November 9, 2017

Mermaid Tail Blanket

I sewed a mermaid tail blanket for my 3-year-old honorary niece. I had left-over fabric from the “Boo” costume I made her (sorry, no picture of that, she won’t pose for it) and thought she might like a new kind of sleep sack.

I didn’t have a pattern, so I looked at examples online and made one from newspaper.


First I used fleece and made the main part, 16 inches wide and 35 inches long, tapering down.  I cut a matching piece of the scale fabric for the front.  Putting right sides together of the 3 layers, I sewed the seam, then turned it right side out.  I cut one piece of the tail fin from fleece and one from the scale fabric and sewed them together (same method, right sides together)

I then sewed the fin onto the rest of the tail, tucking under raw edges.. I hand-sewed 4 lines leading from the base of the tail across the fin to make it look more fin-like.




I thought about putting elastic across the top but decided to simply roll the fabric hem to finish the edge instead. (If I put elastic in, I would make that bigger to create a channel to feed elastic through.)

I wish I could have been there to see her reaction- it was reported to be: “Aunty Jane knows I love mermaids!”

Well, doesn’t everyone?


Sewing a Katara Costume

I created a costume without using a pattern.  This is akin to driving without a map in a foreign country, or performing a musical after seeing a movie.

It’s always best to have something to go by.  Either a pattern or a piece of clothing that you know fits your subject.  Since this was unique, I used measurements instead.  My original idea was that the dress would be slipped on over her head, but it became clear that img_6624it would be extremely difficult to do that.  So I went to plan “B” and made it a wrap-around dress with two overlapping panels, attaching at the waist with snaps.  I finished off the edges with a strip of white fabric.

The panel sides had a simple rolled  hem, and at the bottom I appliquéd a white piece ( A simple rectangle in the back, a wave in the front).img_6623img_6626

The next difficulty was I had made the shoulders too tight.  This is a problem I keep running into when improvising or changing patterns- sleeves and pant inseams need to be bigger than basic measurements to ensure motion and comfort.  IMG_6687If possible, find a pattern for the sleeves, even if it is for a completely different shirt, it will help you see how it is supposed to fit in.  I eventually used a sleeve pattern from a dress.

I 3-D printed her necklace (but you can purchase one from crafters). I made her arm-bands using this tutorial.  She wore leggings and a tank top underneath, and sandals.

We went to Dragoncon!  I had so many costumes I wanted to make, but I’m glad I at least finished this one.  My daughter wore it to the Aquarium night and pretended to water-bend.  .  She was so happy!


Sew a Sock Monkey Hat


One of the challenges on the G.I.S.H.W.H.E.S. list this year was: “Make a sock monkey hat from orphaned socks.  So I rounded up a pile of likely victims and started sewing.  This…interesting hat was the result.  I used the sock ends for ears, opened up two socks for the front and back, and used a larger sock end with a extra triangle of fabric for the top.  I added the face using a piece of purple sock with another white sock and a part of a red sock for the lips.  I used embroidery floss for the nose and scraps for the eyes.

I’m not sure I could convince anyone to wear this.

P1120981 (1)


Sewing T-Shirt Quilt Project

I  love t-shirts.  They are wearable momentos , silent announcements of your personality and a way to share what you love.  They are also damn comfortable.

However, over the years I and my husband accumulated many shirts that for one reason or another, we didn’t want to wear anymore, but couldn’t bear to throw away.  Add in t-shirts that my children outgrew, and you have quite a pile.  So I’ve been meaning to make a t-shirt quilt for several years now.

T-shirt material is stretchy, thin, and tends to curl in on itself when cut into squares.  The way to get around that is to use fusable stabilizer, which you can get in sheets or bolts at a sewing store.

IMG_2278Designing the Quilt

Apparently there are two schools of thought about t-shirt quilts.  One group design blocks, attaching the neatly cut squares of precisely sized t-shirt cut-outs into larger blocks using other fabric, then strip the blocks together using a symmetrical design, sometimes with borders, dividers or symbolic motifs.  These are actual quilters. Then there’s the “hey, I’ve got some t-shirts here, let’s sew them together into a big thing!” crowd.  The problem with the latter (ok, ONE problem) is that it is hard to determine how big your quilt will end up, and whether it will be even on all sides.  Do you just want to hang it up on the wall, or actually use it as a blanket?  If it’s just a display and sewing’s not your thing, consider putting your shirts over thin cardboard squares, pinning them smooth, then connecting them together to cover your wall.  If you’re determined to plow through to a finished, usable work of art, pick up a book on quilting so you can learn about batting, backing fabric,  layout and fixing common problems.  I’ve been cutting out squares and stabilizing them as I go along, and then I thought about design.  Yeah.  Wrong order.  So I’m going with the “willy nilly” style, but probably putting in a border around the outside.

I’ll keep you updated with my progress.  If a t-shirt quilt is too intimidating (or you only have a few shirts you want to use), check out this t-shirt scarf by Rachel Hobson on Make.

