Julie Bowersett


Blog Writing Course Alumni

From Guide to Art Schools



Yoyo Ornament Tutorial


Here is a quick and cute ornament to give your sewing friends. 


•             mini clothespin

•             two coordinating fabrics

•             Clover yoyo maker (optional)

•             hand needle/thread

•             small thimble (I spray painted mine gold to match my fabrics)

•             ribbon

•             button or other embellishment

•             glue gun and/or Jewel It glue

I used Clover brand yoyo makers to make the yoyos for this project.  They are wonderful to use, fast and easy, producing a beautiful finished product.  You can, easily, make yoyos “from scratch” if you prefer.

Choose the size yoyos you want to make and the appropriate fabric.  I used the small (1.25” ) and large (1.75”) yoyo maker for this project.  [In retrospect I think the bottom yoyo should be smaller as it is a little floppy on the clothespin.  Strive for 1.5” and 1.25” yoyos.]  The yoyo makers consist of two parts which snap together.  Essentially, you place your fabric between the two halves and cut out a rough circle. 

Holding the seam allowance flat against the plastic parts you stitch through the slots on the maker making a nice, even stitch all the way around.  When you are finished you simply draw up the thread to close the yoyo.  If using the yoyo maker, follow the instructions included with the product.

If you are making the yoyos by hand, begin with a circle of fabric about twice the desired finished size (3” circle for a 1.5” finished yoyo).  Turn under 1/8” along the perimeter of the circle and stitch a running stitch through the seam allowance all the way around the circle.  Draw up the thread to close the yoyo and tie off.  There are plenty of tutorials on youtube demonstrating the technique for yoyo making if you need some guidance.

Here are my two completed yoyos.

Glue the largest one to the clothespin with the glue gun.  (Helpful hint:  leave a little opening at the center of the largest yoyo to insert some glue between the layers.  This helps stabilize the yoyo on the clothespin a bit.)  Glue the smaller yoyo on top of the larger.

Glue the thimble on top of the yoyos.  I decided to use Jewel It glue to attach the thimble as sometimes hot glue does not adhere very well to metal or other slick surfaces and tends to pop off.  If you use a glue like Jewel It allow for longer drying time.

Tie a loopy bow with the ribbon.  I secured the center with a small piece of wire.  You could also tie a conventional overhand bow or use some other pleasing design.

Glue the bow to the side of the ornament.  Glue a button to the center (or use another embellishment such as a ribbon rose).


Santa Tote Bag Tutorial


  • ½ yard 60” heavy weight wool
  • ½ yard cotton fabric for lining
  • sewing thread
  • embroidery thread and monogram design (optional)
  • 1.5” black grosgrain ribbon, 28”
  • scrap of gold lame
  • scrap of interfacing
  • scrap of fusible web
  • metallic gold thread
  • Yarn for trim (I used Lion Brand Fun Fur, Festive Fur and Homespun)
  • Double pointed knitting needles

The sample bag was made from coat weight red wool with a novelty cotton fabric lining.  All seams are ½” unless otherwise noted. 

Make a paper pattern.  Draw a rectangle 16” tall by 14” wide.  Cut out 2” squares from both lower corners.  Label the pattern piece.  I also like to make notes on the pattern so when I use it in the future I will have the details at my fingertips such as seam allowance and strap size.

Cut out two outer fabric pieces and two lining pieces.   If your fabric does not have an obvious right and wrong side (as with the wool) mark the same side of each piece with tape to be consistent when constructing the bag.

Cut two straps, 24” by 4” (note the size on the pattern for future use). 

Monogram, if desired.  The monogram should be centered vertically and placed 5” down from the top edge of the bag.

Fold each strap in half lengthwise and press.

Fold in each edge to meet at the fold line.  Press

Fold in half again along the original fold line.  Press.

Edgestitch the strap using a 100/16 topstitch needle and 3.5 mm stitch length.  A needle box placed under the back of the presser foot ensures a smooth start to stitching.

Repeat with second strap.

Sew one side seam in the outer fabric. 

Press seam open.  If you are using a heavy weight wool it helps to use a clapper to press the seam.

For the belt, cut 1-1/2” grosgrain ribbon 28” long.  Place top edge of ribbon 8” from the top edge of the tote (an easy way to do this is to align the fabric and ribbon on a gridded cutting surface as shown).  Allow the ends of the ribbon to hang off the sides of the bag.  Edgestitch in place.  Press. 

