Tips for sewing with scraps

With a full weekend (plus a few days!) left in September, I thought I’d share a few ideas in case you’re planning a little scrap fun this weekend!

1. Sort your scraps
If you’re anything like me, your scraps are stored in an undignified, dusty heap of a bin. I may or may not cross my fingers that said bin will close as I stuff yet more scraps in. Doing a scrap project is entirely unpalatable until I lay my scraps out and actually see what I’m working with. This helps me identify larger pieces, favorite scraps, etc – which brings me to my next idea.

2. Look for similarities
One of my favorite things in scrap sewing, nay, in life, is to sort things according to similarities. I find that this is an especially fun technique for scrap fabrics. Look for one or two characteristics that you like, such as color, fiber, texture, print, or weight. (Given the monochromatic nature of my recent sewing projects, I was able to amass a pile of grey, white and silver linens for my Scraptember project.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.44.49 AM


3. Or, go crazy and look for contrast!
Bright colors! Light and dark! Thin and thick! Textured and smooth! You can make some stunning combinations with contrasting fabric scraps. Using contrast can highlight your seams and design lines in a great way.



4. Consider dye
If you want a cohesive look, you can stitch some scraps together and dye them! If you want all of your scraps to pick up the dye, check first and see what fibers your dye will work with. I use Procion MX for plant-based fibers like cotton and linen and Jacquard for animal fibers like silk and wool, but there are many types of dyes.

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.46.47 AM

Boro from Jen Kao

5. Consider using your scraps as embellishment
Making your own applique or trim would be  a great way to use up scraps without sewing an entire garment with them. Check out how Debbie used leather scraps on a dress she made!

This list is by no means exhaustive as I’m an enthusiastic amateur scrap sewer, not an expert. Please share if you have any tips on sewing with scraps! And if you’d like your Scraptember projects to included in the round-up next week, please add your photos into the flickr pool.

Meg Profile

Sewcializing with a Sewcialist – Meet Meg!

Hello fellow makers!  I’m Nisha Williams and from time to time I’ll be taking a break from my blog, Blue Sunday, to hang out with you all over here!  I’ve been sewing for a little over 3 years, but the last year my sewing has improved greatly (meaning … I can wear what I sew in public!).

What changed?  I added people into the mix.  While I struggled to learn to sew on my own with online classes and You Tube videos … it wasn’t until I discovered this world of bloggers who so openly share their knowledge, techniques, and resources that my sewing skills have taken on new heights!

When Gillian asked if people would like to write for this blog, I thought wouldn’t it be great if we could really get to know the people we see on the Flickr page.  We see what they make … but what inspires them?  How did they get their start?  How do they continue to grow?

Every Sewist has a story, and every month I’ll bring you a new sewist from the Flickr pool.  Grab your favorite beverage.  Make yourself comfy while we “sewcialize” for a bit.  Let’s hang out with Meg McCarthy or on Flickr …  McCarthy_Meg 1979.

Meg Profile

Hello Sewcialists! Thank you so much for choosing me to interview, Nisha! I am honored and a bit surprised. I still feel like a sewing newbie, so the idea of sharing my knowledge and resources is funny to me… I have knowledge to share?!

 How did you get your start sewing?

My mother is an extremely accomplished sewist: garments, quilts… pretty much anything you can think of, she’s sewn it. She was always sewing (and knitting and crafting) when we were growing up, so I was always steeped in it. Despite her best efforts to teach me, I only had a fleeting interest in sewing as a child, making a project here and there. She bought me a beginner sewing machine when I was in my 20’s and I expressed an interest, but even then I really hadn’t been fully bitten by the sewing bug. It wasn’t until I moved abroad a few years ago, struggled to find a job, and was quite lonely that I began sewing more intensely, spurred on by the active, inspiring, and super supportive online sewing community. I used a lot of online resources, mainly, to answer sewing questions: tutorials, YouTube videos, blogs. Now I’ve learned so much that I can share tips with my mom! She’s trying her hand at sewing with knits after my recent knit sewing successes… fun!

