Metallic thread
Heavy duty polyester thread
Standard needle (possible denim needle)
Long craft pins
Ribbon, amount to be calculated as set out below.
1/4 of yard of faux fur for the cuff

Calculating Ribbon
It occurs to me that I didn't review how much ribbon you should get---and---the first question you have to ask is what do you want to make.  The outdoor ribbon I purchased comes in 25 yard rolls which sounds a lot until you start weaving your fabric.  The good news is that there is very little loss of length or width as you weave.  Therefore, calculate the length and width of your project.  Cut the length of your ribbon about 1" to 1 1/2" longer than the length.   Measuring the width of your ribbon, calculate the number of ribbon pieces you will need to achieve the width.  

You will want to work within the limitations of the width of your ribbon, as to calculating the width of your project.  You will not want to cut the ribbon width because, then you will need to hem the sides cut, which defeats the advantage of using ribbons.  So for example, it you have 3" ribbon, and you want 17" placemats, find contentment in either an 18" placemat or a 15" placemat.  

Next, calculate total yardage from your lengths, and that will let you know how much ribbon you will need.  Therefore, if your placemat is 15" wide and 18" long, each placemat requires five strips of 18" ribbon which means each placemat will be 2 1/2 yards of ribbon.  As you lose a little of your fabric each time it is cut, anticipate 2 3/4 yards when calculating total yardage of the ribbon.  I made thirteen placemats, one 36" by 36" table topper and two stockings out of 2 25 yard rolls of outdoor ribbon.  
Align your horizontal rows.  Pin one end down.  Because the ribbon is thin, I pinned horizontally along the ribbon.

Put in your vertical row, and lay down the pulled ribbons, pulling up the alternating rows not pulled.

Continue until the desired size and width

Pull back every other row

Place your next vertical ribbon pulling it  toward the first.

Weaving the fabric with the large width ribbon is much easier than thin satin ribbon, the texture of the outdoor ribbon is abrasive so there is very little slipping and sliding, and the width allows you to create a project in no time.  You can actually weave the vertical ribbon through  without having to pull back the horizontal layers.

This is one reason why I left the wire in the ribbon as I wove the fabric.  The wire gives the ribbon more body. and makes it easier to weave.  I also left it in for the sewing, as the forms kept their shape well enough to sew with only pinning, and no basting is needed.  

So, why did I use satin ribbon as an example?  Because if you can absolutely not find ribbon to your taste, use the satin ribbon.  It is more effort, but the advantage is that it can be washed, it is more flexible, and therefore, more usable as opposed to decorative.  The most time in working with the satin will be spent weaving it.  Below I discuss the use of Wonder Under which will take the headache out of assembling.  

Everyone goes about weaving in their own way, I place down horizontal strips and pin one side.  I then lift which ever strips are appropriate to weave the vertical row.

Done, you will need to pin bast the outside edges.  When sewing you do have to be careful to go over the wire, or risk breaking your needle.  In fact, the wire is so soft that it will more likely bend before breaking the needle, but a high speed could break the needle.  If you sew slowly, there should be no problems.  I used a standard needle.  The plastic coating on the outdoor fabric is a little tougher to break through, but a new standard needle will have no problem.

In cutting the ribbon for the stocking, I wasted very little ribbon, using the pattern as my guide, I cut about  1" longer than needed, then after pinning the woven pieces together, I cut the stocking according to the pattern.  

Use an old pair of scissors as the wire will make a mess of the blades.  

At this point you have several options as to how to prepare the fabric for sewing.  If you are using 1/2" satin ribbon you will need to baste the pieces together or the fabric will slide on you as you sew, and you will need far too many pins to safely sew over them without breaking your machine needle.  You can also use tear away, stabilizers which have a temporary adhesive when ironed onto the back of the fabric, and will help hold it in place while you sew.  Wonder under offers a double sided web adhesive, so if you wish to line the stocking or your placemats, you can place the adhesive in between the lining and fabric backing and iron them together.  

I did not line my stockings, and after I cut them out, simply zigzagged the outsides together with gold thread.   Because the project is small enough, the outside seams are adequate to hold the woven pieces together.

The topper and the placemats are just stitched 1/2"-3/4" from the ends all around with heavy duty polyester thread. (If you find your thread starts catching, or your stitches just will not correct, switch to a denim needle, that should solve the problem.)

I have allowed for you to use faux fur for the stocking cuff, but, use what ever you would like.  I used a contrasting ribbon. 

Cut a 4" piece of 1/2"  inch ribbon (to be used as tab).

