Friday, June 28, 2013

Textile Studio Monaco Shell

I like this pattern so much, I made eight more!

As quick to make as this pattern is, I streamlined it even further. I have always hemmed knits with a twin needle, a drag since you need two spools of thread (or a spool and and extra bobbin) and you have to change the needle. I wished there was an easier way. After some experimentation, I settled on using this stitch:

As usual, I used Steam a Seam to stabilize the fabric. This hem technique worked well on all of these knits: thin cotton and poly jerseys and ITYs.

I think I inovated myself out of that new cover stitch machine I wanted.  Imagine all the fabric I can buy with the money I saved!!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Old fabric finds a purpose

This fabric has been in my stash a really, really long time. It's a slightly transparent crepe with a border print of vacationers. Though I liked it, somehow it never seemed quite right for any project. 
But with my recent interest in lingerie making combined with flipping through my "homemade" iPhone app, I put two and two together and came up with "I can make a robe out of it!" 

Its Vogue 8888. It was a nice easy project and I took my time making it. Because of the border, its all cut on the crosswise grain. Since I was a little short on fabric, I didn't put the pockets in it and used ribbon for the belt carriers and for the interior ties. The pattern calls for french seams but I serged them. I dyed the trim for the sleeves to match with colorhue dye (which I also bought a long time ago and never used before. It's and instant set silk dye which works on rayon too) 
There are two interesting aspects to the pattern: the tie ends are enclosed in a tucks on the back. I'm not sure if I like that or not. You have to be careful how you tie the interior ties in the front or the back gets pulled off center. It fine for now, but I don't think I'd do it next time.
The other thing is that the shawl collar is attached seperately, not cut on like I usually see. And you are supposed to interface both the upper and under collar. I think I'd tend to only interface the under collar next time. 

All in all I've really enjoyed making and wearing this robe. Its so nice to not have to make any adjustments to a pattern and I'm super glad I was able to finally make something I like so much with this fabric.  

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I can't believe I made panties!

I've had a notion to sew some lingerie, mostly because there are two pieces of fabric in my stash that I can't imagine making anything else with. Then, I was at one of my sewing club meetings and we were given the challenge to select an old Stretch and Sew pattern to use. I didn't get the camisole, but I did get the panties!

Here they are:

Believe me when I tell you, these are the most fabulous pair of underwear I own! They're comfortable and fit great. And to think all these years I've been throwing away all those ITY scraps when I could have been making panties with them!

I used this pattern:

I did have to make a few prototypes. Although I used the pattern without any changes, I changed the construction order and used different types of elastic. I found lingerie elastic with the picot edge looked and felt bad. Maybe it was different in '82 when this pattern was printed. I used clear elastic on the leg openings and regular 1" wide elastic at the waist. I sewed the leg elastic in flat then flipped it to the inside and zig zagged  it down after the side seams were serged together. I also used the serger to attach the waist elastic. I found that you should make the panty with negative ease, but only make the elastic about an inch smaller than the garment measurements. 

They're a great project when you have only a little time and energy as they only take about 40 minutes and require no standing up or pressing. I think I'll cut out a few more. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Garment Sewn Completely by Hand

I have long been intrigued by the notion of sewing a garment completely by hand. Picture how a relaxed vacation at the beach or a week at the cottage could be improved by the addition of needle and thread. After all, people have been mostly fully clothed since long before the invention of the sewing machine. And hand sewing is pretty much the definition of a couture garment. Although I never got around to it, the idea remained in the back of my mind.

When I started this project, I took my inspiration from the artisanal aspect of the Alabama Chanin style. I wasn't really thinking about that old sewing pipe dream exactly, but that is exactly what happened: A Garment Sewn Completely by Hand. Most of the stitching was done watching an old movie with a glass of wine. Or out in the yard with a cup of tea like I didn't have a care in the world.

In the interest of full disclosure, few pixels were used: I did design the bird pattern on the computer.  Next, I cut the stencil out of a sheet of acetate. ( Note: Don't cut your stencils from acetate. It curls up. You'll get paint all over your fingers straightening it out. Use something else.) I cut one layer of fabric with the pattern, Butterick 5473*,  stenciled it with Tulip paint using a 4" wide foam paint roller. After the paint dried, I sprayed fabric adhesive on the back and smoothed the fabric onto the second layer of fabric and cut it out along the edges of the cut pieces. I staystiched the curved edges and safety pinned the straight ones. The fabric is grey heather "Laguna" cotton jersey with a little lycra from

I did a running stitch around each bird and egg and french knots for the bird eyes. I used a double strand of Coats and Clark "Heavy" thread in Temple Gold. I experienced a lot of knotting even though I was using Thread Heaven, so I started cutting two lengths of the thread and threading them, in the same direction, through the needle together. What a difference that made!! I left all the threads unfinished on the inside.

After the birds were done, I stitched the shoulder seams together with a strip of  scrap selvage in the seam, then flat felled the seam with short parallel stitches. The side seams were stitched the same way. I put selvage in the front side of the pockets as well. I made the pocket bags yellow. Why? Why not!

Finally, I cut narrow strips of the fabric for binding. They are actually wrong side out to take advantage of the knit's natural inclination to curl to the right side. I stitched them the same way as the seams.

It was a long, but very satisfying process.

*I did have some issues with the pattern itself. I have actually purchased this pattern twice. The first time I did and FBA on it, and the vest I made from it never saw the light of day. Its kind of hard to explain what was wrong with it. It fit in the bust, but it was too big above the bust, but just at the center, not through the shoulders. In order for the center to lie flat above the bust it had to overlap itself. And the same condition happend just below the bust. It seemed like the center front is too long? I chucked the pattern because I thought I had messed up the FBA somehow.

This time when I used it for this project, I cut a larger size and didn't do the FBA on it. Plus this is a knit fabric. And the same fit issue happened...

See how the center fronts are at an angle? And the extra fabric at the center under the bust? If I straightened it under the bust, the extra fabric would transfer above the bust. But, if  I folded out a dart from the center to the bust, right at bust level, it straightens everything out, but that would just look weird.

I trimmed some off the center front edge above the bust and tilted the fronts up and took out an inch on the neck side of the front at the shoulder but its still not right. Maybe if I had one big breast in the middle instead one on each side it would fit better!

I will not be revisiting this pattern.