Archive for the ‘tutorials’ Category

guest post: tutorial for a cuffy outfit

I want to welcome Sophie from Roubidou as our first guest poster this week! I have been watching her sew tiny, beautiful clothes all through her pregnancy: quilted jackets and fuzzy vests and amazing ensembles! Even though she was very, very pregnant, she agreed to write up a tutorial for us. And wow, what a tutorial it is! A cuff is a lovely detail and now you can put it on a shirt, a jacket, a pair of pants, or all three. After you’ve finished reading the tutorial she made, go have a look at the lovely baby she just made! Congratulations Sophie!
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Hello dear Elsie Marley readers,

When Meg asked me to do a little tutorial for KCWC I was pleased as punch not only for an opportunity to be a guest on one of my favourite blogs but also to be part of this autumn’s sewing frolic after all (our daughter is supposed to arrive on the 10th). I sewed the outfit to introduce three slightly different types of cuffs and hope you can follow the instructions without too much effort. I’m a self-trained dilettante so the tutorial below is merely what worked for me.

Happy KCWC,


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1. Sew the shirt as indicated by your pattern ignoring the instructions for the sleeve finish. Look at the given seam allowance and the sleeve finish method of the pattern, calculate the length of your cuff plus seam allowance to determine how much you’ll shorten the sleeve before adding the cuff and placket. To save fabric you could do this before cutting the fabric. If you have your little client ready and willing have her/him put on the garment to tailor the sleeves according to his/her measurement.

2. Make a pattern for you placket and cut out the placket twice (you’ll want mirroring plackets unlike the ones in the photo).

3. Place the placket with its ride side onto the wrong side of the sleeve and sew a little rectangle. Slash through the placket and sleeve down centre right between the stitches and carefully clip to the corners of the rectangle.

4. Turn the placket to the right side of the fabric and press. Now it’s likely to become a bit finicky. I very much prefer sewing for kids since it is so much quicker, pieces are easier to handle and you need less fabric. But sewing this placket, especially for a size 2 shirt, I wished I was sewing an adult sized shirt. To help you through this fabric origami it might be good idea to have a ‘real’ shirt with a placket lying next to you for visual guidance.

5. Fold back the long edge of the shorter side of the placket and pin in place. Then sew the folded edge in place stopping at the top of the gap. Tie the thread ends securely on the wrong side.

6. Next, fold the other side of the placket across the shorter side and press under the long edge. Fold back so that the pressed-under edge is on the sewing line and pin in place. Now, fold under the top pointed end,and press. Sew the long folded edge and make sure the underside of the placket is not caught in the stitching. Stitch an X at the end of the placket. Finish by tying the thread ends on the wrong side.

7. Now, gather the sleeve, stitching along the sleeve line with the longest stitch available on your sewing machine. Pull on the threads to manipulate the sleeve.

8. Cut out the cuff in the desired size. I used a one-piece cuff cut from the fabric in one piece and applied fusible interfacing to the half of the cuff that will be the upper cuff. Fold the seam of the non-interfaced side and press. Next sew the cuff onto the sleeve, right side to right side and trim the seam allowance. It’s important that you have an overlap as large as your seam allowance on both sides.

9. Fold and press the cuff to itself, right side to right side, so the folded side of the cuff comes to the sleeve-to-cuff seamline. Sew the ends in line with the two openings, cut the seam allowance, and press the seams open.

10. Trim, turn and press the cuff to the right side. I sewed the folded under cuff in place by machine, but if you want an invisible finish for your could,  hand stitch the folded edge on the inside with a blind-stitch or a slip-stitch.

11. Make a buttonhole on the upper side of the cuff and sew a button on the underside of the cuff. Repeat for the other sleeve.


1. Sew your jacket bearing the same alterations in mind as with the shirt.

2. Now on to the band cuff. Cut the cuff in the desired size, you’ll have two pieces of different fabric per cuff. Since the outside fabric is already thick I didn’t use fusible interfacing, depending on your fabric you might want to apply interfacing to the upper cuff. Pin the two pieces together, right sides facing, and turn under a seam allowance on the under cuff and press. Stitch the lower edge together. Trim and press open the cuff. 


