Halloween Sewing

Somehow I was super smart this year and finished my Halloween sewing at the beginning of October. Well, really I wasn’t that smart. I just had to finish up before going on vacation. By the time we got back I would be walking into place is scarier than any haunted house…

Joanns Halloween

Cue the Psycho soundtrack.


Oh Why Can’t She Be Elsa Like Every Other Girl

Per family tradition I made my niece her first Halloween costume. Since my nephews wanted to be sharks, my SIL decided that their little sister should be a mermaid. Seems easy enough; famous last words.  The first and largest obstacle was finding fabric. My JoAnn’s seems stocked to the rafters with Frozen fabrics. Just a sea of blues, whites and silvers. Bolts and bolts of icy goodness if you’re sewing an Elsa costume. Without good fabric prospects at my local stores, what is a sewist to do? Raid another sewists’ stash of course. First on my list was my IRL sewing friend Julianne from Made by Julianne. She owns a stash of beautifully curated sparkly, glittery, shimmery colorful fabrics. Julianne must have something that is passable for a mermaid tail. Indeed she did! She even had several options for me, along with sage advice about not sewing with sequined fabric. I went with a beautiful seafoam, blue/green, sparkly fabric. It was just perfect. And to complete my supply list, Julianne even shopped the LA garment district with me.

Blogless Kim, me, Julianne

Blogless Kim, me, Julianne


Making the Pattern

For the top, I used a onesie pattern, extended the sleeves and made it in a nude stretch knit. I embellished the onesie with shell cups and a sea shell necklace. Mermaid Top The cups were stuffed lightly with polyfil and topstitched. Mermaid Bra CupsFor the tail I drafted a pattern that allowed my niece to be belted into her car seat without having to remove the entire tail. Mermaid TailThe tail is 2 pieces attached with snaps. Mermail Tail Snaps The fin is multiple layers of sheer iridescent green and white fabrics. Mermail Tail Flipper The finishing touch is a starfish and pearl headband that I made from the selvage of the green tail fabric.

Finished Mermaid Costume

Bonus Content: Last Minute Sewist Costume Ideas

  • UFO: Wear UFOs (unfinished objects). If they’re in dire state of unfinish-ness you can pin them to your clothes instead. Walk around hand sewing the garment in a futile attempt to finish them.
  • Blogger: Wear you-made garments. Carry a tripod and camera and start posing at random times while people look at you weird.
  • Bag Lady: Pin handbags (preferably you-made) to you
  • Wadder: See UFO but with wadders
  • Gertie: Wear a vintage dress or you-made vintage styled garment. Wear a blue wig or spray your hair blue (or whatever color Gertie’s hair is currently)
  • Fabric Stash: Wrap yourself in stash fabric. Go around parties adding more to yourself/stash. Cloth napkins, towels, table runners can all be potential stash items.
  • Pattern Stash: See fabric stash but with patterns.
  • PDF pattern: Print and tape a PDF with a gazillion pages and wear it. Extra points for garment appropriate PDF i.e. a taped pants PDF pattern pinned to your pants.
  • Cutting mat: Wear 2 cutting mats like a sandwich board and carry a rotary cutter and a fake severed finger.

What other ideas do you have a for a last minute sewist costume?  Seems like we’re all so busy sewing costumes for others, we don’t have a costume for ourselves.

Happy Halloween Sewing,

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15 Responses to Halloween Sewing

  1. Your costume is fantastic and your niece is adorable! As they say, WINNING! ;-)

    And yes, the number “Elsa” costumes this year is going to be gag-inducing. The school had a halloween party and there were dozens of them…yeesh! Creativity fail. :-(

  2. Accordion3 says:

    Gorgeous outfit! Cute niece too : )
    Check this out – seems I was right.

  3. Laurie says:

    So Adorable!!! Your niece and the costume!

  4. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    That is the cutest Mermaid ever!!! The costume is great, too :-)
    I love your sewing inspired costumes. If I use one of your ideas, I’ll take a picture for you

  5. Carrie says:

    First off, the costume is simply adorable! I love the tail!

