Hemming Marching Band Uniform Pants and Jackets

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My daughter is in her high school marching band this year. I know how to sew. Therefore, I got to hem all the uniforms, how awesome!

You can see by the photo above that this school needs new uniforms. That’s not fringe guys, it’s a frayed collar.  😦

But we are in one of the poorest areas of the US, and the money is just not in the budget for new uniforms. So we are trying to squeeze a couple more years out of these, knowing that it may very well be way more than a couple more years.

The good news is this: These are very high-quality, traditional band uniforms. The pants are like bib overalls, so we don’t have to re-do the waistbands every year. The fabric is a heavyweight wool, which generally cleans up well and is extremely sturdy.

So even in my exhausted state, and with my tenuous skills, taking care of these hems was pretty straightforward and (dare I say it?) fun.

I was lucky enough to have a team of volunteers that pinned the pants and jackets to the right lengths. I brought my sewing machine to the band room. For complicated and ridiculous reasons, I did not have access to my iron and ironing board for most of this hemming project. But I am counting on the dry cleaners to cover for me.

The uniforms have been stored for several months, and they are really, really dirty and stained. I suspect that’s also a budget issue. I didn’t want anyone to start crying, so I didn’t ask.

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The wearer of these pants has a real name, but I just call him “Crime Scene” now. He had a blister explode during the last parade and, being male, he didn’t know he needed to tell someone. Now he knows!

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I chose stitch #13 on my sewing machine, which is the hem stitch.

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Here’s what it looks like close up. I have a special hemstitch presser foot for my machine, but it was with the iron. Drama, drama! The special presser foot makes it a little easier, but is not strictly necessary.

I don’t often use the hem stitch on my sewing machine because I’m a slob. So whenever I use this, or any other special stitch, it takes me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how. This time was especially fun because I had been moving furniture the first half of the day and so I was wiped out. Plus I had an audience. Of course, everyone was very nice, but they didn’t know me at all and so I’m sure they were all wondering if I had any idea what I was doing. I don’t blame them – I was wondering the same thing myself. It’s OK though. The first hem is always like that, and then it’s easy.

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Here I’ve got it in the machine correctly, ready to go. I’l pretend that I didn’t fold it wrong about 20 times before I got to this point. I’ll also pretend that I didn’t have to rip out a few incorrect hems and then take a short catnap on the floor to clear my brain. Yep, I’m a pro!

Most of the stitches go in the flipped-up part of the pants, with the needle jogging to the left and catching just one stitch in the pants, then heading back over to the flipped-up part for a few stitches.

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Here’s a closeup.

You can see that this hem has a serged finish. Other pants had a hem tape finish.

I used several different approaches to hemming the pants, depending on how deep the hems were. This hem was fairly narrow, so I just flipped it up and hemmed it.

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Here’s one with hem tape. I had to just barely fold this one under.

Most of the pants had about a 4 inch hem, so I was able to do a “normal” hem. That means I folded the hem twice so that no raw/serged/taped edge was showing on the wrong side of the pants.

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Here’s what the finished hem looks like when you start to unfold it.

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And here’s what it looks like when you smooth it out. It will look even better once the dry cleaner takes over and presses the heck out of those pants.

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Then I went in and finished off the hems. Right along the outside seam, there is a stripe in school colors with about a million layers. I didn’t even try to sew that by machine. It was better to add a few hand stitches, otherwise I would certainly have broken a whole bunch of needles and probably hurt myself and maybe cried.

There were a couple of pairs of pants with seriously enormous hems. Side note…any time you buy or make a regular pair of pants, you can fit the hem to your body and kind of chop off all the extra fabric. But you can’t do that with band pants, because maybe next year you’ll need to let all that hem out, and you can’t if you’ve chopped it off. Also because if you cut off the extra fabric, your uniform manager will kill you.

As long as I’m discussing violence in band, let’s just mention iron on hem tape, shall we? Don’t use it. Just don’t. That’s because if someone needs to let the hem out next year, the tape will make a nasty sticky mess and your uniform manager will kill you. It’s fine for your own pants. Do whatever you want on your own pants, but don’t use the iron-on hem adhesive on your band pants.

