Monday, December 7, 2015

Martha Stewart does not live here.

 Readers, I make a lot of muslins. 
Meniere's des Muslins
I recently embarked upon a stash and remnant tidying tear about Studio Savage.  It was time to deal with the Elephant in the Middle the Room. Maybe The Beast that Grows Exponentially would be more appropriate. Let's face it, we all get there no matter how hard we try not to. The fashion fabric stash lives in its own little sewing closet in the house - much the size of a generic coat closet - organized via a hanging closet organizer, (drawers & shelves) which does the trick for the most part. (Do yourself a favor and Spend the Money - these are absolutely life changing. I have one in every closet.) Granted, my stash isn't large in comparison to some I've read about.  I have a hook on the closet door exterior to hang UFOs, mending, ironing,etc.  Bet you have one, too.  The big work table, muslin making and muslin stash storage takes place in the annex (see below), with remnants of everything tending to end up strewn about wherever the car, laundry and bird seed isn't.  
Betty the Miata-O-Matic abhores clutter
Overall, everywhere was looking a bit thrashed. So I did that thing where you just Dump It All Out in a Pile and grab a shovel.  Being the Mavin of Managed Messes that I am, my foreplanning consisted of these:
Pay attention:  The operative words are "Hefty" and "Jumbo"
To bring your work space into submission, you will need:
2 gallon size zipper bags to place cut projects in for the stitching queue
30 gallon size CLEAR tie-top trash bags 
1 foldy-type binfound amongst my garage shelves
1 existing flippy-top foot operated bin
1 existing old laundry carrier binnish-type thing
1 ruthless attitude

I was brutal in my decision making process and you must be, too, or The Beast is never tamed.  Studio Savage is of limited square footage, so prudence is a virtue.  Fill that bag, sit on it, tie it off and toss in the boot for drop-off on the next errand day.  One bagfull not enough for you to warrant the gas usage? Pfft - get thee to thine clothes closet and give it thy stinkith eye.  Shed no tears, show no mercy.  

To Recycle Fabric Scraps:  Line a too-small-to-use remnant flippy-top bin (with foot operated lid lifter pedal - now that's thinking) with a 30 gal. clear CinchSak.  Every time you cut a piece too small to use, flip the lid and give it the heave-ho.

Lift, Remove, Label, It's Outta Here
Flooring from WalMart Sporting Goods section.  Who knew?!
When full, pull up by the ties, remove, shove a piece of paper clearly labeled "FABRIC SCRAPS" into the bag and then (this is important, pay attention) give it to the Goodwill. Yes, they take scraps if in a clearly labeled clear bag .  They shred and re-use them for insulation or something.  Anyway, they DO take them.

So, Dear Readers, it's time take back your work area and wack it into submission.

Betty says: "Be the Dominatrix of your Dominion."
This is your domain, where both you and order reigns supreme.  So be like Betty.  Or Else.

What lay beneath:  During my tidying I unearthed a UFO which is now on the aforementioned UFO closet door hook and a scrap of some lovely blue mystery fabric just big enough to make a Summer skirt.  Just in time for Fall.  
I used Vogue 7805 (OOP) to get me started.

Pattern Description:  Vogue 7805 Misses/Petite Skirt and Pants. Semi-fitted, straight skirt or pants have mock fly, front patch pockets/carriers combo, skirt back vent.  I made the skirt with some changes.

Pattern Sizing:  12, 14, 16   I made a 14.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  Pretty much.  Except that Changes I Made part.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  Yes, but do mark carefully and take your time during construction.  The pocket/belt loop/top stitching does take patience for a presentable finished make.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  It's pretty easy to make.  It's an excellent pattern choice for stretch woven summer skirts.

Fabric Used:  Mystery super super stretchy woven unearthed in the above-mentioned stash tidying.  I had about 3/4 yrd., 54" wide.  Pre-washed on cold and low dryer, exited the dryer fairly unwrinkled.  Seam puckering is from the Love/Hate relationship of my Pfaff 2036.  I used a super-fine Microtex needle for general construction which seemed to lessen the puckering somewhat.  I used a Janome Coverstitch to hem it so the hem would have some give as well.  

