I 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.
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.
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!
I reviewed this pattern on PatternReview.com. Click here to read it.
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.
Two fabrics, interfacing and fusible fleece
Checking possibilities for zipper and lining
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.
It 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!
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.
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.
I 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.
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.
Stripe Off the Shoulder Knit
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!
Click here for examples of Simplicity 8386 View A.
After tackling a few challenging projects recently, I have really enjoyed doing some fun easy sewing. I probably would not have tried Simplicity 8386, but a friend bought the wrong size and gave me hers. I’m so glad she did! I have made a bunch of tops with it and have even more in the works.
The multi-size pattern contains pieces for three completely different tops. They are all casual warm-weather looks intended for moderate stretch knits. For this post, I’m going to focus on View A.
View A is the only top of the three that is not tight to the body. I think that makes it flattering for a wider range of people, so I was surprised that so far it doesn’t have any reviews on patternreview.com (the other 2 have several). The front body is two piece
s that cross in a faux-wrap style. The volume comes from a series of tucks which disappear into the waistband. Hate to hem? No hemming needed. All of the edges are enclosed or finished with binding. The neckband continues to the back and ends in ties. Since
I wear my hair short, I have to admit I have become more partial to garments with interesting back details like this one.
I made this top twice. It’s interesting to see how two different materials behave with the same make. The red top is in a medium weight cotton/lycra jersey with a lot of stretch. The blue and white one is in a lightweight rayon/lycra jersey with less stretch.
I was wondering how I was going to have enough material to cut bias strips when it hit me – the fabric is already stretchy. I can just use horizontally cut strips instead! It’s entirely possible that the sewing world knows this already, but it’s new to me. Wouldn’t it be nice if the pattern companies factored binding into their yardage recommendations and layouts?
Like wrap-style dresses and tops in general, I found that the front tended to reveal a lot more than I intended. I had to make some kind of adjustment to keep it closed, or else wear a camisole underneath. I rejected the cami idea just because these are supposed to be for hot weather. I could tack the overlap in place, but I didn’t want to have to iron around it if the top needed touching up. I settled on sewing a small snap fastener closure instead. I think it works pretty well, and I can leave it unsnapped for washing and ironing.
Note to beginners
This pattern is part of Simplicity’s Easy-To-Sew series. I would agree that it is easy, but View A may be a little overwhelming for a complete beginner. For those new to garment sewing, I would start with View C.
Sky Tie-Neck Crossover Knit
Next time, I go a little crazy with Simplicity 8386 again. Stay tuned!
A few years ago, I bought a cute strapless sundress. I wore it a lot that summer, then my tastes changed just enough to push it to the back of the closet. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have room in my closet for things I don’t wear!
I loved the bottom, but didn’t love the top or where the waist fell. It didn’t have pockets. By converting it into a skirt and adding some pockets, it could be transformed into a wardrobe staple.
Step 1: Deconstruction
I cut most of the bodice from the skirt, leaving a little bit of length at the waist. With my well-used seam ripper, I carefully picked out the side seams from the waist to about 2 inches below the hip.
Step 2: Pockets
Since the skirt’s gathered style gave it quite a bit of volume, I opted to hide the pockets on the inside. I found some neutral lightweight woven fabric in the scrap pile that had enough strength to handle keys and cell phones. I used a pocket pattern I had from another project (also checked to make sure it would hold my phone).
Once cut, I serged the pocket fronts and backs together, leaving the side openings alone. It doesn’t really matter if the openings match the skirt, since it is easy to close any open seams later.
I carefully pinned the pockets in place, making sure the top of the pocket was no higher than the new waistband would be.
From the wrong side, I sewed the pocket front to the skirt front and the pocket back to the skirt back. I closed the little bit of side seam opening left below the pockets.
I turned the skirt so I was now working on the right side. With my fingers, I rolled the pocket seams just slightly to the inside and carefully pressed them in place. Then I made sure they would stay that way by topstitching as close to the edge as I could get in a matching thread. One more press and I had an opening that’s practically invisible!
Fabric rolled slightly to inside and pressed
After topstitching – closed
After topstitching – open
Step 3: Elastic Waistband
There are a lot of waistband options for gathered skirts. I chose the one I thought I could do the fastest. My waistband is simply a length of wide elastic serged to the top of the skirt. I’m not even sure how long my elastic piece is – I just wrapped it around my waist and adjusted it until it felt snug. I sewed the elastic into a loop with a secure box stitch.
