Couture, DIY Sewing Room Projects, Sewing, Sewing Patterns, Vogue 8543

Vogue 8543 – Part 1

Current works in progress: this list is embarrassingly long:

  • a couture Chanel jacket a la Claire Schaeffer, muslin is cut and stitched, I just need to make corrections to the fit – since this is a sew-a-long for the Sutura Club I’ll be finished by Christmas (I hope!)
  • three pairs of slacks (I cut them all at once to save time and then stitch when I am have time)
  • my black evening ensemble – I actually fooled myself into believing I could get sewing done on a busy Saturday – silly me! The muslin for the corset is done and a new pattern is drafted but I need my Pfaff to pull it off – see below
  • Vogue Pattern 8543 – I am making this in a fun wool tweed from Mood Fabrics – changes will be made to the sleeve. I have long skinny arms and a trumpet sleeve just makes matters worse.

Vogue Pattern 8543

The tweed is a pink-grey color and has a lovely drape to it – you can check it out here Pink Wool Tweed.

The great joy of sewing is that there is never an end to what can be made there are always new ideas, new fabrics, notions etc – sigh. That said, my sewing time has slowed somewhat – here is a look into my crazy sewing world.

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It’s been just 2 short years since I set up the living room/dining room as my designated sewing space. I loved the bright natural light in there so much more than the dark, gloomy basement! After two winters however, it has a single, major drawback – all the walls (except the one above) are grey. The room feels chilly and dark during the cold months so, before the snowy days arrive the walls are getting a paint job.

Here’s what my studio looks like at the moment:

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Drop cloths, and shambles! Oh well, it can be put back quickly enough. And the color, which appears white in the photos is actually a very pale pink with a tiny drop of yellow to warm it up. Much brighter for winter sewing!

In the meantime, Nina Rose is still going strong in her little corner:

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allowing me to keep up with some sewing whilst the work is under way.

All in all, sew much to do and sew little time!

Happy Sewing!

Natalie

Easy Sewing Projects, Free Sewing Tutorial, How to use a Serger, Maxi Skirts, Sewing, Sewing Patterns, Simple Sewing, skirts

Sewing Summer Circle Skirts Tutorial

Summer is officially here and has arrived in Indy with sweltering humidity. Last week I whipped up a circle skirt in a few minutes and after some very kind comments decided to write a tutorial. There is nothing really scientific about making circle skirts, they are dead easy and can generally be whipped up on serger in about 25 minutes or less including cutting time.

Summer Skirts

To make a circle skirt you will need approximately 2.25 – 4.5 yards of fabric, depending on your size how full you want the skirt to be. You can use pretty much any fabric that suits your taste; I have used a knit and two woven fabrics for the three skirts that I made. I also saved time by using a decorative 1″ elastic waistband on one skirt – I just serged it on and voila – waistband done.

The elastic looks like this:

Fuschia Waistband Elastic

and is available in a variety of widths and colors online.

Step 1

Measure the length you want the skirt to be. Start at your natural waist (just below your navel) and let the tape measure drop to the floor, then with the aid of a friend, spouse or in my case a full length mirror, determine how long you want the skirt to be. In this example, I am using 30″. Add 6″ and double the amount. So I have 36″ x 2 = 72″. I need another 3″-4″ for the waistband casing. Total yardage needed is 76″ or a little over 2 yards. I buy 2.25 to be on the safe side.

Step 2

Measure your waist with the elastic . Take a length of elastic, wrap it around your waist and cut it. Next, pinch about 1″ off the ends. Then pull it down over the hips to your thighs to ensure there is enough stretch. The amount of stretch can vary with different types of elastic and if you have decided to use the decorative type, you may be surprised to find it has less stretch than the typical white, no-roll goods one finds at fabric shops. Adjust your piece accordingly, decreasing the 1″ if needed or trimming off any excess.

Step 3

Based on the measurement in Step 1, I need two 36″ lengths of fabric. I cut these and place them on the cutting table. Both pieces are folded lengthwise as shown (please pardon my cutting mess :)) I cut two skirts at the same time using a rotary cutter so you are actually seeing both skirts cut. On top of my cut circles is the extra yardage needed for the waistband casing.

Step 4

Measure your hips at the fullest part using a tape measure and add 1″. In my case that adds to 40″. I now need to cut the waist opening 40″ including seam allowance. Since my fabric is folded in half, that means cutting a 20″ semi-oval shape for the waist opening. BTW turkey platters make great templates 🙂 Once the oval is cut, I use my tape measure to mark the 30″ length all the way around the bottom edge of the fabric as above, then cut. Make a notch at the folds to indicate center front and center back. This is a vital step to ensure that the fullness is evenly distributed. Cutting a Circle Skirt

Step 5

It actually takes less time to serge these together than to cut them! If you want more fullness in your skirt, cut four sections instead of two. Next, using a four thread safety stitch, overlock the side seams together.