Lining is from an old pair of re-fashioned size 14 RTW wide legged trousers (see, I do save everything). It's very sheer and lightweight.  It's not a stretch lining per-say, but was so spongey it had a lot of give to it.  

Pockets lined with a remnant from this project.  

Top stitching/buttonhole twist was used for both the CF topstitching and hem, including threaded through the Coverstitch without a hitch. 

All seam finishes are in Apple Green thread, also unearthed during tidying, of which inexplicably I have FOUR spools of. Obviously, all seam finishes this winter will be in Apple Green.  
What?  Oh, like you've never done it. . .

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  I placed the exterior patch pockets on the inside, omitted the back vent and fly front, belt carriers and most of the top stitching, mostly because I am lazy.  I wish I had omitted the front darts.  Next time.  I used an invisible zip in the CB seam.  I top stitched the CF seam and hem only.  This pattern has a touch curvier hip in it than my IRL do, so I sliced off about 1/4" from the side seams from about my hip bone to top of my thigh.  I've a more hourglass in me southern patokus region, rather than the Dita Von Teese side-hip va-va-voom, even though our total circumference may be the same.  Due to the fabric's stretchiness, I made sure to remember to stabilize the waistline seam with 1/4" twill tape.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  Yes and yes.  I've used this skirt pattern several times.  I think it's a good choice for any stretch woven fabric. It's slim, sits at the waist without being suffocating and still comfy due to it having some stretchy give.  I haven't made the pants.
My curves go front-to-back, not hourglass side-to-side like Dita's
I am Savage

Conclusion:  Tidying up and shoveling out all those scraps may have only reduced the fabric stash by a smidge but I can find my scissors now.  However, muslin-making should be far less chaotic.  There's even a little bin (the little folding fabric bin thingy mentioned above) for knit toile fabric - which are mostly old knit sheets, BTW. And there's even room in the garage to set the laundry basket down without having to put it on top of the car.  I may not have the life of Dita, but I am certainly the Mistress of My Muslins.

A final note on too-small-to-use scraps:  If ONE of you suggests quilting - Do. Not. Go. There.

I don't quilt.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sew a Smarter Short Sleeve for a Thinner Younger You

Lose 10 pounds and look 10 years younger through sewing! Give any short-sleeve a shorter length and shaped hem for a younger, more flattering shape without sacrificing comfort. A self-facing will keep the sleeve's shape through washing & wearing and result in a smooth, no visible hem stitching look. 

          How old is that woman?
Why Coco, you've lost weight!           

Above on the left is a basic short sleeved Tee I made a few months ago made from an extremely soft and fluid rayon jersey I found when rummaging through the remnant bin at Britex, San Francisco.  There was just enough to make a Basic Tee.  The original sleeve depth measured 13" finished, and I admit, that is a bit long.  Add that to the ever-growing nature that is rayon jersey and by the end of the day not only were the sleeves down past my elbows, the entire shirt seemed to grow exponentially into a tunic by 5pm.  Not to mention the hems on the sleeves always wrinkled in the wash and required ironing.  Oh, like I have time to iron Tee shirts.  It also had the added insult to injury of making me look not only 10 pounds heavier, but 10 years older.  Who needs that?  I decided to remove the sleeves to trim the sleeve depth and stabilize its droop by adding a fully faced sleeve.   Here's how I did it:

I removed the original sleeves, marked the back double-notch of each with a safety pin on the WS [this is important, read on] and set them aside.  I opened up the bodice side seams and hem, leaving the shoulder seams and neckline intact.  I then re-sewed the original 1/4" side seams at 3/8" which removed 1/8" from each SA which equaled a 1/2" total reduction in bodice circumference.  I also cut 1" off the hem, then faced the new 1" hem with Emma Seabrooke's SewkeysE extremely fine clear 1" fusible tape for knits and re-hemmed it.  Because I re-sewed the side seams of the bodice, the new sleeves will now be inserted in the set-in method instead the flat method usually used when sewing with knits. No worries, setting-in knit sleeves is easy, just stretch to ease.  Right, on to the new sleeves.

