Tag Archives: Decorative

Knife Pleats and Box Pleats

Knife Pleats and Box Pleats

First of all Happy Almost Valentines Day!  That is why this particular post is obnoxiously pink and red :).  I hope you all have a wonderful day tomorrow!

Much like the last tutorial that I posted, adding a simple fabric folding technique can add a lot to any project.  This tutorial covers how to make some of my personal favorite handmade effects, knife and box pleats.  These particular methods are beautiful on clothes or decorative pieces. It can so quickly take a bland project and turn it into something special and unique.



We are starting with knife pleats because these are the basis of the other technique. Much like ruffles, they are not too difficult to create.  Knife pleats are perfect for making A-line skirts, or a detail on a shirt.

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric
  • Straight Pins
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Measuring implement
  • Calculator

The most difficult part of making a knife of box pleat is the math.  When you pleat or tuck fabric the length quickly diminishes.  Because of this, if you need a particular length, like if it has to go around a pillow or if you are pleating in a skirt you must do the math.   If you’re like me though you HATE math.  I really would almost prefer winging it and hoping for the best, knowing I may have to redo something.  That thought though has been mainly drilled out of me by parents/teachers/the fact that I also hate redoing things…  So instead we shall do math.  If you are doing a full 1″ knife pleat that means that the length of the pleat is 1″ and the tuck inward in also 1″ and the fabric under the pleat is 1″.  This means that each pleat will diminish the length of the fabric by three inches.  So if you need a skirt to have a circumference of 34″ (including seam allowances) then you would need 3 times that amount of fabric, 102″ (2.9 yards), of fabric.

So the equation would be:

(The amount of fabric you need to end up with) x (The full amount of fabric used by the pleat ie the amount of the pleat x3)

In the example of the 1/2″ pleat the math would be:

34 x 1.5

God, I hope that makes sense…  Please let me know if that only makes sense to me.  Since we’ve gotten past the math (in theory) now comes the fun part.  To make a knife pleat first begin by pressing back 1″ worth of fabric under.  Pin this into place.


From the edge of this pleat measure out one inch, then tuck under one additional inch and pin.  Continue this process until you have completed the length of fabric.  See!  I wasn’t kidding when I said the math was the hardest part!  When you’re done, simply sew the pleats down with a straight stitch across the pleats and you are done!




Box pleats are very similar to knife pleats.  The only difference is after you do a knife pleat in one direction, you then go out two inches (or twice whatever your pleat width is) and create another pleat in the opposite direction.  This means that the open portion of the two pleats should be facing each other.  This slightly changes the math.  You will then multiply the (amount of fabric you need to end up with) x (The full amount of fabric used by the pleat ie the amount of the pleat x6).


wine glass 1.5 1 1/2 glasses.  While the sewing is easy figuring out that math without the project in front of me (I was doing it in my head before I actually started the post) was kind of frustrating…and y’know wine is good 🙂

I hope that these three techniques help you to make beautiful projects!  I would LOVE to see what you make with these techniques! Keep Crafting!


The Simpliest Ruffle

The Simpliest Ruffle

First of all, PSA, you really should not be working on a craft project that makes a bit of a mess while watching Hoarders.  It can make you incredibly uncomfortable and lead you to question your decisions…including your multiple bins of fabric in the corner…maybe that’s just me.

Okay, beyond that, a great way to make any project more special or just too darn cute is to add ruffles.

Dog Outfits 005

As you can see here, they can really make a difference.

Despite this, the process of creating a ruffle detail is deceptively simple.

What you’ll need:

  • Needle and thread or sewing machine
  • Material that you would like to make into a ruffle


If you decide to create the ruffle by hand and not use a sewing machine the process is just as simple, but it may take a bit longer and be less even.

With your needle and knotted thread begin to sew a straight stitch along the length of the fabric that will have the tightest portion of the ruffle.DSC_0299

In the picture of the dog above that would be the portion sewn to the fabric.  This generally doesn’t matter unless you have a finished edge on the opposite side or the fabric has a pattern that would need to face a specific direction.

