Dining Chair Makeover – Sewing New Box Cushion Covers

We moved twice in the last two years, and in the process, I gave away a lot of things. I feel like the universe has decided to reward me by sending me two great finds. First, I found this vintage … Continue reading

Crossbody Origami Bento Bag

As you may have noticed, my Shelter-in-Place theme is sewing bags. Up next is my first version of an origami bento tote. I found these fabrics in my mother’s stash, and I thought the origami cranes were perfect for an origami bag!

I’ve researched a ton of variations on these origami bento bags and look forward to experimenting with my own versions. There are two main techniques for these origami bento bags. One uses two overlapping triangles and the other uses a long folded rectangle. They look very similar when finished. This bag pattern was made with triangles, which results in a heavier bag, because the pieces are overlapping. I’ll try to put up a general post about the construction of these bags. I found it really helpful to make models of the pattern pieces with scrap paper, to see how they fit together and what direction the pattern would run.

This bag is built from triangles, so the dimensions come out somewhat unexpected. Here’s what I learned from making three different sizes:

  • 17″x17″ squares -> finished bag 11″ wide and 10″ high (but only about 5-6″ of the height is usable for storage. It’s a cute and compact bag, with just enough space for your phone, wallet, keys and chapstick.
  • 21″x21″ squares -> finished bag 13″ wide with 6.5″ height for storage
  • 24″x24″ squares -> finished bag 15.5″ wide with 8″ height for storage

Here what you will need:

  • For the body of the bag, two squares of fabric (see dimension options above)
    • *The pattern of your fabric will run in opposite directions on the front and back of the bag, so pick a pattern than works in both directions*
    • single fabric for a simple, clean look
    • two different squares of fabric to create a two-color exterior and lining
    • create each of the squares from two fabrics – one for the outside, and the other for the lining (this is the version you see below)
  • For the straps – 5″x50″ strap of fabric
  • magnetic snap
  • 1.25″ strap slider and ring
  • Fusible interfacing, basic sewing supplies

Prepare the pattern pieces:

  • Cut the fabric for the body of the bag and the strap. You will likely need to join two strips to create the 50″ strap. I joined the strips on an angle, to reduce bulk
  • If you want to have a different fabric for the lining, join fabric to make your squares, as shown below

fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the large squares. There are many layers in the finished bag, so one option is to leave interfacing off two of the corners of each square, to reduce bulk. In this case, it would be the two solid (not pieced) corners

  • Fuse interfacing to all except the last 3.5″ of the strap, on the wrong side of the fabric

Make the strap:

  • On the end with interfacing, fold a 1/2″ hem, wrong sides together
  • Iron the strap in half lengthwise, wrong sides together
  • Fold each side toward the center, wrong sides together and iron again
  • Fold the strap along the center lengthwise, creating four layers of thickness
  • Top stitch around the strap, including the hemmed end
  • Cut off the 3.5″ section without interfacing
  • Loop the 3.5″ section around the ring and pin (see picture)


Make the body of the bag:

  • Fold each square in half to form a triangle. If you are using a different fabric for the lining, like I did, fold it so that the lining fabric is on one side and the exterior fabric is on the other. If you left interfacing off two corners of your squares, the bare corners should be at the top of the triangle, not along the fold
  • Pin the short strap to the right side of one corner of one piece, next to the fold, as shown (see picture)

  • Pin the unfinished end of the long strap to a corner of the other piece, with the strap facing into the fabric
  • Pin and sew around the edge of the triangles, leaving a 4″ opening along one side, for turning. The two corners along the fold should be squared off, as shown below. On one end, you are using the seam to attach the strap. The opposite corner is finished to match

  • clip the corners and turn the triangles right side out
  • Fold each triangle in half again, matching the squared off corners
  • Place one triangle inside the other, as shown

  • On the triangle that is on the inside, topstitch to close the 4″ opening you left for turning the piece. The opening on the other piece will get closed in a later step
  • On the inside triangle, mark spots just under the the spot where the triangles overlap, and install the magnetic snap, as shown

  • Place the two triangles together again, and pin in place (see picture)
  • Topstitch along the edge of the outer triangle, to join the two pieces and also close the 4″ opening you had used to turn the outer triangle

  • Now fold, pin, and topstitch along the the two sides of the bag and the base of the straps. You could choose to leave your bag flat like this (see picture), or add box corners

  • To add box corners, turn the bag inside out, fold the corner, so that the side seam is aligned with the bottom seam, and sew across the white line. The fabric is very bulky at this point, which is when I realized that it would help to leave interfacing off of these corners

  • Finish the strap by looping the long end of the strap through the slider, around the ring, and back up around the inner piece of the slider. Fold the finished end of the strap back on itself and stitch in place

And here’s the finished bag! So I can wear it around the house!

