Tag Archives: Sewing


I received my swap package from my partner for the 1950s Inspired Swap I participated in on craftster.org! This was actually my first craft swap (an irresistible theme) and a great experience. I think it really helps to get some creative ideas going and to try a few different things too.

Fair warning, lots of photos to follow.

First up some beautiful cloth napkins, adorable crocheted flower (I’m so rocking
this hair accessory) and the most amazing tie purse in a tiki-esque
print. I love it! (This picture does not do it justice either.)

Vintage style romper, how cute is this?! Just in time for our seemingly never ending 100+ degree heat wave.

Vintage style romper

Embellishment detail

Embellishment detail

And an altered polka dot (my fav!) tee with bow sleeves.

Altered polka dot tee

And now the parade of items I made for the Swap.

Needle book from some thrifted vintage fabric I had. I’m getting more and more confident in my beginner sewing abilities. Now I need to make one of these for myself, handy!

Needle Book

Another pillbox version of my Dose design, this time in teal (my swap partner’s favorite color). It’s easy to play with the demisions of this pattern. This one is probably in between the original and the shorter, wider version I made before. It has loops sewn inside for bobby pins and little teal polka dot bows for trim.

Teal pill box hat with polka dot bows

Dose pillbox pattern in teal

A pair of lace and “pearl” earrings. The lace is needle tatted from fine crochet cotton.
I acutally just free formed this simple design.

"Pearl" and tatted lace earrings

Retro makeup bag in Classic Elite’s Sundance with a vintage glass button closure. This was a nice interesting knit that went relatively fast. It was great for traveling.

Retro makeup bag

Another piece I may have to recreate for myself, it was hard to part with, haa. This little fascinator/cocktail hat was actually salvaged from a failed felting project that I had saved for that purpose. Cut the base out from it, attached the furry leopard print ribbon and made a little bow from ribbon and netting.

Little cocktail hat

Cocktail leopard print hat

Aaaand the whole kit n’ caboodle with some small gifties for her little boy and a teal flower broach.

1950s Inspired Swap package

Voodoo Halloween

I love Halloween.

Voodoo Doll Me

This year, as you can hopefully tell, I went as a Voodoo Doll. I love my costume! It was so much fun to make.

Baron Samedi (Witch Doctor/Voodoo Priest) & Voodoo Doll

Even better, Mr. Pieknits was a Witch Doctor/Voodoo Priest (Baron Samedi inspired) to go with! (Although I’m missing my wrist grass “bracelets” in this photo.)
I made everything for both of these costumes, and was stoked that the grand total for both was under $15!

Stabbed in the heart

Witch Doctor Mr. PieKnits

For Witch Doctor costume we already had the suit, the top hat from last year, and even the skeleton t-shirt. Also had the basic cane that had a rounded knob top and the thrifted plastic skull. So to make the staff I cut a hole in the base of the skull and mounted it onto the top of the cane. Then I bought a roll of medical gauze from the dollar store, tea-stained it to off white and tore it up. Next I wrapped this along with string with feathers tied in it around the cane.

The skeleton gloves I also scored at a dollar store for $1. To decorate the hat wrapped it in some red ribbon and added lots of feathers. Also wove several strands of left-over rafia from my costumes to make another band (hard to see in the photos). Added a skull necklace got on clearance after Halloween last year and one from the dollar store. He also got to use his colored contacts he had gotten. I don’t really count these into the costume price as they weren’t specifically for it, just something we’d been wanting and can re-use. Got them on sale though and they really added a fantastic element!

Costume Pieces (minus the bag)

My costume pieces (minus my little draw-string bag made last minute). I’m pretty proud of this one, my sewing skills being what they are. I kept it simple and just winged this without any pattern. Took my measurements added about 3″ of ease with basic waist shaping for the top. The burlap I got 50% off for $1.50/yard. While this was a bargain, it’s not exactly the most luxurious stuff to wear next to skin. So I lined the top with muslin I had on hand. The skirt is a simple half circle skirt. The only closures as simple drawstrings with cotton yarn. I then embroidered the X stitches with some black yarn and drew on the Voodoo VeVe symbols in marker.

I used left over yarn for some more dreads (similar to here, tied on to hair elastic, just smaller strands). A grass skirt and wristlets I made from a big bag of craft rafia I got on sale. The skirt has knotted bunches of rafia tied to a waist band. For the wrists I glued down pieces to a braided strand then stitched over them to hold in place. The cowrie shell belt I had gotten at a thrift store for $1 to use for bellydance but ended up working perfect for this too. I also made a little draw string pouch to hang off my belt from the scraps.

