Tuesday, December 31, 2013

kitchen valence-

This is a project I made a year ago. (2012)
This is what I am talking about- my skill set is straight lines.
A very confident straight seamstress.

I really liked the colors on this curtain. I found it at home depot on sale!~ The only problem: They had one long panel and one valence. That was it. The print is a bit busy- so probably fate was protecting me- so I couldn't buy two long panels and have them flank my living room window.

Sometimes you have to listen to fate.

But I thought - this would be the perfect fabric for a valence over the sliding glass door in our kitchen space.

(Our house has one GREAT room. Our living room/ dining area/ and kitchen are all connected.) The fireplace and kitchen cabinets are dark coffee color and our couches are a deep plum/wine color. So I was looking for a fabric that would introduce some other colors into our pallet.

I used the one valence panel as a pattern to make the next. (Mostly just matching the length of the valence.) I used the existing curtain rod pocket at the top for one panel. Cut and then used the sewing machine to hem.

I measured and cut again-- and again-- for the last panel.
I even had enough left over to make some matching pillows for our couch!
I love how the project turned out. Matching the fabric- helps blend the two spaces in this large room.

I covered the pillows- by making pillowcases.
I don't know if you can tell.
It is really just a long pillowcase- and then I tuck the extra into itself to fit the pillow form.
I decided not to "finish" them, because I want to be able to take off the covers and wash them.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Project Journal

This images comes from Lladybird.com- (you can click here to see her review) (and learn where you can buy one for yourself)

I really like this idea of keeping a journal/log book of my projects.
Mainly to record the mistakes I make- so the NEXT time I attempt a similar project I wont repeat the same error.

For example: I might have a page that just records different techniques I've tried in placing a zipper! Or tricks I've tried to achieve the perfect button hole.

But I am sure every seamstress learns a lesson or two- with each project.
Perhaps a pattern brand that was easy to follow- or happens to fit better than another

Types of fabrics that are better to use for one project and not so fun to work with for another kind of project.

I love this idea so much- and doubly so- that I saw it BEFORE I really have begun my year of sewing! (It would be "classic Swirl" to find it 8 months into the goal and then have to try and recreate it.)

I don't have very many patterns yet- but I am sure I will be collecting a few. This journal has a section to log all your patterns.

That is brilliant! Especially since I learned a tip- that instead of buying a bunch of patterns to create a new dress... just mix and match your patterns... especially when you've already altered the old one to fit your measurements. (I can only dream- that I will get to that level of sewing!)

So- I am enjoying the last few days of 2013.. preparing myself to JUMP in with my sewing goals. That really is so unlike me.

Normally I JUMP first and then plan as I go- but we are out of town visiting my in-laws- far far away from my sewing machine. So it has forced me to think and prepare more.

I love it- wish I would do that more often... procrastinate my impulsiveness a bit more.

Anyway- I a great idea I wanted to share with fellow newbies.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Must try Tutorials...

This is just a mental note to myself-- techniques I want to try.

red patterned skirt---needs this done badly!
Shirt dress Tutorial HERE.

messanger bag-with a belt tutorial

lengthen a dress tutorial - with a ruffle, Here for color block casual option

drab shirt to fab/glittery tutorial

My white long skirt I never wear--- try this!

No sew color blocked T- a must do!!!

Styling help- study this.

LOVE this dress- but need a different top color. Bust flower dress

what to do if a cute dress has no sleeves-- easy peasy solution!

color scheming- I need to learn and here

Friday, December 27, 2013

How to avoid DIY Epic Fail!

Kristina- I hope you don't mind my obsession with your site. Do you? do you? do you??
It feels creepy being a (blog) stalker.
I did buy her book...

 so maybe I am more of an admiring fan/customer? That is not creepy at all. Actually I would prefer to think of myself as her apprentice-- her "little grasshopper".. (okay- it's getting creepy again.)

I'll stop.