    And secondly, I cracked up laughing at the Gertie costume idea!! And I’m sure you could extend it to many other distinctive bloggers as well :)

    • For sure! Gertie was just top of mind. You can be Tasia by making yourself super pear-shaped (for extra emphasis not that she’s super pear-shaped) and wear a Sewaholic pattern. A yarn wig with some cut bangs, a cute headband and the Coco dress and you can be Tilly. There’s so many ideas….

  6. Nicole says:

    Joann’s at Halloween is truly terrifying. I’ve had to go in twice recently, not even for anything Halloween-related, and the cutting table has been a nightmare–everyone is like crazy competitive! And all the shoppers seem to have such bad attitudes too! So many of them are like 21-year-olds just buying tulle to make sexy tutu’s and they’re like THIS IS RIDICULOUS. I CAN’T BELIEVE I’M NOT ALLOWED TO JUST CUT THIS MYSELF. I want to be like, “Dude, calm down. I’m here buying zippers and thread for real clothes and if anyone should be mad about the Halloween wait, it’s me, but you don’t see me freaking out about it.” And they’re all like, “I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS.” I’m just like, “Ha, classic.” *end of Joann’s rant*

    • That was a hilarious rant. What’s more hilarious is when they get home with said tulle and try to sew it. ::evil laugh:: They’ll get what’s coming to them.

      There should be a line for Halloween sewers and a line for regular sewists. Like at the airport with the business travelers vs the casual travelers.

  7. Rebecca says:

    That is Soooooo cute! Thanks for sharing the images – your niece is so lucky to have you sew this for her!

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Stacking Ring Toy – Free Pattern

This is the continuation of the Sewing Gift for Sewing Friends blog post.  For my IRL sewing friend, Jill from Oh Crafty One, I made her little boy a stacking ring toy.  This a soft and washable version of the plastic stacking toy I had as a kid.  Unfortunately for me, this doesn’t seem to be a popular sewn item as I found very few tutorials and even fewer patterns.  Does no one need instructions to make one because it’s just some rings?  I’d say that the ring pattern isn’t far from a circle skirt and there are a gazillion tutorial and pattern for those.  Fortunately for everyone, I’ll made this tutorial with a free PDF pattern.

 Stacking Ring Toy

Stacking Ring Toy


Gather supplies:

  • Fat quarters in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple and light grey.
  • Polyfil
  • 7.5″ square of 1″ NU-Foam
  • Download and print stacking ring toy pattern.  **If you downloaded the PDF prior to 9-22-14, please re-download the file.  I had an error on page 2, the cone pattern piece.  The curve at the top should be concave not convex**

Cut pattern pieces from from fabric making sure the color of the pattern piece matches the color of the fabric.  My fabric is Japanese cotton from superbuzzy.  I did have a lot left over from the fat quarters so you can search your scraps piles material instead.

Cut Rings

Wind bobbins.  Since I’m love matching thread colors, I switched over my thread for each piece.  If you want to be a more efficient sewist, you can use a neutral like white on all of them.


 Cut a 7.5″ square of 1″ NU-Foam.  2 squares of 1/2″ NU-Foam will also work.


Sew the Cone Base:

  • Fold the cone piece in half the long way, right sides together.  Sew up the sides and across the stop.  Turn right sides out.
  • Stay stitch around the base of the cone and around the square base with the hole. Cone Base
  • Clip to but not through the staystitching.  Place the cone into the square base with the hole and stitch around the circle of the cone.  Cone Base 2


  • Attached the square without the hole to the bottom of the cone base.  To do this, stitch the 3 sides, stuff the cone with Polyfill and the base with NU-foam and stitched the last edge by hand or machine.  I used NU-foam because it’s mildew resistant and could handle wet situations like the washer or a child’s mouth.  It’s not the most stable base.
  • **Tip:  To make a steadier base, Jill had the great idea of making the bottom an envelope closure and fill the base with a square of vinyl stuffed with rice.  Make sure you remove the rice square before washing.**



