Kitchen Towel Apron

kitchen-towel-apron

Cheap & Easy Holiday Gift Anyone?

I found this fun cooking measurement conversion kitchen towel at the Home Goods.  They had lots of kitchen towels with fun and witty sayings. I wished I had picked up more before all of them were cleared away for Christmas kitchen towels. I made 2 of these measurement conversion aprons, the towels came in a two pack. So one for me and one for a friend. If you caught that it’s upside down, that’s on purpose. It’s for the wearer to read. It’s come in pretty handy several times. My first apron was good but not I definitely learned from it before making the one for my friend. And it gave me an opportunity to document the process.

 

Supplies

  • Large kitchen towel
  • 1 packet of Wright Bias Tape, Extra Wide, Double Fold. 1/2″ wide. 3 yd long.
  • Stitch in the ditch foot (optional)

kitchen-towel-apron-supplies

 

Steps

Cut the “arm hole” in the kitchen towel.

  • I eyeballed the cut out. The top should we wide enough to fit your head through and the bottom of the armhole should be around the waist. Every towel will be a slightly different size so use your best judgement.
  • I folded the towel in half the long way to cut the other armhole.
  • My towel was terry cloth backed so it frayed if you looked at it. I serged the edge to control the mess but it’ll all be enclosed in the bias binding.

cut-armholes

Pin on the bias binding:

  • I used the full length of the pre-made bias binding. It was 3 yards but you can alter the size to the wearer.
  • I folded the binding in half and marked it with a pin. I measured 9″ to each side and marked it. This is the portion that your head will go through. Check the fit that the wearer’s head will fit through. If you’re not sure you can do neck ties instead. The binding will need to be longer if you go this route.
  • Unfold the bias binding and pin the binding down both “arm holes”. The edge of narrower side of the binding needs to be lined up to the edge of the right side/public side of the towel.

pin-bias-binding

Sew on the bias binding:

  • Sew in the valley of the fold closest to the edge.

sew-narrow-side-of-bias

  • Fold the bias binding to the back of the apron. See how in this picture the longer width of the binding is in the back.

fold-binding-to-the-back

  • Switch to a stitch in the ditch foot if you have one. It’s optional. I use the blade as a guide and set the needle slightly to the right of the blade.

stitch-in-the-ditch-foot

  • Start sewing at the end of the tie that would be to your right if you were wearing the apron. Fold the edge in and then fold the binding in half to finish the end.

end-binding

  • Start at the short end and sew towards the long edge.
  • Pivot at the corner and sew down the long edge. Sew with the blade to the fold of the binding to keep the stitching even.

finish-ends

  • When you get to the arm hole, lift up the feet, move your needle to the middle position and stitch in the ditch. The sewing line should disappear from the front. Since the fold is wider in the back the stitching should catch the binding.
  • Sew the neck, down the other arm hole and to the left ties. Finish the end of the ties like the other tie. Fold down the edge and fold in. Stitch to the end and pivot and continue stitching the short end.
  • Sew a reinforced stitch at the neck and waist area. I sewed a square with the x inside. Other options would be a bar tack.

reinforced-stitch

  • That’s it. Simple huh? I’m hoping that since they’re kitchen towels they’ll hold up to stains and laundering but I haven’t needed to wash mine yet. I use it for drying off my hands.

 

Gift Ideas

The apron can be paired with a baking pan, measuring cup or other cookware for a hostess gifts. I saw some but Mr and Mrs kitchen towels that could be matching his and her aprons. This would go great in a basket with homemade jellies I’ve made.

jellies

Happy Holiday Sewing,

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Arm Warmer with Thumb Hole Tutorial

Fingerless Gloves

Why Didn’t I Make One Sooner?!

I walk the dog everyday and I’ve been suffering from needlessly from cold hands syndrome. Yes, I could wear gloves but they prevent me from texting and selecting podcasts on my phone. And I feel like I need to take the gloves off while picking up after the dog, just in case. It wasn’t until I was making the thumb hole cuff for the reading blanket tutorial that it hit me. I needed a sleeve with a thumb hole. It reminds me of a leg warmer but an arm version, hence, arm warmers. I thought it was going to be easy but my first attempt was a disaster. Good news for you I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to. The instructions look more complicated than it really is.

Cutting Your Pattern

  • You’ll need approximately 24″ x 24″ of rib knit .
  • Fold your fabric in half with the greatest amount of stretch going along the folded edge.
  • Place your hand on the fabric with the folded edge at your finger. Determine how tall you want the sleeve to cover your finger and how far up your arm you want it. I like the sleeve to cover most of my fingers. I fold it down when I need more finger mobility. Cut the fabric to size.

