Fashion

Simplicity 8386 Off the Shoulder Knit Tops

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I took a little bit of a risk making these tops. I’ve never had any off-the-shoulder tops before, and wasn’t sure if they would be comfortable to wear all day. Would they stay up? Would they restrict movement? I’ve been seeing off-the-shoulder styles for a couple of years now though. They can’t be that hard to wear, right?

These are my 3rd and 4th tops made from Simplicity 8386. I think that might be a record for me! I even have one more cut out and another planned. They are just so easy to make, so flattering, and with only 2 pattern pieces and so little fabric, they qualify as stash-busters as well.

off_the_shoulder_knit_tops_12I made the floral one first. The fabric is a stretchy cotton/lycra jersey from Jumping June Textiles. It’s a 4-way stretch with 8% lycra so there was no question about it holding its shape. I cut the top exactly to the pattern, and while wearable, it’s a little short for my taste. No regrets, though. It’s still good with layers and high-waisted styles.

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I’m still learning how to do a good coverstitch. This one has teal thread in the needles and beige wooly nylon underneath.

Making the top was very easy. Most of it was sewn with a 3-thread overlock on the serger. There is a casing for elastic around the top. I did the hems with my serger‘s coverstitch function. Once again, I used Dritz Elastic Threaders for pushing the elastic through the casing. I can’t believe how agonizing that process used to be when these cheap little gems were there all along! For the coverstitch, I used plain Maxi-Lock serger thread in the needles and Maxi-Lock stretch thread underneath. So far, this seems to work well. I put it through a machine wash and (low heat) dryer cycle and didn’t notice any shrinkage.

Now that I knew I liked the pattern, I took the time to lengthen the waist. That extra 1.25 inches by itself is enough to make the length much more versatile. That’s a good thing, because I forgot to add to the bottom like I intended.

The striped one is sewn the same way as the first. Because it is made with a less elastic 2-way stretch jersey, it feels much lighter. It was one of those remnant table finds, so I’m not sure what it is made of. The main thing is that the stretch matches the guidelines on the pattern envelope.

This would be a great pattern for a beginner who is ready to learn about knits.

After wearing them a few times, I can say that they do stay up. They don’t restrict movement…  much. If you reach up over your head, you will need to re-adjust. Otherwise, a good cute summer top.

Next time – a little home dec!

Happy Sewing!

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Click here for examples of Simplicity 8386 View A.

I reviewed this pattern on PatternReview.com. Click here to see my review.

Fashion · Whimsy

Wintertime Friends Tee

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Close up of “Best Friends” panel

Some time last summer, I saw this print for sale in the Wanderlust Designs Custom Fabric Facebook group. Even though the next snowflakes were at least 5 months away, I knew I would want it when they came. Pig and Gnome on stump in the snowy woods… how could I not? The design is printed on a 28″ x 36″ cotton/lycra panel.

Well, it’s December and the snow is here. All of my other projects would just have to wait. I pushed all of my works in progress off the table and started on my tee.

81TUQLvY5sL._SL1500_I wear a lot of long sleeve tee shirts in the colder months – sometimes as a layer, sometimes alone. I already had a pattern ready to go, having made my Walk the Dog Raglan using McCall’s M7286 earlier this year. I just needed to change the sleeves into long sleeves and decide on the layout.  I found a gray knit from my stash that coordinated with the panel and got to work.

Planning the front was easy. I knew that I wanted the characters to be centered on the lower half of the shirt front. Unfortunately, that left a somewhat awkward shaped remnant. There was just no way I was going to be able to use any of the remainder in the shirt. So the sleeves, neckband, and back are all in solid gray.

I made a sleeve pattern based on the medium length piece I already had. Once I was finished, I looked at the picture on the pattern cover and realized that it already contained one. Oh, well. Good practice, I guess. I also changed the bottom to be straight across instead of rounded.

Everything went together quickly on the serger.

I did two things differently this time.

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Contrast topstitching

After reading some thoughts of fellow sewing bloggers, I decided to try using stretch thread in both the upper and lower loopers for my overcast seams. I haven’t had any problems with regular thread, but I was curious to see if there was a difference. I set up the serger to do a 4-thread mock safety stitch with maxi-lock all-purpose thread in the needles and maxi-lock stretch in the loopers. Stitching went smoothly. The result did seem to be a bit stretchier. What I really like is that the seams feel softer against the skin.  I might not do it this way every time, but for knit apparel, it certainly works nicely. If it does well in the washer I’ll definitely use the stretch in both loopers again.

