embroider smarter: get the most out of your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps


Recently I’ve been using Sulky Sticky Fabric-Solvy (read my review here) for many of my embroidery projects lately, and while I love the product, I want to get my money’s worth out of every bit of it.

After a bit of experimenting, I’ve come up with a way to maximize the scraps I have left over after I’ve printed off larger designs.


  • Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy scraps
  • tape
  • digitized version of the embroidery design you want to print
  • scissors
  • printer


In the photos below, you’ll see how I used this method to transfer letters for my Padded Knee Patches.

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

The outlined letters above are the ones I used as my template–the bold letters on the reverse side were earlier test prints.



1.  Print off the design you want to transfer on regular printer paper. This will serve as a template to show you where to position your Fabri-Solvy scraps. Make sure you pay attention to the direction your printer feeds the paper (if you don’t already know).

Tip: If you want to transfer a design that is not digitized, scan it or take a photo of it, then import it into a Word (or similar) document and you’ll be ready to follow these steps.

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

2.  Cut a Fabri-Solvy shape from scraps that is slightly larger than the design printed on the paper. A 1/2″ “seam allowance” should be plenty. Center the Fabri-Solvy over the design (hold up to a window or put on a lightbox if needed) and tape down securely on all four sides.

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

3.  Load the paper (with Fabri-Solvy taped on) into the printer so that the design will print on the Fabri-Solvy. Hit print. If everything goes as planned the paper will emerge with your design printed on the Fabri-Solvy directly above where it printed originally was printed on the paper.

**I have not had any problems with the taped Fabri-Solvy hangning up in my printer (but all printers are different), even when I was first trying this out. The key is to make sure the Fabri-Solvy has no wrinkles and the tape is pressed down firmly.**

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

embroider smarter: use your sulky sticky fabri-solvy scraps

4.  Cut around the edge of the Fabri-Solvy (and through as much of the tape as possible). The paper and Fabri-Solvy should separate, and now you can transfer your design as usual.

P.S.–Have you signed up for the ThimbleNest newsletter yet? Subscribers receive a free hand embroidery pattern each month. Sign up here!

tutorial: padded knee patches

tutorial padded knee patches | www.thimblenest.com

tutorial padded knee patches | www.thimblenest.com

We received a large supply of hand-me-downs for Spud and FB last week. In going through the clothes I discovered a few pairs of pants that were fine except for small holes or wear in the knees. After my success with extending too-short, holey-kneed pants, I was ready to tackle patches.

tutorial padded knee patches | www.thimblenest.com

FB has been showing an interest in left vs. right, and the teacher in me just can’t pass up an opportunity for learning. So, I incorporated a little reminder into his knee patches. This project just happened to coincide with Elsie Marley’s latest #thecreativityclub challenge: Visible Mending.

tutorial padded knee patches | www.thimblenest.com

Here’s the tutorial I put together on how I sewed the knee patches. Embroidery/embellishment is optional. A printable one-sheet instructions-only version of the tutorial follows the photos.

Click here for the printable instructions-only page.

P.S.–Have you signed up for the ThimbleNest newsletter yet? Subscribers receive a free hand embroidery pattern each month. Sign up here!

transferring embroidery designs with Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering

Welcome to those of you visiting from Feeling Stitchy, where I am now a contributing writer twice a month! My first post is live today–head on over and take a look!

For the record: no one compensated me in any way to write about the following product–I just like it and wanted to share!

The embroidery world has been abuzz for some time over Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy–specifically the printable type. Now that I’ve used this product several times, I’m ready to weigh in on the pros and cons.

What is It?

Sticky Fabri-Solvy is a fabric-like sheet with an adhesive back that can be fed through a home printer. For use with hand embroidery, the design is printed on the fabric sheet, then the protective backing is removed, and the Fabri-Solvy adheres to the fabric where you want to embroider. When you are finished embroidering the stabilizer dissolves away in water in just a couple of minutes.

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering


According to Sulky’s website, Fabri-Solvy is available in five sizes. I have only used the 20″ x 36″ sheets and am anxiously waiting for my package of twelve 8 1/2″ x 11″ printer-ready sheets to arrive.

Right up front, I’ll say that I love this stuff; it’s well worth adding to your embroidery arsenal. If I could afford to use this exclusively I would. My pros and cons below highlight the details that inform my choice when deciding between using Fabri-Solvy and a more standard embroidery transfer method.


Let’s get the negatives over with first, shall we? There’s not much to dislike about Fabri-Solvy, but a few things are worth noting.

Printer Feeding Problems

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering

If you use the large 20″ x 36″ sheet of Fabri-Solvy you will have to cut pieces to size to fit your printer. The ridges and folds on the backing paper from being folded to fit in the original package may cause the sheets to hang up on the printer as they are fed through, resulting in a mess like you see above. This was almost enough to convince me this wasn’t worth it, but I made it work.

