craft, sewing, Uncategorized

Back in action. No Bobbin!

I haven’t posted a bit because I’ve been on a restorative vacation to my hometown in America (Madison, WI).

Now I’m back in Japan, my first morning back in my apartment, waiting for my luggage to be delivered.

Nothing was lost but it’s never fun to lug a giant suitcase on the trains. That’s why there are delivery services to take your luggage to the airport before you leave and to send it home after you arrive. As usual I took one suitcase there and have returned with a full suitcase and duffle bag. There be new bras that fit, dresses, fabric, crafting items and…my new sewing machine.

Well, it’s nowhere near new and I grew up with it.


Meet the Singer Sewhandy model 20-10! It’s been my mother’s since childhood.

The original Singer 20’s were made in the 1912 and often traveled with sewing machine salemen working door to door. They’d give any young girl in the house the toy version to play with as they tried to make a sale of the full-sized machine to mom. Then, if the full sized didn’t sell, they’d be understanding but regretfully inform mom that they’d have to be taking the toy-sized machine back with them too. Usually moms would be willing to pay a few bucks to keep their child happy and the salesman would earn a few dollars for his time.

Over the years the body changed slightly, to encase some of the moving parts, but the mechanics stayed the same. Singer 20’s made after 1926 also had number stamped onto the machine parts to make it easier to thread the parts in the right order.


NOT A TOY! My mom still has this box somewhere but we couldn’t find it on this trip.

I, of course, quickly took to fixing it up. I figured that if I could get it to work it’d be interesting to sew some doll clothes with it.

I set to work at the kitchen table and took it all apart to clean and polish.


Much better.

It still had the original instruction booklet (which I have since copied) so I was able to figure out if any parts were missing.


It’s only missing a thumbscrew for the adjustable seam guide. I guess I’ll be the weirdo in the DIY store carrying around a small sewing machine to find a good replacement.

This machine takes smaller needles but you CAN still order size 24×1 for it. Done.

I clamped it to the table and tried it out!

Now, I know that’s not a great quality image. But maybe you noticed…There’s no bobbin? It’s just using one single thread to create a stitch? What magic is this?

Here’s a better video of the magic. The mechanism can be seen working at the 1:00 minute mark.

My first tests had the tension a little tight but I’ll have more time to futz with it here in Japan. It’s going to take a lot of trial and error to figure out tension AND setting stitch length.

I’m back in Japan. I only teach dance for the next few weeks. Craft TIME!


craft, Disney, Doll, sewing, Uncategorized

Moana Wrap Dress Tutorial

I’m taking my Sunday to make a free tutorial. Why am I working for free? I’ve benefited from SO many online free tutorials that I’d like to give back.

Please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on what needs to be tweeked…or show me pictures if you use this.

Disclaimer: No one wants to read a story before a tutorial, they want to get the info, so my struggles will not be documented but know THEY EXISTED.


Disney’s Animator’s Collection Moana has a different body size from the other Animator’s collection dolls. She’s wider in the tummy and chest. This is adorable but  renders closely fitted dresses the other dolls wear too small. That’s why I made this. Her size shouldn’t limit play.

Here are links to PDF’s I made with the bare bones pattern. Let me know if there are issues with my links or PDF’s. I don’t have a printer at home.

The seam allowance is 1cm. I use centimeters in this tutorial because I live in Japan and it’s what I use everyday.

The pattern shows the front panels of the wrap dress and the back. Not pictured is the skirt because you’ll just be cutting a rectangle 62cm wide and 13cm long.

Let’s get started

Top: I’m using the red polka dot fabric for the outer fabric and the light blue for the lining. You don’t need to use a different colored fabric for the lining.

The reason I line these is because it will protect the raw seams. These dolls are for kids and kids are dirty. The things they play with need to be washable.



Cut a rectangle 62cm wide and 13cm long.

I didn’t have fabric long enough so I added some to the right hand side with a french seam. Realistic tutorial.  If you’re adding 20cm or less to get the 62cm length, the seam will be hidden by the wrap.


Before you start sewing

When was the last time you changed you machine’s needle? If you can’t remember, do it now. Needles wear out quickly. It’s a good to get in the habit of changing them each time you start on a project.



Have you read through this WHOLE thing first? Free tutorials don’t always flow well or give you the information when YOU need it. This one, for example, doesn’t even tackle the notions you’ll use until the very end…because I illustrate three different ways to finish the dress.

If you use the last method “Out of Order Mixed Method” you’ll want to read it before you start putting everything together. I’ll put a OOMM* astrix where it might be helpful

OK! Constructing the Top

Join the front of the wrap top to the back at the shoulders.


Press those seams with an iron. Then, open them and press them open.


Snip the edges to reduce bulk.

