Tag Archive | maker

Being Biased – Part 3 – Button Fitting

DSCN1300I believe I have fallen in love with bias tape.

Even though, I had a number of trial and tribulations in the making of and the sewing on of the bias tape with these tops, I can see were bias tape can be a fun accent to many sewing projects and I can’t wait to start another bias tape project.

But before I do that I needed to finish these cross back summer tops before the summer has ended so that the girls can actually get some use out of them.

All I needed to do to finish them was to add buttons and buttonholes to the back of the tops and they would be done and ready to wear.

Sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? Well, I wish would have been as easy as it sounded.

DSCN1303I knew when I cut this pattern out that this pattern does not have a true side seam. I did not think it was going to be a big deal, but it was!

The backs are cut so that the shoulder and side seams are towards the front of the top. There is no seam directly under the armscye or on the shoulder. It is just to the side of the armscye and front of the shoulder.

This pattern also has no indication of where the buttonholes should be placed. So, when it came time for me to determine where to sew the buttonholes and buttons, I had some guessing to do. DSCN1304

I started the guessing by trying to determine where the true side seam would have been on these tops. Should the back come towards the front of the top a little, like 1/2 inch, or a lot, like 2 inches.

Next, I had to determine if the cross over should match at the top and leave a big “V” at the bottom of the back or should the “V” of the cross over be smaller by lowering the top. I spent hours measuring, folding, pinning, and deciding where to put the buttons and buttonholes.

I would think that I had it all ready to sew, then I decided that it wasn’t right and I would start again. After awhile even the husband grew tired of me showing him each variation that I tried. He tried to help, but I just could not make up my mind if I had it right or not. DSCN1302

Finally, I reached a point were I truly believed that I had it measured, folded and pinned where I wanted the buttons to be so I went to the sewing machine. I carefully sewed the buttonholes and buttons in place on both tops.

When I was done, I was quite pleased with myself until I held the tops up and the back curve of the cross over flopped down over one of the special buttons I had paid a lot of money for. Crap! The buttons needed to be higher on the top.

Now, how was I going to fix this? Version 2

My first thought to solve this problem was to sew a hook and eye to the curve which would attach the curve to the back of the top. This would keep the curve from flopping over but that did not work. When the curve tried to flop over, you could see the hook and eye and it looked worse than the flopping curve of the fabric.

My next thought was to use some velcro. As I went to sew the velcro on, the husband asked what I was doing. I showed him the flopping curve and how I was trying to fix it. He said to stop. He said that since girls were sisters they could keep an eye on each other’s backs when they were wearing the tops and if the curve flopped, they could fold a crease in the bias tape so that the curve would not flop as much. This seemed like a reasonable solution to the flopping curve, so I left it at that.

20150530_124144The REAL answer to this whole problem was to have the girls try the tops on before I placed the buttons.

I could have quickly determined where the “side” and “shoulder” seams should be, how big the “V” in the back should be and where the buttons needed to be. But, I had wanted the tops to be a surprise for them so I didn’t. Even though they had picked out the fabric, they did not know what I was making from it. Plus, with them not knowing what or when I was making something, there was less pressure to get the tops completed.

With that all in mind, I determined that the surprise and less pressure to get the items completed were not worth the button/buttonhole headache, and with this lesson learned, the next time I make something for the girls, there will be fittings during the process. Version 2

Upon receiving the tops, their mom says the girls like them and will wear them. I explained to their mom the button/floppy curve issue and she said it would not be a problem.

I don’t believe that the girls were nearly as excited about these tops as they were their fun vests or their Dr Who bags, but that is ok because I learned a lot from these tops both in the sewing process itself and in the process of sewing for others. 20150530_124000

And the next time I sew for the girls, I am getting them involved in the process.

No more surprises!

I want them to pick their own fabrics, colors and styles. I want to measure them so that I have the best fit, instead of using a year old measurement that their mom took (no offense to their mom), and I want fittings and alterations done during the sewing process.

I think I will learn even more sewing for them this way and they will have exactly what they want as well. Plus NO more guessing!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 2 – The Sewing of the Bias Tape

DSCN1308I gave the process of sewing of the crossed back summer tops a lot of thought before I made the first seam.