Meg McCarthy 2

What are a few of the ways you learn new skills and challenge yourself?

I like to challenge myself with increasingly more difficult patterns or techniques. But I try to take them one at a time to keep it manageable. I finally feel, after months of trepidation and several wonky installations, more confident with zippers. But zip flys? Slippery fabrics? Sleeve plackets? Any serious pattern alterations? OMG, terrifying. Baby steps…

What is your best sewing organizational tip you can share and how has it helped keep you organized?

Ha ha ha… organized? I don’t think I am very organized. I go in spurts: massive clean-ups and organizational overhauls of my sewing stuff followed by months of messing up said organization by pulling fabric and patterns out for inspiration and then not returning them to their proper location for weeks and weeks.

What is your favorite online shopping retailer (for sewing fabric, notions, supplies) and why?

I live abroad (Bangkok, Thailand and previously in Jakarta, Indonesia) and only recently have a reliable means of receiving packages, so I actually haven’t done all that much online fabric shopping. I’ve had decent although occasionally mixed experiences with and Girl Charlee, but am excited to try a couple shops I’ve learned about via other bloggers (Michael Levine, Cali Fabrics, Fashion Fabrics Club). Also, over at Imagine Gnats, Rachael is seriously the world’s fastest shipper (she ships same day most of the time!!) and has some amazing fabrics in her curated collection.

Meg McCarthy 3

What sewing tool can you absolutely not live without and why?

Seam ripper, for sure. Cures all sewing ills: pieces sewn wrong sides together, wonky stitching… all common occurrences in my sewing!

Where do you find inspiration?

A combination: other sewing bloggers (so many creative folks out there!), ready-to-wear browsing (Anthropologie, etc.), people-watching. Bangkok has some amazing people-watching, clothes-wise. People are not afraid of outside-the-box fashion here… funky fabrics, pattern mixing, super bright colors, crazy details. Jakarta people-watching was also fun: gorgeous batik and ikat fabrics in all sorts of fun combinations. Highly inspiring!

Meg McCarthy 4

How do you sewcialize?

When I first started sewing I was immediately posting my stuff on my blog, but otherwise I was a bit shy about “sewcializing.” I did a lot of lurking. Recently I started getting more into it, realizing how lovely and supportive everyone in the sewing world is and how fun it is to share this fabric/sewing/garment-making obsession with others who “get” it. So now I’m sewcializing all over the place, including on my blog, Twitter, Instagram, Kollabora, Flickr, participating in sewalongs, commenting on blogs, participating in Me Made May, etc. Sewcializing more has brought me some awesome opportunities to contribute to other blogs, participate in blog tours and even do a little bit of pattern testing, which has been really fun. I might even have a sewing meet-up soon, even though I live so far away in Bangkok, and I couldn’t be more excited!

What’s your proudest sewing moment to date?

Hmmm… I can’t decide! Maybe my ikat By Hand London Victoria blazer? Love that thing! At the time I made it, it was by far my most complicated make.

 Meg McCarthy Ikat

In that same vein, I was quite proud of my plaid Negroni for my husband… it’s not quite his style, but I think I did a great job putting it together, pattern matching and sewing the bias yoke and pockets! But perhaps one of my more recent sewing adventures makes me the most proud: I am super proud of my successful invisible zip and (almost) pattern matching on my Southwestern Emery dress (first picture in this post). I worked really hard on it and think it came out pretty great. Plus, I drafted neckline facings for the Emery, which was a first for me.

Meg McCarthy Emery Back


Seriously, don’t you  just want to hop on a plane, fly to Bangkok and have a beer with Meg?!?  Meg thanks for taking the time to provide all of the detail and providing access to your pictures.  We appreciate your willingness to Sewcialize with us and providing a peak us into your sewing & crafting world.  Want more Meg?  Check out her blog.

