Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year - Free pattern giveaway!

**contest/comments closed - thanks for entering!** 

(Am I the only one who hears the Red Hot Chili Peppers when I see a giveaway? Give it away give it away give it away now. Give it away give it away give it away now...)

But enough of that, let's get to the goodies, shall we? To get your New Year's sewing started right, I'm giving away a 3-pattern bundle of PDF sewing patterns of the winner's choice to each of 3 winners. Here's how to get entries:
1. Take a look at my shop,, and comment here letting me know which PDF sewing pattern you like best, or leave a comment letting me know what kinds of patterns you'd like to see in the new year.

2. Follow me on Twitter - tiedyediva - and tweet the giveaway. 

3. Link to my blog from your blog or web page. You can post about this giveaway post or link to my main blog page in your sidebar, etc.

Post here with how many entries you have qualified for, and a way to get in touch with you. Up to 3 entries will be counted per person. Open to all entrants, worldwide. I'll choose winners from all qualifying comments entered by the end of New Year's Day, January 1, 2011! Winners will be posted January 2.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Eating My Own Dog Food

I gave many handmade gifts this Christmas season. Some made by me from my own patterns (eating my own dog food, so to speak): My sister in law, nephew and husband received hats from my 30 minute fleece hat pattern, given to them in their handmade stockings from my free Christmas stocking pattern. My Mom got a shirt made with my corsage tee tutorial. The cat and some of my friends' cats received fleece mice from a pattern I made up. And of course, I shopped etsy as well. Some of my top picks:
  1. Fancy handmade lollipops from This Charming Candy. I felt like a million bucks dropping these jewel-like lovelies by pairs into Christmas stockings. My family is loving the creative flavors such as salted caramel and pistachio marshmallow. My daughter says the honey jasmine tastes just like a long sip on a honeysuckle flower.
  2. Hand screen printed organic cotton towel from Oh Little Rabbit. So nicely done, a pleasure to give, though so nice I bought two so I could keep one for myself.
  3. Card table playhouse made by me with PDF pattern from Miss Pretty Pretty. I improvised many of the details but the pattern provided great instructions for the general structure of the house, and the littlest guy loves it.
  4. Beaded socks from socute2. (Update: looks like she does not have any more in her shop. Here is the sold item so you can see what I'm talking about.) Remember these? My daughter had a pair of forgotten origin that she wore until the very last bead fell off. I had this wonderful etsy seller make her a replacement pair, several sizes larger. Adorable and well made.
  5. This one was a precious gift received: A CD jewel case 2011 calendar from hollyit featuring the beautifully photographed seasons as they pass here in Northern California. Lemons are featured for January, and mine out the window are just about to become ripe. Though they don't look as lovely in my toy-strewn, weather-bedraggled yard as in the calendar's perfect captured moment.

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Sewing for Beginners

    Did you get a new sewing machine for Christmas? I hope so! I had a few PDF pattern customers yesterday purchasing for themselves or a loved one who is just learning to sew. Almost all of my PDF sewing patterns are perfect for beginners, even a first project. (The exceptions would be, perhaps, the diaper cover patterns and the Peas in a Pod pattern, but even those are not too difficult). Pillows are a traditional first project and are so gratifying to make - you can really make over a room in a few hours. I can't wait to slip my Christmas pillows out of the covers I made with my Easy Pillow Covers Pattern and into something else. I have my eye on this Pillow & Maxfield fabric over at

    Some guidelines for beginners choosing a first project:

    1. Fabric. Don't try to sew a first project with knit fabric, or with satin or other slippery fashion fabric. Use a good quality woven cotton. Though you may not want to spend a lot on fabric for your first project 'in case it doesn't work out', avoid the temptation to buy the cheapest fabric you can find. Many of the inexpensive 'house brand' fabric-store fabrics are poor quality and tend to fray to bits while you sew. Cheap fabric is also unforgiving should you need to tear out your stitches and re-sew. Instead, use a 40% off coupon on a full-priced designer fabric (most chain stores carry some Michael Miller and Robert Kaufman, for example) or wait for a sale. Fleece is a good second choice for beginning sewing. It doesn't fray and the pile tends to hide minor sewing infractions.

