Tag Archive | cut

Bad Habits – Cutting Corners And Skipping Steps

'Gee, I don't know. Can I see this in another mirror?'

I did something that I have not done in at least 15 years. I went to the store, picked out 6 pairs of denim pants in my size, took them to the fitting room, tried each pair on, selected the pair that had the most acceptable fit of the six, then purchased that pair of pants. This experience got me thinking about several things.

First, why was I buying Ready To Wear (RTW) pants?

As you can tell from the recent slow down in the frequency of my blog posts, life happens, and the only sewing that I have been able to do recently is a little mending here and there. Thankfully I knew quite awhile ago just when these life changes were coming.

life-change-aheadBecause of that I took the precious little sewing time that I still had left to make myself a couple of new pairs of work pants, but I did not get a pair of casual denim pants made before my time ran out. At the time, this was fine. It was still summer, and I was wearing shorts on my days off, but it’s starting to get colder now, and I need long pants to wear most days. Because of this I had to make a decision, either quickly whip up a pair of denim pants cutting as many corners as possible to save time, or to head to the store to  purchase a pair of denim pants. I choose the later.

My  first thought when I decided to purchase a pair of pants instead of making them was the famous minion refrain ”WWHHAATTT?!?” “You’re a seamstress! You have the tools, the fabric, and the notions! Get your butt in there and sew yourself a new pair of pants!”

'I knew there was part of the pattern missing!'

But, with the very little time that I had available to make the pants, I would have had to cut every corner possible to get them done in time. I would not have washed and pre-shrunk the fabric. I would not have finished the seams properly or completely, and I wouldn’t hem the pants to the proper length either. I would have just rolled the hem under and hope that it stayed with a quick ironing or a big safety pin.

This lead my next thought to be, “Is this really the way you want to sew something? Do you want to do a poor sewing job just to get the item done in the time you have available?” The answer was easy for me. No! I did not want to wear a pair of pants that were sewn that way!

deadlines-1p2cpw7There was a time long ago when I first started sewing that I sewed only for the end result, regardless of how poor of a job that I did. When I first started sewing, my mom, who is a advanced and skilled seamstress, trying to encourage me, would say, “Oh, it should only take 30 minutes for you to make that t-shirt”, or “You’ll have that dress whipped up in an hour.” She was trying to let me know that sewing was fun, quick and easy and, in no time at all that I would have a finished wearable item.

But, I misinterpreted my mom words at the time! I made sewing a timed event. When it took me 2 days instead of 2 hours to sew something, I figured I was a failure and that I was doing something wrong, so to compensate I would try to sew the item too quickly, cut corners, and skip steps to complete the project in the allotted time.

02d0fcf10d4a027a72e27973cf29abc7My goal was only to get the item finished in the proper amount of time. When I finally figured out that every sewing project did not have a deadline, and that I could take the time that I needed to complete a project properly, I enjoyed sewing a lot more. Sewing became fun and I began to enjoy the process, plus my finished items were of a much higher quality and they wore a lot better.

Another reason that I was willing to cut corners and skip steps to get the finished item completed quickly, was that when I was first starting to sew I grew tired and bored of a project. I just wanted it to be done and over with so that I could start on another project. I would often say “I should really unpick this and sew this again, but I’m not going to. I will just do better on the next project.” I quickly learned that when I did this, I was not pleased with the finished item, and I was not enjoying the sewing process at all because I knew I could have sewn it better.

SLIGHTLY Irregular Designer Jeans.

So, when it came to going back to poor sewing habits just to complete a pair of pants, I decided that I would rather use the little time I had to carefully sew a few seams on a current project, or thoughtfully plan a future project, or, if I just needed to sew,  I would just make a baby sleeper or two. For a needed pair of pants though, I would just see what the Ready To Wear world had available for me instead. I would leave the poor sewing in my past.

Hopefully, life will change again soon, and I will have more sewing time available to me in the future!

Until then, sew forth and enjoy the process on!

A Snake In The Grass

IMG_4459I have been eyeing this snake pattern for a long time. It looked like a quick, but fun project. So, when it was time to pick another amigurumi project, this snake popped to the top of my to do list.

