Dress makeover: church dress to cocktail dress

dress makeover before pic

Dress makeover: before

This dress needed a makeover. It belonged to my mom and she only got to wear it once or twice before she died. I wanted to keep it for myself—with a few changes.

The basic shape of it was good but I didn’t like the cap sleeves, neckline and that awful corsagey flower thing. And that pale pink color really washed me out.

So my plan was to remove the cap sleeves, lower the neckline, ditch that horrible flower and dye the dress a more flattering color. What made this transformation complicated were the strips sewn all over. I wasn’t sure exactly how I was going to deal with them.

Closeup of dress before makeover

Closeup of dress before makeover

In fact, I wasn’t sure any of this was going to work, especially the dyeing since I had never dyed synthetic fabric before. But I really had nothing to lose so I dove right in.

Altering the dress

The first thing I did was to remove the offending flower decoration.

Flower decoration removed from dress

Flower decoration removed from dress

That felt SOOO good!

Then I ripped out the stitching from the strips of fabric at the top of the dress. I left the rest of them attached. They were hanging all over the place and kind of got in the way.

Strips being detached from dress

Strips being detached from dress

I cut the cap sleeves off and cut a new neckline. This was a little tricky because the neckline was asymmetrical. I had to try the dress on a couple of times and make pencil marks for the cutting line. Basically I wanted the neckline symmetrical and as low as possible.

I also had to take in the sides a smidgen.

With the alterations done, the next thing was to redrape and reattach those strips. I pinned everything in place, cut off the excess and then hand stitched them back on.

Altered dress before facings sewn back on

Altered dress before facings sewn back on

When all that was to my liking I reattached the armhole facings. I was able to reuse the existing facings.

The neckline was another story. The back facing was fine but I had to make a new front facing from excess fabric. I used fabric from the flower decoration. It was cut on the bias so it worked perfectly.

And here’s the dress after all the sewing was done.

Dress after alterations with facings attached

Dress makeover: after alterations

Dyeing the dress

With that being done, all that was left was the dyeing. I happened to find some dye meant for polyester and nylon. The color I chose was called violet.

When choosing dye it’s best to stick to the same color family which in this case was a darker pink, red or purple.

Note: The directions on the package say not to dye fabrics that are marked dry clean only. I completely ignored that because I know synthetic fabric can be washed. It doesn’t shrink like natural fabric does. Often the ‘dry clean only’ warning is used on washable fabrics because of tailoring, like a structured jacket, or certain types of embellishments, like the flower detail.

The directions called for using a large ceramic or stainless steel pot and boiling the fabric for at least a half hour. Once used for dyeing the pot can’t be used for cooking anymore. I wasn’t about to sacrifice one of my nice pots and I didn’t have a big enough pot anyway so I used the washing machine.

I did use my nice stainless steel pot to boil water though. I had to do it three or four times before there was enough water in the washing machine. It stayed REALLY hot the whole time.

Boiling hot water in washing machine

Boiling hot water in washing machine

Finally I was able to add the dye being careful to empty the packet close to the water. Even so, a few little particles managed to float around and get on my white cabinets and wall. I wiped them off before they stained.

I wore rubber gloves and used a paint stick to stir the dye. Then I took the dress, which had been previously soaked in water, and placed it in the washing machine.

The directions called for constant stirring for 30 to 60 minutes. I used the stick but also had to use my hands to move the dress all around. I stirred for 30 minutes.

Dyeing dress in washing machine

Dyeing dress in washing machine

This was a really nice steamy project to do on a hot summer day—NOT. Oh well, I didn’t want to wait ’til winter so it had to be done.

Having dyed fabric before, I knew the dress would come out lighter after it dried (if it took the dye at all). To get the same color on the package I would have had to use twice the amount of dye, but I was okay with that. Anything was going to be better than that ghostly pale pink.

This is what the dress looked like after being dyed.

Dress dyed but not washed yet

Dress dyed but not washed yet

After 30 minutes, I put the washer on the spin cycle to get rid of the excess water. Then I washed the dress with detergent on warm/warm setting for a medium sized load.

