Fri-DIY-day: The 1-Hour Summertime Schmatta

The other morning when I got up, it was a bajillion degrees. In weather that feels like a hundred blow dryers aimed at my skin, I don't want waistbands or zippers or anything fussy -- just something simple and thin and not-clingy. So I whipped up this little maxi dress before heading out the door into the Venusian-ish weather.

It is perhaps the most basic dress ever, and absolutely perfect for standing inside a clothes dryer. Here's how I made it.

1. Choose your fabric. I used a thin, drapey jersey with a bit of stretch to it. I like how this floats along the contour of my body without clinging to it. You could use a drapey bamboo or rayon as well. I would probably stick to a lightweight knit for this dress unless you want a dramatic daishiki-ish tent shape around your body. Which might be nice in terms of it never touching your skin? Play around and see what you like. Pro-tip: stripes make it easy to line things up!

2. Next, sew your fabric into a tube that has holes for your head and arms. Use a serger if you have one; if not, just use a ball-point needle and zigzag stitch. The tube should be a few inches bigger than your biggest measurement.

  • My fabric was 54" wide, so I just folded it up the center fold and sewed it into a tube along the selvage, leaving 9" at the top unsewed for an armhole. Then I sewed along the top edge to create shoulder seams. Finally I cut an armhole into the folded side.
  • You could also cut out 2 rectangles of your fabric and sew them up along the sides and top edge, leaving room for your neck and armholes.
  • Or, if you have a super long piece of fabric, you can fold it along the shoulder seam edge, cut out a neckhole, and sew up the sides.

Here is what you want to end up with:

Now go put this giant tube of fabric on over your head inside out. Grab some pins and go to a mirror. Pinch and pin under the arms and along the sides where you want to remove excess and make the dress fit closer. I left quite a bit of ease because of the hot weather, but make it as body con as you want!

Also, mark where you want the dress to end. I am pretty tall, and my dress came out to be about 62" long. For me, being able to make the maxi dress actually maxi length is reason enough to make one!

Now take the dress off. Fold it up the center and check out your pinned seams along both sides. Even them out so they are approximately symmetrical. Mine ended up looking something like this:

Go and sew along your pinned seams.

With a sharp pair of scissors, trim the bottom of the dress where you marked. You can finish this properly if you want, by cutting it a little long, then double-folding the hem and sewing it with a double needle. I didn't finish mine and am OK with that.

Trim and/or finish the ends of the sleeves.

Finally, put on some big earrings and go be all comfy and goddess-y in public.

I am digging this one so much that I may make a mini-version too! Hot pink and black stripes, I'm lookin' at you ...


Fri-DIY-Day: Get Inspired At Creative Reuse Pittsburgh

There is a lot of stuff in the world! And way too much of it ends up in the garbage when it could be put to good use. Creative Reuse Pittsburgh is an amazing place that brings order to the chaos of random stuff, thereby helping folks see the possibilities and potential left in it.

The hunter-gatherer in me goes nuts for this place! Each time I visit to make a drop-off of fabric scraps, I end up spending at least an hour looking around, and I always leave so inspired! This time I found a double-knit poly that is the exact same as my favorite childhood dress!! MINE!

It is truly a crafter's paradise, and you should totally look here before hitting up the dreaded Joanne's or Michael's.

Here's a few things that grabbed my attention on this latest visit. Totally different things will grab your attention -- that is the beauty of it!

Sewing patterns and crafting books out the yin yang! Seriously huge selection.

Books with bugs and frogs for your collaging pleasure.

Fabric and yarn and fluorescent pom-pom trim!

And a forest of trophies! Someone needs to make a stop-motion animation with some of these ...

There is sooo much more -- check out CRP's Facebook page to see. The "Button Fetish" album is particularly fine!


Fri-DIY-Day: Embellish A Hem With A Ribbon

Today's DIY came about because I accidentally made my last shift a bit too short. I loved the fit and really wanted to wear it with tights, so I came up with the idea of extending the length of the dress with some sort of wide band or trim at the bottom. At first I thought I would put velcro around the hem and make a few interchangeable options to extend the length of the dress.

