Convertible Dress/Skirt

This dress/skirt is made with rows of ruching for lots of elastic-ey stretch, and a hidden drawstring so you can easily adjust the fit depending on how you plan on wearing it. The drawstring also ensures that if a toddler pulls on your dress/skirt, it won’t fall down! This was my first experience with ruching but now that I’ve got it figured out it’s a great way to make skirts! I’m already planning other clothing ideas using this technique.

For materials you’ll need:

  • 1 spool elastic thread
  • regular thread
  • knit fabric (approx. 1 yard of fabric, 36″x60″, but detailed measuring instructions are below)
  • approx. 1 1/2 to 2 yards 3/8″ twill tape (found by the bias tape), ribbon, or something similar for the drawstring (length depends on your measurements and if you’ll be using the dress as a halter or not)

To get started you’ll need to measure the widest part of your body. I’m a pear shape, so I measured around my hips. Then multiply that measurement by 1.25 and that will be the width of your fabric. For the length, I wanted the dress version to fall just below my knee and the skirt version to fall to just below my ankles. If I wear the skirt just slightly lower on my hips, the measurement to meet both requirements was 35″ (and I’m 5′ 5″). Add an extra 1″ that will be folded over at the top to create the drawstring casing. If you plan on hemming the bottom, add another 2″ to the length.

For ruching you’ll need elastic thread. I found it in the notions department of Joann Fabrics and it came in either black or white. Wind this by hand onto your bobbin and do NOT stretch the thread as you wind. Next you’ll thread the bobbin into your machine exactly the same as you would with thread. For the top thread, you’ll use just standard thread that matches (or contrasts with) your fabric. Using the longest stitch option, test out the stitching on a scrap of fabric. When I first tried this with my newer model Singer 4830C, the elastic was pulled so tightly through the bobbin assembly that my fabric just bunched up as I sewed and it was too tight to stretch properly. I have an old model singer (6212C) and when I tried it on that it worked just fine. From what I’ve read, most sewing machines will do fine but it’s a good idea to test yours out before getting too far into the project!

Start sewing 2″ down from the top of your fabric with the right side facing up. Leave several inches or more of thread and elastic hanging out at both sides of the fabric and do a little backstitching. As you sew, slightly pull your fabric so it’s nearly flat as it goes under the needle. Continue sewing rows 1/2″ apart for as far down as you like. I did 8″ of ruching. The photo below on the left shows how I gently stretched the fabric, and the right photo shows how the fabric looked without any pulling.

When finished sewing each row, tie the thread and elastic ends together. Between this and the backstitching, you should have very secure threads. After tying trim off the excess thread.

Switch your bobbin from elastic to regular thread and with right sides together, sew up the side seam. If it bothers you to only have a seam on one side, you can add a seam to the other side by sewing along the fold as close to the edge as you can.

Then using the steam setting on your iron, gently steam the elastic thread without pressing down the iron directly onto the fabric and it will scrunch up a bit more.

Now we’ll work on the drawstring. At the top of the dress, use your sewing machine and normal thread to create a 3/8″ buttonhole 1/4″ away from the edge of the fabric where you want the drawstring to come out. I put mine right in the front center so I could use it as a halter top but you could also put it off to the side if you don’t plan on using the halter option. I used pins to mark where I wanted to put the buttonhole.

Fold over the top toward the inside of the dress so the raw edge is just below the first row of stitching. Then, with the right side facing up sew all the way around 1/8″ above the first row of stitching. This is the trickiest part of this dress because you’ll need to sew very slowly and keep checking underneath the fabric to make sure that it’s being sewn down correctly.

Then thread your drawstring through the casing and out the buttonhole and you’re finished! The photo below shows the inside of the dress.

Optional: Hem the bottom of the dress/skirt.

Additional notes:

  • When deciding on the width of your fabric, the 1.25 times my widest measurement ratio worked well for me, but before deciding on your fabric width, you may want to wrap some fabric around yourself and make sure it feels comfortable for your preferences and not too loose or not too tight.
  • For the drawstring you’ll want to use something fairly flat because you’ll be tucking it inside the garment. The flat cotton twill is hidden by the ruching but a cord or something round would show through a little.
  • I was able to sew six rows of ruching with each really full bobbin. Before sewing each row make sure you have enough elastic to finish, otherwise you’ll need to rip out the row and start over.
  • If you haven’t sewn a buttonhole before, there’s a great tutorial over at the Purl Bee.
  • To avoid having to thread the drawstring through the casing, I sewed a length of embroidery floss into the casing of the dress and had the ends coming out of the buttonhole. I had to make sure not to stitch down the floss, but when the casing was done I just tied the floss to a safety pin, pinned it to the strap and pulled it right through!

And here’s how it looks using the straps as a halter top.

