Tag Archive | facings

The Peplum Disaster – The Finishing – Part 3

DSCN0959A now a few choice words about inserting the zipper!

After attaching the zipper foot to my machine and placing the pinned front and zipper under the pressure foot, I decided that the needle was not close enough to the zipper, so I moved the needle over to the far edge. When I started to sew, I quickly learned that DSCN0966my seam was too close to the zipper. Because I was so close, I had to sew around the zipper top and bottom, giving me a curved seam rather than a straight seam for attaching the zipper. Also the tension of the seam was too loose because the pressure foot was not in the right spot to hold the fabric and zipper properly where the seam was stitching at. At this point, I stopped and thought about why I had moved the needle and why I wanted a close seam.

DSCN0967The reason I moved the needle was that I thought too much of the zipper tape would be exposed if I did not have the needle close to the zipper. What I learned was that not much of the zipper tape would have been exposed with leaving the needle where it was suppose to be. Plus, the amount of the zipper tape that was exposed was a nice look and gave it a little bit of style, especially since I was using a contrasting colored zipper. Also, with the seam not that close to the zipper, there was less chance of the fabric getting caught in the zipper when the jacket is being zipped up. Fabric catching in the zipper was not that much DSCN0956of a concern with the big molded #3 zipper I was using with this fleece but it would be something to consider with other zippers and fabrics. A straight seam would look better than the curved seam and it would be easier to sew, and the tensions would be correct it the needle was not moved. So, lesson learned. Don’t move the needle to the far edge to sew the zipper on even if you think that is how you should do it.

DSCN0962Because the jacket did not turn out as cute as I envisioned, my plans to embroider several designs on the front and back of the finished jacket dwindled quickly. But, the jacket was still going to be a wearable item so I wanted to embroider a design of some sort on it. It was not difficult to pick the Smirk design that I stitched on this jacket. I love the design’s simple look and it’s few colors and I think it looks great on the jacket. For me, it gives me something fun that I am happy about and it gave me something fun to look at, rather than focusing on the messy peplum I had made.

Now that this jacket is done, I am happy that I competed it and have a wearable item rather than tossing it in the UFO pile with the peplum problems I had with it. I don’t think that the problems that I have with the jacket will effect how it wears and I hope that some little girl will enjoy a new jacket to wear.

Until next time, sew forth and peplum on!


The Peplum Disaster – The Gathering – Part 2

DSCN0701My sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum was working fine as I gathered the peplum’s top and bottom, sewed the gathered top of the peplum to the hem, sewed the zipper on and then added the facings, but the plan fell apart at the last step.

DSCN0704Upon lifting the gathered bottom to the gathered top, something wasn’t right. My intensions were to fold the gathers of the bottom over, pin in place and stitch in the ditch on the top and have a nice clean finish on both the outside and the inside. The folded gathers of the bottom placed on top of the gathers of the top were just too bulky. I could not fold over the gathers of the bottoms for a clean finish. So, how could I finish the bottom edge? I know, I would do it as I normally would finish a edge, with the serger. I would finish the bottom edge with the serger and still stitch in the ditch. I would just have a exposed serged edge on the inside.

DSCN0944But my gathers did not withstand the serging. The serger stretched the gathers out. I adjusted my serger’s differential feed and I tried to keep my gathers together as best as I could while serging . But when I was done serging, I had a terribly messy serged seam. Despite the bad seam finish, I sewed on. I folded up the bottom edge and started to pin the peplum into place for the stitch in the ditch seam. I learned quickly that this was going to be a terrible looking seam as well. Gathers on top of gathers are not a good idea. There were several options for fixing the messy serged seams but fixing it would not solve the gathers on top of gathers problem which was the real point of failure with my “inserting the zipper it to the peplum” plan.

DSCN0952At this point I felt I had learned the sewing lessons from this sewing project as best I could and I had no desire to finish this jacket. Should I call the lessons learned good enough and throw this jacket away or continue to sew on it and have a complete wearable item? I’m not a quitter so I decided to keep sewing.