Sewing the Rings

  • Put the matching ring pieces right sides together.  Sew around the outer and inner edge of the ring and across one of the ends.  It’s best to start with the largest/purple ring because it’s the easiest.Sew ring
  • Turn the ring inside out.  Stuff with Polyfil. I use a flat head screw driver to stuff it all the way into the tube.Stuff the Ring
  • Form the ring by putting the closed end into the open end.Form the Ring
  • Here is where I screwed up a bit.  I formed the circle stuffing a random amount into the open end which changes the size of the rings.  If you look at the finished photo my purple ring is barely larger than the blue one.  To prevent this, you should place the ring onto the cone and pin it to fit around the cone.  This is also another reason to start with the largest/purple ring.  Once you get the size correct, fold up a small seam allowance and hand stitch the ring together using a ladder stitch. Close the Ring
  • Repeat with the rest of the rings going from largest to smallest/bottom to top.



Recipient Reaction

I did look like Jill’s son enjoyed the toy.  Though he also enjoyed random scraps of fabric so maybe I’ve spent way too much time on this.  I hope someone else can benefit from my efforts.  If you do give the pattern a try, let me know if you have successes or issues it.

Stacking Ring Toy Disassembled

 Link to my Pattern Review.

Happy Stacking Toy Sewing,

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14 Responses to Stacking Ring Toy – Free Pattern

  1. Lola Naylor says:

    This is a terrific idea! I am going to make one for my grandson and one for my granddaughter. I’ll let you know how they turn out…. :P Thanks for posting this.

  2. missy says:

    hi for some reason i can not open the link to print the pattern etc ….please help, thank you

    • Hi Missy. I’m sorry you’re having problems. You have to click right on the word “download” which is next to the folder icon. If you’re on Windows, you can either right clicking and choose “save as”? Or if you left click it should bring up another window with the option to either open or save as. I’ve gotten hundreds of downloads so I know the link is working for some, at least. Look for an e-mail from me in your inbox.

  3. Jordana says:

    Hi. I love this stacking toy and want to make it for my son but I must be missing the pattern link. When I click the download button all I get is a pattern for the square base – no cone or rings. :/

  4. Pingback: Free pattern: Fabric stacking ring toy – Sewing

  5. Accordion3 says:

    This is lovely! Well done!

  6. Anne says:

    Oh, that is sooo cute!! I’ve got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for tomorrow morning that links to your tutorial:

  7. Julianne says:

    I love this idea! My husband’s nephew is expecting his first baby any day now, and I think I’ll put together one of these. The center cone reminds me of a serger cone. Nice work!

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It’s That Cardigan Again – McCall’s 6844

There has been a gazillion makes of this cardigan out on the interwebs.   Now there’s a gazillion +1 makes of McCall’s 6844. My main advice on this pattern is to ignore the instructions which make things way more difficult than necessary.

McCall 6844 Front1

Steps to Ignore

Step #1 &2: Easestitching the shoulder edge. This is unnecessary extra work. Am I missing something? It’s a knit. You just stretch the 2 pieces so they’re the same lengths and sew.  If you feel the need to stabilize the shoulder seam use clear elastic but not that awful stuff from JoAnn’s.  Nice soft clear elastic.

Step 3: Staystitching the neck edge. Unless you’re using a 4 way/all way knit I don’t see why you would be concern about stabilizing the neck edge. If you’re stabilizing the neck, what about the rest of the cardigan that will be stretching? This doesn’t make any sense.

Step 17: Seriously why is there more easestitching on the sleeve?! Just stretch the pieces to match and sew.

Step 19: Sew the sleeves in flat after step #3. I don’t see the benefit of setting it in, in this particular case.

Step 10: I didn’t interface the collar/band. I don’t mind the soft drape of the collar. In fact I think it goes well with the drape of the peplum.

Step 12-16: I burrito-ed the collar for a cleaner finish. Ok so this step makes it more complicated but I think the results are nicer. At step 12, sew only one of the collar ends closed. Leave the other end open for unstuffing the burrito. If you’re not familiar with the burrito method, imagine the collar is your tortilla and the bodice being the filling. Place the collar piece with right sides up and put the bodice in the middle. Match up one of the collar edge with the bodice edge and pin. Wrap the collar around the bodice and re-pin so all 3 layers are together.

