Category Archives: Garment Sewing

Summer Sew Along – Day Three

You’re back! I hope that means you were able to lay out and cut your fabric pieces. If you had any trouble, don’t hesitate to email me at needleandfoot@gmail.com. Or, you can always leave a comment on the blog or the Facebook page. I am happy to help.

Today we are going to take our time and work on the details that make the front of the shirt unique. I think these details are both challenging and fun. If you take it slow, you will have good results. We are going to mark the lines for the pin tucks and also the stitching and cutting line for the slit at the center of the neckline. The portions of the instruction sheet we will be working on are numbers 1 through 6.

NOTE: For marking, I used a Frixion pen (the one that erases with the heat of the iron.) You should use whatever is comfortable for you. For the pin tucks we are marking on the front of the shirt so make sure it will come out easily. A piece of chalk would be good.  Because my fabric is light in color, chalk wasn’t an option for me. Plus I want my markings to show in a photo for the blog so I needed a darker color.

We will mark the center stitching line first.  It is easiest to mark this on the facing piece, rather than directly on to the front of the shirt.  You need to fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of piece number 3 first. When the interfacing is fused, lay the paper pattern piece back over the interfacing side. Fold back the bottom of the paper and make a mark the bottom of the slit.

Fold back the paper lengthwise on the dotted line and trace your stitching line. Then fold back the other side along that broken line and trace the opposite stitching line.

I noticed that the drawing of the slit comes to a deep point. I did not sew that far down because there would not be any seam allowance alongside the stitching line at the deepest point of the V.  Instead, I traced and stitched a shorter, wider V on my piece.

Once you have your facing piece marked, you need to finish the edge of the facing so it doesn’t unravel or fray when it is washed. I always fold a very narrow 1/4″ to the wrong side around the three outer edges (both long sides and the bottom). Press that first fold.  Then fold it again and press that second fold. Pin to keep it in place as you stitch.

NOTE:  Just like with free motion quilting, it is always best to draw your bobbin thread up to the top before you begin stitching. This will prevent that little rat’s nest of messy stitches that occur now and then. Also, with any stitching on a garment, stitch forward about two stitches, reverse for two stitches and then begin to sew.  You need to reverse so that your stitches are locked down and don’t unravel.

Press after stitching. If you are using a Frixion pen, remember not to iron over your markings or you will have to trace a second time. (Ummm….don’t ask me how I know this.) Once your facing edges are finished, set it aside for now.

 

 

I feel like explaining the pin tucks with the written word is a bit of a challenge so, with the help of my daughter, I made my first ever YouTube clip. I think this will give you a good idea of how to fold the pin tucks. If the video doesn’t work in your browser, click here.

Now let’s mark the pin tuck lines.  This will be much like marking the line on the facing piece. This time, fold the paper pattern back on the broken line (your stitching line). Use a clear ruler or straight edge to draw a line on the fabric from the top to the dot at the end of the stitching line. You will mark these twice on each side of the front piece.  After you do the first side, remove the pins from the piece and turn the fabric over. Lay the piece down (should be upside down this time) and mark the two lines on the other side of the front piece. It is hard to see my lines so I drew over one to give you the idea of what I mean. Ignore the fact that I couldn’t line my hand drawn line with the computer drawn line! I definitely need some lessons on using graphic art tools!

 When you have all four lines drawn, it will look something like this. Again, my hand drawn lines are faint.

Next we will make the folds and pin the tucks in place. You want to pick up the fold at the notch and take it to the side. Finger press and pin in place. Remember, if it is folded in the correct direction, the notch will make a nice smooth curve for the neckline. Pin down to that dot we marked for the end of the tuck.

Top stitch each of the pin tucks, drawing your bobbin thread to the top before beginning the seam.  Also, be sure to reverse for two stitches and then proceed to the end of the tuck. How does it look?

 

The next step is to attach the facing.  Take the piece and lay it right sides together on the front piece. It will be centered between the tucks.

Pin in place. (I know… my markings are a bit wiggly.) Sew just a hair to the right of the stitching line.  Take it slow here. This is probably the fussiest part of this project.  Stitch down to the point and put your needle down to hold your spot.

Pivot, by turning the fabric, and stitch 2 or 3 stitches. You will need to have this bit of room when you clip this seam. Then with your needle down, pivot the fabric again and stitch back up to the top of the neckline.

Press  your seam.  Just press the facing as it lays on the front of the shirt to smooth your seam. Next you will carefully cut the slit between the two long rows of stitching down to the point (where you made those two stitches and pivoted).

Make sure not to cut through the stitches. Now turn the facing to the inside of the shirt. You will likely have to massage the facing a bit to get it to lay flat. Use some steam and iron the front of the shirt with the facing on the inside.

The last step for today is to top stitch the opening in the neckline. Pull your bobbin thread to the top and stitch a uniform line no more than 1/4″ from the seam.  I stitched mine at 1/8″ because I wanted to reinforce the facing seam.  There is so little seam allowance here and I think a tight top stitching will prevent any problems.

Now that the front of this shirt is complete, you can breathe a sigh of relief. This was the toughest part. Hurray for you!

The next post will be on Friday, June 23rd. On Friday we will check the fit, learn about finishing seams, and sew the back, shoulder and side seams. Easy Peasy!  See you then.

Please do not hesitate to ask questions. If you are wondering something, it is likely there is another reader wanting to know the very same thing. Leave a question and I will get back to you!!

Summer Sew Along – Day Two

Hi Everyone!  Today we are going to  begin working on our shirt.  I am writing with the assumption that at this point in time, you have received your pattern (Butterick B6024) and have purchased your fabric. (Many thanks to the readers who purchased fabric at my shop!)  Your fabric should have been washed (in cool water) and dried in the drier to be sure any potential shrinkage has already happened. Ok – if you are still with me, let’s begin.  (If you haven’t gotten your supplies yet, don’t worry. You can still catch up. )

NOTE:  before doing anything else, I strongly suggest reading through the instruction sheet that comes with the pattern.  I am going to explain my process as we go through this but they are the professionals and it will help if you sit and read the instructions beginning to end. Then as we work through the pattern, it will likely make more sense to you. Be sure to read all the way through this post and then take your time. Be sure all of your pieces fit BEFORE you cut anything. I have to tell you this has bit me several times…..taking a quick glance and assuming the pieces will all fit properly does not work.  Take the time to lay everything out completely before cutting fabric. Once you begin cutting, it is pretty darn hard to change the layout of the pieces.

In the first post, I mentioned you need to take your measurements and buy the correct size pattern, according to the measurements described on the pattern.  Hopefully, you have done this and have the correct pattern in hand.  Next I want you to cut out the paper pieces that will be needed for this shirt. For View C we will use pieces 2, 3, 4, 6, and 7.

NOTE: Some readers have mentioned that they are making a variation such as using the front from version A or adding a sleeve.  I am not going to go into detail on variations as I think it will get confusing.  If you are veering off the path, so to speak, that is fine. If you get stuck or need some help, please email me or leave a message on our Facebook page. I am happy to help if needed!

As you cut the the paper pieces out, note the various sizes printed on the pattern. Make sure to cut them out with the largest size intact (cutting around that size) so you have the choice each of the sizes when you actually pin and cut your pieces.

Once you have your paper pieces cut out, take the front piece and stand in front of a mirror. Hold the piece up to your torso with the shoulder seam line laying on top of your shoulder where it would be if sewn.  Press the tissue paper so the armhole goes across the front of your arm and the side seam tucks under and lays down your side.  The front of the top will look wide because we are going to make the pin tucks which will  reduce it.  But the shoulder seam and side seam should fall comfortably.  Check to see if it looks like it fits. Check the length. If it is too short or too long, we can adjust the pattern piece accordingly.  At the bottom, does it seem like the width is going to be comfortable?  The nice thing about patterns with multiple sizes printed on them is that you can cut part of the piece at one size and gradually work to another size, thus altering the shape as you need to.  For example, if your body is pear shaped, you might cut the top parts, the shoulder and armholes at a size small and then as you cut the side seam, you could gradually increase the cut as you go, until you reach the medium size line toward the bottom. I am by no means a graphic artist but I tried to illustrate what I am saying. (Hopefully your stitching line will be much straighter than my wiggly line!!)  Does this make sense?

When I make a shirt or dress, I often have to adjust the length. I am just shy of 5′ 4″ tall and usually the pattern is a touch long for me. The length is a very easy adjustment. There is a line at the midpoint of both the front and back pieces.  If the pattern is too long for you, you just make a little fold at the line to shorten the piece. It is much more effective to shorten at the middle of the piece than to just cut it shorter at the bottom.  If you cut off the bottom, you might alter the way the piece drapes around the hip. Conversely, if you are tall and want the shirt to be longer, you would cut the piece at the mid-line and add length to the piece. This shirt is a fairly long one so it is not likely you’ll need to lengthen it. However, if you do, please message me and we can work through that together.

Each pattern always contains a suggested cutting layout. They are showing you how to fit all of the pattern pieces on the piece of fabric. In the photo below, you will see the layout instructions for view C, the shirt we are making. You will see it shows how to lay the pieces out on standard 44″ wide fabric and again for 60″ wide fabric.  Also, they show the layouts in each of the sizes too. Note the pieces are running parallel to the selvage edge.  Pattern pieces always have an arrow on them and that arrow must run in the same direction as the selvage of the fabric.  This ensures the grain of the fabric is going the right way.  If you don’t adhere to this, the fabric will not hang nicely.

The suggested layout in the picture shows the fabric being unfolded and the pieces being cut from a single thickness of the fabric. They are instructing the reader to lay the main pieces (number 2 and 4) down and then to flip it over and cut the second one.  Piece number 2 is the front of the shirt and must be cut as a single piece. So you would cut the one half, unpin the piece, flip it over, pin it and cut the other half.  This all works and you are welcome to lay your pieces exactly as the instructions show them.  I found this process a bit laborious.  Instead, I kept my fabric folded and simply laid piece 2 on the fold.

I pinned it with the center line running along the fold, because that keeps that helpful arrow running parallel to the selvage edge.

Piece number four is the back of the shirt. There is a seam running down the center of the back.  If possible, it is a good idea to take a look at both layers of your fabric. If you can fold the top and bottom so that the pattern matches, then when you stitch the center back seam, the pattern will match.  This isn’t absolutely necessary and if you have a print like mine, it is not very easily done. I chose not to worry about it.  If you have a very bold print and, if you don’t mind fussing with the fabric, you could try to lay the piece so that the print of the fabric will match. Piece number 4 is not laid on the fold but that long arrow must be parallel to the selvage. Lay the piece just below the front piece, placing it as close as you can allowing room to cut each one out. I placed it closer to the selvage edge than the fold edge. I wanted that folded section to remain whole to keep as a bigger scrap. (We are quilters, aren’t we?)

The above photo shows the basic layout I used.

NOTE:  From the pictures you have shared, I do not think anyone is using a directional print. However, if you are – be sure to lay your front and back pieces so that they run in the correct direction. They should both lay in the same direction so the print runs correctly on both front and back. Similar to when we are quilting, make sure the pieces are cut such that the direction goes the same way on both  the front and back!

Once I verified all of my pieces fit and figured out what size and length I would be cutting, I pinned the front and back pieces (2 & 4) and cut them out.  After they were cut, I opened the remaining piece and pinned the last three pieces. The final three pieces are simple.  Piece 6 is the neck binding and piece 7 is the armhole binding.  Since they will be used on curves, they must be cut on the bias. Look at the arrows and keep that arrow parallel to the selvage.  Because we only need one neck binding piece, cut it on a single thickness of fabric.

In the picture above, you can see the selvage runs along the bottom of the photo. Pieces 6 and 7 are placed on the bias.  You will need to cut a second sleeve binding piece.  After you cut the first one, take that piece and flip it over (upside down) and cut the second one. You need to cut one with the pattern piece right side up and the other with the pattern piece right side down. The last piece you see is number three. This is the little piece we will use to finish the little slit at the center of the neck line. We only need one of these so cut it on the single thickness with our trusty arrow aligned with the selvage.

If this is your first time cutting out a pattern, you might wonder what the little notches are that are placed on the edges of the pieces in various places. You will cut the notches out and use them when you place your pieces together and pin them before sewing. The notches will be matched up and it helps you with the placement of the pieces.

I always cut the notches pointing outward so they are not within the seam allowance. These notches can be cut into the seam allowance – the same way they are pointing on the piece, however I don’t suggest this. There are times when you want the seam allowance intact in case you need to alter the size (by sewing a smaller seam to make that area larger). If you cut into the seam allowance you will not have the option to enlarge the seam if needed.

The last step in cutting out the pieces is to cut a piece of interfacing to back piece number three. It is silly that the pattern says to buy a 1/4 yard of interfacing when really you need about a 6 x 6 inch square. I guess 1/4 yard is the minimum that many shops will cut?  Anyway, now you have extra for the next project!

Look at the stack of leftover fabric!  Hmmm…. what could I possibly do with all these scraps?!

Whew — That was a whole lot of reading for what is actually a simple process. I hope I didn’t confuse you!! Because this is my first time hosting a sew along, I would love feedback on these posts. Too much detail?  Too little detail? Is any part of this confusing? Please leave your thoughts in the comments so I can adjust things as we go. It will really help me to learn how these steps should be written.

If you need any help with this, please don’t be shy. I want to help you be successful with this and it is a bit different from quilting so there are no silly questions. Have you joined the Facebook group yet? If so, please remember to post pictures of your progress there, offer suggestions or tips to others, or answer any questions that may come up – let’s help each other out. If you are not a Facebook participant, you can also post progress photos on Instagram. Tag me @needleandfoot and use the hashtag #NFsummersewalong.  Be sure to come back on June 19th for the next post. We will be working on the detailing of the front of the shirt (the pintucks and the slit at the neckline).

**If you haven’t yet signed up, I would love to have you sign up for my newsletter. Sent monthly, it contains updates about new fabrics I have in the shop and promotions that will run that month for newsletter readers. Sign up form is on the right side of your screen, toward the top.

Summer Sew Along

I am both excited and somewhat anxious to begin our summer sew along!!  It was the beginning of April when I posted a finish where I made a blouse using a Butterick pattern, B6024. It was a very simple pattern and several readers commented they would like to be able to sew a blouse. I thought about it and decided I would host a sew along where we could make a blouse together. This is the first time I have attempted a sew along, hence the bit of anxiousness. I have been sewing for a very long time, more than 40 years. However, I haven’t taught classes either in person or on-line. So it is with that bit of a disclaimer, I welcome you to sew along with me.

And sew it begins! Today we will talk about pattern and fabric selection as well as necessary supplies or notions.

When I began to plan the sew along, I looked at so many different, simple blouse patterns.  A few readers sent me ideas of blouses that would be fun to make. But the more I looked, the more I came back to this pattern.  Some of the suggested patterns were indie designer patterns that were really cute. However most of them were pdf patterns which means we would have a an additional learning curve. Downloading, printing and assembling pdf patterns can be a bit confusing. The patterns print on A4 (regular size) printer paper and then must be taped together and cut into the pieces.  It isn’t terribly difficult but I thought for the first time it would be simpler to go with a pattern that is available and printed on regular tissue pattern paper. Thus I selected Butterick pattern, B6024.

This pattern is widely available.  I found it in several Etsy shops for a great price as well as on Ebay. If you shop at Jo-Ann Fabric, they carry it as well. Lastly, it is also available directly from Butterick but it is a bit more expensive there.

Measurements for pattern B6024

Before ordering your pattern, you must determine the correct size.  Pattern sizes correlate only somewhat to ready to wear clothing sizes.  It is really important you take your measurements and order the size based on your measurements.  If you normally wear a size 10, don’t just automatically assume that is your size when sewing clothing.  Luckily, this pattern (like most patterns) comes to you with multiple sizes available in the one envelope. You will buy it with either XS, Small and Medium combined or with Large, XL and XXL combined and printed on the one pattern. For this particular pattern, you need only be concerned with the bust measurement and hip measurement. It is not a fitted blouse so the waist measurement doesn’t come into play. I will say this patterns runs a teensy bit on the large side. I think that is because of the loose fitting design.

The forgiving fit of this blouse is another reason I selected it.  We will be making view C which has a bit of a cap sleeve (really just an extended shoulder) and two pin tucks on either side of the neckline opening. I also chose view C because the hemline is straight. We won’t have to deal with hemming a curved hem. This loose fitting blouse pattern should make for a good beginner sewing experience.

Now that we have selected the pattern, let’s look at fabric choices. You will see the yardage requirements on the back of the pattern envelope. This pattern suggests using lightweight cotton fabrics. These are fabrics such as chambrays, voiles, or rayon.  Most quilting cottons are not considered to be light weight. The exception here would be Art Gallery Fabric.  Art Gallery has a much silkier feel to it than other quilting cottons which allows for more drape.  I have already made this blouse once with Art Gallery Fabric (the Diaphanous Sand fabric from the Gossamer line.)  It is comfortable and hangs nicely. I do usually touch it up with the iron when I wash it though. There are so many fabrics available, both on-line and in the big box stores.  While I am not going to go into detail on each of the types of lightweight cottons, I will say that sometimes the voiles and rayons can be a bit slippery to sew with. Just keep that in mind and use lots of pins.  Chambrays and Art Gallery cottons are a bit easier to use.

To determine how much fabric you need, just look at the chart above.  You will purchase the amount for View C listed under the size pattern you are using.  The fabric you choose will either be 45″ or 60″ wide (some of the chambrays and voiles are wider fabrics than regular cottons). For example, if you are making view C in a size Large, you need either 2 and 7/8 yards of 45″ wide fabric or 2 and 1/2 yards of 60″ fabric.

Once you have your fabric be sure to prewash it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Most likely you will wash on a gentle cycle with cold water and dry it on low heat. It is a fairly certain bet that a cotton fabric will have some slight shrinkage. You want to have the shrinking occur BEFORE you cut out your pieces. Otherwise, once you sew the blouse and wash it, it may shrink and then not fit as well afterward.

I plan to use this pretty fabric from the Gossamer line.  It is called Filaments Ethereal. I measured the piece and then prewashed it.  It had about 3/8″ shrinkage. The pictures show the fabric as it came out of the dryer. Wrinkled but not terribly so.

As I said earlier, this blouse is a simple one. Therefore, not a lot of supplies are required.  Here is the list of supplies needed for our sew along:

  • Lightweight cotton fabric
  • Butterick pattern B6024
  • 1/4 yard of 18″-20″ wide light weight fusible interfacing
  • Basic sewing machine with straight stitch and zig-zag capability
  • Soft measuring tape (to take your physical measurements
  • Smaller clear ruler (the smallest of your quilting rulers will be fine)
  • Scissors, thread and hand sewing needle

The project will be broken down as follows.

  1. June 6: Fabric and Pattern selection (you are here!)
  2. June 16: Laying out your pattern and cutting the pieces
  3. June 19: Begin sewing – the front piece details (pin tucks & neck slit)
  4. June 22: Shoulder, back and side seams.  Seam finishing lesson.
  5. June 26: Finishing details, including neckline and sleeve finishing as well as the hem.
  6. June 30: Link up our finishes from blog posts or Instagram photos.

All of the posts will live here on the blog. If this isn’t a good time for you to join in, you can always work through the blouse on your own timeline. Comments and questions along the way are encouraged. There is no question too simple. I plan to write the posts assuming the reader has very little sewing experience. This way I will cover the details.  If you have sewn garments before, it may seem simplistic but I want to be sure a reader new to sewing will be successful.

I set up a closed group on Facebook called Needle & Foot Sew Along.  I would love it if you joined in.  Let’s all post progress pictures and any questions we might have.  Also, please help each other. If you have a suggestion or an answer to someone’s question, feel free to post them. The group is a closed group so you will need to click on join and I will approve you. Others will not be able to see our posts. I want to respect your privacy.

If you have a blog and want to grab the button for your sidebar, it is available! Let me know and I will send you the HTML code.

Finally, for participants of this sew along, I would love to offer you a discount on the Art Gallery Fabrics I carry in my shop.  Use coupon code SEWALONG15 for a 15% discount.  The coupon code will expire on Sunday, June 11th. I want to be sure you get your fabric ordered (whether from me or someone else) so that everyone has fabric and pattern ready to go by Friday, June 16th.

Here is the homework that needs to be completed before the next post on June 16th.

  1. Order your pattern
  2. Purchase your fabric and interfacing
  3. Prewash your fabric

Leave any questions or concerns in the comments. Have fun selecting your fabric!!  See you back here on Friday, June 16th! 🙂

Proposed Sew Along

Hi Everyone.  I am pleased, and somewhat surprised, to see the wonderful response I got from yesterday’s post about the blouse I made. I also posted it on Instagram and got quite a bit of discussion going there as well. It seems like numerous readers are interested in trying to sew a simple blouse.

How would you feel about my hosting a sew along?  I would need some time to plan it out but I think I could get it going and host it in the summer – maybe begin the event at the end of June?

Here is the basic structure I am thinking about:

  1. I will select a few patterns, post the list of suggestions and take input – we can decide as a group which pattern to make. Then we would wait for a week or two while people purchase their pattern.
  2. I will prepare the “lessons” so that we can work together slowly and go through the steps to make the shirt or blouse.
  3. First post would be about selecting fabric and listing any notions we might need.
  4. 2nd post would be fabric prep.
  5. 3rd post would be cutting out the pattern
  6. 4th post would be first steps in sewing
  7. 5th post would be second steps in sewing
  8. 6th post would be finishing steps (eg finishing, hemming, details to polish the project)
  9. 7th post we will share photos of how gorgeous we look wearing the new top. We could link to the blog or I could set up a little Facebook group so we can share as we go.

I think this would be such a fun thing to do with whomever is interested. Please let me know in the comments if this strikes your fancy. If say, more than one person (?) is interested – we are on!  Would you like to stretch a bit and learn something new? Want to get to know your fellow lovers of fabric and sewing? Here is your opportunity!! If for some reason, June isn’t going to work for you, the sew along posts will live for eternity here on the blog. You can always come back to it when you have the time. I will be happy to answer questions via the comments.

Spring Blouse Finish with Butterick Pattern B6024

Ever since I received these bolts of fabric designed by Sharon Holland, I have wanted to make a shirt with one of them. They have such soft colors and the fabric feels silky smooth which just seemed perfect for a blouse. The line is called Gossamer and I love the pallette Sharon used for them. If you want to take a peek, I do have them listed in my shop. Click here.  🙂

Gossamer Fabrics by Sharon Holland

I chose to use Diaphonous Sand which is second from the bottom. It is very neutral and should work with any of my pants (especially since most of them are denim jeans!!) I poked around looking for a pattern thinking surely one of the 200 or more listed in my shop should work. Oh no… I had to order one instead! Kind of silly I suppose, but I really liked Butterick B6024.

I mixed up the versions just a bit and used the front from Version A, the sleeves from Version D and the back from versions B/C.  I wanted the straight hemline in the back, short sleeves and the series of pin tucks detailing the front. Luckily it is quite simple to switch out the pieces of each version to get just what you want.

I posted this project over on Instagram just as I got started. I was a bit worried the pin tucks would make the front of the shirt too full and give it a maternity top look. Definitely not a good look to wear at the wise age of 56.  But it worked out well. I did taper the sides just a tiny bit.

It hangs straight enough which takes care of the is-she-pregnant look I was trying to avoid. I did decrease the length about an inch but I don’t know that it was really necessary.

The back is simple – no detailing to speak of.

I finished most of the seams using french seams. I love the polished look french seams provide. The pin tucks are not terribly difficult. The require a bit of fiddling to get them folded and pinned just so but then it is just a matter of top stitching them down. It has been really satisfying to make a few shirts. Just in time for Spring too!

Five Reasons to Repeat a Pattern

I don’t know that I have ever made the same quilt twice. Wait, maybe that isn’t entirely true. I have definitely made the same quilty gifts in multiples. Like the Christmas table runners I made for my family one year. Or the zip pouches I made for gifts last year.  But not full quilts. Those have always been different. There are so many amazing quilt designs out there and I haven’t yet repeated one.

Clothing patterns? Those I will repeat. Time after time after time. When my kiddos were tiny I would make flannel pj’s for them, using the same pattern until the pieces were so pin marked I would have to tape them together. My Washi dress? Just repeated that one and I am so glad I did. Here are my thoughts on why.

  1. The first time I use a pattern I have to learn the pattern. Even though I have been sewing for so many years (44-ish years?) it takes a minute to just look at the pieces, read the directions and figure out the process.  Using the pattern a second (or third, or fourth) time that process is complete and doesn’t need to happen again.
  2. Of course, the cost of the pattern. I think I paid about $12 for the Washi pattern, I am not sure. So why not distribute that across a few garments? Kind of like dollar cost averaging in the stock market. 😉 Make it once and you have spent $12 plus the cost of fabric and notions for the one garment. Make it three times and you are at $4 plus fabric and notions for each garment. Might as well get as much bang for your buck as possible.
  3. My confidence level increases with each garment. Going in the second time, I knew where the problem areas might be and already had solutions for those. For instance, in the first Washi dress, I found that the elastic bobbin used while shirring the back would need to be reloaded with each stripe of shirring. I still don’t understand why but at least, this time, I didn’t have to fool around to figure out a solution. It makes for a more peaceful sewing experience.
  4.  With the extra confidence in the pattern, I can challenge myself in other ways. For this dress, I chose a knit fabric. I wasn’t sure what it would mean to make a pattern designed for woven fabrics with a knit but I felt good about trying it because I was already familiar with the pattern and how it fit me. I would not have done this the first time using the pattern because I wouldn’t have felt confident in the result.
  5. There are so many variations to be had. For the second dress, I chose not to cut the dip in the neckline. I was concerned that with a heavier fabric (knit vs cotton) the neckline would not lie flat with that cut out. I used the scoop neck version instead. Also, I tried it without the sleeve cap, didn’t like it and put the little sleeve on in the end.

Here is the finished Washi, version two!

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Just as I hoped, it is very comfortable. (For me the goal is almost always comfort.) The knit washes well. (I did prewash it as knits have a strong tendency to shrink.)

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The drape is very soft. After washing and drying it, there was no issue with wrinkling.

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The shirring wasn’t as tight with this version. I suppose that has to do with the knit vs cotton issue but I am not sure? If I make it again with a knit, I would play with the stitch size a bit while shirring it. Also, with the stretchiness of the knit it feels a bit too big. So if I do a repeat, I will cut it down a bit, especially in the bodice.

I also learned a bit more about sewing with knits. I wasn’t sure how to finish the seams since I don’t have a serger machine. Looking through some great garment sewing websites, I found one that instructed me to use a tiny zigzag stitch on all of the straight seams (like the side seams.) This sort of intimidated me but it worked out wonderfully.

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This tiny zigzag stitch made a big difference in how the dress hung. The seams didn’t get wavy because the zigzag stitch allows for some movement with the stretch of the knit. Also, I sprayed the hemline with starch before hemming it. Adding that extra structure made for a nice flat hem.

Besides finishing up the dress, I also finished painting the caps of the deck railings. I am so happy because it is supposed to really heat up over the next week or so.

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Lots and lots of painting!

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For now, the painting project is a finish and it looks so much better. Don’t you love checking something off the list? Especially something you really didn’t want to do in the first place?? Me too.

Have a good weekend everyone. Stay cool during this oh-so-hot part of July.

Linking up all over the place. See the links at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

christmas-in-july

In case you are wondering what is going on at Craftsy this weekend, here is the latest. It is Christmas in July at Craftsy and they are offering great deals (up to 60% off!) on kits and supplies so you are able to start working on holiday gift items ahead of schedule. You’ll be ready when the season rolls around. Sale begins today, 7/22/16 and runs through Sunday, July 24th. Check it out!

I am a Craftsy affiliate! Thank you for any purchases made via my blog as I will receive a small commission.

 

How to Create a Simple Pattern from a Garment

I want to share a quick project that I did last week. It isn’t a full-fledged tutorial, but I did take some pictures to give you an idea of how I went about making a new nightgown by tracing my old one.

I have a favorite nightgown that I bought some time ago at a very, very expensive store. You might have heard of it, Target?? I have worn it for at least four or five summers and it is worse than ragged. It is the kind of nightgown that I would be afraid to wear in a hotel because if there was a fire in the middle of the night and I had to run to the parking lot in my pajamas, it would be a very embarrassing experience.  See…. it is awful.

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If you look carefully, you can see that I had to tie little knots in the straps because they were so stretched out that it became a bit indecent. (I kind of can’t believe I am showing my worn out pj’s but it’s all for the greater good, right?) Anyway, I really liked this nightgown because it was so comfy.

Several weeks ago, I found a piece of lightweight knit at the fabric/thrift store in our town. It was a bargain. Maybe 2.5 yards long and 60″ wide so I knew I could get a nightgown out of it and, if I screwed up the pattern, I would probably have enough to try again.

What I did was basically fold the existing nightgown and trace the front and back sections on to the new fabric. The hardest part of this was that the new fabric is basically the same as the original and it was kind of hard to see (and worse to photograph) what I was doing. Also, the old nightgown was worn and the fabric stretched, making it difficult to work with.

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For the front piece, I folded the front of the nightgown, wrong sides together, exactly in half (as close to exact as one can fold an old, stretched out piece of knit fabric.)

IMG_6268Then I laid out the new fabric. (See how close the colors are?) A quick aside to explain something; when I cut lengths fabric, I use the dining room table. I put my largest cutting mats down end to end first, so I don’t scratch anything. It also gives me the choice of using scissors or a rotary cutter.  Ok – next, I placed the folded nightgown along the folded edge of the fabric and I traced it with a Clover Chaco-Liner pen. It was tricky because I only have white chalk markers and it was very hard to see on the pale pink. Once I traced it, I used scissors to cut it out.

IMG_6269I repeated the same steps for the back of the nightgown. Once it was cut out, I opened the pieces and placed them on top of the existing nightgown to see if they were cut to the right shape and size.

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I know it is hard to see but if you look, you’ll notice that the new piece (underneath the old nightgown) is too wide. So I had to do some trimming. After that it was so quick. I pinned front to back, right sides together, and matching the stripes as best I could.

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If you aren’t experienced with knit fabrics, you need to know that sewing on knits requires a ballpoint needle. They work best with knits and you won’t experience those annoying skipped stitches that often happen if you sew knits with sharps.

IMG_6275Once the front and back were sewn together, I cut some strips to use to finish the neckline and armhole edges and create straps. Knit fabrics when cut, curl at the edges but a quick spray with some spray starch and a little pressing took care of that. I cut two inch strips. Then I folded one long edge over 1/2″ and pressed it.

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Stitching the facing strips (right sides together) to the neckline was quick. I started at the outer edge on the front, continued along the underarm edge, across the back and along the other underarm, stopping at the other edge of the front of the neckline. (This means I finished both armholes and the back of the neckline.) After pressing the seam, I folded it over, to the inside, and pressed under the raw edge. Finally, I top-stitched the whole length. For whatever reason, I failed to take any pictures of this part of the process. The straps were formed by taking a long piece and pressing it like I did the first piece. It was used to face the front neckline and it continued beyond the neckline to make straps.

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Once that was all top-stitched, I stitched the straps to the outer edges of the neckline on the back. Does that even make sense?? It would if I had taken pictures, darn it.

Here is the final result alongside the original. Not bad, right?

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I think it is kind of funny that the fabrics are so similar. That wasn’t intended but the fabric was a great price and the knit felt really nice.
This is the first time I have attempted to use an existing garment as a pattern. It worked well but as always, I learned a few things. The next time I do this I will:

  1. Trace the garment on paper for use as a pattern. That way, I will be able to check the size and proportion before I have cut any fabric. As an added bonus, if the results are good, I have the paper pattern to use again and again.
  2. For this garment, I would have made the bias strips for facing it a bit narrower. The resulting  neckline finish is a bit wider than I like.

Update:  Once I had the nightgown finished, I decided to add a bit of trim to the neckline to give it some shape. The cotton lace  trim is not a knit so it acts to prevent any stretch at the neck. I like the look of it but of course, if I had added it before facing the neck, it would have a more finished look.

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Another source of instruction on cutting a pattern from a garment is this video produced by Muv at Lizzielenard-vintagesewing.com.  It is really helpful and gave me a good start. I look forward to giving this another try!

 

Linking to lots of fun places. Check them out at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Wearing Washi

As part of May is for Makers, I bought the pattern for the Washi dress. Designed by Rae over at Made by Rae, this dress pattern has been around now for several years. For no particular reason, I haven’t made clothing for myself in a very long time. When Julia was younger, I made her lots of dresses, shorts, pj’s and halloween costumes. Same with the boys when they were younger (well, except for the dresses.) I decided it is time to refresh my memory on garment sewing.

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This dress was a breeze to make. The pattern is very simple (read no zippers or buttonholes to deal with.) There are a few design elements that add style to the dress. First of all, the scooped cut in the neckline (which is totally optional) is very cute. There were hints included with the pattern instructions that I found very helpful. An example of this was the suggestion to add some fusible interfacing behind the front of the neckline so the scooped cut would lie flat.  It worked like a charm.

Another feature that I really like is the shirred back on the dress. Never in my long (40 years or so) sewing career have I done any shirring. It was fun. First I practiced a bit on a scrap of the dress fabric to see how it would behave.  I used a rayon fabric which feels wonderful and has a very nice drape. But being somewhat slippery, it was a pain to sew with. If the print on the fabric had not been so linear, it would have been less of a problem but I had to work hard to keep the lines straight and the print matching at the seams. I’m off track here, let’s get back to the shirring. To gather the fabric, normal thread is used on the top and elastic thread is used in the bobbin. The thread must be wound by hand on the bobbin. After marking the lines on the fabric, you just stitch along the line. I tied off the threads by hand, rather than backtacking the stitches at the start and end of each row. The first row looks like it will be too loose but as more rows are stitched, it gathers up a bit tighter. My machine didn’t have a problem with the elastic thread except, for some odd reason, after the end of each row, I had to take the bobbin out and reseat it. I have no idea why but I couldn’t just start the next row. If I lifted the bobbin and reseated it, I had no problem. This was only a minor inconvenience. The fun part of shirring (and I didn’t know this would happen) was the magical shrinkage after pressing the shirred portion. Take a look. Here is the shirring just after I finished the six rows. It looked fine but was quite loose.

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The instructions said to press it so it would shrink up. Yikes, it was magical.

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Pretty interesting, right? Once the shirring was done, everything came together quickly. I think the dress was easily completed in an afternoon.

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I am going to buy a knit fabric and make a second dress. This one is so comfortable and I think it would be even more so in a knit. There are some pleats in the front and I don’t want them to be ‘poochy’ – no 55 year old tummy needs that – so I will look for a thin knit to minimize any potential issues! The sizing was spot on. I made a medium and it fits great. While I wouldn’t say this is a pattern for a someone just learning to sew, it is a fun one if you have a little sewing time under your belt.

Finally, tomorrow is the two year blogaversary for Needle and Foot! I want to celebrate with a giveaway. I hope you will come back and join in!

Linking to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Finish it Up Friday – you’ll find links to both of these at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

Taming the Yellow Beast

The beast has been tamed. The pile of oversized yellow fluff has been transformed into a cozy bathrobe at last.  I received so much encouragement after that last post that I decided to dive back in and take control of that yellow monster.

It was easy!

First I took a bit of time with the seam ripper and picked out the hem on both sleeves. Turning it inside out, I laid it on the floor and carefully smoothed it out. I pinned two inches or so along the inside of the length of the side seams and the seam of the sleeve. Then I just cut – cut off the two inches along each side.

The nice thing about this robe is the fluff. Conversely, the worst thing about this robe is the fluff!  Once everything was stitched back together I tried it on. Amazing how this helped! ( If only I would have thought to do this the first time around!)   It fit much better but was still too puffy. Topstitching around the entire collar and all the way down the front of the robe, on both sides, really helped to tame it. Because of the fluff, it was hard to sew accurate straight seams. When I was sewing on the “wrong” side of the fabric, there was no issue. However sewing on top of the fabric was really tough. My presser foot would get lost in all that fluff! There was a lot of drag on the fabric and my top thread shredded over and over. (I tried my walking foot but that seemed to make it even worse.)IMG_2862

Like I was saying before, the fluff was also a positive attribute in that it didn’t truly matter how straight my seams were. The depth of the fabric made it difficult to see the actual seam, you only see the impression the seam leaves.

Here is my first attempt at modeling the robe (in my sweats and socks!)

IMG_20151218_4286Photo credits to my kind husband for these modeling shots. I may send them into a bathrobe modeling agency. I feel a new career beginning.

IMG_20151218_4287Looking at these amazing photos, I noticed that the pattern on the fabric almost matches where I put the patch pockets on. I cannot take credit for this – it certainly was not planned! I found that hand stitching was much faster than top stitching so I sewed the hem by hand while watching some TV last night.

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At this point my only remaining concern is that this is one very warm robe. Maybe too much so for this post menopausal model.

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Linking to Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Also with Sew Bittersweet Designs, once the December ALYOF link up is posted.  Because, with 13 days to spare, I just completed my December goal!  Woot woot!

Both links are found at the top of the page under Link Ups.

 

Mid-Week Update

First of all, I really want to thank everyone that entered the giveaway last week. I loved reading about all of the Christmas memories. So many really sweet stories were told; I encourage you to take a peek at the comments and read them.  It was very heartwarming. Julia drew two winners. My gifts were sent off to Kelly (she won the bunting) and Sarah (she won the tablerunner). Interestingly, both winners hailed from Pennsylvania!  Congrats to both!

I have been busy in my sewing room over the past week. Working on my row quilt, Christmas gifts (which I will share after the holidays), a very frustratingly fluffy yellow bathrobe and a gift for my dad for his upcoming birthday. Where to start? Let’s go with the frustrating stories and end up on a more pleasant note, shall we?

Oh, this bathrobe! The fur and fluff that flies when I work on it is truly amazing. I had NO idea what I was getting into and never will I buy such a fluffy fabric again! I have the robe basically assembled – I sneezed my way through it only to find that it will fit nicely once I gain about 75 pounds. I don’t know how to account for this. I made it a size small (8-10) but honestly, I could wrap it around me twice over.  When I re-read the post about planning to make this, I can hear a very cocky tone in retrospect. I said that garment sewing came naturally to me because I had done it so often. In some ways that is true. I knew how to put it together, didn’t need to ponder the directions, just dove in and sewed. But what about trying the thing on? At least holding it up to me in front of a mirror at some point?? Nope, as I was getting ready to hem it, I thought,  ‘hmmm, this looks a tad large’. I put it on and my jaw dropped. It frustrated me because I can only imagine the fluff that will fly if I try to take a seam ripper to it.

I tossed it on the bed in the sewing room where it landed in a cloud of yellow. There it sits, waiting until I calm down and decide how to fix it.

Next project update:  My Classic Stitches project that I have been working on all year. You probably remember that I have been doing a BOM project led by Mari over at Academic Quilter. All I had left was to complete the green row of ‘Peace and Plenty” blocks. Well,  I can honestly say these blocks gave me no peace. Not a moment, in fact.  It started out well enough. When I was up in Downieville over Thanksgiving weekend I got all of the green pieces cut and I felt so proud. All organized and ready to go.  I came home and assembled the first block. It was adorable and I even shot an email with a picture of it to Mari. (What is it they say about pride????)

green row 1

With that one done, I quickly made another.  So far, so good.

green square 2After those two, everything hit the fan. For some unknown reason (though it may have to do with that whole pride thing) I couldn’t assemble block number three. COULD. NOT.  I sewed it and picked it apart and sewed it again and picked it apart. After the third time using my seam ripper (you know when the edges of the fabric are frayed and you know that the integrity of the block is nill?)  I gave up. Luckily, I had just read Mari’s post about finishing her row quilt (which is spectacular – take a look here!) I saw that she had issues with the brown row and decided to just make a checkered row of simple squares. Since I had my green blocks cut, I just trimmed them down to 3 and 1/2″ and called it good. I figured I was really just taking my cue from the master. So my green row is now a simple row of blocks. (See it to the left of the pink hearts?) I actually like that it is a small row. I wanted a change in the height but couldn’t see myself really making any of these blocks in a three or four inch size. At least not without a considerable amount of pain. 😉IMG_20151214_4274

Right now I have all the rows hanging over the back of the couch (luckily we have two!) I am at the stage where I am moving rows around, trying to decide what order to put them together with. I need to get sashing fabric too. I don’t have any stash that is long enough and I don’t want to piece the sashing. I do love how this is coming together and hopefully I will get it assembled in the next few days.

Finally – to leave you on a good note… I went to the monthly meeting of a gardening club that I belong to. Since there really isn’t much gardening to be accomplished right now, we made wreaths for the holidays. I decided to make a really big one so i could hang it on the front of the house. All of the boughs were cut from trees in out yard, which is a nice thing.  It turned out so pretty and was incredibly easy to put together. (I really needed a win at this point!)

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I also wanted to show you how pretty the Swoon Mini looks. I hung it on the wall behind the Christmas tree and the lights just make it glow. I just love it. I need to make another one that doesn’t have a holiday theme.

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I hope your recent sewing efforts are a bit more successful than mine have been. I feel I am turning the corner though. Ready for success.

Linking to Freemotion by the River and Let’s Bee Social.  Links to these two lovely blogs are at the top of the page, under Link Ups.