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering

In the case of Mr. Frumble and the Pickle Car, I was able to piece together the good portions of two printing mess-ups and salvage the design. So even if you can only find the large folded sheets this product is still workable if you’re willing to fiddle with it and be patient.

I’m confident that the pre-cut sheets are going to work 100 times better in the printer and I can’t wait to use them.


A package of twelve 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets costs somewhere in the range of $12-$15. However, just today I was able to order some on sale with Amazon Prime for $11.79. In my area, JoAnn’s did not carry it in-store (it is available online), and Fabric Depot had the 20″ x 36″ sheet, but not the letter-sized precuts.

Other methods of embroidery transfer are definitely cheaper–iron on pen/pencil, tracing, etc. With Fabri-Solvy you’re going to pay for convenience and time.


You’re going to want to use each Fabri-Solvy Sheet to its fullest advantage once you’ve bought it, so unless your design is a full page, you might want to use a different transfer method for smaller designs. I’ve devised a way to use leftover scraps in the printer for smaller designs that I’ll be sharing soon.

find the light embroidery

Sticky Needle/Water Soluble

Since Sticky Fabri-Solvy is water soluble, definitely make sure that your embroidery area doesn’t get wet until you’re completely done stitching. In addition, if your hands are sweaty or slightly wet for whatever reason, that moisture can transfer from your needle to the Fabri-Solvy and back, creating a sticky buildup on your needle. I’ve had this happen on a few occasions and had to clean my needle and dry it off completely before continuing to stitch.


Now, the good news!

Ease of Use

Other than the printer issues I mentioned above, this really is a gloriously simple way to transfer embroidery designs. No aching arms from holding fabric up to the window to trace and no transfer inks/dyes that won’t come out at the end. If the pattern you want to use isn’t available as a digital file, you can simply scan it or import a picture of it and hit print.

Great for Dark Fabrics

using Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy for embroidering

I often want to embroider on fabrics that are something other than white or light-colored. All of the methods I’ve tried for transferring to dark fabrics are time-consuming and/or frustrating. This is where I will use Sticky Fabri-Solvy the most!

Grid for Stitching

The weave of Fabri-Solvy lends itself to helping you out much like Aida cloth does with counted cross-stitch. Especially if you’re stitching straight lines or angular geometric shapes, you can use the tiny holes in the stabilizer to help keep your stitches even and straight.

This is definitely my favorite embroidery tool find in recent memory. I won’t throw caution to the wind and use it recklessly, but for large projects, especially those on darker fabrics, it’s my first choice.

Have you used Sticky Fabri-Solvy? What did you think?

P.S.–Did you know that subscribers to my newsletter receive a new free embroidery pattern each month? Join us!




round-up: 5 free, printable embroidery stitch guides

5 free printable embroidery stitch guides

5 free printable embroidery stitch guides by thimblenest on Polyvore

Embroidery beginners and veterans alike can always use help learning new stitches or refreshing the memory on old ones. If you embroider on the go, it’s nice to have a small stitch guide handy. Here are five great embroidery stitch guides available online as pdfs. I’ve listed them in order from least to most number of stitches in each guide; clicking on the link will take you directly to the pdf (except in the case of the first one). Print off or save them to your tablet for easy access!

Studio MME

  • requires email address
  • great graphics along with written instructions
  • comes with free embroidery pattern
  • 3 stitches: running, back, & split (9 pages)

Sew Mama Sew Pocket Stitch Book

  • black & white line drawings & written instructions
  • folds into a handy small booklet, perfect for on-the-go stitching
  • 7 essential stitches, including satin, stem, & scallop (1 page)

Kiriki Press

  • black & white line drawings & written instructions
  • information on hoops, floss, threading the needle, knots, & more
  • 15 stitches including feather, fern, & chain stitch (23 pages)

Colonial Patterns

  • mix of color line drawings, photographs, & written instructions
  • also has information on needles and floss
  • 33 stitches  (12 pages)

Windflower Stitch Guide

  • black & white line drawings & written instructions
  • information on transferring designs, floss, & needles
  • over 40 stitches and variations, including how-tos for stuffed animal faces (25 pages)

Do you have a favorite free embroidery stitch guide?


pinch o’ green st. patrick’s day brooches: tutorial update (and expanded free embroidery pattern)

Embroider a St. Patrick's Day brooch with this free embroidery pattern & tutorial and fend off pinchers! | www.thimblenest.com

Valentine’s Day is old news; here comes St. Patrick’s Day! I’ve updated last year’s Pinch o’ Green Brooch tutorial with better photos and three sizes of embroidery designs. This quick DIY will make you immune to unwelcome pinches on March 17!

