Wednesday, April 9, 2014

End of the First Quarter - 2014 Goals - Where am I?

The first quarter of this year flew by for me as far as my crafting and blogging activities.  I can hardly believe that we are almost halfway into April already! 

With the end of the first quarter, it's time for me to recheck my goals for 2014 and see where I am.... 

For The Merry Church Mouse:
1. Create a multi sized PDF pattern and make it available here on the blog.   -in progress
2. Explore my creativity by creating 6 completely different flips all from the same pattern.  -has been revamped to 5.  1 dress done, 4 more to go. 
3. Finish specific UFOs - dresses already cut out, strawberry feliz, and red, white and blue vida. - Finished strawberry feliz, red, white and blue vida and one of the other dresses that was already cut out.  Still a few more to go.  I'll post more about these if we ever have a nice day that isn't super windy so that I can get some pictures. LOL

For my quilting:
1. Finish at least 6 unfinished quilts. -LOL, enough said
2. Have at least 50 completed hexi flowers for my hexi quilt finished. -Ditto above
3. Begin work on a quilt for my niece, Lexi. -about half the fabric is cut into squares
4. Continue to use up scraps. -using scraps and stash fabrics for block of the month quilt a long

1. Blog at least 4 times per month. -check! :)
2. Finish a post which I have already started writing with a pattern that I would like to share. -have not even touched this. 

So, I would say I'm not doing too bad.  I still need to get on the ball with these quilts and get them done.  I have at least 4 that don't have a whole lot more that needs to be done.  It's just making myself do it.  I'm not a fan of the sandwiching stage, which is where I am right now with several of them.  

Did you set goals for this year?  How are you doing with yours? 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Pattern workshop

Hello all!  I feel like I have been away forever.  I finished the sew along posts a couple of weeks ago and scheduled them to post on the right day, so I haven't written a post in probably  2 weeks!

In the meantime I have been having a ton of fun with a new course I have been taking.

Have you heard of Lauren Dahl's Pattern Workshop?  It is fantastic!! I have learned so much already and I am only a little over halfway through the course!  It is all about how to use Adobe Illustrator to draft patterns right on your computer.  How to do all the illustrations, and diagrams and how to digitize hand drawn patterns.  It really is wonderful, and Lauren is awesome about taking the time to answer questions as needed.  I highly recommend you check it out if pattern drafting is something that you are interested in.  You won't be disappointed!

Making a PDF pattern was one of my goals for this year and I am moving right along with it!

Here is a sneak peek!  I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm getting there.

I have a lot more to share, but that will have to wait for a later post.

What are you working on?

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Shoulder Tie Dress: Week 5 - Finishing the Dress and Link Up

Welcome to the final week of the shoulder tie dress sew along!
I am so excited to see what all of you have made!   Don't forget to blog about your dress and join the link party at the bottom of this post!

The links for the previous weeks are in the right hand side bar for those of you who might need them.

Let's get started!

Week 5: Finishing the Dress (time needed: about 1 - 1 1/2 hours)

1. Fold your bodice piece in half and mark the center point of both the front and the back along the bottom edge.

2. Attach the skirt to the bodice using the same method you did last week when attaching the two tiers together.  Match your center marks and your side seams.  Draw up your gathers, pin and sew using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

3.  Finish this seam with a serger if you wish.

4. Press the seam toward the bodice and topstitch as with the tiers.

5. Cut your length of ribbon and place a safety pin in the end.

6. Lay your dress in front of you with the front facing you.

7.  Beginning with the side nearest your right hand (the left shoulder of the dress) insert the ribbon into the casing using the safety pin to thread it through to the other side.  Pull it through until there is about 18 inches left on the tail end.

8. Continue threading through the back side of the bodice.  The two tail ends should tie at the same shoulder.

9. Adjust and pull the ends until they are even.

10. Fold the ribbon ends in half long ways and clip them at a 45 degree angle.

11.  Apply a small amount of Fray Block or Fray Check to the ribbon ends to keep them from raveling.

12.  Tie your ribbons and adjust gathers as needed for the fit you like.

13.  Congrats, you are finished!

Here are a few shots of some of these dresses that I have made. For a couple of them I sewed ties instead of using ribbon.

Now it's your turn!
Post your finished dresses at the link below.  I can't wait to see them!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Shoulder Tie Dress Sew Along: Week 4 - Gathering The Bottom Tier

Welcome back!  So here we are at Week 4!  Today we will gather that bottom tier onto the one above.  

If you are just joining us, you can catch up on the previous weeks at the links below. 

