Sewing: May 2011 Archives
Memorial Day seems to be the official start of summer, AKA Swimsuit season. If you are anything like me, finding a swimsuit to fit your body is somewhere on the list of un-favorite things to do behind cleaning the bathroom and changing poopy diapers. One of the reasons I detest swimsuit shopping so much is that my body is not standard and is even less so since having a baby. My bust and chest ratio is not available off the rack. And if a 2 piece is not sold by the piece than that ain't happening either. I often wonder why tops are not sold in bra sizes because just because a lady is a medium across the chest does not make her a medium in cup size. And don't get me started on bottoms!
Alas, we are the lucky ones because we can sew so we can custom fit and design a swimsuit to not just fit perfectly but also to highlight what we like, disguise what we don't and add any details that are hot right now. So with all this in mind, I set out to make a great suit for me and I started with Kwik Sew's Swimsuit and Wrap Pattern (KP-3330) because #1: I really liked the skirt option and #2: I thought the top would be easy to modify to fit me well. To begin I tried on all my swimsuits from past and present to see what design elements I like and which I did not. I found that the halter style gave me the support I was looking for but I liked thicker straps that those in the pattern. This was easily fixed by widening the top of the cups. Right where the top of the cup reaches 2 in. across I extended it up to make 2 in. wide and 15 in long straps. I installed the elastic as stated in the pattern but continued the hem all the way up the strap. I also made the under bust strap into a tie as well for a better fit and extended the tie 5 more inches on each side but kept the elastic the same sizes as stated in the pattern. For the bottoms I left off the waist band because I found the elastic to give a slight muffin top effect. I may modify it later with more elastic or a smaller waist band but I am still waffling. I am also considering taking the waist band and putting it on the skirt so that the skirt is removable.
Now for the venting: there are few things more slippery than elastic on swimsuit fabric. It takes some practice to anticipate how it moves and where to position it on the sewing machine. I recommend using long, skinny, SHARP pins too. The long ones enabled me to keep them in the fabric until the last possible moment and then pull them out so my fabric would stay together. Because and try on your top as you make it. The darts can be tricky, if you don't curve them a bit you will end up with points, which is not a good look. You want a cup shape not a cone. Also, you will need a walking foot, a seam ripper, patience and a good drink (coffee or wine, depending on the time of day). The drink is for when you are just about to hurl your project out the window, take a drink and a deep breath and get back to work. It is worth it in the end to avoid dressing room lights and look good at the pool.
I have made the skirt and added the waist band to my bottoms. I recommend both but without the waist elastic. I originally had the elastic in my waist band as instructed in the pattern but it definitely gave a muffin top appearance and I feared I would have to suck in the whole time at the pool. So I ripped the waist band off and took out the elastic and it looks so much better and works just fine. This suit has been pool tested with a 2 yr old and it stays in place and looks great. I love the skirt: it is just long enough to add coverage without looking old fashioned.
To answer Anns question- There is no elastic at the top of the bottoms without the skirt as pictured above, only a fold over and then zig zag stitch. I don't think you need the elastic but if it sits too low or you want added insurance, add the waist band. It looks great and stays in place without elastic. You could definitely make the band wider to create more of a hipster look or more tummy coverage but I think you will see from the skirt picture that it does come up quite a bit so try it as is first with your muslin and then adjust as needed.
Liberty of London- Just say it out loud. It just sounds like great fabric. Saying that words bring pictures of English countryside, blooming flowers, tea heavy in the air and double-decker buses. Saying the name "Liberty of London" makes me want to sew. And sew I have. I was given 2 yards of Liberty of London Lawn Pepper Green (one of our MANY gorgeous prints from Liberty of London) as soon as it arrived in our shop and told to make something great but try to keep the project small and fun. Well, that was no problem given that it is spring, almost summer. I decided on 2 projects to show the variety of Liberty. These prints are perfect for wee people as well as adults and it is perfect for warm weather.
My first project was the trickiest because I wanted a sleeveless shirt but nothing with too much detail to compete with the print of the fabric. I sorted through the Fabric.com pattern catalog but didn't find anything I loved! Well, I became sidetracked with a personal project of making new PJs for myself and found the pattern that was perfect for the Liberty of London. It is HotPatterns Cupid Cami (And it's a free pattern download!). Originally designed as a PJ top, I didn't see why with a fabric substitution it would not make the most wonderful summer top. I love being right. With some Hanky Weight Linen as my bias tape, this cami took approx 1 yard of Liberty of London (you are safe with just ordering 1 yd) and about 2-3 hours to complete (having had to make the bias tape). I did have to add darts of 4 in. long by 1 in. wide at the bust but that was my only modification. This top is easy to make and can be easily modified for a longer length; it hit right at my hips. The ties at the top are so much fun and make me feel like a kid again. I do recommend that when you sew the front to the back that you start at the bottom when matching up the sides. If you start at the top, it will not match up once you get to the bottom. Once you sew the seam, it will all work out.