I just really like her blog- it's like she is reading my mind!
I worry about Epic Failure... and what do you know?? She has a blog post about how to avoid that!

visit her blog HERE to glean from her great wisdom
I love that she admits ( and even kept count) that 37 garments have died in her experimentation process. So I have to accept: FAILURE WILL HAPPEN.
It will!
I am hoping and optimistic that I'll be able to learn from my mistakes and not repeat them a million times... by keeping a project journal.
I paid close attention to step #3.
THE BASICS  before you start a project, check to see if you have these basic items on hand.
  • Fabric--not optional, sorry...through you're welcome to try. That would be very "The Emperor's New Clothes" of you. (This would be my #5 stockpile. My already bursting closet with clothes that don't fit me.)
  • Fabric Scissors--unless you have a talent for rending things with your teeth, invest in a good pair of fabric scissors. (check)
  • Dressmaker's Pins--If you pin before sewing, your projects will just look better. I promise. (yup)
  • Tape Measure--Use it, use it, use it. (Note: Use it.) (Okay.. I get it! I will find mine. lol)
  • Fade-away Marker--convenient for making seam or embellishment placement. The ink fades in 48 hours, but test on a scrap of your fabric first. (Need to get- this sounds wonderful- instead of the sharpie I always seem to find laying around.)
  • Black, white and navy thread--Gotta have 'em. These colors will work for most sewing projects. (Good to note which colors to buy.)
  • Seam ripper--it's your new best friend. A nifty little tool to help you tear out mistakes (which you're gonna need no matter how awesome you are). (I already have two or three.)

OKAY! and seriously I have to check out the tutorial on adding details to a plain dress. (Click HERE!) It's not rocket science- I know.. by why am I always amazed at her creations?

I was thinking- I wish I had access to HER closet. Everything is so cute! (But age appropriate Cute- not kindergarten cute.) And then I quickly remembered... by the end of the year... MY closet will hold just as adorable clothes. (that's the goal anyway...)

If anything- it will hold A-LOT LESS clothes... because not everything will turn out runway ready.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I really don't like the idea of taking a bunch of pictures of myself-- posing.
Is that dumb?

Would you hate that? If I only posted pictures of the clothes... hanging on hangers?
(I think I already know the answer)

I mean- I love to see the clothes-- ON the people.

I'm going to have to wrap my head around that-
(I don't mind- real photos of me wearing clothes... I guess I feel silly "modeling" clothes.)

Here is a picture of my youngest- our Christmas family vacation to California to visit grandparents and extended family. San Francisco- I love the architecture!

What I wanted to show off- was my Infinity scarf.
This isn't technically a "sewing" project- but I know 2 crochet techniques;
a single crochet
and a double crochet.

I made two types of scarfs as presents this year. (I didn't take pictures of those- sorry! I didn't think about this goal until Christmas was over.)

But both scarfs were super easy. I love how - even with a few skills- you can make something wonderful and useful.
I'll post links to those patterns later.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


I'm Laura (aka SWIRL)
When I first started blogging- I had a cute blog called Girl in a Swirl. I blogged about my every day life- raising 4 boys. It was mostly to journal our life, share our comings and goings with my family and friends who lived far from us. (We were living in Hawaii at the time.)

When I created this blog Swirl Sew Simple (2010)- I was serving in my church as an advisor to young women in our congregation (ages 12-17).

I dabbled with sewing projects when I was this age- and never really graduated from being a novice.

I had hoped to share some easy, simple sewing projects that would inspire the girls to get creative and sew!

Now it is 2014! (That seems so long ago! Was it really only 4 years ago?)
We've moved back to the mainland two years ago. I am resurrecting this blog because I have decided to move my sewing goal- front and center! I realized- I really do want to learn to sew! I am ready to move past the dabbling stage. I am excited- but nervous. I don't want this to be a New Years Resolution that gets pushed aside and abandoned by April.

 I want to track my sewing progress and projects on this blog and share inspiration I've found from other bloggers. AND hopefully inspire someone else who has always wanted to learn to sew too!
It is never too late! (I'm in my 40's) But it is defiantly time to stop procrastinating! lol.