The photo tutorial is thanks to the stellar app Steller. Take a flip through, then download your free embroidery patterns and tutorial below.


Click here to download the free Pinch o’ Green embroidery patterns & tutorial

finished embroidery: find the light

find the light embroidery | www.thimblenest.com


I’ve finally finished my version of this month’s free embroidery pattern (read more about it’s inspiration here).

Originally, I planned on stitching this entirely with white, but I ended up going for more of an ombre effect that was supposed to build up to the word “light”. It’s not apparent in the photos, but all of the words, beginning with “eyes” are stitched in increasingly brighter shades of yellow.

find the light embroidery | www.thimblenest.com

The fabric is a dark gray flannel I had left over from a shirt I sewed for Cowboy. I’d never embroidered on flannel before, so that was fun, and this project also reaffirmed my admiration for Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy (detailed post on that coming soon).

I washed, dried, and ironed this piece after I removed the Fabri-Solvy, and it seems to have loosened my stitches some. I also learned that I need to work on improving my letter-stitching techniques, particularly on small letters and those with curves.

find the light embroidery | www.thimblenest.com

Now I just need to find a great spot to hang this up!

sewing tutorial: extend a pair of pants (for kids clothes week)

Kids Clothes Week is in full swing, and it’s looking like this will be my only finish. Truth be told, this project isn’t even a complete start-to-finish, but since the KCW theme this time around is “upcycle”, it fits right in


Spud has two pairs of storebought “comfy pants” that are his absolute favorites. One is a size 4 (he is currently a size 6) and the others are a 5/6. He’s shown them so much love that their poor little knees are worn through, and every time we turn around he’s been wearing them out in public, looking like some sort of little waif vagabond waiting for the floodwaters to rise.

At the slightest mention of getting rid of said pants, Spud had an anxiety attack. When my mom told me her method for extending my brother’s and my pants when we were younger, I decided to give it a try myself.

A full tutorial is below in the form of a Steller story. It has a happy ending–I bought Spud a few more inches of time with his favorite pants.

february free embroidery pattern preview

february free embroidery pattern preview | www.thimblenest.com

The next ThimbleNest newsletter arrives in inboxes on Sunday. I’m really excited about this month’s pattern and thought you’d like to see the inspiration (JJ Heller’s song, “This Year”) and process behind the final design.

The preview is in the form of a Steller story; if you haven’t seen Steller yet, go take a look–lots of inspiring stories, plus it’s a great tool for bloggers! And, if you’d like to receive February’s newsletter and free embroidery pattern download, be sure to sign up before Sunday morning!


embroider smarter: test a color palette

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.comI’m excited to post the first tip in a new series today: “Embroider Smarter”. Just like its sister series, “Sew Smarter,” these posts aim to give you tips and tricks that help you embroider more efficiently. Let’s get started!

When I’m embroidering without a color guide or I’m just trying something on my own, I want to be fairly confident of my color choices before I start stitching. It’s always frustrating to rip out stitches because the colors don’t work, so I’ve started something simple that prevents a lot of regrets.

Here’s how I planned the color palette for my Mr. Valentine tea towel.

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

In this instance I knew I wanted my embroidery design to coordinate with the fabric I used for my apron. First, I pulled out floss colors that matched those in the fabric’s illustrations.

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

Next, I borrowed my sons’ crayons and colored pencils and got out my own Sharpies, choosing colors that matched the floss. After printing off a few extra copies of Mr. Valentine (some for the boys and some for me), I started coloring.

Markers are ideal, since they go on to the paper smoothly and saturate the design better than colored pencils or crayons. However, crayons and colored pencils offer a wider range of colors so I used whatever best matched the colors I wanted.

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

Once I’d finished my first picture (actually, even as I colored), I spotted areas where I wanted to try different colors. The differences between the two pictures are difficult to spot, but in real life they helped me a lot!

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

embroider smarter: test color palette | www.thimblenest.com

I colored a second page, trying to adjust the areas that weren’t quite right. Obviously there are infinite possibilities (the opinions at the table varied widely), but after coloring the second time, I had a pretty good feel for the colors I wanted to use when I stitched, so I got out my needle and thread!

Do you ever test your color palette on an embroidery project? What methods do you use?

another “cute apron” + mr. valentine

mr. valentine hand embroidery pattern | www.thimblenest.com

When my brother and I were kids, it was a fairly regular tradition for our dad to take us to the florist’s shop to pick out flowers for our mom around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. At my favorite shop we would walk past already prepared arrangements to the back wall where we chose carnations and other flowers by the stem from dozens of large buckets.

mr. valentine hand embroidery pattern | www.thimblenest.com

We were partial to flowers that had been dyed different colors–think blue carnations; probably not my mom’s favorite, but we thought they were special. Once the choices were made we bounced up to the front counter where one of the florists wrapped our bouquet in green tissue paper, adding complimentary baby’s breath and sometimes little ferns.