Styrofoam backing insert

The red felt heart I fabric glued into place then embroidered the decorative stitching. For pins I used some old knitting needles I had on hand of course! This is my set up. I cut down a piece of salvaged styrofoam that I could slide into place between the burlap and lining. The knitting needles then stabbed through the fabric and into the foam to hold in place. That way I could take them when changing out of the costume. If I were to wear this again I’d probably glue a leather backing on to it however. Whenever I accidentally ran the needles into anything it gave a pretty good stab, ow.

Creamcheese "mint" skulls

And I always have to make some kind of little treat. These are “Cream Cheese Mint” Sugar Skulls like you find at weddings. Only instead of adding mint flavoring I added Almond Extract. I used a silicone skull ice cube tray from the dollar store as molds. I had originally hoped to put these on top of cupcakes but didn’t get that far. They were yummy by themselves however!

Costuming DIY

My bellydance class got together to make these head scarfs as part of our costumes for our upcoming performance. I will tell you, making lots of pom-poms is really something best done in a group- much less tedious.

colorful, no?

It is rather incongruous with my street clothes, but you get the idea. We used  Full o’ Sheep by Stitch Nation yarn. I really love the great vibrant colors in this line. Nice to be able to grab a 100% wool yarn like this at a big box store too (I live in a No Yarn Store Zone unfortunately).

We just hand stitched a simple tube for the scarf from fabric scraps. I’ve inserted a clear headband in mine for extra stability. Excited for our performance next week when we’ll be wearing these!

ETA: Wow just realized I totally missed my 5 year blog anniversary! Probably because I can’t believe it’s been 5 years!

Newsflash! Robot invades skirt!

Robot applique

Maybe I should say “Robots invade PieKnits” for I’ve definitely had robots on the brain lately. When I found this skirt thrifting I thought it had potential even though as it was it was a bit plain. Loving all things kitschy space related I decided it needed a little robot peaking up from the hem.

Mr. Robot would like to thank the vintage buttons for making him possible

Wee Mr. Robot applique here was made from felt that I fabric glued into place then embroidered down the edges with blanket stitch (nice tutorial here). I really like fabric gluing when small pieces are involved. With pins it always seems to warp the pieces enough to be annoying.

Hello World

Vintage buttons and ric-rac from the stash worked well for his
embellishments and also added some colorfulness that was otherwise lacking.

Contortionist photographer

Stuff (I know, I’m so imaginative)

I have so many little projects going on here and there and many completed and simply waiting for a chance to photograph. Hoping the spring weather will energize me to get some stuff done as I’ve been feeling a little scattered lately. I’m so thankful for the extra hour of day light now; I might be able to do something other than weekends.

Sack o' Onions

Speaking of spring, or spring cleaning, playing around in my craft room the other day I whipped up a couple of these super simple box bags. I had seen a great idea somewhere for using them to store onions and potatoes in the pantry. Easy, useful and perfect! I made mine from some scraps of muslin I had around, although linen would look really lovely. Our onions are always shedding everywhere when kept in their original large mesh bags but a plastic bag wasn’t an option as they need to have air circulation. The open weave of the muslin was a nice solution. Basically it was formed like this tutorial
You can see I just used the finished selvedge edge at the top to skip hemming too, 10 minutes start to finish.


So I also finished, or thought I had finished, a hat (Seamen’s Cap) for my father. I had actually promised him one during Christmas and am only now getting it done. I had sewn in ends and blocked it only to discover this yarn (Knit Picks Swish Worsted) really expanded it’s gauge after washing, more than I’ve ever seen before. Well I chose a superwash wool for ease of care and I don’t know if that’s what caused it or it’s just this yarn. So now it’s too big, even for a larger size head.

Do you think I’d have any luck trying to run this superwash through a hot wash and dryer to shrink it a little?? Or do I need to just suck it up, rip it out and redo? *wibble*

DPN Needle Roll

As I had mentioned before, whilst cleaning up my craft room I came across some project stuffs I had gotten a long time back but had yet to get to. With my double pointed needle collection growing unruly in my sophisticated system of tattered boxes thrown in a plastic bag, this project jumped to the head of the queue.


Inspired by Grumperina’s clever case made from a cloth napkin this worked up rather easily. Hurray for no hemming! I even got these napkins from a close-out store so I’m extra pleased with them on thrifty points.


