Category Archives: Sewing

Christine wearing cooling scarf

How to make a cooling scarf

The heat is dreadful in Georgia this summer. I can’t stand it. And I don’t wish to wear a goofy looking scarf or pay a fortune for a slightly less goofy one. So I made  one myself. As requested, here’s how you can make one too:

Christine wearing cooling scarf

Christine wearing cooling scarf

You need a rectangular piece of fabric. I used one left over from another project. It should be at least 42 by 12 inches. That will make a pocket large enough to accommodate a grocery or drugstore cooling pack. The hard ones stay cold longer. The soft ones, like shown below are slightly more comfortable.

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Rectangular piece of fabric, folded in half lengthwise

Cut the fabric into a long rectangle 42 inches or more long, and 12 inches wide. Fold in half. Cut ends at an angle. I used a 45 degree angle.

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends

Rectangular fabric, ready to cut ends


Sew one side to form a tube, using a half inch seam allowance. Stitch one end closed. Grade the seams or you’ll have a lump instead of  point. Turn your tube right side out and press.

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Closed end of cooling scarf before turning right side out

Hem the other side so that it is open, stitch and press. Grade the ends as necessary. I folded in the hem once, not twice to avoid bulk. If you want to machine wash, fold twice.

Open end of cooling scarf

Open end of cooling scarf

Sew a line of stitching across your scarf to form a pocket. This should be just towards the end that is closed, off center. Stitch across it again so the pocket is strong. I used a water soluble marker to draw a straight line.

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Marking the placement of the sewing line to form a pocket

Hand wash your scarf to remove the marker line. Your scarf is finished.


Zipper Replacement Raincoat

I found a great raincoat on clearance. It was obvious why it was on clearance. The zipper jams. However, some quick math suggested that I should buy it anyway. The math being 5 to 7 yards of windstop fabric, lining, and notions including a zipper would exceed the $60 for the coat. It would be cheaper to replace the zipper than to make a new coat from scratch.

how to replace a zipper

Two weeks later I found the same style coat, same lousy zipper, different color for $40. I bought it too.

That was about five years ago. And I just got around to replacing the zippers.
This was an intimidating project. In brief,

  • Baste layers together
  • Mark zipper placement
  • Remove old zipper
  • Baste new zipper in place, by hand
  • Sew in new zipper
  • Finish ends, by hand
  • Remove basting

It took me about four days with constant interruption to get the first coat done. I used a plastic zipper because the metal ones scratch my hands too much. And if you look very closely at the khaki coat you can see the old holes where I wasn’t able to line up the stitches exactly. Otherwise, I don’t think it’s obvious that the zipper was replaced. On the black coat, I couldn’t get a good picture showing that there are tiny holes running parallel to the new stitching.

stitching on eddie bauer raincoat

I used this tutorial from Simply Homemaking. But I didn’t have success with the zipper foot. The fabric bunched and puckered under it. So I used a walking foot. Using the walking foot, I could not get the stitches as close to the zipper. But I was still able to get the needle close enough to catch the zipper tape.

Since I really like to see a person in a garment on blogs, I had my nine year old take a few pictures. Unfortunately, I looked horrible in them, like someone looking up at a scary giant, me being the giant. I will try again, with a taller photographer. Seriously, bloggers, who is doing your photo shoots?

Return with a Velveteen Doll Dress

After my long, unplanned blogging break I’m back. Around April, I became frustrated with my dysfunctional camera. And I realized that combined with all of the absolutely mandatory things I need to do, blogging became too much. But, I missed it – missed sharing and communicating with fellow sewing bloggers. And, I have a new camera.

I have been sewing in my absence (not as much as I would like). So, to catch up, here’s my latest labor of love, another velveteen doll dress for DD3.

DD3 was obsessed with the purple fabric. And I didn’t have enough of it to make a dress for her. So her doll was the next best thing. (The dress looks very blue in the pictures. But it is a vivid purple.)

I used a zigzag stitch to attach the ribbon belt.

American Girl Doll in Velveteen Dress

The lining is bagged toward the center. A lot of hand sewing went into this doll dress. If you look closely, you’ll see the slip stitch in the middle.

Slip Stitch Dress Lining Velvet Doll Dress

Instead of wrestling with a traditional hem, I bagged the lining to the waist.

The velveteen and lining (from a re-purposed shirt) kept slipping around. So I basted them at the armscyce, sleeve cap and top and bottom waist.

AG Doll Dress with Bagged Lining Hem

The fastening is velcro.

18 Inch Doll Dress with Velcro Fasteners

Sundress Sewing Pattern

Next up is a sundress, Kwik Sew Pattern 3906. It is called Tulle-da-Lu. Is this a pun on the fact that one of the views uses tulle?