Week 4: Gathering The Bottom Tier (time needed about 1 1/2 to 2 hours)

1.  Lengthen your stitch length on your machine a few clicks.  On the top edge of the bottom tier and starting at a seam,  sew a line of stitching 1/2 inch from the edge.  DO NOT backstitch!  Stop at each seam and clip your threads leaving a longer tail than usual.  Continue in this fashion all the way around the edge of the tier until you come back to where you started.   

2.  Sew another line of stitching parallel to the first one.  I usually use the edge of my presser foot for a guide for this.  Start and stop at the seams, clipping threads and leaving long tails just as you did with the first line.  Be careful not to catch the thread tails from the previous line of stitching.  

When you get finished it should look like this. 

3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 on the top edge of the top tier as well. 

4.  Return your stitch length to your normal setting. 

5.  Taking your top tier, fold it in half and mark the centers of each side.  Mark both the top and bottom edges.  

6. Do the same with your bottom tier, if you are making one of the smaller sizes, and mark the top edge only.  If you are making one of the larger sizes, one of your center seams can serve as your center mark.  

7. Place your two tiers right sides together.  The upper edge of the bottom tier should be lined up with the lower edge of the top tier. The upper tier will be "inside" the bottom tier.   

8.  Line up your side seams.  If you pressed your seams in opposite directions you can "nest" them together, just like in quilting. Pin these in place.  Place your pins perpendicular to the edge of the fabric.  

9.  Line up your center marks and pin these in place also. 

10.  GENTLY begin to pull the bobbin threads on the bottom tier and gather the fabric up on them.  Take your time and carefully slide the fabric down a little at a time.  Patience is key here.  Don't tug too hard or you will break the bobbin threads.  Just keep steady pressure on them and working the gathers down the stitching line a little at a time.  

11.  Pull up gathers until they are distributed evenly and the two fabric edges are the same length. You will need to slide the gathers back and forth a bit to get them distributed evenly.  Make sure that the gathers are as perpendicular to the stitching line as possible.  Pin this in place all the way around the edge.  

12.  Beginning at one side seam, begin stitching the two tiers together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Remember to use your needle down and go slow stopping to adjust and remove pins as needed.  Try to keep the gathers as perpendicular to the seam as possible.  Stitch all the way around until you come back to where you started.  Don't forget to backstitch! 

13. Turn the fabric so that you are looking at the right side of the skirt.  Double check all the way around to make sure you are satisfied with how your gathers and seam look.  

14.  If you are finishing your seams with a serger, take another trip around this seam on your serger using a slightly narrower seam allowance than 1/2 inch.  I start just a little bit before a seam and then when I get back to that spot, I taper it out, overlapping my first stitches and then stitch off the edge.  Be careful not to stitch off the edge before your knives stop trimming thread and fabric.  

15.  Press the seam from the bottom tier toward the top tier.  

16.  Topstitch on the top tier, through the seam for the bottom tier, about 1/8 inch from the seam. This will hold that seam in place and the skirt will hang better.   

I like to use my "edge joining" or "stitch in the ditch" foot.  It has a small "fin" that sticks out in the front.  

I set my needle off center a few clicks to whichever side of the seam I want to topstitch.  In this case I set it to the right 6 clicks.  Make sure that the foot you are using has a wide enough opening to allow you to do this or you are sure to break a needle.  

When you begin to stitch, let the "fin" on the front of the foot ride along in the seam.  You can see in this picture how the needle is offset from center.  This helps give a nice evenly spaced topstitch.  

And there you have it!  Week 4 is complete.  Next week will be so much fun as you FINISH your dress and then show it off!  
I can't wait to see! 
Until then...
Happy stitching! 

Sunday, March 23, 2014


Hello,  Just popping in quickly to post a response to a question that I have had regarding the shoulder tie dress sew along.

Someone requested a pattern for bloomers.  Normally I would draw one up for you, but I am under a time crunch right now, so I found a link to a free pattern on Craftsy.

It's from Sewing Mama RaeAnna.  She always has cute, cute, cute stuff. :)

I don't know how much you all are familiar with Craftsy, but it is a really amazing site with all kinds of creative inspiration!  Do a little looking around over there and I guarantee you will find something fun!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Shoulder Tie Dress Sew Along: Week 3 - Preparing The Skirt Pieces

Welcome to week 3 of the shoulder tie dress sew along! I am getting excited to see what you are coming up with for your own dresses!
If you missed the first two weeks you can find them and get caught up at the links below.

Week 1: Cutting
Week 2: The Bodice

Week 3: Preparing the Skirt Pieces (time needed about 1 - 1 1/2 hours)

Today we will begin work on the skirt portion of the dress.
Remember that all seam allowances are 1/2 inch unless otherwise stated.

