Sewing Classes and Lessons

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Making your own Coat:: Part 1


I finally picked out my next project.  It is going to be a short coat from Simplicity 2508 out of an aqua/forest green boucle wool from Vera Wang.  Making a coat isn't nearly as difficult as you might think, but it does require a lot of prep work. I'm sure that everyone approaches making a coat differently, but I'll share my process with you.


After you cut out pattern pieces, you need to apply interfacing.  I use the iron-on type, and for coats, I like to use a specific type called "weft" interfacing.  You'll need a lot for a long coat, so wait for a sale and stock up!
Depending on your fabric, you might just interface the front, front facing, and collar.  If you have a very light fabric, you might want to interface the entire coat.  My fabric is very loosely woven, so it needs extra interfacing, but because I didn't want to loose it's drapy quality, I decided to just interface the top few inches of the other pieces, as well as the full length of the front, front facing, collar, undercollar, pockets and flaps.


This step can be very tedious, but can go a lot faster if you have a steam press.  The nice thing about the steam press is that the surface area is 7 times the surface area of an iron, so you can finish 7 times faster.  Even with that time advantage, I get bored, so I usually will steam at the same time I do a free weight workout.   Your arms will get a very good workout after interfacing an entire coat!



The next step is an optional one and also depends on your fabric choice.  If your fabric ravels, like a boucle will, you'll be smart to serge finish the edges.  If you don't, while you are sleeping, your boucle will unravel to the point that you will think some ghosts are haunting your sewing room and having a fabric unraveling party.  So, I serge finish all the edges before they have a chance to do that. This picture shows what the serged edges look like.


Now, you can start sewing!  But, before you start, there are a couple of essential tools that I recommend for coat making.  The first is a tailor's ham.  It looks just like it sounds- a fabric covered ham.  This will make pressing curved areas look so much nicer. The picture here is showing the raglan sleeves on the tailor's ham.  See how nicely the ham imitates the line of a human shoulder?


The second essential tool is a sleeve board.  This is like a mini-ironing board, that you can fit items with smaller circumferences like sleeves on.  You will use if for much more than coats.  I use mine for everything, but here is a picture showing how nicely my coat sleeve fits on it, so I can get a nicely pressed seam. 

So, that's enough for one blog post!  Have a Happy New Year everyone!  I will hopefully have a finished coat to show you after the New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Beneficiaries of my Indecision


I’ve been back and forth and back and forth for days about what my next project will be. My sewing room floor is covered with mounds of wool coatings, each one saying “Choose me! Choose me!”. It’s a tough decision, but my two cats Maddie and Freddie are in heaven. There is nothing better than sleeping on brand new fabric for a cat.

We are running a big sale at SewBaby, and none too soon, as we just got in several hundred yards of brand spanking new adorable children's knits!  We'll start posting them in January, so help us make room, please!

What did you get for Christmas?  I got too much good stuff- dark chocolate candy, specialty jellies, raw honey, a lavender pashima, wine, an Ipod and accessories for listening to my audiobooks at the gym, a 2010 planner,  a Sample Cut Club membership at Fabricmartfabrics, and lots and lots of soap.  I think my family is trying to tell me something with that last gift. 

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Paisley Corduroy Dress





I've had this stretch paisley corduroy in my stash for a few years.  It's one of those fabrics that you love so much that you are afraid to sew something out of it in case you make something that you don't love so much.  I call it Fabric Paralysis.  I don't know exactly what got me to get over my paralysis, except maybe just that I saw on the recommended fabrics on Simplicity 2927 that Baby Cord was the first suggested fabric.  I liked this design- especially the pockets that are worked into the curved seam, the curved sleeve hems, and the curved neckband.  I thought that the curvy paisley print just fit perfectly for this pattern.  It was very easy to sew.  Here is a close-up of the front neckband:


There actually is enough room at the neckband to slip this over your head, so I didn't make the button functional.  It is just sewn in place.  With the turtleneck, tights and boots, I think it will be a welcome addition to my winter wardrobe, and I'm glad to have one less fabric in my stash!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Banded Batwing Top


