Sewing: November 2011 Archives
The pleasure of the hunt is nothing compared to the euphoria of creating a piece that sells for $100 (retail) but can be made for little more than a few dollars. This is the case with this delicious Aramaic Bracelet. Inspired by a pricey fabric and sterling silver bracelet found here, our knock off is crafted from cotton (just like the original) but is modified with a D-ring and swivel hook closure. You could of course modify it further to imitate the original more with vintage closures and pliable aluminum but I am not a very skilled metal worker. Here is what you need to create a 7 in. Aramaic Bracelet like mine pictured
Scrap pieces of fabric in similar colors or featuring one color, at least 24 in. long (I used Amy Butler Cotton)
Cut fabric into 1 in. wide strips (by 24 in. length). Loosely, braid your fabric keeping the print facing up. Once you reach the end, stitch across the both ends to secure. Fold your bracelet in half and slide the D-ring over the folded edge. Match up both raw (stitched) ends and stitch together. Insert Swivel Hook over this end, fold over and stitch ½ in. away from swivel hook to secure hook. Clasp the hook on the loop to close and wear bracelet. Done! This is a fast and fun gift idea for friends and family. Since the Aramaic Bracelet takes just a little bit of time to make you can stock up for teachers, babysitters and stocking stuffers!
Mambo Braided Bracelet
While I was on Facebook the other day checking out the comments on my Mambo Yarn Review (Yes, I read all my commentsJ) I was inspired by a link I found while checking out one of Martha's Mambo sites. It was a really cool Braided Bracelet that I thought you all would love to make as a Christmas gift or a funky accessory for upcoming parties. It is a fabulous and exuberant bracelet that intrigued me more when I read the instructions. I didn't knit or crochet this bracelet at all. It is sewn and braided and the idea is ingenious. It did take longer than I hoped to sew up the first step of these instructions but thanks to a good movie on TV, time flew. The 2nd step was trickier. At this point you have 2 ends hanging off the thick middle, which is made up of the 3 strands you have sewn together. You fold this thick, middle section in thirds so that it is stacked at one end, 3 high. You sew this end together. Now you are left with 3 strands, sewn at the top and with the bottom of a loop and a loose end then other end. Now you braid your strands starting at the sewn end and moving the loose end through the loop when needed until you get to the end and then you pull the loose end and tuck it into the loop to secure. Now your bracelet is just about finished. Take your 2 tails and tie them in a knot to close the bracelet.
· A tip on braiding- I started out by folding my strands over as I brought them from the back to the front to pass over. This didn't give a very good look. You want to just braided keeping the same side up and not folding over. This will give a more dramatic braided style which is just like the picture
This is much easier when you read as you go instead of reading ahead. I will try to make a video while making my next bracelet to illustrate fully how to assemble this bracelet. It is easy and fun once you get the hang of it. There are several more patterns for funky accessories to create with Martha Stewart Mambo Yarn.
Third up in our "From Film to Closet" series, we're borrowing inspiration from the television screen instead of the silver screen. How in love with "Pan Am" am I? DEEPLY. The show is so incredibly stylish, so beautiful and so smart. And boy, oh, boy, do I loooove those darling little Pan Am carry-on bags all the gals have.
So, enough with the envy! Time to make my own version!
For this project, I used solid vinyl (I made one in hot pink and one in medium blue). This vinyl has a fabric backing, which makes it super easy to sew and gives it a little extra strength.
Here are the pieces I cut:
1 rectangle 18"x 37.5" -- This is the main body of the bag. I wanted rounded top edges, so I used a saucer as a guide to shape the corners of the rectangle into smooth curves. The bottom of the bag is the center area of this rectangle.
2 rectangles 23"x3.5" -- These will be used for the zipper inset of the bag.
2 rectangles 12.5"x7" -- These will join with the completed zipper assembly to form the sides of the bag.
1 rectangle 4"x60" -- This piece will be used to make your straps.
You'll also need a 22" zipper.
On to assembly!
First, I inset the zipper. I first stitched each side of the zipper to a 23"x3.5" piece, right sides together.
Once both sides of the zipper are attached to the vinyl pieces, I top stitched the folded edge of the vinyl from the right side, catching in the raw edge underneath to create a smooth fold. This is what the zipper inset piece looks like:
Next, the 12.5"x7" pieces attach to each end of the zipper assembly. I used the same topstitching method with these seams that I did with the zipper.
