You are Cordially Invited to a Festivus Celebration! Dress: Proper Bow-Tie

You are Cordially Invited to a Festivus Celebration! Dress: Proper Bow-Tie

Leilande and Santa 2014
Is it me or does Santa look a tad tense while Kitty looks like he’s surveying his kingdom?


Kitty took his annual trek to visit Santa.  SANTA!!! And, I sewed him a Christmas themed bow-tie just for the occasion.

Kitty and Bowtie
Gingerbread Button!! Ahhhhhhh!!! :)

Now, I know what you are thinking, “I want a bow-tie for the holidays!!”  Bow-ties originated among Croatian mercenaries during the Prussian wars of the 17th century, who used fabric pieces to tie the tops of their uniforms closed,  and they have come into and out of fashion since then.  They have definitely gained momentum in the last decade, and are not just for distinguished Kitties either.  Kids, women, hipsters, nerds and grampas alike are ALL sporting this formally formal attire.

photo source
photo source

Well, you are in luck.  Below are some patterns and instructions on how to sew your own bow-tie. (just click on the pics.)

This one’s from Martha.  Can Martha do EVERYTHING?  It includes pattern, instructions and a handy how-to video.

Martha Stewart Sews a BowTie
Martha Stewart Sews a BowTie

The next instructional gem is brought to you by Tie a Tie.  An entire website dedicated to ties of all sorts!  Yes, please.

Bow Tie DIY from Tie a Tie

The last pattern comes from the purveyor of the most fabulous fabrics…Liberty!  How perfect is this animal themed fabric for a bow-tie?

Liberty Print Bow Tie
Liberty Print Bow Tie

Not a traditionalist and want a unique shape to your bow-tie?  Ponoko has 7 different bow-tie templates for you to choose from.

7 Bow-Tie Templates from Ponoko
7 Bow-Tie Templates from Ponoko

And, now that you’ve sewn it (the easy part), how do you tie it?? (the hard part)  Well, if at some point during the tying process, you wish that you could just go to the party in your underwear, I’ve got you covered.  Here’s how to tie your masterpiece!


And, if these instructions still leave you wanting to tie your bow-tie around a brick and throw it in the ocean, there is hope for you too!  Here are instructions for a No Tie Bow-Tie from Instructables.  So easy to assemble and as long as nobody gets too close, no one knows but you (and the cat.  But the cat knows everything.  Always.  So, you can’t win.)

No Tie Bow Tie from Instructables
No Tie Bow Tie from Instructables

Till Next Year!  I hope everybody enjoys a peaceful and loving holiday season.

Happy Chinese New Year from the Jungle!

Happy Chinese New Year from the Jungle!

Kitty Collar and Tie and Gunmetal Dress

Jungle January, hosted, once again, by the vivacious and print loving lady, Anne, comes to a close today, on Chinese New Year!  Gong Xi Fa Cai (pronounced King Hey Fa Choy in cantonese or Gong See Fa Tsey in Mandarin) means “happiness and prosperity”.  And, Xtnnian hao (pronounced shin-nyen ha-ow in Mandarin or sen-nih ha-ow in Cantonese) means “Have a good New Year”.


It is auspicious on the New Year to wear red, hang red lanterns, give monetary gifts in red envelopes or write in red ink.  Red is representative of fire and is believed to symbolize luck and ward off evil.  Also, this is the time to set aside grudges against enemies and call off unpaid debt. Let bygones be bygones – if personal differences or financial obligations cannot be settled before the Chinese New Year, they shall be forgotten.

photo source:

Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit Dress With Added CuffsI sewed Lolita Patterns Gunmetal dress in an abstract art leopard print for Jungle January.  I was lucky enough to win this pattern over on Melanie’s Blog when she was a tester for the Gunmetal dress.  The pattern is for knits and is a lined princess seamed dress with option to add a sheer overlay.  There were many pattern pieces and lettered notches, so when cutting the pieces, I used small stickers to label the various notches.

Labelling Pattern PiecesThe pattern uses a tiny cap sleeve with the option of adding an elastic hem.  I wanted long sleeves, so extended the sleeve to the desired length, using the same angle as the sleeve pattern piece.  Lengthening Gunmental Dress Sleeves

Originally, I wanted to add cuffs and a hem band in a beautiful teal fabric.  This fabric is a sueded microfibre knit and is also the devil.  Do NOT look directly at it!!!!

Teal Sueded Knit Microfibre

Uh oh…MY RETINAS!  THEY BURN!!  I tried everything with this fabric, using a large sized microtex needle, using tissue paper strips, using various stitch types (lightening bolt, triple stretch, zig-zag) and a walking foot but nothing worked.  It ultimately ended up damaging my new sewing machine.  Ya.  Luckily, I was able to take the case off the machine and pick out bits of thread and fabric and fixed it.

And, I could not use my overlocker to sew it as it was already damaged by the tissue knit fabric that I used for the lining.  The overlocker pulled it into the feed dogs and seems to have misaligned everything.  I don’t know how people sew with tissue thin knits, either on an overlocker or sewing machine, they seem very temperamental to me.  And, is tissue-knit just another word for ‘only lasts through one wash?’  The fabric feels lovely but stretches out of shape almost immediately, especially the 4-way stretch knit,  and just cannot withstand any kind of stitch ripping whatsoever and often gets pulled into the feed dogs.  I would only use it again for a very simple, non-fitted pattern.

