Project Rescue

Oh no! What a disaster!

Oh no! What a disaster!

Oh no! What a disaster! This whole project is ruined! Sound familiar? We’ve all had at least one project we think we’ve truly mangled. Thankfully, there are ways to save it. The best method to rescue your project depends on where the mistake occurred.

Cutting – Take Two

Did you misfold the fabric and now your cut pieces are all wrong? It may not be the giant disaster you think it is. If the fabric store has more of the fabric you’re using, it’s easy enough to get more and begin again. If not, you may be able to find it online or at another store. If that fails, treat this as an opportunity to find a new perfect fabric for your project (Don’t forget to exercise restraint, as we’ve looked at before).

Seams – Take Two

Did you missew a seam or several seams? If you can use your seam ripper to remove them and sew them again, this isn’t a big deal. However, if you’re not able to do that or did more damage to the fabric trying to pull out the seams, there are other options. If the item is too big, simply sew additional seams to make it smaller. On the other hand, if it’s too small you made need a more drastic solution.

Project – Take One and a Half

If your project is basically complete and you realize it’s too small, don’t worry! You may not have to redo the entire thing. Even if you’re not a tailor, it’s possible to alter your project to the larger size you intended. Best of all – you may not even need to buy more fabric to do it!


Figure out how much fabric your need to add to make the project fit and in which areas. For me, it’s usually the sides and/or bust area need an extra ½ inch or so (I blame patterns meant for smaller breasted women!).

No one, besides you, will ever know that it’s not exactly how it was planned to be.

Snip, Snip

Since you’re going to add more fabric, there’s no need to carefully rip out the seams. Instead, take your fabric scissors and carefully cut along the seams you need to alter, say the sides for example.

Add it up

Grab your left over fabric – the stuff that was destined to your stash pile. Making sure that it follows that pattern in your existing project, cut enough to add what you need to make your project fit, plus seam allowance on both sides.

Pinning and Sewing – Take Two

Pin the newly cut fabric additions to your project, right sides together and following the existing curves. If possible, try it on while it’s inside out to be sure it will fit better this time. Head over to your trusty sewing machine one more time and sew in the additional pieces. Viola! You’ve saved a project from the trash. No one, besides you, will ever know that it’s not exactly how it was planned to be. And what they don’t know, you don’t have to tell them, so wear it with pride.

What I Do At Work All Day (Part 2)

What I Do At Work All Day (Part 1)

Just a view of my shop.

Just a view of my shop.

I’m currently the Key Tailor on a New York City based major network crime-procedural drama television show (Blindspot on NBC). I work mainly out of one of the Brooklyn studios with occasional on-set last minute fittings. Most of the work I do each day is for things that need to be ready for the actors to wear the next day on camera. What this means is that, over the years, I’ve become pretty fast at doing a variety of alterations (as well as patterning and constructing from thin air). In my industry, there are certainly a lot of excellent tailors but there aren’t all that many excellent and fast tailors. Here are a few of the tricks I’ve discovered along tQuhe way that help speed up some common alterations.

Shortening the Sleeves of a Men’s Suit Jacket (without fancy functioning buttonholes)

Topstitching on sleeve lining.

Topstitching on sleeve lining.

First, just go ahead and remove all the buttons. They’ll just be in your way. Turn the sleeve inside out and find the topstitching along the sleeve-lining seam. This is how the sleeve was originally put together. Open up that seam and turn your sleeve inside out. Take apart the mitered and straight corners but do not undo the lining from the rest of the hem. (Go ahead and release any stitching holding the actual hem up though.) Undo any fake buttonhole stitching that you need to. These should be on a chain stitch and easy to undo.

Press miter corner with point turner inside out.

Press miter corner with point turner inside out.

Measure up or down the distance you want to shorten or lengthen at your corners and redraw your miter line if you need it.

Re-stitch all corners at new hem marks. I flip everything back right side out at this time and press my corners and the new hemline. Use a handy point turner

Don’t undo original stitching at hem.