While we waited we looked at all of the arranged bouquets and the little trinkets that tend to be part of a flower shop–miniature figurines, tiny terrariums, and vases. Once our order was ready we chose a little card to go with the flowers and headed home to “surprise” our mom.

The florist shop always seemed like such a magical place; in fact, for a long time I thought being a florist would be a great job. I’m sure my memories of buying flowers for my mom as a child helped me come up with Mr. Valentine–a hand embroidery pattern that was the ThimbleNest newsletter freebie for January.

After making an apron for a Christmas gift, I decided it was high time to make one for myself. I have a collection of quilting cottons from the early 2000’s that I bought when vintage/retro/reproduction fabrics became popular. I was happy to discover that I had two yards of on my shelf that were a perfect match for Mr. Valentine.

The Patterns: Retro Aprons by Taylor Made Designs (affiliate link), size M
Mr. Valentine by ThimbleNest

The Fabric:   “Romance” by Michael Miller
Flour sack tea towel

The Apron

valentine apron (taylor made designs) | www.thimblenest.com

I sewed this apron following the pattern instructions with just a few modifications. I love rick-rack, but it can be overdone, so I opted not to include it on the seam between the ruffle and apron body. I also eliminated it on the top edge of the pocket. Plus, I was being cheap–to have enough rick-rack as called for I would have had to buy three packages of rick-rack instead of two.

valentine apron (taylor made designs) | www.thimblenest.com

To cut some of the slack in the neck, I finished the neck seam allowance edges instead of sewing them together and installed snaps in three positions to make the neck adjustable. This improved the apron’s overall fit–less sagging which in turn made the waist sit high where I needed it.

mr. valentine hand embroidery pattern | www.thimblenest.com

I’m happy with Mr. Valentine’s final color palette–I chose it based on my apron fabric. Now my kitchen is all set for Valentine’s Day!

Be sure to drop by on Tuesday when I’ll be sharing my favorite way to choose a color palette for a hand embroidery project.

Have you done any Valentine’s crafting yet?

“a cute apron” (with vintage handkerchief pocket)

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

When Cowboy drew my sister-in-law’s name for the annual Christmas gift exchange and I examined her wish list, the words “a cute apron” jumped out at me. I can do cute aprons!

The Pattern: Retro Aprons by Cindy Taylor Oates (affiliate link), View A

Size: M

The Fabric: Peacock by Allison Jane Smith/Windham Fabrics from a Purl Bee sale many moons ago + a vintage/thrifted handkerchief

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

The Pattern

This traceable pattern produced good results. There are 6 pattern views/options available in five sizes. I made view A–a full apron with a ruffle and rick-rack trim around all of the edges. The rick-rack trim eliminated the need for any hems and was an easy first for me (I had never really used rick-rack before).

The pattern directions were clear and I appreciated all of the general instructions before the “actual pattern” ones began that explained all of the details for things like the rick-rack, binding, options for making the ties, etc.

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

This apron has a closed neckband–no buttons, velcro, etc., to make it adjustable. My sister-in-law and I are similar in build and height. When I tried the finished apron on, it sagged a little too low in the front, which in turn made the waist hit an inch or so too low. This could be easily fixed by adding some sort of adjustable component to the neckband such as buttons/buttonholes and hooks/eyes.

The Fabric

I pulled this light blue quilting cotton with white polka dots from my stash for this apron. It was the perfect weight, ironed sharply, and hung nicely on the finished garment.

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

The white rick-rack added a crisp finish, and although it was the suggested finish for the pocket, I chose to overlay the pocket with a vintage handkerchief. This was definitely my favorite detail.

"a cute apron" (with vintage handkerchief pocket overlay) | www.thimblenest.com

I have no clue where I originally got the handkerchief, but it had a small organza cut out that allowed the main fabric to peep through on the finished pocket. I hope it added the extra touch of cute my SIL was looking for!

Do you sew aprons?



sew smarter: cardboard & cutting buttonholes

I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient in all areas of my life and sewing is no exception. The“Sew Smarter” series offers you quick tips for streamlining your sewing process.

sew smarter buttonhole cardboard text

As you’ve already read, I save the cardboard from any storebought trims that I use up.
sew smarter buttonhole cardboard (1)

sew smarter buttonhole cardboard (3)

sew smarter buttonhole cardboard (6)

I keep one handy by my sewing machine; then, when I’m cutting open buttonholes, I simply place one underneath my fabric and cut away. (I use a Clover Buttonhole Cutter. affiliate link)

The cardboard provides a sturdy non-stick surface and protects my work table. I could use a small self-healing mat, but the cardboard takes up less space.
How do you cut buttonholes?

