Fashion

Floral Sundress: the UFO has landed

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Art for view B Vogue 8469

Beautiful fabric, cute pattern, halfway done….  why did I ever stop working on this?  Has this thought ever occurred to you?  I have a stack of boxes in a dark corner – each one containing everything that I need to finish a sewing project.

I found myself in the mood the clear out that corner recently. This incomplete sundress from 2013 called out to be finished.  It was really a fabric-driven project.  I fell in love with the painterly, multicolored floral the minute I saw it.  I splurged and bought some yardage at the full retail price, which is unusual for me.  It seems to be a cotton poplin with a little bit of stretch.

When I cut out this dress, I paid particular attention to the bright, large scale design.  I especially made sure that the large yellow sunflowers would be placed in flattering areas.  I also thought about how the pieces would connect to each other so the design would flow in a pleasing way.  Placed incorrectly, large design elements can ruin a garment.

flower_dress_lining
Fully lined bodice

The pattern itself was yet another Very Easy Vogue, now out of print (Vogue V8469).  I added pockets and omitted the sash, but otherwise left the dress pattern alone.  I am not sure this one should have been considered “very” easy though.  It requires lining, inserting a zipper, and installing kind of fussily small elastic casing for the cap sleeves.

I cut the lining from a soft old white bedsheet. Bedsheets can really make nice lining for casual clothes. They will not shrink, and most will outlast typical fashion fabric.

When I opened the UFO* box, I found that I had cut and marked all of the pieces and finished most of the bodice.  Oh…  yeah.  I stopped working on this because the top was too small.  I don’t remember if I cut it too small, or whether I made a sewing mistake, but instead of being semi-fitted, it was crushingly tight.  The bodice side seams were still unsewn.  At the time, I couldn’t decide if I needed to insert more fabric under the arms, or whether I could make it work by just changing the placement of the side seams.  Back then, I had to make alterations by trying things on and pinning in front of a mirror. Since I made a duct tape dress form, I don’t have to do that anymore.  I put the top on duct-tape Cindy and figured out my modifications in just a few minutes.

flower_dress_seams
Overlocked seams

The fit and flare style is flattering on so many body types. You have freedom of movement and a classic silhouette at the same time.

All of the raw edges are either encased or overcast, so washing in the washing machine will not lead to annoying loose threads and fraying.

*UFO: Unfinished Object

Fashion · General

Quick Fix: Coverstitch Cut-offs

Front View
Old jeans to new summer staple

Here’s a quickie that can really reinvigorate old pants and shorts. Making a raw edge by leaving everything unfinished and letting the fraying process take its course is a fine option. But sometimes a neater finish is a better fit. Here’s what I did to some tapered jeans that I wanted to make into shorts.

First, decide on the length you want and how deep you want to make the hem.  I decided to go with a one inch hem and a 6 inch inseam. Carefully measure and mark the legs before cutting.  I like to use a temporary marker that fades in a day or so. Cut the legs.

Open Seam
Inside with side seam opened and spread flat.

Since these bottoms were tapered, they needed a little extra work. I examined the legs and saw that they were only angled on the outside seam. So I picked the stitches out until the outside leg seams opened just slightly below one inch. Next, mark the right side of the legs at one and two inches from the bottom all the way around.

Fold the hem into place and press.

Set up the coverstitch machine with topstitching thread in the two needles and wooly nylon in the looper. I found that plain orange polyester thread works well for jeans topstitching. Using nylon helps keep the seam flat.  Otherwise, you may risk creating a ridge or “tunnel” of material under between the two topstitch lines. The nylon color isn’t important since it will not show.

Using the 2 inch line as a guide, stitch the hem.

Press and Mark Hem
Hem pressed and stitching line marked

I had contemplated getting rid of these jeans at first, but I’m really glad I didn’t. Sewing to the rescue!

Inside Cutoffs Coverhem
Finished hem: inside
Finished Hem Top
Finished hem: right side
Back View
I could live in these
Fashion

Flatlock Fun Run Tights

I recently decided to audit my workout gear. My activewear drawer had been packed full, but when I got rid of the things that didn’t fit, were damaged or just plain ugly, there wasn’t much left.  The worst category was bottoms that could be used in a gym workout.

