Mended Buttonhole on Men’s Jeans

The buttonhole on my husband’s jeans frayed, so it was too large to securely hold the button. I was able to mend the hole, but it wasn’t without trial and error.

When the buttonhole on a pair of my husband’s jeans frayed so much that it could no longer hold the button securely, I offered to give mending them a try. I ran into some snags throughout the process, but I was able to do it.

First, I reinforced the area with a scrap of quilting cotton. I sewed a patch on the front and back of the waistband over the buttonhole. Then, I put in a few rows of running stitches where the frayed hole was since this area really only had the two layers of cotton fabric. 

Next, I popped my buttonhole foot onto my sewing machine and threaded it with heavy duty thread. I set the size of the buttonhole, positioned the waistband under the needle, and pushed the pedal. Fail! The reinforced denim waistband was too thick for my machine to scooch along under the needle. The fabric pretty much remained stationary and all I got was a mess of thread. So, went back to the drawing board. Or should I say that I went running to Google.

I searched how to hand sew a buttonhole. There are plenty of really good tutorials that showed me the way. So, I broke out the pearl cotton thread and a touch of Dritz Fray Check (I dabbed the cut edges of the buttonhole with the Dritz Fray Check to help prevent fraying…and recreating the original problem!).

It worked! My husband has put these jeans back into rotation, which is the whole point, right—to get at least one more wear out of them?

2021 Favorite Projects & Top Posts (Plus a Bit of Inspiration)

Since it’s the end of the year, I’m sharing my favorite projects, most-viewed blog posts, and bits of inspiration.

It’s unlikely that I’ll finish any more sewing or quilting projects anytime soon (hello, holidays!), so I figured I’d take the time to highlight my favorite projects from 2021, the posts y’all have been looking at, and share a few things I’ve been inspired by this past year. Bookmark this post, or keep it up in your browser on your phone (if you’re like me) and head back to it in the downtime the end of the year sometimes brings.

And, in the comments tell me your favorite thing you’ve made this year and something you found inspiring.

My favorite things I’ve made this year:

+Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt

+Visibly mended and hemmed jeans

+A new shirt from a thrifted dress

3 most viewed posts in 2021 (as of the writing of this post):

+How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

+Reasons Why I Love Using Muslin for Quilt Backs

+How to Make an Iron-On Transfer Using an Image Printed with a toner Printer or Copier

Inspiration I encountered this year:

How I Built This Podcast Episodes:

The Life Is Good Company on How I Built this with Guy Raz 9.02.2019

How I Built Resilience: Bert and John Jacobs of Life Is Good 9.17.2020

Love that the company stands for optimism and because of that it has always done well in hard times (9/11, 2008/9 recession, 2020 pandemic). I also love their family story.

“Cat Person” and Me: This whole story tickles my brain. There are about a million ways to approach this situation. Plus, I worked in the English Department at my college, where I was in close proximity to MFA Creative Writing students. This takes me back—ha!

I Know the Secret to the Quiet Mind. I Wish I’d Never Learned It. By Hana Shank in The Atlantic This line sticks with me: “But did you know that you can eat whole grains and still get hit by a truck?” Isn’t that the truth, though?

Only Murders in the Building. I’m not going to link it, because either you subscribe to Hulu or don’t. It was so good. I loved every minute of it. I watched it in “real time,” that is, I watched it as they released episodes. I couldn’t binge it, which I think added a layer of enjoyment.

Finally, I revisited The Principles of Uncertainty by Maira Kalman this year. It was originally published in 2007, and boy, does it seem relevant this year. The book is all paintings/art/illustrations with written musings. Most definitely check it out.

So, what did you enjoy making this year? What inspired you? Let me know in the comments!

Necessary Sewing: A Couple of Projects That Fulfill a Need

Sewing is mostly a hobby for me, but sometimes it’s a necessity—I need to create something I need to use now.

Masks in-progress.

Sewing isn’t always glamorous. Sometimes, sewing is necessary. It’s not all hobby and unicorns and rainbows. For me, the last month or so has consisted of necessary sewing, mainly making masks for my school kids to wear at school. I also made a couple of L’il Knot Bags by indigobird, because I thought I might use them to hold used masks.

Masks! Masks! Masks!