But the velcro proved way too bulky ... so instead I decided to attach a wide velveteen ribbon to the hem, offset a bit from the edge to hang down and add just an inch or so of length.

I started by trimming the hem's raw edge to make it perfectly symmetrical. Then I serged it, which is good to do, but optional -- pinking works, too. Or you can even leave the edge raw if it's a knit -- I won't tell anyone.

Then I took my time and carefully positioned the ribbon and pinned the heck out of it.

Then I put a Beyonce/Jay-Z playlist on the computer, got out my hand needle, and slip-stitched the ribbon onto the dress. I knotted every few inches to keep the whole ribbon from falling off should I one day pop a stitch. You could do it by machine, too, if your ribbon will allow it (mine wouldn't). I only stitched along the top of the ribbon, since the bottom was overhanging the dress. But in general you'll want to stitch both sides of the ribbon if you can.

This is a very basic embellishment, but whoa! The impact is huge. This simple knit dress looks so much classier with the ribbon to set it off! Just one little mod touch makes it like a hundred times more special.

And it's a trick that can save a dress! For instance, I massacred the hem on this shift trying to master the blind hem stitch on my machine. But I put a ribbon right over top of the crime scene, and now you'd never know.

So many possibilities! What about a rose-colored shift with something like this around the bottom ... or a yellow shift with green gingham ... or something like this eyelet trim around the bottom edge of a floral dress?


Fri-DIY-Day: Put A Sleeve On It

I'm so excited about today's tutorial, a joint effort between yours truly and Julie, our pal from Handmade Mess. Julie's made so many fun modifications to her DIY custom shifts -- super inspiring! -- and one of the most impactful changes is to add sleeves. She sent me instructions on how she did such an amazing thing, and I went through them, snapping pics of my progress and augmenting her steps with stuff from books. Enjoy! And get your custom pattern to start with here.

We're going to add a short sleeve here, but you can do whatever length and shape you want once you get the basics down.

Measure Twice, Cut Once

You need to grab a few measurements before you begin.

A) The circumference of your shift's armhole. Measure and record the front and the back distance -- in most cases, they will be slightly different lengths.

B) Where do you want your sleeve to end? Measure the circumference around your arm at that level. I chose to end my sleeve right around my bicep.

C) The distance from your armpit to where you took measurement B. For me, this was 4".

D) The distance from the top of your shoulder to the place where you want your sleeve to end. Put the end of your measuring tape on your shoulder, about where the outer edge of a wide shoulder strap hits you. Go straight down to the level of measurement 2. For me, this was 8.5".

E) The difference between D and C = your sleeve cap height. For me, this is 4.5", which is a pretty typical sleeve cap height for a non-stretchy fabric.

WTF Is A Sleeve Cap?

It's the height of the bubble we have to create to put your shoulder in. Think about a sleeve -- it's mostly a tube of fabric. But there needs to be a curve and some extra height at the top to accommodate the curve of your shoulder. The extra height is the sleeve cap height.

Sleeve cap can vary based on what kind of fabric you are using, what kind of sleeve shape you want, but taking the measurements above will give you a good place to start your further explorations of what happens when you change the sleeve cap shape and height.

Start Your Pencils

1. OK, now your have your measurements. Next, get out your supplies: * drafting paper: any paper will do, it just needs to be a couple feet square * ruler (clear is easiest to work with) * a pencil * a French curve if you have one: you should totally get one if you plan to do much pattern drafting -- it's so handy and pretty cheap, too. If you don't have one, you can use something like a 28 oz. big can of tomatoes. Basically you just want an established curve to trace against.

2. Draw a vertical line down the middle of your paper, approx 10-12" long.

3. Measure down the distance of your sleeve cap (4.5" for me) and draw a perpendicular line that is equal to B + 1" (arm circumference at end of sleeve + 1" for ease of movement). This forms a cross.