The final result is more of a lavender/medium purple. And I love me some purple so I’m happy.

Dress makeover: after dyeing

Dress makeover: after dyeing

I put the dress on a hanger to air dry while I cleaned the washer.

I ran the washer set for an oversized load with detergent and a cup of bleach using the same warm/warm temperature setting. Afterward just a little wiping around the top with paper towels and glass cleaner finished the job.

Before and after photos

Let’s take a look at the dress makeover as it went from a church dress into a cocktail dress.

I’m glad that’s done. Time to party!

Related topics

Sewing tutorial: fabric cuff bracelets

New pillowcase designs for women

Front door privacy curtain

front door with no curtainPrivacy is hard to come by when you live in the city. People are always walking up and down the street, cars are driving by, the neighbors are always coming and going.

So when I’m sitting on my couch with the front door open, I feel like I’m on display and I don’t like that.

I already have a security screen to keep bugs and intruders out and now I can keep people’s prying eyes out with this quick solution—a front door curtain!

And if you want to put up a curtain at your front door, it only takes about five minutes. Here’s what you do.

Screw in a couple of cup hooks at the top of the door frame.

cup hooks as curtain rod holder

Cup hooks as curtain rod holder

Insert a cheap curtain rod.

Curtain rod fits into cup hooks

Curtain rod fits into cup hooks

Find a cute curtain to put on the rod, one that isn’t too sheer (because that would defeat the purpose now wouldn’t it). A regular curtain should work fine. No blackout curtains.

I happened to have the cup hooks and curtain rod lying around but needed a curtain. I found just what I wanted at Walmart. It’s white with sequins and silver threads running through it because in my world you can’t have too many sequins.

door curtain5

The only thing is the curtain is 84″ long and my doorway is 78″ tall. I turned up the hem 5″, zip zip on the sewing machine, and it was perfect.

Well, almost perfect. I took one additional step and created an elastic loop attached to the curtain that fits over the doorknob to keep it from billowing in the breeze and blowing my cover!

Elastic loop sewn to curtain

Elastic loop sewn to curtain

Slips over doorknob

Slips over doorknob

The curtain lets in lots of light and keeps me incognito.

Front door curtain for privacy

Front door curtain for privacy

New pillowcase top designs for women

Two new pillowcase top designs

Two new pillowcase top designs

Pillowcase tops are fun and easy to make, but your average pillowcase does not fit your average woman. I have some lovely pillowcases embroidered by my mom and for the longest time I’ve been wanting to make blouses from them.

I finally figured out two new ways to make cute pillowcase tops that actually fit an average sized woman. One method requires two matching pillowcases sewn together sideways. The other method uses color blocking and one pillowcase. Both are very simple.

I have fond memories of my mother embroidering pillowcases. The whole process was fascinating to me. She would go through her collection of embroidery transfers and make her selection, usually a floral pattern, but sometimes birds or animals. She would iron the transfer onto the pillowcases and then she would choose colorful flosses from her vast collection. At night she would embroider while we all watched TV.

Her work was beautiful to me then and even moreso now that she’s gone. I’m thrilled to finally bring her fabulous collection of embroidered pillowcases out of the linen closet and onto my body, close to my heart.

My mom's embroidered pillowcases made into tops

My mom’s embroidered pillowcases made into tops

Remove stains from pillowcases before sewing

Chances are your old pillowcases will have a few stains on them. The first thing to do is remove them by following these great instructions at OneGoodThingByJillee. I wasn’t sure how well it would work on my poly/cotton blend pillowcases, but it worked like a charm. It did take three days, however.

Sewing instructions

Note: I used ¼” seam allowance for all sewing

Method A: Two matching pillowcases sewn together sideways

This method has the embroidered design running down the center front to form a mirror image. Lay out the two matching pillowcases with the designs side by side to see if they look good that way.

