Recently in Sewing Category
March 9, 2014
You 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.
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.
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.
Robes 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.
March 3, 2014
If you are anything like me you love short cuts. However, this time the short cut is to save my sanity. I needed curtains that were 130'' long and the thought of measuring, cutting and hemming all that made me want to burst into tears or turn to chocolate. I opted for a short cut. I had purchased several extra-long curtains from IKEA but I had "hemmed" them to use in our nursery in a different house with different ceilings. I need them to be 22'' longer. Instead of going out to buy a new pair I decided to add a fabulous border to the bottom instead to make up the difference. The plan worked out wonderfully. Now not only do I not have a whole wall of plain solid fabric but nor do I have a wall of bright, busy fabric. I have the best of both worlds. I decided on a French seam to bring the two panels together because the curtains would be unlined but I wanted the backside to look great too. Follow these easy instructions if you want to modify you own curtains or short cut your way to extra-long curtains.
- First measure how much of a border you need then add 1'' for the French seam and 5'' for a double turned hem.
- Press everything. You want it to be straight and relaxed. Rip up the side hems of the ready-made panel about 5-6''.
- Pin the border to the panel wrong sides together matching up side edges. Stitch with a ½'' seam allowance. Press seam open then flip the curtain over and press again. With pinking shear cut down the seam allowance to ¼''
- Flip the fabric so that right sides match at the seam and pin in place. Press again and stitch with another 1/2'' seam allowance. Press the French seam towards the darker panel and remake the side seams, pin in place and stitch.
- Finish with the double fold hem by folding over 1'', press and then fold over 4''. Pin, press and stitch.
This would be great for adding just a splash of color, for wedding drapes to add the wedding colors, and for dorm rooms if you have windows that are above 84''.
March 2, 2014
We're kicking off a new bag series today, because I can never, EVER get enough of bags. Handbags, cosmetic bags, duffles and beyond -- I just love the idea of making cute things to tote around all my stuff. So I am super excited to make a bunch of bags and share them.
For my first project in this series, I'm making an adorable suitcase from Sara Lawson's "Big City Bags." (I love this book, so odds are good you're going to see another project or two from it!) It's called a Honeymooner Suitcase, and it's petite (18 x 12.5 x 5 inches) -- perfect for a weekend getaway or for a kid's travel wardrobe.
I opted to use a sparkle vinyl for mine. This proved to be a little bit of a challenge because of the heavy, stiff nature of the fabric, so if you're going a similar route, be prepared to exercise your patience.
I've talked about using tissue paper on your vinyl to ease it through your machine before, but I don't know that I've ever shared the alternative that I prefer: party napkins. These are the printed ones made for kids' parties. They're usually a little stiffer than tissue paper, but they tear away really nicely, so whenever I see any on clearance, I snap them up.
Because the vinyl was so stiff, double folding it under as I was stitching the handle was fairly impossible. So I left the raw edges out, then made little loops out of my trim and linin fabric to cover everything up. The loops are kep in place with a dab of hot glue on the back side of the handle.
The rest of the bag went together according to the book's instructions, with a little extra wiggling and fussing to accomodate for my fabric choices. A bit of double fold bias tape encloses the interior seams and hids a bit of ugly stitching on my part.
And here's the finished bag, ready for an adventure.
I would love to make this one again using a cute home dec or cotton print. Because of multiple pieces with the piping trim and handle assembly, there are some options for playing with different fabric combinations that are exciting to think about!
February 28, 2014
I am anxious for spring and found my daughter's upcoming picture day to be a great excuse to make the first spring dress of 2014 (side note: did you know that there are two pictures days now!) I decided on Oliver + S Ice Cream dress for two reasons:
1) It seemed like a comfy, no frills, limited fasteners and with pockets that my daughter requires (her rules, not necessarily mine)
2) It is my favorite dress pattern. I just love the look and styling and knew she would love wearing it.
