Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools



T-shirt Fabric Rose Tutorial

I made this little rose from scraps left over from another project.  The fabric is knit jersey but you can use any fabric you wish for these flowers.  In fact, jersey is not the easiest fabric to work with so you might try your first flower using quilting cotton or a crisp silk such as dupioni like I used for this flower.  These instructions are from several vintage flower making books written around the turn of the 20th century; this is the method milliners used to make silk flowers long before they were commercially available.

Begin by cutting out a variety of squares sized from 2” to 7”.  For this project I used three 2” squares, three 3” squares, three 4” squares and two 5” squares.  For a larger flower continue to add larger squares as needed.  Also, for your first flower you might want to start with 3” squares as your smallest as they are easier to handle.

Fold each square diagonally in half and press.

Fold the folded edge of the triangle over about ¼”.  The size of this fold is not critical and variety makes for a more realistic looking flower.

Thread a needle with heavy thread (I used buttonhole thread) and knot the end.  Stitch around the cut edges of the triangle using a running stitch.  Make sure your first and last stitches go through the folded-over bit to secure it.

Pull up the stitches to gather the petal.  For the first layer you want to gather it up tightly. When you gather the petal it will form a cup. 

You can place a flower stamen in the middle if you wish.

Make sure the folded lip is facing away from the concave part of the petal (the hollowed out side).  Knot your thread securely and cut off.

Make another petal in the same manner but don’t pull the gathering stitches up quite as tight.  Place the second petal on top of the first, overlapping the edges a little bit and stitch the two petals together using hand stitches.  You will continue adding petals in a circular manner.  You can add them in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction, just pick one and be consistent throughout the project.

Continue adding petals one at a time, increasing the size of the square used as each layer is complete and stitching down the gathered edges as needed to hold the flower together. 

As the flower gets bigger you will need to gather each petal less and less to allow them to fit around the larger circumference. 

I try to make my last layer from the two largest squares so each goes about half way around the flower, overlapping each other just a bit.

Depending on how you plan to use your flower you might want to finish the back just a bit.  Cut a circle of fabric large enough to cover the exposed stitching and glue or stitch it into place.

You can make a leaf for your flower in several ways.  On the pink flower pictured above, I used a free-standing machine embroidery design by A Bit of Stitch.  I stabilized the jersey with some fusible interfacing before stitching.  I recommend doing this regardless of the method you choose to make your leaf to give it some stability.  For this leaf I drew a simple leaf shape on my scrap of fabric and cut it out using pinking shears.  I sketched some veins on the leaf and used a straight stitch on my machine to outline them.  You could also draw a leaf shape and satin stitch around the edge before cutting close to the stitching.  Or you could use a rubber stamp and rayon velvet to emboss a leaf design before cutting out with pinking shears (this is pretty when you are using a fabric like silk for the flower).  Glue or stitch the flower on top of the leaf.

You can add a pin back to the flower or simply use two safety pins to attach it to the garment.  Enjoy wearing your new flower!


Factory Technique, Ready-to-Wear Style Elastic Waistband Tutorial

I first learned this technique from my friend Patricia, the woman I count as my sewing mentor.  I’m grateful that she taught this to me as I use it frequently and find the result much nicer than elastic through a casing.  This waistband cannot be altered once it is complete so check your fit carefully before embarking on this project.  My instructions show the use of a serger but you can substitute an overlock stitch on your sewing machine if necessary.

When cutting out your garment, allow a fold over, cut-on waistband allowance equal to the width of your chosen elastic.  For instance, if you are using 1.25” elastic you would leave 1.25” at the top waist edge above the finished waist line.

Make sure you use sew-through elastic for this project.  To determine the cut length of elastic, measure the garment wearer’s waist and subtract from 2- to 4-inches, depending on how tight you like to wear your waistband.   Making sure you don’t twist the elastic, butt the cut ends together and use a wide zigzag to stitch across the cut edges, joining the two ends together.  You can also reinforce this seam by placing a piece of tricot or Seams Great beneath the seam (or wrap a piece entirely around the cut ends).  Try on the elastic and make sure it is a comfortable fit before proceeding.

Mark the elastic in quarters, using the just sewn seam as one mark.   To do this, fold in half along the seam and mark the resulting fold using a marking pen.  Next, match that mark to the sewn seam and mark the two resulting folds.  Set the elastic aside.


Prepare your garment in a similar fashion.  To quarter the waist line mark the center front and center back then bring these two marks together.  Mark the resulting two folds (these marks may or may not fall at the side seams).

