Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon
Please do not reproduce images or content from this site without permission. Thank You!

Email the Editor

Archive for 'Sewing'

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Seven minutes of inspiring fiber art images. In this video TAFA shares members visions of red: of boldness, love, and passion…
some heat to get our fiber circulation pumping for Valentines Day crafts!

TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List is a business community of entrepreneurs rooted in textile and fiber art products and traditions. A majority of our members have social and environmental agendas at the core of their business. TAFA unites old and new traditions, their historical and modern importance, giving a shared platform to both contemporary and traditional textile techniques from all cultures.”

TAFA presents an inspiring collection of all things Fiber Arts….Beautiful pictures and links to fiber artists and fiber suppliers around the world….a delightful place to spend a few Sunday hours with a cup of tea!

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Feb 3, 2013 12:43 PM | 2 Comments

Big Soft Spheres by Susan Wasinger

Perfect for your budding superstar, these soft and squishy playthings are lovely to kick and roll and throw and catch and even just hug.

This tutorial is an exerpt from Susan Wasinger’s beautiful book:  Sewn by Hand.

Here is the tutorial:


scraps or fat quarters of light-weight
cotton prints (each ball requires
6 different prints)
heavy-duty thread
fabric scraps for stuffing
eco-friendly fill (see note under Fabrics)
bell or rattle (optional)


standard sewing basket
paper for template
washing machine/dryer
stiff brush (optional)


For the spheres: Since this will be used by a child, organic fabrics would be an excellent choice here. You really only need a few inches of each print, so raid your stash for suitable scraps.

For the stuffing: This is a great project to try eco-friendly fillings like those made of organic cotton, kapok, and bamboo.

Spheres in two sizes, 6 inches or 8 inches in diameter

Since these soft toys will be getting a lot of love and squeezing and maybe even a nibble or two, the stitching must be nice and tight to keep the stuffing safely on the inside. Use a small backstitch that has virtually no gaps to make it secure. For even more security, do a double row.

Portability factor: { pretty high }
Small pieces, very few notions, sew them anywhere, but leave the stuffing for home.

Prewash all the fabric for this project–very important! Cut out six of the pattern templates in the size you choose (click the image below to open an enlarged size and print the template for use).


The balls are most fun if each section of is a different fabric, so raid your deep stash! Try to position the template at a 45° angle to the grain of your fabric; this will give the best fray. Save all the cuttings and scraps (more on that later).

Wet each cut piece and rub it vigorously between the palms of your hands to rough up the edges as much as possible. Repeat the process until you see the edges start to fray. Once you have roughed up the edges on all the pieces, throw them in the dryer with something rough (like towels or jeans). This will help the edges really “bloom,” creating the soft, fuzzy fray that makes these balls so lovable. Continue the entire fraying process until you are happy with the amount of fray. You can see why it was so important to pre-wash your pieces–otherwise they might all have shrunk to different sizes through all this wetting and drying. Lightly iron your sections so they lay flat, but not so much that you squash the fuzzy edge.

Lay out your sections in a pleasing sequence, alternating dark and light, tone or pattern until you are happy with the effect. Remember that the pieces at the far left and far right will ultimately be adjacent to one another when the sphere is complete.

Lay the first two sections on top of the other with wrong sides facing. Pin then sew along one edge from point to point about ¼ inch or less from the edge, using a backstitch and heavyweight thread. Start and stop about ¼ inch from each point to leave room for the point of the adjacent piece. Knot your thread at the end of the stitching, but no need to cut it as you can use this same thread when sewing on the next piece.

Pin on the next piece to this first group, lining up the points, wrong sides together. Sew as before. Continue until you have attached all six pieces. Leave open the last seam for stuffing.

To give the ball a little more heft than just plain stuffing can provide, bundle some of the fabric scraps and maybe a jingle ball in a small square of scrap cotton.

Squeeze it together into a small ball, then tie off the top with a few stitches and a knotted thread. Wrap stuffing (I used bamboo fiber stuffing) around this bundle and stuff it inside your fabric sphere. Keep adding stuffing until the ball is round and firm. Make sure to work stuffing all around your bundle to keep it in the center of the ball. It is hard to over-stuff these spheres.

Pull the final two edges together and pin. You will need to compress the stuffing a bit to finish this seam, but it will spring back nicely. { photo 4 } Sew the final seam closed. Knot and bury the thread deep inside the ball. If necessary, you can tidy up the apexes of your sphere, where all six points meet, and close it off completely with a few little stitches.