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Hem fused in place before stitching

This other thing I did was stabilize the hem before cover-stitching. I saw a mention for Heat-n-Bond Soft Stretch fusible in a sewing magazine’s new products section and thought it might be just the thing. I wanted something that would keep the hem from stretching excessively under the presser foot, but still maintain the softness and stretch of the original fabric. Bingo! The Soft Stretch Lite did exactly what I wanted, and came in a convenient 5/8″ roll. (I had expected to have to cut my own strips). This is the best cover-stitch finish I have done yet, although I know I can still get better.

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The coverstitch hem turned out better than before – only a little tunneling in one area.

Here is the final result. Hot cocoa, anyone?

Fashion

Mystery Activewear 2: Space Invaders!

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Blue, Space Invaders, and “Hello World” prints on ABP from Zenith and Quasar

This is the second in a series where I make activewear from the contents of a fabric mystery pack from Zenith and Quasar. In the first installment, I showed how I divided my haul into two groups of coordinating fabric. This outfit is from the pile which included a complete yard of blue, a fairly large piece of white with a multicolor text print (“Hello World”), and a narrow strip of an awesome space invaders print also on white.

 I had a pattern for shorts (McCall’s 6360) all set to go, having made my Girl Power shorts a few months ago. Then I pulled out a Butterick “Lisette” pattern (B6295) which contained a basic, long, scoop-neck sports bra . With the fabric all spread out and pattern pieces in hand, I puzzled out what would fit. I started with the largest pieces first, then went from there.

I really liked the idea of using the solid blue for shorts. There wasn’t quite enough width for that, but adding a stripe on the sides made it work. Fortunately, the pattern had an option for side stripes (View F). The white “Hello World” print was just right for the stripe. The shorts took care of most of the blue. They were so simple to make, I won’t go into detail. I’ll just say that if you can make pajamas, you can make these!

Next, I tackled the top. I really wanted to feature the space invaders design on the front, but the strip was way too short for that. Piecing came to the rescue. There was enough to make it work if I separated the front into top and bottom sections with a wide blue band in between. The front of the top used almost the entire space invaders remnant.  Everything else (back, bra lining, straps) was cut from the white coordinate.

Here’s a how the front came together:

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Power mesh bra inner lining with fusible knit interfacing between the cups.

In the last post, I went into detail on how to construct the bra-top. I’ve worn and machine washed the first one several times since then. While I am happy with it overall, I’ve noticed it has a tendency to gap a little in the center of the neckline. This time, I added a small strip of fusible knit stabilizer between the bra cups, oriented so that it was stable horizontally yet stretchy vertically. That fixed the gap problem. Otherwise, it’s great. Wearing it for a workout is a joy. I love the way the criss-cross back style allows for freedom of movement. The custom front is snug, but doesn’t over-compress. When I take it off, I don’t feel like I have to take a deep breath like I do with some of my commercially made tops.

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The first set of straps I cut had upside-down text. Oops.

Other than adding stabilizer, I followed the same process to assemble the Space Invaders top as I did for the first one. I glossed over a few things that deserve a little more attention in my writeup, though.

Understitching and hemming are the last two things to do when finishing the top. A lot of times, people skip understitching because it seems like such a hassle when your garment is already wearable without it. Understitching is simply sewing the seam allowance to the lining layer close to the stitching line. Because the fabric is somewhat bulky and doesn’t hold a crease well, if you do not understitch, the lining may start to roll outward, showing at the neck and arm edges. In addition, the extra stitching adds stability so those curves hold their shape better. To preserve the stretch, I used a zigzag to stitch the seam allowance down.

Understitching the top made a subtle, but important difference:

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For the hem, I tried doing a wide two-needle coverstitch with the Singer. I’m definitely still learning. I set everything up with white serger thread in the needles and white wooly (or textured) nylon thread in the looper. While the machine made the stitch perfectly, I still seem to have a problem placing my stitching line so that it catches the hem all the way around. For others new to coverstitching, the fabric runs under the presser foot right side up, so you can’t see the hem edge underneath as you sew. I got a lot closer this time though, only missing the edge for about a third of the circumference. I was pleased with my fix though. I left my first botched line of stitches in place and carefully sewed another line just below it. Unless you look carefully, you would not realize it was not intentional. It just looks like a very wide three needle cover-hem.

Setting things up for coverstitch:

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And here is the finished project:

If you missed the first part, check it out here: Mystery Activewear 1: Have You Tried Turning it Off and On Again? I have a few ideas for the remaining scraps, so there may be even be a third installment soon.

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