Sewing Classes and Lessons

Monday, August 7, 2017

Silk Taffeta Pillows, Table Runner and Bias Dress



I love making pillow covers!  It's one of the first projects that I use with beginning sewing students because it is just so quick and rewarding.  And if you're like me and you constantly want to redecorate, changing pillow covers is a relatively low cost and easy way to bring a fresh look to a room.  Much more acceptable to hubby than new furniture or painting!


This time I was working with a very large plaid silk taffeta from Fabric Mart.  Since it was a large plaid, my first project with it was to make some queen size pillow shams.  They are the plaid ones in the back of the photo.  I also made the two printed ones in the center from a home dec fabric that I had in the stash for a while.. 


I wanted to make the covers removable with a zipper, and include a braided trim.  As luck would have it, I found a whole card of braided trim at an estate sale that worked with my taffeta for just $2!


To start, I used a zipper foot to stitch down the braided trim all around one side of the pillow. Then I serged a piece of lining fabric to the back of each side.  I don't think that you would have to line these, but I'm using down feather pillows, so I thought that the lining might be a barrier to feathers poking out.


For the corners, I trimmed the braided trim and wrapped tape around the ends so that they wouldn't ravel.  Then, I just pushed the edges together at a corner, so that after the pillow was turned, they would be on the inside, like this:


Then, I went back and sewed the zipper face down over the braided trim, as if it would be an invisible zipper.


This is what it looked like before I sewed them together.


And this is the zipper afterwards-you can just barely see it under the trim.


It's hard to capture the sheen on these pillows, but they are really quite beautiful and rich-looking in person!  Using so many pillows on a bed is a relatively new thing for me, and I found this interesting article on how to arrange pillows using different combinations.
 
I used 2-1/4 yards of the silk, and I lined them with 2-1/4 yards of drapery lining.  I had about a 12" wide piece of silk left from cutting the pillows, so I decided to make a table runner for our foyer table from it.


On the back side, I used the drapery lining, and did a similar thing with the braided trim.  I think that the braided trim really is a simple way to make things look high end.


I finished it just in time for a bridal shower that we were hosting, and another great coincidence- the letters of their names were painted in the same shade of green!


I wanted to make something to wear from the taffeta for the shower, but didn't want anyone to see the pillows and table runner, and be able to know that it was the same fabric- a Scarlet O'Hara situation!  So, I took a 2-1/2 yard piece of the taffeta, and dyed it with 2 Tbsp of navy blue fabric dye.  It absorbed the dye so fast, I couldn't believe how much it changed it!  It turned it into kind of a denimy blue with lavender accents.  Here is the before and after side by side:


The texture became a little limper, and slightly less shiny, but I definitely prefer it for less formal clothes.  It's been a million degrees here with unspeakable humidity, so I decided to make a  loose-fitting sleeveless dress that I could wear for the bridal shower.

Kwik Sew 3049

I found a simple a-line dress pattern, Kwik Sew 3049, with center front and back seams, so that I could cut it on the bias and match the plaid design.  From my previous experience working with silk taffeta in apparel, it doesn't have any "give" at all when wearing, so you need to be extra sure that you have enough ease in your garment to be comfortable.  So, I made this a size larger than my measurements indicated. 



I had a one yard package of lavender beaded trim that I used to accent the pockets and neckline, and used a self bias strip turned to the outside to finish the neck.  Even though it's simple, this was a technically challenging project to get everything to line up just so!


I got a lot of compliments on it at the shower, and one very nice surprise, was that it didn't wrinkle much at all!  These photos were taken after a very long day, setting up and then hosting the shower, and then even a nap afterwards, and there are really no more creases than there were to begin with!  The crinkly texture was there all along.


I still have some left, but three projects out of one fabric is enough for now!  It's time for me to move on to fall sewing, so today I'm cutting into some wool fabric today for a coat.  Living in 4 seasons gives us so much variety for sewing!

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Monday, July 17, 2017

Casual Summer Shorts and Tops


I hope that you are having a great summer!  Here in the northern hemisphere, our summers can get really hot and humid, so everyday clothing that is lightweight and loose fitting is ideal.  I really needed some new tops and shorts that I could wear while doing housework, running errands, and just day to day stuff.  After picking out fabrics from Fabric Mart's awesome cotton selection, the first thing I did was to search for the perfect shorts pattern.  For me, pockets are a dealbreaker-  they have to be big enough to hold my cellphone without worrying that it will fall out! I decided to go with Butterick 5504, a Connie Crawford pattern.  It's no longer available from Butterick, but you can get it directly from Connie's website.  Here's the line drawing:


I made mine about 4" shorter.  This pair was made with a cotton/tencel denim which was heavenly soft after washing.  The pattern only calls for drawstrings, but I found that I needed elastic as well to keep them in place.  So, these shorts all have both 1/4" wide elastic and a drawstring at the waist.


Here you can see just how deep the pockets are from the inside view- they are very generous- I could fit a small paperback book in them!