I'm always on the lookout for easy, easy patterns, and when I saw this one by Kwik Sew, I knew I had to try it.  It is Kwik Sew 3720 and comes in both a long sleeve and elbow length sleeve version.  I believe that I wore things like this in the 80's, but the materials back then weren't as nice.  This is made from a new microfiber brushed knit that I ordered from Fabric.com in a color called "raisin".   It is all polyester, but doesn't feel cold and slippery like a lot of polyester knits do.  In fact, I wore it this weekend when it was chilly, and was really pleased at how warm it felt. 
What I like about it:
-no sleeves to set in
-fits snug around the hips, but loose around the waist
-long fitted cuffs to bring in the batwing sleeves

The pattern has a scoop neckline, but I think this would be nice with a hood or cowl neckline too.  It looks a little plain without the necklace.  It takes around 2-1/4 yards of fabric, which is a lot for a top. I've had dresses that take less!  I think you really need a nice thin and drapey knit for this pattern to work.  A thicker knit would be cumbersome to wear.   I plan to make this again- I bought the same fabric in a cranberry and a pumpkin color.  Sounds like I'm still in Thanksgiving mode!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Michelou who is the winner of our December 2nd Giveaway prize!  Thanks to everyone who made comments to enter.  It was fun to see so many different favorites of our patterns!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Giveaway Day


The popular blog SewMamaSew is sponsoring a Giveaway Day!  We are participating and would like to offer a prize of 3 SewBaby patterns!  To enter, just comment about which SewBaby pattern you would like to win the most.  We will ship internationally, and the prize winner will be selected randomly on December 6th.  Make sure to leave a way for us to contact you if you are the winner!  You will get to choose which three patterns are your prize!

My Wardrobe Contest Entry

Patternreview.com was having a wardrobe contest from Sept 1-Nov 30.  The goal was to make a 10 piece mix and match wardrobe.  I wasn't originally going to enter, but by last Saturday, I had 7 items that I could enter, so I thought, what's 3 more?  The last three, of course, took me until 10:45 pm last night to finish, and since the Patternreview clock seems to be set on the Eastern Time Zone, I finished just in time.  Whew!

I'm calling it my Green Goddess Wardrobe, based on, of course, the famous Green Goddess salad dressing.  No, not really.  This wardrobe is full of rich fabrics in silk and wool, ranging from aqua to forest green, accented with neutrals of black and cream. The patterns chosen are fluid and drapey. Here is the result!  And here is my official review with specifics about what pattern was used for each piece.


The winner will be chosen by Patternreview.com members, of which there are over 200,000 now!  It really is an inspiring place to visit on the web.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Give-Away Winner

The winner of our Thanksgiving Giveaway is Lorie S!  Thanks to everyone that entered.  We'll be having another giveaway later this week, so watch for details!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Zigzag Chiffon and Reindeer Tunics


Hope that you all have had a great Thanksgiving and have found some great Black Friday deals!  I've done a little shopping, but I really couldn't wait to get back to sewing the rest of the tunics in my sewing queue.

I used Butterick 5355 and a silk chiffon from Anna Sui for this zigzaggy tunic.  This pattern is so easy.  The neckband is finished with single fold bias tape.

I love this fabric.  It has bands of black, white and light green on each side of the aqua/forest green.   With careful cutting, I was able to get the sleeve zigzag print to line up with the front and back.  So comfy!  I'm sure I will make this pattern again.


And for tunic top #4, I decided to get in the holiday spirit with this reindeer silk/wool gauze from Anna Sui.  At least I think it is a reindeer.  I can't be sure, as there also seem to be giraffes on the same print.  This was a really unusual fabric.   It had two panels to it, but each were too short to be a skirt or top by themselves.  I decided that Kwik Sew pattern 3676 would be a great base for this, as the front and back pieces have the cap sleeve attached to it, so I wouldn't have to break up the print to add a little sleeve.  I used the shorter length without the band, to make it tunic length. I also cut the neckline a little deeper so that any t-shirt that I wore underneath it would show.   Here is the result!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Give-Away!


Question?  What can I sew that
A.  Uses up my fabric scraps
B.  Makes great gifts for teachers, friends and family.
C.  Doesn't take forever and a day to make
D.  Let's me be creative.

Answer:  Fabric Bowls!!!