OK, back to the topic at hand – enormous hems. By enormous, I mean that I had to shorten the pants by about 12 inches. These band pants are straight legged, but even so, a 12 inch hem is a problem. That’s because when designers design pants, they allow a little more room around the knee so that you can actually bend your legs. But when you are trying to attach the bottom of your pants to where most people have the knees of their pants, the rolled-up part of the pants is going to be much narrower than the part you are attaching it to. Go ahead and try a normal hem if you like, then come back here and let me know how it went. 🙂

It was a mess, wasn’t it? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so here’s how I hemmed those pants that were 12 inches too long.

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I didn’t use the sewing machine. I folded the hem up twice . (More than that and it would have looked like a fat doughnut at the bottom of the pants.) Then I hand stitched the hem in just four places – at each seam, and halfway between seams. Then I put some safety pins in the pockets for those students, because I know what teenagers are like. They’re going to have to be careful, and take their shoes off before they put their pants on. I might not mention the shoes part, except I have a couple of teenagers, and so I know.

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Here’s what it looks like when the hem is done. It looks good, but it’s a pretty delicate hem. I hope the kids are careful!

Well, that’s it for the pants hems. But as long as I had all the pants out and was fooling around with them, I examined the crotches.

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The above is a crotch seam in good repair. Most of the pants were like this, but not all of them. I checked them all because this is the kind of repair a kid might not notice until it is too late. Nobody wants to march with their undies showing!

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This one was looking a little dicey.

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Even though the pants fabric is not stretchy, I chose a stretch stitch because it is very strong.

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Then I just ran over the seam to make sure it wouldn’t come apart during a performance. It only takes a minute, and I think it’s completely worth it.

Hey, I’m tired of pants. Let’s move on to jackets!

The jackets were a lot less complicated.

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I decided to stitch the jackets by hand, because look at these linings! Unlike the outer fabric on the uniforms, the linings are just very thin, slippery polyester. I mean, they’re linings, right? But they’re starting to shred a bit in places. I thought if I used sturdy-but-harsh techniques (like anything involving the sewing machine), they would completely fall apart. Wherever I found holes like this, I put in a few hand stitches to sort of darn them shut and hopefully, buy us another year or two.

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So I just rolled up the sleeves, pressed them (I had my iron back – yaaay!) and hand-stitched like this.

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I tucked in the lining a bit as I went along so that I wouldn’t be left with a huge old sag.

And that’s it!

I know if you have by some miracle stumbled across my little blog, you were probably looking for information on how to hem your own band uniform, so I understand that you’ve got a band that you love. But if you’ve got a few of extra bucks and you’d like to blow them on a worthy cause, please consider helping my daughter’s band out with their new uniforms. You can see that they need them! Here’s a link. Thank you!


A hole in my favorite jeans!

Doggone it, just when I was getting them broken in!  These are my favorites too.

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Normally by the time I’ve ripped the knees out of my jeans, I’ve ripped a lot of other stuff out too and I don’t even bother to mend them.  But I really like these jeans, so I decided a patch was in order.

I don’t know about you, but when I have a giant hole in my clothes, I like to put a giant obnoxious patch on it.  I’m glad that I can sew, and I don’t mind a patch as long as the patch is as awesome as the jeans.

I used some polyester knit scraps and an old button to make a patch and I won’t bore you with the details. The knit has a little bit of stretch, so I hope the patch will stretch at the knees instead of tearing again.

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I flipped my pants inside out and then ripped the seam of the pants near the hole – a few inches above it and a few inches below it.  I ripped out the non-topstitched seam because that’s a lot easier to sew back together when I’m done.

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I pinned my patch to the right side of my pants directly over the hole.  Then I zigzagged all the way around the patch.

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This is what it looks like from the other side.

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Then I pinned the seam that I tore out earlier, and I sewed it back up.  I used the stretch stitch on my machine.

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And here are my jeans, as good as new!  Well, now that I see the photo, I am a bit concerned about the area under the patch.  It’s looking pretty worn.  But I have some lovely grass-like green poly knit that I can use for patch number two if necessary.  I could make that little ducky a nest.

