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Don’t Panic – Part 2 of Sew it Begins.

Although I worked on both the husband’s new shirt and my new shirt at the same time, the husband’s shirt was the first one completed.

The husband picked a purple single knit with quite a bit of stretch from the stash for his shirt. I was not excited about getting back into the sewing grove with a stretchy knit that could possible give me grief, but what sewing project doesn’t present itself without certain challenges. This stretchy knit would certainly sharpen my dull sewing skills quickly. I had plenty of this fabric to work with so the shirt would be entirely made from this fabric, instead of piecing it together as my last few had been.

After laundering the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces, it was time to interface the collar and the yoke. I picked a nice piece of interfacing and ironed a small sample piece onto a scrap of the purple knit. It ironed on great, but when I stretched the knit, the interfacing disintegrated and shredded to pieces. After that disappointment I started cutting samples from other pieces of interfacing and ironing them to the knit. Some were better than others but none were what I wanted. I wanted an interfacing that would stop the knit from stretching and make the collar stay formed but not too stiff.

Was I expecting too much from the interfacing?

I tried all different kinds of interfacing, woven, non woven, knit, and so on and I finally found one that I thought would work and hold up well with the stretch. I cut out the interfacing for the collar only to find that I did not have enough of this interfacing for the yokes. So, off to the store I went. I picked out what I thought was the same interfacing, but it was not. I studied the interfacing from the stash again and settled on one that was acceptable. You know, I just don’t understand interfacing. I have done research and read up on interfacing several times and purchased a wide variety of interfacings and tried them all, but I still have trouble when it comes to choosing and using the right interfacing for a project. Trial and error is the only answer I have come up with for my interfacing dilemma.

With the pieces of the shirt cut and interfaced, I started to sew. I was very careful and cautious with the knit, watching the stretch with each seam. The hems, of course, were the most tricky part with the stretch but with care, it all came out good. And yes, this knit shirt did a great job of sharpening my sewing skills.

When it came time for an embroidery design, the husband picked the “Don’t Panic!” design from the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. I knew this design would look good on the purple shirt but when I was done stitching the design, it looked great. After sewing the buttonholes and the buttons on, the shirt was done.

The husband likes his new shirt and I love being back in the sewing studio, sewing away.

Stay tuned for details about my new shirt in my next post.

Until then, sew forth and Don’t Panic 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!

Simplicity 2480 – The Jacket – Part 4

DSCN0984With the pockets now completed, it was finally time to stitch the jacket! The first step was to insert the zipper. Remembering the lessons that I had learned from inserting the zipper in the little girl’s peplum jacket, this zipper sewed in much easier. And I did not need to move the needle over to sew the zipper on like I did the last time. The only challenge I faced with this zipper was deciding just how long I wanted the zipper to be.

Did I want it to extend into the collar or stop just before the collar? DSCN0807

The pattern called for the zipper to be inserted into the collar, but If I stopped the zipper at the collar, I could attach the collar as I would the collar of a camp shirt, finishing it off with a little twill tape.

If I followed the pattern instead and inserted the zipper into the collar, some hand stitching would be required to finish the collar. Now, you know how much I just “love” hand stitching, so you can guess which plan I was leaning towards, but then I remembered that I was making this jacket to learn so I decided to follow the pattern and insert the zipper into the collar, and then do the required hand stitching. After sewing on the zipper and facings, I hand stitched the edge of the collar to the back of the jacket. This went a lot smoother than I expected it to. I think I did a pretty good job on the hand stitching and that it will hold up with wearing.

Now that it is done I am pleased with the results of how I attached the zipper, collar and facings. DSCN0737Before I started this pattern, I read some pattern reviews for this pattern on the internet and one of the things mentioned about this pattern was that the sleeves were extremely wide. I could see this as I traced the sleeve part of the pattern, so I decided, based on the size of my wrists, to grade 4 inches out of the the width of the sleeves starting at the wrist.

