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August 23, 2010
As the summer draws to a close, so too ends yet another wedding season, leaving closets full of retired bridesmaid's dresses. I know, bride's are always saying, "But I picked a dress you can wear outside of the wedding!" Let's be honest - you never do.
I have had several bridesmaid's dresses over the past few years (luckily, I have been a bride as well). Some I have donated, some I have burned (come on, you've been there, too...), but there have been a few I can't stand to just be done with. Two brides in particular have been fantastic friends, and I have always wanted to do something special for them.
The first bride, Alyson, was married to my husband's best friend (and the best man at our wedding) in July of 2009. Chad, my husband, reciprocated best man duties, and I was a bridesmaid (actually, my main job was keeping the bees from stinging the flower girls during the outdoor ceremony). Our dresses were a taupe colored and tea-length with a halter top and a brown sash for accent. The wedding was in the Lake Tahoe area (GORGEOUS!) and the weather couldn't have been better. The ceremony was beautiful, the reception was a blast, and the bride and groom were as wonderful and gracious as could be. Much fun was had by all, and the couple is still happily married and still very good friends with us.
I will confess that I started out with the intention of making something for myself out of the dress. I never seem to have a clutch that can function with both a dressier outfit and something more casual, so I sought to find something to pair with the satin to balance out the elegance. By the time I finished, I decided that I loved the bag so much that I simply had to give it to Alyson (my mind works like that).
Here's a quick summary of my project:
* For the pattern, I chose the Ruthie Clutch from Anna Maria Horner with a few small edits.
* I made the main body of the bag out of the satin from the dress (unpicked and cut carefully so that I had plenty left over). You could recreate this look with duchess satin.
* The top band and the flower are made from a lilac colored microsuede, which was a little more difficult to work with than a regular cotton would have been since it is thicker and didn't make fusing the peltex an easy task. Still, I like the contrasting texture against the satin.
* The pattern calls for a button closure with an actual button hole in the strap. I'm too lazy for that (I'd just leave it open all the time) so I modified the pattern to include a magnetic snap closure. I still used a pretty button for decoration.
* The lining and closure strap are made from a cotton print I had laying around (for the life of me, I can't remember the name of the collection).
* I used some pretty, complimentary trim to hide the craziness of my seams... I mean add an elegant accent.
* The flower is from a tutorial (that I LOVE), found here.
The pattern was mostly straight forward, but it got a little tricky when it came to putting the stabilizer in the band. Admittedly, it probably would have been a lot easier if I had read all the instructions before jumping right in. It wasn't hard enough for me to give up. It did, however, make me realize how badly I needed a pressing ham (the most underrated tool ever). In the end, I decided that I couldn't keep it. Instead, I am giving it to Alyson for a rather belated birthday present. I hope she enjoys it.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks for the answer to, "What the heck do I do with a full length, ball gown bridesmaid's dress in midnight blue satin with a whole lot of fabric (to accommodate my then-pregnantly-round figure)?" I'll give you a hint - both the bride's daughter AND son should benefit from my creativity (if I can disassemble the dress correctly).
August 11, 2010
One of my favorite parts about working at Fabric.com is getting to help a variety of charities, guilds, groups, clubs, causes, etc. I had the extra special chance earlier this spring to lend a hand to a group in my own backyard (well, close to it), and I dragged my fabulous coworker Holly along for the ride.
Cobb Children's Theatre, Inc. is a non-profit, all volunteer theater group for children and young adults 11-25. I have known many people who have participated in this wonderful program, including my little sister and my future sister-in-law. Unlike some theater groups, CCT is not about creating child stars but about teaching strong teamwork, determination and perseverance. These kids (and the adult volunteers) work EXTREMELY hard, not only studying their lines and learning the choreography, but building sets and making costumes, too. They put in long hours and bust their little rear-ends, and the passion really shows in the final product.
This last spring my sister participated in CCT's production of Beauty and the Beast, and my mother volunteered for various odd jobs. A few days into the pre-production process, my mother called me to say that the costume and set budgets were less than optimal, and the human resources to do the sewing and construcstion were even scarcer. With the fabulous Mrs. Frey and her extensive costuming experience at the ready, we set to work helping find fabrics for various costumes and set pieces. Some, like the Enchantress, were fairly easy (embroidered taffeta). Others, like curtains for the sets, took a little more effort (printed canvas that had to resemble tapestries). Holly was there for advisement on some of the costumes, and I helped my panicked mother pull together last minute costumes for the most adorable teacups I've ever seen (pic below).
