Friday, September 30, 2011

The Abbey Jacket pattern is here!

 I am so excited today! (yes I skipped the final sewing lesson's coming someday :) Today is the day! After several weeks of working with and tweaking this pattern. Then grading the pattern to multiple sizes, I had some help from some amazing pattern testers! (I could not have done it with out you!) The Abbey Jacket pattern is finally done! Wooo hoo!
 So if you are looking to make the perfect fleece jacket this fall/winter then look no further.
 On this sweet red jacket I switched the cuff tabs so the fabric was out like one of my testers suggested (thanks Stacey! :)  I love the contrast it brings.
 The pattern in available in 4 sizes right now (possibly more to come)
12-18 months, 2T, 3T, and 4T. Check the chest measurements to see what size you would like for your little one.
You can visit the shop by clicking on the button on the side bar, or visit the pattern HERE

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sewing 101: Top stitching and other tips

 Alright we are nearly to the end. While I intended this to be the last post I didn't have the cuff post ready yet so that will be tomorrow and we will do this one today. If you are serious about sewing even if you are just starting. There are some simple things you can do to greatly improve the look of whatever it is you are making. I think the general goal when you are sewing is to make it look as if a professional made it, and less like a 5th grade home-ec project gone wrong, am I right? So the first thing that I think makes a pretty big difference is top stitching. I talk about it a lot. I do it even more, but if you are unclear as to what I am talking about I thought I would walk you through it. So you start with a seam. Anytime you sew anything you will have a seam.
 Press the seam flat. Meaning the flaps lay over on the side they match.
 Then sewing on the right (or wrong) side of the fabric I use my foot as a guide and sew a straight line following the seam. A few tips here. I use a longer stitch length when I am top stitching than when I sew the seam. I use a 2.5 when I stitch a seam and a 3.5 when I top stitch. It just tends to look more decorative. You can top stitch one side of the seam.
 Or both. It depends on what you like. Now while top stitching adds a detail that looks nice it also helps secure the seam flat which I find helps the garment lay better. There are times however that you wouldn't want to see a top stitch, so you decide if you want to or not.
 There are also times where you can not only top stitch the seams but you can add top stitching like you would in quilting to add detail to a garment. Like I did in a little sneak peak of Jude's fall jacket. (details later)
 Another must is ironing. Make friends with your iron. Name your iron if it helps you become better acquainted. Along with your iron I would say spray starch is a great companion since sometimes fabric has a crease or fold that will not come out just with an iron. Or my new best friend steam. I used to be afraid of steam, it ruined a shirt once, and I was afraid to try again. However if you are careful with your heat and don't steam sensitive fabrics (like polyester) steam will almost always get that perma-crease out. Just never under estimate the power of a pressed seam. It is the difference between a nice looking garment and a home-ec fail.
Lastly measure measure measure. Like my dad always says if you don't measure twice to cut once you will measure once and cut twice. I am totally guilty of this. I sew a lot while my kids are napping, or sleeping at night and I often think I can guess pretty well. Then I had a pile of clothes that I had just made that either didn't fit (especially over the head) or were too short, or too tight. So now I keep a record of their measurements and update it ever so often. Then whether you are drafting your own pattern or using a purchased pattern you can compare measurements with the pattern to ensure a good fit.

In case you are wondering the measurements I keep on file are of the following:
*add 1 inch to each measurement for ease*

Head circumference
Neck (all the way around)
Shoulder to shoulder (across the back)
Chest measurement (measure the widest part)
Waist measurement (measure the widest part)
Shoulder to waist
Shoulder to wrist (with a slight bend in the elbow)
Wrist measurement
Waist to ankle
Inseam (crotch to ankle)

I just label them with their name and the date that they were taken.

