Sewing: April 2011 Archives
A zipper is a zipper unless it is invisible. But that is no longer the case. In fact, I now find invisible zipper easier to insert than regular zippers due to this little tutorial I am going to share. Inserting an invisible zipper used to involve a separate plastic foot that allowed for the curling of the zipper tape and the close placement of the stitches. However, this can all be accomplished with a regular zipper foot and some careful prep work.
First, unpack and layout your invisible zipper on your ironing board and unzip. Place your zipper facedown and press your iron against the zipper teeth until they begin to curl toward the front. Continue to press until your zipper tape is flat with no more curl. Press your zipper tape flat all the way down the zipper to the zipper pull. Don't worry about not being able to press the tape that is blocked by the zipper pull, that is usually hidden by the garment. You can see the difference between the flat tape and the still curled tape in the photo. The tape is pressed flat on the left and untouched, un-pressed on the right.
Next (and this is the really easy part) line up and pin and sew your zipper just like a regular zipper. "What! It can't be that simple!" you might say. Oh but it is and you can see why it is actually easier than a regular zipper because you don't need to topstitch after applying the zipper to keep the fabric out of the teeth. The curl that you ironed out comes back when you zip up your zipper and this keeps the fabric away from the teeth. The only real difference between sewing a regular zipper and an invisible zipper is that you are encouraged , Nay- required, to sew as close to the zipper as possible with an invisible zipper. With a regular zipper you must be careful not to get too close (which will make zipping tricky) and not too far away (which will make the zipper too visible). An invisible zipper is also more forgiving should your stitch line not be perfect.
I recommend always sewing your invisible zipper from the top down. If you prefer to always have your fabric on the left of the needle like I do then you might discover extra fabric or zipper at the top or some other mismatch. If you start both sides of the zipper at the top, you are in a better position to match up at the bottom.
Invisible zippers are not only more hidden from the eye but also from the drape of the clothing and from the little rub when placed under the arm (if I wear a dress too long with a regular zipper placed on the side seam, I find a raw area rubbed away at night). I find there is none or less puckering with an invisible zipper in knitwear. I also much prefer the zipper pull; a small thing I know but details are what make me proud to wear my own handmade clothes.
Being a Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross Addict ("Hello, my name is Tara and I am addicted to Weekend Sewing...") and having made the Smocked Dress for my little girl I was over the moon when I stumbled across this hidden gem on the web. The Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress is almost an urban legend with many whispers concerning its existence but few have seen it. There are breadcrumbs to broken links throughout the internet but I have found the direct link and thus made the dress. AND... IT... IS... AMAZING. First, this dress is super fast. You can make it in an afternoon. There are 4 pieces to cut (6 if you want straps) and with the elastic thread the smocking is a piece of cake.
Now for the mods (modifications for you newbies): first, I selected the uber beautiful and dreamy Valori Wells Jenaveve Linen Blend fabric in Pebbles Merlot. Let me mention that this is a cheerful reddish/coral print perfect for spring and summer. This linen (and even more specifically this print) is perfectly paired with this dress. I was more excited to be finished at each stage of construction. There are pockets, glorious pockets! But the pockets that come with the pattern are HUGE so I used the pockets from this dress but you can always just reduce the size of the Mendocino pockets but 10-20% on your copier or at your local copy place. I placed my pockets at 14 in. where the pattern recommends anywhere between 14-18 in. I guess my arms are a little short. I also smocked 8.5 in. where the pattern recommends 6-8 in. I am on the busty side so I wanted to make sure that I was 1) covered and 2) there was some smocking below the bust to nip in the waist a bit to lend a slimmer line. If the dress just goes from bust to billowy bottom then I tend to look bigger than I am. That is why I prefer to make my own smocked dresses and tunics. The store bought dresses/tops do not have enough smocking and it ends up looking frumpy. I also made my straps longer so I could add the cute bow that the little girl Smocked Dress has. I cut 4 strips of 2 by 15 in. The length is just right plus I can tuck them in should I want to go strapless. The hem is a double turned 1.5 in. but I want to make it much shorter so that it sits right at the knee which means I will need to cut off 3-4 in.
Heather Ross Mendocino Sundress Pattern
2 yds of Valori Wells Jenaveve Linen Blend
1 Spool of Elastic Thread
1 Spool of All Purpose Thread
Conclusion: I adore this dress. Heather mentions that this dress offers enough support for you to go braless and I did try it. In the future, I will opt for the bra just because I feel more comfortable with it than without. It does offer great support but I would only recommend it for those A & B cups. You can also just do 2 straps and wear it as a halter neck. Another version would be to cut it very short to wear as a tunic and then you can tuck in the straps to wear as a skirt as well. This is a great standard sundress with lots of possibility. Sexy and casual it can adapt to your days and events as needed. This is a MUST MAKE Dress!