I wanted the drawstrings to be different colors, so I cut white cotton cording to the length that I wanted, and started playing with my Rit dyes.


If you've never tried dyeing, you are in for a treat.  It is so simple and much like dyeing Easter eggs.  For something small like the drawstring, just put a splash of the dye in some very hot water in an old ice cream bucket, and stir it around for a few minutes.  If you want the color to be lighter, take it out early.  The longer you leave it, the darker it gets. Then, rinse, rinse, and rinse some more until no dye comes out in the water.


I decided to do a bunch and be ready for future drawstring needs as well!  Here they are drying on my patio.


I also dyed a piece of pale peach linen into a deeper shade of coral, along with the drawstring, and that's what became my coral pink shorts.  I knew that I wanted to make "camp" shirts, and for my first one, I used this poplin shirting print and Butterick 6070.  I took extra care with this shirt to match the design, and flat felled all of the seams.



It seemed to be fitting perfectly during the sewing process, but once I sewed the sleeves on, it was too snug.   As soon as I raise my arms, it pulls across the bust.  I think that the armholes are more suited to a sleeveless top, so I might cut off the sleeves and see if I like it better.  The fabric is wonderful, so I hope that I can make it work.

For my second shirt, I went looking for a more 80's style camp shirt with lots of room, and found this old Stretch and Sew pattern that had just the type of fit I was looking for.  Interestingly enough, this pattern comes with a separate template for a sleeveless armhole, which is exactly the shape of the armhole on my first shirt, solidifying my belief that if I cut off the sleeves, it might work! 


This pattern is for a dress, but I cut it at 26" long, instead of dress length to make it into a shirt.  I used a beautiful cherry blossom cotton poplin for the shirt, and the shorts are from a double gauze.  (Both are now sold out).  I love this print, it is so pretty.  The double gauze is a stripe on one side, and solid blue on the other.  These shorts feature the striped side.  This is my first time using double gauze, and it's very soft.  Maybe too soft for shorts!  It probably is better suited to shirting, but I will see how they hold up.


This shirt has a lot more ease, and I can raise my arms freely!  I'm very happy with this one- it's just the epitomy of a camp shirt in my mind.


Here's a close-up of the stitching- I used my new coverstitch machine to do all of the stitching around the front band and pockets.  I love this machine!  It makes my topstitching look 1000 times more professional!


For my last top, I went with a printed cotton gauze and Butterick 6455.   This fabric is a single gauze and was surprisingly very easy to work with.  Even though the arms are covered, the fabric is so lightweight that you don't feel too hot. I like the cinnamon color in this one- I think that it will transition into fall well, which is great because we still have lots of hot days all the way through September.



So, I'm all set for this summer for my casual shorts and top needs!  I love making all types of clothes, but there is something extra satisfying about sewing things that you know you can wear everyday.   Do you agree?

Happy Sewing!
Ann



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Another Cold Shoulder Look with Butterick 6462

Summer is flying by so fast!  I can't believe that it is mid July already.  I have accomplished a couple of major things sewing wise- I bought a coverstitch machine, and after letting it sit in a box for 3 months, I finally got up the nerve to open it up and figure it out.  I don't know why I waited so long!  It was really pretty easy, and I've been sewing up a storm since.  The second thing was that I replaced my leaky iron.  Another thing that I don't know why I lived with it for so long, but now that it has been replaced, I feel like I am sewing in luxury and am sewing in peak condition.  Kind of like an athlete with new shoes getting a burst of confidence!

But, this particular project was the last one that I made before the coverstitch box was opened.  After my first foray into the cold shoulder look with a knit in my last post, I decided to dip my toes even further, this time with a pattern designed for a woven fabric, Butterick 6462.




This is one of Butterick's Lifestyle Wardrobe patterns where you can make the same design in dress, top or jumpsuit formats.  Don't you just love options?  I chose to make View C, which is the long version of the top. 


As far as woven blouses go, this one was really quite simple.  The neckline, front and sleeves are all finished with a combined front and back facing, like you often see with sleeveless dress patterns.  Here you can see the nice finish that this gives you on the shoulder.


It's collarless, and I think that the gentle curve on the neckline is very pretty.  You could easily make this a sleeveless top, as the facing continues under where the sleeve is added. 


I did do a full bust adjustment, round back adjustment and forward shoulder adjustment, but left the length alone.   I will definitely be making this again to make the time spent doing those alterations worth it!  You need a fabric with some nice drape, and this is rayon challis- a very soft and drapey fabric.



Even though this is long sleeved, it's still pretty comfortable in the heat because it is so loose and airy.  I think that the jumpsuit is an interesting possibility, but you'd have to find just the perfect bottomweight fabric that still has some drape- probably a crepe would work.

In other news, I've finally opened up an Instagram account!   I've been hesitant to do so, but I am trying to not be such an old fogie, and keep up with the young-uns.  I have yet to post anything, but if you have one and would like to connect, my account is Sewbaby11. 

I just love this fabric, and I still have another couple of yards left to do another project with. Any suggestions?  