IMG_4463As I dug through the yarn stash looking for just the right colors for the snake’s body and stripes, I found four colors that I really liked together that would work great for the snake’s body, but I only needed three colors to make the pattern. But which three colors should I pick? Undecided, I asked the husband which three colors he thought would look best for the snake’s body and stripes. He said I should use all four colors. After a long pause to see it in my minds eye, I decided that yes I could use all four colors. I would subtract one round for the color that was used the most in the snake’s stripe and replace that round with the fourth color. With the colors planned out, it was time to start crocheting.

IMG_4466The crocheting of the snake’s body started with the tail. I crocheted the tip of the tail and then the first 3 color stripe. It looked great. Since it was not too many rounds until the next stripe, I decided to carry the 3 yarns of the stripe as I crocheted. After the third stripe, though, I noticed that the 4 yarns that I was carrying instead of cutting and tying off with each color change, were getting very twisted and hard to manage.

Maybe I should be cutting and tying each color change to prevent this twisting mess?

IMG_4338But, I knew it would not be easy to cut and tie each color change in a 10 single crochet round, especially with the number of color changes this snake’s body had. So, I had to decide which I wanted to do, take the time to untwist the 4 carried yarns as I crocheted or cut and tie off each color change. I decided to carry and untwist the yarn as I crocheted.

IMG_4336It wasn’t difficult to untwist the yarn as I crocheted, but it was time consuming. I still think it was less time consuming and trouble to carry and untwist the yarns than to cut and tie each of the color changes. Once I had completed the ninth stripe of the snakes body, I really liked the results and I was very pleased that I took the time and effort to use the extra color. I crocheted the snake’s head next, and soon I had the two pieces of the snake crocheted up and ready to stitch together.

IMG_4461The pattern said to stuff only the snake’s upper body and his head which I did. I then stitched the head and body together. The next step was the tricky step. I had to twist the snake’s body tightly enough so that it supported the snake’s head and made the snake stand upright like a cobra. After several twisting attempts and some fiddling and fussing, I got the snakes body twisted and his head positioned just right. I grabbed my pins and pinned everything in place. Then, with some small unseen stitches, I tacked the twists and head in place.

IMG_4465After some thought, this snake was named Snape.

Snape is very cute and definitely would not scary anyone as he slithers through the grass. He was a fun project but not quite as quick of a project as I thought it would be. I do hope to make more snakes some day as they were a lot of fun!

Until then, crochet forth and slither and twist on!

Look WHOO’s Here For Thanksgiving!

IMG_2840
As I made my list this year of the many things that I am thankful for, I decided to include my fabric stash in the list.

YES! I am VERY thankful for my fabric stash!

Like a fine wine, it is a place for my fabric to age and rest until it is time to be sewn into something wonderful. It seems that the fabric I buy HAS to spend a certain amount of time in the stash to age and breath before I can use it.

That was not true for this fabric though…

Joann’s had a doorbuster sale on holiday fabric. At 60% off, how could I not buy some? Sitting on the doorbuster deal shelf was this cute Thanksgiving owl printed fabric. When I saw it, I knew I wanted a shirt made from it. So, I bought enough fabric to make me a typical shirt with it. Off I went straight home with it to the sewing room, bypassing the stash completely.

DSCN3819I pushed all of my other sewing projects aside and got started on my new Thanksgiving shirt straight away!

This was a very odd feeling for me…

Here I was ready to prep and cut this fabric within hours of purchasing it, and it had not yet spent its allotted time in the stash to properly breath and age. I blame the recently made Snoopy shirt for this reckless use of fabric on my part. After cutting and sewing such a precious fabric as the snoopy fabric, why not try using another recently purchased fabric?

I started the construction process by pre-washing the fabric and I am so happy that I did not skip this step.

This fabric shrank. A LOT!

DSCN3820I could still get my shirt from it but there would be little to no scraps remaining when I was done. After washing and ironing the fabric, I pulled out my collarless button front basic sloper pattern and the cutting process started.

