Padded Wristlet Tutorial

This wristlet is a a quick and easy project and with practice, can be completed in less than 30 minutes. Fat quarters of fabric can be substituted for 1/4 yard lengths. Customize each wristlet with decorative stitching, adding interior or exterior pockets, or adding trim and buttons. The creativity is up to you!

Materials Needed:

  • 1/4 yard of outer fabric
  • 1/4 yard of lining fabric
  • 1/4 yard of fusible fleece
  • all-purpose zipper
  • thread

RS: Right side of fabric or zipper
WS: Wrong side of fabric or zipper

Step 1:

Cut the following pieces

  • Outer fabric 6” x 9” – cut 2
  • Outer fabric 2” x 12” – cut 1
  • Lining fabric 6” x 9” – cut 2
  • Fusible fleece 5½” x 8½” – cut 2

Step 2:

Center the fusible fleece on the wrong side of each larger outer fabric, and use a steam iron to fuse in place.

(Optional – use decorative stitching, free motion quilting, or applique to ornament one or both pieces of the wristlet outer fabric.)

Step 3:

Place zipper RS up against the long edge of lining RS. Place fused outer fabric with RS facing down towards zipper. Align edges of fabric with edges of zipper and pin in place. Using a zipper foot, stitch the three layers together with a 1/4” seam, being sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of stitching.

Press seam away from zipper.

Step 4:

Place second piece of lining with RS facing up on workspace. Place the free edge of the zipper RS up against the long edge of the lining. Side edges of the pieces already sewn to the zipper should match with the new lining place on the bottom. Place second fused outer fabric with RS facing down towards zipper. Using a zipper foot, stitch the three layers together with a 1/4” seam, being sure to back stitch at the beginning and end of stitching.

Press seams away from zipper.

Step 5:

Working with strap, fold in half length with WS together and press. Open out and fold outer edges in to meet crease. This will conceal raw edges along the long edges. Press again. Edgestitch along each long edge of the strap.

Step 6:

Fold strap in half, matching ends. Pin the ends of the strap to the short end of one of the outer fabric panels, close to the zipper. Be sure to keep the lining and other side of bag free when pinning. The strap loop should be pointed up towards the center of the bag where the zipper is sewn.

Step 7: Partially unzip the zipper. This ensures you can turn the wristlet right side out after sewing it all together.

Step 8:

Match outer fabrics RS together and pin around 3 sides. Match lining fabrics RS together and pin around 3 sides.

Stitch around all edges of wristlet using a 1/4” seam, leaving a 3” opening along the long edge of the lining. Stitch slowly over zipper ends to prevent breaking needle. Trim zipper ends and corners.

Step 9:

Turn bag right side out. Tuck raw edges inside along opening in lining. Close opening by hand with whipstitches or by machine by stitching close to edge and backstitching at either end of the opening. Tuck lining inside wristlet and you’re done!

Understanding sewing patterns: Sizes & Supplies

Once you’ve learned the basics of operating a sewing machine, the fun can really get underway! Printed sewing patterns have been available for over 150 years, and in fact the granddaddy of pattern companies, Butterick, has been producing patterns since 1863 when founder Ebenezer Butterick created cardboard templates for children’s clothing patterns – a huge help for sewing mums and dressmakers!

sample patterns

Why yes, I have made a snuggie! There are patterns for everything you can imagine…

Today’s patterns have come a long way since then and are designed with the home sewist in mind, but that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to understand! This is the first in a series of three posts that will help break down all the information, instructions, and teeny-tiny print that comes with modern patterns so that you can be as successful as possible when sewing at home.

Part One: Choosing the right size (and knowing how much fabric to buy)

Within most fabric stores, you’ll find an area filled with chest-high file cabinets, a table with a few chairs, and on the table – a stack of oversized pattern catalogs produced by the big sewing pattern companies: Simplicity, Butterick, McCall’s, and Vogue Patterns. These are known as the Big-4 in the sewing world and comprise the bulk of the home sewing pattern market. You may find additional catalogs and/or patterns by independent designers but we’ll save discussion of those for another day.

simplicity 1520The pattern catalogs offer a myriad of pattern styles from special occasion gowns to yoga pants and boxer shorts to baby dresses. Since I start with pajama pants in many of my beginner sewing classes, we’ll use this pattern as an example: Simplicity 1520. Looking at the front of the pattern envelope, you can see that it offers patterns for 2 lengths of pajama shorts as well as full length pajama pants. It’s not until we flip the envelope over that you realize how much information they manage to cram on there!