Pillowcase top Method A: two pillowcases sewn together sideways

Pillowcase top Method A: two pillowcases sewn together sideways

  1. Sew front seam. Open all the seams and hems and lay pillowcases flat. For the front center seam, line up the motifs and sew right sides together. Add optional trim over center seam.

    Center front seam of two pillowcases sewn together

    Center front seam of two pillowcases sewn together

  2. Sew back seam. For the back seam, fold fabric in half right sides together along the front seam. Measure out the width you want and pin. Sew then cut off the excess.

    Pinning back seam of pillowcase top

    Pinning back seam of pillowcase top

  3. Cut armholes. For armholes, fold fabric so that front and back seams are lined up in the center. Then fold in half again. Mark the armhole by using a blouse or tank top as a guide. Cut out the armholes.
  4. Add casing. Make a casing for the drawstring from coordinating fabric. Measure the width of the fabric and cut two pieces that are 3½” wide. Sew casing to front and back.
  5. Sew armholes. Fold and press under ¼” and repeat. Then sew the armholes.
  6. Sew casing. Fold under ¼” seam allowance along the edge of casing then fold it in half and pin. From the top side, stitch in the ditch.

    Casing folded under and stitched in the ditch

    Casing folded under and stitched in the ditch

  7. Add drawstring. Cut the drawstring from the same coordinating fabric as long and wide as you want. Mine was about 2½” wide and only 30″ long because I didn’t want it to tie on the side (I stitched the ends together). Fold and sew rights sides together. Turn right side out and thread the drawstring through the casing. My favorite way of doing this is to put a safety pin on the end of the drawstring and feed it through the casing. This also works for turning straps right side out.
  8. Sew hem. Finish the bottom edge, fold under and sew. I serged mine and then folded it ¼”.

    Hem sewn in pillowcase top

    Hem sewn in pillowcase top

Variation of Method A

I made a different version with this beautiful pair of pillowcases. I love this pattern!

Two matching pillowcases make a pretty center design

Two matching pillowcases make a pretty center design

Instead of making a casing, I gathered the top edge, front and back, and stitched it to a colorful pink band. I sewed long straps to the band which crisscross in the back.

Pillowcase top variation of Method A

Pillowcase top variation of Method A

Straps crisscross in the back

Straps crisscross in the back

Method B: Color blocking with one pillowcase

This method has the embroidered design near the hem. Side panels are added in coordinating fabric to make the top wide enough.

Pillowcase top Method B: color blocking with one pillowcase

Pillowcase top Method B: color blocking with one pillowcase

  1. Cut out fabric. Open up the seams and hem of pillowcase. Cut two pieces the length you want which will include a self-casing at the top. Use different fabric for the side panels the same length as the top with the width that you need.

    Pieces cut out for color blocked pillowcase top

    Pieces cut out for color blocked pillowcase top

  2. Sew side panels. Stitch side panels to center panels.

    Side panels sewn on color blocked top

    Side panels sewn on color blocked top

Finish by following the instructions from Method A, steps 3, 5, 7 and 8.

Variation of Method B

The embroidered design of this pair of matching pillowcases didn’t create a nice mirrored image down the front, so I decided to use one across the bottom and one across the top. Here are the two pieces sewn together.

Variation with embroidery at the top and bottom

Variation with embroidery at the top and bottom

Then I added a piece of lace over the seam which hits just below the bust.

Lace sewn over the seam

Lace sewn over the seam

The top was finished following the directions for Method B above.

Pillowcase top variation of Method B

Pillowcase top variation of Method B

Another look at all four tops

My new design pillowcase tops

My new design pillowcase tops

I love wearing these!

Related topics

Sewing tutorial: fabric cuff bracelets

Dress makeover: church dress to cocktail dress

Celebrating the 4th of July

god bless america pin

My God bless America pin

Lately I’ve been in a sewing mood so I decided to whip up a cute top to wear on the Fourth of July. It’s basically a fitted version of a pillowcase top. Besides this little sequin number I’ve raided my linen closet to design two brand new ways of making pillowcase blouses from embroidered pillowcases. Look for that tutorial in the next few days.