Our closets are not the only areas we get a craving to update; our outdoor spaces may be blooming but could also use a little fabric help. Whether it is vintage chairs that need some paint and new cushion or a chaise that needs a floral box pillow or (like me) you need to bring some color to an outdoor patio; outdoor fabric is a spring necessity. The colors are bright and bold; the prints are big and make a statement. This is all exactly what you need to contend with the show put on by your lawn, garden and competitive neighbors. I think decorating the outdoors is my favorite home dec project because I can use the bright colors and big patterns my brain tries to talk me into everyday of the year and in an afternoon you can make the outdoors inviting to friends and family. Fabric.com's selection of outdoor fabric gets better every year!
My patio area is a covered walkway from my back door to my garage and is a jungle of browns and bland greens. Brown walkway (colored from the red clay), brown fence, brown patio set and green house. It needs something and fast. We have plans for planters but since it is all shade under there I am having trouble deciding on shape plants that can handle the abuse a 2 yr old might decide upon and the sweltering heat of the Georgia summers. Until the happy day where I find my dream plant, I am planting with an outdoor fabric instead. It will bring in all the color I want without needing any water or constant vigilance over little hands and plotting minds.
It takes about 1 yd for every 2 chair cushions so I am working with 3 yds to make 6 cushions. To start you want to measure the area for your cushion. Mine measured 16 x 17 in. I cut my foam to match this size using an electric knife. If you don't have foam left over from another project like I did, you can always score some from at a thrift store by finding outdoor cushion that may be hideous but still in good shape and recover them (or use a pillow form for an extra cozy cushion). I next cut 2 pieces from my fabric 1 in. bigger on each side (this will account for the 1 in. depth of my foam plus a ½ in. seam allowance. So my cutting measurements were 18 x 19 in. With right sides together, I stitched around the sides and front of my cushion, leaving a 6-7 in gap the back open to fit the cushion. After clipping the corners and pressing open the seam allowance on the gap (this makes it easier to hand sew later) I turned my cover right side out. Next, fold you foam in half and slide it into your cover and carefully unfold it until it is snug inside the cover (since my measurements were so close I drew an arrow to make sure I inserted my foam correctly). Hand sew your gap closed.
Now you can add your embellishments. I opted for a nice little bow at a back corner (though I have it in front in the pictures, that was just me a little over excited about how great the cushion turned out). It adds a little whimsy but I don't have to really worry about backsides rubbing it off because it is tucked safely in a back corner. To make the bow cut a length of ribbon 2 the size of your desired finished bow. Fold it in half and stitch the 2 ends together. Place the seam in the back middle of the loop and press it in half. Next, wrap another small length of ribbon around your flattened loop and stitch the 2 ends together in the back and sew to the flattened loop. Once your bow is finished you can hand sew it to your cushion for a pretty flare. You can also add buttons to tuft your cushions (this is a good idea if you go with the pillow forms) or tassels at the corners. To keep your cushions in place you can add ties to the back (about 6 to 8 in. for each) or add some non-slip backing to the bottom of your cushion.
Most of our outdoor fabric blends with many collections so it will be easy to add tablecloths, coordinating pillows and grill covers.Check out our whole Outdoor Fabric Section which includes fabric by motif, patterns and notions. Have fun!
One of the main reasons I got into upholstery was to take a break from sewing. I thought that it was all mashing tacks with mallets and tack hammers. I knew it would be a good way to vent frustration. And it is 90% tack mashing but thankfully there is that 10% of sewing. The small bit of sewing is like closure. You spend weeks pounding and yanking on a piece and if that was just the end of it, it would be like a Hollywood Blockbuster ending with a huge fight scene and explosion. The small bits of hand sewing wrap up your project and give me a chance to focus on the details instead of the big picture of pattern matching and yardages. This focus on detail is really gives the finished piece its polish.