Do you have any burning questions you would like to add to the interview list?  Leave them in comments below or email me at nishawilliams [at] msn [dot] com.  And don’t forget, scrappy September has just started.  What will you be making?  We’ll be following the Flickr page for your amazing Sraptember makes.  Happy Sewing!


Scrappy inspiration seen ’round blogland

Some of the most creative projects I’ve seen in my years of sewing and blogging have been made from scraps. I’m super excited to share a few of them with you today!

Carolyn, sewer extraordinaire who blogs at Handmade by Carolyn, has made quite a few scrappy projects since I’ve been following her blog. Recently, she sewed a linen dress and added a band of her own piece work and bias-bound neckline made of cotton scraps.

Devra of Puu’s Door of Time was inspired by a modern patchwork book. She raided her silk scraps to piece together the front of Datura blouse and the results are just incredible!

This next project is a scrappy sewing with an infusion of refashioning. Yoshimi used 4 unwanted pairs to create a new pair, and they’re just the coolest. She made them in 2010 and I still think about them.

Katherine from Bloom’s Endless Summer recently mixed prints, texture and color like a pro in her tank from scraps. She was inspired by the desire to minimize her scrap stash before a move.

Have you seen any other fantastic scrap projects in the sewing blog community lately?


Kicking off Scraptember!

Greetings, Sewcialists! Morgan here, kicking off Scraptember. The theme this month is simple: use those fabric scraps that we all have to sew up something beautiful and useful!

Creating projects from scraps is a fantastic (and cheap!) way to get creative with colors, textures and shapes. Here are a few of my inspirations for this month:

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 2.51.21 PM

These tops from OAOA have cool pieced sections inset in simple garments.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 2.51.48 PM

A tank like this would be great for larger scraps and would work well with a pattern like the Wiksten or Tiny Pocket tanks that so many of us have in our pattern arsenal.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.26.42 PM


This Sass & Bide top plays with interesting trims in between larger blocks of color and print and would look great in a woven or knit.

Sewing scrap garments can be as experimental or as simple as you like. If you enjoy the structure of using a pattern, consider using scrap pieces to sew up one of these:

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.47.13 PM

Seamster Pattern’s Yellowtail Tank

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.45.39 PM

Vogue 1247

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 3.45.58 PM

Deer & Doe Centauree

Finally, one of my favorite ways to sew with scraps is by making undies! Why not use Scraptember as an excuse to crank out some useful and cute new underthings for yourself or your loved ones? Our very own Gillian got Scraptember jump-started by making a undies out of her knit scraps.

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 4.05.40 PM

I’ll be back soon with more inspiration! In the meantime, please do share your scrappy makes in the Sewcialist Flickr pool if you’d like to be included in the end-of-month round-ups. Feel free to add #scraptember hashtag if and when you post anywhere else in sewing blog land.

And share: what are your favorite scrap-busting projects and patterns?



Tribute Month round-up

blog button

It has been great fun hosting Tribute Month here on the Sewcialists blog with Inge. I’ve discovered lots of great new-to-me blogs and hope you all have been suitably inspired.

Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow made this fun stripey summer dress in tribute to Alessa of FarbenFreude….

and Alessa made a great maxi dress in tribute to Gillian!


Kirsty of Top Notch took inspiration from Oona of Oonaballoona, Julie of Jolies Bobines and Debbie of Lily Sage and Co to make this scuba jacket.



Alison at Another Little Crafty Creation (that’s me!) made an embroidered maxi-skirt inspired by Carolyn of Handmade By Carolyn.

Cari from Cari Homemaker made a classy work dress inspired by Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic.


Gillian again with this tribute to Heather at Handmade by Heather B scoop neckline in this floral dress.


Gina of Feminist Stitch made an Oona inspired maxi-dress for Oonapalooza but didn’t post in time so she decided to call it a tribute instead.


If Gina is entering her belated Oonapalooza dress, then so am I! This was made during the month but not blogged in time for the big round ups.


