Big Gypsy Fashion

Thelma Madine

It all started over in the United Kingdom with dressmaker, Thelma Madine.  I got a glimpse into the world of Gypsy weddings.  And I was hooked!

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Each week, I’d tune into TLC’s My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and considered running away in hopes of getting an internship with Thelma.

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Although I loved the enormous blinged-out wedding dresses she made, I was head over heels about her children’s creations.

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Her Communion and Flower Girl dresses rivaled those of even the tackiest ones here in Staten Island, New York.  The more tulle and Swarovski crystals, the better!  Her Christening dresses were breathtaking!  If you’ve never seen the show, you can buy My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding – Season 1 and 2 on DVD!

Thelma Madine and her workers in her factory

Thelma’s newest show is called, “Little Shop of Gypsies.”  She takes on 10 Gypsy girls to teach them how to make fabulous dresses.  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these girls who rarely get to finish high school.

Thelma has recently published her first book, “Tales of a Gypsy Dressmaker.  She has an incredible story which includes a stint in prison…LOL!

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Not to be outdone by the UK, enter the fabulous Sondra Celli, dressmaker of TLC’s My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and Bling it On!

MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

Her creations are spectacular!  That woman and her crew can make dresses that dreams are made of!

 MY BIG FAT AMERICAN GYPSY WEDDING

The wedding gowns are over the top…hundreds of yards of tulle, thousands of rhinestones and enough fabric to cloth half of a large city!

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But she doesn’t stop there.  She’ll bling anything from shoes to

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baby strollers!

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Sondra has a team of girls who are called, “Blingettes.”  They spend hours upon hours applying crystals to her creations.

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Channel Guide Magazine did a great interview with Sondra.  Great read!

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All this BLING reminds me that I need to order more Hot Fix Crystals from my friend, Suzie aka The Hot Fix Queen!

With friendship,

Lisa

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Embellishments for Sewn Hats and a GIVEAWAY!

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My buddy, Carla Hegeman Crim (aka The Scientific Seamstress), has just published her new book, SEWN HATS!  It’s an awesome book which contains 35 different hat sewing patterns by 29 different sewing superstars.

For some reason, Carla asked me to contribute my Downtown Hat pattern…go figure.  It might have been, because Carla and I became fast friends as we are both pattern snobs.  She understands there is more to drawing a sewing pattern than cutesy designs.  It’s about MATH and SCIENCE.  You can have an adorable design, but if you don’t use the skills you learned in school, it doesn’t work.  Pattern pieces won’t fit together properly.

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photo by EMA Photography

Then you have the issue of grading (increasing/decreasing size).  You just can’t enlarge a pattern to make the next size.  This is especially true in children’s sizes.  And Carla has gotten it all right.  There’s a reason they call her, “The Scientific Seamstress.

No patterns are included in the book.  Nope.  Instead you download them from the internet as many times and as often as you want!!!  How cool is that?!  I wish all book publishers did this.

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My Downtown Hat can be found on page 129.  Although it was originally created for boys, there’s no reason you can’t make it for girls.  There are so many ways you can embellish the Downtown Hat.  What about some leather trim with grommets?

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Or perhaps some vintage velvet ribbon and an embroidered flower or a silk spider web rose?  (My tutorial is also included in the book.)

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Or even some sequin trim.

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You could simply add a sparkling rhinestone brooch or pin if you’re lazy.  The possibilities are endless!

Get your book on Amazon.  Better yet, I’m giving away a copy of the book, so just post a comment here!

Check out the Sewn Hats Blog Tour for more chances to win a copy of the book:

9/4 –  Scientific Seamstress

9/5 –  ModKid Boutique

9/6 – French General

9/10 – Pink Chalk Studio

9/11 –  Lulu Bliss

9/12 – The Domestic Diva’s Disasters

9/13 – Green Bee Patterns

9/14 – Goosie Girl Boutique

9/17 – Melissa Lilac Lane

9/19 – One Girl Circus

9/20 – Tie Dyed Diva Designs

9/21 – Figgy’s Patterns

9/25 – Craftiness is not Optional

9/26 – Bari J.

9/27 – Confessions of a Craft Addict

9/28 – Sis Boom

10/1 – Sew Mama Sew

10/2 – Aesthetic Nest

10/3 – Blue Nickel Studios

10/4 – Betz White

10/8 – Yummy Goods

10/10-  Wiley Craft

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P.S. – I finally got to meet Clara this Summer at my big BBQ in NYC.  And she just informed me she’s moving to NY soon!!!  We are already planning our fabric shopping trips in the NYC Garment District!

