Zip It! My First Try At A Zippered Pillow Cover

I sewed a zipper into a pillow cover! Woohoo! Cue the band and light the fireworks! I don’t know why, but it seems like a momentous occasion on my learning-to-sew journey. I’ve been wanting to do this little project since we started cleaning up our guest room. I purchased the pillow on the top left from TJ Maxx and it serves as the color inspiration. I picked up the other two fabrics at JoAnn.


I love that these fabrics feature my favorite green that reappears in several rooms of our house. What makes this color scheme fresh for this room is the addition of the dark blue.

To figure out how to install a zipper, I just Googled it. First I looked at this video on YouTube and thought it was too complicated. I didn’t like how there would be two lines of stitches along each side of the zipper. So, I skipped over to this website. This option looked like it would easily replicate how the zipper was sewn into the pillow I purchased at TJ Maxx. It involves sewing the seam together, then adding the zipper, followed by ripping the original seam apart to reveal the zipper. I do not like how it turned out.


This method may work for a different fabric, but my fabric is white with a dark pattern printed on it. I can see every little hole where the thread went through. Awful! I left it this way because I didn’t want to ruin the fabric any more than I already did. I don’t have enough to cut new pieces.

For the second pillow, I followed how it was done on the YouTube video and it almost looks like it was done by a professional. I’m still not sold on the double lines of stitches, but I think that could be corrected if I used no sew tape to iron the fold down, eliminating the need for one line of stitches, and then sewed on the zipper.


I did run into some trouble sewing over the thick parts of the zipper. My bobbin thread kept bunching up, so I learned to walk the foot and needle of my sewing machine over the thick part of the zipper. Next time, I think I would probably hand stitch the ends of the zipper to the fabric to avoid that problem. Just to give myself a little pat on the back, I’m pleased with how well I matched the pattern up on the seams of the pillow. It isn’t exact, but it’s pretty darn good.

Overall, this little project taught me not to rip seams on this type of printed fabric, or maybe not at all, and to try hand stitching through the thickest parts at the ends of the zippers.

Do you have a helpful hint for sewing zippers? I could sure use your advice for next time.

Making Table Linens with Oakshott Cotton

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be a part of Sew Mama Sew’s Oakshott Cotton Table Linens Challenge.  When I received the fabric I was curious about its unique iridescent color.  It is 100 percent mercerized cotton and has a lovely sheen to it.  On closer inspection I realized that this was partly due to the way the material is woven. Its weft and warp are woven from too distinct yet complementary colors.  So that’s when the ideas for napkin making began to swirl in my head.  I really wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to showcase these lovely colors.


I have a favorite set of napkins that I really love that served as inspiration for the napkins that I made.  They are made from a very different fabric but I really loved the way the edge was done with a rolled hem and I wanted to re-create this look.


I know that not every one has a serger with which to achieve this look so I decided to come up with a method for a rolled hem look without a serger.  Since I am also a knitter I decided to see what would happen if I tried to accomplish this look with the use of yarn.

Fall 2014 003

So I chose to use yarn in complementary colors similar to the ones used in the weft threads.  I chose the same color thread in both the needle and the bobbin to match the yarn color I chose so you would not see the thread color as it held down the yarn along the edge of the napkin.

Fall 2014 005

I sewed the yarn down with a zig-zag stitch on each of the four edges.  Then once I was done I trimmed close to the yarn edge without cutting through my zig-zag stitch.

Fall 2014 014

For a more detailed tutorial click here.


I am happy with the end result. I feel as though these napkins can be used in both a more formal setting as well as a more casual one.  Also, you can get creative with your yarn.  Some of the yarns I used also had an iridescent quality as well.  Also one of the yarns I used is made of variegated tones that darken and lighten as it goes around the edge of the napkin.  So with your choice of yarn, which is endless, you could greatly change the look of the napkins.


I feel like this makes for a fun and quick project that is practical while also letting you express your self creatively.  I can’t wait to see what napkins you make!

Be sure to head over to Sew Mama Sew the week of October 22-25 th to check out the highlights from this challenge. You can also enter to win some Oakshott Cotton fabric of your own!!

I’m lucky enough to have these guys join me in this challenge.

Michelle White            Falafel and the Bee

Jessica Skultety         Quilty Habit

Nicole Neblett             mama loves quilts

Sara Peterson            knottygnome crafts

Anjeanette Klinder

So go check out their blogs and see what everyone is making!! Napkins just in time for the Holidays!!!






Try, try, try….


Ok, so I have really been wanting to sew my daughter a raglan style t-shirt and so I found instructions for a DIY pattern.  It sounded easy enough and made sense so I gave it a go.


Above were my first three attempts.  These were all made using the DIY instructions.  The first one was comically small.  My daughter reassured me that she could use it for her American Girl Doll!  Hee-hee. Also, I placed the pattern on the main fabric upside down. It could go either way but I wanted it going the other direction so it look more like a banner and less like triangles.

For the second attempt I made it bigger, but then the neck was way too big!

My third attempt was better but the neckline still had issues and the shirt looked wonky in general.  Also, I had trouble getting the hem right for the sleeves and bottom of the t- shirt.

This was my 4th try.  This time I decided I needed an actual pattern so I purchased and downloaded this one.

May 2014 270

This helped a lot! The neckline is much better and no more general wonkiness. I was also really happy with my top-stitching of the neckline and my double needle skills on the sleeve hem.May 2014 269

One thing I learned when working on this project was that it’s best to not try to sew the entire shirt with the serger.  Especially under the arms with the serger knife down.  I kept making big holes on the underarms.  Sometimes I think in curved areas like that it is best to sew the seam on a regular sewing machine first and then go back with the serger.  Preferably not with the knife down!

Two things that I’ve learned that have helped me to improve my sewing are:

1- try, try, try again


2- slow down!

I think the things that made this shirt look better each time I sewed had less to do with garment construction and more to do with getting the details right.

Taking my time when top-stitching really seamed to improve the look of the garment.

I could also add a third item

3 – Press, press, press … with the iron.
Pressing the seams,even on knits, or I should say, especially on knits, really made the shirt look less hand made.

Keeping these items in mind while sewing really helped me to improve the look of the fifth version.



The best part was that this one turned out well enough for my daughter to actually wear this to school. I was so happy with these results that I decided that I needed to make one more attempt using this ruffled fabric and here are the results.


A fun shirt we both like.  Sometimes on the internet I feel like all we ever see is the happy final product without all the mess ups. I needed this reminder that it doesn’t always end up perfect the first time.

So have you been working on improving some of your skills lately?  Do you find failure the key to success?
Apparently, I do!