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Elastic Keyhole Closure

I’m Ajaire from Designs by Call Ajaire (DbCA) and I have two things to share with you One Thimble fans this week.  The first is a favorite of mine!  Today, let me show you how to make the optional Elastic Keyhole Closure from my Crossover Flounce Dress available in Issue 11.

My girl is forever getting her hair caught in the button on the back of her dresses.  I love a good button, but right there at the back neckline her hair always gets caught.  Thus I came up with this buttonless keyhole closure.  All you need is a little bit of 1/4″ (6mm) elastic and you can use this technique on pretty much any keyhole-type closure in lieu of a button and loop.

To begin, cut a small keyhole opening at the main and lining center back pieces.  Be sure to think about seam allowance if you’re making your own keyhole.  Fortunately, the Crossover Flounce Dress has this pattern piece included so you don’t have to make one yourself.

Stitch the shoulder seams of the main and the shoulder seams of the lining and press well according to the pattern.

Place the main neckline over the lining neckline with right sides together and pin all the way around the keyhole.

Stitch all the way around the main neckline.  Skip 3/8″ (1cm) down the keyhole, start stitching from the edge until you reach the end of the 3/8″ (1cm) seam allowance, pivot the stitching 90 degrees, and continue stitching around the keyhole, stopping 3/8″ (1cm) from the neckline stitches on the other side, pivoting the stitches to run through the seam allowance at 90 degrees.  This step is creating a channel through which the elastic will run.

Trim the seam allowance except for the 3/8″ (1cm) area around the channel, clipping to the stitching at the 90 degree corners of the keyhole.

Turn the necklines so they are wrong sides together and press well.  Take care not to push the channel out of the openings on either side of the keyhole, but do use a point turner or similar tool to help point the shape of the keyhole.

In the above pic you can see that there is an opening which will fit this flat turning tool.

Take your piece of coordinating 1/4″ (6mm) elastic and attach a safety pin to one end.

Insert the safety pin through one side of the neckline channel.

Pin the elastic in place once the safety pin is pulled through enough to clear the pin.

Once the elastic is pinned you can reach between the layers to remove the safety pin.

Then attach the safety pin to the other end of the elastic.

Run the safety pin through the channel on the other side of the neckline and pull through, leaving as much give on the elastic as necessary to comfortably get the child’s head through.  Pin the elastic in place and remove the safety pin from between the layers.

Topstitch around the keyhole using 1/4″ (6mm) seam allowance and backstitching over the elastic.  Be sure to use coordinating thread for the bobbin if you are making the Crossover Flounce Dress so it can still be reversible.

And now your neckline is complete and you can stretch the opening to fit over the head with ease!  I hope you enjoy this new neckline closure option as much as we do!

Ajaire Parello
Call Ajaire

Cross Over Flounce Dress Stand Alone Cover

Don’t forget to check out the interview with Ajaire from Monday HERE.

You can purchase Ajaire’s pattern for Crossover Flounce Dress as a single PDF HERE or visit her website to see more of her work HERE or purchase Issue 11 which contains this pattern HERE.

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When Applique + Freezer Paper Stenciling combine!

This week we have Kate from Horris & Deedle on the blog sharing some awesome Applique tips and techniques.  If you’ve missed the earlier posts be sure to check out the links below.

Read Monday’s blog post and download your FREE applique templates -> HERE.

Read Tuesday’s blog post and get all Kate’s best applique tips -> HERE

combining freezer paper stenciling with applique with Kate from Horris & Deedle

When I saw Jen’s article on ‘Freezer Paper Stenciling’ in the latest issue I was a little excited. Freezer Paper Stenciling has always been one of those things which I’ve seen on Pinterest and American Blogs. I’ve wished we could get it in Australia, a bit like how I felt when I was a kid and a friend would come back from a holiday in America with lots of cool lollies that I’d never seen before.

When I realized that we could buy it here in Australia I rushed down to my nearest Textile Traders (much easier to get into and out of than Spotlight) and found that they sell it too!