I think the wearer of this jacket will like the thinner sleeves and it saved on fabric. I inserted the elastic at the bottom of the sleeves as the pattern called for. I think that will also help with any extra blousing from the wide sleeves. DSCN0989I interfaced the facings and collar before sewing them on. I just grabbed the first interfacing that I pulled from the stash to use, but I wished later that I would have looked a little closer.

Now, with the interfacing applied and the jacket sewn up, the interfacing that I used is too heavy for the fleece. The heavy interfacing makes the collar stiff so that it only wants to stand up. The heavy interfacing is also a problem at the inseam pockets. Because I used two pieces of fleece to make the pockets, they are already bulky but when I added the heavily interfaced facing on top of the pockets at the bottom of the jacket by the zipper, it is even bulkier.

Lesson learned. DSCN0987

Upon completion, I stared at the jacket and it looked very odd to me. It looked like it would never fit anyone.

It’s was so small in circumference but long in length in both the sleeves and the body of the jacket. Who would have such odd body proportions. Then it dawned on me what I had done. I had made a extra small adult jacket, and not an extra large child’s jacket. Once I figured this out I could finally picture a young slender adult wearing this jacket without any problem. An unforeseen lesson in sizing and fit was learned this time around. Although this jacket may not be perfect, and some of the seams are not very straight, I am still pleased with the end results.

I learned a lot, and it has left me with several ideas and sewing techniques that I want to try and work on in the future. I hope some one will enjoy wearing this jacket and that it will fit them well.

Until next time, sew forth and jacket on!

Happy New Year 2014!

Wishing you and yours peace, joy, serenity, and happiness in the coming new year.

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Yes I know this is the year of the ‘listicle’ or Top 10 Lists, but I’m not going to waste my time or yours by posting one for you like everyone else will do in their end of the year blog posts. I’ll leave that up to David Letterman who can do a far better job than I can. I also won’t bore you with any ‘selifies’ of myself for that matter, because lets be honest here, you really have better things to do than to look at that!

Instead, I will leave you with a photo collage of some of the fun things I did throughout the year of 2013.

I had a very busy year as you can see here:

2013.collage

There was plenty of sewing, mending, altering, crocheting, costume making, designing and crafting, laughing, crying, and gnashing of teeth to be done as usual around here.

It was a lot of fun and I sure learned a lot. I hope that you were entertained and learned something new too by reading all of my crazy adventures this past year!

Cheers! And here is to an even better coming new year!

Second Try

P1030516As I said in a previous post, I was not 100% happy with the alterations to my sloper pattern after the wear test. And as I stated in that post, I decided to not just move on to the next sloper pattern, but to continue to alter this pattern to fine tune it some more and to make another shirt from it. So here is the shirt I made after altering my pattern yet again.

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The first alteration I made to the pattern before cutting out the shirt was to add 1/2 inch back to the side seams at the bust, but not at the hips. Next, I added the 1/2 inch back into the sleeve at the armscye but not at the hem line. I also lifted the armscye up just a little more. The last alteration was to raise the slit on each side of the shirt up by an inch. All of these alterations were to help make the shirt more comfortable while sitting.

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P1030521The fabric that I picked was one of those purchases that at the time was the cutest, greatest fabric I had ever seen but after living in a box for several years, just wasn’t quite as appealing when it came back out. I find it so funny when that happens. Fortunately, I remember buying this fabric and I did not pay that much for it, but I did buy a lot of it.

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The cutting and the sewing of the shirt went well. I used a different interfacing this time around and I had better results with it. I did not encounter the stiffness problem like I did with the last interfacing I used. I used some inexpensive buttons on this shirt so that if my alternations did not work out, I did not have much invested in the construction of it.

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P1030519After the shirt was all finished, the wear test was started. After wearing the shirt a couple of times, I have determined that my alterations are all good and working out well. This shirt is much more comfortable to wear when sitting than the last one was. There is now more room for my bust and hips when in sitting positions. Plus, the different interfacing did not interfere with the wear test. I see, though, after wearing this shirt that my next alteration needs to be with the length of the shirt. It needs to be shorter, and the button placements need to be adjusted.