One the top and side pieces are all joined together, that assembly is set into the 18"x37.5" piece. I made a really technical drawing of how these fit together. Basically, if you think of your large rectangle with rounded corners as a taco shell, your zipper assembly will run along the raw edges of the taco shape to form an enclosed space.
My trick to match my edges up is a little unorthodox here. I mark the centers of each piece, and then I start sewing from what would be the bag's center top edge. This means that I sew each side of the zipper assembly in two sections, each running from the center, across the top and down the side. This ensures that my zipper assembly ends at the span of the larger rectangle that forms the bottom of the bag. Once I get both sides in place, I make any adjustments necessary, and then stitch the short bottom side edges, ending up with a box.
1. When applying a straight edge to a curve, clip your straight edge to ease things along.
2. Every time you stitch vinyl, you make a hole in it, so stitch carefully!
Time to make straps!
Fold your long strip the same way you would bias tape. You can't apply heat to vinyl unless you want a melty mess, but if you fold it and run your finger along the fold, it does have some crease memory.
Once you have your fabric folded, you want to sandwich it between two pieces of tissue paper, or one piece folded around your stitching area, and stitch along the long edge where the folds come together. The tissue will keep the vinyl from sticking to your foot or your stitching plate, and the tissue tears away from the stitching easily when you're done. (So, save that gift tissue! It can be recycled!)
Once you have your strap piece stitched closed, stitch down the other side so you have symmetrical stitching.
Once all stitching is complete, cut your strap in two so you have two pieces, each 30" long.
Next, you'll mark the positioning of your straps on the outside of the bag. Mine are 4.5" from the side of the bag, and 2 1/4" from the top. I made tiny marks in each position with a ballpoint pen.
Here, you can see my positioning mark (you want to make sure marks won't be seen when you're finished), my strap and a scrap of tissue paper all sandwiched together.
Next, I folded the strap up to conceal the raw edge, and topstitched the strap into place. Complete that step with your other three strap points, and you're done!
This is a very basic bag, but the sky's the limit (pardon the pun) when it comes to all the ways you can customize it. You can line it, add pockets, add piping -- whatever your heart desires! How fun would it be to make one using glitter vinyl, or contrasting colors? Or, you could use a stencil to paint your own personal logo on it. I can name a dozen things you could do, but what's more interesting is what you come up with! Bon voyage!
I HATE gathering. It just seems so tedious: sewing 2 lines down the edge of a really long piece of fabric and then carefully pulling the bobbin threads until it is just so and then carefully arranging the gathers and THEN sewing it onto the fabric. Something always goes wrong and I have to rip or I get frustrated. I wish there was an app for that or at a tool. Oh, wait there is- A gathering foot. This handy foot does all the work for you. All you do it load it on your machine and then sew one line of stitching. You can either use it just to gather and then join pieces or you can gather and join at the same time. I recently used it on my HotPatterns Cabriolet Skirt but I have used it many times in the past, most notably on my daughter's Halloween Costume last year: Little Red Riding Hood.
I prefer to use this foot to gather first and then join because I have found it difficult to control both pieces of fabric. The gathering goes so smooth and fast but once you get two pieces going at once at different speeds, I get flustered. I am more confident since I have studied this video by Bonetge (which gives some great ideas on gathers) but I need to practice more. It is just so easy and still cuts a lot of time to just gather and then join separately that I am not sure if I really will practice.
To use the gathering foot I like to set up my machine as though I were going to do gathers the old fashioned way: tension as high as it will go (9) and a long basting stitch. If you want less gathers you can adjust by lowering your tension and shortening your stitch length on a practice piece of fabric. Then line up your fabric edge with the edge of the gathering foot -this will give a ½ in. seam allowance--and start slow working up to a comfortable speed. What I love most it that these gathers stay put better than those formed by pulling thread and so need less supervision when joining. When joining, place right sides together and the gathered piece on top to make sure no gathers get tucked up in the seam.
For the second installment of my From Film to the Closet series, I've got "Mad Men" on the brain. I super love the swell of popularity that retro looks are experiencing. It's crazy fun to walk through the mall and see all the shop windows styled to look like a previous era.
