Sewing: February 2012 Archives
I may never be able to make enough of these vests.
The second I saw this pattern, I thought it was adorable. Now that I've made it twice, I am deeply enamored. This is my favorite of all the free patterns Hot Patterns has created for us. It's cute, it's easy and it takes very little fabric. And, as you can see, its simplicity and style make it super adaptable! I definitely suggest a muslin on this one, as the fit is close to the body and you want it perfect.
For my first version of the Hornpipe Vest, I opted for a cotton velvet with a gimp trim. Metal buttons finish the look. The trickiest element to construction is matching up the trim on each side of the vest so it's symmetrical when it's closed. I give myself a B or B- on this. OK, could be better. Even so, I looooooove this vest. I plan to wear it with jeans, with trousers and with big fluffy skirts!
I always like to make a couple of versions of patterns, so I decided to go a little edgy with the second vest. A bit of faux leather and zipper trim made for a fun, slightly rock'n'roll piece to add to my closet. Working with the zipper trim was a little tricky since it made for some interesting bulk at the folded points, but I opted to fold it a little differently than I did the braid trim to prevent awkward bulk and show off the teeth.
For my next trick, I suspect I will make one of these in black corduroy. Then maybe one in an olive twill. And perhaps something in pink. I also want to experiment with using ribbon trim instead of braid. How will I ever find time in my schedule to continue my affair with the Hornpipe Vest?
Get your pattern here, and let the designing commence!
A simple hat like this is easy to incorporate into your accessory collection. If you make it in a warm fabric, it can take you through the winter months in style. A medium-weight fabric will give you a cool way to shade your face from the sun as the weather grows warmer.
This is a DIY pattern. I have a sample version to guide you, but you'll most likely need to make a muslin and adjust to customize the fit. The sample is on the biggish side -- the hat it makes has a band circumference of about 22 3/4"
You'll need to cut 8 of the body of the hat (if you wish to line your hat, you'll need to cut 8 in your lining fabric as well):
You'll need to cut 2 visor pieces, plus 1 out of a very stiff interfacing:
For the band, cut 2 pieces 24" long and 2" wide. I don't interface mine, but if you like a stiffer band, you may want to.
Assembly is quick! Everything has a 5/8" seam allowance.
- Stitch all 8 of your crown pieces together, as though you're reassembling a lumpy pie. (Yum!)
- Stitch one of your bands end to end to form a circle.
-Test the fit of the crown section to the circumference of the band. Adjust as needed. (If your have a smaller or larger head than the size provided, this is where you'll need to adjust.)
- Once your crown matches your band, stitch the crown to the band.
- Assemble your visor right sides together. Remember, your interfacing will be on the outside while you stitch so that it sandwiches between the two pieces of fashion fabric once you turn it. If you're using an iron-in interfacing, apply it to the wrong side of one of your visor pieces before assembly.
- Attach the visor to the edge of the band you did not stitch your crown assembly to.
This is a good time to test your fit!
- Once you're happy with fit, stitch the second band piece into a circle, and stitch it to side of the band with the visor attached, encasing the visor in between the bands so you have a finished seam edge at the bottom of your band when you turn it right side out.
- With your second band piece flipped to the inside of the hat, stitch the unattached edge to the side where you joined the crown.
Here's an inside-out look at the assembled hat.
- For a pretty, clean finish, assemble a second crown out of lining fabric, and then hand stitch it to the interior of your hat, enclosing the raw edges of your crown/band seam.
And there you go! Ready to hit the rooftops of London!
I made my two samples using corduroy and a microsuede. I want to make one using a cotton velvet, and maybe even a minky! A medium-weight linen version would be great for spring and summer.
Following hard on the heels of my Dritz Doll Needle post earlier this week is this review and modification of Hilary Lang's Mermaiden Pattern from her Wee Wonderful's book. This is an excellent book and the patterns are so much fun. This is my first doll from this book but I have thoroughly read most of the patterns and find them to be well written and with very few errors. I had a lot of fun planning and making my mermaiden. The whole book is a huge source of interest and delight for my 3 yr. old daughter who doesn't acknowledge it to be a mommy book but a toddler book with fairies, trains and dinosaurs.
