Reviews: July 2012 Archives
Lately, I've had a hankering to make a few, so I thought I'd test out Kwik Sew 3246. It has two different sizes of bears, and I chose the smaller of the two, which still comes in at an impressive 20 inches, so it's not exactly tiny.
I chose to make one version in Doux Cotton Velvet, and one in an upholstery-grade Antique Cotton Velvet, which is meant to withstand a lot of rubbing -- perfect for a cuddly stuffed bear!
I have made plush toys before, with varied results. Assembling them always takes more time than I expect it to. These took about three hours each, give or take. That being said, I had greater success with this pattern than with other plush patterns I have tried, and some of that slowness is admittedly born of the fact that I usually stitch apparel, so craft sewing is not my most practiced arena.
I will tell you this, the inside of a teddy bear is not pretty. Behold:
Once you flip it, things get a little better, but it's still a little dicey in the cuteness category. Those threads you see dangling are are attached to the eyes on the inside, and they're used to mold the face a bit once the bear's stuffed.
Here's the closeup on the Doux Cotton Velvet bear. I didn't end up doing a whole lot of shaping on the face, because I preferred it a little more au naturel.
Here is the face of the Antique Cotton Velvet bear. You can tell from these close up shots that my chin piecing technique needs some work. These guys both look a little dejected.
Here are my two bears, all assembled and ready for huggin'!
Now that I have two under my belt, my mind is whirring with ideas. I want to make a feline version with pointy ears and a long tail. Maybe for Halloween. These would also be fantastic baby gifts, especially if you embroidered the baby's name and birth date on the feet.
Now my biggest question is: What should I name these guys?
It is hard not to be attracted to Valori Wells Jewels for the Home Pillows with such an eye catching photo on the pattern envelope. I had to make someof Valori's pillows for myself because I am a pillow fanatic. I need more for my bedroom, living room, nursery and my 3 yr old's room. Any of these pillows would be perfect because there are 11 to choose from and I love mixing prints. With so many pillows to start off with you might think it would be hard for me to decide which would be the inaugural pillow. However, the bird appliqué pillow drew my eye and I had a plan. I wanted to make this pillow to go with some others I had planned from the Sew4Home Nursery collection. I thought a selection of animal pillows would work great for my new nursery but this pillow could easily work in an office, older kid's room or guest room. Since I would be parking my bird appliqué pillow in the nursery I used the same print as the glider I recovered and chose a complimentary knit for the bird.
I chose a cotton knit for the appliqué for several reasons:
1) This cotton knit is really soft and the different texture of the knit on woven would be interesting for the baby
2) I loved the colors together
3) I don't see appliqués in knit very often and when I do they look amazing.
4) I have a TON of knit scraps that need to find a purpose
Using a knit for your appliqué is not that different from using a woven. Make sure you have the right side facing out and don't stretch. I used Heat n Bond Lite. Trace the appliqué design on the paper side of the fusible and then iron on the fusible to the WS of the knit fabric. Then cut out the bird and before removing the paper, decide the perfect placement. Make sure you place your bird at least the a seam allowance's distance away from each edge then iron in place. Use a satin or zig zag stitch around the edge of the bird to secure it in place and for added detail try a contrasting but complimentary thread color (I used chartreuse).
The next modification I made was to add a zipper closure instead of the envelope back. I did this simply because the pillow would be used in a kid's room and I didn't want to redress my pillows all the time. To simply add a zipper, lay your zipper along the bottom edge of your pillow fabric centered and mark the zipper stops on your fabric. Then pin your front and back pillow pieces together, RS facing, along this bottom edge. Stitch using a regular stitch until you reach the first mark then switch to a basting stitch until you reach the second mark then switch back to your regular stitch. Make sure you backstitch at the beginning and end and right before you switch to basting and again when you switch back to regular stitches.
Press your seam open and line up your zipper with your marks and pin in place. Using a zipper foot stitch your zipper in place. Flip your pillow to the RS and open the basting stitches using your seam ripper. Stitch up the remaining sides of your pillow (RS facing) making sure you leave your zipper open for turning. Clip your corners and turn your pillow RS out. Press if needed.
