Rag Patchwork Jeans Pencil and Notebook Folder

Using up some of the denim jean scraps I've got - I made another of my Pencil and notebook folders for one of my daughter's friend's birthdays.

I've found these folders make great gifts for both boys and girls. You just have to find fabric to suit.

I like this denim one. It helped use up some of my smaller scraps..

The squares are patched together with wrong sides together so the seams are on the outside. I then clipped the seams and washed it all (inside a pillowcase to catch all the fluff).
The seams will fluff up even more and look better over time as the folder is used.

I really like the effect - and hopefully the birthday girl will like her present!

A little clothes upcycle for my girls

One of the simplest things I've ever made - and subsequently my most popular tutorial, having been pinned and repinned like crazy - is for this simple iPod or MP3 player armband for use when exercising.

It's a simple clothes upcycle - using an old t-shirt top.
For the tutorial you can go here - it's one of my 5 steps in 15 minutes tutorials that ANYONE can sew!

Here's one of the comments on the tutorial post:

"I just used this tutorial (found via craft gossip) to make a quick arm band holder for my phone. It literally took 10 minutes (would have taken less but my 2 year old was "helping" me) and works great! Thanks!"

Now my girls have their own MP3 players that they like to listen to their music on - and sometimes they listen and dance around too - so I thought they might like their own little MP3 player armbands too!

So - I found a couple of old t-shirt tops in my stash - they're stretched and have some holes in them, but there's plenty of useable fabric there...

And now my girls have their own cute little MP3 player armbands so they can listen to their music and dance around hands free!!

Their armbands will also roll up and fit inside their little
MP3 player cases that I made them from some denim and cotton scraps too: 

(you can find the tutorial for these here)


The final thing I learnt about with my sewing machine this week is Fagoting!

Now to be honest I'd never heard of this until I read it in my instruction book. Have you?

Fagoting is a method of joining two hemmed pieces of fabric together with decorative stitching, and leaving a gap between the two pieces.

This one was nice and simple to do.

Just fold the two edges of the fabric over and press, then pin onto a piece of paper leaving a small gap in between!

Then using a regular sewing machine foot and these stitch settings (number 9)

Line your machine foot centrally on your seam and stitch away!

Then pull away the paper from the back and you're done!
(I used regular white paper, but would choose tissue paper or similar next time as it would be easier to remove without pulling the stitches)

So here you have my test example of Fagoting!

Another decorative stitch to keep in mind for future projects!

Have you ever tried this?

I hope you've enjoyed these mini tutorials on things sewing machines can do! They included rolled hems, blind stitch hemming, smocking, pintucking and fagoting.
I learned lots of new useful techniques that I'm sure I'll be using again soon!

How well do you know your machine and do you make full use of all it can do?

Next I shall have to start to explore my overlocker (serger)! I'll add that to my to-do list and look at it gradually over time! I have two large books with overlocker projects in, so I know there are lots of possibilities to discover!


In my quest to learn what my sewing machine can do - today I want to share what I learned about pin tucking!

A Pintuck is essentially 
a fold of fabric stitched into place.

They are used either just for decoration or to help create shape in clothing.

My sewing machine tells me to use this foot once again (the same one I used for blind stitch hemming)

Then to create the pintuck, you simply fold the fabric where you want it to be, position the fabric so the needle will pierce the fabric just inside the fold 
(depending on how narrow you want your tuck to be)

and adjust the screw at the front of the foot so the sliding part is up against the edge of the fold.

Then let the sliding part of the food guide your fabric through as you sew your pintuck!

I decided to use this technique on my daughter's school dress which had a tear in the back of the skirt part.
The tear was slightly to the side, so I made a tuck in both sides to even it up!

(Don't look closely at the mismatched checks on my tucks. This dress has been patched so many times and only has to last another 4 weeks of school, so it was just a quick fix!!)

So yet another thing learned about my machine!


