Tuesday, July 12, 2011



                     Martha’s Sewing Market takes place each May or June in Arlington, Texas. For thirteen years now we have been one of her vendors. We are known to locals as “The Grapevine Collection of Fabrics” but more recently we are thought of as Sew It Up. Each of the three days of the sewing show there are 4-5 free seminars offered to the attendees. This year one of the seminars that I choose to present was “The Essential Summer Wardrobe”. I poured over cataloques and fashion magazines and frequented many many shops all in the name of research. I was looking for something special to add to my wardrobe and hence the seminar. One particular item that caught my eye in a catalogue; I studied it closely. There was no back view (not even on the company’s website!), but that did not deter me. It was made out of a sweater knit, but that did not discourage me either. The description stated that is was 30” long in the back - that was sufficient information for me to commence experimenting. Hmm . . . I measured from the nape of my neck to my waist. This would be the length of my “finished” shrug. Not nearly 30”, but then I am a mere 5’2”.  Then I measured from wrist to wrist across my upper back. This would be the width of my “finished” shrug.

Closeup: The Hemband

See, it really is a rectangle!

I chose a black wool gauze for my experimental shrug. My vision of this new shawl-like addition to my wardrobe required a wide hemband around its entirity. The “cuffs”  of the “sleeves” needed to be even wider in my opinion. I decided that a 1 ½” hemband along both lengthwise edges would be pretty while the hemband at each end, for the cuffs, needed to be 4”. I added another ½”  to each edge to have ample fabric to be able to turn under. Then I proceeded to cut out my rectangle.

  1. width = measurement across upper back over your shoulders to the whatever length you desire your “sleeves” to be + 9” (4” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2)  for the seam allowances.
  2. Length=measurement from the nape of your neck to your waist + 3” (1 ½” x 2), for the hemband, + 1” ( ½” x 2) for the seam allowances, + another 3” for ease so that your shrug “blouses” a little in the back.
  3. Next step was to fold under all of the edges by ½”; press well.
  4. Fold up all of the edges again for the hembands as given above; press well & pin.
  5. Topstitch in place and press again to make it “pretty”.
  6. Now fold your rectangle in half lengthwise overlapping one of the lengthwise  hembands over the other. Start pinning each end in place for about 5” on each side. These will become your sleeves.
  7. Carefully (remember the pins!) try on your shrug to determine if  the sleeves are pinned up enough. They should fit comfortably close to, but not necessarily touching your armpit.
  8. You could finish the sleeves by merely topstiching the two hembands together, BUT this is a perfect opportunity to add a design element. In other words, embellish! I sewed four novelty buttons on each side to close up my sleeves by sewing the buttons through both layers of the hembands. I spaced mine evenly apart by about 3”.  So, this shrug, my first, is a long-sleeved shrug. It required eight buttons.
Since this first shrug, I have made another, but a short sleeved one. I love it! The widthwise measurement of the shrug is considerable shorter. I made this one out of a silvery blue/gray embroidered rayon chiffon. I space my buttons, which were smaller than for my black shrug, much closer together and only used a total of 6 buttons. You certainly could make traditional button holes for your sleeve buttons, but frankly why?

I am now ready to make a third shrug. This time with ¾ length sleeves and out of a double faced plaid cotton gauze. Truly a one of a kind fabric! My intention is to wear this one with a white cami and jeans – a more casual look than the first two. Appropriate for our Texas heat while covering up adequately for the chill of air conditioning.

So, go make a shrug! 
They couldn’t be easier and they are pretty quick to make. Most of your time will be spent just ironing the hembands and then it is just one row of stitching around its perimeter.  Since I did not bring my sewing machine with me this year to the cabin, I will sew up this third shrug by hand.

Send me a picture of your first shrug! I'll post a pictures of this new one later in the week!


  1. I am sorry that I just was able to post my "SHRUG" blog! I have been off the grid!

  2. What? "Since I did not bring my sewing machine with me this year to the cabin?" are you in withdrawal? Afraid of the bears getting it? Silly girl. Of course, your hand sewing is better than mine :-)

  3. No bear sightings this year! Thank God! . . . Since I did not bring my machine (no room!) I did a lot of knitting!