Tag Archives: sewing

Earth Day: Overdressed (and a Refashion)

20 Apr

Read Green 5

A few months ago, Mara came to me with a dress she wanted to refashion. While we worked on the dress she kept starting sentences with the phrase “In this book I’m reading called Overdressed she talks about how (insert something we were working on) changed because….” After a few sessions of this I finally got the hint that Mara wanted me to read it. So I checked it out of the library, and it was great. I spent most of the book thinking that Jillian the ReFashionista would love it. Then I found myself reading about her in chapter eight! When Earth Day rolled around I knew I wanted Overdressed to be among the books we featured but it only seemed fair that I let Mara tell you about it since it all started with her.



I am honored that Robin has asked me to write a guest blog for Earth Day. She asked me specifically to write about a book I shared with her: Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline.

This book made me realize that my perception of clothes becoming cheaper and less well-made was not just “back in my day…” thinking and was actually true. Not only are the clothes in stores getting worse, but the world has totally changed for garment workers.


But my edification is not why Robin asked me to write. It’s because this book, combined with Robin’s amazing creativity and sewing skills, inspired me to rework my Mom’s vintage blue velvet dress. Here is a before shot of me in the dress about 16 and a half years ago. (That toddler graduates this year!) The dress fit OK back then.

After reading Overdressed I realized that this was the perfect dress for a remake. It no longer fit, had seams rather than serged edges, and a long hem that I was happy to cut shorter. So I brought my dress to Robin’s house.


At first she did not want to cut up a 1950’s cocktail dress, but then I started spouting from Overdressed. She was convinced, or, at least no longer quite as reticent. Then she found out it was my mom’s dress and then we had to go through it all again. I assured Robin that my mom would be impressed if we made it wearable, and besides, she gave it to me. It was mine now!

After a couple of weekend afternoons with Robin’s coaching, I had a brand-new dress with a shorter hem, shorter sleeves, and a stunning new back to go with my now short hair. I debuted it at a fundraiser for Mountain Crisis Services.


When my mom saw the dress on Facebook she picked up the phone to tell me what a spectacular job Robin and I had done with the makeover. Thanks Mom!

I am now inspired to take one of my step-mom’s hand-me-downs and have Robin coach me through another makeover. This sort of sewing fits in with my Reduce-Reuse-Recycle (in that order) lifestyle.

I was bitten by the “makeover for clothes” bug several years ago when I came across Stephanie Girard’s Sweater Surgery: How to Make New Things From Old Sweaters (Domestic Arts for Crafty Girls) and have had fun reinventing sweaters as all sorts of new items. You may be able to get Sweater Surgery or Overdressed from your library. Because Earth Day is everyday!




DIY Community Prayer Flags

20 Sep


Tibetan prayer flags are a popular household staple in my mountain loving community. I suspect the tradition trickled in with the mountaineering enthusiasts who climb in Tibet and Nepal. I love prayer flags, but I feel a bit weird about hanging them in my house because I’m not Buddhist. For a long time I have wanted to make set of flags that represents the people I live with, and I finally got the chance a few weeks ago.

-White or light colored fabric:. I used about 3/4 of a yard of muslin I had leftover from another project to make about 40 4″x4″ flags.
-Sewing machine or needles

-Pentel Fabric Fun Pastel Dye Sticks:
-String: I used 15 feet of parachute chord for about 40 small flags, but you can use whatever material you want.
-Rotary cutter and mat, or scissors
Iron, ironing board, and scrap paper: for setting the dye


Making the flags. Cut the flags to the dimensions you prefer, plus an inch of seam allowance on one side: I made our flags 4 inches by 4 inches, so I cut the fabric into 4 inch by 5 inch rectangles. This size was the smallest size I could make them and still have enough room to decorate with the dye sticks. Fold over the seam allowance and sew to make a tube at the top. This is where you will thread your string.

Decorate the flags.


I laid the flags out during a gathering and asked folks to decorate them with their hopes and dreams for the future.