The rest was simple. I divided the elastic into 4 equal parts, marking with pins. I pinned the elastic to the right side of the skirt so the upper edges aligned, placing the pins at the center front, center back, and side seams. Just to make sure I distributed the elastic evenly, I pinned some more. I serged it all together using a 3 thread overlock stitch, stretching as I went.
The whole thing took a couple of hours, most of which was spent taking out the side stitches.
Coming soon, more instant gratification summer sewing.
McCall’s pattern M6886 has a strong following. A recent search on patternreview.com found 203 reviews, with an average rating of 4.9/5 stars! It certainly warranted a closer look. It’s a pattern for a simple shaped knit dress with optional set-in sleeves, 2 length and 3 neckline options.
When my Mom recently came for a visit, we thought it would be a great choice for making her a fun new dress. I’ve never sewn garments for another person, so I was especially interested to see how well the fitting skills I developed for myself would translate.
The first part is always fun: a trip to the fabric store! We considered lots of options and finally landed on a vibrant textured nylon/lycra knit. It fit the bill as a medium weight moderate stretch knit. As a bonus, it is impossible to wrinkle, making it a great fabric for traveling. Because the print was so prominent, we chose the plainest neckline and the shorter knee-length.
Before cutting into the good fabric, I tissue-fit the pattern. I started with a pattern size based on Mom’s chest (not bust) measurement. This way, the neck and shoulders already fit the way they were supposed to. With a good fit above the bust, figuring out the rest was straightforward. With the tissue pinned to my model down the center line, I taped additional pattern paper around the sides to make the front and back meet. I could see right away that I would need to make darts to fit the bust. I folded the pattern paper to make the dart and taped that in place as well. I marked her actual bust apex, waist, and hip heights. With my model standing still and straight, I drew a line perpendicular to the floor from the underarm to the knee.
With the pattern unpinned, I set about creating new front and back pattern pieces. The perpendicular line became the new side seam. I added 5/8 inch seam allowance outside the seam line to make a new cutting line. I made the dart using a cut-and-slide technique, angling the dart to the actual bust point. I then checked to make sure the side seams matched by measuring inside the seam allowance on both sides. Whew! Finally time to cut into the fabric!
I basted the front and back pieces and checked the fit again. The fit was ok, but not great. The bust darts needed to be moved, but the back just looked loose and shapeless. We decided to add some shape with back darts. When I was happy with the new changes, I sewed them in place then transferred them to the pattern pieces.
By pure luck, I didn’t need to make any changes to the sleeves. The only departure from the pattern was to add 1 1/2 inches to the short sleeve length.
Once all of the fitting was done, sewing the dress was fairly simple. The only difficulty I had was figuring out how to mark the darts. I tried chalk, transfer paper and marking pens in various colors, but nothing showed up. I didn’t want to do tailor’s tacks mostly because I don’t like doing them, but also because they might create snags. So once again it was blue tape to the rescue!
I carefully positioned blue painter’s tape just outside the darts’ seam lines. I pinned the fabric as I would normally for darts. I then stitched the darts, keeping the needle just “kissing” the tape edge. Bonus: the tape stabilized the fabric while I sewed, so there was no risk of stretching the darts out of shape.
This project also marks the first time I have tried sewing with textured nylon thread. Instead of using all-purpose thread in my regular (not serger) machine, I used Maxi-Lock Stretch thread in the bobbin only. It really worked well. I thought the machine might have some difficultly with it, but I had no problems at all. The results were fantastic. All of the seams have nice stretchiness and recovery. I have no worries about any stitches breaking under a little pressure. I’m thinking about getting more in some neutral colors so I can use it in all of my knit sewing.
The edges are all finished with a truly invisible invisible hem (I hope I never have to pick it out!). The neckline is just a 1/4 inch narrow hem.
I managed to make this simple pattern much more complicated, but it fits Mom well (if I do say so myself!). Now I have a go-to pattern for her that can be used for dresses or even tee-shirts.
I had a lot of fun last week putting together some cute lightweight tee shirts. Vogue V8792 has been on my to-sew list for a while. I initially chose it because I liked the interesting way the stripes were positioned on the top in the cover photo. Did I mention I love stripes? But when I started looking at the details, I was really intrigued by the short sleeve views (A, B, C). The long and the short sleeve shirts are completely different, not just the same shirt with options. The long sleeve versions are fitted and have set-in sleeves. The short sleeve ones are loose fitting and made from only 3 pieces: front, back and neckband. The front and back are cut on the bias and attach together like a puzzle. That sounded like a lot more fun!