DSCN0950Between the lost gathers in the serging, the poor serged seam and the gathers on top of gathers, the stitch in the ditch seam was a real challenge. I finally muddled my way though this seam and finished the peplum with the zipper inserted inside it. I have a terrible mess on the inside of the top, but luckily the outside does not look that bad. The gathers look stressed and misplaced but still ok. And the peplum is more of a ruffle than it is a peplum. The inside seam though is nothing short of a disaster.

I have a few more things to tell about this sewing project but I will save them for next time.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!

The Peplum Disaster – The Plan – Part 1

pockets-002Having totally enjoyed recently learning some new sewing skills like making pleats and bias tape, I wanted to learn more. As I thought about my sewing skill set I decided that the next skill I wanted to work on was pocket making. Patch pockets, in seam pockets, welt pockets, and zippered pockets. And what has lots of pockets? Jackets do. They have lots of pockets. And that would lead to another needed sewing skill that I could work on, inserting zippers into jackets. With a vague plan in mind, I began by surfing the internet for pictures and ideas for zippered jackets with lots of pockets.

DSCN0949When I ran across this free pattern for a girl’s top with a zippered front and peplum hem, I thought this pattern would fit into my current sewing plan just fine. I don’t know why I like it so much, and it has no pockets, but that’s ok. I’ll add some patch pockets to it so that it meets my current sewing criteria. I already had the perfect pink sweatshirt fleece to use to make this jacket and a bright white zipper for it. I had envisioned the final jacket already in my mind and it was adorable! I was even picking out embroidery designs for the front and back of the jacket. I was so excited to get sewing!

The sewing process started with the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. The sleeves are gathered at the top. I was not sure how the fleece would gather, but it did fine and the sleeves looked great.

DSCN0689This is the point where I threw the pattern guide out the window. After the side seams were sewn, the pattern guide called for the peplum to be folded, gathered, and then sewn to the bottom of the top. Next, the zipper was to be sewn to the front from the neck to the bottom of the peplum. Then the facings were sewn on next. Since the facings did not extend down to the bottom of the zipper, the zipper tape would be exposed where it was sewn to the peplum and there was no finish for the facings. I did not like the idea of exposed zipper tape on the peplum, so after debating over many options to fix the exposed zipper tape problem, I decided to insert the zipper into the peplum.

LizzyPeplum16After much more thought, I finally improvised a sewing plan for inserting the zipper into the peplum. My first step would be to gather the peplum, but rather than folding the peplum and gathering it as one piece, I would gather the top and the bottom separately. Next, I would sew the gathered top of the peplum to the hem of the top. Sewing the zipper to the front would be next. The facings would be the next thing to be added so that the bottom of the facings would be enclosed in the final hemming seam. The final hemming seam would be to fold the gathered bottom of the peplum up to the top of the peplum and stitch in the ditch to finish the peplum and the hem. The zipper and facings would then be encased in the peplum.

I had a plan. Stay tuned to see how it didn’t work out.

Until then, sew forth and peplum on!

Why Stand When You Don’t Have To – Simplicity 2907 – Part 1 of 2

S2907 - Version 2In the spirit of trying some of the new patterns that I have purchased, I pulled Simplicity 2907 from my pattern stash to try next. This pattern looked to be simple and cute. It looked like a fun easy sew, but as you know, looks can be deceiving. This was a complicated pattern that took far more time and effort to construct than I felt it should have. Now, not all the blame for the complexity of this project is with the patterns design. Some of it was my fault of course, but I am still placing a lot of the blame on the patterns design problems. Because of the problems this project did not end up being the fun, easy, simple, cute sewing project that I had originally thought it would be. Want to hear more of the story? Hang on, It’s going to be a fun ride!

Since I was once again trying out a new pattern for the first time, I decided to follow the pattern guide closely. I traced the pattern with all the markings and cut it out. Next, I picked the fabric to use. The pattern said I would need over a yard of fabric to make this dress. The piece of fabric that I chose, the black cartoon cat fabric, was just under a yard. I laid out the pieces of the pattern on the fabric and they all fit. At this point I started wondering what I needed the extra fabric for? And as I started cutting I found out that the pattern was indeed correct on the yardage needed. If I wanted a back and a front to the skirt out of the same fabric, I would need more. Being as the cat fabric was a scrap and I had no more of it, I pulled out a solid yellow cotton broadcloth from the scrap box to make the front of the bodice of the dress.