I fell in love with this Kwik Sew pattern quite a while back, but I've never really loved the lower half of it.
I'm hippy, so I like skirts with a little
more swing. It didn't occur to me until recently to use the skirt from this
Kwik Sew pattern to make a dress with a silhouette more to my liking. Pattern mashup time!
The only real trick here is figuring out where to cut the bodice to attach the skirt. For me, this meant cutting the bodice pieces a little long, and then trimming them once the bodice section was together and fitted to me.
Here are the bodice pieces being cut using the full-length pattern pieces -- I opted for a pink Duchess Satin.
I didn't cut any length off the paper pattern -- I just used the cut end of the fabric as the bottom of my pieces. I also didn't worry about making the bodice pieces all perfectly match, length-wise. I just left enough on each that I felt comfortable that I wouldn't fall short, and then I was careful stitching to match up any notches. The bodice underlap piece on this dress cuts off close to the waistline. Taller gals than me might be able to use it as your waistline marker. I had to clip about 1.5 - 2" off of it.
I made a quick fabric belt out of the same satin I used for the rest of the dress, and tacked it into place along the waistline. If I were to make this dress again, I think I would incorporate the belt along the waist seam.
I think this is such a fun dress! I can so easily see an entire "Mad Men" style wedding party, or just a fun retro-themed soiree. Who wants to host?
Fall is a great time to work on your outdoor space and the big trend is bringing the inside out or creating an outdoor living room. This is a great idea and can include such comfy articles as a sofa, lounge chairs and coffee tables in your yard. But don't overlook the other great living room staple: floor cushions. These are great inside for chilling while watching a movie, extra seating at a party and a handy foot stool. Floor cushions can be just as purposeful outside, especially during the fall. Us e them as extra seating around the firepit (they give a great vantage point for roasting hotdogs), seats for young children and foot stools while watching the soccer game Saturday morning. I chose Amy Butler's Gumdrop Pillows because they fit all my criteria: 1) super comfy 2) really, really, super good looking 3) just the right height to play multiple roles.
I made the 18 in. Gumdrop from outdoor fabric and it turned out really well. I did not use interfacing on the top medallion, I just cut 2 from the fabric and followed the instructions since the fabric was thick enough to stable in itself. Had the fabric been thinner (like quilting cotton) I would have used the interfacing.
Now remember, these pillows are big so they take a lot of stuffing. I used 2.5 big bags for the 18 in. (smaller) pillow. I think the 24 in. would probably take 3-4 bags. You want them to be really firm, so punch down often. Also, heed my warning from previous experience with outdoor fabric and pressing: use a low setting since high heat can distort the fabric. Also, plan to spray these cushions with either tent spray (waterproofing) or scotch guard since they will be on the ground and depending on your family habits- bounced on, jumped onto from great distances, dragged or kicked like a ball. That said, these are a great investment for your outdoor space since they take little fabric, little time to cut or sew and brings a warmth and comfort that wicker or cedar just can't compete with.
P.S. These make great seating for holiday parties and family gatherings!
This is the first in a new series, where I take inspiration
from film and television, and find ways to work silver screen style into my
day-to-day wardrobe. I hope we all have fun with it!
To kick things off, I'm starting with one of my very favorite movies of all time -- "Mary Poppins." I have had a crush on Dick Van Dyke ever since I first saw this movie as a kid. The DVD is on heavy rotation in my sewing room DVD player. I hum the songs nearly constantly. Hello, my name is Holly, I and I am addicted to "Mary Poppins."
I adore the jacket Bert wears during the Jolly Holiday fantasy sequence. The stripes are so fun, and the look is just joyous. I have been lucky enough to see the original piece -- it's on display in a shop in Disney's Hollywood Studios. Imagine my delight and surprise when I saw that the fabric pattern is actually customized with grosgrain ribbon stitched onto a striped base. Instant inspiration!
I decided to make a jacket for myself based on Bert's finery. I tweaked the colors slightly, thinking that I wanted to end up with something that had a look reminiscent of ribbon candy.
Here's what I used:
- A blazer pattern I drafted for myself about eight years ago. Almost any pattern you like will work just fine, though I'd recommend one without too many seams. The short style on this Indygo Junction pattern is a good candidate.
- 2 1/2 yards of striped fabric. I used a Premier Prints stripe as my base.
