A Christmas Apron - Part 2

Continuing from my previous post, the next thing I worked on was the apron bib.


I decided to line the bib with the striped fabric, the same one I was using for the elastic casing at the top. Now that I think about it, I believe I also made the casing strip slightly wider than the pattern. My main guide in deciding how wide, was the width of the elastic I had on hand. I used a one inch wide, 10 inch long strip of non-roll elastic. This elastic is thicker than other types but I figured it would help to keep the elastic from folding in on itself.

I pressed the casing in half lengthwise and the pressed the folded edges to slightly larger than my one inch elastic. I placed the casing around the top edge of the bib and pinned it in place making sure the pins caught both side of my casing. Then I stitched along the very edge of the casing to secure it to the bib.

I inserted the elastic, pressed the folded and turned under edges of the neck ties and attached them to the bib.

Next it was on to the midriff pieces. I didn’t take photos at each step, but the sequence was as follows.


I gathered the bib bottom and sewed it to front midriff piece, then I gathered the skirt top and sewed that to the front midriff also. Next I sewed the inside midriff piece to the bib.

At this point I sewed the waist ties up, pressed them and sewed them to the midriff sides. With the midriff backing piece still loose I remembered to sew on my “Handmade by” tag on the inside.

Now all that was left was to fold and press the seam edges closed. I turned the a few inches of the bottom unsewn edge of the midriff inside out and sewed them together. I pulled everthing back right side out and put a closing top stitching all around the midriff piece


Here’s a look at the inside of the finished apron.


And me modeling it.


I didn’t mention it before, but I made the large size, which isn’t really that large. I like very much how it turned out. There are a few more things I would do differently next time, but I will definitely make this Pretty Ditty apron again.

A Christmas Apron - Part 1

I had a last minute impulse to sew one of my Christmas presents this year. I have been known to handcraft gifts before, but it has generally been something knitted, and as such, it was something I had planned well before Christmas. This year I decided to make an apron for a very sweet lady I know. Once I started to think about aprons, I did a Google search on pretty apron patterns and this one pattern kept popping up, the Pretty Ditty Apron.


After seeing quite a few different versions of this apron and how truly pretty it always appeared I quickly ordered the pattern. Fortunately I got it in the mail very quickly which allowed me to go straight out to my local Joann Fabric store to find some pretty coordinating cottons. I found all sorts of lovely cotton fabric resources on the web but it was too late to order anything else online and get it quickly enough. My fault for waiting until the last week before Christmas to make it.

I forgot to take a picture of my coordinating fabrics before cutting them, but here they are before I had done much of the sewing.


I chose three fabrics for the apron, a large floral pattern in pink and yellow, a stripey yellow and a small pink print fabric. I think the pattern is designed for two fabrics if your are doing the single sided one and three fabrics if you are making the reversible version. I had planned on the single sided apron, but still decided to coordinate three fabrics for this. I used the large floral for the front skirt and bib, the yellow stripe for the elastic casing on the bib, for the small ruffle on the bottom and for the ties. I also ended up lining the bib with it. I used the pink print for the two front pockets, the neck ties and the midriff piece.

I made some slight changes when I cut out the pieces. I added half an inch to the width of the neck ties as well as half an inch to the width of the ruffle. Considering the half inch seam allowances they both seemed a bit skinny to me so I added the extra width. I also cut the apron tie open at the center front where the pattern it indicated it should lay on a fabric fold. I thought it was a typo, thinking that surely there had to be two separate ties that attached at the midriff sides. Later I found out that there is an error in the pattern concerning the length of the ties. They really should be cut much longer and if constructed according to the pattern, indeed the tie is in one piece

If I had read through the instructions first I would have realized that the construction calls for the tie to pass through the midriff piece as though this was a casing. In this case the tie really does need to be cut with the center front on the fabric fold and both long ends would extend out from inside the midriff.

I don’t mind having two tie pieces, since I didn’t really like the idea of inserting the ties through the midriff. I do regret not having realized that the ties were still rather short at this point. It would’ve been nice to be able to wrap them around the front as is shown on the pattern envelope.


The first thing I did was to sew the pockets on the skirt front and then hem this piece all around. Next I made the ruffle and attached it to the front of the skirt. This was actually the most time consuming part of the whole construction.


I pieced the two ruffle strips together, folded over the edges, and stitched a small hem all around.

I marked a crease down all the middle of the ruffle to guide where my gathering stitching would go.


And then attached the ruffle per the instructions. Here I am gathering and pinning the ruffle to the skirt.


Manual for the Singer 20U33 Sewing Machine

I was looking around for more information on my 20U33 sewing machine and found that there wasn’t much beyond what I already had, the manual that came with the machine. I thought I’d share what I do have.

Update: 8/11/2012 - Missing pages 10 & 11 are now included.