Continue the straight stitch until you reach the other end of the fabric.  Remove the needle from the thread and hold the thread while beginning to pull the fabric towards the knot. DSC_0302


The fabric will begin to gather as you move the fabric.  Continue until the ruffle is the length that you want.  Knot the now long thread that you have remaining and use the ruffle in your projects, it truly is that simple.


The tutorial for making a ruffle with a sewing machine is very similar to how you would do it by hand.  Begin at one end of the fabric, near the edge.  Back-stitch or knot the thread before beginning a long straight stitch along the length of the fabric.  When you reach the other end do not knot or back-stitch the thread.


Instead, lift the presser foot and remove the fabric from the machine.  Here’s where it can be a bit more difficult than doing it by hand.  Because you are using a machine that uses two thread sources (the bobbin and the main thread) it can be more difficult to figure out which thread to pull.  The easiest way to get around this though is to simply grab one and pull.  If the fabric won’t move, pull the other thread instead.  If you’re like me you WILL pull the wrong thread EVERY SINGLE TIME you do this, oh well…  Just like the hand sewn method you will continue to pull until you have achieved the ruffle that you want, then simply tie off the thread and use.


As you can see, no matter what method you use, the ruffle will begin to curve up.  This is easily corrected when you sew the ruffle to whatever it is that you are working on. DSC_0305

If you are working with a material such as cotton that will fray you may want to add a shirt tail hem.  To do this, you can either do it with a hemming foot on your sewing machine (an upcoming tutorial) or fold the fabric by hand.  For more information on how to do that, look back at the shirt tail portion of this tutorial on making a pillowcase.

On my new scale of how many glasses of wine I would need to complete this and still be sane, this rates a..drumroll please! ZERO.  This is very simple and not very frustrating at all.  If, you would like to see what a FIVE looks like (I hope to not meet up with a project worse than that) please zip on over to this previous tutorial that had me pulling my hair out!


I Want to Know What you Want to Know

I Want to Know What you Want to Know

Lately I’ve been struggling with what to write DIY posts about.  Then it came to me, DUH I’m writing them for you, I should find out what you want to read about!  So here is an opportunity to decide what the next post or so will be about.  If I get multiple ideas then I’ll either pick the best one or do multiple.  To reward you for participating, the owners of the ideas chosen will receive a special coupon code for my etsy shop!  So start thinkin!  I can’t wait to see what you come up with!!

While you’re thinking here is a picture of our fat adorable guinea pig, Bacon Bit, to help you along.  He thinks that all posts should be about the joys of carrots though so you probably shouldn’t listen to him…

Sewing Letters, Get it Down to a “T”

Sewing Letters, Get it Down to a “T”

A big part of my crafting experience is figuring out ways to create the ideas that pop into my slightly frazzled mind.  After making an  anchor pillow I decided that I wanted to make one that was similar but more cheeky.   Anchor’s Away I thought, that’s just cute enough to not be obnoxious!  How to make the letters though…  I don’t have a cricut and I don’t want to spend the money for one right now, so what to do?  What I did have was a printer.  Turns out that is a big part of what I needed.   To make letters similar to what you see here   you will need scissors, a computer with attached printer, straight pins, possibly an exacto  knife and either a really nice sewing machine or needle and thread.

The first step is fairly straight forward, you need to chose a font that you like, I chose Rockwell Extra Bold.  You don’t have to use this font but you should definitely choose  one that doesn’t have a lot of frills, and if it isn’t already you will probably want to make it BOLD and in all caps so that it will be easier to cut.

Once you have chosen your font make it big!  Write your message and make it as big as you want.  I made mine about size 110, hint: if you turn your printing to landscape instead of portrait then you can get more letters on a single line.

Once your letters are all printed out and dried (important because there will likely be a lot of ink on the paper and you don’t want that on your fabric) begin to cut them all out, making sure to get all of the little internal circles and triangles.  This is why you might need the exacto.  Depending on what font you have chosen those areas might be fairly small or intricate.