Knowing that I had just enough fabric to make this shirt, I tried to cut carefully, but I did not cut carefully enough. I cut two right facings, and I did not have enough fabric left to cut a left facing. Since the facing on this shirt will not be seen, I thought about making the facings from a different fabric, but as I fiddled with the scraps of this fabric that was left, I determined I could cut the left facing from the scraps if I put a seam across the middle of the facing. Once again, since the facings will not be seen, I decided to try the seamed facings first. If it looked bad or was bulky or messed with the buttons or buttonholes, I could always cut out some new facings from a different fabric.

DSCN3821So with that, I began the process of sewing it into a finished garment.

The sewing of this shirt went smoothly. I have made this basic sloper many times without problems. When the shirt was completed, you would not have known that I had to piece the left facing together. The seam did not add any bulk to the front of shirt and it is in between the third and fourth button so no one will know it is there but me.

IMG_2870The shirt wore great as I gobbled down turkey, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie in it on Thanksgiving Day.

The shirt is very comfortable and I have received a few compliments on it.

So with that I will add one more thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful to have a fun Thanksgiving shirt for one of my favorite holidays. I am also thankful that I did not make this fabric spend a year or two in the stash before sewing it up into this shirt.

I have wore it all month long now and with November nearly over, I can’t wait for next year just so I can wear it again!

Until then, sew forth and gobble till ya wobble on!

Pepper And Piper

DSCN3431 (1)Squeals of delight rang from my sewing room when I saw the pattern for these penguins. They were so cute, and the pattern showed pictures of endless possibilities in colors and variations for making a whole colony of penguins. I could not wait to get the crocheting started. I envisioned making several penguins in a variety of colors and belly spots.

DSCN3439 (1)I decided to start with a basic penguin with a gray body with no belly spot and black feet and beak. Crocheting the pieces went smoothly. When it came time to crochet the different colors of the head, I decided to cut and tie each color change. The last time I made a multi-colored head for Charlie the horse, I carried the yarn across the color changes instead of cutting and tying each color change, and I had to work very hard to keep my tensions even. Cutting and tying the color changes was easier than keeping an even tension, but it was time consuming, so it slowed down the crocheting process.

DSCN3438 (1)Before I stitched the first penguin together, I crocheted the next penguin in the colony. This time the penguin would have a gray body with a white belly spot and yellow feet and beak. Once again, I cut and tied the color changes in the head and now the body. If you look closely at the pictures, you will see a small “birth mark” on this penguin’s belly. I miss counted and did not notice my mistake until a couple of rounds later after several cut and ties were completed, and I did not want to undo all my work to fix that one stitch, so I am calling it a birthmark. It adds character to the penguin and in no way decreases his cuteness. Soon enough, I had all the pieces for the second penguin crocheted and ready to stitch together.

DSCN3436 (1)I picked up the yarn to start crocheting the next penguin in the colony, but then I decided to complete the first two penguins, whose pieces were already crocheted up, before starting another. The stitching together of these penguins was much easier than the stitching together of most my amigurumi’s. Because of the multi colored head, there was no question as to where the eyes were inserted, or where the beak DSCN2730was placed. On the second penguin, I had left a long piece of gray yarn from the head to stitch the head and body together. When I came to the white of the head and the belly spot, the gray stitches stood out badly. I had to stop the gray yarn and start a piece of white yarn to sew the white areas together and then return to the gray yarn to finish stitching the head and body together. On the first penguin, I had left I long black tail for sew from the body. This blended in well with both a gray and the white of the head. The color of yarn I leave for stitching is something I will have to keep in mind when I make amigurumi’s with multicolored heads and bodies in the future.

DSCN3432 (1)Because of the black heads, I stuffed the penguins a little lighter than most of the amigurumi’s I make. Usually, I over stuff my amigurumi’s. They say the stuff settles over time, so to over stuff at first. But, when you’re working with a dark color and white stuffing, the stuffing really shows through as the stitches are stretched by the over stuffing. Although, I really like no stuffing showing through the black stitches of the head, it was very hard for me stop stuffing before I thought the pieces were completely stuffed.

