Sunday, July 15, 2018

Fabulous Jumpsuit

I really like the jumpsuit/romper trend, but I haven't found a ready-to-wear style that I liked for my body style.  When I saw this jumpsuit in the May 2018 Burda magazine, I knew I had found the perfect jumpsuit for me.  I love its drapey style.  I love the linen that makes it casual and summery, but dressy at the same time.  The trim around the legs and the tie at the waist are beautiful details.  I like the corset style top - it's sexy, but loose enough in fit not to look trashy.

I looked around for a few weeks trying to find the shade of blue-green linen that the Burda model wears, but was unsuccessful.  I found this deep purple shade of linen/rayon blend at Joann's and decided it was a gorgeous choice.  I found the trim at Joann's too.  I think Joann's has really stepped-up fashion sewing choices in the last year or two.

Burda rates this a 3 dot level and I would say that's pretty accurate.  It's a pattern that requires some intermediate to advanced sewing skills.

I made a muslin test first size 38.  I made no alterations to the pants portion, but took the top in about 1/4 inch on each side seam and the 1/4 inch on each side of the centerback seam.  I probably could have gone with the 36, but I would have had to let the waist out.  I'm never sure if taking in or letting out is easier.  Regardless, I'm really pleased with the fit.

Paying attention to symmetry is key with this pattern.  Because of all the seams in the bodice, one small error in sewing your seams will make the whole thing looks sloppy.

I used a beautiful lightweight interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply -ProSheer Elegance Couture.  It kept the linen light and drapey, but gives the top a gorgeous smooth finish and support.  There is boning in the side seams which is necessary to hold it up properly.

I'm really pleased with how it turned out and will have lots of fun wearing it.

Make something beautiful.


Sunday, February 4, 2018

A Pretty Pony

When Vogue Patterns releases a new craft pattern, I generally buy it.  They don't have many, and they don't do it often, but when they do - it's good.  This particular pattern is by Linda Carr.  She has been in the doll making, stuffie making business for a very long time.  If you have done any research looking for resources, books, or patterns you have probably run into her work.   I bought V9194 as soon as I saw it.

I knew I was going to make a pony for my niece (she will be five this month).  I talked to my brother about her favorite my little pony - it happened to be Princess Celestia - so I could get some inspiration for color combinations.  Once I had my vision, I went to gathering supplies.  Below is a list of supplies and sources:

  • White minky fabric - Joann's
  • Multi-colored yarn - 1 skein - Joann's
  • Safety eyes - Glass Eyes Online (if you love making stuffies, you will love this site!)
  • Leather - "Aqua Divine Top Grain Cowide" and "thin purple blue green sponge painting rainbow cowhide" from PeggySueAlso on Etsy (this is a candy store!!)
  • D Rings (stirrups) - Joanns
  • square dowel rods - Joanns
  • the key rings and swivel hooks I actually had on hand - I bought these on ebay or etsy (from China in a crazy large quantity for very little money)  for one of my son's school projects
  • metal buttons, embroidery floss, fabric markers, felt, and stuffing I had in my supplies

This is a great pattern, however, if you have never made a stuffed animal or doll, you will not get enough information to help you come out with a great result.  I recommend getting one or both of these books for invaluable tips and methods for successfully completing this project:  Jill Hamor's Storybook Toys and/or Abby Glassenberg's Stuffed Animals: From Concept to Construction.

My tips
  • I recommend having hemostats for stuffing.
  • Use a smaller stitch length because the seams will take a lot of strain from stuffing. 

  • Get a hump-jumper and tear away interfacing for sewing the small and narrow bulky parts of the saddle, bridle and reins.

  • Leather is easier than you think. 

  • If you think you've stuffed enough, stuff some more.

 As far as the pattern, it goes together well and the instructions are clear for the parts involving construction of the pony.  I recommend reading the instructions for the saddle and bridle through a couple of times before beginning work.  Also, I would like to have seen a list of all the lengths and sizes of leather strips needed, rather than having it interspersed through the steps.  I recommend adding an inch to the strips that are supposed to be 4 1/2/ inches and I also recommend adding 1/2 to 1 inch to straps that go around the pony's nose.

For her eye liner, I used a green fabric marker and then glued her eyelids over the safety eye with Alene's fabric glue.  Also - the metal buttons are not sewn on - 6 layers of leather was too iffy.  I put a small hole in the layers of leather for the button shank so it would lay flush and then glued it with Alene's jewel-it glue.  It has held very firmly, but I plan on testing again.  If it comes, off, I will try epoxy.

I used a poly fiber fill stuffing because I find it gives a smoother look than wool.  I prefer wool in other circumstances, but not this one.  Even with the poly stuffing, her legs still look lumpy and chubby.  I worked on them for quite a while, but gave up after looking at the photo on the pattern envelope and seeing the model horse has chubby legs too.

She's pretty large - she measures 18 inches high at the top of her head and 15 inches at her back.  Perfect for the American Girls dolls or other 18 inch dolls.

Making stuffies and dolls is truly delightful.  Although I love to make clothes and home decor, there is always something magical about making a creature.  It's a bit like being a Geppetto or Pygmalion.  I always end up naming them.  This one I named Cristobelle.

She's shipping out this week to my niece for her fifth birthday.  I can't wait to see if she likes her.

 Make something beautiful!

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! 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

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!

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!


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!

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!