Anyhoo, despite this, I did add cuffs to the sleeves using a zebra print stretch knit that’s been in my stash for a while that I obtained from a sewing meet-up.

Creating a Sleeve Cuff
How to Sew a Sleeve Cuff: 1. Measure how long you want the cuff and double this. Next measure the desired width and cut out the rectangle. Sew the rectangle together along the length. 2. Fold the rectangle in half, right side out. Line up the cuff seam with the sleeve seam. 3. Match raw edges of cuff and sleeve and sew with right sides together. I opted to make the cuff tighter than the sleeve, so first gathered in the sleeve to fit the cuff. 4. Pull out cuff from sleeve and press.

Gunmetal Dress InsideI lined the dress in a 4-way stretch tissue knit, added black lace seam binding to the hem and sewed the seams with a lightening bolt stitch.

Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit DressFor the bodice, I did not make ruffles, but rather used 3 strips of black sheer organza ruffled ribbon for the middle and then added 2 rows of a teal lace to either side.  Lolita Patterns Gunmetal Knit Dress and Ruffled Bodice

I found the neckline very low on this dress, too low for my comfort level to wear.  I’m not sure if the 4-way stretch leopard print and grey lining fabric stretched during sewing or if it is because I am short-waisted.  So, I added black fold-over elastic binding around the neckline and stretched it while sewing.  This helped to tighten up and lift the neckline somewhat.  I love the ruched side panels on the bodice!

And, Kitty, for his part in Jungle January, opted to sew himself a zebra print collar and tie.  This project, along with the dress cuffs are my contributions to Stashbusting 2014, January’s Challenge, where we had to use stash fabric that was less than a yard in size.  January Stashbusting Challenge

stashbusting 2014

Kitty Prepping Collar and Tie
Kitty Prepping His Collar and Tie Pattern

Colourful button added to the back of the collar.

Kitty Sends Up the Cat Signal
Kitty Sends Up the Cat Signal

Do you want to sew a collar and tie for your cat?  Ya, you do!!  Here is the link for the free pattern and instructions.  Make sure you measure your cat’s neck before you cut the pattern as you may have to add length.

Measure Kitty Neck Adjust Pattern
Measure Kitty’s neck and adjust pattern, if necessary.
Kitty Cat Zebra Print Collar and Tie
SO Handsome!!

Look At Mah Collah and Tie!

Look At Mah Collah and TieLOOK AT IT!!!


Zebras are ungulate mammals that are members of the horse family, Equidae, and are closely related to the domestic horse.

Zebras Horses

And, being the ever relevant cat that he is, Kitty opted to fashion his collar and tie out of zebra print since 2014 is Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac.

Were you born in the years: 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942 or 1930?  Then, you, my good friend are a Horse in the Chinese zodiac.  Those born in horse years are merry, skillful with money, witty, talented and good with their hands. Rembrandt, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Chopin, Sandra Day O’Connor, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and Jerry Seinfeld were born in the year of the horse.


Strengths:  Cheerful and perceptive.  Very social, with high energy.

Weaknesses:  Can be impatient and quick-tempered and independent to the point of excluding others.

Zodiac sign compatibility—Best matches: tiger, sheep, dog; Avoid: rat, ox, rabbit

According to Paul Ng, an astrologist and feng shui expert, horse people are entering a year of conflict in 2014.  They are to pay extra attention to their health this year.  Do not make any rash decision when it comes to personal finance and avoid gambling.  Spend modestly and increase savings.

What animal are you?chinese zodiacKitty is the sign of the Dog.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?    Jungle January? ROAWWRR!!

Jungle January? ROAWWRR!!
Scene in Rectangles – Lined Tote Bag

Scene in Rectangles – Lined Tote Bag

Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles
Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles
Inside Patch Pockets
Inside Patch Pockets

I’ve discovered that there are many simple projects that can be completed using only squares or rectangles as your pattern pieces. This makes measuring and cutting out your pattern quite simple and you also only sew straight lines.  One project I completed, is a lined tote bag complete with inside pockets.  The pattern is based on instructions from the book Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara (City Girl Tote).  I modified it to include two inside pockets and a magnetic snap closure.  All the pattern pieces used in this tote consist of rectangles that you draft yourself.

Two rectangles of a cotton canvas duck were used for the outside, each were 81cm X 51 cm  (32″ X 20″).  Make sure you square your lines when drafting your rectangles using either a triangle, T-square or even a square quilting ruler.  Two rectangles of medium weight cotton fabric were used for the lining with two smaller rectangles of lining fabric for patch pockets, one on each side.  Both the exterior tote and the lining have boxed corners to provide more shape and structure to the tote.  For more information on boxing corners, click here.  Two smaller rectangles comprised the facing at the top of the tote and four long rectangles of the lining fabric, along with fusible interfacing made up the handles.

