Contest · Fashion

Fall Wardrobe: Asymmetrical Wrap Skirt

pinstripe_wrap_skirt_13Here’s the second item for the Autumn 2018 collection: an easy asymmetrical wrap skirt. If the fabric looks a little familiar, it’s because I have already used it in two other garments:

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 1: the Pants

Pinstripe Pantsuit Part 2: the Vest

I bought five yards of it a few years ago from FabricMartFabrics.com and even after this skirt, I still have more than a yard. I don’t think you have seen the last of it yet!

This skirt is one of McCall’s 2018 early fall patterns, M7813. The pattern includes options for different hem profiles, but they all share the same basic design. I was drawn to view D, which has two curved front pieces that come together in a neat jagged line. It’s a very simple pattern. The only closure is a single snap. There are no pockets, lining, or anything tricky. It may not be obvious on first glance, but all views cinch at the natural waist, continuing anther 5 inches or so upward. The part above the waist can be turned down, sort of like a shirt collar.

pinstripe_wrap_skirt_9I like that this skirt can work with or without tights as a transitional piece. I just wore it for the first time and loved the way it looked in the mirror. But…. if you plan on wearing it on a windy day, definitely consider putting in some extra closures. While having your skirt fly up worked for Marilyn Monroe, it’s not really what I’m going for. I’m still deciding how I want to handle mine.

I did another contrast facing with the skirt. This time I chose a scrap of flannel stripe that I salvaged from a jacket that was on its way to jacket heaven. The pattern matched almost too perfectly. It might add a little more bulk than desirable, but it’s really soft and comfortable.

I don’t have too much to say about construction or techniques this time. It was so darned easy! Instead, I’ll just post the supply list and some pretty pictures.

Supplies

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I plan on entering this skirt in patternreview.com‘s 2018 Mini Wardrobe contest. It will be item 2 of 5. Don’t worry – I’ll remind you when voting opens!

Until next time, happy sewing!

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Contest · Fashion · Vintage

Fall Wardrobe: Green Sailor Pants

green_sailor_pants21I’m getting started on my Fall wardrobe with a pair of olive green sailor-style wide leg pants. These are View E of the Butterick wardrobe pattern B5859. Essentially, they are high waisted pants with a back zip. If they look a little familiar, it’s because I have made them before. Why re-invent the wheel?

Previous Versions:

I dreamed up these pants as part of my Fall wardrobe plan, but also as part of a 5-piece wardrobe to enter in patternreview.com‘s 2018 Mini Wardrobe Contest. Even though this is make number 3, I used several new techniques and learned a lot.

Selvedge Trimmed Facing

green_sailor_pants15After I finished cutting out the pants, I cut the selvedges off the remaining fabric and set them aside. Pre-washing the fabric had brought out their texture as well as a short fluffy fringe. After recently buying some trim by the yard, saving this “trim” seemed like a good way to economize.

Meanwhile, I went through my scrap pile and picked out a piece of pretty floral lawn that coordinated with the green. I think that one of the delights of sewing for yourself is using surprising fabrics for pocket linings, facings, and bindings that only you can see. The floral became the waistband facing fabric.

Serendipitously, I had piled the twill strips piled on top of the facing pieces. They looked so good together that I used the strips to make a sharp binding for the facing’s bottom edge. Here’s a little slideshow of the facing going together.

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Basting with Double Eye Needle
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Very long basting stitches along zipper opening

Do any of you read your sewing machine manuals just for fun? It sounds dull, but if you haven’t cracked yours since your machine was new, it’s worth going back and taking a second look. When my machine was new, I was only interested in learning the basics: threading, straight stitch, zigzag, etc. Now that those skills are second nature, the rest of the manual is much more approachable. All of this is by way of introducing the double eye needle.

My manual has a page devoted to using a double eye needle (not to be confused with a double needle) to make long basting stitches. I don’t know if this trick works universally, or only with some machines, but it is pretty slick. Here’s what you do:

  1. Thread machine normally, threading the needle through the upper of the two eyes.
  2. Set stitch to blind hem stitch
  3. Set stitch width to widest setting
  4. Set stitch length as desired
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Thread in upper eye of double eye needle

These settings will result in a long straight stitch slightly to the left of center (test the needle position before sewing to learn how this works). Since the blind hem makes its stitches in a 3 to 1 pattern (RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT LEFT), you will get a stitch that is 4 times as long as the selected stitch length.

Once you are done, you can continue to sew normally by just switching to the bottom eye.