I had read the pattern instructions, but I wanted to sew the top together with fitting in mind. I wanted to sew the seams so that the minimal amount of unpicking would be necessary if I needed to alter the size of the tops for the girls later. So, my plan was to start with sewing on the bias tape before sewing the shoulder seams or the side seams. After the bias tape was sewn on, I would sew the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams as one single seam. That way if I had to alter the shoulder seams or the sides seams of the top, I only had to unpick a little bit of bias tape to get to the seams. This was a great plan until I thought about how I wanted to sew the bias tape on.

DSCN1298In deciding how I wanted to sew the bias tape on, did I want to sew the tape to the right side of the fabric and then fold it to the wrong side and stitch in the ditch on the front so that no seams were showing? Or, did I want to sew the tape to the wrong side and fold it to the right side and then stitch the tape with a decorated thread or stitch?

Since I was already mixing colors by using the pink bias tape on the purple top and visa versa, I choose the second option for sewing the bias tape on. So, my final sewing plan went as follows: I would sew the bias tape to the wrong side of the fabric and would then fold the tape to the right side after sewing the bias tape together with the shoulder and side seams. I would then top stitch the tape with the opposite color thread, i.e. sew the purple bias tape on with pink thread and visa versa. Sounds like a solid plan, right?

Well, this did not work as planned.

DSCN1295Because of how I had sewed the bias tape on, when I folded it to the right side the bias tape was needed to be sewed together opposite of the shoulder and side seams. If I had sewn the bias tape the other way that I had thought about doing it and folded it to the wrong side, my seams would have worked. But, instead of my plan working, I got to unpick several inches of each piece of the bias tape so that I could sew the bias tape together, then I could sew the shoulder and side seams together and then sew the bias tape back in place on the wrong side. Finally, I could fold the bias tape to the front and do the top stitching. All these little seams were flustering and extremely time consuming to sew and lets face it, not a lot of fun to do! But, I finally got it done and I had completed the sewing of the first top.

DSCN1306I wanted to sew the second top with the bias tape folding the same way as the first so I returned to the pattern’s instructions. I started by sewing the shoulder and side seams together first and then I sewed the bias tape on the wrong side of the top. Next I folded the tape to the right side and then top stitched the tape on. This went much faster and easier than the sewing of the first top had with no little seams to deal with. An with that the second tops sewing was complete.

I had four opportunities to learn the best way to start and stop the bias tape. I tried several ways but the way that folded and stitched the best for me was to leave a small piece of bias tape unstitched where I started. When I reached the end of the seam for the bias tape, I folded the ending piece of bias tape back on itself. I then laid the starting unstitched piece on top of the folded ending piece and then sewed this in place. When I folded the bias tape over, the starting pieces folded into the folded ending piece to make a finished start and stop of the bias tape.

DSCN1313The idea of sewing the bias tape to the wrong side of the top and then folding the bias tape to the front and top stitching in a contrasting thread sounded great, but in reality, sewing the bias tape on the right side and folding it to the back and stitching in the ditch with a matching thread would have hid a lot of sewing sins.

The top stitching looks good for the most part, but anywhere were my seams were not exactly straight, the contrasting thread announces the wavy seam LOUDLY. Also the starting and stopping of the seams don’t look that good. This is especially true where I was learning how I wanted to start and stop the bias tape.

DSCN1299The sewing of the tops would have been a lot easier and cleaner if I had sewn the bias tape the other way, sewn to right side and then folded to the back. I also could have followed my fitting plan. But, I had sewn the bias tape the other way and many lessons were learned, so it made the whole experience a good thing. Plus, the tops were looking good with the contrasting colors and threads. So, with the tops sewn, it was time to add on the buttons and buttonholes.

Join me next time to see how they turned out once they were completed!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Being Biased – Part 1 -The Making of the Bias Tape

IMG_1621My coworker’s tween girls are using and enjoying their Dr Who bags and it does my heart good for someone to enjoy and use something that I have made.

So much so, that it was easy to find another pattern to sew for them next. This time I made them a summer crossed back top from some sugar skull fabric that they picked out. I found this crossed back top pattern on line for free. It looked like a fun summer shirt, easy enough to sew and the right size for the girls.

I gave the girls their choice of a couple of fabrics that I had in the stash and they both picked the sugar skull fabric. I did not have enough sugar skull fabric to made both shirts so I planned to piece the tops with some black fabric from the stash.

