The Peplum Disaster – The Finishing – Part 3

DSCN0959A now a few choice words about inserting the zipper!

After attaching the zipper foot to my machine and placing the pinned front and zipper under the pressure foot, I decided that the needle was not close enough to the zipper, so I moved the needle over to the far edge. When I started to sew, I quickly learned that DSCN0966my seam was too close to the zipper. Because I was so close, I had to sew around the zipper top and bottom, giving me a curved seam rather than a straight seam for attaching the zipper. Also the tension of the seam was too loose because the pressure foot was not in the right spot to hold the fabric and zipper properly where the seam was stitching at. At this point, I stopped and thought about why I had moved the needle and why I wanted a close seam.

DSCN0967The reason I moved the needle was that I thought too much of the zipper tape would be exposed if I did not have the needle close to the zipper. What I learned was that not much of the zipper tape would have been exposed with leaving the needle where it was suppose to be. Plus, the amount of the zipper tape that was exposed was a nice look and gave it a little bit of style, especially since I was using a contrasting colored zipper. Also, with the seam not that close to the zipper, there was less chance of the fabric getting caught in the zipper when the jacket is being zipped up. Fabric catching in the zipper was not that much DSCN0956of a concern with the big molded #3 zipper I was using with this fleece but it would be something to consider with other zippers and fabrics. A straight seam would look better than the curved seam and it would be easier to sew, and the tensions would be correct it the needle was not moved. So, lesson learned. Don’t move the needle to the far edge to sew the zipper on even if you think that is how you should do it.

DSCN0962Because the jacket did not turn out as cute as I envisioned, my plans to embroider several designs on the front and back of the finished jacket dwindled quickly. But, the jacket was still going to be a wearable item so I wanted to embroider a design of some sort on it. It was not difficult to pick the Smirk design that I stitched on this jacket. I love the design’s simple look and it’s few colors and I think it looks great on the jacket. For me, it gives me something fun that I am happy about and it gave me something fun to look at, rather than focusing on the messy peplum I had made.

Now that this jacket is done, I am happy that I competed it and have a wearable item rather than tossing it in the UFO pile with the peplum problems I had with it. I don’t think that the problems that I have with the jacket will effect how it wears and I hope that some little girl will enjoy a new jacket to wear.

Until next time, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Gathering – Part 2

DSCN0701My sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum was working fine as I gathered the peplum’s top and bottom, sewed the gathered top of the peplum to the hem, sewed the zipper on and then added the facings, but the plan fell apart at the last step.

DSCN0704Upon lifting the gathered bottom to the gathered top, something wasn’t right. My intensions were to fold the gathers of the bottom over, pin in place and stitch in the ditch on the top and have a nice clean finish on both the outside and the inside. The folded gathers of the bottom placed on top of the gathers of the top were just too bulky. I could not fold over the gathers of the bottoms for a clean finish. So, how could I finish the bottom edge? I know, I would do it as I normally would finish a edge, with the serger. I would finish the bottom edge with the serger and still stitch in the ditch. I would just have a exposed serged edge on the inside.

DSCN0944But my gathers did not withstand the serging. The serger stretched the gathers out. I adjusted my serger’s differential feed and I tried to keep my gathers together as best as I could while serging . But when I was done serging, I had a terribly messy serged seam. Despite the bad seam finish, I sewed on. I folded up the bottom edge and started to pin the peplum into place for the stitch in the ditch seam. I learned quickly that this was going to be a terrible looking seam as well. Gathers on top of gathers are not a good idea. There were several options for fixing the messy serged seams but fixing it would not solve the gathers on top of gathers problem which was the real point of failure with my “inserting the zipper it to the peplum” plan.

DSCN0952At this point I felt I had learned the sewing lessons from this sewing project as best I could and I had no desire to finish this jacket. Should I call the lessons learned good enough and throw this jacket away or continue to sew on it and have a complete wearable item? I’m not a quitter so I decided to keep sewing.

DSCN0950Between the lost gathers in the serging, the poor serged seam and the gathers on top of gathers, the stitch in the ditch seam was a real challenge. I finally muddled my way though this seam and finished the peplum with the zipper inserted inside it. I have a terrible mess on the inside of the top, but luckily the outside does not look that bad. The gathers look stressed and misplaced but still ok. And the peplum is more of a ruffle than it is a peplum. The inside seam though is nothing short of a disaster.

