Sewing: March 2012 Archives
Here are the details on some of the products I have in my room. Let me know if you have questions on anything else you see in the room.
Hanging lamp (My husband added the switch, it's from the hardware store)
Scrap Drawers under cutting table
Favorite Fabric Collection: Erin Michael Uptown by Moda
Hanging clips (on thumbtacks on wall)
You can see my Lorax (Free Pattern here) in the sewing table scene
Sewing Machine Cover (This is SUPER during pollen season which coincidences with open window season)
This edition of the "From Screen to Closet" series goes out to all the men in the house (and the women who sew for them)!
Over the last couple of weeks, I've posted about my dress prep for 100-year anniversary Titanic parties. But of course, I'll need my handsome escort to join me! I'm lucky to have a husband who is totally up for costumed events. He has a couple of late-Victorian suits, so after a little discussion, we decided on a brocade Edwardian dressing gown for him.
A quick historical note about this particular fashion trend. Gentlemen of the era really would come home at the end of the day and change out of their suit jacket into one of these dressing gowns for the remainder of the pre-bedtime evening. The trousers, shirt and tie were still worn under the dressing gown. As the fascination with all things of the Orient was at a fever pitch in this era, I have a sneaking suspicion that many a gent fancied himself as the perfect emulation of the Emperor of China in his fine brocade robe.
The beauty of this project is that it starts with a basic bathrobe pattern -- Kwik Sew 3177 is a perfect candidate. It's nice to be able to put together a menswear project without having to worry about tailoring!
I really only made five changes to the pattern:
-- I added a breast pocket in lieu of patch pockets.
- -- Instead of the banded edge to the robe opening, I cut a basic shawl collar out of velveteen.
- -- I added velveteen cuffs to the sleeves.
- -- As mentioned above, I lined it.
- -- I made bias tape out of duchess satin and ran it around the edge of the belt tie.
Behold, my handsome husband, ready to enjoy a snifter of brandy in the lounge.
I coerced my friend Tracy (who I know to be a fan of "Breakfast at Tiffany's") into serving as my model for this project. She has a lovely figure, perfect for the simple, elegant lines of this gown. The original (well, one of them -- there were originally three!) was sold at auction several years ago, so there are some great photos of it online.
To start this project, I grabbed my trusty copy of Kwik Sew 3521. This pattern is great for this project, because version B of the dress has the perfect neckline along the front. The back, however, needs a little tweaking.
To begin with, I started sketching the design lines for the dress right on my pattern.
Once I got the design lines where I wanted them, I traced my pattern onto fresh paper for the actual pattern. (I'll draw on a pattern, but I won't cut it apart!) The key with this dress and its unique design lines on the back is to cut it so the back bodice is initially separated as a top section and a bottom section. I'll show you what this looks like mid-assembly in just a bit.
I used a black broadcloth to make a mock-up of the gown. Once I had Tracy try on the test version, it became apparent that I needed to take it in quite a bit.
I pinned out the excess fabric and marked everything that needed an update, then I cut apart the mock up and used it as my pattern for cutting out my sweetheart satin for the actual gown.
As I mentioned before, the bodice gets assembled with the rounded upper portion of the back bodice separate from the lower section of the bodice right up to the point where you inset your zipper. Here's what it looks like:
The skirting section is ultra basic -- it's a rectangle, cut so there's just a teeny bit of gathering to match it to the bodice waist -- you'll want to test this to make sure there's enough room for the wearer's hips to fit with some ease, but not so much that it gets balloony. I cut a lining out of the exact same fabric -- since the dress has a slit, I wanted to make sure that if someone sees the interior, it looks just like the exterior.
Fun trivia note: As I mentioned earlier, there were several copies of this gown made for the film. The fun thing is that each of them had a different slit length. One had no slit whatsoever, one was slit quite high, and one fell right in between the other two extremes. We opted for the middle-range slit.
An invisible zipper is vital for this dress -- it keeps the center back seem clean and smooth. Here's a snap of the back of the bodice with the zipper set in place. The hook and eye at the top have yet to be sewn in.
Once the hand sewing (which is minimal on this dress) was in place, I had Tracy try the whole thing on:
Tracy ended up taking this dress on vacation, and kitted herself out with ALL the right accessories!
Prom season is here -- do you have a starlet in your life who might like to borrow some vintage design style?