My first version used a lightweight gray rib knit with a subtle heathered stripe. I thought the stripe would create an interesting effect where the two bias pieces met. It went together quickly on the serger – cutting it out took about the same amount of time as sewing. I was surprised that I didn’t see the effect I was expecting though. It turns out that I somehow ignored the layout directions and cut the front and back pieces on grain instead of on bias. Oops. The shirt is still nice, still wearable, but a little disappointing.
Since it was so easy to make, I thought I would give it another try and see if I would like it better if I followed the instructions! I made two more, both using a mix of different colors.
The second tee used up a pretty mottled green remnant that was about 1/4 yard long and full width. I paired it with a sheer cream color knit that was a little too transparent to use on the front. I made the neckband a little wider than the pattern called for, but otherwise this one followed the pattern instructions. The difference is subtle when there is no obvious stripe, but I think the shirt may drape a little better than the gray one.
The third tee gave me an opportunity to try a color combination I love: sky blue and white. There isn’t a lot to add about this one, but isn’t it cute?
The design is printed on a very stretchy cotton/lycra jersey. You could easily use this stable fabric for leggings or activewear. So I took a cue from the athleisure trend and settled on a casual, pull-on circle skirt.
Circle skirts don’t really need a pattern, but they do require a little thought and planning. I used Mood Fabrics’ circle skirt calculator to get a general idea of what I could make with my 2-yard cut. You can see what the possibilities are for 3 skirt lengths and 3 types of skirt: half, 3/4, and full circle skirts. If you want to maximize the length, you would choose a full circle. If you don’t like the fullness of a full circle, you can make a 1/2 or 3/4 circle, but you will sacrifice some length. I compromised and chose a happy medium 3/4 circle.
The large rose and peony (?) blooms run vertically down the fabric selvedge. I wanted to make sure I placed them on the skirt to maximum advantage. Luckily, I found an image of the exact design on google. The image even worked out to the same ratio as a 2 yard cut. I saved the image, then marked it up with several possible cutting layouts. To make it even easier to visualize, I used some scissors and tape and made little scale models of my favorites. It really helped and only took a few minutes.
Construction was super simple. I only had to serge together one vertical seam and a waistband. The waistband is simply a rectangle from the same fabric made into a tube, folded once and serged to the skirt opening.
The only construction detail on a circle skirt like this that requires any technique is the hem. Hemming a curved edge usually requires extra steps to manage the difference in circumference between the bottom edge and the seam line. I have to admit that I didn’t want to bother with all that. I also thought the stretchy material, which does not fray could look nice with just a rolled hem. As a bonus, it would maximize the amount of the floral design that shows.
Having made that decision, I set about marking a level line around the skirt’s bottom edge. To do the marking myself, I rigged a hemming assistant with my duct-tape model, a tripod, and a command-adhesive cord bundler attached to the ceiling. I was delighted with how well it worked. Once I got it set up, it was pretty stable. It was also a much more comfortable working position. I made sure the model’s posture was correct, then pinned the skirt level around the waist. I took a carpenter’s tape measure (my yardstick was too short), measured and marked the skirt an equal distance up from the floor. I’ll definitely be using this trick again!
I know that when I try on fuller ready to wear skirts, they typically hang lower in the front than the back. I was still surprised that I ended up trimming off 4 inches to make the front match the back. No wonder!
Place a pin at the same distance from the floor all the way around.
Mark the new cut line on the reverse using pins as a guide
The last step was to stitch the rolled edge. Of course, I did a few test runs with scraps. Somewhere along the line, I thought instead of hiding the edge, I would highlight it. So the final version features a narrow line of hot pink stitching. It’s subtle, but I think it enhances the design.
Assembling the waistband
Close up of rolled edge
I can see this skirt as something easy to pull on after a workout. But I can just as easily see it dressed up. A very comfortable, easy to make project, but special too.
As a nod to Saturday’s 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, I’m calling this one the Run for the Roses skirt.
I’ve taken a small break from fashion sewing to work on a few just-for-fun embroidery projects. Over the holidays I had rediscovered how much I love old hand-embroidered things for the home when my Mom showed me some items she had embroidered when she was a girl. They were so charming and sweet.
I thought about the trend for adult coloring books. Coloring as an adult is supposed to be a relaxing activity that relieves stress and restores calm. I think working on simple embroidery projects can do the same. You choose the colors you like and the designs you like. It’s easy and something you can do just for pure enjoyment.