DSCN3434 (1)Feeling his head now that he is stitched together, I wish I had added just a little more stuffing to the first penguin’s head, especially in the back, but the second penguin is stuffed just right. The husband likes the less stuffing. I explained to him about the stuffing settling over time, but he still said that he liked the lighter stuff and he felt that the penguin’s still had enough stuffing to withstand the settling and a lot of be played with. It will be interesting to see if that turns out to be true or not.

DSCN3433 (1)With these two penguins completed, I picked up the yarn for the next penguin in the colony and asked the husband what color beak and feet I should crochet for this penguin and should it have a belly spot or not. The husband rolled his eyes and reminded me about all the fun patterns I have yet to crochet. And, he was right, I had already made this pattern, twice, and it was fun and the finished amigurumi’s were just adorable but other just as fun patterns are waiting in the wings.

I quickly named the two penguins Pepper and Piper and they are now waiting for a good home to go and live at.

I have tucked this pattern close to the front of my crochet pattern stash, and if and when the day comes that I want to complete the penguin colony or I just need a fun and simple amigurumi that turns out super cute, I know which pattern to reach for.

Until then, crochet forth and colony on!

I’ll Never Fall In Love Again!

Screen-Shot-2013-11-05-at-9.01.40-AMYou can see it from across the fabric store and there is a whole wall displaying it…

You’re drawn to it and it is so soft, fuzzy and warm, and some of the cutest designs ever are printed on it…

You MUST buy some and, as a general rule, its on sale…

Of course, I am talking about polar fleece and everybody just loves this fabric! Everyone it seems except me. Dare I say it out loud, I may not be in love with fleece or enjoy working with it as much as everyone else on the planet seems to be.

And here is why.

I, like everyone else, love the idea or the concept of fleece fabric. And who wouldn’t? It’s soft, warm, fuzzy fabric with no fraying, no shrinking, it looks good on both sides, it has some stretch but not too much stretch, and all the other fun features that fleece offers a sewer. What isn’t there to love? But, after sewing the last girl’s fleece jacket and starting my next sewing project with fleece, I’m not convinced that it really is all that easy and wonderful of a fabric to work with.

When I first started purchasing fleece fabrics, I planned to only make blankets with it, and who cared if the blankets were a little off grain and the print wasn’t perpendicular, or that it can’t be easily ironed or caused several headaches when sewn with the serger due to the amount of bulk.

DSCN2567For the blankets I was making, I did not give these concepts a second thought, so I was in love with fleece just like everyone else, and I bought any and all I could get to hide in the stash for future projects I had dreamt up. When I decided that I wanted to expand my skill set a little bit and make more than blankets from the fleece, I was at a point in my sewing skills where I did not worry about grain line, or matching designs, or ironing seams. So for the first couple of fleece projects that I made, I just cut it out and sewed it up, and I was still in love with fleece.

DSCN2575 (1)As my sewing skills have advanced over time, I am now far more concerned with thing like grain lines, matching the designs, and ironing the seams. So, when it was time to make the latest girl’s fleece jacket, these things were foremost on my mind. As I cut out the pattern and the froggy’s and rainbows weren’t straight, making it difficult to cut on the grain line and match the designs up, working with fleece became more than just cut and sew.

DSCN2572Looking at the piece of fleece, there were spots where I had to move over 21 inches from the edge of the fabric before I could find a good spot to cut. This was crazy! I decided that the froggy piece of fleece was just flawed until I started my next fleece project. Although not as much, I had to move 9 inches from the edge to get the footballs and helmets to line up.

Does all fleece suffer from this problem?

DSCN2563If it does, I’m going to have to watch WAY more closely when I buy fleece for pieces that I only have to move over 9 inches rather than 21 inches, or hopefully I can find some fleece that I will only lose a couple of inches on the edge. Plus, I’m going to have to buy extra fleece to accommodate for the lost fabric. I wanted to make my latest project a size large but had to switch to a size medium when I lost the 9 inches along the edge.