Here’s the back envelope view of Simplicity 1520:

simplicity 1520 back

Now… let’s break all that tiny print down into some manageable information! First off, with apologies to my multi-lingual friends, we’re going to ignore the right half of the envelope. Most of the pattern companies include French and/or Spanish translations of the information but since we don’t need that in this case, I’m just focusing on the English text.

simplicity 1520 back - sizes

Before purchasing a pattern, we want to be sure we’re buying the right size so I’ve highlighted the area of the pattern that indicates the sizes available as well as the body measurements that relate to each size. For this particular pattern, only one body measurement is used: hips. For adults, the hip measurement is roughly 7-9″ below the waist for adults. This is a standard measurement in the industry and may not be the fullest part of the body or correlate to where you consider your own hips to be. For pre-adolescent children it will fall between 5-7″ below the waist and in their case, it’s usually safe to assume the fullest part of their body can be used for a hip measurement. For some entertaining clipart and a more thorough overview of taking measurements, visit the Butterick Size Charts page.

(Side note – I’m working on two measuring videos – one for women and one for children and will post the link here when they’re available!)

Now, back to our pattern. For this example, let’s assume that we’re making pajamas for a teen who has a hip measurement of 36″. By looking at the teens/adults chart, we can see that size SMALL would be best. Trust your measurements and don’t simply guess based on what size appears on the labels of your store-bought clothing.

simplicity 1520 back - sizes small


Following the size SMALL column down, the envelope information tells us that we need either 2 1/4 yards of 45″ wide material or 2 1/8 yards of 60″ wide material. While it’s not usually necessary, I often find myself purchasing an extra 1/4 yard or so just to give me some extra wiggle room and to allow for shrinkage if I’ll be pre-washing and drying my fabrics before sewing. And it should be be noted that these are general guidelines so 42″ or 44″ fabric will require the same as 45″ fabric and 55″ or 58″ wide fabric will require the same as the 60″ listing. Many of the lovely lightweight cotton fabrics designed for quilters are perfect for pajama pants and most of those are 42-44″ wide.

Because who wouldn't want Doctor Who, Watermelon or Forest Animal Party fabric for their pajama pants?

Because who wouldn’t want Doctor Who, Watermelon or Forest Animal Party fabric for pajamas?

Speaking of fabric choices… the pattern envelope is helpful with that, too!

simplicity 1520 fabrics

Patterns will always list recommended fabrics on the envelope – usually right below a brief description of the pattern. The designers have certain fabric or fabrics in mind when creating the patterns so for the best results, I shop for materials based on their recommendations. Quilting cottons and flannels both make perfect pajama pants and would be my go-to choices in this case!

gutermann threadYou’ll also notice a line for Notions on the pattern envelope. This is where additional bits and bobs are listed that you’ll need for completing the garment or project. Thread might seem obvious but it never hurts to have a reminder! All-purpose polyester thread is great for most projects and my personal favorite is Gutermann Sew-All thread.  When in doubt, buy a second spool or choose a larger spool. It’s never fun to run out of thread before you’ve finished sewing your new clothing!

Last but not least, the elastic for the waistband was listed on a separate line of the envelope. In many cases, it would be listed with thread under notions but since there are both child and adult sizes in this particular pattern, it’s listed below the fabric yardage chart: 1 5/8 yard  of 1″ wide elastic.

So, to recap, here are the basic steps when choosing a pattern and materials:

  • Use pattern catalogs at the store to narrow down to the pattern and design you’re looking for (i.e. ball gowns vs. pajamas)
  • Review the options included within the pattern (i.e. pants vs. shorts)
  • Double check that your body measurements will fit the pattern size you are purchasing (don’t go by the size found in your closet)
  • Purchase the amount of fabric that is listed for your size (use the recommendations to guide your choice and buy a bit extra to be on the safe side)
  • Purchase any required notions while you have your fabric with you to make sure everything matches well (notions might include thread, elastic, zippers, buttons, ribbons, or more)

Next post will cover prepping fabric & patterns including layout of pattern pieces and getting everything cut out properly. And if you’re wondering about which scissors to use for that, take a look at this earlier post on sewing tools!


