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?

My Grainline Studio Scout Tee from an Upcycled, Thrifted Old Navy Dress

I used fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress to sew a Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Not only do I have a new shirt, but I learned to sew with rayon/viscose fabric.

Grainline Studio Scout Tee from thrifted dress.

Let’s dig into the details of my Grainline Studio Scout Tee that I made with harvested fabric from a thrifted Old Navy dress. I mentioned it in my last post about the clothing I made recently.

I love harvesting fabric from thrifted clothes because it’s significantly cheaper than buying new fabric and I feel less inhibited to try new things. In 2019, I made a handful of zipper pouches from repurposed thrifted clothing. And, a bit after that, I sewed a t-shirt from a thrifted knit maxi dress so that I could start learning to sew with knits (I’m still learning knits!). This Scout Tee from a dress allowed me to not only make a pattern I knew I liked, but also gave me the opportunity to sew with a fabric I’ve never used before, a 100% rayon/viscose.

Original Old Navy dress tag. It’s nice to have the fabrication and care instructions.

I’ve made a Scout Tee before in a size 10 and I like the fit of the shirt, but I wanted it a bit longer. I lengthened the pattern by 1 1/2”. I was able to use the original hem of the dress for the hem of the shirt, so the overall additional length is probably 2”. 

Original Old Navy Dress–size XL

To start, I cut the dress up at the seams and ironed the pieces (so much easier than ironing a sewn garment—haha!). There was just enough front and back dress fabric to get the front and back of the shirt. The back of the shirt is the back of the dress, so there are the same seaming details that were on the dress, which I like. 

Back of Grainline Studio Scout Tee. Notice the vertical and horizontal seams.

The sleeves were trickier to cut. I used the dress sleeves, but I had to create a patchwork of fabric from the dress sleeve and ruffle cuff. It worked! And the extra seams aren’t too noticeable and they don’t irritate my arms. 

Detail of the sleeves. Notice the two extra seams.

For the bias binding at the neckline, I had to dig into my stash of quilting cotton. It probably isn’t the best weight of fabric to use with the flowy, lightweight rayon/viscose dress fabric, but this project was all about making it work and the cotton bias worked!

I didn’t have matching purple thread, so I used what was in my machine, a light aqua. It’s more contrasting that I would like, but I had the thought that while making apparel, if one tiny thing is “off” maybe I won’t treat the finished garment as precious and wear it a lot as opposed to waiting for “the right time” to wear it. You know what I mean?

The contrast stitching doesn’t bother me. I didn’t have to change my thread and now it doesn’t feel too “precious” to wear on an average day.

Overall, I’m happy with this shirt. And, I now have the confidence to sew with this kind of fabric. Also, I’m eager to see what I can make with more fabric harvested from thrifted clothing! 

Have you ever sewn from fabric harvested from secondhand clothing? Do you have any tips or tricks for me?

Grainline Studio Scout Tee

Me-Made-May 2021: A Pair of Shorts, a Shirt, and a Fail

Me-Made-May is a way for sewists to celebrate, expand, and strengthen their understanding of their handmade wardrobes. I have new shorts and shirt to wear!

Detail of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

Me-Made-May was started by Zoe of So, Zo…What Do You Know? From Zoe’s blog it is “a challenge designed to encourage people who make their own clothes to develop a better relationship with their handmade wardrobe.” While I am not ready to set my own challenge, I have been stitching a few pieces of apparel and have a lifetime goal of making more of my own clothing.

Making apparel is not a hobby for me. I don’t want to do it just to do it, no matter how many clothes I already have. (In contrast, I’ll make a quilt regardless of whether I need it or have someone to give it to!) Sewing clothing is more about aspiring to have a wardrobe that is well-intentioned—one that is filled with quality, versatile, and timeless pieces. I say “aspiring” because I am far from achieving this goal. I think I’m still figuring out “my style” and what works for my body shape and lifestyle. 

Because I needed a palate-cleanser between finishing quilts, I bought some patterns and ordered some fabric while also digging out a pattern and fabric and already owned.

Front of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

First, I made this pair of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns. The instructions are simple and I learned how to make a semi-circular side pocket. The pocket was so easy that I’m thinking maybe I could hack this kind of pocket into a pattern that doesn’t have them. Hmmm…. 

I tried to hack in a real drawstring, but, ah, I was way off with my buttonhole placement. Oops! Oh well! At least it’s on the inside of the waistband and now I know how to do buttonholes on my current sewing machine (I had never done them on this machine!).

Failed drawstring buttonholes.

The fabric is a linen-rayon blend and so the shorts have some swing to them. I’m excited to wear these shorts in the summer and see how I like them. Our spring has been stubborn—I feel like the warmer temperatures won’t stick around. The pattern is so simple that making more shorts would be easy.

Back of Avalon Shorts by Peach Patterns

Next, I had a fail. I bought this aqua linen-cotton blend because I love the color (it’s pretty much the background color for my Down the Rabbit Hole Quilt). I also have a couple of shirts in this kind of color and I like them. I ended up cutting the pattern a size or two too big. Once I had the side seams together, I tried it on and realized it was too big. And, the color makes it look like a medical scrub shirt. I don’t know enough to make adjustments to make it fit. And because I can’t get “scrub” out of my mind, I decided that I was not going to take the time to deconstruct it and re-cut a smaller size. Waaah!

Failed shirt. Beautiful pattern, but wrong size and not the best fabric.

I’m not going to tell you the pattern because I don’t want anyone thinking it was the pattern’s fault. It’s a good pattern! It was easy to follow! It is all my fault! But! All is not lost! I learned to sew a dart AND flat felled seams! Which, are two skills I’m happy to now have. Maybe once I have some time away from it, I’ll find better fabric, cut the right size, and have success.