I let her pick the fabric. She decided on gray quilting cotton with dogs playing on it. Gray seems to be one of her favorite colors and I loved that it was an easily matched fabric. Since she got bored after picking the main fabric I got to have my fun picking out the second fabric. But I actually went with two fabrics for the top and border. I layered an eyelet fabric with a colorful polka fabric for a fabulous peek-a-boo effect that toned down the brightness of the polka dot allowing the main fabric to shine and gave some more visual interest to the white eyelet. This is the same eyelet I used for my square top variation. I used the polka dot as the lining and the eyelet as the exterior fabric however instead of having the lining's right side face out towards the inside of the dress, I reversed it having the right side of the lining fabric face towards the eyelet and the outside of the dress so the dots would show through the eyelet. The effect is beautiful and delicious. You can play around with this effect with many different fabrics. Try pairing different fabrics over a bright patterned quilting cotton like sheer fabric, lace fabric, sweater knit or even tulle.
My daughter loves her dress and so do I. She is a big leggings and t-shirts girl but she really does love this dress. I hypothesize that it is the loose overall fit and comfortable neckline. She is always asking to wear it and I can't wait for picture day. I just hope it is not washed thin before then.
February 26, 2014
Sticky Back Fusible Web is one notion you didn't know you couldn't live without. It has many uses and is customizable to use for just about any project you can think of. I love it and am always finding new uses for it. However, my favorite ways to use Sticky Back Fusible Web is for adding slot seam zippers and quick hems. Here's how:
Slot Seam Zippers:
Stitch your seam together where the zipper will go. Press the seam allowance open. Mark on the wrong side of the fabric the zipper placement and cut 2 pieces of sticky back fusible web the same length and ½'' wide. With the non-sticky side down, place each piece of web on each side of the seam on the seam allowance and press in place. Peel up the backing and center zipper on seam and between markings. The zipper will stay in place without pins while sewing in place with a zipper foot. Stitch straight down one side, across the bottom right below the zipper stop and back up the other side. I like to open up the seam down the zipper as I am sewing up the second side so when I get close to the top I can open the zipper without raising both my needle and my foot. I can just raise my foot leaving my needle in place and move the slide out of my way as I finish up the second side. Finish ripping open the seam and you're done. Now you have a perfectly finished slot seam zipper that is sewn and topstitched in one step.
Cut 1'' pieces of sticky back fusible and place them sticky side down along the edge of your project on the wrong side. Fold your hem up using the web as a guide and press in place. Topstitch your hem in place. Voila, so easy. No measuring, no pinning and no hem rulers!
February 25, 2014
So, unless you live in a media blackout, it's no secret that Atlanta has had a bit of a wacky winter. While I know many other parts of the country (and the world) have had much harsher conditions this year, I am unabashedly over the cold weather. As I type this, our snow has gone, but there's a cold drizzle coming down outside.
Alas, I can't jet off to a more glamorous and toasty location, so to help me recover from the cold-weather blues, I decided to make myself a new frock to remind me of travel and warmer weather. And what's more romantic to think about than springtime in Paris? I've been coveting all of the Michael Miller Eiffel Tower prints for quite a while, and it seemed time to use it for a bit of stitching therapy.
With just a few hours in the sewing room and Simplicity 1873, I took a make-believe trip to France and came out of it with a new dress. I made the version with the cap sleeves, but cut the skirt to the shorter length because I'm shrimpy.
I also opted to bind the neckline instead of cutting a facing. I don't love facings; I can never seem to get them to behave and stay in place and not get wadded up in the wash to the point that they require pressing. So I simply cut a bias strip out of my fabric and finished the neckline with it.
While it's not in the budget to go visit the Eiffel Tower this year, now I can at least carry a piece of it with me. Like a souvenir without the trip!
February 21, 2014
My mom loves to tell me about her childhood and summers spent at her grandmother's house in Pennsylvania. She goes on in detail about all the furnishing when something sparks her memory. One day as the weather started to turn cold this past year my mom was commenting on the draft that comes through her media room from the attic alcove. It drives the temperate down several degrees making it an uncomfortable room in the wintertime. While we were discussing this I suggested putting drapes up over the doorway to keep the draft out because I had recently seen something similar on pinterest. I could see the lightbulb turn on in her eyes. Mom told me how her grandmother had curtains in the doorway between her living room and dining room. "Everyone had doorway curtains back then. It was just standard in decorating. It helped keep the house warm" she recalled. We decided then and there doorway drapes were the solution. The finished double wide curtain panel has made all the difference in the media room. It is staying toasty now and makes a great gathering place for family movie night.
