Monday, June 27, 2011

TSW MixIt Top - Summer time favorite

TSW Mixit Top is definitely a summer time favorite. I've made it three times now, so it goes pretty quickly.

I have made it in white pique, purple rayon Asian print, and now this deep rose/red cotton print. It is very loose-fitting except through the shoulders.

The pattern also includes a tank top. I like the general shape of it, but it has no bust darts, which leads to some bunching under my arms. I think the CLD hearts 'a' flutter tank may be a better one for me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Fun details on a little girl's dress

Today at church I spotted this dress on a sweet little girl I know. She and her mother gave me permission to photograph it. Wouldn't it be fun to try to include it in something? The bodice has a shirred insert using the main fabric which is an adorable print in, and of itself! The belt is constructed of one-inch bias tubes that have been woven together. I think. The two fabrics must be a kind of polished cotton.

It is quite airy around the middle (open basket weave without lining), making it a perfect little dress for Atlanta heat. The belt becomes a sash in the back, completing this charming look for a young lady. And I always love a little piping.

She's also adorable, isn't she?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sew 'N' Sew 2011 post mortem

It always ends on a high note and this year was no exception. We did lose 5 of the 12 campers to family vacations and other commitments, but the remaining 7 finished their projects. Here are the girls who finished their skirts (Butterick 5613) today.

Next year - maybe one project a day, each with a *lesson* like zipper insertion.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Camp Sew 'N' Sew 2011

Camp began its third year of operation at St. Aidan's bright and early Monday morning. Actually I guess it really began on Sunday afternoon when we teachers set up the room. We are now headed into the last day, tomorrow. It has been a whirlwind tour of sewing. I think/hope everyone had fun. I've sure had fun. Of course, it always ends with me thinking, how can I make it better next year? But more on that later...

Cell phone cover
Monday began with a super project from teacher Doris. Look at how cute it is! Two 10" squares of quilt fabric, one 10" square of batting, trace the house shape, stitch, trim, turn, press. Then top-stitch, stitch closed at bottom, turn press, apply stick-on hook and loop tapes. They loved it. OK, we had them all hooked on sewing with this fab project. Way to go, Miss Doris!
Then we started the big projects. Girls had two views from Butterick 5613 to select - one with a dropped waist and pleats, one with gathers and a sash belt. Both views have zippers. Our one boy student worked on pull-on PJ pants. They practiced a lapped zipper. Then only 4 of the 11 girls decided to insert zippers - 3 with the pleats and one with the gathers. ALL the others opted for elastic waists in their skirts. In between working on their skirts/pants, they worked on other projects, including another fab project prepared by Miss Doris:
They have mostly completed their main projects - skirts or pants. Here are some finished pull-on skirts:
Rock out, sewing sista's

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lapped Zippers and Camp Sew 'N' Sew

It's Camp Sew 'N' Sew time again. This is the third year I have worked with interested youth at my church in a week-long sewing camp I call Camp Sew 'N' Sew. It's always fun and I'm looking forward to it again. Some of the campers are returning for the third year. Hooray! The above is one of my favorite pictures and memories from year 1.

This year the girls are working on a skirt - Butterick 5613 (see drawing above right). It's very cute and should look great on them. It will be a stretch though. So I'm working up tutorials for them. Here is my current version of "Lapped Zippers." It assumes a regular zipper, not an invisible one. Thought I'd post it here:

  1. Using your normal stitch length, stitch the seam needing a zipper, starting where the zipper stop will be placed. Securely lock-stitch at this point before continuing down the length of the skirt. The part where the zipper will go is still open.
  2. Using a basting stitch (either machine or by hand), stitch the zipper opening in this seam closed. Leave long enough threads at the top so that you can hand-tie them together.
  3. Using your iron, press the entire length of the seam open.
  4. Carefully press ONLY the zipper tape if it is folded from the packaging. Don’t press over the zipper teeth.
  5. Place the skirt with wrong sides up on your work surface. You should be looking at the seam pressed open with the basted portion furthest from you.
  6. Move the skirt left and skirt right pieces to your left, so that only the right seam allowance sticks out to your right. That is, the right skirt piece, the left skirt piece and the left seam allowance are stacked to your left. Only one layer - the right seam allowance sticks out to your right.
  7. Open the zipper so that the zipper stop is closest to you. Place zipper wrong side up on the wrong side of the skirt. Align the right-hand zipper teeth with the basting and pin in place. Pin through the zipper tape and the right seam allowance ONLY.
  8. *Attach the zipper foot to your machine.
  9. Position the foot (or the needle) so that the needle is to the left and the foot is to the right. Double-check this before you begin stitching.
  10. Starting at the top, stitch through the zipper tape and right seam allowance. Stitch VERY close to the zipper teeth. Remove pins as you go. (Nothing shows on the right side of your skirt yet!)
  11.  Fold the stitched zipper tape and right seam allowance under to your right. RE-POSITION your zipper foot so that the needle is to the right and the foot is to the left. Stitch from the top, creating a tiny fold. Lock-stitch at the end. (Still nothing shows on the right side of your skirt!)
  12. Close the zipper.
  13. Allow the zipper to fall into place on the back side of the skirt. Pin the left zipper tape in place. Pin through the tape, the left seam allowance and the skirt. RE-POSITION your zipper foot so that the needle is to the left and the foot is to the right. Stitch an “L” shape, starting at the lower point on the “L.” Start with a lock-stitch.
  14. Now something shows on the right side! Remove basting stitches and admire your work.

*Note on zipper foot: A zipper foot allows you to sew close to the zipper feet. By moving either the NEEDLE or the FOOT (depends on your machine type), you can adjust so that the needle is sewing to the right or to the left of the foot. Test a sample. Start with the foot to the right, the needle to the left.

Suggestions are encouraged!


Monday, June 13, 2011

Curves Tutorial

Curved Seam Applications:
Princess seams
Neck lines, armscye
Design features (V1105 at left)
For fun

Curved seams and finishes are essential in clothing construction. They appear in obvious places such as the princess seams in the dress (Vogue 1237) at left, or even as design features such as in the jacket (also Vogue 1237) with curved horizontal seams. Here the seams do, no doubt, provide fit too. Curves are also pretty obvious in neck lines and in sleeveless tops and dresses. It's also fun to introduce new seams in order to introduce design features or color blocking. as in the simple top at right.

Here are some of my favorite techniques:

Brute Force

This requires seam allowances (SA) of ¼” or less, works best in pieces where precision is not required. It's a good idea to do this before cutting out a pattern piece. Place the two fabric pieces right side up on your cutting surface, overlapping enough to allow for the curve. Gently carve out the curve within the overlapped portions using a rotary cutter. Separate and discard the part cut off of each piece. Pin right sides together, just at the beginning.  Sew slowly with stitch length of about 2.0, adjusting the SAs to meet as you encounter curves. Sew especially slowly around the curves.  Press to one side. Now you can cut out the pattern piece that will contain this design feature or color blocking. Again the simple top above illustrates this technique.