Catch 3 Layers

It should look like a long, long burrito.

One Long Burrito

Sew the long edge, making sure not to catch anything that doesn’t belong. Then reach into the opening of the collar and pull the bodice out.

Unstuff the Burrito

Voila you have your collar with the edges inside the collar. Nice and clean.

Nice Clean Finish on Collar

Lastly I folded up the seam allowance of the collar’s opened end and sew it closed. I hand sewed using a ladder stitch because I didn’t have the sewing machine set-up. I used my serger or cover stitch for all the steps.

Ladder stitch the collar


More Things to Ignore

Ignore the sizing. According to my body measurements I should be a M in the bust, L waist and M hips. I made a XS based on my really unscientific yet somehow really reliable wrap method. My fabric is the right amount of stretch that the pattern recommends so the sizing difference isn’t due to having a stretchier fabric.

Ignore the petite lines. They are useless. First, they’re essentially the lengthen/shorten lines like on most patterns. And petiting isn’t just about length; it’s also about proportions and narrowing in areas. Secondly, I didn’t even need to shorten the pattern. I would think regular people may need to lengthen.


One More Point for Actual Sewing

Let’s put one more on the score board for actual sewing as opposed to the non-sewing sewing things I’ve been doing. It only took ignoring and/or modifying half of the instructions. Has anyone else sewn a pattern with this much unnecessary steps? I really do like the cardigan and it will be getting plenty of wear coming Fall. It’s still in the 90s/100s here. Ick!

Quick question on middle pic below.  Do I have a future as a catalog model or that street person selling fake Rolex watches from inside of their coats?

McCall 6844 Collage

 Link to my Pattern Review.

Happy Sewing,

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14 Responses to It’s That Cardigan Again – McCall’s 6844

  1. aleah says:

    Okay, I totally missed the memo about this pattern, I guess. I’ve just seen two makes of it today and you both said how popular it is – huh, never seen it before today. I must be sewing under a rock. Anyway, it’s cute!
    Love the houndstooth fabric (and very appropriate for you, Det. HT!), it’s basically my favorite print for a jacket. (Especially for one used to sell fake watches on the street.)
    Can you please rip apart all Big 5 instructions on all future posts? So funny! I don’t even have the patience to read and mock them anymore. Still unclear why they haven’t gotten the working-with-knit-fabrics memo!

    • I guess it’s popular based on Pattern Review. It has 79 reviews and is one of the Best Patterns of 2013. It’s only been out for about a year.

      I’m not even sure why I read the instructions. I usually just ignore them outright. But when I started reading it was like a train wreck that you can’t look away from.

      I think you need a houndstooth version and we can both hit the streets hocking fake brolexes.

  2. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    Love it! The fabric is perfect and will be super versatile. Of course I want to make it now! Maybe in 4 years, lol :-)

  3. Kat says:

    WOW. What a beautiful job. It looks beautiful on you.
    Thanks for all the instructions. I am going to try and sew this. Maybe I will have something that will turn out!

  4. Vanessa says:

    Wow! Your version is nice! I have this on my list to make for Fall, and I will keep your tips in mind.

  5. Mads says:

    Yours is one of my fave versions of this pattern yet–it’s so cool! Love the fabric and your points about the instructions, which I will reference if I ever get around to making this one. Re: that middle photo, I bet you’d be the prettiest fake watch vendor ever! =)

  6. Accordion3 says:

    Your photography and modelling skills have jumped a few levels. I can’t believe you’d sell fake Rolex’s…

  7. Kathy Sews says:

    Love this! I know… there a mega amounts of reviews of this pattern, and I will soon be another. I got on board and bought the pattern last month. I love your hounstooth print and the sneaky collar facing trick.

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Gift Sewing for Sewing Friends

I really like sewing gifts for others as long as I think they’re appreciated.  If the recipient doesn’t care of the item is from Walmart, why would I waste my time and effort when I can be doing more selfish sewing.  I know I’ll appreciate my sewing gifts to myself.  hehe

IRL Sewing Friends

I’m really lucky to some great IRL sewing friends.  I know my sewing friends certainly appreciate handmade items so I take the opportunity to sew them items when I have the time and occasion.  Awhile back I had two occasions to make gifts.   I’m blogging about them now because I had to keep the gifts a surprise.