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Sew…we have a new Prince

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My cousin, Christopher, and his beautiful wife, Kathleen, welcomed their first child, Brody Quinn O’Connell, last week.

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And you know what that meant, right?  Yep.  It’s was time to make another baby bassinet!  I dusted off my sewing machine and serger, gathered yards and yards of tulle and played with the most scrumptious Silk Shantung.

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After I finished the tulle pettiskirt, I made a silk lining for the inside of the bassinet using the mattress as my template.

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Next was the fun part—ironing 14 yards of silk.  Yes, I kept it all in one piece…LOL!

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For the skirt, I added a casing at the top for the elastic, a hem on the bottom and then gathered the 28 foot piece of silk around the outer part of the bassinet.  I know I went a little overboard—but I like skirts full.  Ridiculously full.

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I made a sage green silk swag around the skirt to cover the casing and then tied it in a big arse bow in the front of the bassinet.

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My biggest dilemma was the bassinet hood.  Unlike other ones I’ve done (which were wicker), this one was a folding hood.  It made it difficult to cover—so I had to take out the good old glue gun for my sanity.

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The silk was off-white, more like the picture above.  It was really hard to make a bassinet without all the girly frills, but I held back—I didn’t want anyone to mistake Brody for a baby girl.

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Congratulations Kathleen and Chris!  And just so you know, as an embroiderer, I warned them about the baby’s initials—B.O. as in Body Odor.  Yes, I will tease him relentlessly.

lisasiggie

Quick Sewing Room Clean-Up

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Don’t laugh…This is the current disaster in my sewing room.  I’ve completely neglected it over the last few months (yes, that’s my pink Christmas tree that I never got around to decorating).  But now with the new year, it’s time to get my act together.  You know your sewing room is in the same state of disorganization, so let’s get it cleaned up quickly.

A few years back, I wrote The ABCs of Spring Cleaning Your Sewing Room over on SewMamaSew.  There’s even a printable PDF for your convenience.  I know it isn’t Spring yet, but heck, you’ll be getting a jump start on it!

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While going through the piles of crap on my cutting table, I found lots of treasures I had forgotten about.  Yes, the bags of fabric from Joann’s Black Friday Sale were yet to be unpacked.  It’s mostly more flannel that I don’t need.  I know…don’t judge me.

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I did find all the goodies I purchased during a recent NYC shopping adventure with my dear friend, Sara Norris.  Sara and I met online about 7 years ago while sewing children’s custom boutique clothing.  When she told me she was coming to New York City for a few days, I just knew I had to show her my fabric playground (aka NYC’s Garment District).

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Sara and I had a ball while her husband, Mike, waited patiently as we went treasure hunting.  Our first stop was Pacific Trimming—an old favorite of mine for rhinestone buttons and buckles.

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We discovered a trim shop, Hai’s Trimmings Inc.,  I had never visited before.  This place had more high-end trims than the other shops I usually go to.  I was even able to finally find 24 row rhinestone trim to recover my bathroom switch plate!  This place was AMAZING!

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Sara surprised me with the cutest spool of velvet trim she found at Antropologie.  Love it!

Now it’s time to find a home in my sewing room for all these sewing things.  Hopefully, once I get my kid back to school tomorrow, I’ll get back in the groove!  Hoping to sew a lot more this year than last!

lisasiggie2

Sew Glamorous Christmas Stocking Tutorial and Some Christmas Confessions

Glamorous Christmas Stocking Tutorial

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Go check out my Glamorous Christmas Stocking Tutorial at Boutique Cafe.  It’s part of Boutique Cafe’s Christmas Festival Traditions and Tutorials.

Christmas Confessions

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Christmas Confession #1:  I’ve never let my kids decorate MY tree.  They can put their handmade ornaments on their smaller trees in their room.  I know, I’m a bad mother.

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Christmas Confession #2:  Even though your Santa may wear a RED suit, mine doesn’t.  I loathe RED.  There is not a speck of RED (or Christmas Green) in my house during the holidays or any other time.  My Santas have Gold, Cream, White, Silver, and Aqua robes…LOL!