DSCN2566I turned to the Internet to see if I was alone in my wavering love of fleece, and from what I was reading, I was alone, everyone else seems to love fleece, but I did find several article titled, “How to sew fleece.” So, maybe you just have to learn the skill of sewing with fleece, just like learning to sew knits, furs, silks, actually any and all other types of fabrics. Maybe after learning some lessons about sewing with fleece, I will then be completely in love with fleece like so many others are.

Well I ldid learn a lot from the articles that I read on how to sew fleece, and I am excited to try out some of the things that I learned.

Luckily, I have my next sewing project involving fleece all cut out and ready to sew, so stay tuned to see how it turned out!

Until next time, sew forth and hopefully fall in love again.

It A Trap (ezoid) Skirt!

DSCN2926When I found this trapezoid scalloped edged girl’s skirt pattern on the internet, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with the scraps that I had leftover from my minion shirt. The combination of the minion fabric, the banana fabric and the blue fabic had made for a fun shirt and it would definitely make a fun skirt too.

I was excited to get sewing but I knew that I had to start with a little math before I could take the first stitch.

Yes that’s right kids! Your teachers WERE RIGHT about the using math outside of school thing! Imagine that!

Since I was sewing empirically here, and not making this skirt for anyone in particular, so no particular size, I had to calculate how big I could make the trapezoids versus the amount of scraps that I had.

DSCN2554Luckily I’m not afraid of a little math, so after a few calculations, I found that I had enough scraps for a girl’s size 6 to 8 skirt, making the trapezoids 3 inches at the top and 5 inches at the bottom and 15 inches long. And as per my calculations, I would be cutting out 18 trapezoids in total, 6 from each of the three different fabrics and that would use up all the scraps I had.

I first cut myself out a trapezoid pattern piece and then I used it to start cutting. I tried to cut as accurately as possible so that all the pieces fit together nicely and would be even.

DSCN2717Cutting out the pieces took some time, but sewing the trapezoids together took even more time, plus each seam had to be pressed after I sewed them. I sewed each trapezoid from the bottom to the top to keep them as even as possible.

After the trapezoids were all sewn together, I used the skirt as my pattern to cut out the lining for the skirt. The pattern only called for only a small strip of lining to be used at the bottom of the skirt to make the scalloped hem, but I decided to fully line to skirt. This would take care of finishing all the trapezoid seams, and it would keep the girl’s panties from showing through the thinner minion and banana fabric and eliminate the hand stitching the pattern called for at the hem from only using a strip of lining.

DSCN2718Cutting the lining caused me a few moments of anxiety because of the amount of fabric needed to cut the lining. The skirt was made of scraps so really no large or useful sizes of fabric were used, but when the trapezoids were sewn together, they formed a circle skirt, and cutting a full lining on grain for a circle skirt did require a real size piece of fabric.

In fact, cutting this lining pretty much used up all the yellow lining fabric I had purchased on sale a while back. I was sad that this lining fabric was now all gone. It had been a great piece to turn to when I needed a lining for the little girls dress I had made. But, the husband comforted me by reminding me that there was now one less piece of fabric in the stash and that now I could go and buy more lining fabric. And who doesn’t love to go fabric shopping? Not me, that’s for sure!

DSCN2720With the lining all cut out and the its side seams sewn, placing right sides together and matching the hem, I sewed around the hem. At this time I cut out a cardboard circle to use as the pattern for the scalloped hem. I traced the circle onto the skirt, matching the seams of the trapezoids and the stitch line at the hem. After tracing a scallop on each trapezoid, I carefully sewed around each scallop edge. Trimming and snipping around each scallop was the next step followed by turning the skirt right side out. It was now time for a lot of pressing to the skirt hem.

DSCN2727Once the scalloped hem was done and pressed, it was time for the waist band. I had planned to use 3/4 inch elastic in the waist, so with a few more calculations, I cut the waist band from the blue fabric 2.5 inches wide and long enough to go around the top of the skirt. With right sides together, I sewed the waist band to the top of the skirt, serged the edges and pressed it towards the top of the waist band. I then serged the top edge of the waist band and pressed it over about 1/4 inch. I then folded and pressed the waistband over and stitched in the ditch to finish it off. I left a small unsewn portion to insert the elastic. I also added a small tag to the waist band to denote the back of the skirt from the front, although this skirt really does not have a front or back.