Multiple layers of cotton fabric on a human body is negligible but on a doll they quickly add to bulk.


Now to stitch the lining to the outer fabric.

Put the right sides of the fabric together and pin or clip to hold in place.

OOMM* if planning to use OOMM, insert your ribbons between the fabric before stitching.


Sew the neckline AND around the arm holes.


Liberally snip away triangles before turning it right side out. I could have done more triangles.


Now turn the top right side out by pulling the wrap/front through the shoulder openings and out the back.


I’m using a special tool to hook the fabric and pull it through. This isn’t essential but makes life easier.


Turned right-side out BEFORE pressing.

Get your iron and press that out.


Now it’s time to join under the  arm holes.


use your iron to get inside the lower part of the arm holes where you’re going to join them together and press those seams open. Then, pin the lining to lining and the main fabric to main fabric (right sides together) as seen below.


And sew.

img_4953Once you’ve stitched under both arm holes press those seams open.


Snip to reduce bulk.


Now press your lovely top and cheer for yourself.


Mid-Project Check-in


If you’re feeling hungry or tired and are trying to work through it as not to lose your sewing mojo. STOP. Eat or rest or whatever. If you’re tired or hungry you’re going to make mistakes. THEN return to your project. I did. That’s why you get that picture. Spring is coming!

Skirt Construction.

Fold the edges the fabric in 5mm and press. Fold in 5mm again and press again. Stitch this hem in place.

On the bottom long edge of the skirt fold 1cm and press. Fold in another 1cm and press. Stitch this hem in place.

img_4978After hemming your skirt should be 60cm wide. With a fabric pen or fabric chalk, you’re going to mark the edge you’ll gather. Mark at 22cm and 38cm. This means your 60cm length will be visually divided into a 22cm section, a 16 cm section and another 22cm section. 22+16+22=60cm

These marks will help us line up the skirt with the side seams when gathering to help keep gathers even.

First blurry picture. Sorry.


Maths: You can skip this if you don’t care where those numbers come from. If you plan to make a fuller skirt with a longer rectangle it’s worth reading.

The bottom edge of the top you assembled is 45cm long. First wrap section 16.5cm, back, 12cm, second wrap section 16.5=45cm. 16.5+12+16.5= 45cm

We’re taking a 60cm long fabric and will gather it until it’s 45cm. ( 60 divided by 40 is aprox 1.35. 60cm is aprox 135% the size of 45cm.  6

Because we want to try to evenly distribute the gathers it helps to mark the skirt fabric where it will join the seams on the top.

16.5x1.35=22.275 (we’ll round that to 22cm) 12 x 1.35=16.2 (we round that to 16) and check the math 22+16+22=60cm.

If you want a fuller skirt, say 70cm after hemming. 70 divided by 45 is aprox. 1.55. Multiply 16.5 and 12 by that 1.55…double check…and that’s where you’ll mark.

Maths over

To gather the skirt we need to sew two seams along the top edge of the skirt, closer to the edge than 1cm (our seam allowance). Keep the seams wide (3 or 4 stitch setting), don’t back stitch and don’t cross the seams.


We’ll be machine joining the to the outer-shell of the wrap top, NOT the lining…but first, gathering.

If you’ve never gathered using this method, enjoy a youtube tutorial.

I’ve used a red thread in the bobbin and a black thread on top to make it easier to see. If you do this, make sure your different colored threads are the same thread weight/thickness.

You’ll  be pulling at the bobbin threads (the threads on the underside) to gather the fabric.


You’ll hold the fabric in one hand and pull the bobbin threads with the other. There’s a lot of moving the gathers with your fingers so they are evenly distributed. You do this at both edges of the fabric.

Use the marks on the skirt and the seams of the  wrap top to make sure the gathers are evenly spread along the skirt.


All pinned! Now sew the skirt to the outer fabric (right sides together).

I prefer not to sew over pins, to reduce the chance of my machine needle breaking. Instead I stitch slowly and remove the pins right before they’re about to go under the presser foot.


Blurry picture. Sorry! The skirt is now joined to the outer shell of the top. Press so the raw edges are pointing up.


Now turn the edges of the lining under, pin, and whip-stitch it by hand. Turn your piece over from time to time to make sure your stitches don’t show from the outside. Steam or press when finished to smooth out wrinkles on the outside.


We are so close to being finished!

Now let’s tackle how to close the wrap dress on your doll.

How to close the dress, 3 methods.

Top Stitched Ribbon Method.

I’m trying to keep >me< out of my tutorial…but this fabric is a shout out to Ebony. I didn’t have any more skeleton/spooky fabric in doll scale so I couldn’t have Moana being a  toddler POC goth (a group seriously under-represented in visuals) so I made her Rockability instead.