I have a few more things to tell about this sewing project but I will save them for next time.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Plan – Part 1

pockets-002Having totally enjoyed recently learning some new sewing skills like making pleats and bias tape, I wanted to learn more. As I thought about my sewing skill set I decided that the next skill I wanted to work on was pocket making. Patch pockets, in seam pockets, welt pockets, and zippered pockets. And what has lots of pockets? Jackets do. They have lots of pockets. And that would lead to another needed sewing skill that I could work on, inserting zippers into jackets. With a vague plan in mind, I began by surfing the internet for pictures and ideas for zippered jackets with lots of pockets.

DSCN0949When I ran across this free pattern for a girl’s top with a zippered front and peplum hem, I thought this pattern would fit into my current sewing plan just fine. I don’t know why I like it so much, and it has no pockets, but that’s ok. I’ll add some patch pockets to it so that it meets my current sewing criteria. I already had the perfect pink sweatshirt fleece to use to make this jacket and a bright white zipper for it. I had envisioned the final jacket already in my mind and it was adorable! I was even picking out embroidery designs for the front and back of the jacket. I was so excited to get sewing!

The sewing process started with the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. The sleeves are gathered at the top. I was not sure how the fleece would gather, but it did fine and the sleeves looked great.

DSCN0689This is the point where I threw the pattern guide out the window. After the side seams were sewn, the pattern guide called for the peplum to be folded, gathered, and then sewn to the bottom of the top. Next, the zipper was to be sewn to the front from the neck to the bottom of the peplum. Then the facings were sewn on next. Since the facings did not extend down to the bottom of the zipper, the zipper tape would be exposed where it was sewn to the peplum and there was no finish for the facings. I did not like the idea of exposed zipper tape on the peplum, so after debating over many options to fix the exposed zipper tape problem, I decided to insert the zipper into the peplum.

LizzyPeplum16After much more thought, I finally improvised a sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum. My first step would be to gather the peplum, but rather than folding the peplum and gathering it as one piece, I would gather the top and the bottom separately. Next, I would sew the gathered top of the peplum to the hem of the top. Sewing the zipper to the front would be next. The facings would be the next thing to be added so that the bottom of the facings would be enclosed in the final hemming seam. The final hemming seam would be to fold the gathered bottom of the peplum up to the top of the peplum and stitch in the ditch to finish the peplum and the hem. The zipper and facings would then be encased in the peplum.

I had a plan. Stay tuned to see how it didn’t work out.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 2

DSCN0901The panda bear’s pattern was easy to follow so the crocheting of the pieces was fun and it stitched up quickly. Then something changed. As I began to stitch the panda bear together, cuteness did not burst from every stitch. What went wrong? Upon completing the panda bear, I sat the latest cute bear and the panda bear side by side and studied the differences.

DSCN0903Of course there were the obvious difference in the bears, but as I studied their faces, my attention was drawn to their muzzles. Now, the size of the muzzles of these two bears are quite different from each other, but that is not what caught my attention. It was the placement of the muzzle on the head. The first bear has a big muzzle so it had to be sewn lower on the head, closer to the neck and the eyes needed to be inserted right above the muzzle. The panda bear had a tiny muzzle in comparison, so it could be stitched up higher on the head with plenty of room for a space between the eyes and the muzzle. Was the placement of the muzzle on the face in a different position the answer to the cuteness issue? Was the panda’s face just too high and separated on his head?

I turned to the pattern and, yes, the pictures showed the eyes and muzzle of the panda stitched lower on the head and closer together. I also pulled out the only other teddy bear pattern that has turned out cute for me as I crochet it, the pattern I used to make Madison and Tux, and, yes, because the head is crocheted sideways in this pattern, the muzzle is even with the neck and the eyes are inserted right above the muzzle. If my theory was correct, lowering the muzzle and placing the eyes closer to the muzzle of my amigurumi bears would bring out the cuteness.

