Sewing Classes and Lessons

Monday, July 17, 2017

Casual Summer Shorts and Tops


I hope that you are having a great summer!  Here in the northern hemisphere, our summers can get really hot and humid, so everyday clothing that is lightweight and loose fitting is ideal.  I really needed some new tops and shorts that I could wear while doing housework, running errands, and just day to day stuff.  After picking out fabrics from Fabric Mart's awesome cotton selection, the first thing I did was to search for the perfect shorts pattern.  For me, pockets are a dealbreaker-  they have to be big enough to hold my cellphone without worrying that it will fall out! I decided to go with Butterick 5504, a Connie Crawford pattern.  It's no longer available from Butterick, but you can get it directly from Connie's website.  Here's the line drawing:


I made mine about 4" shorter.  This pair was made with a cotton/tencel denim which was heavenly soft after washing.  The pattern only calls for drawstrings, but I found that I needed elastic as well to keep them in place.  So, these shorts all have both 1/4" wide elastic and a drawstring at the waist.


Here you can see just how deep the pockets are from the inside view- they are very generous- I could fit a small paperback book in them!


I wanted the drawstrings to be different colors, so I cut white cotton cording to the length that I wanted, and started playing with my Rit dyes.


If you've never tried dyeing, you are in for a treat.  It is so simple and much like dyeing Easter eggs.  For something small like the drawstring, just put a splash of the dye in some very hot water in an old ice cream bucket, and stir it around for a few minutes.  If you want the color to be lighter, take it out early.  The longer you leave it, the darker it gets. Then, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until no dye comes out in the water.


I decided to do a bunch and be ready for future drawstring needs as well!  Here they are drying on my patio.


I also dyed a piece of pale peach linen into a deeper shade of coral, along with the drawstring, and that's what became my coral pink shorts.  I knew that I wanted to make "camp" shirts, and for my first one, I used this poplin shirting print and Butterick 6070.  I took extra care with this shirt to match the design, and flat felled all of the seams.



It seemed to be fitting perfectly during the sewing process, but once I sewed the sleeves on, it was too snug.   As soon as I raise my arms, it pulls across the bust.  I think that the armholes are more suited to a sleeveless top, so I might cut off the sleeves and see if I like it better.  The fabric is wonderful, so I hope that I can make it work.

For my second shirt, I went looking for a more 80's style camp shirt with lots of room, and found this old Stretch and Sew pattern that had just the type of fit I was looking for.  Interestingly enough, this pattern comes with a separate template for a sleeveless armhole, which is exactly the shape of the armhole on my first shirt, solidifying my belief that if I cut off the sleeves, it might work! 


This pattern is for a dress, but I cut it at 26" long, instead of dress length to make it into a shirt.  I used a beautiful cherry blossom cotton poplin for the shirt, and the shorts are from a double gauze.  (Both are now sold out).  I love this print, it is so pretty.  The double gauze is a stripe on one side, and solid blue on the other.  These shorts feature the striped side.  This is my first time using double gauze, and it's very soft.  Maybe too soft for shorts!  It probably is better suited to shirting, but I will see how they hold up.


This shirt has a lot more ease, and I can raise my arms freely!  I'm very happy with this one- it's just the epitomy of a camp shirt in my mind.


Here's a close-up of the stitching- I used my new coverstitch machine to do all of the stitching around the front band and pockets.  I love this machine!  It makes my topstitching look 1000 times more professional!


For my last top, I went with a printed cotton gauze and Butterick 6455.   This fabric is a single gauze and was surprisingly very easy to work with.  Even though the arms are covered, the fabric is so lightweight that you don't feel too hot. I like the cinnamon color in this one- I think that it will transition into fall well, which is great because we still have lots of hot days all the way through September.



So, I'm all set for this summer for my casual shorts and top needs!  I love making all types of clothes, but there is something extra satisfying about sewing things that you know you can wear everyday.   Do you agree?

Happy Sewing!
Ann



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Cold Shoulder Look with Butterick 6462

Summer is flying by so fast!  I can't believe that it is mid July already.  I have accomplished a couple of major things sewing wise- I bought a coverstitch machine, and after letting it sit in a box for 3 months, I finally got up the nerve to open it up and figure it out.  I don't know why I waited so long!  It was really pretty easy, and I've been sewing up a storm since.  The second thing was that I replaced my leaky iron.  Another thing that I don't know why I lived with it for so long, but now that it has been replaced, I feel like I am sewing in luxury and am sewing in peak condition.  Kind of like an athlete with new shoes getting a burst of confidence!

But, this particular project was the last one that I made before the coverstitch box was opened.  After my first foray into the cold shoulder look with a knit in my last post, I decided to dip my toes even further, this time with a pattern designed for a woven fabric, Butterick 6462.