4. Draw a line just a couple inches long along the top of the cross, as shown. Label your sleeve showing which side connects to the front of the dress and which side connects to the back.

5. From the top of the sleeve, draw a straight line the same length as the front armhole minus .5 inches -- this allows the line to get a little longer when we curve it out. Remember that the front and back armholes will be a little different.

6. Use your French curve to curve out the armhole lines you just drew. You will start by curving the top edge, then reversing the French curve to connect to the bottom edge. Do the front and the back.

7. Now the sleeve cap is drafted, we just need to extend the length of the sleeve to your desired length. Use your ruler to draw 2 straight vertical lines that begin at the ends of the sleeve cap and go down to the bottom of the sleeve (measurement C). For me this was 4".

8. Draw a horizontal line connecting the 2 lines you just drew.

9. Add your desired seam allowance all around (I used .5").

You have a sleeve pattern, yo!

Facing Off

Before you can sew these bad boys into your dress, you'll need to adjust the facing shape that came with your custom shift pattern. Since you have sleeves that will be attaching to your armholes to finish them off, you no longer need the facing to go all the way to the armhole. Here's how I modified my facing shape to accommodate sleeves.


Sew It Up

This part is straight from Julie's tutorial with a few photos added -- she explains the process perfectly.

1. For a sleeved shift, you won’t need Madge’s “magic” shoulder technique...although it is magic, indeed, for sleeveless shifts.

Instead, with right sides together, pin the front neck facing to the neckline of the front body. (As shown above.) Sew the neckline all the way from one shoulder edge to the other. (Don’t leave an inch open the way you would for the Magic.) Do the same for the back facing, to the back neckline.

2. Trim seams, turn, and press in place.

3. Open the facing back out, lay the front and the back right sides together. Pin along shoulder seams, both the shoulder itself as well as their corresponding facings. Sew the seams you just pinned.

4. Turn and press. Top-stitch neckline if desired.

5. Staystitch the top curve of each sleeve piece. This just means stitch along the top curve around 1/4" from the edge -- the seam helps ease the shoulder into place.

6. Line up your sleeve and your shoulder like this:

7. Pin sleeves to shoulder, right sides together, matching edges and center point. Stitch and trim seam.

8. If you are including pockets in your side seams, attach those now following the main directions in your Shift pattern.

9. Pin sides of dresses together, front to back, right sides together, including the sleeves. Sew one long continuous seam from the cuff of the sleeve to the armpit, then down the side of the dress. If you've installed a side zipper, just sew from cuff to zipper top, then from zipper bottom, down around your pockets, to the bottom hem.

10. Hem your seams at the cuff, or finish however desired.

There you have it! We expect to see thousands of sleeved shifts on the street by Monday!

Xox Madge and Julie

Fri-DIY-day: Schoolgirl Tie!

Many years ago, I was in a band with my good friend Rene who plays drums like a demon! One Halloween -- it must've been circa 2003 cause we were really into Kill Bill -- we played a show and dressed up like Gogo Yubari and the Crazy 88. I skipped the whole blood streaming out of my tear ducts thing, but I did acquire a schoolgirl tie, and ever since I've found myself wearing it quite a lot. It adds that touch of tough cuteness that I am all about. I wanted some colorful ones, but I've only ever seen black in stores -- DIY to the rescute! I'm sooo excited about how these turned out and have been wearing one almost every day. Here's how you can make your own!

What You Need

* Some fabric -- you need 4 pieces that are each about 5" wide and 12" long

* Some snaps -- I used these, which require just a hammer and a spool of thread to apply

* A loop turner, or a crochet hook, or a piece of wire -- basically something long and skinny that you can grab a bit of fabric with to turn your tube right-side out

* Your normal sewing stuff (scissors, thread, machine, etc.)

What You Do

1. Measure around your neck and decide how long you want your tie to be. The pattern here works great for me and you end up with a tie that is around 24" long. Download the pattern and adjust according to what you want.

