Craft Book Excerpts at Canadian Living

In case you don’t already own Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing book or Amy Butler’s In Stitches book, you can visit the Canadian Living site to see a couple of projects excerpted from each book. This way you can try out a project (or two) before committing to buy the book.
The site is also great for browsing other DIY projects, including excerpts from other books.

Picnic Placemat from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing

Tote Bag from Lotta Jansdotter’s Simple Sewing

Kitty Tunnel from Amy Butler’s In Stitches

Floor Cushions from Amy Butler’s In Stitches

How to Make a Headband, Version 2: The Wide Headband

Wide Headband with Covered Elastic - 1
Wide Headband with Covered Elastic - 2

Cotton voile headband measuring 3.5" (89 mm) wide by 15.5" (39 cm) long with covered elastic measuring 0.5" (13 mm) wide by 4" (10 cm) long.

Materials

  • Woven fabric, like lightweight cotton or silk
  • 0.5" (13 mm) wide elastic–you’ll need a length of about 4.5" (11 cm), but you can wait to cut it until the fitting stage
  • Safety pin or loop turner

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Main Piece: Cut 1 rectangle from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. The width range of 4.5" (11 cm) to 12.5" (32 cm) results in finished headband widths ranging from 2" (51 mm) to 6" (15 cm), respectively. Multiply your desired finished headband width by two and add 0.5" (13 mm) to determine the exact fabric width to cut.
  • Connector Piece: Cut 1 rectangle from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1.
  • Note: Any grainline orientation should be fine, but laying the long sides of the rectangles crosswise (i.e., perpendicular to the selvage) will use the least fabric yardage.

    Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing

  1. Fold the short sides of the main piece in half with right sides together and, using a 0.25" (6 mm) seam allowance, sew the long raw edges together to create a tube as shown in Diagram 2. Repeat with the connector piece.
  2. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  3. Turn the main piece right side out and press so that the seam is positioned at center back (CB). Repeat with the connector piece. Use a safety pin or loop turner to turn the pieces right side out if needed.
  4. Insert the elastic inside the connector piece using a safety pin or loop turner.
  5. Sew the elastic and connector piece together at one end with a 0.25" (6 mm) seam allowance as shown in Diagram 3. (On the other end, just leave the end of the elastic sticking out for now; you can pin the end of the connector piece to the elastic to keep it in place if needed).
  6. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3
  7. Mark the short ends of the main piece about 0.375" (10 mm) away from each long (folded) edge as shown in Diagram 4. In between the markings on each end, make pleats as needed so that the width in between the markings matches the width of the connector piece, which in this case is 0.625" (16 mm). If your main piece is on the narrow side, try one knife pleat in the center; if it’s on the wide side, try multiple knife pleats. You can also try an inverted or box pleat as shown in Diagram 4. Pin or baste stitch the pleats to secure them.
  8. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4
  9. Lay the main piece down with the front side facing up (i.e., CB seam facing down). On top of the main piece, lay the connector piece down with the back side facing up (i.e., CB seam facing up), aligning the edge of the connector piece that is sewn to the elastic with one of the ends of the main piece. The connector piece should be laying on top of the pleated portion of the main piece and should fit just within the markings you made on the main piece. Fold the short sides of the main piece 0.375" over the connector piece (the folded sides will overlap), and sew all layers together with a 0.25" (6 mm) seam allowance as shown in Diagram 5.
  10. Diagram 5

    Diagram 5
  11. Turn the headband right side out and test the fit by trying on the headband while stretching the elastic to the unattached end of the main piece. Cut elastic to desired length.
  12. Repeat Step 4 with the other ends of the elastic and connector piece.
  13. Repeat Step 6 with the other ends of the connector piece and main piece.
  14. Turn the headband right side out.

How to Make a Headband, Version 1: The Head Scarf

Head Scarf with Covered Elastic - 1
Head Scarf with Covered Elastic - 2

Silk head scarf measuring 10" (25 cm) wide by 15.5" (39 cm) long with covered elastic measuring 1" (25 mm) wide by 6" (15 cm) long.