DSCN2723After the waist band was sewn up, it looked short, too short to fit 3/4 inches elastic into it. I am not sure where my calculations went wrong but I should have cut the waist band wider. I debated about unpicking the waist band and cutting a new wider waistband, but the thought of unpicking all the serging was unbearable, so I decided to use 1/2 inch elastic instead of the 3/4 inch that I had planned on. The 1/2 inch elastic fit into the waist band just fine and I think because this skirt is for a younger girl, the 1/2 inch elastic will wear fine too.

DSCN2725To determine how much elastic to use in the waistband, I measured the length of my finished skirt of approximately 15.5 inches. Looking at a chart I had downloaded off the internet, I cut my elastic 25 inches in length. 24 inches for the waistband and 1 inch for sewing it together. This length of elastic plus the length of the skirt meant I had made approximately a small size 8 skirt.

This worked for me. I do not think an eight year old girl is too old for a minion skirt. If I’m not too old for a minion shirt then an 8 year old girl is certainly not too old for a minion skirt. Perhaps I am just still young at heart!

DSCN2734I decided to do a decorative top stitch around the scalloped edge of the hem of this skirt. I think the scallops were sewn fine before I did this, but because this is a play skirt, and I am expecting it to be worn while running and jumping, a little extra strength at the hem certainly won’t hurt.

I think that this skirt turned out to be just adorable, and I am excited for a young girl to wear it and enjoy the minion and banana fabric as much as I have enjoyed making it!

This skirt has also given me one more option to use up my scraps with and I will keep it in mind that next time I am debating about what to do with a pile of scraps.

Until next time, sew forth and trapezoid on!

Am I Too Old (For This)

DSCN0389I have been totally enjoying the sewing process of making some little girls dresses and bubble tops and I decided that I wanted to make more, so I pulled some more fabric from the stash. The pieces that I picked to make the next little girls project were a green and white cotton fabric and a green with lady bugs print cotton fabric. These two pieces of fabric looked good together and I could see either a dress or a bubble top easily made from this fabric combination.

But as the fabric sat on the cutting table, I started to wonder to myself if I should make myself a shirt from this fabric instead of another little girls project. In the next moment I wondered to myself, “But am I am too old to wear a green shirt with lady bugs on it?”

“Bah! Who cares! Surely not me!” I said to myself.

Besides, I really like the fabrics and it is time to make me another collared camp shirt from my altered sloper pattern to test the fit. So could I make this shirt from this fabric combination? Yes I could! There was plenty of fabric to make it with. But would I wear this combination once I had the shirt made? Yes I would! Now how about if I put a cute picnic watermelon ant embroidery design on it? Would I still wear it then? Yes I still would! So I decided to get started on it right away!

DSCN0391I cut out the fabric using my newly altered collared camp shirt sloper pattern and got started sewing it together. It sewed together nicely and soon enough I had a fun summer shirt all ready to wear. Sewing this shirt was not the problem. Wearing this shirt was. And not because of the lady bugs or the ant.

After I completed the sewing of this shirt, I pulled it on and noticed right away that the fit was not right. The shoulder seams did not want to sit square on my shoulders and the front of the shirt kept shifting back like it wanted to choke me. I had to keep pulling the front of the shirt down. On the back of the shirt, there are pull line from the armscye to the collar.

DARN! Where had I gone wrong?

These were the same alterations to the pattern that I did for the last shirt I had made, the blue shirt with the white sleeves. And I had wore that shirt and except for the depth of the armscye it all seemed to be good. I pulled the blue and white shirt on again and wore it around the house for a little while only to learn that it too suffered from the same issues. I realized then that I had only wore this shirt to work, under my jacket, and that it was my work jacket that had been keeping the front down. So, I now had to figure out what the alteration problems were and how to fix it.