2. Fold your fabric in half and cut 2 sets of the arrow shape. Cut one set with the skinny ends somewhat tapered.

3. Pin right sides together and sew, leaving the narrow edge and one of the wide edges open for turning. This picture shows which seams you should sew. Use a 1/2" seam allowance.

4. Do you have a loop turner? If not you should get one! A crochet hook or a bent piece of wire can work as well. Go in the wide edge and snag the skinny edge, then pull it through.

5. Iron the heck out of your now right-side-out pieces to flatten them out.

6. Now we're going to put the two halves together. Start by turning in the little edge of your non-tapered piece 1/2". Slide the tapered edge into the tube. Pin and sew.

7. Turn in the wide edge of the arrowhead that you left open on each side. Pin it shut.

8. Top stitch all the way around the tie, catching the edges on the open edges to close them.

9. Time to attach your snaps. Put the tie around your neck and decide where you want them, then apply according to package instructions. Mine allowed me to get out a little frustration!

10. Put on your tie and go look at how freakin cute you are.

Happy Fri-DIY-day! Don't play with maces! Madge

Fri-DIY-day: Organizing for the New Year

Early January is one of those times of the year when I automatically want to make things tidier and more organized so I can focus on my goals instead of looking for things. Over the last few days I've done a few little DIY projects ranging in price from free to dirt cheap, and I'm surprised, as always, at how much simple, useful little projects like these can add to everyday life! Every time I use of them, I get a little jolt of happy. Easily amused I suppose!

Storing Jewels

One of my new year's goals is to step up my accessorizing -- I'm pretty good with earrings, but forget about necklaces and bracelets and such. I think part of the reason is that all my pretty jewels were in an ugly heap!

So I looked around and realized I had this Martha Stewart wire organizer thing from like 8 years ago. Hung it on the inside of my closet door and now look how fancy!

It's so fun to look at my jewels whenever I get dressed now, and more pieces are seeing more play. Goal 1 achieved!

I don't see this particular wire organizer on sale anywhere right now, but there are TONS of ideas online for getting your jewels out of Mt. Ugly and onto the wall where you can see them / grab them / wear them.

* Here is a simple and sweet idea from Re-Nest to turn a grill tray into a jewelry organizer.

* Here's a tutorial for making a jewelry display out of an old window.

* And ooh! Lace stretched in a picture frame! Purdy!

Corralling Thingies

What do you do with your billion little categories of thingies -- pushpins, paper clips, remote controls, pencils, rubber bands? Of course it's easier to find them when you need them if they always go in the same place, together with all the other thingies in their category ... which is a lofty goal that some day I shall attain! A home for every thingie in my home!

I'm not quite there yet, but these little fabric trays I made using this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew are moving me in the right direction. I used a few to corral my (tiny amount of) photography stuff and the chalk for my new chalk/pin board (see below).

They turned out really cute and took no time at all to make. Also, I used fabric scraps and some fusible fleece I already had on hand, so they were also free!

There are loads of tutorials for these online, too -- have a look around and see which style appeals most to you:

* Noodlehead's version

* Chick Chick Sewing's version

* Mairuru's Oval Appliqued version

Chalk/Cork Board

This project took so little time and money -- less than $40 and 1 hour. And it looks so good and is so useful! I'm quite pleased with it.

What I did was take 6 12 x 12" cork tiles and mount them to the wall. Then I took a roll of chalkboard contact paper and mounted it directly below the tiles. The end.

I LOVE this feature of my studio and it's helping my workflow so much already!

Have you been doing any projects to help you tidy up for 2012? Whatcha been working on?

Sewing and Wearing So Many Shifts: A Guest Post from Beta Tester Extraordinaire Julie

Julie lives in Philadelphia, possesses glorious red curls, and, as far as I know, has sewn more shifts than any other civilian! For 2013, she's challenging herself to make all her own clothes and accessories and is blogging about her project at Handmade Mess. Today, she takes us on a tour of the many shifts she's made using her custom Wear the Shift sewing pattern as a jumping off point. So many pretty ideas! Thanks Julie!