Double eye needles are a little tricky to find. I have never seen them in shops and they are even hard to find online. I located a package of 5 size 80 universal double eye needles in just 3 places:

  1. Create for less $4.59
  2. Amazon $6.50
  3. Directly from Schmetz $4.99

If anyone else has other or better sources, please post a comment!

Finishing Touches

green_sailor_pants16I really like the look of vintage sailor-style button front pants. I can’t imagine how annoying they must be to actually open and close when you need to (ahem). For my pants, I just copied the look without copying the design. Besides, I was already going off on my own with the green color. The buttons are just sewn on – there are no actual buttonholes. I sewed the buttons on top of the seams created by the front darts.

I wound up using an invisible zipper, just because that is what I had on hand. I don’t think it makes a big difference in this case, but I think a plain zipper would go better with the casual style.

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Supplies

Here’s what I used:

What do you think about the supplies list? Should I keep doing them?

Next time, more Fall fashion.

Until then, happy sewing!

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I reviewed this pattern on patternreview.com. Check it out here!

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Fashion · Fitting

Getting Started on my Designer Pattern

designer_18Last week I wrote about choosing a designer pattern from Vogue. I was between a beautiful on-trend jumpsuit and a cute pull-on dress with a tie front. The winner is…  the easy one!

Although I love the jumpsuit, I just couldn’t justify making it when I don’t have any events to bring it to.

Also, I find myself drawn to Rebecca Taylor’s style aesthetic. Her collections provide me with a lot of inspiration, featuring prominently in my Fall 2018 mood board on pinterest.

I was reluctant to cut into the silk I chose for the final version (Thanks, Mom!). So, I looked for some lightweight cottons to make a (hopefully) wearable muslin. I have plenty of sundress-worthy cottons in my stash, but it was tricky to find something that would look good from either side. In the end, I went with a sort of washed denim colored solid for the dress and a fun multicolor stripe for the lining.

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Both fabrics frayed like crazy, so I overcast the edges before sewing anything together.

I wanted to make sure that the ties fell at my natural waist, so I spent a more time preparing the pattern than usual. I added my normal long waist adjustment all the way around. The back overlay piece was a little perplexing. When I added the extra length, it completely changed the shape of the ties. I improvised a new curve to smooth it out, keeping the start and end points where they were and crossed my fingers.

I cut the pieces according to the directions with one exception. I thought it would be kind of neat to have the inside back piece be the same as the skirt lining.

Once I got to the sewing machine, I was delighted with how quickly it went together. The neckline and armholes are faced, but use bias binding for the facing instead of the more common facing pieces. I have been experimenting with this technique for a while, and actually prefer it in most cases. However, until you are used to it, it can be maddeningly confusing. If you are doing this dress and have never tried the technique, find an online tutorial and practice a bit first. It may save you a lot of seam ripping! The “very narrow hem” that I was wondering about turned out to be really easy. I like the way it turned out and will use it again on projects with lightweight fabrics. I think that some fabrics might do better with a rolled hem, though. I’ll have to test that out for the final version.

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Very narrow hem (top) and bias-faced armholes

One weird thing about the pattern is that instead of using a conventional casing for the waist elastic, you make a completely inner casing using the seam allowances. Essentially you get a casing “tube” that is only attached to the dress on one side, not both.  It works out, but probably would fail with any elastic wider than 1/4 inch. It doesn’t seem to matter that the casing is kind of free-floating.

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Inside front view shows seam allowance casing

Another technique that was new to me was reinforced stress points. You are supposed to cut small pieces of fabric and sew them to the wrong side of the overlay at each point. I departed from the instructions and chose to fuse my  little patches in place rather than sew them. I think they are probably stronger and they don’t show on the front. I used heat-n-bond lite 5/8″ tape for a quick and easy patch.

I haven’t done a lined skirt in a while, but it was the last step and there wasn’t anything unusual about it. That kind of complacency is probably what led to me putting it in inside-out. Sigh. There’s a lesson in there somewhere. I’m leaving it that way. Shhh…

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Perfect! If you don’t look too close….

The finished dress fits! The ties wound up in the right place and look good. I do think it will look much better in a silkier fabric. The overlay sleeves made with semi-crisp cotton don’t drape elegantly down the shoulders like the ones on the pattern photo. I also think it would be much better with side pockets. But those are minor quibbles. It meets my test for wearability and I have a usable pattern so I’ll call it a success.

The next one in this series will be my first ever silk dress. Wish me luck!

Until then, happy sewing!

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More nuts and bolts…

And a few more pictures from my fashion shoot/dog walk…

Hey – check out my review of Vogue 1395 on patternreview.com here.