I know what else is coming.  When I made the patch, I cut out a second duck (mirror image) for when the other knee goes. I’ll give it about a week.

Thanks for stopping by!


More of those crochet basket bowls, DIY fabric yarn tutorial


I have been knocking together a few more of those baskets.  Sometimes I make them into bowls.  It’s a great way to use up my knit fabric stash, and they make nice gifts.

I found the pattern that got me started.  It’s here on Ravelry.

I make my own yarn out of knit fabric.  I don’t remember how I learned to make it, so I’ll just show you what I do.

First I dig out a piece of knit fabric.  I sometimes use funny-looking polyester knits from way back when.  This light blue is a great example of that.


Sometimes I get lucky and have a piece of fabric that’s in a tube.  Other times I sew it together.  I sewed this one.  It has a sort of basketweave patchwork pattern knit right into the fabric.  Somehow I got a little goofy about that, and I felt like I needed to match the pattern when I sewed it.  Of course the fabric was cut crooked when I got it.  I would have evened that out anyway, but I went a bit overboard with the matching because of the pattern.  That’s just me though.

Instead of a regular seam, I overlapped the fabric to sew it.  It just seemed (seamed, get it?  Get it?) smoother to me for when I crocheted later.  That’s probably not important.  It is important to use a stitch for knits, because a plain straight stitch could come unraveled when you cut through the seam.  And then your yarn comes undone, which is a pain.


Then I laid the fabric on the mat and used my 2 inch ruler to cut it into strips.  The seam I made is along the left edge.  I know it looks funny.  I turned the photo so that it was consistent with the photo above so you could figure out what I was doing.


I cut strips across the fabric, leaving about 2 or 3 inches uncut on that left edge near the seam.

Did it bother me that the pattern in the fabric was just a little under 2 inches?  No silly, of course not.  Not much.  Just a little bit.  But I got over it because I am a grownup.


Then I turned it and sort of opened it up.  This is what it looked like.  Like a monster with lots of arms. Arms that are loops.  It looked weird, but that’s normal.


Then I started cutting.  I made diagonals from the top of the strip on the right to the bottom of the strip on the left.  I did that all the way up the fabric.



See?  Like this.


It got to be a massive amount!


If I use more cottony fabrics, when I stretch the strips, they roll into that nice t-shirt yarn you see all over the place.  Not so with this polyester.  That’s OK.  It just makes bulky yarn.  I rolled it into a giant ball.  Sorry, I don’t have a photo of that.



I got out my enormous crochet hook.  I bought it at a thrift store and it doesn’t have a size on it.  It’s about as thick as one of my fingers.

And then I crocheted this bowl.  Fun, huh?

As soon as I finished the bowl, I spilled my coffee all over it.  I tossed it in the washing machine and dryer, and it came out great.  Ahhhh, polyester!


Here’s one in a very soft pink.  I used a thin cottony knit fabric like a thin t-shirt.  I cut 1 inch strips instead of the thicker ones for the blue bowl above.

Some people make their yarn without a seam even if they don’t start with a tube.  They cut the fabric differently.  I’m lazy, so I do it the lazy way.

You can use almost any kind of fabric to make yarn like this.  Knits are nice because the edges don’t come unraveled like most woven fabrics do.  If you’ve got one of those knit bed sheets and someone’s giant scraggly toenails poked a hole in it, you can cut it up and make yarn.  Wash it first, for pity’s sake!  Lots of people make yarn like this out of old t-shirts too.

Thanks for looking!

Ridiculous Cabbage Patch Kids Snow Globes

I stopped by a rummage sale the other day and picked up the most awful pair of earrings I have ever seen.  Here they are: CPK earrings!


They were completely dirty, maybe a little bit chewed-on, and one of them was broken.  But they only cost me a quarter.  I bought them just for the experience of it!

My daughter and I decided some crafts were in order.


I cut the top off the earring that wasn’t already broken, and that left a little white spot on top of her head.


A little red nail polish took care of that.

You’ll have to (please) excuse our blurry photos.  Were were laughing so hard, we couldn’t hold the camera steady.