I was quite happy with the Pentel Pastel Dye Sticks that we used, but there are a ton of other options. You could experiment with one of the zillion fabric paint products out there, sharpies, no wax batik, screen printing, or block printing. I loved seeing my friends’ creations.


The dye sticks need to be ironed to set the dye. It only took about fifteen minutes and a few pieces of scrap paper to get all of them done.

String your flags

I brought along a big tapestry needle to help with the threading process but I didn’t even need it. The parachute cord threaded through the flags easily.


Hang your flags

Take a million photographs because you love them so much.


It was wonderful to throw a simple prompt at my friends and see the beautiful flags they created. I love all of them.


I also had the rare and thrilling experience of spending less time on a project than I thought I would. I was expecting the project to take at least three hours, but cutting out the flags, sewing them, and laying out all of the stuff took about two hours. The finishing process after they were decorated took only a half hour. I can’t even remember the last time this happened!


I totally want to do this again.



Not What I Was Expecting Purse

3 Jun

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned.

Yesterday I pulled out my sewing machine out with a project in mind. Years ago my mom made a purse out of an old pair of pants. I wanted to make my own version and create a tutorial based off of April’s round bottom bag tutorial. I had an old ripped pair of black work pants set aside for the project and some cute fabric scraps tucked away for an appliqued planet earth embellishment.

Picture 2

This is how the finished purse turned out. Aside from still being a purse made from pants it looks absolutely nothing like what I envisioned, but I freaking love it.

Sometimes things just don’t go the way you planned and turn out FANTASTIC!


P.S. Sorry, I didn’t make a tutorial either.

Sassy Scrappy Fabric Flower Tutorial

30 Jul


If you are like me you have at least one magic color. I try to love all colors equally, but there is one shade that I look absolutely stunning in. (Incidentally, my roommate Rebecca looks equally fabulous in this color. We often match.)


Awhile ago I found a dress in the magic color on clearance  at REI. Fortunately Rebecca wasn’t there.  If we had both spotted it at the same time the resulting race for the rack may have resulted in injuries, property damage, and possibly several days of us not speaking to each other.


I loved the color of the dress but after awhile I realized that that I didn’t like the length.  I have great legs and I wanted a dress that shows them off.  Empowered by the fearlessness of the Refashionista, I measured it to a dress I liked the length of, added a little seam allowance, chopped the extra length off, and refinished the hem.

But this isn’t the end of the story.

The day after I performed this minor surgery I found a hat (at Whole Foods of all places) that matched my dress perfectly.  I loved the hat as it was, but I had all these extra fabric scraps and it seemed like a shame to waste them.  So I embarked on a mini millinery mission:

Sassy Scrappy Fabric Flower Tutorial


1. Cut a rectangular strip of fabric about 13 inches long and 3 inches tall.  Cut a smaller scrap about 2 inches square. (Don’t sweat the dimensions too much, they don’t have to be perfect. Just know that the longer the rectangular strip is the fuller the resulting flower will be.)

Fold over and finish one long side and both short sides of the rectangle.  (I saved time by using the original dress hem for one of these sides.)


2. Sew a running stitch along the unfinished edge of the rectangle then pull the thread tight to create a gather. Tie the thread off.


3. Roll up the half circle of fabric, pinching at the gathered edge to create the flower.


4. Sew the flower together by pushing the needle and thread through all the folds at the bottom of the flower. You will want to sew about ten stitches like this through the bottom of the flower to secure it. (Fortunately you don’t have to be super neat about sewing these stitches, they will be covered up at the end.)


5. Fold over the edges of the little square of fabric and stitch. Sew the square over the end of the flower, hiding the raw edges and stitching.


Voilà! Flower!


I sewed three flowers to the hat band to create one sassy summer hat.


P.S. This worked well with the heavy knit fabric the dress was made out of.  If you have thin fabrics or woven fabrics you might want to consider this tutorial.

P.P.S. Just in case you were wondering, I also look fabulous in purple.