With all the of pieces cut and the interfacing applied, I started to sew. Step one was to fold and stitch the facings. I read the pattern guide and then I turned the facings of the front pieces and stitched them as the guide instructed, and what I got was a huge mess. What? Did I misread the pattern guide? So I unpicked the mess I had, reread the pattern guide and tried again. The result was just a different mess. So P1030699I unpicked it again. This time I pinned the folded facings down while reading the pattern guide again and figured out what was going wrong, then I stitched it again. But this time it turned out alright. Wow! This sure was an odd design. The facings folded like I was making a collar with a stand, but then you sewed and snipped the edge for a collar without a stand.


Next came the shoulder seams and then sewing on the collar. While once again reading the pattern guide carefully, I sewed the collar just as instructed, starting the side seams of the collar 5/8″ from the edge. Once again the collar was stitched on like a collar with a stand but it was not a collar with a stand. Now, I have made a couple of shirts that have a stand collar and I have a made many shirts with a “camp” lapel collar, so I can say that applying a lapel collar like a stand collar is stupid. But then with the facings done like a stand collar there was no other way to sew on the collar other than like a stand collar.

This was crazy I thought.

Stand collars are not an easy sew. They require a lot of accuracy and precision sewing to look neat and professional. So, why would the designer make this dress pattern so difficult to sew together by making its collar like a stand collar when its not a stand collar? Why not design it like any other “camp” style lapel collar and facings? The only conclusion I could come up with for this design was the amount of fabric needed to make a lapel collar and facings versus a stand collar and facings. The lapel collar and facings would have required more fabric to make, and leave you with more useless scraps. Now, if the fabric you choose to make this dress was $10 to $15 a yard, then yes, less scraps would be better, but in my case where I was already using scraps and probably paid $1 a yard or bought the scraps at a thrift store, plus the fact this could have been an easy fun project, I did not like the way this pattern was designed at all. I spent many P1030703hours of precious sewing time trying to figure out the facings and collar of this little dress, plus the time to carefully and accurately sew the facings and collar. It was not a good sewing experience. This pattern could have been designed to be so much simpler to make.

The sleeves were also a pain to put in. They are very fitted and had to be gathered before inserting them. I am not very skilled at inserting sleeves like this, so it took a lot of work and time for me to insert the sleeves. The sleeves were also very short so I made a very small hem to finish them up. Once again, the only reason I can see for the short length of these sleeves was to save some fabric.

Due to the complexity of this little dress, I am setting this project to the side for a moment. I will finish this dress because I have too much time and sewing into it not to, but for now I need a break. So stay tuned for the conclusion in Part 2.

Goodnight Blues Clues! (Part 2)

Let’s see. Where did I leave off? Oh, yeah… Simplicity 2771, Blues Clues pajamas with piping.

IMG_0002Another reason I say this pattern is not good for a beginner is that it is also tricky to stitch the back facing on with the curves. According to the pattern guide, you sew the back facing to the front facing, flip it over to the back, then fold over the raw edge, and finally you stitch in the ditch along the piping while making sure to catch the facing in the back too. Sure it sounds easy enough, but not without a lot of pins holding things together and folding and ironing, and sweat and tears. On the straight parts of the facing, it was easy to stitch in the ditch on the front and catch the facing in the back right through the folded raw edge, but on the curves it was too easy to stitch too far into the facing and not along the edge, missing the folded raw edge so that when you were done sewing, the raw edge just folded back out. Because of this when you come to the curve, you must fold more in to make sure and catch the raw P1030206edge, but then you end up missing the facing altogether. So then you try to fold it back out a little more and then you miss catching the raw edge again, or, like I finally ended up with, and you barely caught the raw edge here and barely caught the facing there. ARGH! I don’t know if it is just a matter of practice to stitch the facings on more easily, or if I need to come up with a better way of stitching them on. I stitched and unpicked and restitched and unpicked and restitched until I was tired of the process so I called the wavy mess I had on the inside of the shirt good enough for this try and moved on. (I hate to see a beginner try a project like this, get discouraged and quit sewing altogether due to the frustration of it. I certainly don’t claim to be the world’s best seamstress as shown by the wavy seam on that facing, but I have had successes in the past and so I have built up some patience with my sewing as time has went on. )


