Recently in Apparel Category

Product of the Month: Cotton Lawn

April 7, 2014

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Cotton Lawn- It just sounds nice; like two bits of summer rolled into one. Cotton Lawn is a lightweight cotton fabric that is slightly translucent (more so with solid colors) and is finer in both hand and drape than quilting cotton. It is mostly commonly found as a shirting but can also be used in layered skirts or as dress linings. Check out our designer cotton lawns and dotted swiss lawn.

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Much softer hem curve now

I made a sleeveless tunic style billowy top inspired by some of the tops I have seen at J.crew lately with interesting, bold tiled patterns. I used McCall's 6509 Easy Tunic Pattern. I changed it up a little to accommodate my upcoming beach trip and the sweltering summer heat in Georgia. I eliminated the sleeves opting for a bound edge instead. I also only used the lower neck facing and made my own smaller neck band. I have only used a handful of neck facings that I am pleased with so for the most part I don't use them.  I cut a 2''  wide strip as long as my neck edge plus 1'', folded it in half lengthwise, pressed it. I opened it up and folded the short ends in ½'' towards the inside and pressed the ends. Then I folded it again lengthwise, and pressed it one more time. I serged the long raw edge and then pinned it to the right side of the neck edge and stitched it in place. Since the short ends were only folded I could insert my ties inside and then topstitch the opening closed and secure the ties.

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Wrongside view of double folded hemband

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Close view of my neckband before ties were added

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I also made a 1 ½'' folded hem band instead of the hem facing. I did this because when I tried on my top it was too light and I didn't care for the way it hung (it actually didn't hang) because it was too light. I looked like I was hiding a pregnancy (which I assure you I am NOT). So I wanted to weigh it down just a bit and decided a double folded hem band would do the job and also since it was a straight band it would soften the curved hem line that I didn't care for either. The result is a beautiful shirt that is complimented by the soft, lightweight cotton and tiled mosaic print. I love the fit, drape and style together. The pattern was great but the fabric is even more wonderful. It is just slightly lighter than quilting cotton but it makes all the difference in a tunic pattern like this. I encourage you to branch out in your shirting material and try some cotton lawn. You need to cloth yourself in this; you'll love it. LAWNTOP7.jpg

On Trend: Blue and White Prints

April 6, 2014

LI-blue-and-white.jpgBlue and white prints are a super hot trend right now (as evidenced by the entire Michael Miller collection based around it). Plotting out new dresses for spring and summer, I looked for ways to incorporate the current 'it' color scheme into my plans, and came up with two dresses that use black and white cotton prints, but carry completely different vibes.

The first dress uses Toujours Bleu et Blanc and Simplicity 1418. I like the criss-cross design option for the bodice, but I didn't want to use a contrasting bias tape around the neckline and down the back. I cut bias from my main fabric, and then substituted satin ribbon for bias tape to form the faux lacing detail. 


 

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The fabric gives this dress a slightly prim, old world vibe, like wearing a beautiful china pattern. 

For my second blue and white dress, I wanted to go a little more whimsical, so I settled on a print with an awesome octopus repeat

Because this print is busy but doesn't have the same type of bold motif as the fabric in the first dress, I wanted to keep the lines simple. For this one, I opted for another Simplicity pattern -- 1666. The dress in this pattern is easy to miss on the upper left corner of the envelope -- it's not featured in the main image.

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This was a quick project -- it only took a couple of hours. (I will be making several more dresses with this pattern, for sure!) And the result is such a relaxed, unfussy garment, but it still totally delivers on style. 

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I am so excited to wear these throughout the summer -- I'm hoping to get invited to a few picnics and garden parties so I can twirl about in my blue and white frocks! 

Blog of the Month: Anna Maria Horner

April 4, 2014

I have long been a fan this this month's blog, Anna Maria Horner, for several reasons. The first is she just does so stinking much in a day, I honestly can't work out the math. Of course, she has a few extra hands around the house to help out: her seven children. She also shares my love of bright colors and creatively employing those colors all across her life. Her house is filled with love and tons of fabric, yarn and thread. I have watched Anna Maria on Martha Stewart, recreated her free projects/tutorials and eagerly bought her fabric. Her blog is like looking through a window in her house but without all the weirdo, creepy vibes and you are welcome to pull up a brightly colored chair with a hand worked needlepoint cushion and enjoy a cup of coffee (though she strikes me as more of a tea gal).

If you are a fan of Anna Maria's fabric collections with Free Spirit you will definitely love her blog which is full of her fabric worked into colorful and creative projects. It will get the ideas rolling through your head. You can also get a sneak peek at her upcoming projects, cute kid pictures (like shooting fish in a barrel) and many how-tos on manipulating fabric. Look for her category cloud on the left sidebar for more specific searches. I love her tutorials because they are well done but also they are just fun. Her tutorials are heavily weighted towards quilting but since I am gaining interest in quilting and most of our customers are interested in quilting than this should be right up you alley.