(And, my lovelies, everyone can get their own custom pattern starting tomorrow! Stay tuned!)

Each of these dresses was made using the same pattern: my Wear the Shift custom-fit shift dress pattern. What I’ve discovered while working with this is that once you have a basic, well-fitting dress pattern, the variations to customize that basic shape are pretty much endless. I feel like I’m only just scratching the surface of possibilities.

The basic shift design is a sleeveless, scoop-necked dress shaped with darts at the bust and back. Shown at the far left, above (and here), it’s great for a summer weight dress, a shell for layering, or as a jumper.  I liked it so much, I wanted to wear a shift in all seasons, so I quickly made another, raising the back neckline and adding short sleeves. (Julie's tutorial on how to do this is coming soon! -ed.)

From there, it seemed that every fabric lurking in my stash was another potential shift dress, each one lending different characteristics to the pattern.  A thick, stretchy bouclé fabric turned the design into a snuggly sweater dress. The neckline was raised for a more conservative shape to offset a flashy red wool. I removed pockets from the side for a smoother line, only to add them back later in the form of curved patch pockets as a design feature.

Along the way, the fit changed a bit, as well. I learned that even with the same pattern, the weights, thicknesses, and drapes of different fabrics required slight alterations to the basic shape. To dresses in thicker cloth, I added a small vertical dart to the front panels, under the bust, to create a waistline. I removed the side zipper, then later added a center back zipper on a version with a closer neckline, to make getting in and out easier.

I found it simple enough to make changes to the basic pattern, patching in new necklines, pockets, etc., using newspaper to add or fill, and marking other changes right on the original pattern, so that I could follow my notes in subsequent versions, if I wished.

And then, I started playing with the idea of a collar, creating a removable piece that could snap into the dress’s neckline, and then be removed for a different look on the same dress.

I still have more to figure out.  I’m still studying the art of darts, in particular. I know objectively that a basic “sloper” or dress form should have a bust point and static depth and length for proper shaping of a dart, yet I find that in practice, the length, in particular, varies with the weight of the fabric I’m working with, and I often end up adjusting darts a bit after the shoulders and sides have been seamed.

This photo shows the wide variation in dart positioning I’ve made, plus the vertical bust dart that I added to my basic front, whenever I’m working with thicker stiffer material, to keep the dress drapey and shapely.

The good thing is that I know the basic dress pattern -- my original shift -- fits properly, to my own unique measurements, so as I embark on creative variations on my own, I always have a strong foundation to return to. When in doubt, I can throw out my markings and alterations and go back to the original. In this way, sewing with my own custom-fit pattern has allowed me to be more adventurous in my sewing than I’ve ever dared to be with commercial patterns built to an idealized form. With those, I never knew if it was the pattern that was wrong (or just wrongly fitted to my body) or if it was I who had messed it up along the way.

I’m having quite a bit of fun learning in the classroom of my own home workroom, and testing my experiments in the form of fun, wearable dresses, out in the street.  If Wear the Shift ever expands to other garments (maybe slacks and jackets,?) I’d love to follow along.


Fri-DIY-day: Clever, Clever Napkins

I have these champagne flutes, which I love for many reasons -- they are elegant and fun and may be easily arranged in rainbow order. Also, the fact that they are each a different color means that once you choose your hue, there will be no losing your drink or mixing up your champagne with someone else's for the rest of the evening. Fisticuffs averted!

The clever use of color inspired me to make some cloth napkins that work the same way -- each is edged in a different hue, so the people in your family can choose one and use it for however many meals and not confuse it for anyone else's. Neato right?

And also potentially a really great gift that your friends and family can and will actually use. Which makes them the king of all gifts.

OK, so here's how it's done.

What You Need, What You Need

  • Some fabric -- a soft but sturdy natural fabric works best cause no one wants to wipe their lips on polyester. You can make ~ 6 napkins from a yard of 48" wide material
  • Some bias tape in co-ordinating/contrasting colors. I took my inspiration from my favorite champagne flutes
  • Your usual cutting and sewing supplies (thread, machine, scissors, ruler, etc.)