The removed existing sleeves were placed RS to RS and given a press and stiffened with Sullivan's Fabric Stiffener so the sleeves would be more stable to work with while being re-cut.  Sullivan's is the bomb and every sewing notions cabinet should have a can handy.  No Sullivan's?  No problem, a few spritzs of spray starch will work, too. 

Using the original sleeve pattern, I drafted a shorter, more shaped sleeve to give the sleeve and the over-all look of the Tee a more youthful and slimmer look.  The sleevehead and width remained the same, only the length changed. I reduced the length to 6 1/2".  You can see the subtle curve in the hem in the photo below.  The curve sits in the valley where your deltoid and bicep muscles meet.  

New sleeve pattern.  You'll note how sheer the net is.
I re-cut the existing sleeves as only the length had changed, not the width or sleeve-head.  I then cut a second set of sleeves from a very fine and sheer black nylon lingerie net that has a crosswise stretch only, no lengthwise stretch.  This way the sleeve will still stretch around my deltoid muscles, but not grow in length as the day wears on.  Bloody brilliant thinking on my part if you ask me.  After cutting the net sleeves, I then shifted the pattern piece up 1/8" and cut this 1/8" off - see the photo below.  This set of net sleeves will be referred to as the sleeve facing. 
Shift pattern up 1/8th" and remove.
Matching the hem lines, sew the sleeve facing to the sleeves, RS to RS.  You will notice the facing armscye SAs are 1/8" shorter than the fashion fabric in this step.  

TopTip: Thread that extra machine of yours currently gather dust in the closet with Wash-A-Way Basting Thread.  Run your knit projects through prior to serging or ziz-zagging. It keeps everything stable and is a dream to work with. When pressing, be sure to use a dry iron, no steam or it'll shrink/dissolve.  It is washaway, so no water until you're ready to remove it. Be sure to wind a bobbin as well.  To remove, just spritz it with water or the lazy way like me, wet the finished project in the sink and toss it in the dryer.

Sew RS to RS.  Baste first to stabilze. You can just see that 1/8" difference in the armscye SAs.
Press the hem SA towards the facing.
Press seem towards sleeve hem facing
Because rayon jersey grows so much during wear, I understitched the SA on the facing hem with my machine's stretch stitch.  A zig-zag set at 1.5W x 2L will work,too.

Understich sleeve facing if needed for a droopy fabric like rayon.  That's a Pfaff 2036 Stitch in the Ditch foot.
Roll the facing up, matching the armscye SAs and give the sleeves a nice press.  Admire your handywork.  Go have a cookie.

Lookit how nice and smooth that hem is. I'm a genius. I deserve cake.
Open up the sleeves, match the hem seams and sew side seams.  A straight stitch is fine.
Sew sleeve side seams
They'll look like this.

Check your seam matching work.
Nip out that piece of SA on the side seam.
Remove bulk whenever possible.  
Press side seams open and fold over onto themselves rolling the facing to the inside and match the armscye seams and press.  Because 1/8" was removed from the facing length, the hem will roll up nicely to the inside with no visible hem stitching or facing peaking out.
Give the sleeves another press
Keeping the armscye SAs evenly matched, give the sleeves another basting around the armscyes just inside the SA to hold everything together while setting in the sleeves.
New fully faced sleeves with basting around armscye seams, ready to go in.
I then set in the sleeves, again basting them in first on the straight stitch machine with Wash-A-Way thread prior to running through the serger.  Et Voila!  

Pfft, those are gorgeous.

The Wash-A-Way basting holds everything nice and steady so I get a clean final serge-around.

I'm a bloody genius.  Did I mention that?
How neat and clean is that interior finish, huh?
10 pounds thinner and 10 years younger.
I've worn this Tee a few times now and there's been no drooping sleeves by the end of the day, the sleeves stay smooth and unwrinkled.  Removing some of the ease on the bodice also helped, even though it still did grow a tad, but not near as much as it used to.  The minor ease removal didn't make the bodice too tight so still camouflaged my usual pasta-for-lunch-tummy The SewkeysE fusible hem tape really, really helped hold the hem shape. Having the tape to assist in the hemming process made rolling and pressing it up very stable and it ran through the cover stitch machine beautifully, no pins needed.  If you use a double-needle to mimic a cover stitch, the SewkeysE tape will eliminate the tunneling double needles are famous for, thus keeping you sane.  You can view video of it in use for hems here.