I saw the play on opening night, and I have to admit that I was shocked at how professional the production was. The sets were much more impressive than I expected (all made by volunteers and the performers), and the stage hands worked as seamlessly as old pros (even though they were all middle and high schoolers). The acting was fantastic, and you could tell everyone on stage was having fun. To add to the excitement of every little girl in the audience, the actress playing Belle sounded almost exactly like the actress from the Disney movie (it was almost a little freaky how much she sounded like her).
If you happen to be in the Marietta, GA area, the next CCT production is "Into the Woods" on August 20-22, and I HIGHLY recommend you check it out (and volunteer). If you aren't in Georgia, look into your own local theater groups to see where you can help out. Whether you pitch in your sewing skills for the costumes or even just buy some tickets and take your family for a special night out, you can rest assured it's all for a great cause.
July 15, 2010
It's that time again! We have just posted our newest exclusive, free Hot Patterns pattern download, the much-anticipated Sunny Side Up Sunhat. Holly teased this one on Facebook a couple weeks back, and many people were super excited to get their hands on it.
If you haven't had the chance to work with downloaded patterns, this is the perfect one to start with (and if you have, this one will make you pleased as punch). The Sunny Side Up Sunhat is quite possibly the easiest of the downloads to assemble (although the Bossa Nova Skirt comes in a pretty close second). When it came to creating the pattern, I was actually a little hesitant for a couple reasons - here's where my confession starts:
- I've never made a hat. They kind of scare me.
- I don't really wear hats.
- I am really, really, REALLY horrible at sewing flat pieces around curves, especially when they keep going around in a circular pattern. I have several wonky looking purses that attest to this.
Since I was already taking this whole hat-making business as a challenge, I also thought I would channel my "inner Holly" and go with some fun, colorful fabric combinations. (Many of you don't know this, but Holly has absolutely zero fear of color. Well, except brown. Seriously, though, her office is bright pink and black. No kidding.)
For my first hat, I picked three prints from Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane collection.
A few notes on the actually sewing and whatnot:
- Don't let the fact that it's a hat give you a moment's pause - it's really an easy pattern to make.
- The brim is pretty wide. If it's too floppy for you, you can play with shortening it or using interfacing.
- The pattern is one-size-fits-all, but runs along the lines of an average sized head. If you need to it be a little more accommodating, you may need to play with sizing.
While I may not be a complete hat convert, I have to say I have grown fond of my new millinery masterpieces. I think I may keep them in my office to use as "thinking caps." You never know when you might need a little bit of help getting the creative juices flowing.
June 22, 2010
Assembling a pattern you have downloaded from the Internet can be tricky, particularly if you have never done it before. We started offering our free pattern downloads about a year ago, and prior to that I had never even seen a pattern that you printed on a home printer, taped together and then cut out. Since then I have had to do several, but I can still appreciate how overwhelming it can be to sit down to make a cute top or dress and come face-to-face with a stack of 28 pages that don't seem to make any sense. To help offer some guidance, I've come up with a quick how-to for assembling our free pattern downloads, along with a few helpful tips I have picked up over the last few months.
First, I would like to address a couple of questions that we frequently hear from customers:
· "I tried to print the pattern, but it doesn't print the entire pattern pieces--some get lost into the borders, so they don't match up."
· "If I print the pattern to fit the page the pattern is way too small."
I think I can explain both of these in one go. The pattern pieces do indeed span across multiple (often several) pages. As pointed out, if they were to fit on one page they would be too small to be useful. However, nothing actually gets lost in the borders. The pattern is laid out in the correct scale, so it's 100% read to print. Since most printers will not print completely to the edge there has to be a slim margin around the border. The pattern layout takes this margin into account, and if you cut it off or just overlap the pages the pattern lines up (see below for more detail).
How to assemble your free download pattern:
1. Print the pattern as it is laid out. It is already the correct scale, so you do not need to adjust the scale settings. There will be a thin margin on all 4 sides of the page (See above for explanation).
2. Locate the instruction pages (usually 2-3 depending on the pattern). Read through them so that you are familiar with the shape of the pattern pieces and the sewing instructions. Set them aside.
3. Examine the pattern pages. You'll notice at the corner of each page there is a symbol that looks like a quarter of a circle.
These symbols tell you where the page margins stop and also help you line corresponding pages up. At this stage you may choose to cut the margins off the pages to make it easier to line the symbols up and see where the pattern lines connect across pages. Instead of cutting off all the margins, I find that cutting only two sides of each page helpful (I cut the top and left hand side). That way the cut side rests on top of the uncut side of the corresponding page, and they are easier to tape. I have also chosen NOT to cut the margins in the past, and while it takes a little more effort to make sure everything lines up, it works as well. It's really a personal choice.