Assembling the stocking is fairly simple.  Cut two of the foot and two of the cuff.  Top stitch the front and back sides of the stocking together at the center seam.  Sew the the cuff, right sides together, at the center seam, and iron the seam flat.  You will want to flip the cuff down over the stocking, so that the right side is showing.  Therefore, as you would with sewing in a shoulder.  Align the center seam of the cuff with the center seam of the stocking, now, pin the cuff inside the stocking.  

Taking the 4 " ribbon previously cut, fold it in half, and pin the ribbon to the back of the stocking, the loop horizontal to the stocking and cuff to use as a tab.     Sew the cuff along the top  to the stocking with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Take out all the wire.

Flip the cuff up and turn in the unfinished sides and bottom of the cuff, and finish with zigzag stitch and decorative thread, now flip the cuff down over the stocking.  Stitch the back of the stocking, and again, zigzagging with decorative thread on the outside.

And--c'est tout, you are done.  Consistent with my deep rooted philosophy on sewing, QPP, quick, painless and passible. Please let me know how the project turned out, or if you had any problems.   

Thanks for visiting with me today, and please check out my new collections.


Ribbon stocking

Table topper and placemats

It occurred to me that I have not provided a Christmas offering.  And the ribbon art Christmas stocking and placemats are a good place to start.

Ribbon art in general, holds a special creative spot in my heart, mainly because it allows you to create your own fabric in very little time, and then from that, create what ever you would like.

I originally made these just as a kind of novelty, not expecting them to last, but we are now going into the third year, and they are looking fine.

I will warn you that Christmas decorating for me is always over the top.  Gold, silver tinsel and confetti dots were created for a reason, and that reason is 

But, what is great about this project, is that it is all's get started.

Making the Socking Pattern

Making a pattern for me is a "wing it" kind of thing, so a pattern provided from me may not be what is conventionally done.  

I have provided an example pattern, and how to go about making one.  All home decor sewing has a 1/4" seam allowance, and so what ever size you make the stocking, it will be reduced by 1/4".  
Draw the lower stocking in any form you wish.  After you have drawn it the size you want, add 1/4" around the stocking for your seam allowance.  Or just remember to cut a 1/4" wider.

Planning for the cuff starts first anticipating the seam allowance.

As the front is sewn, room should be anticipated for the seam when the cuff is finally folded over the stocking.  Hence the 1/2" allowance on one side of the cuff.

Then bring your lines up straight for the length of your cuff, widening the top a little.

The cuff needs 1/2" for seam allowance, the front and back of the cuff.  Then, it needs an additional 1/2" as the cuff goes passed the back of the stocking.  

Check to make sure your measuring works out.  

Now that the pattern is done, let's work on the fabric.

Creating you fabric

The ribbon I purchased for the stockings and placemats is outdoor wired ribbon.  I bought this ribbon, first, because the plastic coating allows me to clean the placemats after the meal.  Second, it is the only ribbon pattern I liked.  And third, it comes in the widest width.   You can make fabric out of any ribbon size, it just takes less weaving with wider ribbon.  You will want to remove the wire, so ribbon without the wire is great, unfortunately, it is hard to find width and pattern in something other than the wired ribbon.

While you are getting the ribbon, I promise to meet you back here next week to go through laying the ribbon, sewing it and then making the stocking, topper and placemats. 

Thank you for joining me,  I will see you then...




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Step I

Well, let's get started.  I highly recommend the plastering of the dress form be done outside.  Step 1, however, not so much...

Step 1

NOTE: This process must be done with two people.

Dress in leotards, or just underwear, but remember, the more you wear, the wider the form.  Also, remember to wear a good bra.  I did wear a very tight thin tank top which I cut with the form and used to shape my shoulders, underarms and back.

Next, decide on how you will use the dress form, and what areas with which you will need to be very careful.  For instance, I make a lot of pants,  so the dress form was started lower for that purpose.  But, because of my height,  I have a slightly longer back and wider shoulder area, that also required special attention.

Once you have decided how you will use the dress form, start wrapping.  With both the saran wrap and the duck tape I pulled very tightly in order to give me a little room for building, and contouring the dress form, yet still have it end up close to my size.

Using all the width of the saran wrap, carefully begin from under your rear and in a circular, horizontal, motion, in one piece, go up around your body to just under your arms.  

Up until this point you are pulling horizontally, now, from the top of your chest to the top of your back, pull vertically over the shoulder.  The saran wrap is too wide for your shoulder so just cut away the excess before applying the duck tape.  

