DIY Secret Message Pillowcase Tutorial {Glows in the dark!}

Last summer my kids went to sleep away camp for the first time. I was a bit nervous leaving them for an entire week, since they were 6 and 9 years old, so – being a sewist mom – I decided to make them a project.

Each of my girls received a personalized pillowcase with a glow-in-the-dark secret message. Every night when they went to sleep, the glowing message would say goodnight and that mom and dad love them. Made me feel much better!

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada. I am a Janome Artisan and have been loaned a Janome Skyline S9 sewing and embroidery combination machine as part of this program.

Today’s tutorial shows you how to incorporate a glow-in-the-dark message using a sewing machine with an alphabet function. (P.S. If you don’t have one, consider using the glowing thread to hand-embroider a message instead!) I added some embroidery as well since the Janome Skyline S9 can do that too!

There are so many uses for these pillowcases. Make one for….

  • a unique gift for your grandkids
  • a child in the hospital
  • your hubby while you are away traveling on business
  • a child who is scared of the dark
  • a fun surprise!

My lovely blog sponsor, Country Clothesline, provided the fabrics for this pillowcase. They have a gorgeous selection of fresh and pretty fabrics in her shop – think picnics and country gardens. My kids are debating who gets to use this pillowcase first as we speak! (Find links to the fabrics at the bottom of this post.)

Make your own DIY Secret Message Pillowcase

You will need:

  • A good burrito pillowcase tutorial – try this link from Janome Life.
  • Glow-in-the-dark Embroidery thread
  • Materials as per your tutorial
  • Optional: Embroidery machine and supplies


Cutting Instructions:

It is best to follow your chosen tutorial, but, as a gauge – here are the measurements I used to cut fabric for my pillowcase. Each of these is cut across the width of the fabric from selvage to selvage – generally, this is about 42″-44″.

  • 11″ band
  • 2″ wide accent strip (will be folded in half)
  • 27″ main fabric


STEP 1: Make the Accent Strip with Your Secret Message

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Fold the accent strip in half and press. Add a 1″ wide piece of stabilizer to one half of it. This will be where you will place your glow-in-the-dark message.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Program the message into your machine. The Skyline S9 allows you to check your work, do it if you can to make sure there aren’t any spelling mistakes.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Measure the height of your text and draw a baseline with a removable marking device. Check which way the text will face as you stitch and align the baseline so the text is right side up above the fold of the accent strip. If you are centering the text on the strip, allow for a 1/4″ seam allowance at the top of the accent strip.

IMPORTANT: Press your accent strip well before you embroider on it! You CAN NOT press the glow-in-the-dark embroidery thread with the same heat you use to press the cotton fabric because it will melt. (Don’t ask me how I know, blergh.)

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Use the baseline as a guide and stitch the message, starting about 1″ into the strip to allow for the pillowcase seam allowance. Continue repeating your message until you reach about 1″ from the other end of the strip.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Remove the spacing threads between the letters if desired.

Re-fold the strip. (Do not press on high heat! Test your “synthetic” setting and use a press cloth if you really want to iron it.)

STEP 2: Embroider the Pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

When centering embroidery, make sure to take seam allowances and folds into account. Embroidery centered on the top front band will appear on 1/4 of the band fabric. (see photo)

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

Place stabilizer underneath and hoop your project.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

I used two rose designs included with the Janome AcuDesign app and changed the colours to use similar colours to the fabric so I could envision the final product.

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

diy pillowcase, secret message, glow in the dark, glow-in-the-dark, handmade, pillowcase

The AcuSetter app allowed me to send the design placements over WIFI to the Skyline S9, so the rose and the two vine sections would match up.

Janome Skyline S9 Embroidery machine

Embroidered Pillowcase

Embroider the pillowcase band as desired.

Step 3: Finish Making the Pillowcase

Follow your desired tutorial to finish the pillowcase. Insert the accent strip between the main and band fabric with the lettering facing the band fabric when sewing them together.

I used a french seam to enclose the raw edges of the pillowcase so they won’t fray.


Thanks for reading Thread Riding Hood. Don’t miss a post – come #alongforthreadride!


Woven Fabric: All fabrics are from Country Clothesline Rambling Rose by Tanya Whelan for FreeSpirit, Happy Dots Pinhead (white on blue dot) from Michael Miller Fabrics, Basically Hugs (blue on white dot) by Helen Stubbings for P&B Textiles

Glow-In-The-Dark thread: Coats & Clark, 100% Polyester

Sewing Machine: Janome Skyline S9 (on loan from Janome Canada as part of their Artisan program)

Fold-N-Go Pocket Placemats {a tutorial}

Picnics spark all kinds of good summer memories. And what better to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday than with a whole look book of picnic ideas – including a brand new Fold-N-Go Placemat tutorial I wrote for the project!

Disclaimer: I am a Canadian Janome Artisan. Janome provided the materials for this look book project and the Skyline S9 on-loan machine I am currently using. Michael Miller Fabrics also provided the Cotton Couture solids. As with all the products I write about – I always tell you my own honest opinion. Thanks for reading! (P.S. Working with Janome is a dream-come-true for me, it never gets old! Plus, they are amazing and fun to work with, and I love their machines, which doesn’t hurt either!)

Earlier this year, Janome asked their artisans to contribute picnic-related projects for their latest look book – Cross Country Picnic – and the result is chock-full of great ideas, tutorials, and patterns. (You can read the previous look book full of projects too!)

