Category Archives: functional sewing



‘I, Amy Jo of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’12. I endeavour to wear something I have made or refashioned each day for the duration of May 2012, with as many thrifted items as possible.’

I didn’t make it the entire month last year, so although its the same pledge, I feel like it will still be a challenge!

Well, we’re almost through the month, and so far its a challenge!

MMM12 week 1

Not sure why the colors are so wonky looking. Oh well.

MMM12 week 2

On my flickr photostream, I’ve commented on almost all the daily shots and mentioned what about the outfit is me made, and what is thrifted.

MMM12 Week 3

Two days I’ve missed. Both were SUPER hot and I wore running shorts and a non me made tee shirt. Such is life.

If you’d like to see the full pix, click on over to the Flickr set.  Check out the full flickr group with everyone’s contributions too!

I’m not doing well about documenting my outfits nicely.  Most of my pictures are crappy and taken in a mirror, with my iphone, in my disaster of a family room, in the middle of being painted.But there isn’t much to do about it, if I want to document it, this is how it’s going to be right now. and that is OK!

I’ve gotten some sewing done for myself, and some for a client, so things are moving right along. Hopefully I’ll be able to show you with next week’s wrap up what I’ve sewn for myself! We shall see!!


Me Made March

I, Amy Jo of, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-March ’11. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment, refashioned garment, or wearable accessory each day for the duration of March 2011!!


So that means I can wear a scarf or hat (if its part of an all day outfit, and not like, oh, its cold! I should put on a hat!) but not carry a purse or clutch and count it. And of course, any articles of clothing that I’ve made count!

I’m super excited! Zoe over at So, Zo… is hosting it. She’s done a Made by Me May and a Self Stitched September before. (Oh how I love alliterations!)

In order to do this successfully, I’m going to have to make at least a couple more shirts between now and March, and hopefully a pair of pants or a skirt. I’d really like to make a pair of trouser jeans, but I’m not sure how much farther I have to go with altering my Burda pants pattern.

We’ll see!

I’ve got a vintage yellow sheet with flowers on it that I’d like to make into a button down shirt, lovely soft and drapey blue oxford cloth, and this interesting linen looking cream with flowers print that I’m thinking would be good button downs. Then I also have a black gauze that I’ve been wanting to make into a simple tunic for almost 2 years. So if I can get those shirts and a pair of jeans done, I think I’ll be good to go!

Weeeee!!! I can’t wait.

Oh, and a progress update on the Dang Pin Tuck shirt… I have the sleeves but have lost the body of the shirt! Egads! Who does that? I think that perhaps I’m not meant to ever finish the stupid thing. At the rate I’m going, it might be done next fall. Stupid shirt.

Ok, that’s all for now! Go check out Zoe’s blog! She has a really cool style that isn’t much like my own, but that I really admire! (And some awesome info and posts on sustainability!)

Cozy hats for a white December

I’ve had this pattern since about February. My dad and I were heading out to photograph some bald eagles (and an AMAZING hoar frost) the next morning and I didn’t want to be hatless. Something I’ve learned about myself over the years is that if I get cold I get pretty whiny. Since it was going to be frigid I decided I needed to make a hat.

Hat Pattern

I used to have this awesome fleece hat that was so incredibly warm and had an attached, drop down/fold up into the hat balaclava. Somehow I lost it after a few years, but I found this pattern and it looked very similar.

I went to Jo-Ann’s about a half an hour before they closed that night. I found some pretty ugly dark brown heavier fleece and came home with every intention of making this hat that night. The only problem with this was that by the time I got home it was pretty late, and I had to meet my dad at his house at 4am. And he lives about a half an hour away. I went to sleep instead. And the hat pattern & fabric sat. For 10 months. In the bottom of a closet.