Leave a comment on my blog about what you are making for the holidays (doesn't have to be sewing- it can be food, scrapbooks, mix CDs, etc) , and you'll be registered to win a copy of this book.  The randomly picked winner will be announced on Monday, November 30th!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tunic Top #3- Khaliah Ali pattern


For tunic top #3 (my husband is calling them tuna tops, BTW), I chose a Khaliah Ali pattern, Simplicity 2634.  If you aren't familiar with Khaliah Ali, she is the daughter of Muhammad Ali, and fashion designer of plus size clothes and patterns.  She's collaborated with Simplicity patterns to produce a really great line of plus size patterns.   I graded it down to fit me, as I thought the design was just great, and it wasn't available yet in the misses size range.  The top has a belt and pleats under the bust.

For the fabric, I chose a silk chiffon print from Anna Sui   It wasn't difficult to work with at all.  I have several silk chiffons that I'd been avoiding, thinking they would be hard to deal with like the polyester chiffons that I"ve worked with in the past.  Not so.. this pressed easily and sewed like a dream.  It took about 3 yards of fabric, at $6/yard so with pattern and bias tape included, this is about a $21 top.

I did make several changes to the pattern to make it quicker and easier to sew.   First, I eliminated the facings, and bound the neck edge with single fold bias tape.  To do this, I changed to order of construction, so that the center front seam wasn't sewn up until the bias tape had been applied.  I also cut the back piece and lower front piece on the fold  There didn't seem to be any reason not to, and with my sheer fabric, I wanted as few seams as possible.
I'm really happy with the end result. It works great with the turtleneck for winter, and equally good with a cami for warmer weather.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tunic Top #2- Art Deco Print


This is the second of my tunic craze.  This one is made from Butterick pattern 5388.  I made view B, but with View D sleeves.  I used a polyester burn-out from Anna Sui.  I usually avoid polyester, but I really love Art Deco Prints and loved the colors on this one.  One end of the fabric was this swirl of aqua and blue satin, and that is what I made the cowl from.  The other end was the border that you see at the sleeves and hem.
 I did do a 1 inch full bust adjustment, and I didn't have enough fabric to cut the cowl on the bias as recommended, so I cut it on the straight grain and it was fine. 

Here is a closer picture so you can see the pleats at the neck.
I've tried it both belted and unbelted and can't make up my mind which way to wear it.  Any opinions?

I really do like this pattern, and would definitely recommend it.  I think it is fantastic for sheer fabrics.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tunic Top #1


I've started making tunic tops for several reasons
A.  They are easy- no buttons, no zippers, just pull over the head.
B.  They are almost like dresses, but since I hardly ever have an occasion to wear a dress, I can use a beautiful fabric as a tunic and actually wear it!
C.  They are easy to fit.  In fact, it's hard to go wrong, as they are usually designed to be loose fitting, so as long as you get the size right in the shoulders, the rest is pretty much in the bag.
D.  You can wear them with a turtleneck underneath for cold days, or a cami underneath for warm days, so you get your money's worth!

This top is Simplicity 2690 view D.  This is a very nice basic tunic/dress pattern with a empire waist seam that uses elastic.  I used a silk velvet burnout fabric designed by Anna Sui.  It starts out as a light green at one selvedge and graduates to a black at the other selvedge.  Really a stunning fabric, and I wanted to make sure that I had a pattern that would show the full gradation of color. 


The pattern went together so easily, until I got to the belt.  It would have been easier with a fabric that wasn't quite as thick.  You basically need to sew button loops on each end that will attach to 3 buttons at the center front of the garment.  My fabric was way too thick for button loops, so I used black ponytail holders cut to the length that the pattern specified.  The belt is cut on the bias and then gathered to give the pretty pleating effect.  The problem with bias cuts is that no two fabrics ever behave the same on the bias, and this one stretched way to much.  I ended up taking off 4 inches, and it is still too big, but since I know that I'll want to wear a turtleneck underneath it on chilly days, I decided to leave it a little loose.

Here is one more shot of Illinois farmland in my backyard.  This is the first of a series of tunic tops.  They are like potato chips, you can't stop at just one.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Pumpkin Latte


I found this nice surprise on my kitchen counter when I came home one day this week.  It is a Pumpkin Latte made by my daughter Serena, who works as a barista at a coffee shop in town.