One of the easiest ways to get started is with dishtowels. I love using flour sack towels to dry my dishes. As a child, my mother embroidered many of these and I was eager to make some of my own.
My first effort was the kitten in the knitting basket. I found the design on a google images search and just printed it onto regular paper. I already had a stack of plain unembellished towels in my drawer, so I grabbed one of those. Using my favorite sewing notion, blue painter’s tape, I taped the printout to my table. Then I positioned my towel above it and taped it down as well. Since my towel had such an open weave, I was able to trace the design onto the towel with a soft lead pencil. I had a 6-inch embroidery hoop, embroidery needles and needle threader already, so all I needed was some thread. I bought a variety pack of good quality embroidery floss and was good to go.
Once I got started, I had a lot of fun playing with different colors and types of stitches. Some of them I knew already. Others I found in my Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Needlework or in one of the many online resources out there. The kitten uses back stitch, french knots, lazy daisy (my favorite), stem stitch and satin stitch. I consider the final embroidery a success although I would have used a more tightly woven dish towel if I had thought about how much the reverse side would show through.
Now that I knew a little bit, I was ready for more. I researched dishtowels and landed on Mary’s Kitchen as my choice. They are large, hemmed, on-grain (!), tightly woven bright white cotton towels. For patterns, I decided to go the tried and true iron-on transfer route. People have been buying iron-on designs since the late 1800’s and they are still a great option. The Aunt Martha’s brand seems fairly easy to find in retail stores and online. I bought a selection of patterns that I thought I might like – they were less than $2.00 each, so why not? I also got a little more organized with my materials by adding a floss box, plastic floss bobbins, winder and ring. My total investment so far was about $35. This is one inexpensive hobby!
Supplies in hand and fully committed, I stamped 7 flour sack towels with a days of the week birdhouse series. It was a fun project to work on whenever I wanted something small and portable. It went surprisingly fast and I love the results! I will definitely have one or two hand embroidery projects ready to go from now on.
If you would like to give embroidery a try, here are a few resources to get started:
While Mom and I were were picking through her fabric stash last November (see where I get it?), She came across some upholstery scraps.
Me: “That piece is pretty small. Do you still want it?”
Mom: “I always wanted to make coasters out of this. I was going to just serge around the edges. But I don’t have my serger anymore.”
Me: “Do you still want coasters out of it?”
Mom: “Yes, but I don’t have my serger anymore.”
I took that as a hint that Mom wanted coasters for Christmas, although I suppose I could have also taken it as a hint that Mom wanted a serger. I took the piece home with me, fairly confident that she would forget all about it. Then I got to work.
It really was a small piece. I was able to squeeze just8 5-inch squares out of it.
I had read about using wooly nylon to make decorative edges. The little coasters seemed like a good way to test out the idea. I looked through my collection of stretch serger thread. I have a few different kinds. Some are Wooly Nylon, some are textured nylon, some are textured poly. The tan color that matched the best was textured nylon.
I learned a lot more than I expected to with this little project.
I’ve become fairly proficient at setting up my serger. I’ve figured out that the best way to thread the fluffy nylon is to use a needle threader. It’s faster to bend the little wire on the threader to go through the serger’s tiny holes than trying to pull it through with another thread.
I set up the machine with a two-thread wrapped edge overlock stitch, with the needle in the wide position. The nylon is in the lower looper and coordinating regular serger thread is in the left needle. Luckily, my machine has a preset tension setting for this purpose, so I didn’t have to mess around with that.
The first attempt was pretty discouraging. The edges didn’t get covered completely and the corners were not covered at all.
Part of the problem was that the textured nylon is not as fluffy as the woolly nylon. But I thought I could still make the edges fill in by making the stitch length as short as possible and being careful. But those corners? Hmm….
When I thought about it, following my manual’s instructions for turning around a square corner probably worked exactly as they intended. They probably assume that the stitch is to be used on the inside of a garment, so it doesn’t matter if the coverage is less.
For my next attempt, I changed my strategy.
Stitch the edge to the end
Keep going past the edge for about .25 inches, making a short “tail.”
Lift the presser foot and reposition the square, wrapping the extra bit of stitching around the corner.
Place the needle in the down position close to the to edge. Lower the presser foot.
Stitch the next side, stitching over the tail
This method worked pretty well for me, although the first few coasters made with it look pretty rough. It took some practice to get the hang of it.
Finally, I wrapped them all up and placed them under the Christmas tree.
Oh, and Mom? She did not guess what was in her gift. And she thinks the coasters look nice. Thanks, Mom.