Gaw, I can't believe I wore this in public.
And here's the same process in an ITY Tee, minus the sleeve hem understiching as ITY doesn't droop.  I really like the finished look of this sleeve and plan to use it anytime a pattern calls for a short sleeve.  It's a very flattering cut on my guns arms.

Deco Tee, Fabric: Hancock's Fabrics  It's still available, click the link.

So sew yourself a smarter shortsleeve and avoid the droop of matronly sleeved tees. The the best part is I emerged from Studio Savage looking 10 pounds thinner and 10 years younger. Proof positive sewing is good for you in all respects.  Now go have another cookie.


No, I do not receive compensation for promoting products.  I share info so you know the product used and where to find it.  Isn't the internet wonderful?!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Amare Dress, Rinnovato!

The Amare has moved to Naughty bobbin Patterns!
CLICK HERE to be redirected.
Available in tiled PDF or full Copy Shop version
See you there!

The Amare is the perfect choice for love Italian style no matter where you are.
Scott Kline Photography
Andretti Winery
The Heroine, the Plot and the Dress:  It's time for some rejuvenation.  You've fixed the plumbing, waved arrivederci to the crazy contractors and, seen to the tidying up.  It's time for a new dress.  Our Heroine has chosen a dress in a soft creamy white with a fluid tea length half-circle skirt and simple fitted cut-on-the-bias surplice bodice with just a hint of kimono sleeve.  Knowing accessorizing is key, she has paired this dress with a cinching black suede belt.  Perfect for an al fresco rendezvous with a handsome gigolo.  Even if it doesn't pan out the way one hoped.  No tears for our girl, though.  In the end, with this dress, love will find our Heroine.

Give your love life the embellishment it deserves and make yourself an Amare dress. You never know when Love will come knocking and take you out for a Chianti.

Professionally graded by Pattern Works International, LLC
Oh, that lovely bias rolled surplice neckline

Pattern Notes & Skill Level:  Surplice bias cut bodice, tea length half-circle skirt with optional left-side invisible zipper. Advanced beginner and above.  Pattern includes all seam allowances of 5/8."  Does not include layout but pieces are marked "Place on Fold", etc. Instructions follow for both knit and wovens.

Suggested Fabrics:  Knits or Wovens.  Choose a stable knit such as Ponte, Ponte di Roma; wovens with good drape and body, Faille, Challis or Crepe.  Anything swingy and swishy but do consider opting for a wrinkle-resistant fabric. This is a lot of dress to iron.

Notions: 1 3/8ths button, Sullivan's Fabric Stiffener or a good starch. 1 12-14" invisible zipper if using, fusible bias tape and/or fusible yardage to reinforce zipper and stress points, 3/8" clear elastic for the waistline if using a knit.  Optional: Machine embroidery thread, a roll of Washable Wonder Tape is useful, 4-1" squares of organza.

Assembly Instructions
1. Print and assemble pattern.

2. Layout all pieces, transfer all markings. The bodice front is cut on the folded bias (thus creating a self-facing), so you will need to allow for cutting piece #1 twice.

3. Give the four bodice/neck corners a little square of fusible or organza on the inside to reinforce the corner at the dot and stay stitch with a 1.5 stitch, pivoting at dot.

4. Mark bodice buttonhole on inside left-side bodice facing only and button placement on inside right-side facing only and give both a square of good stabilizer on the inside of the facing to reinforce the stress points.

Top Tip: After cutting and before construction, if your fabric is slippery - apply some spray starch or Sullivan's Fabric Stabilizer to any areas that may be challenging such as the sleeve hem edges, zipper area and skirt hem, to aid in any machine basting and hem stitching. Ditto for the back darts. Your fabric really will run through your machine a lot easier.  Spray on, let air or iron dry; re-apply as much needed.

5. Make darts in bodice back and press towards side seams.

Top Tip: Try one-thread darts. One-thread darts make for a lovely, unpuckered finish, especially darts with a longer slender dart point, such as used on this pattern. The video below may help you. The Tutorialist can be a bit of a fumble fingers but you'll get the idea.