I maybe should warn you against the high possibility of intense hand cramps at this point in the procedure.  There is a lot of cutting involved in making these letters and I know that my hands were not happy after this.  Ignoring this though the next step is to pin the paper letters to the fabric which is in this case fleece.   To make your life a TON easier go ahead and cut out squares, or whatever around the letters, just larger than what you need.  This will make it much easier to maneuver around the letters, instead of having to deal with a large piece of fabric.

Once you have all of your letters cut out go ahead and start pinning them to your fabric.  If you need to, it may help to put a ruler under your letters to help to keep them going in a straight line and you can measure the distance between the letters that way also.  Personally, I just eyed it and it seemed to work out fine, so if you don’t feel like taking the time and it looks like they’re okay when you line them up then you probably don’t need the ruler.

Pin each letter in multiple places.  This will keep the letters from moving while you’re sewing and also let you take out one of the pins while still keeping the letter secured to the fabric.

I sewed the letters by hand.  My current sewing machine doesn’t do either speed control or presser foot adjustments very well.  Because of this doing these on the machine would have been frustrating at best, potentially sending me into a project throwing conniption fit at worst.  If your machine is better than mine though it will probably make a better result and might be more secure than hand sewing.

Here is my finished product.    I would love to hear what you think about it and the post!  Keep crafting.

Making a Pillowcase

Making a Pillowcase

Earlier this month I put up a DYI post about creating a fabric insert that wouldn’t show any stitches.  For those of you who went ahead and made it yourself (by the way I would love to see pictures of anything made from tutorials!!) now you have a front piece of a pillow, or quilt or what not but now what, what are you going to do with it.  Well if you were me you would turn it into a pillowcase because that seems to be what I’ve been obsessed with lately.  Here I’ll include instructions on making a pillowcase for a 16×16 standard pillow insert.

To begin with, you will need a front piece for the pillow that measures 17×17.  It’s one inch bigger to create a seam allowance and let the pillow puff up a bit.  For this tutorial, the back of the pillowcase will overlap to hold in the pillow.  When I first started doing this, I would cut the 17×17 inch square from my fabric then simply use the remaining 28 inches (most fabric is 45″ wide) for the overlapping back.  While this is just fine, we’ll refer to this as the extreme overlap because well lets just say that pillow isn’t going anywhere.  The minimal that you need to create a secure pouch for your pillow I have found to be 22″.  The problem with doing any method other than the extreme overlap is that even if you do a minimal, the amount of fabric left over is just not big enough to really make anything substantial.  Instead what you have is a piece that is 6×17, which is not even big enough for an insert so you suddenly just have a house full of fabric scraps.  The information from this post can be used to make any size overlap.

Okay so here we go.  Cut out your back piece whatever size you choose, I’m going to use my norm of 17×28 because fabric waste makes my brain hurt.  Then cut this piece in half making it 17×14.  I then sew a shirttail hem into one of the 17″ sides of the each of the back pieces.  A shirttail hem is created by folding up the raw edge of the fabric then folding the fabric up again, thus making sure the raw edge is completely encased.   I do this even on fabrics that don’t have a tendency to unravel because I believe that it creates a cleaner looking final product.

Once both of the sides on the back have a hem, go ahead and start pinning.  Place the front of the pillow right side up and position the first back piece with the right side facing up.  Pin the unhemmed 17″ edge to the pillowcase, then put the other back piece so that it overlaps the first and lines up with the other side of the front.  Use pins to secure the final 3 sides and start to sew.    Sew along each side, putting the needle down and turning at each corner.  When all of the sewing is done turn it right side out and enjoy your finished product!  I would love to hear what you thought about the post and remember, keep crafting!

Work Updates

Work Updates

So I suppose I have to begin with yes, it’s been awhile and I apologize.  I have had what can only be referred to as a VERY busy last few weeks.  Without getting into too much detail, I’ve been doing a lot of writing and I had one family member who had surgery and needed 24 hour care (everyone is fine now).  Most important to you readers though is between doing all this, I’ve churned out about 7 new pillowcases (pictures below).  What I have not been able to do though is write a “how-to” post.  To apologize, and celebrate all the work I’ve gotten done (I just turned in my thesis conclusion!!) I’m having a sale.  Who doesn’t love a sale?  I know I do!  So here’s how it works from now until the end of April, if you see something on my Etsy page that tickles your fancy just type    BLOG2012    in the coupon code area at checkout for a 10% discount on your purchase.  I hope everyone is having a great spring!

