2016 Sewing Projects

As I started planning my 2017 projects I looked back on my 2016 projects and thought I’d share all the things I made throughout the year. Some things are as small as a quick hemming project to my first pair of pants, it was a very productive year for me. I didn’t add links to anything but if you click on the photo I wrote a description for each item.

If you want to see what I’m working on, you can follow me on Instagram, my user name is JLothian.


Sew Photo Hop 2016

I am so happy I took part in Sew Photo Hop on Instagram this year, I found lots of new people to follow on Instagram and found many new sewing ideas. Each day there was a different theme, here are all my photos for the month. 

Favorite skill – embroidery. I only recently learned how to do it but I love it.

Dream project, jeans or really any pants. Everything about pants scare me, fit, zippers, waistband 😱 image from @closetcasefiles (I need to buy this).

Signature look, I’d says I’m a little too all over the place to really have a signature look but when I open my closet I see lots of prints & bright colors. I love wearing dresses but they aren’t very practical during a cold Maine winter.

Prints or solids? When shopping for fabric prints catch my eye so I tend to buy more of them but I should probably do more solids.

Essential kit, mine includes beer and my iPad for watching shows or finding tips/tricks. I left out the big items, my @husqvarnaviking Opal and my iron & ironing board. #notebook #sissors #sewinggauge #pins #craftbeer #allagash #ipad #gilmoregirls

Stash Busters – I don’t have any so I’m always on Pinterest looking for some.

Made for someone else, I made this for my son’s teacher, she loves Star Wars so I made a bag with a Star Wars liner, at first look you’d never notice it’s not just a black bag. I don’t do much sewing for others because I know my sewing isn’t great, something might look great in a photo but I know where the mistakes were made and I don’t want to give that to someone.

Dud, my most recent dud is this Hazel bodice muslin. I just can’t get the fit right on Colette Patterns fitted patterns (I’m good with patterns for knits). Trying another pattern company soon, just waiting for them to arrive from France.

Mini or maxi, neither. I prefer just above the knee, I’ll go a few inches shorter but that’s it. (Both skirts made by me)

A favorite tool, can I have two? These are both with me when I’m sewing, my sewing gauge for checking seam allowances & my needle position and my handy little scissors for trimming threads.

Tips & techniques, read your patterns completely before you start a project. Have books (or links to useful websites) ready to go for when you get confused. This is a photo of my copy of #sewtionary, open to “prewash your fabric”, that’s a good tip too, always prewash.

Game changer, my very first sewing machine, a @brothersews project runway special edition, my husband bought it for me for Christmas a few years ago. This machine and the social sewing group my friend started got me to start sewing more and now I know what I’m doing. It’s not used much these days as I won a @husqvarnaviking machine the following summer and use that now.

Wardrobe, here are most of the clothing items I’ve made for myself. Mostly bright colors & patterns.

Sewing space, My current sewing space is the dining room table, my husband recently commented (jokingly) that he’s happy I have a hobby but does it need to take up the whole room? I laughed and said yes, I also reminded him I’ll have my own space upstairs soon and all my stuff will be out of the way. Not seen in this photo is my second regular sewing machine, which I shared on day 13, my tote of patterns, my tote of supplies, my fabric stash and my ironing board.

Wish list, I don’t have much of a wish list but I’d love love love to find some old sewing table legs (like this) to make a table for my sewing machines. (photo found on Pinterest)

Zippers or buttons, I don’t know. I don’t have a lot of experience with them, but I’m happy to try. The top photo is a covered button I made, the bottom is a failed attempt at an invisible zipper.

Knits or woven, knits, I love them, I love clothes with a little stretch, this is a scuba knit. I find wovens are easier to work with but I just haven’t found the right patterns to make them work for me.

Sewing library. It’s small and mixed in with other books.

Seasonal, I wear most of my me made clothes all year, layered or with tights but this dress is a cold weather dress. I live in Maine so flannel is a must, last winter I made this dress, it hits just above the knee.

Go-to pattern, I don’t have one but this @colettepatterns Mabel (v3) was such a quick project I can see myself making many more. I just need to find the right knit, my first version was done in a scuba knit.