I was struck by how sweet the "mama" written on the side was.  It got me a little choked up because she turns 19 on Friday. 

When I was pregnant with Serena, I craved anything pumpkin, and she has been crazy about anything pumpkin since she was born.  So, her family nickname is Pumpkin.   She is truly a delight and makes my day in so many ways.

Happy 19th Birthday, Pumpkin!  (And thanks for the latte!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Green Goddess Coat





I've got a thing for green- particularly teal green. But, I don't have that much in my wardrobe to reflect that.  I've been collecting fabrics with this color for a while, and now have enough to sew a coordinated wardrobe with teal, black and silver.  There is a contest going on at Patternreview this month where you can win a $175 gift certificate for the best mix-and-match 10 piece wardrobe.  Although I can't finish by the end date (11/30), I am going to participate unofficially.   This jacket is my "topper".  It is McCalls 5987


This is a quickie to make because it is unlined.  There really isn't much too it- sew the shoulder and side seams, sew the sleeves together and attach the scarf.  Narrow hem by machine, and voila, you have a coat! Here is the back view.

I chose this jade green boucle wool and it is extremely warm.  It ravels like crazy, and I wish I would have taken a photo of the floor after I was done sewing it.  It looked like I had sheared a sheep! 





You can wear the scarf wrapped around you or just loose.  Here is a side view with it unwrapped.  I had originally added 2 inches to the coat because I'm tall, and just do this automatically.  But I ended up cutting off the extra length, so if you are a petite person, I think you'd need to significantly shorten the pattern.  It also had no closure, and I added a coat hook and eye at the center front, just in case it is a windy day, like when we took this photo!

Overall, I'm happy with the pattern and the way it turned out.  It is a LOT of green, which will take some getting used to.  As long as I tone it down with black, I think it will work though.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Striped Fall Jacket


My sister-in-law's birthday is October 26th, and I promised her I'd make her a jacket for her birthday- 2 years ago!  Better late than never right?  That's my motto.  Debbie likes to dress casual- lots of jeans and t's, so I wanted to make her something that would fit in her wardrobe. This is me wearing it.  Last time I measured her, she was about my size.  She lives about an hour away, so we'll find out at Thanksgiving if it fits her.

I had this heavy weight striped wool from Fabric Mart Fabrics that was a steal at 3 yards for $5 last year.  I wanted to find a pattern that would show off the stripes, and I found this McCall's 5937 that uses the bias.  You can really see it on the back.  The only alteration I made was to lengthen it a couple of inches. 

The pattern doesn't have a closure, but includes a pattern for a tie-belt.  However, my fabric choice was so thick, that the belt just looked bulky, so I opted to add a single button and buttonhole.

I like how how it turned out!  I'll probably try to make myself something out of this pattern, but I'd definitely recommend a lighter weight fabric.  But, if she doesn't like it, well, I know someone who it fits just perfectly:)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Winter Coat Sewing

Welcome to my first Blog!  I'm sew excited to be able to share my personal sewing adventures.

My latest project is a winter coat.  My daughter is cold all of the time.  Even in the summer sweltering heat, you’ll find her bundled up in a sweater.  She started bugging me about making her winter coat in July.

We picked out a beautiful double faced wool melton in Royal Blue.  That in itself should be warm enough, but for the super cold-blooded, I decided to line it with quilted Thinsulate.  In the past to get extra warmth, I’ve done an interlining of flannel and then a flannel backed satin lining, but that is twice the work cutting and sewing, so the quilted Thinsulate sounded like a time saver.


She chose Simplicity 2812 for the pattern, which is one of the Project Runway patterns.  It has a pretty gathered collar that she can either wear up or down.  Here is a picture of the collar down.  The only problem with the pattern is that the pockets are really small.  I do understand why- they are inserted in the princess seams, and so that they don't cross over into the button area, they need to be small, but she won't be able to put anything but her hands in them.   

She picked out random gold buttons from my button collection which makes it completely unique. 

I think she can wear a variety of scarves with this color blue and still look nice.  She says that it is the “best coat in the world”.  Can’t get any better than that!
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