How To

1. Start by deciding how big you want your napkins to be and how many of them you want. Then add an inch for folding the edges over and cut them out. Mine are about 11" x 11" -- I would've made them bigger but I didn't have enough fabric.

2. Working from the wrong side of the fabric, unfold one edge of your bias tape and pin it to the back of the fabric as shown here. Match up the edge of the napkin with the unfolded edge of the tape.

3. Stitch along the fold in the bias tape to attach it to the napkin.

4. Roll the bias tape around so the widest part is on the front of the napkin and press/pin in place.

5. Stitch the bias tape down to the front of the napkin right along the edge of the tape.

6. Once the bias tape is on, they look like this.

7. Now, working from the wrong side and starting with the edge opposite the bias tape, fold the fabric in 1/2" and press. I marked some lines on a pastry knife to help me.

8. Once your 1/2" fold is in, tuck the inside edge under so that all the raw fabric edges are hidden. Press and pin.

9. Once that edge is done, repeat on the other 2 edges. Make sure the corners are neat and no threads or raw edges are hanging out.

10. OK, now you just need to stitch these folds in place. Start at the top right corner and stitch down to the bottom right. Pivot, stitch to the bottom left, pivot, and up to the top left. Be careful going around the corners -- you're stitching through a lot of layers of fabric so go slow and keep an eye on it. Make sure you don't let any raw edges fall out as you are stitching.

11. And then, my exquisite creature, you are done! Guzzle some champagne and dab your lip because you are dainty, dammit!

Fri-DIY-Day: Reversible Pulse Warmers

Oh, pulse warmers ... or cuffs, armwarmers, wristwarmers ... Whatever you call them, I of the perpetually cold hands adore them more than what is reasonable. I've knitted several pairs over the years and worn them to death, but I think I might love these sewn ones even more ... they are sleeker and read a little more refined, especially since there's no thumbhole.

And these are reversible, so you can go from Elizabeth Bennett to Joan Jett in 30 seconds! And they are wicked easy to make -- you can whip a pair up in 20 minutes-ish. And they use up little pieces of fabric not good for much else! What more do you want, people?

What You Need

* 2 pieces of knit fabric that look nice together to you, each about 13" wide and 18" long. T-shirt fabric can work well, as can any knit with a bit of stretch to it.

* Your normal cutting and sewing tools

* Pattern -- The PDF is here. Note on sizing: These fit my wrists -- medium-sized, 8.5" around the widest point and 6.5" around the wrist -- really well. You can make them a little bigger or smaller as needed to fit your measurements

How To

1. Using the pattern with the flat edge laid against the fold, cut out 2 pattern pieces (both on the fold) of one fabric, then the other. You will end up with 4 pieces of identical size and shape.

2. With right sides together, pin together, then serge or zigzag stitch the curved edge of each piece of fabric to make a tube. Now you have 4 tubes.

3. Turn the two tubes made of fabric 1 (plain white in my example) right side out. Leave the two tubes of fabric 2 (the 80s one in my example) right side in.

4. Put Fabric 1 tubes inside Fabric 2 tubes. The right sides of each fabric should be facing each other.

5. Pin one edge of the tubes together, slightly offsetting the seams from step 2. Zigzag right along this edge.

7. Turn the pulse warmer right side out. Press along the edge you just sewed to flatten it out.

8. Now turn your piece around and straighten everything up inside. Turn the edge of both fabric 1 and fabric 2 in 1/2" and pin.

10. Press the edge, then zigzag neatly right around it, catching all layers of the turned-in fabrics.

11. Trim your threads, give it one last press, and you are done yo!

These are so cute, I don't think I'm going to take them off till spring. I love how the white side looks peeking out of my black blazer -- now I just need to re-do my nails.

Have fun dechillifying your wrists!

Fri-DIY-day: Earrings! Love!