I also really love Anna Maria's fashion posts. The mixed media that Anna Maria includes plus her color combos and embellishments really make my fingers itch. Her home posts are another favorite. It is like a beautiful family reunion, filled with cookies, song and nice smells (sans fighting and not enough bathrooms). I love the glimpses of kid crafts, hundreds of quilts and cozy blankets, and lots of smiles.

 

Hot Patterns Free Pattern Download: Aspen Cardigan

March 31, 2014

LI-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgIt's time for a new free pattern! It always feels like Christmas or my birthday when we get a new Hot Pattern download to test out. This time around, it's a cardigan with a ruffled peplum, designed for knits.

(Knits, I will never stop loving you.) 

The big draw here for me: There's no hemming or closure notions needed. The edges all around finish with a band of fabric, and it's designed to hang open (though I'll share some ways I played with closing it up wrap-style). Easy-peasy, perfect for a grab-and-go layer in your wardrobe. 

I made two versions of this, both in very fluid and drapey knits. For the first one, I went the ultra deluxe route and used designer knit -- a LIberty of London Dufour Jersey Knit in Darby Blue. It's like butter. 

The second version uses a slub jersey knit in a ballet pink. It's a much more economical option, but it also has a lovely drape. 

The cutting and construction is all straightforward. To cut a size 14, I used a little less fabric than called for on the pattern -- just a little more than two yards.

During construction, the only place I had to really take my time and exercise patience was getting the band that goes around the lower edge, center front and neck edge in place and lying smoothly. The curved bottom front edges were the trickiest bit. Once I had things figured out on the first go, the second one was a much smoother affair. 

The completed cardigan has a soft swing, and the peplum is not as full as I had expected based on the pattern sketch. This is a good thing -- it gives you more of a figure skim and less of a puffy effect. 

1-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgBut then while I was snapping photos, it occured to me that this garment is far more versatile than I had been thinking initially. I cut a strip off of a bit of knit yardage I had on hand and made a quick sash, overlapping the fronts of the cardigan like a wrap. And it is SO CUTE.

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The soft pink, which is so girly and perfect for spring, also got a little belting treatment. 

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This time, I used a chiffon scarf wrapped from the back, criss-crossed in the front, and then tied in the back. This is a perfect treatment to create an hourglass figure -- use a dark color for your sash and give yourself an instantly nipped-in waist.

4-Aspen-Cardigan.jpgWearing these soft, drapey fabrics in this fluid cut also made me think that it would be fun to make this up as a cover up for pajamas or even for poolside. Another versatile freebie from Hot Patterns! Huzzah!

Get your copy of this pattern here. Happy stitching!

What's that fabric: Interlock Knit

March 24, 2014

What's that fabric: Interlock Knit

Interlock knit fabric is a lightweight to medium weight (depending on the fiber content) knit stretch fabric that is a great option for spring and fall, transition seasons. Interlock knit is a type of double knit fabric which means that two pieces of fabric are knit together with the right sides of both pieces of fabric facing out. This means that there is not wrong side, both sides look the same and in most cases interlock is reversible. Printed or screen printed interlock is only printed on one side so the opposite side is the wrong side. Because Interlock doesn't have a purl side it doesn't curl like jersey knit fabric which makes it easier to work with. Interlock is thicker than jersey and has more body and less drape than jersey. It can easily work in sweatshirt, pants and jacket patterns that call for thicker fleece knits for more temperate, transitional weather.

CE2.jpgLook! Both sides look great and no curl!

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Interlock knit fabric is a slightly denser more stable knit that tends to shrink widthwise when washed. The fabric does become more plush like a fleece but it can further decrease the drape so be sure to wash your fabric at least twice before you cut it and maybe even before you select it for a project. It is a good choice for jeggings, knit dresses, knit blazers, jackets and robes. Natural fiber interlock make excellent baby and kids' clothes. It is breathable and wicks moisture plus it is thicker and more durable than jerseys. 

Notice the hem doesn't curl and the skirt has nice body. 

Ruffle-knit Dress

March 23, 2014

LI-Ruffle-knit-dress.jpgI can't even explain why I love ruffle knits so much. I just do. They definitely appeal to the girlie girl in me, but I think having all the ruffles already in place speaks to the part of me that wants to make projects as efficient as possible. I feel like ruffles sometimes get relegated to the land of kid clothing and costumes, and aren't always considered a viable option for grown-up apparel. But I wholly embrace them. (And not just because I'm a giant child, though that miiiiiiiiight be a factor.)

So, as I was plotting my wardrobe for spring and summer, I decided to make an easy-sew, easy-wear dress in a solid color ruffle knit. 