Then I thought about it being summer. DSCN1296These were summer tops made to be worn in the heat of the summer months, so how could I make them from black fabric? So I dug through the stash and I found some nice pink and purple that would match the sugar skull fabric.

I decided to make one top from the pink and one from the purple so the girls would not have to match. I know that teens are image concious that way. The pattern is only two pieces, a front and a back, cut twice. Based on the girls measurements, I cut the front and back 1/4 inch wider and 1 inch longer than the pattern called for. The pattern also called for 3 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape. I

f I had been making the tops with the black fabric, I would have bought the needed bias tape, but since I was using the pink and purple fabric, I decided to make the bias tape. 61NeRAwqLEL._SY450_Then I had the idea of using the pink bias tape on the purple shirt and the purple bias tape on the pink shirt to give them some great contrast, so I would definitely be making the bias tape myself. Plus, it would give me the opportunity to make bias tape again, and as you know practice makes perfect and I don’t use bias tape all that often.

Now, I thought I had the process down for making bias tape from the last time I made it for another project, but I was incorrect. I had a lot to learn and relearn while making this bias tape. I started out by cutting 1 inch strips on the bias. When it came time to sew the bias strips together, I knew that they needed to be sewn at a 90 degree angle, but I kept sewing the strips together backwards, one seam up and then one seam down. After much trial and error, I figured out that I needed to sew one strip on top, then the next strip on bottom to keep all the seams all on one side. 71f-MxnZmTL._SY450_

After getting all the bias strips sewn together correctly, I started to iron and shape them. I used my 1/2 bias tape maker and was making some beautiful bias tape, when I realized that my bias tape was only single fold.

What? Darn! I needed double folded bias tape!

So I folded my beautiful 1/2 single fold bias tape in half and got 1/4 inch double folded bias tape, half the size of what I needed. Crap! I seriously thought about just using the 1/4 inch double fold bias tape that I had made but I decided against it and started all over again.

This time, I cut 2 inch strips on the bias, sewing them together correctly as I had learned to do earlier, and I prepared to iron again, but not until I purchased a one inch bias tape maker.

Looking on Amazon for bias tape makers, I found two types, Singer brand made completely from metal, and several third party brands made of metal with a plastic insert.

Which was better? DSCN1310

After reading many reviews and pondering the question, the husband rolled his eyes and ordered me both the Singer and another brand with the plastic inserts. After trying both styles of bias tape maker, I decided to use the Singer metal ones. Even though both worked fine, I just liked the Singer ones better. They seem to fold the fabric more evenly and were easier to push the fabric into the maker when starting out.

After a fair amount of ironing, I had 4 yards of 1/2 inch double folded bias tape in both pink and purple, ready to sew on. I made 4 yards of each color rather than 3 yards like the pattern called for because I had increased the size of the tops slightly from what the pattern called for.

Now it was time to sew the bias tape on to the tops.

Stay tuned for the construction of the crossed back summer tops in my next post!

Until then, sew forth and bias tape on!

Orion

P1030428I don’t know where I got the crazy idea but I decided it was time to expand my amigurumi making skills and move outside my comfort zone of just following a pattern. With that in mind, I chose to make another pot belly alien but with the changes I wanted to make to the pattern. I would be venturing out into unknown territories as I tried to make this alien not so pot bellied, and yet still have his other parts and pieces match. The end results of these changes is Orion, my latest amigurumi alien.

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The adventure started with me purchasing two skeins of the needed yarn. I decided to play it safe and have two skeins on hand even though I figured with making this one’s belly smaller, I may not need the second skein. But rather than panicking when I ran out of the first skien, I purchased two skeins so that I was sure I would have enough yarn for this project. I started P1030361out crocheting the arms and legs first. Since this alien’s body was going to be skinner than the last one’s body, I debated about making the arms and legs shorter. I knew that this second alien was not really going to be a toy and would need to be able to sit on a shelf, so I decided I would crochet the arms and legs into the body rather than sewing the arms and legs and then attaching them to the body after the crocheting was done. With this in mind the legs in particular could be shorter because they would not need to extend out from under neath the body. The legs would just be attached to the front of the body. I did not want to shorten the legs and not shorten the arms and then have an alien with short stubby legs compared to his arms though. Aliens are supposed to have long thin arms and legs. So, after a lot of thought, I decided to make the arms and legs as the pattern was written. It would be easier to shorten the arms and legs later if I needed to, and I knew I had enough yarn that if I wasted a little undoing the tops of the arms and legs, it would be ok.