These Fold-N-Go Placemats combine my love of impromptu picnics with the desire for a cute (and clean!) space to have them on – plus a little Maple Leaf Canadian pride.

Our set is going to live in our car so we can grab it and picnic whenever we want! This quilted project includes a matching napkin and divided utensil section. Plus it folds and buttons to keep everything tidy. I used vintage leather buttons and added a customizable leather (or vinyl) label to give it a more professional look.

Materials: (makes 1 placemat with included napkin)

  • Placemat: 2 pieces pre-washed 12″ x 18″ Essex Linen in Flax (Found at my sponsor Fabric Spark)
  • Napkin: 1 piece pre-washed 16″ x 16″ piece of linen or linen blend
  • Binding/Applique/Pocket: 1/2 yard/metre pre-washed Michael Miller Cotton Couture (I used Violet, Raspberry, Cornflower and Lime)
  • Quilt Batting: 1 piece 12″x18″
  • Fusible Web: 1 piece 8 1/2″ x 11″ (I love Steam-A-Seam 2!)
  • Matching Thread
  • One Button
  • Scrap of Vinyl or Leather for the Optional Label
  • Basting Spray or Pins
  • Removable Fabric Marker
  • Janome Skyline S9 sewing machine with these included machine feet/accessories: ZigZag Foot A, Satin Stitch Foot F, Quilting Guide Bar, AcuFeed Dual Feed Holder and Foot AD (quilting), Automatic Buttonhole Foot R and Stabilizer plate, Knee Lifter


Before you begin:

  • Print out the free pattern pieces (link in the materials list above) on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size.
  • Once you have printed the first page, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut the pattern pieces on the outer gray lines and tape them together if needed, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.

Cutting the Binding/Applique/Pocket:

Important: These pieces are carefully placed to fit in 1/2 yard/meter of fabric. Please follow the cutting layout carefully! 

  • Applique: Use the Applique pattern piece to cut 1 Maple Leaf in the solid accent colour. Be sure to place it as indicated in the layout above. Also cut 1 Maple Leaf from the Fusible Web.
  • Pocket: Cut 2 Pocket pieces, mirrored and placed as indicated in the layout above.
  • Binding: Cut 3 full 2 1/2″ strips along the width of the fabric and one 1/2 strip as indicated in the layout above.


1) Thread your machine. The Janome Skyline S9 includes Large and Small Spool holders to fit the size of your thread spool.

2) Binding: Sew the 2 1/2″ strips together to create a 147″ length (approx.) of binding using your preferred method. This will be used for the napkin and placemat.

3) Pocket:

  1. Place Pocket pieces right-sides-together matching diagonal raw edge. Pin and stitch the diagonal edge with a 1/4″ seam. 
  2. Press seam allowance open. Fold pocket wrong-sides-together along the seam, matching remaining raw edges. Press.
  3. Match and baste all raw edges with a scant 1/4″ seam. I used the Auto Basting setting on my Skyline S9.  Top-stitch the finished edge.
  4. Press the pocket in half width-wise, matching the two side edges.
  5. To create utensil pocket divisions: With the short diagonal pocket facing up (See Pic), mark the binding area with a 3/8″ seam allowance along the left and bottom raw edges. Mark another line 1 5/8″ from the left binding mark (not the raw edge), and another from the right fold. The center section will be about 1 3/4″ wide. Pin and stitch along each marked dividing line (but not the binding markings) to finish the pocket.

Let’s Sew!

1) Match the maple leaf shape to the right side of the placemat, 3/4″ up from the bottom edge. Fuse according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

2) Switch to the Satin Stitch foot F and choose an Applique stitch. I used stitch #6 with a width and length of 3. Stitch carefully around your applique to secure the edges.


3) Sandwich the front and back of your placemat wrong sides together with the batting between them and baste using basting spray or pins.

4) Switch to your AcuFeed Dual Feed Holder and Foot AD (or walking foot) and choose a straight stitch to prepare to quilt the placemat. I used the automatic Quilt Setting Straight Stitch option. (Note: If you do not have a machine with automatic or computerized tension, test your stitches on a scrap quilt “sandwich” before quilting.)

5) Stitch around the applique 1/4″ from the edge. Use the clear inside edge of the Dual Feed foot as a guide.

6) Mark your remaining quilt lines with a removable marker. I stitched 2 rows of 1″ wide and 4 rows of 2″ wide straight lines, following the leaf outline. Alternatively, use the Quilting Guide Bar to evenly stitch the around your applique.

7) Quilt along each marked line. Attach the Knee Lifter to easily lift and replace the presser foot. (Side note: It was so nice not to use my hands to pivot at each corner!) My favorite Thread Cutter button made trimming the threads at each edge quick and easy.

8) Place the pocket in the bottom left-hand corner of the placemat matching the raw edges. Pin and baste with a scant 1/4″ seam allowance.

9) Bind the placemat. I like to use Cluck Cluck Sew’s machine binding tutorial and the AcuFeed Dual Feed system. ** Don’t forget to insert your leather label! See the Janome Cross Canada Picnic look book for instructions. Place it along the back edge of the binding about 3 1/2″ up from the bottom as you sew.

10) Choose and set up your machine to make a buttonhole that will fit your button. The Skyline S9 has an automatic buttonhole system with lots of options. The buttonhole should be centered on the back edge of the placemat (sSee pics for reference). Mark a 2″ center point 1/2″ away from the binding, make a test buttonhole and mark its beginning and end points on the placemat.