- 10 yards of yellow grosgrain ribbon
- 10 yards of orange striped grosgrain ribbon
- 2 1/2 yards of sunflower china silk lining
I cut all my pieces from my base fabric first, then I stitched down all my ribbon on the cut pieces. This was time consuming, but so totally worth it for a completely custom look. The key here is to mirror the look side to side if you want to achieve a symmetrical look. If you like to shake things up by not worrying about symmetry, that'll give your jacket a totally different edge. It's all about playing!
Once the ribbon was all stitched down (I used every bit of those 10 yards!), I assembled the jacket like normal, and ended up with some serious stripey fun!
Even though the colors on mine are springy, I plan on wearing it through winter while I wait for warmer weather. With the addition of a glittery pink mini poinsettia from the local garden and craft store, I am ready for holiday cheer! (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the trend in recent years of pastels being holiday colors? LOVE!) It'll be a jolly holiday indeed, and this look will carry me right through spring.
Imagine all the combinations you can use to make your own entirely custom look! I love the idea of making a project like this with my go-to color combo of black, pink and gray. And who says you have to start with a striped base? Applique ribbon stripes over a print base, and you can really create some amazing designs -- all uniquely you!
I love a good juxtaposition of fashion, namely mixing men's suiting with a feminine silhouette. You will probably not find me in such a richly ruffled piece of clothing unless you can tone it down with some smooth, dark and simply decorated men's suiting. The combo is my cup of tea. I was looking for the perfect project to branch out our men's suiting and the overtly feminine design of the HotPatterns Cabriolet Dress/skirt was perfect. There are 2 layers of gathered ruffles that flow and drape to accentuate a woman's body coupled with a long tie to cinch in the waist and create a dramatic bow. If this design doesn't say "Woman" nothing does. The wool suiting I selected is dark blue with a simple and stark window pane detail in gold. That is it. It is rich and lightweight but dark and simple. The perfect fabric for a man's garment. The two together make for a striking combination that can be worn to a number of occasions. Paired with a fitted white button down shirt and red pumps makes a dramatic outfit for a work Christmas party. Worn as a dress with leggings and knee high riding boots and a fitted blazer can be fabulous outfit for Christmas shopping or an outdoor fall party. Or you can wear it as a dress throw on a shrug and a pair of bold heels for date night or girls night out!
I love this version and can't wait to wear it out. I might not be able to wait and will probably be seen sporting it at the grocery store and maybe down to the park. Nap time tomorrow might be spent finding new outfit combinations to post on Facebook!
Some tips on the pattern:
1) Either cut a second tie as a lining or serge or zig zag all your pieces before assembly. You can also opt for a decadent bias tape like dupioni silk.
2) Try using a second fabric for your tie to create interest or a color block effect.
3) You can plan and add a long button hole to slide your tie through if you want since it is not in the instructions.
Cowls and jersey necklaces are exploding in the fashion scene today and I am drooling. I love a good accessory because many days I only get time to pull on jeans and a t-shirt in between playing blocks, going on leaf collecting journeys and watching Sesame Street. I need some glamour most days even if it ends up just being a pair of earrings, fancy socks, or -in this case- a jersey knit cowl or stacked necklace. Both are easy and FUN to make (mostly because they are quick) and a great addition to your wardrobe whether you are an accessory queen or a busy mom looking to offset some mom jeans (that last part was, of course, hypothetical. For the record I don't wear mom jeans- no matter what anyone may tell you).
To make the Sunshine Sequin Jersey Knit Cowl you will need ½ yard of Sequin Stripe Jersey Knit Fabric and coordinating thread. You can opt to serge or zig zag your cut edges or leave them raw to roll over. Match up the selvedges and stitch together using a french seam. The French seam eliminates the raw edges and gives a tailored seam. That's it. You can wrap your cowl as many times as deemed per your style or the outside temp.
The necklace is just as easy as the cowl but I did not use a French seam, just a regular ½ in. will do. Start with another ½ yd of Jersey Knit Fabric, with right sides facing, match up your selvedges and stitch them up, creating a tube. Then lay your tube flat on a cutting surface and cut your tube into smaller ½ in. to 1 in. tube strips. The bigger the strips, the thicker the strands of your necklace. Cut as many strips as needed to make your necklace the desired thickness. Once all your strips are cut, stretch them out as far as they will go and when they bounce back the sides will have curled up to give the necklace its signature appeal. Gather up all your strands and tie a bow around them at the back to keep your seams together and at the back. You can mix and match colors or tie 2 bows (like mine) to use as an accent.