Stay safe, and happy sewing!

Julie aka “Jewels”

Felted Wool Storage Basket

I’ve been admiring felted wool bags and projects for some time now, and I was finally inspired to take the leap into felting after unearthing old sweaters and knitting wool at my parents’ place.

My first project was this felted basket that I’m using for my knitting projects. Steve calls this “Knitting Inception,” because of the knitting within the knitting… you know… well, there’s a reason we were meant for each other, and it may be because I’m the only one who appreciates his humor.

Felted wool storage basket with instructions | Jewels at Home

I used this pattern as a foundation for my basket. I wanted to make my basket larger, so I experimented with the dimensions.

To knit the base of the basket, I cast on 35 stitches of 100% wool “Iceland Lopi.” From that, I knit a square in garter stitch (about 45 rows) that is 14″ by 14″, leaving the stitches on the needle.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Knitting the base of the basket.

The next step is to pick up stitches from the other three sides of the square. I found it easier to pick up the stitches on separate knitting needles (or in this case, chopsticks!) and then join them as I knit the first row of the sides of the basket.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Picking up the stitches to knit the sides of the basket.

To create the sides of the basket, I continued to knit a large circle in stocking stitch, switching colors every 2-6 rows. I knit 14″ of stocking stitch and then cast off.

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Before felting

Knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Before felting

Now the part I was waiting for: felting! There are lots of tips on felting available, and I found a good summary of felting techniques on the Lion Brand website. I found I needed very hot water (used the “sanitize” cycle on my machine, after “hot” only partially felted the basket), and I preferred to felt the items loose, rather than in a bag, because I found that they felted more evenly.

As for proportions, I’m sure these will vary greatly with each wool and machine, but as a guideline, the garter stitch shrank to about 60% the original dimensions and shrank evenly in length and width. The texture of the garter stitch was still noticeable after felting.  The stocking stitch shrank to 50% its original height – actually, even a little shorter because the top folded over. The width of the stocking stitch shrank to about 60% the original size.  Overall, the basket held it’s shape very well.

Pretty knitted and felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

The last step on the basket was to sew on handles. These are cut from an old scarf I found at my dad’s that was accidentally felted. Cutting into the felted material was the weirdest sensation – like defying a basic law of physics! I sewed on the handles using embroidery floss.

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

Instructions for knitting a pretty felted wool storage basket | Jewels at Home

My sister asked if I’m pleased with my first felting project, and I am. It takes a little bit of letting go of expectations, because you can’t control the outcome that precisely, but I am happy with the result, and I’m using my new basket already!

I promise more felting ideas will be posted soon!


Pillowcase Dresses for Girls

These little “pillowcase” dresses have been catching my eye for a while. The style is very simple to sew, and the results are so cute! Not to mention that for growing kids, you can’t beat a style that will grow along with them!

Sweet and simple pillowcase dress pattern for little girls | Jewels at Home

For my birthday, Steve and I went to an amazing fabric store in Berkeley, Stone Mountain and Daughter, and among other treasures, I found this cute Japanese-style rabbit print.

Cute Japanese rabbit print. Pillowcase dress tutorial | Jewels at Home

I have a weakness for anything rabbit-themed for my little nieces, who were born in the year of the rabbit. You may remember the custom gift bags and silhouette Christmas ornaments that I made for them.

For the basic pattern, I used this tutorial from the Aesthetic Nest. I did alter the pattern in a couple of ways.

Here’s what you will need to make your own unique designs in size 2T:

  • 1/2 yard of 45″ quilting cotton for the main fabric, if the print has no direction or runs across the width of the fabric. You will need 2/3 of a yard, if the pattern runs the length of the fabric.
  • 1/4 yard of solid fabric for the tie
  • bias binding to match your main fabric
  • thread to match your main fabric and tie fabric


  • Prewash and iron your fabric
  • Fold the main fabric in half and cut into to two pieces that are 18″ wide x 22″ long each. You can see here why they’re called pillowcase dresses. It would be fun to find some pillowcases with a great design for dresses, though the pattern is usually oriented the other direction.
  • Cut armholes from the top corners: 4″ from the top and 2″ from the side, as show below:
Girl's pillowcase dress tutorial.  Sweet and simple design | Jewels at Home

Cut armholes from the top corners of the front and back panels.