First off, I enlarged my pattern using my copy machine and increased the pattern pieces by 150% making this finished doll 10 in. instead of the 7 in. featured in the book. I wanted the mermaiden to be more squeezable and vie for a coveted spot in my daughter's bed and felt the larger size would give me that edge. I also used felt for the hair instead of corduroy because I find felt much easier and corduroy sheds a good bit and can fray easily. I only cut out one piece for each hair piece as well since it was felt and didn't need to be seamed together. A cotton flannel was used for the body and a very mermaid-y cotton print served as the tail. Luckily for all your readers I have also found a free version of the mermaiden pattern on Martha Stewart's website but I urge you to check out the book for more cute doll and toy patterns.
I really enjoyed exploring Hilary's different doll making techniques and want to stress that you should read this pattern before you even cut anything out. This doll will not go together exactly as you expect. Even cutting the patterns pieces out without reading will not be the short cut you expect. It may take longer than expected to sew up your first mermaiden but once you get one under your belt, you can fire them off for birthday parties in no time! Next time I am going to increase the enlargement to 250% in an attempt for a 14 in. sized doll. Wish me luck!
While you are waiting for your Mermaiden fabric order to arrive check out this great Wee Wonderful's Book Project page. It is full of project pictures made from the book!
One often over-looked but very useful tool every seamstress (or seamster-for the gentlemen) is a set of Dritz Doll Needles. These are extra long but not overly thick needles that can be used outside the realm of doll making. I have had the occasion to use mine often as: a turning tool for very small projects to get those pesky corners just right, jeans repair and decorative stitching on very thick items (like my Bike Bucket). Several of Heather Bailey's pincushions from her Fresh Picked Pattern call for a doll needle to thread embroidery floss for shaping the tomato or making the right tucks for the apple. While I did not use a doll needle in the same way in my enlarged Apple Pillow based on the Fresh Picked Pattern, I did use it to attach my stem. And we can't forget Shannon's amazing Organza Ornament showcased last October. She used her doll needles to attach the flowers to a foam ball. Lastly, I used doll needles to create my wonderful Molly Monkey Doll (shown above).
Dritz Doll Needles are perfectly designed for their name sake, allowing the user to attach or repair various parts of dolls. The extra length allows you to get through all the stuffing so you can perfectly place stuffed items, like arms and legs. It is easier to place doll parts after stuffing because placement is difficult to determine without plumping up the doll's body. You can attain a more perfect symmetry after stuffing. Dolls need to be as close to symmetric and perfectly aligned so any clothes or costumes will fit. The large eyes make it easy to thread anything from all-purpose thread to embroidery floss or even ribbon and yarn. Doll needles are not just used for body parts placement but also for faces and the all important hair. This is a valuable tool that should not be overestimated and will earn its place in your sewing box.
To help ward off the cold that's accosting us, it's time for a cozy memory blanket!
I've talked about my love of tee shirts before and my firm belief that you can't have too many, and I stand by that. I won't disclose the number of shirts in my collection, but I can tell you, the total is in the triple digits. Just by virtue of running local 5ks fairly frequently, I've amassed a huge stack, but I also love to buy souvenir shirts when I travel, and friends often give me silly shirts as gifts.
This project puts those shirts to work! My husband and I each sacrificed a handful of shirts from our collections. This blanket is faster than a quilt, and it's a great project for beginners. All you need is a dozen shirts that are out of wearing rotation, and two yards of fleece.
First, I traced a rounded square shape onto each of the shirts, framing the area of the design I wanted to use. I used a square-ish plate as my template, but you could also cut one out of spare cardboard. (I would love to try this project using circles to create a bubble effect.)
Once all my tracing and cutting of designs was done, it was time to pin the pieces in place. I just used safety pins to secure each piece at the corners. You may or may not want more. I used a basic straight stitch about 1/4" inside the edge of each square to stitch everything in place.
To space my appliques, I used rulers as guides -- a narrow one for between the squares, and a wider one for all edges.
I used a 3 x 4 layout for my blanket, but you could easily make a bigger or smaller blanket to your tastes.
A few tips and thoughts:
- When stitching down shirt designs that have a heavy or shiny transfer, you may find that the pressure of the presser foot causes drag. This is easily alleviated by placing a piece of tissue paper over the problem area. When you're done stitching, the tissue pulls away easily.