Measure fabric

  • Fold the fabric over your arm and chalk your arm. Pin along your chalk line leaving the thumb area unpinned.

Rough pattern

  • Try on the arm warmer and adjust the pattern as needed. This try on is important since all knits behaves differently and everyone likes a different amount of ease.

Try on and adjust

  • Trim your pattern with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Notice how I cut a curve at the thumb hole. This curve gives you more thumb mobility.

Cut pattern

  • Trace the pattern onto a piece of paper to keep for future use and to cut your second arm warmer.

Trace Pattern

 

Sewing the Arm Warmers

  • Instead of pins make a clip at the top and bottom of the thumb hole.

Clip sewing guides

  • Open up the fabric and fold right sides together so that you have a long and skinny piece. Sew the middle section from notch to notch.

Sew center

  • Open up the ends to a “X” shape.

Open to X

  • Grab the two top flaps and put them right sides together.

Put top flaps together

  • Sew from the end of the last stitch to the next clip. I marked the end of the last stitch with blue chalk to make it easier to see.

Sew top flaps together

  • Check the underside to make sure the fabric didn’t shift and you have sewn to the end of the previous stitch.

Sew top flaps together underside

  • Repeat with the other two flaps. Again checking that your stitching meets the end of the previous stitch on both sides.
  • Open up the piece into an upside down “V” shape. Sew up one side with a 1/4″ seam allowance and the other with a 3/8″ seam allowance. The two different seam allowances is to adjust for the turn of the cloth. The layer inside needs to  be smaller (larger seam allowance) so that it lays smooth.
  • Sew from the end of the previous stitch to the hem.

2 different seam allowances

  • Baste the seam allowance open. I use a glue stick. When I turned the sleeve inside out it was really difficult to keep the seam allowance open which created weird lumps and bumps in the seam. Pressing it open seemed like a dangerous undertaking.

Baste seam allowance

  • Turn the arm warmer inside out with the layer with the larger seam allowance as the inner layer.  Don’t worry, just turn it and look at the seam allowance. If you have the layers wrong, flip it inside out.

Open up hem

  • You’ll notice that the inner layer will be longer than the outer layer. It’s that turn of the cloth thing again. Trim the hem even to each other.

Cut bottom even

Sew the Hem

The next couple of steps are difficult to describe. The end goal is to sew the hem right side together leaving an opening to turn the arm warmer inside out. Here we go.

  • Fold over the hem seam allowance. It doesn’t matter how much seam allowance.

Hold seam allowances together

  • Grab the seam allowance from the inside.

Grab seam allowance from inside

  • Turn the seam allowance inside out. Zig zag the hem all the way around leaving a 2″ opening. When you get to the point in the sewing where the bulk of the arm warm preventing you from sewing further you’ll have to stuff the material in. I know this is confusing. You will understand when you get to this step.

Zig zig hem

  • Turn the arm warmer inside out.

Sew up opening

  • Hand stitch the opening close. I’m not sure of the name of the stitch I used. It’s like a ladder stitch where you’re stitching the edge of folds. I make almost like a back stitch in order to give the stitch some stretch so the thread doesn’t break when putting the arm warmer on and taking it off.

stitching

Congratulations

You have arm warmer with thumb hole. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have. I’ve been wearing everywhere, not just walking the dog. The grey goes with everything but I would love some colorful pairs.

Finished fingerless gloveFinished fingerless glove folded down

Happy Arm Warmer Sewing,

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Reading Blanket Tutorial

How to Sew a Reading Blanket

Yeah! Counting hanging chads, I got 10 votes for a tutorial how to sew the sleeved reading blanket that I had made. The reason why I asked my readers to weight in is that I want to blog about things that my regular readers would enjoy. I know some of my free patterns and tutorial get a lot of views. It’s people who come to the site, grab the pattern and leave. That’s a great amount of traffic that will has crash my site now that I’m on a cheaper hosting and made it worse for my regular readers. Since I don’t have advertising or affiliate links on the site, extra traffic does not benefit me. And in all fairness since the blog doesn’t make money, I can’t afford to spend more on hosting for random strangers who are just looking for free stuff. Sorry that got a bit ranty. Let’s get to the tutorial…

Instructions and diagram on how to sew a reading blanket are below.

Reading Blanket Instructions

** Don’t attempt to use this diagram ** It’s just plain wrong **

What? You don’t understand that? Neither do I. Ha! I had made so many changes, especially, with the cuffs I’ll have to reverse engineer the pattern.

Supplies

  • 2.5 yards of fleece 59″ width. Solid or non-directional prints like the donut one I used is recommended.