Christmas Confession #3: I like getting Christmas cards with pictures of your adorable kids.  Except the ones that include those annual summaries of their overachievements.

Wishing everyone a Very Merry Christmas!

lisasiggie2

Sew Unbalanced

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Seems like my life is just dashing past me.  I have such good intentions, but spend my days doing projects for others.  Rarely do I get any creative “ME” time these days.  And I don’t know about you, but if I don’t get my crafting time, I get bitchy.  Really bitchy.

And yes, I’m selfish like that.  Although I love my friends, I need my solitude.  I need to spend time inside my brain.  There’s so many projects in my head that it becomes overwhelming at times.  Not like crazy.  But more like frustrated that I can’t do MY OWN stuff.

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Selfish Seamstress – buy it HERE!

However, sometimes it’s not busyness.  It’s laziness.  Wait…maybe it’s not laziness at all.  Maybe I’m simply EXHAUSTED!  By the time I finish taking care of everyone else’s crap, I have absolutely no energy to do the things I want to do for myself, my family and my home.

As a New Year’s resolution this year, I promised myself that I would not volunteer to help others with their projects.  You may think that’s rotten of me, but understand that everyone thinks I have nothing to do all day.  Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t need me to do put together a small gift basket, do a little alteration on their new dress, or help them with a quick craft project.  Although I want to scream, “LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!”…I succumb to the pressure and give in to their requests.  And this builds resentment.  And quite honestly, I’ve had enough.  I really need to take the advice of Elaine, the Selfish Seamstress.

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photo source

But here’s the thing—I genuinely LIKE helping others.  Actually, I probably thrive on it.  Sad, I know.  So I’m thinking my problem is more one of BALANCE.  Yep.  How the heck do the rest of you do it?  Between family, friends, housekeeping, school, blogging, sewing, decorating, etc.—Tell me how you find balance in your life.

lisasiggie2

Sew Gifts for a new Baby Boy – Bibs, Burp Cloths, Blankets, Clothing and More

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Sewing for a new girl is so much easier than a boy.  So I figured I’d share some ideas on simple sewing projects to put together a great baby boy gift basket.

Boy Fabrics

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Gone are the days of being limited to bright primary colors and clown prints for boys.  When making gifts for a new baby boy, I choose either a base color of black or brown and then pick fabric prints to coordinate.  Here are some great prints I ordered online at the recent Fabric.com children’s print sale.

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Black Color Base

 CX4867_Charcoal CX4871_Black geeksgonewildpacman geeksgonewildspaceinvaders  CX4061_Black CX4388_Spice MMDC3893_BlackPPKAHERGYEMMCX4061_LagoonMMCX4388_TurqMMCX4305_TurqMMCX4376_Lagoon  MMCX2897_LagoonMMCX2897_Gray MMCX4253_LagoonMMCX3137_LagoonMMCX3755_StoneMMDC4133_LimeMMDC3890_AquaPPMMDC4159_Blackpp MMDC4151_BlackPPMMDC4153_GrayPPMMDC4153_BlackPP MMCX3745_Clementine CX4759_Brown CX4767_Black CX4892_Haze CX4869_Haze gail-c8397-multi  ETK-11005-49

Brown Color Base

AAK-11270-237 AAK-11271-167 ACY-10753-169 ALP-10770-169 MMCX1500_SpaMMCX3295_SkyMMCX2732_AquaAAK-10392-167 RKAMN-9873-193Z RKAMN-9871-193Z  CI2897_Boy KNIT CX4528_Linen  AAK-11271-167 EIP-11018-215CX4529_Linen EIP-11174-167 AIT-11860-169 ALP-11341-192 AKQ-11539-16 AKQ-11547-16

So, let’s start by figuring out what type of items to put in your baby boy basket.  The possibilities are endless—you’re only limited by your fabric stash and your time.  Here’s some ideas:

BURP CLOTHS

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There are a several different kinds of burp cloths you can make.  I’ve made them all.  However,  this tutorial is by far my favorite.

Bottom Band

Crap I’ve Made Boutique Burp Cloth Tutorial

Fabric Covered

Prudent Baby’s DIY Burp Cloths

Center Band

Chickpea Sewing Studio Burp Cloth Tutorial

Diary of a Quilter Burp Cloth Tutorial

Just Another Hang Up Easy Burp Cloths

Fat Quarter Burp Rags by Diamonds, Fur and Laundry

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A while back, I came up with an idea for a better burp cloth.  I drew out the pattern, but never tried it.  I’m lazy like that.  Perhaps you can use it and then patent it.