This ties at the side. I wish it tied in back. I’ll give measurements for both a side tie and back tie.

Both use 1 meter of ribbon.

SIDE TIE (pictured): 42 cm ribbon. Start stitching after 18cm (the tie part)  from the edge to a little more more than the center of the back to the edge of the “top” wrap (24cm stitched to dress).

Back Tie (not pictured): 52cm ribbon. Start stitching after 28cm (the tie part) to a little more more than the center of the back to the edge of the “top” wrap (24cm stitched to dress). 


SIDE TIE (pictured): Now take the 58cm ribbon. Tuck the end in and start stitching it from the other edge of the dress to 24cm. You should have 34cm to tie with.

Back Tie (not pictured): Now take the 48cm ribbon. Tuck the end in and start stitching it from the other edge of the dress to 24cm. You should have 24cm to tie with.


Last, use Velcro/Magic tape or a snap to keep the inner flap in place. Put the dress on the doll and mark where to attach with fabric pen/chalk.



Snaps or Velcro/Magic tape method.


This was my first draft of the pattern so the top fit is a little off.

This is the easiest version. Put the dress on the doll. Mark where notions should go with fabric pen/chalk.


These snaps are probably too small for little fingers. They are all I had on hand. You’ll know what your child can use.

Stitch notions on the inside to lining  and on the outside through the outer layer or both layers. You could also use a loop and button on the outside. Go crazy. It’s a FREE pattern.


Out of Order Mixed Method

This is a fuller skirt made from a 70cm long rectangle.

This method is out of order because I thought if it AFTER finishing the dress body. It would have been easier to do some of these steps while putting it together.

This method uses two 30cm long ribbons. I opened the seams at the edge of the wrap top, inserted the ribbons and stitched them in place.

I SHOULD have just stitched the ribbons in place when joining the lining to the outer fabric at the neckline and arm holes

In a perfect world I would have used light blue bobbin thread and red top thread to reduce stitch visibility.

Then I opened the seams under one arm and made a button hole. The button hole pictured is really rough. If I give this to anyone I’ll un-stitch and re-do this buttonhole.

But I think threading the ribbon through the button-hole might be too difficult for little kids. Use your common sense and what you know about your kid’s ability to manipulate objects. I’m a grown woman with good co-ordination and object permanence.


Then to wear it you just thread one ribbon through the button-hole and tie in back.


And that is THAT! GIPHY

craft, sewing, Uncategorized

Re-lining a Coat: Part 4

Before I started attaching the lining to the coat I went through the terrifying step of removing the fur and fixtures.


First I removed the neckline fur, using a contrasting thread to mark where I’d be reattaching a hook and loop that close it all


Then I removed the cuffs and used a contrasting thread to indicate where new cuffs should be reattached. You can see it got pretty dusty (the fur had batting under it to give it a little puff) so I first cleaned it up with tape and, once everything was off, I hand washed the jacket and air dried it before attaching the lining.


I also removed the false clasps and did the same cleaning job. Nothing left any lasting mark or tell-tale stain so my options are open for new bling.



Using the fur as a rough guide I cut out a similar shape in batting (I only had iron-on batting) and attached it to black fabric. Then I used that as a guide for cutting the fur leaving about 1/4 an inch around everything.

When cutting the fur you need to make sure the nap of the fur is the right direction. I used a razor blade to cut through the fabric the fur is attached to WITHOUT going deep enough to cut any of the fur in an awkward manner.


Then I stitched the faux stoles.


After the coat had dried, been lightly pressed, lined, and re-pressed, I started attaching the faux-fur. It’s been scary to break down the coat and build it back up.

Oh, and asking friends for an estimate, I’ve had this coat since 1999/2000.


Fake fur involves having a lot of tape and a vacuum on hand.


And now on to the closures.

The stole has a hook and loop. The loop used to be covered but the thread wore away. I recovered it using a blanket stitch with embroidery thread. I accidentally used navy Blue but it’s buried so deep in the fur it’s not visible.

I’m in the process of covering the snaps in black fabric, as the old fabric has faded to reddish-purple.


Tutorial on snap covering.

After I finish the snaps I’ll go on a hunt for new bling. I’m still keeping the old faux-buckles just in case, but If I were to use them I’d have to repaint where the enamel has worn away and restone them.

craft, Mary Frances sewing

Sewing Basket

Where did we last leave Mary and her Thimble people?

Background: Mary’s mother has never been very strong so Father has taken her to California for the summer while he’s there on business. Mary’s brother Billy, who is a first-class scout, is at scout camp where he is presumably learning about scouting with his peers from human scout leaders. Mary is spending her summer at her Grandmother’s house.

Continue reading