3. Then sew the short side ends together, trim and press again. 

4. If you want to gather the sleeve before sewing on the cuff, do so now. Then sew the sleeve to the upper cuff, right sides facing. Trim and grade the seam. 

5. Press the seam allowance towards the cuff. Turn the cuff inside along the foldline, wrong sides facing. On the inside of the sleeve sew the under cuff in place either by machine or handstitch.

6. Repeat for the other sleeve and that’s it. 


1. This cuff is sewn very similar to the shirt cuff. The main construction difference is that this is a lapped cuff which is used for bound or faced openings. I didn’t use any of these openings since I lined the pants and had my raw seams of the opening sandwiched between the lining and the main fabric. With a lapped cuff you’ll have to sew the cuff onto the knee sleeve with an overlap where the button will be. Sew your pants bearing the same alterations in mind as with the shirt

2. Now to the cuff. Start by sewing a line of piping (with your zipper foot) long enough for two sleeve cuffs. Then cut the cuffs in the desired size (i simply used a cereal bowl to trace the round edges). You’ll need four pieces altogether, I used the same fabric inside as outside in order not to distract from the piping. Pin the piping to the right side of one sleeve cuff. Stitch close to the stitching line on the piping, sewing with your zipper foot.

3. Turn under a seam allowance on the under cuff and press. Place the under cuff over the piping, right sides facing an sew the outer line of the cuff close to the previous stitch and the piping again with your zipper foot. Trim, turn and press the cuff.

4. Now attach the cuff to the knee sleeve as you did with the shirt but leave a seam allowance on one side and an overlap (long enough for your button) on the other side. Sew the cuff to the knee sleeve as you did with the shirt. Fold and press the cuff to itself, right side to right side, so the folded side of the cuff comes to the knee-sleeve-to-cuff seamline. Sew the shirt end in line with the opening and trim. Sew the overlap end along from the knee-sleeve to-cuff-seamline and then down to the cuff. Clip the corners and press the seams open. Push to the right side and finish the edge of the under cuff either by hand or machine.

5. Make a buttonhole on the upper side of the cuff and sew a button on the underside of the cuff. Repeat for the other knee sleeve.

And ready is a cuffy outfit.

bunting tag tutorial

Next week is the kids clothes week challenge! Have you signed up? Do you have a plan? Are you making piles of fabric? My list consists mostly of pants, coats, and some shirts. Not particularly exciting, but it’s what my kids need.

This week I wanted to have a slew of tutorials to get everyone excited to sew next week. There are so many good tutorials out there for simple pants and shirts already. Like these–

tutorials for basic kids clothes

  1. simple pants pattern
  2. basic coat pattern
  3. ringer shirt tutorial
  4. hoodie to pullover refashion
  5. kimono pattern
  6. raglan shirt pattern

So instead of patterns and tutorials for pants or tops, I’ve asked some super fantastic children’s clothes makers (and bloggers) to come up with tutorials for details you can add to basic pieces: patches, hoods, pintucks.  Sounds awesome, right? This week will be like the pre-game party for kcwc!

bunting tag tutorial

I’m going to kick it off with a little detail tutorial of my own: the bunting tag tutorial. I try to remember to put tags in all the clothes I make, because if I don’t my son will inevitably wear his pants backwards. The elsie marley tag I have is gray–nice and subtle, but not very noticeable to a four year old. So I’ve had to come up with other, more visible tags to use. Bunting, banners, triangles on strings, whatever you call them they are everywhere, so I figured why not put them in your pants?

the bunting tag tutorial

bunting tag materials


  • bias tape–double fold, single fold, it doesn’t matter just use what you have
  • pins
  • scissors
  • iron
  • an article of clothing to put your tags in

bunting tag tutorial steps 1 and 2


1.  Cut five 2 inch pieces of bias tape. You can use all the same color or different colors, whatever you like. Oh yeah, that is some metallic gold bias tape up there!

2.  Open up one side of the bias tape and iron it flat. Then fold up the folded side to make a triangle–see above photo. 

bunting tag tutorial steps 3,4,5

3.  Turn the triangle over so the fold is in the back. Line them up in the order you like.

4.  Check to see if the triangles are evenly spaced by placing a piece of paper over the raw edges (the bit of cardboard that comes with bias tape works well for this).  This also lets you see what the tag will look like when it’s sewn into your clothes–the triangles overlapping no longer shows and it looks more like a proper bunting.