    2. Pattern. Boutique PDF patterns such as the ones you will find on etsy or, are a great choice for beginners because they normally include step by step instructions, diagrams, and photos. Look for well-established sellers with proven feedback.  Choose simple patterns or no-pattern sewing projects created with mostly straight lines, such as pillow covers, blankets, or a simple tote bag. Don't be afraid of gathering or ruffles, though - they are simply created with straight lines as well. Reversible patterns are particularly gratifying for beginners, since all the seams are on the inside of the project and don't need finishing. My shop carries a reversible girls' top pattern, reversible baby dress pattern, and reversible hat pattern for baby and child.  Leave buttonholes and zippers for a subsequent project once you have some sewing under your belt.

    3. Notions, Tools, and Trims. "Notions" used in the sewing sense means those little sewing extras you need to complete your project, including thread, pins, fasteners like buttons, snaps, elastic, polyfill, etc. Your sewing pattern should have a list of any notions you need. When you have some time, browse around the notions wall of your fabric store to get an idea of what kinds of things are available. Tools you'll need include good sewing scissors, a hand needle, a ruler or measuring tape, and a seam ripper (yes, you'll need one), plus some extra needles for your machine. You will also need an iron and ironing board for pressing as you sew. Don't skip the pressing! Trims are things like rickrack, bias tape, lace, etc. and the requirements for these should also be set out in your pattern.

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Fave Crafts Blog Hop!

    Yay for blog hops! Having all these wonderful crafts just a click away is like having a whole box of chocolates at my fingertips. Check out the thumbnail page at the Fave Crafts button above: already I see an adorable ribbon and die-cut flower embellished cupcake that will help feed my new Sizzix addiction. My petal tee tutorial is included in the hop. Get hopping!

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    Time is Running Out ... Quick Gifts to Sew

    My sewing list for Christmas is thankfully getting shorter, though I have to admit, I keep finding wonderful craft and sewing patterns that I just have to try, so my list is two items down, one item up. I will have to press my hands over my eyes and sing LA LA LA LA so I don't see anymore projects I just have to make.

    In case your eyes are open and your ears are unstopped and you're still looking for fast Christmas gifts to sew, try these:

    1. My Free How to Make a Petal Tee tutorial. I made my flowers with a die cut machine, but you could cut them by hand and still follow the tute. I'm making one for my Mom. Materials: two tees, one of which fits your giftee. Time required: an evening.

    2. Fleece Hat in a Flash! For men and women, boys and girls, babies and ... uh. more babies. All sizes from newborn to Adult XL, and they each take only 30 minutes including a pretty fleece flower (pattern included) or pom pom (yup, I tell you how to do that too.). Materials: 1/3 yard fleece makes 2 XL hats. Time required: 30 minutes per hat.

    3. Peas in a Pod Plush Toy. Great for infants through preschoolers. Sew it yourself or give a gift of the Peas in a Pod Sewing Kit that contains everything but the stuffing. Materials: 1/2 yard fleece, Sport/Parka Zipper (you can find ones I custom ordered for this project in my etsy shop), polyfill stuffing, embroidery thread for features, optional craft squeaker, craft rattle, and crinkle material (again, I've got you covered, inexpensive noisemaker kit in my etsy shop). Time: 2-3 hours depending on experience.

    4. Lavender sachets. No pattern needed, just cut a few squares of your favorite fabric, sew 3 sides, pour in some lavender flowers, sew up the remaining side, and pink the edges with pinking shears. I 'grow my own' but this etsy seller has reasonably priced lavender blossoms that I have used when my own stash is used up. Put them under a pillow, in a drawer, even in the dryer. Materials: scrap fabric, lavender blossoms. Time: In 30 minutes, you could probably make 5 or 6 or more.