Destash Bash

Materials Used

Thread (stash)
Dress (closet)
Hat? (I don’t know whether or not I should count this as a violation of the Destash Bash. I bought it without intending to craft with it, but it was in my house less than a week before it became a craft project. What do you think? Does it count as a “new” craft item?)

Swap Skort

11 Jun

Destash Bash

Picture 1

Summer has come to El Portal. On days like this most of us bust out the shorts and spend the entire day by the river, but not me. I need to spend my day packing and I dislike wearing shorts. Imagine an emu trying to wear a tankini at a cocktail party and you’ll have an idea of how awkward I feel when I put on shorts.

On really hot days I usually wear a skirt, but I still spend a considerable amount of time frolicking around the woods doing active things in the company of people who probably don’t want to see my underwear. This is why hiking skorts are my best friends in the summer. They’re practical, sassy, and they usually come equipped with handy things like pockets and belt loops.


I recently discovered the Refashionista’s blog and wondered if I could make my own hiking skort. My opportunity came when my friend Katie organized a swap party. I found a great pair of columbia shorts and a dress that was really cute except for the botched screen print on the front of it.


I sliced off the skirt of the dress with my rotary cutter, and used a seam ripper to open up the side seams about halfway down the skirt. I refinished those raw edges with a flat seam. This left a slit in the skirt that makes the side pockets on the shorts accessible. Then I carefully sewed first the back and then the front of the skirt to the shorts just below the waste line. I overlapped the front and back sides a little to hide the pocket slits.


I trimmed off the excess seam allowance and folded the skirt over and sewed it down a second time to finish it.


Here’s me wearing the finished skirt at Wapama Falls during our Hetch Hetchy backpacking trip. I may be totally disheveled after three days in the backcountry but dang…..look at that spiffy skirt!


Materials Used

Dress (free box!)
Shorts (free box!)
Thread (stash)

Thanks to Jillian the Refashionista for the inspiration, and to Katie for organizing the swap party (and for making crepes!)


Stash Busting Instrument Case

20 May

Destash Bash

For my first Destash Bash project I wanted to make a case for the guitalele I acquired as a backpacking guitar. Most of the materials, with the exception of the Ridge Rest that I used for padding, came from my stash and were bought when I got the instrument a few months ago.


I started out with the intention of turning this blog post into a tutorial, but I gave up when I realized that my original scheme wasn’t all that well planned. Although it worked out in the end, I had to do a lot of hand sewing, and there is one part that came out a little bit wonky. You may have more luck getting sewing advice from a brain dead parakeet than trying to copy my method. You could try one of these tutorials instead: Instructables, Ehow.

Things I learned from this project:

1. Guitaleles > Backpacking Guitars. The used Guitalele I found was cheaper, lighter, and more compact than any of the backpacking guitars I looked at.

2. Social media can be a useful tool in helping you find reusable materials. Mara (yes, that Mara) came through for me by digging an old beat up foam sleeping mat out of the trunk of her Falcon after I put a request for one on facebook. She warned me that it might not be in great shape, and it did take a bit of scrubbing to get it clean but it was perfect for my project, and I didn’t have to buy a new one.

3. DO NOT attempt to make a case for an instrument because you think it will be more fun than just buying one online. Yes, the finished product will be a million times cooler than anything you can find on Ebay. But making a guitar case is surprisingly difficult.

4. Foam sleeping pads may be a great and versatile material for construction, (and my parents said I would never learn anything useful from playing Dagorhir in college.) However, trying to ease thick foam around a sewing machine foot is just about impossible. Hence all the hand sewing and cussing.


5. I used clearance dress lining fabric for the inside of the case. I thought the light weight, slippery fabric would be the best choice for the lining. In retrospect I think any woven fabric would have been fine. The lining fabric was full of static, unravelled like crazy, and was an all around pain to work with. It also felt so unpleasant on my skin that I shudder just thinking about wearing it as an actual dress lining.

