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

Atelier, Couture, Bridal Wear, Dresses, Evening Gown

It’s National Sewing Month – Enjoy a Free Evening Gown Sewing Lesson at Hancock Fabrics !

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It’s that time of year again when I start thinking ahead towards the holidays that are just a couple weeks away. The store is already bustling with busy shoppers gathering up goodies for holiday gifts and purchasing fabric for holiday dresses. My assignment this weekend is to create a beautiful evening gown ensemble using the the corset pattern from Kwik Sew. I’ll create the corselette first and then drape the gown to make the finished product. The fabrics that I have selected are all BFF from Hancock Fabrics. The gown construction will be part of a free sewing lesson this Saturday at Hancock Fabrics, Carmel, Indiana. To reserve a seat please call the store at 317-571-9594.

To make the evening gown  I have selected beaded galloon lace and stretch satin for the corselette and underlining the skirt. The cape will be made from shirred panne velvet using a technique I found in The Best of Threads: Embellishments magazine this summer. The quilted lining, shown above, will help ward off the winter chills.

Finally to complete the ensemble display, I plan to add this black, beaded handle, evening clutch that I made at an in-store lesson for Mother’s Day:

Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse
Holiday Beaded Handle Clutch Purse

Photos of the finished gown and cape will be posted next week!

Happy Sewing!

Couture, Fabric

Ways To Save On Sewing Supplies

I had a another conversation recently with someone who was considering purchasing a serger but was concerned about having to buy 4 cones of every color of thread. I posted earlier on thread blending so I won’t belabour the point, instead here are some of my favorite ways to save big on sewing fabrics supplies and notions.

  1. Buy in bulk or from an industrial supplier. There is usually a volume discount available. Share with a sewing buddy if needed. I buy threads from Wawak (woolley nylon) and GoldStar. I love GoldStar for serger thread because the prices are great, the quality is good and they have free shipping. The online color chart is great too.
  2. Be patient with purchases; wait for sales whenever possible (see 7 for exceptions).
  3. Double up on coupons. When JoAnn & Hancock fabric offer the chance to save an additional 15-20% off sale and non-sale items, take it!
  4. Buy things you need all the time, like interfacing, certain colors of thread, and lining fabrics when they hit rock bottom. I posted earlier this week about the sale on Ralph Lauren lining fabric. At a $1.79 for high quality goods, now is a great time to purchase.
  5. Think outside the box. Remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The concept of “it has to look as good on the inside as on the outside” is great, but the person looking at the inside of your garments is most likely to be you. I add funky colors to the inside of garments all the time and smile when I wash. By choosing non-traditional colors and prints and fabrics I can save because everyday prices are often low on things that are less popular. The added benefit is that it adds the “smile factor” to a chore.
  6. Know when to buy. I know that the truck arrives at my local fabric store on a Tuesday, so the best time to check for new arrivals and sale items is Wednesday morning. If you are into higher end fabrics, know the fashion cycle. Understanding it is simple. When the January sales kick in, that means that retailers are making room for spring and summer clothing, and that in turn means that the spring and summer manufaturing cycle is coming to a close. Great fabrics are on sale! Look for then at jobbers like Denver Fabrics, Mood Fabrics and more.
  7. Know what to buy. For example, I love boucle for winter; when a new shipment arrived in a color that I loved I bought it right away. The full price of the fabric was less than a coat made of comparable goods, so I did not hesistate. Knowing which fabrics hold high retail value is important. I saved money in the long run over what I would pay for ready to wear clothing and will enjoy my new coat many seasons.
  8. Try to organize a local Stitcher’s Switch or participate in one. Trading fabrics from your stash that have been on the shelf for a little too long is a great way to get fresh inspiration from unused goods.
  9. Invest in the best. It doesn’t sound like saving money but buying good quality supplies is more cost effective than buying poor quality at low prices.
  10. Shop flea markets, garage sales, re-sellers like Goodwill, consignement shops, and online auctions for great deals. My 2 favorite deals are still the desks I bought and painted, one for my Bernina and the other for my serger. I use old sheets and pillow slips for muslin, lining, and even clothing. If it is made out of fabric – sew it! I bought a jacket for $1.50 years ago just to get the buttons and fabric. Upstyling is good for the environment and the budget.
  11. Buy it and dye it. Shopping for natural fibers makes sound financial sense. They can be used as is or dyed to another color.
  12. Save scraps.  Saving the selvedges, and scraps has helped me out of more corners than I care to write about. Be careful with this one, it can turn into a space consuming monster, lol!
  13. Save old dryer sheet for a multitude of uses in the sewing room.