In the center a piece of wide elastic is sewn down in intervals (mine were from 3/4″ – 1.5″). Then the top and bottom are folded up and a line is sewn in from the edge to hold them in place.

click me

rolled up, all neat and pretty

I added polka dot ribbons to mine for the closure. I should have gotten a lighter colored thread as what I had on hand is too dark to blend in very well. I contemplated either fabric gluing or sewing a strip of cloth to the center on the outside to cover my not so neat sewing but in the end decided I could live with it. :) As for functionality, it works perfect! It’s so nice having all my dpns in one easy to get to place. Now I can just toss the whole roll in my knitting bag and no worries not having the right size on the go.

Arrr! There be pirates!

Pirates of the "Caribbean"

My friend and I decided to be pirates for Halloween this year, figuring we could re-purpose a lot of our costume elements for renaissance outfits as well. My costume is entirely made of up thrifted, dollar store, handmade or already owned items except for the corset (which is boned and reversible to green that I purchased on eBay) and my halloween store sword I upgraded from my dollar store one as I couldn’t resist it.

Me costume!

Ok, so here’s the rundown! From head to toe, the mini tricorn hat is the one I posted about here. It was knitted, felted and I added the broach I made. I also added a larger feather I found at the thrift store.

Next my dreads – which I love! In fact, I’m still wearing them as I couldn’t bear to part with them just yet. Makes me miss my old real ones. The blond/reddish ones are strips of yarn very similar to Colinette Point 5, only an off-brand I found way cheaper at a discount store, score! Strips of yarn are cut twice as long as the intended length then folded over and are essentially braided into sections of my hair. I just put a few in randomly but you can do your whole head as well. Some nice tutorials here and here. The larger red/burgundy dread is made from wool roving felted together.

The other accessories include a victorian locket and skeleton key necklace I put together (thrifted/$ store) and the belt and pouch were also thrift finds. The pouch was originally a purse that had a strap through a loop on the back. I cut off the strap and it worked perfectly to slide onto the belt. I filled it with toy dubloons. The tights and boots I owned.

Weee photoshop!

DIY pieces

Now for the pieces I sewed. My first actual garments I’ve made! I’m quite happy with the chemise shirt, the others fall into that “good enough for me” category. The chemise I made from on sale muslin so it cost about $2.50. I used this pattern somewhat improvising.

The long underskirt I made from a thrifted bed sheet. It’s a 3-gore skirt roughly using this as a guide. I was seriously wanting to avoid hemming all 108″ of the base so I cut out the pieces using the existing hem for the bottom. To accommodate for the bias stretch of the sides I cut in deeper angles at the draw string top. I should’ve done more as it’s still a little pointy at the bottom seams but when tucked up it’s hardly noticeable. Like I said, good enough for me!
The black handkerchief skirt was made following this pattern, although I would cut the waist opening smaller next time. The red and white strip fabric I bought and ended up just tying as is for a sash.

Shirt detail

Here’s a little detail shot of the top gather and shoulder seam of the chemise. I <3 raglan sleeves! Boxes and straight seems I can handle. I made a type of “Bishops cord” twisting together some undyed cotton stash yarn for the draw string.

Spider bean dip

Some fun dishes I made for our party. Bean dip with sour cream spider web and a guacamole spider. He has pimento olives for eyes and green onions for legs (yes I notice now he only has 6 instead of 8, oops!)

Eyeballs + Guts On Toast

I love an excuse to break out my calligraphy pen. These were “Eyeballs and Guts on Toast”. Hehehe, I find it funny anyway. Who says when entertaining you can’t entertain yourself. :)
The ‘eyeballs’ are fresh mozzarella with pimento olive pupils and the ‘guts’ consist of the tomato bruschetta topping for the toast. I also made Pulled Pork with a sign labeled “Long Pig“. Again, I amuse myself whether or not anyone else really gets it, heh.
Hope everyone had a Happy Halloween!

Sword sligin’

Click for enlargement

While shopping at the halloween store we determined that some swords were a must have for this years costumes. For me, a cutlass to go with my pirate costume, and Mr. PieKnits a fencing foil for his Phantom of the Opera. Now a gentleman of the opera house needed a proper place for his sword. With some craft felt and 15 minutes time I created a holster, or ‘Sword Frog’ to slide onto his belt, ta-da!

