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HaHaHaHa – Part 3 of Sew It Begins

With the husband’s latest shirt completed, it was finally time to sew a new shirt for myself.

I picked the design and fabric for my new shirt based on the embroidery design that I had picked out to use. I love this Snoopy design and I have always wanted to embroider it on a shirt for me. So, with the Snoopy design in mind I entered the stash room and picked a piece of blue cotton and a matching patterned cotton remnant for the fabric for this shirt.

After laundering the fabric, I laid it out on the cutting table and got started. I cut out the pieces from the blue cotton first, then I cut into the remnant only to find out that I was short on fabric. I must have measured incorrectly or the fabric had shrunk more than expected in the wash.

Regardless, this piece was too small to use now. Logically, I should have returned to the stash room and chosen another fabric but, oh no, not me. The challenge was on. My creative mind was churning. How could I get the needed pieces from this short piece of fabric?

I started by changing my idea of matching the pattern of the fabric at the side seams. I debated if not matching the pattern was a good idea, or if it would make me crazy after the shirt was sewn. Since the pattern on the fabric was a little crazy itself and it would be non matching at the seam under my arms, I decided to go for it and disregard matching the pattern.

Even with not matching the pattern at the side seams, I was still a little shy, about 2 inches, of having enough fabric for the sleeves. What could I do to get just 2 more inches? If I shortened the sleeves by an inch each, I would have my 2 inches, but I did not want my sleeves an inch shorter. So how could I cut the sleeves an inch shorter and still have them the same length?

Bias tape was the answer.

I cut the sleeves the inch shorter, but instead of hemming the sleeves, I made some 1/2 inch bias tape from the blue cotton and used the bias tape to finish the sleeves. The rest of the sewing of the shirt sewed smoothly and embroidering the Snoopy design was great fun.

I am very pleased with this shirt. It is fun to wear and I love having the Snoopy design on it. It was also a fun shirt to sew and it was exciting to let my creative mind work to solve a sewing problem.

With a new shirt done for both the husband and the me, it was time to pick a my next sewing project. Stay tuned to see what that will be.

Until then, Sew forth and Laugh on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 2 – In The Pink

DSCN4050The sewing process for the sweater started with the plan to use my second new sewing tool, a new pair of pinking sheers. When reading about sewing fleece, one of the suggestions for finishing the seams of fleece was to just pink the seam allowances with a pair of pinking shears. I used to have a pair of pinking shears many years ago. I loaned them to a friend and I never saw them again. I haven’t really missed owning a pair until recently though, so I decided to reinvest in a new pair of pinking sheers.

DSCN3982When I looked into buying the pinking sheers, I found that I could spend a lot of money for nice pair or a much smaller amount of money for just a pair of the sheers that people had reviewed and said worked well for them. As you and I know, a good pair of scissors is a valuable sewing tool. So, when it comes to buying sewing scissors, I believe that you should spend the extra money for a nice pair of sew scissors. But is that true when it come to pinking sheers I wondered? I decided to go against the grain and buy the less expensive pinking shears for now. Later, if I found that I used the pinking sheer all the time, and I needed a nicer pair, I could then invest the money and buy the more expensive pair.

I sewed up the seams of the sweater, ironed the seams open and pinked the seam allowances. This was easy to do, but it was time consuming to line up the pinked edges. When the seams were done, the pinked seam allowances looked good and pinking was a fine way to finish the edges, but I still think that I like the look of a serged edge better. A serged edge to me is just a cleaner look.

DSCN3721In the end I was happy that I did not spend a lot on money on the more expensive pinking sheers. I just don’t think I will be pinking all that often, and the less expensive pair will be fine for me for how often I expect to use them. Although, if I was going to be using pinking sheers on the majority of my sewing projects, I would definitely invest in the nicer, more expensive pair of the pinking sheers since I know how much better a project goes with good scissors.

Sewing the bias tape on was next. I learned quickly not to let the fleece stretch too much as I sewed the bias tape on. My plan was to sew the bias tape on, fold the edges over and to stitch in the ditch on the front, catching the bias tape on the back. This did not work for me though. I remembered to not trim the bulk from the seam allowance of the bias tape but to leave the bulk to even out the fabric from the heavy fleece to the thin bias tape. I did trim a little of the bulk off the edge to smooth the edges, but not much.