We will see you back here tomorrow with the last lesson of the series!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sewing 101: Machine button hole

 Alright, let me admit something here. It took me 15 years (or somewhere around there) to learn how to make a button hole. You know one that didn't look like crap. Still sometimes... crap. The hardest thing to teach? The button hole. The instruction is pretty straight forward. The key really is practice. So to start you are going to want to mark your button hole. DO this by tracing both sides of the button and then drawing a line between them.
 Now in order to make a button hole you will need a machine that sews a zig-zag stitch. Some old machines don't so you may try making one by hand.
This little diagram will walk you through the steps...
1. With the zig-zag stitch set wide (5 for me) (the wider the stitch the wider the button hole) set the stitch length to "0" and you will sew a tack, which is just sewing back in forth in place a few times.
2. Next you will sew one side of the button hole by setting the zig-zag to a much narrower setting (2 for me) Then with the stitch length set to .5 (or barely more than the shortest setting) sew a straight line down the left of the button hole line.
3. When you get to the bottom sew another tack just as you did in step 1.
4. Then you will sew up the right hand side the same way you did in step 2.

 Then you have a button hole. Use your seam ripper (or small scissors) and cut a slit down the middle between all the stitches.
Then your button should fit right through.

If your machine has a button hole stitch it will likely go through all those steps automatically. (you just turn a dial or press a button when it completes a step) However, it's always good to know how to do one with out the machine doing it for you.
I hope this helps you muster up the courage to practice button holes.
They really aren't that bad. The day I decided I was just going to do them instead of being afraid, ruining my garment every time I tried I did 20 or more just one after another until they stopped looking like crap and started looking like a button hole. Sometimes that's all it takes.

Only 2 more sewing 101 lessons are left! It's crazy! Maybe someday we will move into sewing 102...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sewing101: Bound Button Holes

 Today is the next button hole lesson. The bound button hole. Obviously not a button hole you would use for everything, but they have a nice "decorative" look to them. There is a raw edge left in back so it is best to use with fabric that won't fray. (or you can put no-fray glue on them to keep them from fraying)
 I am showing you one method today the patch method, but there are several ways to create a bound button hole. To start this one you will need the garment you are putting the button hole on and a patch. (the patch should be at least 1 inch wider than the button hole size you want and 2 inches taller than you want.) Center the patch over the desired button hole location. Pin right sides together.
 Next Mark your button hole by marking both sides of the button hole. (add a little room on either side)
 Then you will draw a rectangle 1/8 inch up from the button hole line and 1/8 inch down from the button hole line. The sides are the sides of the button hole.
 Then sew around the edge of the rectangle.
 Then you will cut a slit along the center line. You will want to cut in at an angle in the corners. (this will create little triangles at either end.
 Then push the fabric through to the back.
 Press the button hole so it is flat.
 Next you will create small pleats so the fold of the pleat meets in the middle of the hole.
 Then with the right side up fold the side of the fabric up to expose the side of the backing. Sew a straight line along the edge. Be sure you are sewing the little triangle down.
 Next fold up the bottom and sew along the edge. Be sure to sew the little flap down. Repeat with the other side and top doing the same thing.
 Then if you turn around to the back you should have a nice little rectangle. Trim away the extra fabric. (this is where you could glue the edges so they won't fray using THIS)
And there you have it a nice cute little bound button hole.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Project Runway: Men's wear...