Today I’m bringing the sparkle with my red sequin blouse, silver sequin cuff bracelet and patriotic jewelry. I’m going downtown later to have dinner and watch the fireworks.

Fourth of July outfit

And speaking of fireworks, my little Koda is terrified of them so the last couple of weeks have been difficult for him. His new refuge is under the bed! I managed to snap a picture of him on one of his rare appearances out in the open. And here’s the photo…just because.

koda smiling

Koda’s smiling

For his sake I’m looking forward to this holiday being over, which in my neighborhood is going to be around mid July.

So now I’m off to celebrate our nation’s independence. God bless America!

me on july 4

July 4, 2015

How to use your new Brother XL2600i sewing machine

Need help with your new Brother XL2600i sewing machine?

If you need some help with setting up and using your brand new Brother XL2600i sewing machine, you’ll find it in this tutorial.

Maybe you’ve misplaced your manual or you just find video demonstrations more helpful. I’ve rounded up the manual and the best YouTube videos for the Brother XL2600i showing how to set it up, how to wind the bobbin and how to thread the machine.

Also included are videos for basic sewing: seams, sleeves, zippers, buttons and gathering. Finally, I share five of my favorite sewing tips as an experienced seamstress and dollmaker.

Setting up your new Brother sewing machine

View the manual for the Brother XL2600i sewing machine

All the instructions you need for setting up your new Brother XL2600i sewing machine are included in the manual. For your convenience I’ve included a link to the PDF file:

Brother XL2600i sewing machine manual

For video demonstrations, please continue below.

How to wind the bobbin of the Brother XL2600i demonstrated by novice seamstress Natalie Mootz

Loading the bobbin on the Brother XL2600i sewing machine, a YouTube video by Natalie Mootz

Threading the machine and using the automatic needle threader on the Brother XL2600i, an easy to follow video demo by Natalie Mootz

How to bring up the bobbin thread on the Brother XL2600i, demonstrated by YouTuber Natalie Mootz

You’re all set up and ready to sew!

Using your new Brother XL2600i for the first time

Now that your sewing machine is threaded, you’re ready for sewing.

What I like to do when I get a new sewing machine is to make test swatches of all the stitches. This is a fast way to get familiar with your machine.

Get a long strip of scrap fabric, select a stitch and sew for a couple of inches. Select the next stitch and sew again for a couple more inches, and so on. You can keep this swatch for future reference.

I also like to test out the buttonhole feature just to see how it works. When it comes time to actually do a buttonhole on a real project, you want to make sure to make a test buttonhole using a scrap from the fabric you’re working on. After you make your sample buttonhole, open it up and make sure the button goes through it easily. Sometimes you need to make adjustments to the buttonhole depending on how thick or thin the fabric is.

Five tips for general sewing

  1. Always lock your stitches by backstitching at the beginning and end of every seam. That way your seams won’t accidentally pull apart.
  2. Use sewing pins with a round head on the end. They’re easier to remove and easier to see.
  3. Use a seam ripper to hold down the fabric while sewing. If I need to hold down a seam really close to the presser foot, I use the tip of my seam ripper to guide the fabric instead of my finger. That way I can get really close to the needle without getting my finger in the way.
  4. For a professional look when sewing denim, use 30 weight cotton thread in the bobbin and top thread. Make sure to use the right size needle too.
  5. If you’re having trouble sewing over thick seams, or jumping the hump, raise up the back of your presser foot with a piece of folded cardboard or a Jean-a-ma-jig tool. Make sure to go slow over the seam.

My favorite sewing tool of all time for fast precision snipping

I couldn’t sew without my thread snips

One thing I can’t stand is to have thread tails all over a garment, and these razor sharp thread snips are just the thing for trimming them right off at the base. And they’re easier to use than scissors due to the spring action. I also use them many times instead of a seam ripper.

Source: Fiskar’s thread snips

Thread tension tip:

If your thread tension is off, the easy way to see which thread is causing the problem is to use a different colored thread in the top and bobbin. That way you can easily see which thread might be too loose or too tight.