Image of Reynold's Freezer Paper

If you’ve read yesterday’s blog post you’ll know that one of my tips for adding interest to applique’s is to use layers.  Freezer Paper stenciling is a great way to add another layer to your appliques.

I used my Bear & Bunny T-shirt applique templates (you can download for FREE from HERE) and Jen’s article from One Thimble Issue 11.

If you don’t have Issue 11 then check out Stephanie from Swoodson Says blog post on Freezer Paper Stenciling HERE.

Combining freezer paper stenciling and applique by Horris & Deedle bear freezer stencil








My kids were so excited to watch the freezer paper stenciling and have ambitions of making their own shirts in the next school holidays.

Combining freezer paper stenciling and applique by Horris & Deedle   Combining freezer paper stenciling and applique by Horris & Deedle







I used some scrap linen for the nose area and tummy patch and the actual nose is a scrap from an old pair of brown pants.

I did the same things for Miss Kitty here …

Combining freezer paper stenciling and applique by Horris & Deedle

Combining freezer paper stenciling and applique by Horris & Deedle

I also used another of my tips for making your appliques interesting from yesterday’s blog post with Miss Kitty.  Here she is looking to the side and her eyes look alert. Maybe she has spotted a mouse. Maybe she is ready to pounce and as my husband just remarked, maybe she is stuck in gaol.

Miss Kitty isn’t included with the other animal templates I provided on Monday but she is easy enough to make. Just use Miss Bunny’s body shape and add two little pointed ears instead.

You can download your free applique templates -> HERE

I hope this post inspires you to mix your applique and freezer paper stenciling up a bit.  Be sure to come show us what you sew in the One Thimble Sewing Enthusiasts group on Facebook!


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Great tips for applique

Yesterday on the blog Kate from Horris & Deedle shared some FREE applique templates* and today she’s going to share her tips for bringing your applique to the next level!  So over to you Kate . . .

*Find yesterday’s blog post with the free templates HERE.

Applique Tips with Kate from Horris & Deedle-01

I’m a real fan of dessert and I have to say that when I eat out my sweet tooth isn’t easily satisfied. The base product, be it a tart, cake, pudding etc has to be quality but it needs to be enhanced by lots of contrast- contrast in textures, flavours, temperatures…..I know you’re hearing me. Think of a cold piece of apple pie, soggy- bottomed pastry, soggy apple and some vanilla ice-cream. You could take it or leave it really. But then think of some perfectly crisp shortcrust pastry, warm, soft apple on the inside, the slightest sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar on the top and a pie that is so fresh and hot it almost burns the roof of your mouth on a Winter’s night. Team it with just a smidge of creamy cold vanilla ice-cream and you’re onto a winner. So it is with appliques…..contrast is the key.

I’m a bit of an applique addict and over the years of my addiction I’ve discovered a few tips on how to take something from ’almost there’ to a unique original.

Here are the best ways I know to add interest to an applique.

  1. Variety and Contrast

Choose fabrics which contrast well with each other and with the background material. Appliques which have too much of the same colour will look drab and it will be hard to distinguish features. Your fabrics should be a mixture of patterned and plain fabrics to allow some features to stand out and others to drop into the background.

Miss Bunny applique by Horris & Deedle   Mr Frog applique by Horris & Deedle

With Miss Bunny here I chose a plain dusty lilac for the majority of her body. Because the t-shirt is patterned the plain fabric stands out from the t-shirt and also gives somewhere for the eye to rest. Also, because of the busy-ness of the actual t-shirt itself I kept the tummy patch and ear inserts plain and only used the simple pink spots for the cheeks and bow.

With Mister Frog here, his striped tummy adds a good point of interest because the t-shirt background is dark and plain allowing him to almost jump off the shirt (sorry for the dad’s joke).

  1. Add Layers

Layers are another way to add a lot of interest to your creature. You can do it by adding different textured fabrics like felt or corduroy and by using lace/ribbons/buttons etc. Also, you can add layers by making features three dimensional. Miss Bunny’s bow is good example of this.