I started with a teal mini ruffle and a pattern from my stash. I made the dress on the left. I knew that I wanted to make something simple where I could get away without having to hem or finish the sleeves or lower edge, to keep things simple and avoid bulky foldovers with the ruffle knit. There's no need for closure notions, just the ruffle knit fabric, a small amount of a matching knit for the neckline, and a couple yards of 1/4-inch elastic.

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There are a few tricks to working with this fabric. If you put your pieces together and stitch as normal, even if you pin and are very, very careful, you can encounter the situation pictured below. One of the ruffles will refuse to play nice, and you either have to live with the upturned horror (NO!) or pick your seam out for a do-over. Neither of which are very delightful.

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BUT, the problem can be avoided entirely if you just machine baste all your edges, making sure you get all the ruffles into to the appropriate position.

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As I mentioned above, I didn't want to fold my fabric under and stitch a hem. I opted to leave the edges unfinished. But, sometimes when you cut a ruffle knit, you get funky stringy bits that you don't want want dangling from your garment.

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I just carefully trim them off, tapering as needed to follow the silhouette of the base fabric. 

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This dress originally called for a center front seam, but again wanting to avoid bulk, I instead cut it on the fold for a seamless front. Instead of folding the neck edge under to create an elastic casing, I used a matching plain knit to make a casing. That made the finishing a snap.

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The ruffles keep the dress from being ho-hum, but the solid color means I can accessorize with simple print accessories  and play my way through the warm months! 

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Ruffle Knit Skirt

March 19, 2014

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It's getting warm and my daughter is asking for shorts and skirts. She had a super cute layered ruffle knit skirt last year that I wanted to recreate this year but add some shorts underneath. I am so pleased with the results.

Size 12-18 mo, (24 mo, 3T, 4T and 5T) [Shown in Size 5T]

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All seams are ½ unless otherwise noted. Please note: measure your child for the elastic size and cut a piece of 1'' wide elastic to that size minus 1''. I used 1.5 yds of Heather Ross Briar Rose Jersey Knit.

To complete the shorts I used the same modification of the Barbara Bloomers (a Create Kids Couture Free Pattern Download) but subtracted 2'' off the length.

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Cut the pieces according to your desired size using my worksheet ruffle knit skirt.pdf. With right sides together sew all ruffle pieces to their mates along the short sides until you have several tube. Repeat for each tier piece. Run a gathering stitch ¼'' and 3/8'' from the top edge of each ruffle and pull to gather. Match the width of the top ruffle to the width of the middle tier, the width of the middle ruffle and bottom ruffle to the width of the bottom tier. With the right side of the tier facing the wrong side of the ruffle, Pin the top ruffle to the top edge of the middle tier and stitch in place. Pin the middle ruffle to the top edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place. Pin the bottom ruffle to the bottom edge of the bottom tier and stitch in place.

Pin the top edge of the bottom tier to the bottom edge of the middle tier, right sides together and stitch in place. Pin the top of the middle tier to the bottom of the top tier and stitch in place.

Complete your shorts according to the pattern instruction except do not finish the top. Place your shorts (right side out) inside the skirt and pin the top edges together. DO NOT match seams. You want to side seams of the skirt to match the sides of the shorts so you will need to measure and mark the sides on the shorts for matching. Stitch around the top. Attach your elastic to the top of your waist (I used the Fehr Trader's method from this post) and then flip your your elastic waist down and topstitch in place.

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Complete your skirt by finishing your ruffle hems with either no finish, a double turned hem, a rolled hem or simply serge the edge. I hemmed the shorts using my twin needle

This is a truly fun skirt, perfect for play, parties and warm weather fun!ruffle skirt2.jpg

Blog of the Month: Behind the Hedgerow

March 14, 2014

I love stumbling across new blogs every month. I go about it in a haphazard way with the usual being typing random projects that I want to make into Google blog search and clinking on the most interesting (i.e. kids book bag, leggings, sheath dress, etc.). I can't even remember which search words connected me with this month's Blog of the Month (BotM) because it was a longer than normal search. Nothing was really catching my eye and I was not really into it until I found Behind the Hedgerow. This blog really made me sit up and take notice. It was a diamond in the rough. I loved the look of it right off: bright, soft photos, lots of kids and mom projects, interesting subjects and mostly pretty pictures. I love a good fabric shot! I remember thinking to myself: I would really like to sit down over coffee and talk shop with this chic. That's when I knew it would be this month's BotM.

So let's see what we have here. There are tutorials, fun projects that I can see myself making. Lots of good gift ideas; I love making gifts. The Bias Trimmed Circle Scarf is so beautiful and super easy and Mother's day is coming up. This kids' utility belt is just awesome! I know my daughter would love it and I bet all her friends would too. Such a great idea.