Featured Stitches

Posted by Living Crafts on Jul 13, 2012 09:26 AM | 52 Comments

Wabi-Sabi Felt Needle Book by Pardis

My friend Carrie and I decided to take a small hand-sewn project with us when we took our girls to Florida in February.   Each of us grabbed a few pieces of felt scraps, needle and thread, and made a needle book for our sewing box.  Originally, I planned to use 3 longer rectangular pieces and fold them to get 6 pages, but the felt pieces were too small so I decided to hold the pages together by sewing a spine on it, just like a hard cover book!  Coming back home, I found this old button which is carved from a seashell, and painted.

I  love how the colors go with my scissors cover … by accident!  Instructions on how to make our Mother’s Day Scissors cover are here.

This is a perfect project to use whatever felt pieces you have on hand; wool felt scraps, favorite collected pieces or felt from old sweaters are all ideal.   A good size for a needle case is about 4 inches x 5 inches, give or take a little!

Cut 4- 6 rectangles of felt. Cut a strip 1 inch wide and the same length as your needle book for the binding. Arrange the colors as you’d like to see them as you open your case.

Pin the strip of wool felt around the long edge of the needle case, like a book binding. Sew up, close to the binding edge, making sure you go through all the layers of felt. Use backstitch to get a good tight seam. Trim the felt squares as required to even them up.

Cut a 1 inch wide by 3 inch long strip of felt to make the closure. Sew onto the back cover, using backstitch again. Make a slit in the felt using sharp scissors. The opening should be just slightly bigger than your button. Add a special button to the front of your case, and it’s ready to use!

If you like, you can sew around the edges of the buttonhole to keep it from stretching, using blanket stitch. You could use a fancy embroidery floss and blanket stitch around the edges of your needle case- a canvas for your beautiful stitches as well as a perfect organizer for all your future stitching!

The winner-chosen at is:
Michelle, who wrote “I have just done a course on felting yesterday and really was suprised by what I had achieved in one day and will be doing this as an attachment to my craft list.”
Congratulations Michelle!

National Nonwovens

National Non-Wovens has generously offered a wool felt assortment pack for the lucky winner! Their gift includes eight 100% wool felt sheets, in a collection of gorgeous colors.

Please leave a comment on this post by Tuesday, April 24th, 2012,  for a chance to win this wonderful giveaway.


Posted by Living Crafts on Apr 20, 2012 03:56 PM | 399 Comments

A Doll for Every Child- Clothing Patterns

By Katja Magus

“I truly believe that anyone who has basic hand and machine sewing skills can successfully complete this doll with these detailed and photo-rich instructions. If you feel you’re not up to the challenge right now, you can reach out to a family member or friend who sews and offer to do an exchange of skills.  Every child deserves a beautiful doll to cherish for years to come!

Katja Majus, author of these patterns, our doll pattern and tutorial available here,  and the article “A Doll for Every Child” in the Living Crafts Winter 2012 issue


  • Small pieces/scraps of knit fabric for clothing/diapers/etc. (can be from recycled clothing or there are beautiful cotton velours from the listed sources) *
  • Optional ¼ inch elastic for doll gown and pants
  • 2 closures for each diaper (sew on snaps, hook and loop tape fasteners, etc.)
  • Sewing machine (or lots of time and patience!)
  • Living Crafts  “A Doll for Every Child Doll”  Clothing Patterns:

Doll Diaper Pattern

Doll Hat and Pants Pattern

Doll Shirt Pattern

Doll Gown Pattern

*Starred items can be found online at and, other items can be found around the home or at a local craft store.

Sewing the diapers and clothing:

You can use recycled children’s clothing or scraps from your sewing stash to make the diapers and clothes. All of the patterns are designed for cotton knit (stretchy) fabrics; they DO NOT include seam allowances. I didn’t need to add elastic to the bottom of the gown or to the waistband of the pants due to the stretchiness of the fabrics (skipping the elastic makes the clothes easier for little ones to take on and off), but if you do, use 1/4” elastic and look for directions on the package or online.

Making the diapers:  Doll Diaper Pattern
1. Using the diaper pattern, cut out two diaper shapes from a light colored cotton knit fabric with the stretch going across the diaper. With right sides together, pin and sew around the diaper, starting at the back notch/line and going all the way around, topping at the next notch/line to leave room for turning.
2. Backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam. Clip/trim seams as described in the doll making instructions, turn diaper right side out. Blind or whipstitch the back opening closed or leave open to have a “pocket” diaper and make inserts for it. Add fasteners to the flaps and the front section.

Making the shirt/gown: Doll Shirt Pattern and Doll Gown Pattern
1. Fold under the seam allowance on the top curved edge across the shoulder flaps and neck, and sew with a narrow seam. Then lay the front and back pieces end to end with the shoulder flaps overlapping (matching notches/lines). Make sure both flaps are going the same way before sewing.