In the t-shirt below I made fabric fish scales which were only sewn onto the t-shirt on one edge of each scale . Together with the bubble buttons and the pom pom ribbon this little fish came together really well.

Fish scale applique   Butterfly applique by Horris & Deedle modelled


For these butterfly wings, I cut some coloured strips of fabric on the bias to stop it fraying, gathered the strips and then sewed them on in the shape of the wings.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

These icy-pole t-shirts really came to life with the variety of small coloured buttons on the middle icy-pole.

Adding the ribbons to the side of the camera for the neck strap, as well as for the view finder make this camera t-shirt so much character.  I used the camera applique template from the Adventure Flags pattern by Swoodson Says from Issue 10 for the camera base.



Another great way to layers is to vary your stitches. Using a combination of machine ziz-zag/ free motion and hand stitching all helps to add interest.

I use free motion applique mainly when using knitted fabrics or when sewing on small or curved areas.

For larger straight lines on woven fabrics a zig-zag stitch prevents lots of fraying on the edges when it goes through the wash.

  1. Tell a Story

You don’t have to tell a whole novel on a t-shirt but adding one or two things can make it a whole lot more interesting.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

With these icy pole t-shirts I took a bite out of the choc-mint ones because those are my favourites.

Mr Frog applique by Horris & Deedle

Mr Frog here is trying to catch a fly. His eyes are looking up, his tongue is out and we can actually see the fly too. When I first started making this t-shirt the fly wasn’t there. I showed it to my kids and asked them what they thought. After politely telling me that they liked it, each of them said in one way or another, “that yellow thing on the side of his mouth looks weird.” I gathered that the fact that it was his tongue wasn’t obvious enough so I added the little fly. I didn’t know how to draw a simple fly but while I was reading Georgie her bedtime book one night I saw a good one to copy.

adding interest to applique with horris & deedle

Which brings me to my last point.

  1. Be on the look out.

Look out for simple drawings and motifs in books, on signs, in brochures or anywhere else.  Think about how they would look in certain colours and fabrics and if you think it will be a winner then go for it.

Bear applique by horris and deedle modelled

Finally, a few tips about the sewing.

It’s a good idea to put some light-weight iron on interfacing on the inside of the t-shirt. It makes the knit fabric so much more stable when you sew the applique on. It also helps to prevent annoying thread breakages.

As I mentioned before, knit fabrics are great for raw edge or free motion applique as they don’t fray. You don’t want your free-motion applique to look neat, otherwise it will inevitably show up flaws and mistakes. If it was cooking we’d say we were going for rustic.

Appliques by Horris & Deedle

This bird has been sewn on using free motion. I sew over each area two or three times so that it looks like I wasn’t trying to get the edging perfect, a bit like when you sketch something with a pencil. The fabric in this is all woven fabric but it has survived through the wash quite well because there are no long straight edges.

Frog applique by Horris & Deedle modelled

Here’s my little model styling his new clothes. And yes, those are the Fox Shoes from the Wild Things Baby Shoes pattern in the latest One Thimble by Big Little Patterns.


Wild Things Baby Shoes sewn by Horris & Deedle

They are not nearly as fiddly to sew as you might think. The instructions are fantastic and the cuteness factor is off the scale. Unlike most baby shoes, they are easy to get on and actually stay on his feet.

We would love to see any of your applique critters or any other OT sewing on the One Thimble Sewing Enthusiasts Facebook Page.

Thanks for reading along,


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Make your own pre-quilted fabric

Have you ever looked at clothing made with pre-quilted fabric and thought … WOW … I’d love to get some pre-quilted fabric to play with!!!

… and then ended up getting distracted before it made it from your shopping cart to your sewing machine?

If you have, then this blog post is for you!

Make your own pre-quilted knit fabric


When I was playing with design ideas for the Marty Hoodie I tried out some ways to pre-quilt knit fabric and retain some stretch, using fabrics I had on hand.  This blog post will show you what I did and hopefully inspire you to bring some pre-quilted awesome into your next winter sewing project!