I haven’t gotten very far with it. My helper didn’t sleep, and therefore, wants to help. I cut out the two fabrics, but not the lining, and haven’t begun to sew at all. More to come.

Sun Dress Sewing Pattern

American Girl Doll Nightgown

For some reason, my eight year old believes that the piece-de-resistance in an American Girl Doll’s wardrobe, is a pajama.  And her doll Kanani, didn’t have one.  Enter sewing pattern Kwik Sew K3771, and my model doll, Jess.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Front

I made two nightgowns from remnant fabric, which for me is the easiest way to sew for a doll.  I typically have children’s clothing around that can be recycled.  But that requires me to carefully cut apart the original clothing and examine the fabric condition and the grain.  So, sometimes the dolls get a print that is entirely their own.  But times two, to reduce the incidence of screaming, no, it’s mine.

First Step, layer the fabric in four so that I can cut out both nightgowns at once.

Four layers of knit fabric

Stitch the nightgown together at the shoulders. Press the seams open, and trim.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Pressed Seam

Press the shoulder edges in. And begin the lengthy process of pressing, adding stitch witchery (or steam a seam, or fusible web, or whatever heat activated adhesive is available), to each and every edge.

Placing pins in the turned edge will help to keep your fingers away from the hot iron.  Once you have pressed between the pins, the fabric will be somewhat flat.  And you can remove the pins and press again.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Press Seam

American Girl Doll Nightgown Stitch Witchery

Add the stitch witchery, and press again.

American Girl Doll Nightgown Fusible Interfacing

And finally, sew the turned, pressed, fused edge. Repeat all the way around the nightgown.

Then, add velcro. And you are done, finally, with what appeared to be a quick project, with only three pieces.

American Girl Doll Nightgown K3771 Back

Kanani and Jess are ready for a sleepover.

Bitty Baby Dress

My thrifty endeavor for the day is a dress for Bitty Baby, sewn from an outgrown girls dress.  Unlike the 18 inch American Girl Doll, the more petite, 16 inch doll doesn’t have many sewing patterns. I have used 18 doll patterns in the past.  And the main difference is that the Bitty Baby is a little larger around the torso.  And her limbs are shorter.

This time, I used Kwik Sew Pattern, K3834 as a guide.  The skirt pattern piece I used only for the length, since the gathers are already part of the original dress. I thought that the stripe at the waist would be really cute.  But I’m not crazy about it, now that I’m finished.

Bitty Baby Knit Dress

It seemed wrong, but the best way to cut the front of the Bitty Baby dress, was to lay it out on top of what had been the back of the girls dress.  On this side, the waist stripe was the only detail.

Bitty Baby Dress Pattern Front

There is a small bodice detail that I cut through.  It shows on the back side of the new dress.  But I’m okay with it.

Bitty Baby Dress Pattern Back

I sewed the front to back pieces together at the sides.  I find it easier to maneuver the sewing machine around the pieces that way.

Kwik Sew Pattern Side Seams Sewn

For the lining, I cut the front lining from the remaining skirt.  And the back pieces came from the sleeves of the original dress.

Kwik Sew Pattern K3834 Lining

I sewed the dress together at the skirt in the back, and didn’t bother with velcro, since the dress is put on and taken off several times a day by an exuberant two year old.  I may hem it at some point. But the fabric is thin from incessant washing.  And I kept getting distracted.  So I was done messing around with it for the day.

You can see the faux wrap detail that was on the original dress.

Bitty Baby in K3834 Back

Sew in Bra – Seeking Ideas

Well, the Kwik Sew patterns have finally arrived.  And I would like to begin sewing for Spring and Summer. My sewing mission is to make sleeveless tops that fit well, and do not show my bra.

Because it gets so humid here in Georgia in the summertime, I ordered one pattern that includes a shelf bra.  However, I rarely purchase ready to wear tank tops with a shelf bra, even though I like idea of having one less layer of clothing.  Typically, the shelf bra doesn’t fit properly, is not particularly flattering, and tends to dig under the bust – probably because it doesn’t fit properly! I don’t want to continue that trend with a top I make myself.

sew in bra sewing ideas

I would like to add sew in bra cups.  (That should be more supportive and flattering.)  I’m thinking… that I can lengthen the shelf section and then add the cups and proceed with the rest of the tank top sewing.

While I was looking for simple, sew-in instructions, writer Emma Barnett has given me more to think about.  Or obsess about, as I will now be concerning myself about the DD boob myth.  Ha!

Advice is welcome. How do I do this?