Scout Tee by Grainline Studio from a thrifted dress.

Finally, I made my second Grainline Studio Scout Tee. I’ve made one before and liked not only the pattern, but the fit of the shirt. A couple of years ago, I thrifted this Old Navy XL rayon/viscose dress figuring I could use it to make something new. A Scout Tee was the perfect project for it and it worked! I’ll write up the details in a future post.

The original Old Navy dress

This is how sewing and making goes: you win some; you lose some. Without a few mistakes here and there and some wasted fabric, you just aren’t going to get better at sewing.

Tell me about the me-made pieces you’re wearing or what pieces you’re currently making!

How I Visibly Mended a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

Using a scrap of quilting cotton and pearl cotton thread, I reinforced and mended a thinning and fraying area of my secondhand jeans.

Visibly mended jeans

Remember the jeans I visibly hemmed? Well, I recently visibly mended them right at the seam on the upper thigh. I noticed that a twist in the seam allowance had created a thinning and fraying spot. As a person who has ripped her jeans in an embarrassing spot whilst wearing them before, I decided to take care of these jeans before an incident occurred. I chose to reinforce the area with a patch of woven cotton fabric on the inside using a Sashiko-like running stitch with pearl cotton.

Fraying and thinning area right at the seam

There wasn’t quite a hole, yet, and no mending to do per se, but with these being my—ahem—only pair of jeans that I can wear regularly, I wanted to be proactive. (Side note: Why is it so hard to find a pair of jeans that fit and fit comfortably? Hello, my third child is a little over a year old and I’ve spent a year staying at home as much as possible, thank you, pandemic. My body has capital-C changed. Also, WHY DO JEANS HAVE SO MUCH NON-COTTON FIBERS IN THEM?!? I get that a touch of stretch can make them comfortable, but when a quarter of the total fibers are not cotton, the fabric REALLY stretches. I’m already trying to find my new size, fiber content matters and is messing with my head!) Rant over—haha! 

A small piece of quilting cotton for the patch

I simply pulled a scrap of quilting cotton from my stash and cut it to size. Then I finger-pressed a 1/4” hem around the edges of this patch (I eyeballed it since I put it inside the jeans—no one else will be eyeballing it!).

Pin-basted patch on inside of jeans

Then, I pin-basted it into place. My first stitches were around the hem. The raw edges of the patch are completely concealed and contained between the patch and the jeans, because I didn’t want to deal with the patch fraying. 

Quite simply, I just did a running stitch zigzagging from side to side in between the perimeter stitches. Done and done. My stitching is inspired by the “visible mending” trend, some of which is based on Japanese Sashiko. I found a great website for learning more about the culture and the craft. Click over to Upcycle Stitches.

Stitched around the perimeter first to secure the raw edges of the patch.

I’ve worn and washed these jeans a few times and the patch and stitching have stayed in place. Also, the repair is very subtle. The white thread is perfect on the light wash. While I love the “visible mending” aesthetic, I’m not about to draw attention to my hips and thighs!

You can see the jeans have been mended, but it’s not bold.

So, what do you think? Have you visibly mended any clothing? Did you use a technique that worked really well? Have I missed anything here? Let me know! I read all the comments whether you write them the day I publish a post or 5 years after!

How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

I used sashiko-like stitching to hem a pair of thrifted jeans. The inseam now fits better and the jeans have a “visible mending” aesthetic.

Visibly Hemmed Jeans

I’ve had a pair of thrifted jeans that I didn’t like for a couple of years. They were too long (and bootcut, which exacerbates the annoyance of a too-long inseam—all that fabric just hanging around my ankles!). Alas, my post-third-baby and pandemic-life body fits these jeans and not many other pants. So, I figured I can’t make these jeans any worse, so why not try to hem them and make them marginally better?

Pinterest, a go-to for inspiration, didn’t have too much about visibly hemming pants. There are about a bazillion tutorials on how to hem jeans with the original hem, but for this project, I didn’t have the patience. I did find this inspiration: jeans with colorful stitching to hold a cuff in place. I wasn’t interested in a cuff as much as just shortening the legs of my jeans.

The before: just a thrifted pair of bootcut jeans showing a little wear.

I dived right into this project by first cutting off the original hem. Because of the bootcut silhouette and my annoyance at the excessive fabric around my ankles, removing the hem got rid of some of that heft. 

Removed the original hem to lose the extra weight/fabric.

Then, I folded up the pantlegs to a length I liked. I had been doing this when I wore them anyway. Anyone else despise how a cuff like this will catch anything and everything? I’ve taken my pants off at the end of the day to find bits of dried leaves and grass and dirt hiding in the cuffs!

A perfect fit requires just putting the jeans on!

I held the hem in place with some clips and broke out a needle and some pearl cotton thread. I went to town with a running stitch along the folded-up hem, securing the fabric in place. It gives the hem a sashiko stitch look and a nod to the visible mending trend (which is what I was going for second to shortening the length). 

Visibly hemmed jeans with a running stitch.

Overall? The pants are still not my favorite. But, they are better than what they were! Plus, I got some practice hand stitching and felt a sense of accomplishment getting a small project started and completed (hard to do with a one-year-old crawling around!). I’ve washed the jeans and there is some fraying where I cut off the original hem. But, it’s nothing just a little snipping of loose threads here and there can’t fix. 

After one wash. A little bit of fraying, but not too bad.

Have you ever taken a chance on altering a piece of clothing you felt “meh” about? Did you like it better afterwards? Let me know!