Pin the elastic to the wrong side of the garment, aligning the top edge of the garment with one edge of the elastic.  Match and pin the center back of the garment to the sewn seam on the elastic.  Match and pin the remaining three marks.  Allow the fabric between the pins to drape naturally.

For the next step you may feel more comfortable basting the elastic in using your sewing machine the first few times you attempt this technique.  With practice you will be able to skip that step and go straight to serging the elastic onto the garment.

Serge with the elastic on top of the garment fabric.  Begin at the center back seam and sink your needle into the elastic/fabric, placing the edge of the elastic next to but not over the knife’s edge (you could also disengage your knife if you wish). 

Place your left hand behind the needle and hold the elastic and fabric together near the center back pin.  Place your right hand on the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is flat and flush with the elastic.  Holding this area taut, serge the edge.  Make sure you do not cut the elastic while you are serging and remove pins as you come to them. 

When you reach the next pin, stop with the needle down through all layers and reposition your hands, placing your left hand close to and behind the needle and your right hand at the next pin in front of the needle.  Stretch the elastic until the fabric is taught and continue serging.  Repeat this step until you reach where you started and serge off the edge.

If you have difficulty managing the fabric, you can mark the elastic and garment waistline in eights instead of fourths.  This makes the amount of fabric you need to stretch at one time much smaller.

Fold the elastic to the wrong side of the garment so the fabric covers the elastic.  Pin the elastic in place, placing four pins roughly where your quarter marks were previously.

Move to your sewing machine.  Stretch the elastic between two pins and, using a lengthened straight stitch, edge stitch along the serged edge through all layers.  As before you will move your hands between the pins as you progress.  Leave your needle down in the elastic/fabric when repositioning your hands.  Continue until you reach where you started .

Heavily steam the waistband/elastic and watch it (literally) shrink back to its original size and shape.  Admire your completed waistband.


Accordion-Fold Photo Album Tutorial

This tutorial will walk you through the steps of creating a small photo album with accordion-fold pages.  These albums are perfect gifts and can be customized to suit almost any occasion.  These instructions will show you how to put together the album but will not go into detail about creating a cover for the piece.  You can use anything you wish for this cover, from a quilted and embellished piece, one with machine embroidery, velvet, or a plain piece of fabric.  Please see my other post from today in the Journal section of my blog for more information on how I created the cover for the piece in this tutorial, as well as other ideas and pictures of cover possibilities.

You will need a few supplies for this project.  Probably the most difficult part of this entire venture will be finding the paper needed for the accordion folded pages.  I am fortunate to live in an area where there is at least one good art supply store.  For those of you without access to such a store, this paper can be purchased online here.  You will need a piece of paper at least 26” in length.  You can also purchase sheets of chipboard here.  These instructions are for a finished size of approximately 4.5” x 6.5” which will accommodate a standard 4” x 6” picture.


  • Chipboard, 2 pieces 4.5” x 6.5”
  • Black Heavyweight Paper (90 lb.), 1 piece, 6.25” x 25.5”
  • Cover Fabric, 6” x 8”
  • Backing Fabric, 6” x 8”
  • Flannel, 6” x 8”
  • Ribbon, 1 yard
  • Stylus or bone folder
  • Double-sided Tape
  • Acid-Free, archival quality glue

Begin by cutting the heavy-weight black paper to size.

Next, score the paper to create the accordion folds.  Use a quilting ruler or other gridded ruler to ensure that your scores are straight and squared with the paper edges. 

Measure 4.25” from the left edge of the paper and, using your stylus or bone folder, score the paper along the edge of the ruler.  Using this scored mark as your new left edge, align the ruler and score again 4.25” away from the first mark.  Continue until you have made five scored marks on the paper.

Measure over 4.25” from the last mark and, using a rotary cutter or exacto knife, cut off the remaining paper.  You should have six sections marked on the black paper.

Fold the paper along the creased marks accordion style (one fold forward, the next fold back).  Set the paper piece aside.

If I am using a single layer of fabric for the front or back cover, I like to also use a thin layer of flannel underlining.  Baste the flannel to the outer fabric layer and treat as one.

Center one piece of chipboard on the fabric/flannel unit.  I always start with the back cover to get the feel for the process before tackling the front cover.  Place four small pieces of double sided tape at the four corners of the chipboard.  Fold one corner in diagonally (this will form a triangle) and adhere to the tape.  Try to make this fold so the cut edges of the triangle are perpendicular to the cut edges of the fabric unit.  Repeat for all four corners.

Place a strip of double-sided tape along each of the four long edges of the chipboard.  Fold in each fabric edge and adhere to the tape.  Pay close attention to each corner and try to fold the fabric so the two edges are close together here and with as little bulk as possible.  Find and mark the center of this piece with an X.  Place a piece of double-sided tape over this mark.

