Monday, January 31, 2011

January's Accomplishments

When I wrote about my goals for the year. I decided that I'd set myself monthly goals for accomplishing things in the sewing room. Well, January is already over and here is what I accomplished!

A window valance for my nephew Collin's room.

A matching Dora ruffled apron and tote bag for a custom order.

A crocheted amigurumi elephant who is for sale HERE.

A wholesale order of 14 upcycled jean diaper covers.

The patches on Ian's scouts uniform.

My new kitchen curtains.

And an army apron for Ian.

A very productive month, if I do say so myself!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pattern Drafting 101: Drafting a Basic Bib Apron

The best way to have an apron or article of clothing that best fits you and your body type is to create the pattern yourself.

In this tutorial I will walk you through drafting the pattern for a basic bib apron. My guinea pig is my 8 year old son, Ian. Click to enlarge the pictures!

Begin by gathering your tools. Get your measuring tape, a scrap of paper to jot down measurements, and your pencil. If you are creating this apron for yourself you will probably not need any help measuring.

You'll need 4 main measurements for a basic bib apron:
A- top edge of the bib apron- measure across your collar bone for a width that is comfortable on you.
B- waistline- measure from hip bone to hip bone (or a little past, if you like, so it wraps around more).
C- measure the distance between A and B.
D- how long do you want your apron? Measure from your collar bone (A) to your knees (or just above or just below).

Transfer these measurements to your paper:

Draw measurement A at the top edge of your paper, leaving a couple inches above. Find the center point on measurement A and mark it. Draw a long straight line all the way down- this is the center line of your apron.

On your center line, mark measurements C and D, draw a horizontal line at each of these marks.

Divide your B (waistline) measurement in half to find the center point. Mark this measurement on both of the long horizontal lines you previously made.

Draw a vertical line connecting your waistline and the bottom edge. You can leave the apron like this but I like to add a bit of flair at the bottom edge. For a little flair, add an inch to the bottom line. For a lot of flair, add 2 inches to the bottom line. I went with 1.5 inches. Redraw the edge of the apron from the waistline to the bottom edge for the new angle/flair edge.

For the top of the apron, draw a line from the edge of the measurement A to B. Using a French curve or a bowl/plate curve the line in a little.

Add your seam allowance. I've added 1/4 an inch.

Fold your pattern in half down the center line and cut out your pattern on the seam allowance line.

If you've notice, I have only drafted one half of the apron. This is because when you fold your apron pattern in half to cut it you will get a symmetrical apron.

Unfold and admire your work!

On your pattern, write what it is and your cutting information. Also write what you have allowed for seam allowance.

For the ties, I know I want them to be 1 inch wide and I double it for the back. For the length I take my measuring tape (or a piece of string) and measure how long I want the neck ties. Do the same for the waist ties. If you want them to wrap around to tie in front make them longer. Once you have this figured out draft what you want and add 1/4 inch for seam allowance all around.

I don't generally draft a pattern for the ties because I use my rotary cutter and straight ruler to cut them. If you prefer to do this then all you need to know is the correct measurements. Write this on the body of your apron pattern.

On your pattern mark where your ties will go, leave a 1/4 inch seam allowance from the edge.

And this concludes how to draft a basic bib apron! In my next post I will walk you through sewing everything together. Stay tuned!


Monday, January 24, 2011

A Day at Harper's Academy

Simple Homeschool has been hosting "A Day in the Life of" posts for different homeschooling families. We really haven't been homeschooling that long but we still can participate in the posts. Plus, I thought it would be interesting to come back to this post in a year or so and see how much we've changed and grown.

As of right now, we've been homeschooling for a little over 3 weeks. We started the first week of January 2011. Ian is 8 years old and Jameson is 15 months.

The routine we follow is more of a guideline and is open to change most days.

5:30 am- my alarm goes off. I hit the snooze button a few times and am up by 5:45 and get myself ready to exercise for about a half an hour.