Sewing Essentials: Pins

PINS! Aside from the obvious needles and threads, pins are probably the most necessary of all sewing tools. There are folk songs like Paper of Pins and references to pins going as far back in sewing history as you can want to look for them.

A paper of pins. Image courtesy of West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild (

A paper of pins. Image courtesy of West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild

Although pins were once only available in simple straight all-metal styles as seen in the photo, today’s shops offer a plethora of styles, finishes, and sizes. (Fun history fact: Steel pins were sold on sheets of paper during past centuries. It’s only been thanks to more recent industrial and packaging advances that we are able to purchase hundreds if not thousands of pins in a neat little box.)

So… now that we know we have options, let’s take a look at what’s available. I’m going to divide them into three main categories:

  • Steel dressmaker pins
  • Plastic head pins
  • Glass head pins
Stainless Steel Dressmakers Pins. Image courtesy of Gold Star Tool. (

Stainless Steel Dressmakers Pins. Image courtesy of Gold Star Tool

All-metal pins are the most utilitarian, and in my own sewing room, my favorite to use. Today they’re mostly made of stainless steel, are rust-proof, and are available in a variety of lengths and sizes. I prefer pins that are  at least 1.5″  in length and tend towards the thinner side. These all-purpose pins are great for both modern dressmaking and the historical costuming that sometimes takes over my project list. They’re strong enough to hold most fabrics together and thin enough that no large holes are created. Plus, being all metal, a hot iron can be used while pressing without any damage to the pins. The primary downside for me is that they can difficult to find when dropped and are easier to lose in a garment while it’s being made… definitely upping the ouch factor later on!

Plastic head pins.

Plastic head pins.

For new and/or youth sewists, I recommend plastic head pins. The pin shaft is still made of steel but the small plastic ball on the end makes them easier to see and easier to pick up or manipulate in and out of the fabric. You can also find pins with all sorts of novelty shapes in place of the ball at the end. Again, I prefer longer pins, at least 1.5.”  Longer pins tend to equal thicker pins so I usually avoid anything longer than 2.” These are the pins that I always have available for students to use during classes. The biggest downside to the plastic head pins is that you can’t use an iron near them. Plastic + hot iron = melting and no one wants a big glob of yellow permanently fused to their newly made clothing!

Glass head pins. Image courtesy of The Textile Space.

Glass head pins. Image courtesy of The Textile Space

Last but not least are a specialized type of pin… glass head pins. These pins also have a steel shaft but the ball at the top is made of glass which means an iron can be safely used on them. These pins offer the best of both types listed above – easier to pick up and use but still tolerant of being pressed. They’re also often extra-thin, making them ideal for fussier fabrics like silk that is slippery or shows holes easily. Being thinner, they do bend a bit more easily than other pins which can make them challenging to use for young sewists just starting to get the hang of pinning fabric. The primary downside to glass head pins is the cost – they are by far the most expensive of the pins mentioned here.

The three types of pins described above can all be used for most basic clothing-making projects and I typically have all three types in my sewing bag and studio at any given time. One quick note – these pins are all meant for woven fabrics, not knit fabrics. They all come standard with sharp points meant for piercing the actual threads of the fabric.

ball point pins

Ball point pins. Image courtesy of Dritz.

If you plan on sewing with stretchy knit fabric (like t-shirt material, jersey, lycra, or dance/swimwear fabric) then you’ll want to look for one more feature in your pins: a ball point. Instead of a sharp fiber-piercing point, ball point pins have a rounded tip which allows them to slide between the knit fabric thread. If you think of knit fabric as the same as a sweater, this makes more sense. You don’t want to pierce or pull a thread in the sweater as that would create a hole that could unravel. The same holds true for knit fabric. Ball point pins work the same way as rounded knitting needles, allowing you to pin between the individual threads that create the fabric. Ball point pins are typically available with either a plastic head or in all-metal.

One final caution… the plastic head pins are often sold as ‘ball pins.’ These are not the same as ball point so just be sure to read the packaging carefully. Happy stitching!

In search of the perfect sewing kit

These days, I’m spending a good chunk of my time traveling to and from classes and private lesson and every time I’m teaching, I need to have supplies with me that I can rely on! When working with new-to-sewing students, the following are my very basic suggestions for a starter sewing kit:

  • Fabric scissors
  • Straight pins
  • Small pincushion or magnetic pin holder
  • Measuring tape
  • Marking pencil, pen, or tailor’s chalk

But… for new sewists, this list can be overwhelming, especially at a large fabric and craft store. So, to help break this list down, and draw attention to some of my particular favorites, I thought I would expand this a bit further. First up… scissors!