The process requires precise as you wrap. As you are pulling the saran wrap out,  make sure that very few, if any, lumps show.  (Of course I am talking about lumps from the saran wrap,  you're lumps are your lumps--embrace them--an accurate dress form will help you work around them.)  

Try to layer duck tape right at the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.
(see below)

Next, do the same with the duck tape.  Wrap the tape in the same manner as the saran wrap, horizontally first, and then vertically over the shoulders.  

 In wrapping, as you are pulling tightly, you will also be trying to build the edge of the strips of duck tape together so that it forms a solid piece, but, try to do this as close to the edge of the previous row to avoid bulk.

 When done, I cut up the front and right through my tank top.

With the dress form off, I re-taped the cut area, and stuffed the form with tight balls of newspaper to help keep its shape.

Showing the layers, saran wrap, duck tape and tee shirt.


Try and tape close to the last strip but, as close to beside and not on top of it to avoid creating bulk.

The saran wrap helps build the duck tape into a form

Step II

Next, you must take the time to measure yourself.

When measuring, do not pull the tape tightly.  You should have it taunt around the area you're measuring, but not too loose or too tight.

What you will need to measure:

1)  From the nape of your neck to your natural waist.

2)  Your back from your backend to the end of your shoulders, making sure that you sit up straight (don't slouch).

3) Your chest should be measured as follows:

Measure just under your arms and above your chest line.  Or measure just below your chest line.  This number is your "band width."  

Then, wearing a good bra, measure around your chest, the tape at the point of your nipples,  evenly parallel to the floor.

The difference between the "band width" and your chest size is your cup size.  Each inch is a cup size.  So therefore, if your band width is 38 and your chest is 44, your cup size is DDD.  I have included a link to a site if you need further instructions.

4) Waist is measured at your natural waist.

5) The hip is measured by first measuring from the waist, nine inches down your side, and then around the hip from the nine inch point.  If you are petite, you will probably want to measure 7 inches.  

These are the important measurements.  Then, as you might guess, confirm these measurements on your dress form.  

The whole process only took about 15 minutes, you have to keep going once you start, but it is physically strenuous. 

I was pretty excited to see the form when it was finally off.  The duck tape does a good job in holding its shape.  

Step III

Developing Your Dress Form
Allow a lot of space and time for this process because each layer will need to dry before you apply the next.  I put my form on a plastic milk crate.  This will allow you to move the dress form when you are finished for the day, but also, just rotate it around as you apply the paper mache.
Milk crate, flour, large bowl with about four cups of water, and newspaper torn into strips roughly an 1 1/2 inches thick and a 12 inches long (or the length of the newspaper).

but, be able to flow through your fingers

The consistency should be thick,

with some fluidity.

Making the paste is not high science, just pour flour into your water until you get a consistency of runny cream of wheat. Begin with a 1 1/2 cup to one, that is, one cup of water for 1 1/2 cups of flour.   As the newspaper absorbs the liquid, you will need to periodically add water throughout the process.  This is why I usually start with a little more water to begin with.  

"Sclush" through to eliminate any lumps.  Now, tear up pieces of newspaper and put them into the paste.  I let them soak for a second or two to get wet, but not saturated.  

Now, start plastering.
Dip your 1" to 1 1/2" wide by 6" to 12" long  strips into the paste allowing them to get wet but not so saturated that they begin to fall apart.  

Running the strip through your figure, remove the excess paste.

Take your strips of newspaper, with your hands, clean off the excess paste, and put the strip on the dress form, making sure that you have no lumps or creases.  Because I had a LARGE area to cover, I keep my pieces as large as possible, but not so large that I compromised the ability to contour where needed.  Also, you will want to avoid any creases.      In other words, smaller strips allow you to follow the contours of you body better without creating creases in the paper. 

You will keep doing this until you have covered your dress form.  
I know--who in this day and age takes pictures like this--well--it's a gift.  But, hopefully will give you a better concept of the process.



Be very careful not to build too thick a layer of paper mache.  
Let each layer dry before you apply the next.
If your layer when dry is very dusty, you have not added enough water.  If it is not holding together as one piece, you have not added enough flour.


 I guess a word about flour paste should be said.  It has fallen out of favor because it may attract bugs.  My experience is that I have not had that problem.  I made a paper mache cave for my creche almost thirty years ago and have not had a problem with bugs, and none have been coming around my Rosa-Mae.  I do put a layer of spray paint on the object when completed.