4. If you look at the bottom of each page you will also see a column and a row number notation. They won't start at "Column 1, Row 1," but the numbering does correspond with how the pattern is laid out. Also, the pages are already in order by column, which means the first page is the upper left-most corner once all the pages are taped together. The next page in the stack is the page directly below the first one, and etc. Once you get to the end of the column, you'll start the next column by taping the appropriate page to the right of the first page, then continue down until the end of the column. Most patterns will only have 3-4 columns, depending on the complexity of the pattern.
5. Lay out the pattern pieces in order without taping them so that you get an overview of how the pattern is laid out. Some patterns, like the Peachy Beachy Coverup, actually have an illustration on one of the pages to give you an idea what all the pages look like when laid out correctly.
6. Once you have your pattern pages in order, begin taping them together, using both the quarter circle symbols AND the pattern lines as guides. I have found the best method for doing this is to start with the upper left corner and work down. Once you have taped the whole column together, begin attaching pages from the next column to the adjacent pages of the first column, adding one page at a time from the top down. You could also work left to right. I do not recommend assembling full columns or rows first and then joining them. I have tried this a couple times, and it never lines up quite as well as if you do the whole thing in order, adding one page at a time. This method allows you to reposition pages better if something doesn't line up. It's also helpful to have your tape pieces already cut or have one of those tape-dispenser bracelet things.
7. Once you have the whole thing assembled, cut out your pattern as you normally would and go sew!
I hope I have taken away any apprehension you may have about trying out one of these downloads. It may look daunting, but the pattern assembly is really a cinch. Even the largest one really only takes about an hour to put together, even if you take the time to trim your page margins. Even more importantly, the patterns themselves are easy to sew together and produce great results. Try one (or all) out, and post your projects on our Facebook page for everyone to see!
June 18, 2010
As Holly mentioned yesterday, a couple of us decided to put our own personal spin on th Hot Patterns Peachy Beachy Coverup free pattern download. I didn't need another swimsuit coverup (believe me, I'm the queen of poolside coverage), but I still like the style and ease of the pattern. Instead, I decided to go with something a little less casual but still with the coverage and layering aspect.
I love cute little black dresses and light tanks, but often they are not appropriate business attire. I also have had some velvet silk burnout for a while for which I have been waiting for just the right project to come along. I immediately started mentally sketching out a slightly modified version of the pattern that would result in a top that could be worn with several looks, whether over a nice black dress or with a tank top and jeans. I wanted to add a few more little special touches to glam it up, so I used this as the perfect opportunity to play with some toys and goodies I've been stashing away (I'll go into further detail in a minute).
Of course, because of my fabric choice and modifications, it took me quite a bit longer to sew my top together than it would have if I stuck to the pattern and the suggested fabrics. I am pleased with the finished result, so I think it was worth the extra time and effort.
Here are a few of the changes I made and some other notes of interest/random babblings:
- I shortened the bottom part of the pattern by 4-5 inches, making it so that it hit me at just below hip level. I really didn't do much in the way of measuring. I simply held the pattern up, figured roughly where I wanted the bottom to be, and then folded the pattern up.
- Since I was working with a sheer fabric, I not only had to trim the seam allowances but also had to finish them off. Okay, so I may have cheated and used fray check here and there. Also, like Holly, I trimmed the facing to avoid bulk and visibility.
- As much as I love it, silk velvet burnout is a pain to work with. There was no way I was going to mess with a handmade hem, so I ran the edges through a 6mm rolled hem foot. If you do not own at least one of these marvelous things, I highly suggest you get one. They are fantastic little time and sanity savers.
- Instead of doing one covered button and a loop, I tacked the top in three places, from where the pattern calls for a button to just above the tie. I then sewed adorable little JHB dragonfly buttons over where I tacked the fabric. You may want to do the buttons the normal way, but I have no intention of ever needing to unbutton it so I skipped the step. If you haven't checked out the button section, I would whole-heartedly recommend doing so. Our buyers and merchants have been picking out some great little gems.
- For a little bit of extra glam, I accented a couple of the flowers in the fabric pattern on the breast with a handful of hotfix crystals. I was a little worried about making it a little over-the-top, but I'm really glad I did this. I love the way it turned out.
- I have not done so yet, but I may actually add a godet to bottom part at each side seam to give it a little more valume. Not so much that I look like I'm expecting a bundle of joy, but just enough to make it a little more flouncy and fluttery.
- Holly was also correct that the adorable cat did not appear. This is not too big of a problem because I already have two of my own.