Fabric Scissors

My personal scissor collection consists of

For die-hard sewists, there’s one cardinal rule related to fabric scissors and shears: Don’t use them to cut anything except fabric. Ever. There’s probably hundreds of memes on this subject:

Like this one…scissor meme 1

Or this one…

scissor meme 2

Okay, now that we’ve got that out of the way… here’s my terrible confession. I do love my ‘good’ scissors that are listed above but I have far more ‘everyday’ pairs that I use for cutting in my sewing room and while out teaching. I’ll use them on everything including tissue paper patterns, printer paper, and yes, fabrics like linen and fleece or quilting cottons and silk jersey. Many would ask how I can let such a travesty occur.

My answer? It’s one part laziness, one part frugality, and one part clumsiness.

The everyday scissors I keep close by? Fiskars 8″ scissors.

scissors fiskars 8 inch

Let’s touch on the three parts behind my everyday scissor choice:


I keep two large weekender-size bags packed with sewing tools and supplies that travel to and from teaching locations. Those bags (and whatever is in them) make it to every class and every lesson. This also means that things, including scissors, get pulled out of the bag haphazardly to start a new project and thrown back in as a class rushes to finish. I’m too lazy (and often in a hurry) to put scissors back in cases or even double check that every pair makes it in and out of the bags each day. I should also mention that I have about 10 pairs of these scissors (and 5 of the smaller youth-sized version with a purple handle), so that I always have a pair on hand no matter the size of the class. And should too many pairs disappear over the course of traveling and teaching, they’re easy to replace at my local Jo-Ann Fabric store. No remembering to order online and then waiting for deliveries to arrive…  (I mentioned the lazy part, right?)


Okay, so maybe you don’t need 20+ pairs of scissors the way I do. But especially when you’re just getting started, it can be tough to get in the habit of using ‘good’ scissors just for your fabric and switching between pairs when cutting patterns or paper. I also tend to travel a bit with my sewing (even just my personal projects) and I don’t want to bring multiple pairs with me or risk losing a more expensive pair while I’m out and about. One of the reasons I also prefer the Fiskars for much of my everyday sewing and while teaching, is that a companion desktop sharpener is available. The sharpener doesn’t work with (or rather doesn’t fit) many other brands but it’s amazing for sharpening edges on Fiskars!

scissor sharpener

The sharpener (about $12) allows me to extend the life on the already quite affordable scissors I use all the time. It also means that if I cut some paper or some rough linen, I can undo the damage pretty quickly with a pass through the sharpener. Throw in some coupons and this can be a huge savings when you’re buying one pair… or fifteen! (As a side note, I do have my more expensive ‘good’ scissors sharpened professionally when necessary – for me, that’s about every two or three years.)


And for better or worse, here’s the real reason I don’t rely solely on my more expensive so called ‘good’ fabric scissors. I drop things. A lot. I knock tools off my 42″ high cutting table. My hand gets caught in the lanyard or ribbons I use to identify scissors as mine and they’ll shoot across the room. I have learned I am not a calm and collected sewist. And while professional sharpeners can sometimes repair the damage to a steel pair of scissors that have smashed into my hard studio floor, I don’t want to take that risk. The Fiskars are lighter weight – and while hardly crash proof, they are a bit more resilient to my type of fast-moving clumsiness. Heavier steel scissors and dressmaker shears can become so nicked and out of alignment that there’s no bringing them back after a hard fall.   When that happens (and it has happened to me more than once) there a few options:

  • Contact the manufacturer about warranty and hope they replace them (but my laziness often kicks in here)
  • Throw them out and vow never to buy expensive scissors again (frugality has a tough time with this one)
  • Rely heavily on my sharpen-at-home more-affordable scissors and save the good shears for the times I’m paying attention and having one of my more zen sewing sessions!

As with all things sewing…. your mileage (and stitch length) may vary. I share my own experiences and preferences in the hopes that they will be helpful, but don’t worry, I know everyone has their own set of fabric sewing tools… and scissor rules! Happy stitching!