5.  Pin the triangles and sew or bast them together.  Trim the raw edges to about 1/4 inch.

bunting tags!

6. Insert the bunting where you would normally put a tag (the back, duh) and sew that sucker in. Ta Da! A bunting in your pants!  Now your kids won’t put their clothes on backwards and while you are folding the laundry you’ll smile a little when you see these little tags .



knot shorts

posting a project I did for grosgrain’s free pattern month:

Meg from elsie marley here and I’m very happy to be a part of all of this fantastic freeness on Grosgrain this month. For my contribution I’m going to show you how to alter a plain old pants pattern into one that will make super cute shorts for your little girl: knot shorts!

knot shorts tutorial by elsie marley


  • an existing kid’s shorts or pants pattern
  • one yard material
  • quarter yard (or so) contrasting material for facing
  • elastic (1 inch wide, or whatever you have lying around)
  • freezer paper, or some other paper to trace patterns

It might seem silly that for free pattern month, you first need to have a pattern. But making a kid’s pants pattern is easy as pie–you just trace some kid pants. Dana from Made has a very clear tutorial for making pants patterns that you can check out if you don’t have a pattern on hand. I have only made these for kids, but I don’t see why altering a grown up pattern in the same way wouldn’t work just as well.


1. First you need to trace your pattern onto pattern paper, or newsprint, or I like to use freezer paper.

2. Now you need to decided how long the inseam on your knot shorts will be. I made mine 4 inches long. This is a medium length pair of shorts on a 5 year old girl. A one or two inch inseam sounds scandalous, but I’ve made knot shorts that short and they look great. And besides, kids have very short legs, so it’s really not that short at all.

making the pattern for knot shorts

2. Whatever length inseam you choose divide it in half and make a mark. From that mark draw a line through the pattern and extend it 6 inches past the outer seam of the pants.

making the knot for knot shorts

3. From the end of the line draw a nice curve down to the bottom of the shorts. And draw another line that gracefully curves up to meet the outer seam.

4. Repeat the process for the back pattern piece.

making the facing pattern for the knot shorts

5. To make the facing for the shorts, first trace the front pattern piece. Then on your new piece, draw a straight line from the crotch (ugh, I can’t stand that word) to where the tie begins to curve out. Cut on that line. This will be your facing pattern.

6. Now that the pattern is made you can cut your fabric. Cut two front pieces and two back pieces out of your main fabric. From the contrasting fabric cut 4 facing pieces.

sewing inseam for the knot shorts

7.  Sew two facing pieces together, on the short straight side, right sides facing. Then serge or hem the long straight edge on top. Do this  for the other set of facing pieces as well.

8. Sew the inseam together on both legs of the shorts.

9. Open up one leg of the shorts and put the facing on top– as above–right sides facing.

10. Sew all around except where you hemmed (or serged). Clip the corners, turn out, and press.

11. Sew down the outer seams on both legs of the shorts. Stop right after you catch a bit of the facing, then backstitch a few times to secure.

12. Turn one leg inside out and the other right side out

last seam of the knot shorts

13. Put the right side out leg inside the inside out leg–now the right sides are together. Sew all around the crotch (that word again, ugh).

almost done with the knot shorts

14. Turn it out and press. You should have a very funny looking pair of shorts.

15. Make sure you have thread that matches exactly to your main fabric, then sew around the top of the facing to attach it to the shorts. Or if you want the seam to be even more invisible, you can sew it by hand.

tie the knots

16. Tie the knots, silly!

17. Fold the top edge under and press. Sew around to make a casing for the elastic. Insert elastic, insert child to see if they fit, sew up elastic and seam and ta da! Knot shorts!

I hope you enjoyed the knot shorts tutorial! Thanks so much for having me, Kathleen!



the awesome bag

posting a project I did for luv in the mommyhood:

Hello Mommyhood readers, Meg from elsiemarley here! I was absolutely thrilled when Shannon asked me to be a part of her fabulous crafty boxing match. It was a little hard to pick teams, I have to say. I learned how to crochet last year and very quickly fell in love with it. My winter was spent sitting on the couch, cranking out whatever cool crochet patterns my little fingers desired, as my poor sewing machine sat dusty and unloved in the corner.  But sewing has always been my true favorite: the instant gratification of sewing wins out over the sitting on your butt part of crochet (or knitting) almost every time.  And with that in mind, let’s crank out a bag that will go with everything in a few measly hours. Take that Cozy Knits! Kapow!