My second project also took approx 1 yd and came from Heather Ross Weekend Sewing. I have made the Flower Girl before and know it runs a little small so I made the size 4 for my 2 yr old; I want her to have it for several summers. This print really brought out something in this pattern that the other dress did not have. The Liberty of London print sort of 'fits' this pattern like no other fabric. The Flower Girl dress also went to together super quick, 2 hours or so. I cut my skirt length to 20 in. to make it longer like in the book photograph. The other modifications were to topstitch the gathers in place once I had pressed the bodice seam towards the skirt and I made the straps a bit wider at 1.5 in. I think even a bit wider than that would still look great. You could even get away with some flat piping where the bodice and skirt meet. You could not ask for a better combination of dress and print for little girls.
The flow and drape of the Liberty of London Lawn is light and delicate with an airiness that will be most welcome come the balmy days of summer. The print reminds me of my childhood, of picnics and climbing trees. You can't beat the soft hand or bright colors; this is a fabric that needs to be in your closet.
Sometimes, what's under the dress is just as important than
the dress itself.
As you may remember from our last post on Carole's wedding dress, the bride had decided she would like the waist to sit just a little lower.
Carole purchased a foundation garment to wear under her dress, but the bodice wasn't sitting properly on her torso. Because her hips sit a little high in the back, the dress was riding up oddly in the back of the waist. The foundation garment she brought to her fitting sucked things in, but it distributed her weight in a way that did not work with the dress style she wanted.
We wrestled with a few options, but nothing was quite right. Then, on a whim, I had her try on a Victorian corset I had in my collection. The upper part of the corset was completely inappropriate for her gown, but I wanted to test it just to see if steel boning would help matters. Lo and behold, the back of the dress settled right into place, and a plan was hatched: The foundation garment Carole bought was getting the steel boning treatment.
A note on steel versus plastic boning: Plastic boning certainly has its place, and I use it in many applications. However, if a situation calls for a more unyielding support, steel is the way to go in my opinion. As the wearer's body heats up, plastic tends to mold to the body's shape, so it loses its ability to really create a firm line. Steel will curve slightly to the body's contours, but it retains its rigid nature and keeps everything sitting pretty.
I ordered an assortment of steel bones and started cutting bias strips to make casings. Once I had all my supplies in hand, I measured out my strips and stitched them into the foundation. The bones slid in like butter, and voila! A better fitting dress!
Here are a few snaps of the process -- you'll see it's very easy to make this alteration.
Cutting the bias strips. I used muslin I had on hand.
The bones have arrived! I ordered mine from a corset supplier.
The victim/foundation garment.
Casings stitched down, boning slid into place. I didn't close the tops initially, so we could remove any bones if they proved problematic.
Next up: beading!
One of the keys to making a house a home is dedication to details. Whether this is spray-painting a lamp the perfect shade of green to accent your dining room or picking out trim to really finish off your drapes in the bedroom, details can take a room from 'Blah' to 'WOW'. Adding details to unexpected places is also another way to make a room special. One of my favorite details in home decorating is embroidery. It is a simple, colorful and unexpected way to add an extraordinary touch to a home dec. project.
I have been really blown away by the pillows, lamp shades and throws in blogland, so I decided to try my own to spice my sort-of boring green couch. It came with some standard matchy-matchy pillows that are too contemporary for my taste. Deciding on some of the totally hip Dwell Studio Blossom fabric that I have previously used in my Amy Butler Style Stitches Post, I thought the colors would really work in my living room which is heavily blue. But I wanted to add some color accents to make the pillow pop but also to add some texture. Not wanting too much of a good thing I decided to embroider three accents in three different colors. Making the bird the center focus of the pillow as well as one of the blossoms and a small cluster of berries was my plan. Using simple stitches such as back stitch and French knot, I was able to fill in some color in little bits without overdoing it. I called on my knowledge from Sublime Stitching and my invisible zipper post.
Sometimes it was just an outline of the bird to make it stand out or adding french knots and fill stitches to the berries to fill in some color, the trick was not to overdo it and add color everywhere. The fabric was already amazing; I just want to make it special and mine. This is a great beginner's embroidery project since the overall pattern will distract from any mistakes and it is basically coloring in the lines. Even more the advanced will enjoy adding their gift all over the house.
Psst. There is a sneak peek at my May Free Knitting Pattern Download project above!
