July 27, 2011

Simple Green T-shirt

Green T-shirt

Here's another shirt I whipped up recently. It's nothin' fancy but I really need more t-shirts in my wardrobe so this helps.

The pattern I used is Simplicity 2261, version C.

The fabric is a cotton blend jersey style knit that almost feels like a thin sweater knit.

Green T-shirt

I never got around to buying some lace for the shoulder design so I just made the shirt without it.

I like that the design nice and simple but the gathered sleeves make it a little more special.

Green T-shirt

The pattern calls for two front layers to make the neckline seamless, but ugh! Thinking about an extraneous layer of fabric when I'm outside in 100+ degree weather is terrible. Yeah, I cut that part out of the equation. Instead I made a binding for the whole neckline and stitched in the ditch.

Green T-shirt

Also, a new thing I bought - a twin needle. I love how it gives the look of a coverstitch machine on t-shirt hems.

I want to try the skirt part of this pattern for fall. For now I'm just glad I have more t-shirts and tank tops in my summer wardrobe.

July 24, 2011

Tank Top #2

Tank Top #2

This is the second top I made from the McCall's 5853 pattern, version B, I believe, with the little rosette things on the top.

I used fabric leftover from the maxi dress I made this summer. I like the look of the rosettes in this fabric because the colored print is only on one side of the jersey. You can catch glimpses of the wrong (white) side of the jersey in places.

Tank Top #2

One thing that I didn't like about this version pattern is that it gave no clear instructions on how many rosettes (which are just circles and tear drop shapes gathered down the center) to cut or where to place them, just telling you to arrange them like the pattern drawing. I would have preferred more direction.

Tank Top #2

I really like this pattern and since it uses so little fabric it's good for when you have extra leftover fabric (like in my case).

Stay tuned for more new projects! I've been sewing up a storm (or at least a slight wind) but haven't kept up with taking pictures like I ought to.

July 18, 2011

Summer tank top

Blue Flounce Tank

I think I have a new favorite pattern. I've already made it twice in one weekend! I'll show you my #2 version later.

It seems as though other people on Pattern Review agree with me.

I made this tank top using McCall's 5853 (funny, I can't find it anywhere on the website - oh, wait, I found it under clearance. Maybe they're discontinuing it soon? If you like sewing knits or want to start pick up this pattern is super easy!) and some pale blue poly cotton knit I got from the sale rack at Hancock Fabrics (which I recently discovered has awesome cheap knit!).

The pattern was super easy, just a front, back, arm and neck bindings plus whatever detail you did. The cut is simple with a not too high, not too low neckline and an easy fit.

I picked view D with the flounce in front. On the pattern is has four flounces, three center and one at one shoulder. I cut the shoulder flounce because I liked the symmetrical look.

Blue Flounce Tank

I admit, I read the directions once through but I didn't pay very close to my markings on my front pattern piece making my flounces be ever so slightly contained in the neckline binding and ever so slightly folded into the hem. Ooops. But that's not a big deal.

I cut a size 12 (rather than a 14 which my measurements would suggest) but sewed with 1/4 in serger seam allowances instead than 5/8 in. I'm pretty sure the pattern said 5/8... If not, then nevermind. Ha!

Blue Flounce Tank

I realized recently that I need to add sway back adjustments to my patterns but I didn't bother with this tank. I figured with knits it's supposed to look flowy and bunchy and not necessarily look stiff and straight like a woven, right? Any other sway back-ers out there want to weight in on it?

Also, my binding stitching is a little wacky. I kept going back and forth about whether I wanted to do stitch in the ditch or stitch on top of the binding and my thread isn't the exact same color as the fabric (I used some from my stash). Again, not super noticeable but still. I made a better decision on tank top #2.

Blue Flounce Tank

Oh, and I got to use my new little sewing machine gadget - my twin needle! Which makes for awesome ready to wear looking hems.

I think in the future I might use this pattern as a base for other tanks. Even without the details it still makes for a great simple addition to a summer wardrobe. Plus, one thing I learned from Me-Made-June - I need more cute t-shirts and tops!

July 13, 2011

Recycled Denim Shorts

Recycled Denim Shorts

For some strange reason I am loving shorts this summer and can't get enough of 'em.

These shorts utilized the leftover denim from a wrap skirt that I made several years ago but since then deconstructed it and used some fabric to make this skirt.

I think it's pretty cool that I was able to get two garments out of one!

The pattern was altered a bit from Simplicity 3850, an out of print Built by Wendy shorts and pants pattern. It is the same one I used for my first ever pair of shorts.

Recycled Denim Shorts

Changes I made from last time:
  • I made one size bigger but did some fitting like making the legs a little narrower and changing the crotch seam.
  • I moved the zipper from the front to the side and made it invisible.
  • Made the shorts longer. Super short shorty shorts are not my thing.
  • No pocket flaps on back. The flaps were faux anyway.
Recycled Denim Shorts 

Also, you'll notice the inner pocket area is not denim. It's leftover blue shirting that I used to make this failed tunic. I literally had no more pieces of denim big enough to even cover that tiny exposed bit. I even used the original skirt waistband as "bias tape" to wrap the bottom of each leg.