I encourage you to try all Valori's pillow from this pattern. They just look like fun. She gives instructions on how to customize each to different pillow sizes. I can't wait to try some on floor pillows as well as Euro pillows for my bed and the guest room!
Find Valori's printed fabrics here
Visit my blog at www.gruenetree.com
Being that it is summer and judging from the morning news shows it seems to be HOT everywhere so what more appropriate fabric could there be to demonstrate than Voile. This very light weight fabric is made of 100% cotton and is semi transparent (though with a print it is less so). Voile actually comes from the French for veil because of its drape and transparency. When used in apparel it is typically layered or worn as a layer. I have decided to use our Designer Essentials Cotton Voile Fabric in Cilantro (though I call it Key Lime) in this gorgeous Cynthia Rowley layered skirt dress pattern. The lightweight drape of the voile works very well with the generous ruffling of the skirt and the layers means I don't need to line the skirt. The bodice, however, I am planning on wearing a chic lace slip underneath. This is my first post pregnancy project (though I have 3 months to go, you can tell I am ready!) and my criteria were simple: beautiful, ready for spring, and nursing-friendly. The wrap style of the bodice means it will work for nursing; I have added a hook & eye to prevent any baby grabbing wardrobe malfunctions. The color and light weight fabric means the pattern meets criteria #2 and it is of course lovely. If you plan on making this pattern I have a few suggestions. #1 Make a muslin but if not measure the pattern pieces at least twice. This is designed to go over your head and gathered at the waist but mine is at least 2 sizes bigger than I was looking for and I cut it one size bigger than I wore before pregnancy so I could wear it sooner. The dress is way large; it is so large I could fit it on now at 7 mos pregnant. #2 Add the hook and eye even if you don't have a baby. You don't want your décolletage to pop out at inopportune times. #3 Consider adding elastic at the waist as recommended by MyBeauBaby. I have NOT added my elastic yet (but will) because I don't yet know how much elastic to use for the size I will be. Plus I want to take in the dress a bit (to do this I will detach the bodice and take it in. I will also detach each skirt layer, take each in and then reattach. It sounds like a lot but it really won't be because there aren't any gathers to get in the way.
Now for the good stuff: tips for sewing voile! Voile is similar to light weight cotton (AKA quilting cotton) except that it is not. You will see in a min what I mean. If you sew with quilting cotton you already know how finicky it can be. It can fray easy, rip easy and can get pulled down into your machine. All this applies to voile (FYI to prevent having your light weight fabrics, including knits, being eaten by your machine, start sewing your seams about 1/2'' away from the edge, sew backwards to the end and then sew forward. If you start at the end, your fabric will get pulled down into your bobbin case) but it is even more delicate. Start with a test piece and get your tension right before you start otherwise you have to fight thread nest, pulling and uneven stitches. Also, go for the smallest needles (I used a size 10). I started with a size 12 needle and you can see the visible needle holes from the larger needle (you can see the holes below). Once I switched to the size 10 my seams were much improved. Decrease the temp on your iron a bit. The highest cotton setting is just too much for this lightweight fabric and overkill. You don't want to scorch your voile, just press it. Also, use pins that are a similar size to your needle. The thinner the better so you don't leave visible marks. Lastly, don't mark the fabric; it is so light anything will show. I use tape to label each pattern piece. The tape stays put to identify the pieces but also removes the label once you are done.
This was an interesting project for me. While I loved the design of the Medina Mini Kaftan the moment I saw it, I didn't feel like it would be great on me. I'm short and kinda busty, so often, garments that aren't fully cinched in at the waist can make me look a bit fluffy. But, I wanted to try it out just the same!
For my first version, I selected a cotton lawn from the new Liberty of London Tana Cotton Lawn Hello Kitty print. I looooove Hello Kitty, and these sophisticated prints are just subtle enough that I can wear them even in the most grown-up situations. And it's nothing short of dreamy to work with. Love it!
