Sewing Saturdays – Basic tips to improve your sewing

I taught fashion design courses at the University of North Texas for the past 7 years and resigned this year to devote 100% of my time to Diana Couture, my Etsy shop selling Fabulously Functional Bags for Knitters and Crocheters.  As my blog name indicates, I love to sew and knit and have found a perfect blend of both worlds in my business.  However, teaching is also something I enjoy as well, and I want to pass on some of my favorite tips and tricks to make a project successful.   I will also be sharing my sewing projects as I go along.

For the first few weeks of Sewing Saturdays, I will be sharing basic tips that can make any project more successful.  These will include things such as how to press better, how to gather fabric, how to sew successful intersecting seams and other tips to improve your sewing and create a professional looking garment,  whether you are a beginner or advanced sewist.

This week, I am starting with a short list of things to consider when beginning a project.

1.  Set aside time and plan on spending more time than you estimate.  It is difficult to sew when stressed, and mistakes happen when you sew.  Having unrealistic expectations will ruin the enjoyment of the project.

2.  Use the right equipment.  For example, you can’t put in a buttonhole with a regular presser foot and expect great results.

3.  Think about your fabric choice.  The type of fabric can make or break a project.  Would a dressy dress be made out of quilting cotton?  How many pairs of pants do you own made out of stiff canvas…or quilting cotton?  If you are inexperienced at selecting fabrics, ask for opinions from others.  Even if they don’t have sewing experience, they can tell you if it is something they would wear.

4.  Test out a technique before tackling it on your final garment.  When putting in buttonholes, layer two pieces of your fabric with a layer of interfacing between to test how the buttonhole will sew into your fabric.  Does the stitch length need adjusted?  Will the button fit in the buttonhole or does it need to be lengthened?

5.  Be familiar with your sewing machine.  If it is new to you, try out the various stitches, try sewing different fabrics, and just take some time to feel comfortable with your sewing machine.  It will be your partner in sewing, and you want to have a good relationship with it!


Out with the old and in with the new!

This time of year seems like the perfect time to change the things we aren’t happy about into things we love and want in our lives.  With this thought in mind, I ended the old year, and started out the new year, with a couple of recycled projects, one for knitting and one for sewing.

Three years ago, I took a winter vacation to Santa Fe, New Mexico and bought some Berroco  Boraelis yarn as a souvenir.  I love the yarn but didn’t love what I made with it, a hooded scarf.  The hood doesn’t stay on very well.  I found the Dropped Stitch Cowl pattern by Abi Gregorio (free on Ravelry) and finished cowls for sale at Abi’s Etsy shop, Red Comb Vintage.  I decided to make this cowl and some boot cuffs.


The cowl turned out great.  I think this yarn is beautiful, but it doesn’t show its beauty in photos and is really a yarn made for close inspection.

The boot cuffs I am making are Boot Candy boot cuffs by Sara Gresbach for Addisma Designs on Ravelry.  I made one pair for a Christmas gift.  The cuffs knit up quickly in bulky weight yarn.


The cuff is on the left, and the scarf I am unknitting is on the right.  The cuffs have cables, which won’t show up well in this yarn, but I think the effect of coordinating the cuffs and the cowl together will be nice anyway.  I have two rows to go and will start the second cuff!

What has taken most of my time and will continue to take my time until after the DFW FiberFest in March, is sewing for my booth.  I am so excited!  However, I also will be keeping new and fun things coming in the Etsy Shop as well.  The newest listing is really an old thing…an old dress in a beautiful fabric.


I transformed the dress into two Serena bags and two sets of Stitch Hoodies.  What do you think?



The fabrics for lining  and coordinating dots in the Hoodies are new materials.

I love the idea of making the old new, not just with things, but with our lives as well.  I wish each of you a bright and shiny new year full of the best of the old and new.

Fiber Monday sale

Fiber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, is the date when you realize how much more knitting/crocheting you have to do before gift-giving day.  I feel your pain and invite you to procrastinate a little longer and pick out a new bag or yarn holder (or any item in the shop), Diana Couture on Etsy, and save 10% using coupon code “fibermonday.”  Offer good one day only, Fiber Monday.  On Tuesday, its back to finishing all those projects.

What’s new in the shop!

I have just listed some new merchandise featuring a blue phone booth, Dr. Who-esque print from  The Serena Bags and Yarn Owls (and Stitch Hoodies) look great in this beautiful fabric!


I also completed a custom needle case that holds 10″ straight needles, 6″ DPNs  AND 1 set of interchangeable circular needle tips and cables.  I was even able to add a notions pocket with a snap down flap.  The needle sizes were machine embroidered on all needle pockets and the circular needle tips.