Edited May 17
Additional note: Most dressmaker’s scissors including my reliable Fiskars are molded (or forged) to fit a right-handed user. If you would normally use your left hand for cutting, I recommend the red Fiskars that are designed for left-handed users. Trust me… it’s worth taking the time to find scissors that are comfortable in your hand. In addition, the alignment of the blades will change if you regularly use your left hand with standard scissors and you won’t be able to cut fabric as precisely.

New workshops coming soon!

It’s getting pretty exciting in the sewing studio these days as more and more requests are coming through for new classes! So, with that in mind here are some classes starting at the Maker Mill in March:

Two sessions of Fashion Sewing 101… for grades 3-8 AND for teen/adults… are happening on Tuesdays, starting on March 1st. With an afternoon class (5-7pm) for students in grades 3-8 and an evening class (7-9pm) reserved just for high school students and adults, we’re looking forward to exploring the world of fashion sewing with new students in North Andover. These workshop series are geared to age and experience level of the registered students and focus on basic sewing machine skills while creating a custom dress.

students projects winter2016Details & registration for afternoon series (grades 3-8)

Details and registration for evening series (high school-adult)

Take a look at our student gallery page on facebook for samples of past projects, too. A new pattern design is selected for each 6-week session so even if you’ve taken the class before, you’ll create something entirely different and continue building new skills.


Returning students, and those with previous fashion sewing experience, are invited to try an all-new offering: Fashion Sewing 201, starting Wednesday, March 23. With a choice of three patterns to work on, this advanced beginner series reinforces existing skills and focuses on improving stitching technique with the goal of being able to work independently.

Sewing pattern options for fashion sewing 201 workshop

The materials list for Fashion Sewing 201 can be downloaded here and questions are always welcome! Sign up at

slumber party projectsP.S. Don’t forget about February vacation… There are three days of sewing-fun planned and you can learn more and sign up at The Maker Mill website.

P.P.S. For students who attend Andover’s Bancroft School, we’ll be leading an 8-week sewing class through their popular Learning Labs program. Get all the details or sign up online through their website: Bancroft PTO Learning Labs – Winter 2016

Winter 2016 Workshops

happy-new-year-2016 - Copy

The new year has been off to a slow start here in the sewing studio (I blame a nasty winter flu for most of it!) but plans are well underway for a new round of workshops starting in two weeks. Here’s a brief summary of what’s coming:

untitled-5Starting Wednesday, Jan 27:

Stylish Students
6 week dressmaking workshop (ages 9-13)
at The Maker Mill, North Andover
Learn more or register online…

Starting Thursday, Jan 28

pillowcase - fall 2015-cropLearn to Sew: Pillowcase & Banner
4 week workshop (grades 3-8)
through Andover DCSLearn more or register online…

Sew Your Own Laptop Bag
laptop-bag6 week workshop (grade 9 – adult)
through Andover DCS
Learn more or register online…

One day only  – Friday, Jan 29:

Make it Sew Yours: Fleece Scarf & Mittens
Early Release Day workshop (ages 7-14)
through Andover DCS
Learn more or register online…

And yes- there’s more coming this spring! Plus private lessons are also available by request and can take place in your home for only $25/hour. Email me at for more information or to schedule your private class.

Sew Comfortable December 7: Night-Gown

sew comfortableHope you enjoyed the weekend because I’m back with day five of the Sew Comfortable series. It took most of Saturday and part of Sunday to get this night-gown finished so I hope you understand why there was a sight hiatus in the blogging. Unlike the night-cap, this is definitely cozy enough for regular winter wearing! Like the night-cap, the nightgown was made from instructions printed in the 1840 edition of The workwoman’s guide, containing instructions in cutting out and completing articles of wearing apparel, by a lady  which can be read via Google Books. My version was made from one of the better white quilting cottons available at Jo-Ann Fabrics. (It was either that or make it from blue elephant print flannel… I opted for the traditional route.)

Day five: Most Desirable Night-Gown

This is one of several night-gowns described in the book, and although this one (illustrated in Plate 8. Fig 5.) is indeed described as being ‘the most desirable’ on many accounts, it’s not for the reasons you might suspect in the 21st century.

First and foremost, it’s  pretty economical to cut out, with relatively little waste, even when only cutting one. The sewing also goes pretty quickly (assuming you don’t run into having to attend holiday parties in the middle of your sewing time!) and I used a mix of hand and machine sewing in my version. However, what the author is most desirous of is having a nightgown that’s easy for the sick and invalid to wear. Yep – this is a nightgown for the weak and bedridden. The wide neckline and option wristbands makes it easy to access chests and arms for applying those leeches and blistering treatments that were so popular back in the day!