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Oh, and how clever is See Kate Sew’s Bucket O’ Burpees?  Love it!

BIBS

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Bib come in so many different shapes and styles.  There are small teething bibs, large square bibs, and appliqué bibs.  Also there are several ways to fasten bibs—tie strings, snaps, buttons, and Velcro.  Or you can simple make one that slips over the baby’s head with either ribbed knit fabric or enclosed elastic.  When I’m pressed for time, I just embroider cute sayings on purchased blank bibs I pick up at the discount children’s store.

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However, when I have to do something for a special occasion (such as a Christening), I take out the silk shantung fabric…even if it’s for a boy…LOL!

Tipnut’s Baby Bib Patterns and Tutorials

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Appliquéd Bibs from a Spoonful of Sugar

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Lots of Pink Here’s Boutique Style Bib Tutorial

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Sew She Sews Bib Tutorial

Zaaberry’s Scrappy Bib

Just Another Hang Up’s Pocket Bib

Catch-All Laminated Bib by Make It and Love It

Bapron (Baby Apron) from Craftiness is Not Optional

Easy Make – Easy Clean Bib from Sew Can Do

Fold n Go Travel Bib from B is for Boy

BLANKETS

Three Blankets from Sew4Home

Simply Blanket from Feathered Nest

Monogrammed Baby Blanket with Mitered Corners from Pink Suede Shoe

CLOTHING

Crap I’ve Made Appliqué Onesie

Baby Sleep Sack from Running with Scissors

Perfect Diaper Cover from MADE by Rae

Little Gentleman’s Faux Vest Onesie from B is for Boy

DIY Necktie Onesie from Haute Apple Pie

Newborn Overalls from Mad Quilter

Top Knot Baby Hat from Prudent Baby

DIY John John from Growing Home

Reversible John John from Growing Home

Baby Kimono Wrap from Bettsy Kingston

ACCESSORIES

Binky Clip Tutorial from Baby Night Night Boutique

Binky Clip Tutorial from Creations by Kara

Binky Leash from Sew4Home

Pacifier Clip from MADE by Rae

Changing Pad Cover from Prudent Baby

Changing Pad and Wipes Holder from Cluck, Cluck, Sew

Simple Changing Pad from Blissfully Content

Infant Scratch Mittens from Home Sweet Homebodies

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Hope this gives you some ideas for the boys!  Now get sewing!

With Friendship,

lisa2

Sew, The Little Diva Goes to College

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This week Mr. Diva™ and I took a 7 hour car ride (separately, cause Mr. Diva doesn’t drive as well as me) to drop our daughter, Marielle, off at SUNY Canton.  The staff laughed as we unloaded her crap belongings onto the curb.  She had 2 full carloads of stuff.  And then she sent me to Walmart FOUR TIMES for more things.  And yes, Mr. Diva™ was carrying on about all the money I was spending.  But not to worry…I ignore him most times.  He was just standing there shaking his head and dying of embarrassment.

Originally Marielle was to scheduled to dorm with two girls…sharing 3 beds, 2 closets and 2 desks.  She was in tears.  Marielle has two custom closets at home crammed with all the latest fashions.  So what do I do?  I call the school dorm assignment person and tell them the truth—that my daughter is in tears and doesn’t want to go to college, because SHE HAS TO SHARE A CLOSET.  Seriously.  I asked the woman not to laugh, but she said she had the same problem with her own daughter the year before.  And then she fixed our “problem.”  Marielle was given a double room, however, her new roommate decided not to dorm at college this year.

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We arrived to find a hideous medium blue painted room…ugh!  But not a problem…with the mass inventory of fabric in my stash, I fixed that!   I hung zebra and hot pink fabric as wallpaper, added curtains to the windows and closets, arranged her clothes on hot pink Huggable Hangers and coordinated EVERYTHING (cause I’m anal like that).

I even draped hot pink chiffon fabric across a long wood beam, but they made me take it down…something about it being a fire hazard.  Whatever.  Now I need to make her some pink and black vinyl embellishments with my Silhouette.  Beyond her name, what else should I make in vinyl for her?

I wish Marielle would take more pictures so you can all see the other half of her room.  But of course, she’s too busy at “frat parties” already.  Typical teenager.