DSCN0939I was excited to test my theory and make another amigurumi teddy bear with a lower muzzle and closer eyes, but first I had to try and fix this panda bear. I was not willing to unstitch his head and muzzle plus his eyes were already permanently snapped into place, so I crocheted him a bow tie. I found a free bow tie pattern for a dog on Ravelry and modified the size to fit the panda bear. The bow tie filled in the distance between the panda’s neck and muzzle making the neck and muzzle seem closer together. Whether it’s the illusion of bringing the neck and muzzle closer together or just that the bow tie is cute, adding the bow tie help bring out some of the panda bear’s cuteness that wasn’t previously there.

DSCN0942I did not have a quick fix for lowering the eyes to see if my theory on their placement versus the bear’s cuteness is correct. I will just have to place the eye closer to the muzzle on the next amigurumi bear I make and see if the cuteness appears spontaneously. I am betting it will.

I don’t know if my next amigurumi will be a bear or not, but I see I a bear with a lower muzzle and eyes closer to that muzzle soon in my future. Perhaps then I will know if that was truly the answer to bear cuteness or not. I hope it is and I will have another crocheting mystery solved.

Until next time, crochet on and cute on.

Drop Down the Cuteness – Part 1

DSCN0924I have finally just crocheted the most adorable teddy bear ever!

DSCN0927As you know, I seem to have an issue with crocheted teddy bears. I never seem to be quite happy with the end results once I complete one. It does not matter wether the bear is big or little, fat or tall, skinny or small. For some reason the cuteness factor is just lost for me once I complete the bear and I have to sit and study the bear before I think has any cuteness at all and I can finally accept my completed results. So why was this time any different?

DSCN0926I had pretty much given up on making any more amigurumi bears. I figured I would just stick to monkeys, monsters and such, but when I ran across this pattern, it looked so cute, I thought I would go ahead and give a teddy bear another try. The pattern was well written with lots of pictures, so it did not take long before I had all the pieces of this amigurumi crocheted up and ready to be stitched together.

As I stitched the pieces of this bear together, cuteness just poured from every stitch. From his thread jointed arms and legs to his little bob tail to his cute nose and smile, I just fell in love with him. This made him much easier to stitch together.

DSCN0932I would like to make a comment about the construction of this bear when it came to stitching his head and body together that might be helpful to someone else making something similar.

DSCN0933Because I had picked a variegated yarn with a color in it that closely matched the main color of the bear, I twisted this bears body before I stitched it on. Normally, I have the starts of the rounds on the back of the amigurumi. On this bear, that placed a big patch of the variegated yarn with the matching color on the very front of the bear and it looked odd. So, I turned his body until I had more variety of colors from the variegated yarn on the front and then I stitched the head and body together.

Since I was so happy with the end results of this bear, I picked another bear pattern, a panda bear, for my next amigurumi project. Stay tuned to see if I could get the same cuteness factor from this panda bear pattern too.

Until then, crochet forth and cute on!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 3

DSCN0598A Hong Kong seam is made when you finish the edges of a seam by covering them with bias tape. It sounds simple enough to do, but there are always new sewing lessons to be learned every time you try something new and this time was no different.

But first a note to myself, make sure and cut the skirt pieces with a larger seam allowance to accommodate the bias tape. This gives you room to sew the bias tape on and not affect the circumference of the top of the skirt.

DSCN0570Two lessons that I learned about applying bias tape from the construction of this dress were to make sure and watch which side of the bias tape you’re working on and to watch which side of the fabric the bias tape is going to fold to.

DSCN0574Lesson one, remember the advise about making one side of the bias tape longer than the other while ironing the bias tape? And remember being careful to do just that as you ironed? Well, use that to your advantage when you’re sewing the bias tape on. When I started to sew the bias tape to my first seam allowance, I did not think to make sure I was sewing the shorter side of the bias tape first. By making sure that shorter side of the bias tape is sewn down first , that gives you the longer side to fold over. This gives you the little extra fabric on the back side, making it easier DSCN0575to catch the bias tape as you stitch in the ditch on the top side. When you stitch the longer side first and then fold the shorter side over, not only is there not the extra fabric but you are short fabric from folding over the longer side. Once I figured this out and sewed the short side first and then folding over the long side, the sewing on of the bias tape became much easier.

DSCN0577The second lesson of watching which side of the fabric the bias tape is folded to came when I added the the bias tape to the hem. When I sewed the bias tape to the seam allowances, I sewed it to the top of the fabric and then folded it to the back. After stitching in the ditch on the top, I had a nice clean finish on top and it did not matter if my seam was a little wavy on the back side. After binding the seam allowances of the two seams of the skirt, I had plenty of bias tape left over so I decided to use the remaining bias tape to finish off the hem of the skirt too.

