Monday, April 16, 2018

A Beautiful Spring Skirt: The Belle Skirt from Wardrobe by Me

Spring. Warmth. Sunshine. Flowers. Are you awaiting the signs of spring as eagerly as I am? Like many other areas of the country, winter is refusing to leave this year.  I've been waiting for a beautiful spring day to photograph my beautiful new Belle Skirt, but I may be waiting a long time! 
I want it to warm up so I can wear this lovely Belle Skirt from Wardrobe by Me, a new to me designer/pattern company.  As soon as I finished sewing this lovely skirt, I had my hubby take a few pics. I may be smiling and wearing a sleeveless top but I was f-r-e-e-z-i-n-g! The temps were below freezing, the cold wind was blowing, and you can't see the snow around me as I'm standing on a patch of our sidewalk we had cleared.

The fabric is a silky polyester from the $4/yard bin at my favorite local fabric store, SR Harris.  It is lovely made up, but was a bugger to stitch together. It was so slippery and frayed terribly!

But the colors are so vibrant! And the movement of this skirt is divine.  There are three tiers, with the back longer than the front.
The skirt takes almost four yards of fabric at least 55"  wide.  The graceful sweep is created by the tiers being cut in the round.  It adds fullness without gathers which I really like.  That bottom skirt tier is BIG, which is one reason this skirt uses a lot of fabric.

Also, the front of the waistband is flat, but the back has wide elastic.  Notice how you can't really see any gathers in the back?  Another great design feature in my opinion!
The belt loops are stitched into the waistband and they hold the tie belt in place nicely. I did add extra length to my tie end, and will add more on my next skirt,.
By the way, did you notice my shoes? I was flipping through the May 2018 Threads magazine, and there on page 38 were my shoes modeled with jeans :-)
(The shoes are Dafadil Bootie by Betsey Johnson that I purchased online at DSW.)

Here's a line drawing of the PDF Bell Skirt pattern so you can see the design details more clearly.
I did struggle with stitching the curves of the tiers together, but that was due to my fabric, not the design.  Like I said, my fabric was slippery and raveled a lot, so I had to stay stitch and clip.

You can really see the fullness of the skirt in this picture. Instead of stitching a narrow hem on my sewing machine, I used the narrow hem stitch on my serger.

I'm really liking this skirt!  I haven't decided on the fabric for my next one, but I need to decide quickly.  With winter lingering as long as it is, I suspect our spring/summer season is going to be rather short ... and I want to make sure I get another Belle Skirt sewn.
Disclaimer:  I've recently discovered the world of PDF patterns and some very talented designers through groups on Facebook.  I was given a test copy of the pattern when I applied to test this pattern.  The skirt pattern comes in sizes 0-24 and can be purchased at Wardrobe by Me.

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Monday, March 05, 2018

The Indu Wrap Pants from Designer Stitch

I'm a yoga pants gal when it comes to my casual wear, especially around the house. Oh, I'll toss on some jeans and a nice top when I need to run errands, but as soon as I return home those yoga pants are back on.  What can I say? I like to be comfy.   But when I saw a pattern tester call for this amazing pair of knit pants I quickly filled out that app and crossed my fingers I'd be lucky enough to test.
The pattern is the Indu Wrap Pants by Designer Stitch*.  And I was lucky enough to be a tester. Sadly as soon as I was selected I caught that dreaded virus that has been making the rounds and ended up missing the deadline to submit my photos.

These knit pants are amazingly comfy - as comfy as my beloved yoga pants -  yet quite stylish!  They're different, but not so different that my hubby will say "you're not wearing those are you?" (He's done it before, just check out my post here.) 

The pants are described as an easy wearing jersey pant with two different styles. You can make them with the wings - as I did -  or without. You can also make one leg with a wing and one without. On the Designer Stitch blog you can see dozens of versions of these pants on a variety of women sewn in a wide range of fabrics. I think you'll agree that each version looks fantastic.

Of course I had to test the version with the two wings! After all, that's what attracted me to the pants.  In these pics I have one wing wrapped to the front.  There is a buttonhole at the tip of the wing and a button sewn to the bottom of the yoke.  I will likely wear them with both wings down and tucked in on the side as shown on the one leg as I really like that look.

Here's the back view. 

If you follow me on Instagram (@sharonmads) I posted a Boomerang video showing the fullness of the wings).

Look at the size of the "wings"!
The pattern is a PDF available for sale on the Designer Stitch website. After completing the Burda Style Teaching Certification Course a few months ago, I'm now a convert to PDF patterns. I used to hate those babies! 