To make your own you will need:
First up, measure your doorway. Measure how wide and tall you want your finished drapes to be. Double that width because most pleat tapes need twice the width. Also add a double turned side hems. I used 2'' for each double turned side hem (1/2'' for the first turn and 1.2'' for the second) but some prefer 4'' (that is ½'' for the first turn then 3.5'' for the second). For the length add a 2'' top hem to your finished length plus your desired bottom hem length. I prefer a deep 4'' hem plus ½ turn under so I added 4.5''. You don't need to double turn the top or make it very deep since the pleat tape will add stability and will cover the raw edge.
Sew together any panels that you need to gain your width and then fold over 2'' along the top and baste in place. Pin the pleat tape ½'' down from the top edge of your curtain on the wrong side. You will see sewing guide lines on your pleat tape. Sew along the top and bottom of the pleat tape on these lines. Remove basting stitches. Create the pleats you desire. I went with a triple pleat because I liked the formal look it gave and thought that complemented the tapestry fabric. After I assembled my pleats on the back side I took them over to the iron and steamed the pleats in place and finally gave each a small tacking stitch at the base of each pleat to give it a polish, formal look. An untacked pleat looks more casual.
Back of curtain, pleats assembled
Front of pleats before pressing and tacking. A very casual look.
Here I am tacking my pleats. You can see the 3 folds under my presser foot.
After tacking. Much cleaner and defined pleats
Next, I hemmed the bottom of the panel and finally the sides. I prefer to hem the sides last because it seals off the top and bottom hem and eliminates any pockets that can gather dust, dirt or even bugs. Lastly, I added the curtain hooks by placing each one in the middle of the triple pleat so the hook could support the pleat and hung them on a basic flat rod. Eventually my mom wants to make a tie back for frequent trips to the alcove which is common at Christmas time since she keeps her decorations back in the attic but for now she is content to keep the drafts at bay.
For more info on our Drapery tape check out my December 2013 post when it was Product of the Month.
February 16, 2014
I'll say it loud and proud: I loooooove stretch velvet. I have since I was a kid. Back then, it seemed like such a fancy and grown-up fabric. And while my tastes have matured and I recognize that stretch velvet is not exactly the most haute couture of textiles, I am still terribly fond of it.
But finding ways to add this fabric into your wardrobe can be tricky. It can look costumey. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I actually really like costumey street clothes, but I recognize that I'm in the minority on that one; I've watched enough "Project Runway" to learn that.) So I decided to make a couple of shirts that are cut sort of like fancy T-shirts.
I used McCall's 6754 for my first shirt, which I cut out of pink stretch velvet. Because of the way the pattern is laid out and pieces together, you get a little bit of play with the nap of the velvet that creates some pretty contrast that shifts with the light and angle that the garment's viewed from.
I turned to a vintage pattern I've used before for my second shirt. I didn't use the sailor collar; I just cut facings to match the body pieces to finish the neck edge.
The gathering along the sides of this one rally shows off the texture of the royal blue stretch velvet.
The costume lover in me is plotting to wear this one with a yellow skirt or pants and a red hair accessory so I can be a modern Snow White.
What I really like about a comfy top out of stretch velvet is the versatility. Throw on a blazer over it, and it's ready for the office. Pair it withe a pretty, flowy skirt and an eye-catching necklace, and it can easily go on a date or for drinks with friends.
Do you have stretch velvet fever? How do you make it part of your wardrobe?
February 14, 2014
This month's product of the month is the Schmetz Twin Needle. This notion is great for hemming knit garments and gives an elastic but professional finish to your knit edges. The twin needle creates a double row of straight stitching on the right side and a zig zag stitch on the wrong side which is very similar to the cover stitch found on most ready-to-wear knit garments. Twin needles are also great for pin tucks on wovens but that is another post that can be found here. I love the results achieved by the twin needle for hemming knits. I was so over the standard zig zag stitch: it didn't look as neat, professional and it often rippled as I stitched it up. The twin straight stitch adds the finish I love and drastically reduces the rippling. However, I did have a serious issue with tension on my Brother he-120 so I am including all the tips I tried in case you have similar issues.