All better!  Well, not exactly all better, more like a little better.  After the polish dried, we scrubbed the dirt off.


We had some cheap little containers we bought at the dollar store.


We put some contact cement on the lids and on the feet of the dolls.  Then we waited a few minutes so they would get tacky.  Tacky like sticky, I mean.  The CPKs were already tacky like cheesy!


Then we stuck the dolls onto the lids and let them dry for a few hours.


We put some nail polish tiny glitter into the cups.  It didn’t look tacky enough, so we also dumped in some regular big glitter.


Then we filled the cups with water.


We put contact cement around the edge of the cups…


…and around the lids too.  We waited a few minutes until they got tacky.  Same joke, but I’m too lazy to type it again.


Then we stuck the lids on and waited for the glue to dry.


Wow!  How glamorous!  How exciting!  How…interesting.


But look what happened a couple of days later.  Looks like the glue holding the dolls to the lids dissolved in the water.  Now we have Cabbage Patch Glitter Snow Globes with Unconscious Girls, how excellent!

My daughter’s girl scout service unit is decorating a tree at the mall tomorrow, and she is supposed to bring a couple of homemade ornaments.  Do you think these look homemade enough??

How to make a homemade shrink plastic tag



I am the luckiest mom ever!  I have three awesome kids, and they keep me laughing like nobody’s business.

My eldest is fifteen, and he has special needs.  He speaks well and often, maybe even constantly, and sometimes we wonder what in the world he is talking about.  He says things differently from how everyone else talks, and there seems to be a secret code.  Whenever we crack the code for a new phrase that he has been using, we all get pretty excited.  It is really fun to see how his brain connects things together.  He always has an unusual point of view, and we learn a lot about the world when we look at it through his eyes.

Case in point:  One day a couple of years ago, he came home from school and did his usual settling thing (putting his backpack away, using the bathroom, getting a snack, etc.) but instead of rushing to the computer like usual, he scurried for the couch and covered himself up with a blanket.  Hmm…I got suspicious and pulled the blanket off, asking, “What are you doing down there?”  He responded “Uh-uh!” shaking his head from side to side and obviously posing.  Then when he saw that he was busted, he smiled and said, “Eat a BLOOK…of butter!”  Yes, he had a whole stick of butter in there, and yes, he was trying to eat it.

Pretty soon, every time I left him alone for even a minute, I came back to find him hiding under the blanket with a stick of butter, and each time we would repeat our lines.  “What are you doing down there?”  “Uh-uh!”  “Eat a BLOOK of butter!”  Most of the time, he didn’t even eat the butter.  He just waited for me to bust him so that we could play our BLOOK of butter game.  It was so silly, the whole family had to get involved.  We found ourselves asking for a BLOOK of butter at the dinner table, tricking him to see if he noticed when we changed the words to the ritual, hiding the butter, taking turns playing his part in the game, and so on.  Remember this was a couple of years ago.  We did this for a couple of years without really understanding at all.

Recently, we bought The Lorax for movie night.  We knew our eldest had seen it in the theater with his friends from school, and he had told us it was a good movie.  Once we started watching the movie, I understood why he liked it so much.  The best part of the movie for my son is a group of animals called Bar-ba-loots.  They look like adorable bears.  There is one Bar-ba-loot in particular who is very sweet and gentle.  He’s the biggest one, and he wears his heart on his sleeve.  When the Once-ler cuts down the tree, all the Bar-ba-loots stand in a circle and hold hands, but the biggest one also cries.  He loves to eat too, and he’s just a gentle, lovable teddy bear.  And, you’ve got it, there’s a moment where the Barbaloots have invited themselves over to the Once-ler’s house, and the Once-ler opens the fridge, and there he is:  the biggest Bar-ba-loot, popping a whole stick of butter into his mouth.  We went crazy laughing, and we played that scene over and over.  Now we knew where the butter-eating came from, and my son was able to tell us that he called it a BLOOK because it sounds like Bar-ba-LOOT.

That’s the long drawn-out explanation for my project I am showing off here.  I made my son a tag for his backpack with a BLOOK of butter on it.  He uses his backpack every day, and he takes it everywhere he goes, so I hope he will get a lot of smiles out of this little tag.