2. Baste this armhole seam using a longer stitch, 1/8” from the edge, to make sure the flaps don’t slip as you add the sleeve. Fit the curved edge of the sleeve to the armhole along your basting line, matching up the center of the sleeve with the notch for the shoulder flaps. Sew a ¼” seam for the armhole.

3. Fold up seam allowance at sleeve edges and sew. Lay the gown/shirt out flat with right sides together and match the underarm and body seams. Sew a continuous seam from the sleeve edge to the bottom of the garment. Turn up the bottom hem and sew.

Making the pants:  Doll Pants Pattern
1. With right sides together, first sew both crotch seams.

Then hem both leg bottoms.
2. Next, lay the pants out flat and sew one continuous seam up the inside of one leg and down the other.

Fold under top edge and sew, adding elastic if needed.

Making the hat:  Doll Hat Pattern
1. Place two hat pieces right sides together and sew along the curved edge. Try the hat on your doll before sewing a hem along the straight edge. You may need to snip the seam, as mentioned before, along the curved edge.
Time savers and other tips:

I can complete a doll in 4 uninterrupted hours or in many small bits of time over a few days, but give yourself much more than that if this is your first doll.

To save time, skip the hair and add a hat, the doll can “grow up” over the next year and be presented later with a full head of hair. Also to save time, skip the face embroidery. Many cultures have created faceless dolls for their play and I think this would be especially suitable for a young toddler.

Present a finished doll without clothes, wrapped in a blanket or play silk and let the child know that making clothes will be your special project together.

For the younger child, loosely sew on the cap and gown to avoid dolly being left naked all the time, these can be unsewn later as the child matures.

Treat the doll as if it were real and your child will follow your example, make sure it is rocked, clothed, and carried gently. When picking up toys, treat the doll with reverence and make sure it has a special place to sleep.

Making accessories for the doll, such as, scarves, sleeping bags, rugs, hats, and blankets are wonderful ways for an older child to relate to a doll, while practicing their hand crafting skills at the same time. Older siblings can also be involved in helping to ready a doll for a younger sibling.

Most dolls only need to be washed about 1–2 times per year. The general rule of thumb is to wash a waldorf doll as you would wash a real baby. Run a sinkful of warm water and place the doll in the water, gently surface wash using mild soap, dunk the doll a few times to rinse (no squeezing, rubbing, etc.) and wrap in towels to dry. The drying may take 24–48 hours so you might need to do it “on the sly” so your child won’t be too anxious about it. A doll that has been washed can have new “cheeks” applied and a new outfit. Then, presented again to a grateful child – rather than giving a new doll each year!

Posted by Living Crafts on Feb 8, 2012 10:21 AM | 1 Comment

Take a Stitch Tuesday Challenge

a fly stitch sample from week one of Take a Stitch Tuesday

Looking to learn some new handsewing skills this year?  This may be just the challenge….

Take a Stitch Tuesday is a project initiated by Sharon B. at Pin Tangle.

It’s a project that is as much about creative community as it is about learning a new stitch and stretching our handwork abilities, with challenge members sharing their experiences with the stitches through on online forum, comments, photos and blog links.

Sharon's fly stitch sample from TAST week 1

From Sharon’s website:
  “Take a Stitch Tuesday is a challenge I will run in 2012. Every Tuesday I will post a stitch and the challenge is to work a sample.
If you are learning embroidery the challenge will be to learn the stitch. If you are experienced the challenge is to push the stitch creatively.
Once you have worked a sample, you will need to photograph it and put it online at your blog, flickr or the Stitchin Fingers page, then swing back to the page the challenge stitch is presented on and leave a comment with your web address. People will visit the comments, and clicking on the link, will visit you to see what you have done.”


Sharon's buttonhole stitch from week 2 of the challenge

“There is not a particular project to work on. The idea is to experiment with stitches. They can be small samples on scraps of fabric or doodle cloths. Some people are going to make a band sampler, others are making fabric books, others working the challenge stitches on a crazy quilt block or project, while others are going to use fabric postcards, and ATCs (Artist Trading Cards).  The challenge is to work the stitch. The format or project is totally up to you.”

The stitch for this week is Feather Stitch- are you ready to start?  With such a beautiful presentation of stitch inspiration, plus instructions, it’s hard to resist the urge to find a quiet moment and get stitching!

Sharon's feather stitch sample from TAST week 4

Sharon has also developed a wonderful stitch dictionary at: Sharon B.’s Dictionary of Stitches for Hand Embroidery and Needlework.

Her website is an amazing resource in stitches, with tutorials, stitch worksheets, and inspiring photographs.

