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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!

Being Biased – Part 1 -The Making of the Bias Tape

IMG_1621My coworker’s tween girls are using and enjoying their Dr Who bags and it does my heart good for someone to enjoy and use something that I have made.

So much so, that it was easy to find another pattern to sew for them next. This time I made them a summer crossed back top from some sugar skull fabric that they picked out. I found this crossed back top pattern on line for free. It looked like a fun summer shirt, easy enough to sew and the right size for the girls.

I gave the girls their choice of a couple of fabrics that I had in the stash and they both picked the sugar skull fabric. I did not have enough sugar skull fabric to made both shirts so I planned to piece the tops with some black fabric from the stash.

Then I thought about it being summer. DSCN1296These were summer tops made to be worn in the heat of the summer months, so how could I make them from black fabric? So I dug through the stash and I found some nice pink and purple that would match the sugar skull fabric.

I decided to make one top from the pink and one from the purple so the girls would not have to match. I know that teens are image concious that way. The pattern is only two pieces, a front and a back, cut twice. Based on the girls measurements, I cut the front and back 1/4 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the pattern called for. The pattern also called for 3 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape. I

f I had been making the tops with the black fabric, I would have bought the needed bias tape, but since I was using the pink and purple fabric, I decided to make the bias tape. 61NeRAwqLEL._SY450_Then I had the idea of using the pink bias tape on the purple shirt and the purple bias tape on the pink shirt to give them some great contrast, so I would definitely be making the bias tape myself. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to make bias tape again, and as you know practice makes perfect and I don’t use bias tape all that often.

Now, I thought I had the process down for making bias tape from the last time I made it for another project, but I was incorrect. I had a lot to learn and relearn while making this bias tape. I started out by cutting 1 inch strips on the bias. When it came time to sew the bias strips together, I knew that they needed to be sewn at a 90 degree angle, but I kept sewing the strips together backwards, one seam up and then one seam down. After much trial and error, I figured out that I needed to sew one strip on top, then the next strip on bottom to keep all the seams all on one side. 71f-MxnZmTL._SY450_

After getting all the bias strips sewn together correctly, I started to iron and shape them. I used my 1/2 bias tape maker and was making some beautiful bias tape, when I realized that my bias tape was only single fold.

What? Darn! I needed double folded bias tape!

So I folded my beautiful 1/2 single fold bias tape in half and got 1/4 inch double folded bias tape, half the size of what I needed. Crap! I seriously thought about just using the 1/4 inch double fold bias tape that I had made but I decided against it and started all over again.

This time, I cut 2 inch strips on the bias, sewing them together correctly as I had learned to do earlier, and I prepared to iron again, but not until I purchased a one inch bias tape maker.

Looking on Amazon for bias tape makers, I found two types, Singer brand made completely from metal, and several third party brands made of metal with a plastic insert.

Which was better? DSCN1310

After reading many reviews and pondering the question, the husband rolled his eyes and ordered me both the Singer and another brand with the plastic inserts. After trying both styles of bias tape maker, I decided to use the Singer metal ones. Even though both worked fine, I just liked the Singer ones better. They seem to fold the fabric more evenly and were easier to push the fabric into the maker when starting out.

After a fair amount of ironing, I had 4 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape in both pink and purple, ready to sew on. I made 4 yards of each color rather than 3 yards like the pattern called for because I had increased the size of the tops slightly from what the pattern called for.

Now it was time to sew the bias tape on to the tops.

Stay tuned for the construction of the crossed back summer tops in my next post!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

The Making of the Doctor Who Reversible Sling Bag – Part 2 – The Construction

dscn1157dscn1149The construction of the Doctor Who reversible sling bag began with cutting out the pattern pieces from the fabric. I remembered to cut the length 1 inches longer and the strap 3 inches longer as I had previously decided to do as I cut the black bottom weight pieces and the Doctor Who Dalek fabric.

dscn1150dscn1139But as I cut out the striped fabric, the stripes started to play with my brain and I cut out one piece correctly, and three pieces incorrectly with 3 inches extra on the bottom and only 1 inch extra on the straps. When I realized my error, I thought about cutting the 3 pieces out again correctly but I hated to waste the fabric. I had purchased this fabric for another project and had cut the pieces for this bag conservatively as to leave as much fabric as possible for that other project. That lead me to decide to make my already cut out pieces work out some how instead of cutting out corrected pieces.

dscn1128dscn1126The sewing process started with the insert seams and the bottom seams. I matched the insert seams at the top of the bag because of the extra inches at the bottom of the stripes, then cut off the extra before sewing the bottom of the bag. Next was the seam that I called the pinch. This is the seam that squares the bag to give the bag a bottom. It is sewn by first pinching the corners of the bottom seam of the bag and then stitching across the pinch. The pinch was easy with the bottom weight fabric of the Dalek fabric side of the bag. I measured and sewed carefully and the pinch turn out great.

dscn1129dscn1130The striped fabric was not as easy. Because it is a thin lining fabric, it wanted to slip and slide as I measured and sewed the pinch but with patience, I finally got acceptable results. These pinch seams weren’t that hard so I stopped being as careful and learned very quickly that that was a bad move. My next pinches went terribly wrong when I did not carefully measure and sew them. I ended up unpicking and re-measuring and re-sewing all 4 of the pinches on the second bag to get nicer pinches. Lesson learned, take the time needed to do the job right the first time.

dscn1132dscn1141The next step was to sew the two parts of the Dalek/black bag and stripe/black together. With rights sides together, I sewed around the curves of the top of the bags. Each bag was then turned right side out through the strap. This was a bit of a challenge but with time and patience the bags were turned right side out.