When I was a girl, I saw TV commercials for something called Shrinky Dinks.  Shrinky Dinks were a craft kit you could buy made with polystyrene, which is #6 recyclable plastic.  You could color the plastic and then melt it in the oven and it would shrink.  Then you could use the shrunken plastic to make things.  I never used them when I was a kid because they were kind of expensive.  But nowadays, we crafters save money by cutting up our trays from the grocery store salad bar instead.



Here’s how to make a BLOOK of butter backpack tag with shrink plastic.

You will need the following:

One #6 recyclable plastic tray

Bic permanent markers in whatever colors you like.  Do not use Sharpies.  I’ll tell you why below.

An oven

A pan or cookie sheet


Two sheets of aluminum foil

Your dullest, lousiest scissors

A hole punch.  If you’ve got a dull, lousy one, use it.

About 12 inches of thread.  Dental floss will work.

A piece of strong cord for your finished tag.

optional, but awesome: Future acrylic floor wax.  Just a few drops.


I'm CRAFTY, not artistic.
I’m CRAFTY, not artistic.

The first thing I had to do is get some inspiration.  And also a little drawing.  I drew this myself.  Can you tell?  I had to write the word “butter” on it so you could figure out what it was.

I have found the best size to be about 3 inches across, or maybe a little smaller.  When I make my tags too big, they tend to curl up on themselves in the oven.

I turned on the oven to 350 degrees and let it preheat.



Next, I cut out my plastic tray.  I used the flat part.  I made it a little bigger than my drawing.

I used the (almost) dullest scissors in the house because cutting the plastic really trashes scissors.  I did not use the little kids’s “hair-proof” scissors.  Somehow, my kids managed to cut hair with them.  But they do not work on plastic, or paper, or string, or really anything else.  They mostly work to remove money from parents’s wallets.  But that’s a side issue.


Next I traced the design on the plastic.  I did this with a black permanent Bic marker.  I used to use Sharpies because I had them on hand, but they rub off too easily.  Bic markers work much better.  I used a fine point marker for this project.  Bic also makes ultra-fine point markers for tiny details, and I like them too.


Then I colored in the yellow parts around my black outline.  Why did I do that?  It wasn’t very smart because I had to be careful not to get black ink on my yellow marker, but it turned out OK anyway.

I punched a hole in the top of the plastic, but I couldn’t manage a photo because I only have two hands.  How do real bloggers do this??


Then I got smart, and re-did my butter drawing to look less squashed.  I have three kids.  If I make a blook-of-butter tag for one of them, I had better make one for each of them!


This time I got smart.  I colored the yellow part, then traced the outline and wrote in my letters.  I also wrote “1 blook,” just so there’s no mistake about it.



Ah, that looks better!

Next, I put my two tags on a foil-lined tray and popped it into the oven (which I had preheated to 350 degrees).


I checked after a couple of minutes and freaked out because my tags were curling up like crazy.

I’m a big girl, and I’ve done this before, so I knew it would be OK, but I needed something to do so that I wouldn’t run around screaming or anything.  I decided to make that third tag.


This one is dedicated to science.  See where I left the #6 recyclable symbol in the corner?  I wondered if it would stay or if it would shrink out.  My hypothesis: it would shrink out.  (I figured these trays are probably made by heat-shaping them, so maybe heating again would un-shape the symbol.)  Let’s see!


At about the same time as I finished preparing my third tag, the first two tags stopped shrinking and looked mostly flattened out.

I wanted my tags to be all the way flat, so I took the tray out of the oven, put another sheet of foil on top of the tags, and flattened them all the way with my hand on a potholder.  I held them for about 10 seconds.  Then I flipped them off the tray onto the table, and put my third tag in the oven.


Here are the first two tags.  You can see that they shrunk down to about half their original size, and they were thicker.


I decided to coat them with a little acrylic so the design would not rub off.  To do that, I ran a piece of thread through the hole.


Then I set up a very high-tech system called a couple of cups, some thread, and two clothespins.  I left a little room between tags so they wouldn’t bump into each other.