P1030158Here is where I ran into a little snag because I did not follow the pattern guide when I started this project. In the guide, hemming the shirt is the step you are supposed to do before starting the piping, so the facings are shorter than the front of the shirt because IMG_0001you had already shortened the front of the shirt with the hem before you added the facings. But because I had sewed the piping and facings first, I had to unpick the ends so I could do the hem and get the facings length to match. Luckily this was less of a problem than it could have been because it was on the straight part of the facings and not the curved parts. It was just a minor annoyance, and I had to take a much larger hem than I would have liked to since I like longer shirts. If I make this pattern again, and I probably will, I am going to cut the facings longer at the start so I can finish them differently. Because I had sewed this the way the pattern had called for on the hem and the finishing of the facings, it will be difficult to shorten or lengthen the shirt if I need to later. Plus the finishing of my flannel piping was a little bulky as I sewed through the 6 layers of fabric. If I had purchase some cotton piping, it would have been much less bulky to sew, but I still think it turned out ok and I learned a LOT.


P1030159I had similar issues with the way that the pattern guide said to finish the piping and hem of the sleeves so I did it my way instead. I sewed the facing to the sleeve before I P1030162sewed the sleeve up. Then after sewing the sleeve, I folded the facing up and stitched in the ditch of the piping. Even though I was stitching in the ditch again around the sleeves, it is a straight line, so it was not that difficult to do. And by sewing it this way, if I need to shorten or lengthen the sleeve later, it will require less unpicking. It was a little tight stitching around the cuff, but I did it without any problems and I will say that practice make perfect. The second sleeve was much easier to stitch than the first one was.


P1030192My third reason for saying that this pattern may not be the best choice for a beginner is the buttons. It took time and patience to get them placed down the center and looking in the right spot between P1030185the piping. There was no forgiveness on placement. They had to be centered or they looked funny. I won’t say I did a perfect job on the buttons but I tried.


With the shirt finished, the pants were an easy sew to complete the pajamas. The pants have no pockets and no piping. I thought about putting some piping on the pants at the hem or down the side seams but decided not to. Four seams, some elastic at the waist and 2 hems and the pants were done!


Like I said, I will probably make this pattern again and hopefully soon so that I don’t forget all I have learned, but for now on to more projects!


Let’s hear it again for B’s. The B5583’s

I finally decided that it was time to try my Butterick 5583 pattern again. I have now worn the shirt I made from that pattern several times and I knew some of the changes that I wanted to make to the next shirt I made with it.


I started out with a trip to the stash. I figured with the amount of fabric I have in the stash that finding a piece to make a shirt from would just take a few minutes but, boy, was I wrong. Because of the princess seams in this pattern I did not want a stripe or a repeating pattern in the fabric I used. What I learned very quickly is that I must really like stripes and repeating patterns because over the years I have bought a LOT of it. I finally found two pieces of fabric that I thought would work for the pattern. Being wise about this, I started with the piece that I liked the least. That way if it didn’t turn out well I wouldn’t be out too much.


I knew before I even started cutting that I wanted the front facings to be smaller and skinnier, with no breast shield on this shirt like the first shirt has. So other than the facings, I cut out the same size as I had before.


I stitched up the basic shell of the shirt and tried it on. I planned to do a lot of fitting to this shell and to make notes on all the changes I made to it for later reference. When I tried it on, there were a number of things I wanted to change. The princess seams on both the front and back just did not seem to be curving in the right spots to match my curves. As I tried to adjust the seams, I quickly figured out that if I took a little under an inch from the shoulder, 1/2 inch from the the front and 1/2 inch from the back, that would bring the princess seams up enough so that the curves of the seams matched my curves. This was a much easier fix than trying to adjust all the princess seams to be the same, so I decided to go for it. This seemed to answer the fitting problems I though, and it did until I continued sewing it up.