To make the buckle, draw a rectangle, 2 ½” wide by 2 ¾” tall onto the paper side of a piece of fusible webbing.  The center cut out is 1” wide by 1 ¼” tall with a small protrusion centered along one of the longer sides.  Interface a piece of lame with a piece of heavy weight interfacing.  Fuse the webbing to the interfacing side of the buckle and cut out along the drawn lines.  Center the buckle over the ribbon and fuse into place.  Satin stitch (zigzag 3.0 width, 0.4 length) along all of the edges using metallic thread, if desired.  Do not use metallic thread in the bobbin.

Attach the straps.  Remember to account for the unsewn ½” seam allowance along the outer edges.  Allow ½” of each strap end to overhang the top edge of the bag.  Using the photo above to aid in placement and placing the sewn edge of the strap to the inside of the handle, pin the strap in place.  On the unsewn edge, measure in 3 ½” and place the outer edge of the strap along that point.  The other end of the strap will be positioned 3” in from the sewn seam line.  There will be 5” between the two straps.  Stitch the ends securely in place.

Fold the bag in half, matching the raw side edges.  To ensure that the belt matches when sewn, begin by matching the belt at the seam line and basting across.  Check for accuracy and if necessary, remove basting and restitch.  Once the belt has been stitched to your satisfaction, pin the remaining side seam and stitch, easing to fit as needed.   Trim ends of the ribbon even with the fabric.

Sew the bottom seam between the square cutouts.  Press the seam open.  Box the corners by matching the cut edges of the square cutouts and stitch across.  If necessary, pin the bottom seam allowance open to ensure that it remains so when stitching.  Press flat.  Set aside the outer portion of the tote while you prepare the lining.

Stitch both side seams of the lining pieces, right sides together, leaving a 5” opening in one seam for turning the bag.  Press both seams open. 

Sew bottom seam and press open.

Prepare the boxed corners in the same manner as for the outer bag.  Press flat.

Turn the outer bag inside out.  Drop the lining inside the outer bag, right sides of fabric together, and pin along the top edge.  Stitch around entire upper edge.

Pull the lining out and press the seam allowances toward the lining (the wool will be pressed flat and the lining seam allowance will be pressed back on itself.)

Working through the 5” opening in the lining side seam, understitch the lining to the seam allowances.  You will be stitching on the lining fabric and through both the wool and lining seam allowances. 

Turn the bag right side out.  Reach through the opening in the lining and push out the corners of the outer bag very well.  Pin the opening in the lining closed and edgestitch (or, alternatively, sew closed with hand stitches).  Push the lining down into the bag.

Press the top edge with the iron, favoring the outer layer slightly, as shown.

This is the completed bag awaiting the trim.  Measure around the top edge of the bag with a tape measure to determine needed trim length.

The trim was created using three different white yarns from Lion Brand Yarn, Fun Fur, Festive Fur, and Homespun.  All three yarns were held together and knitted as one.  Knit a three stitch I-cord (Here is a great video that will walk you through knitting an I-cord if you don’t know how.)

Continue knitting until the desired length has been achieved and bind off.

Hand stitch the trim around the top of the bag, catching the outer layer of the bag only.



Silver Spider Tutorial


  • Small silver bulb ornament
  • 64 silver bugle beads
  • 1 clear, faceted plastic bead
  • 2 silver sequins (optional, see note)
  • 28 gauge silver beading wire
  • glue (I used Jewel-It but any glue appropriate for metal, glass, plastic will work; I don't recommend hot glue)
  • Wire cutters/pliers
  • Monofilament fishing line

Begin by preparing the tree ornament.  Remove any hardware from the opening at the top of the bulb.  There are a number of types of bulbs with differing types of hardware.  Mine had a piece of wire glued into the top, covered with metallic paper.  I used the pliers to pull the wire out and trimmed the paper even with the opening at the top of the bulb.

Next, glue the two silver sequins (eyes) to either side of the plastic faceted bead (head).  I found that placing the bead on a large tapestry needle made this task easier.  Set aside to dry.  NOTE:  I found that the sequins were almost invisible on the finished product and really feel this step is optional.

Cut four pieces of wire 5” long.  Working with one wire at a time, thread one bugle bead onto the wire, bend the wire over the bead and twist the end around the remaining wire to secure. 

Thread an additional 13 beads onto the wire for a total of 14.  Secure the last bead in the same manner as the first.  Repeat for all four wires.  Note that the beads will not fill the wire completely.

Lay the four wires parallel to each other.  Separate the beads in the center with 7 beads on each end of the wire.  Twist the wires together in the middle.  Continue twisting until the unit measures about 4” long.  This completes the legs.