Since I was already using that blue shirting for the inside pockets I used it for that little peep of exposed pocket, too.

If I make them again I think next time I'll make the front waistband higher. Ever since fashion began to gravitate towards low cut waists I think pant manufacturers compensated by bringing up the back of pants to avoid that unwanted coin slot flashing problem.

But then the front really is still low and makes for a really weird tilted side view, in my opinion, almost to the point where it looks like my gut is hanging out the front.

Recycled Denim Shorts

Because of that I doubt I'd wear these shorts with a top tucked in like I am here. This outfit is for photography purposes only. ;)

In the future I'll cut the front waistband more consistent to the height of the back waistband which I think is a better look for me.

I have a really odd urge to make another pair of shorts in a bright color - maybe orange or green. Very summery! Have you ever sewn shorts? Do you even wear shorts? I never wore shorts much at all until last summer.

July 11, 2011

Sewing Motto

So much fabric!
(recent fabric acquisitions)

Do you have a sewing motto? For me I think it is "If you start to make mistakes, it's time for a break."

When I make silly mistakes I know I need to turn off the machine for a while and save myself the frustration. I've met my limit like tonight when I sewed the lining wrong for the waistband of some shorts I'm making. But sometimes it's hard to heed my own advice!

Maybe another would be "If at first you don't succeed, (seam) rip, rip again" or "Never buy more fabric that you can sew in a reasonable amount of time." (Ooops...)

Or always a classic - "Measure twice, cut once." Especially important when working from scratch without a pattern.

What's you sewing motto?

July 8, 2011

Sewing with Slippery Fabrics

McCall's 6354

I mostly consider this shirt an experiment in sewing with slippery fabrics.

The pattern (McCall's 6354) wasn't made for this type of super slinky charmuse (I think that's what this is, a polyester charmuse) so I didn't expect it to look exactly like the pattern picture.

McCall's 6354

This fabric I bought on sale a long time ago because I really liked the print but then I was left wondering to myself - why would I possibly buy fabric that was so hard to work with and what could I do with it?

This pattern is similar to the design idea I imagined for this fabric so I thought I'd give it ago and try out some techniques I found around the net on how to work with slippery fabrics.

McCall's 6354

Now, if you've ever had the misfortune of cutting and sewing anything sheer or satiny or silky (or anything with an "s" sound in the word, come to think of it) then you feel my pain. Here's some of my best tips for dealing with this fabric from hell.

You know all those things you're supposed to do before sewing that sometimes you can be lazy about (or maybe I'm just lazy). Now is not the time to ignore those steps.
  • Make sure you prewash and lay the fabric out flat. Prewashing will help the fabric lay in it's natural position.
  • Change your needle(s) to the appropriate size and use a nice fresh one. You don't want any snags!
  • Check that your machine is in tip top shape. Thread jamming up will make you even more annoyed than normal.
  • Layer the fabric right side up over a piece of paper like blank news sheet. Pin the selvage or fold to one edge of the paper and lay the fabric flat. (I was lucky, close up my fabric had distinct tiny lines to help make sure my fabric was straight).
  • Use pattern weights to keep the fabric from shifting as you pin.
  • When you cut your pattern pieces leave an inch or two around the edge of the pattern cut lines. Plop your pattern piece onto the fabric and pin both inside and outside of those cut lines. Pin through all layers - pattern paper, fabric and bottom paper.
  • Use plenty of pins. Like twice or more of the normal amount you might use.
  • You don't want to dull your fabric shears but you don't want to use some dull paper scissors either. Get your best all purpose scissors for cutting through paper and fabric together.
  • Keep your bottom paper pinned to your fabric piece. 

I used a combination of these techniques depending on the kind of seam.
  • You can sew through the paper with the fabric on seams. With your paper still attached pin your pieces together and stitch. Since you cut fabric right side up and most seams are right sides together the paper should be on the outside. The stitching perforates the paper making it easy to tear but be cautious and tear carefully just in case. Oh, and it probably doesn't need to be said but be sure to tear your paper off before finishing your seams. Otherwise it will be much harder to tear off your paper!
  • On shorter seams like shoulders unpinned the paper from just that area and pinned the fabric together on it's own. I also inserted some stay tape into the seam for extra stability. Don't bother trying to pin it, just slip it in as you sew.
  • On bigger seams and hems I used temporary fabric adhesive spray. It's the same stuff I used on my quilt only I sprayed much smaller amounts. Be sure to do this outside by an open window. I just sprayed the wrong side of my fabric and folded over twice for hems and pinned immediately. It's a miracle product! The adhesive remains tacky for a couple minutes allowing you to move fabric around if needed and if it dries just spray a little more. The spray dissolves in the washer.
  • For the bias binding (store bought, like I'd try to make bias tape myself out of this fabric, ha!) I attached it like I would with any fabric except I used my handy dandy adhesive spray and I gave myself a little extra wiggle room. I placed the edge of my bias tape about a quarter inch inward from the edge of my fabric. This helped to make sure that when I folded my tape over and stitched I would fully encase my edge.
  • Don't forget - use plenty of pins while sewing, too!
In general sewing with slippery fabrics requires more patience and determination but there are tricks you can use to make sewing smoother. If you're tackling a big project like a silk party dress try out some of these techniques in advance and see what works best for you!

