Gift Pillow

detail of knife edge pillowA guest room at my brother’s home has rust brown color sheets, so I decided on these colors for a simple pillow. I’m happy with the result, which is neither country cute nor too modern. I first had in mind a cover for a travel pillow that was resting on the bed. Silly me, I thought all travel pillows were the same size! So this square pillow is the result instead. It’s on its way in the mail, and I hope it will be enjoyed.

I used a “knife edge” technique that makes the corners tuck in instead of sticking out — with no stuffing to give them definition. The photo below shows the detail, and it’s easy to do. Wrong side out, select a short distance in from the corners. One-half inch might do, or one inch. Draw a dot or an “X” using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Then use a large dinner plate or some other round flat object to taper a line towards both edges. Those lines, along with a regular seam allowance, are the lines you’ll stitch along. Proceed with trimming and turning inside out as usual.

When this type of pillow is turned to the right side and filled, the corners have a nice shape — worthy of gift giving. Of course there are many other pillow creation techniques, but it’s the one I chose for this pillow. And with that, I say “Happy Holidays”!



soundstitches sewing blog gift pillow


Vogue 8742

Vogue sewing patterns SoundStitches sewing blog fashion knit Pacific FabricsI’m making this Vogue look from a rust color ponte knit. I didn’t have enough to make the dress, so I’m making a tunic length top to wear with leggings. So far the look is flattering — another waist/bust/hip enhancing look for most of us.

I searched for other ladies’ results online and the pictures bring home to me the importance of choosing a substantial knit. That means a relatively heavy knit, such as ones you would wear for leggings or pants. Think winter instead of summer weight, and to test in the fabric store, squeeze a good handful of fabric, and see how it regains shape and whether it releases wrinkles soon. The right knit weight glides over your body without clinging (though of course wearing a slip or smooth undergarments further reduces “panty lines”).

In today’s standard patterns that contain both a sleeved and sleeveless look in the same package, the bodice pattern piece is identical. But ready-made sleeveless aren’t like this: looks don’t end at the sleeve cap but rather finish closer to the neck. Imagine you were feeling punk-ish and decided to take an old sleeved sweater from your closet to hack off and make a sleeveless sweater from. You could simply draw a line from the armpit to the top of the sleeve and cut it off. But, it would not result in a flattering look. Ready-made sleeveless looks cup in a bit to flatter the neck, arm and body. The sleeved look on Vogue 8742 works fine, but for the sleeveless look you’ll want to cut out another seam allowance-width of fabric.

Rusty red ponte knit
Rusty red ponte knit

In addition to changing the top’s length, I haven’t used the prescribed single-fold binding. Binding, sold in packages by Wrights, is stiff because it contains polyester along with cotton, and this stiffness just isn’t compatible with knits. Instead I purchased rayon seam binding for the neck and sleeveless armholes. (Pacific Fabrics carries many colors of seam binding in its stores. See if it’s available online too.) While rayon seam binding isn’t stretchy, it’s narrow, lightweight and both edges are finished. You can sew it to the dress fabric, right sides together. Attach it before you sew the shoulder seams, and you can eliminate backstitching. (I take time to suggest this because delicate rayon seam binding easily develops holes after the sewing needle goes over the same spot twice.) The rayon gives a worthwhile professional finish and eliminates the bulk created by twice turning over thick knit.

Early on, I accidentally ruched all the way down to the hem, as designed for the full-length dress. As I work on other details, I wonder what I will do with the hem. I may take out the gathering stitches so it will lie flat at the hem.

Finally, I’ve got to make an alteration where the back of the dress meets the neck. The last time I worked on other aspects of the top, I wondered if I even need a button closure. Most women’s heads measure about 21-22 inches (53-55 cm) around, and if the knit stretches this amount around the neckline, that’s all that’s needed. I’ll need to baste to test that out, and after Thanksgiving, I hope to finish up this rust-colored gem and wear it out of the house!

Laminated Cotton Says Outdoor Living

Ah, the time for reliable outdoor living is almost here and these are my favorites in laminated cotton from They’ve got colorful owls and ducks and chickies and florals. Which are your favorite patterns and what have you made from laminated cotton?

I test-ran some snack bags from interfaced cotton to achieve the stand-up stiffness the laminated cotton normally creates. And who wouldn’t want to eat goldfish cracker treats from a cool reusable stand-up bag? So orange… and so green. Remember that oilcloth (which is actually plastic) can’t be used with food, but laminated cotton is suitable.

Here’s another snack bag project made with laminated cotton. Note: Your sewing machine really needs a Teflon presser foot for laminated cotton and oilcloth. (An older method is to tape electrical or smooth thick tape to the bottom of a regular presser foot.)

Could You Be Loved?

2012_Blog_Simplicity3669While photographing my next holiday gift, I had in mind the Bob Marley song, “Could You Be Loved?” The last two winters my daughter wore bright pink collared pajamas with kitties on them, and she was disappointed to learn that they no longer fit her this fall. Very disappointed (which I found surprising because she no longer likes pink). So off I go to locate kitty pajamas. Found some, from Hadley’s. They make cute but pricey organic cotton pajamas and my mom offered to spring for them as an additional gift. But they fit very small, and my girl doesn’t do close-fitting clothing. (I hope this means less of a struggle when she’s a teen!) So they went back, and she has been wearing a pair of fleece pants with a peace sign print that my parents also gave her. She has worn those every day since Thanksgiving. (I’m not sure how many times they’ve been washed, to be honest.) A child needs a second pair of pajamas, don’t you think?