- Your squares are unlikely to sit perfectly square when you're stitching. That's one of the reasons I used a template with rounded edges. Further, a little imperfection gives a project like this character. It's not a tailoring situation, so don't sweat it!
- If you have a huge collection of shirts related to a specific theme, think about using them in a project like this. I see a Star Wars blanket in my future ...
- I used basic black fleece for the background on the sample project, but think about how cute a pastel backing would look on a blanket that combines your child's baby and toddler shirts that you can't bear to send to hand-me-down land.
- I finished my edges by folding them over and straight stitching them, but it might be fun to use your tee shirt scraps to create a multicolored binding.
- Be ready for memories to come flooding at you when you're stitching. Even though I didn't select particularly sentimental shirts for this blanket, I found that while working with certain squares, my mind was instantly transported to the moment when I acquired the shirts they came from, or to a memory associated with wearing it. It made for a really fun afternoon.
For the past few weeks I have been diligently working on reupholstering a Queen Anne style wingback chair in Dwell Studio Vintage Blossom Dove and it is going very well but not done yet. I wanted to share my progress as well as make suggestions and show my techniques. The wingback I am working on, none of the fabric was salvageable so I am working without using the old fabric as pattern pieces (Which is a very handy tip) so the finished product will not look exactly like the original but close enough that it won't be noticeable. This means that some of my folds, tucks and darts will be in different places but will achieve the same look. I also had to do some frame repair and change out the front legs due to damage. Most of this posting will be pictures which I feel best communicate to you my techniques and give you an idea of how best to document your progress to learn from and to use for future projects.
This first collection of photos is an example of all the photos I take of the chair before. Every fold, tuck, sewn-bit and interesting area is documented so after the chair is naked and I am putting fabric back on, I can see how it was attached, pieced and cut in different areas to make my job easier and it give it a professional finish. If you aren't sure if you should take a picture, take one anyway. If you use a digital camera you are not wasting anything and you can delete the unuseful pictures after you are done.
I like to start with the front back on any chair because it is the biggest piece of fabric that will really show. This is a good way to get comfortable orienting your fabric if you choose a directional fabric like mine (birds up!) and since it is one of the biggest pieces, you can really choose what you want to feature. Make sure you do a dry run before you cut or tack anything. I use skewers for this but for the front back piece you can just drape. I also tack this piece to the top and bottom completely before I cut any excess. You don't want to trim too close on this one.
Next I move on to the front of the wings because it is easy to match the fabric and it is another big but easy piece to place. The round of the wings can be tricky but remember most of your tucks will be covered by piping (which we prepared here).
Also be very careful where you cut your slit around the top bar that connects wing to back (it goes across the top and you want your fabric to go on top of and below it). Cut your slit closer by an inch or 2 to the front back piece side and then fold your fabric under toward the wing. If you place your cut right on the money, you will see raw edges. The fold hides the cut edges and gives a smooth transition from front back to wing.
Lastly on the wing, there is usually piping placed between the arm and the wing so you can secure your top wing fabric with tacks at the bottom. They will be covered by arm fabric and piping so they won't be seen or felt if you pound them enough.
Remember if you use tacks, you can pound them in just a bit as you go to secure your fabric and then easily pull them out to move them to refold, tighten or just get a better placement. This is why I prefer them to staples (which are faster but harder to correct). When starting your own project, be sure to take lots of pictures before and during. Keep your old fabric as pattern pieces if you can. This will also help you estimate fabric. Do as many dry fits as possible before committing to a cut or tacking especially on very tricky places like the front arm (with the scroll) and the under seat (often with darts and tucks).
Stay tuned for this continuing series and comment with any questions on upholstery.
You can find my previous upholstery posts here
I love this pattern! Let's just get that out of the way. This playsuit was fun and quick with lots of room for modifications to make it custom to you or to change it up each time you make it. I am always hesitant when making nightgowns or Pjs of any kind because when I sleep in them I want to be sure ahead of time that they will be comfy as well as attractive. The Hot Patterns Retro Playsuit definitely fits the attractive bill but does it also meet the comfy qualifications? Only making one will answer the question.