Texture, this brocade fabric I made into a #seamworkmag Hayden. Fabric is from @moodfabrics 310227. 

Inspiration, Instagram & Pinterest. The #sewing hashtag is a great place to find inspiration (so is the #sewphotohop hashtag), I also use Pinterest to save ideas or styles I find. 

One piece or separates, judging by the patterns I buy it’s clearly one piece but I should probably start making more separates.

Favorite era, the early sixties, I love these patterns, they were given to me by a friend. I’ve made version C from the pattern on the right, I’d love to try version A on the pattern to the left.

Close up, the inside of my Camden cape, my first buttonhole and lining.

Other interest, painting/refinishing furniture and other things. One of my recent projects is repainting my old headboard, it was painted blue about 20yrs ago, I painted it green to match our @riflepaperco prints.

Wow, that time I won a sewing machine. I was home on vacation with my boys when I got the tweet, I was shocked, my kids didn’t understand my excitement.

Storage tips, I use these small totes from @target to keep sewing stuff & patterns. In one box I also use @birchbox boxes to organize notions, chalk (& other markers), pins/clips and in the other I have rolled patterns (using a @seamworkmag/ @colettepatterns toilet paper roll tip) and packaged patterns. 

What’s next? Pants, but I don’t have a pattern so I’m looking for a good easy one. Anyone have a fav?

Seamwork Elmira in Turquoise jersey

As soon as I saw the Elmira pattern I knew I HAD to make it, I’ve been looking for a wrap style sweater for years, every fall and spring I check everywhere for one with no luck. I work in an office that is always cold so I always have a light sweater with me, this is the perfect style to go with a lot of my dresses. Once I read about what type of fabric I’d need I headed to Fabric.com to find something, I bought a couple yards of Kaufman Laguna Stretch Jersey Knit in Onyx but before I cut into that I knew I should do a test run. I had quite a bit of leftover Turquoise Stretch Rayon Jersey so I started with that, it doesn’t quite have the same amount of stretch as the Onyx Knit and wasn’t the same weight but I figure if it fits, the same pattern in Onyx Knit would probably fit better. 

I did my cutting one afternoon then started sewing one evening after the boys went to bed. 

everything ironed, ready to go and a beer in hand

after a few hours of sewing I had to get to bed, everything was together but one sleeve wasn’t attached


The following afternoon I finished the machine sewing. 

sewing up the side seems

One evening while watching tv I hand stitched on a couple snap buttons to keep the inside piece in place. I’m pretty happy with this sweater, I’ve already cut pieces for the Onyx version. 

my completed Elmira, photo by my 6yo

The not so invisible zipper

I bought some Euro Pillows from Target a few weeks ago but didn’t buy covers because I figured I could make some, of course this meant a trip to Joann’s to find fabric. I got very lucky and found a peach colored fabric that was a couple shades darker than our bedroom walls but there was only about a yard and a half, not enough for two pillows. I bought it knowing I had about a yard of gray fabric at home that would work with it, I could do a solid peach side and a half peach, half gray side. I also picked up invisible zippers that matched the peach fabric, they are for pillows and will probably never be seen but it was nice that it matched. 

Before starting the project I checked Pinterest for ideas and tips about sewing pillow covers and sewing invisible zippers. I found that you should cut your fabric the same size as the pillow so the pillow looks full, no need to add seam allowances. As for tips on how to sew an invisible zipper most people suggested a zipper foot for invisible zippers, which I don’t have, I only have a regular zipper foot. I read that you can iron the zipper flat then sew close to the teeth using a regular zipper foot, this is the one I went with. 

After cutting out my pieces I sewed my half and half pieces together then I started on the zipper. I found the center of the zipper and the center of the edge of one pillow side, I pinned them together and sewed the zipper on. After doing one side I could tell it wasn’t going to be very invisible but I continued on to the other side of the zipper. 

This is why I’m very happy I found a zipper that matches the peach fabric. 

Once both pillows had zippers I sewed from the side of one zipper all the way around to the other side, I made sure the zipper was open before I started sewing. 