In my continuing quest to use up all the world's cool old fabrics, including scraps, I present to you: DIY fabric earrings. I have one slightly weird earlobe, which means I can't wear heavy earrings ... at the same time I adore giant earrings. I LOVE these because they can be as big as you want them, and will still be nice and light.

Plus they feature the colors and textures of old fabrics in a really fun way. And they are super fast and easy and relaxing to make.

What You Need

You do need a little specialized equipment to make these, but if you do crafts already, you may very well have these items lying around.

  • Fabric scraps
  • Kidney earwires
  • Iron-on vinyl: they have this at most fabric stores and on Amazon
  • 1/4" grommets
  • 1/4" hole punch/grommet setting tool (this is the one I have)
  • Cardstock
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Pinking shears

How To

1. Start by applying the iron-on vinyl to the wrong side of your fabric scraps. This binds the edges of the fabric so that they won't come unraveled, and applying it to the reverse side means that your still get to see the texture of the fabric.

Follow the instructions on the package of vinyl -- mine involved peeling off a liner, sticking the vinyl to the fabric, and ironing it in 8 second bursts using the paper I peeled off as a pressing cloth.

NOTE: If you have odd shaped fabric pieces and there is plastic showing in between them, you may want to put a sheet of paper underneath the fabric scraps to avoid messing up your ironing board with plastic.

2. Let the fabric cool. Cut into rough shapes.

3. Glue the fabric scraps to cardstock. I chose some fun contrasting colors for these and used an EXTREME glue stick. Press it down firmly to make sure it sticks real good.

4. Let that dry for a while.

5. What size and shape do you want your earrings? Decide, then cut them out using the scissors. Rather than try to cut through all the layers of both earrings at the same time -- which is easy to screw up -- I like to cut one, then use it as a pattern for the second.

6. Once you're happy with your shapes, use the pinking shears to trim around the edge. It amazes me how much cuter the earrings get after this step! Again, trim one, then use it as a pattern for the second.

7. Now punch a hole in the top of each earring. This is where your grommet will go, and should be fairly close to the edge -- like within 1/4" or so. Otherwise it won't fit onto the ear hook.

8. Time for grommets! The package I got had lots of different colors, and I kind of like mixing them up. You can put multiple grommets in each earring, use different colors for the left and right ones, whatever you like. Follow the instructions for your grommeting tool -- mine tells me to put the grommet in, then lay the earring face down on the work surface and use the tool to squish the back of the grommet.

9. At this point, you can bang them on your ear wires and be done, or you can bedazzle them / attach stickers / embroider a few stitches / etc. I kind of like the simplicity of just the fabric and the grommets, but you do you.

10. Look how cute!

Hope you have fun making about a billion pairs this weekend!

Xo Madge

PS: For more pics and stuff, you can follow me on Inkstagram!

Fri-DIY-Day: Tiny Bows on Everything!

If you sew, you have fabric scraps. Perhaps lots and lots of them. I'm gonna show you some ways to use them up and cutify your world at the same time.

Today: tiny bows! I love these little guys because they are super easy, extremely cute, and can be used in about a million different ways -- headbands, gift wrapping, garlands, pins ... Pick a couple of fun scraps out of your bin and let's get started.

All You Need Is

  • Scraps -- mid or heavy weight knit fabrics work best, otherwise the bow will just flop around
  • A needle
  • Some thread
  • Scissors
  • Something round to use as a template


1. Start by folding your fabric in half. Place your template on top and trace the size of the circle you want to make -- mine are about 4 inches, but play with smaller and bigger circles and see what you like best.

2. Cut out your circles. (I tried doing mine with a rotary cutter and almost lost a finger -- scissors definitely work better here).

3. Thread your needle, and tie a knot at the end of the thread, leaving a tail several inches long after the knot so you can tie it to the other end of the thread once you're done sewing. Set aside.

4. Take one circle and, starting near the center, start accordion folding it. Continue until you've got the whole piece pinched between your fingers.

5. Hold on to the pleats with one hand, and put the needle through all of the folds with the other. Keep holding on or else your pleats will fall out and you'll get VERY ANGRY. (Or maybe that's just me.)