thread theory jutland pants for cowboy

 thread theory jutland pants for cowboy | www.thimblenest.com


A recurring theme with Cowboy’s clothes is that they don’t stand up to what he puts them through. As consumers often notice, clothing brands that were traditionally high-quality and long-lasting seem to lose something over time; seemingly overnight, things that used to last for years barely make it through one. And most frustratingly, as quality drops, prices escalate.

thread theory jutland pants for cowboy | www.thimblenest.com

Obviously there are many factors that contribute to how long clothing lasts: fabric quality, construction and workmanship, and washing methods, just to name a few. I don’t know which of these has changed in our little corner of the world, but it boils down to this: Cowboy needs better pants. And as it so happens, I like to solve problems with my sewing machine.

thread theory jutland pants for cowboy | www.thimblenest.com

I didn’t go into this project with big expectations. Basically, this pair of pants was meant to be a functional muslin–a starting point from which to improve until I’ve mastered the perfect pants for Cowboy.

The Pattern: Jutland Pants from Thread Theory

The Fabric: dark washed denim with slight stretch from Fashion Fabrics Club

Size: 36

The Pattern

Everything about Thread Theory patterns shout quality. The printed PDF pages came together without incident and all the pattern pieces were organized according to which variation was being sewn to reduce printing/waste/confusion–really appreciate that!

After measuring Cowboy, he best fit the size 36 measurements, and because I was running out of Christmas sewing time, I cut a straight size 36 without any adjustments. The fit was quite true–the leg length being the only real issue–they’re a little long, but that is usually the case with his storebought pants as well. And, in the grand scheme of things, pant length is a super easy fix.Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Cowboy | www.thimblenest.com

For the French-seamed pockets I used a mystery gray and white striped shirting from my stash. The method of constructing the pockets was really fun and I’m confident they’ll be strong enough for the 10 pounds of stuff Cowboy puts in them every day (think Leatherman, cell phone, 20 keys, etc.). I’ll mention here, though, that Cowboy installs all of his own suspender buttons–what a guy!

thread theory jutland pants for cowboy | www.thimblenest.com

As I was under a time crunch, I was thankful that the pants came together smoothly. The only trouble spot appeared with the fly and zipper, and I still can’t figure out what I did wrong. Having sewn many zipper flies before, I didn’t really anticipate any problems, but even though everything fit into place, I finished and wrapped the pants knowing something wasn’t quite right.

The flaw revealed itself when Cowboy tried his pants on for the first time and the zipper pulled out from behind the fly, making it look like he was wearing pants with an exposed zipper–which, I guess he was. Although humorous, it was definitely not the look we were going for.

I’ve since fixed the issue with a me-invented sewing hack, but I suspect the problem originated with my addled, Christmas-sewing-stressed brain.

Thread Theory Jutland Pants for Cowboy | www.thimblenest.com

In addition to the pockets, some of the other highlights of this pattern were the hem reinforcements, the contrast waistband facing, and all of the topstitching. Plus, over on the Thread Theory blog there is a sew-along with lots of customizations like adding a gusset (which I’m still dying to try). Overall, Cowboy was happy with these pants, but his one request is for more pockets–there can never be too many pockets!

 The Fabric


thread theory jutland pants for cowboy | www.thimblenest.comAfter paying careful attention to the pattern instructions, which warned against using too thick of a denim with a standard sewing machine, I chose a medium weight denim from my stash. I loved topstitching with the traditional gold thread on the dark denim, but I think it might be too reminiscent of stretch polyester Levi’s worn by men of a certain age. Cowboy would probably have preferred dark blue topstitching.

Plus, as evident from this shot of the interior waistband, it’s clear that I was pushing my sewing machine to the brink of its capabilities. I used faux flat felled seams on basically everything, but when I topstitched through more than two layers, things started to snarl.

The fabric itself was easy to work with, although as expected, it did ravel a bit. I also noticed blue dye on my fingers after working with it for awhile, so we’ll be washing these bad boys by themselves for a few more times.

I’m glad I got these Jutlands under my belt, and I can’t to make the next pair–endless possibilities! I’m scouting around for an industrial sewing machine, too.

Have you made a pair of Jutlands yet?

sew smarter: reuse cardboard from sewing trims

I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient in all areas of my life and sewing is no exception. The“Sew Smarter” series offers you quick tips for streamlining your sewing process.

sew smarter save cardboard text

For most of my childhood, my mom sewed in what was meant to be our just-under-1000 square feet-house’s linen closet. She is naturally gifted at fitting lots of things into small spaces and her sewing closet was her masterpiece. Everything she sewed with–notions, patterns, etc., all fit neatly into that closet (except her fabric stash which resided in the two bottom drawers of her dresser); she could open the doors and be sewing in two minutes. One of my favorite things in her sewing space was the box holding her bias tapes, pipings, and laces–everything neatly lined up by color, everything packed just so until absolutely nothing else would fit in. I’m pretty sure I learned this “Sew Smarter” tip from her–it’s short and sweet.

sew smarter save cardboard (4)

sew smarter save cardboard (3)

When you use up the last bit of storebought bias tape, piping, or lace, etc., don’t throw the cardboard it was wrapped around away. Keep it, then wrap your DIY bias tape or by-the-yard trim around it and put it in its place.