Spring is here and that means garden season. I love to garden and hardly need a reason to poke around my seeds, flowers or tools. Finding a great place to keep all my paraphernalia close at hand is a tricky one. However, with any small (or large depending on your tools, I guess) shelving unit you can make all that dirt, seed packets and pots disappear behind a magic curtain. Here's how to make your own custom Laminated Fabric Garden Cabinet.
First, measure your cabinet for height and width of the front. Add 4 in. to the width for 1 in. double turn side hems and 5 in. for two-2.5 in. box pleat on the front (this will give you extra room at the bottom so you can swing that curtain out of the way). Here's an example:
Measured width of cabinet: 30 in.
+4 in. for side seams
+5 in. for box pleat
=39 in. cutting width
You will want to do something similar for the length adding 2 in. for a double turned top hem and 5 in. for a double turned bottom hem. Example:
Measured length of cabinet: 42 in.
+2 in. for top hem
+ 5 in. for bottom hem
= 49 in. cutting length
Order the amount of Laminated Cotton or Oil Cloth fabric needed to cut out your size curtain. Measure, pin and stitch your side seams and bottom hem. Mark the center top of your curtain and mark 2.5 in. on either side of the center and 5 in. out from the center. You will now have 5 marks. Meet one your 5 in. marks at the center mark with a fold in the back at the 2.5 in. mark. Repeat for the other pleat and pin both in place. Baste pleats in place. Double turn a 1 in. hem across the top securing your pleats in place. Sew a piece of ¾ in. Velcro across the top hem and two 1 in. pieces at each bottom corner to secure your curtain when windy. Staple the opposite side of the Velcro across the top of your shelving unit. Attach your curtain along the top and then mark the placement for your bottom Velcro pieces and staple in place. You are DONE!
You can use this idea indoors as well for toys, media and sewing gear. Also try some of our Outdoor Fabric!
Back before I had my little one, I snagged a sweet deal on a glider on craigslist. I had big plans to recover it into the ultimate nursery chair. Well, my baby is 3 now and no longer uses the chair for anything other than pretending to surf. Thus it has been removed from her room and found new residence in my studio. While it was being spit up on I was able to justify putting off recovering but now that it sits in the corner of my room all day I can no longer bear the sight of it's early 90's baby blue velour (that has seen better days, mind you). So I set about recovering. No problem, I thought I can just trace some new covers, add a zipper and done! Ahh, not so much. This was possible for the back cushion since it had a weird tufted shell pattern on it that meant I had to trace and sew (the glider is similar but not exact to the one below- be glad I did not take a before picture, it would have burned your eyes). But the bottom and arm cushions involved some tricky pleating and gussets that meant I had to rip off the old cover and use them as templates. Here's how it went down.
This picture is the back cushion. You can see how the tufting makes it impossible to remove the cover for tracing. I traced the cushion and added an inch all around. I left the bottom open for a zipper so I can remove it for washing.
I was able to remove and bottom cushion and after some heavy ironing, I traced it without adding a seam allowance (just using the ½ in. seam allowance already on the cover piece). You can see the weird T shape at the top. This is pleating and a gusset that fits around the arms of the frame. When you remove the cover, leave one side (top or bottom cover) pleated and with the gusset in place and use the other side for ironing and tracing. Then when it comes time to recreate this intricate pleating you have a model to go by. I didn't do this and it took a good 30 min. with the seam ripper to finally figure it out. Also, you can see where all the pleating clips are, transfer these marks onto your new fabric. This cushion would also look great with some piping added. I inserted a zipper in the back for washing as well.
Here is the arm rest cover completely dismantles and ironed. I learned my lesson from the bottom cushion and left the other arm rest cover intact to use as a model for assembly. This one was almost as tricky as the bottom cushion but took me 1/3 the time to assemble.
Overall, I didn't like this glider to begin with but it was comfy and useful. I really wish I had updated it soon! We spray painted the frame and with the new cover (which covers the 90's styling) it is a whole new and great looking chair. It is now worthy of my studio!
First up, the dark purple under robe needs a little sparkle. Since it's chiffon and I don't want to overwhelm it, I opted for a simple line of sequins along the neck edge, applied with dark purple seed beads that I had on hand.
Next up, the brocade got a touch of sparkle thanks to my Kandi hot fix rhinestone applicator. (I love this thing. Rest assured, there will be more projects featuring its embellishing magic in the very near future.) I kept it to a gentle scatter, rather than going hog wild. I applied the rhinestones (I used the blue mix crystal compact) to the same point in the pattern repeat to keep myself on track.