Now we have reversible pillows, solid peach or peach and gray. 

Cotton Kenedy, my first try

I can’t tell you how much I love the Seamwork magazine by Colette, each issue comes with two patterns that should take 3 hours or less to make. When I downloaded the March issue I knew I’d make the Kenedy as soon as possible, it was a very simple dress with cap sleeves and a v-neckline on the back. I was going to make a muslin to check the fit but I remembered I had some patterned cotton sitting in my fabric stash, I was happy to find I had just enough to make a Kenedy. I figured if it didn’t fit right it’d be ok because I’ve had the fabric for at least two years with no plan to use it. 

With all Seamwork patterns the first step is printing.   
Then you lay it out and tape it together.  

I picked my size and traced it onto freezer paper, I hate to cut into the original pattern in case I every want to make it in a different size. Had a sample of Allagash Saison because it was #SaisonDay.

I traced the pieces onto my fabric, I made sure my pattern was placed so the pattern on the fabric would go in the same direction on the front and back. I enjoyed a Hazy Jane from Mystic Brewery while I worked on this.  

I completed the first few steps that evening and put it away, they went so quick I forgot to take photos. 

The next afternoon I started work on the cap sleeves, these needed a rolled hem. With the Seamwork patterns if there’s something you might not know how to do they provide a link to a tutorial, I looked at the one for a machine rolled hem but I don’t have that foot. I remembered another hem tutorial they had shared, the Baby Hem, this I could do. I’m very happy with how it turned out, I did it again for the bottom of the skirt.  

I love this tiny little sleeve!

The finished back, if you look closely you can see the bias tape I used to finish the neckine.

The dress was a little too short for me so I took a scrap piece of fabric and headed to Joanns to see if I could find a solid cotton in a matching color. I found a teal cotton that was perfect! I added a 4″ strip then went around and measured down 2.5″, I marked it with chalk and cut. I did another Baby Hem and the dress is finished! 

I’d guess total sewing time was around 3 hours, I learned how to do a Baby Hem and added a little fabric to it so that added a little time. I plan to make another soon but I’ll add some length to the pattern before I get started. 

Note – The fabric is cotton and was purchased at Joanns in 2014. 

First attempt at a Seamwork Block Paper Scissors

I ended up with an unexpected day home with my 2 year old, my computer and work computer wouldn’t connect so I turned to the latest issue of Seamwork. Every month I say I’m going to make the Block Paper Scissors from Seamwork but I never get around to doing it, I just finished a project so I don’t have anything I feel like I need to finish so I got out some trace paper and freezer paper and got started. I don’t have a sloper to start with, I made one using a blouse pattern I’ve used for a few different projects. 

  My newly created sloper. 

  I started on trace but once I had to flip the pattern over I used freezer paper, it’s great for pattern making. 

  I may not be sewing with a beer at 10am on a Tuesday but I’m using an old Brewfest sample glass for rounding the pocket corners. 

  The completed pattern, minus the seam allowance where the two pieces were cut apart, I added this when I transferred it to the fabric. 

  The completed menswear-inspired block paper scissors. I used an old dress to make this sample, I have a couple adjustments I’ll need to make before I make this out of new fabric. 

When I make this to wear I’ll add sleeves, I’m not sure if I want to make it into a dress or maybe a peplum blouse or maybe I’ll remove the waist darts, add some length and make a fun tee shirt. 

Simple shorts for my boys

Months ago, possibly last year, I bought some seersucker fabric from the remnant bin at Joann’s, I believe I paid around $2 for just short of a yard. Realizing my boys have destroyed most of their shorts and knowing that we had a wedding coming up I got the seersucker out to see if I had enough to make two pairs of shorts. I could get two pairs if I turn the stripe horizontal, I wouldn’t use it horizontally for myself but for little boys I figured it would look fine. I started by finding a pair of pants that fit each boy but had a hole in the knee because I was going to be cutting them, I had them try the pants on to make sure they do fit and to mark where their knee is, I cut these apart at the seams so I could use them to make a pattern. I used freezer paper to trace the piece I cut from the old pants, I went back over my tracings to add in a seam allowance and to smooth out my lines. Using my newly created pattern and the fabric I cut two of each pattern (one for each leg). I sewed the leg seam for each piece then put one inside the other, right sides together, and sewed front to back. I hemmed them at this point, I think I rolled them up 1/4″ of an inch then up 5/8″ then I closed it with a seam stitch (my Husquvarna Viking Opal has many stitch options but I love the basics – seam, overcast, seam/overcast, baste, blind hem, hem)

 Next I got elastic for the waistband, I measured them and cut some more fabric for casing. This part was hurried as I was running short on time to finish them before we left for the wedding in another state. 