6:30 am- I sit down and relax for a while, check my email, and work on the computer

7:00 am- I get myself ready for the day, have a cup of coffee and if the boys are still asleep then I'll get a little bit more work done on the computer

My husband is usually up and about by now and will leave for work anywhere from 6:30 to 8:00 am, depending on what's going on that day at work.

8:00 am- time for the boys to get up, dressed, we all have breakfast, and do a few household chores. On good days, we get done early and start school early. On bad days, well, we eventually start school.

9:00 am- school time! We use Sue Patrick Work Box System to organize our school day and school work so I don't have set times for when a subject needs completed and we have to move on to the next. Generally, though, we do language arts first thing so Ian can work using a fresh mind because it's his toughest subject. I put most of his harder subjects or the ones that require more focus in the first couple of boxes to be completed in the morning because that's our best time of day. During school time Jameson is usually playing near us or sitting on someone's lap.

11:00 am- we break for lunch and more household chores. Jameson usually goes down for his nap between 11:30 & 11:45 am. Ian goes outside for awhile. It's winter right now and one of his main chores is bringing in wood, after he's done he'll play outside for a while.

1:00 pm- we finish up school. Ian has several independent boxes to work on at this time so I'm usually back online to check emails, on facebook, sewing, or otherwise working on something around the house.

2:00 pm- school is usually done by now and Jameson is waking up. We break for a little snack and some cartoons.

Afternoon and Early Evenings are pretty unstructured. We do whatever we want and the time always just seems to slip by!

5:00 pm- I usually start dinner.

My husband will usually come home from work anywhere from 4- 6 pm, depending on what's going on at work.

6:00 pm- dinner time.

7:00 pm- boys take a bath or one will bathe and the other will shower. After that they get in their PJ's and run around the house for a bit or watch TV with me or dad.

8:00 pm- Boys to bed!

8:30 pm- I look over any worksheets Ian did that day and fill the boxes for tomorrow. I have a schedule I follow so filling them takes me very little time and school work is organized and ready to go for the next day!

9:00 pm- I'll get myself ready for bed. If I have a pending order I'll sew for awhile if not I'll just sit in bed and read, crochet, or watch TV!

And that is how a day at Harper's Academy usually goes! I hope you enjoyed this peak into our lives.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pattern Drafting 101: Measuring

Measuring correctly is important to ensure a good fit to your pattern. If you need help, ask a friend or your significant other to measure you.

When measuring be sure to wear your foundation pieces (bra or body suit) and wear close fitting clothes. You'll be taking body measurements so measuring should be a little snug but not tight. Ease will be added later when actually drafting your pattern.

For this post, I'm giving you the general measuring how-to but in future posts I'll tell you exactly what to measure for.

Click each photo to open it for a larger view. You can also copy and save them to your computer and print them out if you want.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pattern Drafting 101: Quick Links

Here you will find all the links to the Pattern Drafting 101 Series. You will also see what future posts I have planned!

Basic Information

Apron Series

Skirt Series

Shirt Series

Pants Series

~*~ ~*~ ~*~
I hope you are enjoying this series!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pattern Drafting 101: Terminology

Here is a list of terms you will come across frequently in drafting and sewing patterns. Knowing what these are means we are 1 step closer to beginning a project!


  • CF- Center Front.
  • CB- Center Back.
  • SS- Side Seam.
  • SA- Seam Allowance.
Armscye: curve of the armhole.

Bias: 45 degrees of the grain, allows fabric to stretch, mostly used for biased binding but can also be used to drape fabric a certain way creating a desired effect.

Dart: used to shape or contour the fabric to the body.

Dart Point: this is pretty much as it sounds; the tip and pointed end of a dart.

Drape: a fine art and a unique way of pattern making. It involves placing the material against the figure you will be working with and draping until you get the desired effect. Once you have a shape you are happy with, you mark and pin the areas where you want the darts to be and then start creating the shape from this.