I am very pleased with how the top turned out, and I really look forward to wearing it throughout this brutally hot summer. If you have made your own version of the pattern, we want to see it! Post it on our Facebook page and share the creative vibes! Keep an eye out in the upcoming weeks for another free pattern download that you will fall head-over-heels for. I'm simply brimming with excitement...
February 10, 2010
Valentine's Day is this weekend, and if you feel like you're going to be stuck buying a box of mystery chocolates because you don't have time to make something special, fret not! I am here to share a quick craft that can be made with minimal materials and minimal time. With a little practice, fabric roses can be made in a flash, cost much less than the real thing, and will last forever.
To make fabric roses you will need the following:
* Light to medium-weight woven fabric with good body (but not too stiff) cut in strips. (I used Dupioni Silk, but you could also use cotton, satin or any pretty fabric that has body but isn't too stiff). You can also use ribbon.
* Floral Wire
* Floral tape
The amount of fabric you will need will depend on the size and number of flowers you want. Bigger flowers require thicker and longer strips, and smaller flowers take thinner and smaller strips. In the demo video I use strips that are 3.5 inches wide and roughly 23 inches long, giving me roses that are approximately 3 inches in diameter. I cut my strips with the grain, which saved me material and gave it a whispy, frayed look. You can also cut them on the bias for a cleaner look, but that also means using more fabric. If you want to bypass the whole cutting thing altogether you can also use 2.5 inch or wider satin or velvet ribbon. If you find the hand and finger placement difficult at first, starting with wire edge ribbon might help.
You can find both the floral tape and wire at a craft store. If you aren't familiar, floral tape is actually a stretchy paper-like tape that's covered in wax instead of adhesive. You pull and stretch it slightly as you work, causing it to stick to itself.
Since writing out instructions just wasn't as good as a visual tutorial, we've decided to try something new for for Fabric.com - video! I hope you enjoy this one and find it informative. Keep an eye out for more to come!
January 17, 2010
I am by no means a "fashionista" (far from it, actually), but I have developed a minor obsession with handbags. First, a handbag is a quick, simple and efficient way to make your wardrobe go farther. The right purse can take an outfit from blah to fab, or from casual to dressy in a snap. I tend to be fairly frugal, and when it comes to clothing style I try to stay clean, simple and classic (when you follow trends you tend to have to spend more, both up-front with the initial purchase and replacing everything when it goes out of style, which goes against my frugal leanings). My favorite way to make my simple black slacks work harder for me is with varying combinations of simple tops and fun bags and jewelry.
Secondly, handbags are a fab-fab-FABULOUS way to blast through your stash. Have you ever cut out a pattern from a fabric you LOVE, and while the scraps aren't really big enough to make anything you can't stand to throw them away? (Come on, admit it - we all do it) Well, what do you know! It doesn't take much fabric to make or line a pocket! Lining purses is a great way to use up smaller cuts of fabulous wovens that you can't make a whole wardrobe piece with, but still want to incorporate into your look (Hello hot-pink-and-black charmeuse satin!) Do you have lots of small pieces of coordinating fabrics? Most handbag pattern components are smaller, and who says the whole thing has to be made from the same fabric? You can do the pockets in one fabric, the main part in another fabric and the details in a third. Ta-daaaa! Stash-approved fashion!
Recently, Trudy from Hot Patterns asked us for some fabric to makes samples of some of her handbag patterns. We agreed, but with the stipulation that we would get to see (drool over) them. We got our package in the mail a few days ago, and we were promptly off to play dress-up. Here are the photos:
This is the Queen of Hearts handbag made from city blocks and microsuede fabric. City blocks is one of our favorite fabrics around here because it's made from recycled plastics. It also comes in really nice colors and has great drape for a thicker, home-dec-like fabric.
My favorite bag of the group is undoubtedly the Plain and Simple Envelope Clutch made in a fabulous melon microsuede. It's simple design is clean and stylish, and the floral lining is super cute (we didn't get any shots, but I think Trudy might have some in her youtube video).
This one is the Urban Girl Mega Shopper. The body of the tote is done in a natural colored twill, with gingham accents and gingham lined pockets. I like this bag because it's sturdy and utilitarian while still fashionable. I'm thinking my sister-in-law, who is a teacher, might be getting one for her birthday.
Finally, this cute little number is the Classix Nouveau Pyramid bag. Well, it's not really little, but it is cute! It's made out of a white microsuede and lined with baby blue satin. I like how this one opens almost flat out. I tend to lose stuff in my purse, so this is the perfect design for gaining full access to every nook and cranny.