Let's get started
First my main issue was with my upper thread being too loose and my bobbin being too tight. Even with my tension disc set all the way to 9 (this is where I set it when stitching gathering rows so the bobbin should have been loose as a goose) I was still seeing some upper thread on the wrong side and my zig zag was not taunt. So I tried rethreading just in case it was my error. No change. Then I tried centering my needles instead of just moving them to the slight left of center to clear my foot. I thought if the needle were centered then the zig zag would be pull on both upper threads evenly. No change.
A missed stitch!!
Next, I tried stitching with some light weight paper under my fabric in case it was an issue with the feed dogs. No change. I saw slight improvement when I moved the paper on top of the fabric but not enough.
With paper on top of fabric
I then tried using my walking foot and while I saw no change in my tension issue I did see that the tunneling effect was greatly reduced. So the right side appearance was much nicer but the wrong side was not correct and looked "off". Next I tried lengthen in the stitch length. This helped but only slightly but gave a better result on the right side.
Longer stitch length
I decided to take a chance and threaded my bobbin again but this time I did not run it through the guide but I just pulled it up through the needle plate. Since the bobbin tension was too tight I thought this would loosen it up. It worked great and gave me the tension I needed.
Left: the usual threading of the bobbin
Right: the less tension method
This was a very time consuming experiment that involved two machines (the tension issue occurred on two Brother machines) I had to keep tweaking and sewing, tweaking and sewing but finally I was able to create the correct tension and next time it will be so easy to hem my knit garments. Thank goodness spring is coming!
I have found many posts around the blogosphere that give tips on using the twin needle on knits but only a few were truly helpful. Here are a few of those I found good reads and warmly recommend. Please add you tips in our comment section with how you achieve good results with your twin needle.
February 12, 2014
I am pleased to introduce this month's blog of the month: Crafty Gemini. This amazing mom is well known for her YouTube videos that cover crafting, quilting, sewing, cooking and family fun in general. This wonderful blog covers it all from teaching kids to sew to any and every tutorial you could want. I was delighted to find this blog but even more so when I discovered all the different creative topics Vanessa, the blog mistress, covers. She runs the gamut from crafting to cooking to homeschooling kidlets. Vanessa includes natural farming on her 5 acre homestead (definition of homestead is a family residence that consists of home, land and outbuildings). There are also tons of posts on cooking with recipes and videos. Yum! All cooking posts, videos and recipes work with natural ingredients and look delicious. I am a HUGE Sofrito fan but I dislike buying it in the store because my favorite brand uses MSG as a flavoring, so when I discovered Vanessa's post on making and storing your own sofrito I almost jumped over the moon with joy.
Vanessa is also an avid quilter and instructor of quilting. While she is not currently offering any classes you can look through all her tutorials and videos on quilting. She also offers patterns and many free tutorials. Check out the gallery of pictures off all the quilts she has crafted for friends and family. There is a great collection of sewing tutorials as well with projects ranging from baby gear, home décor and general "how-to". It is a one stop shop for your next project.
But of all the topics covered on Crafty Gemini I am most intrigued by the farming. I can't seem to get enough of it. On the one hand I want to follow in her footsteps but on the other hand grabbing all my groceries at the store it so convenient. It is so interesting and great to learn how easy farming can be. You can start with just a small garden and grow from there. If you are interested in growing your own food at any level, this is a great blog to reference.
In conclusion, Vanessa is an amazing woman whose passion for life and sharing all the goodness that can be had from it with all of us makes me love reading her blog. Learning tips on teaching kids new skills and crafts is very inspiring. Taking a gander through her quilt gallery makes for a great idle few hours. The recipes and farming could make anyone want to take a greater part in their diet. I love this blog and love the feeling it gives me just reading it.