TGIFree Stuff Friday! Keeping track of all your creative thoughts

amy butler journal TGIFree Stuff Friday! Keeping track of all your creative thoughts

all images  from amy butler

It’s Friday and we all know that means, Free Stuff Friday. Plus, there are a couple of winners that need to be announced.

First, for FSF and in celebration of the Amy Butler Sew-Along happening on Monday February 3rd today’s giveaway is a lovely Amy Butler Design journal. Made in her characteristic modern botanical inspired prints and lovely color schemes, this journal will have you writing down all your creative thoughts with ease. Every page has a geometric or floral print on it making the blank pages almost too pretty to write on. But, write on it you will! Plan you sewing year, jot down pattern numbers, all your amazing measurements! Plan – Do – Sew!

open npage TGIFree Stuff Friday! Keeping track of all your creative thoughts

all images from amy butler

And, with that we have the question of the day: In this high tech age do you still use a journal with old fashion pen and paper to jot down your sewing plans or other creative thoughts? Or do you favor the tablet or other electronic devices to keep you dreams and inspiration organized and at the ready.

Give me the details and I’ll announce the winner on Friday!

As for the winners of the last Free Stuff Friday held way back on January 10 it is Beth K! When asked how she stays/gets creative she said it best – hanging out with creative friends gives her a jump start to her creativity. Nice indeed! Beth K won the book Sew Charming by Derksema and Junor.

And, for the winner of our  Flickr giveaway it is Soul_Sister! Thank you all for joining the sew-along on Flickr and please stay tuned for more Sew News Sew-Along giveaways!

Ladies please stay tuned to your inbox, I will be sending you an email and directions on how to get your gifts!

Posted in Free Stuff Friday | Tagged , | 47 Comments

Belle Handbag Sew-Along Starts Next Week – Get The Schedule Now!

Beautiful Belle Handbag sewing pattern Amy Butler front1 Belle Handbag Sew Along Starts Next Week   Get The Schedule Now!We’re getting excited to launch our first sew-along and we hope you are too.  Here is a schedule of the sew-along and helpful links to get you started.

The Belle Handbag Sew-Along Schedule

  • Week of February  3 – Fabric Choice, Prep, and Cutting
  • Week of February 10 – Marking & Interfacing
  • Week of February 17 – Construction & Customizing
  • Week of February 24 – Finishing

Now and until February 3 purchase fabric and notions according to the pattern envelope. You can purchase the pattern at to make it even easier. Be sure to sign up for the Sew News Sew-Along Flickr Group. Think of Flickr as a way to share your progress or discuss a tricky area or get inspiration from other members.

Plus, we’ll have video clips from Rhonda Buss with tips, tricks and more to help you make the best bag of the season!

If you need a tutorial on how to navigate and sign up for Flickr please read my blog post that will walk you through every step. Click HERE for the Flickr Tutorial.

Be sure to come back during the sew-along here on the blog, and you can post questions or comments here as well as on our Flickr Belle Handbag Sew-Along page.

Thanks for sewing along and see you on Flickr!




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4 Tips: Sewing Machine Maintenance

Nadiia Ierokhina 300x200 4 Tips: Sewing Machine Maintenance

Photo copyright Nadiia Ierokhina.

Maintaining a sewing machine’s good health is quite easy. Once you learn the basics of cleaning and oiling and practice these habits regularly, the machine will run smoothly and rarely require repairs. Use the following tips to keep your machine in tip-top shape for years to come.

Safety Precautions: First and foremost, unplug the sewing machine before performing any form of maintenance. Additionally, you should remove the presser foot and needle. These will only get in the way and the needle may break during cleaning.

Manuals Matter: Always read the manual before performing any form of maintenance or cleaning. Each machine has a slightly different set up and will require slightly different steps to oil and clean the machine. Some machines do not require oiling, or should only be oiled by a trained technician. Be sure to check your manual to see if this is the case, as opening certain portions of the machine or oiling areas might void your warranty.

Schedule A Date: A regular maintenance schedule will keep your sewing machine stitching happily for years to come. Plan to clean the sewing machine after each use. Schedule a date each month on your calendar to oil the machine.

Photo Shoot: Only disassemble one sewing machine section at a time. Take photos of each step as you disassemble the area to note how the parts fit together. Should you forget how to reassemble the machine, the photos will show you the way.

Other Resources to Check Out

For specifics on cleaning and oiling your machine, be sure to download and print this fold up booklet on sewing machine maintenance.