6.  If using a knit go to Step 10.  If using a woven and for a clean finished interior, do the following: open up the bias front bodice/facing and stitch a 5/8ths basting line on the inside bodice shoulder seam only and press to the inside.  

7.  Keeping the front open, on the inside bias bodice seam allowance (#1), stitch a 5/8ths basting line along the long straight edge and press to the wrong side towards center front along basting line. If using, apply Washable Wonder Tape to just inside the basting stitch line but do not remove the backing yet.

8.  While keeping the bias bodice piece open, stitch bodice front (#1) to side bodice (#2), matching notches and press seam towards center front, clipping if necessary.

Top Tip:  Clip your seam in an alternating sequence to eliminate any clip show-through on light colored fabrics. This little trick really does work - try it!

9.  Keeping the bodice front open and the neckline curve free, stitch a French seam on the bodice front to bodice back (#3) at shoulders only from reinforced corner dot to sleeve edge and press towards the front. Clip just to corner dot stay stitching.

10. Open up the bodice back neckline extensions and sew together. It makes a shallow V shape. Trim seam to 1/4" and press open.  If using a woven,  go to Step 11.  If using a knit, go to Step 13 and make the buttonhole.

11. With the bias bodice opened up, baste 5/8ths on inside back neckline seam of the extension, and press under 5/8ths from dot to dot, clipping where necessary, including the stay stitched inside corners.

12. With the bias bodice still opened up, sew the outside back neckline seam to bodice back neck, trim, clip and press up into neckline. Now bring the entire inside bodice shoulder/neckline over, enclosing the neckline seam, the short shoulder extension and the side-front seam. Slipstitch or stitch-in-the-ditch the back neck and shoulder extension. Pin-baste the folded over inside bodice just 1/8th to 1/16ths over the seam line that runs from the shoulder to the waist seam allowance to hide it. Check the fit and buttonhole placement. Make adjustments if needed.

13. For wovens, remove pin-basting and for both woven and knits, open up the bodices and make a 3/8" buttonhole on left front outside bodice only - the button hole does not go through both layers.  Do not cut open yet.  Trim away excess stabilizer. The buttonhole goes on the left and button on the right as you will push the button through the buttonhole into the left bodice (instead of pulling it through). This way there won't be any button show-through on the outside of the finished garment or see a buttonhole on the interior either.

Top Tip:  Try using machine embroidery thread and a fine #9 needle for a smoother stitch when making such a small buttonhole. It works a treat.  If you've got some, use a scrap of stiff stabilizer on the underside of the buttonhole.

14.   If using a knit, fold the bias bodices Front (#1) along the bias fold line, press and if desired, baste together along side front seam and back neck, inside the seam allowance.  Sew Side Front bodice(s) (#2) to bias Fronts (#1).  For a clean finish, serge the seam.  Press and top stitch if desired.  Sew Back (#3) to Fronts at shoulders and back neck, clipping and pivoting at pivot points.  For a clean finish, serge the seam.  Have a canolli. Go to Step 15.

If using a woven, replace front facing alongside front seam.  If using Wonder Tape, remove the backing now and press down along side front seam. Turn bodice to right side and stitch-in-the-ditch the side front seam from the shoulder to the waist, catching the inside facing at the same time. Your bodice neckline interior now has lovely finish to it, with no raw edges. Stop and have a cannoli. Admire your beautiful work.

15. Press and bring bodice right front over left front, matching notches.   Baste fronts together just inside waist seam line.

16. If using a knit, and omitting a zipper, go to Step 19.  If using a woven, sew skirt front to bodice front and skirt back to bodice back at waistline, leaving side seams unsewn. Depending on your fabric, you may need to give the skirt waist seam allowance a few clips within the seam allowance to flatten out its curve to meet the straight edge of the bodice waist seam allowance. Grade seam, clip and press waistline seam up. 

17. On left side seam give the zipper opening a strip of lightweight interfacing or fusible tape.  Insert an invisible zipper on left side of dress.

18. Reinforce side seams at underarm between two dots using a smaller stitch at this is a stress point.  Finish sewing both side seams, from the hemline up. Sewing from the hemline up supports the skirt pieces and aids in keeping the bias portions of the skirt from stretching during construction, thus reducing the possibility of wavy side seams on the skirt.  Trim and clip bodice side seam curves, using the alternate clipping method above. 

