Saturday, November 4, 2017

Small Animal Couch DIY

One thing all small critters seem to enjoy is a soft squishy place to snuggle up.
My family is planning to adopt a trio of rats next month if all goes as planned.
Nice thing is I allready have experience using fleece with our guinea pig, and with cloth diapers, so the plan is lots of fleece and absorbency underneath.

One thing rats like is busy cluttered cages. so I've been making many things to stuff our cage with in preparation.
Today I made a cute little couch for the cage top. It may not last long but at least it will be something fun while it does last!
You will need:
  • fleece
  • Scissors
  • pins
  • a sewing machine
  • ribbon
  • stuffing or fabric scraps to stuff with
  • paper (to draw the pattern on)
  • ruler or yardstick
  • pen to write with
  • Lighter

 Draw your pattern on your paper.  I measured in CM as I found it a bit easier to get the measurements I wanted. 

:Lay your pattern on your fleece, pin and cut out. 
Cut two peices out. I have solid blue and striped blue. 

Cut 4 pieces of  gross grain ribbon about 5 inches in length(I tie tiny bows, if you want these can be longer). melt ends with a lighter. In an effort to not set myself on fire I didn't photograph that part of the steps. 
Lay the ribbon in the top corner of the piece, between the layers on fabric. 

Repeat at the top corners, and other back corners. Leave a small tail of ribbon peaking out of each corner.

All corners pinned ready to sew! 

use your sewing machine on a straight stitch at medium length. Make sure to use a woven, universal, or heavy duty needle to sew fleece properly.

Sew around your project edges at about 1/2 inch seam allowance. 

When you get to a corner You need to stop with your needle DOWN, and lift the presser foot, then turn your project. Before continuing. Leave a small opening unsewn for turning...

You can see where I started and stopped at the bottom slightly off center. 

Next a little pro sewing tip. Clip your seam allowance all the way around at about 1/2-2/3 in increments. Snip the fleece almost to the sewn lines. Do not cut THROUGH the sewn lines. 

Pro tip 2. Clip your corners that do NOT have the ribbon tails like so. This makes them easier to turn and get a nice point. 

Pro tip 3. Clip into your corner that dip. Just to the sewn line. Not through it. 

Not sure if you can tell in this photo but finished clipping my curves, corners, and seam allowance.

Turn right side out. 

Stuff just the arms and back with stuffing, leave the center un-stuffed for the moment. 

Sew across the back and sides trapping the stuffing in those arms and back. 

Finished sewing it will look like this. 

Tie your ends off close to your project then snip. No tails of thread for fur babies to choke on or get caught on toes!
Next stuff the center. (I apparently forgot to photograph this.

Tuck your raw edges in and using a hidden or ladder stitch close this opening up. 

Once that opening is closed tie your ribbons together into bows. This bring the couch back and arms up. To wash untie so it dries faster! 

Place in your cage. My ""Pillows" are scraps roughly 4 x 3 inches. I didn't bother to turn them right side out and left the edges raw. If you make yours slightly bigger you could snip around your seam allowance and make them fringed!
Make sure to tie off your tails and snip close to the project! 

To prevent redecorating, use a safety pin to fasten to your cage!

All done! 

Friday, September 29, 2017

Dolman Shirts Head to Head part 1

I've been loosing inches, and dropping sizes while eating on THM. As a result almost none of the clothing I sewed up last year is going to fit me properly this fall/winter.
While going through my patterns to decide what to make I realized I own 8 different dolman style top patterns. EIGHT. That's quite a few.

I'd really only sewn up 2, and thought in light of my clothing needs it would be a good opportunity to sew up a shirt form each pattern and compare patterns, fit, and such for the internet.

I'm going to be sewing up 7 of those patterns, some of which are free by joining facebook groups in order to get codes for thier shops. And I'm going to break this into two posts.

SOme of these were turned from long into shortsleeves by myself. I will denote this in the description. None of these patterns were given to me for this post. This is purely my opinions and based on my experiences.

I tried to use fabrics that had similar drape and thickness in hand. This was mostly successful. though a few will need to be remade in other fabrics to see if I REALLY like the fit as they turned out a bit differently than I thought they would due to fabric choices.

I took the most unflattering angles so you can see exactly how each top fits, A straight from the front, side view, arms straight out(to compare the "wings", and then a nicer photo.