11) Attach the Automatic Buttonhole foot R and included Stabilizer Plate. Sandwich your project between the Buttonhole foot and Stabilizer Plate to secure it and hold it in place. Stitch and finish your buttonhole.

12) Fold the placemat in thirds; left side first, then the appliqued side with the buttonhole. Mark your button placemat using the buttonhole as a guide. Stitch your button on securely at the marked point.

Matching Napkin:

  • Machine bind the 4 raw edges of the napkin as you did for the placemat. I used a decorative applique stitch to further secure the longer edge of the binding. Fold the napkin in quarters and then in half again to fit it into the pocket.

Insert your utensils and napkin and Fold-N-Go. Enjoy your picnic!

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial. Please email or message me anytime with questions or leave a comment below.


I’d love to see your project! You can share your placemats on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Be sure to tag me @sherrisylvester so I can see it! Thank you!

Plaid & Paisley Pajama Pants {+ DIY Cuff Tutorial}

What do you think of my new workwear?! Great, right? *Kidding* (of course), but that’s what I feel like they should be! I’ve been wearing these lounge/pajama pants every day since I finished them. This flannel is hands-down the coziest and warmest fabric I have ever had the pleasure of sewing with.

After school today I was out shopping for stocking stuffers with my kids. It is finally acting like winter around here, we even got about 5″ of heavy snow recently! Dark had settled in when we got home and we were all feeling a bit chilled. I went upstairs to change into my new pajama pants, and (I kid you not) I was warmed up in minutes. They really are as fluffy and thick as the photos look. My oldest is asking for her own now!

Sylvia from Country Clothesline and I worked together to bring you this new tutorial today. Adding cuffs to a pair of pants is a quick and simple project. Dress up your handmade pajama pants or add cuffs to a ready-made pair! 

This fabric sells out fast! But you can find links to all of these re-stocked Mammoth Flannels below, available as of today. They are 100% cotton, yarn-dyed and double napped + it’s so soft to wear and washes up beautifully. I almost think I should have made a full-body onesie complete with feet and a hood – I’d never be cold again!

Sylvia’s usual selection of fresh and pretty fabrics also provided the contrasting cuff. It was so hard to choose from the three she sent over. After a ton of consideration, the paisley won out.

Country Clothesline Shop News

  • All the Christmas fabric is now 40% off while it lasts and in store.
  • Just in time for Christmas gifting – Gift Cards are available! Purchase and use them at the 471 Coburn shop in Toronto.
I’m also super pleased to say that I’ll be teaching classes at the Country Clothesline and Fabric Spark’s Toronto brick & mortar location in the New Year. Can’t wait to meet more of you, lovely readers!

DIY Pant Cuff Sewing Tutorial

These cuffs are a great contrasting addition to make a simple pair of pants more special. They use about a 1/4 yard of fabric, so you can probably even make them from a fat quarter!

This tutorial will make cuffs for any size you need. I used my favorite Ladies’ Harem & Lounge Pants pattern for the pants. This is my third pair – it’s great to have a well-fitting go-to pattern!

  1. Pre-wash and sew your pants according to the pattern, omitting the leg hem. (Or add cuffs to a ready-made pair.) Try the pants on and mark your desired length. Add 1/2″ for cuff seam and cut off the excess.
  2. Calculate your cuff size. Cut 2.
    • Cuff Height = Double your desired height + 1″ for seam allowances
    • Cuff Width = Double the Pant Leg Width + 1″ for seam allowances
  3. Place each cuff RST, matching the short side seam. Stitch with a 1/2″ seam allowance. Overedge stitch, zig-zag or use pinking shears to finish the raw edges.
  4. Turn and fold the cuff so the wrong sides are together and raw edges are matching, press. This will create a tube.
  5. With the pants inside out, place the tube over the leg opening, match the raw edges and pin. The cuff seam should line up with the inner leg seam on the pants.
  6. Stitch the raw edges with a 1/2″ seam.  Overedge stitch, zig-zag or use pinking shears to finish the raw edges.
  7. Turn the pants right side out. Press the cuff seam allowance toward the pants.
  8. Fold the cuff up along the seam line and press.
  9. Tack the cuffs into place with a few stitches along each side seam to keep them in place.
  10. Press well. Done!

Enjoy your new pants!


I’d love to see your project! You can share your project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!

 This is a sponsored post. All content, opinions, and ideas are my own.

Drawstring Backpack Tutorial {The Sewing Diaries – Embroidery Edition: Week 2}


Dear Diary, Week 2 of playing with the machine embroidery functions on the Janome Skyline S9 has been so fun! I’ve written a brand new beginner friendly tutorial for a simple lined Drawstring Backpack today. (Plus have one very happy girl who gets to use it!) This bag makes a quick gift and you don’t need an embroidery machine to sew one up.

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada

Ever since Janome asked me to be one of their Artisans I’ve had the amazing chance to try out their Skyline series machines. I’d love so much to be able to let you try them too – but I’ll have to settle with telling you about them instead. Through today’s free Backpack tutorial I’ll be showing you the Skyline S9 – just released a few months ago! Here are a few exciting features I’ll be highlighting:

  • Tapering – automatic settings to create unique designs with decorative stitching
  • AcuSetter app – Amazing super-simple to use Apple app designed to allow for crazy-exact embroidery design placement. Check out the machine embroidery section of the tutorial for more details.  (Trust me, I was grinning like crazy when I used it!)