Now looking at my original sloper pattern with all of the changes lying on my cutting table, I see that it is a mess. Not wanting to lose any of the alterations that I have made so far, and even though I want to make a couple of more alterations before I’m done with it, my next step will be to to retrace my sloper pattern with the alterations I’ve made up to now. After that I will make the alterations I want to the length and the button placement, and then make another shirt. If all goes well with the length and buttons alterations, I will retrace the pattern one last time and call that my final ‘altered button up the front, v-neck, no collar sloper’ pattern.

I’m an Avocado, and your a Peach!

2840100105001For many years now I have read the fashion design books and web sites about body shape, and for all my life I have been an apple shape, round all the way around and even red after climbing a flight of stairs. Now that I have lost some weight, I am becoming more of a pear shape because of how I am losing the weight. I have lost most of the weight so far in my arms, legs, bust and neck areas. I have even lost weight in my wrists, fingers and toes.

For pete’s sake!

Now all of my watches, bracelets and rings are all too big and will have to be resized. And I guess I am not as big boned as I always thought I was after all, because I now have much thinner wrists and fingers.

Darn!

It’s not all good new though, since my weight around my middle is not departing as nicely or as quickly as I would have liked. But since I have more weight to lose all over during the next year or so, I can’t yet say what my final shape will be in the end, but for now I am calling myself an avocado. So, with that shape in mind, I pulled out my next sloper pattern, a v-neck, button up the front, no collar shirt, to be altered for my current size.

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P1030439To start out, I took a few measurements off of my recently altered t-shirt patterns, some measurements from my current shirts that fit ok, and some new measurements of myself. The first alteration I made was take 1/2 inch out of the shoulders at the neck and tapered the shoulder seam to the armscye on both the front and the back of the shirt. This took 2 inches out of the neck in total. This in turn helped to bring the shirt back up around my neck, shortened the shoulder seams, brought the sleeve up more onto the shoulder and reduced the amount of cleavage that wanted to show. Wow, you wouldn’t think that small of a change would make so much difference, but it did. The next alteration I made was to take 1 inch off of each side seam.

After looking at the new cut line and my measurements and remembering my new avocado shape, I decided to taper the side seams and add the inch back into the hips. This gave the shirt a “A” shape. I was concerned that this was going to make the final shirt look too blousey at the bottom, but since P1030433this is just a trial shirt I decided to leave the “A” shape alone for now. Taking an inch off the sides meant that the bottom of the armscye was higher and that the armscye was now smaller so I had to take an inch off the sides of the sleeves too.

I did decide to leave the shirt the same length for now, because I figured I would be sewing a good sized hem on it because of my bust being smaller now. I did remember to do the final alteration needed and take the 1/2 inch off the shoulders of the facings just like I did with the shoulder seams so that the facing and shirt would match. With this all done, I was ready to cut out the fabric and sew it up.

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P1030436Since this was just a trial for the newly modified pattern, I picked a fabric that wasn’t my favorite but yet was nicer than my last trial shirt and could be worn to work. After washing, drying and ironing the fabric, I got to the cutting table. Because I did not know if my new alterations were correct, I did not want to just chop up my old sloper pattern, so I made slits in the pattern and folded the old pattern to my alterations lines to make the new cuts. This way if I need to adjust something later on the pattern was still usable. Later on, I would learn that this was a very wise move on my part.

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The sewing of the shirt went smoothly except for the interfacings. I don’t believe I will live long enough to completely master interfacing fabric. I had been using a sew in interfacing that sewed in just fine but now that it is attached to the fabric is too heavy. Maybe it will soften up with a few washings. One can hope I guess. Once again, since this is just a trial shirt, I just chalked the wrong type of interfacing up to a lesson learned. After finishing the shirt, I decided that the design and color of the fabric was just too busy for an embroidery design so I declared the shirt finished. Now it was time for the most important part, the wear test.