For the front closure, I wanted a floral repeat. I won't lie, there was a waltz down bad idea lane that involved shabby chic chiffon flowers. It came out too poufy and didn't look right at all. So, two steps back, until I remembered this awesome fabric rose tutorial that we posted a while back!
I cut some strips of my leftover brocade and I was off to the races. I applied the blossoms to a grosgrain ribbon base as I went.
Once the front closure belting was assembled, I made a quick bead fringe for the edges:
I used the same fabric rose technique that I used for the front closure in larger scale to make a single flower to crown the back drape of the dress.
After tacking the two under robes together at the shoulder and sewing snap closures for the front belting to attach, I am now ready for high tea on the deck!
We're nearing the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy, and many of you have probably been invited to remembrance parties that require costumes. It's no secret that I love a costumed affair. I love recreating gowns from movies or photos of the period, but for this project, I wanted to step outside the boundaries of a pre-designed color palette and design something a little original based on an inspiration piece or two.
I looked at costume books, photos of Titanic passengers and numerous museum catalogs, but in the end, I fell in love with this beauty from the Metropolitan Museum of Art website. I love the elegant lines of the dress, but I wanted to expand the design beyond the shades of gray of the original garment.
One of the things that fascinates me about the Edwardian period is the heavy saturation of Orientalism and obsession with the Far East that was evident in Western design. So, a Chinese brocade was a natural choice for the outer robe of my gown. I selected two colors of chiffon to go with my brocade, and then it was time to get down to business.
For the chiffon robe layers, I first examined the photos of the inspiration garment. I like the way you can tell that each layer closes on its own before the next is put on over it -- and that it happens on both the front and the back of the dress. To replicate that look, I opted to construct my robes each in two separate pieces -- a right and left -- so I could overlay the v-shapes of the neckline and tack things in place. I will leave most of the back sections open, as they'll be covered by the outer robe.
Here is the innermost layer, back and front, to illustrate the two-piece robe:
The next chiffon layer has a long, open sleeve. I cut an elongated leaf shape and hemmed the edges, then attached it to the robe so the side edges of the sleeve meet at the shoulder. This is a shot of the sleeve laid out so you can see the shape:
Once the blue robe was assembled, I layered it over the inner robe and pinned the closures in place.
Here's a tip on making rolled hems on chiffon -- a task that most stitchers avoid like the plague. Don't sweat it. Even though most of the time, the hem that emerges from under the presser foot looking like a pucker train wreck, in most cases, a spritz with water and a good pressing will smooth things right out and will often hide a few sins, so long as they're not too crazy. Here's one of my hemmed edges pre- and post-pressing:
Once the chiffon under robes were more or less squared away, I moved on to the brocade. An examination of the inspiration garment shows that there isn't a seam joining the bodice front to the skirt, but there is one joining the back skirt to the bodice. So, the bodice and front skirt are cut as one contiguous piece, in what's sometimes called a kimono style, and then the back skirt is cut as a separate piece.
Here is a wrinkly (but labeled) snapshot of one of the bodice pieces so you can see how it's cut:
And then, the top of the back skirt piece:
To create the fall at the back of the dress, I cut a rectangle of chiffon, then finished the sides and bottom before gathering it and basting to the back skirt piece.
Once my fall was basted into position, I joined the back skirt to the back bodice, and then stitched the sides of the outer robe closed.
I didn't really use a pattern for this project, though I did borrow design lines from a couple. If you think you'd like to start your own Titanic-inspired project, but you like to work from a pattern, Laughing Moon Mercantile has a great one, and Simplicity offers one that's easy as pie as well.
I know what you're thinking: "Holly, this dress isn't finished!" And of course, you're right. For part two of this project, I'll finalize the fitting and make sure things are stitched into place so they won't shift. I'll also add decorative closures, and even add a little extra sparkle. (Squeeeeeeeee!)
Stay tuned! We'll soon be ready for cruising!
I fell in love with this pattern at first sight but felt overwhelmed by the amount of cutting and interfacing called for so I put it off- for a good long while. But when Spring Break came around I knew it was time to stop procrastinating and get to sewing up what is the perfect bag for a week-long break of school, work or life in general. I'm glad I did. The Sophia Carry-All is not small but not quite medium; it falls into the happy Goldilocks category of "Just Right". I am not a big lining pocket person because the pockets are typically not integrated well but in this bag they are simple and again just right. I can see what is in there but they are just stiff enough to keep it all in. The inside is ROOMY. Much more than the outside lets on. It is the perfect size for toiletries plus hair care tools plus jewelry or knitting or it makes a great Grandma's weekend bag for the kids.