The Sewing Diaries: Embroidery Edition started last week with an introduction to how machine embroidery works with videos and lots of photos.

On with the tutorial…

Why a Drawstring Backpack? My 4th grader needs a change of clothes for gym class and asked for a bag to put them in – the perfect project for some machine embroidery and embellishment! She chose the design and the colours. (Still enamoured with pink!) I would have loved to use another Anna Maria Horner butterfly design in blue, pink and teal…. but you don’t argue with the 9-year-old. I’ve learned that she loves things she designs. When I don’t ask and make the decisions, handmade items tend to sit around unused.

Drawstring Backpack Tutorial

This lined backpack is easy to make and wear. It lends itself to all kinds of fabrics and embellishments – machine embroidery, hand stitching or applique! Of course you could use that gorgeous fabric you’ve been saving and skip the extras too. Using only 1 yard of fabric in total, the finished size is about 17″ x 14″. The straps are fully adjustable to fit anyone from a child to an adult.

This tutorial will assume you are machine embroidering your backpack. You can also add your own embellishments, omiting the parts of the tutorial that you do not need.

As usual, please feel free to use my patterns/tutorials for your personal projects and gifts and for charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything sewn with this pattern. If you are interested in making this item for sale, please contact me and I will set up a license for it in the shop. Thank you!



  • 1/2 yard/metre outer fabric
  • 1/2 yard/metre lining fabric (I used outdoor slicker fabric I had on hand)
  • 160″ total (about 4 1/2 yards) 1/2″ ribbon, clothesline or double-fold bias tape
  • Two 1″ grommets
  • machine embroidery supplies such as stabilizer, appropriate needles, and thread

Prep and Cutting:

  1. If you will be washing this bag, prewash and press it before beginning to avoid shrinking the fabric later on.
  2. Cut the outer and lining. You will need one piece cut to 30″ wide by 18″ high.
  3. Prepare the straps by cutting your bias tape/ribbon or clothesline rope into two equal pieces 80″ long each.
  4. Mark the outer fabric as indicated below: 
  1. Stitch a 3/4″ buttonhole in the area indicated on the diagram above. This will be where the straps feed through the casing.

Decorative Stitching (with the tapering feature!):

My girl loves frills and so I decided to add some stitching near the top to simulate frills and lace. Just to make it prettier!

  1. Choose your stitches. I wanted to play with the tapering feature on the S9. You can choose from any of the purple marked stitches on the machine and it will automatically taper the stitching for you using several angles. This would be great for the ends of collars or a tapered space like the angle on a sash.
  2. Mark a line on the bag outer that is parallel to the top of the bag – you will use this to keep your stitching straight. Add a line of stabilizer behind your stitching line. This will not show, so you can use any type you’d like.
  3. Set up your stitches. I chose an heirloom stitch with a 30 degree angle on each end to make the stitching look lacy and “ruffled”.
  4. Begin stitching and the S9 will automatically taper the beginning of the stitch. When you wish to start the ending taper, press the auto-lock button.
  5. The machine will memorize the stitched length and ask you if you’d like to repeat it. I used this repeat function to stitch to the other side of the bag.
  6. I added a few other stitches. It was really handy to attach and use the guide bar to keep everything straight.
  7. Here are the finished stitches, along with a few practice ones I made.
Machine Embroidery (using the AcuSetter app):
  1. Choose and set up the design you would like on the machine.
  2. Mark the center of your design on the fabric and hoop it. I did not center the hoop on purpose to show you the AcuSetter app. This app is free for Apple users – and Janome loaned me an iPad mini so I could use it. It’s absolutely amazing!
  3. “Recieve” the design from the machine – it will show up right on your screen!
  4. Take a photo of the hooped fabric within the app. Match up the small black lines using the magnifying circle in the center.
  5. The design from your sewing machine shows up on the photograph for reference. You can move things around and resize it if you want! I tilted the heart and lined it up the center markings I made earlier.
  6. Send the design back to the machine. It is automatically precicly placed exactly where you want it!
  7. Run the machine to embroider your design. This heart took about 19 minutes + threading time and has 7 different colours!
  8. Adding a Monogram exactly where you want is easy with the same steps. Program the monogram, hoop the fabric, receive the design, line it up and send the design back to the machine. Now, embroider it in the exact place you put it!

Sew the Backpack:

  1.  Change the machine from Embroidery mode to Sewing mode. Press the toggle button on the LCD screen and close the embroidery arm.
  2. Match the top edge of the outer and lining with right sides together. Pin and stitch with a 1/4″ seam. Finish the raw edge if desired with serging, zig-zag stitch or pinking shears.
  3. Open flat and press the seam allowance towards the lining. I used low heat because the slicker fabric melts easily.
  4. Fold the lining and outer right sides together matching the sides and the seam you just sewed. The outer and lining sides will match up with themselves. Stitch with a 1/2″ seam and finish the raw edges if desired.
  5. Fold the lining into the outer with wrong sides together, creating a tube. Press and pin along the finished seamline and match the bottom raw edges.
  6. Edgestitch along the pinned edge about 1/8″ away from the fold. Also stitch along the pre-marked line (aprox. 1 1/4″ down from the top edge) to create the casing.
  7. The buttonholes should be centered from top to bottom within the casing.
  8. Turn the bag wrong side out and align all 4 raw edges. Flatten and pin the bag bottom with the back seam centered on the back of the bag. Stitch through all 4 layers with a 1/2″ seam. Trim to 1/4″ and finish the raw edges if desired.
  9. Turn the bag right side out again. Push out the bottom edge and the corners and press well. Mark 2″ out from each corner and connect the lines to create a triangle in each corner. Also mark a stitching line 1/2″ up from the bottom fold. Stitch on the marked lines to enclose the raw edge and create a sturdy corner for the grommets.
  10. Attach the grommets in the center of each stitched triangle as per the manufacturer’s directions.
  11. Insert one strap through the right buttonhole, around the entire casing and out the same buttonhole. Match the right side strap ends and bring them through the grommet from the back. Knot to hold in place.
  12. Insert the other strap through the left buttonhole, around the entire casing and out the same buttonhole. Match the left side strap ends and bring them through the grommet from the back. Knot to hold in place.
  13. Fray-check or finish strap ends if desired. They can be re-knotted at any length appropriate to the wearer. Remove all markings and press well.