Singer 20U Manual_Page_01.jpg

Download the manual in pdf format here.

What’s New

I haven’t been doing to much sewing lately, but never say never. I have been dedicating all my spare time to artwork nowadays. I have a Supernatural fanart blog at


and an even newer art blog that includes all my non-fandom artwork.


Stop on by!

Ebay Books

I devoted the morning to some house cleaning, washing clothes and organizing my art room. Once my drawing table was cleared off and cleaned up I did a little work on some of my colored pencil drawings. What I like to do when I have some time on the weekends is sit at my drawing table, surf on the computer, read bits here on there in my current reading books, make todo lists, and generally doodle and while away the time very pleasantly.

While I was whiling away today I was also keeping an eye on a couple of eBay auctions of Nancy Drew book lots. One lot was 14 books of 1960’s edition whose price was holding at about $25 dollars.

Another lot, also of 14 books from the same type of 1960 editions that I’m interested in, were going for about $18.

Of course on both of these you also had to consider the extra shipping and handling costs, which on one was about $18 and the other was unspecified. I was willing to make a bid on one or both of these lots if the price didn’t get out of control at closing. Unfortunately I realized that both auctions were scheduled to close just about the time we were supposed to be going out for dinner. I dawdled a bit so I would have at least a chance to make a bid and see the closing for one of them. So while getting dressed up for dinner I kept running back to the computer to try to put in a bid at the very last second.

I was thrilled to see that my bid for $36 won for the first lot. I swooped right in at the last second. It came in about .50 short of my bid limit. Combined with the shipping and handling price for this lot, each book will cost me about $3.90 which was just the range I wanted. The next lot didn’t close for another 20 minutes or so, and since I didn’t want Marty to faint from hunger ( I was pretty hungry myself) , I put in a bid and took off. I just crossed my fingers and hoped other interested buyers wouldn’t outbid me in the meantime.

To not make this too suspenseful, I did win the second auction for $37.09. The shipping and handling was eventually calculated at $9.59, so my total price was $46.60. Even better than the first one. I’m happy and vowing to stay away from eBay for awhile :-)


Two days in a row of working in the sewing room, I can hardly believe my industriousness! I decided to do some multi-tasking in there. I put The Original Philosophers Two Handed Fair Isle knitting video into the player and started unsewing one of my old T-shirts that I want to alter. I got the knitting video a few years ago on Christmas along with the companion book.

(Click to enlarge)

It has a good explanation of how to do fair isle knitting. Since I have been toying with the idea of starting a fair isle project, I figured it was a good time to study the video. It is produced by Ann and Eugene Bourgeois who own a farm in Canada, grow their own sheep, spin and dye their own yarn, knit beautiful sweaters and pullovers and sell yarn kits and patterns.

While I was watching the video I ripped out the hem of a T-shirt that I had altered already. I had cut this shirt down from an extra large size. It was a gift from the Richard Burgi fan club and it has the little RBFC logo on the front. I really wanted to wear it and that is why I went to the trouble of altering it. Unfortunately it still is a little too loose and I have been meaning to take it in a little more. I like the shape and length of the sleeves, so I also wanted to make a pattern of the sleeves and use it to reshape some of my other T-shirts.

(Click to enlarge)

I watched the whole video, but didn’t get too far with the T-shirt. I guess I’m not very good at multi-tasking after all.

Saturday Sewing

I headed into my sewing room today to whittle away on my pile of things to do in there. First I ironed out the green practice shawl I knit some time ago. I had this green scrap yarn and decided to try out the leaf lace shawl pattern and work out some of the things I didn’t understand in the instructions. It turned out great. I love the leaf pattern and it is actually very easy to knit. When I finished the little practice shawl I was excited to see how it would look when I blocked it out.

Unfortunately when I did the wet blocking it didn’t take. That is when I realized that the yarn is probably acrylic and doesn’t respond to blocking like real wool does. I was disappointed because it was still all crimped up and you couldn’t appreciate the lace pattern on it. Later I read on the Internet that it is possible to stream press acrylic flat. In the terms of the knowledgeable, you “kill” the acrylic yarn by this process. Steam pressing destroys the ability of the acrylic yarn to bounce back to it’s original shape. I figured I had nothing to lose, so a few weeks ago I experimented and steam pressed half of the shawl. It worked! After pressing, it stretched out to a larger size and lay flat.

This morning I finally got around to steam pressing the rest of the shawl. It now works nicely as a small shoulder shawl and you can really see the nice lace pattern. I think it looks great.


Next I decided to work on fixing this apron. I removed the binding and unsewed all the rest of the parts sometime ago so it was ready to cut down to size. I bought this apron at Ross but it never fit very well. When the ties were were wrapped at my waist, the bib came up too high on my chest. I finally decided that I would have to alter it if it was ever to fit properly.