Here’s the deal: my kids have to wear masks at school. If they have to wear masks, well, they should have fun masks to wear. So, before the beginning of the school year when it was s—l—o—w—l—y becoming apparent that they should be wearing a mask at school, I rifled through my fabric stash and pulled fabrics they could choose from for their masks. (They enjoyed picking the fabric.)

Halloween Masks

I then decided I’d make them a set of Halloween-themed masks. And, while I’m way over sewing masks at this point, I have already acquired fabric to make winter-themed masks. (There is no way I am going to waste time and fabric on holiday-themed masks that they’d only wear a couple of weeks. Winter masks can be worn December and January. Maybe February.)

The worst part of making the Halloween masks? When I cut out 24 ear straps and realized that I cut them in the wrong direction along the knit fabric. Bah! It happens. Side note: I’ve found that cutting an old t-shirt into 1” strips creates ear straps that are comfortable.

D’oh! Knit fabric ear strips cut in the wrong direction against the grain.

I’ll refrain from telling you all the details about my masks. At this point, everyone should have found a mask pattern and materials that works for them. If you just gotta know, leave a comment or send me a message via my contact page.

Medium L’il Knot Bag

The L’il Knot Bags came together easily enough. I made a small and medium-size bag. Originally, I thought one would work well to hang on a hook and have my kids deposit their mask into at the end of the school day. But, ends up the hook I have by the front door works well for this purpose. (They hang their mask by its lanyard on the hook.) The bags are functional and fun so I’m sure I’ll find a purpose for them. Another side note: that small bag is made from the fabric I used to mend my M&M’s Quilt and Yellow Quilt (that’s its official name, y’all—ha!). I was pleasantly surprised these two fabrics coordinate so well!

It’s hard to see the lining fabric–peep the green lining near the handle.

Necessary sewing can be fun. I mean, it’s great to be able to justify sneaking off to my sewing machine because I have to get these masks done before school starts! But, sometimes it’s sluggish. When it was feeling like that, I promised myself that once I was done, I could move on to something more fun, like working on the next quilt in my queue.

Here are more examples of what I consider to be necessary sewing: visibly hemming jeans, making handkerchiefs, and sewing baby bibs.

What having you been sewing lately because you have to, not necessarily because you want to?

How I Mended a Quilt by Reinforcing It with Fabric

I have a quilt that is about 15-years-old and had started to deteriorate on one side. I mended it by sandwiching the worn area between two layers of fabric and quilting it with big stitches.

Yellow quilt repaired and ready for bed.

A little history on this quilt: my mom made this quilt from a block-of-the-month quilt kit she got from Joann Fabrics & Crafts circa 2000. In 2006 or 2007, she mailed it to me as a college graduation gift (I graduated in 2005). Readers, this quilt is hand quilted. It has a muslin backing that is so soft. (Y’all know I love a muslin backing.) I love this quilt.

Wear is visible along the binding.

Unlike my M&M’s quilt that I mended by simply cutting off the worn area and re-binding the cut side, I didn’t want to lose size with this quilt. Inspired by Japanese Sashiko and Boro methods and aesthetics, I decided to reinforce the worn area of this quilt. Head over to Upcycle Stitches to learn more about Sashiko and Boro and to be inspired.

At some points, batting was exposed.

Since the worn area was about 6” wide along one side of the quilt, I simply cut a 13” x 72” strip of complementary fabric—at least the fabric in my stash that matched the best and that I had enough yardage of—ha! And, I had to cut and stitch together a couple of pieces to get a patch that size. 

Here the patch is cut, ironed, and ready to be machine-stitched onto the front.

I then folded the fabric patch in half, longwise (wrong sides together) and ironed it. The ironed fold allowed me to see the halfway mark along the patch, which I wanted to land right on the original binding. 

Pinned into place and then stitched on.

Next, I pinned the fabric to the quilt (right sides together), machine-stitched it down with my quilting foot, and then folded it over and gave it a little iron. Think of this patch going on like a really wide binding. 

Pin-basting, getting it ready for quilting.

This is where it got a bit tricky, because I needed to quilt the fabric down before attaching the edge of the backside of the patch. I pin-basted the patch in place. Once that was done, I went to town with stitching big stitches in pearl cotton thread.