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If you are looking for the perfect knitting needle case, I can customize these cases to meet your needs!


SweaterBabe’s Mystery Knit-a-Long features prizes from Diana Couture

After knitting SweaterBabe’s Talia vest pattern, I fell in love with her clear instructions and great style.  I was excited to see she was having a Mystery Knit-a-Long (MKAL) on Ravelry for a new mohair scarf pattern.  While participating in the MKAL, Katherine (SweaterBabe) asked me if I would be interested in donating prizes for the MKAL, which I was happy to do.  SweaterBabe reviewed my Yarn Owls back in 2009 when they were new on the market.   You can read her review here. 

I opened an e-mail from SweaterBabe this week to see the photo of her beautiful scarves and my Yarn Owl promoting her give away.


The MKAL is coming to a close on Ravelry, but the pattern is available on SweaterBabe’s website.  This beautiful and fun to knit scarf is cleverly called “Don’t Ruche Me, I’m Knitting.”  Here is a photo of my work in progress.  The yarn is Rowan’s Kidsilk Haze in the Ghost colorway.


It’s a MonstrOWLsity!

I had a customer request to turn my Yarn Owl into a monster.  I was intrigued.  Here is the result – a real MonstrOWListy!  Available in my Etsy shop in two colors – the green shown below and a blue in the same print.  It can be a monster protecting your precious yarn, or it can be a cute Halloween costume for your yarn — or both!


Speaking of cute monsters, my grandson turned 2 on October 1st.  I embroidered a shirt for him that says “2’s aren’t terrible, I’m having a blast!”:


This embroidery design is from an Etsy seller, Lilli Pad Gifts.  It embroidered out wonderfully and had a surprising number of layout options.  It was a great deal for the price!

I hope you and your monsters are all enjoying a fun-filled October.

Week 4 – (I’m not going) Back to School Giveaway

This week’s number is 9 — which means Maggie Wisk is the winner of the fancy Serena Bag.  Congratulations Maggie!

Week 4 is the last week, and while these aren’t fancy, they are fun, and I am very excited to reintroduce them into my shop.  The Skeini T – a T-shirt for yarn – is a very simple yarn holder.  The yarn hangs out in the Skeini T, and it doesn’t fall out, even when the skein gets smaller than the ribbed opening.  Some people call it magic.  I think the knit fiber of the Skeini T and the yarns just like to hang out together.   This week’s prize is two of the Skeini-T’s.  One has a strap and one does not.  I don’t use a strap with my Skeini-T, but what do you think?


The design on this Skeini T is the “Nit Moor Cotin” sheep, an original design, and it is digitally printed onto organic cotton via  In the past, I tried iron-on transfers, which just didn’t look good.  The color and quality of this printing is fantastic, printed in the US, and uses a high-quality fabric.   I am very excited to be able to offer these in the shop (coming mid-September.)

My knitting daughter prefers the Skeini-T’s to Yarn Owls.  They don’t take up any extra room, and they are also a great way to store yarn.  My favorite use for the Skeini-T’s is when knitting projects with two colors.  I can easily put to skeins of yarn in and feed the yarn out each end.  This is what I am doing in the photo below.  I’m knitting a swatch for the Starry, Starry Night sock pattern using yarn from Tenacious Fibers on Etsy.  There are two 400-yard (100 gram) skeins of yarn in this Skeini-T.  It is full now, but the Skeini-T will flatten as the yarn is used.





The prize of the week will be posted each Monday in August.  The comments will close the following Sunday at noon central time.  The drawings will take place and the winner notified.  Winners will have 48 hours to respond or the prize will pass to the runner up. Shipping on prizes is free.  However, because of variations of laws in other countries, this sweepstakes is limited to residents of the United States.  I didn’t want to do this, but I don’t see a way around it.  😦  Also, you must be over 18 years old to enter.

There is no purchase whatsoever required to enter, and you can enter each drawing by posting a comment on the weekly give-away post (one per person, please.)   You must provide your e-mail to comment.  The e-mail isn’t publicized on the blog, but I need it to contact you should you win a prize!

Comments will be numbered from 1-???, beginning with the oldest counting up to most recent comments. The winners will be selected using this random sequence generator.  The first number on the list is the winner.  The winner will have 48 hours to contact me with their address for shipping the prize.  After that time, the next person on the random sequence list will be contacted and down the list until a winner accepts the weeks’ prize.  Any comments that do not comply with the rules set out here will not be eligible to win the prize.

I am not using a third-party service but am conducting the sweepstakes myself.  I am committed to a random and fair give away.  By entering this sweepstakes, you acknowledge that you understand the process and agree with the terms and conditions outlined here.