Occasion #1: New Born Baby

For my friend, Raye Ann, who just had her little boy, I made him a baby bedtime bag.  This is a PDF pattern from Running-w-Scissors.  It’s swaddles the baby and has a zipper at the bottom for easy changing.  I had a hard time finding boy knit in the quality and weight that I wanted, so I went to the Goodwill and bought some large t-shirts for $2.  I picked a really cute dog t-shirt.  The weight was really nice.  I was able to reuse the ribbing from the t-shirt neck and the ribbing already matches.

Goodwill T-shirt

Would have been nice if I noticed the lettering on the shirt.  It’s a t-shirt from a local high school.  FBLA is their Future Business Leaders Association.  Ooops.  I was able to cut off the high school name but couldn’t avoid the FBLA.

Baby Bedtime Bag Front

Double oops is when I noticed the back of the t-shirt had the names of the students in the club.  Yes, I’ll deal with it. LOL

Baby Bedtime Bag Back

One of modification I made was to move the snaps to the left side.  I did this to avoid the dog image.

Baby Bedtime Bag Snaps

The other slight modification I did was to use an invisible zipper.  I already had the red zipper in my stash.  I like the way it looked and I’m hoping it’s easier to spot when changing the baby.

Baby Bedtime Bag Changing Access

The pattern came with a free leggings pattern so I whipped one up from remnants from my pajama jeans.  The topstitching is pretty horrid.  I was just climbing out of my sewing no-jo so it was an effort to just get something done before it wouldn’t fit on the baby anymore.


Occasion #2: TBD

I’m going to have to wait to blog about this gift at a later date.  I haven’t given the gift yet so I don’t want to ruin the surprise.  More to come…

Happy gift sewing,

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9 Responses to Gift Sewing for Sewing Friends

  1. Pingback: Stacking Ring Toy – Free Pattern - Detective Houndstooth

  2. Raye Ann Clayton says:

    We love the gifts! Seriously, readers, they were both even cuter in person!! I am going to change my go to baby sleep sack pattern to include the neck opening, zipper location, and upcycled t from this design.

  3. Ms. McCall says:

    Awww, so cute – I like all the details from the original t-shirt. It works because it’s so nicely made. I’ll have to learn the secret of the snaps, and get over my fear of making baby clothes!

  4. Accordion3 says:

    I also sew only for those who truly appreciate the time and creativity involved.
    Interestingly the people I won’t sew for are often relatives who I don’t have a lot of time for…

  5. caroline says:

    That’s such a clever idea – I love the dog pic. Nice work! I will have to learn the secrets of the Pajama Jean when I am back in California.

    • No big secret. Pajama jeans are made from knit that looks like denim. Sorta like jegging fabric but stretchier. I use a yoga pant pattern and add touches that make them look like jeans like pockets, topstitching and a fake fly. When are you coming back?

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So, Zo… for My Sewing No-Jo

Big Thanks and a Round of Hugs

First off I wanted to thank everyone for your encouragement and tips on getting through my no sewing mojo aka sewing no-jo slump.  I wasn’t sure about announcing my pity party on my blog because… well… there are a gazillion worse things than having a major case of no-jo.  I’m glad that I did because everyone’s comments really lifted my spirits.  Looking back at my blog posts I looks like I lost my sewing mojo over 2 months ago.  Though it was at a low level for about 5 month prior to that.  Aleah, you’re probably right that I coincided with our move.  I’m getting back in the saddle with some quick projects that I can enjoy immediately.  Thanks everyone!

So Zoe Camisole Front

So Zoe Camisole Back

So, Zo… Vest/Camisole/Singlet

From everyone’s suggestion the remedy for no-jo was to pick a simple project.  What could be more simple than the So, Zo vest, camisole, singlet or whatever you call it in your part of the world.  In the US we call them camisoles.  It has 2 pattern pieces, and very little fitting aside from getting the circumference right.  A warning on the sizing: it is a camisole so it’s has very little ease, think Spanx-like ease.  So I went up 1 size because I wanted mine to not be so figure hugging.  I should probably have gone up another size or 2 in the waist and hip areas.  I picked the bicycle print from my recent swap meet shopping because the small amount of yardage I had was perfect.