Thread Blending for Sergers   Thread Blending for SergerThread Blending

FYI: I used a home sewing method called Thread Blending, which I learned eons ago from a Singer Sewing Reference Library book. I mixed up the thread colors allowing me to serge two very different fabrics at the same time. It saves time and money, because you only need a few colors of thread and then blend to match.

Step 6: Three Waistband Options 

If you want to use decorative elastic

Butt the ends together and stitch them on a conventional machine. Fold the elastic in half and mark the halfway point with chalk or a pin. Match the seam on the elastic to one of the side seams and the halfway point to the other sideseam. Serge the elastic to the skirt using the notches at center front and center back as a guide to distribute the fullness.

If you wish to make a conventional elastic waistband

Cut the waistband casing from the fabric on the crossgrain about 3″ wide by your hip measurement from Step 4 – in my case that was 40″. Sew the elastic to the casing with a tricot or stretch stitch on one long side only, leaving 1/2″ of seam allowance all around as shown. BTW Ihave used contrasting thread so that you can see what I am doing. Normally I would use a matching thread to blend when sewing.  The side with the thread showing (photo 2 below) is now the INSIDE of the waistband so the threads don’t show.

Elastic Waistband Casing DIY   DIY Summer Skirt Tutorial

To make it easier you can draw a line to indicate the elastic placement position. I don’t normally do this but if you are a new sewer or just want the assurance that it will be even, it only takes a few seconds to make the lines.

Making a Waistband Casing

Serge the casing closed. Pin the prepared casing to the skirt matching the side seam to the casing seam as shown. Since I am working on black fabric, the seams are hard to see but one has the pin through it and the other is indicated with my brush tip. Place the band on a flat surface. Make a notch at the natural fold, opposite to the seam. Fold the band in half and make two more notches. Match your notches with the center front and center back notches in your skirt

DIY Elastic Waist Circle Skirt

Crank your differential feed to the max. Using one hand to pull the elastic flat as shown, and the other to ease the fabric in, attach the wasitband to the skirt. This is MUCH easier to do than it is to explain 🙂

How to Sew an Elastic Waist Skirt

If you want to make a High Waist Skirt with an Interlock (soft) Waistband

Finally, if you want to create a dropped waist with a high band effare using a piece of interlock for the waistband, as I did with the knit skirt, cut it the width that you desire, I chose 5″. The length should be your waist measurement but since the stretch value of interlock varies so much, cut your strip generously and then test it by grasping the ends and sliding the band over your hips and thighs. Adjust accordingly. I cut mine at 29″ and it turned out beautifully.

High Waist Knit Skirt

Serge the ends together forming a tube and serge the whole tube to the skirt. To do this, place the band on a flat surface. Make a notch at the natural fold, opposite to the seam. Fold the band in half and make two more notches. Match your notches with the notches in your skirt. Serge your waistband to the skirt.

Step 7: Hemming the skirt

To finish the hems, the cutting instructions have left you with some options. You can used a rolled hem on a conventional machine, do a stitch and turn hem or simply finish off the edges with a rolled hem on the serger, which is what I chose to do for all three skirts. In order to prevent the hemline from rippling, I reduced the differential feed to setting 5 for the Juki. Using the rolled hem you can create a super-fast, clean finish to your skirts and the differential feed takes care of the natural stretch caused by the bias or knit fabric.

So, I have three new skirts for summer and my quest to replace my entire wardrobe with custom sewn clothes continues.

Happy Summer and Happy Sewing! Natalie

Easy Serger Projects, Easy Sewing Projects, Free Sewing Tutorial, How to use a Serger, Overlock Machine, Serger, Sewing, Sewing Patterns, Simple Sewing

Sewing a Summer Shrug Tutorial

summershrugThis is a perfect easy sewing project for those who are new to using a serger. This simple serger tutorial for a summer shrug was inspired by all those public spaces with the AC cranked to the max! :)) The draped piece adds an elegant touch for date night or an evening on the town.

To download the full tutorial, please click here to get the PDF file. 

The best fabric for this project is a light sweater knit, but interlock works just as well. I have found these online and at my local fabric store for as little as $1.98 per yard for the cotton blend I am wearing, which makes this a very economical project. The pattern works for either 45″ or 60″ fabric, but if you are using 45″ just be aware that your shrug will have 3/4 sleeves instead of full length, unless you go with insertions. (Method is at the end)

The most important aspect of the cuttting instructions is to note that the fabric has to be folded twice. Fold the fabric in half lengthwise (on grain) and then make a second fold along the cross grain. The second fold should be at least 12″ deep.