Enjoy your new Drawstring Backpack!


I’d love to see your project! You can share your project on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!

What’s Your Maker Style? ~ Workshop Wizard {+ leather label tutorial}

Today’s post is all about giving our Workshop Wizards (including me!) the stuff their heart pitter-patters after. I’ve collected a round-up of fun stuff today – details about the Workshop Wizard apron, must-have tools for a Workshop  maker space, and a new tutorial – how to use any sewing machine to make leather labels!

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada

Cross Back Apron Close Up

Essex Linen

Workshop Cross Back Apron

Machine Stitched Leather label

Workshop Wizards Rejoice! Today is all about you…

Pssst… If you haven’t found out what your personal Maker Style yet, click on the photo below to take the super-short fun quiz! And be sure to check out the new Janome M Series of sewing and serging machines – they’ve put together a gorgeous look book full of free stuff and  maker inspiration!

Purl Soho Cross Back Apron Review

This is the Workshop Wizard’s Apron of Choice, and unlike last week’s new free pattern (the Design Diva Apron) there was no need to re-invent the wheel. The Cross Back Apron tutorial is free, and really straight forward. The seams are all fully finished, and it’s super comfortable to wear. Definitely going to keep your clothes clean no matter what you are doing!

Apron Details:

  • Fabric: Indigo Essex Linen (#bestillmyfabriclovingheart!) This linen is gorgeous, easy to use and sew.
  • Make it Yours: To make it more unique add a decorative stitch to the top of the pockets and the apron bib. Tip: To have the stitch to meet in the middle of the bib, sew in from each edge to the center! The Skyline S9 I have on loan from Janome also has a button that will automatically mirror the stitches – making this even easier!
  • Watch Out! The Purl Soho tutorial calls for 55-60″ wide linen. Essex Linen and most quilting cottons commonly come it 42-44″ wide bolts. I purchased 3 yards for this and ended up squeezing the entire apron out of just over 2 yards.
  • Pre-Measure: The apron straps are really, really (really) long to accommodate for for multiple sizes. I ended up cutting my 50″ straps down to 31″ each – #argh for the wasted fabric.

Cross Back Apron Bib Stitching Detail

Workshop Apron Maker Leather Label

Must-Have Tools for the Workshop Wizard

You’ve got to keep your wizardy-self happy am-I-right? What better way than to stock a maker sewing space full of expected and unexpected things you can use to #makeallthethings.

Do you use an unexpected tool on a regular basis to make your sewing easier? 

Workshop Wizard Sewing Tools

(1) Straight Stitch Needle Plate: For stitching absolutely every fabric that comes your way – no matter what. The small area under the needle is great for thinner fabrics, there’s less chance they get pushed down into the plate.  (P.S. it comes with the Skyline S9.)

(2) Needle Nose Pliers: Great for messing around with all sorts of purse hardware. Especially good when Changing a Zipper Pull to suit your own needs.

(3) AcuFeed Flex (Dual Feed): This replaces the more common walking/even foot. It’s job is to feed the layers of fabric through the machine from the top and bottom. Bringing all layers through the machine evenly. Find out a lot more about the AcuFeed Flex with these tips for sewing knits and these quilting tips. (BTW – the Skyline S9 comes with multiple dual feed feet, including a quilting and zipper foot among others. You can basically sew everything with the AcuFeed Flex installed!)

(4) Hammer: This is my (politically incorrect) small “girl” hammer! It’s been used to apply grommets, snaps and eyelets. It’s also great when pounding thicker seams in leather so they are easier to sew.

(5) Eyelet Pliers: My mom gave me these pliers a few years ago. They are so nice and easy to use for applying tiny eyelets. I used some on my Quiet Book “Tie a Shoe” page tutorial.

(6) Wire Cutters: Similar to the Needle Nose Pliers, I most often use these when Changing a Zipper Pull. It’s really easy to snip off the small zipper pull that comes on most standard zippers. Or use them to cut up an old measuring tape and use it in this super cute coin purse!

(7) Pliers: These are really useful for removing KAM snaps. This handy list from KAMsnaps themselves has 6 ways to remove the snaps once they are on.

(8) KAM Snap Pliers: Used to apply KAM snaps. I just started using KAM snaps this year and it’s been fantastic – very quick and easy once you get the hang of it. While you are practicing, the number (7) tip is very handy!