Find the center of the ribbon and place it over the taped center mark of the back cover piece.

Repeat this process with the fabric chosen for the front cover (I did not use a flannel layer with this piece).  Here is my completed front cover.

Place the previously folded paper section so the two long cut edges are facing to the right (this is important if your front cover has a directional design.  You want to place the cover onto the pages so the design is correctly oriented (top/bottom) when the pages are facing this direction).  Begin by running a thin bead of glue close to the outer edge of top paper section.  Fill in the remaining area with more glue.  You need to use enough glue to be effective but not so much that it oozes out from the edges when you apply the cover. 

Carefully center and place this glued page onto the front cover piece.  I usually start with the front cover as it is easier to see to align this side of the album.  Repeat the gluing procedure and attach the back cover.  Check to make sure that no glue is leaking out from the edges of the paper and wipe off carefully if it is.  Close the album and make sure that the front and back covers are aligned with each other.

If the front cover is embellished with beads, embroidery or other 3D objects, place a towel or other padded surface down, lay the album with the front cover on this padding, and weight the album closed with a heavy book.  You should check a few minutes later to make sure no glue has oozed out along the paper edges which can cause the pages to stick together as the glue dries.  Let the project dry for several hours.

Tie the ribbon around the album to close.  Here’s my completed project.  Mount your photos inside as desired.   I hope you enjoy making your own.


Woodland Nature Clip Ornament Tutorial

Collect your materials and grab your glue gun, and in 15 minutes you will have a lovely gift topper that can then be clipped onto a Christmas tree as a decoration.


  • large clothespin
  • natural colored raffia
  • small cinnamon sticks
  • assorted dried naturals such as tiny pinecones, star anise, dried citrus peel, rose hips, etc.  (collect your own or purchase a box of chunky potpourri and use the various components)
  • glue gun with glue sticks
  • gold glitter spray (optional)

Begin by tying the raffia into a soft, loose bow.  You will trim the ends to the desired length later.

Securely glue the bow to the clothespin.

Glue two (or more) cinnamon sticks to the bow.

Choose a large, central element and glue to the center of the bow.  Continue adding smaller elements until you have a pleasing arrangement.  Make sure each piece is securely glued down.

Trim the ends of the raffia bow to the desired length.  Try to cut one or two strands at a time, at varying lengths, so the ends don’t look “chopped off”.

You can stop here or add some glitter spray which I think adds a lovely sparkle.

I like to wrap my gift in brown craft paper and use jute twine to tie the package.  Clip the clothespin to the center of the twine and spray the entire top of the box with the glitter spray.


Sweetgum Ball Topiary Ornament Tutorial

Gather some balls from a sweetgum tree and pick up a few other materials from your local craft store to make this quick and easy ornament.  There is some drying time required for several steps so plan accordingly.


  • 1 sweetgum ball
  • 18 gauge paper stem wire
  • 1” clay flower pot
  • small piece of Styrofoam
  • plaster of Paris
  • Spanish moss
  • ribbon
  • gold spray paint
  • glue (hot glue gun or other craft glue)
  • monofilament fishing line
  • wire cutters

Push the Styrofoam piece into the bottom of the clay pot (I used a small piece of packing material; a Styrofoam ball or packing peanut would work, too).

Cut two pieces of wire about 3.5” long.  Twist them together by overlapping their centers and twisting one around the other until they are twisted together their entire length.

Glue the wire into one of the holes in the gumball and let dry.

The wire may need to be trimmed slightly at this point.  Hold the wired gumball up to the pot and check that the proportions are pleasing.  In my sample I ended up with about 2” of wire between the bottom of the gumball and the top of the pot.  Trim the wire as needed.  Push the wire into the Styrofoam in the bottom of the pot.

Mix a small amount of plaster in a disposable cup.

Pour the plaster over the Styrofoam, leaving some space at the top of the clay pot.  Let dry.

Glue some Spanish moss in the top of the pot to hide the plaster.

Spray paint the entire ornament gold (or another color of your choice).  Use several light coats and let dry between coats.  Make sure you paint the bottom of the pot as well.

Tie a ribbon around the stem of the topiary.  Glue monofilament fishing line to the top of the ornament for a hanger.  Try to find one or two holes at the very top of the gumball and insert the fishing line into those holes.  You want the ornament to hang straight and feel balanced; if there is one hole at the very top center you can insert both ends of the line into that one hole.  If there are two holes on either side of the top center glue one end of the fishing line into each hole.