Tag Archive | 12

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!

Advertisements

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!

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 2 of 2

IMG_0075Sewing the lining and fur together was the next step that I needed to complete my fur vest project. I had planned to follow the pattern guide and sew from the side seam, across the bottom front hem and then up one side of the vest, around the neck, down the other side of the vest and back across the bottom of the other front and back to the side seam.

It all sounded simple enough of course, but alas it was not. I quickly learned that I did not want to do this as one big continuous seam. So I broke in up into several seams instead. I first started by sewing around the neck, then I sewed down each side of the front of the vest, and then across the bottoms. Breaking up this big seam seemed to give me more control over attaching the fur and lining together and I think it worked out better in the end.

P1040036Across the bottom of the fronts and back where the hem lines were, was the most difficult part of stitching the lining especially across the back. I finally broke the back seam up into two seams, sewing from one side to the middle and then from the other side to the middle. I doubt this was the proper way to do it, but it was the only way that I could get it to work right. I tried to keep the fur out of my way as I was stitching and keep the lining even with the fur, but it all seemed to slip one way or the other on these P1040091seams. And I would end up sewing on the fur instead of on the backing, or the lining would fold over itself, or I would have no lining to sew at the end of the seam.

It was a real fight and I don’t know if I was not learning an important sewing skill that I needed to learn, or if it was just a matter of patience and practice to get it right. In the end did a lot of unpicking to get all the seams sewn to my liking. Around the neck and the arms were the easiest seams to sew which seemed odd to me. Usually a curve is more difficult to sew than a straight seam. I guess that the opposite is true for fur. I did learn that I liked to have the fur on top of the lining, instead of the lining on top of the fur when sewing. It just seemed to work better that way.

P1040073The next step was to turn the vests right side out and to sew the side seams. According to the pattern this is supposed to be done using a circular seam. So I started by sewing the lining together at the top, and then sewing the armscye together. Next was down the outside or the fur side seam, then to sew the hems together, and then back to sewing the lining together at the bottom, leaving a hole to push all of this seam back into place when done.

The final step is to stitch the hole closed. It sounded simple, but once again it was not. It was very difficult to keep the seams aligned properly while stitching two thin pieces of lining to two thick pieces of fur and it was especially difficult while stitching two big pieces of fur to two thin pieces of lining. By remembering what I had learned on the other seams, I decided to sew these seams in parts. I sewed from the top to the middle of the side seam, stopped, turned the vest around and sewed from the bottom to the middle of the side seam once again giving me more control over the seam with the shorter seams.

P1040088The final step was to hand stitch the lining side seams together. And since I very much dislike to hand stitch anything, I tried to figure out a way to machine stitch these seams but I could not, so I decided to bite the bullet and do the hand-stitching. I played around with a few different stitches and I decided on a ladder stitch to finish the seams. The hand-stitching went smoothly when I started but as I came to the bottom of the seam, I had extra fabric on one side of the seam. The seam had laid evenly when I first started to stitch but by the end I had a bubble that I had to try and ease in.

P1040063How and why was this happening I wondered? Had one side come unfolded as I stitched. Had I stretched one side? Had I pulled the stitches too much on one side and not the other? I did not know and I could not figure it out. I unpicked my hand-stitching and tried it again and I had the same problem. I then turned to my iron to try and solve the problem. I ironed the seam allowance for the hand stitching so that the lining would stay in place while I stitched, but I still had the same bubble when I was at the end of the seam. I next tried to serge the edges of the lining to try and help keep the fold in place and to give me something to feel as I hand-stitched, but I still ended up with the same problem. I tried to take smaller stitches, then I tried bigger stitches but I still had the same problem.

P1040072Flustered, I finally just did the best job that I could, by pulling and easing and folding to get the seam stitched closed. The end results are not as good as I would have liked. I was not pleased at all with the final seams and they look horrible to me, but I do think the seams are secure, so I let them be. So I guess that I will need to revisit this problem at another time. I don’t know what the answer is but with some more research and practice, I think that maybe I can finally master the art of hand-stitching and do a good job of it.

P1040067Two final things I did learn about stitching fur is that number one the fur that I am working with stretches. It never even crossed my mind that because this fur has a knit backing and that makes it really stretchy. I think some stay stitching would have helped with the stitching of these vests, especially across the hems. And second, I need to shave the seam allowances more than I did. I needed to learn just how much fur I could trim out of the seam so that it is easier to sew the seam together, but still not have it ruin the look of the fur. I trimmed some of the fur, but I think more trimming would have been helpful, especially at the point where the armscye and hem attach to the lining.