6. Remember to sew the straps on before you assemble the whole thing. This will make your life 800 times easier.

7. The case isn’t waterproof so I have to wrap the guitalele in a large trash bag to make sure that it stays dry in the rain.

8. I still hate zippers. I wound up sewing the whole thing in by hand, but the moment I finally zippped my guitalele into its own custom case was pretty satisfying.

Materials used:

Outdoor upholstery Fabric (stash)
Lining fabric (stash)
Robe Zipper (stash)
Webbing (stash)
Thread (stash)
Duct Tape (stash)
Ridge Rest (reused!)

Despite all the difficulty I had, I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I do have to be careful about how I set my backpack down when I have the Guitalele strapped onto it, but so far it’s worked really well.


The completed case in action on the Panorama Trail.


Crafters Anonymous

18 Jan

My name is Robin and I have an addiction….

While there were many things that contributed to the utter lack of blogging before the holidays, two of my craft projects were major time-sucks. I loved them and I wanted to write about them, but they were gifts for people who read the blog and had to be kept top-secret.

The clandestine projects were two Yosemite inspired wall hangings using the same fusible web applique technique that I used for the Witchy Wall Hanging.   I’m insanely proud of how they turned out.

Photo by Jason Clancy

When I first came here I was completely overwhelmed by all the scenery. Much of it went by so quickly that I couldn’t really take it in. The first sight I really remember is this awe inspiring viewpoint of Yosemite Falls, and when I decided to make a wall hanging for my parents I knew right away that it had to be of this.

In addition to edging the fused pieces with a satin stitch, I machine embroidered extra detail to mimic the vertical cracks that Yosemite rock climbers know so well.  While it added some needed embellishment, it was tedious work, and the thought of messing up terrified me.   I learned the hard way that one disadvantage of using fusible web for applique is that if you have to rip out any stitches on the finished piece the webbing leaves big unsightly holes in the fabric. The quilting I kept to bare minimum, just around the edge of the falls, skyline, and border to add a little bit of contrast.

Photo by Jason Clancy

I went crazy with hand painted fabrics on both of these projects. I found a few printed fabrics with convincing rock and forest textures, (like the brown border fabric that looks exactly like the bark of a Ponderosa Pine,) but the variegated look of the hand painted fabrics was stunning. I particularly like the way the dark brown fabric in the upper left hand corner looks like rockfall scars. (We call that the Forbidden Wall, because rockfall is so frequent that we aren’t supposed to stop there when we hike the trail beneath it.) The striped fabric also mimics very well the streaks of water and lichen that color  the cliff faces.

Photo by Derek Ferguson

I was so happy with the first wall hanging that I decided to make a second one for my friend Meg, who’s exploits include climbing the Snake Dike route on Half Dome during a full moon. This was a going away present for her since she’s headed off to Colorado to “CLIMB ALL THE THINGS!!!

I tried to use the texture of the fabrics to their greatest advantage and only used a tiny bit of thread painting on the left half of the face of Half Dome. I quilted it with a silver lamé thread to give the impression of moonlight.  Apparently “stars” and “silver seed beads” are forever associated in my head because I made the stars with the same beads I used for the night sky pendants.  I am particularly proud of the bias tape border with mitered corners. I’ve been trying to perfect this technique for a long time and I think I finally nailed it.

So yes, I may have a bit of a wall hanging problem. I have plans for three more and I have no desire to quit. Brace yourself.


Countdown to Halloween: Halloween Countdown Calendar

13 Oct

What day is it today?

Mr. Lupescu will tell us!

Good job Mr. Lupescu!

Last year I tackled a pretty monumental sewing project (for me), my Halloween countdown calendar.

Halloween Countdown
Notice the dead plants… I think it adds to the atmosphere.

I saw the hearse pattern forever ago and knew immediately I needed to make something with it (I was thinking a skirt), but when the idea to make a calendar reanimated itself in my brain I knew it was perfect.