Every spring I get the urge to buy a completely new, bright, flirty, floral wardrobe replete with matching bags and strappy sandals, but it never happens. Even if I did have the cash for a springtime shopping spree (ha!) all those accessories wouldn’t fit in our little house. So I came up with a bag that can be many different bags all in one. It is completely reversible, so it will match all the springy outfits you already have and make them look fresh and new. It is also adjustable, so it can be a very ladylike shoulder bag or if you need to jump on your bike and go, it can become more of a messenger bag. Awesome, right? So without further ado, I give you…


  • 1/2 yard fabric A
  • 1/2 yard fabric B
  • 1/2 yard lining fabric, I prefer to use canvas or a home dec weight fabric rather than interfacing
  • 20 buttons, yes 20! all the same, or 10 of one kind 10 of another, but they all should be about the same size
  • sewing machine, buttonhole attachment (you can do it!)
  • iron


1. Out of each 1/2 yard of fabric cut two 14 inch wide by 15 inch tall pieces and one 2 inch wide by 41 inch long piece. You should have plenty of fabric to work with, but I want you to mark all the piece on your fabric first to see how it will fit. The strap will go along the top (the long side will be perpendicular to the salvage) and the two main piece of the bag should fit below it (the short side going with the salvage).

2. On the bottom of each piece cut a 1 1/4 inch square out of both corners. This is going to make a boxed bottom for the bag.

3. Now you need to sew all the pieces together.

  • Start with fabric A: before you sew, mark a 4 inch wide space in the middle of the bottom edge, sew the bottom of the bag together, right sides facing, but in between the marks use a basting stitch (just a very long stitch). Take it to your ironing board and press the seam open. Then sew up both sides,right side facing. Don’t sew around the notches we cut out! the easiest way to press the side seams open is to lay your bag flat and fold down one side of the seam, iron it (see above), then flip it over and fold the other side of the seam down and iron.
  • fabric B and lining: Sew the bottom seam first (no basting) right sides together and press the seam open. Sew the side seams and iron as above.  Again don’t sew the notches!

4. At on of the square notches, fold the bag so that the bottom seam and the side seam line up. Iron it flat and sew closed. Do this on both notches for fabric A, fabric B, and the lining.

5. Take fabric A where we did that bit of basting and rip out all those basting stitches. This will be the hole where we turn the bag right side out, which is the next step…

6. Turn the fabric A bag right side out and put it on your hand (really!). Then take the fabric B bag, inside out, and pull it on top of fabric A. It’s important that that the right side of these two bags are facing each other. Then lastly, fit the lining (inside out or right side out, it doesn’t matter) on top. You should have a big oven mitt like thing on your hand now. Poke your fingers into the boxy corners and try to get them all to match up.

7. Line up the raw edges at the top of the bag. If all the fabrics don’t line up (mine never do) trim them so they do. Now sew all around the top of the bag.

8. Stick your hand through the hole we made in fabric A and pull out fabric B and the lining. Then stuff fabric B and the lining into fabric A. This is a little confusing to explain and weird the first time you do it, but it works I promise!

9. Iron the top edge.

10. Hand sew the hole in fabric B closed. It should be easy to make it straight and pretty much invisible because you can just follow where the basting stitches were. The best stitch to use for this is the ladder stitch.

11. Now for the strap. You should have three strap pieces–42inch by 2inches–one from each fabric. Stack them all on top on one another making sure the right sides of fabric A and fabric B are touching.

12. Lay the strap out flat. On the left side, on the bottom measure in one inch and cut from there to the end of the top edge. This just makes a pretty angled end to the strap. Do the right side, except measure in one inch from top and cut down to the end of the bottom edge.

13. Sew all around the strap, leaving about a foot wide opening in the middle of one side, so we can turn it out easily. You could also do the basting stitch trick here if you like. Turn that sucker out! You can use a chopstick, a pencil, a tweezers, whatever works, but be sure to poke the corners at the ends of the strap out. Iron it well after it’s all right side out.