IMG_0238 - Version 2It did not take long before I figured out that the back where the collar attaches was cut too deeply. And I was depressed that I had two shirts with the same problem and had not caught the problem before making the second shirt. I don’t really know if raising the back will fix the issue but it seems that by raising the collar, and not having it drop so far down my back will help.

Ok, so I think I have figured out what the alteration problems are. Now can these two shirts be fixed? I debated about adding a yoke to the back of the shirts. This would be a way to add enough fabric to raise the collar back up. I also thought about abandoning the collar, adding a facing and make the shirts collarless. Even though the back of the shirt would still be low on my back, there would not be the weight of the collar dragging the back of the shirt down, and hopefully that would make the shirt more comfortable to wear.

DSCN0394While looking at the work that would be needed to fix the issues with these shirts, I lost all interest it trying to raise the collars. The blue and white shirt is a work shirt and is fine under my jacket. Although, the lady bug shirt was made to be a fun summer shirt, it would now be a work shirt too. Since finding the issues with the shirts and trying to solve them, I have wore the lady bug shirt to work and it wore just fine under my jacket as well.

I even received several compliments on the lady bug shirt at work. I don’t know if the compliments were sincere and my coworkers really liked the shirt or if the compliments were a rolling of the eyes that I would wear lady bugs. Really though, I don’t care either way. I really like the lady bugs.

While these two shirts will not be my favorite shirts to wear and they will see less wear than some of my other shirts, I still think they will be ok even if not perfect. But that is just the way it is sometimes. Unless I get a wild hair to alter them, they are what they are. They are not unwearable by any means. I decided that my time would be better spent making a new shirt with a raised back and letting these shirts just be off in the fit, so that is what I’m going to do.

DSCN0418P.S. Speaking of altering, I altered another one of the husband’s shirts. This was one of the last shirts I had made for him before he lost some weight so it was quite large on him. I removed the collar and took a full inch out of the shoulders, then I re-attached the collar. I also took 1 & 1/2 inches out of each side seam including the sleeves. I could have taken even more out of both the shoulders and the side seams but I stayed on the conservative side for this alteration. I can cut more off later if needed. As I learned from altering my shirts, it’s much easier to cut extra fabric off than to add fabric back on. His shirt is still a little large on him but the fit is much better than it was and I think he looks good in it.

Until next time, sew forth and alter on!

Simplicity 5540 -The Tomboy Dress

IMG_0024This dress is just too cute with the two matching fabrics, the buttons down the front, the gathered pockets and the little shorts. This little dress is a great design. A little girl can look so cute and proper for school with the buttons all buttoned up and then she can unbutton those buttons to reveal the little shorts to then ride her bike or run around the playground. It is the perfect tom boy dress in my opinion, and I could not wait to make it. The pattern front said that it was easy to sew, further encouraging me to get started right away. But, the pattern description was a little white lie. I quickly learned that for me this little dress was going to be a long and involved sewing project.

Picking the main fabric with the pink and white check pattern was easy. This fabric was purchased with the fabric I used to make the bubble top of my last post so many years ago, but this piece was actual yardage and not just large scrap pieces. One nice thing about this fabric was that it came out of the washer and dryer without too many wrinkles. I did have to make a trip to Joann’s to get the accent pink for the trim as I did not have that on hand.

P1040470P1040468I traced the size 6 from the pattern and after tracing the bodice and skirt, I noticed there were still many more pieces left to trace due to all the trim and tie pieces. This was not a problem, but it took extra time to trace and cut out of the pattern pieces, and then to cut out the dress from the fabric. Once I had done this my excitement to make this dress had not waned, so I was willing to put the extra time. Since there was not a direction to the design of this fabric, I put a little piece of tape at the bottom of the skirt pieces as I cut them so I could later identify the top from bottom on them.

The next thing I did was read the pattern guide twice before taking my first stitch. After seeing the number of pattern pieces for this dress and reading the pattern guide, I knew this was not going to be the easy or quick sew like the pattern cover had claimed it was going to be, but I decided there was a lot to learn from making this dress and it would still be fun to make. I followed the pattern guide closely as I stitched the trim and ties to the bodice pieces and then stitched the bodice pieces together. The upside down “L” trim pieces on the front of the bodice were tricky to stitch. I did an ok job on them, but I learned a lot and would probably do a better job next time.