Donut Fleece Print

  • thread
  • machine that can do a zig zag stitch.
  • armhole template

armhole template download button

 

Cut Pattern Pieces

  • Cut a 49″ x 64″ rectangle. This will be the body of the blanket.
  • Cut two rectangles 23″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the sleeve. Mark the 23″ edges with pins or tailor tacks.
  • Cut two rectangles 9″ x 24 5/8″. These will be the cuffs.

Cutting diagram

  • From the body rectangle. Cut two 7″ circles for the armholes. The holes are 17″ apart. This will leave 16.5″ from the outer edge of the hole to the edge of the fabric.

Cut Armholes

 

  • The best way to do this is to fold the body piece in half (see dotted line in diagram above). Mark the center with a pin. From the pin measure out 8.5″ and place your armhole template. Double check that your measurements match the diagram above before cutting.

Armhole Cut Out

Body Construction

  • Hem the sides of the body piece with a 1″ hem. I folded over 1″ and did a zig zag with a 4 width and 4 length.
  • Hem the top and bottom with a 3″ hem.

Hem Body

  • I hem from the wrong side so I can see that I’m catching the hem. Nothing is worse than unpicking on fleece fabric.

Hemming fleece

  • Here’s the finished hem. There are cleaner ways to finish the hem but I choose the quick and dirty method.

Hem

 

  • Sew up the sleeves. Remember the pins I had you put in? You want to sew the 2 edges with the pins together to form a tube. This tube will be your sleeves. I used the same zig zag stitch and sewed using a 1/4″ seam allowance.

Sleeve Construction

  • Set in the sleeves. You want to match the seam of the sleeve with the inside edge of the hole.

Sleeve placement

  • Sewing the cuff is a bit complicated if you haven’t done it before. I recommend looking up a few videos on YouTube for sewing a thumb hole sleeve to help make it more clear.
  • First you need fold the cuff in half (see diagram below).

Cuff 1

  • Mark the cuff edge at 1″, 2 3/4″, 1.5″, 2 3/4″ and 1″ with pins. Pin each layer separately. Do not pin them together.

Cuff 1a

  • Sew rights side together between the 1.5″ section in the middle.

Cuff 2

  • This is where thing get tricky. Rotate the cuff 90 degrees. Open up the cuff into a “X” or butterfly shape.

Cuff 3

  • Grab the top “wings” and put them right sides together.

Cuff 4

  • Sew from the end of the previous stitching to the pin.

Cuff 5

  • Repeat for bottom “wings”.
  • Next you want to open up the remaining little flaps and put right sides together. Sew from where the previous stitching stopped to the edge of the fabric.

Cuff 6

  • Repeat for the other little flap.
  • Turn the cuff inside out. You should have a cuff with a slit in the seam for your thumb.
  • Repeat for the other cuff.
  • Sew the cuff to the sleeve matching up the seams. I put right sides together and zig zagged together. There are cleaner methods of finishing this seam. I like the quick and dirty method.

Cuff 7

 

Congratulations!

You made yourself or someone you love a reading blanket. Say “good bye” to cold arms. If you spot any errors, please let me know in the comments so others can be alerted. If you made a blanket send me a pic. I love seeing that people are actually sewing my tutorials and patterns. Don’t be that random person who comes for the free stuff and leaves.

Finished Reading Blanket

 

Other Design Feature Ideas

  • I have thought about making a small pocket for a book, reader or remote control (for those who watch TV instead of reading). This would make the blanket go on in only one direction so I wasn’t sure about adding it. If you’re interested, e-mail me and I’ll attempt to describe to you my idea on how to make the pocket 2 directional. detectivehoundstooth at gmail dot com.
  • Mcathur on Pattern Review suggested adding an LED light to the collar. It’s a great idea. I just have no idea how to execute it. You’re on your own.
  • You can also make this a longer length i.e. Snuggie type of blanket for lounging on the couch or other places where you don’t have a blanket.
  • Obviously the best design feature is using all the great fleece prints available. There is a fleece for everyone, from John Deere tractors to Hello Kitty. I could see these making great holiday gifts for book worms, TV buffs, knitters, hospital patients… I spent about $20 in fabric so it’s pretty inexpensive, though time consuming so make sure the recipient is worthy of your precious sewing time.

 

Happy reading blanket sewing,

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Strawberry Wrist Pincushion – Free Pattern

It’s a Slap Wrap Pin Cushion!!

Strawberry wrist pincushion 2

Optional needle holder leaf is not shown. That comes later.

