Patterns, Sewing, Tutorials

Make a Craft Organizer

I don’t know what it is about the New Year that makes us all want to get organized. As soon as Christmas was over, I spent some time evaluating my year and started working on some business and personal goals for this next year. I feel motivated to get some things around the house organized and get a fresh start on some projects. I also spent some time in my sewing room, trying to get things cleaned and sorted.

I thought I would show you how I used the Water Bottle Tote pattern to make a craft organizer for my sewing room. With the canvas fabric, heavy interfacing, and no straps, the tote makes the perfect organizer for jars or bottles of craft supplies.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Using the Water Bottle Tote pattern, I cut out all of the pieces except for the pocket and straps. I chose canvas and denim fabric for both the exterior and the lining. I also used some sturdy interfacing (Pellon 808) on all of the exterior pieces (including the exterior sides, which you do not stabilize for the tote). I also doubled the interfacing in the divider pieces.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Normally, I center the divider in the lining so that there is equal space above and below it. For the craft organizer version, I moved the divider closer to the bottom of the bag so that paint brushes and small items wouldn’t slide under the divider to a different section. If you make this adjustment, just leave about an inch at the bottom for the seam allowance, plus that little bit of extra space so that you can maneuver the pieces under the presser foot.

Before assembling the exterior, I cut out a simple freezer paper stencil with the word “make” and painted the letters with white screen printing ink. Acrylic fabric paint would also work for stenciling fabric. (If you aren’t sure how to do this, Dana has a helpful tutorial for freezer paper stenciling.)

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

Once the fabric ink dries, you can assemble the tote according to the instructions. Just disregard any references to the pocket or strap.

I like to recycle glass jars to hold bits of ribbon, beads, hardware, and other craft supplies. The bag sections are just the right size to keep all of those jars contained. You could also use it to organize small knitting projects or fat quarters of quilt fabric.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

It goes together pretty quickly (especially if you have made a couple and have figured out how to add the divider efficiently…).  Not including the paint drying time, you can easily sew one up during afternoon nap time.

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

So, there you have it…the Water Bottle Tote is not just for water bottles!

Make a Craft Organizer | Radiant Home Studio

What are your favorite ways to organize craft supplies?


Should You Learn to Sew : 4 Things You Should Know

I’ve been sewing for many years and one of the things I hear frequently from my friends is, “I should really learn to sew.” And usually they seem to feel guilty about not sewing. A lot of times I wonder if these friends would really even enjoy sewing. I wonder if they understand all of the detail that is involved in sewing. I wonder why they feel pressure to do something that that might not even enjoy. It’s true that anyone can learn, but it’s definitely not the right hobby for everyone.

So before you heap loads of guilt on yourself for not being able to sew, let me share a few things you should know before you learn to sew.

Should You Lean to Sew: 4 Things You Should Know | Radiant Home Studio

Sewing does not make you a better mom. At least not anymore. There was a time when women needed sewing skills to clothe their family. But sewing is no longer a necessary skill for every woman to have. Sure, it’s nice to be able to repair clothes or make unique gifts, but your kids will be warm and well-fed even if you don’t sew.

Maybe you believe in providing your children with handmade, natural toys and feel guilty about not making them yourself? Try Etsy or the local craft fair. Most likely you will be supporting another mom that believes in providing children with beautiful handmade toys too…without the frustration of trying to make something that doesn’t turn out the way you planned.

Maybe you feel guilty because you can’t teach your kids sewing skills? There are often free community classes or inexpensive classes at local sewing shops. So I can teach my kids to sew, but if they want to fix cars I’ll have to send them out to learn from a friend. Maybe you can teach your kids to fix cars, but not to sew. Embrace the gifts and talents God had given to you, and share them with your friends when you can.

Sewing is not cheaper.  Definitely not at first. And only maybe…if you get really good. Depending on what you make, you need a machine, a pattern, thread, fabric, buttons, buckles, interfacing, extra needles, zippers. This stuff adds up quickly. Plus you need to factor in several hours of your time. I can almost always buy something at Target cheaper than anything I can make, even when I don’t factor in my time.

You have to decide if sewing something is worth it. For example, I can buy a finished pillow for around $10. Something similar might cost me $20 to make. And yet…I make pillow covers. Why? Because I am not limited by what’s available at the store. I have the freedom to choose colors or quality of fabric. I can add zippers or embroidery. If I want a custom color, size or style, I sew it. If the goal is to save money…I don’t sew it.

I have found that this was not the case as when my sewing skills became more advanced. To make a simple t-shirt I might spend $20 to make a top I could have bought for $10 at the store. So I generally still buy my jeans and t-shirts ready-made. But…what if I wanted to make a blazer like one I saw at a high-end mall store. For the same $100, I could make a blazer with nicer fabric, custom fit to my body shape, and with nicer details. It’s only after you have put in hours of practice that sewing begins to pay for itself.

Sewing is detail-oriented. If you aren’t a detail person, you may not be happy with your finished projects. The details are the difference between, “Oh, what a quaint homemade dress…” and “What? You MADE that?! I thought it was from Anthropologie.”

Changing something by a 1/4″ can ruin an entire project. You need to pay attention to figure out which needle size to use when there are dozens of choices, or to figure out the difference between jersey knit, ponte knit, lycra knit, and interlock knit. If those kind of details make you crazy, sewing might not be for you.

Sewing requires a lot of preparation. When I tell people that I like sewing, they imagine me sitting at my machine feeding fabric through a whirring machine. But that part is only about 1/4 of what I spend my time doing.