Its been an incredibly cold December here, with lots of snow already. Tromping about campus with nothing covering your ears isn’t very pleasant, so I decided I want to make this hat. I bought some cute fleece with stripes when it was on sale a two weeks ago. Then this past week, I had my first final on Monday. Afterwords I just needed a break, and I sat down to sew this hat.

It has a sizing guide on the back so I measured and used the size it told me to, cut it out, and sewed it up. It came together REALLY quickly. Less than an hour from opening the pattern to trying it on. At the time, I found it interesting the way they had you finish the seams with a straight stitch on the inside and a zigzag in the seam allowance.

Hat edge finishing

It calls for a stretchy fleece, so it seemed to me that you should be using a zigzag to allow it to stretch. Maybe I should have listened to myself because I finished the hat part and tried it on, and it was too small. Not so small I couldn’t wear it if I needed to or anything, but just too small at the seam between the ear covering part and the top hat part. With no stretch what so ever!

Fortunately, my best friend apparently has a smaller head than I do and it found a new home with her!

Nat in a Hat

You can kind of see how wonky the stripes are in that picture. You should really read the construction details before deciding how you’re going to match the strips. I didn’t do that. I just figured this piece went to that piece and they should match… oh right about there. Didn’t quite work

I was kind of bummed because I didn’t have a ton of that fabric left and definitely not enough for a whole new hat. After giving Natalie her new hat, I came home and made another one, out of the ugly brown fabric. And I cut the size bigger.

ugly brown fleece

I told you it was ugly.

As I was getting really to attach the headband/ear warmer part to the hat part, I thought, Eureka! I’ll piece together enough of the cute stuff for the top! And have a brown headband part! And it will be adorable!

So I frankenfleeced the hat part together and sewed it up, finished the whole hat and loved it.

hat on a desk

The only problems I had with the pattern are sizing or placement related. The balaclava is supposed to be attached 1.5″ from either side of the back seam. When I did this, I couldn’t get any part of it over my head. So I’m attaching it with sew on snaps. If I make it a third time out of better fleece, I’m going to shorten the height of the headband part, and the front of the hat part. It looks a little goofy now, but its so cozy!

I’ve gotten a ton of compliments on it and I’m quite proud of it. I think how it came out looks rather RTW so that’s cool, and I think thats why everyone (myself included) is so impressed that I made it.

It was a quick easy project that I’d recommend if you need a toasty hat!

Little Pretties

I talked a couple posts ago about making some coffee cozies as a quick and easy project, and here is my first one!

Coffee cozy version 1.0

It was pretty quick considering I didn’t have a pattern and it was the first one I’ve made. I’ve been using it for a week, and have several tweaks for version 2.0 which will then be tested by my coffee guzzling friends.

coffee cozie on my awesome cake stand

A note about the cake stand, I got that at an auction for $12! And I love it! Its very pretty and sparkly and old!

Then I made a dish mat to dry our clean dishes on. Basically I pieced fabric together like you would in a quilt, and then sewed it onto an old towel. I made it to fit the countertop on either side of my kitchen sink from a towel that had a giant hole that was burned into it by bleach.

(We walked in and thought it smelled like a pool. Then realized there was a gallon of bleach on its side in the bathroom. Fortunately the towel and a pair of 8 year old pajama pants were the only victims. Yes. I wear a pair of 8 year old pajama pants. Don’t judge.)

It was my first adventure in “quilting” and I gotta say, I have a LOT more respect for quilters now!

dish mat

This is a small part of it. I’ll take some more pictures on a sunny day. The day I took all these it was rainy and cloudy and gray. Not good for naturally lit photography 🙂

I’ll be doing some mending of a winter coat for a dear friend this week, and putting an edge binding on my dish mat. Lots of heavy duty school work. At the end of every semester I think about how so much work is due in such a small amount of time. I cannot wait for Thanksgiving break!! Have a good week!