Also, check out the trouble shooting guide from the Dec/Jan issue of Sew News. The helpful infographic can assist you with basic sewing machine fixes.

Posted in Tips & Techniques | 2 Comments

Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

UTG Stephanie Ohnmacht 11172013 BN 1362 636x1024 Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

Designer Stephanie O., photos courtesy of Lifetime:

Here at the Sew News office, we are very devoted fans of Project Runway mentor and fashion expert Tim Gunn. In fact, Editor-in-chief Ellen and I have been trading our favorite “Tim-isms” and comparing notes about the previous night’s PR episode every Friday morning since Season 4 in 2008. So you can imagine how thrilled we were to find out that our Sew it All contributor and Denver friend Stephanie Ohnmacht of Stephanie O. Designs is one of the designers featured in the new Project Runway spin-off show Under the Gunn!

UTG 102 111313 AT 0069 1024x682 Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

Stephanie (far left) with fellow designers and Tim Gunn

The show is hosted by Tim Gunn and features designers vying for the chance to be mentored by three former PR alums: Mondo Guerra (another Denver talent!), Anya Ayoung-Chee or Nick Verreos. Each mentor helps guide their chosen team of four designers through several challenges until only one designer and mentor remain. There are some pretty spectacular prizes on the line, including $100,000 cash, a Brother sewing and embroidery studio and a trip to Paris. Exciting!

UTG 102 111313 AT 0396 1024x682 Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

Stephanie showing her design-in-progress to the mentors

The first episode of the show aired last Thursday, when we found out that Stephanie would have to wait and be in the second group of designers to attempt the first challenge and show off their skills to the mentors in Episode 2. (Watch the full first episode here.) Naturally, we were eager to find out about Stephanie’s experience on the show, so she was kind enough to answer a few questions for us!

SN: How did you get your start in sewing and fashion design?

Stephanie: I started as a 7 year old making clothes for pets and dolls, but once I started competing and winning contests through 4-H, I got really hooked. My mother knew all the basics and together we learned to tackle tailoring and couture techniques.  And despite the distractions of college, career, and maintaining love interests, I kept my passion and involvement in fashion and design and started my fashion business in 2007.

SN: How do you describe your personal design aesthetic and vision?

Stephanie: My design style runs the gamut from feminine and flirty to tailored and chic. I combine comfort and style into the sophistication and glamour of being dressed up for day or night.

SN: What was your first thought when you found out you’d been accepted to appear on Under the Gunn?

Stephanie: “What am I going to wear!” and “How am I going to unplug for 6 weeks to film the show?” and “What’s the show going to be like?”  The title alone had me worried.

SN: What was your greatest fear about the competition?

Stephanie: I was really worried that I might not be able to design and sew fast enough.  In the real world, I like to let ideas marinate and, as a perfectionist, I really pay a lot of attention to details.  That all takes time that I wasn’t sure would be available on the show.

SN: Were you nervous about being in the second group of designers for the first challenge?

Stephanie: Absolutely! We didn’t know that the first group was going to be selected by the mentors before we had the chance to present. I was shocked, nervous, and disappointed that 7 of us were left to fight it out for 5 remaining spots. Not the odds I was hoping for.

SN: How did you deal with the time constraints presented by the first challenge? 

Stephanie: It is all about settling on a design concept right away and executing as effectively and efficiently as possible.  This show is about speed.  There was going to be no time to adjust mid-stream with only 6 hours to work.

UTG 102 111313 AT 0181 1024x682 Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

Stephanie in the work room

SN: Were you hoping a particular mentor would select you for their team? 

Stephanie: I really was excited about the mentor model but I wanted someone who would challenge me both from a design perspective and provide business insight and strategy that would help me well beyond the confines of the show. Based on that and my understanding of each of the mentor’s backgrounds, my sights were set on Nick.

What’s your favorite “Tim-ism” or piece of advice that Tim gave you and the other designers?

Stephanie: “Stay true to yourself.”

Love that advice! Thank you so much to Stephanie O. for sharing about her experience; we can’t wait to see what she creates in her first challenge on this week’s episode (airing Thursday at 9/8 central on Lifetime). She promises it will be exciting! In the meantime, you can watch a preview here. And get the free tutorial for the adorable T-shirt makeover that Stephanie demonstrated on Season 4 of Sew it All TV! She also designed projects for Volumes 5 and 6 of Sew it All magazine, available at Shop Sew it All. And be sure to check out see Stephanie’s beautiful womenswear collection at to get a sense of her style. Go Stephanie, we are rooting for you!

