Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review


So much information is available online today that buying a reference book can be seen as redundant. But for me a book I return to time and time again for inspiration and knowledge is more satisfying that typing a word in a search engine.
Recently I purchased 'Dressmaking - The indispensable Guide' by Jules Fallon. Retail price $35.00. Its a how- to book covering every technique you need to successful teach yourself to sew with clear step by step photographs. There are 5 chapters that each cover a step in the sewing process.
Chapter 1  Equipment - This chapter covers the equipment needed to sew, needles, scissors , machine, presser feet, notions and threads.
Chapter 2- Prep. Covers fabric, interfacing, understanding a pattern, measuring, and cutting fabric.
Chapter 3 - Constructions. This chapter covers the how-to sew of seams, pockets, zippers, sleeves, collars, yokes and more. Often with more that one way shown. There are 7 different ways of inserting a zipper.
Chapter 4 Stretch.You will find information on stretch fabric and how to sew it without an overlocker in this chapter.
Finally chapter 5 - Finish. This is the chapter I am most excited about because it covers lining a dress. For some time now I have wanted to add a lining to the dresses I make but lack the knowledge, not anymore. This chapter also covers hems and hand sewing with instructions for both right-handed and left - handed people. For left- handed person like myself that's awesome.
I am happy with my new purchase and see myself referring to it a lot.
'Dressmaking - The Indispensable Guide'  is a book that every home sewist should own.

Do you have a favourite sewing book?

Friday, September 8, 2017

How to Machine Sew a Button


Buttons used as a closure on clothing for 5000 years are  available in many different styles and colours. However all buttons fall into two groups. Flat buttons with holes and shank buttons.

The shank is a small loop on the underside of a button. It creates space between the fabric and button. This allows the top fabric to sit smoothly when buttoned. Shank buttons are ideal for heavier fabrics. A shank button cannot be machine sewn by the home sewist.
The flat button with two or four holes lies flat against the fabric and can be machine sewn. You can create a shank with thread if needed.

A buttonhole foot and a button foot


To Machine Sew a Button

1. Drop or cover feed dogs, Set stitch length to "0" and stitch to zigzag.




to create a shank position needle between holes
without shank
2. Attach button foot. Place fabric and button under foot with holes aligned horizontally. Turn the hand wheel towards you. Checking that the needle is positioned to go through both holes. Adjust stitch width if necessary.
3. Sew 6 to 10 zigzag stitches. Switch to a straight stitch and sew a 3 to 4 more stitches to secure button. Remove from machine and pass threads to wrong side.
That's it, one neatly sewn button.





Friday, September 1, 2017

Work in Progress

National sewing month starts today in the USA. I will be working on a half square triangle quilt top.
One morning last week I woke inspired to make a HST quilt. For three hours I picked fabrics from my collection and cut 5.5 inch squares. Then, doubt stepped in questioning the madness. This is my 3rd large sized quilt and the first using HST. There is a lot of cutting and accurate sewing involved, successfully matching seams and points, also lots of pressing. Now I have a pile of 5.5 squares sitting on my desk, I put my doubts aside and continue...
My goal is to make a quilt large enough for a single bed. I calculate that I need a total of 234 squares. The quilt is to have 18 rows with 13 squares in each row. I am using 10 different fabrics.
As of this morning I have pieced four rows.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Simple Shorts

super easy shorts with elastic waist


Pattern -K1668 by Simplicity, option D in a small, without any adjustments. There are only two pattern pieces with easy to follow instructions.
Fabric- A black and white polka dot cotton stretch poplin (97% cotton / 3% lycra spandex) 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Good for the Environment



The other day at the bookshop I bought a couple of books. The cashier put the books in a small plastic bag and handed it to me. At home I removed the books from the bag and placed the plastic bag in the recycle bin. So wasteful however with a reusable bag with me it is almost unnecessary. That's why I like this tote project. The bag folds into itself and its lightweight enough that I can carry it in my regular handbag all the time.
Recycling is wonderful however its even better for the environment when I don't have anything to recycle after a shopping trip.
Do you agree?
Fabric-Main fabric left over from the Daisy dress, stretch cotton poplin and quilting cotton scraps.
Pattern- Shopping bag from issue 29 of Simply Sewing.
Hardware- Cord stop by Dritz, cord recycled from boys swimmers.

Here is the first shopping bag tote I made.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Black and White Tunic

front view
 Pattern -K1668 by Simplicity. This pattern has a complete wardrobe to make, it includes a dress, tunic, shorts, pants and a jacket. I made the tunic-option B, in a size small. The front features gathers at the shoulders and neckline. The  pattern is well designed, but the instructions confused me a little and I found myself stitching and unstitching.   However if you transfer all pattern markings especially around the neckline it will come together nicely in the end.