Learn basic sewing from these videos on YouTube

Beginner sewing topics covered here are how to sew a seam, how to sew a sleeve, how to sew a zipper, how to sew buttons and three ways to gather.

How to sew a basic seam

How to sew a sleeve

How to sew zippers

How to sew on buttons

How to gather

More helpful sewing information

Recommended reading

Great sewing tips from Nancy Zieman. Must-have reference books for beginning sewers.

Nancy Zieman is the host of the popular long-running PBS show Sewing with Nancy, and I’ve been a fan of hers for years. She shares a lot of wonderful tips for beginning sewers in these two books.

Sew with Confidence: A Beginner’s Guide to Basic Sewing

Nancy Zieman’s Sewing A to Z: Your Source for Sewing and Quilting Tips and Techniques

Crafting tutorial: yo yo flowers with a kick

yo yo flowers with a kick

Yo yo flowers with a kick

Yo yo flowers are back! I’ve got a new twist on this old favorite. These yo yo flowers have a kick because I’ve added some layers and embellishments that you don’t usually see.

Making yo yo flowers is a good way to use all those leftover pieces of fabric and remnants of trim, beads and buttons. You won’t believe how fast and easy they are to make.

This is something you can do almost mindlessly while watching TV. You can sit in your favorite chair, cut out one yo yo and sew it by hand in five minutes or less. And let me tell you, once you get started, you almost can’t stop!

After you make a pile of different sized yo yos, start playing with them, putting different combinations together along with bits of trim and beads.

So what are you going to do with all those yo yos when you finally come up for air? Well, they can be used in so many ways: as brooches, barrettes, headbands, bracelets, bouquets, package decorations. Let me show you how they’re done in this tutorial.

Making yo yos step by step

Make paper patterns for the yo yos

paper patterns for yo yos

The first thing you need to do is make some patterns. Yo yos are made from round circles of fabric. The easiest way to make circles is with a drafting compass. You might remember using one of those in grade school. At least, that’s where I remember them from.

There are different sizes marked on my compass, up to a 6″ radius, or a 12″ diameter. Now you don’t have to use a compass. You can use cups, saucers, cans from the cupboard. Just remember that the finished yo yo is going to be about half the size of the circle you cut out. You can see I made a series of circles using my drafting compass traced onto junk mail (2″, 3″, 4″, 5″ and 6″).

Gather up fabrics to make yo yo flowers

yo yo fabrics

How to make yo yos

Take all your pattern pieces and cut out a bunch of yo yos in all different fabrics. Then put a gathering stitch around the edge of each yo yo. You can do this with a sewing machine, but I think it’s just as quick to do by hand using doubled thread.

One thing I did to make the sewing process faster was to eliminate the step of turning under the edge of the yo yo before adding the gathering stitch. If you were making a quilt, that’s a step you would want to keep since the quilt would have to be washed. Also, if you were to finish the edge of the yo yo, you would not need to cover that spot with a button.

Pull the gathering stitch up tight to form the yo yo and make a knot. Keep the knot on the top of the fabric if the back of the yo yo is going to be on display later, such as if you were making a yo yo flower bouquet. Note: it’s easier to embellish the center yo yo first before gluing or sewing it to the other layers.

Cutting and sewing yo yos

Adding embellishments to yo yos

Yo yos, yo yos everywhere

lots of yo yo flowers

Giving yo yos a kick

You can give yo yo flowers a kick by adding layers of tulle, lace and beaded fringe. The center embellishment is another way to make yo yo flowers unique. Make some for each season of the year and for the holidays.

I’ve made some yo yo flowers inspired by spring and summer, using lace in a couple of different ways. Twice the lace was used flat as a layer. In another yo yo flower, the lace was gathered tighter to make it look more dimensional like a tulip. My favorite center embellishment for the spring flowers is the ladybug, which is demonstrated below.

I did an animal print yo yo flower, good for fall and winter, that has a heavily beaded center. Then there’s a patriotic one with a beaded fringe layer, and a Halloween one with a layer of tulle and a creepy spider on top! I’ll show you the details on that below too.

