February 27, 2013

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

I feel like I've been neglecting you, poor blog. I've been working (somewhat) diligently on new patterns but pattern development takes so long for me that I lose steam without having a tangible finished project in my hands. Sometimes you need that quick sewing fix, ya know what I mean?

So this is it - a short sleeved version of my own Ballet Dress pattern. I lost weight since I originally made this pattern so I re-printed the whole thing and started from scratch one size smaller (it fits!).

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

The pattern was pretty easy since I've made it before, of course, and I decided to go with shorter sleeves, less to cut out, and it's a simple design which makes for quick sewing. Just what I needed!

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

My only issues were with this fabric. It's super cool looking - a heather gray jersey with velvet rose outlines all over. I bought it at a new Austin store called Stitched Fabric Boutique that specializes in knits (a store full of knits, be still my heart!).

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

The problem is that while the velvet is a little stretchy it isn't nearly as stretchy as the jersey. I had to cut a thicker collar because trying to stretch the original collar to fit the neck would distort the fabric, meaning the velvet kept the jersey from stretching evenly. I didn't cut my collar any longer but just wider to compensate for the distortion.

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

Also the velvet seemed to exacerbate the tunneling with my twin needle and trying to run the textured lumpy fabric through my machine stretched out the hem on the sleeves (and probably the bottom of the dress, too, but it's not as noticeable).

It's annoying but I'm going to run it through the wash and iron those sleeves and they'll probably shrink back up. My answer to every problem is ironing!

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

Believe it or not my twin needling was even worse on my test scraps so I tried some of Susan's tips from her recent post on twin needles. I used some stitch witchery on the hems to stabilize it a bit (those areas didn't need to stretch much) but I think I should have used thicker witchery because I can tell where my stitches must not have gone over the stabilizer.

Also the variation in thickness between velvet and jersey made it difficult to get the needle tension just right.

My serger had no problem with this fabric, just my regular machine. Maybe next time I'll add bands at the sleeves and bottom rather than just hemming to avoid using my twin needle.

Velvet Rose Ballet Dress

I still love this fabric and I have some left. Next time I'll take what I've learned and approach working with it differently.

Also, I'm feeling kinda "meh" on my picture posing lately. I need some new posing inspiration. There's only so much "one hand on the hip, the other fluffing my hair" pictures I can do. I need to channel Rachel Pinheiro or something, get creative. Do you know of any bloggers with fun photo poses??

February 15, 2013

A Time Saving Quilt, plus cat pictures!


I made a quilt recently - a real live pieced-into-squares quilt. I've finished (which is the key word here) two quilts before but this one is different - it's a "normal" quilt, meaning I used a pattern with regular ol' quilting cotton fabric (no weird fleece monsters made from scratch).

It's kind of a big deal because I normally don't quilt because it takes so long to finish but there's a new quilt store in town close to where I live where I bought all the fabric (kind of ikat themed) and the pattern (this one, sans border. the patterns are printed on post cards).

But the most important thing was that I didn't actually quilt this quilt myself. The store, Remnants, has two big long-arm quilting machines.

If you've never seen one before they're big, long (this one was probably 10ft) machines that wrap the layers of the quilt (back, batting, top) taught and a sewing machine arm kind of floats over the whole quilt stitching everything together.


The end result is perfectly quilted (you can even pick from several stitching designs) and all you have to do is take it home and bind it yourself. Amazing!


This is really a game changer for me and quilting. Clothes sewing is still my focus and I may never crank out quilts like I do garments but if I feel the desire to make a quilt for myself or others this whole long-arm thing really makes a difference. My last quilt too me months to make. This new quilt with a very simple design took me about 3 days of my own sewing time. That's nothing!


Which has got me thinking about patience in sewing. I'm completely impatience when it comes to sewing quilts but am I also impatience with clothes? Do I avoid sewing certain garments because they're too tedious or require slow construction methods like hand sewing? Do I cut out linings from dresses because I think they're too hot in the summer or because I don't want to take the time to sew part of a garment that will never be seen? Do some of my projects turn into UFOs because I dread the amount of time it will take to complete something complex?

I do love instant gratification projects (knit tops with no darts, Scout tees, patterns with only a few pieces to cut out) but am I missing out on having a great learning experience by sewing something like a detailed trench coat or jeans with lots of top stitching because I don't want to take a month to work on a project?

Do you have "project impatience" like I do? Has it kept you from finishing or starting a new pattern or project? Is there something I can do to fight it? I'm trying to be more relaxed in general lately when it comes to sewing, maybe that should include not stressing about sewing that may take more time than I usually want to spend on one garments.


Oh, well. In the mean time I'm just gonna chill on the couch with my cat and my new quilt!

Update: Since some of you asked, the cost of the long-arm quilting was $0.015 (one and a half cents) per square inch. My quilt is 60in by 45in so my quilt was about $45 after tax. That might seem like it would add up quick but I totally think it was worth it. I never could have done the stitch pattern that they made on my own machine and it saved me sooooooo much time. I'm not sure how much other stores charge for this service.

February 11, 2013

New free pattern from Madalynne!

I'm in the midst of some pattern designing myself lately and I always appreciate the effort of others to give this sewing community free access to patterns to experiment with and explore our creativity. And I believe that more people out there creating patterns and sharing them only helps to make the online sewing community grow.

The lovely Maddie from Madalynne just released her first free pattern - the Amerson Undies, a pair of woven ruched undies you could whip up in an hour with some of your scraps you've been wanting to use.

What's great is the pattern comes in five sizes and includes finished measurements for leg opening in addition to hip. It tells you exactly the length and width of your zig zag stitch, helpful sketches and even though it's a pretty simple pattern (only three pieces) she has detailed instructions.

The gridded layout will make it easy to print out and assemble and the illustrations done by Anto are stunning, at first I seriously thought the drawing was a photograph. She is so talented and skilled at her art!

You can go download the PDF and tryout the pattern over at Madalynne and you can see the version Maddie made, as well as some of her other creations (which will hopefully become patterns!), here.

If you've never made your own undies before, give it a try! It uses so little fabric you probably already have enough on hand, construction is pretty simple and it's relatively easy to make fit adjustments when it is something so small. Maddie even has a post on how to grade underwear in case you don't fit into the five sizes on her pattern.

Yay for new patterns!