Useful Thing

Business card wallet

card_wallet_5Here’s another small crafty project from my recent crafty sewing binge.

I ran across this nifty business card holder pattern while on one of my recent lost afternoons surfing fabric websites. I landed on AmyButlerDesigns.com, home of all things Amy Butler. If you are not familiar with her work, she makes bright, fun graphic designs. You can find them on quilting, home dec and fashion fabric and more. One of the great things about the website is the fairly long catalog of free patterns. Many of the patterns are for quilting, but there are also a few for bags and accessories. I thought it would be fun to try a small project to see what I thought.

This is the Business Card Keeper. Once you “purchase” your free pattern, you are able to download a pdf file containing the instructions and pattern pieces. In this case, the only pattern piece is for the swoopy-edged cover flap. The rest of the pieces are rectangles cut to specified dimensions.

card_wallet_1I have to admit, there was more to the little pattern than I expected. It requires the fabric, of course. But it also requires heavy-weight sew-in interfacing and heavy fusible interfacing, both of which I had to hunt around for. The closure is hook-and-loop tape (aka velcro). I’m pretty sure I followed the directions correctly, but apparently I didn’t. Everything turned out a little too small and lot too crooked. I think it’s cute, but in that kind of “Awww, she made that herself” kind of way.

Don’t let that put you off, though. I think my lack of quilting experience really shows on this one. If you can handle precision 1/4 inch seams, you should do fine!

card_wallet_2Fabric.com carries a lot of Amy Butler fabrics, but far from all. I bought my “Cotton Blossom” yardage from a vendor on Etsy. I think if I was really excited about a particular collection, I would seek out stores that were quilting-specific. The fabric I used for my wallet was made from a random fat-quarter I bought because it was cute. Sigh.

I have a little more craftiness on the way, then back to fashion sewing.

Until then, happy sewing!

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Fashion

Attempting a Vogue Designer Pattern

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

You know when the patterns go on sale and you think “it’s such a bargain – I should get one or two more” (or 3, or 4… you get the idea). For years, I have purchased designer patterns from Vogue only to watch them take up space on my shelf. Granted, I do pull them out and daydream. Patterns from other companies rarely call for high-end fabrics, but these do. For instance, on one pattern the only fabric option for lining is china silk.

I think it’s time to dive in. I have narrowed my selection to two patterns, both very different.

Option 1

Rebecca Taylor V1395 Dress

Rating: Easy

V1395_05From the envelope picture, and even the line drawings, this dress looks pretty simple. It appears to be a pullover dress with a gathered skirt and front tie. The devil is in the details, though. It wasn’t until I took the instructions out and really examined what was involved before I realized the dress’s complexity.

First, the fabric. It recommends (1) Crepe de Chine, (2) Silk Broadcloth, (3) Chambray, or (4) Rayon Blends. I get 1, 2 and 4 – they are all thin, semi-fluid types of fabric. I’m a little stumped about the Chambray option. Isn’t that going to be heavier?

Here are the unexpected bits:

  • The skirt is lined. I probably skimmed over this because there is no fabric recommendation for lining.
  • The arm and neck openings are bias-faced, which means making some bias binding. Not super difficult, but might be fiddly with slippery fabrics.
  • The back has 2 layers. The inner layer is kind of a sleeveless shell. The outer layer attaches at the shoulder and waist, but extends the sleeves into a cap sleeve and the sides into long ties, which go to the front.
  • “Very narrow hems.” I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I think it’s going to involve a new technique.
  • No interfacing. There is nothing added to give any additional stability.
Option 2

Rebecca Vallance V1591 Jumpsuit

Rating: Average

V1591_01Again, the cover photo and drawings don’t really do justice to the design. I impulse-bought this one because I loved the shape of the top and I had never had a jumpsuit before. But you don’t really see that the whole outfit is two-layer: lace fabric over an underlining. I didn’t realize it was lace from the printed picture, but if you zoom way in on the one on the Vogue website, you can see that it is black lace over a dark blue underlining. It uses a grosgrain ribbon for the straps – they are not fabric. You can just barely see it in the picture, but it has an exposed back zipper as well.

Clearly the jumpsuit is more complicated. Among other things, it features:

  • Side pockets
  • Close fitting top
  • Silk (under)lining
  • Pleats
  • Interesting curved shapes at center front waist

This one does call for interfacing. Curiously, it also calls for crepe or poplin “contrast” fabric. I had to break open the envelope to find that this is just for the facings.

The recommended fabrics are lace, linen, and silk jacquard. I think it would look cool in any of those. Can you see making a big splash at a holiday party in a jacquard version?