Pondering sewing priorities

I’ve been taking a week long sewing break. It seems like its been a month though. After rush rush rushing through the Purple Party Dress project, I just want to relax. But I’ve recently discovered as the temperature gets lower and lower, that I don’t have coat that fits. Well, I have one that technically fits. I mean, it zips up and covers my body. But it is not attractive and not really the style I like. Oh, and I have temporarily borrowed an old one that belonged to my dad, its a super warm Carhart complete with some lovely battery acid holes. Like I said, its warm.

I’m trying not to be too sad about this because although I loved my old coat, I’ve gotten a ton of wear out of it. Not to mention that I bought it in 2005. I was just enamored with it when I bought it. Its a camel pea coat that hits about mid thigh, made out of a soft wool/cashmere blend, insulated with thinsulate. Its going to be hard for another coat to live up to it.

As I see it, I have 3 options.

1. Buy new coat. The problem with this option is that its going to cost about $200 to do this with an equally good coat. In a plus size. And I’m not even sure if the one I’ve been thinking about would fit. I’m looking at this one from LL Bean and this one from Lands End.

2. Refashion old coat. Its basically an older, dressier version of those two coats. No cute cuff bands or interior pockets. But since its double breasted, I’m thinking about moving the buttons. This is a totally shoddy solution, but it might work for long enough that a. I can make/ buy a new one or b. I can lose 20 pounds and it will fit again.

3. Make new coat. My husband came up with this idea. I found some navy coating weight wool online for like $6 a yard, and some Thinsulate for about the same price. BUT I don’t have a pattern for it though, (maybe something like this?)and my mother is concerned about all the bulk in the seams and that perhaps I’d be biting off a bit more than I can chew. I’m also concerned about it being a little bit out of my skill set, but I felt so inspired by Gertie’s tailored Lady Grey coat sew along that I think I could probably tackle it as long as I took my time and sought help when I needed it.

I’m also inspired by Lindsay T’s peacoat .A peacoat made out of something other than wool? A new idea to me, but it might be the solution for this problem. If I could find some heavy winter weight polar fleece like is in those winter Northface jackets, I could use it as a lining to a much thinner shell part, and still get the peacoat look I like. And no bulky seams, or dealing with fraying lining fabric. Or maybe I would just deal with the lining fabric. I like silky lined coats and jackets much more than fleece ones. No one likes bunched up uncomfortable sleeves.

So these are my thoughts on coat making. Probably going to refashion the old coat as an initial AND temporary solution. I’m afraid that if I do that, I’ll just leave it and never come back to dealing with the real issue at hand. But I’m declaring it here for all the internet to read, so hopefully I will remember to make it a temporary solution! 🙂

On top of all this I have two shirts I’m dying to make.

I think I’m going to try to sew along with Barbara at Sewing on the Edge. I think that sewing a project that may be challenging for me because of the pattern would be good for me. And I’m quite sure that it will be challenging technically and to get the fit right. After all, every shirt I’ve made had some amount of gathering on the torso, so it really has taken some of the worry out of fitting. BUT I think it would be very nice to make a project with what is, at least in my mind, “easy” fabric. Nothing with strange creases that are meant to be there, or wacky prints that make it hard to mark the fabric, or anything slippery. Just plain, white cotton. I have two patterns I am thinking about using. One has princess seams and would undoubtedly be more difficult. The other has a side bust dart so it would be easier. But either way, I am pretty sure I will be stretched in my sewing skills.

Of course, me and my crazy lack of confidence with fitting skills, I think I should make a muslin first. But if I do that then I won’t have time to do all these other projects! I got the book Fit for Real People for my birthday in September, and have been dying to try out some alterations. They have you do a tissue fitting first, and then alter from there with no muslin. I did some small versions of the alterations on the Purple Party Dress, but I don’t think I did the best job. So this would be a great opportunity to try out step by step the method laid out in this book.