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Build Your Brand: Q&A with Margot Potter and Book Giveaway

If you’ve ever wanted to write a craft book, get your handmade work published in magazines, and make money doing what you love, read on!

Margot Potter

I’m excited to share this interview with Margot Potter, a jewelry designer and mixed-media artist who just released her seventh book, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs (North Light Books).

Also known as The Impatient Crafter™, Margot’s varied experiences in the craft industry as a designer, consultant, teacher, and TV personality make her the perfect person to talk about building a brand for yourself in the crafting industry.

New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry

Welcome, Margot, and congrats on your newest book. I also see that you’ve contributed to many, many jewelry books. How do you manage to come up with so many new ideas while working with the same medium?

Well to start, I don’t really work in the same medium, I’m what you might call a highly restless creative person. Jewelry making is what I call my ‘gateway craft.’ It’s how I first started as a designer in this industry, but I’ve been creating things long, long before I started making jewelry and continue to do so.

My studio is filled with inks, paints, papers, ephemera and oddities, beads, wires, die cutting machines, clays, tools from every aisle of the craft store and many culled from hardware stores and flea markets, old game pieces and playing cards, rubber stamps, fibers, you name it, I’ve got it! I will make jewelry from almost anything, but it’s not the only trick in my bag. My second and third book included a variety of non-jewelry projects, I’ve contributed to non-jewelry books and I have created non-jewelry focused projects for a wide variety of craft companies including a weekly Teen Craft column for ILovetoCreate last year before taking the full time job at Jewelry Television as their Creative and Education Coordinator.

If you poke around my blog archives, you’ll see lots and lots of non-jewelry projects. All of that being said, I never, ever run out of ideas. I’m endlessly inspired by the world around me and there is a queue of designs in my brain waiting patiently to be explored every moment!

Controlled Chaos Copyright 2011 Margot Potter for Jewel School

Controlled Chaos Copyright 2011 Margot Potter for Jewel School

What jewelry trends or techniques are you loving right now?

I love that there is a real embracing of the idea of mixed media in the mainstream craft world. I’m also loving the potential for that to blur some of the lines between art and craft. It’s really exciting stuff. Personally, I am so busy making content for my new job; there isn’t a lot of time to explore things outside of that. I am itching to study metal smithing and casting, I’d like to have more skills in my bag of tricks. Also hat making, sewing and shoe making. As for trends, I think we’re kind of stuck a little right now, though I am mad for the big black goth pieces Proenza Schouler showed on the runways this Fall and I love the bold metal jewelry trend.

Margot Potter ad As a “professional crafter/artist,” how do you maintain work/life balance?

I have a full time creative job working for someone else now, so I try to leave work at work (though it’s tough since a lot of my work takes place in my home studio). It is not always easy when there are lots of deadlines looming and my daughter really needs my attention. She trumps everything though. Family comes first. Making stuff is what I do, it isn’t all of who I am. I will never stop loving the wonder of exploring creativity. It is powerful stuff indeed.

How do you use social media or personal networking to help promote your books and blogs?

I built my entire brand on the internet. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s powerful. At the moment, I am finding Facebook to be king in terms of reaching the most people in the shortest amount of time and most effectively. It seems as if there are so many blogs with so much content, it’s becoming a lot of white noise. Twitter is so linear, and I feel like most folks that use it treat it like a monologue. I have four Facebook pages, which is at times overwhelming, but it helps to niche things. I think Google+ is on to something.

I don’t have as much time to devote to social networking now that I’m working full time for someone else, so I have to carve out time in the spaces in between. For folks who are building a brand, it is without doubt the best way to do it. The key is to know your audience and to interact with them. It’s all about dialogue on the internet, even though that presents challenges. Transparency is key.

Delicious Denim Necklace Copyright Margot Potter for Jo-Ann Fabrics

Delicious Denim Necklace Copyright Margot Potter for Jo-Ann Fabrics

Do you have any tips for an aspiring professional crafter or craft book author?

Yes, they’re all on my blog. I have written endless posts about how to write and publish a craft book, how to get your work into magazines, how to negotiate contracts, how to do what you love and make money . . . you name it. I have freely shared it in painstaking detail! I figure if people really want to know, they’ll take the time to dig around in my archives and find the information. I get so many emails on a regular basis from folks asking for advice, it was easier to just write it all out and post it.

The biggest thing I want people to know is my three pronged approach to success: Do what you love, do something for which you have a true proclivity and be willing to do the hard work to make it real.


New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry

We’re giving away a copy of Margot’s newest book, New Dimensions in Bead and Wire Jewelry: Unexpected Combinations, Unique Designs.

Leave a comment on this post telling me something you learned from this interview. One entry per person. Giveaway open worldwide. We’ll pick one winner via on Friday, August 5th (11:59pm, EST).