Taking the inch out of the shoulder took an inch out of the armscye. I knew that my sleeve would not fit now and cut an inch off the width of the sleeve. With the sleeves not yet sewn in, all seemed to be good. Taking out the inch had pulled the bottom of the armscye up which looked better than it was before with the inch still there. But, once the sleeves were sewn in, the armscye seems to be too tight and without as much reach room. The original shirt I made from this pattern seemed to have this same problem too, but it seems worse on this shirt. Is that because of the extra inch I took out of the shoulders? I will need to wear the shirt and see if it is really an issue for me as I move in the shirt.


The next problem with taking an inch out of the shoulder is that it shortened the length of the shirt. To remedy this I make the bottom hem as small as possible to give the shirt all the length I could. It is still a lot shorter than I like my shirts to be though. While studying the pattern more closely, I just couldn’t figure out how taking an inch out of the shoulder could make that much difference to the length. I wondered if something else was going on with the length. Pondering this question further, I finally wised up and looked back at the post I wrote on the original shirt and remembered that I had made the original shirt longer than the pattern showed too. So, yes losing an inch in the shoulder did shorten the shirt but that wasn’t the whole problem. This flustered me greatly. I was smart enough to double check the length on the first shirt I had made, but on the second try I didn’t think to do it. One of the reasons for writing my blog is to have a journal of my past sewing projects so I know what I did to solve previous problems. What good is it to spend the time write down my notes if I can’t remember to go back and learn from what I previously wrote. So, lesson learned. From now on I will go back and read my notes on my previous projects before starting a new one. Also, I have pulled out my pattern and made a note at the hem line to make it longer next time. I will not make this same mistake twice.

I’m really not happy at all with the finished shirt. I’m hesitant to cut into the other piece of fabric I dug from the stash now for the third one. I believe I need to wear this shirt for awhile and see what really is a problem for me and what isn’t. I have also started to think about my new measurements now that I lost a little weight. This pattern is based on my previous bust size and I’m now smaller there than I used to be. Maybe my fitting issues would be solved by going down a size the next time? I think I am going to wait on trying this pattern again for a little while. On my next try, I will take my measurement again and pick which size I want to make at that time and then see how that fits me.

The Facings

What?!? I sewed the facing on just as the pattern guide directed, but something is not right. When I fold the facing to the inside it covers the top of the zipper and if I stitch it down like it says in the guide, you will not be able to zip the zipper to the top. This is only a problem  on the lap side. The non-lap side is just fine with the fold over. After much study, I concluded that my problem is that the zipper is too high on the dress. The pattern calls for a hook and eye at the top of the zipper to close the neck. I have no room for a hook and eye, so my zipper must be too high. Not wanting to unpick the whole zipper, I opted just to slant the facing, and fold it away from the zipper.

Discouraged by this, I decided to get a zipper inserting expert involved, and so I gave my Mom a call. I showed her the problems I had with the zipper and she agreed with my conclusions to improving the zipper insertion. When I explained my facing dilemma, she told me that the slant fold away from the zipper was exactly the correct thing to do and to not necessarily lower the zipper the next time. Mom said she was not a big fan of sewing on hook and eyes, so she liked to put the zipper to the top and slant the facings. Cool. (I had another thought about  the facings and the zipper, but don’t really want to say anything until I try it. Let’s just say that the bigger seam allowance is a must.)

With Mom’s encouragement, I will now move on to the bias tape on the armholes. I am very thankful for my mom and her expertise in these situations as over the years there have been many of them. If I did not have the the knowledge she has already shared with me and the ability to learn more from her, I would have wadded up this pattern guide and thrown it and the pattern in the garbage and went back to making sleepers, which by the way, I would not know how to make either if she had not taught me how.

I can tell it must be getting close to Mother’s Day. So here is an early reminder just so you don’t forget: Sunday May 9, 2010 is Mother’s Day.  So don’t forget to show your Mom some love ok?

Stay tuned for more…