What fabrics to use:

The two fabrics I had, that I thought might be pretty good for this project were fleece (fluffy on both sides) and sweatshirt fleece (fluffy on one side).

I tried:

  • 2 layers of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy sides together
  • 1 layer of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy side against a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie
  • 1 layer of sweatshirt fleece – fluffy side away from a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.
  • 1 layer of fleece with a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.
  • 1 layer of fleece between two layers of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.

kt and the quilted pocket By far my favourite was the layer of fleece with a layer of the stretch jersey I was using for my hoodie.  Kt loves that it makes the inside of her kanga pocket fluffy and soft.






How to:

I used the same technique for all my combinations.  If you’ve got different fabrics to try, I’d still give this method a go.

Practice on scraps of your fabrics.  You need to find out whether your pre-quilted fabric will “shrink” after quilting and also how quilting will effect the stretch if you’re needing to retain the stretch.  This will help you choose what size pieces to start with.

  1. Place your layers wrong sides together.  If using 3 layers have the fluffiest layer in the middle.  You can pin or use wonderclips or basting spray as your would with a regular quilt if you would like.  I found that the pieces I was using kind of “stuck” together so I didn’t need to. Quilt your fabric image-01
  2. Mark stitching lines with chalk or fading pen on the right side of the jersey.  I had my lines about 25mm (1″) apart.
  3. Increase your stitch length (I increased mine to 4).  If you have a walking foot be sure to use it.
  4. Sew along the centre diagonal first – corner to corner then sew the other lines working from the centre out.
  5. When you’ve sewn all the lines in one direction turn your fabric around and do the ones that cross them.  Again start at the centre and work outwards.
  6. Cut your pattern piece from your pre-quilted fabric.  It might be a good idea to baste around the edges after cutting out your pattern piece.

Rag quilt sewn using the Threading Rainbows tutorial from issue 11

I’d really love to have a play to see if this same method would work with regular quilting fabrics (with no stretch).  I used fleece in my rag quilt (woven fabrics on either side with a layer of fleece in between) and it worked beautifully so I think fleece in the middle should work with woven fabrics also to make woven quilted fabric.

(Side note: I used the Threading Rainbow’s tutorial for making the Rag Quilt from issue 11 to make my Rag Quilt.  They also included a tutorial for using rag quilt panels in clothing in this issue – which is well worth a look!)

When researching this blog post, the other tutes I found for DIY pre-quilted fabric, used a layer of batting between two layers of cotton fabric.  So if fleece doesn’t give you the result you’re looking for then be sure to give batting a go.  If using batting you’d use the same method I have here.

Happy Sewing



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#pretendplaysewalong getting started

Hi! I’m Alicia from Felt With Love Designs. I contributed the Pretend Play Adventure Kit pattern to the current issue, the Woodland Creature finger puppet pattern to Issue 6, the Desert Fox Softie pattern to Issue 8, and the Circus Beanbag Toss Game pattern to Issue 9. The last three can all be found in our etsy shop now. Today, I am kicking off the Adventure Kit Sew Along with a few tips on choosing felt and cutting out the pieces. (If this is your first time hearing about it, head over to this post for more info.)

Adventure Set by Molly and Mama

Photo courtesy of Lauren (Molly and Mama)

Please note: This post includes affiliate links, as indicated by an asterisk.*

I absolutely love hand-sewing. Don’t get me wrong, I love my machine too. I enjoy sewing my daughter’s clothes and other larger projects. But …

I have an itch to always be doing something. Just ask my husband, it drives him crazy! Hand-sewing satisfies that desire. I do the majority of my felt sewing while I watch my daughter play with her friends at the playground in the afternoon or while I watch a movie with my husband in the evenings. It makes me feel so much less guilty about spending the couple hours watching television (something he loves to do.)

It wasn’t until joining the One Thimble team that I realized not everyone shares my love of hand-sewing. So, Jen and I put together a little impromptu sew-along.