This week I'm working my way through the instruction book for my sewing machine (8 years or so after buying it!) to finally discover what my machine can do!
Over the past two days I have posted about rolled hems and blind stitching hems.
Today I want to share what I learned about smocking!

Smocking is basically 
pretty decorative stitching on gathered fabric.

Smocking provides a way of gathering wide fabric to a suitable width for your needs, and making it pretty at the same time.

So here was my quick try of smocking on my machine!

First you run several rows of stitching across the area on the fabric to be smocked.  Use your longest stitch length and don't run your stitching forwards and backwards at the beginning or end of the rows!

Then pull the threads at the ends to ruffle up your fabric:

Then you use a decorative stitch between the stitch lines on the ruffled fabric:

(Please don't look too closely at my wonky stitching - remember this was just a test piece!!)

Then you simply pull out the threads from the original rows of stitching, leaving you with a piece of smocking!

Ok - so my ruffles aren't exactly even, but you can see the general idea! I think this would be a nice effect to add to clothing, and bags perhaps!
Something else to tuck away for later consideration and use in my future sewing projects!

Although this wasn't a special foot or setting on my sewing machine - it's something else learned !

Have you ever tried smocking?

Blind Stitch Hemming

This week I've decided to explore the feet of my sewing machine and see what they can do!
Yesterday I posted about rolled hems and today I'm looking at Blind Stitch Hemming.

This means stitching a hem on something where you don't want the stitching to show through. It's not totally invisible, but all you see are small stitches at regular intervals, and if you get your thread colour close enough to the fabric, it's virtually invisible!

Great for things like curtains - where you don't look at the hems close up!

I generally hand-stitch a blind hem on my daughter's school dresses - but next time will definitely use my machine! So much easier and quicker!

Here's how:

My machine has this special foot for blind stitch hemming (and pin tucking - which I"ll post about another day!)

Here's the stitch you use (number 8)

And the stitch width and length settings:

First double turn your hem and press:

Then fold the hem back on itself like this, so just the bottom edge of the hem is sticking out:

Now put this under your fancy blind hemming foot, and lower the needle so it just touches the fabric on the folded edge:

Then adjust the dial so the sliding guide rests on the edge of the fold:

Then stitch your hem guiding the folded edge along the sliding guide.

Turn back the hem and press, and there you have one  (almost) invisible hem!

Does your machine do blind stitch hemming??
Have you ever used it?

Rolled hems

Last week I made some knit skirts and used rolled hems on the bottom, which gave a nice wavy finish!

I had intended to use the rolled edge setting on my overlocker (serger) but was having problems getting my overlocker to work (later discovered I needed to change the needle!)

Anyway - since I couldn't do the rolled edge on my overlocker, I decided to try using the rolled hem foot on my sewing machine.

I found it was actually quite easy to use! Here's how:

You fold the edge of your fabric over twice to form your hem and slide this under the foot:

Then put the needle down into the hem where you want it stitched:

Lower the foot, then holding both threads at the back make 3 or 4 stitches.

Then just gently ease the hem up into the curl of the hemmer foot, and continue stitching and feeding the edge of the fabric through:

This produces a nice, neat, small hem:

If you do exactly the same but with knit fabric, the resulting hem has this nice wavy look:

Now that I have my overlocker working again, I thought I'd compare my sewing machine rolled hem with my overlocked rolled edge.
Here's both on the plain cotton fabric - the overlocked hem at the top, and the sewing machine hem on the bottom:

Then here's the difference with the knit fabric. Again the overlocked edge is at the top and the sewing machine stitched hem at the bottom.

I have to say I prefer the machine stitched rolled hem - particularly with the knit fabric, but it is slightly more fiddly to do with the sewing machine!

Do you have a rolled hem foot for your machine? Do you use it much?

I think that I'm going to try out my other machine feet this week. Having had my machine for about 8 years, I think it's about time I learnt what it can do!
I'll post over the coming days what I learn!

I'll be trying:

Blind Stitch Hemming
Pin Tucking
Shell Tuck

How well do you know what your sewing machine can do??