Tag Archive | alter

Down In The Southwest

DSCN4029Waste not, want not, but as you know there is more to it when it comes to fabric scraps and remnants. It’s the challenge of making something from nothing and the creativity of making it work that gets you to use those scraps and to buy those fabric remnants from the bargain bin at the fabric store.

It was this challenge and creativity that got me to begin my latest sewing project.

DSCN4027I saw this southwest print in a stack of discounted flat fold fabrics and I just fell in love with it. I love the bright colors on the black background and the fabric has a nice weight and feel to it. But, there was just a little over a yard left. What could I make from that? The fabric would be ideal for me a shirt, but could I figure out how to piece it together with other pieces of fabric to make me a shirt? Color blocking ideas swirled in my head so I quickly purchased the piece of southwest print fabric and brought it home!

DSCN4033With a color blocking design in mind, I dug through the stash and found several pieces of fabric that I could put together with the southwest print to make me a shirt, but the deep blood red piece that I found was by far my favorite. But, as I went to cut the shirt out, I noticed that the red piece of fabric was terribly flawed.

What was such a flawed piece of fabric even doing in the stash?

I returned to the stash to select a different piece of fabric to use with the southwest print but now I did not like any of my other choices. I thought about going back to the fabric store to look for more red fabric but I was too disappointed to go. I took another look at the flaws in the red fabric to see if I could work around them. How could I make it work the way it was? After much thought, I came up with a new color block design that should work, but I would have to cut the southwest print perpendicular to the grain line.

Would it be ok to cut against the grain?

DSCN4022After much studying and reading about grain lines, grain, cross grain, welt and warp threads, I decided that yes it would be ok to cut my fabric perpendicular to the grain line as long as I was careful to cut on the cross grain just as I would be careful to cut on the grain line. At this point after fully researching the issue, it was finally time to cut the fabric.

The cutting process started with tracing my pattern and then cutting out new pieces for the color blocking. This took time and thought. I had to decide where I wanted the seams to be, add some seam allowances and then reshape the armscye and hem. With the new pattern pieces created, it was time to cut. I carefully cut the front and back pieces perpendicular to the grain line from the southwest print and the I carefully placed and cut my new side pattern pieces and sleeves around the flaws of the red pieces of fabric. With the pieces all cut out, it was time to sew.

DSCN4023The sewing process was going along smoothly until I noticed the flaw of the red fabric in the center of one of the sleeves. I thought I had cut so carefully around the flaws but I guess that I had not. I had no more non-flawed red fabric to cut out another sleeve with. Could I just pretend the flaw was not there? No, I would never wear the shirt with the flawed sleeve. Hmm, I wondered. Could I cover up the flaw with a little embroidery? Yes, that would work!

I picked a lizard embroidery design and some bright colors to match the southwest print and embroidered the design on the sleeve to cover up the flaw and it worked great! You can still see the flaw, but your eye is now attracted to the embroidery design instead of the flaw so no one ever notices it. Showing the husband my embroidery solution, he suggested embroidering another lizard on the other sleeve to balance out the design. So, I picked some more bright colors and embroidered another lizard on the other arm. With the lizard designs embroidered on each sleeve, it did not take long to complete the hems and sew on some bright southwest looking buttons to complete the shirt.

DSCN4026I was a little apprehensive about wearing this shirt at first with its bright colors and it’s multiple embroidery designs, but it did not take long to fall in love with the shirt. It is a lot of fun to wear! The color blocking, bright colors, and the embroidered designs make it highly unique. This shirt also fits well. The alterations to the pattern for the color blocking did not affect the fit.

I am very pleased with this shirt and have already worn it several times. I am now excited to make more projects with lots of color blocking and embroidery designs but minus the flawed fabric.

Until then, sew forth and lizard on!

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WWWHHHAAATTT!?! – The Minions – Part 2

DSCN2582I had already spent the appropriate amount of time worrying about making this minion shirt so it was easy to get started on it.

I really wanted this shirt to sew together without any problems, so I decided to take my time and think things through carefully. So after laundering and ironing the fabric , it was time to start cutting.

I cut very carefully and added the alterations that I wanted to the pattern as I cut. I was quite selective about the interfacing I chose to use and I went ahead and cut it out too.

DSCN2584As I started to sew, I realized that I did make one cutting/design error, well not really an error, but a small change to the design. In my mind, the shirt had the minion fabric on the right and the blue on the left, but I had cut the left front from the minion fabric and the right front from the blue fabric. Mmmmmm, was this going to look ok? After much thought, I decided it would look fine, and maybe better because the buttons would be on the solid blue fabric instead of lost in the the minions fabric.

DSCN2581The sewing when smoothly. I took my time and tried the shirt on after each step. I also ironed each seam carefully as it was sewn. As I serged the edges of the sleeves, preparing them to be hemmed, I did not notice that I I was running out of thread on one of my loopers. Once the looper ran out of thread, my serged edge was ruined. Luckily, I had debated about cutting 1/2 inch off the length of the sleeves and had not done so yet. So, I cut the 1/2 inches off the length of the sleeves ridding me of the bad serged edge, threaded new spools of thread on my loopers and serged the new edges.