6. Sew back and forth through all the layers 8 or 10 times. If you see that the bow is looking off-center, just take another stitch on the other side to even it out. You want to have 1/2" to 3/4" sewn together so that the sides of the bow can puff out equally on both sides.

7. Take your last stitch so that the needle comes out the first side you came in. Tie the thread in the needle tightly to the tail you left behind the knot. Trim the ends.

That is it! Your tiny bow is complete and adorable!

What You Can Do With Them

Wrap an elastic pigtail holder around the middle of the bow and slide it onto a headband. You can position it wherever you like (I like mine just above my ear). You could even go crazy and put bows all the way across!

Tie the middle with some yarn, and wrap a present with it. Pro tip: No need for wrapping paper if you have a plain box and you tie a cute bow or two on it!

Tie several together and make a little garland. I am totally going to put these on my aluminum Christmas tree this year.

Other ideas not pictured: Bang on a hook and use as a Christmas ornament. Pin to your cardigan or clutch. Pin to a velvet ribbon and wear as a choker or a bracelet. Make a bunch and use them to adorn your curtains, or put them in a bowl. You can basically use them to add a touch of handmade cuteness to just about anything. AND you're cleaning out that scrap bin. Good times all around.

Thanks for reading and have fun crafting this weekend!

Fri-DIY-Day: Magnetic Pin Cushion

To celebrate launching our spiffy new custom shift pattern beta test (only 1 spot left!), I thought it might be fun to do a little DIY project that will add both functionality and cuteness to your sewing workspace -- a darling little magnetic pin cushion. I like these because, to me, regular pin cushions are kind of annoying. All that pulling and pushing! And you can lose needles in them! And they're always tipping over and rolling around my sewing table! Argh! So much futzing!!

In addition to being somewhat particular about my pincushions, I'm also rather cheap, so I couldn't bring myself to spend money on an ugly plastic one at Jo-Ann's. Especially when they are this easy to make. Seriously, this is going to take you about 3 minutes, but it's surprisingly satisfying!

Materials needed:

  • A small side plate or a saucer. I got mine at the thrift store for 50 cents. There are so many cute lil abandoned plates in the world and I only wish I could have them all.
  • 3 or 4 little black magnets. I forgot to take a picture of mine before I glued them on, but I used cheapie ones like these. You don't need the super strong ones and I kind of fear what might happen if you use them so stick with the kiddie magnets, kids!
  • A nice strong adhesive -- I used Gorilla Glue


  1. Glue a magnet to the bottom of the plate
  2. Press the magnet down for 30 seconds or so to let the glue adhere
  3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 for all your magnets, spacing them out around the bottom of the plate
  4. Set aside and to allow the glue to dry
  5. Toast yourself with a flagon of champagne cause you just made something adorable and useful in like 3 minutes! Go you!

I like mine with 3 magnets, which makes it hold the pins pretty well but not in a death grip -- again, I am lazy, and do not want to have to pull very hard to retrieve a pin. If you want a stronger hold, FINE! You may use another magnet or two.

These little guys are also really good at holding coins, bobby pins, or any other small metal objects you are always losing around your house. So make a bunch and put them everywhere and give them away!

Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Xo Madge

Custom Sewing Pattern Beta Test, or Hey Hey Hey, Sew a Shift Every Day

Hey y'all! Want a custom pattern to sew yourself (or your daughter, girlfriend, mom, or someone else) a shift? Today you can get one!

Like all of our beta tests, this one is all about getting your feedback both on the fit of your shift pattern, and on the instructions I wrote for ya.

The patterns will sell for $25, and that's what they're priced at today. But once I receive your feedback, you will get $25 off your next purchase with us. So, yeah, basically your pattern will be free once you use it!

I can't wait to see all the beautiful dresses you make! And I can't wait to be able to offer you more and different styles of dresses in the future.

But, first things first. Let's see how you like this one!

Click on over to the shop to get in on the test! There are only a few spots, so procrastinate not.

Yay and thanks!