Learn more about the Take a Stitch Tuesday weekly challenge at Sharon’s website: Pin Tangle

Fiona Duthie

Fiona Duthie is a regular contributor to Living Crafts.

In her studio on Salt Spring Island, BC, she creates in a bountiful beauty of color, wool, and texture, inspired by the natural world. Fiona designs fine feltwork, felting and knitting patterns, gives workshops in natural craft, and runs her hand dyed, artisan fibre company, Kattikloo. You can read more about her fibers, projects and creative living at and on Facebook.

Posted by Fiona Duthie on Jan 18, 2012 01:09 PM | No Comments

Sew What You Love: Free Pattern and Book Giveaway

 Sew What You Love, reviewed in the upcoming Winter 2012 issue of Living Crafts, offers many easy sewing projects.

Just like her fabric designs, Tanya’s sewing projects offer a vintage-modern aesthetic charm.   The fabric used for the purse on the cover, was also used for our crocheted edge tablescapes by Linda Permann, in the Fall 2010 issue of Living Crafts.  While many of the projects in this book are easy for beginners, there are plenty for inspiration and more challenging items for the intermediate or advanced sewer.  Although hard to choose from the 30 projects, the Apple Pie Ottoman, the Ruffle-Mania Skirt and the baby toys are among our favorites.

This Travel Checkers Project is easy to make from your scraps, and practical to take with you and the kids when travelling.  The generous folks at Potter Craft  have not only offered to send one lucky winner a copy of Sew What You Love, but have also made the pattern for this project, right out of the new book, available to Living Crafts readers here: Travel Checkers Project.



Potter Craft is giving away one copy of Sew What You Love by Tanya Whelan to one lucky reader. To enter, leave a comment at the end of this post by Thursday 12 Midnight Pacific time – January 12th.



Posted by Living Crafts on Jan 9, 2012 11:50 AM | 397 Comments

Modern Mix: Book Review and Giveaway

Modern Mix by Jessica Levitt will teache you to confidently mix and match fabrics for a fresh, clean look.

A printed fabric is so eye-catching…and when it’s paired with the right solid, the result is brilliantly graphic. These contemporary projects show off the dynamic partnership of large-scale prints and vivid solids. Filled with fabulous ideas and information for how to integrate fabrics, this book is a must-have for your sewing library. Includes a chapter on quiltmaking basics.

Jessica Levitt has been sewing and quilting since the age of 12. Always thirsting for some new craft, she has taught herself countless quilting techniques as well as costuming, event design, and home decor. She is a designer for Windham Fabrics. Her degree in engineering from Duke University is now largely unused while she pursues fulfillment in more creative endeavors. Jessica lives and works in New Jersey with her husband and two children. She blogs at


For a chance to win a copy of Modern Mix, please leave a comment on this post by Monday, October 17th, 2011 midnight.  The winner will be announced on Wednesday, October 19th.  Although the giveaway is open to all, only with a U.S. address you can receive a print version of the book.  If you live outside of U.S. and win this giveaway, you will receive a digital copy of the book (oh just as GOOD!).

Posted by Megan Scott on Oct 11, 2011 02:47 PM | 52 Comments

Sewing Pattern: Breakfast at Tiffany’s Dress

Here are some really nice patterns for sewing garments from the Selfish Seamstress blog. Scroll down and you’ll find this classic Audrey pattern, inspired by the Breakfast at Tiffany’s dress.

Posted by Living Crafts on Jun 21, 2011 12:16 PM | No Comments

Wabi Sabi Flower Scarf

Making this double sided flower filled scarf is a great way to repurpose old t-shirts.  It is easy to make and does not require a sewing machine or experience in sewing.  This scarf is designed by Pardis Amirshahi, for the community.  Click here for the tutorial and a chance to win 5 years of Living Crafts.  To enter Mothering’s drawing leave a comment on the above link and say you like both Mothering and Living Crafts.  Enjoy!

Oh, and we have a Mother’s Day sale!  Subscribe by 8 a.m. Monday May 9th and receive a 1-year subscription for only $15.  Discounts are also given to international subscriptions and 2-year subscriptions.  Click here to go to the subscriptions page.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 7, 2011 06:17 AM | 9 Comments

Quilted Mad Tea Party

This tea set is entirely hand sewn and just gorgeous! Better yet, you may not have to go shopping for supplies; you can make it from your extras. If you’re looking for a portable toy, this is the perfect item while you travel with kids this summer, or while out at the park, or the beach. You’ll find the tutorial and pattern at the Instructables.

Posted by Living Crafts on May 5, 2011 09:18 AM | 1 Comment


© 2010-2011 Living Crafts Blog.
All original images and text on this website are copyright and the property of Living Crafts Inc. and