I painted each tag with a tiny bit of Pledge floor finish.  It used to be called Future, but I guess Pledge bought Future or some such thing.  I think I could use a little clear nail polish instead.  I’ll try that next time and let you know how it goes.

Then I let the tags dry for an hour or so.



Here’s the stringing part.  The hole shrunk too, and it was too tiny to let me easily run my satin cord through.  So I made a loop with sewing thread, and pulled the satin cord through the hole with the thread.


Then it was ready to tie!



I put it on my son’s backpack with all the other stuff he keeps there.  Cute, huh?


And here we go for science.  Can you tell which tag had the #6 recyclable symbol on it?  I can’t either.

We keep a kit at home with the essentials: cut-up plastic trays, the dull scissors, the hole punch, the markers, and printouts from the internet (and our own drawings) of ideas we have for shrink plastic art projects.  We make things with pets and other animals, favorite movies and video games, flowers, foods, silly phrases, you get the idea.  We never lack for inspiration around here.

Since we keep it all in a kit, we can make a little art whenever we have a few minutes.  It takes about 15 minutes start to finish for the drawing and shrinking part.  The sealing with acrylic is optional, and can be done later if necessary.

As a mom, I like to have lots of little creative projects handy so we don’t get too bored.  My kids know if they complain about being bored, I will put them to work, so they like having a kit too.

I hope you enjoyed learning how I made these tags.  I’d like to see what you are making too.  If you would like to submit photos of whatever you’re making, please send me a message.  I don’t know how yet, but there’s probably a button on this page somewhere…or you can make a comment and we’ll figure it out together.

Thanks for reading!


How to make a fabric gift bag with a french seam

Welcome to the Maria’s Discoveries brag blog!

Hi there. I guess it’s official – I’m one of those annoying people with a blog! Here’s the reason: I have a little e-commerce business that I started and I want to see what everyone is making out of the craft supplies, fabric, patterns, and everything else I am selling. And I’ll bet they would like to see what my other customers are making too.

Since I have no idea what I am doing, I expect to mess this up like crazy until I get the hang of it. So I’ll start with one of my own projects.


If you’ve bought something from me, you may have noticed that I like to ship things to customers in little handmade gift bags.  It’s kind of silly, but I like my customers to get a pleasant surprise when they open the mail.

These gift bags are a piece of cake to make, and they’re a nice way to show that I care.

The Goodwill store near my home sells a LOT of used dust ruffles.  Sometimes they are in near-perfect condition, and sometimes they look like they got stuck in the vacuum cleaner and then eaten by a dog.  That’s OK by me!

The reason I like to use dust ruffles is that they are generally made up of about a mile of hemmed, 12-16 inch high-quality fabric.  And also, they’re cheap.  🙂

I especially like the ruffled ones because they have more fabric.  Here’s how I do it:


This is a perfect dust ruffle: huge bed size, beautiful fabric, very cheap!

We are going to use the patterned material (the “drop”).

Dust ruffle back before cutting

Flip your dust ruffle over to the back and look at where the drop is attached to the platform.  Many times, the platform is that cheesy fake fabric they use to make grocery bags.  Sometimes, you get lucky and it’s high-quality 100% cotton muslin.  This is a middlin’ platform.  It’s real fabric, and I’ll use it for SOMETHING, just not today.

Cutting the bag fabric apart from the platform

You will need to cut the drop just before it attaches to the platform.  You can use scissors or a rotary cutter.   A rotary cutter is faster, but today I’m using my scissors.  I like to use my sewing scissors when I am home alone because they are the only scissors in the house that work.  Shh.  I’m not going to tell you where I hide them!

Look – it’s already hemmed!


Once you cut the drop off, you will have a lot of hemmed fabric, about the height of your gift bags!  The fabric gets flipped over, so the nice hem is at the top.


I got 24 rectangles out of this dust ruffle, each about 19 inches wide and 14 inches tall. Perfect for wrapping a pattern!


Now cut your drop fabric into rectangles as big as you need.  Look out for stains, snags, holes and the like.  The dust ruffle I used this time was HUGE because of all the pleats, and so I got enough for 24 bags!