Will I be working with fabric like this any time soon? No, probably not! I'm trying to convince myself of the fact that my wardrobe is much more casual than I think it is and that slippery fabrics are more reserved for fancy dresses that I never have occasions to wear.

Do you have any other tips that I missed? Who knows. I may have to use them eventually. ;)

July 7, 2011

White raglan sleeve top - Simplicity 3835

Simplicity 3835

I made this top probably three years ago back when I first started sewing with patterns and was so excited about the Built by Wendy series at Simplicity (which is now all out of print, sad).

I packed this shirt away when moving almost a year ago and haven't seen it until now.

I bought this fabric that already had little ruffles and pin tucks on it (so no, I didn't spend all that time doing it myself!).

The only thing I didn't really like about this pattern was the arms were too tight so I took out the elastic in the arm openings. It's a great raglan sleeve shirt pattern and you could easily adjust it so that the neckline doesn't need elastic.

It's pretty fun to revisit all my old sewing projects again. It's like discovering a new wardrobe.

July 4, 2011

Me-Made-June Recap

Me Made June Day 3Me-Made-June Day 8Abstract Floral Maxi DressMe-Made-June Day 21Me-Made-June Day 6Me-Made-June Day 16

So I didn't do a good job of taking daily pictures but with the exception of a couple times I did manage to wear at least one hand made piece a day.

What I Learned:
  • It wasn't that difficult to wear something every day. My handmade clothes are a big part of my wardrobe now, more than I realized.
  • This new house makes it difficult to take pictures. Not only do I not have a good backdrop for pics but I really need Justin to take them and he's not always available. This definitely contributed to my lack of pictures.
  • I have a bunch of pieces that just need a little fix or tweak to be wearable. I should start working on that.
  • There are a few holes in my wardrobe that I'd like to fill -  more shorts (because it's hot!), comfy everyday dresses, and a couple blazers or lightweight jackets (something I could wear to work over a sleeveless top or just for general layering).
  • I need to come up with better ideas to mix and match my clothes. I tend to wear the same outfit combinations on a repeat basis.
Even with the lack of documentation I'm still glad I participated in Me-Made-June. If nothing else it made me try to make a conscious choice in how I dress on a daily basis. Did you do MMJ this year? How was your experience?

July 3, 2011

Four beautiful words....

99 cent pattern sale!

99 cent pattern sale!

Unless I immediately want to make a certain pattern, I will make a note of the number and wait until the store has a 99 cent sale and then I stock up. :)

Most of these are more recent McCall's released from spring and summer.
I'm thinking of using some fabric from my stash to make a shirt using the 6354 pattern.

July 1, 2011

Maxi Dress Done!

Abstract Floral Maxi Dress 
Wow, that was quick. I finished this dress in only about six hours and I'm quite happy with it!

And it's my first maxi dress I've owned, let alone made and it is oh so comfy! I can see why people love this style for summer - breezy, light and you get the benefit of wearing a skirt without having to worry about shaving your legs. ;)

Abstract Floral Maxi Dress

I changed the original pattern (Butterick 5489) by adding elastic at the waist (elastic which I salvaged from an old fitted sheet - yay recycling!) and lengthening the bodice by an inch (the pattern is cut to be slightly higher than your natural waist).

One problem I had was sizing. Normally I'm a size 14 but I always cut a 12 with patterns. But while buying the pattern I thought - is this logic the same with knit fabrics? Knit patterns usually have much less built in ease. I was worried that this time a 12 would be too small. I was wrong. The 14 is a little too big and I should have bought the smaller size. Ooops.

Abstract Floral Maxi Dress

What's worse is that Butterick only sells their patterns in two size packets - 6 to 12 and 14 to 20. So that means I don't have a size twelve to cut from. Sure I could size my 14 down but I'm too lazy for that. ;)

I like Simplicity because they have a packet that includes both 12 and 14 in one so I can choose at the last minute what size I want to use.

Maxi Dress Trim Close Up

I also used different trim from my inspiration. I bought this cool purple-y and green trim at a local sewing store. I really like it and as a bonus it is straight which makes it easy to machine stitch in place.

Also, I bought new sunglasses (they're wooden!) which work great because you can't see me squinting in the morning sun. I really need to find a new place to take pictures but there's no good spot in my house. At least not a clean spot...

Abstract Floral Maxi Dress