Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Rose the One

Some months ago I saw a Dolce and Gabbana rose print swimsuit online.  It was the perfect swimsuit - the swimsuit of my dreams.  Beautiful and stylish and modest and exactly what I had been looking for.  The problem was, it had a $700 price tag.

I searched for more D&G swimsuits (self-torture) and found this one, equally as beautiful:

I wondered.  Could I make a replica?  I could sew the design, certainly.  But could I find fabric in this print?  Swimsuit fabric?  Answer - yes!

Spoonflower.com is a website where you can design your own fabric or buy fabric from other independent designers.  It can be printed on just about any type of fabric:  silk, cotton, linen, even poly nylon spandex a/k/a swimsuit fabric.  I searched for "redoute rose" and found a designer who had a print that was somewhere in between these two D&G prints and as close to exact as I could hope.

Redoute Rose Print Fabric on Spoonflower by Peacoquettedesigns

To put my suit together I used a Beverly Johnson Pin Up Girls Pattern for the top and drafted my own bottoms with the knowledge gained from Beverly Johnson's craftsy class - Make your own panties.

Image result for three sisters bikini pattern


https://www.craftsy.com/sewing/classes/sewing-panties-construction-fit/60878


Here's how my knock-off version turned out*:
*I have a "no swimsuit pictures of myself on the internet" policy.  It's not because I have body issues.  I like my body.  It's because it does not empower me to show myself in swimsuit to the internet.







I loved custom drafting the bottoms.  They are exact to my measurements, so the fit is perfect.  I needed the leg cut slightly higher than the D&G version to be comfortable and the waist is lower on mine, because it is more flattering to my body shape.  I studied the photos of the D&G suit and mimicked the seaming in the back, front and sides.  The seaming adds diagonal lines that are very slimming and flatten the stomach.  Genius D&G.
My top is only similar.  I could not find a pattern that matched exactly.  I'm pleased with the fit of it and it is very comfortable. 

I ordered all my supplies from Sew Sassy Lingerie supplies.  I always use them for lingerie supplies.  They have all the linings, elastics, underwires, channeling, hooks, rings, etc.

If you've never tried making your own swimsuit, I highly recommend giving it a go.  It's a surprisingly quick and easy project and you can not only have a custom fit suit, but at a considerably lower price than $700.  In fact, all total, with fabric, supplies and even fabric and supplies for the test suit I made first, I spent about $50.

Make something beautiful!
Jen





Saturday, April 29, 2017

Burda PJs

Burda Style, English edition, is my favorite magazine.  Not only is it a bargain - about $6 and issue which comes with 30-40 patterns and variations, but it is also a great fashion, sewing and crafting resource.  I never part with them - I've got years worth expanding in my basement - and I never seem to get far enough ahead to actually sew a garment in the same month as I receive the issue.  That said, the December 2016 is one of my most favorite.  They featured a beautiful set of patterns for knit and woven pajamas - slips, camisoles, pants, etc. 

I was shopping at Soma and they have wonderful, comfortable, beautiful pajamas - that are, in my opinion, way over-priced.  Every time I've picked up a pair of their cute PJ shorts or pants and tried to talk myself into buying them, I simply can't, knowing how easy it is to make them.

So I made them using Burda 12-2016-110.  If you're unfamiliar with Burda, that is December 2016 issue, pattern number 110.


The fabric was in my stash from Girl Charlee fabrics.  It's a cotton lycra blend that feels very similar to the fabric Soma uses for their PJs.  The stretch lace was also in my stash from Sew Sassy Fabrics - I bought one of their grab bags at an excellent price and it was stuffed with all widths and colors of beautiful stretch lace.

If I round on the high side I spent just under $10 for these.  Soma's are $32.

This is an excellent pattern - very versatile.  It's designed for wovens, but can be used for knits too.  The inseam without lace would be about 2.5" to 3", but with the lace mine are 4.5" - and I prefer the longer length.  They could easily be upgraded with pretty details like piping on the side seams or a ribbon tie waist band.

I used a couple of techniques I learned from Alison Smith's Lingerie class at Craftsy
  • First is the lace.  I sewed it wrong side to wrong side with a straight stitch and the folded the right side of the fabric up and stitched the top edge of the lace and the fabric with a zig-zag.  It makes a very neat, strong seam.

  • Second is the waistband/elastic casing.  I folded and pressed the waistband allowance then edge-stitched the top edge and then stitched the bottom edge.  It makes a sturdier casing.





Customizable, gorgeous, comfortable PJS are within your grasp! 

Make something beautiful!


Jen

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...




