Friday, March 13, 2015

Jeans! With Rivets!

Pattern Review is currently holding a Jeans contest.  I love making jeans so I knew I would make a new pair to enter in the contest.  The contest requests detail photos of rivets, topstitching, etc., so this was an excellent chance to add rivets to my jeans!

I used Jalie 2908 again.  I have been tempted by the Ginger Jeans pattern, but it really doesn't seem that different from the Jalie pattern, so I haven't purchased it.  No need to spend money on another pattern when I just spent some on...a new sewing machine!!  That's right, I have upgraded my 17 year old Singer to a new Pfaff Expression 3.5!  Woo Hoo!
Pfaff Expression 3.5
Once I play with it some more, I'll write up a review, but for now I'll say this: it's so quiet and wow do I love the thread cutter feature!

Back to the jeans.  I used a black and tan stretch denim from Fabric Mart.  I think there is 2% lycra, but it's no longer listed on their website, so I can't be positive.  

I successfully installed rivets.  It took a few trials and a trip to the hardware store but I did it!  I bought my rivets from TaylorTailor.  I initially tried to use small scraps of denim as spacers for the rivets as described in this tutorial, but it didn't work for me; there were way too many layers of spacers needed. Instead I used wire cutters like this pair, to nip off the top of the rivet to just above the fabric.  I tried to use a piece of wood underneath the rivet while hammering it on, and it was not hard enough.  The wood dented before the rivet cap attached.  I went to the hardware store in search of a smooth metal plate I could use as an anvil while pounding on my rivets.  Success!  I am thankful that my locally owned hardware store staff is friendly, helpful, and doesn't look at me like I'm crazy when I ask for a "small piece of steel I can use as anvil when pounding on things." :)

Here are my beautiful antique nickel rivets:
The rivets really add a professional touch to the jeans.  All of my jeans from now on will have rivets!

Another thing I did differently was to make a pocket stay.  I used Closet Case File's tutorial and some cotton from the stash:

While I wouldn't describe the effect of the pocket stay as a "tummy tamer" I do like the fact that the pockets always stay in place.  That alone is worth it. :)

As far as fit and construction, I did my usual adjustments:  cut a size AA, used a curvier back yoke, straighter leg (slight flare), and since the denim was stretchy, I cut the waistband on-grain and did not interface.  To prevent the back yoke from stretching out while wearing, I added 1/4" wide twill tape to the top of the yoke before attaching the waistband.  I really really hate it when pants gap in the back, so this eliminates the possibility.  Any stretch that needs to take place around my middle can happen along the front, where my extra fluff is. 
adding twill tape to back yoke
In the past, I haven't been very daring when it comes to back pocket design, but now things have changed!  I took advantage of some of the decorative stitches on my new machine and added some interest to the back pockets:

I used top-stitching thread (Gutermann Mara 30) and let the machine do the rest!  

Here are the back views:

So there you go, another successful pair of jeans!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Travel Wardrobe Tops

To create my travel wardrobe I had 2 colorful skirts and had several color options for tops.  I had a few purple knits in my stash and one of them happened to be exactly the right shade.  It's a lightweight drapey jersey, most likely a rayon blend (which is not my favorite).  Since I did not have a huge piece, I needed a pattern that wouldn't need much.  I decided on Jalie 2794: the Sweetheart top.

I cut a size X and made the neckline narrower as I did in my previous versions.  I made the cap sleeve version and added 3/4" to their length.  Here is the finished top:

Next up was New Look 6470, view D:

Many reviews commented about the neckline being very low so I made a muslin using some purple burnout jersey.  Lo and behold, the neckline was very low and I added a little modesty triangle to cover up more skin:

Much better:

For my real version, I used a black cotton lycra from  I cut a 16 for the front and did a narrow upper back adjustment (ie I cut a size 12 between the shoulders) and graded up to a 18 at the hip.

The fit is snug and flattering.  I normally don't wear black near my face, but this top nips in my waist in such a fantastic way, this top will be worn quite a bit!

