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  • Two Quick Gifts to Sew This Holiday

    Pressed for time this holiday season? Here are two gift ideas that can be made in an evening:

    Infinity scarf/muffler made with extra-soft faux fur from Mood Fabrics NYC.Infinity Scarf or Muffler This is one of the easiest and fastest gifts to make. You can sew it in an hour, tops. Just follow this tutorial from our friends at CraftStylish. My cut size was approximately 20 inches wide by 35 inches long, but drape your fabric first on yourself to see how wide and long you want your scarf to be. Recommended fabrics: faux fur (only if it has a soft backing and can make gentle folds like the faux fur knit from Mood Fabrics NYC that I used here), sweater knits, cotton or wool jerseys. Warning: You will get requests to make this scarf from everyone who sees it.

    Fabrics from Mood Fabrics that work well for infinity scarves. Above, suggested scarf fabrics available at MoodFabrics.com: (clockwise from top left) Italian cable sweater knit, terracotta wool jersey, heathered striped cotton jersey, herringbone faux fur.

    Easy-to-sew poncho made with plaid wool tartan from Mood Fabrics NYC. Wool Poncho Another fast and easy gift to make is a poncho. With this poncho above I was going for a preppy-boho kind of look because that's what the recipient is into these days; this wool plaid also happens to be our family tartan (Lindsay), so bonus points there, gift-wise. I didn't even use a pattern for this—it's basically a big square or rectangle in the back with shoulder seams attaching two rectangles in the front. For a better visual of what I'm clumsily trying to explain, check out the line drawing for this Butterick pattern, or buy the pattern. Recommended fabrics: lightweight wools and lightweight wool coatings, sweater knits, cashmere, loosely woven fabrics that drape well.

    Fabrics from MoodFabrics.com suitable for winter ponchos. Above, suggested poncho fabrics available at MoodFabrics.com: (clockwise from top left) red boiled wool, Italian wool blend, rose plaid wool coating, Ralph Lauren buffalo check coating.
  • My Sewing Strategy Told Me to Make an Easy Wool Poncho

    Mood images misc 2013 Sewing inspiration: Missoni wool poncho, available at MyTheresa.com
    How's this for a sewing catch 22? I'm surrounded every day by the most beautiful fabric in the world but I'm too busy to sew. Gah! Because I would go crazy if I had to give up sewing entirely, I've modified my sewing strategy to keep things really simple: When I get the urge to sew something I gravitate toward sites like Net-a-Porter and My Theresa, in search of something easy to make where the fabric is the star. Then I look through my pattern collection for a pattern I can easily adapt. With a job at Mood where I'm always busy and a family and home to take care of, I need to keep my sewing projects on the simpler side, and this method works well.

    So you can see why a poncho like this one I saw at MyTheresa.com jumped out at me for a sewing project. I already had an old poncho pattern at home, and seriously, how hard is it to make something like this? Two shoulder seams, stitch the edges under and that's it.

    cape 1 Pardon the low-contrast iPhone photo, but you can get a good idea for how fabulous this wool plaid is. It's a lightweight wool and doesn't feel too hot or too heavy to wear over a sweater or top.

    For my poncho I chose a beautiful wool plaid that I found in Mood's wool department at the NYC store (also available online as well at MoodFabrics.com). I pair it with a cream cashmere turtleneck and tan wool pants, creating a look very similar to the Missoni above, and I get a ton of compliments on my outfit when I wear it to work and out. This poncho has become one of my favorite pieces in my wardrobe, and it had to be one of the easiest to make as well.

    cape 2 To stabilize the neckline, I bound it in some contrasting leather I had in my stash.

    So here's my recommended strategy for home sewers with no time to sew: 1) Look to established designers first for inspiration, because they know best how to make beautiful clothes with simple, clean lines. 2) Dig through your pattern collection to find an adaptable pattern. Even if you own just a few patterns you're likely to have one that's readily adaptable to your needs. 3) Let the fabric be the main focus of your garment, rather than relying on a lot of seams and darts and gathers and other structural details.

    Tell me here about your sewing strategy!