I searched EVERYWHERE for a good countdown calendar tutorial. I figured I could even use Advent calendars – the fabric would just be a little different. I ended up basing mine off of this one over at The Art of Darkness.  I liked the idea of sewing all the pockets in a row.  It reduced the amount of error I could make in measuring and I need all the help in the world with that.  I knew I wanted a header and a snazzier day 31, though so I played around a LOT with graph paper.  I hate math and I found myself calculating and recalculating how much room I had to fiddle with.

Eventually, I ended up with this as the header:

Rich Man, Poor Man
“One and all will here and stay,
Come and dance the Macabray.”

No I’m not a terrible speller.  The quote is from “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman. At first I wanted a quote from the catacombs in Paris, but decided this was much more light-hearted and in tune with the fabric.

I chose a font I liked from dafont (Rock Show Whiplash) and printed it onto the fabric.  Some people have asked how I did that, so here’s a quick explanation.

*Cut your fabric to 8 1/2 x 11 (or the size of whatever printer paper you’re using).
*Cut a piece of freezer paper to the same size and iron it to your fabric.
*Use a glue stick to glue the freezer paper to a regular sheet of paper.
*Make sure all the little strings are clipped and neat – don’t want them snagging important printer bits!
*Print your image on it like it was a regular sheet of paper.

And that’s about it.  After it was done, I cut it into the shape of a gravestone, ironed some fusible web to the back and attached it to the main piece.  I went around the outside with an applique stitch, but I constantly changed the length of the stitches to give it a more unfinished look.

The wings on the bottom were made exactly the same way.

Man, the amount of  cat hair already collected on that thing is really scary.

The numbers were made with regular iron-on printer sheets and the same font.  They were actually the most painful part of the whole project!  I cut some of the hearses, coffins and spiderwebs from the excess fabric, attached fusible web and ironed them to the pockets.

All in all, I’m really pleased with the way it turned out.  I meant to make a cool little guy to go in the pockets (a ghost would be perfect for the theme), but for now it’s just Mr. Lupescu.

~ April

Countdown to Halloween: Witchy Wall Hanging

7 Oct


I have always loved the look of applique quilts but I was intimidated by how hard applique was supposed to be.  Then, years ago, my aunt taught me a method for applique that uses fusible web.  Now with the help of a little Heat n’ Bond I feel like the queen of applique.

I designed this pattern for a Halloween wall hanging but the same shapes could easily be cut out of paper for scrapbooking or a kids craft.

PDF Applique Pattern


  • 1/4 yard 45 inch-wide fabric for the border  (I just barely had enough fabric with a quarter of a yard, if you are using a directional pattern, or you just don’t want to sweat too much while cutting out the border pieces I would recommend 1/3 of a yard.)
  • 1/3 yard 45 inch-wide fabric for the background squares.
  • 3/8 yard 45 inch-wide fabric for the backing
  • 3/8 yard batting
  • You will only need a tiny bit of the other fabrics so I recommend raiding your stash (or your friend’s stash) for scraps.  This is also a great project for charm packs or quilters candies.  If not, you can purchase 1/8 of a yard of whatever colors you choose.  Wash and press all  your fabrics before cutting.
  • 1/2 yard lightweight fusible web/ iron-on adhesive
  • Variety of threads, buttons, and accessories for embellishments
  • (optional) 80 inches of piping, or 1/8 yard 45 inch wide fabric and 80 inches of cotton cord to make your own piping.  There is a great piping tutorial here.
  • (optional) 100 inches bias tape for the binding


I’ve included measurements for making both mitered and straight borders.

Mitered border.  There is a great tutorial for sewing a mitered border here.

2  35 inch x 3 inch pieces  (side borders)

2  16 inch x 3 inch pieces  (top borders)

2  9 inch x 2 inch pieces   (spacers)

Straight, aka, butted border.  There is a tutorial for sewing a straight border here.