Next up is something I won't be wearing much:  Jalie 3245 Racerback Tank:

There's nothing wrong with the pattern, I just didn't like how it looked on me.  I altered the back to be less 'racerback' to hopefully cover my bra straps.  I didn't alter it enough, I'm sorry to say, and my straps are peeking out on both the front and the back.  What is glaring to me in these photos is that my arms look flabby and my shoulders look narrow.  Thumbs down.  :(

In the future, I will avoid the tank pattern and give the raglan sleeve version a try instead.  I am not including this top in my Travel Wardrobe 6 pack since I have no desire to wear it out in public.  It will find a new home in the pajama drawer.

The next tee is also not finding its way into my Travel Wardrobe simply because it doesn't coordinate with both skirts.  This is McCall's 5890 View C, the princess seamed tee.

My pattern started at size 16 so I needed to grade it down.  I made a quick muslin and was pleasantly surprised how nice it was.  I made the back quite a bit narrower, which is a normal adjustment for me, and added a CB seam to conserve fabric.  The fabric was a Leaf Green active-wear knit from Fabric Mart, leftover from my Jalie 2566 cardigan and the green just so happened to match the green in my refashioned Target skirt!

I am very happy with this pattern and love that I was able to squeeze it out of small pieces of fabric.  :)

Last up is a chiffon cardigan made from McCall's 6559, view B:

I was straightening up my fabric closet and discovered a bright pink chiffon saree I had purchased in India.  The color perfectly matched the bright pink in the striped ITY skirt I had just made!

Making a cardigan from the chiffon saree would give me more variations in my Travel Wardrobe, so I popped a brand new size 9 needle in my machine and off I went.  I knew that chiffon was not easy to sew, so I lowered my sewing standards so as not to drive myself nuts.  I knew that my sleeve caps would have visible gathers and I was ok with that.  I cut the pattern pieces on the cross-grain so I could use the selvage at the hem.  I added 2" of width across the bicep.  I needed about an inch of extra room and I knew that any stress would split the fabric so I made it 2" wider.

I used french seams on the shoulders, side seams, & underarms, and a narrow serged seam on the armholes.  To finish the front edges, I used a rolled hem foot and a straight stitch.  My first pass resulted in a slightly wavy seam, so I rolled it again!  The resulting double rolled hem (if that is a thing) was much straighter and firmer than the original.  The bottom hem was folded twice and stitched with a straight stitch.  The selvage was very sturdy and made this very easy.

On to the finished photos: (the color is a little odd in these photos, but it really does match!)

In hindsight, I should have made the shorter cardigan (View A) since I am short waisted.  I am wearing this up at my waistline rather than long.  I found it to look rather frumpy.  See:

Chiffon shouldn't add visual pounds.  For the purposes of the Travel Wardrobe contest, I will keep this cardigan in my 6 pack, but I may shorten it for future wear.

Here is a collage of my Travel wardrobe:

There you have it!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

2 New Skirts

Ever since Pattern Review announced the Travel Wardrobe contest, I have been sewing up a storm.  Helping my motivation was an actual trip I have Mexico!  This contest was a great opportunity to finally sew up some things I have been thinking about for a long time.
First up was a refashion.  I purchased this Target brand, halter top, maxi dress at Goodwill for $3.  I liked the colors and patterns and knew it would be a simple transition from dress to skirt.
I forgot to take a photo prior to cutting it, but here you can get the idea.  I determined what length I wanted the skirt, added about 1.5" and cut!  Simply folding and stitching down a casing, and adding a length of elastic was all it took.  A 15 minute skirt!  :)

The next skirt I made was McCall's 6654:

This pattern is a fantastic choice for easy knit skirts.  There are multiple lengths and either a straight or flared option.  I made the straight skirt using some striped ITY fabric purchased from Denver Fabrics:
Source...(sorry sold out)

I had initially thought of using this fabric to make a maxi dress from McCall's 6559 which was the #5 PR Best pattern in 2012.  After stewing on this idea for several months, I accepted the reality that I don't wear dresses very much, and a skirt would get more wear than a dress.

Here is the finished skirt:

Prior to cutting, I experimented with the stripes to determine which color stripes should be at the widest part of my hips.  As a definite pear shape, I was concerned about wrapping the widest part of my body in horizontal stripes.  Locating the darkest purple and raspberry stripes at my high hip was the most pleasing to me, after extensive raising, lowering, and flipping the fabric top to bottom.  I had plenty of fabric to match the stripes and (I must say), I did a great job :)

Next up is the tops I made to go with my 2 skirts...