Don’t undo original stitching at hem.

and please don’t trim anything away from the mitered corner. If you press inside out first with the point turner inserted the fabric will go where it needs to. No need for trimming. One of the most annoying things is to go and alter a jacket sleeve only to find that someone has trimmed the miter corner, meaning I can’t lengthen the sleeve properly.

(Still don’t unattach the lining)

Redraw miter line.

Redraw miter line.

After pressing, turn inside out again. Then simply measure up or down (I use an old fashioned metal seam gauge) from the current stitching line the desired amount and sew along that line. If you are shortening, there is no need to undo the original stitching line. If you are lengthening, you will need to. Machine tack the seam allowances together at the seam to keep the hem up.

Sew new stitching line shortening hem.

Sew new stitching line shortening hem.

Turn everything back right side out and topstitch the seam of the sleeve lining closed, put your buttons back on and you’re done!

There are of course a few situations that will make this alteration a bit more challenging – such as functioning buttonholes or having to add fabric to the hem seam allowance because of lengthening. If I’m having a good day and nothing strange is going on inside the sleeve, I can usually do this alteration in 30 minutes.

Center Back or Side Back Alterations on a Suit Jacket

The time saving trick on this one is pretty simple. Open up the under vent seam and turn everything inside out through there. When done, just topstitch the vent closed again, no opening up the lining and sewing it back by hand.

Men’s Vest Alterations – Center Back or Side Seams

I’m a huge fan of bagging things out. Men’s vests are one of my favorite things because you can bag everything out through a mere 2 inches on one of the side seam linings. First, find the opening where the vest was bagged out originally, probably a small hand stitched couple inches on one of the inside side seams. If its not there (if the vest was bagged through the neck, make your own. Then pull the entire vest inside out through those two inches. It will fit.

Vest side seams are most usually put together with one stitching line through all 4 layers (fronts and backs with linings). On the side without the opening just stitch a new line taking in (or out, though most commercial vests don’t have a lot of seam allowance to let out) the desired amount. If the amount is significant, you may need to re-stitch the arms eye curve so that everything lines up properly under the arm.

If you need to take in the center back seams, undo at the neck and bottom hem, alter as desired, the re-sew what you released.

On the side with the opening, stitch in two sections, above and below the opening. In the 2 inch gap, sew through all layers except the back inside lining.

Pull everything back through your opening, press and voila!

I just topstitch my opening from the right side of the vest, hiding the stitches in the seam line.

Check out Part 2 here!

My next post will tell you about the one of the sneakier men’s suit alteration tricks – the old dart and drop! So keep a look out for the follow up and as always – keep sewing!

DIY - Keyboard Kozy

DIY – Keyboard Kozy

Ick, dust! I abhor dusty, dirty keyboards at work and at home. Those keyboard sprayers to get in between keys just aren’t enough for me. Time to make a cover to protect the keyboard while adding some flair to the office space!

Keyboard Kozy

Keyboard Kozy

I love projects like this. I can create something useful while adding some personality to my space. I’m adding butterflies from different fabric I picked up here and there. I try to buy a quarter or half yard of the popular designs of the moment. Doing so helps add all sorts of different designs to my collection so I’m more likely to have what I want or need on hand. I have a decent collection of butterflies and have been waiting for the perfect project to showcase them.

Level: Beginner

Time to Complete: 1 hour

Sewn By Machine: 1/4 in. straight stitch

***Washing and ironing materials before sewing is extremely important!! Measurements are based on material already washed. If they aren’t washed before sewing, they may shrink by an inch or more when washed later on, resulting in being too small.


  • 1 – 19″ L x 7 1/2″ W Material for top of keyboard
  • 1 – 19 ” L x 7 1/2″ W Underside material
  • 2 – 19″ L x 1 1/2″ W Material for long sides
  • 2 – 19″ L x 1 1/2″ W Underside material
  • 2 – 6 1/2″ L x 1 1/2″ W Material for short sides
  • 2 – 6 1/2″ L x 1 1/2″ W Underside material

Any material to be used as accents on the keyboard cover – I used 3 rectangular butterflies.
I used two layers, the cover and then absorbent material for the underside of the cover. In my house spills are everyday events. I’ve learned to dual layer so spills are soaked up and less likely to damage anything. The keyboard cover can also be made with just one layer leaving off the underside backing. It’s totally up to the needs of your home or office space.