A look at each individual yo yo flower

How to make the ladybug embellishment

How to make the spider embellishment

Ideas for using yo yos

What to do with all those yo yo flowers

As I mentioned before, yo yo flowers can be used in many different ways. They make cute package decorations with some double-stick tape on the back. They can be sewn onto throw pillows. You could add wire to them and make a yo yo flower arrangement. You could add them to headbands or sew them onto fabric cuff bracelets. You could also attach them to pin backs or barrettes.

My personal preference is to make them into pins. That way they can be worn on a jacket or blouse, pinned to your purse, or my personal favorite, pinned to a fabric cuff bracelet. I have several fabric cuff bracelets and, if you would like to make some for yourself, please check out my crafting tutorial for fabric cuff bracelets.

How to add a pinback to a yo yo flower

Yo yo flower pins added to fabric cuff bracelets

I have several sequin bracelets. Love the bling!

Wearing yo yo flowers

Here I am modeling the different ways to wear yo yo flower creations.

Sewing tutorial: fabric cuff bracelets

animal print fabric cuff bracelet

Make your own fabric cuff bracelets

This tutorial shows how fast and easy it is to make cuff bracelets out of fabric.

This is a great way to use fabric scraps from your stash. You can even use an old pair of jeans or a favorite shirt that’s seen better days, anything you want.

You’ll also learn three different closure methods for cuff bracelets.

Cuff bracelets can be left plain or transformed into wearable art. In this crafting tutorial we’re going to keep it simple and adorn our fabric cuff bracelets with pins or brooches.

If you don’t have any pins, you can make this angel kitty pin or these yo yo flowers that look so cute on cuff bracelets.

Supplies for making fabric cuff bracelets

fusible fleece, point turner, interfacing

Fusible fleece (left), point turner, fusible interfacing (right)

  • Measuring tape
  • Fabric scraps
  • Fusible fleece
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Bracelet closure: buttons and beading elastic, snaps or Velcro
  • Point turner
  • Assortment of pins or brooches

How to make fabric cuff bracelets

Make a cuff bracelet pattern from paper

Measure your wrist and add 2″ to 2½” for the length. The length depends on the closure method and whether or not there will be any overlap. The length will also accommodate extra bulk from the fusible fleece layer.

If you’ll be using Velcro or snaps, add 2½” inches. For buttons, add 2″ (edges meeting together, no overlap). You’ll have to experiment a little to see what you like.

I prefer my cuff bracelets to be close fitting like a watch band. It also keeps the bracelet from twirling around on the wrist. The closure method I like the best is snaps.

The width should be between 1½” to 2½” which includes ¼” seam allowance. I go for the bold look, usually at least 2″ wide. But then a lot of my pins are quite large too.

Round up your favorite pins for embellishing fabric cuff bracelets

assorted pins

My collection of pins/brooches

Choose fabrics to coordinate with your pins

fabrics for cuff bracelets

An assortment of fun fabrics

Cut and fuse fabrics

Pattern on fabric

Pattern on fabric

After selecting the fabrics, cut out two pieces of fabric, one piece of fusible fleece and one piece of fusible interfacing.

Fusible fleece is used on the top layer of the bracelet because it provides a sturdy foundation for decorating with a brooch.

Cut the length of the fusible fleece a little shorter to avoid excess bulk in the seam allowance. Make it ½” shorter if you’ll be using snaps or buttons, and about 1½” shorter if you’ll be using Velcro.

Iron the fusible fleece to the wrong side of one piece of fabric and fusible interfacing to the wrong side of the other piece of fabric. The piece with the fusible fleece will be the top of the bracelet.

Note: If you’re using denim or some other thick fabric, you can forego the fusible fleece and just use fusible interfacing on both pieces. You may be able to shorten the length by a ½” or so.

Fusing tip

When fusing fleece or interfacing, press straight down with the iron, hold for a few seconds, lift the iron and move to another spot. Do not slide the iron over the fleece or the shape will become distorted.