DSCN3974The problem with leaving the bulk is that after going around the bulk with the bias tape, the bias tape was too short on the back side to be caught by the stitch in the ditch seam from the front side. Rather than arguing with the stitch in the ditch seam, I decided to sew on the edge of the bias tape on the front side. Now, there was no problem catching the bias tape on the back side. I was using nice matching thread so the sewing on the edge looks good, probably better than the stitched in the ditch seam would have looked.

DSCN3723The last step was to apply the velcro closures. As I cut four one inches squares of velcro to sew to the sweater, the husband shock his head no. He said he thought that buttons would look better. Since this sweater is not for an infant, there is no worry about a chocking hazard with buttons, so I decided that using buttons instead of velcro would be fine. I asked the husband what he thought about sewing the velcro on as the closure and the buttons on top of the velcro for decoration but he thought that the buttons as the closures was better. He did not like idea of the Velcro closures for a three year old.

DSCN4045Because the sweater is unlined with no facings or interfacing, I put a piece of tearaway stabilizer under the fleece to help keep the fleece from stretching as I sewed the buttonholes. This worked out great! The stabilizer held the fleece steady as the buttonholes sewed and gave the buttonholes themselves more durability. The extra stabilizer was torn away so you won’t even know I used it nor will it ruin the look of the buttonholes inside the sweater.

DSCN3976Soon the buttonholes and buttons were sewn and the sweater was all done!

I think that this sweater is just adorable! I had a lot of fun making it and I learned a few new sewing things and I got to use my new sewing tools as well. I will keep this sweater in mind for the next time I want to make a fun and simpler sewing project.

Until then, sew forth and pink on!

New Sewing Tools – Part 1 – Cutting The Curve

DSCN4045I love to go to craft shows, but I rarely buy anything. I am one of those people that professional crafters hate. I walk around and see what they have made, borrow their ideas, then I run home and make one for myself. That is what happened this time, with my latest fleece jacket/sweater project. The lady at the craft show had made a simple infant unlined fleece sweater, finished with bias tape edges and velcro closures. The sweaters were just adorable, simple and cute, and since I was in the mood for a light project, I decided to make one of these sweaters myself. Plus, I could practice making and sewing bias tape and use two new sewing tools that I had recently acquired.

I knew that I wanted to use this bear fleece that had been in the stash for many years. In fact, it was one of the first pieces of fleece that I ever purchased. Since it was never picked to be used for a blanket, it was time for it to be a sweater instead. I picked a brown cotton fabric for the bias tape, but when the husband saw the bear fleece he said to change to a red bias tape instead. It was no problem to pull some red cotton out of the stash to make the red bias tape with.

DSCN4052I cut 2 inch strips on the bias of the red cotton fabric to make 1 inch bias tape. The cutting and sewing of the strips went smoothly. I am getting better at this process each time I make bias tape. After a lot of ironing, I had a pile of red 1 inch bias tape made. I did not know exactly how much of the red bias tape I needed, so I just made a fair amount since I knew I could make more if needed. If I had extra, I would just save it for another project.

Now it was time to cut out the sweater. I was on my way to the pattern stash to find an infant jacket pattern to use when I spied my Simplicity 8902 pattern laying by the cutting table. Why not just use this pattern? It is a tried and true pattern for me, plus the size 3 was already traced and ready to use. I had envisioned this project for an infant but there was no reason that a 3 year could not wear a teddy bear fleece sweater as well so that is what I went with.

DSCN4046As I cut out the pattern pieces I added an extra inch to the fronts for the velcro overlap and I got the chance to use my first new sewing tool. I wanted to curve the tops and bottoms of the overlaps so I used my new french curve ruler I had picked up on clearance recently. Usually, I would have looked for a plate or bowl to cut the curves, but it was nice to use the curved ruler with the markings to make more accurate, even curves with. Plus, the rotary cutter cut much smoother around the edge of the ruler than it does around the edge of a bowl or plate. It did not take long to cut out the pieces for this sweater and to begin the sewing process.

Stay tuned next time for the sewing of the sweater.