19.  If using a knit, omitting a zipper and if using a serger, baste bodice side seams only, do not serge yet, and check the fit. 

Top Tip:  Use Wash- A-Way Basting Thread when basting a seam in knits prior to serging, to check the fit of your garment or if there is an interim step prior to serging the seam.  It presses well with a dry iron.  It's really a terrific little notion to have around.  You will need a bobbin wound with it as well or you'll end up with long threads wrapped around your washer's agitator. Trust me on this.

Very handy for the sewing room
With regular thread and using a straight stitch, reinforce both side seams at underarm between two dots using a 1.5 stitch.  Clip into seam allowance at dot just under the sleeve opening - to but not through so you can roll the sleeve hem.  Once clipped and reinforced, sew/serge bodice side seams.

Sew/serge skirt side seams from the bottom up.  Sew skirt to bodice at waist seam.  You can and may wish to serge on some 3/8" elastic to help support the weight of the skirt.  Cut elastic 1" less than your waist measurement.

The Tutorialist's knit Amare with 3/8" elastic serged into the waist seam

20. To hem sleeves, (use more Sullivan's or starch if needed) run a basting stitch at 1/4" from sleeve selvage around sleeve opening, then again at 5/8". Clip sleeve hem curve if needed to the 1/4" basting, turn under along 1/4" basting line and press. Turn under again along 5/8ths basting, clipping to dot at underarm.  Washable Wonder Tape works, well, wonders on this step.

Machine hem sleeve, bar tacking or back-tacking a few times straight across at the underarm to reinforce the stress point.

21.  Double-check button/buttonhole placement. Sew on button and open buttonhole.

22. To hem the dress, try dress on and mark hem length.  Run a machine basting stitch at this marking around the entire hemline. Then two more times at 1/2" intervals down from the hem basting. 

Let dress hang on a dress form or hanger for 24 hours for the bias in the skirt to "drop and stop."  Try on and recheck hem and re-mark if/as needed.  Trim any excess on hem if/as needed, turn hem up on lowest/first basting line, press, turn up again and machine hem dress.

Top Tip:  SewkeysE double-sided fusible stay tape is the easiest, most marvelous product to make your hem stay put while running it through your machine, including cover-stitch machines.  It's near invisible, won't gum up your needle and it's very, very easy to use.   Just press on, peal off the tape, fold up your hem and give it a light press.  If using on a curve, such as the Amare's hemline, clip the tape at 1" intervals in the same manner you would clip a seam curve - almost but not though the width of the tape.  It will "bend" to your will!  Do yourself a favor and get some here, Emma

Pamela from Pamela's Patterns demonstrates how to properly apply stay tapes to shoulders, necklines and hems for professional knit finishes.  Watch Pamela make it all clear at 4:22.

Finishing Touches: Let's keep things in place and add a waist-stay.  A waist-stay will help keep the dress at your waist, support the weight of the full skirt and reduce stress on the zipper. It also makes for a lovely interior finish.  If using a woven, Petersham or grosgrain ribbon works well.  If using a knit and did not add elastic in Step 19, you can it now - add 3/8" elastic 1" less than your waist measurement on the seam allowance with a zig zag stitch.

For wovens, place the stay on the upward facing waist seam allowance, keeping about 1" free on either side of the non-zipper seam and about 1½" free on either side of the zipper. Stitch the ribbon to the waist seam, placing the edge of the ribbon just inside the seam allowance.  Press the ribbon up and covering the wait seam. Add hook and eye.

Lookit that, isn't it lovely?

Complete the Look:  When it comes to love and accessorizing, our Heroine has a tendency think a bit in Black and White. She has paired her creamy Amare dress with a 2" wide black suede belt with self-covered buckle, black strappy sandals, and a slouchy black leather satchel. Her jewelry is a simple small-gauge chain choker and small hoop earrings. And just in case, she's grabbed her little black Trench as one never knows when will be left out in the cold, as it were. . .

So give your love life the embellishment it deserves and make yourself an Amare dress. You never know when Love will come knocking and take you out for a Chianti.

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