(9) Bobbin Case: This extra bobbin case is used to increase thread tension over and above the automatic settings on the Skyline S9. It is meant for use during the embroidery function if you are not using Janome threads. It’s included it in the must-have’s because I think it’s pretty cool to be able to take apart and put your machine back together again. Fun, fun!

(10) Overedge Foot: This foot easily allows you to finish the edges of your fabric to prevent fraying. Good for Workshop Wizards who want to sew all the things – tricky loosely woven linen included!

(11) Open Toe and Regular Satin Stitch Foot: Sew all of the fun decorative stitches with these feet. Including the Leather Labels below! The open toe especially allows you to see what you are doing for precise stitch placement!

(12) Leather Hole Punch: Rivets are my newest fun thing! I first used them on this leather and vinyl Chobe Purse, and have so many more plans for other things. They are super simple to attach, and so professional. The hole punch makes it easy to install them. I am excited to use it when installing eyelets in the future as well.

(13) Heavy Duty Washers: I got these 2 1/4″ washers at the hardware store to use as pattern weights. I always meant to make them prettier with this tutorial, but obviously haven’t gotten around to it yet. #sewcrastination

 How to Sew a DIY Leather Label Tutorial

How to Sew a Leather Label (on any sewing machine)

Leather labels look amazing! They add a super professional touch to your handmade projects, and they are surprisingly easy to sew! (If you’d like to know more about sewing with leather check out these tips and tricks.)

You will need:

  • leather, faux leather, vegan leather or vinyl scrap
  • leather sewing machine needle
  • matching/contrasting thread
  • sewing machine
  • removable marking pen
  • scissors/rotary cutter
  • ruler
  • Optional: Janome F Satin Stitch Foot or F2 Open Toe Satin Stitch Foot
  • Optional: Scrap Fabric, Fray Check and Fusible Web (I recommend Steam-A-Seam)

Plan Ahead:

  • Your machine will tell you what you can and cannot do. I will detail how to make several labels using the fancy stitches on my on-loan Janome machine, then follow up with labels you can make on any machine with a zigzag or straight stitch!

Sew a leather label with the Janome Skyline S9 Machine:

  1. Plan what you want your label to say and determine the general size of your label. No good making a 6″ long label when you only have 3″ of space for it! (TIP: If you like to plan, program and stitch the label onto fabric first for a general size gauge. The leather will feed through the machine differently though, and may be significantly shorter/longer.)
  2. Program the machine. Type in what you’d like the label to say or show. Check the preview to avoid making unnecessary holes in your leather with accidental stitches.Program your Leather Label before stitching
  3. Insert your leather needle, attach the Satin Stitch or ZigZag Foot and thread your machine. I used polyester Gütermann thread . The Skyline S9 has a fun automatic needle threader you can see in this video of the Skyline S7.Thread the Machine and Use a Leather Needle
  4. Cut a straight edge. It is easier to keep the label straight with an edge to follow.Cut a straight edge on your leather
  5. Sew the label! Make sure it is straight by following the edge you just cut.Stitch the DIY Leather Label
  6. Cut the label. If you are going to sew the label into a seam, be sure to leave the seam allowance amount above your stitching for easy placement.
  7. Optional Backing. If the back of your label will show and doesn’t look “pretty”. Cut a scrap of fabric and fusible web to the size of your label and fuse it to the wrong side of the leather to cover it.Cut Fabric and Fusible Web to sizeFuse the fabric to your leather labelFabric Backed DIY Leather Label Tutorial
  1. Repeat.This is so much fun!

    Leather Label DIY Tutorial

Sew a leather label with a basic sewing machine:

  1. Set up the machine. Set your stitch length and width. TIP: If you like to plan, stitch the label onto fabric first for a general size gauge. The leather will feed through the machine differently though, and the stitches may be significantly shorter/longer.
  2. Insert your leather needle, Satin Stitch or Regular Foot and thread your machine. I used polyester Gütermann top stitching weight.
  3. Cut a straight edge. It is easier to keep the label straight with an edge to follow.Cut a straight edge on your leather
  4. Sew the label! Here are two ideas to use basic stitches and make a nice label. Make sure it is straight by following the edge you just cut, and be sure to tie off or fray-check each thread end so they don’t come out.
    • X’s: (1) Set up and stitch a row of large zig-zag stitches in one direction. (2) Take the leather out of the machine and replace it with the stitching facing you. The needle needs to be directly above the left side of the stitch and beside the outer point of the zigzag. (I removed the machine foot for the photo so you could see the needle better.(3) Stitch back to the other side! TIP: If your X’s are slightly uneven it adds to the handmade look of your label #embraceitStitch a row of zigzag stitches on your leatherPull Threads to the back and Tie to securePlace the needle carefully before sewingCrossed ZigZag Stitch Leather Label DIY
    • Straight-ish: Pre-cut the leather and stitch angled or straight lines in groups from side to side. Different stitch lengths, thread thicknesses and colours look great too!Pre-cut the Leather to sizeTrim the extra threads on your leather labelTreat your Leather Label with Fray Check
  5. Cut the label. If you are going to sew the label into a seam, be sure to leave the seam allowance amount above your stitching for easy placement.
  6. Optional Backing. If the back of your label will show and doesn’t look “pretty”. Cut a scrap of fabric and fusible web to the size of your label and fuse it to the wrong side of the leather to cover it.Cut Fabric and Fusible Web to sizeFuse the fabric to your leather labelFabric Backed DIY Leather Label Tutorial
  7. Repeat. This is so much fun!

Hope you had fun visiting today. Be sure to follow #alongforthreadride!