This is one of Butterick's Lifestyle Wardrobe patterns where you can make the same design in dress, top or jumpsuit formats.  Don't you just love options?  I chose to make View C, which is the long version of the top. 


As far as woven blouses go, this one was really quite simple.  The neckline, front and sleeves are all finished with a combined front and back facing, like you often see with sleeveless dress patterns.  Here you can see the nice finish that this gives you on the shoulder.


It's collarless, and I think that the gentle curve on the neckline is very pretty.  You could easily make this a sleeveless top, as the facing continues under where the sleeve is added. 


I did do a full bust adjustment, round back adjustment and forward shoulder adjustment, but left the length alone.   I will definitely be making this again to make the time spent doing those alterations worth it!  You need a fabric with some nice drape, and this is rayon challis- a very soft and drapey fabric.



Even though this is long sleeved, it's still pretty comfortable in the heat because it is so loose and airy.  I think that the jumpsuit is an interesting possibility, but you'd have to find just the perfect bottomweight fabric that still has some drape- probably a crepe would work.

In other news, I've finally opened up an Instagram account!   I've been hesitant to do so, but I am trying to not be such an old fogie, and keep up with the young-uns.  I have yet to post anything, but if you have one and would like to connect, my account is Sewbaby11. 

I just love this fabric, and I still have another couple of yards left to do another project with. Any suggestions?  

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cold Shoulder Knit Dress Butterick 6425

When the cold shoulder trend started, I laughed and thought, I will never, ever get on that bandwagon.  Hahaha!  Never, say never!  As I kept seeing more and more bloggers making cute versions, I finally decided to try it out for myself.


And the verdict is.....I love it!  I used a animal print rayon knit, and Butterick 6425. This has lots of views, and mine is a hybrid between the dress body of View B, and the sleeves of View C.  I also angled out the bottom of my dress a couple of inches to make it more like a swing dress.   Rayon knits have a horrendous tendency to show all of your lumps and bumps, and I thought this might help reduce that.

  This was really simple- just sew the shoulders and side seams for the dress body.  Finish the neckline and hem the sleeves.  Then set the half sleeves into the lower armhole, and narrow hem the upper armhole and top of  the half sleeves.   Hem the bottom and you are done!


This is really a lightweight fabric, but I can wear it with pants and a poncho for when I want to feel more covered up.


And I'm wearing it unbelted, but it would be easy to add a belt to get more waist definition.  This was my test garment, and I am definitely excited to make it again with a couple of adjustments- I'll add a couple of inches to the length, and I'll do a full bust adjustment.

I've also sewed a few things for my daughters this month, but it is difficult to get them to pose for photos!  This is a maxi skirt using the Burda magazine pattern that I had made before here.  And the tank top is made from Kwik Sew 3882. 
The fabric was from a Fabric Mart mystery bundle that she bought me for Christmas.  I love mystery bundles!  This is a cotton jersey and I trimmed it with black fold over elastic, and black twill tape for the drawstring.


The daughter that I made this for is going to visit my youngest daughter in Madagascar this week!  I thought that this would be colorful and fun for her trip.  I even added some beads to the drawstring.


My oldest daughter is the maid of honor in a wedding next week.  I have made her dress for the wedding, and hopefully will be getting some photos of her in it soon!

How about you- have you tried the cold shoulder trend yet?  If yes, what did you think?

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Summer Sleepwear McCalls 5769



What could be better on a June day than having breakfast outside in your favorite pajamas and robe?  Enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees.  Ahh... bliss. 


When I think about how much time I spend in my pajamas and robe, I realize that I get more wear out of them, than any other items in my wardrobe!  I made these summer pajamas two years ago, and have worn them out, so it's time to make a new set!  I wanted something super light and airy, and all natural fibers, so I chose an embroidered cotton voile for the robe and shorts, and a dusty pink linen knit for the top. For the pattern, I used McCalls 5769, a now out of print pattern, but a good one if you can find it.



Let's start with the robe. This is a really basic pattern with dropped shoulders, a tie, pockets and a band. Super simple, and even a beginner could make this.


I used a narrow double fold bias tape in light blue all around the front band, pocket top, and cuffs.  This is actually much easier than piping.  You just put it over the edge and stitch in it place.  One package was enough for the whole robe.


You can see how unique this fabric is- the flowers are almost painted on like a watercolor, and then they are outlined in a chain stitch embroidery. Really soft and pretty!


I always use a lightweight interfacing in pockets- it stops them from stretching out and eliminates any show through on a thin fabric.


Next, on to the top. The pattern was designed for woven fabric, but I had a knit, so I used a size smaller than I normally would take, and that worked well. I had a small roll of stretch lace that I had purchased for a different project and it wasn't the right color for it. Imagine my delight when I saw this fabric was a perfect match for this fabric!  So, I used it on the neckline and hem. 