Ease: an extra measurement that is added for comfort or a looser fit.

French Curve: a useful tool when making your own patterns. It is a way of drawing exact curves, particularly useful when you are making sleeves. They come in all shapes and are a useful addition to the serious dressmaker’s toolbox.

Grading: grading is how a pattern is made bigger or smaller, depending upon the measurements that you have. If you purchase a store bought pattern, you will see several different sizes, this is grading at it's finest.

Grain: the weave of the fabric.

Grain line: a line (usually a long, 2-headed arrow) on a pattern that indicates the pattern should be placed along the grain of the fabric keeping your completed garment from pulling or stretching in the wrong places.

Notch: a wedge cut from the seam allowance which indicates key matching points on seams.

Slash: a cut or a slit made in the pattern to facilitate the construction of a pattern, to lengthen or shorten.

Sleeve Cap: the curved top section of the sleeve.

Sleeve Ease: similar to a notch, the sleeve ease is the extra bit of fabric that ensures that the wearer has movement in the sleeve area.

You can read all the topics on this subject by clicking on the 'Pattern Drafting 101' tab in the sidebar.


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pattern Drafting 101: Tools of the Trade

Pattern drafting can be done with the simplest tools but a few certain tools make drafting easier and much more effective. Below is a list of tools I recommend.

Paper: wrapping paper that has a grid backing and is at least 24 inches wide is the easiest to obtain & the best for drafting on. You can also use freezer paper, or brown wrapping paper.

Scissors: multi purpose and fabric (to be used strictly on fabric- using fabric scissors on anything other then fabric dulls them).

Rulers: 12 or 18 inch and a 1 yard ruler are the most recommended but as you can see I have quite the collection of quilting rules that work just as well too, I personally use the 6 inch by 24 inch ruler the most.

Pencil, Eraser, Tape, and Stapler.

Dressmakers curve, French curve- but a cup, bowl and plate will do the trick- I purchased this set of French curves from the painting/drafting section of Hobby Lobby.

Tape Measure to measure yourself with.

Awl or something sharp/pointy to punch holes for dart/pocket placements.

Gingham fabric- this fabric is the best for practicing on as it's checked pattern is the same on both sides and makes it easiest to match darts and seams.

Table or large flat surface to work on.

*This is not complete and exhaustive list but it will get the job done!


You can read all the topics on this subject by clicking on the 'Pattern Drafting 101' tab in the sidebar.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Tutorial: Book Binding: Putting It All Together

Awhile ago I learned book binding as a hobby, a way to express myself, and as an alternative to expensive store bought journals. I would like to share with you the knowledge that I've gleaned so that you too can create great looking journals. This is the third post in this series. You can find the first one HERE and the second one HERE. Enjoy!

Skill Level: Intermediate


  • Your previously made journal pages
  • Your previously made journal cover
  • Card Stock
  • Mod Podge- I'm using Matte finish
  • Paint Brush
  • Brayer
  • Something Heavy
  • Wax Paper

  1. Cut your card stock to the correct size. For my journal I needed 8.5 inches X 11 inches. Fold in half and crease. The card stock is also called the endpaper.
  2. Apply Mod Podge to the journal cover and stick the endpaper on, crease towards the spine. Using the brayer, roll out any air bubbles. Put a piece of wax paper in the middle of the endpaper to keep the pages from sticking together.
  3. With wax paper between the first and second pages of the journal pages, apply Mod Podge to the top page. Stick the endpaper to the Mod Podge, crease towards the spine and roll out any air bubbles with the card stock.
  4. Repeat with the back cover.
  5. Admire your new journal!
  6. With wax paper between your pages and covers, place your journal under a heavy weight and let dry for at least 24 hours.
  7. When dry admire your freshly made hand bound book!

And this concludes the third post in my book binding series. You can find the first post HERE and the second post HERE. I hope you enjoyed this mini-series on book binding!

I'd love to hear from you! Leave me a comment!


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