How do you store trims and bias tapes?





mccall’s 6613 | a plaid flannel shirt for cowboy

plaid flannel shirt (4)

Cowboy can never have too many shirts. As his “good” shirts wear out or develop deformities, they get demoted to work shirts. We beef up his work shirt stash with two or three trips to the thrift stores each year, leaving me some time to sew him more good shirts.

So, for Christmas it was time to sew him another shirt.

The Pattern: McCall’s 6613

Since I couldn’t remember which pattern I had sewn successfully for him the Christmas before, I tried yet another new one: McCall’s 6613.

This pattern has many variations/combinations to choose from. Cowboy would probably have preferred the roll-up/button sleeve option, as well as flaps for the pockets (not provided, I would have needed to self-draft), but I was crunched for time.

Two things really stood out to me about this pattern and made it a unique sew:

  • Bound front facings–I don’t know if “bound” is the technical term, but the front facings of this shirt are constructed in a way that is similar to adding bias tape to the edge of a sewn piece. I cannot recall ever seeing this method used on a shirt before, but I found it utterly enjoyable, in part because it was unique, but also because I always have a terrible time with the standard method for constructing front shirt facings: folding the front over on itself and getting everything to line up properly. I love the method used with this shirt!

plaid flannel shirt (1)

  • Sewing vents with plackets above the sleeve cuff has always been kind of fun for me, however, this pattern again approached this step differently than most I’ve used before. The sleeves are cut in two pieces–an upper sleeve and and under sleeve; the seam where the two are sewn together forms the sleeve vent. I was afraid the extra seam in the sleeve might be uncomfortable, but so far, no complaints.

plaid flannel shirt (2)

Buttonholes and I have come to an understanding, but they’re still not my favorite thing; I opted to use mother-of-pearl type snaps for this shirt and I really like the look (although I don’t think Cowboy would say the same). They were super easy to install and I found it easier to keep them in a straight line than I do buttons and buttonholes.

plaid flannel shirt (5)

The Fabric

Brown Plaid Flannel from Fashion Fabrics Club

Once again, no complaints about this fabric! It’s a medium-weight flannel that doesn’t show any signs of pilling and I’m confident it will stand up to whatever Cowboy puts it through!

What are your favorite methods for shirt front facings and cuffs?

Happy New Year! (and a favor?)

vintage new year's card


Image source

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a blessed 2014–I’m looking forward to a great 2015!

I sent out a survey to my newsletter subscribers this morning that I know will give me some direction as make plans for 2015. If you’re not yet a newsletter subscriber, but you’re interested in embroidery and sewing, I’d love it if you’d take 5 minutes and fill out my survey! There are just 13 questions, it’s in a fun non-survey-y format, and there’s a little bonus included at the end. Also, if you’re interested in test stitching future ThimbleNest embroidery patterns, you can sign up for my Pattern Tester email list on question #13!

Thank you again, just click here to take the survey. I’m looking forward to reading your responses!

knit fabric onesie + denim overalls

knit onesie + denim overalls mccall's 8574 kwik sew 3145 (1)


And Christmas Gift #1 is complete! I’m not even going to say how many more makes are on my list because it’s a little ridiculous. I sewed a long-sleeve onesie and overalls for my youngest niece; she is about 3 months old, but needs clothes for when she’s older, so hopefully these will fit around 18 months.

knit onesie mccall's 8574 (1)



Pattern: McCall’s 8574

Size: Large

Fabric: Heather Ross knit from Sew Modern

This Heather Ross knit makes a second appearance here in long-sleeve onesie form. The bright colors are feminine without being overly pastel-ly.

knit onesie mccall's 8574 (3)

knit onesie mccall's 8574 (4)

If you’ve ever sewn a t-shirt, then this pattern will be fairly straightforward. I never could figure out if I was supposed to attach twill tape to the back flap and instructions on when to sew it in place were nonexistent, but the diagram clearly showed it as being stitched. I substituted grosgrain ribbon in place of twill tape and decided to affix it to both front and back flaps, just to be safe. Also, getting the curved neckline and envelope flaps stitched smoothly in place is not as easy as the directions would have you believe, but I made it work.

knit onesie mccall's 8574 (5)

I’m especially proud of my serging on this project—everything looks professionally finished and will hopefully be super comfortable on baby’s skin. I was dreading attaching the snaps, but those went on without a hitch, too!