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This picture shows what the fabric looks like partially cut out. I cleaned up the ragged cut I made after draping it but forgot to take a picture. The drawing in your pattern shows what it looks like as a final cut. The nice thing about this shrug is that it whips up on a serger in no time. Using a 4 thread safety overlock stitch, sew the sleeve area first. Then complete the project by finishing all the raw edges with a 3 thread rolled hem. Done.

Pretty simple right? If you are just learning how to use a serger, this makes a great first project as it will give you the chance to use both the 4 thread and 3 thread abilities of your machine.

Style Option: Insertions

If you are using 42″-45″ fabric and want to extend the sleeves, you can opt to do an insertion. I had some plain white sweater knit that was really light – just perfect for taking the chill off the AC without making me hot, but it was only 42″ wide. I used some of the scraps of fabric and some yarn that I really love (Starbella Lace) as inserts and as the cuff. It adds such a delicate lacey touch.

To do this, cut a length of yarn to go around the cuff plus about 1/2″ for seam allowance. Next, prepare the yarn for stitching by lightly misting it with spray starch and pressing the yarn flat. Use a rolled hem, which is already set up, to create a tiny seam and connect the yarn to the cuff. Next, use the rolled hem to attach the fabric scrap to the other side of the yarn. Add a final piece of yarn and voila! A full length sleeve with pretty lace insertions.

I hope you enjoy this one! Happy Sewing!

Natalie

Atelier, Bespoke Tailored Shirts, Craft Room, Cutting Table, Denim, DIY Sewing Room Projects, Fabric, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Pattern Drafting, Quilting, Quilting Room, Sewing, Sewing and Embroidery, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover, Tailoring

The Ten Commandments of Great Sewing

There is a lot of room for creativity in the world of sewing but to get good results there are some hard and fast rules that have stood the test of time, and indeed are applied to many hobbies, not just sewing. Here are the Dawn Abbey Ten Commandments of Sewing.

1) Thou Shalt Love Thine Self and the Body You’re In
I make no bones about being a Christian and believing that every human is created in the image of God. You are beautiful just the way you are. Before you can create something that will look pleasing to you, there needs to be love for the person in the mirror. We all have fitting adjustments that need to be made, and after more than thirty years of sewing for myself and others I have yet to encounter “the perfect body”. Perfect in whose eyes? In His eyes you are stunning. Give the body you’ve got a big ‘ol hug and know that with a little time and effort, you’re gonna look fantastic in the things you create.

2) Measure twice cut once.
It may seem obvious but I cannot overstate the importance of taking accurate measurements to ensure properly fitting garments. Measure yourself once per year (birthday perhaps to remember?) and then again right before you cut your pattern and fabric. The human body goes through many changes in life, and during the course of a single day your body weight can fluctuate by two-three pounds. Take your measurements at night, after dinner when your body is at its maximum size for that day and do your fittings at the same time if possible.

3) If it doesn’t feel right, it’s wrong
This rule applies in several ways. Firstly, when you are shopping for fabric, take the time to drape the fabric across the inside of your wrist which is much more sensitive than your hands. If the fabric feels rough, uncomfortable or just “not right”, keep shopping. Secondly, when pin fitting a pattern, if the fit feels wrong, it is wrong. Either make some adjustments or try a different pattern.

4) THOU SHALT TEST EVERY PATTERN WITHOUT FAIL!!
Lol! Okay, I just did the online equivalent of shouting but honestly that question has come up one time too many times for this instructor. Your time, money, effort and creativity deserve the small effort of making a muslin. Once the task is done, only minor change are needed unless there is a major change in size (see the Second Commandment)

5) Look Before You Leap
Pattern Review.com has assembled the largest online database of pattern reviews in the world. I know how deliciously tempting those $.99 patterns can be, (I have drawers full of them) but the best approach is to make a list of patterns that you like, check the reviews and once you are satisfied that the pattern will work for you, shop on! :))

6) Keep Natural Laws on Your Side
Gravity. Momentum. Inertia. When sewing, sew on a flat surface. Whether you have treated yourself to a top of the line custom cabinet or you’re using a piece of foam from the hardware store, or something in between, let the table hold the weight of the fabric for you. The best way to keep large projects for slipping away, weighing you down or downright hurting your shoulders, wrists and back, is to make sure that the project is properly supported. Using a comfortable chair will reduce fatigue and strain and make your sewing time more rewarding.