So last week they showed scenes from next week where they showed it was another team challenge. (ick) However this really wasn't a team challenge at all. Or the designers didn't think of it that way. They didn't have to work together at all, the looks didn't have to go together (although they all did... as garbage) Men's wear challenges are always weird for me. I feel like it should be enough of a challenge that they are making something for a man, but instead it is always something specific for a man. (like the one with the guy from the morning show who basically had to wear a suit) Or this weeks challenge dressing a band. Who I guess wanted to be dressed like they were a band in the 70's. (either that or the designers were way off) So not really liking anything from this week we will just look at all the designs...
 The winner this week was Viktor. I am really starting to like him as my favorite, I really liked the jeans he made even if I thought the distressing could have been more than just the knees, but the back was really great. I also liked the shirt ok. I like that it was short sleeve since I love a man's arms but that could just be me. The jacket? I hate it. But the judges loved it. SO I could be alone on that.  I just thought it looked sloppy and weirdly hairy? I don't really like fringe I guess. I think I could have passed on the headband too, for a more modern look. Other wise he did a pretty good job.
 Oliver, the men's wear designer went home this week. I am glad he's gone, he drives me nuts. He complains way too much and he has never done anything all that impressive. I am a little surprised he lasted as long as he did, although at the beginning I found him somewhat charming... The only thing I have to say about his design is I don't think it is as bad as the judges thought it was... I mean this looks much better than...
 This, and Bert landed in the top with this disaster. It looks so sloppy. Talk about proportion problems, the sweater thing is way too long and saggy looking the shirt is way to short and while the pants are fine they are purple. And those braids.... I am with Heidi on this one, they look weird. He looks like a creepy serial killer. Oliver's outfit, (although pretty bad as well) made him look way less creepy and weird.
 Then there is Anya. (who I love) but this shirt is really weird and poorly made. She dresses the exact way the band wanted to look, vintage meets rock and roll, so I am a little surprised she could't deliver something better than this. The pants would have been ok, if the back didn't split when he sat down to drum...
 Kimberly was the other one in the bottom this week, and almost went home. The outfit was pretty bad, The shirt was weird. The pants look fine, but I guess they were cut wrong? I couldn't notice what they were talking about and I think it is funny that they thought the fans would notice that the back of the drummers pants were a different color (due to nap) than the front... Have they been to a concert? They look fine to me. They shirt though it's just weird.
 Laura made these weird bell bottoms and air-pit-hair-fringe-jacket The as Michael Kors said "blood splattered top" was weird I did't totally think it looked blood splattered until he said that and then it was all I could think of. The Jacket would have been better without the fringe and without the scarf. The pants could have been cool if they had less flair. She was safe this week, but only since no one did a great job.
 Joshua made this outfit. I liked the print of the top (I just a bought a print like that and I love it!) I like the fit of the pants. I hate the vest and the fringe. (again with the fringe) Although this is not totally my taste I think he did a good job and making the 70's flair modern, he just overdid it a bit.
Anthony Ryan was making nearly the same pair of pants as Joshua only they don't fit nearly as well. Saggy crotch and all. The print of the top is pretty cool I just wish it had a sleeve. For me sleeveless is a little trashy on a guy.

So that's the recap of a really weird episode. Please let there not be any more team challenges, and please let the designers design something cool.

What were your thoughts? Love it hate it wish there was more men's wear?

Friday, September 23, 2011

A little Fawn Tunic

 It's Friday! Oh man how I love fridays! And it's time to share the garment of the week! Remember the sleeves from earlier this week? Well Let's finish that top. Inspired by this lovely number from Zara's I loved this top and now it is gone... so I thought I would make one.
 I had an old sweatshirt laying around that was perfect to get cut up. It was one I rescued from my parents Goodwill pile,since it had a few stains but they were easy to cut around and now a shirt that was ruined is new. (love that) We will start with where the sleeve lesson leaves off. Which gives you a top with sleeves.
 Hem the bottom and sleeves. I like to use a double needle since it gives it such a nice finished edge.
 Then I cut some curved pockets out and hemmed the edge.
 Then pin the pockets on the shirt and top stitch around the round edge.
 Next for the deer. I printed a picture of a deer on to some paper and then placed it on the top.
 Using a fabric marker I traced around the edge.
 Then I had the outline of the deer.
 Then I filled in the details of the deer. When the deer was dry, I ironed over it to heat set the design.
 Next I added a facing to finish the neckline. (more on how to cut that out here)
 Then turn the facing to the inside and top stitch around the edge. I used a double needle and stitched two rows but you don't have to.
 Lastly for a little extra pop of color I added a small button to the pocket.
 There you have a little fawn tunic.
 I love the effortless look that a sweatshirt always provides.
The ruffled sleeve adds that nice feminine touch.