Sewing: June 2010 Archives
There are few times during the summer season when the breeze is blowing, the sun is shining and the temperature is just right when I have thought to myself: "Gee, I sure do wish I was inside tucked behind my sewing machine.Not!" Sure, there are lots of projects I would love to spend all day hidden away in my sewing room (Blue Sky hat comes to mind) but during the rainy days or naptime. Most of summer is spent with doors open and sun on my face. But I can't just sit there not making stuff. That is what I do- I make. I want to make outside. Why can't I have both? Oh, right, I totally can. Here are some great summer projects to take outside with you: to the pool, beach, cook-out or just into the back yard.
Embroidery is huge: I know I love it. You can combine a bright array of colors on a neutral background but it doesn't look horrendous. Just colorful. Plus, there are many new designers out there embroidering outside the box, making new patterns that are hip and fun. How about a pirate for your living room? No? Perhaps a vintage camper will catch your fancy. Sublime Stitches features some creative and awesome embroidery patterns that are perfect for summer stitching. Hilary Lang (Wee Wonderfuls) is another young and amusing embroidery designer. Inspired by her children, Lang's patterns remind me of classic toys meets modern hues.
Hand sewing is also a favorite outdoor past time. The rhythm reminds me of knitting, the same relaxing movements. I prefer to take small projects that don't involve many pieces. I also look for whimsical projects that will keep my attention. You won't see me with a hand sewing a white, button down on my porch but you might find a softie or small kitchen project in my lap. Zakka Sewing is the perfect book to pick out some summer sewing projects. All of the projects are perfect for hand sewing and are small, fun ideas. Craft Magazine featured a pencil case shaped like a bunny. Softies Central gives a peek at some of the project including embroidered Mary Jane slippers. They make me want to squeal like a little girl. Perhaps I will.
Of course you cannot forget the old standby: Yo-yos. Though you can no longer think of them in the same way. Yo-yos are being applied in so many different ways that you should always have a dozen made up just in case inspiration hits. Embellish tank tops, pillows, hair clips, and jewelry. The applications are endless and amazing. Yo yos are so easy to make it is almost silly, couple that with these quick yo yo makers and it will seem against nature not to make tons of yo yos. Yo yo are easily hand sewn and are quick. Extra fun in bright patterns, you can mix and match all your favorites. A yo yo is basically a small circle of fabric with a long, running stitch around the perimeter, about ¼ in from the edge. You pull your thread to pull the yo yo together and secure your end. Voila, one yo yo ready for embellishing!
Summer projects are quick, easy and most of all relaxing. Coupled with your favorite drink (like Blackberry iced tea, Yumm!) and you will wish for an endless summer.
My summertime staple is skirts. I love them. You look fancier than shorts but used the same effort to get dressed. If your man wants to take you to a nice place to eat, you are already dressed for it (Psst, just change your shoes, flops are not as sexy as heels). They look great with tank tops, tees, hoodies, bathing suits, denim jackets, etc. You cannot go wrong with a great skirt in warm weather. Favorite Things Cute Skirt pattern is in my top 5: Got to pattern to look fabulous! With 3 options + to customize your skirt, you can please yourself and everyone else. I made the panel skirt but you can also make a gored and flouncy skirt. Change it up with panels of different fabrics, be it complimentary fabrics or matchy-matchy. It is the most fun to wear fun fabrics and a skirt is a low-key way to pull it off. My skirt is made from green, paint by number birds. It doesn't get more fun than that, but I often wear it with a grey tank top to tone it down. Or I could pair it with a green tee for a monochrome look that is bright, yet pulled together. I will warn you that there are days, where safe is thrown out the window and I pair my skirt with a bright yellow top and fuchsia flats and feel amazing.
Now for the nitty gritty: This pattern was not the most fun to cut out but
it sewed up quickly. The pattern was well written and easy to follow. The
sizing was dead on and the elastic is in just the right place. Not having it go all the way around your waist ensures a smooth look in the front (no muffin top) while having a secure fit. I never feel uncomfortable in this skirt. That is to say, I am not always adjusting it, pulling it up or down, smoothing it or worrying about the fit. It always looks good and feels good on.
I didn't like all the hand sewing they recommended so I only hand sewed the waist band. I machine stitched the hem. I made no other modifications.
I was wearing my skirt about 3 hours after starting, which includes cutting (you might want to allow for 4-5 if you are making the gored or flouncy skirt). I have washed it and worn it several times and it holds up well. I plan on making more. I definitely want to try my hand at the gored skirt. It sounds like fun.