Here are my modifications since I just can't help it.
1) I did not add the fleece but upgraded the stiffness of the interfacing. It is not all full-on Peltex but I used the heavy weight sew in just like the Sophia's sister bag, The Weekender. I wanted the bag to really look like the weekender and didn't care for the puffy, pillow-like look on the pattern front.
2) I eliminated the piping. The main reason I did this is because I thought the piping used in the pattern pictures looks too big for the bag and I didn't have any smaller piping. I really like the clean look that came out. Does this pattern really need the competition?!
3) I constructed the lining, especially the top panels, just like I did the exterior. This means that when I sewed the top panels together, I sewed to the marks and then lengthened my stitch, basted to the next mark, shortened my stitch and then stitched to the end (I backed stitch at the beginning, end and at the marks). This really helped shave some time and make for a clean look. It was easier to sew in the lining and I knew my seam was straight all the way.
4) I used a regular one tab zipper instead of the 2 tab called for. I did this because I don't think I will be using this bag much for travel. I don't travel as much as I used to (My toddler is not a fan) and I have really been eyeing this as my diaper bag to real purse transition bag. It can fit all my essentials (phone, keys, headphones, wallet) plus any just potty trained paraphernalia (i.e. panties, pants, socks) plus snack and sippy with room left over for my brochure collecting habit.
5) I used the recommended interfacing on the lining pieces to make it easier to sew in later. Granted the main panels are not interfaced in the lining but the others were and sewing so many thick layers was a beast with the exterior.
Overall I am as pleased as I expected with an Amy Butler Pattern. They are superbly written and well illustrated. The Sophia bag actually went together in less time than I had budgeted and the outcome is beautiful.
In the ongoing effort to decorate our new house, I have moved up to our playroom. This room is currently invaded by our 3 yr old daughter, we plan on adding to her invading force in the future so I am leaning towards a gender neutral theme. She is just as happy with cars and trucks as she is with butterflies and unicorns so I went with the all pleasing Mickey Mouse when creating window treatments for her playroom. I love the idea of café curtains in this room to let in light while adding to the décor. These simple flat café curtains are perfect for appliqué work such as Mickey's Buttons so feel free to be inspired and go in whatever direction makes you happy. Mickey's Buttons are made of fleece for added texture. I love adding texture wherever possible so my little one can touch and explore her whole surroundings (because she will touch whether or not I want her to). Making your own is simple.
Measure the inside of your window to the width and length to find your finished curtain size. Add 6.5 in. to the length (2.5 in. for the rod pocket and 4 in. for a double turned bottom hem.) and 4 in. to the width (1 in. double turn hem on both sides). Once your curtain is all stitched up and ready, draw an oval that is 6 in. long by 3.5 in. wide. Use this as your pattern piece and cut 2 from the white fleece (you can double it if your fleece is too thin). Line the buttons up by folding the curtain in half width wise pressing and then folding again. This creates 3 creases, a center and 2 side creases. Line up each button centered on a side crease, 2 in. down from the rod pocket. Pin in the place and Zig Zag around each button. You're done; now enjoy a nice break while your little one is distracted by this new addition!
Whether you prefer to trek to the zoo/aquarium/museum with a tiny digital camera or have your smart phone handy, a cute way to tote your precious pictures is a must. I hate to be burdened with a huge purse (a slave to style has its drawbacks) while enjoying a day of culture so if this camera tote can carry my entrance ticket, some cash and a few cards all the better. I created this easy wristlet style bag to serve all of the above. The diminutive gussets allow you to easily access your camera and other goodies inside without creating a bulky heavy weight on your wrist. Let's get started!
1 fat quarter of quilting cotton for exterior
1 fat quarter of quilting cotton for lining
1 spool of
Measure the length and width of your camera or smart phone and add 1 in to both measurements (i.e. smart phone measures 5'' by ½'' than your cutting measurements are 6'' by 1.5'')
Using these measurements cut 2 from your exterior and 2 from your lining. Use Holly's Instructions here to insert your zipper centering it on the fabric if your fabric is smaller than 7 in.
Cut out a 10in. by 4 in. piece for the wristlet strap.
Prepare the strap but folding it in half lengthwise and pressing a crease. Fold raw edges toward the center crease and press. Fold in half again, leaving the raw edges tucked inside and press a final time. Pin and edge stitch down the strap lengthwise along each edge. Set aside.
