week 5

Memory Pillows (and making memories)

September is quickly starting to get away from me and it’s still early yet!  I have been working a ton at my regular jobs (I currently have four, about to drop down to three) and have had little time for sewing.  My sister asked me to make a handful of memory pillows for her brothers and sisters in-law (10 in total) that lost their father this past year.  I was happy to do it.  Of course, like many things in sewing, I have never done this before, but found a few tutorials online to guide me.  They are actually very simple to make!  I met up with my sister three weeks ago when we drove to Georgia to “meet” President Jimmy Carter (more on that below).  At that time, she gave me the shirts for the pillows.  Seven of the shirts were button down, which was perfect and matched up with the tutorials I read.  The other three were polo shirts and created a little dilemma for me.   I had to figure out the best way to make these pillows and NOT MESS UP!!  These shirts are irreplaceable, so they have to be perfect.

First the button shirts:  Simple to make, cut out the size you need, sew right sides together all the way around and then turn right side out using the buttons.  The buttons work as your opening and closure!


Next the polo shirts:  I decided to make these like a regular throw pillows with an envelope back.  I used a tutorial by CrazyMomQuilts to help me with the back! 🙂


Finally, Jimmy Carter! I encourage everyone to make this trip to Plains, GA.  It is a beautiful little town with a bunch of personality.  Anyone is invited to attend President Carter’s church to hear him teach a Sunday School lesson.  Afterwards, he and Rosalynn allow for pictures.  I am so glad we did this.  When will someone like me ever meet a president?  President Carter was funny and engaging with the crowd, and you would never know he is almost 93!!  After church, we spent a little time in the town.  If we had more time, we would have explored further: the high school that the Carters attended (now a National Park site), as well as his boyhood home and several other sites.  I will say that we stopped long enough to enjoy the most delicious peanut butter ice cream in “downtown” Plains at a store called, Plains Peanuts 🙂

week 5

Necessary Clutch Wallet

This week I made a Necessary Clutch Wallet.  This is probably my 7th one and they get a bit easier for me each time.  I will admit I find them a little frustrating, but I love the final product, so I guess the struggle is worth it. 🙂


 This time I used my favorite Cotton and Steel canvas fabric for the flap but kept the rest of the wallet pretty basic, mostly black.  This kitty makes me smile every time I see it.  I have this fabric in both colorways and I keep a small stash of it.

I find the final step in the pattern to be the hardest part (creating the accordion).  This last wallet was better at this part (no cursing!!), so maybe I have rounded the corner!

I reference this Youtube tutorial video by Janelle MacKay every time I make one of these.  She has helpful hints on ways to make things a bit easier.

This wallet is available in my Etsy shop.



I also worked a bit on my June Quilt.  I have a bunch more to sew on that, but it’s coming along.


week 5

Summer Dress

For the past few years, I have made a dress for my sister for Christmas or her birthday.  Originally she told me she wanted a retro style dress, and together we found a shirt dress that we both liked: McCalls 6891.  The first one I made was sleeveless, at her request.  After that, I decided to experiment with sleeves.  (Experiment meaning, I don’t really know how to set sleeves….)  Because I took one sewing lesson about 20 years ago and the rest of my learning has been through internet reading, I find that I try to avoid sewing things that might seem difficult.  I’ve gotten lucky a few times and had a sleeve just fit perfectly, but most of the time, it takes me a whole day.  I am sure I am doing something wrong to make it so hard for myself, but I haven’t figured out what just yet.  Regardless, I like this dress better with sleeves.  I have made it four times now for my sister, using different fabrics (polka dots, retro cats..a personal favorite).  Each time I make one, I try to make the dress look a little different and to jazz it up.


This year I found the Ring, Ring fabric in Navy and Green by Kim Kight of Cotton and Steel.  I thought it would make a cute retro looking dress.  As I mentioned, I wanted to try something different this year, so I added a solid border to the skirt.  I also used a solid for the collar and for the cuff on the sleeve.

For the cuff, I actually found a tutorial online (which I can’t seem to find again to link…:-( Based on the tutorial, I just cut the contrasting fabric and then after doing a mock up in my head a bunch of times, sewed and cut out the notch!  I have problems with spatial things, so I had to think about that for a long time, but it worked!

Isn’t she cute modelling the sleeve?  The only problem was…I made one cuff and sewed it right onto the sleeve….but I hadn’t cut out the second cuff yet!!  DOH!!  I had to do the whole thing again.  Why, oh why didn’t I cut them both at the same time you ask??  Well, I wasn’t sure the first one was going to work because I was making it up as I went along…then when it did…I was shocked!  Doing the second cuff wasn’t too bad but I’m not 100% sure the notches are exactly the same.  Good thing you can’t really tell when the dress is being worn.

