Back to the Sewing Machine

I’ve been working on many, many long-term projects: blankets, a shawl, a cross-stitch portrait, and a cross-stitch stitch along. I needed to do something that I could start and finish in one afternoon.

Two white and gray shirts with long sleeves that have large stripes at the wrists laying on a wooden floor, on on top of the other. The bottom shirt is gray with white sleeves with gray stripes. The top shirt is white at the top half and gray at the bottom half with gray sleeves with white stripes.

When I found out Itch to Stitch had a couple free patterns, I decided to make the Uvita Top. Then, when I got to planning it out on the fabric, I decided to make two because I had enough of both fabrics.

White and gray shirt on a tan cushion.

I knew that I wanted to make stripes on the sleeves, so I pulled two colors of knit fabric out of the drawer. When I realized I had enough of the white, I chose to make one set of sleeves white with gray stripes and one gray with white stripes. I didn’t quite have enough white to do a completely white shirt. So I chose to do an all-around yoke of white on the shirt with gray sleeves.

Gray shirt on tan cushion.

To make the sleeves, I started with squares of each fabric and cut strips starting from the bottom, alternating 3 inches wide and 2 inches wide for two stripes. Then I sewed the stripes and top of the fabric together, first with a single needle zigzag and then sewing the seam down with a double needle into the white sections. Once I had the fabric prepped, I folded it in half and cut out the sleeve pieces.

Detail shot of shirt sleeves at the stripes.

I cut out the shirt body pieces of the shirt from the gray fabric, then cut the paper pattern to make a yoke piece and body piece, laid the yoke on the white fabric and added half an inch of seam allowance to the bottom, and did the reverse to the body piece on the gray fabric (meaning I added the seam allowance to the top).

Detail shot of white and gray shirt where gray and white meet with a double line of stitching in the white portion.

I sewed all the seams with a single needle zigzag stitch and then sewed all the hems with the double needle.

Detail shot of the double line of stitching at the hem of both shirts, stacked on top of each other.

All in all, this pattern was super easy to follow, and super easy to modify with the styling. The end result is super comfortable, and it only took an afternoon to finish.


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A Hard Cover Book

A few weeks ago I realized the 7 year old hadn’t done an art project at home in quite some time and he seemed to need something. So I turned to our copy of Play, Make, Create by Meri Cherry to get an idea of an invitation to set up for the afternoon.

Stack of papers on a table with tiny holes punched down the center. Blue and white string is threaded through one hole and piled in the center with large needles attached on each end of the three.

After flipping through a few pages, I found the perfect solution: an Art Book! I sliced a few pages out of an old spiral bound drawing book I had, folded them in half, and punched holes down the center with an awl (just eyeballing that they were roughly evenly spaced). To make it easier for little hands to do the sewing, I started by passing both ends of the string through the first hole and then threading each end onto its own needle.

Child's hands holding large metal sewing needle in the middle of threading blue and white string through tiny holes punched in the center of a stack of papers.

From there, he took over the sewing. I had to help occasionally when he got confused or mixed up with which direction he was going or the string got tangled (or jumped out of the needle toward the end).

Stack of papers with blue and white string sewn in 7 stitches with spaces between down the center of the papers.

I had him go one side at a time to make it easier to see where he was going with which string. While he was working on that portion, I set about making a hard cover for it, because he had asked once before when we were making a regular art book (just paper with staples down the spine) how we could make a hard cover book.

Two pieces of cardboard held together with a piece of duct tape and folded in half making a book cover for a stack of papers.

I salvaged a sturdy box from the recycling bin and cut two pieces that were about a quarter inch bigger than the folded papers and connected them with some duct tape, leaving space between each piece to act as a hinge.

Stack of papers with a line of stitches made in blue and white string down the center to hold the papers together. The string is tied in a knot at the bottom with two long tails hanging over the left half of the papers.

Once he sewed up both sides, I had him choose a fabric to cover the hard cover. He picked a plain green. I laid the cover flat on the fabric, cut a piece with two inches all the way around, and Mod Podged it to the outer surface of the cover. After letting it dry a while, I trimmed the corners diagonally to about an inch from the corner of the cardboard. Then I folded the edges and Mod Podged them down as well.

Closed book covered in green fabrics. The top cover is raised at a slight angle and the bottom corners of some pages are visible.

Once that had dried, it took me a little while to figure out how to glue the inside in. Finally, I realized it would work the best if I were to use two different pieces of paper, folded in half, and glued to the front and back covers and the glued to the paper part of the book.

Open green fabric covered book with open cover standing up and front inside page visible sitting n a coffee table.

We ended up finishing it just in time because, although we had originally started out just wanting to make a hardcover book, it ended up being perfect for him to make a book of animal drawings for his dad’s birthday.