October 26, 2015

Mario costume

I made my son a Mario costume for Halloween.  It was both easy to make and comfortable for him, which is great.  It consists of a red, long-sleeved shirt and overalls.  I sewed the hat and fake buttons, and I was done!  He can wear the overalls again and again, which is great. Then he said he didn’t want to be regular Mario, he wanted to be Mario with powers.  His idea was to have three or four costumes and change into them- ice powers, fire powers, flying powers.  I was flattered that he thought I could just whip up some tear-away costumes for him, but unsure how to break it to him that I wouldn’t do it.  Then I had an idea- make him the power-ups and let him pretend.

felt Mario power ups

I made a star, green mushroom and red mushroom out of felt.  He put them in the pockets of his overalls and can pull them out to play being Mario.  (On a side note, why do these things have eyes?  Are they aware?  Are they eaten when they are used to give powers?  Is Mario really evil, rampaging through places, killing creatures and grabbing treasure?)

Making the star was straight-forward.  Just cut out two star shapes and sew them together, putting in stuffing before finishing.  Add black felt eyes. To make the mushrooms, start with a strip of white felt.  Sew it into a loop.  Make a running stitch along the bottom of the loop and draw on it to pull it closed, then sew the bottom shut.  To make the top, cut out a circle of colored felt that is twice as large as the stem loop.  Sew five white circles on the large circle.  Make a running stitch along the edge of the circle and pull on it to make the cap shape (but do not try to draw it all the way shut as you did with the stem.  Stuff both the stem and the cap and sew them together. Add black felt eyes.

Here’s the link to the pattern for the hat from Instructables. I used some leftover cloth I had, but it would work better in felt, which would stretch to fit.


August 1, 2015

nausicaa helmet nausicaahelmetside

Working on the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds costume for my daughter.  I made the helmet out of sheets of felt and some old plastic sunglass lenses.

May 16, 2015


Here’s a bluebird I made from the book Big Little Felt Fun by Jeanette Lim. I’m really 20695204getting into sewing with felt.  I think I’ll start making some of my own patterns.  Any requests?

May 9, 2015

Felt Kindle

I made a felt Kindle for an associate who is retiring from being in charge of all digital content for our library system.  I think we’re going to be lost without her, but now she has a Kindle she can safely throw at people who aggravate her.  Which hopefully won’t be necessary as she’s retiring.

I’m embarrassed at how it came out, but she appreciated the gesture.  I need to figure out a way to create words on my felt projects, because my embroidery is awful.  This looks like spiderweb writing from Charlotte’s Web.  It would have been awesome to be able to iron on text for the “screen.”  I will have to experiment.

January 17, 2015

Organizing a Creative Space

There’s nothing like a domestic disaster to make you reorganize your stuff.  We had a water heater fail and flood our basement, where my sewing supplies were.  We took that problem as an opportunity to rehaul our stuff.  My husband pulled all his boxes of office supplies, old technology and equipment, and made himself a little tech workshop.  I took the opportunity to move my sewing area.


When setting up my new area, I asked myself some basic questions that helped me to decide what to put in there.

  • Is it useful for sewing?
  • If it’s just decorative, does it make me happy when I look at it?
  • Does the way I’m setting this up work with or fight against my habits?
  • What can I do to make it easier to find things and put things away?

I put away my scrapbooking materials, which I haven’t used in years, and found homes for my miniatures painting supplies.  I put all the little scraps of cloth into one bin, and folded the rest of my cloth over cardboard, putting it “spine up” to make it easier to see what I have and get it when I need it.


This room is shared with my son for a play area, and I worked with him to sort out his toys, saving what he actually plays with and weeding out unwanted items to be donated.

I was looking forward to using my new space, but then the basement heat stopped working.  Guess I need to wait a little longer.  Or perhaps bundle up.


Yankees and Celtics felt ornaments

I made Celtics and Yankee ornaments for my nephews.  (Note, make absolutely sure you know what the recipient’s favorite teams really are!)

Look up the logos.  Usually teams have a simplified version of their logo.  Obviously, this logo is trademarked and can’t be used for resale.  I found good images on Pinterest to help me.

Start by cutting out two circles of felt in the base color.  Make a smaller circle to go on the front of the ornament, and cut out elements of the logo.  Sew all the logo pieces onto the small circle with embroidery floss (using blanket stitch), then sew the small circle onto one of the larger circles.  Put the two large circles right sides together and sew almost all the way around, leaving an opening.  Turn the ornament right side out.  The felt was thick enough that I decided not to put stuffing into it, I merely sewed the little opening shut with a ladder stitch.  Attach a piece of embroidery floss onto the top of the ornament and make a hanging loop.

By the time I got to making one for my dad I was good at it, but for complicated designs like the elaborate “B” for the Boston Red Sox, I would recommend using an exacto knife and cutting board. Currently my craft room is under repair, so I was unable to utilize that.  I don’t have a picture of the Red Sox one.

Any requests for more?  I think I’m becoming a felt crafter- it is fun to hand sew, and with felt you don’t have to worry about edges.

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