Tag Archive | denim

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!

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Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 2

Continuing on with the sewing of the denim ants in a jar vest…

DSCN3525The next step in the sewing process was to add the pockets. Since I really did not have a pattern for the side seam pockets, I decided I would design and sew them how I wanted. In designing the pockets, I wanted the fun flannel I was using to make the pockets to show, so I decided to cut a rectangle from the sides of the jacket fronts. But, how big should I cut the rectangle? After some thought, I cut the rectangle what I thought the size should be, 5 inches tall by 1 inch deep, and then cut the pockets to match. With this size of square, I would place the pocket 1.5 inches from the bottom of the fronts.

DSCN3524In the sewing process, I noticed right away that I had a good size opening for the pockets but not much depth to the pockets. I should have cut the opening square shorter and used that extra length for the pocket depth. It was too late now though as the fabric was already cut. So, the finished pockets are very cute and the flannel is showing, and the pockets will certainly keep the wearer’s hands warm but the pockets won’t be too useful for hold many items due to their short depth. Another lesson learned for the next time!

DSCN3530The next step was to add the bottom band which was a little difficult due to the stiffness and weight of the denim. I had to use a little liquid stitch to help hold the denim in place to start and stop the stitch in the ditch seam. There was a lot of bulk from the denim front, the seam allowance from attaching the band, and the folded over finish of the band, i.e. 5 layers, in this seam. I trimmed the seam allowance but it was still bulky and difficult for my sewing machine to get started on this final band seam, but I made it through it ok.

DSCN3531The final step was to add the buttons. I measured evenly to place the buttons, but when it came to sewing them on, I had to move the top button down slightly due to the bulky denim seam at the top of the vest. This left the buttons mis-spaced slightly. The top button is not quite high enough to keep the vest closed around the neck if it is worn closed. If the top button is left undone, the vest opens a little too much before the next button. This could have been avoided by sewing horizontal buttonholes and avoiding the DSCN3928 (1)bulky denim seam at the top, but because of the pieced strip on the front of the vest to add the extra inch, I had to make the buttonholes vertical. If I had given the placement of the buttons versus the bulky denim seams a little more thought before I started to sew, I could have placed the buttons better. Another lesson learned for next time!

Now that the vest is complete, I am pleased with the end results. I also think the vest will wear just fine, and I hope some kid will enjoy wearing it too. Many lessons were learned from the making of this vest and I hope to remember all these lessons and apply the lessons to my future sewing projects.

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Some Lessons Learned For Next Time – Part 1

DSCN3928 (2)My latest sewing project was destined to be yet another learning experience for me.

After the successful sewing of the dinosaur vest, I wanted to make another vest. When I made the dinosaur vest, I had envisioned so many different options and fabrics for these vests, so this made it easy to decide that my next sewing project would be to make some of these vest options a reality!

The designing of this vest was not difficult at all. When I was picking out the fabric for the dinosaur vest, I had also pulled out a denim scrap that was just big enough to make a vest and a greenish blue flannel with yellow bug outlines from the stash. I could see a vest from these two pieces of fabric and I knew that I would sew one of my favorite embroidery designs, some ants escaping from a glass jar, on the front. Because of the large size of the embroidery design, I would give this vest side seam pockets rather than patch pockets.

With the design of the vest all outlined, it was time to cut it out and get sewing!
DSCN3931 (1)When I laid out the pattern pieces of Simplicity 8902, on the denim fabric, I remembered that I needed to add an inch to each front for the button overlap. I carefully laid the pattern pieces out correctly to cut the extra inch, but then I promptly cut along the edge of the pattern piece as shown on the pattern and I did not add the extra inch. How dumb was that? Well it was done now and I couldnt undo it so I decided it was a lesson to be learned for the next time I make this pattern.

The denim scrap that I had was not big enough to cut two new fronts, so instead I cut two 1.5 inch strips of the denim to add to the fronts of the vest. The strip would look like an intended button placket rather than a fix, so all was good despite the cutting error that I made. After cutting out all the pieces and remembering to add the extra inch to the front of the lining, it was time to being sewing.

DSCN3930 (1)The sewing process started with embroidering the design to the front of the jacket. I remembered that I wanted to do the embroidering first before adding the pockets to keep the pockets out of the way of the embroidery. I also remembered that I wanted to move the embroidery design down so that there would not be an issue with the collar covering some of the design.

What I had forgotten was that the ants embroidery design is two inches taller than the dinosaur design and I did not remember to take that into account when positioning the design. So, even though I moved the design down on the vest, the top of the design was still higher than I wanted it due to the extra height of the design. After stitching the design to the front of the vest, I realized that the top of the ant design was still going to be under the collar, and not just at the edge of the collar like the dinosaur design but that the ant at the top was going to be under the collar. That will be another lesson learned for next time I use this design!

DSCN3932 (1)Flustered even more, I now had to come up with a solution to fix the collar/embroidery design problem. I thought about making this vest collarless or adding a standing ribbing collar that would not fold over, but I did not like the look of these options.

I decided to see if I could just shorten the collar enough so that it would not cover the ants but it would still fold over and look ok. To do that I cut over an inch ff the bottom of the collar. The collar looks a little small now that it is done, but it works just fine. The collar lays right at the edge of the top ant’s antenna, and with a little encouragement, the stiff denim will fold over just enough to cover the collar seam. Still not being totally pleased with the collar, I continued on with the sewing process to the next steps.

But that’s a story for next time.

Until then, sew forth and ant on!

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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dscn1155Oh, this is going to be fun!dscn1154

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for the construction process in the next post!

Until then, sew forth and Doctor Who on!