First of all there are two ways to finish the hem of the dress.  You can either roll the edge with decorative thread on your serger, or you can turn under a narrow hem and sew it on a regular sewing machine.  I chose to do a rolled hem on my serger.  I love the look and it is a big time saver.

Step 1. The first thing you will want to do is to is decide which hemming method you want to use.  If you are NOT using a serger, you can skip the next few steps entirely.  Proceed to step 5 if you are not using a serger to hem your dress.

Step 2.  If you decide to roll the edge on your serger, you must now set your serger up for a 3 thread rolled hem.  I am using a contrasting bright pink thread.  It is not a necessary choice, but I like to use wooly nylon thread in the upper looper and regular thread for the right needle and the lower looper.  This thread stretches as it is being sewn and then relaxes after it is sewn and fills in nicely and gives a nice look overall.  You may have to adjust your tensions slightly for the thread you choose to use.  I suggest testing on a scrap of fabric until you have a look that is pleasing to you.

2. Set your stitch length to the smallest that your machine will go, and set your stitch finger for rolled hem.  On my machine the stitch finger is moved by simply sliding a little lever back and forth.  Consult your manual for the proper set up for your machine.  

3.  For sizes 2-3 and 4-5 proceed to step 4.  For sizes 6-7 and 8-10, four pieces were cut for the bottom tier. Sew two pieces together along one short end using a 1/2 inch seam allowance to make one long piece. Do this to both sets before proceeding.  You should have two long pieces with a seam in the middle of each.  Finish and press the seams before completing the next step.  I find that this gives a cleaner edge when serging.

4. Serge the bottom edge of both pieces of your bottom tier with the right side of the fabric up  trimming only a tiny portion from the edge. I use the edge of my plate as a guide.  Be careful that you use the same measurement for each piece.  
Your edge should look something like this when you are finished. 

5. Sew the short ends of your pieces for the bottom tier right sides together using a 1/2 inch seam allowance .  If you serged your hem, be very careful to line up the hem as closely as possible.  It is better to have the hem edge perfectly even than the top edge. 

6.  Finish this seam with a serged or overlocked edge if you wish.  A little trick I learned that is nice to do with your serger so that you don't have all those loose little strings hanging at the bottom of your hem is something that I have demonstrated below.  

Begin your serged seam at the hem side of the seam.  
 Stitch until you are one or two stitches into the fabric and stop with the needle down. 
Lift the presser foot and pull all of the slack out of the loose chain thread coming from the edge of the seam you just began to sew.  The thread will be behind the needle.  Be sure to really get in there and pull all of those little loops out.  You don't want any loose loops at all behind the needle.  Then pull that thread end toward you around the left side of the needle and under the presser foot and across the edge of the fabric.  Make sure it is snug against the needles and then lower the presser foot.  

Begin sewing again and allow the thread end to be cut by the knives as you continue the seam.  By doing this you will serge right over those loose ends and your seam will look something like this. 

Pretty neat little trick, huh!?

7.  Press this seam open if you are not finishing the edges.  If you are finishing the seam edge, then press this seam to one side or another.  Press both seams on this tier in the same direction.  

8.  If you serged your hem, you can skip ahead to step 9.  If you are doing a narrow hem, press 1/4 inch on the bottom edge of your bottom tier toward the wrong side.  Then press up another 1/4 inch.  Sew sew this on your machine starting at a seam and going all the way around the hem until you reach the place where you started.  Stay close to the inside edge of the fold, making sure to catch all the layers in your stitching line. 

9.  Set aside the bottom tier.  

10. Sew the two pieces for the top tier together at the short ends and finish the seams if you wish.  Press these just as you did before, but in the opposite direction from the other tier, unless you are not finishing the edges and are pressing them open.   

And that's it for this week!  Next week we will gather the bottom tier to the top tier.  
Happy Sewing! 

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Shoulder Tie Dress Sew Along: Week 2 - The Bodice

Welcome to week 2 of the shoulder tie dress sew along!  Hopefully you have had a chance to cut out your dress following the steps for week 1 and you are ready to begin sewing!

First off a couple of tips.

All seam allowances for the whole dress are 1/2 inch unless otherwise noted.

If you have a "needle down" setting on your machine, use it.  It will act as a third "hand" for you.  If you don't have a needle down position, just remember if you are stopping to make an adjustment to make sure that the needle is in the down position before lifting your presser foot to adjust.

Step 2: Sewing the Bodice (Time Required- About 1 1/2 Hours)

Today we will complete sewing together the bodice.