After all this trial and error, I don’t want to wait another year to sew fur again like I did the last time. I have learned so much on this project and I don’t want to forget any of it so I am going to make a few more projects from fur in the near future to reinforce what I have learned here.

Until next time…

Fur Real! I am not making any of this stuff up! Part 1 of 2

M6430-2Maybe it is because it has been colder outside recently. Or maybe it is because the ground hog has already seen his shadow and predicted that we have lot’s more winter on the way. Or, maybe it is just the amount of fur that I still have hiding in the stash. Regardless of the reasons though, my thoughts lately have been about sewing fur. So, I decided that my next project would be fur vests.

Its been just over a year since I completed the fur coat for the little neighbor girl. I hope she has not outgrown it and that she has enjoyed wearing it. I learned so much about sewing fur when I made that first coat and I did not mean to wait so long to sew fur again and forget all the things that I had learned. One thing I did remember from making that coat was that I had wished it had a nicer looking lining, and that I had done a better job in lining it. So, I decided to make that my starting point for these new vests. I was going to learn to do a better job of lining fur.

P1030986With the linings in mind, I first picked a McCalls M6430 vest pattern to make them from. Since the little neighbor girl already has a fur item from me, I decided to make the vest pattern for a coworker’s tween daughters, aged 9 and 10, but both wearing a size 12. Of course, this meant I would be making two vests instead of just one, but that’s was a good thing I thought since it was a chance to get twice the amount of practice with the fur and linings.

Cutting out the fur was the same as before, and was very time consuming. I traced the pattern onto the fur and then snipped carefully with the scissors to only cut the backing of the fur and not the fur itself. Thankfully, there are only three pieces to these vests, so I only had six pieces to cut out in total. I then cut out the linings which went much faster but still took more time than I expected. The lining fabric just wanted to slide all over the cutting table, so I was careful while cutting to keep it in place and not let it slip around too much.

P1040047I wanted to vary the vests designs slightly from the original pattern, since I figured that I might as well learn as much as I can from a project while doing it. And so instead of using hook and eye closures, I decided to give one vest a zipper as I did in the coat and then use buttons for the second vest. Sewing the zipper in went as smoothly as it had on the coat. I placed the sides of the zipper facing inward on the fur fronts of the vest and stitched them on with the zipper foot. I made sure to stitch down the fur, with the way the fur layed, and making sure to keep the fur smooth. This gave me a nice line on the back of the fur to follow when I stitched the lining to the fur.

The buttons were not quite as easy to do as zipper was. I had to do a lot of precise measuring to get them where they needed to be so everything looked even. And since a P1040043regular button hole stitched by my machine was not going to work with the fur, I figured that a bound buttonhole was the answer. But I was not yet ready for to tackle that with the fur, so I picked a loop closure for the buttons instead. I picked a nice brown woven trim to make the closures that has no stretch, so the fit had to be just right for the loops to go around the buttons properly. The loops could not be too small and not fit around the buttons and could not be too large so that they fell off the buttons. The loops could not be too short or too long so that the edges of the vest laid against each other, and not over each other or apart from each other. It would have been much easier to pick a stretchy trim to make the loops but I did not find a stretchy trim that I liked as much as the trim that I picked out. And I decided that since this was a learning experience, I needed to learn what to do to make the loops properly when my trim was not stretchy.

P1040020So after a lot of thought and measuring, I sewed the loops on top of the fur on the one side of the vest, facing the loops inward, and then I sewed the buttons on to the other side of the vest. I used the extension on my button foot to lift the buttons up from the fur so that the buttons did not sink down into the fur, and so there was room for the loops to fit under the buttons. When trying the loops out on the buttons, I quickly learned that they were too big and that they readily fell off the buttons. I did not want to make the loops any smaller though since it would pull the edges of the vest across each other. I could have moved the buttons closer to the edge of the vest so the loops could be smaller, but I was trying to keep the buttons away from the edge as much as possible so they did not interfere with the sewing of the lining. I also could have sewn the buttons on by hand after the lining was done, but that sounded like way too much work to me.

The final solution that I chose was to P1040039stitch the loops together so that the part that went around the button was smaller but the loop still kept its length. I used 6 strands of embroidery floss to stitch the loops together. And I chose a color that matched the trim so that hopefully the stitches would not be noticed. I used the floss so that the stitches would be strong enough to withstand being pulled around the button time and time again. I stitched through the trim twice with the floss then knotted the floss at the back of the loop. I used a dab of fray check on the knots to seal the ends of the floss so they would not come undone.

Please join me next time as I tell you about sewing the lining and the fur together and finishing up the vests in my next post.