I bought this Star Wars quilting fabric because my client loved AT-ATs and the Death Star.  I envisioned a shirt, pajamas, maybe a quilt (but I don't quilt, so that idea went quickly by).  After about 3 years (maybe 4), I remembered a great button down shirt pattern I had in one of my Ottobre sewing magazines.  Its the 6/2014 Issue Pattern No. 31 - Button Up Dress Shirt.  It has fun extras like contrast band, yokes, plackets and cuffs. 




Partially through the construction, my client decided that this was a much too dressy option for his current casual lifestyle.  Rising to the challenge, I channeled my inner Michael Kors and added this oh-so-stylish knit hood and got rid of the collar stand. My client was thrilled because his head is always cold. It also changed this too buttoned-up button-up into a casual, cool shirt/jacket.

I used a pattern for the hood from the Burda Style 12/2015 issue.  I had no issues with it fitting the neckline perfectly.








My favorite features of this shirt:


  • The hood.  I used green thread in my serger to match the shirt
  • The contrast yoke, cuffs, button placket and collar
  • The mismatched buttons (metal star buttons and big green buttons)
  • The front welt pocket (easiest, cutest welt pocket ever designed - see my previous post)







Make something beautiful!
Jen

Monday, September 5, 2016

Easiest Welt Pocket

I get such a joyful little thrill when I find a clever sewing technique!  I discovered this one just this evening, right before dinner.  I was cutting out a shirt for my son, which has a welt pocket on the front instead of the traditional patch pocket.  I've actually put off working on this shirt for that very reason - welt pockets are a tricky business.  I can do them, but they require some extra brain effort, and frankly, I've been tired.

So, after looking for the pattern piece and reading through the pattern cutting instructions, I discovered much to my curiosity, that there was no pattern piece for the welts.  The were folded, all in one, from the pocket itself.  How might this clever business work?!  Let me show you!

First, here is the pocket piece pattern.


Second, here is the pocket piece, which you sew right sides together to the shirt front (which is not a shirt front, but a scrap of fabric because I am practicing).  I used marking paper and a tracing wheel to transfer the marks for the stitching and folding lines onto the wrong side of the pocket.



Third, here is the stitching



Fourth, here is the cutting.  Make sure to clip into the corners all the way to the stitching or you will have puckers



Fifth, turn inside out


Sixth, fold your welts and press




Seventh, top stitch the sides and bottom


Eighth, fold up the pocket and stitch the sides (careful to keep it free from the shirt front).  On the actual shirt, I would serge the edges of the pocket.



Ninth, top stitch the top to close the the pocket (I leave long thread tails on steps 7 and 9 and then use a hand sewing needle to bring the threads to the wrong side.  Makes things much tidier than having little threads poking out)


Tenth, the cutest shirt pocket!



This whole process took me about 10 minutes.  I couldn't be more delighted - and now I'm completely motivated to get this shirt constructed.  Yes, it is a Star Wars shirt (I call this fabric Star Wars Toile).

If you're interest in the pattern and technique, it is in the Ottobre 6/2014 magazine, pattern #39.





Make something beautiful!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Still Sewing

Still sewing - not much time to tell about it.

Since my last post I've completed an Elizabethan Jacket for my sister's Mardi Gras costume, a quilted zip around pocket organizer (which I hate and gave away), lots of sachets (Christmas gifts), 4 Roman shades for my living room, repeated repairs to my sofa slipcovers (due to puppy), a gorgeous pair of retro satin pajamas and more I can't remember. 

What motivated me to post, however, is starting (actually re-starting) another doll.  This one is a vintage pattern - 1930s or 1940s I think - called "Rainy Day Girl." She's got the beautiful sculpted head like other dolls I've made.  I started her about 2 years ago and she's been sitting one-eyed in a coffee mug by sewing machine ever since.


My son has voiced his concern over the creep factor.  I finally picked her back up today, the goal being to give her a second eye.

I love sewing - most every kind of sewing - but there is something about making a doll that is more.  I love the hand work.  It's very slow (2nd eye took a little less than an hour) but I never feel anxious or bored or like I need to move on.  It's a creation that's different from clothes or crafts or window treatments.

I keep the doll in my lap while I stitch.  I think it's lovely and I get very attached to it as it begins to take shape.  I did look down at one point, though, and think it must look a little Franken-creepy to an observer.  See photo below:



 I don't think I've done a very detailed post on embroidering doll faces yet - I'd point you to Jill Haymor's Storybook Toys book first, but here are a couple tips:

  • Mark your facial features with water-soluble marker
  • Cut a much longer length of embroidery thread than you'll think you'll need
  • Use one strand - it gives you better control and detail even though it takes longer
  • Use a doll needle (big, long 2 or 3 inch needle) to bring it through the back of the head to ear.
  • Sew a tack stitch at the ear and then bring through to the face.  Switch to your embroidery needle.
  • Be careful to stop embroidering while you still have a long enough length of floss to finish through the ear and back of the head like you started.
  • Pull up slightly on the threads at the back of the head and snip them flush.  They'll disappear into the doll.
Now, sweet Agatha (yes, she's got a name now) has to lovely pale blue eyes with flecks of gold.  Pupils to come.