They are both calling me, but I promised myself I would only do one at a time. It’s possible after that’s over I may decide to never do another!

Next time, my decision and getting started. Anyone up for a sew-along?

Happy sewing,

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Fashion

Last Chance Sundress V9278

V9278_aHere in the US, the kids are going back to school and cooler weather is around the corner. Oddly, we are breaking heat records here in Rhode Island and anyone with air conditioning is staying inside. Fortunately for me, that’s where the sewing machine is!

I love wearing sundresses, but somehow never got around to making one this year. It’s time.

Screen Shot 2018-08-30 at 10.40.17 AM
the elusive inspiration dress

I chose Vogue 9278 because I wanted the a Burda Style magazine pattern that was used to make a beautiful dress in the Spring Forecast section of the April/May 2018 issue of Threads Magazine. Despite an hour of effort, I could not find the Burda pattern anywhere. Vogue 9278 was one of Threads’ recommended substitutes.

The inspiration dress was described as having been made with a pastel voile. So I looked through my stash for a voile that would work. I found enough yardage of a blue and yellow geometric pattern* in cotton voile. I also had some lightweight woven in bright yellow for the lining. Stash busting!

*the fabric was a bargain find from Fabric Mart a few years ago. It’s an Anna Maria Horner quilting fabric called Diamond Mine. It turns out that Fabric Mart stopped carrying it, but you can still get the matching ribbon. I’m kind of tempted to buy some and make a matching leash for my dog. That’s not going overboard, is it? Fabric Mart does carry lots of other Anna Maria fabrics, including a few voiles – I love their bright color combinations.

You may have noticed that my dress looks absolutely nothing like the Burda dress. Apparently not all voiles are created equal. Mine has a lot more body and is almost opaque. Even so, it makes a pretty cute little slip dress. I’ll probably wear this all of the time. I don’t think I would have worn the pretty floaty one as much, although I would still love to have it. (I made View A.)

The dress was pretty simple to put together. I think Vogue was being fair this time in putting it in the very easy category. As usual, I made things more difficult than they had to be. I became a little obsessed with pattern matching. I needed those diamonds to line up! I also used an invisible zip, just because that was what I had on hand. The pattern doesn’t actually demand it.

Above: Implementing my Obsession

I think if/when I make this one again, I will build in a bra and maybe try a handkerchief hem. If I go with a heavier fabric again, I’ll also add pockets. With the lining taken out, I think it would also make cool under-dress for a mesh or chiffon cover.

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Note about pictures:

Most of the time, I use helpers to take pictures of me wearing my finished garments. This round was completely DIY. I got a new toy: a little bluetooth remote control that lets me take pictures from my phone without having to hold it ($8.49 from Amazon). I still prefer help, but I’m excited to try taking pictures a little more often. You will probably notice that I am holding it along with the dog leash in the next photo group. Sadly, the remote won’t tell you if you have hair in your face or a wrinkle in your dress. Ahem. I’m still learning, so most of the pictures are a little low-resolution. Stay with me – I plan on improving!

My dog is much more interested in fresh mulch than fashion.

More sewing coming soon!

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Check out my review on patternreview.com: Vogue 9278

 

 

General

A Little Planning, a Little Crafting

Hello readers! It’s been a while, but I haven’t been completely idle. I took a short break from sewing clothes to work on a few craft projects. It was refreshing to work on something different for a while (square corners! simple shapes! colors I would never wear!). It cleared my mind and enabled me to take a new approach to seasonal sewing: a plan. There will be many garments made from scratch, but there will also be upcycling and wardrobe edits.

Here’s a little teaser for upcoming clothing sewing:

I’ve also started to use Pinterest boards to collect ideas for upcoming seasons. Check it out here: See Cindy Sew Pins.

If you are new here and want to dig in to what I’ve been making, you can now browse through projects in my new gallery. You can always get back to it by clicking on the Gallery link under the masthead. Cell phone users will find it under the Menu button.

If you are shopping online for your Fall projects, please consider shopping through my links. I have had nothing but good experiences from these vendors.

As I get in gear for the next round of sewing, I’ll be sharing short posts on my recent craft items. There might be a few last minute sundresses in there too. It’s still Summer for another week, after all!

So until next time, happy sewing!

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Please share your thoughts and ideas about anything in this post or whatever is on your mind. I would love to hear from you!

Home Dec · Travel · Useful Thing

Travel Trays with Snaps

Let’s get started with flurry of instant-gratification craft posts! A while back, I made a few travel trays, which are just little padded rectangles that can be transformed into trays by pinching the corners together. The idea is that you can throw one in your suitcase. Then when you get to your hotel room, you have a little place to collect your glasses, jewelry, etc. on your nightstand. I thought I would give them away as gifts, but somehow they ended up becoming permanent fixtures on my work table. I guess it’s more accurate to call those stationary trays.