Choosing Your Felt

Before starting your Adventure Kit, you will need to decide what to sew it with. I love hand-sewing with felt because it doesn’t fray and it’s very difficult to mess up.

One Thimble recently interviewed Candice about her felt business and she does a great job explaining the differences between wool felt and acrylic (craft) felt.

Wool Felt from Rose Petal Collections

Photo courtesy of Candice from Rose Petal Collections

For this project, both types of felt will work. When choosing which to use, keep in mind that craft felt will be thinner than wool felt. Wool felt is also much softer than craft felt.

It might help you decide between the types of felt if you choose which colors you would like to work with. In my experience, wool felt is available in a much wider array of colors. I sewed my Adventure Kit from boring grey but let your imagination run wild!

Magnifying Glass

For the sew along, I will be making a more “girly” set, at the request of my daughter. It’s always fun to see ways people think outside the box with their color choices. (I am still in love with the pink, glittery Desert Fox Candice sewed incorporating her glitter felt.)

Other Supplies

I strongly suggest using a heavy interfacing on the majority of the pieces for the Adventure Kit, otherwise the toys might turn out a little too flimsy. If you stuff them well, the compass and flashlight do not require interfacing. The magnifying glass needs interfacing in the main body piece and the binoculars need it for both the inner and outer cones. (It is ok to skip the interfacing for the sets of rings on the binoculars and the end piece on the magnifying glass, if you would like.)

Binoculars step6

You will need a few circles of clear vinyl for the flashlight, magnifying glass, and binoculars. Look around your house for things you might be able to repurpose for this step. I used the clear vinyl from an old pencil pouch. You can also use the little bags that bedding comes packaged in. I highly recommended using several wonder clips* when sewing the vinyl sections to hold things in place while sewing. They do not leave holes in the vinyl the way pins would.

I like to shred my small felt scraps with a rotary cutter and use them for stuffing (this also makes the toys denser and gives them more structure) but, when not using scraps, this* is my favorite stuffing. I would not recommend using scraps inside the binoculars. The binoculars only need to be lightly stuffed. Too much stuffing will crush the inner cone piece.

When hand-sewing, I generally use DMC embroidery floss*. Their floss is soft and doesn’t knot as much, in my experience, as other, less expensive brands (although those are totally fine to use also!) Floss comes in 6 strands. I sew most of my projects using two strands of floss (more if I want a thicker line.) In order to get two strands, I find it easiest to cut a length of thread TWICE as long as I think I will need (does not need to be exact), pull out one of the strands from that length, fold it in half, and thread my needle with the loose ends of the piece of folded thread. When I start sewing, I always thread my needle back through the the loop created by the end, on the backside of the project, instead of knotting it. (Stephanie has a great tutorial for this, if you need a little more guidance.)

Cutting Your Pieces

When cutting felt shapes, I always recommend a pair of sharp scissors. These micro-tip scissors* are my favorite (and I recently learned Fiskars has an awesome lifetime warranty!!) This pattern doesn’t have any super small nooks and crannies to cut so your regular sewing scissors will work fine too. When cutting the rectangles for this pattern, I used my rotary cutter.

Freezer paper* is my absolute most favorite supply/tool for cutting accurately. You can print directly on the freezer paper, saving time from tracing out the pattern, and then iron those pieces to your felt. Cutting is my least favorite step in the sewing process and I am so glad I discovered freezer paper. You can also reuse the pattern pieces 4-5 times. If you need more tips on freezer paper, check out my tutorials here and here.

template edited

When cutting your pattern pieces, do not forget to measure and cut the rectangles listed on the template. Pattern pieces are not included for those 4 pieces.

To cut the vinyl circles, I place the vinyl over the template (freezer paper or regular – it’s the same process no matter how you printed it) and trace the circle with a sharpie. Cut around the circle and then wipe the ink right off.

Be sure to join the One Thimble Sewing Enthusiasts group on Facebook. We will continue the sew along updates, starting tomorrow with the compass!

If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask!



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