2  34 inch x 3 inch pieces  (side border)

2  9 inch x 3 inch pieces (top borders)

2  9 inch x 2 inch pieces (spacers)

Also cut:

Background squares:
3  9 inch x 9 inch squares

Backing fabric
1   33 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch square

1   33 1/2 inch x 15 1/2 inch square


1. Fuse the adhesive web onto  your fabric.  Cut out a piece of your adhesive web that is slightly larger than the pattern piece you are using.  Place it adhesive side down onto the wrong side of the fabric.  Put your iron on a low heat, no steam setting and press down on the paper side of the web for a few seconds.  Try not to get the adhesive onto the iron or it will make a sticky mess.  If this does happen you can wipe it off with a cotton rag, just be sure not to burn yourself.


2. Trace and cut out the pattern onto the paper backing of the web.  Cut out the pattern pieces and place them face down onto the paper and trace.  Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut out the piece.  Once you’ve cut out the pattern pieces you can peel off the paper backing.


3. Place your pattern pieces and fuse them onto the background fabric.  Fuse the pieces that are going to be underneath other elements first.  (The legs of the cauldron, the brim of the hat, the stem of the pumpkin.  The pattern pieces are numbered to help you with this.)  To fuse the pieces make sure the paper backing on the web has been peeled off, and place them adhesive side down onto the fabric.  Press with the iron, still on low heat.  Try to avoid dragging the iron across the fabric as this could cause the pieces to shift.


4. Piece together your finished squares using a 3/8 inch seam allowance.

If you choose to add piping around the border there is a fabulous tutorial here.

Tutorial for mitered border

Tutorial for straight border

Tutorial for finishing with bias tape binding

If you would like further clarification on the applique technique there is a great tutorial here.


5. Embellish away!  The details are the fun part of this quilt so go crazy.  I prefer to finish the applique by satin stitching around the raw edges, but you could also do the same thing with puffy paint.  Add flair with buttons, yo-yos, embroidery, quilting, rick-rack, beads, couching….the sky is the limit.

6. Ask your friends what they think of your creation, you know they’ll be impressed!



Greek Revival Shirt

4 Aug


I designed this shirt a few years ago while trying to make a costume with some extra fabric I had laying around, but I really liked it and started wearing it everywhere. Personally, I think there is a Greek goddess-like flair to this shirt; the flash of skin between the sleeve slits looks sexy in an “Aphrodite couldn’t pull off this look” kind of way. It is loose fitting and the slits make it cool and breezy while still keeping your arms partially protected from the Mediterranean sun. The front and back of the shirt are identical, which means if you ever accidentally spill olive oil down the front of it at a party you can turn it around and no one will be the wiser. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)

Tape measure
Masking tape or marking pen
Sewing machine or some other means of stitching
Two yards of fabric (approximately, more on that in a moment)
Iron (optional)

This shirt has the easiest construction you can imagine. It’s just a big T shape and the top sleeve seam isn’t sewn completely to create the slit. I made this shirt using the width of my fabric to make both the sleeves and the body, which means the sleeves only come to three quarter length on me. With a little extra math and a few extra seams you could easily make it with full length sleeves.


There are only three measurements in this shirt that matter, the length of the shirt from shoulder to hem (A), the distance around the chest, (B) and the length from the bottom of the armhole to the hem (C) To figure out these measurements you could use your measuring tape to measure your body, or you could find a shirt in your closet that has a good fit and get your measurements from there.

Before buying your fabric you need to know the length of your shirt from shoulder to hem. (A) To figure out exactly how much fabric you need, take this number and add an inch and a half for seam allowance, and then double that number. (I give myself fairly generous seam allowances.) You may want to purchase an extra eighth or even quarter of a yard of your fabric, this is a sewer’s version of an insurance policy. The fabric I used here was 54 inches wide, keep in mind that if you buy a fabric that is only 40 inches wide the sleeves are not going to be as long.

