Thursday, May 5, 2016

Shirt Details

Recently my cousin showed me her collection of shirts. Oh. My. Goodness. I thought I loved shirts.

She doesn't sew but she is a savvy shopper, purchasing great shirts at garage sales, as well as Chico's. And the details are wonderful.

This one caught my eye. Details include an inverted back pleat stitched at the waist, wedge-shaped epaulets, button placket with a 2-3 inch fold-over, and flap pockets.

Placket detail

Pocket detail

Center back inverted pleat, stitched together at the back waist.

I was anxious to try to copy some of the details. The Now and Zen pattern from The Sewing Workshop (TSW) is pretty close to the RTW shirt:

So I started with the Zen. I made no changes to its back pleat. I have hip fluff and decided to skip the part where the inverted pleat is stitched together at the waistline. It is a pretty detail though, so maybe next time.

The placket on the Zen looks more similar that it really is. The RTW shirt has a wider, prominent fold-over placket and, most significantly, the button holes are placed on the shirt, rather than the placket, as in the Zen shirt. I have made the Zen previously and was not crazy about the buttonhole placement. It is a bit awkward to button with the buttonholes inside the placket without easy access. Hope that makes sense.

So I redrafted the placket. It should have been easy, but I got confused several times. I finally got the pattern tissue designed fairly well but then managed to sew incorrectly. I was sewing between trips and babysitting gigs. My mind was not focused.

Having exhausted my enthusiasm on the placket, I abandoned the flaps on the pockets. In fact, I did not manage to center the placket, so one of the pockets had to go. I hope the asymmetry is not too obvious.

This is the Zen shirt with the Now collar, a very clever collar technique.
The cuffs on the RTW shirt were standard with tower plackets and cuffs. My go-to pattern for that shirt element is The Blouse Perfected from Cutting Line Designs.

But I have a vintage Chico's shirt with 3/4 length sleeves that I have always loved. So I decided to try to copy that too. First I cut the sleeves 3/4 length + seam allowance. Then I drafted a facing that is about 5 inches deep. I added it to the hem of the sleeve created an easy vent in the seam just below the facing. I added a button loop in the center of each sleeve vent and a button to hold the sleeve cuff together.

I like the cuff better folded back. I will not repeat this detail in future shirts. There are easier ways to create a 3/4 length cuff. My Lucille Ball cuffs would have been just right!

I will repeat the front placket in my next shirt. I want to improve on that a bit.

I added a small detail to the back and I call this done.

I am wearing it today. It is delightful to wear - a beautiful piece of men's shirting from Gail K here in Atlanta.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


dance of the blue moon

kona cottons, applique, curved piecing, machine quilting, sashiko quilting. needs more sashiko, maybe just on the surface

about 12 X 26 inches

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day!

And you know what that means? Me-Made-May 2016 (MMM16).

As you may know, Zoe is once again hosting Me-Made-May. You can read all about it here, and join in too. And if you just want to view the Me-Made-May-mates, click here.

It is not a particularly high bar for me because I make almost all my clothes but it is fun to participate in a planet-wide initiative to call attention to making wearables, I think.

Today I am wearing two from The Sewing Workshop, the Olive t-shirt (of Alex and Olive) and the Hudson pants. The t-shirt is made from a rayon jersey and the pants are navy silk noil. Pure comfort, all around.

I am enjoying a new shirt project for me, having finished another gift set for DGD3:

Thursday, April 14, 2016


A new baby girl is the reason for sewing these pieces. She will join the human tribe sometime in June. Cousin's very first grandchild. What a wonderful time.

The pink cotton knit is as soft in real life as it looks. I purchased it from the Martha Pullen booth at Expo this year. So yummy. And such a sweet place for a little embroidery.

The patterns are from old, old Ottobre magazines. The sack is for a newborn and the onesie for 6-8 months. They look so small that I am beginning to question whether or not they will ever fit a tiny human. But then it is so easy to forget how tiny a new one is.

I am pretty proud of these simple snaps:

And icing on the cake is of course a little sashiko.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Open Wide Zippered Pouch

The Open-Wide Zippered Pouch is posted as a free tutorial by Noodlehead. The main feature for me was the clean finish on the zipper, allowing the bag to open completely without bulky zipper junk crowding either end. It also has boxed corners on the bottom.

My first try used a small piece I created in a Fiber Art Fusion. We had access to old out-of-date decorator books with smallish fabric samples. Our goal was to compose a collage of sorts. Because of its size, I only used the Noodlehead tutorial for the zipper portion. I did follow that portion of the tutorial very closely including the little tab on the zipper end.

Because the tab construction was a little fiddly, I made a change to it in my second version. Other than the tab, I followed the instructions for her small bag quite closely. Funny, I always learn something when I follow directions. I rather like the order of construction and the ease of construction when the front and back of the tote are two separate pieces, instead of one long piece folded over.

