Holidays · Modern Sewing · Tutorial

Tutorial: DIY Quilted Coasters (plus Happy Mother’s Day!)

For my US and UK readers, Happy Mother’s Day! Unfortunately, I’m not able to celebrate with my mom today, with how busy school has been (3 more weeks! Gah, I can’t wait to be done!), but I will see her tomorrow, so I whipped up these quilted coasters to give to her (she actually does need coasters, so yay for practical gifts!). They are *so* easy to put together, so I thought I would write a little tutorial for you all. Not only are they a really quick project (I made a set of 4 in less than an hour), they also are a great way to use up your scraps, since you don’t need that much fabric. So, with that in mind, on to the tutorial!

First, gather your supplies:

Next, cut your fabric and batting. I did 4.5″ squares for the fabric and 4″ squares for the batting, but you can change these proportions depending on what size you want for your coasters. For every coaster, you will need 2 squares of fabric, and 1 square of batting.

With right sides together, pin 2 squares together. Stitch on 3 sides using a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving one side open. Clip corners.  Press, and turn right-side-out. Use a point turner to make crisp corners, and press again.

On the unsewn end, fold the raw edges 1/4″ to the inside. Put one of the squares of batting inside (trim if necessary to get the batting to lay flat inside), getting it as snug into the corners as you can.

Pin the edge closed. Stitch 1/8″ away from the edge and all around the edges of the coaster. Clip threads. Stitch 1/4″ away from the first line of stitching. Clip threads and press.

Repeat for however many coasters you want!

corset · In-Progress · Pattern · Tutorial · Underpinnings

In-Progress: The “copy-cat” corset (plus a mini-tutorial!)

Fitting is one of my least favorite things about the sewing process and sewing is always easier when you have a pattern that you know fits. In updating my underpinnings, a new corset was on the top of the list. My corset is really starting to show its 5 years of ware with bones popping out and seams fraying. I was extremely lucky that the first corset I bought (an off-the-rack one) from Abraham’s Lady fit so well. Actually, I was more lucky that the site that I volunteer at bought a group of these corsets and I was able to try them on in person to see what size I was before buying online. So, with a corset that I have that fits, I set out to copy this corset and make a new version of it that would have non-fraying seams and bones in their proper place.

Taking a pattern off of a corset is really quite easy, and I thought I would write a little “mini tutorial” on the process in case anybody out there has a ready-made corset that fits them but needs updating.

To start with, you’ll need 4 things: pattern paper, something to write with, a ruler and/or hem gauge and your corset.

Since this is a seam-shaped corset, we’re going to individually trace each piece (in this corset, there are 6 pieces). Start by placing your corset on the butcher paper. Mark where the seam lines are and draw the top outline of the corset, like so:

Next, move to the bottom of the corset. Keeping the part you just drew in line with the corset mark the seamlines and trace the bottom. Sometimes the bottom half tends to want to bunch up, so you might have to spread it flat.

Finally, we have to connect the top marks to the bottom marks. It’s helpful to draw any curvy corset pieces by hand, and connect the straight lines with a ruler.

Continue this same process for all of your pieces. It also helps to number your pieces left to right (or right to left, whichever you prefer).

Since we’ve just drawn the corset pieces as they appear on the corset, we of course have to add seam allowance. I just added a simple 1/4″ seam allowance on my corset pieces to save both fabric and time. I used a ruler that had a handy 1/4″ marked on it for the straight pieces, and used my hem gauge to draw and connect the seam allowance on the curvy pieces.

Finally, cut out all of your pieces, pin them to your corset fabric (I’m using cotton sateen here) and cut!

If you’re making a 2-layered corset like I am, it definitely saves time to cut your pieces out on 4 thicknesses of fabric (since you’ll need 4 of each piece – 2 for each front piece, and 2 for each back piece). To do this, just fold your fabric in half and then in half again. When cutting, use lots of pins and a very good pair of scissors.

Now, to pin all of these pieces together and stitch . . .


Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part IV: Testing the fit and making a final pattern

Last tutorial post, guys! Today, we’re gonna make a mock-up of the toile and if all goes according to plan, you’ll have a perfectly fitted bodice that you can use and manipulate to make an infinite variety of mid 19th century bodices. So, how do we do that? Well, first we have to get the toile off of the body.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part IV: Testing the fit and making a final pattern”


Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part III: Marking period seam placement

*Click here for Part I and here for Part II.

First, a caveat: WordPress has this handy feature for bloggers in which you can view the stats for your blog, such as how many hits you’re getting and what your tops posts are. They also have a feature about what search terms people on the internet are using to be directed to your blog, and it turns out that I am getting a lot of hits under the search term “draping a bodice,” “bodice draping,” or a variant of that. With that in mind, these tutorials are designed to show how to drape a mid-19th century bodice, and not a bodice for modern sewing. Sorry if I didn’t clarify that before, but better late than never, right?

