Tag Archive | skill

The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

Why I Sew Kid’s Clothes

IMG_0016“So, how many children do you have?” I am frequently asked.

“None” is my reply.

This of course always leads to the next question, when the conversation is about sewing, “Then why do you make so many clothes for kid’s?”

Its a reasonable question and I will give you 3 good reasons why I sew so many kid’s clothes even though I have no children to wear them.

P1030369The first reason is my casual style, and that of the husband’s. I wear mainly shirts and pants/shorts. I basically wear 3 styles of shirts. A t-shirt, a collarless v-neck shirt (a baseball shirt) and a collared camp shirt. I don’t wear dresses or skirts regularly.

P1030399The husband wears tab front knit shirts and on the rare occasion a button down the front shirt both with pants and shorts.

So, over the years I have sewn many shirts and pants for both myself and the husband and I have our basic sloper patterns for these items fine tuned to perfection.

Over the years, I have varied the basic slopers with small changes to the designs, but basically it is still the same pattern I have sewn for us for years now.

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So given this, how could I learn any new sewing techniques and expand my sewing skills by just making these same tried and true patterns over and over again?

How could I learn different seam finishes? How could I learn about sewing with different fabric varieties like fur and pleather?

DSCN0533Why would I waste my fabric and my time to make myself a dress or skirt that I would seldom if ever wear just to learn sewing skills and techniques like gathers, pleats and linings?

There are no pockets on my shirts or the husbands shirts, so where would I learn to make different pocket styles?

There is no bias tape used in the construction of our clothes, so where would I learn to make and sew items with bias tape?

 

The answer to many of these questions for me is by sewing clothes for children of course!

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It has been my experience that kid’s are very forgiving when it come to their clothes.

They don’t care if the fit isn’t quite right. As long as the colors and designs are fun, they are willing to wear the item.

So, while I have been learning some great new techniques and skills while making the children’s clothes, even if it isn’t perfect in the end, I still have a usable item that a child will love to wear.

DSCN4123Plus, just how many shirts can I and the husband have with Snoopy or Mickey Mouse on them? I have so many fun embroidery designs and fabrics for fun kid’s clothes that I would probably never be able to use if I didn’t sew for children.

And how could I not sew and embroider up some of these great items for some children to wear and enjoy?

 

Reason number 2 is practice. You could also think of this as making mini muslins.

I wouldDSCN3413 like to make me a spring/fall polar fleece jacket. I want it to have a collar, a zipper, multiple pockets, and for the jacket to be fully lined. I have already purchased the fabric that I want this jacket made from and I have a basic jacket pattern to use as a guide to sew this jacket for myself.

But, I felt that I was lacking in the skills to sew this jacket. Skills that I need to be comfortable and confident using such as working with polar fleece, sewing pockets, inserting a zipper, and lining a jacket without a pattern.

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To remedy this lack of skills, I started out by making some smaller kid’s jackets and vests. I could learn and practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket by practicing first on the kid’s jackets.

I would waste less fabric if it turned out all wrong and I could repeat the skills that I needed to by practicing them first on the kid’s jackets.

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If you are a reader of my blog, you know that is exactly what I have been sewing recently.

I have made several kid’s jackets and vests. And in the process I have learned how to finish fleece seams, and I have learned to sew several different pocket styles, patch pockets, side seam pockets, welt pockets and others. I have practiced inserting zippers and sewing different collar styles.

And, more importantly, I have learned how to line an unlined jacket without using a pattern.

DSCN3898I now feel much more confident about cutting into my expensive fabric to make my jacket and in my ability to successfully sew my jacket together now that I have made all of these kid’s jackets and vests first.

In fact, I only have just a couple of more sewing skills that I want to practice and perfect on a couple of more kid’s jackets before I will finally be ready to make my jackets.

So stay tuned later this fall, as I might just be wearing a stylish new jacket (or two or three)!

Reason number 3 that I sew children’s clothes is that sewing clothes for kid’s is really FUN!

P1030564P1030560I enjoy sewing! A LOT! I really enjoy focusing my time and attention into the creative process and completing a functioning and fun item for someone to wear.

It does not matter if that item is for me, the husband, the house, the garage, or a kid, I (for the most part) enjoy the steps of making that item.

Plus, I enjoy learning. I learn from each sewing project that I make.

And, yes, sometimes what I learn and learn again, is patience!

As I mentioned in reason number 1, I have a lot of fun fabrics and embroidery designs that neither I nor the husband is ever going to wear, so for me anyway, it is just fun to sew and embroidery these fabrics and designs into clothes for children to wear.