She also has her projects categorized for easy searching: Girls Clothing, Boys Clothing, Grown-ups, Toys, etc. It makes is simple if you have a general idea but need specific inspiration or if you know exactly what you want. This kids' PJs are what hooked me. I could see myself making this for both my girls but in short sleeves for the spring/summer season. I love how much she uses Liberty Fabric

Finally, if you are looking for inspiration, keep up on new, hip patterns or just love Top 10 lists, then check out the Top 10 for Tuesday link at the top of the page for all the Top 10 lists that cover summer patterns to sewing for boys. It is a great resource.

Thanks, Laura for such a wonderful blog and look me up for coffee if you ever come to Georgia!

See! Pretty pictures...sigh. 

All pictures are from Behindthehedgerow.com

Product of the Month: Pellon Knit Tape

March 10, 2014

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Pellon Knit Tape is an interesting product which I love. I first heard about knit tape in one of my many sewing periodicals and again more recently in one my Craftsy classes: Meg McElwee's Sewing with Knits I decided to try it for myself. It is a thin, fusible webbing that is used to stabilize and strengthen knit fabric. It can be used around necklines, armholes, shoulders, waists and hems. Fabric.com sells 1 ½'' wide by 30 yds longs in both black and white. It is fusible which is great for knits since they can be so shifty when sewing so a sew-in interface is a no-go in my book. The set width is nice since you can also use it as a guide. I decided I would use it to stabilize and enforce the elastic waist band of a layered knit skirt I have coming soon to the blog.

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IMG_5880.JPGIMG_5881.JPGIMG_5883.JPGI started by get out my sewing ham because I found with the small waist size of the skirt (it is a size 5 child) that it would not fit over the end of my sewing board without stretching. I then pressed any curl out of the jersey knit which was facing wrong side up. Next, I placed the knit tape fusible side down (that is the rougher side. The smooth side is to be face up) right on the top edge of the fabric and lightly pressed down with my iron. I did this all the way around, being careful to press my seams allowance to the desired direction before fusing my knit tape in place. This will help keep the seam allowance to stay in place. I cut my piece to end right at the edge of the beginning so there would not be any extra thickness or stiffness. I sergered around the top of the waist band further securing the knit tape in place and trimming off ¼''. Then, using my finger I felt for the other edge of the tape and folded the waist band down along this edge and pinned it in place all the way around. Using a triple stretch stitch I sewed all the way around the folded waist band stopping 2-3'' before the beginning. I feed my bodkin and the elastic through and was careful not to twist the 1'' elastic. Finally I stitched the ends of my elastic together (and of, course I was rewarded with the ever constant bobbin bird's nest from sewing on elastic). Then I stitch the opening closed and gave my waist band a few test stretches. I will let you see the final result in a few weeks when I debut the skirt.

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Front

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I have to say I am liking how it feels so far. The waist feels stronger, more able to withhold the rigors of a 5 yr. old's dressing whimsies, constant washing and general running around. I don't see this waist sagging, looking depleted or wearing thin. I can't wait to show you the whole completed skirt and share all the places I decided needed a little stabilizing with Pellon Knit Tape

P.s. Please share your tips on avoiding the dreaded thread nest when sewing elastic. I thought I had tried everything but nothing I can think of has worked. 

Everyday Spa Style

March 9, 2014

LI-spa-robe.jpgYou know that yummy hotel luxury robe that you always think about stealing but if course totally don't? (I mean, there's no room for it in the suitcase, anyway.)

Good news! Bathrobes are easy to make, and spa terry velour is ridiculously plushy and luxe.


OK, first, let's talk about this fabric. One side is looped terry, and the other is a velvety velour. 

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When you pre-wash and run it through the dryer, you're going to get the fluffiest dryer lint maybe of all time. I'm not even joking. 

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Sewing it is pretty straightforward, but there are a couple of things to be prepared for. First, cutting it in two layers at a time can be a little tricky. I have some nice, sharp sheers that I only use for cutting fabric, and cutting two layers on the cross-grain was a challenge.

That leads me to the second thing: Be ready with a heavy duty needle for your machine! I never had any real problems stitching, but I suspect if I had gone with a needle intended for medium or lightweight fabrics, I would have bent or broken it because of the fabric's dense weave.

But with those two considerations in mind, making a new bathrobe was a simple affair. I used a pattern that's been in my stash forever, but there are always plenty of bathrobe patterns available. 

2-spa-robe.jpgRobes like this are a great way to turn a staycation into a spa-grade event, and they make luxe gifts. You could even personalize them if you have an embroidery machine, or add a machine-washable applique as a design feature. Mine will be replacing the robe I've had for way longer than I care to admit, which will now be turned into mop pads. And I will be wrapped in pink fluffy bliss.

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Happy relaxing! 

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