Most patterns are about 6 inches wide and 8-1/2 inches tall.  You will want your width to be at least double the width of your item to be wrapped, plus at least 4 inches.  I usually make it a little wider than necessary because that way, I can cut and sew like a slob.

1/4 inch seam if you cut out your fabric nice and straight, a little more if you made it all crooked.

Fold your fabric rectangle in half with wrong sides facing each other.  (Right sides out.)  This is not how we usually sew, but we will be making a french seam for the gift bag.  It looks all fancy, but the real reason I like to use a  french seam is that french seams are  faster than zigzagged edges.

 It seems like the right time to say this:  A 4-H blue ribbon champ would press his or her fabric before doing this, and also press the bag at many points during construction.  I don’t sew that way.  Having an iron and/or ironing board out would be a major safety hazard at our house, so I just focus on my own niche.  Some people sew well, and they amaze me.  I sew FAST.  That’s my niche.  🙂

After you’ve folded the fabric, sew the side edge of your bag.  If you did a great job of cutting and everything is nice and even, you can make it 1/4 inch seam allowance.  If you cut it all crooked, you will need to make it a little wider to make sure you don’t have any crooked parts crossing into your seam.

Leave your needle down to turn the corner.


Sew all the way down the side of the bag until you are almost at the bottom.  Leave the needle down and lift your presser foot.  Swing the fabric around 90 degrees and drop your presser foot again.  Sew all the way across the bottom.  This will be the bottom of your bag, and it’s the edge you cut away from the platform of your dust ruffle.  If you’re like me, you will need a wide seam allowance here.  🙂  I got a little wacky with the scissors when I was cutting through all those pleats!


You’ve turned the corner. Now run that seam all the way to the end.


Back stitch!


Back stitch just a bit at the end, then snip your threads and you’re ready for the french part!

Sorry, terrible photo! Trim to about 1/8 inch seam allowance.
This seam is trimmed.

Next, you get to hide the evidence if your earlier cutting was crooked.  You need to trim the seam allowance to about 1/8 inch, and snip the corner too.

Turn it inside out.

Now you can turn your bag inside out.  Poke the corners with your fingers so they look nice and neat.  Blue-ribbon champs, you will probably want to iron the bag about now.

Folded ribbon

This might be the best part: the ribbon!  I have used many different kinds of ribbon, depending on what I have on hand and how I want my bag to look.  I love grosgrain ribbon, and I also sometimes use narrow satin ribbon, satin rattail cord, t-shirt yarn, whatever!  For this bag, I am using 3/8 inch grosgrain ribbon.  Cut about a 24 inch piece of ribbon, and then fold it in half.

Put the folded edge into the seam.

Tuck the fold of the ribbon into the seam allowance of the bag about 3 inches from the top, and pin it.


Now you are ready to stitch again.

Second seam


Stitch near the same path you stitched earlier, this time using about 1/2 inch seam allowance.  You will be making a little tunnel, with the unfinished edge encased in the tunnel.  That’s a french seam.  Very fancy.  Very, very fancy.


Don’t forget to pause and take out your pin before you sew over it.  If you hit the pin, you could break your needle and put your eye out!

Same drill as last time around the corner.

When you get close to the bottom of the bag (about 1/2 inch), do the same maneuver as last time: keep the needle low, lift your presser foot, swivel the fabric 90 degrees, drop the presser foot and run the seam all the way to the end.

After the turn.
Back stitch again.

When you get to the end, back stitch a little bit and then snip your threads.




Turn your bag again and poke out the corners with your finger.  BRC crafters, go iron it again.


If you are using grosgrain or medium-to-wide satin ribbon, it looks nice to trim the ends.  Fold the ribbon in half…


…and snip it at an angle.


Oooh, fancy!




Now we’re ready to wrap!

All ready for the mail!

There we are – all finished!

I hope you enjoyed learning how I make my bags.  I’d like to see what you are making too.  If you would like to submit photos of whatever you’re making, please send me a message.  I don’t know how yet, but there’s probably a button on this page somewhere…

Thanks for reading!


BRC stands for Blue Ribbon Champion.  This is not to be confused with BRK, which is what a chicken says.