 

I’ve been meaning to make myself a wrist pin cushion for a long time.  I decided to make the pincushion into a strawberry as a nod to dangling strawberry on those ubiquitous tomato pincushions.  Unlike the tomato pincushion, this strawberry would be life size.  Since there’s numerous strawberry stands and farms in my town and I live near the “Strawberry Capital of the World,” it just seemed fitting.  The pattern and construction took me a bit of fiddling around to get it just right.  Since I’ve already went through the trouble, I wanted to share it with everyone.  Who doesn’t need a strawberry pincushion?

 

 

Materials

Supplies

 Gather your materials

  • 6″ x 5″ red cotton fabric with white polka dots.
  • 10″ x 6″ green wool felt
  • Poly fill stuffing
  • Metal from a slap wrap bracelet.  I got mine from a vending machine at the pizza place for $0.75.  It was very easy to cut around the edges and remove the metal inside.Slap Wrap
  • Download the pattern here.

 

Construction Steps

  1.  Cut out your pieces.

    Cut Fabric

  2. Fold the red polka dotted fabric in half on the dotted line.  Sew along the dashed line shown on the pattern.  You will have something that looks like a strawberry cone.  Trim away the excess at the tip.  Turn the cone right side out.Sew Strawberry
  3. Pin the strawberry cone to one of the green felt wrap cover matching the circles.  The strawberry cone should be slightly on the diagonal.  Use the pin to hold the layers together and stitch approximately a 1/2″ circle around the pin.  You will have to push back the extra fabric while you do it. Sew Strawberry onto Wrap Cover
  4. Prepare to sew the cover by laying the pieces down in this order:  Green felt cover, metal slap wrap with the curve facing up, green felt cover with the strawberry cone sewn on it. Assemble Layers
  5. Baste both the green felt covers to the metal slap wrap using a glue stick.  Smooth out any lumps and ensure good contact by rubbing it with your fingers.  Glue Baste
  6. Roll the strawberry cone up and pin it so it’s out of the way.  Draw the outside of the metal slap wrap using chalk.  You can feel the edge of the metal with your finger.Trace Wrap
  7. Using a zipper foot stitch around the cover using your chalk line for reference.Sew Cover
  8. Trim off the excess.  You can either cut a straight or decorative edge.  I decided on a scalloped edge.  I used a paper scissor and muscled my way through the layers.  It was tough and a little messy but worth the effort. Trim off excess
  9. Unpin the strawberry cone.  Run a gathering stitch around the opening.  Stuff the strawberry with polyfil firmly.
  10. Gather and StuffPull the gathering threads to close the opening.  Stitch to secure. Sew close
  11. Attached the stem to the cap by pulling the stem edges through the slit in the cap and stitch to secure. Stem to cap
  12. Pin the cap to the top of the strawberry.  Stitch to attach. Sew cap on
  13. You’re done.  Put in pins and enjoy.Strawberry wrist pin cushionStrawberry wrist pincushion 2

Optional Needle Holder

Like any good pattern maker, I tested the pincushion after I finished it.  I started putting needles into the cushion and proceeded to loose these needles IN the cushion.  So I decided to add a leaf needle holder.

  1. Cut out the optional strawberry leaf out of the green felt.  The pattern has smooth edges.  To make the jagged edges snip using the tip of your scissors.  Make the edges jagged half way down the leaf.Strawberry leaf
  2. Stitch the leaf onto the wrap cover.  Stitch down each of the 3 leaf lobes.  This step is easier if you close up the slap wrap.Stitch on leafCongratulations.  You now have a needle holder.  Make sure when you put your needles on the leaf that sharp end points into the middle of the leaf.Strawberry wrist pincushion with needle holderStrawberry wrist pincushion with needle holder 2

 

Put in some pins and needles and you’re all set.   I hope you give this pattern a try.  If you do feel free to e-mail me with questions and finished pics.

Strawberry wrist pincushion in use

Happy pin cushion sewing,

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Three Way Mirror Tutorial

Wider Stave Mirror

Finished 3 Way Mirror

I do love a funny sometimes pun-y blog title but decided to go the booorrrring route this time. Alternative blog titles that were left on the editing room floor:
• See No Evil, Hear No Evil: The Ultimate Guide to Fitting
• The Butt Ugly Side of Sewing
• Fitting Yourself Without Twisting Yourself

 

 