December 29, 2009
I love to sew and craft, but the last few years I have really neglected the right side of my brain for the analytical benefits my left side offers. Well, enough is enough! It's time to unleash my creative beast and let the artistic endeavors flow! Below are my sewing/craft/etc. resolutions, which I hope will act as a treat to keep me inspired to stick to my more serious resolutions.
1. Be more organized. I know I used this as an example of a normal resolution, but it works here, too. Like many of you my craft space is limited to a small kitchen table and whatever spare space I can find without my supplies being in the way. This year my goal is to figure out a better way to organize my fabric and supplies in a tidy and compact way that also keeps my husband from trying to tuck it away into the unknown depths of our attic.
2. Use more of my stash before I buy more fabric. I work for a fabric store, so you just know that I have tons of it. To make matters worse, I see something the I just love and buy it with a project in mind and never complete (or even start) said project. My resolution is to stop buying as much fabric, which will also help me save money, and use up the stash I have - which will help downsize, too.
3. I will leave fewer projects unfinished. We all do it, I just do it a lot. I would say that 90% of my projects go incomplete. I vow to do every little stitch, step and hem.
4. I will master my serger. I asked for one for years - nay, begged! I finally received one, and I still don't know how to use it. This year shall be the year of the serger!
5. Learn how to knit. I've never even held knitting needles, but the whole process fascinates me. I'm a total crochet failure, so hopefully knitting will be my thing.
6. I will show someone how to sew. I have many friends who have told me they want to learn to sew, but time constraints and lack of enthusiasm have stalled out any concrete plans. This year I will actively pursue the opportunity to get at least one friend or family member started. I may not know much, but even a little knowledge can give someone the boost they need to get going, right?
I'm sure there will be more as the year progresses, but those are the 6 I have for now. I'm curious, though; what are some of your sewing/knitting/needle-working/crafting/etc. resolutions for 2010? Let's all share the inspiration and make this the year to get back to your craft!
December 17, 2009
There are only a couple more weeks left until Christmas, and while you may not have too much time left to make every person on your list a gift, you can still find them something special. I may not be able to help you figure out what to give everyone on your list, but I have a few ideas rattling around in my head for the craftier loved ones in your life.
I get to see a lot of cool new items come in as they are being processed. While I cannot personally use all of them, I find myself creating mental lists and "gift baskets" in my head. I currently have a running list of possible gifts for my younger sister (who has the desire, but not the patience for sewing), a few of my friends, my mother, and various family members. Each list is different based on their tastes and skill levels. Obviously I can't give every person everything I want to, but a few choice items bundled together and wrapped in a fun gift bag or basket can make a wonderful surprise. Plus, handmade gifts are fantastic, but there's a lot of potential fun when you give your loved one everything they need to be crafty themselves.
December 6, 2009
A few weeks ago our merchandising manager, Kristl Pelz, wrote about an easy way to make a scarf out of our silk burnout velvet in one of our email messages. We have received a few questions about the project, so I decided to do an extended set of instructions.
For this project you will need one yard of silk velvet burnout fabric and coordinating thread. A rolled-hem foot is optional, but makes finishing the edges SOOOOO much easier.
Start by evening out your fabric. The easiest way to do this is to make a tiny snip an inch or two above the cut edge and tear the fabric across the grain. This ensures that your cut edge is perfectly straight. Next, fold the fabric in half, matching the selvages, then cut down the fold to create two even pieces. Go ahead and trim the selvages off at this point, as well.
Next, place the pieces with wrong sides together and so that the fabric pattern is right-side up on both pieces. Use french seam to join the fabric at one of the shorter sides. To do this, stitch along one of the shorter sides of fabric using a 1/4" seam allowance.
Trim the seam allowance to 1/8" and press to one side using low heat.
Fold the fabric back along the seam so that the fabric is now right sides together and the seam allowance is in between. Pin and sew the stitched edge using a 3/8" seam allowance, encasing the raw edge of the first seam inside a nice little pocket.
Voila! Easy-peasy french seam.
Lastly, hem the edges of the scarf. I used a 6mm hemmer foot, which worked beautifully even with the unevenness of the fabric. I don't have the patience needed to create a rolled hem manually, so I would highly recommend using your hem foot if you have one. If you don't have one, I would suggest getting one. You could also finish the scarf off with a serged edge.
That's it. Scarf complete! You could easily do this with any light to medium weight fabric with nice drape. The burnout velvet comes in a wide variety of colors and styles, but you could also do the same thing in charmeuse satin. For something a little less drapey, you could use dupioni silk or silk brocade. It only takes about an hour to make one of these scarves, making them a great last minute gift that won't look last minute at all.