Stitch! Stitch! Stitch!

Finally, I stitched down the short sides and the edge of the backside using a needle-turn appliqué technique. I folded back and tucked in about a ¼” of the edge of the fabric and stitched the patch down right at the fold.

Needle-turn-like appliqué to finish the sides and back edge of the patch.

So, the repair is like a wide single-layer of binding that I quilted with big stitches and attached like an appliqué. 

Finished patch.

Is it perfect? No. Is this the proper way to repair a quilt? Probably not. Is the quilt now usable and back on my bed? Absolutely! Does it sleep like a dream? You know it! And, really, isn’t that all that matters?

Now, let’s take an appreciation tour of my mom’s original quilting:

My favorite: she stitched in a chicken!

Tiny, perfect stitches.
For all you crinkle lovers. There’s no softer thread count than 15-year-old, well-used quilt!

How do you repair your quilts? Leave a comment if you’ve got a tip or trick that I just gotta know!

How I Match Colors When Buying Fabric Online + Annual Pillowcases

I use two different methods for buying fabric online so that the colors coordinate. For this year’s pillowcases, I used the easiest method.

My 2021 pillowcases. One for each of my oldest kids and one for myself.

Every year, I make myself and my kids (just the older two for now) a new pillowcase each. I wrote a tutorial for the pattern and technique I use here. It requires coordinating fabric and sometimes matching fabrics is hard…especially if you’re shopping online. 

Now, there’s no wrong way to pair fabrics, but some fabrics just look better together. Since shopping online has become a norm (and not just because of the pandemic), buying fabric online is becoming a norm. 

Shopping for fabric online isn’t easy, though. There’s something about not being able to see it and feel it and most importantly, put fabrics side-by-side to see if they coordinate that creates difficulty. Alas, I have a couple of tricks!

I mean, these lobsters. How could I not buy this fabric?

First, look at the fabric website on different screens, such as a smartphone and a laptop. I did this with one of last year’s pillowcase fabrics and some fabric for my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt. Usually what I did was browse on my phone, emailed myself links to any fabrics I thought may work, and then hopped onto my laptop to open the email and click back to the fabric website. Bonus, I have a monitor plugged into my laptop, so I looked at it on 3 screens (phone, laptop, monitor). I figured somewhere “in between” was the true color and it worked, albeit, with a bit of faith and risk. Ha!

Think that first tip is too tedious? It is! But, my second tip is easy-peasy, which is to just skip the guess work and buy fabrics from the same line! Designers create patterns and color palettes that coordinate so really all the fabrics in a particular line look good with all the others. I did this with my Craftedmoon fabric by Sarah Watts that I used for one of my pillowcases.

Craftedmoon fabric by Sarah Watts–the colors and prints are so rich and luxurious.

Now, I don’t know what to tell you if your online fabric purchase has glitter that you couldn’t see in the picture, except maybe pitch the fabric and chalk it up as a learning experience. I have learned that lesson

Gorgeous fabric makes for the best nights of sleep.

For these pillowcases, I bought 4 of the fabrics on eBay. I was very pleased with the experience. Who knew? The Violet Craft fabric I searched for because I thought it’d be nice for my daughter to have a pillowcase that matched her quilt (that was doomed by glitter—see above about learning experiences). So there’s a bonus tip: if you need “out of print” fabric, try eBay! I think there are some sellers who are just trying to destash, but also some who have found a little business. I didn’t find the prices and the cost of shipping to be a barrier to purchasing on eBay. Plus, eBay now is a place I “browse” fabric when my thumb is itching to scroll on my phone. I started a Pinterest board to save all the fabrics that catch my eye from there (and elsewhere). Go ahead a take a peek, and purchase away (if you buy it, I won’t be tempted to myself! Heehee!).

I love the vacation vibes of this Violet Craft fabric.

So, look at online fabric pictures on multiple screens or just buy fabrics from the same line since they’re designed to coordinate. Also, browse eBay for any fabrics that may be out of print or fabrics you may never see in a traditional fabric store—brick-and-mortar or online. And, have a little faith and take a little risk in the process. It’s just fabric!

Pillowcases are such a great way to showcase eye-candy fabric.

Do you ever buy fabric online? What are your tips and tricks to finding exactly what you’re looking for?