Materials

  • Woven fabric, like lightweight cotton, linen, silk chiffon, or silk charmeuse
  • 1" (25 mm) wide elastic–you’ll need a length of about 6" (15 cm), but you can wait to cut it until the fitting stage
  • Safety pin or loop turner

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Main Piece: Cut 1 rectangle from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. You can vary the width quite a bit depending on how much of your head you want covered; I’d say 6" (15 cm) to 13" (33 cm) is the general range for this style.
  • Connector Piece: Cut 1 rectangle from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. The 2.75" (70 mm) dimension is sized for 1" (25 mm) wide elastic. If you choose a different width for your elastic, update this dimension by multiplying the width of your elastic by 2 and adding 0.75" (19 mm).
  • Note: Any grainline orientation should be fine, but laying the long sides of the rectangles crosswise (i.e., perpendicular to the selvage) will use the least fabric yardage.

    Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing

  1. Hem the long raw edges of the main piece by folding each raw edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice, as shown in Diagram 2. Sew along the upper edge of the hem. If you are using a very lightweight material like chiffon and/or using a rolled hem presser foot, you can sew a narrower 0.125" (3 mm) hem.
  2. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  3. Pleat or gather the short, raw edges of the main piece so that they are the same width as the elastic, 1" (25 mm) in this case. See Diagram 3. To gather, sew a gathering stitch (i.e., a long, straight stitch with the tension loosened) within the 0.5" (13 mm) seam allowance, leaving long thread ends; pull the thread ends to gather the edge to the width of the elastic and then tie the threads. To pleat, try using overlapping knife pleats and sew a basting stitch within the 0.5" (13 mm) seam allowance to hold down the pleats.
  4. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3
  5. Fold the short sides of the connector piece in half with right sides together and, using a 0.25" (6 mm) seam allowance, sew the long raw edges together to create a tube as shown in Diagram 4.
  6. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4
  7. Turn the connector piece right side out with a safety pin or loop turner and press so that the seam is positioned at center back (CB).
  8. Fold and press the raw edges of the connector piece 0.25" (6 mm) to the inside of the tube.
  9. Insert the elastic inside the connector piece tube and pin the connector piece onto the elastic so that the elastic sticks out on both ends.
  10. Overlap one end of the elastic 0.5" (13 mm) onto one of the raw ends of the main piece and sew them together as shown in Diagram 5. Test the fit by trying on the headband while stretching the elastic to the unattached end of the main piece. Cut elastic to desired length. Overlap and sew the unattached ends of the elastic and main piece like you did on the other side.
  11. Diagram 5

    Diagram 5
  12. Slide the ends of the connector piece just past the elastic ends, keeping the raw edges of the connector piece folded inside the tube. Topstitch next to the folded edge of one of the connector pieces. Topstitch again about 0.25" (6 mm) further down the connector piece. See Diagram 6. Repeat the topstitching on the other side.
  13. Diagram 6

    Diagram 6

whipup

How to Make a Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband

Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband - Front
Gathered Skirt with Knit Waistband - Back

Knee-length skirt with 4" (10 cm) knit waistband (shown folded over) and gathered cotton voile skirt body. The circumference of the finished skirt body (ungathered) is twice the hip circumference, and the length of the finished skirt body is 18" (46 cm).

Materials

  • Knit fabric with at least 40% stretch for waistband
  • Lightweight woven fabric, like cotton lawn or voile, for skirt body
  • Optional lightweight woven fabric for lining

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Waistband: Cut 1 rectangle from your knit fabric as shown in Diagram 1.
  • Note for the Length (L): The waistband length of 9" (23 cm) used in Diagram 1 creates a finished waistband that is 4" (10 cm) thick. For a different waistband thickness, multiply the desired thickness by 2 and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances. For example, for a 3" (76 mm) thick finished waistband, cut a length of 7" (18 cm), and, for a 5" (13 cm) thick finished waistband, cut a length of 11" (28 cm).

    Note for the Width (W): For the best fit, you can figure out exactly how wide to cut the fabric for your waistband. Wrap a folded piece of your knit fabric crosswise around your waist where you want the waistband to be, stretching it for a snug fit. Mark the width and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances.