Being neither weak nor invalid, I’m still liking this nightgown for that neckline in particular. All of the other night-gowns, night-dresses, and night-jackets illustrated in the book have collars that are tight to the neck – basically turtlenecks that button closed. Thank you, but no. This wide collar is much more comfortable for me and the frill (ruffle) is surprisingly flattering. Well, flattering for a giant white nightgown anyway!

  • 4 yards of tightly woven white cotton or linen. The example is made of cotton broadcloth, but a nice flannel would be even warmer!
  • White hand-sewing thread. My favorite is Gutermann’s cotton quilting thread.
  • Hand sewing needles
  • Pair of small button for the cuffs (optional)
  • For the neck closure, either one small button or 1 yard of narrow ribbon for ties

Once again, the nit-picky sewing details for this project are on my costuming blog: The Mantua-Maker at Midnight. You can also find the full transcription from the original instructions as well as the original illustrations.

Tomorrow’s project spans the centuries and keeps the feet warm. We’re talking slippers!

Sew Comfortable Projects:

December 1: Black Hat, Red Headed
December 2: Toasty Good Handwarmers
December 3: To Infinity & Beyond Scarf
December 4: Another (Night-) Cap

Sew Comfortable December 4: Another (Night-) Cap

sew comfortableThe Sew Comfortable series is taking a side road to the past here on Day 4! I have to admit, I probably won’t be sleeping in my night-cap but it is rather pretty and could definitely make some appearances at an afternoon tea. This pattern isn’t mine, rather it’s my interpretation of a cap pattern and instructions printed in the 1840 edition of The workwoman’s guide, containing instructions in cutting out and completing articles of wearing apparel, by a lady  which can be read via Google Books.

Day Four: Another (NIGHT-)Cap

Clearly the ‘lady’ who wrote the book wasn’t concerned with cleverly naming or differentiating the caps and other articles of clothing in her book. If she had, I might have a better title than Another Cap. Alas… that is what appears in her text – and as the title of more than one cap! Here’s the description of our particular cap:

PLATE 9. FIG. 27, 28

This is a pretty shape for almost any purpose, and in any thin material; it is cut out in front very much in the same manner that a baby’s cap is cut behind, which will be seen if the Plate is turned round, so as to place the doubled part, D, at the top.

So, perhaps I’ve taken some liberties with calling this a night-cap, but she did write that it was pretty shape for almost any purpose…  so night-cap it is!

Another (Night-) Cap: a tutorial by carrie + fitzProject MATERIALS
  • 1/2 yd  fine white cotton or linen. The example is made of cotton organdy, but a starched cotton batiste, or a handkerchief linen would also be lovely choices
  • Narrow ribbon or perle cotton thread to use for drawstring
  • White hand-sewing thread. My favorite is Gutermann’s cotton quilting thread.
  • Hand sewing needles

The sewing details for this project are on my costuming blog: The Mantua-Maker at Midnight. I’ll be continuing to post costuming-related tidbits over there, just to have a separate place to collect historical costuming tutorials..

The Sew Comfortable series will return on Monday. We’re continuing the history trek with a nightgown from the same book, The Workwoman’s Guide. Hmm, flannel jammies anyone? Until then, stay comfy!

Sew Comfortable Projects:

December 1: Black Hat, Red Headed
December 2: Toasty Good Handwarmers
December 3: To Infinity & Beyond Scarf

Sew Comfortable December 3: Infinity Scarf

sew comfortableWelcome to day three of the Sew Comfortable series! Here’s another simple and speedy project that will keep your neck comfy and cozy while making sure you stay stylish, too. Scarves are a year-round piece of my unofficial daily uniform and I’m particularly in love with infinity scarves since they don’t have loose ends that can suddenly come unknotted. I want to look good but apparently I have limits on the level of effort I’m willing to expend to reach that goal. These twisted infinity scarves are low effort wearables that still get high points for fashion!

Day Three: TO infinity & beyond SCARF

Why the beyond? Aside from getting to use a fun phrase from a popular animated film, it also refers to the extra twist that is incorporated while constructing the scarf. The twist results in a Möbius band which is pretty much the ultimate representation of infinity.* Plus, it helps give the scarf some added detail and I’m convinced the scarf stays in place around my neck better as a result. But that could just be me… Your Möbius mileage may vary!