Pattern: Kwik Sew 3145

Size: XL

Fabric: Denim from Fashion Fabrics Club

baby overalls Kwik Sew 3145

There’s just something about kids and overalls. Originally, I cut these out for FB, but I overestimated my ability to sew them up in a timely fashion, and he has long since passed the 18 month mark. So, they became little girl overalls, rather than little boy overalls.

baby overalls Kwik Sew 3145 (2)

Having made three other pairs of overalls previously, I took special care to cut and mark pieces exactly, and it made a big difference.

baby overalls Kwik Sew 3145 (1)

My favorite thing about making these was all of the bright pink topstitching I got to do. These are probably the best pair of overalls I’ve made, but I still haven’t mastered the side flaps.

Installing snap tape along the inside legs for diaper-changing ease was new to me, and after two tries I thought I might have to give up the whole thing. Finally, I got everything to line up properly and I didn’t have to start over.

If you choose to use snap tape, rather than hand set your snaps, notice that the instruction diagram splits the snaps on either side of the middle seam. Thus, you can’t just run your snap tape from ankle to ankle, you need to cut it in half and sew it on either side of the crotch seam.

knit onesie + denim overalls mccall's 8574 kwik sew 3145 (3)

This was a fun gift to sew and I can’t wait to see it on the little lady in several more months!

Linking up with Sew + Show @ StraightGrain!

my first renfrew

brown renfrew

I’m always behind the times when it comes to sewing patterns, but at long last I’ve made a Renfrew! I think I first heard of Sewaholic Patterns through Amy of Sew Well, and once I saw the cowl neck option on the Renfrew, I knew I wanted to make it. I finally got my opportunity a few weeks ago, and at last am posting the final result here!

brown renfrew

Fabric: Brown sweater knit from Fashion Fabrics Club.

I just don’t have time to knit all of the sweaters I’d like to wear, so sewing a sweater is the next best thing, right? I had never sewn with a sweater knit before, and it was pretty straightforward; at least with this fabric it was quite similar to sewing with jersey. I’ve had great luck ordering fabric online from FFC, but this knit turned out to be a little more red-brown than I expected. Since the wrong side was a little closer to the dark chocolate I originally envisioned and it matched my pants a little better, it made sense to sew it with the wrong side as the right side. No one knows the difference and I have the fuzzy warm “right” side against my skin!

Pattern: Renfrew from Sewaholic Patterns

My main interest in this pattern originated with the cowl neck option. I’d never worn a cowl neck before, although I was partial to turtlenecks in high school–preppy early 90’s, anyone? It was fun to sew something that went beyond a “basic t-shirt”; the pattern directions and illustrations were clear and to the point. Although I wasn’t sure about the banded waistband and cuffs, I went for it and was pleasantly surprised; the bands finish off the sweater nicely and made it possible to avoid sewing a quirky knit hem. Based on my measurements, I cut a size 6 for this pattern, sizing up to an 8 from the waist, down through the hips to the bottom band.

This sweater is a nice wardrobe staple and I’m looking forward to making more of them!

bread bag tutorial + free embroidery pattern!

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

My Christmas workshop is usually overly ambitious, and it’s no different this year. So many projects, so little time. Often I have several “optional” projects in the mix, but every item on the list this year is firmly camped in the “have-to” column.
embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

First up was a work staff Christmas gift exchange with the designation of “kitchen gadgets”—since Cowboy got to come with me that meant we needed two gifts. I’m a big fan of production line crafting, so logically, that meant two sets of everything!

Into each package went a hotpad, two crocheted dishcloths, and an embroidered linen bread bag. Even though I have to reteach myself every time I crochet, the dishcloths were by far the easiest project—having teenage drivers in the family is not without its benefits; I managed to make one entire dishcloth on a return trip from the Big City while Bug drove. Amazingly I didn’t get carsick and it kept me from overreacting as we hurtled towards home (she did a great job).

The hotpads were not one of my finer moments, and hopefully the recipients don’t look at theirs too closely.

I intended the linen bread bags to be the centerpiece of the gift packages, and though they were not without their problems, I enjoyed sewing them. They’ll make really nice go-to gifts in the future, now that I’ve worked all the kinks out!

Below is my tutorial for making an 11 x 17” linen bread bag with a free embroidery download included. A little stitching and you’ll have a quality gift to give to friends, neighbors, or hosts.


embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

Prep fabric

Finish all four edges of the linen

I used my serger, however an overlock or zigzag stitch on a sewing machine should work well.

Create bag bottom

Press the fabric in half with the 12” edges matching and right sides facing. The crease will become the bottom of the bag.

