Cabinet
I have an outcast china cabinet that got moved to the sewing room for lack of a better place to store it. It has become an asset. It keeps patterns and other loose items neatly tucked away.

I have a few wire bookshelves--the kind that can stack or not. They hold plastic bins that contain books, interfacing, etc.
Plastic pegboard and thread rack
Jewelry holder used for buttons
I mounted a pegboard on an end wall for items that can be hung. This is a plastic pegboard, hence the white color. It was more expensive than regular pegboard, but I like the white color. Above the pegboard is a thread holder. I also found a hanging jewelry holder, made to hang in a closet, that holds buttons and other fasteners. Pins, needles, bobbins, etc., live in a small plastic cabinet with tiny drawers. I got the cabinet at Lowe's. It's meant to hold screws and nails. I also got a label maker and labeled the drawers. It's too hard to figure out what's in them otherwise. The cabinet sits on the sewing table next to the sewing machine.

Ironing board on table with tailor's ham, seam roll, sleeve boards
Ironing Board
I made a 2' x 4' piece of plywood into an ironing board. The board was purchased pre-cut at Lowe's. I padded it and stapled ironing board fabric to it. Fabric came from JoAnn's. It sits on a table next to my sewing machine. The blank spot next to it is where the iron usually sits. My beautiful Rowenta iron, mentioned in a previous post, has met with an unfortunate demise (dogs knocked it off the table, and it split open). Guess I'll have to start saving up for a new one.

Half price at $99.  Very comfortable!
I bought a leather chair from Office Depot. They were having a sale, and it is so much more comfortable than my previous chair.

This is a corner room, so I have one window on the short wall, and five windows plus an exterior door with a window in the long wall.

The room has overhead fluorescent lights. I know--that throws off color matching, but it really hasn't been a problem. After all, it's the same type of lighting they use in fabric stores. Besides, there is so much light from the windows that I don't use the overhead lights unless I'm sewing at night.

The room is connected to the central unit that serves the rest of the house. There is also a ceiling fan, although I only run it when all the pattern pieces are put away, or it'll blow them all over the place!

The sewing room is also the bedroom for my shelties. There's a dog door next to the exterior door leading to the back yard, and they run in and out all day long. The door that once led to the back porch from the living room now leads to the sewing room, so I can close it and keep the dogs in the sewing room and out of the main house when I have guests who aren't dog lovers (perish the thought!).

Sewing Notions and Tools

Simflex Gauge
What is the funny looking thing with all the points? It's a Simflex gauge. This accordion looking device is great for adjusting buttonhole markings and other repetitive measurements. It's available through Nancy's Notions, Clotilde, Hancocks of PaducahVogue Fabrics and others. Prices vary a lot, so shop around before you buy.

Steam Iron
Every sewer has her favorite notions and tools, and I'm no different. A few years ago, I bought a Rowenta steam iron that has become my pride and joy. This big brother to a regular iron takes an honored spot in my sewing room. It opens the most stubborn seams and sets pleats with no effort at all. I bought my iron at JoAnn fabrics during a sale. They're pricy, but worth it if you do much sewing.

Pattern Weights
Patterns weights? They look like dinner knives, and yes, my friend that's what they are. The point is, look around the house and see what you can come up with. Sometimes pinning pattern pieces just isn't necessary. Other items that can be scooted around quickly might work just as well. I have a friend who weights down large pattern pieces with VHS tapes! My mom used knives, and so do I.

Pinking Shears
Yes, I have a serger, but sometimes it isn't worth the trouble to use when all I want is to finish a seam edge quickly. Pinking shears work best on light and medium weight tightly woven fabrics. Pinking quickly finishes off a seam allowance without any fuss. The pinked edge is less likely to show through after the seam has been pressed open.

Create Perfectly Mitered Corners - Threads

Oops! Updated info: Threads has made the mitered hem lesson part of their Insider section, and now you have to pay for a subscription to view it.  Never fear, though, has an excellent tutorial here.
One of my favorite sewing magazines, Threads, has a great website with lots of information on garment construction. Mary Ray's lesson on mitering lightweight fabrics is excellent. I have used this technique several times with great success. This photo is taken from the website. It's a better example than I can photograph at home. Click the link below, and you'll be mitering in no time!

Create Perfectly Mitered Corners - Threads

My Favorite Dress Pattern

Welcome to my blog! I am a fifty-something lady who likes to sew.  I’m not a quilter. I actually enjoy making clothes, so that’s what this blog will be about.

Years ago, I taught in a private school that required a certain level of dressiness in what teachers wore. I found a perfect dress pattern that I made up in so many fabrics that it’s hard to remember how many I made. 

The pattern comes in a plain or darted front. I used the darted front in the longer length version. I used to call this my $3 dress, because I made the dress a couple of times from double knit fabric I found at Walmart for $1 per yard. I only needed 3 yards of the fabric, there were no notions purchased, and I used thread and pattern that I already had. A few dresses were embellished. One dress had contrasting piping around the neckline.

Fabrics: double knit, dress weights in polyester and polyester/rayon blends

Things I changed
  • Sewed the back seam from bottom to top—no neck slit at top of back and no walking slit
  • Lengthened the short sleeve about an inch—a little more covering for aging arms
  • Added 2 inches to width at hem, evenly distributed at side and back seams—to accommodate walking since walking slit was removed
  • At my chubbiest, I added to the size 24 pattern and made a plus-sized dress
  • At my skinniest, I was down to a size 10 but still had to add a little to the bust area and dropped the dart about 1 inch--it's that aging body again--and taller than average height
  • I made this pattern twice as a top and skirt set in double knit by cutting the bodice off a few inches below the waist and hemming it. Then I used the skirt part of the dress as a guide for a quick skirt with cased, elasticized waist.
The back neck has a small slit opening that fastens with a hook or button and loop; however, I usually just sewed up the slit and pulled the dress on over my head. The neckline is just big enough to slip over the wearer’s head. The front neckline is higher than a scoop neck, which is really nice when you’re bent over a student’s desk!

Try this pattern and see what you think. It's great for beginners, but experienced sewers can have a lot of fun with it, too.