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Within the next few weeks the college will consolidate the room and she will get a new roommate.  Let’s hope the new roommate doesn’t show up with a purple comforter and ruin the whole color scheme.  Only kidding.  If she does, I’ll just buy her a new pink comforter for Christmas.  Brilliant?  Heck, in the worst case, I’ll just have to take down half the fabric from the new roommate’s side of the wall.  Crossing fingers.

By the way…at age 48, I finally got to sleep in a dorm room for the first time (as the hotels were sold old the second night).  That was an experience sharing a bathroom with 6 girls.

And for those who are curious, Marielle is studying Mortuary Science…yep, she wants to be a Mortician/Funeral Director.  I know…you are probably thinking that’s creepy.  But it’s the perfect job for her as she won’t have to be behind a desk all day.  Plus, she can do Grief Counseling and has just the right amount of empathy to help families through their darkest hours.

lisasiggie

Sew Small…Miniature Sewing Room

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Last Summer when Servane came to the BBQ, she fell in love with my miniature sewing room.  So, since she has been working so hard on her children’s clothing line, I figured I’d surprise her with a miniature sewing room of her own.

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I found most of the miniature sewing items on Ebay and my local Dollar Store.  I even found a camera on a tripod, a pink telephone and of course…

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a bottle of beer…LOL!  Servane loves a good beer.

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Don’t her great pictures make my miniature sewing room look pathetic?  Yep.  I really need to redecorate.  And maybe add a few bottles of wine.

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Sewing a Ruffled Bed Skirt aka Dust Ruffle

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I had put off sewing this project for so long, because my Socialite Sister™ wanted to change my Godchild’s bed from a Queen size to a Twin Size.  That never ended up happening and in the meantime, I got distracted.  But it was now time to get cracking on this Queen Ruffled Bed Skirt.

Using this tutorial, I spent hours tackling this project.  Lots of yardage.  OMG.  I have a new respect for my Mom who always sewed Home Decor—everything from King Size circular bed skirts to ornate pillow shams.

If you’re going to make one, I strongly suggest you buy a cheap bed skirt and use the decking (base fabric that sits on the box spring) instead of buying wide width material.  For $13, it was more cost-effective than ordering oversized material online.

Rip off the cheap polyester bed skirt from the decking and serge the decking edges (or sew a zig zag stitch to keep it from fraying).

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This one-way print was a nightmare.  I suggest you find an all-over pattern to cover up any mistakes you make.  I had to sew 14 panels together to get the required length for the ruffle panels.  And then I realized the fabric was off grain…UGH!  So I did what every good seamstress would do…I fudged it.  Hopefully, it won’t be noticeable.

The bed skirt requires 3 lengths of fabric:  2 long side panels and the bottom panel.  To help me keep track of which panel was which, I used quilter’s clips—one clip on panel one, 2 clips on panel 2 and 3 clips of panel 3.

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Since I don’t have a gathering foot for my sewing machine and I can’t estimate the amount of ruffling needed using my ruffler foot, I opted for my 5 Groove Pintuck foot and did things the old fashioned way.  It’s times like this when a Cording foot would come in handy.

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Anyway, the pintuck foot has a groove on both the top and bottom.

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I used buttonhole thread (you could use any thick thread), placing the spool on the extra thread stand.

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I then passed it through the groove in the front of the foot and pulled it through the back, leaving a long thread tail.

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I lined up the top edge of my fabric panel and stitched a wide zig zag over the buttonhole thread.  Make sure you don’t catch the buttonhole thread in your zig zag stitch.

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I then divided both my fabric panel and decking into quarters (mark with a water-soluble marking pen).  Match up the quarter marks and pin at each quarter.  Now pull the buttonhole thread at each quarter to gather up the fabric panel to the size of the decking.

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Space out your gathers evenly and pin to the decking (right sides together).

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I then used my Edge Stitching foot to sew the gathered fabric panel to the decking.

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Then I ran it through my serger to give it a professional look.

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Oh…and one thing I should mention:  Extend your fabric panels around the side if you have corner bed posts.

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Overlap the fabric panels.  This allows the dust ruffle to hang nicely.

Done!  Another UFO crossed off my list!  Next up…two matching pillow shams.  But that will have to wait until next week.  I have a big BBQ this coming weekend!

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Happy Sewing!

With friendship,

Lisa

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