Front/back view

This is loosely modeled off of some images from 19th century military issued sword belts and baldrics but could easily used for about any costume with a sword, or just for that toy sword the little ones are running around with! 

Materials needed:

  • 1 piece of craft felt
  • Coordinating thread
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue/fray check/regular glue (optional)

Click for pattern
Click here or on the thumbnail image for a printable pattern template. Cut out pattern and trace onto felt. Cut out pattern in felt and the slit in top. This should be the width of the belt it’s intended to be worn on (standard belt size shown).

Fold over far right edge and line up with angled bottom left edge, slightly overlapped. Stitch together. Sew reinforcing X stitches at top and bottom of belt slit. You can add a drop of glue on the back at each of these points as well for some additional strength.

Note: This is made for a right handed sword fighter, to be worn on the left. If you are left handed, flip the pattern over.

Yes, I'm modeling Mr. Pieknits sword, no my own.

Next up, my nearly entirely DIY pirate costume!

Where to keep that cable needle? A solution.

Now as I’ve said many a time, I do love my cables. However it wasn’t until knitting on a particularly cramped plane once that I suddenly became self aware enough to realize I was sticking my cable needle (and extra double point for that matter) in my mouth when not in use. Oh.
So what to do with it?
I know many rave about cabling without a cable needle and I do it for 1×1 cables sometimes but generally it’s just not for me. (I end up feeling I’m strangling rather than working the cables). I like working fast though and all other methods have fallen short (sticking behind the ear- long hair bad idea / in the knitting – it falls out, split stitches / setting it down- the invisible gnomes abscond with it, etc).
With Mother Necessity nudging me, I set my mind to inventing a solution. I wanted a method that didn’t require letting go of the knitting and liked a similar idea to the wrist pin cushion. After a few failed prototypes this is what I came up with and Eureka, it works perfectly!
Cable needle holder
This cable needle holder is worn like a ring on any finger that’s comfortable. The elastic loop performs double duty as a button loop closure and holds the cable needle securely under tension. The cable needle is slipped in and out as needed without having to let go of the working yarn or needles.
What You Need (or what I used anyway):

  • 2 1/2″ long piece of round cord elastic
  • 3″ x 7/8″ piece of fabric (approximately)
  • Matching sewing thread
  • One 1/2″ button (with a shank strongly preferred)

If you’d like, you can print out this template for the fabric. First fold and press your hems, your final size should be 2″ x 5/8″. This final size is what matters, not the hem allowance. (Also, does pressing my folds with my hair straightener instead of the huge industrial iron make me a total freak?)
Hems folded and ready to be sewn - wrong side
I used the fabric selvedge here as it was a little sturdier for attaching the elastic.
Hems folded and ready to be sewn - right side
View from the right side. Note: if you have thin fingers (smaller than size 6), or would like to wear this on your pinky I’d recommend making the piece shorter.
half unfolded and elastic loop sewn down to hem selvedge
Next fold the piece of elastic in half and secure it to the inside hem fabric making sure not to go through both layers. It’s pictured here half unfolded on the right side. I found lashing down both ends by wrapping the thread around everything a few times help to initially secure it. Then work up and over each end in a figure 8 fashion being sure to pierce through the elastic a few times until it’s nice and secure.
All hems sewn
If you have greater finesse with a sewing machine than I, topstitch around all the edges to secure hem. Otherwise hand sew with backstitch.
Button added - all done!
Finally, sew on your button. If not using the recommended shank type button be sure you make a good strong thread shank. (You will be putting a lot a repeated tension on this closure.)
Action shot
Now you’re ready to zoom through your next cabling project!
I’m really rather fond of mine and happily wear it simply as jewelry. Definitely more stylish if forgotten than a needle behind the ear (or in the other stow-away place I’ve heard of- the cleavage)!

A little diversion

Too bad I suck at real yo-yos
Brooches and pins are so great; just slap them on anything plain and instant pow. Following Heather Bailey’s excellent little yo-yo tutorial over here, I whipped up one of these with some scrap fabric. Again, it was really all just a pretense to use a favorite vintage button. I winged a loopy ric-rac thing and viola, a new accoutrement.
With the new IK out there’s been some talk of the samples being a bit on the monochromatic side. Now one of the things I love about knitting is you can choose nearly Any color there is for your piece but I understand some may find it hard to visualize. So for the heck of it, I did a little playing around in Photoshop with the photo for my design Mirabella.
Mirabella in Technicolor
I think I’m leaning towards a red one, yum.