Before sitting down at the machine, I read through my sewing pattern. If it’s a PDF that requires printing and taping, that can take another 20-30 minutes. If it’s a regular printed pattern, I lightly iron the tissue paper pattern, find the correct pieces and cut them out…also about 20-30 minutes.

Most fabric needs to be prewashed, so that’s a load of laundry to be done. If you want to make alterations to the pattern, you’ll need to spend some time doing the math, and redrawing pattern lines. Laying out the pattern pieces and cutting out the fabric can take an hour or more if you do it properly.

This morning I spent over an hour cutting fabric, cutting interfacing, and ironing on the interfacing before I even sat down at the sewing machine. I’m constantly running between the machine and the ironing board (and around the house to help the kids…) because each seam should be pressed after stitching. It’s all part of the process.

There are parts that I enjoy more than others, but if I didn’t find some satisfaction in the planning and preparation, sewing would not be enjoyable for me. This stuff is all part of “sewing”, and I think you should know before you invest your time and energy into learning.

There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. You may find that you don’t like all of the preparation, but the satisfaction of the finished projects makes it worth your time. Maybe you have found ways to cut your costs. Or maybe (like me) sewing helps you to relax and it does help you to be a better mom. Maybe the details don’t matter to you and you just like to break all of the sewing rules to make some other kind of fiber art.

So, should you learn to sew? Maybe…it’s up to you. But please don’t feel guilty for choosing not to sew.

Sew because you love it. Love the process. Love the challenge of figuring out new ways to put things together. Love the struggle of doing something hard and the feeling of accomplishment when you get it right. Love choosing fabric. Love studying the details of things around your house to see if you can replicate them. Love making meaningful, and personalized gifts for people. Love repurposing old things to make something new.

But please, sew because you want to…not because you “should”.

Sewing, Tutorials

How to Alter the Waist on Men’s Pants

Would you like to learn how to alter the waist on men’s pants? One area of my sewing knowledge that I would like to work on is tailoring men’s clothes. A while back, one of my husband’s friends said something like, “Your wife sews. Can’t she just make you a suit?” Umm…no. At least, not yet. Traditional dressmaking and tailoring are two very different skill sets.

I’ve been sewing patches on uniforms and hemming trousers for years. I became frustrated that the military tailoring service machine-stitched things that should have been hand-stitched. Then I ventured to take apart a suit coat sleeve to add a uniform stripe to the end of the sleeve. Taking them apart made me realize that men’s clothes are easier in many ways (more boxy, more straight stitching…). As long as you remember the order that you took out the stitches, putting them back together is pretty simple.

How to Alter the Waist on Men's Pants | Radiant Home Studio
(This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission at no cost to you. Thanks!)

A few months ago, I let out a pair of trousers from an old suit. Dress pants are typically easier to alter because they are made with a seam in the back waistband specifically for that purpose. They also have extra seam allowances in the back rise so that the pants can be let out by 2 inches. Finally, the dress pants I have worked with typically don’t have a belt loop at the center back seam. You can see below where the old stitching lines were compared to the new line of stitching.

How to Alter the Waist on Men's Pants | Radiant Home Studio

Today, I took in the waist on some casual pants. Ready-to-wear, casual pants won’t have extra seam allowances to let out the waist, but you can easily make them a couple of inches smaller.

Though this tutorial shows you how I made the waist smaller in casual pants, you can follow the same process for letting out the waist in proper trousers as well.

I recommend that you have successfully sewn a couple of garments before trying this alteration. You’ll need a basic understanding of garment pieces and construction, as well as basic knowledge of your sewing machine and stitches. You’ll also need a good seam ripper, some tailor’s chalk, and a good pair of sewing scissors.

How to Alter the Waist on Men’s Pants:

How to Alter the Waist on Men's Pants | Radiant Home Studio

First, start picking out the seam along the waistband. You’ll need to take out the stitching about 4 in. on each side of the center seam.

How to Alter the Waist on Men's Pants | Radiant Home Studio

If you have a belt loop in the way, remove that. If you want to remove the tag, do that too.

How to Alter the Waist on Men's Pants | Radiant Home Studio

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Free Tablet Bag Tutorial at Sew Mama Sew

Two exciting things to share today! I spent a lot of my summer writing sewing patterns for publication. After a few months of keeping secrets, I can finally share some of them!

Today I have a free tablet bag tutorial on Sew Mama Sew. This is a beginner level bag—no zippers or complicated pockets—just the right size for carrying a tablet or e-reader. And you can use up some of your favorite scraps. Please head over to the Sew Mama Sew blog for the full tablet bag tutorial!

Sew a Tablet Bag Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Second, I’m excited to share that I have a bag pattern available in the Winter 2015 issue of Stitch magazine! (affiliate link) The digital edition is now available, and the print issues are available for pre-order. I haven’t seen the finished photos yet, so I’m in suspense as I wait for my issue to arrive in the mail. Stitch is available by subscription, or you can find the single issues at your local craft store. It’s a bit more expensive than a typical fashion magazine, but you worth it when you consider that you are  getting 30 sewing patterns with it! (The pattern I used for the men’s waxed canvas messenger bag was originally published in Stitch…) This issue looks like it has a great variety of projects and tutorials.

Stitch Winter 2015 Cover and Contents  | Radiant Home Studio

Don’t forget that today is the last day to get Perfect Pattern Parcel #5!

Finally, if you would like to keep up with my latest patterns and projects, please…