Lining and Facing
Lining and Facing

Eight pieces of grosgrain ribbon (two for each handle) were sewn on with zigzag stitching to add some design interest.  Coincidentally, the cut ribbon also consisted of very long rectangles.  The lining was attached using the “bagging” method. This method is not too difficult and professional looking.  For more information on how to line using the bagging method, click here.

You can then add a magnetic snap closure to the inside facing and you have a sturdy, roomy tote to take shopping.

A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip
A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip
Easy Embellished Scarf (with yo-yos)

Easy Embellished Scarf (with yo-yos)

I found some fabric in the ‘ends’ bin that I had to have.  The labels in these bins always say “100% unknown fibre content” which makes them all sound so mysterious and exotic, but it is very likely 100% polyester satin.  However, one side is a smooth pale green and the other side is a pale textured aqua with a sheen and it could very easily pass for dupioni silk!


I didn’t have a lot of the fabric and wanted to showcase both sides of it, so I made a scarf.  I cut a rectangle, double folded the hems on all four sides, about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch) and added some machine embroidery along both short ends.  My machine is not fancy in this regard but there are a few options to choose from.  If you look closely, you can see the one I selected consists of tiny rectangles joined together to form a herringbone line.  herringbone embroiderySince the material is thin, the larger satin stitches I tried on it made it pucker too much.  I have since bought water-soluble backing to use in future machine embroidery projects to see if that makes a difference.

I added some fabric yo-yo’s (remember yo-yo’s?) as embellishment in different sizes, using both sides of the fabric.  I also sewed on some matte aqua buttons in the centres of some of the yo-yo’s. scarf yo-yo embellishments On the opposite sides of the yo-yo’s, I attached some coordinating buttons.  This was to provide some stability as well as disguise the thread used to attach the yo-yos to the scarf.  I wasn’t sure how else to do this, so I chose the buttons.  If you know of an alternative method, please let me know.  Scarf backside with label

And, voila, a scarf!  I think it makes polyester look far more elegant than it probably should.

Super Simple Sewing: Rectangle Placemat Purse

Super Simple Sewing: Rectangle Placemat Purse

purse tote stripedpurse tote flowers

This is my first sewing project and it is quite simple to do.  I made some small handbags using rectangular placemats.  By using a placemat, it ensures that you do not have to worry about finishing your seams, nor do you have to use your trusty ruler and scissors to measure and cut fabric. Also, placemats are often double-sided, so you have a choice as to which side you want to see on the outside while the inside looks equally spiffy in a coordinating fabric without having to insert a lining.

It is a very good first project for somebody still wary of measuring and cutting properly.  The handles used were plastic purse handles, although you can also get wooden ones, and were attached to the bag using grosgrain ribbon.

Supplies:  One rectangular placemat, scissors, ruler, plastic or wooden purse handles, chalk or fabric pencils, coordinating grosgrain ribbon (for widths and lengths, see details below), one sew on snap closure and buttons, beads or other embellishments (optional).

  1. Cut five pieces of grosgrain ribbon (four will need to be the width of the openings in your purse handles, as they are going to be threaded through these openings, and the remaining fifth piece will be for the closure so it can be of a different width).  Cut each piece approximately 10 cm (4-5”) long.  Find the centre of the short end of your placemat and mark this.  Measure the distance between the two ends of one handle and centre this measurement on the short end of the placemat.  Mark these two measurements (where the openings on the handle fall) on both the right and wrong sides of the placemat, approximately 2 cm (1”) down from this short edge.  Sew one end of the ribbon to the right side of your placemat on one of these marks.  Sew one end of the second piece of ribbon to the right side of the placemat on the other mark.  Do the same for the opposite short end of the placemat so that you have four pieces of ribbon hanging off the right side, two on each short end.
  2. Next, sew the fifth piece of ribbon, the closure, to the right side of only ONE short side of the placemat, right on the centre mark.   
  3. Thread one end of the handle ribbon through the opening in one end of a purse handle.  Then, flip it to the inside of the placemat and sew into place on the mark you made earlier on the inside or wrong side of the placemat.  Do the same for the other end of the handle.  One handle should now be attached to one short end of the place mat.  Then, repeat this for the opposite short end with the other handle and two ribbon pieces.
  4. Now, we are going to need wide grosgrain ribbon, it can be the same as the closure ribbon or something else.  Cut two pieces, each equal to the width of the short end of your placemat.  Sew one ribbon on each end of the placemat so that you cover the raw edges of the ribbon pieces that you just sewed on.
  5. Fold the placemat in half lengthwise, with right sides facing, and stitch both sides together.
  6. Then, box both corners and turn the bag right side out.  Click here to find out more about boxing corners.
  7. Now you can hand sew one half of your snap to the inside of  the closure piece of ribbon.    Flip over the ribbon to the other side of the purse and mark where you will need to sew on the other half of the snap.  Sew this half of the snap on the purse front and Ta Da!  You should have a handy purse sized tote.

You can also add embellishments, like beads, fabric flowers or buttons, to the front of your bag, I sewed on some jewelry pieces and buttons to the closure piece of ribbon, on the opposite side of the snap.

tote pursesmall tote - flowers