I was off to a good start with my Girl Power Shorts, but I also wanted to put together a long tight with some compression and at least one pocket.  I landed on Greenstyle Creations’ Stride Athletic Tights PDF pattern.  The pattern offers options for high and medium rise waistbands, different lengths, with or without pockets, and with or without a crotch gusset.  For my first pair, I chose the long length, pockets (always!), medium rise, and gusset.

TIP: Use a gusset if you are planning on wearing your tights for yoga or activities that require a degree of contortion.  You can leave it out if you are just going to use them for walking or running.

Flatlock_testI had a piece of really nice medium weight black poly/lycra calling out from my stash. The deep solid black was the perfect base for decorative stitching.

Flatlocking is a seam technique where the fabric pieces are joined at the raw edges with a covering stitch. It’s particularly useful for thicker fabrics since there is no double thickness at the seams.  It’s also great for activewear because the inside of the garment is smoother, reducing the possibility of chafing.

When considering a flatlock technique, you need to think about how the seam lines will affect the appearance of the garment. You will be stitching a stripe between all of the fabric pieces where they are joined. You can downplay the stripes by choosing a matching, or slightly darker thread. I thought it would be fun to play with it though, keeping the fabric simple and making the seam stripes the focal point.

I tested various types of thread, seam widths and stitch lengths. I tried wooly nylon, rayon embroidery thread and polyester embroidery thread. I liked the shine of both of the embroidery threads and chose the poly just because I liked the color better. I preferred the narrower 4mm flatlock with the “Seaglass” polyester embroidery thread.*

*Note: This was not a great choice…  keep reading.

seam_plan
Seam Plan

My next step was to make a plan for which seams I wanted to highlight and which I wanted to disappear into the background. I wanted to hide the gusset, inside leg seams, pockets and hem. My regular black serger thread worked well for this purpose.

Sewing a flatlock seam is really easy.  You simply set up your serger for a 2 or 3 thread overlock with the knife down.  (For most of my seams, I chose to do a 3-thread version for durability). Thread the needle with the thread for the underside of the seam. Thread the lower looper with the thread you want to show on top. Adjust the spacing so that the overlock extends slightly past the cut edge of the fabric. Stitch the seam as usual, right sides together. When you have chained off and taken your piece out of the machine, gently pull the two pieces apart and flatten. If your tension is right, you will have a nice, flat seam joining the two.

The PDF pattern includes easy to follow instructions, so putting the tights together went smoothly.

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Since I was featuring flatlock seaming, I hemmed the pockets using black thread and a 2-thread decorative flatlock.  I’ve seen this in ready to wear, but never tried to do it. The process is not difficult. Press the hem in place as usual, then fold over once more. With the knife down, stitch a two-thread overlock over the outside (or top) edge of the fold. When it is done and smoothed flat, the front has a decorative flatlock stripe while the back’s ladder stitches hold the hem in place. Neat!

I like that Clear elastic is used inside the waistband to add a flexible, invisible bit of structure.

tights_pinning
Curved seams. Bleh.

I didn’t like pinning those curved seams!

I sewed my label inside the hidden pocket – no chafing!  Also – hey, hidden pocket!

I had intended to do a coverstitch hem, then I realized that it would be impossible to work with the small diameter opening on a machine with no free arm. I ended up zig-zagging the hem on my regular machine.

Full disclosure:  I messed up one of the decorative seams.  It was close to the bottom of one leg, and could not be fixed.  So I cut the ends off of the legs, saving as much as I could.  My tights are capri length instead of long.  Oh, well.  We’ll just keep that between us, okay?

tights_pocket_zoomSo, what was wrong with the thread? No stretch. The first time I put on the tights and tried stretching, the seams pulled right out in the tighter areas!  I was able to repair them, but there is no way that I will be using my tights for anything more athletic than housework.  I’m keeping the pattern, though.  With a few changes, this could still be a great staple piece.

Lessons learned for next time:

  • Modify the pattern for roomier thighs
  • Try the higher waistband
  • Use a fabric with more stretch
  • Use a thread with some stretch

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