7) Take Joy In the Journey
Yup. It’s true. Taking the time to baste, make a muslin, pin fit, search for the right fabric, buttons, linings etc., will bring better results than rushing through. When time is short, remind yourself, “I am worth it” and put the project aside and come back to it when you have time to focus. You will reap the rewards of your patience in the end

8) The Strength of a Team far Outweighs the Sum of the Individual Parts
The Internet is flooded with all kinds of tutorials, online classes (shameless plug here: naturally I’d love it if you take some of mine!). Plus, there are how-to videos, books and DVDs galore. The point is, if you need help, there is plenty to be had, just ask. A frustrating project can turn into a conversation point in a forum, and not only get the help you need; but you might be able to help someone else along. Also, remember that The Sewist Club has a contact page, and I am always happy to help if I can. 🙂

9) Protect Your Creativity like Your Child
Your time and talents are gifts from above and in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to push aside the Human Being and become a Human Doing. Sewing, like any other hobby or creative outlet, is meant to be enjoyable. Book some “me time” with your hobby and protect it like a precious child. We are only given 24 hours in each day, make sure to use some of them to express yourself, whether it is at the machine, shopping online, looking for new ideas or just day dreaming about your next project. The workplace, dust bunnies and dishes will still be there when you get to them:)

10) Good Ingredients Yield Good Results
I left this until last because it is actually the least important. Buying a good quality sewing machine, nice fabrics and notions is simply common sense. But the best ingredients can come to nought if the hands are rushed, the mind is stressed or the body is out of harmony. Yes, good fabrics count for a lot, but loving the skin you’re in counts for so much more.

Happy Sewing!
Natalie

Atelier, Cutting Table, Fabric Storage, Hobby Spaces, Paris Couture, Quilting Room, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover

Sewing Room Makeover – Paris Couture Dream Theme

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I found these cute boxes at Hancock’s Fabrics. I love them for a lot of reasons, partly the color scheme, but mostly the Paris Couture theme. When I was a girl I dreamed of becoming a great Haute Couturier in Paris, with a shop on the Champs-Élysées. I sewed and dreamed. I worked and dreamed. I studied and dreamed. I took Fashion Arts at High School. Worked for fabric stores, and studied the Singer Sewing Reference Library until the books fell apart. I went to college and studied Fashion Design. Won competitions and really believed that I could make it. But the cold, harsh reality was that my dream world was dying. With the advent of the fax machine (yes I am that old) design specs could be sent to off shore factories in minutes and a sample could arrive in days. The internet made that timeline even shorter. And we could not compete. The cost of living in North America meant higher wages and higher wages mean higher costs of production.

So I am creating my own “Paris”, right here at home. A beautiful place of perpetual spring where I can design and create and teach and learn and grow and laugh and maybe even cry. Where the customer is always right, because the customer is always me. It may not be geographically correct, by my tiny atelier is a dream coming true for me. My sewing room is more than just a hobby space. It is a dream world preserved and well worth every penny I spend and every moment I have in here. After all, what price can we put on a dream?

Hobby Spaces, Pattern Drafting, Sewing Patterns, Sewing Room Makeover

Getting my sewing patterns organized with Pinterest

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As I have admitted to my shame – I do own a stash of paper sewing patterns. I keep them organized in clear totes with handles that work like drawers inside my cabinets so they are hidden away neatly when not in use. The problem was that as I looked for patterns I had to pull out the whole box – not knowing what I had or did not have. So I checked online for solutions and found some interesting ideas. I liked one about putting pattern envelopes or the entire pattern in sheet protectors and then loaded them into binders because it keeps everything visible. This is a great idea and there are many blogs about it. But it doesn’t work well for me because what I was really looking for was a solution that would allow me to have all the pattern information on hand when shopping for fabric or just figuring out what next to sew. And and truthfully I am just to lazy to pull it off.

What I decided to do was keep my patterns in the totes, organized by garment type and then create a Pinterest file here:

Creating the Pinterest file was very easy – I just went to the manufacturer website, entered my pattern number and clicked “pin it”.

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Now when I am out shopping for fabrics or merely surfing the net all my pattern information is at hand. Using Pinterest allows me to click on the design and be taken to the manufacturers for all the cutting and yardage information

Then, as shown above I organized all the patterns by garment type – I had to use the floor since I ran out of room on the desk.

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Kwik Sew patterns were one of my favorites before the new format – I stocked up when I discovered that they were discontinuing the heavy paper and many of the older – but classic designs.

Finally, I loaded everything back into the clear totes

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with labels written in bright green so I can see exactly what pattern category I need. Now, whenever it is time to sew I can laze about on the couch and flip through my patterns either with my phone or iPad then, when I have made a choice – finding it is dead easy and what I really love it the portability.

Now that I am organized maybe I can finally get back to sewing and blogging before the contest ends! :))