Quilting cotton is a great fabric to use for your Cute Skirt but not the only option. A Cute Skirt in seersucker would look super beachy and casual; perfect for a picnic lunch, watching fireworks or a lobster bake. Try cutting it on the bias for a great chevron pattern.
Thinking of this skirt in linen reminds me of Italy. Perfect for hot weather and light breezes, the color coupled with the weave will give this skirt a European feel that will take you from museum to cocktails on the terrace.
You can also add a great trim to the bottom hem like the j.caroline ribbons. The idea didn't even pop into my head till I was cruising the site looking for great fabrics to pair with this pattern. As soon as I saw them, my eyes lit up.
Assembling a pattern you have downloaded from the Internet can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before. We started offering our free pattern downloads about a year ago, and prior to that I had never even seen a pattern that you printed on a home printer, taped together and then cut out. Since then I have had to do several, but I can still appreciate how overwhelming it can be to sit down to make a cute top or dress and come face-to-face with a stack of 28 pages that don't seem to make any sense. To help offer some guidance, I've come up with a quick how-to for assembling our free pattern downloads, along with a few helpful tips I have picked up over the last few months.
First, I would like to address a couple of questions that we frequently hear from customers:
· "I tried to print the pattern, but it doesn't print the entire pattern pieces--some get lost into the borders, so they don't match up."
· "If I print the pattern to fit the page the pattern is way too small."
I think I can explain both of these in one go. The pattern pieces do indeed span across multiple (often several) pages. As pointed out, if they were to fit on one page they would be too small to be useful. However, nothing actually gets lost in the borders. The pattern is laid out in the correct scale, so it's 100% read to print. Since most printers will not print completely to the edge there has to be a slim margin around the border. The pattern layout takes this margin into account, and if you cut it off or just overlap the pages the pattern lines up (see below for more detail).
How to assemble your free download pattern:
1. Print the pattern as it is laid out. It is already the correct scale, so you do not need to adjust the scale settings. There will be a thin margin on all 4 sides of the page (See above for explanation).
2. Locate the instruction pages (usually 2-3 depending on the pattern). Read through them so that you are familiar with the shape of the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. Set them aside.
3. Examine the pattern pages. You'll notice at the corner of each page there is a symbol that looks like a quarter of a circle.
These symbols tell you where the page margins stop and also help you line corresponding pages up. At this stage you may choose to cut the margins off the pages to make it easier to line the symbols up and see where the pattern lines connect across pages. Instead of cutting off all the margins, I find that cutting only two sides of each page helpful (I cut the top and left hand side). That way the cut side rests on top of the uncut side of the corresponding page, and they are easier to tape. I have also chosen NOT to cut the margins in the past, and while it takes a little more effort to make sure everything lines up, it works as well. It's really a personal choice.
4. If you look at the bottom of each page you will also see a column and a row number notation. They won't start at "Column 1, Row 1," but the numbering does correspond with how the pattern is laid out. Also, the pages are already in order by column, which means the first page is the upper left-most corner once all the pages are taped together. The next page in the stack is the page directly below the first one, and etc. Once you get to the end of the column, you'll start the next column by taping the appropriate page to the right of the first page, then continue down until the end of the column. Most patterns will only have 3-4 columns, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
5. Lay out the pattern pieces in order without taping them so that you get an overview of how the pattern is laid out. Some patterns, like the Peachy Beachy Coverup, actually have an illustration on one of the pages to give you an idea what all the pages look like when laid out correctly.
6. Once you have your pattern pages in order, begin taping them together, using both the quarter circle symbols AND the pattern lines as guides. I have found the best method for doing this is to start with the upper left corner and work down. Once you have taped the whole column together, begin attaching pages from the next column to the adjacent pages of the first column, adding one page at a time from the top down. You could also work left to right. I do not recommend assembling full columns or rows first and then joining them. I have tried this a couple times, and it never lines up quite as well as if you do the whole thing in order, adding one page at a time. This method allows you to reposition pages better if something doesn't line up. It's also helpful to have your tape pieces already cut or have one of those tape-dispenser bracelet things.