Make something beautiful!
Jen

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sewing Underthings

I went through a "sewing phase" a few years ago where I was obsessed with the idea of making my own lingerie.  I made several camisoles, 2 almost completed underwire bras, and a very comfortable sports bra that I used as a nursing bra. 

There seems to be a resurgence of interest in sewing lingerie and there are amazing classes on Craftsy by experts in the field, so I've developed interest once again.  I pulled those two almost finished bras out of my to-do box and plan on finishing those up in a week or two.  I also discovered that I had cut out, all ready to go - my favorite sports/nursing bra - so I sewed that up today.

I don't nurse anymore but it's still an amazingly comfortable bra - great for lounging and enough support for a yoga class.

The pattern is by Jan Bones of Lingerie Secrets.  I met her and took a class from her a few years ago at the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan.  She's incredibly gifted and a great teacher.  She makes sewing knits and elastic applications understandable and easy.  Here's a link to her website:  Sewing Lingerie

http://sewinglingerie.com/patterns/crossover-bra.html







I used a cheap cotton lycra fabric from my stash and elastics from Sew Sassy - my go to source for lingerie sewing supplies.



Here's quick how-to on sewing the elastic edges:

On the top edges I used this technique:

Line elastic up with the edge of the wrong side of the fabric.

  • My regular sewing foot has two red markings that are exactly 4.0 mm apart and mark the exact width of my zig-zag stitch.  I sew on on the very edge of the left side of the elastic, using the red marks as my guide
Here are my stitch settings:


  • After attaching the elastic on the wrong side it should look like this



  • Then fold it down and stitch on the folded edge - same zig-zag stitch






  • When you flip it over you'll have a lovely finished edge.  I used black thread so it could easily be seen for the illustration, but I prefer to use thread the same color as my fabric.




I'll show the fold-over elastic application in my next post.  I'm making another bra from a new pattern I just bought from Ohhh Lulu
It uses fold over elastic to bind all the edges.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/195959838/longline-bralette-sewing-pattern-ohhh?ref=shop_home_active_1








Be comfy and make something beautiful!

Jen


Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Work Wardrobe

 


Establishing a beautiful and varied work wardrobe is an expensive and frustrating task.  Suits that are well made and fit well are expensive.  I've been slowly working on a few patterns that I am finessing the fit so I can make up a plethora of well fitting basics:  pants, skirts, tops, and jackets. 

I've completed my first outfit:  A pair of navy trousers with a bright blue pinstripe and a medium blue top with white polka dots.  These fabrics were bargain fabric - each less than $4 per yard - so I felt comfortable with possible screw-ups (i.e. I could throw them in the trash if they didn't work). 

Pants: 
  • Pants are the Thurlow Trousers from Sewaholic Patterns (these patterns are specifically designed to fit pear-shaped women like myself - small on top, wider on the bottom):
Thurlow Trousers by Sewaholic Patterns - Envelope Cover

  • I sewed one size smaller than I did the last pair because I've lost a little (very little) weight and my other pair of Thurlows was too big.  (It looks like there is a spot on my rear, but my son took this photo and he smudged up the camera lens)
 
  • I experimented with the waistband finish - I took it out and re-did it about 4 times (maybe 5).  I like the bound edge - I think it looks more like RTW.  I have a couple of pant classes on Craftsy, but none of them covered the technique exactly how I wanted it done - so I examined several pairs of my pants and Mark's pants to see how they were put together.


  • The pinstripe fabric is a wool/poly blend that looks like linen.  Strange though it sounds, it's actually a great summery weight and the bonus - it does not wrinkle.  Not at all.  I looked crisp at work ALL day.


  • I wanted a little flash - so I piped the front pockets in bright blue and made the back welts bright blue too.  





Top:

  • Another Sewaholic Pattern - the Pendrell Blouse

Pendrell Blouse sewing pattern - front of pattern envelope.

  • This is an easy to sew, versatile top that works well under jackets or on its own.  It goes together so quickly - no closures.  Binding the edges of the neck and armholes can take a little patience, but with practice it is a lovely finish and particularly nice if you are going to sew it up in a sheer fabric (no big facings).
  • I'm probably going to tweak the fit - it's a roomy top but the princess seams give it some shape.  I think I'd like it a little closer fitting.  Also - it is very long.  I adjusted it 2 inches shorter before cutting and the cut another 2 inches off before I hemmed it.
  • I can't wait to try the sleeve variations.


 Make something beautiful!
Jen