Found this cute fabric with raccoons, mice, and some other creature I can’t identify (we’ll see if you can, next post). The fabric is lofty cotton flannel from Pacific Fabrics and pattern is Simplicity 3669. I’m holding my breath because the other thing about this girl is that she no longer wears most of what I make for her. I gave up earlier this year — sort of.  This summer I made corduroy capri pants with side pockets she really likes. Here’s my reasoning this time: pajamas are just pants + collared shirt.

I did two things differently this time around: 1. I used my serger more and 2. I skipped interfacing the collar and the entire facing. GASP! I’ve never skipped steps before. I wanted to know whether Peggy Sagers had a valid time-saver. She says that production houses don’t interface simple blouses. I’m still not sure that’s true — I don’t know that I’ve ever bought a blouse without some kind of interfacing. So I only interfaced a strip where the button holes would go, and they came out beautifully. (Love automatic buttonholes!)

Join me for the reaction!

Happy Holidays

I made three presents this year — one each for my mom, daughter and husband. I also helped out with some felt holiday ornaments made for relatives. The pants I made my husband are a mouse gray fleece and didn’t photograph well. They’re made from a new fleece from Pacific Fabrics. I’m hopeful these will wear better, look more like something expensive from REI or a catalog, and form fewer pill-balls than the standard fleece that eventually looks like everyone wearing it is a Muppet creature.

The vest I made my mom was a hit. Mom says she wore it to a potluck event for the Coast Guard auxiliary where my dad volunteers. I hope she’ll find other places to wear this very unique fleece fabric with a woodland scene. I enjoyed lining it with a bright red poly woven that I’ve had in my stash, and giving it a mobile-phone pocket, neither of which features were called for in the KwikSew 3086 pattern (out of print, but similar to Kwik Sew 3172.

SoundStitches sewing blog copyright 2012

Soon I’ll post about the pajamas for my daughter — after they’re opened, that is. What have you sewn or made for the people in your lives? I love to hear about projects. In the meantime, happy holidays!

A Pants Pattern That Fits…Priceless

I’ve been lax in sharing a great class I took recently. I’ve now taken two classes from Palmer-Pletsch certified teacher Nancy Seifert. This time it was a four-day pant fitting class at Pacific Fabrics. (Nancy and I are working on my pattern tissue in the photo.) I got a great-fitting tissue pants pattern — priceless! — and made two pairs of pants. Okay, I still have to sew the hook and eye on one of the pairs. Pati Palmer herself joined us for the first day.

There were several women in the class, including one who wanted to make jeans. (Oh, my gosh I’ve never seen so much top-stitching in my life, but those jeans really fit her!)

In the P-P method, you cut out the intended size on the pattern lines, tape along the seam line, pin the pieces together right sides out, and mark the changes. We used a McCall’s pants “basic” supplied by Palmer-Pletsch.

The theory is: Why waste time cutting out nice fabric, or even muslin, when absolutely everyone needs to make modifications? Nancy then fitted us while the patterns were held on by 1″ elastic, taking out darts on some bodies, raising crotch seams on others, and adding tissue to side seams. The most important tip I learned is to pull up the tissue in the rear, above the elastic, if you have a flat rear. Others might need more tissue in the front or rear. Having made tissue modifications, most of us headed out to shop the lovely expansive Pacific Fabrics SODO (“South of Downtown”), which was about 30 steps away. I nabbed navy blue Italian wool suiting (so dark that no photos turned out, unfortunately). After cutting out, sewing in the zipper and stitching the crotch seams, we tried on again. (Before I forget, basting tape is less sticky and I discovered that I don’t have to hand-baste zippers anymore!)

Nancy made further modifications, checking the seam lines, etc. and some of us transferred these changes to the tissue pattern. However, some changes we chalked up to the specific fabric we made up. In other words, a linen will have a different drape than wool crepe. I learned the important difference between how fabrics “make up,” and not to over-fit in the tissue. One woman’s second pair of pants needed taking in, because the fabric had more drape than the first pair.

The class was so valuable to me, even though I realized I was coming down with a cold on the first evening. I managed to make it to bed early, but made silly mistakes and felt rather weary through about day three. Pacific Fabrics’ buyer Sharon joined us for lunch one day, and she shared that Pacific Fabrics used to have stores in local malls. She says home sewing has been in decline for decades. It seems impossible to me, since I am surrounded by the sewing dreams of myself and others, but it’s true. Sharon says hardly any suppliers remain who will sell to fabric stores. Yet I enjoyed learned hearing about trends, and that Pacific Fabrics buys from the trade in Los Angeles and overseas. I’ve since worn my new navy wool pants several times, including to a work meeting. A well-fitting pair of pants — and the possibility of more — is pretty near priceless for me.

Learn more about Palmer Pletsch — they now have classes in Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia and Kalamazoo (Michigan).