Back to Business

This tutorial will walk you through how I made a 3 way mirror for my sewing room. At the end I’ve included some ideas for those who are limited in space and money. From my seriously in depth analyst of my sewing I decided that I needed more pants. I’ve made pants before but never knew what issues I had literally hiding behind me until I took pictures of the finished garments. Needless to say those pictures did not make it the world wide webs. So this time around I wanted to figure out my fit issues so I had a working list of common adjustments like I do for my upper half. But when I went to noodle over my fit issues in the mirror I ended up twisting and turning and adding more wrinkles. I tried awkwardly placing 2 semi-full length mirrors but couldn’t find a good position. I tried taking self timed pictures but it didn’t help me fit because I use the very scientific method of fitting I call “Pull Your Problems Away”

 

Supplies and Tools

• 3 full length mirrors. I used IKEA Stave 27 ½” x 63” for $49.99 each. Yes, it gets expensive since you need 3.
• 10 Narrow Utility Hinges 1 ½”. I bought these from Home Depot for $2.27 for a pair. I bought 5 pairs for a total of $11.35.
• Drill
• Blue tape
• Marking pens

Wider Stave Mirror Hinges

 

 

Instructions for Advanced Makers

For those who are mechanically inclined, the 3 mirrors are held together with 5 hinges between each mirror. Hinge pins goes in the front so the mirrors can fold in.Hinge Pins to Front

 

 

Instructions for the Rest of Us

1. Get your mirrors. I used the IKEA Stave the wider (27.5”) version because it tall, wide and has a drillable frame. You can use other mirrors as long as they fit these requirements.

a. It should be tall. You want to be able to use this for pants, tops, dress etc so a short mirrors are limiting.
b. It should be wide. If the mirror’s reflective surface is narrow you won’t have as much visibility and you’ll feel claustrophobic being boxed in by narrow mirrors.
c. The frame should be wide and stable enough to be drilled into. Make sure you look at the back of the mirror before purchasing. The way the mirror attaches to the frame needs to be in a way that you won’t drill into the mirror. The mirrored part of the Stave is hot glued into the frame and has a few small tacks to hold it in. This is good because I don’t chance hitting it the drill. It’s also a dense particle board. A filmy or hollow material may not be able to hold the hinges.Screw Depth

2. Lay the center mirror on the floor. Mark the hinge placements on the center mirror. The pins of the hinges need to be at the front of the mirror or else your mirrors will not fold inwards.Mark Hinge Placement
I marked the top, bottom, middle and then measured in between the top/middle and middle/bottom for the final 2. So you have 5 hinge placements per side.

3. Drill pilot holes. The recommended bit size was on the back of the hinge packaging but I threw it away so I don’t know what was recommended. For my hinges I used a 3/32 bit without any problems.
**Tip** place a bit of blue tape to slightly less than the depth of the screw so you don’t accidentally drill through the frame.Don't Drill to Deep
4. Screw in the screws.

5. Stand the center mirror up on its side with the hinges on top. I rested mine against a shelf but it would have been nice to have a second set of hands but the dog’s arms are too stumpy.My Little Helper
6. Stand the right mirror up against the center mirror, front to front. i.e. the mirrored sides are facing each other.  Open the hinges and mark the holes on the right mirror. Mark Hinge Placement 2
7. Drill pilot holes and screw in the screws. If you did this correctly you’re have the 2 mirrors hinged together that can close with the mirrors facing each other.2 Mirrors Attached
8. I decided to stand up the mirrors against a wall that this point. Since I was by myself I didn’t think I could stand up all 3 mirrors when everything was attached.

9. Repeat step 6 and 7 with the left mirror. Start with the top first and then the bottom to stabilize the contraption. Left Side Attachment

Congratulations you’re done!

 

 

How to Use a 3 Way Mirror

A 3 way mirror will help you view your garments from several angles without having to crank your head in painful positions. Adjust the angles of the side mirrors in order to get the best view.  You can see the angles of the mirrors in the picture below.  You’ll also see that I have stand near the mirror to give myself more distance.  I have to turn my head slightly (somewhere between the 1 o’clock and 2 o’clock position) to get the best view of my rear.  Yikes! What is that horrible looking mess under my butt?!  Wait, don’t look.  You can’t unsee that. 3 way mirror

 

 

Bonus Content:  Alternative Ideas to Save Space and Money

• Self timed camera photos are a cheaper alternative, assuming you already have a digital camera. This can serve the same purpose of viewing difficult to see angles.
• You can make a 2 piece mirror and place it up against a mirror closet or other full length mirror you may already have in the house. The 2 piece mirror can fold flat and be stored away.
• Purchase less expensive mirrors used on Craiglists, garage sales etc.
• This idea is not mine but I really loved it. Helen123 on PR attached the smaller (and less expensive) Stave mirrors to wheels. This way she can wheel them to whatever distance and angle she needs. And they nest nicely to save space when not in use.  Link to her instructions.

Happy fitting,
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