With the sewing on of the final button, I declared the shirt done and tried it on. The fit seemed to be good, but as I looked at myself in the mirror, the shirt needed to be something else. The right blue front was just that, blue. I grabbed some scraps and started adding to the blue front piece.

DSCN2493At first, I wanted to add a stripe of minion fabric down the blue front, but that was too much of an accent. I thought about digitizing a minion embroidery design. But since I was too excited about wearing the shirt, and it would take time to perfect the design and I wanted to wear the shirt now. My next thought was a pocket. This would not be a functioning pocket, just something for show, so it would not have to be any certain size or style. I decided to make a temporary pocket and see how it looked pinned on.

DSCN2496To make the pocket, I cut out two squares of fabric and then rounded the corner on one end. Next, with right sides together, I sewed completely around the two modified squares. Next, I made a small cut in the fabric that would be inside the pocket. I turned the pocket right side out through this slit. After a lot of pressing, with a little seam to seam, I mended the cut that I made in the pocket to turn it inside out. This worked well and I had a finished pocket. Since I will not be putting anything in this pocket, I am not worried about the seam to seam mending holding up with wear and tear.

Placing the pocket on the blue front, I liked it, then with another look, I did not, then after a few minutes, I liked it again.

Argh!

DSCN2498I turned to the husband for his opinion and he said that he did like the pocket, so I sewed the pocket to the front of the shirt. I am still up in the air as to wether I like the pocket or not but it is sewn to the shirt for now.

The shirt has passed the “wear” test and I really like it. My alterations seem to be good. This shirt is fun to wear and is very comfortable.

It also makes me crave bananas for some reason…

Until next time, sew forth and banana on!

WWWHHHAAATTT!?! – The Skulls – Part 1

Despicable-me-minions-480x477Its what I want for Christmas. I told the husband that all I wanted for Christmas this year was a minion. Now, not one of those little ones from McDonald’s or a plush one, or even one of those plastic ones that talk. I wanted a really live, living, breathing minion. And, of course, I don’t want my minion to be lonely while I’m at work so I had better have a couple of minions. The husband said he would see what he could do but in the meanwhile I decided to satisfy my minion need with some minion fabric.

When I saw the minion fabric at Walmart, I knew that I just had to have it. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to make from it, but I just knew that I must have some. I purchased 1 yard and brought it home. The fabric sat on the cutting table while I debated what I wanted to make from it. I thought about all kinds of fun kid’s clothes that I could make from it, but instead I only wanted it for myself, so I decided to make myself a shirt from it.

Because let’s be honest here… Who doesn’t need a minion shirt?

DSCN2591Before I could cut into the minion fabric, I found myself fabric shopping again when I ran across this banana fabric. Seriously, it was bananas! BANANA! So of course, I needed some banana fabric to go with my minion fabric so I purchased one yard of the banana and headed home. Once I was home, I placed it next to the minion fabric on the cutting table. And I thought I was all ready to go. But, before I could cut into the minion fabric or the banana fabric, I found myself scoping out Walmart’s fabric department again, only to find a different minion fabric that I liked better for my shirt than the first minion piece, so one yard of this second minion fabric made it way to my cutting table as well.

DSCN2586Finally all set and before I could go fabric shopping again, I decided it was time to design and make my minion shirt. I quickly decided to make one front from the second minion fabric that I had picked up, the collar and sleeves from the banana fabric and then to find some blue in the stash for the other front side and the back. After laundering and ironing the fabric, I pulled my sloper pattern from the closet, only to remember that I was in the process of altering my basic sloper.

Augh!

I did not want to cut into my precious minion and banana fabric with a pattern that needed it’s alterations tested.

DSCN2585So, I folded up my minion and banana fabric and pulled some fabric from the stash to test my alterations on. I like the colors of this fabric a lot but it has not become a shirt till now because it is very thin. I was skeptical of how it would wear being so thin, but I decided that since this was a test shirt, I would go ahead and use this fabric to give it a try.

So I cut out my altered pattern and I started to sew it up.

The sewing went smoothly. I was afraid that my machine would argue about sewing this thin fabric but all went well, and soon it was time to sew buttonholes and buttons. Sitting on the top of my button box was some sugar skull buttons that the husband got me awhile back when I needed skull buttons for the girl’s cross back tops. I laid the buttons out on the shirt. They did not really match but they looked fun, so why not. Again, this was just a test shirt.

DSCN2589Rather than picking out just one design of sugar skulls, I sorted through the pack of buttons and picked five different designs. When I sewed the buttons on, each button had its holes in a different spot. One button’s holes were vertical, one was horizontal, and the others were at a variety of angles. This presented a challenge to sew the buttons on straight. I had to measure and turn the fabric every which way to keep the skulls on the buttons right side up. Luckily with some patience and time, I got the buttons sewn on correctly.