  • Skirt Body: Cut 2 rectangles from your woven fabric as shown in Diagram 1. To determine the skirt body length, measure from where you want the bottom edge of the waistband to hit on you hips down to your desired hemline, and add 1" (25 mm) for seam allowances.
    For example, I cut the skirt body 19" (48 cm) long for a knee-length skirt.
  • Skirt Lining (optional): Cut 2 rectangles from your lining fabric as shown in Diagram 1. For a very long skirt, this lining won’t be suitable; you’ll need an A-line version for greater hemline sweep.
  • Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing the Knit Waistband

  1. First we’re going to sew the waistband into a tube that will fit around your waist; it will have only one seam, which will be at the center back (CB). To do this, fold the width of the waistband in half with right sides together and sew the lengthwise raw edges (i.e., the edges that are 9" in length) together, as shown in Diagram 2.
  2. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  3. Now fold the waistband in half lengthwise with the wrong sides together, as shown in Diagram 3, and pin in place.
  4. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3
  5. Divide the waistband into quarters by marking the raw edges at center front (CF) and at each side.

Sewing the Skirt

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  2. Divide the skirt into quarters by marking the top edge of the skirt body at CF and CB. Repeat with the lining.
  3. Sew a gathering stitch (i.e., a long, straight stitch with the tension loosened) with contrasting thread 0.375" (10 mm) from the top edge of the skirt body, starting and stopping with each quarter section of the skirt body and leaving long thread ends. Sew a second row of gathering stitches in the same manner 0.25" (6 mm) from the top edge of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  4. Pull the thread ends on each row of gathering stitches to gather the skirt body to the width of the waistband, distributing the gathering evenly across each quarter section of the skirt body. Repeat with the lining.
  5. Place the skirt body around the lining with wrong sides facing, matching quarter markings. Pin in place.

Attaching the Waistband to the Skirt Body

  1. Pin the top of the skirt body to the (raw-edged) bottom of the folded waistband, with the right side of the skirt body facing the waistband and with quarter markings aligned. With the skirt body on top, sew the skirt to the waistband using a stretch stitch, as shown in Diagram 4 (if you have a lining, the lining will be on top with the skirt body directly underneath it and the waistband on the bottom).
  2. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4
  3. Remove the gathering stitches from the skirt body and the lining.

Finishing Up

    Hem the skirt by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice, as shown in Diagram 5. Sew along the upper edge of the hem. Repeat with the lining, making sure the lining is about 1" (25 mm) shorter than the skirt.

    Diagram 5

    Diagram 5

Free Patterns: Belle Epoque Tank Top Tutorial

Belle Epoque Top-Front
Belle Epoque Top-Back

Cotton jersey knit tank top based on belle epoque’s tutorial. The straps are made from self-fabric, each one cut lengthwise in a 2" (5 cm) wide strip with the raw edges left to curl up.

I found a tie top tank tutorial at belle epoque (via Craft) a couple of weeks ago and tried it out for myself. My version seems to be a much drearier take on it than the summery printed ones I saw in the belle epoque tutorial Flickr group, but I figure it’s a great addition to the basic tank either way. Thanks, belle epoque!

How to Make a Wide Fringed Scarf

Wide Fringed Scarf - 1
Wide Fringed Scarf - 2

Cotton gauze scarf, with a finished length of 72" (1.8 m), including 3" (8 cm) fringed ends, and a finished width of 24" (61 cm). Fringe is shown unfinished at top right and knotted every 0.75" (19 mm) at bottom right.

Lately, I’ve seen many versions of the summer scarf, a wide scarf (call it a wrap if you’d like) with fringed ends. It comes in a lightweight, semi-sheer fabric about 2 yd (1.8 m) long and about 15" (38 cm) to 30" (76 cm) wide. Here’s a sampling:

Anthropologie macaw wrap, 70" by 27" in mint-colored linen.
Anthropologie crepuscular wrap, 67" by 19.5" in white cotton.
Banana Republic cotton woven wrap, 65" by 30" in semi-sheer white or blue.
Urban Outfitters crinkled linen scarf, 70" by 16" in brightly-colored gauze.
Urban Outfitters floral gauze scarf, 69" by 18" in linen-polyester.
Michael Kors linen scarf, 80" by 25" in white or tan demi-sheer linen gauze.

You’ll need about 2 yd (1.8 m) of lightweight woven fabric, like cotton voile, cotton gauze, or linen gauze (although I couldn’t find any linen gauze myself–any tips?–and had to settle for cotton gauze). Cut a rectangle of fabric as shown in Diagram 1.