P1040378Next up were the pockets. I will be the first to admit that I need more practice when making pockets, the shaping and styling of pockets as well as just making different types of pockets. I knew this fact as I started these pockets, but I was still willing to give it my best. If the pockets did not work out, I could just leave them off so there wasn’t any fear of messing them up. Still following the pattern guide, I made the casing for the elastic at the top of the pockets and inserted it. Still no problems had arisen so I continued on. Next came ironing the edges so that the pockets could be top stitched on. This was not working well at all. As I stopped to think about it, I decided I needed to gather the pockets to help get the round shape I wanted from them, much like you gather a sleeve cap when inserting a fitted sleeve. The gathers would not show on top of the pocket but it would be in the seam to help ease the curve.

P1040403Because I only needed a small amount of gathers to round the pockets, I decided to use the serger method of gathering that I had read about recently. Using this method would take care of two steps. If I serged around the pockets, not only could I use the serger to make the needed gathers, it would also finish off the edges of the elastic at the top of the pockets. After serging the edges of the pockets, I found the needle threads of the serging at the curves and pulled them. This gathered the fabric together. I was then able to iron the curved edges so I could top stitch the pockets on. This left the serging messy with loops but I just tucked the loops into the seam as I stitched the pocket on. The serged gathers worked nicely for rounding the pockets and I think the pockets look pretty good. I still need more practice, of course but these pockets turned out well enough to leave them on the dress.

P1040400The next step I did of sewing the skirt and trim went smoothly. I used the floss method for gathering the skirt, then sewed it to the bodice, and then added the lining. The step after that is where I varied from the pattern guide. Before finishing the lining, the guide called for a fitting of the dress and adjusting the straps to the needed length, then stitching the straps in place and finishing the lining. Since I had no idea of what length the straps needed to be, I decided not to stitch the straps in at this time. I would instead attach the straps in the next step P1040475with the top stitching of the trim. This way, if the straps needed to be adjusted once it was tried on, only the top stitching has to be undone and not the lining finish and the seams inside where the straps are attached. I finished the lining’s stitch in the ditch seam with a little help from some seam to seam adhesive. Because the lining of the skirt was made from the main fabric and not a slippery lining fabric, the stitch in the ditch seam sewed rather smoothly and nicely. Unlike the last skirt I made, I did not have to go back and restitch any places this time. The final steps to complete this dress were the top stitching of the trim where I stitched the straps into place and then the hem and the dress was done.

DSCN0192The shorts were next in line to stitch. The shorts pattern was very basic, just 4 pieces in total with two front pieces, two back pieces and an elastic waist with no pockets. I believe that all kids clothes need pockets, so I debated if I wanted to add patch pockets or side seams pockets to these shorts. I finally decided on no pockets. These shorts would be better if they were straight and flat without the added bulk of pockets. This way they would be less obvious under the dress when it was being worn buttoned up fully. Yet I still wanted to add something to the shorts to give them a little flair, so I decided to add a little slit at the side seams. I finished the side seams flat before sewing the seam together. I then sewed the side seams stoping two inches before the bottom of the shorts. Next, I hemmed the shorts. This formed the slits on the side. I then stitched around DSCN0195the slits to finish up this added detail. The slits were easy to make and added a nice touch to the simple shorts. I made the shorts in white even though that is not a great color for a little girl to play in but the denim fabric I used is very durable and washes well. I am also hoping that the shorts can be universally worn, either with this dress or with the bubble top I previously made or anything else as well.

I feel that this completed dress and shorts set turned out great! I think it is a very cute outfit and will be fun for a little girl to wear. I learned a lot on the construction of this dress and I had a chance to practice pockets, top stitching and stitching in the ditch. I am happy that I stuck with it and endured to the end with this project. It might not have been an easy project like the pattern stated but it was worth the work in the end.

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.