To Infinity & Beyond Scarf: a tutorial by carrie + fitzProject MATERIALS
  • 3/4 yd of 60” wide fabric or 1 yard of 45” fabric. For a multi fabric scarf, divide the total fabric needed (3/4 or 1 yard) by the number of fabrics you’ll be using. That’s how much you’ll need of each fabric. The two-color example shown in the tutorial covers this in more detail. Any reasonably drapey fabric will work and I’m partial to cotton lawn and knit fabrics.
  • Thread to match or contrast. This is a great project to use those fancy built-in stitches on and a great excuse to use up some colorful threads.
Steps TO Sewing
  1. Measure and cut your fabric. After measuring several of my favorite existing scarves, I found that my favorites all measure about 60″ in circumference. That means using 60″ wide fabric will be the most economical for this project, but you can certainly piece on or both sides of the scarf  if you’re working with narrower fabric, or if you want to end up with a scarf that’s longer than 60.” In this particular example, I’m using a printed cotton knit (60″ wide) paired with some pieces of lightweight black suiting wool that were left over from another project.To Infinity & Beyond Scarf: a tutorial by carrie + fitzI had *almost* enough black but since I really wanted it to be 60″ I decided to piece the black until the length measured the same as the printed knit. Both fabrics were cut 11″ wide which results in a 20″ wide scarf when it’s complete. I use 1/2″ seam allowances in this project, and most other project, as well. If the fabrics you are using are heavier or thicker, you may want to make the scarf more narrow. Conversely, if you’re using something very lightweight like voile or gauze, you could make the panels as wide as 16″, resulting in a 30″ wide scarf.
  2. Join the scarf pieces. Once I had my black fabric pieced together and seam pressed open, it was time to sew the two sides of the scarf  along the two long sides. To Infinity & Beyond Scarf: a tutorial by carrie + fitzMatch the two fabrics right sides together, and sew using a 1/2″ seam allowance along both long (60″) edges. You’re basically making a really big tube. My knit fabric was curling up quite a bit so I used a lot of pins to help keep things in place while sewing.To Infinity & Beyond Scarf: a tutorial by carrie + fitz
  3. Add a twist. Once the two side seams are complete, turn the scarf right sides out. Now’s the time to add the half-twist that creates a Möbius band.  (And I’m really sorry I don’t have pics of this!) In my example, I gave the scarf a half-twist so that when it was laid out flat, the leftmost side showed the knit side up, and the rightmost side showed the black side up. Next you’ll join the ends, keeping that twist in place.
  4. Finish the open ends – the quick way. For a crazy quick way to finish the scarf, simply tuck one end of the scarf into the opposite end and straight stitch across through all the layers. This seam will probably always end up at the back of your next underneath the second layer of the scarf when you wear it, so it you want to make it quick & dirty – there you go! For a neater and more impressive looking finish, continue to step four!
  5. Finish the open end – the nicer way. Still keeping the twist in place, match up the short ends of the scarf, creating a large loop. In my example, the knit was now matched to the black because of the half-twist. dec 03 - 04This is definitely one of the photographs that doesn’t make sense until you actually try this step and have the fabric in front of you. If you’re working with two fabrics, like this example,  the way you know you’re doing it right, is that you’ll always be matching the two fabrics when sewing,  i.e. always black to knit, never black to black or knit to knit.. dec 03 - 05You’ll be able to pin about 3/4″ of the open edge together before bumping into the rest of the scarf that has been turned out. Sew this section by machine, and then pin the the last few inches closed before sewing the opening shut by hand.dec 03 - 05bThe scarf is pretty forgiving, so most types of handstitching would work here – a small running stitch through the layers, a ladder stitch, or whipstitches would all do the trick. Once that little bit of stitching is done… so is the entire scarf!dec 03 - 06

Okay, okay… so not so impressive as an infinity sign on the table but, if you scroll back up to the top of the edge and see it around the neck… much better. The two-color Möbius effect also adds a double-layered effect with just one scarf. Perfect for looking stylish and for staying warm!

It’s now been three days of Sew Comfortable – are you feeling comfy yet? Tomorrow we’re getting our history on with a Very Neat Night-Cap. Yep, really! 

* A Möbius band does not actually equal infinity unless you’re an ant trying to walk in a straight line to find a way off a Möbius band. And even then it would only seem like infinity to the ant who may or may not be able perceive a sense of time. If you can find Einstein, ask him to explain it all while you show off your new scarf.

