Fashion

Super Quick Stash-Buster Scarf

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Sweater knit up close.

I had just finished cutting out a cute new top (coming soon) out of a lightweight floral sweater knit. When I was done, I still had a wide length of fabric. It wasn’t enough to use for any garments though.

Regular readers will know that I like to find ways of using every little bit of leftover fabric. Because my scrap was basically a wide rectangle, it was perfect for a scarf.

I smoothed out the piece on my large cutting mat, aligning the grain as best as I could. Like many stretch fabrics, it was somewhat pulled out of shape near the selvedge. I cut that part away. Then I used the gridlines on my cutting mat and a long ruler to cut the largest rectangle I could, resulting in a 50 x 15 inch piece.

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The scarf fully extended

The cutting doesn’t have to be perfect. This project is very forgiving of mistakes.

While still at the cutting table, I folded the rectangle lengthwise, right sides together. This sweater knit stuck to itself very well, so I didn’t bother pinning it. Then I serged the long raw edges together using a 4 thread overlock.

I turned the tube so the right side was facing out, then serged the openings to each other. I had to hand stitch the last little opening, then done!

Instant gratification projects are so fun, don’t you think? Now excuse me while I rummage through all of my sweater scraps.

SUPPLIES

I had fun trying out some styling ideas….

Lots more coming soon!

Until then, happy sewing!

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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.

Fashion

Simplicity 8386 Off the Shoulder Knit Tops

View C

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

Simplicity 8386 Tie-Neck Crossover Tops

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.

crossover_top_12crossover_top_13View 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.

Binding

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?

Gaping opening

crossover_top_7Like 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.

Next time, I go a little crazy with Simplicity 8386 again. Stay tuned!

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I reviewed this pattern on patternreview.com. Click here to read.

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 · Fitting

McCall’s M6886: Knit Dress Fitting and Tips

M6886

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.

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Lots of color and texture

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.

momdress_6With 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.

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Tape-marked dart
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Sew close, but not into the tape

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.

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Machine threaded with textured nylon in the bobbin

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.

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Narrow hem on neckline

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.

Happy late Mother’s Day, Mom! You look beautiful!

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Fashion

Vogue V8792 Bias Tee Shirt 3 Ways

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I made Views A and B (Short Length)

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?

Summer, here I come!

Happy sewing!

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Fashion

Run for the Roses Circle Skirt

circleskirt7I love bold patterns, so when I saw this stunning print from Ommelinen at  Jumping June Textiles, I snapped it up.

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.

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Some early possibilities

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.

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My hemming assistant

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!

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.

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.

Happy Sewing, everyone!

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