My starting point/ skill level =
I am very confident in sewing straight lines. (I've made simple blankets.)
I have no technical sewing abilities- I attempted to replace a zipper in a favorite skirt a week ago, and it is ugly!

So- basically I am starting ( not at 0)... but pretty close to 0.
My ultimate goal:

#1- Be able to sew something, using a pattern, that has been fitted to my body.
( Avoid baggy styles and no drooping, puckering, sagging- because of ill construction.)

# 2- I want my sewing creations to look store bought (not homespun).
(fabric selection is probably just as important as sewing abilities.)

#3- I want to be able to tailor my pre-existing  wardrobe to fit me- fabulously!
(understanding clothing construction is probably important key for this) I have an annoying habit of buying clothes too big for me. I am PEAR shape- so I guess I try to balance out my shape by adding bulk on the top half of me... and lose fitting styles on the bottom half... to hide my bulk? I don't really know what I am thinking... now that I type this train of thought...(lol) I need help.

#4- Don't break the bank- in the process. I need to figure out and set a realistic budget for this.
 I will probably have to buy supplies slowly.
Take advantage of JoAnn Fabrics 50% off weekly coupons.
 Re-cycle/style some of the things I already own
Get sponsored by MOOD? (Hey a girl can dream!)

Skills I need to learn:
 how to use a pattern- smart pattern selections- (pattern reviews can be found on line!)
 fit a pattern- I think this is best achieved using the buddy system. (I need to find a sewing friend)
 sew buttons (tutorials on-line, you tube)
 sew zippers (again: tutorials and practice!)
 finish hems, necklines, sleeves... etc.. (tutorials)
Get to know fabrics- so that I don't sabotage my projects by picking the wrong fabric.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Project: purple velvet


okay- I had to add this image.
I have the exact velvet "thing" in a bag- except mine came with a sheath dress too!

I want to do a bit more with my project. (What you ask? I don't know yet...) But I want to visit her blog to learn about working with this material- she has some great tips HERE.

I am hoping this doesn't turn into an DIY Epic Fail... because I really do like the color of mine. (It is a deeper plum.)

sooooo--- into my Query you go!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Project: Denim refashion

Again- a very adorable dress.. click here to see how a regular denim shirt was used to make this and a vest!
(She used the whole shirt! Waste not - Want not.)

If I were to do this, my project would not be white.
Am I the only one who fears of sitting on something in a white dress? (let alone- spill something?)
I mean- maybe that is a silly phobia. Because I could sit on something-- in ANY color dress and it still not look flattering after. (lol)

This was part of a challenge-- that I want to work myself up to-- by May/June 2014. At least, LAST year Portia held this challenge in June 2013 and I hope she does it again.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Project: Sarong Make Over

Again- Mind Blowing!

How many beautiful Sarongs did I get rid of when we moved to Utah from Hawaii??? Let's not count.
I love the idea.
Don't know what project I would make- it would be defined by the pattern of sarong I am sure... but I had to put this in my query!

Visit Portia's blog and watch the transformation!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Project: Fishtail skirt

Okay- refashion designers are amazing!
It's like going to Costco with my sister. She'll say "Do you need ketchup?" When I look- I burst out  laughing at the enormous size container of ketchup. It's a joke that never gets old. And it surprises me every time!

I get the same sense of wonder- every time I see a master (refashion) designer blog! I've seen a million amazing transformations-- yet I still gawk at what they create from what they started with!

Let me show you!
This designer literally started with a kilt!
 She calls the back of the skirt detail- a "fish tale".

 I love it! I want to make this style of pencil skirt- perhaps in just a boring grey (to replace my favorite grey skirt of 14 years) or maybe I would go as crazy as a muted grey/blue.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Project: Bicycle Dress

This image again is from www.Lladybird.com.
I named it the bicycle dress- because if you look closer- there are actually little bikes on the fabric.

(Okay- can we pause for a moment and gush at the beautiful detailing - her hem is amazing!)

I liked the shape and details of this dress and would like to recreate something inspired by this outfit. Mine will have sleeves and wont be white... but it will have the waistband and button details with the hem ribbon too.