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sewing is my Superpower!


I love Enda Mode and I love the Incredibles.  Jess from The Sewing Rabbit has made a list of 10 things we have learned from Edna Mode.  Check it out Here !

Saturday, February 7, 2015

A Doll's Dresses

I made 2 really cute dresses for my daughters' friend's birthday.  They are made to fit an American Girl doll or any other 18" doll.  The pattern is Butterick 5553, a See & Sew pattern.

 It is a simple pattern and I made 2 versions, both of which are adorable:

The one on the left is made with some block printed fabric I bought in India.  It has been languishing in my stash for years and I have been looking for a suitable pattern.  Who knew it would be so cute on a doll?  I omitted the yoke pieces and cut the front and back from the lining pieces.  Yes, the bodice is lined on a doll's dress!  The hem band was made from the border on the fabric.  Indian fabrics typically have a fancy border which will be used to dress up necklines and sleeve hems.

The dress on the right uses a cotton with purple, pink & red flowers and a matching purple cotton for the contrast yoke and hem band.

For both dresses, I used sew on snaps rather than velcro for the back closure.

They were so cute, I almost hated to give them away.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Tis' Not Quite the Season

January in the northern hemisphere isn't the normal time of year to make swimwear, but that is what I have been doing.  It started because a friend called me up to ask if I could make her daughter 2 new swimsuits since she is doing winter swimming and is in desperate need of a new suit.  I whipped up 2 new Jalie 3134 racerback suits, and since the swim elastic was out, and the stretch needle was on the machine, I figured that was my sign to work on a Jalie 3350 for me.

Jalie 3350

I made view A with the open back and sweetheart neckline.  I made a straight size Y.  I initially did a FBA on the cups, but I wound up tearing the whole thing apart when the cups were WAY too big.  To conserve fabric I re-cut the same pieces to be a straight size Y and they are fine now.  If you are small busted, you might find the cups to be very roomy.  I would have preferred the straps to be wider and firmer to give more support.   That's a change that can be easily implemented next time.

I added sew-in swim bra cups and hand sewed them in.  

It has been a while since I have worn a 1 piece swimsuit, and to be honest, I'm not sure how much I will wear this one.  There's nothing wrong with the suit itself, it's just how I feel in it.

This suit is not the only thing I have been working on.  I have made a few more versions of the Orange Lingerie Marlborough Bra.  My reason for learning how to make bras was to incorporate an underwire into a swimsuit.  I have been working on a bikini top with an underwire and a foam cup!

This is highly experimental and is very much a case of sewing by the seat of my pants, but I am learning.  I have purchased 2 book on bra making and I'm hoping to devour all of the information in them and apply it to swimwear and bra making.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Sewing for kids

I managed to do a bit of sewing for my girls this Christmas.  First up is a blue corduroy skirt that I made using Jalie 2908 (yes, the jeans pattern) for a starting point.  I wanted to replace a denim skirt that she had loved to death, and I could not find a fly front denim-type skirt pattern.  This was my result:

I used gray topstitching thread for all of the topstitching. The pockets and fly shield were made from light blue poly crepe.


I made the length of the skirt a few inches below the knee and added a kick pleat to the back. 

Altering my pattern from jeans to a skirt was very straightforward.  I angled out from the widest point of the hip creating a flare for the front and back.  For the center front and back seams, I drew a straight line extending the center front at the fly, and center back at the widest part of the hip, down to my new hemline.  The only change I made was rotating the lower edge of back pockets outward toward the side seam.  As located per the pattern the pockets were a little odd looking and too parallel to the center back seam:

After rotating them outward...much better:


Next up for my Christmas sewing was a Jalie 2566 cardigan made with an argyle interlock knit.


My buttons were small pink hearts.  I thought I should use them while my daughter is still young enough to think they are cute.  She really likes this top.  I think the band lays strangely at the top button.  My version of this cardigan has this same issue, perhaps it is a pattern issue rather than an operator issue.  Much to my surprise, this pattern seems to be OOP.


Next up are 2 long sleeve versions of McCalls 6787 for my youngest.  The first one is made from a printed cotton jersey from



The second version used a rayon knit for the top and a quilting cotton for the skirt.  I think it came out adorable:


That's it for my Christmas sewing.  It was a big success.  :)

Happy New Year everyone!   
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