I opted to make the trim out of the same fabric as the rest of the tunic, simply because I couldn't decide on a contrast color.
The pattern itself is super simple to put together. The trim for the sleeves seems tricky initially because it's cut with an angle at the bottom, but once you're stitching it into the armsceye it makes total sense and fits perfectly. And the elastic that encases about 2/3 of your waist is perfect -- it adds shape and and creates a flattering silhouette, even for those of us with ample bustlines! Hooray!
I know this is pictured on the pattern art as a beachy cover up, but I am so delighted with this kaftan that I've been wearing it in heavy rotation with leggings as a dress. The lawn is perfection in the Atlanta heat, keeping me cool and comfortable even in high humidity.
But of course, I always have to make a second version of any pattern so I can really play!
For my second version, I used a stretch ruffle knit. I still used cotton lawn for the sleeve edging and the ties, and I used the same exact yoke piece from the pattern to cut a facing for the neckline, also out of lawn. I also stitched the V opening of the neck closed at the very top to create a keyhole effect.
The only tricky thing in working with the ruffled fabric choice was making sure I kept the ruffling free along the line where the elastic casing needed to sit. With a little planning and care, though, it was no huge challenge. And I didn't even bother to hem it -- I just let the ruffles do the work for me.
I LOOOOOOOOVE the way this version turned out. It's my new favorite dress! It's very flattering, hugging curves without being too tight. Again, LOVE.
I have been looking for a maternity swimsuit for a few months now without luck. Either the one I loved is out of stock or all available are all in black. So when I found this tutorial for a maternity tankini I was excited! I have been squeezing myself into my pre-pregnancy swimsuit since the weather turned warm and it is NOT working out. I needed something with room to grow and a sure fire way to make sure the swimsuit fits and that it will accommodate me as I grow is to make it myself. I have made 2 of these tankinis, one according to the tutorial as written and a second with modifications I thought would make it easier to make and to fit me better. You can choose which you prefer and make your own. It only takes a few hours and about 1/2 yd of swim knit and about ½ yd of lining (or you can self line like me and order 1 yd of swim knit). I only made the top from the tutorial opting to make my bottom from Kwik Sew Swimsuit I made last year only one size larger with the skirt. I liked the fit and the look plus I wasn't sure how well the bottom from the tutorial would work without elastic and since I needed one size bigger than my existing suit I didn't have one to trace as per the tutorial.
Back to the top: The first time I made it the measuring instructions were not clear but I waded through any way. I also could not tell where to start sew the tube to the skirt and where to stop for the peek-a-boo back so I just sewed the tube all the way around to the skirt without the peek-a-boo look. Also, I could not get the gathering to work when sewing through 2 layers of knit; my thread kept breaking. I also tried elastic thread and stretched elastic; neither gave me enough gathering to give me the look of the original. Plus once I tried on my top it was way too tight around the belly and a smidge too loose on the bandeau top. The instructions on gathering the sides were not clear enough for me and I could not get it to work out. I realized I needed to tweak the tutorial to get the fit and look I wanted and needed.
First, I put on a tank top that fit well. When I say well I mean it is form fitting and hugs my curves. I bought mine from Old Navy and they are not maternity just one size larger than my regular tank tops. The extra long length enables me to fit them over my belly while still leaving me covered if my pants slip down (which often happens with maternity pants). This tank allowed me to take accurate measurements because I had a seam that went up both sides so I used that to start and stop my measurements. First I measured from one seam to the other around my back at the smallest area (Measurement A). Next measure from one seam to the other around the front at the biggest part of your belly (B). Then, measure from your bra band down the middle of your belly to where you want your top to end (this is the length of your tankini skirt) (C). Next, measure around your bra band all the way around, not from seam to seam (D). Then measure from your bra band up over the biggest part of you breast to where you want the bandeau top to sit (mine was 7'') (E)
Now follow this formula to get your cut measurements:
A - 2'' + 1''= Cut width F
B - 2'' +1''= Cut Width G
C + 4'' = Cut length H (mine was 16'')
D - 5'' + 1'' = Cut width I (mine was 29''-I wanted this part tight since I have a bigger chest and want the support)
E + 3''= Cut length J (I cut mine at 10'' but in hindsight I should have cut it to 9'')
Cut one skirt front F by H, cut one skirt back G by H. Cut two bandeau tops (either one from knit and one from lining or both from knit) I by J.