DSCN3537DSCN3986As I mentioned in reason number 2, I made the kid’s jackets to learn and to practice the skills that I needed to make my jacket in the future, but each of the kid’s jackets or vests was very fun to design and to sew.

I learned from each project and for the most part I was pleased with what I made and what I learned in making them.

In other words, I really enjoyed the journey, from start to finish.

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Lastly, I really love to make something from nothing. I love to take the scraps from mine or the husband’s shirt and to make something from them for a child.

 

In doing so I feel like I am cheating or beating the odds somehow. I was able to take something that was useless, scraps that I could not use to make something for myself or the husband from, and was able to make a functioning, useful item from them.

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DSCN0389This is extra fun to do when I get to stretch my skills by using my creative process to make the scraps work in almost any situation.

So, that in very long form is my answer to question of “Why do you sew so many kid’s clothes?”.

With this complex of an answer to a simple question, you’re now probably afraid to ask any other questions, but don’t be.

In my own way, I will give you an answer that might be longer than expected, but enjoyable to hear.

Until then, sew forth and ask away!

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!

Under and Over, Roger Dodger!

P1030970A while back, I made a tiered skirted dress for my niece. When I asked her mom how she liked the dress, the response was that she had not wore it yet because they needed to buy a slip for it. This was very disappointing to me. I had made the dress from yellow knit fabric and it was suppose to be a play dress, something she could run in or jump in or maybe even ride her bike in. Now, it needed a slip to be worn. Now, it was going to be a burden to have her wear it. I then remembered the last little girl’s dress that I had made from the thin yellow fabric/kitty print that the little neighbor girl’s mom has had to worry about finding a way to keep her panties from showing through at the top of the skirt through the thin yellow fabric. And this was disappointing to me as well.

IMG_2851So in remembering all this, I decided that I wanted to make another little girl’s play dress but this time I would add a lining so there would not be any worries when it came to someone wearing the dress. I wanted to make a dress that would be nice enough to wear to school but still fun to wear on the play ground too. This made picking my pattern to use for it easy. I picked a sleeveless short waisted bodice dress with a gathered skirt and buttons down the back. The pattern already called for the bodice to be lined, so I just had to line the skirt too.

I picked a fun yellow fabric with animals on it that has been living in the stash for many years for the dress fabric and the yellow lining fabric was a Walmart impulsive purchase because it was just $1/yard. At the time of purchase, I did not know what would become of it but I knew I needed it so I had picked it up. You see sometimes those fabric purchases do pay off! So luckily I had all the fabric I needed for this project on hand. Because the lining fabric was a Walmart special, I had no idea how it would launder. But I wanted this play dress to be machine washable, so I threw both the dress fabric and the lining fabric in the regular cycle of the washer and dryer. The dress fabric laundered just fine, and luckily the lining fabric washed and dried great too. It was now time to start cutting.

P1030908I followed the pattern to cut the bodice from the dress fabric and the lining fabric. I then cut out the skirt from the dress fabric as the pattern called for and then I cut a duplicate from the lining fabric. It was now time to start sewing.

Following the pattern guide, I sewed the bodice together first and then the skirt. I sewed the lining for the skirt the same as I had the dress fabric. I then placed the dress fabric and the lining of the skirt together with wrong sides facing and continued to sew as it as if it were just one single piece of fabric.

When that was done, I used the floss method to make the gathers for the skirt. I stitched zig-zag across the floss, being careful not to catch the floss in the stitches, and then pulled the floss to make the gathers. This is a great method for making gathers and It is so much easier than pulling stitches.

P1030909The most difficult part of making this pattern was the step after attaching the skirt to the bodice. Only the dress fabric of the bodice is sewn to the gathered skirt. The next step is to fold the lining of the bodice up, press then pin it in place over the seam that attached the bodice and the skirt. The next step is stitching on the top side of the dress fabric and catching the lining underneath. It sounds simple but it was not. After completing this step, I had a mess. Because I was using a slippery and stretchy soft lining, and despite the pins, the lining did not stay in place when I was sewing. In some places the seam missed the lining altogether. In other places, the lining slipped and the seam missed the fold so I had a raw edge exposed. So I started to unpick, trying to save any part that stitched ok. I restitched the bad parts and some came out ok and other parts still had the same problem. It was hit and miss all over the place again. So I unpicked and sewed some more and I finally got an acceptable seam. It does not look great to me, but it will have to do. And after this experience I decided that this is definitely a technique I need to work on to increase my skill set.