Diagram 1

Diagram 1

Fringe the two short edges of your fabric rectangle by pulling out the crosswise threads until you have about 3" (8 cm) of fringe (or until you can’t stand it any longer). A seam ripper is helpful to grab individual threads.

Next, hem both long edges of the scarf by folding each edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice and sewing along the inside hem edge. See Diagram 2.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Leave the fringe unfinished or make tassels from it by knotting the fringe in regular intervals, such as every 1" (25 mm).

How to Make a Smocked Tube Top

Smocked Tube Top-Front
Smocked Tube Top-Back

Jersey knit tube top smocked at the bust with multiple rows of elastic thread. The circumference of the top (unshirred) is 8-9" (20-23 cm) larger than the bust measurement. The finished top is 21" (53 cm) long, including 4.5" (11 cm) of smocking at the bust, and hits below the hip.

Materials

  • Jersey knit or lightweight woven fabric
  • Elastic sewing thread

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

    Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. For the length, measure from above your bust down to your desired hemline, and add 1.5" (38 mm) for seam allowances. For example, I used a length of 22.5" (57 cm) for a tunic-length top; a regular shirt length would be about 17" (43 cm).

    Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams.
  2. Overcast or zig zag stitch the raw top edge (optional for jersey knits).
  3. Fold and pin the top edge 0.875" (22 mm) to the wrong side.
  4. Replace the thread on your bobbin with elastic sewing thread (you’ll have to hand-wind it on the bobbin). With the right side of the tube top facing up and starting at one of the side seams, sew 0.25" (6 mm) from the top folded edge around the circumference of the tube top, making sure to sew through both layers of fabric. See Diagram 2. When you start and stop the row of smocking, leave long thread ends and don’t backstitch.
  5. Tip: If you haven’t sewn with elastic thread before, practice sewing with it on some scrap fabric first to see how tightly you should wind the elastic thread on the bobbin. Keep in mind that the smocking will get tighter as additional rows are added.

     

    Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  6. Start smocking the second row 0.5" (13 mm) below the first row of smocking, making sure to sew through both layers of fabric again.
  7. Continue sewing additional rows of smocking every 0.5" (13 mm). Start with about 10 rows, or about 4.5" (11 cm), of smocking and then try on the tube top to see if you want additional rows.
  8. If you need to adjust the fit after you have completed smocking, you can adjust the elastic thread ends for tightness (it can be difficult to do). After you have the fit right, tie the loose thread ends for each row of smocking.
  9. Hem the top (optional for jersey knits) by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 3. Sew along the upper edge of the hem.
  10. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3

Fabric Guide: Japanese Tenugui

Tenugui

Assorted 1 ft (30 cm) by 3 ft (91 cm) tenugui cloths available at Tortoise.

Sunday’s New York Times features girls’ dresses in adorable brightly-colored prints from Japanese brand Noko. The dresses are made from a hand-dyed cotton gauze fabric called tenugui, traditionally used as a hand towel or handkerchief in Japan. [NY Times]

With modern colorful patterns, like these at Tortoise, tenugui work not only for children’s clothes, but for headbands, napkins, placemats and other accessories as well.

How to Make an Empire Waist Tube Top

Empire Waist Tube Top-Front
Empire Waist Tube Top-Back

Double-layered, crinkled cotton gauze tube top with 0.25" (6 mm) elastic above the bust and at the empire waist. The circumference of the finished bodice is 4-5" (10-13 cm) larger than the bust measurement and the circumference of the finished midriff is 6-7" (15-18 cm) larger than the hip measurement. The finished midriff is 13.5" (34 cm) long and hits below the hip.

Materials

  • Lightweight woven fabric, like cotton gauze or voile (You could also try silk or jersey knit)
  • 0.25" (6 mm) elastic for bust and waistband
  • Safety pin to thread elastic

Instructions

Measuring and Cutting

  • Bodice: Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1.
  • Note: If you are lining the top, cut an additional 2 rectangles from the same fabric or from a lining fabric if more appropriate.

  • Midriff: Cut 2 rectangles from your fabric as shown in Diagram 1. To determine midriff length, measure from your empire waistline down to your desired hemline, and add 1.5" (38 mm) for seam allowances.
    For example, I cut the midriff 15" (38 cm) long, which resulted in a finished midriff length of 13.5" (34 cm).