Fabric- The fabric is from Joann, a light cotton shirting.

Hems- I used my rolled hem foot to finish the hem.


back view


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Sleeveless Ruffle Tunic


During my home economics sewing class I had to complete two projects, the first  a plain white short sleeve T-shirt, the fabric for this was supplied by the teacher. The second project, a long sleeved jumper with ribbing at the neckline, sleeves and waist, fabric for this project I had to buy myself. I picked a black and white stripe fabric with white ribbing. The first project was a warm up and once we finished it, the teacher instructed us to begin cutting out the jumper project.  I laid out my fabric and began cutting just as I was finishing up this step the teacher came to check on my progress and informed me that I should  PATTERN MATCH my stripes. Crestfallen, I decided right then never to buy striped fabric again. 30 years later,  ordering fabric online being a couple of dollars short for free shipping I added  2 yards of a jersey knit fabric to my order,  My package arrived a week later I was shocked to see that I had ordered a stripe. A stripe, how did I do that, what was I thinking? After I calmed down I made a dress and pattern matched, it turned out well, I no longer fear the stripe.



The Pattern-Simplicity D0657 A. This pattern is for stretch fabric. I made option 3, the sleeveless ruffle tunic in a medium.
The Fabric - A 50/50 cotton / polyester jersey knit stripe, colour pink and oat, it's 59'' wide. The pink stripe is soft and smooth, the oat stripe is rough to the touch. It was $3.45 a yard from Fabric.com.
Stitching- I used a narrow zigzag stitch( length 3, width 1) for all seams and a straight stitch for top stitching (length 3). My needle was a ball point size 80/11 and for the hem I used a twin needle. Also I used a walking foot.
Final thoughts- no fit adjustments were necessary. I deviated from the instructions when attaching the ruffle because I was not liking the overlap hem above the ruffle. instead I pressed the seam of the ruffle up towards the tunic and top stitched it to hold in place.
This is my third make with a ruffle. I don't  like the gathering of fabric to make a ruffle but I do like the end result. so its safe to say If I can add a ruffle I will!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Open Back Top


The Pattern- Its The Jenny Dress by The Fold Line. This pattern is designed for knit fabric. The pattern can be made as a dress with the open back top attached or the top can be made as a separate item. I made the open back top only. The instructions and photos provided  make  this is an easy top to assemble.
The Fabric- I used knit fabric  (about 75cm) left over from a previous project (Walkely Dress). Its has a blue background with a random green anchor print.
The Closure- The hook and eye that hold the back together was up cycled from an old shirt.
The Seams- I used a narrow zigzag stitch for the shoulder and side seams. The hems are stitched using a twin needle. I have used a twin needle before but this time I experienced problems with the threads getting tangled, so I stitched very very slowly and  what I thought would be a quick make wasn't.
 

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 Challenge- The Nina Dress




 The Pattern- The Nina Dress by Cotton + Chalk, pattern number 6. Skill level 4 out of 5. I chose to make version B. It is a sleeveless dress with front button closures. I added the hem ruffle to my dress as I really liked that feature of version A. My measurements correspond with a medium size and made the toile in that size, but it was so loose fitting that I went down a size and made a small. It fits perfectly without any adjustments.

The Fabric- Its a black and white polka dot, cotton stretch poplin from Fabric.com.

The Seams- There are four princess seams to stitch in this dress. A little tricky, however by the fourth seam I was able to match my armhole edges evenly. (practice makes perfect). The front facing edges and ruffle hem are overcast as per pattern instructions. All other raw edges are pinked finish.

The Buttons- There are 9 buttons on this dress. I found the red buttons at Jo-ann in the clearance section, 4 for 50cents. For the first time I used my machine to sew the buttons on. It was so easy and a time saver. Why did I not try this feature sooner? The buttonholes are also machine stitched, I used my seam ripper to carefully cut them open.


So much learnt making The Nina Dress.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Fold Away Tote


I have made a new bag, the practical shopping bag project from issue 29 of Simply Sewing.
This bag is an unlined tote that fold away into the corner pocket.
I already had every item on the materials list (bonus) and was able to start and finish the bag in under two hours.
The instructions are easy to follow. I only deviated from them once while making the handles, instead of the bagged out method I used the four fold method (fold strap in half lengthwise, press to crease, open and fold outer edges towards the centre crease, press, fold again along centre crease and topstitch down both lengthwise edges.) I prefer this method.
I rate this a great beginner project.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Pineapple Block

This week I participated in the Pineapple Smoothie Block Sew Along, the pineapple block was designed by Heather from The Sewing Loft. Heather offers two options for making up the pineapple. I chose option 1(the easy one) less cutting and stitching. My pineapple is a little wonky but I am happy with it.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