Next, join the front and back panels using a French seam:

  • First, with wrong sides together, sew a 1/4 inch seam along the sides of the dress (top left picture below).
  • Iron the seam open, turn the dress inside out, and sew a 3/8″ seam with the wrong sides facing (top right picture below).
  • Turn the dress right side out again, and you can see your dress taking shape (bottom picture below)!


To finish off the edges, start with adding bias binding to the armholes. I didn’t get good pictures of this with the dresses, so the picture below is from the pillowcase top I made for myself:

  • Open the folded bias binding and line up one edge to the edge of the armhole on the right side. Stitch along the crease nearest the edge.
  • Clip the seam allowance in the curve, to allow it to lie flat. Fold the binding to the wrong side and iron the binding flat.
  • Sew around the armhole to sew down the binding.

For the neck casing:

  • zig-zag the top edges of both panels, unless you were able to line the selvedge up here (top picture below)
  • Fold down 1 3/4″ from the top edge and iron (second picture below)
  • Fold back up 1/4″, so that you have a 1/2″ casing (third picture below)
  • Sew along the bottom edge of the casing and voila (bottom picture below)!

Pillow case dresses for girls.  Tutorial for a sweet and simple design | Jewels at Home

For the bottom hem, fold up 2″ towards the inside of the dress and fold back under 1/4″. Iron and stitch the hem in place.

For the tie, I started with two 3″ thick strips of fabric, each 42″ wide.

  • I joined the strips end to end (top left picture below)
  • I the folded open the joint and sewed the seam allowances down (top right picture below)
  • I finished the tie all the way around by folding under a 1/8″ twice and sewing it down. I didn’t measure this part exactly, but I did put a piece of painter’s tape down on my machine, to make sure I was keeping approximately the same finished width all the way (bottom picture below).

Pillow case dresses for girls.  Tutorial for a sweet and simple design | Jewels at Home

And here are the finished dresses! So cute!

Pillow case dresses for girls.  Tutorial for a sweet and simple design | Jewels at Home

Pillow case dresses for girls.  Tutorial for a sweet and simple design | Jewels at Home

Pillowcase dress tutorial | Jewels at Home

Pretty dress for a pretty girl!

Pillowcase dress tutorial | Jewels at Home

My cutie niece in her birthday dress!


Happy 2nd birthday, girls!

Auntie “Jewels”

DIY “Tie” T-shirt Tutorial

We’re not formal people… this is how my son showed up to Kindergarten graduation:

Tie T-shirt

Kindergarten graduation. The tie T-shirt is about as dressed up as this kid will get.

I love these tie “Fat Tie” T-shirts that I bought on Zulily. The boys have worn them for a wedding, too, and they seem to strike the right note of respect and whimsy. After getting lots of comments on them, I decided to make some for our boys and to give as gifts.

"Fat Tie" shirt

Another cute “Fat Tie” shirt.

This is not the only tutorial around for this project, but each of us approaches it a little differently, so here’s what I did:

I started with plain long-sleeved T-shirts from Lands’ End. Lands’ End is really hard to beat when you are looking for good quality basics. Their sales are great, and I got these shirts for about $5-$10 each.  I prewashed the shirts and the fabric for the ties.

Plain long-sleeved T-shirts from Lands' End.

Plain long-sleeved T-shirts from Lands’ End.

I made a template with a piece of scrap paper, using a bit of trial and error to get the shape I wanted.

Paper template for "tie"

Paper template for “tie”

To make the tie,

  • I cut a piece of Heat’n Bond Lite Iron-on Adhesive a bit larger than the template and traced the tie pattern onto it
  • I cut a piece of fabric a bit larger than the Heat ‘n Bond.
  • After folding down a finished edge for the top of the tie, I ironed the Heat ‘n Bond onto the back side of the fabric.
  • After it cooled, I cut out the tie.
Preparing a fabric "tie" for ironing onto a T-shirt

Preparing a fabric “tie” for ironing onto a T-shirt

I ironed the “tie” onto the shirt, lining up the top to the collar of the shirt and using a tape measure to make sure it was centered.

Center the "tie" on the shirt

Center the “tie” on the shirt

I’ve seen people describe iron-on projects where they don’t sew down the edges, but it never seems to work for me (the fabric peels off), so I sewed a straight stitch about 1/8″-1/4″ from the edge of the tie.

Sew a straight stitch around the edge of the tie.

Sew a straight stitch around the edge of the tie.

And here are the finished shirts!  Next time, I think I will try some with a false “knot” at the top, like these shirts by Erin at Lemon Tree Creations.  I’d also like to try experimenting with a bow tie!