Pillowcase Fight (Making a Fabric Insert)

Pillowcase Fight (Making a Fabric Insert)

While I love making pillows, the amount of space that they take up while I’m waiting for them to sell is less than desirable.  Talking to my mom she mentioned, “Why don’t you just make pillowcases instead?”  Okay, yes I understand I should have thought of that on my own, but I got so caught up with making those cutesy pillows that I didn’t really take the time to plan ahead and make them a standard size.  So now, mainly for the sake of space in our apartment, and how easy they are to ship, I have turned to pillowcases.  I had some aqua corduroy that I wasn’t using for anything in particular so I decided this would be the perfect thing to use for a pillow.  I then walked into the study, fabric in hand, and asked for boyfriend’s opinion about what I should do.  He suggested that I insert a square from a piece of creme that I had from an old pillowcase into the center of the corduroy.  Yeah I thought, that’s a good idea and probably why I keep you around, j/k it’s also because he’s a chef.  In all seriousness though I figured it wouldn’t be that difficult to do.  I’m going to spoil the end though, this project is completely do-able but I had enough problems that I thought it would be smart to make a post about it so that others could benefit from what I had learned the hard way.  For the post I’m using different fabrics from what I just mentioned because I didn’t take pictures the first time.

I began by cutting the size I wanted for the pillowcase. I then cut a square hole from the inside.  For the insert, I  cut a square from aqua linen that would be about a half an inch to an inch larger than the square I cut from the dark blue.    This will give you plenty of fabric to work with.  Before you do anything else, you will need to iron both of the fabrics if they are wrinkled.  If you don’t, when you pin the insert fabric (aqua) to the inside of the original fabric (blue) it may pucker or not go in straight.

To attach the two sections of fabric you will first need to snip the corners of the blue fabric so that it will bend backwards.  I cut about about a 1/4 of an inch into the fabric.  You should then fold back the areas between the snips and iron in the fold.  This helps to make a straight line for when you’re sewing.  Place the original fabric, right side down on a solid surface, then place the insert over the hole.  Before you begin to pin make sure that neither of the fabrics are wrinkled.  Once everything is straight you can begin to pin.  Using straight pins go along the inside of the fold that you ironed in and pin the insert to the original fabric.   Make sure that you put the pins on that side and not on the top because if you do you will be like me the first time, and have to pull your pins from the underside of the fabric while you’re sewing.  When you get all the way around, turn it over gently (please don’t prick yourself with a pin, I’ve heard that can make you sleep until a handsome prince…or you know do prick yourself, could be fun if the whole handsome prince thing works out) whichever you choose, if the insert looks even then you are ready to sew.

I sewed mine on the machine.  If you do this by hand it’s going to take much longer, but the same steps should generally apply.  Starting at one of the corners begin to sew down your fold line, making sure you backtack (go in reverse) at the beginning so that the thread is locked, and remembering to remove pins as you go.  When you reach the next corner get as close to the end of the corner as possible so that your nice corner doesn’t become curved or pucker like mine did a bit.  When you’re there, stop the machine, making sure that your needle is down, and raise your presser foot.  Turn the pillow 90% so that the next edge is available for sewing and replace your presser foot.  HERE IS A CRUCIAL PART!!!!!!!!!!!!!  If you read nothing else please read this!  After the presser foot is down, run you hand under the fabric and make sure that none is caught.  The first time I did this, I caught a good 4 inches of fabric from another edge and had to rip it out.  If everything is good then continue this process until the end where you again backtack and then cut the thread.

If you’re like me at this point you are holding your breath before you turn over the fabric, hoping that it looks good.  This was one of my first attempts, and some of the corners are puckering a bit but all in all I’m pretty happy with it.  As you can see I also added a lighthouse and some clouds, but creating your own appliques is another post for another day.  Good luck and please comment if you liked it!  If you have any trouble just get ahold of me here, or e-mail me at brushesandthread@gmail.com.  As always keep crafting!