Tag Archives: Sewing

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?


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.

Sweater to Skirts Refashion

Yet another sweater of mine that ended up in the dryer, and needed a refashion.  I love the aqua color, so I couldn’t let it go to the donation pile.

Refashion one, body of the sweater becomes a skirt.

Sweater Refashion Sewing Ideas-001

Even though Jen, at Diary of a MadMama warned me off about pinning on the right side of the skirt… I forgot and had to move the pins anyway.

Sweater becomes a skirt

My smaller helper insisted on being in the picture, and wearing the collar of the sweater, which has not yet been assigned to a refashion.

Refashion two, sleeves become skirts for an American Girl doll.  (Only one shown.)

American Girl Doll with Sweater Sleeves

The shirt Jess (American Girl Doll) is wearing, is from a Scientific Seamstress pattern.

American Girl Doll in Sweater Skirt

My helper wanted to pose with the doll. This one is actually my doll. I bought it for me, even though I am all grown up, because I have never before seen a doll who resembles me in the slightest. So I just had to have it!

child with American Girl Doll wearing sweater skirt

Reusable Grocery Bag

Simplicity Pattern 2806, view B, is my very favorite reusable grocery bag pattern. I have made it with a self lining, with leftover decorator fabric, and with tapestry. I have given them away as gifts.  I use them for storage.  And now it’s time for a new print.

Reusable Grocery Bag Completed

This is a Michael Miller print, which I incorrectly thought had seals swimming right side up and up side down.  So… on one side, they’re upside down because I failed to use a with nap layout.  But that hasn’t stopped me from liking the end result.  And I don’t think that the children have noticed.

Reusable Grocery Bag Sewing Pattern

The pattern is written to use one yard of fabric.  But I often use one half yard of print fabric, and one half yard of plain light colored fabric as a lining. That way I get two print bags, and can easily see things that are inside the bags.

Reusable Grocery Bag Pressing

Unlike the t-shirt bag, this grocery bag really does look nicer if you press it.  I also top stitch along the opening, to keep the fabric from twisting.

I interlined the bag (sewed the lining and outer layer together), because it’s faster.  And I don’t intend to carry the bag with the plain side out. So I don’t care if the serged edges show inside the bag.  I’ll only see them when I turn the bag inside out into the washing machine.

Reusable Grocery Bag Serged Lining

As with the t-shirt bag, turn the bottom seam to the side seam to make a point.  Then sew across to form a gusset.

Reusable Grocery Bag Gusset

I have tried several methods for attaching the two straps together.  On this version of the bag, view B, the pattern instructions specify to press in the edges, then hand sew.  But I haven’t found that to be a very strong way to fasten the pieces together. So, after trial and error, I like this way best:  Serge the edges.  (Yes, they are going to show.) Overlap the two handle pieces.  Sew across three times.  Then sew near to the top stitching on each side.  Repeat. This will not come apart while you cross the grocery store parking lot with a bag full of heavy items.

Reusable Grocery Bag Handles

Voila, a cute, eco-friendly grocery bag.

Reusable Grocery Bag Michael Miller Seals

I think I’m finished with bags for the moment.  I need to make one more fleece jacket.  Then it’s time to begin sewing for Spring.

That’s the plan anyway.

Upcycle T-Shirt to Grocery Bag

I was inspired by an Instructable to recycle a previous season t-shirt. I think it ‘s a cute t-shirt.  But my child has two of them and only wears the pink one. Still, I was surprised when I asked if she minded if I turned it into something else, and she said, sure go ahead.

upcycle tshirt to grocery bag front side

Here’s my version, for a child size tote, using a child size t-shirt.

Materials Needed:

  • Child Size T-Shirt
  • Sharp Scissors
  • Water Soluble Pen
  • Curved object (for example a dressmakers curve, drafting curve, or plate)
  • Sewing machine or serger, threaded

Makeover Instructions:

Get a clean child size t-shirt and lay it flat.

upcycle tshirt to grocery bag

Fold the t-shirt in half and draw lines (around your logo if you wish) in a bag shape.

drawing curves with a drafting tool and water soluble marker

Cut along the lines you just drew.

Turn the t-shirt inside out. Sew the bottom closed.

Fold the side seam and the bottom seam together to make a point. (If you don’t have a side seam, use the armscye to line up the point). Sew or serge a line perpendicular to the existing bottom seam, to form a gusset.  Bottom seam folded to point

Repeat on the other side.  The bottom of your bag will now be a rectangle shape.


Turn right side out.

upcycle tshirt to grocery bag Finished

Voila, you have a washable, reusable grocery bag!

And a shameless plug for your local organization.  If you don’t want to keep the writing, cut the bag shape without regard to the logo, and sew with right sides together.

You do not need to finish the edges, because knit fabric does not ravel.

Fleece Jacket Pattern

I have a new fleece jacket.  It’s Kwik Sew Pattern 3721, in the car coat length.

Fleece Jacket Pattern

Once again, the photo is overexposed so that you can see the detail.  I suppose that I should make things in lighter colors so that they can appear clearly on this blog.  But… I need to wear them.  And black is a good coat color.

I made the coat from winter fleece that I got from Fabric.com.  It was very different to sew than the sweater fabric.  I used clear elastic at the shoulder seams again.  Only this time it slipped out of my hand.  And I sewed it off a few times.  Now that I am wearing the coat, I can feel the elastic.  So, I may not need the clear elastic when sewing with fleece.

horizontal seam reinforced with clear elastic

The pattern layout looked just as odd as with the sweater fabric.  But I had seen it once, so it was familiar.  And I was able to cheat a bit, since fleece is without nap, and cut both arm/front pieces at once.

I used yellow tailor’s tacks and safety pins to mark the pattern pieces. I had originally made snips in the seams where appropriate.  But I wasn’t able to see them. So I added the tailors tacks afterward.

The pockets do add bulk to the side seams.  But I liked having them a lot yesterday when the wind was blowing.  And I didn’t want to mess around with gloves.  I may use a complimentary fabric for the pockets in the future.

This pattern is versatile.  By making a longer variation in a different fabric, the coat feels very different.