Until then, sew forth and curve on!

Girl’s Fleece Jacket (Done Backwards) – Part 2

DSCN2088When I started this jacket, I decided to go ahead add the optional cuffs to the sleeves.

The cuffs looked so cute on the jacket on the pattern envelope, that I wanted this jacket to have the cuffs. But when it came time to sew the cuffs on, they were not turning out very well. They were just too bulky. The cuffs are made from two pieces of fleece. The first piece is sewn to the sleeve, then the next piece is sewn to the first piece and then folded over to make the cuff. I cut out the cuffs, sewed the cuffs to the sleeves and then removed the cuffs. In my opinion, this was a bad design for a fleece cuff due to so many seams in the cuffs and the bulkiness these seams caused. There are four layers of fleece in the top seam of the cuff, and that is just too many layers of fleece.

DSCN2084If I wanted to keep the cuffs, I had to come with a solution, so I gave it some thought and came up with some ideas.

First, the sleeves could be cut longer to make the cuffs. This would eliminating the bulky seams, but I had not cut my sleeves longer so this solution was out for this particular jacket. Another solution would be to use a thin lining fabric as part of the DSCN2086cuff, but I did not have it in me to dig through the stash to find a matching fabric. My third solution was to skip the cuffs, and make more bias tape. I would finish the edges of the sleeves with yellow bias tape to match the pockets. (My first thought was to use the bias tape to finish the edge of the cuffs, but eliminating only one of the layers in the bulky cuff was not enough.) So, I choose this as my plan. This jacket would not have cuffs, and I would finish the sleeves edges with the yellow bias tape.

Thinking back, I could have had cuffs on this jacket by combining the solutions. I could have used a lining fabric and the bias tape to make the cuffs and eliminate the bulk. Hmmm. Maybe I will try that on the next jacket.

DSCN3414By using the bias tape on the sleeves, I did not have to worry about a hem or the fact I had not cut the sleeves longer to accommodate a hem. I applied the bias tape to the edges of the sleeves, trimmed the seams and turned the bias tape to finish the seams. I noticed that the thin bias tape looked weak at the bottom of the heavy sleeves. The way I got rid of this weak look was to not trim the seam inside the bias tape so much, which was different from any other time I have applied bias tape. Previously, when I applied bias tape, I wanted the seam allowance trimmed out before folding the tape over. If the seam allowance was left inside the bias tape this time, the look was much fuller and it looked better.

DSCN3418It was now decision time. Which way did I want the jacket to cross, left over right or right over left? After a lot of thought and debating, I decided to cross the fronts as if it were a boy’s jacket, the left front on top of the right front. This will probably drive the little girl that wears this jacket nuts as she tries to button the jacket backwards, but the half froggy’s that I got from folding the jacket the other way just didn’t look good. Hopefully whoever wears this jacket won’t mind the backwards buttoning buttons if it is a girl.

I was dreading making the buttonholes on this jacket. I was not sure how my sewing machine would handle sewing buttonholes on fleece. Sometimes, even with thin non-stretch fabric, my sewing machine has a mind of its own when it comes to making buttonholes and sews whatever it wants to. To help combat this problem, I made horizontal buttonholes, and held my breath as the buttonholes were sewn, but my sewing machine did great and the buttonholes turned out just fine.

DSCN3413If I had known then, at the beginning of the sewing of this jacket, what I know now, nearing the end of the sewing of the jacket, I would have added piping to the peter pan collar to coordinate with the finished design of jacket. It would have been really cute to have had the bright yellow piping around the collar to match the piping on the pockets and the bias tape on the sleeve. This is definitely something I will keep in mind for the next jacket.

DSCN3416With the sewing on of the last button, the jacket was finally done!

The making of this jacket was a learning experience from the beginning to the end, from the cutting of the fleece, to the sewing of a back facing, to the piping curved pockets to the designing of the fleece cuffs. There were many lessons learned on this fleece jacket.

All in all, I think the jacket is very cute and I hope some little girl will be willing to wear it and will enjoy it!

Until next time, sew forth and fleece on!