 An alternative is plaster of paris.  With this you can actually use strips of fabric. But remember, the fabric will add greater volume to your form.  Again, just remember you want to avoid adding too many layers.   Remember also to use plastic gloves, or you may burn your hands.  

Step IV

I have been wrestling with how to finish the dress form because there are more products available each year that can create a thin hard shell--and I will leave you with the several options currently available.

First, measure yourself, and compare all the measurements to the dress form.  If you need to build, use the paper mache.  If you need to reduce, (hopefully not too much), after your dress form is completely dry, with a very fine sand paper, gently sand away and smooth your form.  When done...

Wipe down your dress form with a lightly moistened cloth to eliminate as much dust as possible.  If there seems to still be excessive dust, you may spray the dress form with a fixative, most commonly used with soft pastels.
 Then the last step is to apply any one of a range of products.  The product range includes, epoxies, tapes and paints, shellac...anything that will give you a solid shell and not add bulk to your form.  Just remember,  you are looking to apply a product that when dry is non toxic, which usually ends up being some kind of epoxy.  But epoxies can be difficult to work with, because of the dry time.  You will be working closely with the form, and some products can take years to lose their smell.

That's it, we're done...

These pants run a little skinny so if you use a thicker fabric, you may have to add to the seam allowance.  A light weight faille or challis would go beautifully, but even a velour, as long as you follow the pattern without front pleats. 

I have made each of these pant styles except the (D), with the pleats in the front.  Sewing was uneventful, and took less then an hour to make.  

All patterns except Burda are made for women who are 5’6”, as I am 5’9”, I usually have to make several alterations.  These pants were no exception.  All patterns provide comment on the pattern itself as  to where to lengthen or shorten a garment. The style is snug around the 

stomach and butt, so you are going to want to correct for crotch length, and then add two or three inches to the hem.  They are nice, wide legged pants, with a side zipper.  I have made then for both casual use and as part of professional suits.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.
This pattern flowed very nicely until I got to the pockets of the jacket.  I am still not sure what happened, but they ended up  too large for the jacket, hung down past the bottom edge.  I lengthened the pants as I usually do, along the crotch, and at the hem.  The zipper is in the back.  These pants don’t have a waistband and sit on the hips.  If you haven’t worn a pair of pants like this, I encourage you to give them a try.  They are very comfortable, and, take much less time to make.

I made the suit out of red pique (a favorite fabric of mine) and it’s fun to wear.  I recommend the pants as a standard pant pattern, and the jacket is very versatile.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.
This pattern flew together, and again took me less than two hours.  I ran into no unexpected problems.  I did find the pattern runs a little large, so you may find you will have to go back, and take a larger seam allowance.  You can make the jacket out of a light to medium wool, corduroy or medium to bottom weight denim.  I made the jacket out of white piquot, and it falls very nicely.  A very feminine detail not 

shown in the picture, is a nice full pleat in the back.  

Another very quick jacket, that can be worn to informal events or in a professional environment.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.
Don't let the summer fabrics fool you.  This style would look beautiful with felted wool fabric, knobby loose weave polyester just to name a few.  The pattern is so loose you may not even have to adjust the seam allowance, but taking less seam should handle any fabric thickness.

This jacket took me less than two hours to make.  I actually cheated.  I had bought several colors of poplin fabric many moons ago, and was going to make summer suits.   I found the pant pattern, and made up the pants firsts.  But, to switch things around, I tried looking for different jackets. I made up my green suit, and lavender suit, but stalled with the gray and pink.   Then, as things go, I used some of my pink fabric for a sash, and some for a something else, and by the time I found the jacket to go with the pants, I had very little fabric left.  

Fortunately, I had just enough fabric left to make the jacket, if I eliminated the ruffle on jacket (B).  And, this is what I did.   If I have enough of my gray fabric, I may make a ruffle from that, and then add a little to the sleeves, as they are 3/4 length to integrate the color into the jacket.

The directions for hemming the neck area are terrible.  I tried following them, and after several unsuccessful attempts, threw away the directions and went with what made sense.  If you study the picture closely you find the answer there.  The diagram in the pattern, is not helpful.

I recommend this jacket for casual or professional use.  Even with the problem I had with the neck, it still took me less than two hours to complete.  I did eliminate the ruffle, which would have added maybe another 1/2 hour to 45 minutes.  Give it a try, the style is especially flattering for large women.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.
This cape took me only two hours to make.  I wasn’t thinking when I got the fleece material, forgetting that it comes 60” not 45,” and got considerably more than what I needed.  So, I not only made a cape out of the fabric but a sleeveless jacket, which I also still wear quite often. 