The red fabric is cotton canvas. The bottom is light weight denim that I quilted to wool batting. The lining is cotton batik. It turned out just a tad limp.

For the tab on this red one, I cut a denim square 1.25 x 2.5 inches so that one long edge included the selvage. Then I folded it right sides together to create a square 1.25 x 1.25.  Next I stitched along the edge opposite the fold, using a 1/4 inch SA. This created a tube that slides easily over a standard zipper

After sliding the tube on the zipper, with selvage closest to the bag. I stitched across the other end of the tube over the zipper. Lastly I cut the zipper off to about 1/2 inch and turned the tube right side out, covering the zipper end.

I applied a variation of tab construction to the next two bags. For these bags I used the dimensions for the large open-wide pouch. Since I found my red one to be a little limp, I tried some variations with structure.  On the pink one, I tried applying inexpensive fusible interfacing to both the exterior and the interior of the bag. The exterior is cotton seersucker and the interior is quilt cotton. The result was still too droopy, so I took it apart and added cotton flannel to the exterior layer. The band on it is a bias tube made from the interior quilt cotton.

For the green one, I used very heavy fusible interfacing on the exterior and light weight fusible on the interior. The face fabrics are quilt cottons and the band is ribbon. It is beefy enough but I much prefer the softer effect of the flannel.

As I added additional structure, I realized that I needed to change the way the zipper was installed. That is, I screwed it up and had to pick it out.

In Noodlehead's tutorial, she shows you how to place the zipper between the exterior and interior fabrics so that insertion takes a single pass on each side of the zipper. As the fabrics became thick, this was hard for me to manage. So, instead I sewed the zipper to the exterior first. Then I sewed the lining on, keeping the previous seam line visible so that I could simply retrace it. This allowed me to keep things even.

I love the manner in which Noodlehead manages the ends of the zipper and will use this again. It yields a pouch that really does open wide!

I had hoped that this bag might be a good one for Camp Sew N Sew this year, but I think the zipper application may be a little too challenging for brand new sewists.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Just a Little Sashiko

Last June I made this white linen shirt from The Sewing Workshop Mix It pattern:

I was especially pleased with the cuffs. The design sprang from a severe shortage of fabric.

It was lovely to sew, all that wonderful linen. But I did not wear it. You know how it works - you put it on and then take it off again. And then it just stayed in the closet.

So I added a little sashiko at the high waist and at the shoulders. I also added a few rows around the collar. Again it was a delight to sew. I wore it yesterday but it remains to be seen if I'll wear it. I do think I will now.

Yeah, the sashiko is pretty subtle.

Last night I celebrated 7-year-old grandsons birthday and came home with a few stains. White linen is like a food magnet for me.

PS - He liked the PJs I made him. He is not so sure about the dress shirt. I expected that. DD and DSIL were so thoughtful and ooohhhed and awwed over it. And if he wears it, my heart will sing.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Summer Dress

This is another sweet pattern from Ottobre, summer 2008. The dress in the magazine is actually quite different. I used the basic bones as a starting place.

Granddaughter will turn 7 in a few weeks. She selected the fabric with a little input from me and her mother. I was able to steer her to some cotton lawn selections for the skirt, sleeves and binding. The bodice is quilt weight, but it works just fine for this portion of the dress. The cotton lawn was lovely to cut and sew. I think it will be great to wear too.

Gathering is easy, right? I've been doing it since I first began sewing as a pre-teen. But in the back of my mind, I could picture some pretty sloppy gathering in past projects, so I decided to aim a bit higher. I consulted a great resource on my sewing room shelf, Couture: The Fine Art of Sewing by Roberta Carr. I purchased this from Marla Kozell when she taught a class locally. It is a gold-mine of for great sewing techniques.

Indeed there was terrific instruction on how to get even gathers. I was surprised to learn that the suggested stitch length for gathering was 2.5 mm, just 0.1 mm larger than my normal stitch length. The first row is stitched just inside the seam line; the second one is 1/8 inch further inside the seam allowance. I pulled the bobbin threads and it worked just great!

As with so much sewing, careful pressing is key to success. I had not thought about pressing the even gathers before attaching to the bodice. I am really quite pleased with the result.

Even though the skirt is cotton lawn, it is not at all transparent so I chose to omit lining from that and from the bodice. It gets hot here is the southeast and this will be a light weight dress for the fast approaching summer months.

The original inspiration my granddaughter spotted had a bubble skirt. I had intended to bubble it, but decided that the flow of this skirt is just too sweet as is. And it's so hard to properly iron a bubble skirt. I did add a bias strip from the bodice fabric to give the hem a little weight.

Now I am anxious to make myself something new!