Fashion

Itch to Stitch Angelia Shorts – Part 2

angelia_shorts_215I can’t believe it has been 2 months since I made a test version of the Angelia shorts. I shouldn’t have waited so long – I can already tell these are going to be the shorts I want to throw on every hot day!

Fabric

The tan synthetic stretch twill has been kicking around my fabric stash for at least 10 years. I remember getting it from a bargain table and thinking it would be perfect for a pair of pants. Well, when I actually looked at using it with a pants pattern, it was obvious that there wasn’t enough. Rather than admit I had made a poor impulse buy, I set it aside for shorts. While I think it will be great to wear, it was not fun to sew. It required a lower temperature iron, which made it really hard to shape. Oh, and it frays like crazy! Another sewing lesson learned…

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These are the back pockets in the middle of construction. I managed fraying by overcasting all the edges. You can see how the pressed edges don’t hold a crease.
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This is the coin pocket. Here I have pinned it to the ironing board slightly damp to help keep the creases from rolling out.

Pattern Notes

There is a lot to this pattern, but no one single step is especially difficult. If you make it, you should be comfortable with topstitching, sewing curved seams (contour waistband) and making buttonholes. I struggled with making the waistband. I ended up having to cut it 3 times because first I fused interfacing to the wrong side, then somehow switched the left and right sides so the button tab was on the wrong side of the fly. The instructions were great. I should have followed them the first time!

I would say that making the 5 pockets and belt loops probably doubled the amount of construction time. It’s worth it though. The pockets are what make the shorts look professional. Plus, they are big enough to be useful.

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Closeup view of that pesky waistband, center back. TIP: Baste seams open to hold them in place. Open seams reduce extra bulk in heavier fabrics.

Like a lot of independent pattern company patterns, the Angelia shorts use a 3/8 in. seam allowance. I really like that there is less waste, but it makes it that much more important to test the pattern first (also recommended in the instructions). You don’t have any wiggle room if you need to add a little space here or there.

If you make the pockets, there are several places where you have to sew through 4-5 layers of fabric. Not every machine can handle that, especially if you are using a bulkier fabric. If you are in any doubt, test first!

Since the fabric was determined to return to its original flat shape, I knew that keeping it in place while I finished the waistband would be difficult. So, I hand basted it in place first. This was the first time I tried my new Japanese basting thread. I really love it. It’s thicker than all purpose thread and a little fuzzy. It’s just enough texture to help the stitches stay in place while still allowing a smooth hand sewing experience.

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Inside shorts showing hand basting

With the basting in place, I was able to sew a very neat topstitch to attach both sides of the waistband together. I used an easy trick to keep the seam even.

Here’s how:

Change your machine’s foot to the blind hem foot. Place the fabric under the foot so the vertical blade falls inside the “ditch” of the seam. Change the needle position at least one setting to the left or right – anything but the middle. Leave the machine on a straight stitch – don’t change to blind hemming. Then sew away and enjoy your perfect topstitching!

I only turned the hem once because the fabric was so bulky. I overcast the bottom edges then finished with a blind hem. I’m not ecstatic about the results, but they work. If I get ambitious I might pick it out and redo it with a coverstitch or topstitched hem.

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Lovely perfect topstitching using the blind hem foot

In the end, I think these turned out really well. I think I need to do something easy next though!

Until then,

Happy sewing!

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Read my review of these shorts on patternreview.com here

Fashion

Rhapsody in Blue: Now with Flutter Sleeves!

rhapsody_2_1Independent pattern company Love Notions sells a pattern for a blouse with a loose, peasant style bodice entitled Rhapsody. I made one a few months ago which turned out a little small. I figured going up one size should fix that problem though.

Rhapsody has 8 different sleeve options: sleeveless, cap, short, 3/4 with cuff, 3/4 with flare, trumpet, flutter, and bishop. This one would be in a teal blue polyester woven with the flutter style sleeve.

Once you know what size you need, it’s pretty quick to make. (Especially if you have the pattern ready to go). Probably the fussiest part is making bias binding for the neck opening and sewing it neatly in place. The first top went quickly because I used pre-made packaged binding. This one was somewhat tricky because the fabric was more slippery, so I had to take my time. I think the matching binding looks pretty sharp in this case.

rhapsody_2_2I’m looking forward to making this one again in some of the other sleeve styles. I can’t wait to show you!

Until then, happy sewing!

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See my review of this blouse on patternreview.com here

Fashion

Easy Dress-to-Skirt Upcycle

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Before

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.

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Top removed and sides opened

Step 2: Pockets

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Two plain old pockets cut from a repurposed pattern

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.

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Pocket pinned in place

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!

Step 3: Elastic Waistband

skirt_upcycle_10There 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.

Done!

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After

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.