Sew Comfortable Projects:

December 1: Black Hat, Red Headed
December 2: Toasty Good Handwarmers


Sew Comfortable December 2: Handwarmers

sew comfortableWelcome back to the Sew Comfortable series! Today’s project will keep your fingers happy when the temperature is plummeting outside or if you just want to walk around the house with your own mini heat sources. (Not that we tried them out or anything…)

Day Two: Toasty good handwarmers

This project is a speedy one, but rather fun and great for instant sewing gratification. And really, who couldn’t use a few little bags of toasty goodness this time of year?

Toasty Good Handwarmers - a tutorial by carrie + fitzProject Materials
  • 4 scraps of tightly woven fabric, each at least 5″x 5″.  I used some Cotton & Steele quilting fabric leftover from a recent tote bag project.
  • Thread
  • White rice, 3/4 cup per pair of handwarmers. Plain old uncooked white rice will do the trick here. Save the basmati for a good curry recipe!
Steps to Sewing
  1. Measure and cut your fabric. After a bit of trial and error, I decided 3.5″ square handwarmers were just the right fit for my hands and coat pockets. To have room for seam allowances and stuffing, I cut my fabric into 4.5″ squares.dec 02 - 01 I made one pair of handwarmers so that meant cutting four squares. I used the same fabric for both sides of both handwarmers but you can mix and match to your heart’s content. I would suggest sticking to darker colors or busy fabric just because these will see a bit of wear from getting stuffed in pockets and being handled quite a bit. White handwarmers probably wouldn’t stay white for very long.
  2. Sew the squares together. It’s only step two and we’re almost done! But seriously, sew two squares together on three sides, with right sides of the fabric facing, using a 1/2″ seam allowance. I made my stitches a bit shorter than usual to make sure not a single grain of rice has a chance to poking through. Trim the corners, if you’d like to. dec 02 - 02 For this project, it’s not necessary but trimming reduces the bulk in the corners inside where the rice will be hanging out and it also make the handwarmer a bit nicer looking. Repeat with the remaining two fabric squares.
  3. Turn and press the handwarmers. Turn the hand warmer bags right sides out. Fold raw edges 1/2″ to the inside of each bag and press in place. dec 02 - 03This step makes it easier to sew the rice-filled bags closed in a few minutes.
  4. Add the rice. 6 tablespoons of uncooked rice is the amount I used in each hand warmer. dec 02 - 04And yes, I used measuring spoons and yes, I’ll accurately measure out 6 tablespoons the next time I make handwarmers. Why? Because I tried other amounts and didn’t like the weight and feel and now that I’m happy, I don’t want to go through the trial & error phase again. That being said… your preferences might be different than mine so feel free to experiment with a different amount. Just don’t cook the rice first… Trust me, you don’t want that in your handwarmer! (Although it could be tempting for an April Fool’s Day prank…)
  5. Close the handwarmers. Since you turned edges in and pressed them so nicely in step three – this should be a piece of cake. Use three or four pins pointing away from the bag to hold the opening closed. Then add two pins parallel to the open edge to help keep the rice away from the seam while you are sewing. dec 02 - 05Fit the now-flattened edge under the presser foot of the sewing machine and stitch the opening closed, making sure to backstitch well at the beginning and end.dec 02 - 06 I ended up bending a few pins that were perpendicular to the opening in the process but they did do the job of holding the rice back away from the machine.
  6. Heat and feel toasty warm! Try ’em out… I threw the pair of hand warmers on a paper plate and set the microwave for 45 seconds, hit start, and then waited impatiently. Less than a minute later I was holding two warm rice bags of happiness and my fingers were thrilled! dec 02 - final

Since I had to run to the store, I decide to field test my new handwarmers and put them in the pockets of my long wool coat. They were still slightly warm to the touch after 30 minutes although the heat had faded entirely after 40 minutes.

One note of caution… please do remember that all microwaves are a bit different so if children will be using these, or if you are particular sensitive to heat, try heating the handwarmers in 10 or 20 second intervals to find the level of heat that is most comfortable. Or as I like to call it… use common sense.

And there you have it…. Sew Comfortable Day Two is complete… and definitely much warmer as a result!

Coming tomorrow… To Infinity & Beyond Scarf!

Sew Comfortable Projects:

December 1: Black Hat, Red Headed