Girl’s Fleece Jacket (Done Backwards) – Part 1

DSCN3413Over the years, I have accumulated a massive amount of polar fleece in the stash. At first, these fleeces were only purchased with blankets in mind, but over time, my ideas for fleece fabric has expanded. So, when I saw this pattern, McCalls M4981, especially designed to be made from fleece, I knew what I wanted to sew next.

IMG_0002 (2)M4961 is a pattern for a girl’s unlined fleece jacket with a peter pan collar, patch pockets and buttons closures. I was excited to get started, but I quickly learned that this project was not going to be an easy sew or a fast sew.

To start, I selected a piece of fleece from the stash. I chose this cute girl’s design of froggy’s, bees and rainbows on a brown background. I did not have to launder the fabric before I got started since their was no preshrinking needed with this fleece. I traced the pattern, size 6, and got started with the cutting process.

DSCN2575Cutting out this jacket was not an easy or quick task. The print on this fleece was so far off grain that it was almost impossible to cut the pieces so the froggy’s and rainbows were standing up straight. I pulled the fabric and repositioned the pattern pieces until I finally got the pieces cut out. When I finally finished the cutting process, I realized I had lined up the right and left front backwards from each other.

DSCN2572When I folded the right front over the left front for a girl, I got a nice froggy edge on the right side and half of a froggy edge on the left side, but if I folded the front as you would for a boy, left front on top of the right front, then I had a nice froggy front. So, should I have a poor looking front with half froggy’s and cross the jacket for a girl or have a nice looking front and cross the jacket for a boy? That was the question. This question did not have to be answered right away so I decided to move on.

DSCN3411I did add some thin interfacing to the facings and the collar. The husband thought I was crazy for adding more bulk to the fleece, but I explained to him that was why I was using such thin interfacing. I just wanted something to stabilize the fleece at those spots and keep it from stretching while sewing, particularly when it came time for buttons and buttonholes.

DSCN2074To start the sewing process, I did not read the pattern guide at all. Looking at the pattern pieces, the sewing of this jacket seemed pretty straight forward, So, I just got started. Who needs directions anyway? Am I right? I sewed and pressed the collar, serged the facings edges, folded them over and sewed the facings to the collar. Normally, my next step would be to sew a piece of twill tape to the collars inside edge to finish it and then tacked the facings to the shoulder seams. This pattern has a back facing as well though, and I stopped for a moment as I pondered how I was supposed to sew it on. I then turned to the pattern guide and read that sewing the back facing to the side facings should have been the first step before adding the collar.

Too late now!

DSCN3410I was certainly not unpicking all my sewing that I had done up to this point. My first instinct was to grab my twill tape and just throw away the back facing but then I came up with plan to attach the back facing. After some tedious sewing, I got the back facing sewn on, only to find out that I had sewn it on backwards. The wrong side of the fleece was facing out. Augh! There was no way I was unpicked the back facing just to flip it over. It would just remain backwards. Sometimes, just when you think you know it all, and you certainly know better than some pattern maker and you get ahead of yourself, you find out too late just how wrong you are…

DSCN2080When it came time to sew the pockets, I debated about how to get nice smooth curved pockets since the use of the iron was of limited use with the fleece. I had read about using piping to help curve the pockets so I decided to give it a try. I cut bias strips from yellow cotton scraps and made the piping for the pockets. When it came to sewing the piping to the pocket, I was having trouble starting the bias tape in the fold of the pocket because of the bulk of the fleece. I turned to some liquid stitch for help. I folded the yellow fabric over the top of the cording in the piping and glued it down with the liquid stitch. This gave me a finish at the top of my piping so I did not have to keep tucking it into the fold. I did the same thing at the other end of piping on the other side of the pocket.

DSCN3409I don’t know if I really like the look of the piping at the top of the pockets done this way but it is fine for this time. I think I need to read more on how to start and stop the piping on pockets. The piping did do its job and it helped to curve the edges of the pockets and hold the curve in place as I stitched the pockets on.

Plus, it looks really cute and makes the pockets stand out from the rest of the jacket.

There is a lot more to say about the sewing of this jacket but I’m going to stop here and give you a break from the long list of lessons I was learning on this project. Stay tuned for the finale of this backwards jacket next time!

Until then, sew forth and fleece on!

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!