The shorts came out nice and they fit, I had very little fabric left, I think I got my $2 worth. 


Vintage inspired pleated skirt

I was recently given some vintage patterns (thanks Jen!) and I loved all the full skirts, and I just so happen to have a beautiful watercolor print fabric that’d make a pretty skirt. I found a pattern for a dress with a pleated skirt but it was a button front which kind of confused me so I headed to Pinterest.  

 I found lots of pleated skirts but only a few with patterns that weren’t overly complicated. I’ve had good luck with DIYs from Cotton & Curls so I used her pattern to get started. I did the math with my waist measurement and got out some muslin to test it.  

 The muslin fit perfectly so I got out my good fabric and started measuring a front and back piece. Once they were cutout I started marking where the pleat lines will go, and started pinning the pleats in place. I was just about done one side when I realized I should have attached the front and back before I started, I stopped and sewed the pieces together and continued my pleats. Depending on the fabric/pattern I could have cut one long piece but this fabric had a very clear “up” so I had to cut multiple pieces. I sewed them down with a stitch around the top, then I started trying to figure out how to close the skirt.  

 I slept on this and realized I could sew starting 6″ from the top to the bottom, this allowed me to avoid a zipper, Cotton & Curls did an overlap but I wanted more closure than that. I lined up the skirt and marked where the seam should be so my pleats stay even and overlap at the closing point, I sewed the seam and went back over it with an overlock stitch. I also did an overlock stitch on the two sides that were left unfinished. 

  Next was the waistband, I cut a 4.5″ strip, folded it in half and ironed it, then folded under the edges a half inch. I opened it up and attached it like I’ve done with bias tape before, once the front was on I folded under the back side and did “stitch in the ditch” on the front to hold it all together.  
 I hand stitched snaps on to the overlap at the waistband to close the skirt. Now the hard part, how long do I want this skirt? Below my knee? Above? After asking for opinions from my husband and mom I went with the hem at my knee, I left all the extra fabric in case I decided I wanted it longer I also did a blind hem so it’d be easy to remove if I want to do that. I tested the blind hem on a scrap first, I’ve done one before but that was on my old machine. With my Husquvarna Viking Opal I selected my fabric type and the blind hem stitch, it worked so well I might use on more projects.  

 I’m very happy with how this came out, it fits well and with all the colors in the fabric I can wear it with a lot of things. The first time I wore it was to a family wedding, I paired it with a blue tanktop from Old Navy and a wedge shoe from Target. Now to find another fabric so I can make a second one! 

While working on this, over the course of a few evenings, I drank a Rising Tide Gose, and an All Day IPA from Founders Brewing Co. 

Note – I wrote & published this post entirely on my phone using the WordPress app, I hope it looks ok 

Sewing excitement during vacation week 

The week of June 22nd I was on vacation with my boys, on Tuesday morning we were watching Curious George, I was reading an article on my phone when I got a Twitter notification. The tweet was from Husquvarna Viking, it said, “Congratulations to our #SewIntoSummer Winners!” I was one of the winners, I was the GRAND PRIZE winner!

the tweet from Husqvarna Viking

the tweet from Husqvarna Viking

I was beyond excited, I told my boys and my oldest told me I already have a sewing machine and to be quiet because they were watching a show. It was vacation week so I wasn’t planning on sewing much anyway, then I learned I had won a new machine and all I wanted to do was read about it, I even downloaded the owners manual. The following day my five year old noticed he had a loose tooth, I told him we could go to Joann’s so he could pick out fabric for a tooth pillow (the way he moves around in his sleep there’s no way the tooth fairy would have found a tooth). Our local Joann’s has a Husquvarna Viking dealer inside, while we were there I stopped to take a look at the machine I had won, the Opal 650.