A note about fleece.  Fleece is a knit and has a two way stretch.  You will want to account for that when sewing so you don’t pop seams.  You will also want to use a ball point needle.  In most cases, regular all purpose thread will be fine. 

When it first came out, it was called polar fleece, and there was only one type.  Now, there is blizzard fleece, anti-pill fleece, micro fleece and ultra cuddle fleece.  Not all of these fleeces are the same.  The only two that do not need to be finished are the blizzard or polar fleece and anti-pill.  All the others need to be finished or they will fray.  Of the two, blizzard and anti-pill, the one I prefer is blizzard.  The anti-pill is treated to resist pilling, but it is said that the treatment will actually shorten 

the life of the fleece.  Since this stuff lasts forever, I don’t know if anyone would actually live long enough to watch it fall apart.  However, the treatment does three other things.  If you clip it to fringe, the strips will curl versus lay flat.  Second, the color tends to becomes more muted. And, third, the untreated fleece feels thicker, and has better body.  It is for this reason I prefer the blizzard for jackets and capes.  The cape I made has started to pill, but the patina has made several people think it wool.  So—I’m ok with the pilling. 

The McCall directions are easy to follow and there are no unexpected surprises.  If you use fleece, you actually don’t have to roll and finish the ends.  If your machine can sew the blanket stitch or any other decorative stitch, it would be fine to do this instead of rolling a quarter inch hem.  

Other fabrics that would do well are of course wool, velvets, velveteens, any fabric with a little body and swish to it.  Remember, this is a long cape so you don’t want a fabric that will add too much weight.

If you have trouble with short attention span, this is the pattern for you.  It takes almost no time to make, and looks great when you’re done.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.
Vogue Pattern V1277 

I love this jacket.  I made it two years ago with faux fur and upholstery fabric, and the whole pattern took me about a day to do from start to finish.  

There are several aspects to this coat that are flattering to a large woman. First, it is full and ample yet the lines are not out like a tent, but down. Second, the bottom of the coat is irregular, waving up and down.  Down in the front and back and slightly upward along the sides.  The wavy look breaks up my broadest areas, the thigh and rear, and reduces coat volume in the areas I need the volume least.

The pattern is reversible solid on one side, and pieced on the other.  Because of this piecing, you are afforded a great opportunity to contour the lines of the coat to an even more flattering look.  For instance, using lighter colors at the top, and darker ones as you go down the jacket.  Or, using darker fabrics for the horizontal lines, and lighter ones for the vertical.  The options are endless, but the pattern allows for some wonderfully creative looks that are highly flattering to larger women.  If you are process oriented, and enjoy the sewing experience, you will have a lot of fun with this coat pattern. 

I, however, approach all patterns with the same philosophy.  GET IT DONE. I sew because I enjoy clothes that fit and flatter.  Therefore, once these objectives are met, I’m done.  I can live without french pockets and covered buttons.  

Because this is a Vogue pattern, it is finished beautifully.  The pattern directions did let me down in a couple of places, but fortunately, they are at spots that needed improvisation. 

First, I did not do the piecing.  On one side I selected black faux fur with very little body.  Because the fur is so limp, I used upholstery fabric for the reverse side.  The pattern calls for french pockets which would not have worked well with the fur, so I omitted the pockets.  However, as a warning, the directions are poor.  Somehow it is a reversible pocket—one pocket with an entry point from each side.  Second, the coat is bound in a number of places, where the piecing is joined, and around the sleeves and bottom of the coat. The sleeves are to be bound in a way that I still have yet to understand.    Because it is a reversibly coat, the sleeves have to be finished on the outside.  As the fur is too thick to be bound, I simply roll the sleeves as a cuff, and re-roll the sleeves when I reverse the coat. 

You’ll need a large area to lay out the pattern, because you cut it all in one piece except for the sleeves.  Then, you sew—one big circle.  I suggest you further sew about two inches in from the edge,  to help the coat lay a little flatter.

There is no hand finishing and no buttons. The coat is ample in front and falls closed so no buttons are needed.   I have worn the coat a number of times and still enjoy it.  

The jacket is stylish, very easy to wear, and looks good with virtually any body type.  If you like what you see, I encourage you to give it a try.

One last thought,  use upholstery thread, and a denim needle, and the sewing will be a breeze.  Quite literally after one day’s work, I have a jacket that will last for as long as I want it to, and is tailor made for me.

When done, consider accessorizing with fine, handcrafted jewelry from For, Women of Substance.


Copyright 2014-2015 by Anne A. Sears