One of the secrets to successful upholstery is carefully placed tucks and folds, but tacks alone do not always hold these in place or hold them flat to give a polished look. Often you need some hand sewing to blend these tucks or folds. Or you might need some scrolls, or add a section highlighted by piping, there are many reasons to need hand sewing on your upholstery work. Hand sewing upholstery can be tricky but for the most part it is easy. I prefer to do all of my work with curved upholstery needles. Curved needles are excellent at getting into tight spaces: deep corners, crevices between cushions and awkward lines. Curved needles are pretty slippery, so I often wear a leather thimble to help with grip or you can try a pair of cotton garden gloves (the pattern in Weekend Sewing makes a good fit). Wearing something with a little friction can help your grip on the curved needle. Matching thread is also important, but an exact match is not that big of a deal; most of your stitch will be hidden (Note- I used bright white thread for pictures purposes only).
I hide my knot with my first stitch by coming in backwards. My needle enters about ½ in from the end I am starting at and exits right where I want to start my seam. I recommend using a doubled strand when hand sewing to make your seams strong. If your tuck, fold or fabric pieces are not 100% secured with tacks, you can use T-pins to hold your piece in place while you focus on sewing. I like to take bigger stitches than for clothing or toys, about ¼ in. to ½ in. from one stitch to the next. Applying your stitches is much like adding a blind hem, you just want to catch the edge of your fabric so your tucks or fold lay flat and your stitches stay hidden. Line up your stitches and pull your thread tight after each stitch to make sure your path looks good. You don't need to hold your stitches tight after each but pulling them tight to check each one will help you make tiny adjustments as you go so you don't have to rip out at the end. I also like to hide my end knot in between cushions or behind piping if I can. Always double secure your knots so they won't pull out.Man, that looks so much better!
Check out our great Waverly fabrics here. They are my favorites for recovering vintage furniture
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April is a Spring Wardrobe themed month. I am going to feature several great pieces to add to your Spring Wardrobe that will carry you into summer and can be added to your fall wardrobe as well in layers. My favorite fabric for spring is knit. It is so swingy and flexible. Knits are light enough to layer with leggings and a jacket for brisk mornings and can be glammed up with a sleek clutch and heels for a night out. Knits are excellent travel garments as well and are not prone to wrinkle like wovens. Great knit patterns are also easier to find than ever before and Kwik Sew has many fashionable knit patterns. One of my favorites is the Kwik Sew Knit Pull-Over Dress & Tunic. It has a simple design which makes it a shoe in for easy layering and also customization. You can make several in different colors and prints to really flesh out your closet. The fit is flattering without being clingy.
I learned my lessons from my previous knit dress and measured my pattern pieces before deciding on a size. I was between a medium and a small so I went with medium because I fall on the busty side and I didn't want to have the bodice too tight. I realize now that I should have gone with the small. I didn't take the weight of my knit into account. I prefer the medium weights and this Stretch Cotton Jersey is a bit heavy but the drape is just right. There is also considerable ease in the pattern; I suppose to prevent too tight bodices should you decide on the next size down. The fit is still good and I will not alter the dress. The tank style is very flattering, with a scoop neck that accentuates without revealing. I feel very comfortable as a mom with a toddler wearing this dress around to do my mom-like tasks. I did modify the style of dress and am very pleased with how it turned out. I wanted to display how well this pattern lends itself to modification. While a stylish cut, it is also a blank slate. It reminds me a of a really great t-shirt; you can totally wear it as is and look hot but if you add some embellishments, they will look great too.
For my modifications I added a contrasting knit trim on the neckline and armhole. I also added a scallop edging to the skirt. It was really easy too since I made a hem facing. I measured the width of the skirt piece and made a rectangle 2 in. tall by the same length. Then I chose a plate about 4.5 in. in diameter (you may need one smaller or larger if you choose a different size), there was one in my daughter's tea set. I marked on the back 4 marks each indicating ¼ of the plate. I then lined up the half plate on the fold side of my scallop pattern piece and traced it. I moved the plate over so that I then traced half the plate until I came to the edge where I again traced only ¼ of the plate. Cut out the hem facing. Tape this to the bottom of your skirt pieces before you cut out the skirt and then cut 2 of on the fold from your fabric for the hem facing following the same stretch and grain indicators from the skirt pattern pieces. Sew the skirt as directed in the pattern but instead of hemming, add your hem facing. Stitch your 2 hem facings together at the sides and with right sides together, pin and stitch your hem facing to your skirt. Clip and trim around the scallops before turning and pressing. Finish by stitching your hem facing to your skirt. You can topstitch if desired. This scallop hem really adds a bit of spring to this dress in homage to tulips and Easter. Created in a light color or soft print this dress will make a great Easter dress or tunic. I recommend a jersey or interlock, something with a good bit of stretch and experiment with a muslin to get the fit just right. This is a great wardrobe builder.