One Step Hem and Attach

One Step Hem and Attach

  1. Wash and iron all material.
  2. Measure and cut material.
  3. Sew accent pieces on cover top. I did not hem them beforehand. Instead, I hemmed and attached in one step.
  4. One Step Hem and Attach (see image)
  5. I used a petal decorative stitch when attaching my accents to add a bit of flare.

    Petal Stitch

    Petal Stitch

  6. Petal Stitch (see image)
  7. Sew side pieces together at ends, right sides together. (It is possible to sew each side to the cover top individually, but I found this much quicker and easier.

    Attachment of sides

    Attachment of sides

  8. Attachment of sides (see image)
  9. Iron seams open, making attachment to cover easier.
  10. Pin and sew side rectangle to cover.
  11. Turn right side out and iron seams open.
  12. For the inside layer, repeat all above steps.
  13. Pin and sew outside cover and inside layer, right sides together. Make sure to leave a 2″ – 3″ opening to pull material right side out.

    Top Stitching

    Top Stitching

  14. Pull material right side out.
  15. Top stitch around outside of cover top, using 1/8″ edge.

    Finished Keyboard Kozy

    Finished Keyboard Kozy

  16. Top stitch around entire outside of cover, using 1/8″. Make sure to sew closed the opening left to pull material right side out.
  17. Top Stitching (see image)
  18. Place on keyboard and enjoy!
  19. Finished Keyboard Kozy (see image)

Stacey's StitchesStacey’s Stitches

Hi all! I’m Stacey Martinez 🙂
I love to design imaginative custom items for my active, crazy family. Bright
colors and beautiful fabrics sing “Stacey, Stitch Me!”
Let your imagination inspire you to breathe personality into every stitch!

**Please feel free to leave comments, questions, suggestions and pictures of your creations. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

All natural fabric babe

Nature Babe

My first blog here explained my passion for finding fabric and developing an idea to use it. Yes, I am truly crazy about fabric and color. I think about each piece and decide if it is something I want to work on. That being said, I find it is very overwhelming because there are so many different types of textiles, and also so many uses. With each new discovery, I find myself designing projects I can sew with respect to supplying a handmade market online. My inclination at this time is to develop a shop on or similar platform where I can design baby articles. I love baby prints, blankets, snuggles and soft fabric and so soft Minky to adorn the tiny hands and feet of God’s most precious gift. Therefore, the fabric must be of good quality and purity.

Sewing is a process…

With all the buzz about eco-friendly products and natural products for the environment, more and more people are realizing the importance of chemical free goods for their homes and families. It certainly makes sense to me to be very particular about what is used for newborns and children. As far as my focus right now, Bamboo Terry and French Terry as well as Swaddle Gauze is popular for new or soon to be moms because of its pure qualities, minimum stretch and softness of the fabric.

Organic cotton.

Organic cotton.

Equally sought after is Organic Cotton.

I know many people have a problem with buying products that are labeled “organic”, partly because they tend to be more expensive. But in the case of the world’s production of cotton, it has been said that cotton crops are one of the most chemical intensive. Among the most toxic chemicals used in farming, as sited by the EPA, they affect our health and have a very negative impact on the environment.

Quality fabricsNot to drift off the subject of sewing and into eco-environmental issues, I am searching for bamboo and organic cotton to design some lightweight blankets and swaddles. Hopefully, I will be able to find good quality “organics” which are non-fading and durable so the they will last more than less expensive cuts. I have also learned that if I am taking the time to design something I want to sell, I will buy the best quality of fabric I can afford. It pays off in the long run.

Recently, I asked for an opinion about a design I made regarding fabric selections. They told me the quality of the fabric, the design of the print, and the quality of the construction are the most important parts of sewing. Sewing is a process, and learning the techniques, practicing different stitches, quilting, serging thread and other things make a finished piece a work of art.

Its time for me to order a walking foot and some ball point needles so I can practice quilting for my new baby goods. By the way, has quilting and Walking Feet especially made for Singer, Baby Lock and Janome among other brands. Check their website and find the one you need.