    Note: If you are lining the top, cut an additional 2 rectangles from the same fabric or from a lining fabric if more appropriate.

  • Diagram 1

    Diagram 1

Sewing the Bodice

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the bodice.
  2. Note: If you are lining the top, sew the side seams of the bodice lining also. Place the lining inside the bodice and pin the layers together with wrong sides facing and side seams aligned. For the remaining instructions, treat the lined bodice as a single layer.

  3. Line up the side seams of the bodice so that the bodice is folded at center front (CF) and center back (CB). See Diagram 2. Pin all layers together. Mark the side seam 1" (25 mm) down from the top edge of the bodice. Mark CB 1.5" (38 mm) down from the top edge of the bodice. Using Diagram 2 as a guide, draw a smooth curved line connecting the top edge of the bodice at CF, the mark at the side seam, and the mark at CB. Cut through all layers along the curved line.
  4. Diagram 2

    Diagram 2
  5. Create a tunnel for elastic at the top of the bodice by folding the top (curved) edge 0.375" (10 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 3. Sew along the lower edge of the tunnel, leaving an opening to insert the elastic.
  6. Diagram 3

    Diagram 3

Sewing the Midriff

  1. With right sides together, sew the side seams of the midriff.
  2. Note: If you are lining the top, sew the side seams of the midriff lining also. Place the lining inside the midriff and pin the layers together with wrong sides facing and side seams aligned. Treat the lined midriff as a single layer until you are ready to hem the midriff.

  3. Sew a gathering stitch (i.e., a long, straight stitch with the tension loosened) 0.75" (19 mm) from the top edge of the midriff, starting and stopping at each side seam and leaving long thread ends. Pull the thread ends to gather the midriff to the width of the bodice, distributing the excess width evenly across the front and back of the midriff.

Sewing the Empire Waistband

  1. Pin the top edge of the midriff to the bottom edge of the bodice, with right sides together and side seams aligned. With the midriff on top, sew the top edge of the midriff to the bottom edge of the bodice leaving a 1" (25 mm) seam allowance. Press both seam allowances towards the bodice.
  2. Create a waistband tunnel by sewing the seam allowances to the bodice 0.375" (10 mm) above the waist seamline, as shown in Diagram 4. Leave an opening to insert the waistband elastic.
  3. Diagram 4

    Diagram 4

Finishing Up

  1. Elastic at the Bust: Thread elastic through the tunnel above the bust with a safety pin and adjust to desired tightness. Cut elastic, making sure to include an additional 1" (25 mm) of length for seam allowances. Overlap the elastic edges by 0.5" (13 mm) and sew them together to secure. Slip the elastic back inside the tunnel and sew the tunnel closed.
  2. Elastic at the Empire Waist: Thread elastic through the waistband tunnel with a safety pin and adjust to desired tightness. Cut elastic, making sure to include an additional 1" (25 mm) of length for seam allowances. Overlap the elastic edges by 0.5" (13 mm) and sew them together to secure. Slip the elastic back inside the tunnel and sew the tunnel closed.
  3. Hem the midriff (optional for jersey knits) by folding the hem edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice. See Diagram 5. Sew along the upper edge of the hem.
  4. Note: If you are lining the top, separately hem the midriff lining about 1" (25 mm) shorter than the midriff.

    Diagram 5

    Diagram 5

How to Make a Sarong

Sarong 1
Sarong 2

Printed cotton voile sarong with finished dimensions of 71" (1.8 m) by 39" (1 m).

It’s just one big rectangle, no instructions necessary–but I’ll bore you with some anyway. Sarongs typically measure about 72" (1.8 m) long by 36" (91 cm) wide, although widths range up to 45" (1.1 m) or so. You’ll need some lightweight woven fabric, like cotton voile or silk chiffon. Cut the fabric as shown in Diagram 1.

Diagram 1

Diagram 1

Hem the sarong by folding each raw edge 0.25" (6 mm) to the wrong side twice and sewing along the inside hem edge. See Diagram 2. If you are sewing with silk chiffon and/or using a rolled hem presser foot, you can sew a narrower 0.125" (3 mm) hem.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Now, learn more ways to wear it than you ever needed to know with this video.