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Fashion

Sleeveless Rhapsody

Rhapsody-1-8Independent pattern company Love Notions sells a blouse with a loose, peasant style bodice entitled Rhapsody. I love wearing this kind of top in warmer weather and have been looking for a good pattern. What made Rhapsody stand out from the others was their 8 different sleeve options: sleeveless, cap, short, 3/4 with cuff, 3/4 with flare, trumpet, flutter, and bishop. Whew!

Love Notions sells multi-size downloadable PDF patterns. You can print them at home and tape together your printouts, or you can do what I do and send it off to be printed onto large single sheets. (Right now, the best deal seems to be pdfplotting.com). I was delighted by the thorough instructions Love Notions provides as part of the download. In addition to the usual stuff, they include color photos of tricky steps and links to instructional videos.

Rhapsody is designed to be made with lightweight wovens. All of the versions have narrow bias bound necklines, so you also either need purchased or handmade bias tape.

Rhapsody-1-11Since the Marfy short sleeve top didn’t use up all of the pretty cotton lawn fabric, I thought there might be enough to make a Rhapsody. I laid my scraps and pattern pieces on the cutting table to see if I could make it work. I almost had enough to make the sleeveless version, but nothing was wide enough for the single piece back. I changed things around a little so the back was made from two pieces instead and just barely made it all fit.

I did not have enough scrap left to make narrow bias binding, so I found some plain white pre-made in my stash. I think it’s a good idea to keep a few sizes of basic colors on hand just in case. I’ll stock up on black, white, navy and red (those are my basics anyway) whenever I see a bargain.

Rhapsody-1-1Before I put it all together, I thought about how I could embellish it to stand apart from my other top. I played around with all of my scrap trimmings to see what looked good. The curved bottom edge didn’t look right with any trim, but the front came alive with a faux placket. I just sewed two lengths of cotton lace an equal distance from the center front before doing anything else.

Remember those pockets I couldn’t find a use for? I think they look like they are made to go on the Rhapsody.

Again going through my stash, I found a couple of buttons that looked good on the pocket fronts. Initially, I was going to put a row down the placket, but with the ties (or bow) at the neck, it was just one thing too many.

Rhapsody-1-14Assembly included many different techniques. There are french seams, tucks, gathering, narrow hems and bias trimmed neck opening. Even if you have no experience, the instructions should get you through it. Applying binding to a V-neck is a tricky proposition, but I was able to do it perfectly the first time by following their tutorial.

I think it turned out great, albeit a little tight across the back. I scooped out the armholes by about 1/4 inch, which helped. Next time I will try a wider yoke, or possibly go up an entire size. There will definitely be a next time for this one. I really want to try out some of the different sleeves.

Next time: T-Shirts cut on the bias.

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Neckline with Bow
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Neckline open
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French Seams
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Tuck in back

Happy Sewing!

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Fashion

Marfy Blouse 1 – The Pattern

I’ve resolved to complete one major skill-building sewing project each month in 2018. Full disclosure: I’ve been planning on making this one for a while. But it’s daunting, and I haven’t gotten further than the drawing board yet. So it seemed fair to make this Marfy blouse my January project.

Hopefully it will expand my skills in shirt construction generally, fitting complicated patterns and improving my buttonhole execution.

I’ve been lurking around the Marfy online catalog for a while. Every link to Marfy seems to come with a big, bold warning: FOR EXPERTS ONLY. Am I the only one who sees that as a dare?

Marfy does not make things easy. They provide only the most basic information about their designs. For my pattern, there are only two images of the blouse – both kind of weird illustrations. Add to that this description and you have the complete set of instructions.

This blouse has cap sleeves cut kimono style at the back and raglan at the front with gathers, baby collar, pockets with turned up flaps.

Approximate fabric required: 1.00 meters (1.40 meters wide)

Oh, and the pattern costs $16.00.

 

Why am I doing this? Other than the dare factor, I have a blouse that I really want to duplicate. I don’t know where it came from. It’s old. It’s wearing out. But that blouse fits so well, is so comfortable, and is so flattering that I think it might be magic. I have never seen another one like it. But this pattern comes really close. I’m hoping I can capture some of that magic and then make one in every color.

So, the game is on.

I ordered the pattern in October through the Butterick patterns website. It took a while to arrive, but one day in November I got a tiny envelope from Italy.

As advertised, the Marfy pattern was pre-cut and single size. It has no seam allowance and no instructions.

I’ve heard stories about people who can take a pattern with no seam allowance and cut their fabric pieces with the right allowance by eye. I am not one of those people. So the first thing I did was prepare a new pattern with allowances.

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Tracing a new blouse front piece with added seam allowance.

I could have added any seam allowance I liked. Since I knew I would probably need to make fitting adjustments, I went with a relatively wide 5/8.” The task was make much easier with my new pattern drafter ruler. It’s specifically designed to add seam allowances. I like it so much I got one in the 3/8″ size as well.