1. If you are using a serger.  Serge the raw edge of the top edge of each of the bodice pieces.  If you are not using a serger, turn this edge down 1/4 inch toward the wrong side of the fabric and press.

2. Next turn the top edge under 1 1/8 inch and press. Do this on both pieces.  Make sure to get a nice crisp crease, use steam or starch if needed.

3. Place your bodice pieces right sides together and sew the side seams using a 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Do this on both sides.

4.  I always use my regular machine first and then go back and finish the edge with  my serger.  I find that it gives me more accurate and secure seams than if I use only my serger.  Press these seams open if you are not using a serger.  Press them to one side or the other if you are using a serger.  

5. Next you will need your bias tape.  Cut off a piece long enough to fit the entire under arm curve plus about an inch or so excess on both ends.  If in doubt, cut it a little longer than you think you need.  It can always be trimmed down later.  (For a size 2-3 or 4-5 I use a piece that is about 15 inches, for the 6-7 or 8-10 I would cut a piece about 18 inches.) Once it is cut, I like to iron it a bit to get the kinks out of it where it was wrapped around the card in the packaging.

6.  Fold the piece of bias tape in half lengthwise and make a small crease with your fingers.  Then use your Mark-B-Gone pen to mark the center.  

7. With the side seam and under arm curve facing toward you, place the mark on your bias tape on the side seam.  

8. Open out the edge of the bias tape and pin in place with the side seam matched to the mark on the bias tape.  The raw edge of the bias tape should be even with the raw edge of the arm hole.  You should only be pinning through one layer of fabric. 

9. Continue pinning in place from the center out to the ends making sure to unfold the top where you pressed it earlier.  It might take a little work, but you should be able to match them up.  There should be at least an inch excess bias tape at each end. Make sure to pin this well. As you can see I used A LOT of pins. 

10. Set your machine for a shorter stitch length than usual.  This will help navigate the curve more easily.   I set mine at 1.5.  Carefully stitch down the crease in the bias tape.  Go slowly, use your needle down setting and stop to readjust and remove pins as needed.  Lift the presser foot to adjust if needed.  Be careful not to sew a pucker of fabric into the seam.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.  Double check once you have it sewn that there are no creases or puckers sewn into the seam.  This is seriously the trickiest part of the whole dress, once you get this it should be smooth sailing... :)

11.  Once you are satisfied with your seam, then use your sharp tipped scissors to clip the raw edge up very close to the stitching line, but being careful not to clip through it.  Do this every 1/4 to 1/2 inch around the deepest part of the armhole curve.  

12.  Press the bias tape out as shown below. 

13. Then press the bias tape to the inside of the armhole as shown below.  

14. On each end of the bias tape fold it in as shown here.  If it is a little bit too long, you can trim it a bit to make it fit.  This will wind up on the inside of your ribbon casing so don't stress if it doesn't look perfect. 

15. Turn the bias tape to the inside and pin.  Pin the full length of the armhole. I only have part of it pinned in the picture.  Not sure why I never got a picture of the whole thing pinned.  Start at the center again, matching up your marking with the side seam again and work toward the edges.

16.  Stitch carefully on your machine near the edge of the bias tape.  I used a 3/8 inch seam allowance. Be careful to keep a consistent distance from the edge of the fabric.  This stitching will show from the right side of the dress.  Be careful, as before, to not sew a pucker or a crease into the stitching line.  Go slow, use your needle down setting, stop to adjust and remove pins as often as needed.  Lift the presser foot when making adjustments if needed. Don't forget your backstitching.  Sometimes the bias tape has a bit of a mind of it's own and wants to kind of bow up in the center in the deepest part of the under arm.  I have found that it is sometimes best to just let it do its thing, in the end you will probably wind up with a smoother seam on the outside, which is your ultimate goal.  Remember, this part of the seam will be in your child's armpit.  I doubt there will be a lot of people very closely inspecting your seam there. :)

Once this step is done it should look something like this on the outside.  You can see that my bias tape had a bit of a mind of its own here and is showing a little bit.  Again, this will hardly be noticeable when your child is wearing her dress.  Once you are satisfied with how it looks, give it a good pressing.

17.  Repeat these steps to attach the bias tape for the other armhole as well. 

18.  Once both armholes are finished.  Fold the top edges of the bodice back down as they were when you first pressed them.  Press them again along the edges where the bias tape has been attached. 

19. Sew both top edges down using a 1 inch seam allowance. This creates the casing for the ribbon ties.  Don't forget to backstitch at the beginning and end.  

Yay!  Your bodice is complete!  

Next week we will concentrate on the skirt portion of the dress.  
Until next time, Happy Sewing!