14. To sew the opening closed you can topstitch all around or hand sew it–it’s up to you. If you want to topstitch it and want to match your thread to your fabrics, just put the one that matches fabric B in the bobbin and the one that matches fabric A on top. Then be sure to sew with fabric A side on top and you’re good to go.

15. Now we’re going to attach the strap to the bag! Place the strap so the pointed part is at the bottom edge and it is centered over the side seam.

16.  Starting about an inch from the top of the bag lay 5 buttons along the strap all the way to the bottom (about an inch before the angled bit begins). My buttons are 1 1/2 apart, but your bag might have turned out a little bigger or smaller, so just make sure they are evenly spaced.

17. Mark where all the buttons go. Then do a test run with your buttonhole attachment on your sewing machine.

18. You can see above I have my test buttonhole next to my strap (with the mark on it), so I know about where to start the buttonhole. When you hold your awesome bag all full up with awesome stuff the button will slide down to the bottom of the buttonhole, so keep this in mind for where you place the buttonhole in relation to the button. I hope this isn’t horribly confusing–I’m trying to be extra clear so you don’t have to rip out any buttonholes, because that’s no fun.

19. Mark the buttonholes in the same way on the other side of the strap as well. Sew those buttonholes! You should have 5 on one end and 5 on the other. Carefully cut the buttonholes open. Pin the strap onto the bag and make marks through the buttonhole for where the buttons go. All the marks should all be on the side seam.

20. It’s time to sew all those buttons on. Settle in on the couch with a needle and thread (and a podcast or two). You are going to sew two buttons at a time: they will be in the same place, but one will be on one side and one on the other. The awesome bag is reversible, remember? Start at the top and attach the first button with one stitch, then when you go through the fabric attach the button on the other side. This is a little fiddly, but it will cut your sewing time in half. When you are finished you should have 20 buttons sewn on!

21. Button your strap up however you like, on whichever side goes with the very cute outfit you have on today. Ta Da! you made The Awesome Bag. You are awesome!

to market, to market dishtowel

Edited to add: It was brought to my attention that it isn’t actually Anthropologie who makes the Primal Cuts dishtowel, but a very talented indie designer Sara Selepouchin. She sells her butcher’s diagram dishtowels and many other amazing things at her shop, girls can tell. They are beautifully designed (the coffee one is my favorite) and professionally printed–definitely not a slap dash affair like mine.


handmade may from the long thread

Ellen asked me to do a little tutorial for her handMAYde month and I was happy to oblige.  There were some fabulous tutorials for weddings, babies, and kids, but this last week is for knock offs. Being the cheapskate that I am this was the week for me. I was perusing everyone’s favorite store to knock off and saw these dishtowels:


Actually, last christmas I wanted to silkscreen a set of butcher diagram dishtowels for presents, but that meant learning how to silkscreen, so the idea kind of fizzled. Sadly, I still don’t know how to silkscreen. I thought maybe freezer paper stencils would work, but then the images would loose a lot of detail. Iron on paper or ink jet transfer? Well then you’d have to find and buy supplies and wrestle with your printer. I wanted a quick and dirty project. So I went downstairs to my studio, rustled up some supplies and this is what I got:

to market, to market dishtowel:

a tutorial in 3 easy steps

to market, to market dishtowel tutorial



  • large embroidery hoop
  • flour sack towel
  • fine point fabric pen
  • image to trace (2 copies)

fabric pen

This is the fabric pen I used and it worked surprisingly well. I haven’t the faintest idea where I got it, but I’m guessing some crafty big box store. The flour sack towel I picked up at the grocery store a while back (3 for 5$). They shrink up a lot in the wash, so you should probably wash, dry and iron them before you start. The image might get all weird if you do it after.

tracing the image


1. fit your embroidery hoop on your towel where you want the image to go. Make sure to put the hoop on upside down–so the towel is right side up, but flat on the table.

image and copy

2. Then just trace the image. I found it handy to have another copy of my picture  I could refer to as I traced. The flour sack towel is easy enough to see through, but it’s nice to know exactly what the image should look like without picking the towel up to peek under it.

3. Heat set the image with your iron. And that’s it! Quick and dirty–and pretty stylish too.

to market dishtowel hanging up