New Slippers

 I made a new pair of slippers this week to replace the first pair I made last year. Again I followed the same pattern instructions as before and used more of my scrap fabric (yeah!,  I am on a mission to reduce my fabric scrap pile to nothing).
To make then safer to wear on floorboards I added anti-skid gripper fabric (the stuff on kids pyjama feet) to the soles. The soles of my first pair were felt and it was easy to slide in them across the room, the anti-skid fabric should give a little traction to prevent falls.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Pyjama Shorts


This week I made 2 very comfy pyjama shorts. The shorts are super easy to make. I have made them once before, this time I replaced  the drawstring waist with an elastic waist and stitched a small ribbon bow on the front. The fabric is a soft chambray with a whale print. It was a end of bolt I picked up at Joann, only 1.7yds of fabric. Not enough to make two pairs of shorts without a little creativity. After cutting out the first pair I pieced the left over fabric to make a  piece large enough to cut the second shorts  from. The pieced section I positioned on the back.
Incidentally, there was an excellent article on piecing recently in Threads magazine. The pyjama pattern is from Simply Sewing issue 7.
Happy sewing!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

My five favourite sewing books

Here are the books I reach for most often when sewing or looking for inspiration.
 
1. Biblio Craft by Jessica Pigza- I love books and this book is all about how books from the past can inspire new creative projects. Its also a visually pleasing book. The sewing projects are ideal for a beginner.
2. The Sewing Machine Accessory Bible by Wendy Gardiner and Lorna Knight- This book covers presser feet. There are four chapters devoted to the different presser feet  available for the home sewist. There is a description of each foot, how it works and what can be achieved using the foot. It covers the familiar (zipper and zigzag foot) and the not so familiar (flower attachment and chenille foot).
3.School of Sewing by Shea Henderson- This is the book I recommend to my beginner students. It covers basic sewing techniques with practical and useful projects to make.
4. The Better Bag Maker by Nicole Mallalieu- I have made 10 out of the 11 projects in this book. The instructions are clear, the techniques many ( how to install a zipper pocket, patch pocket, how to make four fold straps, bagged out straps, adjustable straps, corded strap handles and much more).
5. The Complete Photo Guide to Sewing by Singer- Every sewists needs a good reference books. This is the one I own. It covers the basics (reading a pattern envelope, laying out a pattern, making adjustments, sewing  darts, sleeves, cuffs, collars, pockets, closures and more). It also has a section on home decorating (cushions, curtains and placemats).

Please note I am not affiliated with any of the authors or links.
Thanks.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Work in Progress

I could be the only person who makes a quilt for their washing machine, but you see I like to keep the top of my front loader clean from dust and spills, this pass weekend  we replaced the old machine and the new one is bigger, so a new cover was needed, hence this black, white and red quilt top.
I only had two objectives when I started- 1. to use only red, white and black and 2. to use what fabric I already had.  I cut and pieced until I had a 28in (71cm)square. Despite my lack of prior planning I think it's a success, well I like it. The red draws you in and allows the eye to travel around the piece.

Friday, March 31, 2017

2017 Challenge Update

I am extremely pleased with the progress  I am making with my 2017 challenge.
The Lizzy Dress

The Lizzy Dress- back
Firstly this month I made the Lizzy Dress in a black linen/cotton blend, It looks more gray than black. I wore the dress last weekend. This dress pattern has a lot of ease , knowing this from making the toile, I used a wider seam allowance then was suggested. I had trouble sewing the curved pockets so instead I shaped my pockets differently.
I also made the Daisy Dress in a floral blue and white stretch poplin ( pictured below) I added an in seam pocket to the side without the zipper. I am looking forward to a nice hot day so I can wear this dress.


The Daisy Dress
Finally this month I also made a toile of the Joni Dress and am now looking to buy fabric.
 

Friday, March 24, 2017

How to Make Piping

Piping is a decorative trim stitched into a seam. Often seen on a cushion edge, it adds sophistication and strengths the seams. Ready made piping choices are limited, making your own gives you the freedom to choose your own colours and patterns.
To make your own piping you will need the following items- cotton cord, fabric and a zipper foot.

Step 1. Measure the cords circumference and add 3 cm (1 1/4 inch) for seam allowances.  This is the width of you fabric strips. ( The length is determined by the project. On how to join fabric strips see below)
Step 2. Find the bias of your fabric and cut fabric strips using the width measurement from step one.
Step 3. Wrap the wrong side of the fabric strip around the cord, align the raw edges.
Step 4. Using a zipper foot and a long stitch length, sew close to the cord.
I have positioned my needle to the far left, to get close to the cord.
piping is now ready.