P1030976About half through the unpicking and restitching process I started to think about how this could be done simpler the next time I do this type of sewing. And my first thought was to sew both the dress fabric and the lining of the bodice to the skirt first and then serge them to finish off the edge. Why not? Except for the exposed serged seam, it would be the same as what I had just sewn. Exposed serged seams are not a problem for me on my personal clothing, even though I have read that it is not a very professional finished look. And by exposed seam I mean that it can be seen from the inside of the garment not the outside of it. I then decided that this technique was a sewing skill that I needed to acquire, and that although the serged method would be simpler and faster, I would continue to work on this sewing skill to see which way would work out the best for me.

It was at this point that I realized that I had not used my serger a single time when making this dress. This was very odd for me. I always serge my seams as I sew clothing for myself. But since all of the seams had been concealed so far in the making of this dress, I had not needed to serge the seams a single time.

P1030977The last step was the hem of the skirt. I had not yet finished the seams of the skirt because I planned to hem the dress fabric and lining together in one single hem. I had thought about serging the dress fabric and lining together before hemming but instead I decided to follow the pattern guide. So I folded up 1/4 inch at the hem, pressed it, folded up the hem, and then stitched with the dress fabric and lining held together as one piece of fabric. But once again because of the slippery, stretchy, soft lining this was a challenge when it should have been really simple and quick. After some very slow sewing and the use of a lot of pins, I finally completed the hem. Serging the two pieces of fabric together first would probably had made this much easier and quicker to do. Unlike the bodice/lining seam, this was not “a need to acquire” sewing skill. I should have just used my existing knowledge and sewing tools, the serger, to make this process easier.

P1030974While making this dress, I did some reading on linings and by definition, I had not technically “lined” the skirt. Instead I had “underlined” it. A lining by definition is only attached at a couple of points, generally at the shoulders, and/or at the waist. An underlining is done by using two pieces of fabric as one to make an a single item. So, technically, I guess had done both. I had lined the bodice as the pattern had called for and I had underlined the skirt when I hemmed the dress fabric and lining together. Regardless of what you call what I had done, I had completed this pattern and made a really cute dress for a size 6 little girl that hopefully is a fun play dress with no yucky fussy issues while she is wearing it.

Until next time, Sew forth and sew on!

Slit Placket Trial #2 – To Infinity and Beyond

In a sewing room far, far away the slit placket saga continues…

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Applying everything I had learned from the first shirt, I stitched the next shirt placket very carefully. The resulting placket was once again not perfect but far more acceptable. Still not really pleased with the results,  I did some unpicking and stitched it again. It was better, but not quite there. More unpicking and another try. It was better yet again but, after the third try,  the fabric was starting to become unhappy with the unpicking and restitching. Flustered, I grabbed some scraps of fabric and tried the placket again with the scraps. Guess what? Perfect! Argh! Was the type of fabric causing my problems? So, I grabbed more of the green scraps from the shirt and tried again. The results were good but not as good as the previous scraps. One more try out of the green scraps and the result was perfect. Wow did I really master the skill that fast?

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Not believing that I had really mastered the skill on the third try, I decided to use some more scraps and do one more trial run. As I thought, it did not work at all that time. I had not yet mastered this skill. The result was terrible. Having plenty of scraps, I tried again. Nope. Tried again. Nope. Again. Nope. Rather than letting this frustrate me, I tried to learn something from each try. This really surprised me about myself. Usually, I would let this trial and error thing get to me. I would get angry with it, throw it against the wall and shred the pattern. After the fifth try, I finally make a placket out of the green scraps that was not bad. The next was better, and the last almost perfect. I then tried once more, folding it the other way as if you were sewing a girl’s shirt and it came out great. I decided trial time was over and returned to the shirt front.

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Unpicking my work one more time, I tried the placket again. The result was not perfect but it was the best so far on the shirt. Because of the wear on the fabric. I called it good. Before I take another stitch on the shirt though, I have decided to wash the shirt front to make sure I don’t get the same mess as the first shirt. I don’t believe that I have yet fully mastered the skill of slit plackets, but I feel like I am closer than I have ever been before. As with all of life, right now, luck has a lot to do with the success or failure of a slit placket for me, not skill.

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While the child’s shirt front is in the washer, I am going to start construction of the husband’s next shirt. I need a success story here. Hopefully, his shirt will just sew up and not give me any hassles. You know, it will be my third item I will have made using sew in interfacing. Wish me luck.