Before sewing, fold under ¼” on one end of each piece and press. This side is left open for turning. The opening will be easier to close later with the edges already pressed under and sewn in place.

fleece and interfacing on fabric cuff bracelet

Fabric fused with interfacing (left) and fleece (right)

In this photo the fleece and interfacing have been applied and the edge is pressed under.

Sewing, trimming and turning the fabric cuff bracelet

Sewing the fabric cuff bracelet

Sewing the fabric cuff bracelet

With right sides together, sew the cuff bracelet using ¼” seam allowance.

Trim the seams very close to the stitching line and miter the corners.

Turn right side out and use a point turner to push out the fabric. Then press.

Fabric cuff bracelet after sewing, trimming and mitering corners

Sewn and trimmed bracelet ready to turn right side out

Sewn and trimmed bracelet ready to turn right side out

Now it’s time to add a closure to the bracelet.

Closure method: buttons and beading elastic

Beading cord elastic

Beading cord elastic

Sew buttons on the outside of the bracelet on the end that’s already closed. Remember, the side with the fusible fleece is the top.

Cut a 3″ piece of beading elastic for each button. Put the two ends together and make a knot. The knotted end is going to be inserted into the open end of the bracelet.

Meet the two ends of the bracelet together and hold with pins. Loop the beading elastic around the button and put the knotted end into the open side of the bracelet. Pin it closed then sew.

Photos of sewing the buttons and elastic loops to the fabric cuff bracelet

Closure method: Velcro

velcro

Velcro

Cut a strip of Velcro to fit the width of the bracelet.

Sew one piece to the top, and the other piece to the lining side.

Photos of sewing Velcro

Closure method: snaps

Sew-on snaps

Sew-on snaps

One side of the snap is sewn to the top of the bracelet and the other side is sewn to the lining by hand.

When the bracelet is snapped shut, there should be at least ¼” of overlap.

Fabric cuff bracelet with snaps

Sequin cuff bracelet with snap closure

Sequin cuff bracelet with snap closure

This cuff bracelet has been embellished with sequins and beads.

Finished fabric cuff bracelets

A tower of beautiful handmade fabric cuff bracelets

A tower of beautiful handmade fabric cuff bracelets

Now that you know how easy it is to make homemade bracelets from fabric, you can make lots of them to go with all your outfits. They’re so simple, you can even make bracelets to give as gifts or to sell. And with a nice pin for decoration, they can look very elegant.

Sewing tutorial: angel kitty pin

angel kitty pin

Angel kitty pin made from fabric scraps

Here’s a step by step tutorial for making a super cute angel kitty pin. All you need are a few fabric scraps, buttons and beads. So gather up those little odds and ends you saved from other projects, the crazier the better.

This is a great project for anyone who loves cats or cat jewelry.

You’ll also learn some other ways to use this pattern. Let’s get started and have some fun!

Supplies you’ll need to make this angel kitty pin

  • Fabric scraps, beads, buttons, sequins, fringe
  • Fusible fleece
  • Metallic embroidery floss
  • Needles: a fine embroidery needle (a #9 or #10), regular sized needle and one with an extra large eye
  • Regular sewing thread
  • Embroidery scissors
  • Point turner and creaser
  • Aleene’s tacky glue
  • Pin back, 1 1/2″ long

Photos of a few supplies

Draw the angel kitty pattern

Angel kitty pattern

Angel kitty pattern

Here’s my Katrina Angelina angel kitty pattern. Draw your own paper pattern based on the dimensions shown.* The wings measure 4″W x 2″H. The face measures 2″W x 2″H.

An easy way to get both sides even is to fold the paper in half and draw half of the face/wings. Then cut the pieces out, open the paper and both sides will be symmetrical.

The pattern is going to be traced onto fabric and that will be your stitching line.

*You have my permission to sell angel kitties made from my pattern as long as you credit Lynda Makara for the design.