Bend the center of the leg unit into a slight curve and glue it to the underside of the bulb.  Use plenty of glue for this step.

Glue the faceted head bead onto the end of the bulb and let dry.  Cut a piece of fishing line the desired length for a hanger.  Loop around the neck of the bulb, behind the legs, bring the ends to the top and tie an overhand knot to secure.  Trim to the desired length and tie another overhand knot at the end.

If you wish to give this as a gift, include a copy of the following story with the spider.  Right click on the image and “Save Image As” to a convenient place on your computer.  You can then insert the image into Word or other word processing file, resize it as desired, and print it out on cardstock.  Trim to size and punch a hole in the card.  Thread a thin piece of ribbon through the hole and tie through the spider’s hanger.


Cornice Board

I have used this sort of cornice board a number of times in my home.  I find it attractive and functional, providing a shallow shelf above the window on which to display objects.  This project is easy to put together with minimal tools and woodworking skills.  Here’s how:


  • 1”x5” lumber (you can use wider lumber for a wider shelf, if desired)
  • L-shaped corner braces
  • Screws
  • Wall anchors
  • Closet pole bracket set (optional)
  • Dowel or curtain rod (optional)
  • Velcro (optional)
  • Screw Eyes (optional)


  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Drill bit
  • Screwdriver
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil

Begin by measuring the width of your window, measuring to the outside of any trim.  Cut your board that width plus 3” Cut two smaller pieces 6” long.   These dimensions are not critical; you can adjust slightly larger or smaller to suit your needs. 

Using the corner braces as shown in the following picture, attach the two small boards to the ends of the larger board.  Pre-drill the holes for accuracy.

Attach two additional corner brackets to the back of the cornice.  These will be used to mount the cornice to the wall over the window using the wall anchors.

You can add additional hardware to your cornice to suit the various types of window treatments you plan to use.  In my example I have installed a closet pole bracket which will hold a dowel cut to length as a curtain rod.  My curtain will hang from this rod.

I have also stapled Velcro (the hook side) along the entire top front edge of the cornice, wrapping around the sides to the back.  My valance has the loop side of the Velcro sewn to the top edge, allowing me to easily install it on the cornice and remove it for cleaning.

Lastly, since the curtain I am using is a Roman shade, I have installed a row of screw eyes toward the back edge of the cornice.  This is the hardware needed for the cords of the Roman shade.  By using this cornice configuration I do not have to screw the eyes directly into the window sash.


Child's Apron Tutorial

I've made a handful of these aprons for my kids to wear.  They cover clothing, especially laps, better than bibs.  They are super simple to make and quick -- once your pattern is made you can whip one of these up in about 30 minutes.

First, create a paper pattern.  The apron I made is designed to fit small children, about ages 2 through 5.  Increase the dimensions as needed.  Begin with a rectangle 10” x 22” and orient it with the long edges running vertically.  From the lower left corner measure up the long edge 15” and make a dot.  From the top right corner measure across the short edge 4” and make a dot.  Connect these two dots with a pleasing curve (you can trace the edge of a curved object such as a plate).  Cut out the pattern along these lines and mark the longest edge with an arrow and notation to cut on the fold.

Using this pattern, cut one fabric piece on the fold.

Fold the bottom hem under ½” and press (I like to use a poster board template cut to ½” to help with this task.  Simply fold the fabric up to meet the edge of the template and press.) 

Open out the hem and fold the cut edge under to meet the fold, making a ¼” hem. 

Press and stitch in place.  Repeat this procedure for both side edges below the curve.

Apply the bias tape ties.  Begin with the two curved edges.  Measure 15” in from the end of the bias tape and place a pin.  Aligning the pin with the hemmed side edge, sandwich the fabric between the bias tape fold, make sure the narrower layer of the tape is on top.  The 15” will extend past the hemmed edge and serve as one of the ties.  Cut the bias tape even with the top edge of the apron.  Repeat for the other side.

Stitch close to the edge of the bias tape from the right side.  Continue stitching along the tie to the end of the tape.  Make an overhand knot in the ends of the ties.

Now apply the bias tape to the top edge of the apron.  Measure 12” and place a pin.  Match the pin to the outer edge and sandwich the fabric between the bias tape fold, again making sure the narrower layer of the tape is on top.  Before cutting the bias tape measure another 12” for the tie and cut at the end of this measurement. 

Beginning at the end of the tie, stitch close to the edge of the bias tape from the right side.  Continue stitching along the tie to the other end of the tape.  Make an overhand knot in the ends of the ties.