DIY Iron-on "tie" T-shirts by Jewels at Home

DIY Iron-on “tie” T-shirts

I’ve also made onesies with these appliqued ties, because even babies need to get dressed up sometimes!

ezy watermark_10-01-2019_07-34-36pm

ezy watermark_10-01-2019_07-35-07pm

So many ways to have fun with this idea!


Ribbon Border Window Panels ~ Master Bath

When I bought the roman shades for our master bedroom, I almost ordered one for our bath, too. I’m very glad that I decided to go with something lighter. I ended up making a sheer panel for the bottom half and a matching valance at the top. This gives privacy while still letting in light and our view.

Since I do a lot of my projects after the kids are in bed, I got to see the nighttime view first, and I am so excited that I wanted to post it right away, so here is how our master bath window looks with the new window panels:

Tutorial for adding ribbon to window shades by Jewels at Home

Finished window panels with ribbon detail in master bath.

tutorial for adding ribbon to window shades by Jewels at Home

Finished window panels with ribbon detail in master bath.

Daytime view is pretty foggy outside, but I’ll keep trying!

tutorial for ribbon border sheer panels by Jewels at Home

Ribbon border shade tutorial:

You will need:

  • plain shade or panel: you could use a ready-made shade or sew a simple panel.
  • ribbon: I used bias tape/ ribbon, because I had it around the house. Grosgrain ribbon would look beautiful, too.
  • Heat’n Bond Liteiron-on adhesive. You can buy it in strips, but I cut my own strips from a sheet I already had

Lay out your pattern:

  • Here’s the pattern I used. My bias tape was 1/2″ wide. There are lots of variations, some of which I’ll show below, so go ahead and get creative!
  • Once you know what pattern you want to use, measure out a length of ribbon, including a little extra just in case.
Ribbon layout for shade by Jewels at Home

Ribbon layout for shade

Apply the ribbon:
  • Apply the Heat’n Bond Liteto the back of the ribbon according to the instructions on the package.
  • Peel off the backing in short sections and iron onto your fabric, following your pattern.
  • Mitre the corners by laying the ribbon up to your corner, then folding it back on an angle.
  • I cut tiny triangles of Heat ‘n Bond and slipped them under the mitered edges to help the corners lie flat. You can see in the second picture the difference between adding the extra triangle (left) and not (right)
Heat 'n Bond applied to back of ribbon - shade tutorial by Jewels at Home
Mitered corners on ribbon shade

Mitered corners. On the left, you can see that adding a small triangle of Heat ‘n Bond helped the corners lie neat and flat.

More inspirations!

Here are some other great examples of ribbon borders on window panels and shades. There are so many possible patterns and techniques.

pottery barn ribbon border roman shade

These ribbon border roman shades were sold by Pottery Barn a couple of years ago. I like the use of the wide ribbon and simple pattern. This will be the inspiration for our boys’ shades.

valance with ribbon border

Another simple and elegant ribbon border by Wendy at The Shabby Nest. I would love to do something like this in our kitchen, too!

Go to The Shabby Nest

bathroom with ribbon border shade

I fell in love with this beautiful picture on Pinterest, but I cannot find the original source. If you find it, please let me know, so I can give proper credit. I love the detail on the ribbon border. It was too ornate for our bathroom, but I am looking for a place to use it!

roller shade with border by What the Vita

Pretty shade with border by Elisa at What the Vita. I love the orange ribbon and the way the shade looks layered with the drapes. She used glue to attach grosgrain ribbon to a plain roller shade! I’m going to look at her tips when I do my boys’ shades, since I won’t be able to iron directly onto them.

Go to What the Vita

Some other ideas would be to

  • add a ribbon border along the bottom or
  • add two rows of ribbon around the border, in different colors or widths.

Let me know what you come up with for your windows!


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Home Stories A2Z

Sew a Growth Chart – Tutorial

Bad news: I’m blogging and sewing tonight while sitting on a step stool. Good news: it’s because I am in the middle of making over my free Craigslist Queen Anne chairs for the sewing room. They are already repainted, and I just need to re-do the seats, which I hope to do this weekend.  Wait! What was I supposed to be talking about… oh yes…

In a recent post, I brainstormed ways to help my friend preserve the record of her children’s heights marked on a door jamb in their house. I loved looking at all the great ideas out there, as well as coming up with some of my own.

At the end of that post, I included a picture of the hanging fabric growth charts I made for my kids. In case you want to make one for your family or as a gift (I first designed this as a baby shower gift!), I’ve broken down the steps here. Let me know if you have any questions!