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P1030376After completing the arms and legs, I made the head next. I remembered all the tricks that I had learned on the first alien’s head, so this head was not quite as scary to make. Like all crocheting, the type and brand of yarn used makes a big difference to each project and this alien was no exception. As I crocheted the alien’s head, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. When it was time to attach the eyes I could not believe how much bigger this head was than the last alien’s head. I believe the size difference is due to the fact that this yarn had more stretch to it than the yarn I had used for the first alien. Since there is no size gauge to an P1030363amigurumi project, this head just came out bigger. It still has a great shape for an alien head with the flat face and the bulge in the back of the head. But it is bigger than the first one I made. Because I had already made one of these alien heads, I was able to better place the eyes where I wanted them, pointing more to the sides of the head than up to the top of the head. The larger head also helped with the eye placement. (In the end, because of the bigger head and the body changes, I did need the second skein of yarn for complete this alien, so I was glad I had it, and I did not decrease the length of the arms and legs, so that they matched better with the head and body.)

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P1030387So, with the long arms and long legs and a big head done, I got started on the body. I knew I wanted the body much skinner than the first pot belly body I made, but I needed the body big enough to support this big head, but still be skinny like an alien’s body should be. At first, I said 1/2 of the size of the pot belly body should work, but as I crocheted the starting rounds of the body, I decided to go one more round and have the largest part of the body be 54 stitches around instead of 48 as I originally planed. After reaching the round that ended in 54 stitches, I crocheted in the legs on the next round. Then I crocheted 10 rounds of 54 and then started my decent to the neck. I decreased evenly on the next round to 48 stitches, then single crocheted the next round with no deceases. I followed this pattern up to where I thought the arms should be inserted. Unfortunately the place where I wanted insert one of the arms was P1030374right at the finish and start of a round and on a round with decreases. This made the placing and inserting the arm quite tricky. This is where my lack of skill as a pattern designer really showed. If I made patterns all the time and had any skill at pattern designing, the insertion of the arm at the end of one round and the start of the next round and on a decreasing round would not have happened. The body would have been redesigned so this would not be a problem for the crocheter following the pattern. I finally made it past the arm insertion and continued on until I reached 18 stitches in the round and I said this would be the top of the body.

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P1030410I noticed when I attached the first alien’s head that it was a bit challenging to sew the curved alien’s head to the flat round of the neck, so I decided to try and remedy this problem on this alien. To do that, after crocheting the last round of the neck, I did a couple of deceasing rows at the back of the body to give the alien a higher neck in back than in the front. This did make sewing the head to the body easier on this alien.

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Unfortunately, as I sewed the head to the body, I noticed that I had not done a good job of aligning his legs and arms. I guess it was the struggle with inserting the arms that messed up the alignment slightly. Once again something an experienced pattern maker would have noticed and corrected. I needed to unpicked the partially attached head, undo the rows and rounds down to the arms, reposition the arms and then redo all I have just undone. But I just did not have the heart to do this. After much posing and positioning of the alien, I decided that my alignment was not that far off and that the little it was off could be positioned out and it gave him a little character.

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P1030400As I posed the alien, I noticed that because of this big head and small body, that he did not like to sit as well as the first alien even with his legs inserted into the body and not sewn on. The problem was the weight of the bigger head. When the husband saw the problem, he said he could fix it for me. With two wooden dowels, the husband made an X through the alien from the top of the aliens head to his butt. With the X shaped dowels supporting the head on the body, the alien sat nice and straight and tall. Once again, because this alien was not designed as a toy but as a decoration to sit on the husbands computer desk, the wooden X through his body was not a problem. It was in fact a great solution to the problem.

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After having this alien sitting on my sewing room table before reaching his final home on the husbands computer desk, I decided to name him Orion. This not a very original name, but I like it. And I enjoyed my journey in making Orion for the most part, and I learned a lot. I especially learned respect for the talented individuals that make the crocheted amigurumi patterns that I use.