When you sew these, you'll need to make sure you have a knit that drapes nicely with some recovery.  The knit fabric I used I had purchased online at Mood Fabrics about four or five years ago. It worked perfectly for these pants.  The knit waist band has elastic at the very top to help make sure the pants stay up nicely.

Total time from printing the PDF pattern to stitching the last seam on the pants was about four hours. These pants are that simple to sew.
Line Drawing of Designer Stitch Indu Wrap Pants

I see myself sewing these in black and pairing with a lace trimmed short white knit top, a pair of killer heels and statement necklace. Stay tuned as I'll post pics when I'm done!

* I was given the PDF pattern to test; material and notions were from my stash
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Monday, February 26, 2018

How to Add An Exposed Metal Zipper to a Pocket on a Velvet Tunic

I love pockets! I also love that I can sew my own clothing and add pockets if they are not included. Or, as in this case, take a simple patch pocket and make it design detail with the addition of an exposed zipper. 
By adding the metal zipper not only does it add a little designer touch, the pocket becomes practical for holding essentials such as a phone, credit card, lipstick, and keys. 
The tunic pattern I sewed is Butterick 6520, a Katherine Tilton design.  It's a pullover knit tunic with a split hem and one patch pocket.  I liked the pocket on the pattern, but wasn't sure how practical it would be which is why I decided to add a side zipper.
I choose to use stretch velvet (purchased online at Sly Fox Fabrics). I don't know about you, but I am loving this current trend of velvet!  A simple knit tunic becomes date-night worthy when sewn out of stretch velvet. 
The tunic is fairly simple to sew and I'll show you how to add the exposed zipper to the pocket!  I used a Coats & Clark black metal zipper and the new Coats & Clark Eloflex Stretch thread. I found both items at my local Joann Fabrics.

The seams on this tunic are topstitched which I think is a nice touch.  Even though you can't see it clearly on my black velvet I like knowing that it's there. 
After topstitching, I trimmed the excess seam allowance from the back side.
The hem is a split hem. And to be honest I found it a bit odd and thought about eliminating that design feature.  But I went ahead and sewed it as the designer intended and have since discovered it's kinda fun. It's not really that noticeable unless you're moving.
So let's talk about how to add a size zipper to that patch pocket!

Cut a pocket out of your fashion fabric making sure it is large enough for your zipper. I used a 9" closed bottom metal zipper.  I also increased the seam allowances on all four sides to 1" as I was working with stretch velvet which doesn't always like to behave. 

Place the pocket right side up on a cutting surface and decide where you want the zipper to be.  Measure to the center of the zipper teeth; write down that measurement as you'll need it in the next step.

Remove the zipper. Measure in the distance you marked in step above; draw a vertical line using a removable fabric marker or chalk.
Cut a strip of fusible interfacing about 2-1/2 or 3" wide and the length of the pocket.  Turn the pocket over with the wrong side up.  Place the strip of interfacing on the wrong side of the fabric centered over the vertical line. Following manufacturer's instructions, fuse the interfacing in place. If you are using velvet, be sure to place the right side of the velvet on a velvet board before fusing so the nap doesn't get crushed.
Turn the fabric right side up and cut along the marked line.  You'll now have two pieces of fabric. Pin the metal zipper right side down to the right side of the small rectangle. The bottom edge will extend past the fabric. That's okay, we're going to trim that off later.
Unzip the zipper. Using a zipper foot, stitch the zipper to the fabric.
Repeat on the other side of the pocket.
The zipper is now sewn to the pocket.

This is what it looks like on the wrong side. That interfacing helps support the weight of the zipper.