Finished DIY Leather Label

What’s Your Maker Style? ~ Design Diva {free apron tutorial}

October is Embroidery Month! Scary?… Embroidery sounded hard to me hard, and confusing, or at least made for people who put sayings or licensed characters on everything. Turns out it is so much easier than I thought – and fun to play with – which I found out since being loaned the Janome Skyline S9 sewing and embroidery machine. (P.S. Keep reading to get a free apron pattern and tutorial below. Or click on one of the photos to pin it for later!)

This post is sponsored by Janome Canada. I’m part of a group of Canadian Janome Artisans. Thank you for reading!

Coming Soon! In mid-November, I’ll be writing a more detailed series about embroidery – the Sewing Diaries: Embroidery Edition – tips/tricks and my honest newbie experience using one of these “scary machines”! (Including a list of things I should have done when embroidering this apron and didn’t…)

If the Sewing Diaries sounds familiar, it’s because this spring’s Sewing Diaries: Meet Your New Machine series was similar. If you haven’t read it, take a look. Lots of good general information about getting to know your machine, and how to sew almost anything on it!


Last week‘s installment of “What’s Your Maker Style?” included a super-fun short quiz where you get to choose your favorites from photos of sewing things to find out what your Maker Style is. If you haven’t tried it yet, click on the photo below! (Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you to come back!)

For all the Design Diva’s out there – this post is for you!

This apron was made to highlight the embroidery options available on the Skyline S9. Inadvertently, I also highlighted it’s sewing abilities. Since it is a 2-for-1 machine, and you can switch from sewing mode to embroidery mode with the touch of a button – literally! (On it’s pretty full colour touch screen, I might add… eeep!)

The original Design Diva Apron was made from a nice springy palette of magenta, florals and navy. The tutorial version is a little more autumn-friendly with a pretty wine coloured sash, boho pockets and navy skirt. Plus of course I made it more fun with lots of embroidery, including one of many exclusive Anna Maria Horner designs and my personal monogram. (Couldn’t resist!)


Design Diva Apron Tutorial

As usual, please feel free to use my free patterns/tutorials for your personal projects and gifts and for charitable fundraising events. Please do not sell anything made with this pattern. If you are interested in selling aprons made with this pattern, please contact me or leave a comment and I will make a Seller’s License available for purchase in my shop.


The Design Diva Apron is *almost* a full circle skirt of ruffled goodness, the wide waistband and wrap-around sash add to the fun! This free apron pattern is one-size-fits-many and all seams are finished with a simple French Seam.

The entire apron waist measures about 34″. The back of the apron is open to allow it to fit a greater number of sizes. The sash is about 118″ long and can be tied in the back, wrapped around the front to tie in a bow or a knot to fit the wearer best. This apron is about 21″ long.


Quilting Cotton works great for this project, along with twill, linen and other lightweight woven fabrics. The materials listing is based on 42″ wide fabric (pre-washed) unless otherwise specified.

  • 1 yard Main Apron Fabric
  • 1 yard Sash Fabric
  • 1/2 yard Pocket Fabric
  • 4 yards Ruffle Binding (I used 1 1/2″ wide.)
  • 1 yard 20″ wide Medium Weight Fusible Interfacing (ie. Pellon SF101 Shape-Flex)
  • Matching/Contrasting thread for Edge-Stitching
  • Removable Fabric Marker
  • 2 Safety Pins
  • Chopstick
  • Your regular sewing supplies
  • Optional: Embroidery Machine, stabilizer and thread for embellishment



Before you begin:

  • Print out all 12 pages of the Design Diva Apron Pattern Pieces pdf on letter size (8.5″ x 11″) or A4 paper. Important: Do not select “fit to page” when printing, make sure you print at the original size.
  • Once you have printed the first page, measure the 1″ test square to ensure the pattern is the correct size.
  • Cut each page on the outer gray lines and tape the pages together, matching the letters in the gray half-circles.


  • Main Apron: Fold your fabric in half, matching selvage edges. Cut one Apron Front on the fold, and 2 Apron Backs as per the pattern pieces. Be careful, the yardage is tight, buy an extra 1/2 yard if you are worried.
  • Apron Pockets: Fold your fabric in half, matching selvage edges. Cut 2 of each pocket piece as per the pattern pieces.
  • Sash: There are no pattern pieces for the sash. Cut 3 pieces of sash fabric 9″ x 40″ each.
  • Interfacing: There are no pattern pieces for the interfacing. Cut 6 pieces of interfacing 4 1/2″ x 20″.

Let’s Sew!

All seams are 3/8″ unless otherwise indicated. Be sure to backstitch at the beginning and end of each seam to secure your stitches. Press liberally throughout to ensure a professional finished product!
Embroider the Apron (optional):

Machine embroider your apron as desired. I chose to use an Anna Maria Horner design supplied with the Janome Skyline S9 machine. And embroidered them using Janome embroidery thread.

It was hard to choose which designs to use, there are so many I like! In the end, because the apron has a circle skirt and drapes a lot near the bottom, I chose to use a simpler flower design, using colours that complimented the fabrics in the apron.

The back needed to be monogrammed, of course! I chose to use a 3 letter monogram for my initals – literally took me all of 2 minutes to program into the machine. Pretty addicting – I “need” to monogram all of our towels now!