Then there is this other top I’ve been wanting to make. It has tucks and pleats and takes almost a whopping 4 yards of fabric. This McCalls, M5976. I got some really cute fabric on the red tag table at Jo-Ann’s for like $4 a yard, and I think I had a 50% off coupon on top of that, so finally I could justify buying enough fabric for a top that I’m not sure will be flattering at all.

Fabric for tucked blouse

As if these weren’t enough sewing projects to keep me busy until Christmas, I’m doing a craft show the weekend before Thanksgiving with my mom. Mostly I’m going to keep her company and for moral support, but I’d also like to make up some coffee cozies to sell myself. I guess we will see how quickly I get burned out on these projects. Maybe the cozies will be a nice quick, instant gratification project to take a break from heavier sewing.

Well now that I have talked your ear off about things I want to make and nothing I’ve actually made and relatively few pictures, I’ll let you go. 🙂

New Adventures!

I finished the key chain ID thing! And a shirt! but I might have already said that….


Next up is a shirt, just like the turquoise one, except a lot smaller and in different fabric. I really like the turquoise one, but it was HUGE. And I had cut the smallest pattern in that envelope! It really needed a lot of fixing. I took 8.5 inches out of the back! Then I took out 2 or 3 in the front. I’m still not sure how I like the front. I only basted my alteration so I could wear it around and see what I think about it. The back piece I took all apart from the yoke and did it up right, however I doubt the front will be so lucky. Its not the greatest fabric for this kind of shirt. It just bells out around my middle and has very little drape to it. But its a cute, easy, cool, short sleeve shirt that I will probably get a lot of wear out of, once its warm again.

Side note: When did fall get here?! I kept walking to class thinking, hmm… I wish it was 10 degrees cooler so I could wear sweaters. And then BAM! Its sweater weather again!

Back to sewing… I bought some beautiful deep purple fabric that drapes a lot better, and I’m going to make it into a dress out of this same pattern & add a belt for an old friend’s wedding at the end of the month. So its test out time. I bought the next size down when it was on $1.99 sale again, and have some more autumnal looking cotton to use for my “muslin.” I plan on getting the shirt done over this long weekend, and HOPEFULLY get the Purple cut out too. Ideally I’d get both cut and sewn this weekend.



ID Holder (1)

Well the little ID holder key chain did not turn out as hoped. All was well until it was time to turn it out.

ID Holder (8)

My zipper, a “metal all purpose zipper” that claimed to be “strong, durable, locking slider” was stuck. You assemble the thing with the zipper half open. Apparently with a locking slider zipper, it need to be pretty much open all the way. Even with the slider in the up & able to open position, it wouldn’t budge. And then all of a sudden, it did! And broke 3 or 4 teeth off in the process! Yippeee…

ID Holder (7)

After spending several hours working on this, I was a little bummed. I went ahead and turned it out though, thinking, well there’s probably some way to undo the zipper and swap it out. (I always TRY to be optimistic about my sewing mistakes.)

Then I realized there is just too much bulk in the corners with all that binding. Oh the frustration! Also, I’m not dissing that tutorial at all. This was the first time I’ve done a binding like that and it completely could be my mistake.

ID Holder (5)

After deciding there really isn’t a lot to be salvaged, I decided I would just modify the original design a bit, and make another.
I’m taking some inspiration from Keyka Lou’s pocket clutch pattern.

My first Keyka Lou pocket clutch
(Side note, that is a SUPER fun pattern. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Great directions, complete with pictures, make it a breeze to whip up. I made an enlarged one from the same pattern, and added a wrist strap. Its just a great little clutch to take to a wedding, or graduation, or anything when you don’t need to carry everything but the kitchen sink. The kitchen sink will definitely not fit. )

So I’m off to draw up some pattern pieces for this. The tutorial uses rectangular pieces, so I cut everything with a rotary cutter and straight edge. This is going to be a bit curvier. And without a locking slider zipper. lol. Chalk it up to experience I guess. I learned that I can in fact quilt something, sew in a zipper, and bind something today, so I can’t really complain!

ID Holder