Another timeless shift-dress and another tribute to Carolyn from Marrie at Purls and Pleats.


Jenny from Rennous Oh Glennus made a lovely Shibori scarf in tribute to  “Morgan [Crab and Bee] and her lovely shibori experiments, Melanie [Poppy Kettle] and her mad hand sewing & couture skills and Sophie [Ada Spragg] and her outdoor, DIY photo taking courage.” 

I’m going to finish with a quote from Jenny, which I think sums up the sewcialist spirit this month:

“So that’s [our] little tribute to not just 3 superstars, but every superstar.  You all continue to inspire [us] whether you know it or not…. and whether I know it or not! You push [us] to consciously as well as unconsciously try new things and develop new skills. Thanks all you SUPERSTARS, you!”


Tribute August: who inspires eMHaTee?

Today I’d like to introduce you to Marlies, who blogs at eMHaTee.


Look at that gorgeous coat she made! We asked Marlies the same questions we asked Joanne and here are her answers:


What makes a sewing blog stand out in your blog reader?

I have a lot of blogs in my feed, on different subjects, for example sewing, crochet, home decoration and lifestyle. The headlines give me always the first impression on the subject of the blogpost. Clear and witty headlines make a blog stand out in my big list. Besides that I’m mostly a ‘looker’ not a ‘reader’, so pictures are very important to me. Clear pictures that show the garment are a must for me.

Which Sewcialists inspire you and why? What is it that is inspiring – style, technical skills, energy, etc?

First of all a big inspire to me is our lovely host herself; Inge from Her choice of fabric and pattern is equal to my likings so every make from her is a joy to watch! She lives nearby so her sewing’s are for the same climate. I always think it’s harder to sew for winter than for summer so I’m always looking for fall/winter attire inspiration.

Another big inspiration is Fiona from Chain Stitcher. She always has a nice energy in her pictures. She makes nice basics and that’s something I have to concentrate on more because that’s what you wear the most. Her monthly ‘indie pattern update’ is a very nice list of all the new sewing patterns to explore!

The third inspirational lady is Roisin from Dolly Clackett. This lady doesn’t need another introduction. I’m always looking for nice dress patterns, and because this lady makes them all, I can compare the different outcomes. Her daily Instagram pictures in her me-made-clothing makes me want to wear me made clothes every day too!

What are your favourite makes by your inspirational sewcialists?
All of Inge’s makes I could wear myself, so to pick one is a hard task. I picked this fabulous skirt because I love the outcome of this print with this pattern. I made a solid red Gertie skirt myself, and never thought of a printed one. And look how well it combines with cardigans!


Fiona’s dotted trench coat is so glamorous and well-made that that’s my favorite! A classic coat that can lasts for years, wow!


My favourite make of Roisin is hard to choose, her dresses are all beautiful!
I pick this one because it is inspiration for a dress I’m making to attend a wedding (soon on my blog) The placement of the fabric and the cut of the pattern are a perfect combination.

If you were going to sew in the style of one of those bloggers, what would you do?
I’m planning to make some winter-wardrobe-staples and I fell I love with Fiona’s White Russian sweatshirt from the new pattern company Capital Chic. Doesn’t that look stylish and comfortable?

It even looks great on a pencil skirt… that sounds as the best make for the coming winter!

How do other people inspire your sewing in general?
Other people inspire my sewing in the way they dress. They make combinations that I’ve never thought of, or they use color and print in a different way as I would do. That gives me new insight on how to build a garment in my wardrobe. I find these inspirations in blogs, in magazines, but also from people walking by on the street. In that way the world is full of inspiration!


Thank you Marlies for kindly letting us in on the sources of your inspiration (and for including me in it too, I am so honoured!) I’m looking forward to seeing your wedding attendee dress!



Tribute august: who inspires Joanne?

Hi there guys! Today I’d like to introduce Joanne to you. She blogs at Zoe Livana and she lives in the same town as me, which I found out through Map the Sewintists.