Now it was time to fix my cutting error. The striped fabric was 4 inches too short on the strap, 2 inches on each side. I had several options for fixing this problem, like just sewing more fabric to the stripe fabric dscn1146but I wanted to make sure it was very secure at the shoulder. I finally opted to dscn1144make a patch from the black fabric to cover the missing stripe fabric. I cut a piece of the black fabric big enough to cover the missing piece with seam allowances. I folded over the edges and ironed them in place then applied some seam to seam to the edges. I then ironed the patch in place. I sewed the patches in place as I top stitched the edges of the bag. The patch worked great to solve my cutting error, and because the patches are at the shoulder, it looks like I meant to add the patch to the strap as reinforcement.

dscn1134dscn1136The final bags turned out great. I was concerned at first about the bag not having a closure as it gapped when I placed it my shoulder but when I added a book to the bag, the weight of the book closed the bag. I took the bags to my coworker the next day. I showed her that they were reversible and told her if her daughters wanted a closure on the bags to bring them back to me. Her daughters called me the next day to tell me how much they liked the bags and that they had used the bags for their books at school that day instead of their regular back packs. I was excited to hear that the bags were a success and that they liked them and that they used them. It did my sewing heart good.

dscn1135dscn1159These bags were great fun to make and as always I learned some new sewing lessons from making them.

After this project, I see more sling bags in my future. Maybe next time with pockets and closures with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse fabric or maybe even more Doctor Who fabric.

I also have some great Marvel Comics fabric that I was wondering what to do with and San Diego Comic Con is coming up shortly!

dscn1155Oh, this is going to be fun!dscn1154

Until next time, sew forth and Trust the Doctor on!

The Making of the Doctor Who Reversible Sling Bag – Part 1 – The Design

Doctor_Who_diamond_logo_by_gfoyleAs promised, this post will tell you the trials and triumphs of the making of the Doctor Who reversible sling bags. Just to recap, the pattern for this sling bag was the April pattern of the month over at Project Run and Play. Although I don’t usually participate in the link parties on that site, this time I had already purchased a yard of Doctor Who Dalek fabric that was on sale and a bag of some type was just what I wanted to make from this fabric.

One of my coworkers has two tween daughters who adore Doctor Who and making something for them is why I had bought the fabric in the first place. In deciding what I wanted to make the girls, this sling bag came to mind and I thought it was a great idea. I would not have to worry about the size Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 2.34.13 PMor fit, and since they have to wear uniforms to school, the bags would be something they could use all the time instead of just on the weekends. I was excited to get started.

The hardest part about making this sling bag was deciding on the details.

The pattern is very simple, and it is reversible so you don’t have to worry about finishing edges.

It has no pockets and no closure, but it would be no problem to add pockets and/or a closure. Did I want to add pockets? If so, what kind of pockets should I add, a patch pocket, a zippered pocket, or a welt pocket? Did I want the pockets on the outside of the bag or the inside? If I add a closure, should it be a button, a snap or velcro? If I add pockets or a closure, would the bag still be reversible?

I finally decided that I wanted the bag to be reversible and very simple to make so I decided on no pockets and no closures for these bag.

dscn1125The next decision was what other fabric to use with the Doctor Who Dalek Exterminate fabric. Since I wanted to use the Doctor Who Dalek fabric on multiple projects, I chose it for the middle insert of the bag. I knew I wanted a heavier bottom weight fabric for the rest of the bag in either black or blue, so I did not have to worry about interfacing anything. I found some nice black bottom weight scraps in the stash that would work great. But, what should I use for the inside?

Laying on the cutting table was this striped lining fabric that I had purchased at Walmart for the lining for a different upcoming project. I did not really want to use a thin lining fabric on this bag, but the husband convinced me to use it when he said that the stripes were the Doctor Who scarf colors. This lead me to decide to use the black bottom weight as the middle insert with the thin, striped fabric to give it more structure.

doctor-who-daleks-exterminate-poster-GBfp3134The last design decision for this bag was size. After printing and taping the pattern together, I measured the size of the middle insert. I wanted the Doctor Who Dalek fabric to be the highlight of the bags, so I wanted the middle insert larger than what the pattern called for. I taped the pattern pieces together and then I drew a new cutting line for the insert, making the other pieces of the bag not as wide.

I then measured the size of the bag versus a big book and decided to make the bag one inch longer. I then held the strap pattern piece to my shoulders to measure the length of the strap and decided to add 3 inches to each side of the strap for a total of 6 inches in length added to the entire strap.

dscn1190I thought about taping some scraps of paper to the top and bottom of the pattern and drawing in the changes I was making to the pattern but then decided that I would just try and remember the changes I had made. This was a poor choice on my part which you will learn about later.

With all the decisions, the design, the fabric and the size, finally made, it was time to start cutting out the pattern and get sewing.

Stay tuned for the construction process in the next post!

Until then, sew forth and Doctor Who on!

The Whovians of Whoville

I have been reading the Project Run and Play website for awhile now and some of their monthly projects interest me, and some don’t since I don’t have children.

But this months (April 2015) project challenge of a Reversible Sling Bag really caught my eye! I know several Mom’s that have young daughters that would just love for me to make them one. I also figured it would give me a chance to try out something new and fun and to increase my sewing skills along the way.

Now one of those daughters just happens to be a huge Dr. Who fan, and I had just happened to come across this wonderful Dr. Who Dalek Exterminate fabric on my last fabric shopping trip and I was wondering what I should make with it.

Then the two just clicked together like LEGO’s!

And so here I present the Dr. Who Reversible Sling Bag! I hope you like it! Dr. Who Reversible Sling Bag I will post a detailed “The Making of the Dr. Who Reversible Sling Bag” soon, but for now I wanted to get this posted so that the other people making the project in April could see what I had done.

Until then, Sew Forth and Exterminate on!