I traced my new pattern onto Swedish tracing paper using different colors for the cutting lines, seam lines, and markings.

When I was all done, I set up an envelope to keep everything together. I used just a regular 9×12 clasp envelope. I made the label by printing the pattern illustration onto a peel and stick shipping label.

Now that I have all of my ducks in a row, I can’t wait to dig in.

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Clockwise from upper left:

  1. The folded wax paper envelope from Marfy that contained the pre-cut pattern pieces. The Marfy envelope is on top of the 9×12 envelope I put together to store the pattern.
  2. The pattern pieces as they came from Marfy, after ironing. Grainlines, notches, and general construction information is written on each piece.
  3. My neon yellow pattern drafter ruler is on top of two pattern pieces I made from the Marfy pattern. The collar has different pieces, very slightly different in size, for the top and under-collar. This is going to be interesting!

Next time: Making a toile.

 

 

Fashion

Lazy Winter 1: Greenstyle Brassie Joggers

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Front view

After finishing my pinstripe trouser and vest, I was ready for something quick and easy. Winter holidays mean lots of lounging around, enjoying all kinds of delicious food, and generally not trying too hard. With that in mind, I pulled out a nice dark gray french terry I bought without a plan last year. (Another 2018 New Year’s resolution – stop doing that!). I was going to make some awesome DIY sweatpants!

Some of the features I wanted were fitted silhouette, pockets, elastic rather than drawstring waistband, cuffs instead of elastic on the legs, and a nice, long length. I decided to use the Greenstyle Brassie Joggers PDF, which offered all of those options. I haven’t used independent pattern designers very often, since patterns from the Big 4 pattern brands (Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick, and McCall’s) are so inexpensive and familiar. The pattern sells for $10, which is more than I am used to spending. But I like the idea of helping new designers and at the same time contributing to a more diverse marketplace. (The Big 4 and several others are now all owned by the same parent company).

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Side View

Once I purchased it, I was able to download the PDF pattern and instruction files to my laptop immediately. If I had wanted to, I could have printed out the pattern right then on 19 sheets of printer paper. But then I would have had to tape them together. That didn’t seem like a lot of fun, so I went with option B – sending the included “copyshop” version of the pattern (one great big page) to a printer.

I looked into having the printout done where I live, but it was really expensive. Most places were quoting me between $12-$20 per sheet! The best option price-wise right now seems to pdfplotting.com be where you can have black and white sheets printed for a more reasonable $0.60 to $5.70 per page, depending on size.

Once I had my sheet, I unrolled it and set about planning. Mainstream patterns have been printed on thin, semi-transparent tissue since at least the 1920s. Tissue is easy to cut and pin through, although you need to be careful not to tear it. Regardless of who does the printing, PDF patterns will use opaque office paper. I rely on being able to pin through my pattern. I also want to be able to see through it well enough to make sure that I have stripes and other designs placed where I want them. So I went through one more step and transferred my size to Swedish tracing paper. It wasn’t too much work, and using the tracing paper is actually much nicer than using tissue. It’s sturdy, semi-transparent, and does not shift and blow around as easily.

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One of those pesky pockets

Careful reading of the instructions is important. This pattern assumes a 3/8″ seam allowance instead of the typical 5/8. If you don’t need to let out any seams, 3/8″ is great. The serger works best with 3/8″ width, and of course, you won’t waste as much fabric.

There is a line drawing of the pants on the first page, but no pictures or line drawings of the many length and finish options. On the other hand, every step is thoroughly explained and supplemented with illustrations. Another nice thing is that the designer’s website features pictures of customers’ finished pants in all kinds of sizes and styles.

Despite all that, I managed to mistake the back pieces for the front ones. I sewed the pockets to the back crotch curve.  I had to completely re-cut the backs and pockets. Luckily, I had enough scrap to cut out two more pieces, but I had to give up 2 inches of length. So. Capri length it is!

One thing I liked about the construction was using fusible interfacing strips to stabilize the curved pocket openings before turning under and topstitching. I used the heat-n-bond soft stretch tape again and it really made a nice stable curve. Because it was fused in place, I didn’t have to mess with pinning it, so stitching went much faster. Good thing – since I had to do it twice! I’ll definitely be using this trick on future projects.

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Back View

The pattern features a waistband with both a drawstring and elastic in separate casings. I like this option, since I think the drawstring is a nice look, but I don’t love pants that use drawstrings alone. Instead of a drawstring, I used a length of black ribbon. It was less of a style choice than finding something on hand that would work. I can always rethread a drawstring later if I don’t like it.

The pants turned out to be ankle length when all was said and done. I like them a lot. They are really comfortable – easy wear and easy care.

I can definitely see using this pattern again. Maybe shorts length or even as pajama bottoms.

Next time: the companion top to my lazy winter outfit.