DSCN2590I have had a chance to give this shirt a “wear test” and it passed just fine. There were a couple of small alterations that are needed to the armscye and button placement but I had solved the fitting problem at the neck from my last shirt made from this pattern.

But the good news is that I feel good enough about my alterations to my pattern to start the minion shirt as my next project.

Until then, sew forth and BANANA on!

Invested

DSCN1372DSCN2485 (1)Do you ever have a pattern speak to you when you see it?

Me! Me! Me! Sew me next! Sew me next! Pick me! Pick me!

Well, this pattern did not just speak to me, it screamed at me!

The minute I saw this free vest pattern on the internet, I abandoned all of my other sewing plans.

Since I could not ignore its request to be sewn next, a boy’s vest became my next sewing project.

DSCN2491DSCN2492What caught my attention about this vest pattern was the endless creative possibilities that it presented.

From the fabric I would use to make this vest, to the type of pockets I would sew, to the embroidery and details I would stitch, there were dozens of designs decisions to be made.

First off, I picked the fabric. I choose some sport weight scraps for the outer layer of this vest and some flannel for the lining.

I did question using flannel for the lining though.

The smooth slippery fabric of a lining helps with taking an item on and off. Flannel is not smooth or slippery and would actually make it more difficult to pull an item on and off.

But, since this is a vest, i.e. without sleeves, I figured the flannel would be fine to use. Plus, it would add a layer of warmth to the vest, and as an added bonus, I would be using some of the flannel hiding in the stash and most importantly, I could incorporate the print of the flannel with the embroidery design that I would be stitching on it. So, it was not difficult to pick the dinosaur flannel fabric for the lining and a dinosaur embroidery design.

DSCN1364DSCN1365When it came to deciding on pockets, I liked the patch pockets that were used on the pattern so I decided to make them.

The pockets are not just typical patch pockets so there would probably be something new for me to learn from sewing them.

I started the process by downloading the pattern, printing it out, taping it together, cutting it out, and then throwing it away. Yes, you read that right. I threw it away.

DSCN1373DSCN2488As I laid the pattern pieces on the fabric, I did not like the way they looked at all. I couldn’t get the shoulder seams to match and the armscye looked misshaped.

I could see many problems occurring during the sewing process using that pattern and I did not want to waste my time or fabric on a doomed project.

I was disappointed to say the least.

I was so excited to make this vest and I had already put so much planning into it’s design that I did not want to just abandon the project.

So I turned to my pattern stash and what do you know! Lying right on top was a jacket pattern, Simplicity 8902.

Could I possibly use this jacket pattern to make a vest by just leave the sleeves off?

DSCN2487DSCN2486 (1)I did not know the answer to this question but I was certainly willing to find out.

I began to cut out the pieces for this vest from it. Since I was going to use buttons instead of a zipper, I added an extra 1 inch to the front pieces.

I also ironed on a strip of interfacing to this extra inch to strengthen it for the buttons.

My first step in the sewing process was to sew the pockets on the front of the vest.

Embroidering the dinosaur design was next. Then I sewed the shoulder seams and collar. It was then that I realized I should have reversed these steps. The collar is slightly covering the top the embroidery design. If the design had been any bigger, it would have been hidden under the collar.

The next time, I will sew the shoulder seams and attach the collar first and then embroider the design placing it so the collar is not in its way. Then I will attach the pockets last.

DSCN1368DSCN1369This way I will have no problem hooping the fabric for the embroidering without the pockets on the front, and after embroidering, I can place the pockets over the fabric that was hooped.

The original vest pattern had a bottom band. I liked the look of the band so I decided to keep it on this vest, so I cut the vest and lining 2 inches shorter than the pattern called for to accommodate the bottom band. Because of the bottom band, it was easy to sew the lining to the vest.

With right sides together, I sewed around the vest and lining before sewing the side seams then turned it inside out and sewed the side seams. After a lot of pressing, I sewed the band to the front side of the vest and lining and then folded it to the back and stitched in the ditch to finish up the band.

DSCN1374DSCN2490 (1)The last step was to sew the buttonholes and buttons.

I sewed vertical buttonholes so that my buttonholer would not have to move over the pockets. I don’t believe that vertical buttonholes will make a difference in how the vest wears.

In the end the vest turned out absolutely adorable!

I just love it, and it was so much fun to design and make that I can’t wait to make another one.

I have not given this vest to anyone yet so I do not have a “wear test” to tell me whether a jacket without sleeves makes for an acceptable vest, but it looks good to me.

I could always make the armscye a little bigger on the next vest to ease my mind and the fit.

So until the next time, sew forth and vest 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!

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, sew forth and sew on.

Simplicity 2907 – Hong Kong Kitty – Part 2

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Until then, sew forth on and bias on!