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern


Transfer the embroidery design to the bag’s front using your favorite method. I pressed a horizontal crease to help me center the design before I ironed it on and shifted the design slightly to the left of center to make sure “BREAD” was still visible when the drawstring is pulled.

Embroider the design.

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

Side seams

Pin long sides together; mark 1 inch from the top (open) edge of the bag in the seam allowance on both long sides.

Starting at the one inch mark at the top of the bag, stitch long sides together, using a 1/2’’ seam allowance. Be sure to reverse several stitches once you get started to reinforce the seam. Do not stitch above the one-inch mark. Press side seams open, including the unstitched portion of the seam allowance above the one-inch mark.

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern (8)

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern (10)

Drawstring Casing

Above the one-inch mark, stitch the seam allowance down.

Turn the top edge of the bag down ½” towards the wrong side of the fabric to create the drawstring casing.

Press, then stitch in place using a 3/8” to scant ½” seam allowance. The casing can be stitched in one continuous circle; be sure to reinforce your stitching at both side seam allowances where the “gaps” are. Turn the bag right side out, making sure to push out the corners at the bottom of the bag and press.

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern


embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern (13)

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern


Cut two lengths of crochet thread, each about 30” long. Using a safety pin, run one piece of thread through an opening in a complete circle, exiting the bag at the gap directly next to the one you started with. Push the thread you just strung to the top of the casing; move to the opposite side seam and repeat this process with the second piece of crochet thread. Knot the ends of the threads on each side together.

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

Present your friend or hostess with a freshly baked loaf of bread in a handmade bread bag! (I’ve been achieving great French bread results for the past few months with this recipe!)

embroidered bread bag tutorial and free pattern

P.S. Newsletter subscribers will receive three free bread bag embroidery designs in the next ThimbleNest newsletter which will be sent out on Wednesday Friday. If you’re not yet a subscriber, sign up before then!
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boy’s fall capsule wardrobe update + free freezer stencil download

When I first decided that Spud needed a capsule wardrobe (Part 1 & Part 2) for fall, I knew it would take some time to pull it together—especially if most of it was handmade. With this update I’m checking two categories off the list.

boys fall capsule wardrobe--orange school bus tee and burda pants

boys fall capsule wardrobe--orange burda pants

boys fall capsule wardrobe--navy comfy pants


Comfy Pants

Pattern: Burda 9672

Fabric: Sweatshirt Fleece from Fabric Depot

Spud is quite happy with his new “comfy pants” and so am I. After an initial misstep in which I tried to use a pattern recommended for woven fabrics, everything went smoothly. Although, I suppose I do owe him a third pair of pants to replace the black ones that are worthless. I would like to add a couple more pairs of pants to his drawer anyways. Both the navy and orange pairs fit well, other than being a bit long, and they are a cinch to pull together. The orange fabric is nicer—more cotton, perhaps? The navy ones are a bit shiny and look like they’re going to pill. I used the stretch zigzag stitch on my sewing machine to hem the orange pants, which gave them a really finished look.

boys fall capsule wardrobe--red school bus tee

boys fall capsule wardrobe--green school bus tee

boys fall capsule wardrobe--orange school bus tee

boys fall capsule wardrobe--blue school bus tee

Boy's fall capsule wardrobe--gray jets school bus tee

Long-sleeve t-shirts

Pattern: Oliver + S School Bus Tee

Fabric: Knits from JoAnn’s

Freezer Paper Stencil: planes–click here

It seemed serendipitous when I walked into JoAnn’s and found all of these great knits on sale. They’re a nice weight and have stayed soft after a couple of washes; I’ll be interested to see how the colors hold up. I made the mistake of trying to use the same stretch zigzag stitch on the orange shirt’s hem as I did for the orange pants. The shirt fabric wasn’t sturdy enough to take the stitch and the hem ended up with a rippled effect; there was no way I was ripping out an entire hem of triple zigzag stitch, though.

Spud helped me paint the freezer stencil design onto his “jet” shirt. You can download the design for free by clicking the link above; tilt the stencil to the left or right on your project for the diagonal look on Spud’s shirt. He liked reading the color names on the paint bottles (he comes by it honestly–one of my favorite things is paint names) and was especially taken with “russet”–the middle color on his shirt. I almost outlawed it as a choice before we began painting, but then I convinced myself to let go of my preconceptions (our design was inspired by this one) for the colors and allow him complete creative control. Surprise, surprise, I really like how his color choices turned out. And as he told me, “It’s o.k. that those two jets are blurry, at least the russet one came out nice!”

Not all of my grand plans for memorable shirt details have worked out (the boy just plain needs clothes ASAP), but the blue shirt is awaiting further embellishment a la Richard Scarry.

I’m happy I’ve checked several things off Spud’s wardrobe list even though they were the easiest things to sew; next up, overalls!