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cold Shoulder Knit Dress Butterick 6425

When the cold shoulder trend started, I laughed and thought, I will never, ever get on that bandwagon.  Hahaha!  Never, say never!  As I kept seeing more and more bloggers making cute versions, I finally decided to try it out for myself.


And the verdict is.....I love it!  I used a animal print rayon knit, and Butterick 6425. This has lots of views, and mine is a hybrid between the dress body of View B, and the sleeves of View C.  I also angled out the bottom of my dress a couple of inches to make it more like a swing dress.   Rayon knits have a horrendous tendency to show all of your lumps and bumps, and I thought this might help reduce that.

  This was really simple- just sew the shoulders and side seams for the dress body.  Finish the neckline and hem the sleeves.  Then set the half sleeves into the lower armhole, and narrow hem the upper armhole and top of  the half sleeves.   Hem the bottom and you are done!


This is really a lightweight fabric, but I can wear it with pants and a poncho for when I want to feel more covered up.


And I'm wearing it unbelted, but it would be easy to add a belt to get more waist definition.  This was my test garment, and I am definitely excited to make it again with a couple of adjustments- I'll add a couple of inches to the length, and I'll do a full bust adjustment.

I've also sewed a few things for my daughters this month, but it is difficult to get them to pose for photos!  This is a maxi skirt using the Burda magazine pattern that I had made before here.  And the tank top is made from Kwik Sew 3882. 
The fabric was from a Fabric Mart mystery bundle that she bought me for Christmas.  I love mystery bundles!  This is a cotton jersey and I trimmed it with black fold over elastic, and black twill tape for the drawstring.


The daughter that I made this for is going to visit my youngest daughter in Madagascar this week!  I thought that this would be colorful and fun for her trip.  I even added some beads to the drawstring.


My oldest daughter is the maid of honor in a wedding next week.  I have made her dress for the wedding, and hopefully will be getting some photos of her in it soon!

How about you- have you tried the cold shoulder trend yet?  If yes, what did you think?

Happy Sewing!
Ann

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Summer Sleepwear McCalls 5769



What could be better on a June day than having breakfast outside in your favorite pajamas and robe?  Enjoying the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees.  Ahh... bliss. 


When I think about how much time I spend in my pajamas and robe, I realize that I get more wear out of them, than any other items in my wardrobe!  I made these summer pajamas two years ago, and have worn them out, so it's time to make a new set!  I wanted something super light and airy, and all natural fibers, so I chose an embroidered cotton voile for the robe and shorts, and a dusty pink linen knit for the top. For the pattern, I used McCalls 5769, a now out of print pattern, but a good one if you can find it.



Let's start with the robe. This is a really basic pattern with dropped shoulders, a tie, pockets and a band. Super simple, and even a beginner could make this.


I used a narrow double fold bias tape in light blue all around the front band, pocket top, and cuffs.  This is actually much easier than piping.  You just put it over the edge and stitch in it place.  One package was enough for the whole robe.


You can see how unique this fabric is- the flowers are almost painted on like a watercolor, and then they are outlined in a chain stitch embroidery. Really soft and pretty!


I always use a lightweight interfacing in pockets- it stops them from stretching out and eliminates any show through on a thin fabric.


Next, on to the top. The pattern was designed for woven fabric, but I had a knit, so I used a size smaller than I normally would take, and that worked well. I had a small roll of stretch lace that I had purchased for a different project and it wasn't the right color for it. Imagine my delight when I saw this fabric was a perfect match for this fabric!  So, I used it on the neckline and hem. 



I used two strips of Lite Steam-A-Seam 2, which is a double sided lightweight adhesive to adhere it, instead of stitching. After you remove the paper backing, it's clear. And a nice bonus, it serves as the hem edge, so I just made sure that the lace covered up the lower edge.


This fabric was very stretchy, and without any lycra for recovery, so I knew that stabilizing the neck edge was going to be a challenge.  I fused a small strip of 1/4" wide interfacing to the back neck edge.  I decided to line the bodice front and back for modesty, as the fabric is also quite sheer.


For the underarm edge that wasn't covered by the sleeve, I used a single fold bias tape, folded to the inside, which also stabilized the armhole.



I had just enough fabric left over from the robe to make a pair of shorts to match. Since the fabric is so lightweight, I only needed 1/4" wide elastic at the waistband.

I also made a test garment out of a white cotton knit to make sure that the top pattern was going to work for me.  It turned out pretty well too! On this one, I sewed on strips of lace around the neck and just under the bodice. Then, I also used the ruffle piece at the underbust, and used a lettuce edge finish.



I wish that I could tell you that this was fast, but it was not!  These details do take some time, but they also elevate it to something nicer than your standard sleep shirt.


I really love my new sleepwear set!  Because the fabrics are so lightweight, it will be easy to pack up and travel with too.


It's going to be tempting to wear this all day around the house. I would never be able to find something that I liked even half as much in a store, which is just one of the many reasons of why I love to sew!

Happy Sewing!
Ann 
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