I opted for a navy charmeuse satin because we all know dark colors make us look slimmer but I don't look good in black. I am a naturally pale Irish girl so I wanted something with a bit of color. The fabric arrived and it was dreamy (quite apt that it was destined for sleepwear). I then decided to trade the lace trim in for some cotton, ruffle accent. I loved the romantic look of the lace but I love the feel of cotton so much more. Using approx. ½ yd of 45 in. cotton, I cut 3 in. straight strips of quilting cotton (about 5 yds) and pressed it in half widthwise, wrong sides facing. I then ran it through my ruffler using the 12 st setting. This created about 4 yds of ruffle trim, just right to finish off my playsuit.
Overall this was a dream pattern. It went together exactly as instructed. The satin was not the hassle I was expecting. Just be prepared with a sharp needle and quality thread and it should be as manageable as cotton. The ruffle really worked well with the style of the playsuit. I attached it to the right side of the top and leg openings and then folded the raw edges toward the inside and topstitched the seams down on the right side. Be sure and finish off the seams with a zig zag or a serger otherwise your satin will fringe. The ribbon details are also a nice touch though you can create some spaghetti straps out of your satin. I picked one of the complimentary colors from my ruffle for my 1/4 in. ribbon. The lavender really works well with the navy and my skin tone. This is a great addition to my PJ drawer and I like it even more then my satin gowns because the shorts keep the playsuit from riding up in the night. A + in comfort!
I made the pants in a stretch nylon jersey. They go together in a snap. These casual trousers are cut a little fuller through the seat than many active wear patterns. So, if you have a curvy figure and find it difficult to find fitness patterns that actually fit right out of the envelope, this might be your soul mate pattern. The comfort level is off the charts.
I made two versions of the top -- one in a printed thermal knit, and one in a stretch velvet. Love the style -- it's got a great ease, and the hood is super cute. I have a little bit of a full bust that can make many non-tailored pieces look boxy, so I found I liked the fit of this top better when I tapered it in at the waist just a tiny bit (I think the most I took it in was 1/4" at the most, tapered in along the existing seam line). Because I am short (a towering 5'3"), I also cut the neck opening just a little bit shorter than the pattern.
I cannot stress the comfort of the Chill-Out Sweatsuit enough -- I feel relaxed and slightly more serene the moment I put these pieces on! They can be made in heavier fabrics for a cozy winter vibe, or in a lighter weight knit for a spring-into-summer cover up to wear on your way to and from the gym. These are also perfect for relaxed travel -- I love that knits can roll right up into my suitcase and come out ready to play without any fuss. I could also see this pattern being adapted into the most perfect pajamas imaginable, but that might be because I have a serious pjs addiction. I'm already shopping for the next fabric I'll use for my next iteration of this one!
Cording is an essential Home
Dec finishing notion that is as versatile as it is easy to use. Cotton Cording
can be used for the typical piping and welting used in home dec applications to
add finishing details and accents but it can also be used for non typical functions,
such as bunting, purse handles and couched monograms. Today I am going to walk
you through using cotton cording in its most applied purpose: bias covered
piping for home dec projects.
Since I will be using my piping for my upcoming upholstery project, I am cutting my bias from scrap pieces cut into for specific chair parts. As long as the scraps are good size (I prefer at least 12 by 12 in. sections) then it is worth your time. You don't want to spend all your time sewing up tiny bias strips together. To determine the width of the bias strip you need, multiply the size of your cording by 8. Example: I used ¼ in. cording so I cut my bias strips 2 in. wide. Make sure you cut your fabric on the 45 deg. angle to the grain for the best stretch.
To begin stitching your bias strips together, overlap by the seam allowance you will use. I like to use 3/8 or 1/4 in. Align them up right sides together and only stitch as much as you need. You don't want to end up with more covered cording than you will need. It is hard to find another project that will match. I like to leave my last 6 in. or so of the bias strip un-sewn uncase I need to add more. This extra bit will be enough to sew on another bias strip.
Fold the bias strip over your cotton cording with raw edges matching. Use a zipper foot to sew very close to the cording without sewing on it. You want the cording to be tightly stitched in the center. If it is too loose you will see bunching and shifting. Use a medium length stitch and back stitch at beginning and end to keep you piping from undoing before you can use it in your project.