Thank you Margot!

Free Pattern Features: Selvages! + Winner

I’ve been seeing bags of selvages up for grabs in contents and in online shops and I’ve been wondering what people do with all those selvages. Here’s just a few ideas, but there’s tons out there! This is a great way to use every scrap of fabric you can. I’ve included just a few ideas here but you can find even more inspiration at Selvage Blog.

Fussy Cut shares this fun version of a mug rug/potholder. What a great gift for someone who loves to sew and cook!

Selvage Mug Rug at Fussy Cut


From Tallgrass Prairie Studio is this colorful spiderweb quilt tutorial.

Selvages Spiderweb Quilt at Tallgrass Prairie Studio


And from Living with Punks is this “Bookworm Skirt”. It’s gotten a lot of blog attention but just in case you haven’t seen it yet, check it out!

Bookworm Skirt from Living with Punks

Bookworm Skirt from Living with Punks


And just for fun, this project doesn’t include a tutorial or pattern but I thought it was worth including this incredible selvage dress from Ric-Rac!

Selvage dress from Ric-Rac

Selvage dress from Ric-Rac


The winner of the $30 credit to Dewberry Lane is:

#15 Beth T.

She said, “I receive the Dewberry Lane newsletter.” Congratulations Beth, and please check your e-mail! If you didn’t win this time, please stop by the weekly list of giveaways and enter a few more.

Fresh Picks for Wednesday, 7.27.11

Have you checked out the giveaways page this week? Lots of awesome giveaways include a sewing machine & serger, crafty books, fabric, patterns & more!

And, because you are all winners to me, here are five free tutorials we’re loving this week.

Vintage Looking State Shirts

State Line: Learn how to make these vintage-looking state tees at Come on Ilene! These looks incredibly comfy and cute.

Door update Door Update

A-Door-Able: A updated door. A metal sign. Beth shares some tips on making your home feel like it’s old than it really is with her twist on shabby decorating. Check it out at Stoney Creek.

Paint chip wall art

Sample Spree: Paint chip wall art? Yes, please! Get the tutorial at How About Orange.

Crocheted Coffee Cozy

A Snuggie for Your Coffee: Keep your coffee desirable with the crocheted French press cozy. It’s by Megan at Crochet Every Day!

Woodworking Tutorial

Once a Tree: Becca has shared a very complete woodworking tutorial at her blog, Chocolate Eyes. I wonder what she’s making . . . ?

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
Weekly Giveaways Linky
| Submit Your Project

Spotlight on Dewberry Lane & Giveaway

I’m excited to share a little about Rachel, a new crafty business owner and the woman behind Dewberry Lane, an online shop for quilting notions and sewing supplies! She also blogs at Scrapendipity Designs if you’d like to say “hi.”

Rachel, welcome to Craft Buds! Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

I live in New Hampshire with my lovely husband and awesome son. I have many interests, including Revolutionary War Reenacting, but my favorite hobby is of course quilting!! I learned to quilt 12 years ago, but really started being passionate about it in the last 4 years or so. Quilting is a wonderful creative outlet for me, and I am slowly learning my own style. I am a quirky kind of girl, so that often comes out in my quilts. Like many others, my to-be-finished pile is much longer than my finished pile, because I have more ideas than time.

Quilt blocks by Rachel

Where did you get the name for your quilting notions shop, Dewberry Lane? How did you decide to get started?

Dewberry Lane was actually the name I thought of for another project. I was looking into starting a digital scrapbook store, and purchased the domain for that. The store never took off, but I kept renewing the domain anyway because I really liked it. When I purchased my longarm machine a year ago, my husband and I were talking about quilting and quilting as a business and I mentioned to him that I would love to own a quilt store. He asked me why I couldn’t, and that got me started down the path of opening the store. When it came time for the name, I knew Dewberry Lane was it. It was a perfect fir for the store, and I was glad I held on to it for all those years.

Quilt block from Rachel

If you were stranded on a desert island with your sewing machine, designer fabrics, and only 3 other quilting tools, what would they be?

A small hand needle, freezer paper, and scissors. (And I assume thread, too?) I would use a hot rock as a makeshift iron, and go to town with applique. Although I love all kinds of sewing and quilting. If I was going to be stuck for years on end, I would choose to do applique because there is just such a myriad of design choices. Plus it takes so dang long to do, when the rescuers come to get me, I might be asking them for just a little more time!!

Patterns at Dewberry Lane

What fabrics are you loving right now?

I am not always up on the latest fabrics; it’s just not my forte. I believe in specializing in what you know, and I know tools. I love patterns, books, thread, special rulers, fusibles . . . anything that can make my life easier when quilting. I leave the fabric choices to other stores that can do it so much better than me. I personally love scraps. If I could have a store filled with scraps, and people wanted to buy that, I would do that in a heartbeat (hmmmm maybe there is an idea there).