The final tip is to embrace the place you’re at. If you are a novice then avoid high priced fabric (unless it is deeply discounted) until your skills are up to the challenge. After nearly forty years of designing, pattern making and sewing, I still put myself through my paces before trying to sew on costly goods. This isn’t just about sewing a sample and getting the tension right (both are necessary) but also about practicing the skills I need time and again to create muscle memory.

Fall and winter fabrics should be arriving at excellent prices at this time of year – so I am off to shop!

Happy Sewing,

Natalie

Dresses, Easy Serger Projects, Easy Sewing Projects, Free Sewing Tutorial, Overlock Machine, Serger, Simple Sewing, Stash Blast

Ready, Set….WAIT!

Lol! So my Summer Stash Blaster was kicked off and I got busy sewing. I contacted a few students and they were excited about it but needed time to prepare. So, I am going to keep sewing and posting but I won’t actually start the Blast until everyone else is ready – we’ll kick it off officially on Saturday July 18th at Hancock Fabrics Carmel. Considering how much fabric I have, this will truly be a Summer Stash Blast since I will be going until August 18th now.

If you are interested in participating, please sign up on the FaceBook Page so we can support each other on. I’ve created an event for this and would love to see pictures!! There is no time commitment – come when you can, sew as you are able and let’s help each other along!

Summer Stash Blast Sign Up

This week was Wonderful Whites. Everything that I could whip up quickly with white or off white thread is shared below. As promised, here is the good, the bad and the ugly – maybe I should just call the ‘ugly’ the “uh-oh’s” (smile). I am a little behind with pictures but will load more after the 4th.

The good:

A pretty blend of sheer and light sweater knits from Hancock Fabrics
A pretty blend of sheer and light sweater knits from Hancock Fabrics
About 20 minutes work on the serger. Look for the project sheet at  the Sutura Style website
About 20 minutes work on the serger. Look for the project sheet at the Sutura Style website

Comfy, cozy DIY jammers. Easy to cut and serge

DIY Jammer Pants

sheersummertunicandcapris This sheer tunic in an ultra light knit looks nice over the leggings that I made – I wear a pretty tank top with lace underneath it.

 

diyknittopchevronstripes I struggled with matching the chevron stripes on this little T-shirt, but eventually got it. I should have just basted the whole thing by had to start with but tried to glue baste it instead. Ripped it out twice. Finally managed to get it as close as I could. Pretty happy with it 🙂

 

The bad: These stripes were just awful. I bought this fabric on sale but failed to notice that the stripes actually decrease in width and CURVE close to the selvedge. Ugh.

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The Uh-Oh

I tried to cut out a chevron stripe top from center of the fabric but had only a little bit left. Agitated, I made a real whopper of a mistake and had to toss the project out. Instead of cutting the fabric on the opposing bias to create a chevron, as above, I wound up cutting on the matching bias and thus ended up with two front pieces that are the same. This project was destined for the trash from the moment I noticed the bad stripes.

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To save time, I cut all the knit tops above from a single Kwik Sew pattern and lengthened, shortened and moved the fabric as necessary. When I am working like this, I only use the back pattern and adjust the necklines for different styles. That is why the the photo above appears to have a back and front I started to cut a “V” when I realized that I had made a cutting error.

t-shirtstyles

So, that is most of my sewing this week. A couple more tops, a shawl, and a tunic left to photograph, they are done but I forgot to take pics (sorry!). I am working on a Maxi Dress today with a turtleneck or cowl neckline. More photos to come!

Happy Serging!

 

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

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! :))

 

Sewing and Embroidery

Summer Sewing

It’s deep into the “Sew Your Stash” contest and I am a little behind (okay a lot) with my projects but I wanted to at least post the latest.

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This is the three-tiered (dubbed Strawberry Ice Cream) maxi skirt with my Roses are Pink top.  I had a lot of fun with these and wore the top to church on Sunday and plan to wear the skirt for date night. The patterns for both pieces are self drafted. I only wish that I had exercised the patience to make the three tiers separately and then stitch them together but I wanted to finish up quickly so I used the serger and whipped the layers together. I am making the same skirt but shorter and in yellow (Yellow Chiffon Skirt) and will exercise more patience this time round. I think the photo of the strawberry waffle cones gives a good idea about why I chose the name!

Deutsch: Kugel Erdbeereis in der Waffel
Deutsch: Kugel Erdbeereis in der Waffel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)