Sewing concave to convex (e.g., princess seams):
  1. Staystitch 1-2 threads inside SA on both the concave and the convex curves. I use a 2.0 stitch length or less, depending on the fabric. This allows you to clip and notch BEFORE sewing.
  2. Clip the concave curve. Notch the convex curve.
  3. Pin at beginning of seam, end of seam and matching any notches or other registration marks you have. Because you have already clipped and notched, you should be able to pin a more-or-less straight seam to sew. Sew slowly, staying outside of the staystitching, opening clips and closing notches as needed.
  4. Sew seam using your normal stitch length. Press open or finish seam as desired.
Neckline and armscye with facings or similar
  1. Staystitch inside the 5/8” mark. The reason is to avoid distortions as you handle the pieces.
  2. Sew seam using usual SA, e.g., 5/8”.
  3. Grade seam so that one SA is no less than ¼”; the other SA must be more than ¼”.
  4. Clip the curves one layer at a time. Do not clip both layers together. Clip each separately so that the clips are staggered.
  5. Press, turn, press in place, favoring the outside fabric slightly.
  6. Top-stitch, understitch or use another method to keep the layers from shifting.
Creating your own curves (similar to brute force, but with more accurate results)
  1.  Draw a gentle curve free-hand onto the pattern piece tissue.
  2. Draw grain line to each side of the curve.
  3. Create registration marks (notches) - at least one per curve - by marking across the curve.
  4. Trace each piece onto a separate piece of pattern tissue, leaving enough space by the curved edge to add SA.
  5. Add desired SA, usually 5/8”, to the new seam line of each piece. Make sure to mark the notches you created in step 2.
  6. Cut out pattern tissue for each new piece.
  7. Cut out fabric using these new pattern pieces. Be sure to mark notches (registration marks).
  8. Sew the two pieces together following the “concave to convex” method above.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Extreme Curves

Finished circle insertion
I'm preparing to be teacher-of-the-moment for my ASG neighborhood group this week. My chosen topic is "curved seams." I posted about an interesting detail in TSW Verona coat back in January and I've been watching and trying to learn more about curved seams since then. Curved seams are everywhere! Of course, when you go looking for something, you find it.

For example, my occasional sewing student recently brought in an Anna Sui dress she wants to make. At first I thought that it was just too difficult for a beginner. Maybe it is, but over the course of that afternoon, she inserted the godets into the front and back skirts without a hitch. Now these are straight seams but it is still a similar insertion. I have noticed that many patterns instruct you to sew the seam BEFORE clipping. I find that this does not work well for me. You do have to staystitch, but clipping before stitching is essential to a smooth insertion, I think.

After sewing the seam in one pass!

Sewing the seam
Black staystitching, yellow seam

So today I decided to make an "extreme" sample for my upcoming class. How about a complete circle inserted into a piece of fabric, by machine? This is really a form of machine appliqué, but more refined for clothing. There is no stitching on the exterior.

I started by tracing a circle from a dinner plate onto freezer paper. Then I added a 1/2" seam allowance to each side of the line. I cut out the circle and used it as a template for cutting out both pieces here. I used the outer edge for the cream fabric and the inner edge for the striped fabric. So the cut circle is 1" larger than the hole in the fabric to allow for 1/2" seam allowancs.

I will post my lesson soon. I'm very pleased with this sample. It sort of looks like a pizza in these pictures. But I am pleased.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Hearts 'a Flutter shell - vs. 1.0109

I still don't have a completely satisfactory version of this fabulous little shell by Louise Cutting. But I think I've figured it out. I have been thinking about something I read on artisan's square from LC. Someone started one of Louise's patterns by making all of her usual changes. And she couldn't get it work. I think I did something similar, so tonight I've retreated back to the original pattern with the size appropriate to my measurements.

But I did learn something from my failures. The armhole really is too low for me. So my plan with the current one is to use bias bindings on the neck and armhole edges, rather than the included facing piece. For the neckline, I plan to use TSW method of binding. I first learned this with the Mimosa top. Attach a double-fold binding to the wrong side, stitching at 5/8 inch; trim and grade, then flip to the right side and top-stitch in place. This effectively takes up the provided 5/8 inch seam allowance. On the armholes though, I plan to just bind the raw edge with self-fabric bias tape. The net effect is like adding 5/8 inch all around the armhole. That is, this will raise it and make it wider over my shoulder.
TSW Binding Technique

Using some lavender crossweave free fabric from church, I have cut out a (really?) wearable muslin. I will test all of this before stitching on the binding. But I feel some sewing karma kicking in. I think it really might work and then I'll have my TNT shell for hot summers. Hooray for summer!