I used two strips of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, which is a double sided lightweight adhesive to adhere it, instead of stitching. After you remove the paper backing, it's clear. And a nice bonus, it serves as the hem edge, so I just made sure that the lace covered up the lower edge.


This fabric was very stretchy, and without any lycra for recovery, so I knew that stabilizing the neck edge was going to be a challenge.  I fused a small strip of 1/4" wide interfacing to the back neck edge.  I decided to line the bodice front and back for modesty, as the fabric is also quite sheer.


For the underarm edge that wasn't covered by the sleeve, I used a single fold bias tape, folded to the inside, which also stabilized the armhole.



I had just enough fabric left over from the robe to make a pair of shorts to match. Since the fabric is so lightweight, I only needed 1/4" wide elastic at the waistband.

I also made a test garment out of a white cotton knit to make sure that the top pattern was going to work for me.  It turned out pretty well too! On this one, I sewed on strips of lace around the neck and just under the bodice. Then, I also used the ruffle piece at the underbust, and used a lettuce edge finish.



I wish that I could tell you that this was fast, but it was not!  These details do take some time, but they also elevate it to something nicer than your standard sleep shirt.


I really love my new sleepwear set!  Because the fabrics are so lightweight, it will be easy to pack up and travel with too.


It's going to be tempting to wear this all day around the house. I would never be able to find something that I liked even half as much in a store, which is just one of the many reasons of why I love to sew!

Happy Sewing!
Ann 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Burda Style 3-2017-124 Maxi Skirts


I love maxi-skirts!  They let you really show off a beautiful fabric.  Although there are lots of patterns available for maxi-skirts, you'll notice that many do not have pockets.  I don't know why that is, as pockets are so essential!  When I got my March issue of Burda Style magazine, I couldn't help but notice this skirt in the plus section:


The line drawing showed that it was a simple design but with a few features that I find desirable: pockets, a combination drawstring and elastic waist, and long side slits.  I find that a combining a drawstring with elastic helps you to cinch the waist to just the right snugness.  And side slits help you to move freely and provide extra ventilation on warm days.  So, even though these are small details, they can really make the difference between whether you end up wearing an item or not!


I made this pattern three times out of different fabrics from Fabric Mart for their Summer Skirt Challenge- one ITY knit, one rayon gauze, and one french terry knit.  My first one was this ITY knit in a tropical leaf pattern that I got in one of the pre-cut fabric selections.  My first piece from this fabric is here.  I think that large prints are great for maxi-skirts.  This skirt version is the dressiest one of the three that I made, and I can definitely wear it to work.  


When making it, I discovered that the slit was really high!  I moved it down about 4", so the slit would only go to my knee level, not thigh level.



My next version was out of this Kaleidoscope Blocks French Terry.
French terry is much thicker and more like a sweatshirt fabric, so I wasn't sure if it would have the appropriate drape for a long skirt like this, but I decided to try it anyway.


I centered the blocks and matched the dark stripes at the sides.  It's really comfortable, and great for a cool summer night, as the french terry is much warmer than the ITY knit.


My last version of this skirt, and probably my favorite of the three is made from a striped rayon crinkled gauze (sorry it is sold out!).

This one was also the most challenging as the crinkled gauze tended to stretch out of shape very easily.  That made matching the stripes at the side seams particularly challenging!



To stabilize the pockets so that they wouldn't stretch and grow,  I stitched 1/4" wide twill tape into the pocket seams by feeding it along the seamline when serging.


So, the pocket ends up looking like this picture below.  Now, even if I put my phone in my pocket, it won't stretch out of shape.


The waistband is a separate piece, which at first I thought was not necessary, but then I realized, that is how to create the opening for the drawstring.  Sew the short ends together, leaving an opening at the front, like this:

Then, after attaching it to the skirt, feed both the elastic and drawstring through this hole, eliminating any need for a buttonhole or eyelet opening.


Do you know what they call the little ends of shoelaces that keep the cord from fraying?  They are called "aglets".  You can purchase these on Ebay or Etsy, but a quick little way to make your own is to just wrap a short piece of scotch tape around the ends. After wrapping it a few times, just cut the homemade aglet to whatever length you would like!


I'm pretty sure that this won't be the last skirt that I make from this pattern- it goes together so quickly, and can be made out of woven or knit fabrics.  It does take quite a bit of fabric though- I would allow 2-1/2 to 3 yards per skirt.


These photos are all taken in my garden- which is my other obsession, especially this time of year!  I love flowers, flower arranging, and just getting some fresh air after a long winter. 

Happy Sewing!
Ann
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