Tips: Remember, the front will be sewn to the back at the side seams. Since it is a circle skirt, be sure to angle your design or it will not be straight when you wear it. Plan accordingly if you want to tie a bow at the apron front, some of your embroidery may be obscured by the sash ends. Also, depending on the wearer, the back may or may not be overlapped.


Prepare the Sash:

      1. Match and stitch all 3 sash pieces right sides together along the short edges. Press all seams open. You will now have a sash about 119″ long.
      2. Fold the sash lengthwise with long edges matching and wrong sides together. Press well. Open and fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of one half (4 1/2″height) of the sash length as per your manufacturer’s directions. Overlap the interfacing pieces by 1/4″ so they cover the entire sash. The interfaced side will be the front of the sash. 
      3. Fold the sash along the center line and re-press if necessary. Mark a point 4 1/2″ in m the end of the long raw edge. Draw a line from this point to the corner of the folded edge. Cut along this line, creating the shape for the angled ends of the sash. Repeat for the other end.
      4. Fold the sash in half and mark the center point (yellow pin). Set aside.

Sew the Pockets:

  1. Match a Pocket Top right sides together with the pocket curve of the Apron Front. Pin and stitch along the small curve. Trim seam allowance in half. 
  2. Flip and press the Pocket Top wrong sides together with the Apron Front. Top stitch the pocket with a straight stitch, or something fancier! I used an Heirloom stitch (#30) on the Skyline S9 to create a subtle cross-stitch in red along the edge. 
  3. Fold the Apron Front out of the way and match a Pocket Bottom to the long outside curve of the Pocket Top with Wrong Sides Together. This will be the beginning of a french seam to finish the raw edges. Stitch the outside curve with a 1/4″ seam. Trim the seam allowance in half.
  4. Turn the Pocket Top and Bottom so they are Right Sides Together. Push out the seam and press well. Pin if desired and stitch the outside curve again, enclosing the first seam. You’ve now enclosed the raw edges and finished the French seam. 
  5. Fold the pocket into place and baste the top and side edges with a  1/4″ seam to keep them in place. 
  6. Repeat for the other pocket.

Sew the Side Seams:

  1. Match an Apron Back to the Apron Front at the side seam Wrong Sides Together. We will sew another French Seam to finish and enclose the sides of the apron. Pin and Stitch the Side Seam with a 1/4″ seam. Trim the seam allowance in half. 
  2. Turn the Apron Front and Back so they are now Right Sides Together. Press well along the seam. Stitch again with a 1/4″ seam to enclose the raw edges. Press the French Seam towards the Apron Back. 
  3. Repeat for the other side seam.
  4. Fold the apron in half to find the top center waistline. Press to mark it, or use a pin.

Finish the Hem:

  1. Sandwich the curved apron hem between the ruffled bias tape. Pin if desired. Stitch the tape beginning at the top of one Apron Back edge and ending at the other. Cut off any remaining bias tape.  

Tip: This is another great place to use a fancy stitch if you’d like to. I used the same Heirloom stitch as I did to top stitch the pocket edges. This time in tone-on-tone white. It gives a nice hand-made vibe to the apron!

Attach the Sash:

  1. Measure out 19 1/2″ on each side of the center marking (green pin) you found on the sash. Mark each measurement (yellow pin). The area between these marks will be attached to the Apron along the waistline.
  2. Match the interfaced side of the Sash to the Apron Front with fabric right sides together at the center mark. Pin. Match the ruffled edge of an Apron Back with the 19 1/2″ markings you just made on the sash. Pin.
  3. Match and pin one side of the the sash to the apron waistline between the pinned areas. Repeat on the other side so the entire waistline is pinned.
  4. Stitch the pinned area from one side of the apron ruffle to the other. Open and press the sash away from the apron.
  5. Place a safety pin in each end of the interfaced area on the sash. This will make it easier to turn later.
  6. Place the apron right side up on the table with the skirt facing you. Roll the apron fabric up to the sash until you can see the waistline seam you just sewed underneath it. The rolled apron will be laying on the front half of the sash (interfaced). You may want to roll the fabric a bit at a time, since there is a lot of it.
  7. Match the sash sides right sides together at the center (enclosing the rolled apron) and pin.
  8. Measure 5″ on either side of the center pin and mark with another pin. The 10″ area between these two marks will be the opening and will not be sewn.
  9. Match and pin the remaining raw edges of the sash. Be careful to keep the rolled apron inside the sash and out of the way of the edges as you pin. You will now have a strange long fabric snake – it’s ok! We’ll make it look like an apron in the next few steps.
  10. Stitch along the pinned edges, leaving the 10″ opening un-sewn. Make sure you do not sew over the rolled apron! When sewing over the previous seam, try to sew just to the outside or directly on top of the seam, if possible.
  11. Clip the corners of the sash. Clip a large long triangle out of the end of the angle, to remove as much bulk as possible.
  12. Pull the apron out from the opening to turn the sash inside out. Use the safety pins to turn the sash ends. Be patient! It is a very long sash, but I promise – it will turn! Push out the angles with a chopstick. Push out edges and press well.

Finish the Apron:

  1. Press under 3/8″ along the sash opening. Pin.
  2. Edge stitch the sash, catching and closing the sash opening.  I like to use my Janome blind hemming foot, just move the needle to the left and let the guide run along the edge of your fabric. Perfectly straight! 
  3. Press the apron well, and you are finished. Enjoy!

I’d love to see your project! You can share your apron on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links below) using the  hashtags #alongforthreadride and/or #threadridinghood. Thank you!