So without further ado Dolman Shirts HEAD to HEAD pt 1.

First up is the HALA SLIM DOLMAN 

  • This pattern has layers and no trim pages. Which makes assembly pretty fast.
  • Measurements for cuffs and band are on the pattern. 
  • I used a sweater knit from my stash that I've had so long I have no idea the fabric content. But I think it's a cotton spandex blend.
  • I made this in a size 6 which was not graded. It's a bit snug in the belly. If I wanted a FABULOUS fit, I'd really need to do a full tummy adjustement or size up in the tummy and hips. I have a long torso, but my waist is really high. Just for refrence. This might have changed fit some if the fabric had a touch more drape or stretch.
  • The directions were clear and simple lots of tips for altering the pattern to have deeper "wings" or more slim ones, alter the neckline, etc. directions are photos and text based. 
  • I used my own neck band calculations for the neckline as I don't find that following the Suggested measurements results well for me.
  • I made the long sleeved version and cut to the longest length then added cuffs. as I typically do with any pattern as I get cold otherwise.


  • This is a OS pattern so it is very loose and straight. It fits up to a 43.5 inch bust and 45 inch hip. as such there are no layers. This pattern will need trimmed to assemble. 
  •  I used a very drapey sweater knit for this one. It's practically see through and heavier than I thought. I want to make this one up in another fabric and see how I feel about it then.
  • Directions are line drawings and simple like any dolman construction. It's a bit trickier to add the sleeves and sew the side since I used a serger and due to the angles on the body and sleeve.
  • I used my own neckband calculations on this one as sweater knit drapes and stretches so much more differently than other fabrics with lots of spandex in them. 
  • This pattern has both a  long and short sleeved option. I used the long sleeved but did not add a cuff. I may go back and add one later as the sleeves are a bit shorter than I like. 

George and Ginger I Heart U

  • This is another free pattern in the george and Ginger facebook group. It's intended to be a pajama set and comes with a shorties pattern as well. It has no layers, And no trim pages, but is very well marked so that I had no trouble marking and tracing my size with ease. Even though I use a black and white printer. 
  • I used a rib knit from joanns for this one. It's drapey and comfy and will be perfect when fall weather finally hits. 
  • directions are clear line drawings and there are photos of finished garments as well. It's another with simple construction so I honestly just glanced over them. Once you've sewn a few dolmans you don't usually need directions for them. 
  • I used my own neckband calculations. and cut it the opposite direction of the stretch for an interesting detail. 
This pattern only comes in short sleeves. I drafted a new sleeve using the long sleeve part of the sweet tee from patterns for pirates, grading from the wrist to the width I needed to match the width of the sleeve opening.

Patterns for Pirates Sweet Tee

  • This pattern is NOT free. I made a size M with Large sleeves as her patterns tend to be snug fitting in the sleeves and I don't care for that. It's got layers, and no trim pages. 
  • I used a cotton lycra for the front of this top as well as the sleeves and cuffs/neckband. and a Jersey for the back. I had this one all ready cut out in this fabric and sitting waiting to be sewn up so I didn't move to another material. 
  • directions are step by step photos and text. So very easy to follow even for a beginner. I made almost only this pattern last summer and basically lived in it so I was all ready very familiar with the process though. 
  • I used my own neckband calculations. 
  • I sewed up the long sleeves version, cut to the longest length and then added cuffs again. 

Patterns for Pirates Pumpkin Spice Dolman

  • This pattern is NOT free. I made a size small, with Medium sleeves. I could have sized up a bit but this pattern tends to run large so I made a smaller size. In hindsight due to my material I wish I had sized up.  This has layers and No trim pages. 
  • I used an unknown fiber content sweater knit I got in a remnant bin from a warehouse sale for this one. I THINK it's a poly blend baby terry. but not sure. It's very hot for being so thin. 
  • Directions are step by step photos and text. Super easy for beginners to follow. 
  • I used my own neckband calculations. 
  • I sewed the long sleeved version of this pattern. Cut to longest length with cuffs added to that. 

In conclusion.....

I think my favorite after seeing photos is the sweet tee. With the grainline hemlock coming in second. I hope to sew up another of both of these and compare to my favorite of the next batch. The plan will be to sew all of those in the same fabric content to get the best comparison.

If you have any questions please leave them in the comments and I will answer as well as update the post with the information!