After topstitching, fold the exterior pieces together, RS facing and pin together. Do the same with the lining. Pin the strap to the exterior on one short side edge, matching raw edges, ½ in. down from the zipper. I prefer to have my strap on the same side as the zipper when it is closed. Stitch around the exterior pieces using a ¼ in. seam allowance. On the lining, start stitching down one side, pivoting at the corner and stitching the long side for 1- 2, Leave a gap of 2-3 in. for turning and take up 1-2 in. from the second corner and continue back to the zipper. Add a 1 in. gusset at each corner using Holly's instructions here. Turn the wristlet right side out and press lightly. Slip stitch the turning gap closed. Enjoy your Go Camera Wristlet. It will free up your hands for hand holding, child catching or just to rest at your sides as your enjoy you day!
If you're like me (and most other people), right about now, your fitness resolutions need a kick in the pants. Since half the fun of running and exercising is wearing new clothes, I often find that when my resolve is lagging, what I really need is a new outfit for working out. It's like magic. It gets me to the track or the gym. Whatever it takes!
Kwik Sew 3455 is a pattern I have had for a while and come back to time and time again. Both the top and the leggings in this one are total winners.
First, the leggings:
I made this pair out of a black nylon jersey. The unique thing about this particular pattern is that it uses a square gusset at the crotch, whereas most leggings patterns have a sharper curve through the backside to accommodate the seat. The first time I made the gusseted leggings, it took me a little while to wrap my brain around it, but I must admit that I love it now. It really does make a difference in how the leggings feel when I'm running -- there's less pulling when I extend my legs through the widest part of my stride. These days, I use this pattern for all of my running leggings -- and my fashion leggings, too!
On to the top:
I love this top because of its design lines. The curved seaming that joins the back to the front is so cool, and extremely flattering. For this version, I used a black nylon knit for the front, and a patterned lycra for the back and sleeves. As we're nearing springtime, I opted to cut the sleeves short on the top. (I also normally run indoors, so I don't really need long sleeves very often.)
The back and side shots of the shirt show the curved detailing of the pattern, which is so on-trend for activewear. You could even color block the whole shirt, and use different colors or patterns for the front, back, sleeves and even the collar binding.
Whether your resolution needs a little help or you want to reward yourself for sticking with your routine, this is a really fun pattern to stock your fitness wardrobe with. It's also a good fit for casual daywear. Leggings remain popular under dresses and skirts, or even on their own, and everyone needs a handful of knit tops that are as comfy as tee shirts, but have a little extra flourish of style.
This house is pumped about the Lorax movie opening this month. I love Danny Devito's voice for this character and my little one loves his goofy mustache. In honor of this great book by Dr. Seuss I have created my own Lorax pattern crafted after the original storybook Lorax. I really liked the details of this Lorax as opposed to the movie's CGI version. The book Lorax also looked easier to recreate with handmade details, especially his crafty eyes. I hope you enjoy this homemade Lorax pattern crafted from felt.
Two 9x12 pieces of Rainbow Felt in yellow for Lorax Body
One 9x12 piece of Rainbow Felt in gold for arms, legs nose and eye lids
1 spool coordinating thread
Dark blue or black embroidery floss
3-5 yds of bright yellow yarn (any fiber)
Download your Lorax Pattern Here
Trace and cut out 2 body pieces from the yellow felt
Fold gold felt in half and trace 2 arms and 2 legs but do not cut out. Sew along trace line leaving the ends open. Cut out leaving 1/8 in. seams allowance. Set arms and legs aside
Embroider eyes with small "U" in floss. Cut a small sliver from gold for eye lids and using the fabric glue, glue the eyelids and then eyes and nose on to the Lorax face using the approx placement from the Lorax Pattern. Place book on face and leave until glue dries.
To create the mustache, wind the yarn around four fingers until your mustache is pretty thick (3-5 yds depending how thick you like it). Cut yarn and wind a 12 in. piece around the yarn and knot to secure it in place. You will now have a small thick loop of yarn tied in one spot. Cut your loop opposite from where it was tied. The tie is now the center of your mustache and you can use the ends from knotting to sew onto your Lorax's face, right below the nose after sewing and turning (below).
Pin your arms and legs onto the right side of the body using the placement marks on the pattern, matching edges. The arms and legs should go towards the center of the body. With right sides together and using a ¼ seam, stitch the body front to the back, leaving an opening at the top of the head for turning. Turn and finger press. Stitch on your moustache and stuff your Lorax. Whip stitch the head closed and your Lorax is ready for fun, story time and movie watching Galore!