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I have seen variations on this idea using ties, velcro, or snaps on the corners. I prefer snaps, but didn’t have any snap setting tools when I made the first ones. I remember having struggled with using snap pliers. I think I don’t have the grip strength, or possibly the patience for it. So I used a new gadget that works with a hammer instead. It was much easier for me, but the hammering noise caused my dog undue stress. I guess I’ll have to do my hammering outside from now on.

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After assembling the padded rectangle, mark stitching lines with disappearing ink.
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Quilting with wavy decorative stitch

I quilted the base of my trays. It’s an easy way to experiment with different quilting methods. I don’t think it’s really necessary for a small size rectangle though. My favorite was the result of quilting with one of my machine’s decorative stitches. I also experimented with using multicolor thread.

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I quilted this one using variegated thread

I referred back to my original instructions, which were a free download from the Craftsy pattern library.

More crafty projects coming soon. Until then, happy sewing!

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Fashion

Easiest Skirt Ever

Screen Shot 2018-07-29 at 9.25.30 AMI know I can draft a circle skirt pattern. There is even a nifty calculator to help. I used this one from Mood Fabrics to make the Run for the Roses knit skirt. But sometimes it’s just easier to buy an inexpensive pattern and let someone else do the heavy lifting. Butterick’s See&Sew pattern B6578 is just a plain pull-on knit circle skirt in two lengths. This is the longer of the two.

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The cased waistband up close

I’m pretty sure it took longer to prepare and cut the fabric than it did to assemble. I’m kind of bummed that the knit I picked up at a certain chain store did not hold up to machine washing. It faded quite a bit and pilled. So this is a skirt just to wear around the house. It is soft and comfortable but doesn’t really hold up to close inspection.

The directions include a cased elastic waistband. It’s easy to do, but doesn’t look as sharp as other possible waistband finishes. Next time I will try a serger technique where you sew the elastic in place and fold it inside.

The seams are sewn with a four thread overcast, and the hem and casing is done with a two needle coverstitch.

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Inside skirt showing coverstitch hem

I think this is a good basic pattern. It could serve as a base for any knit circle skirt. I can see adding on pockets, embellishments, different finishes and other enhancements.

Did you know that if you buy See & Sew patterns from the Butterick website, that shipping is free? I bought several the last time they had a sale. This one was only a few dollars!

More coming soon – stay tuned!

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I reviewed this pattern on PatternReview.com. Click here to read it.

Home Dec · Useful Thing

Laundry Room Organizer Pouch

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Close up of top showing care symbols fabric

The inspiration for this project came from two places. I came across a neat fabric printed with those universal care symbols (that aren’t quite as intuitive as the designer probably intended). I had to have it and I knew it had to be for something related to laundry. At the same time, I had been keeping my clothespins in a disposable plastic container that was well past its prime. I guess the world was telling me to organize my laundry area.

I cast around the internet for project ideas. It can be kind of overwhelming. Finally, I went on Craftsy.com and searched for all the free sewing patterns in the “Bags” and “Other” categories. That’s where I found Teresa Lucio Designs’ Boxy Pouch Tutorial. The pattern is clearly written with lots of pictures. I followed her instructions, only altering the dimensions to maximize what I could make with my small piece of material. Although she doesn’t specify what you need to do to change the scale, it’s pretty easy to figure out.

I like how Theresa had her boxy pouch set up, turning down the contrast lining to make a cuff. I will probably leave mine set up the same way, but it’s also going to be useful to zip it up if I need to take my clothespins to a different area.

clothespin_box_3It requires fusible fleece, medium to heavy weight fusible interfacing, lining fabric and a zipper. I think it would be neat to add tabs or handles on the ends, or possibly inside pockets. I’m sure I will use these instructions again!

Bonus: Here’s a link to what all of those care symbols really mean: I printed it out and keep it next to my washing machine.

Next time – the quickest knit skirt ever!

Until then,

Happy sewing!
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PS…
If you are not already a Craftsy member, what are you waiting for? In addition to patterns and supplies, they have great online classes. I’ve learned a lot from the ones I have taken. Getting a Craftsy account is free, which would give you access to the site and free patterns like this one.

Now Craftsy also has an unlimited viewing plan, called BluPrint. It’s all of the Craftsy classes, plus even more in subjects like dance and photography. Right now, they also have a 7 day free trial.