Cut a second pocket out of either your fashion fabric or lining.  I choose to use a ponte knit instead of velvet as velvet on velvet doesn't always like to play nice. It slips and slides and requires a lot of patience!
Place the pocket and pocket lining right sides together matching edges.  It's okay if it doesn't match exactly. Just trim the edges so they are even. Pin all four sides together, making sure to open the zipper about halfway. 
Stitch around all four sides, STOPPING when you get to the bottom of the metal zipper. Here you will stitch over the metal teeth by slowly turning the hand wheel on the sewing machine. That way you have control where the needle lands and you can adjust slightly if the needle is going to hit a metal zipper tooth. If you continue to stitch normally, the needle will break and who knows where it might go flying! Trust me on this one :-)
After you have stitched all four sides, trim the seams and corners. Cut off the bottom of the zipper below the stitching. Remove the teeth using a zipper pliers and nipper (if you have them). I used a jewelry pliers as that's what I had on hand.
Turn the pocket right side out through the opening in the zipper.  If you forgot to open the zipper it's okay. You should be able to pull the zipper open using the backside of the zipper pull. Once the pocket is right side out press lightly. 
Place the pocket on the tunic along the pattern placement lines.  Pin in place.  Since I was using stretch velvet, I basted the pocket in place to help control the slippage.
Topstich around all four sides of the pocket. Remember to be careful stitching over the metal teeth of the zipper. You now have a decorative pocket with a functional metal zipper detail!
I sewed this top planning to wear it for Valentine's Day (it's cold here people!  No sleeveless, slinky dresses with strappy heels for me) but ended up sick (boo!)  That's okay, I've gotten plenty of wear out of it already and it's only a few weeks old. 
Happy Sewing!

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Vogue 8674: Wool Cape with Laser Cut Hemline

Have you ever purchased fabric online with a project in mind, only to have the fabric arrive and your plans change?  That's how this cape came to be.
This lovely wool blend fabric was purchased online from Emma One Sock in September 2017. I loved the laser cut out border.  So much so that I didn't read the description closely. When the fabric arrived I discovered it had a black fusible attached to the back giving it a lot of body but also making it a bit stiff. 
It was destined to become an outer garment, but which one?  How could I best show off that fabulous border? I pulled out multiple coat patterns while trying to decide which one to sew.  I thought about sewing a coat and have a colorful lining pop through the laser cut design, but decided I wanted that portion to remain unlined. 

I ended up sewing Vogue 8674 (now OOP), deciding it was the perfect pattern. The body of the cape - the vest - is fitted and lined, while the cape portion is single layer and unlined. The custom fit sizing eliminated the need for me to do an FBA (full bust adjustment) - happy dance!
The cape portion is attached at the neckline keeping it in place.

I cut the back portion on the fold so the laser cut design would remain continuous.
The vest portion is fully lined. I choose to use an animal print that I had purchased about a year ago from Fabric Mart Fabrics.  It's heavier than a typical lining and I love the surprise inside the gray of the cape!
And the vest has inseam pockets! Perfect for stashing the phone when running errands.
The pockets are animal print too - our little secret :-)
The vest is sewn first, including the lining, before the cape is attached.  The darts and shoulder seams of the both body and lining of the vest are sewn. Next, the lining is stitched to the body at the center front, armholes, and bottom edges. After trimming the seam and turning the facing right side out, I staystitched the lining as far as I could. The only thing left was to stitch the side seams.
I lined up the side seams, right sides together, and stitched leaving about a 4" opening on one of the lining side seams.
I then carefully pulled the entire vest through that opening, turning it right side out.  After a good press, I stitched the opening closed.  The vest was now completely lined!
The cape is stitched front and back at the shoulder seam. Instead of pressing open, as instructed, I trimmed one of the seams, pressed them both to one side, and top stitched in place. 

The collar is interfaced and self lined. I thought about using a lighter weight fabric for the lining portion, but realized it would be seen when the collar button was not buttoned. (Which will be most of the time for me!) I like to press open the seam that attaches the collar and collar facing together before turning the lining in place. I think it defines the edge more.
I was concerned that it would be difficult to add the collar because of the thickness of all of my layers. I had three layers - the lining, the vest, and the cape - to attach the collar to (which is also interfaced).  However, it went together nicely. I was able to turn under the collar lining edge, press it, and hand stitch it in place with no problems.

I added my label along with a "dry clean" care label to the upper back.  I'll know it's dry clean only, but if I would ever donate the item I want to make sure the new owner knows how to care for the cape.
I choose the buttons as I thought they mimicked the laser cut on the cape.
Can we talk about buttonholes for a moment?  I practiced making buttonholes multiple times on scraps consisting of my three layers - lining, interfacing and fashion fabric - until I had a buttonhole that looked good! And wouldn't you know it?  As soon as I did the first one on my cape messed up!'s not easy to rip out those buttonholes!  Fortunately I started at the bottom so any stray stitches I may have missed won't be as noticeable.
Try as I might, I just couldn't get my Pfaff to sew a decent buttonhole on this cape!  I ended up pulling out my 90s era Elna to finish the job.  Still a wee bit botched on the inside, but good enough for me :-)
It's been quite a while since I've sewn an outer garment and it was quite fun! 
It's much too cold for me to wear this cape now, but I expect come mid-March I'll be able to wear it frequently!


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