From Hot Patterns, this Sporty Sarong-Short free pattern is awesome! The garment has the appearance of a skirt, comfort of shorts, and cute tie accent in front. I was a little hesitant of the "skort" aspect myself... but, really... what a practical garment! These are fashion-forward modern skorts. And I love them. Choose a printed fabric to make them, and you won't even be able to tell they are actually shorts; great for dressing up or dressing down!
The cut of the pattern is marvelous, and so easy to put together! I chose the rayon challis print from the Style Studio collection. Challis is a dream to work with, and the drape is perfect for this style of garment. You want something with some flow and drape to it. Also try voile, linen or peachskin! For my next project I want to combine this pattern with a top pattern and attach the two to make these into a sporty sarong-short romper!
In preparing my home for spring and summer, I wanted to
liven up my kitchen table. I decided to do this with making reversible, mix and
match place mats. What better fabric to use for this than laminated cottons.
They come in a variety of fun prints from some of my favorite textile
designers, and all you have to do is wipe them clean.
As I was working with the laminates, I discovered that not all laminates are created equally. Some are much heavier than others. For example, I had some laminates from the Moda Central Park collection. These laminates were very heavy weight. The laminated cottons I had from Free Spirit are softer and lighter weight. When picking your laminates from Fabric.com, make sure you read the descriptions for weight information. I cut a simple rectangle shape: 21'' x 16 ¼'', then rounded the edges (optional of course).Making the placemats reversible, I just paired the opposite weight laminates together, no problem.
Here's the problem... pins. Once you poke through laminated
cotton with a pin or a needle. That hole is there. And it's not going away. Ever.
So I realized I had to do this project WITHOUT pins. This involves some strategic
maneuvering with your hands as you sew. As you can see, I marked clearly where
I was to sew and tightly held my fabrics together as I sewed around the placemat. This almost worked out better than I expected! Sew carefully, constantly
aware of your grip, and there should be no warping.
Because of the thickness of the laminates, I did a 1 ¼''
seam allowance, and then graded the seam to eliminate bulk around the seams. I
then clipped notches on the rounded corners to they would lay nice and round
and flat when I flipped it. I left a 7- 8'' opening on one side in order to
flip it. The most maneuvering done with the project is flipping the placemat right
side out. Be careful! And it's ok if you pop a few stitches by the opening,
top-stitching solves that later.
I used double sided basting tape to temporarily seal the opening
after my mat was flipped. Because pins can't be involved in this project, this
double sided basting tape is perfect! You can find double sided basting tape at
your local hobby and sewing store. Once you place the tape where you want, you
then peel the top liner off, and then press your seam together.
Add another one to my "Love" column; Oliver + S's Sunday Brunch Jacket is a must have for your kid's wardrobe. #1 (and you readers know that this is always #1 for me) It was a fast project. As adorable and fabulous as this jacket looks on the envelope, one would think it would be difficult or time consuming at the least. Neither is true. This is an easy pattern and really took half as long as I originally banked. There are not that many pattern pieces (this equals limited cutting) and the instructions were pie. I really loved this pattern.
I also love how casually dressy (AKA- comfy fancy) it is. My daughter has plenty of the typical toddler jackets which are mostly cotton or a cotton/poly blend in generic primary colors or uber-girl colors with a hood and zipper. They are great for play (especially with her affinity for puddles) but I can't throw one of those jackets one over a cute dress for a birthday party, holiday dinner or anywhere nice we need to go. And sometimes I just do want something nicer than the norm but still comfy for her. My 2 yr old shouldn't know the difference between a regular jacket and a nice jacket and luckily with this pattern all of the above it true. I can make this pattern in just about any fabric and it is still nice but still washable and comfy for her.
Now for the Mods: I limited my modifications for this pattern today since I was focusing on the use of Home Dec fabric for the jacket. This Amy Butler Love print is so bright and fun that I thought it was perfect for a kid's jacket. It doesn't hurt that now she and I can match, should we choose. The 100% Cotton has a soft hand and forgiving pattern. I did not add cuffs since I made the 3T size and I wanted to make it easy to let out the sleeves when the time comes. I also did not interface since I was using a heavier weight fabric. I would suggest finishing the seams with bias tape as you go not when the instructions call for it. If you follow the instructions you will be adding bias tape to seams that have already been edge stitched and that is tricky. I suggest finishing with bias tape first then edge stitching. Also, I suggest the Riley Blake buttons since they are CUTE and perfect for this jacket.
I can't wait to make the skirt but I will opt for a navy solid or navy with mini dots instead of matching it to the jacket. This jacket will make its debut Sunday on Mother's day. I can't wait to button those buttons and escort her around in her new jacket! I also recommend trying the jacket in Denim, Linen or Seersucker.