Hand Piecing Helper

While working on my hand piecing project recently, I found myself wishing I had a more convenient place to put the needle and four pins that I was using. And then I remembered that I had this.

Tiny Finger Pincushion

I think it highly likely that my mother picked this up for me once at some craft fair. It’s just a tiny pincushion made on a 2-liter bottle cap with a little bit of elastic threaded through holes in the cap so that you can wear it on your finger like a ring. I have never used it before and never could even imagine that I would want to use it, but I kept it there in the bottom of my sewing basket.

And it’s perfect.

Sweet Harmony Handbag

I told you I was going to get back to sewing!!

This is actually a sample for Bobbin’s Nest, but I sewed it, so it definitely counts as sewing. We have a little something special planned for this bag in the coming months, so I wanted to go ahead and get it made.

I made the handbag version (not the larger tote). This really wasn’t too bad to make, especially after having done two of those weekender bags! This one has just enough piping to look nice, but it’s in the easiest to apply spot on the bag, so you won’t be tearing your hair out about it.

The bag has big exterior pockets on both sides, with piping at the top. That’s the extent of the piping on the bag. Easy peasy.

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag, exterior with cell phone pocket

One side has a little cell phone pocket just inside the exterior pocket.

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag, cell phone pocket

The other exterior side just has the one big pocket. But, hey, you’ll have enough fabric to put a cell phone pocket on both sides if you really want to!

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag, exterior on second side

There are two interior pockets and instructions for making either the zippered versions or the non-zippered versions. It takes the same fabric pieces either way. Since this is for the shop, I made one zippered.

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony bag, zippered inside pocket

And one non-zippered!

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag, non-zippered pockets on inside

My only issue with this bag was the zippered pocket. It’s really an easy installation (though for some reason she has you buy a 22″ zipper when a 12-14″ zipper will do for the handbag). However, the placement line was WAY off. Double check this before you sew so you don’t have to rip it out!

You could also probably pretty easily make the handle longer if you’d like, just make sure you have enough fabric and interfacing. This one is a bit short to easily get on my shoulder one-handed the way I like to do.

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag

All told, I think this took me about 5-6 hours of sewing. This figure does not include cutting everything out, fusing all the interfacing, and making the piping.

Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Bag

And in this cute fabric, it makes me wish that we would hurry up and get some warm weather around here!

More Slow Sewing with Simplicity 4243

So, I have other friends who are having a boy. That Simplicity pattern includes a romper pattern as well. And I still had the other piece of Kokka fabric from Britex. How could I resist?

Romper front

The pockets on this one are from an old pair of jeans of my husband’s. Not that I can imagine any reason why a baby would need a pocket!

Romper front detail

Same irresistible urge to hand finish most of this little romper. Especially after the other one turned out so nicely.

Romper inside front

Hand finished bindings at the neckline and armholes.

Romper inside back

Hand finished zipper. Hand finished hem. The side seams are French seams, but the center front and back seams had a curve at the crotch that kinda ruled out French seams, so I did an old school finish. I trimmed the seam allowances to about 3/8″ and then folded them over and did a staight stitch. Worked out fine. I just didn’t want any raw edges rubbing up against baby skin.

Romper back

Somehow, the zipper is really far down from the top, though I’d swear I followed the instructions. Again, I don’t want to do a hook and eye because I find those uncomfortable. Can’t imagine being a little baby and having one digging in the back of my neck all day. Maybe I can do some kind of little embroidery thread loop and a button? Or is it too late? I think it will be okay if I just leave it.

Romper back detail

And I’ve never done snap tape before. Pretty easy!

Slow Sewing for Annabelle

Some of you may fear that I have forsaken my sewing machine forever. Fear not!


Actually, I’ve had this made for a while but didn’t want to spoil the surprise for the recipient. But I promise that I have gotten my machine back out and it still works!

I finally found a project worthy of the Kokka fabrics I bought at Britex ages ago. I found out my friend was having a little girl!


This is Simplicity 4243 and I think it’s a really great pattern if you have adorable fabric you want to show off, because the design is pretty simple and let’s the fabric be the star. And who wouldn’t love these little lions and tigers and giraffes? It’s a simple little dress/top with a zipper in the back. Oh, and matching bloomers, of course!

Bonus: a scant half yard of fabric was enough to make the 6-month size dress (view D), even though it said I needed 5/8 yd.


I have to tell you that I was having so much fun making this that I just couldn’t stop myself making it a little extra special. The pleated neckline and armholes are finished with bias binding. I love this treatment because it makes such a lovely finished edge and reminds me of all the clothes my grandmother made for my sister and I when we were little. Lots of contrasting binding.


But I realized that the tiny little armholes weren’t going to fit over the free arm on my machine, and I doubted my ability to get a nice topstitched finish without being able to do that. So, I settled on hand sewing the binding for the armholes. And it all just snowballed from there!


If I were going to hand finish the armholes, it seemed odd to have visible topstitching for the neckline, so I hand finished that as well. And if there weren’t going to be any other topstitching showing, it seemed a shame to have visible stitching on the zipper so I hand finished it as well. It was my first time doing this and it really looks nice this way!


And, well, I was having so much fun that I couldn’t stop. I had used French seams for the shoulders and side seams, partly because this linen weave ravels REALLY easily, and I wanted it to look nice. So, I opted to use binding to finish the only other seam at the zipper as well. (Though I did put this on by machine.)


And when it came to the ric-rac and I noticed the instructions said that the “standard” way to apply it was to machine stitch it down but that the “nicer” way was to hand tack all the points. Do you think I could resist the “nicer” way? Not a chance!


And when it came time to hem, I was actually concerned about how bulky a double-fold hem would be with this heavier linen. And seeing as how I had plenty of bias tape still, I did a bias tape finish on the hem as well, attaching one end to the fold edge and then hand stitching the other end to the dress with an invisible stitch.


Totally worth it, even if she never wears it. I had SO much fun making this and doing all the little bits by hand. Just because you can do it by machine, doesn’t mean you should (see my previous posts on slow sewing)!!

Skirt Fitting Tip From Simplicity

Market Update: Digital portfolios have been e-mailed out to fabric companies on my short list! AND I have my first appointment at Market! Woot!

I found this old book a while back. It came from my grandmother (the dressmaker) and is from 1935.

Simplicity Sewing Book

I decided to read it and see if it had any good tips in it that have long been forgotten — by me or anyone else I know who sews. I found this little gem!

Simplicity Skirt Fitting Tips

In case you can’t read that it says, “In the third and final fitting, check the hang of the skirt. Each year there is a fashion-right length. Adjust your skirt to the length nearest to the fashion length that is most becoming to you. Some one can measure up from the floor with a yard stick and place a row of pins, or you can hang your own skirt by standing close to a table; as you turn, place pins around your skirt, even with the table edge (cut 6). Take your dress off and measure down from this row of pins to the “correct” length (cut 7).”


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