Today’s post will be short and sweet. We’re basically drawing 2 lines that mark where the period shoulder and side seam is, since it differs a bit from the natural shoulder and side seam lines.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part III: Marking period seam placement”


Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part II: armscye, side seam, and darts

*Click here for Part I.

Okay, moving right along in the toile draping process. At this point, you should have 2 pieces of fabric pinned to you, with the neckline marked, and the shoulder seam pinned.

Marking the armscye:

Now, we’re gonna mark the armscye. Get out your pen/marking implement/sharpie and mark the end of the shoulder and the armpit crease on both front and back while you smooth the muslin upwards. When you mark the armpit crease, have your drape-ee (person being draped) slightly raise her arm and get as close to the armpit as you can. I’ve made the mistake of cutting too far down, and had to fix this with some extra muslin and duct-tape. And it wasn’t pretty. You probably wanna use a pen or pencil (not sharpie) for this so that you don’t get rub-off on the chemise.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part II: armscye, side seam, and darts”


Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part I: Intro and Beginnings

Learning to drape a bodice came out of necessity while helping my dear friend, Dana, try to fit a Simplicity bodice. When it became clear that fitting this bodice would be more trouble than it was worth, I offered the suggestion of draping a bodice. Now, I had never draped a bodice before and prior to this day, had always shied away from doing so because it just seemed so hard. However, armed with the Dressmaker’s Guide and some confidence on Dana’s part, we began, after her comment of “what could it hurt?”

Well, it turns out it didn’t hurt, but at the end of the 3 hour period of draping, pinning, and numerous consultations of The Dressmaker’s Guide (highly recommend this! It has fabulius instructions and detailed drawins of the process), Dana had a fitted toile that she can now use as a base for an infinite variety of mid-19th century bodices. After seeing the lovely bodice that Dana had, Auntie B of The Sewing Academy decided that she wanted one, too, so she headed over to my place a few weeks ago to get draped. Luckily, I had my camera with me, and I took pictures during the process with the idea of writing a tutorial about how to drape a bodice and she graciously agreed to be the model for this tutorial.

Before we start, let me preface by saying that draping a bodice itself isn’t innately difficult. It can be a bit fiddly and takes a couple of hours and some patience. That being said, you definitely need somebody who is familiar with mid-19th century dress construction and knows what they’re doing. Simply having a helper who occasionally pins after diligent instructions on your part (such as a male friend or in my case, my sewing-challenged mother) will not work. I’m sure your sewing-challenged person is vary nice and has been helpful with pinning you into things. Like my mom. But for this, you really need an experienced sewing buddy.

So, to drape a bodice, you will need:

-Several yards of muslin (you can use actual muslin from the fabric store, fabric you have lying around, or even old sheets)

-A measuring tape

– A pen and/or sharpie

-Good pair of fabric scissors

-Lots of pins!

-Material to make your final toile pattern – for this you can use either more muslin or plain paper such as butcher paper or unprinted newspaper.

-A hem gauge or ruler to mark seam allowances on the final pattern. You can use a French curve in addition to this if you like, but it’s not necessary.

Cutting and Pinning the Muslin:

Make sure the person you are draping the toile for is wearing a chemise and a properly fitted corset! I cannot stress this enough. I could go on and on about proper undergarments and fit, but I won’t and will just leave it at wear your corset. Ok? Ok.

Also, before you begin make sure the person that you are draping goes to the bathroom. While they can go sometime during the whole process, it is much more awkward when they have pieces of muslin pinned to them with odd marks drawn on them, too.

So, start with your measuring tape and measure the person from the base of the neck (with their corset on! Last time I’m gonna say this 😉 ) to about 1-2″ below their waist (waist meaning the part on the side of your tummy where you have that indent). Next, go to your muslin, and rip a piece of fabric this exact length. You should have 1 fairly short ripped piece of fabric that is probably about 45″ wide, as that’s how wide most muslins are. You wanna cut this piece in half, so that it’s about 22.5″. You’ll now have 2 pieces – 1 to drape the front and one to drape the back.

Pin one piece of muslin (making sure to pin on the selvage part of the muslin so that you know you have a straight line) to the person’s corset along the center front line, making sure that the bottom of the muslin extends about 1-2″ below the waist.I just draw a mark where this is so I don’t have to guess. When you’re pinning them, pin into the corset fabric, not the busk, and try not to poke them. Unless it’s somebody you really don’t like, so then poke away. Keep pinning up the corset, and stick a few pins into the chemise, as well. A good rule of thumb for this is to stop pinning when there’s no more fabric to pin in to.

The fabric is going to bunch up at the neck, so don’t worry about this since it will be smoothed in the next step.

Continue reading “Tutorial: Draping a Bodice, Part I: Intro and Beginnings”