    Other patterns to make quick gifts: Clothespin carrying bag for your crunchy friends or your grandma, Cute Christmas Ornaments for your friend the kawaii/amigurumi fan, quick pillow covers to match the decor of anyone you know. Or, there's always Amazon Prime.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    Mama’s Holiday Wish List Meme

    TodaysMama and GameStop are giving away a sleighful of gifts this holiday season and to enter I’m sharing this meme with you.
    1. What is your holiday wish for your family? 
    Comfort and joy, health and happiness, an abundance of friendship and love. Oh, and maybe an XBox. 
    2. What is your Christmas morning / Hanukkah Nightly tradition?
    Watching the kids open gifts at some ridiculously early hour, drinking coffee and snacking on coffee cake so we don't have to take a break in the paper-tearing, ribbon-tossing, wonderful insanity.
    3. If you could ask Santa for one, completely decadent wish for yourself, what would it be? (Pinky finger to lip) One Million Dollars! Well, seriously. That would take care of a whole bunch of things, now, wouldn't it.
    4. How do you make the holidays special without spending any money?
    We live in a town that goes nuts with Christmas lights. We bundle everyone up and go look at them, and we never seem to tire of it.
    5. What games did you play with your family growing up? Monopoly, card games, Scrabble. My parents didn't believe in letting little kids win, and you know, it makes you a pretty competitive little kid. My husband won't play Scrabble with me.
    6. What holiday tradition have you carried on from your own childhood? Making Christmas cookies - sugar cookies with cinnamon red hots and sugar sprinkles to the point you can't see the cookie part. They don't taste that great to me anymore but they are fun to make.
    7. Where would you go for a Christmas/Hanukkah-away-from-home trip? Realistically, Tahoe. Dream land style, Hawaii.
    8. Check out GameStop and tell us, what are the three top items on your GameStop Wish List this year? Oohh... no brainer for #1, the Kinect. Karaoke Revolution Glee, Mario Kart for the kids.

    Wednesday, December 8, 2010

    How to Make a Petal Tee with a Die Cut Machine

    I 'll never be a scrapbooker. I don't have time to print pictures let alone cut out little cute thematic pieces of paper to go with them. But those scrappy people, they are on to something with those die cut machines! I cut the flowers for this petal tee with my new Sizzix Big Shot. Like it?

    (Gosh, thanks! Me too.)  Here's how I did it.
    • 2 matching tees from Target clearance.  Yup, 2 bucks each
    • Big Shot machine and Big Shot Originals die Flower Layers #2
    • hand needle and thread
    I cut one tee into die-sized rectangles and layered 4 at once on the die.

    I did the first run-through with a piece of regular paper on top to help stabilize, but it turned out I didn't need it so did the rest with fabric only.

    Then I made piles by size. For this project, I decided the smallest flower wasn't what I wanted, so I only used the big, medium and smaller flower. Then I layered them, either a big with a medium, medium with a small, or a a big with a small.

    Threading a hand needle, I used a running stitch around the center of each 2-layer flower and pulled it to gather it up. What's a running stitch? Go up from the back at the base of one petal, down again at the base of the next, up at the base of the next, and down at the fourth. You've really just made 2 stitches in the flower, then pull it to gather.

    Then I attached the flower to the neckline of the other shirt (you know, the one I didn't cut up into bits) with a backstitch. You don't want to use a running stitch all the way through or if your thread gets caught on something, the whole thing will bunch up. What's a backstitch? If you are adding the flowers right to left, as I am, put your needle down through the shirt fabric, then bring it up to the right of where you put it down. Catch some flower fabric, and put it back down to the left of your starting point. This picture shows the backstitch from the inside of the shirt, so it shows up (to the inside of the shirt), down to the right, then (catching some flower fabric) up to the left of the starting point.

    Your needle's on the inside of the shirt now. Bring it up a little space away (about an inch and a half depending on what size flowers you're using).

    Repeat until your flowers are all along the neckline. 


    I used about 16 flowers, starting with 2 smaller flowers near the shoulder and then randomized, then ended with 2 small flowers. Then I put my thread in my pocket, but that's an in joke, ha ha.

    The back will look kind of messy, but who cares? Here's the back of a Banana Republic embellished tee I shelled out $40 for, and it's messy too.


    Please link to me if you like this tutorial, or better yet, come to my etsy shop and buy scads of my PDF sewing patterns so I can buy more dies for my Big Shot, and I promise I'll post about more crafty things to do with it.

    Monday, December 6, 2010

    Welcome Allfreesewing newsletter subscribers! was kind enough to feature my free Fabric Christmas Stocking pattern and tutorial in their newsletter today, thanks so much if you are visiting from there! Today and tomorrow, take 10% off your PDF Sewing Pattern purchase from my etsy shop, with coupon code ALLFREESEWING. Not valid on sewing kits or supplies, expires December 7, 2010. Good worldwide!