My favorite thing is to get scraps from other people because I rarely buy quantities of fabric, so this allows me to get small pieces of fabric I would have never thought to buy myself (anyone want to trade??). But if I had to choose a line, I would have to say that I am totally crushing on last year’s Dr. Seuss fabrics. This has been one of the very few lines of fabrics where I bought every single pattern in the line. I have already made a few tops with it and have plans for a few more.

Dr. Suess quilt


Rachel is generously giving away a $30 gift certificate to her shop to one lucky reader! To enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling me one product you love from her shop. (one entry)
  2. Sign up for her newsletter (link in the left sidebar of this page), and leave a second comment. (one entry)

Rachel holds a free pattern drawing each month for newsletter subscribers! Giveaway is open worldwide, and we’ll choose one winner on Thursday, July 28th at 11:59pm. Thanks Rachel!

CHA Summer Show 2011: Fresh Picks

Mary and I had a blast at the Craft and Hobby Association Summer Trade Show in Chicago! We snapped lots of photos, checked out some fun make-and-takes (like a felt flower brooch and Silhouette heat transfer tote), and met some fabulous crafters!

Here are some products that really stood out in the crowd.

eCraft matless cutter

Craft-e: The eCraft Cutter from Craftwell is unlike other electronic cutters in that it does not use a mat. Paper or other materials (like this vinyl) slide into the eCraft’s paper tray just like a printer, or you can hook up the eCraft to a large roll for continuous cutting. Make wall decor, scrapbook layouts, stencils and more. We like the idea of this cutter, but haven’t tried it out yet, and cutting fabric sounds like it might be a challenge!

Kanzashi flowers

Easy Fabric Flowers: Use Clover’s flip-and-fold Flower Frill Templates, or step up your game and try out the new Kanzashi Flower Makers for fun, new shapes! We had fun chatting with Diane Gilleland, blogger, author and editor of Craftzine, at the Clover booth.

More fabric flowers

More fabric flowers at the Clover booth!

Rubber Stamp Maker

Stamps, Anyone? This machine from Photocentric is impressive in person. You can use a photo negative to make your own stamps with this machine press and a special-formula gel pack. Read more about how Photocentric’s stamp-making kits and supplies work together. Fascinating!

Epic Letterpress

Epic Letterpress: Die cutting, embossing and printing with vibrant inks all in one machine. The Epic Letterpress from Lifestyle Crafts is as compact as it is versatile, and Julie showed me how this little press can be used to make anything from place cards to wedding invitations with custom-printed plates. I want one!

New Silhouette

Silhouette Cameo: The Silhouette SD cutting and crafting tool is being discontinued and swapped out for this wider, sleeker version, the Silhouette Cameo (above left). Mary and I thought this make-and-take from Silhouette was fantastic! We each made a canvas tote with a custom heat-transfer that printed while we waited. The new machine is wider than the previous model, allowing crafters to cut larger designs, and will retail for the same price of $299. The Silhouette is unique in that it allows you to cut your own designs rather than being limited to what’s included on a cartridge.


Chatty Stickers

Chatty Stickers: You never knew that you wanted your scrapbook pages to talk to you, until they did. Talking Tag digital labels are a new product that works with a smartphone app to let you record messages which can be replayed later using a scanner on your phone. The voice message replays and can be used in scrapbooks, cards and more. We also liked the Button-o-matic, which was stocked with bar-code badges.

My Studio Girl Taggles

Paper Dolls: My Studio Girl Taggles are an adorable new product. The stickers take paper dolls to a new level, with reusable stickers you can use again and again. (My mom is going to want some of these.) They come from Grant Studios, which carried my favorite scrapbook papers of the day with teapots and vintage ladies.

Metal Stamped Jewelry

Heavy Metal: With all this technology around, it was nice to work with my hands and try something truly rustic. These metal stamps impress tiny letters on jewelry when hammered. To make the letter impression look antique, we use a regular Sharpie marker to color inside the letter, then wiped off the excess with a dry cloth.

And in case you were wondering, Mary was taking photos most of the day. But she really was there! Here she is enjoying the Paper Crafts Magazine booth.

Mary at CHA

We both collected lots of reusable tote bags. Hello, greener shopping! I also won a door prize drawing from 3M (the makers of Post-Its). You can check out more of our pics from the show here and here.

Lindsay at CHA

Mary’s handmade fabric belt also made its debut at CHA. Isn’t it cute? You can get the tutorial here in case you missed it.

Mary's belt at CHA

Thanks for checking out this week’s Fresh Picks!
Weekly Giveaways Linky
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