This is how it looked with all the parts layed out before I reshaped the top. The red line indicates how much I needed to cut off.


It was more work that I thought to cut, reattach the edge binding and then reattach the neck and waist ties. I modeled the finished product for Marty.


New Year, New Projects

I’m still here, I’ve just been ignoring my sewing blog for a long time. But I’m back with some new projects to work on. Something else new for me is that I’m on the Nutrisystem diet. I started two weeks ago, just after the New Years day and it seems to be going very well. I’m down 5 pounds and my clothes are all fitting better already!

Just in time too because Hubby and I are going on cruise next month and I have to put together a nice cruise wardrobe. I’m thinking of pulling a lot of the clothes I have sitting in my sewing room and fixing it. A lot of this stuff is new, with tags on still. Some of them just need small alterations like lifting hems, shortening sleeves, etc, but most of them are stashed here because they are just a little too small. Now that the weight seems to be coming off, I’ll be able to claim them for use.

It’s a seven day cruise along the Mexican Riviera, so I think most of the clothes should be casual, cool things. There will be two dressy evenings so I have to think about that.

We signed up for this particular cruise because it features 3 color pencil workshops for the three days that the ship spends cruising between ports. One of the workshops is headed by Ann Kullberg. I am subscribed to Ann Kullberg’s online magazine called From My Prospective, and learned about the cruise there. I love Ann Kullberg’s colored pencil work and have been wanting to take one of her workshops for the longest time. We also wanted to take a vacation, so the cruise combined both purposes very nicely.


Pillows & Stuff

I haven’t been too productive the last few days after work. On Tuesday I did manage to work a little bit in the sewing room. I did the finishing details on the new zipper for my olive capris. These capris have been hanging around my sewing room for years. I bought the zipper long ago and I started installing it a few weeks ago. I also added some material to the waistband since they have always been tight in the waist. I finished everything off finally. I don’t know why I invested so much work on them. They are a little worn out and are not made in the best material or color. I probably should have just thrown them out, but I suppose I just wanted to finish something I started so long ago.

(Click to enlarge)

I also cut the fabric for my little throw pillows for the sofa. They are a very easy design, just simple squares to cover the pillow forms like a closed pillow case. I finished all the raw edges with my serger and sewed them together for a first look at the fit. They were kind of big, so I stopped there. Next time I will just take a little more in the seams and finish them off. No zippers or closures to worry about. I will just whipstitch the opening after stuffing the pillow forms inside.

(Click to enlarge)

I ordered some new shorter legs for my ottoman about a week ago, but I haven’t received a shipping notification yet. I’m beginning to wonder about that order. I should have know that not being charged shipping was too good to be true.


Later as I read the email verification of my purchase I noticed that they have an unusual policy when it comes to handling the charges. They charge for the merchandise immediately when ordered and then supposedly come back and charge you for the shipping once they know how much it will be. Hmmmm… I should have paid more attention. Now I just hope that the charges that come through for the shipping are reasonable. It seems like a convoluted way to do things.

This is the place I bought them from online.

(Click to enlarge)

Hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.

On a health note, I’ve been eating wisely this week and tonight I did my 45 minutes on the treadmill. I’m proud of myself because it was very warm in the house this evening. We haven’t been turning on the air conditioner lately, just opening the windows when we get home from work and letting the breezes cool everything off slowly. It does take a while to cool off the house though and the only way I managed the treadmill walking was to set up a fan so it was blowing on me the whole time. I really enjoyed the cool shower afterwards.

Catching Up

I had a great time at Moonridge Zoo. We visited the animals, got an autograph from my favorite TV star, and supported a great cause. Here are Marty and I keeping cool under our sun hats.


But what else have I been doing since then. Well, mostly working it seems and what little free time I have has been diverted recently to my other favorite hobby, art. I have been studying a digital art tutorial CD I bought a few months ago and practicing Photoshop digital painting techniques. I bought the tutorial online at www.digitalarttutorial.com. It’s a series of quicktime movies that take you through the creation of the picture on the cover of the CD. Though its kind of hard to follow at times, I have gotten a lot of valuable tips and techniques out of it. It also assumes you have a good working knowledge of Photoshop.


Here is my attempt so far at applying the techniques to my own art work. I started with this sketch.


Then I started picking out sections to fill with a flat color. The colors in the hair are really just place holders, that is why the colors are so bright. I forgot to take a snapshot when I finished all the flat coloring. This shot shows when I started rendering the features of his face.


The rendering of his face continues with some experiments that change the tint of the skin color. I also change the hue of the hair and darken it to give me a better feel for what the color of the skin should be.


With more detail on the face it starts to look better but there is still a lot of work to do. That’s where I am right now. It’s slow going but I’m having fun.