StephanieO 6548 Exclusive Q&A with Under the Gunn designer Stephanie O.!

Ellen and Stephanie on the Sew it All set

Posted in Fashion, Sew It All, Tutorials | 1 Comment

Winners of the Amy Butler Pattern & Fabric Giveaway!

Beautiful Belle Handbag sewing pattern Amy Butler front1 Winners of the Amy Butler Pattern & Fabric Giveaway!Hello and thank you all for making a comment on what makes a great bag. Today’s winners were randomly chosen and won the Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Handbag pattern and a yard of Amy Butler fabric that would be perfect to make her tote bag. Which we hope you do and follow our first sew-along the Sew News Beautiful Belle Handbag Sew-Along!

You can find all of the sew-along information in the next issue of Sew News hitting newsstands January 28th. The sew-along starts February 3rd. So, please come back to the blog on February 3rd where we’ll kick off our very first sew-along! The talented Rhonda Buss will lead us through making this amazing bag. You’ll have all kinds of support from online seamstresses as well as myself answering questions on the blog and our Flickr group too. So, don’t miss out on what is sure to be a lot of sewing fun!

Join our Flickr group and we can all see how fun making this bag really is, plus get help if you should encounter a problem.

Please head to to purchase the pattern if you would like to join the sew-along.

Also, we have a great big giveaway going on now for anyone who joins the Sew News Belle Handbag Sew-Along Flickr Group. Look at all that you could win!

Read the post for more info!

PrizePack 600 Winners of the Amy Butler Pattern & Fabric Giveaway!Winners are:

Barbara G., Dasiy and Beal! You will be recieving and email shortly!


Posted in Flickr, Sew Along - Amy Butler | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Join Flickr For The Sew News Belle Handbag Sew-Along!

PrizePack 600 Join Flickr For The Sew News Belle Handbag Sew Along!

Join the Sew News Flickr group the Belle Handbag Sew-Along and you will be entered to win this amazing craft and sewing gift pack. Featured in this prize pack is:

How to get started on Flickr? If you are unfamiliar with Flickr please read this tutorial on how to sign up.

If you are ready to get going on Flickr you can access the Sew-Along group HERE.

If you need the pattern go to to purchase.

The latest Sew News issue comes out January 28th for details and more on the sew-along. Stay tuned to the Sew News Blog for schedules, announcements and more!

If you have already signed up for Flickr and have joined the sew-along you will still be entered to win this gift pack!

One winner will be notified via email and/or Flickr Mail.

One winner will be announced on January 31!


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Amy Butler Fabric and Pattern Giveaway!

Beautiful Belle Handbag sewing pattern Amy Butler front Amy Butler Fabric and Pattern Giveaway!Sew-Along with Sew News and Rhonda Buss!

Sew News is excited to announce fun sew-alongs that will be happening throughout the year. Our first sew-along is the Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Handbag. Rhonda Buss of Rhonda’s Creative Life will be our guide as we stitch up this beautiful and essential bag. Our Beautiful Belle Handbag Sew-Along will be happening February 3rd! So stay in touch with the blog for updates, video-help and more!

And, be sure to sign up on Flickr The Belle Handbag Sew-Along where we can all post progress of our journey to make a great bag. For those that join the sew-along on Flickr you’ll have two times the chances to win today’s prize!

Find a handy-dandy tutorial on how to use Flickr HERE! 

To kick our first sew-along off we’ve got a great giveaway. To three lucky readers the Amy Butler handbag pattern and one yard of gorgeous Amy Butler fabric (enough fabric for the exterior piece of the handbag) will be given!

Leave a comment as to what you find essential in your most loved handbag, totebag or purse.

Hurry, three readers will picked on Tuesday January 21 so I can get this out to you in time for our sew-along happening February 3rd! You will be notified by email and Flickr Mail.

fabric 3.JPG Amy Butler Fabric and Pattern Giveaway!


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Button Bracelet Tutorial

SN 500 Square Logo tutorials Button Bracelet Tutorial

Use your extra, mismatched or specialty buttons to make a one-of-a-kind button bracelet.

IMG 4455 1024x768 Button Bracelet TutorialMaterials Needed

IMG 4454 1024x768 Button Bracelet Tutorial

  1. Chain link bracelet with or without clasp
  2. Assorted buttons with shank attached
  3. Jump rings in matching color to chain link bracelet
  4. Jewelry pliers

button back completed  1024x768 Button Bracelet Tutorial

Display the chosen buttons on a table and experiment with layout and color combinations. For a really dense bracelet plan on placing one button on per link. For a less dense bracelet place buttons every three or more links alternating sides of chain.