Wash and dry your fabric the same way you will wash the finished shirt. Most of the fabric we bring home from the craft store has never seen a washing machine. Pre-washing makes sure that any excess dye and starch is removed, and that any major shrinking the fabric may do is out of the way before we’ve put all this work into making a garment. Of course, if you aren’t planning to wash your shirt, ever, feel free to skip this step.


Cut your fabric into two square pieces that are the length of your shirt from shoulder to hem, plus an inch and a half (for seam allowance.) An easy way to do this is to fold your fabric in half with the selvage edges together on both sides and the raw edges together at the bottom. You may need to trim these raw edges to get them straight but don’t fret about it too much, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Cut along the fold to create two pieces. Lay your two pieces out on top of each other neatly. If you are using a fabric with a pattern that runs in one direction you will want to flip one piece of fabric so that the pattern will run in the same direction on the back and the front.


Mark out the shape. Take the measurement around the chest (B) divide it in half and add three inches for seam allowance and extra ease. This will be the measurement across the chest. Take measurement C and add an extra inch and a half for seam allowance. Use your marking pen to mark out your T shape using these dimensions. I used masking tape for this because the sound of a pen scratching across fabric makes me shudder like nails on a chalkboard.

Cut both layers of fabric out along these lines and you are ready to start sewing!

The fabric that I used for this shirt is mostly linen, which means the raw edges unravel faster than a Hollywood marriage. One way I prevented this was by using pinking shears instead of regular scissors to cut out my fabric. Another way to combat unraveling is to sew a zigzag stitch along the raw edges. If you are lucky enough to have a serger or a machine with an overlock stitch those are also good options.


This shirt is kind of odd in that the first seam you sew is a finishing seam. I’ve been using this type of seam for years and I don’t know what it’s proper name is. A google search told me it might be called a rolled hem or a double turnback seam. Either way it’s easy and makes a neat finish on raw edges.

This is where your iron comes into the picture. I was taught that you should always iron and pin folds flat before seaming if you want a nice neat hem. In reality, I seldom do this. (That shuffling sound you just heard was my grandmother rolling over in her grave.) I’ve included directions as if you are going to press your seams but you can take the liberty of skipping this step.

To finish the top of the sleeves fold over the top edge towards the wrong side (inside) of the fabric. You should only have to fold it over a tiny bit. (Less than 1/4 of an inch.) Iron and pin that fold flat all along the top. Then fold over that edge again by about a quarter of an inch to hide the raw edge inside the folds. Topstitch along the fold to create a hem. Do this all across the top of both the front and back pieces.


Fold over once………………………………………………………..Fold over twice

….And Topstitch.

Slap the right sides together and seam the sides and bottom part of the sleeves together on both the left and right side. You can use a regular topstitch here, but I was still worried about the edges fraying so I cheated and used a French seam. Just remember if you are going to use a French seam that you will start with the wrong sides of the fabric together.

Now you are going to seam the top of the sleeves first at the “cuff” end of each sleeves and then at the shoulder. Lay the right sides together and put a seam about two inches long at the top corner of each sleeve right below the finished edge.

It’s almost starting to look like a real shirt but first you need to place the seams for the shoulders. The best way I could figure out to do this was to fold the shirt in half hold, it up to my body and place a pin on each shoulder. The shoulder seam should fall right over your bra strap area. Before you sew your seams, pin it securely and try it on to make any adjustments. (Being careful not to accidentally stab yourself, of course.) It may take a few tries to get it placed right and symmetrical.

(It’s really hard to take a picture of this step.)

Keep your wrong sides together and sew a two inch seam at the shoulders. I recommend back stitching here a few times to make a good strong shoulder seam. If your sleeve gets caught in something this is the seam that is the most likely to rip. (Not that I’ve ever done that either.)

Finally you’re going to finish the raw edges at the “cuff” of the sleeves and the hem of the shirt using the same fold-over-twice-and-topstitch method. The only difference is that there will be a few seams incorporated into these finished edges. Simply press the seams open and fold over as before.


Yay! You’re done! Put your completed shirt on and parade around like Athena springing from the head of Zeus!