The collar on this pattern always, always frustrates me.  I think I got it to work perfectly one time so far.  I don’t know if it’s the instructions or me (or both).  I usually end up doing something on my own to make it lay flat and so far it has worked.  At least my sister hasn’t told me otherwise, but maybe she’s holding back…

I sewed this on my Juki and it was so fun.  Straight seams and a super fast machine?  Zippity do dah!!  I did have to switch back to my Brother for the button holes, and I am happy to say he did a great job.  (In the past, he has been naughty about buttonholes…I actually avoided doing the buttons for a few days because I didn’t want to fight the Brother.)  I found the buttons on clearance at JoAnns 🙂 Yay to savings.

In the end, I like this pattern (I guess so, since I’ve done it 4 times).  Will there be another retro shirt dress in her future? Maybe, I am always looking for new patterns to try out for her, so who knows?  This particular dress is my second favorite of the ones I’ve made (sorry, I don’t have a pic of the previous ones).  I think it has a “Lucy Ricardo” feel to it and I like that!!


week 5

Dog Bow Tie Tutorial


I make bow ties (and collars) for dogs and cats.  I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now and I really enjoy it.  They look so cute when they’re finished!

Since I am new to blogging, I am also new to making tutorials, so this will be my first. I started this tutorial before I got sick awhile back but haven’t been able to post until now….hence the St Patty’s Day fabric!! I hope you enjoy it! Bear with me 🙂

Materials for a standard sized bow tie (for dogs):
9.5″ x 6.5″ piece of fabric
2.5″ x 5″ strip of matching fabric
medium weight interfacing, cut to size of fabric pieces (I use Pellon 808 or 809)
~2″ of 3/4 inch elastic (I prefer knit elastic to braided)
needle and thread for hand sewing the elastic

1)  Fuse interfacing to wrong side of the main fabric piece and the strip of matching fabric.

2) Fold the long edges of the main fabric piece right sides together. Sew using a 1/4 seam.

3) Turn the now formed tube right side out and press flat.

4) Fold short edges right sides together. Sew along short edge with 1/4 seam.  Set this piece aside.

5) Fold the small strip of fabric right sides together on the long edge.  Sew along the long edge with a 1/4 seam.

6) (my least favorite step) Turn this tiny tube inside out and press flat.

7) Go back to the main piece and fold into “an accordion” with 3 folds.  I do this best by folding the piece in half right sides together on the long edge, then turning back the top and bottom fold.

8) Wrap the strip around the middle of the accordion to get an idea of how long it needs to be to fit securely around the main tie.  Mark this length and add a seam allowance.  I usually eyeball this step.  The strip I have made is usually much longer than needed. Once I have wrapped it around the accordion, I cut off the excess to exactly how much I will need.

9) Sew the strip right sides together on the short end with a 1/4 seam. Turn this piece inside out.  You should have a small tube or circle.

10) Now, slide that tube over the accordion until it sits nicely in the center of the tie.

11) Straighten out the folds of the accordion and give the tie a good press.

12) The last thing to do is hand sew the elastic onto the back of the tie. The length needed will vary depending on your dog’s collar.  The idea is to sew on enough elastic to easily slide over the collar (remember, the hardware is a bit thicker and can be harder to slide over if the elastic is too tight).  I also eyeball this, but it ends up being about 1.5 inches or slightly more for a 1″ wide collar.  When I sew the elastic on, I turn under the raw edges to keep it looking nice and neat.

When sewing the elastic, I also try to include the main fabric piece and the center tube with each stitch.  I feel like this helps to secure the center in place and prevents it from shifting later when a puppy is wearing it.

I have seen many ties out there with Velcro on the back to attach to collars.  I personally prefer the elastic because I think it is a bit more secure.  Plus, I think Velcro gets ‘icky’ over time, especially when you factor in dog and cat hair!  **Keep in mind, I only use enough elastic to slide over the width of a collar.  I am not a fan of items that have elastic that is meant to be used around the dog (or cat’s) neck. **

Anyway, I hope this was a useful tutorial for you.  Feel free to ask me any questions as I am sure I have left out an important step somewhere.

Just a disclaimer:  I recommend that you always monitor your pet when they are wearing small items like these.  While they are supposed to be secured to the collar, dogs (and cats) can be awfully creative at getting things off and eating them.