Choose fabrics and embellishments

coordinating fabrics

Coordinating fabrics

When you’re going through your stash, just pull out all the fabrics that appeal to you. Try putting different combinations together to see what speaks to you. Even strange fabric combinations can be made to coordinate with the colors of beads and trim you use. My preference is to use as many colors as possible and spread them around the design.

Cut out the fabrics

Trace the pattern pieces onto the fabric. Then cut out the fabric larger than the pattern.

tracing the pattern on the fabric

tracing the pattern on the fabric

Iron fusible fleece to the wrong side of one piece of the wing fabric. Draw the pattern onto the wrong side of the other piece of wing fabric. Cut a little horizontal slit into this piece of fabric for turning right side out later. Then pin the two pieces right sides together and sew.

Sewing tip: perfect corners

When sewing into corners, sew a U, not a V. For example, when you get to the corner, stop, pivot, take one stitch, then pivot and continue stitching on the line. This gives you a little room for snipping and the fabric will lay nice and flat after you turn it right side out.

Trimming, turning and pressing the fabric

Trim the seams very close to the stitching line and clip the corners. Turn right side out and use a point turner to push out the fabric. Then press. The side with the slit is going to be the back. The slit will be covered by a pin back and fabric later.

Repeat the process for the cat face.

Note: The slit in the cat face fabric should be a horizontal one toward the bottom of the face. The side with the slit is the back of the cat face which will be glued on top of the wings.

The process of sewing in photos

Decorate the angel kitty with seed beads

kitty angel face

Closeup of angel kitty face

Now you get to decorate your angel kitty any way you want!

For the face I used lime green buttons for the eyes and bead embroidery with a very fine needle to outline the features.

For the wings I used sequins and bead embroidery. I used 11/0 seed beads in yellow, orange, blue and hot pink.

For the bead embroidery use a doubled thread. Put three beads on the needle, take a stitch and go back to where the first bead is. Run the needle back through the three beads. Then put another three beads on and continue.

Bead embroidery photos

Adding whiskers to the cat face

Take the largest needle and thread about 14″ of metallic embroidery floss. Make a knot about 2″ from the end. Put the needle in from the top of the fabric and pull through to the back. Bring the needle back up and make a knot on top of the fabric.

When making the knot, hold the needle against the fabric and pull the thread tight. Then take the needle out and press your nail against the knot as you pull it tight. You can also put a dot of clear nail polish on the knots to secure them. Do the other side and trim the whiskers to the same length.

Photos of sewing the cat whiskers

Finishing the angel kitty pin

When the embellishments are finished, the cat face is glued onto the wings and then secured with hand stitching. I added a little scrap of beaded fringe to the back of the cat face before gluing it to the wings.

On the back of the wings, glue the opening together first and then glue the pin back on top using tacky glue. After that dries a little bit, cover the pin back with a small piece of fabric coated with tacky glue. This makes it look better and also makes it more secure.

Photos of finishing the angel kitty pin

Another look at the completed angel kitty pin

angel kitty pin

Completed angel kitty pin

Different ways to wear the angel kitty pin

Here it is on a jacket

angel kitty pinned to jacket

Pinned to a jacket

Pinned to a fabric cuff bracelet

I think this looks fabulous pinned to a fabric cuff bracelet! It could also be sewn on if you didn’t want the versatility. (Learn how to make a cuff bracelet for your angel kitty pin.)

angel kitty pinned to cuff bracelet

Pinned to a cuff bracelet

Other ideas for the angel kitty

  • Hair barrette. Glue or sew a hair barrette to the back of the wings instead of a pin back.
  • Headband. These are so popular today and this one would surely attract a lot of attention.
  • Magnet. Glue a magnet on the back and put it on your refrigerator.
  • Ornaments. Just attach a thread hanger instead of a pin back. Imagine having a tree full of angel kitty ornaments!

Gallery of angel kitties

brown and black angel kitties

Brown and leopard angel kitty in neutral colors (left); black and turquoise angel kitty (right)

Denim angel kitty pin

Denim angel kitty pin

This is a really fun project, and I hope you’ve been inspired to make your own unique angel kitties!