Both projects make great gifts. A word to the wise: only use jersey for the necklace since it curls and don't use a jersey with details like the sequin stripe or screen printing since the stripe and ink will interfere with the curl.
I mentioned French Seams in my Café Curtain Post so we are back today to explain with a nifty diagram how to create your own French Seams. First, I want to thank Stacy from StacySews.com who taught me everything I needed to know about French seams.
French seams are a very easy technique of hiding your raw edges inside your seams to give a professional finish inside a garment or on the wrong side of a home dec project (like mine) so both sides look nice. I chose to use French seams to join my curtains panels so viewed from the outside of the window, you would only see a nice finish. I could have serged or pinked but I wanted something VERY nice, so I opted for French seams. French seams are a great couture finish and a way to make your projects extra special because they will look good no matter where you look.
French seams are also easy but there is math involved. Don't move! You can use a calculator. First choose the seam amount you want to use for the majority of the project. Let's use ½ in. for the example. You will need to calculate ¾ in. for each French seam (that is ¼ in. plus ½ in.).
To complete your french seams, first place your pieces wrong side together (you read that right, we are starting off backwards), pin and stitch along the seam like using a ¼ in. seam. Press you seam open and turn your fabric over the seam. Now you right sides should be facing and your first seam is sandwiched in the middle. Press again to get everything smooth and stitch along the seam line using a ½ in. seam allowance. Press your seam open from the right side. You will see that your raw edges are enveloped inside the 2 seams and the only thing visible along the back side is a nice, welt-like seam-a French Seam!
I have fallen in love with the tulle party dresses populating Etsy these days and have dreamed of creating one for my little lady for the upcoming holidays. I resigned to start where I seldom go: into my own stash of toddler dress patterns (with 2 grandmas that sew I can 1) fight over my daughter's wardrobe or 2)be resigned and spend the time on mine). I really loved the high empire waist styling with an over-sized tulle skirt so I picked out a few patterns that already featured an empire waist and started modifying from there. Here are a few great patterns from our store for you to work from:
The key to taking your pattern from regular to Tulle-tacular (yes, I just said Tulle-tacular. Give it time, it's gonna be huge) is the combination of colors. I have noticed the big sellers on Etsy and also the dresses that are my favorite are those that either couple rich jewel tone tulle and fabric together (think garnet, amber or jade) or just the jewel tone tulle paired with an unexpected and bold cotton print for the bodice. I considered pairing my Jade 108 in. Tulle with a complimentary Dupioni Silk for the bodice but when I found this black and white damask cotton print in my stash I knew it was the one. I assembled the bodice as instructed by the pattern but made the skirt out of a combination of tulle and matching cotton fabric (you can also use a knit fabric). The matching cotton fabric is for the underskirt which is a very important part because it will keep the tulle from touching the skin and tulle can be irritating. The underskirt needs to be invisible so it must match your tulle. My 108 in. tulle came folded in thirds from the bolt and I left it folded and cut out my skirt widths with it folded. I then layered several skirt widths until I had my desired fullness (I chose 3 layers or about 3-4 yds of tulle). I then stitched the skirt together at the back and basted through all layers across the top and then pulled the bobbin thread to gather up all the tulle to create my skirt. To create the under skirt I just cut one piece of cotton to the same width as one tulle layer and stitched it up the back and gathered it at the top as with the tulle. To attach the underskirt and tulle to the bodice I pinned the gathered tulle to the right side of the bodice (right sides facing) and the underskirt to the wrong side (the right side of the underskirt facing the wrong side of the bodice) and then stitched both in place. To make sure your hem is correct, you will need your little girl to try on the dress and then mark the length desired. Then cut off the excess with scissors. Really simple.
You can embellish your skirt from your extra bits of tulle by cutting out butterflies, flowers or ruffles. You can hand sew your embellishments on with some glitter or beads for extra glitz. A matching headband might be in order as well!
The same theory can be used for Adult dresses as well, just unfold the tulle and use much more (6-7 yds).