As I mentioned last time, I’m sure there are similar growth charts out there, but I designed this one myself, keeping in mind that I wanted it to be

  • portable – so that we could take it with us when we moved (a feature this post proves is valuable!)
  • easy to store – fabric can be rolled up for compact storage and ironed later – wood, obviously, cannot, and paper could get folds and wrinkles – though you could wrap around a paper towel roll to minimize this.
  • complete – I wanted to be able to record my kids’ growth from birth to adulthood. Many ready-made growth charts stop around five feet. Granted, most tweens and teens may not have any interest in growth charts anymore, but their parents might, so I made mine go up about 6’2″, just in case!

The finished size of this growth chart is approximately 11.5″ wide x 54.5″ high.

For each chart, you will need:

  • fabric markers or sharpies
  • white fabric (8.5″x58″): I used white cotton twill, which I chose for its stability and weight
  • backing fabric: I used twill or denim, again to add stability and weight
  • border fabric (equivalent to 1/2 yard of 42″ wide calico): I won’t be bossy here – use whatever you like!
  • 1/2″ diameter wooden dowel (approximately 2′ long)
  • two small screw eyes
  • ribbon for hanging

1) On a strip of white fabric that is 8.5″ wide for each growth chart, mark out inches from 1’6″ to 6’2″ (or whatever you like) by laying a tape measure on the fabric and using a ruler to draw lines with a fabric marker or Sharpie. I used a different color and longer marking every six inches. The short lines are 1.5″ and the long lines are 2″. Remember that lines on the finished product will be shorter, because a 1/2″ will be in the seam allowance.

If you are making more than one growth chart, you can be efficient and mark lines for two at a time, as shown below. You will need a slightly longer fabric strip and want to number from both ends, so the marks are on the left of each chart.

growth chart

Inches marked on white fabric using fabric markers.

2) Cut out strips for a border. The side strips are 2.5″ wide. The chart should be 58″ long, but cut your strips about an inch longer, in case you are like me, and straight lines magically transform into uneven ones… For preparing the border, I used a rotary cutter with quilting ruler and mat. These tools are designed for quilting, where you have to piece together very precise lines and angles, but they work well for lots of other projects.

Quilting tools

Quilting tools: rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and mat. These are so useful for getting straight lines and square angles on all sorts of projects. I even use the mat and ruler for cutting paper.

3) Sew the side strips onto the white center, using a half inch seam allowance. Iron flat, with the seam toward the border. Trim the border pieces so they are flush with the white section. Again, the quilting tools are great for getting things straight and square.

4) Next, cut strips for the top and bottom border. These are 5.75″tall, and they should be 11.5″ wide. Again, I cut the pieces a bit wider, to compensate for the nasty elves in the sewing machine. Sew these on to the top and bottom, using a half inch seam allowance. Iron with the seam toward the border. Now that the front is complete, trim where necessary to make sure it’s even (square at the corners, same height on both sides, same width at top and bottom).

joiining growth chart

After trimming the center piece, join the top and bottom borders.

You could add any decorations you want to the front at this point. I put each child’s name at the top, piecing together letters from a fun teddy bear alphabet print. I also added a “Made with love by ‘Jewels'” tag to the bottom.

name label

I put each child’s name on his growth chart using letters from this cute teddy bear print.

5) Cut a piece of backing that is the full size of the front (should be about 11.5″ wide and 69″ long, but measure your actual piece).

6) With RIGHT sides together, pin, then sew the front and back pieces together, using a half inch seam allowance, leaving one of the short ends open, so you can turn the piece.

7) Cut diagonal triangles from the corners, so they turn neatly. Then, turn the growth chart right side out and tuck a half inch seam allowance under on the open end. Iron the whole piece flat.

trim corners

Cutting across the diagonal at the corner will give a neater finished appearance.

8) Cut two pieces of doweling that are the same length or a tiny bit shorter than the finished width of your growth chart. Attach the screw eyes to both ends of one piece.

9) Fold towards the back and sew down a 1.25″ flap on the top and bottom to create a pocket for the dowels.  This will also close the end you left open.

10) Insert the plain dowel in the bottom pocket and the one with the screw eyes in the top.  Thread a ribbon through the screw eyes to hang the chart.

finishing the chart

Finish: Sew 1.25″ flaps on the top and bottom to hold the dowels. Insert screw eyes in the top piece and thread a ribbon through for hanging.

Tada!  The finished growth charts are hanging in the hallway outside our kids’ bath, opposite the newly organized laundry area.

finished growth charts

Finished growth charts

Hope I made that clear. I’d love to see pictures, if you make one of these yourself!

This project is shared at: