Alterations To Some Oldies

Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Self-sewing makes you super picky. It's a sickness.

There were two tops that I sewed back when I was just starting out that I wasn't really sure about so didn't wear often. To make them more wearable I made a couple of alterations.

First: A fix to a droopy neckband.
Solution: Tacking the ribbing down (by-hand). My mistake the first time around was making the neck band too loose, so it gaped. This is not a perfect solution, but the gaping is not as noticeable now, and the top is now in regular rotation in my summer wardrobe, because it's just so comfortable.

Swing top

Second: Making a super sparkly top more subtle.
Solution: Added a layer of blue netting on top to tone it down. Honestly, I'm not a sparkly person, and going out in sequins is not really part of my lifestyle of jeans and sweatshirts. This is a compromise. I think I might actually wear it out now, but we'll see.

Sparkly Top

And I've been playing with a camera stand plus a self-timer. I haven't quite worked out where I can stand inside the house, but the weather is making it difficult to take shots outside these days. I shall play!

Sewn: Velvet Throw Pillows

Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Velvet Throw Pillow

Man, velvet is hard to photograph well, because it shows every single fingerprint. In person these pillows are so soft to the touch, and feel incredibly luxurious. One side is dark blue, while the other side is green. This was the first time I did a zipper closure on a throw pillow, and it was easier than I thought it would be. I didn't do an invisible zip, but I like seeing the contrast in colors in the zipper. I might never go back to envelope closures again!

It's been almost 2 years since we moved into this house, but it still doesn't feel so intimate. With the baby around there are toys everywhere, and cloths over everything to catch spills. There's so little time to do anything, that the walls are still bare. But, simple things like this make a house feel more personal, don't you think?

Sewn: Sleep Shorts

Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Sleep Shorts

This was a project borne of hot summer nights, and the husband's dislike for pants in bed. I've always been a pajama pant person, or specifically, a jogging pants in bed person. Being the ultimate lazy person the ideal situation is: you just roll out of bed and don't have to change your clothes.

Unfortunately I do have to change when I go to the office, but on the weekends I live in comfort. These shorts are made from a super-soft black jersey, plus the remnants of an oversize jersey dress. I threaded an elastic through a waistband casing to keep it all in place.

E doesn't complain that I'm wearing pants in bed anymore and I get to wear shorts all day around the house in the summer. Win win.

FYI: Free pattern here via the Sewing Rabbit. I added a casing for a 1/4" elastic instead of using the elastic band that the pattern asks for.

Sewn: Black Maxi Skirt

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Black Maxi

I attempted a gathered maxi skirt once before, but it felt like I was wearing a tutu. The skirt turned out way too full at the hips, because the fabric I used was too stiff. The trick is choosing the right fabric. This time I chose a thin jersey with a lot of drape.

It's hard wrangling so much fabric. The fabric was three times as wide as it was long, and because it was so stretchy it kept slipping as I sewed it.

Black Maxi

In the end I still love the skirt. The maxi was just tricky to photograph, because although it has a slit, the slit is rather modest (so I can wear it to work), and you can't see it unless I'm walking.

The verdict: Not quick, but worth the effort!
The tutorial: 4 step DIY maxi skirt with optional slits.

Black Maxi

That's me digging for the slit somewhere in the skirt. As with all really twirly fabrics, it was hard to photograph this one.

Three Things I've learned About Sewing

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Coat's & Clark's Thread
(Photo: Coat's & Clark's Thread by Andy Melton CC)


1) The fabric you choose is important. 

A bag may not be durable enough if you don't use heavy-weight canvas or leather. A garment may not drape nicely if you use too stiff a fabric. A waistband might stretch out if it doesn't have enough stretch recovery. A summer top in synthetic fabric may be uncomfortably hot because it doesn't breathe.

2) Use the right needle for the job. 

They may all look the same, but they don't work the same. A leather needle is essential for leather or you may end up with skipped stitches. Knits require a ball point, or you may slice through your fabrics. Use a leather or jeans needle for heavy duty fabrics or you may break some.

3) If you are making your own patterns, always add more ease than you think is necessary. 

Just in case of mistakes that need adjusting. Also, there's stretch that you need to compensate for.

Don't be like me. (I've done it all wrong).

Sewn: Satin Camisole

Tuesday, October 11, 2016
Satin Cami

I hacked my Saltspring Dress pattern to make camisole this past summer and it turned out surprisingly well!

I used the lining piece, lengthened it, and added bust darts. I cut the shoulder straps to 14" so that no ties were required, but I think I might make them a little longer if I were to make another one of these, and also raise the bust darts a bit.

Satin Cami

Instead of a lining, I did a facing around the neckline. It looks a little strange because I used a cheap iron on interfacing that promptly detached, so I did a zigzag stitch to make sure it stayed in place.

Camisole Facing

New camisole! Now I'm one step closer to a handmade wardrobe. I still draw the lines at jeans and sweaters, but the rest is fair game.

Tutorial: Modified Pillowcase / Strappy Swing Top

Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Tie Back Swing Top

This is another easy breezy summertime sewing project. Here's a strappy-swing top that's really just a simple pillowcase top (sans-pillowcase) with a few modifications.

This top was made sort of free-style, but I've attempted to write down the steps for you here. I was inspired by the Majorque blouse for kids that I spotted here and the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. I really liked the back-tie feature instead of your regular spaghetti straps.

Tie Back Swing Top
Pillowcase Top Front View

You need: 
  • Some thin fabric with good drape. I used a crepe chiffon. Check the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial for how much fabric you need. I started with two 30" width  x 22" long rectangles of chiffon. I didn't want a dress so I made it shorter. For more fullness add extra width!
  • 1 strip of the same fabric 1 3/4" wide x 18" long (for the back of the top)
  • 1 strip of the same fabric 1/3/4" wide x 60" long (for the straps). If you don't have a long enough piece, you can sew a few shorter ones together. 
Tie Back Swing Top
Pillowcase Top Back View

Instructions:

1) Give a slight angle to the sides of the dress: Mark 2" from the top of each piece, and cut a line straight down to the bottom of the rectangle. 

2) Fold all your pieces in half and cut arm holes. See step 2 in the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. I made the curve a little wider: 4" from side, and 6" from the top. 

3) Sew up the sides of the dress. If you are using a woven, like crepe, French seams work really well here. 

4) Finish the arm holes. See steps 4-6 in the Pillowcase Dress Tutorial. If you are using a woven, fold the arm hole down one more time, and stitch it down to hide the raw edge. 

5) Fold the top of the front and back, and create a casing for your straps. See steps 7-8. 

6) Sew your spaghetti straps. This is the EASIEST way to make a spaghetti strap. I used a shoelace as a guide and didn't sew it down the end, because the long strap is much longer than the shoelace. Every time I got near the end of the shoelace, I pulled it through to continue using it as a guide.

7) When you're done creating your tubes do stitch another lie close tot he first for extra strength, and then turn both straps inside out with a safety pin. 

Easy peasy? Pretty much everything has been almost the same until now, right? Here we tackle the back. 

8) Take your shorter strap and fold it over at one end to make a 2" loop. Stitch it to secure it.

9) Thread the non-loopy end through the back casing. 

10) Stitch down the loop end, so that 1" is sticking out, and the raw edges are inside the casing.
11) Gather the fabric as much as you want, and make a 2" loop at the other end of your short strap. You might have to cut away any excess tube. It really depends on how wide you want the gathered section to be.
12) Pull the unsecured loop halfway into the casing, so that 1" of the loop is sticking out and stitch it down to secure it. 

13) Thread the longer strap through the front casing, and through the back loops. Tie into a bow to secure. You can knot the ends of the long strap to prevent unraveling. You might want to trim them down if they're too long. I liked the long dangling ends, so I left them.

The photo here is how the back should look when it's done: 
Tie Back Swing Top

14) Hem the bottom of your top. If it's too long, now's your chance to shorten it. you can finish it the same way you did your arm holes. 

15) Optional Tip: If you don't want the front straps to slip around, you can also stitch the front strap down at the ends of the casing. This way the neckline will always remain the same length. 

Current Mood: Satisfied. 

I used up most of the fabric leftover from the Saltspring Dress for this top. If you look carefully you can see the front piece is actually two halves sewn together, because I didn't quite have enough fabric to make a square. 

Sewn: Jersey Maxi Skirt

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Also maxi skirt

First off, a confession. I totally messed up this skirt! I didn't add any extra ease, and then I sewed it inside out by accident. Instead of unpicking the threads, I cut off the seams and sewed them the right way a second time, so the end result was way more snug than I'd have liked.

The pattern instructions I used also didn't take into account a large hip to waist ratio, so it would have been a little tight around the bum even if I hadn't sewn it wrong. SO after snapping some photos I was pretty unhappy with, because BUNCHING, I cut off the fold over waistband and sewed a new one. Now it sits lower and looser, which helps a lot, but it's still a little snug around the bum, so pantylines do show unless I wear something more delicate.

Maxi skirt

The end result is wearable and comfortable though. I think this skirt will be in steady rotation through the fall and spring. Maxi skirts are like jogging pants that I can wear to work without feeling too dressed down in. WIN.

Sewn: Wide Leg Shorts

Wednesday, August 24, 2016
Since the last pair of shorts went so well, I decided to make another pair. I found an old skirt I sewed, but is too small for me now post baby. Man, pregnancy can shift your proportions around, but that's a rant for next time. Meanwhile, LOOK.

Shorts

I ran out of elastic, and necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Using these shorts as inspiration, instead of an elastic waist, I created four pleats in front, and two in the back. Then, I added a zipper to the back seam. You can see the back below.

Shorts

I should have been smarter and added the zipper before I sewed up the crotch area of the pants, so there's a little bunching at the end of the zipper, but I think a good press will work that out. I think a good press will make them look better in general, but I was too excited to show you. Also - I hate ironing. SO here you are.

Shorts

Instead of serging my seams, I did a Hong Kong finish, because I are fancy like that. I also took two inches off the bottom of this pattern. If you lengthen the pattern instead, you basically also have a pair of culottes. So many variations are possible here, plus it's so quick and easy that when baby woke up from her nap, mama was wearing new shorts. Magic.

Also, this is the third reincarnation of this duster. I love batik fabric so much I couldn't bear to give it away.

Sewn: Saltspring Maxi Dress

Wednesday, August 10, 2016
I don't often buy patterns, but I wanted a maxi dress this summer and couldn't find anything I liked in the store. This is the Saltspring dress by Sewaholic. I had this crepe fabric lying around forever, and thought it might be a good choice for a maxi dress. The end result is so breezy and twirly and comfortable.

Maxi Dress

The construction of this dress was fairly simple, and the instructions were easy to follow. I made two changes though. I omitted the back zipper, and shortened the outside bodice by 1 inch to reduce the blousiness. I also had to shorten it, because I'm short. I'd probably have to do that with a store bought dress too, mind you.

Maxi Dress

It's lined with white satin, so silky smooth on the inside. I had to also line the skirt because the crepe was too see through. As a result, it's a little heavier than I'd prefer for a summer dress, but it feels luxurious.

And it was windy when I was trying to get photos. It would have been amazing to capture the movement in it, but it's tough. I'm going to enjoy this dress though. It looks so much better in person, and I'm so happy with it.

I'm already planning future makes: a camisole? a short dress? a skirt? So many possibilities.
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