DSCN0602But, since I did not remember to think a couple of steps ahead and see what was going to fold where, I sewed the short side of the bias tape to the inside of the hem. This meant I would be folding the longer side of the bias tape to the front of the skirt. Even though I had remembered to sew the short end first, I had not thought about what side the bias tape would be folding to. At this point when I stitched in the ditch on the inside of the skirt, the wavy part of the seam from catching the bias tape would be on the top side of the skirt in plain view. And the nice clean finish would be on the inside where no one could see it.

DSCN0601To fix this I could unpick the bias tape and sew it again, this time to the outside of the skirt and fold the bias tape to the inside. Rolling my eyes at the thought of unpicking all that bias tape, I thought of another plan. I would not finish the bias tape with a stitch in the ditch seam but sew a nice even edge on the top of the folded over bias tape. This way I would have a seam on the bias tape but it would not be wavy like the one I had sewn from the opposite side. The inside part would have the wavy seam instead. This worked out just great! My seam on the bias tape side is nice and smooth and even, but if you look inside you will see a seam that hits and misses the ditch between the bias tape and skirt. This is fine with me. It looks great on the outside and it still looks acceptable from the inside, and I did not have to unpick a single stitch.

DSCN0600Because I had attached the buttons and button holes while completing the bodice of this dress, the last step was to attach the skirt to the bodice. At this point I still had plenty of bias tape left so I decided to use it to finish this last seam attaching the skirt to the bodice too. Because this seam is inside the dress, I did not care which side had the clean finish and which side had the wavy seam, and using the bias tape did give the seam a nice beautiful finish. Note to myself – keep bias tape and Hong Kong seams in mind for finishing seams where a serged seam would be exposed.

DSCN0605This dress turned out so adorable once it was completed. I love the true camp collar and how much easier it was to sew than the collar the original pattern called for. With the changes that I made to this pattern, I will definitely be using this pattern again for future projects. I also love the Hong Kong seam of the skirt as well as the bias tape hem. I learned many sewing lessons from the construction of this dress, especially regarding the making of and the applying of bias tape. I hope some little girl will enjoy wearing it.

Until next time, sew forth and sew on.

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 2

DSCN0556When it came to making bias tape my first thought was just to purchase some, but then I stopped myself since I was supposed to be learning new sewing skills while making this project. Making bias tape was something I have never done before so now was a great time to learn.

The first step was to cut out strips of fabric on the bias. Since I had some white kitty fabric left, I decided to use it to make the bias tape with. I had no idea how much bias tape I needed for this project, but I had enough scraps to make 4 yards so that sounded like plenty. With the markings on my cutting table and my trusty metal ruler and my blade, it was easy to measure and cut the bias strips to the proper sizes.

DSCN0562Next came stitching the bias strips into one long piece. This took some thought. After thinking that I had the angles correct I sewed the pieces together, only to find out that I had not angled the strips correctly. A quick internet search taught me that the strips needed to be sewn at right angles. After learning how to sew them the right way, I unpicked and sewed the strips together correctly. The main thing I learned here that it is important to take the cutting of the strips seriously. Carefully cut strips out make it easier to sew the right angles.

DSCN0566Ironing the bias tape into its folded shape was the next step. Years ago, my mom gave me a bias tape maker. I promptly brought it home and tossed it in the closet with my other sewing notions. Now it was coming out of the closet and making its debut. It took a little bit of finagling to get the bias strip in the bias tape maker but once it was in, it was easy to see how the maker was going to fold the strip and make the forming and ironing of the bias tape DSCN0568easier.

 

While searching the internet on the angles, I did read that it was best to make one side of the bias tape larger than the other, not much, just enough to give you a little sewing edge. I decided to follow their advice. The ironing of the bias tape was time consuming but not difficult. Once again I learned that carefully cut strips and carefully sewn angles make it easier iron the folds. Accuracy is a key point of successful bias tape making.

In a short time, I had 4 yards of bias tape made and I was ready to start sewing the Hong Kong seams of the skirt.

Until then, sew forth on and bias on!