I lined the camisole with a nude lightweight knit because the bicycle fabric was incredibly see through.  Like see through to my belly button, see through.  To make the lining I cut the front and back the same as the fabric but just a smidge less ease but not at the very top where the layers meet.  I put the layers together with the seam allowances facing each other.

Insert Lining

For the straps I only had enough fold over elastic yardage in white or black so I went with black.  Unfortunately it’s a skimpy 1/4″ when folded which looked really unbalance.  I ripped it out using my unpicking a cover stitch tutorial and ended up not folding the elastic.  I placed it on top and did a triple cover stitch.  I’m definitely not the neatest sewer.

Fold Over Elastic

Lastly since there was already a lining, I attached some bra cups to the lining for another no-bra-needed garment.  I was too lazy to take out the machine so I sloppily handstitched the cups in.  Mr. Detective Houndstooth did a great job pinning the straps on so that it would blend in with my bra straps if I chose to wear one.  I like option of not having to worry about if my black bra was in the hamper or not.



Jumping for Joy (Literally)

To work on my modeling skills I decided to add some action poses.  It was really hard to time it correctly and keep my face from looking horrid.  It ended up being pretty fun and good exercise.  Here are some tips of you want to try this.  I used a self timed shot with the camera on a tripod.

Tip #1:  Start your timer a few times to figure out when the picture was taken.  My camera had 7 slow beeps and 7 quick beeps, snapping at the 7th quick beep.  I would start my jump at the 6th quick beep.
Tip #2: Look down.  Since you’re higher up, you need to look down at the camera or you get that unflattering up-you-nose shot.
Tip #3: Let your hair down.  I think if my hair was down it would have given the photo more dynamics and movement.
Tip #4: Have fun.

I use to be a dancer but I’m way out of practice so I went with an easy jump.  Here is my best take.

Jumping for Joy The walls of my sewing room is a leaf green.  It reminded me of a green screen, so I decided it would be fun to add some fun backgrounds from our vacations.


This is me over a glacier water lake in Canada.


This is me in Versaille.

If anyone else wants to put me jumping somewhere fun, here a pic of just me with a transparent background. Right click and save as.  If it doesn’t download as a .png with a transparent background, e-mail me at detectivehoundstooth at gmail dot com and e-mail it to you.

Cut out

I hope that was as fun for you as it was for me.  Anyone have any other super simple patterns I should explore?

Happy Labor Day Weekend (for those in the US)
and Happy Sewing to everyone worldwide,

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Link to my pattern review.

6 Responses to So, Zo… for My Sewing No-Jo

  1. aleah says:

    You are too awesome. I love the tank, the bike print is fab and good call with the FOE.
    But the photoshoped pictures are just amazing. I imaging Marie Antoinette flew over Versaille in just such a manner.
    Hope the sew-jo sticks around!

  2. Vanessa says:

    I love what you came up with! Your cami top is cute, and fashionable. Also, I love the scenes of you jumping in various places. How fun!

  3. Cute! Love the bicycles! This does seem like a good project to get back into the sewing groove after a hiatus, I’m currently looking for projects like that too, because we just moved and I finally got my sewing room (mostly) unpacked this last week.

    How did you do the background change like that? I don’t have photoshop, but I do have Gimp (not that I really know how to use it, but hey, I’ve got it!)

    • Congrats on the sewing room! I would recommend this pattern or the Kirsten Kimono tee. Both are free PDFs that are on a few pages. I don’t have photoshop either. I use paint.net which is similar to Gimp. To change the background first you need to take the pic of the main object, in this case it’s me jumping, and erase the background. Save as .png to preserve the transparency. If you save the last image in the post and open it in gimp you’ll see what I mean. Then open up the background pic. Copy your object and paste into a new layer. The object should be a layer on top and the background will show through to transparent area. Resize the object as needed.

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