I asked her some questions about who inspires her in her sewing adventures and here are her answers:




What makes a sewing blog stand out in your blog reader?
I follow A LOT of sewing blogs. Some people read the news on their phones, and I’m the one always catching up on my blogs. What makes a blog stand out is often their photography and their sense of humour. I love a writing style that is honest, to the point, and personal. But above all, I love looking at all the pretty pictures, especially if I’ve let my blog reader pile up…


Which Sewcialists inspire you and why? What is it that is inspiring – style, technical skills, energy, etc?
This is a very difficult question because there are so many sewcialists that I follow and find inspiring. I’ve narrowed it down to a top 3, based heavily on the volume of posts they put out there, I think. They kind of give me a consistent stream of inspiration, so to speak.

Let’s start with Lauren of Lladybird. She is one sassy lady and I love her style! I mean, have you seen her hair? I think it’s amazing how quickly she can sew, and with great accuracy. She also seems to really know how to make clothes fit, which is an amazing skill to have. She tends to look good in pretty much everything she makes.

I also love Anna of Paunnet! She is also kind of sassy, but less outspoken than Lauren, except when she’s doing her pattern magazine reviews. I love her photographs and I’d wear just about anything she makes. I feel as though I can relate to her partly because she’s European, and partly because she is a fellow pear-shaped beauty. The only thing I find slightly annoying about her is that she often boasts that her size fits right out of the envelope. I do not have that luxury because my torso is much too long.
And last, but not least, Roisin of Dolly Clackett. I’m sure many of you have heard that she is Queen of the dresses, and that’s because she really is! What’s different about her blog is that she doesn’t just review patterns or post pictures of her makes, she has a really humorous and honest blogging style. She’s not afraid to get personal in her posts, and she sometimes talks about tv shows etc. Her blog titles are always witty (quotes?), which really makes me want to read her posts. And did I mention the DRESSES?? Her style is amazing and I want every single thing she makes! (almost). She makes such good use of novelty fabric and pairs it with beautiful dresses to really make both the fabric and pattern wearable, if that makes sense. I also love to make and wear dresses, so we have that in common.
What is your favourite make by your favourite blogger?
Lladybird: A Belladone for Bicycling (if any of you read my blog, you’ll know I’ve already made 3 Belladones and I’m not stopping…)
Dolly Clackett: (Sorry but I couldn’t choose just one!!) Poppy Heather dress and Extraordinary Garden Dress.
If you were going to sew in the style of your favourite blogger what would you do?
For Lladybird, I would have to go with some bicycling fabric, because she’s said on a couple of occasions that it’s her favourite. For paunnet, I would probably choose a solid fabric because she does solids so well. And I’d probably make a skirt because let’s be honest, I have enough dresses for now… Which brings me to Dolly Clackett. I’d have to make a By Hand London Dress because that’s one of her favourite brands, and I’d have to choose an amazing novelty print. I’ve actually made a dress in her style during Sew Dolly Clackett where sewcialists around the world sewed in her honour when she got married. How sweet is that?? The dress I made is by far the dress I get the most compliments on.

How do other people inspire your sewing in general?
When a new pattern comes out from an indie designer, I usually wait a little while to see what other sewing bloggers come up with before I make the decision to purchase the pattern. I really get inspired by fabric choices and finishes that other bloggers do. I feel like they really push my creativity. Like the Sew Dolly Clackett dress. I had ear-marked that fabric for a ‘boring’ pair of pyjama pants, and I’m so glad that I used it to make a dress.
Through reading blogs, I have also learned a lot about fitting and finishing techniques, more so than I could have learned from any sewing book. Maybe because blogs are so much more fun to read than a boring sewing book ;) I’m pretty fearless when it comes to sewing techniques in general, so I’m on board with trying just about anything once, as long as the instructions are clear.
Thank you Joanne for giving us a little insight on who and what inspires you!