With RS together, pin short sides of bandeau top together and stitch using zig zag to create circle. Repeat for lining. Fold bandeau in half and measure and mark opposite from seam. Sew basting stitch at this mark and also on the seam and pull thread to gather (gathers with be at center back and center front). Repeat for lining. With RS facing, pin lining and exterior together along top and stitch using zig zag. Turn RS out and pin bottom edge together, set aside.
Pin skirt front to skirt back along sides and sew using zig zag. With RS facing pin skirt to bandeau top with the bandeau seam at the back and stitch using zig zag. Stretch the bandeau to fit the skirt. Stitch in the ditch a basting stitch* on the RS from right below the bandeau top down the side seams of the skirt to the bottom edge and pull to gather as much as you need (it helps to try the top on to see how much gathering you want). Stitch over to secure. Hem bottom as needed.
*It helped me to stitch right next to the ditch on the opposite side of the seam allowance (i.e.: seam allowance was tucked to the right while stitching on the left, see above). The less fabric you have to baste through the easier it is to pull the thread to gather. You can stitch in the ditch to secure the gathers.
Check out our swimsuit knit fabrics here
Visit my Blog at www.gruenetree.com
This week, I was feeling gung-ho for a jacket project. I decided to go with the jacket that comes with Vintage Vogue 8767. I chose this one because it's similar to a jacket owned by a friend that I have been coveting for quite a while. (Hers is a true vintage piece, given to her by an old friend of the family.)
Since we are in the midst of a ridiculously hot summer, I opted to make a short-sleeved striped stretch linen blend version first. My thinking is that even though we're in the steamy season, it will be fine for early morning on the way to work, and a welcome layer in office air conditioning. This fabric was ultra dreamy to work with. Crisp enough to make handling easy, with enough give to make working around curves a snap.
One of the things I love about vintage patterns is that they don't rely on interfacing much. This one is completely free of it, and it's unlined. That means all you have to cut is your fashion fabric, so it's a simple project to get underway.
There's a bit of handwork that goes into this one -- the buttonholes and the facing both require a needle and thread, but it's all pretty straightforward. There are actually two phases of hand stitching on the buttonhole -- you apply the facing for it to your outer shell and hand tack the facing to close it, then you slit the facing and hand stitch it to the back of the buttonhole you've already created. This makes for a nice, clean finish with all raw edges encased, so it's worth the extra effort.
The other technique that this pattern features, and which I have seen on other vintage patterns, is layering the pressed edge of one fabric on top of another and stitching it in place from the outside, rather than the usual "right sides together" approach. It takes some getting used to, but when joining curved edges like the front pieces of this jacket, it really does help to ensure a clean, perfect join.
I almost always work on (at least) two projects concurrently, and I really love cutting out two projects from one pattern at a time. Keeps things interesting, and saves time in the long run.
My second version of this jacket is for autumn and winter. It's a long-sleeved version cut out of plum stretch velvet. I am SO pleased at the richness of this fabric -- I remember a time when all stretch velvet looked a little cheesy, but this stuff is divine.
Here's a little tip I use when marking dark fabrics, especially knits: metallic Sharpies. It won't work on all fabrics (bleeding through can happen), so be sure to test with your fabric!
Of the two versions I made, the stretch velvet is by far my favorite. The drape of it is very flattering, and I can't wait until the weather cools down so I can wear it! (Though at the moment, it seems like the weather will never be cool again.)
Instead of blind-hemming the sleeves for this version, I made a quick cuff finish. I always find it cumbersome blind hemming on stretch velvet, so it seemed like a natural change to make.
Here's to time traveling in style!