My sewing machine took a few weeks to get to me, while I waited for it I did a little sewing on my old machine. I had to quickly make a tooth pillow, the loose tooth came out quicker than I thought it would and I made a second white eyelet blouse, this one was for my sister.

Once I finally had my sewing machine I tested out a bunch of stitches and got started on my trial run of the Seamwork Nantucket shorts. More on that coming soon!

Big thanks to my friend Gretchen for sharing the contest with our sewing group, she didn’t enter this one because she won a sewing machine a few months ago from another company. When I found out I won I texted her first because I knew she’d understand my excitement.

The box my new sewing machine came in

The box my new sewing machine came in

the Opal 650

the Opal 650

Testing out the new machine with a glass of beer

Testing out the new machine with a glass of beer

so many buttons/settings

so many buttons/settings

White eyelet blouse with bias tape neckline

I bought white eyelet fabric months ago, I knew I wanted to make a blouse with it but I wasn’t sure what pattern I should use. After making the Colette Patterns Sorbetto I realized the bodice of that with sleeves would make a great blouse, I gathered my fabric, Sorbetto pattern and my Violet pattern (for the sleeves) and got started on Sunday afternoon. I started making shorts early in the week but that didn’t go well, this was my attempt to get a project in before the week was over.

I made a couple of changes to the Sorbetto pattern; my eyelet fabric has finished scalloped edges which I wanted to use as the bottom of the blouse and sleeves (less hemming!), I added an inch to the bottom of the bodice pattern to give it a little more length, and I didn’t want the pleat on the front so I lined up the pleat line with the fold of my fabric.

I sewed the darts, attached the front to the back just like I did with the Sorbetto then started in on the sleeves. I wasn’t sure the same size sleeve from the Violet would work with the Sorbetto so I cut one sleeve out of some muslin to test with. I wanted to use the Violet sleeve because I like the look of a gathered sleeve. I used the instruction from the Violet pattern to gather the sleeve and place it in the armhole, I pinned it in place to check the size, it works! Time to line up the muslin to my eyelet fabric, I removed an inch here because I wasn’t hemming the sleeves.

Harpoon Big Squeeze UFO and my project ready for the sewing machine.

Harpoon Big Squeeze UFO and my project ready for the sewing machine.

I folded the cut edges of my seems together then sewed it closed.

I folded the cut edges of my seems together then sewed it closed.

Folding the seams in created a clean finish on the inside of the blouse.

Folding the seams in created a clean finish on the inside of the blouse.

The gathered sleeve ready to be sewn into place.

The gathered sleeve ready to be sewn into place.

A couple hours of sewing, beer drinking (Harpoon Big Squeeze UFO) and watching New Girl I had the shirt together, all that was left was hemming the neckline. A friend gave me a quarter yard of some really pretty floral fabric, it wasn’t enough to do much with but when I decided I was going to do this project and only have one hem I decided to use some of it as bias tape. I’ve seen many different ways to use bias tape, one way was to fold bias tape in half, iron, sew cut ends together, fold to the inside then sew the edge down, This way hides all the cut ends and adds a nice detail to your finished project. I think using bias tape this way was quicker for me then folding and hemming the neckline would have been.

Sewing cut eges of the neckline and bias tape together.

Sewing cut edges of the neckline and bias tape together.

I used the edge stitch foot to help me keep my stitch close to the edge on the inside of the neckline.

I used the edge stitch foot to help me keep my stitch close to the edge on the inside of the neckline.

The inside of the neckline with the floral bias tape and the outside face of the blouse.

The inside of the neckline with the floral bias tape and the outside face of the blouse.

I’m really happy with this blouse, I can easily add a little color to this with a bright camisole under it, it’s pretty sheer.

My finished eyelet blouse

My finished eyelet blouse (it really is white but this photo was taken around sunset).

The finished gathered sleeve.

The finished gathered sleeve (it really is white but this photo was taken around sunset).