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P1030369I have wore this shirt a couple of times and although there is nothing wrong with the shirt and it is very wearable, I am going to make some more alterations in my pattern for my next shirt. Whie standing the shirt is fine, but when sitting the shirt presents some problems. I need a little room put back in the bust. I am ok with this because it will get rid of the “A” shape of the shirt which did turn out to be more blousey than I wanted at the bottom in my last trial shirt. I will have to add the same amount back in to the sleeves as well so I may need to lift the armscye up a bit so that I don’t lose that alteration when I add it back to the side seams. I also need to adjust the length of the next shirt trial, especially in the slits in the sides. The slits are there to help give you some extra room in the hips when you sit down, but the slits in this shirt are not high enough to do their job properly, so some adjusting is needed there.

The shoulder seam alterations seem to be good though and I like the fit around the neck. And after a couple of washings, the interfacing has softened up a little, but I am still very unpleased with the interfacing in this shirt. But that has nothing to do with my alterations. Yet, it was another good sewing lesson learned. Practice and patience is the key to all sewing, you know.

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I was, of course, hoping that this shirt, like the t-shirt, would be a good fit after the alterations but I knew not having the stretch of the knit to help the fit that my first try with it would not be perfect. And with that in mind, instead of moving on to my next sloper pattern, I have decided to do the right thing and make the new alterations to this pattern now and make another shirt from the newly altered pattern to get it right. As much as I want to say “Ok, that’s done.” I know that this is going to be a long process and I have to do it right. So its back to the drawing board for a few more revisions until I am happy with it.

The Interfacing Battle Continues

Interfacing… why did it have to be interfacing? I hate interfacing! (a quote from Indiana Jones wife, if she were a seamstress)

Having recently abandoned fusible interfacing for sew in interfacing, I stared at the yards of fusible interfacing in the stash and wondered what to do with it. Should I send in to the thrift store and curse someone else who purchased and used it? Should I attach a note with it when I send it off? A note about all the ways that I have tried to make it work and that have failed, so the next owner will not have to repeat my disasters with it? Possibly the new owner of this interfacing would be wiser than me, and know the secrets of applying fusible interfacing properly, making this a great find for their trip to the thrift store. Or, should I just throw it away for fear of cursing anyone else with this stuff?

While talking to my mom recently, I mentioned my latest interfacing dilemma and she suggested washing and drying the fusible interfacing before use, and thus making it sew in interfacing. I was ok with washing the interfacing before use since I had always preshrank this type of interfacing before I used it each time anyway. But putting it in the dryer after washing it seemed like a recipe for disaster, that I could not quite wrap my head around. My first thought was if I put the fusible interfacing in a hot dryer, it is going to fuse to something. Horrible pictures popped into my mind of interfacing being melted to the drum of the dryer and spending hours, if not days, trying to clean the interfacing out of the dryer. I mentioned my mom’s comments to the husband and he said to go ahead and try it, since he was the one that would be repairing the dryer if anything went wrong. And so now with two people encouraging me to do it, I went ahead and washed the fusible interfacing and then tossed it into the dryer.

Horror of horrors! Now I am currently at the local appliance store looking for a new dryer! Nah, not really!

Luckily, the horrible story I had seen in my mind did not come true thank goodness. The interfacing did not stick to the dryer at all. It did leave little dots of unglued glue all over the interior, but a quick vacuuming of the dryer and the vent took care of that. It did fuse to itself a little bit though. I had to pull it apart in spots to get it flat enough to fold. The white, a longer piece, did not stick to itself as bad as the two shorter pieces of black did. I don’t know if the length really made a difference or if one just had more glue over the other, or if it just did not lose its glue in the process.

Not being able to iron the interfacing at this point, it looks a little bit wrinkled and worn. And boy did it shrink! The pieces are now considerably smaller than they were originally. But, there is still a lot of glue on each piece. Enough glue, that on my latest project I decided to try using it again as a fusible interfacing. I cut it out and ironed it on the pieces of my project and it looks great with no bubbles! Plus, there was still plenty of glue to hold the interfacing on to the fabric while I sewed it together.

So, now what should I do? Do I abandon the yards of sew in interfacing I have just bought and return to the now usable fusible interfacing? So far I have decided to play it project by project to see which one I use with which project. So with this new process, I will see if this answers the fusible interfacing conundrum that I previously had.