7. Once you have the whole thing assembled, cut out your pattern as you normally would and go sew!
I hope I have taken away any apprehension you may have about trying out one of these downloads. It may look daunting, but the pattern assembly is really a cinch. Even the largest one really only takes about an hour to put together, even if you take the time to trim your page margins. Even more importantly, the patterns themselves are easy to sew together and produce great results. Try one (or all) out, and post your projects on our Facebook page for everyone to see!
My favorite room of the house is my sewing room. This is not just because it houses my sewing machine and other tools of my trade but because it is just my room. Painted the color I love, decorated with fabric and yarn as far as the eye can see (if you squint it looks like it goes on forever) and great big windows for light that makes me want to make. Establishing your own sewing room only takes a few key items, the rest is up to you.
1) Work stations: I have 3 works stations. A cutting table (I prefer counter height), a sewing table and an ironing board (or as I so nervously call it in my video "a knitting board"). You can combine your cutting table and sewing table into one to save space. Add a tabletop ironing board and you have got yourself a 3 in one station.
2) Wall space is a great tool for many purposes. You can hang inspiration on it- on the back of my closet doors I hang pretty pictures from many of my favorite craft blogs. It gets my creative juices flowing. I also use my wall space for a chalk board. I can jot down ideas, draw designs, make lists and record measurements. Plus the mini chalkboard I have for my daughter, Devon, is a great place for her to hang out while I get some 'me' time. (Great bonus: Chalk easily wipes off most surfaces, even dogs). Wall shelves are great for limited floor space or in my case to keep yummy yarn cakes out of little, destroying baby hands. Plus you can organize books, display projects and more inspiration.
3) Storage: No crafter can craft without storage. You find a great sale, you stock up on tools and notions. You see a limited amount of yardage in a to-die-for print. You just got paid and had too many glasses of wine at the SnB meeting and went overboard on yarn. But you must be organized. There is no point storing supplies and tools if you can't find them when you need them or forget about them. Storage can be so pretty, embrace it. I use red, transparent bins in my bookcase for fabric scraps, patterns, and yarn storage. In my closet, I keep fabric rolls, smaller yardages in a sweater holder, tools and hard cases on a shelving unit and unfinished projects hanging up. Interfacing, muslin and canvas yardages go up above because they are used the least. Pillow stuffing is banished to the attic because it takes up so much darn room.
4) Lighting. Please do yourself a favor and choose great lighting for your sewing room. I am lucky to have big western-facing windows but in the evening I use my track lighting system that I bought for less than $100 at a home improvement store. It is good looking and task oriented. I also have an Ott light on my sewing table for great task lighting. Great lighting will help you see what you are doing and love your finished projects even more.
These are the main areas to focus on when setting up or redecorating your sewing area. The rest, paint, wall art, decorations and knick-knacks, is up to you. Don't ask a lot of opinions because, I fear, you will end up with a sewing rooms that everyone else likes but you. This is your creative rooms, be bold, and go with your gut. How can you go wrong, just look at your awesome projects. Your sewing room will be a reflection of those projects times 100!
P.s. Just so you know I was so nervous filming this video. I want to reiterate that I smile a ridiculous amount more than as portrayed in this film. If you ain't buying it, I would love to have you over for sweet tea and witticism so I can at least impress you with my hosting abilities. I am not bad.
My wall color is from Valspar and is based on the color found at Mt Vernon in Mr. Washington's step-daughter's room.
Nancy dress found here
Yarn Swift found here
Chalkboard paint walkthrough here
Heather Bailey Pincushion Pattern here
As Holly mentioned yesterday, a couple of us decided to put our own personal spin on th Hot Patterns Peachy Beachy Coverup free pattern download. I didn't need another swimsuit coverup (believe me, I'm the queen of poolside coverage), but I still like the style and ease of the pattern. Instead, I decided to go with something a little less casual but still with the coverage and layering aspect.
I love cute little black dresses and light tanks, but often they are not appropriate business attire. I also have had some velvet silk burnout for a while for which I have been waiting for just the right project to come along. I immediately started mentally sketching out a slightly modified version of the pattern that would result in a top that could be worn with several looks, whether over a nice black dress or with a tank top and jeans. I wanted to add a few more little special touches to glam it up, so I used this as the perfect opportunity to play with some toys and goodies I've been stashing away (I'll go into further detail in a minute).
Of course, because of my fabric choice and modifications, it took me quite a bit longer to sew my top together than it would have if I stuck to the pattern and the suggested fabrics. I am pleased with the finished result, so I think it was worth the extra time and effort.