IMG 4457 1024x529 Button Bracelet TutorialTake the chain link and measure where you will need it to fit comfortably on your wrist. Mark with a bit of scotch tape.

T0 shorten the length on the bracelet simply remove the necessary links from the chain.

Once the layout has been determined take one jump ring and using the pliers gently, with a slight twisting  motion spread the ring open.

IMG 4458 1024x768 Button Bracelet Tutorial

Thread it through the shank of the first button. Next, thread the opened jump ring with the button on it through the chain link and pinch the jump ring closed with the pliers.

IMG 4459 1024x768 Button Bracelet TutorialJump ring attached to bracelet chain.

IMG 4461 1024x768 Button Bracelet TutorialAlternate sides when attaching the buttons. Do this until all the buttons you have chosen are on the chain link. If you don’t like they way it’s looking you can easily remove the jump ring and re-attach.

Here is the back side of an bracelet I made earlier. This one is quite dense with a button on every ring.

IMG 4456 1024x768 Button Bracelet TutorialWhen all the buttons are on the chain link, wrap the bracelet across your wrist to make sure the buttons and placement are to your liking. Check to make sure it’s comfortable and if it’s the appropriate length.  If not make adjustments now. To secure with a clasp follow the same procedure as attaching the jump rings.

The chain links come in a variety of finishes such as black, copper toned, patina, silver and ‘antique’.

IMG 4476 1024x780 Button Bracelet TutorialOnce you make one bracelet you’ll never look at lost and mismatched buttons in the same way. This bracelet could easily be made into a necklace. All the possibilities!

If you make a button bracelet or necklace put it on our Sew News Flickr page by January 31st and you’ll be entered to win a prize!

Jill Case





Posted in Tutorials | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Handbag Sew-Along -

Beautiful Belle Handbag sewing pattern Amy Butler front1 Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Handbag Sew Along

The newest issue of Sew News Feb/March hits newsstands on January 28th! Be sure to check out the new Sew & Tell feature on page 76. Every month Sew & Tell will feature a fun sew-along that we want you to be a part of. The first sew-along we’ll be sewing along with Rhonda Buss and making the amazing and essential Amy Butler Beautiful Belle Handbag!

To get started head to Flickr and join the Belle Handbag Sew-Along. If you need information to help you sign up to Flickr read the tutorial HERE.

Stay tuned to the blog and our Facebook Fan Page for more details, big giveaways and more!

Plus come back to the blog on Friday January 17th for a special Free Stuff Friday featuring the Amy Butler Belle Handbag pattern and Amy Butler Fabric!



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Maternity Sewing

If you watched the Golden Globes on Sunday, you may have noticed the glowing pregnant beauties walking the red carpet. Kerry Washington sported a beautiful cream gown by Balenciaga and called her bump her “little accessory.”

a 4x vertical 682x1024 Maternity Sewing

The lovely Olivia Wilde dressed her bump in a glittering Gucci gown.

a 4x vertical 1 682x1024 Maternity Sewing

And then there was Drew Barrymore, in a dimensional flower-encrusted high-low frock by Monique Lhuillier. I wasn’t crazy about it personally, but she’s the one walking the red carpet, so who am I to say boo?

a 4x vertical 2 682x1024 Maternity Sewing

Kudos to all of these gorgeous expectant mothers looking fabulous! As an expectant mother myself, this got me thinking about those of us without stylists and couture designers at our beck and call.

Maternity wear has come leaps and bounds in the last few years, and the trend has tended toward bump-hugging knits rather than draped tops that attempt to conceal the basketball under your shirt and end up enhancing it instead.

For sewists, this little slice of time where none of our clothes fit is a great opportunity for some wardrobe revamping (if you have the energy for it). There’s no need to go out and buy expensive maternity clothes you’ll wear a few times and then store away. Whip something up. Knits don’t require seam finishes, and if you’re wary of stitching the stretchy fabric, check out these tips HERE and HERE.

I’ve been able to get away with long knit tops and a button extender until now but that won’t last long. So, along with some of you, I’ll be checking out these great maternity-wear tutorials!

Very Shannon: Maternity Sewing Tutorials Roundup

Vicki Arnold: 54 Free Sewing Tutorials for Maternity

Sew Like My Mom: DIY Maternity Clothes (convert regular pants and a tank into maternity wear!)

DIY Maternity: Tutorials (from scratch and makeover)

Best of luck and congratulations!!

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