To Join fabric Strips 
Place fabric right sides together at a 90 degree angle. Pin and stitch diagonally from lower left corner to upper right corner. Trim seam allowance to .5cm (1/4in). Press seam open.
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Book Review- Bag Boutique

Bag Boutique- Making Fabulous purses and totes by Amy Barickman was published 12 years ago, its out of print now but last week I picked up a second hand copy for $1.
The book covers general bag making information on different closures available(a new to me closure mentioned is a hex-open frame), handles and straps , interlining a bag and how to transfer an image to fabric. It also has 18 projects plus variations for each projects.
I made the pocketbook purse. The template instructions stated to enlarge by 111%, I did not, what I did instead was to add a 1/4 in seam allowance to the template. My bag measures 13 x 8 in. A little smaller that the project bag but still a good size. I went with variation 2 without the patches or quilting. My favourite feature of this bag and the reason why I made it is the bias binding handles, so easy to sew.  I found the instructions concise and easy to follow.
What I like about this book is that  each bag is shown in a least two different fabric variations. What I don't like is having to enlarge templates. Some of the bags appear a little dated and fussy, however the bag making  techniques shown make this a good book to add to my collection.
Bag Boutique is great for someone with  some sewing experience and bag making knowledge.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Cording Foot and Couching

This week I have been experimenting with the cording foot to embellish plain fabric. The cording foot  has 3 grooves that are covered with a metal clip, this forms channels in which you can feed cord or embroidery thread through. It is an easy foot to use.
I used a zigzag stitch to stitch cord onto the fabric surface. This technique is called couching.
 
In this sample I have used pink metallic thread and cord on linen fabric. the length of my zig zag stitch is 2 and the width 5. (Left to right- a simple straight row, a wave, exposing cord by stop and start stitching, form loops in a simple straight row by pulling cord)
 
following a drawn pattern



on denim fabric using neon embroidery thread, stitched with all purpose white thread.

the Singer Cording foot

 

 

Friday, February 24, 2017

The 2017 Challenge

The 2017 challenge is coming along nicely, this month I made 'The Walkey' dress and a  toile for 'The Overture Set'. The collar in 'The Overture' was a first for me and a colossal learning experience.
I have ordered fabric to make 'The Daisy Dress' in and I have also invested in an invisible zipper foot as most dress patterns use an invisible zipper.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Case for Pockets

Gathered skirt with in seam pocket
Pockets are essential, if I make a bag and don't include pockets I later regret it. sometimes carrying a bag  with or without pockets is not practical, like when visiting amusement parks, with their no bag on ride policy or at the entrance waiting in a long bag check line. That's when a pocket on clothing is necessary to carry essentials like keys, cash and phone.  Sadly its rare to find pockets on ready made skirts and dresses, my main summer wear.
So I made a skirt with pockets. Making this skirt is easy enough, and there are many tutorials on the internet and in magazines. I consulted a number of books  and magazines before I started and consolidated the techniques I liked to make the skirt, my instruction follow.
The in seam pocket pattern you will find in issue 26 of Simply Sewing magazine or draft your own.

Gathered Skirt with Pockets in 10 Easy Steps 
1. Measure waist and multiply by 2.5 for fullness. Divide by 2. This is the width of the front and back pieces.
2. Measure from waist to knee  add 3cm (1 1/4 in),  this is the length for the front and back pieces. (my width measurement was less than the width of fabric, so when calculating how much fabric I needed I multiplied the length by two)
3. Cut 2 piece of fabric using waist and length measurements.
4. Cut pocket pieces from fabric scraps.
5. Place pocket 15cm down from top, Right side down on right side of skirt front, align pocket straight edge with side seam and sew with a 1/2cm seam allowance. Repeat with corresponding back piece.

6. Open pocket pieces away from skirt, press flat. Place front and back pieces right sides together with pockets extended away from skirt. Stitch down side seams and around pocket using a 1cm seam allowance. Clip into seam at top and bottom of pocket. Press seams open. Repeat with other side. Neaten raw edges of sides and top with zig zag stitch.
Do not stitch the section with red pins.
 7.Cut elastic to waist measurement plus 2 cm. Join short ends using 2cn seam allowance.Measure width of elastic add 1.5cm to measurement, fold under towards wrong side top of skirt by that measurement. 
8.Edge Stitch close to fold. Place elastic within fold area. Stitch casing closed without catching elastic. A zipper foot is helpful here. As you stitch shift fabric around elastic. It will gather up.

9. Distribute gathers evenly around waist. When you are happy with gather distribution stitch in the ditch at side seams to hold elastic.
10. To hem skirt fold towards wrong side  1/2cm, press, fold again 2cm, press. Stitch hem.

Book Review

So much information is available online today that buying a reference book can be seen as redundant. But for me a book I return to time a...