Here are a few of the changes I made and some other notes of interest/random babblings:
- I shortened the bottom part of the pattern by 4-5 inches, making it so that it hit me at just below hip level. I really didn't do much in the way of measuring. I simply held the pattern up, figured roughly where I wanted the bottom to be, and then folded the pattern up.
- Since I was working with a sheer fabric, I not only had to trim the seam allowances but also had to finish them off. Okay, so I may have cheated and used fray check here and there. Also, like Holly, I trimmed the facing to avoid bulk and visibility.
- As much as I love it, silk velvet burnout is a pain to work with. There was no way I was going to mess with a handmade hem, so I ran the edges through a 6mm rolled hem foot. If you do not own at least one of these marvelous things, I highly suggest you get one. They are fantastic little time and sanity savers.
- Instead of doing one covered button and a loop, I tacked the top in three places, from where the pattern calls for a button to just above the tie. I then sewed adorable little JHB dragonfly buttons over where I tacked the fabric. You may want to do the buttons the normal way, but I have no intention of ever needing to unbutton it so I skipped the step. If you haven't checked out the button section, I would whole-heartedly recommend doing so. Our buyers and merchants have been picking out some great little gems.
- For a little bit of extra glam, I accented a couple of the flowers in the fabric pattern on the breast with a handful of hotfix crystals. I was a little worried about making it a little over-the-top, but I'm really glad I did this. I love the way it turned out.
- I have not done so yet, but I may actually add a godet to bottom part at each side seam to give it a little more valume. Not so much that I look like I'm expecting a bundle of joy, but just enough to make it a little more flouncy and fluttery.
- Holly was also correct that the adorable cat did not appear. This is not too big of a problem because I already have two of my own.
I am very pleased with how the top turned out, and I really look forward to wearing it throughout this brutally hot summer. If you have made your own version of the pattern, we want to see it! Post it on our Facebook page and share the creative vibes! Keep an eye out in the upcoming weeks for another free pattern download that you will fall head-over-heels for. I'm simply brimming with excitement...
When the weather gets warmer, the sun hotter and the grass turns green, there are few things more inspiring than a day at the flea market. You begin planning an escape to the beach or pool. And you dare to dream of a picnic. Summer projects are the most fun because it is an excuse to be bold and bright. Christmas has a hold on traditional, Easter is home to pastels and fall is decked out in jewel tones. Summer is for letting loose. Summer is for new bags, swimsuits and fun, light fabrics is bright colors and daring patterns. For example my summer project list consists of knit dresses, seersucker for my toddler, a new knitting bag in a vibrant pattern and maybe, just maybe I will attempt a swimsuit (With plenty of advice my pal Stacy). Of course, I am partial to fickleness so my list will change. I have been perusing the creativity Headquarters much of late and the Cookout Couture has really caught my eye. My picnic table out back is sorely in need of a dose of summer. So much so that it is more often used for potting plants than eating corn on the cob. I am thinking this Burda pattern for chair cushions (I love to knit out there but am only comfy for about 15 min) with this fabric. I love the texture of burlap and the terracotta color is bright without being neon. Next I need some placemats, napkins and this crazy chicken is a beachy print. I think this Robert Allen print (please refer to my Dad's day article for more ideas) would look so chic on the chicken and placemats, very PB. I could also go for them in this fabric by Premier Prints; the black and white reminds me of the Hamptons (I say that as if I have been there). I also want plenty of pillows for the porch swing, lounge chairs and for reading books in the grass.
My bag list is LONG but earmarked as 'must-makes' for this summer are1) Sophia Bag in this fabric (it looks very retro knitting bag, doesn't it)
2) Swing Bag (I have wanted on for years) in Linen
3) Favorite Things Billfold. I know not technically a bag but I really need a new wallet so it's in. Made from oilcloth for 2 reasons a) diaper bag proof b) I love the retro prints.
Now should I attempt to make a swimsuit it will definitely be from this fabric but I haven't narrowed down a pattern yet. That is due in large part to the fact that I am still talking myself into make one. I will let you know how the internal argument turns out.
Fabric.com's Facebook page has been lighting up with great summertime projects. I want to highlight some of our customer projects. Thanks for making out Facebook page so summery!
(Picture Above) Jenn Teer was caught by the sock monkey bug. Check out her great summer bag
Theresa Geer-Whitman used Amy Butler Laminated Cotton to create this inspiring apron
Vanessa York Piccorossi's summer bag is so darn colorful!