Quick Summer Projects

The days and nights have been hot, and I lack the will to  concentrate!  But I did finish a few satisfying little projects.

First I had to deal with my squeaking machine.  My basic mechanical  Brother machine is not supposed to need oil. The only cleaning instructions in my manual are about removing the needle plate.  This was intimidating for me, but I put on my big girl pants and forged ahead.  I’ve sewn with this machine for 6 years, and have never done any maintenance.

Dirty!

In machines that take oil, there is an round opening in the middle of the bobbin race.

No more squeak!  And I managed to put all the pieces back together.

 

1) I had a few mock-ups of star quilt blocks in different sizes.

 I made two of them into potholders by using two to three layers of batting, putting wrong sides together and sewing, leaving a side partially open for turning.  Then I sewed around the perimeter, tucking the seam allowances in the open portion under, and inserting a handmade ribbon.  I put on the walking foot to quilt along the star lines.  

 

2) What is more appropriate as a sewing project for the dog days of summer than a dog accessory?

A while back, I sewed a traditional triangle bandana, and used my rolled hem foot for the first time.

First I read tutorials and practiced.  It took a lot of concentration and effort to keep the fabric feeding into the curl correctly. I think I would rather sew a hand rolled hem on this type of small item because sewing the two bias sides was a struggle.  The rolled hem foot would be a great time saver for long, straight sewing.

Several months back, I also sewed a few of the little reversible triangle bandanas with a top channel opening that slide onto the collar.

I’m especially happy with the latest bandana I tried: two reversible bib-like pieces that are finished on top with bias tape that extends to form ties. The name is hand embroidered with satin stitch.

My model was available to work for the price of a few treats.  Those eyes!

 

3) Three years ago I posted about trying sashiko embroidery for the first time, and stitched three pieces.  My idea for the piece stitched on cream satin was to make an envelope pouch, with the embroidered side folding over the pocket.  I’ve finally done just that, combining the embroidery with natural colored linen and an off white cotton lining.  I used bias binding on the pocket.  The rest of the raw edges are enclosed.  I hand stitched the opening closed that I used for turning the pouch right side out.

The pouch reminds me of the type of project found in a zakka sewing book.  I like it for its simplicity, combining beauty with utility.

These three projects have something in common:  they had been partially worked on or cut out but not completed.

I have also been embroidering, which I enjoy in the summer because a hot iron isn’t needed, and for its portability.

Does your making/sewing/crafting change or slow down in the summer?

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Silk Shirt into Kimono Jacket Refashion

I have wanted to do a kimono jacket refashion since 2015 when I saw it on Portia’s refashioners challenge.  Her Makery blog tutorial uses two shirts.

I had this thrifted men’s Perry Ellis size large shirt in my stash.  I thought the fabric felt like a very soft peachskin rayon, and then rechecked the label.  No, this is silk. Perfect!

I cut off the collar, buttons bands, and the hem.  I cut a line from the shoulder to the hem on a slight diagonal.  I pieced together a long facing strip from the cut off portions, sewed it around the full length of the jacket, and rehemmed it shorter in the front.  I then turned the facing to the wrong side, pressed it with the seam rolled to the inside, and stitched it down.

the shirt is turned back on the right side of the photo to show the facing

Can you believe how easy this was?

Easy, breezy style.

Chambray Summer Sequoia Pants

After my mock-up, I sewed the Itch To Stitch Sequoia Cargo Pants again in a chambray I bought at an estate sale.

The hardest part of sewing these pants is the waistband; I understand what to do, but I am just not competent enough to sew it properly.  A length of elastic is enclosed in ribbing which has to be stretched to fit an interfaced and non-interfaced waistband.

Then it has to be sewn to the pants with enough precision that the topstitching at the bottom of the waistband catches the part of the waistband turned to the wrong side of the pants for a clean finish.

Both times I had to hand stitch the inside as it was not lining up correctly.  My machine also starting squeaking in protest while I was sewing the waistband!!

The photo below shows the side that laid against the feed dogs while sewing. I couldn’t see it until I removed it from the machine. It didn’t match up to the top of the ribbing like it should. Rip!

I would like to make the shorts next.  In the future, I will either hand baste the waistband before sewing, or I will change the waistband to a simpler waistband with an elastic back.  My favorite ready-to-wear shorts have this same waistband, which attracted me to the pattern in the first place.

Because the pants have side straps for securing the rolled up legs, and side cargo pockets, the outside seam is sewn first.  That cuts down the opportunity for making adjustments.  I like to sew that seam last.

Look at how many little parts this pattern has!

I loved making the pockets and flaps.  I omitted the side cargo pockets because I ran out of snaps, and I also have 6 inches less leg than the pattern.

First time installing snaps!  I bought the kind with prongs which have to be pushed through the fabric and then hammered in.  There is a special little metal gadget to help with this, but I found it was easier to use a spool.  I watched this video: How to Install Snaps without Expensive Tools.

It was easy on my practice fabric.  It took a lot of effort to  get the prongs through all the layers on the pants.  Then bang, bang, bang!

I’m happy to be wearing these lightweight summer pants with two recent “I love this fabric” refashions.  They go together perfectly!

Itch to Stitch Sequoia Pants Mock-up

I have made pants and shorts using a heavily altered pattern developed from the first Simplicity pants pattern I sewed.  I decided to buy a new pants pattern, the Itch to Stitch Sequoia Cargo pants, to give another pants pattern a try.  This pattern has many pieces, with pockets with flaps that snap shut, and a lot of details.

I started off with a size 10 in the hips, and had to take about 6 inches off the length and also narrowed the legs. The crotch curve on my base pants pattern was deeper, and I thought it was best to keep the same curve and depth.

comparing the back piece of the Sequoia with my pants sloper on top

This is a simplified trial “patio version” to check the fit and practice some of the techniques before sewing them up in the intended chambray fabric.  I didn’t use snaps in this version, but I practiced inserting them.  I bought snaps with prongs, and used a hammer to pound them in, as seen in this you tube video.

The pants I made previously lacked pocket facings and interfacing, and a curved waistband.  I tried the pattern instructions for the zipper fly, but prefer the perfect fly I sewed on my chambray shorts with the instructions from the Readers Digest  Complete Guide to Sewing book.

The waistband is a little tricky to sew and uses elasticized knit fabric on the top half. I have ready-to-wear shorts that have this same waistband and I love them because they fit even with weight fluctuations.

 For this version, I kept the leg straps but substituted buttons for the snaps.

I tried rolling them up to different lengths.  Because I have full calves, I like this length best.  If I want to go higher, I’d rather wear shorts.

My chambray version is all cut out and ready to be sewn.  Woo – hoo!

Bird of Paradise Shirt Refashion

It’s another “I love this print” refashion.

I knew which thrift store shirt I wanted to make over to wear this spring.  The soft rayon print has big bird of paradise flowers and also a background of vertical blue stripes.  I like it even in its original XL size as an overshirt, although that armhole depth is super deep.

I used New Look 6598, the view on the bottom right with a collarless v-neck and short sleeves, for my pattern pieces. I like the way this style of shirt looks like a jacket.

I had to place the front piece in the best spot to use the existing button placket.  The problem that resulted was a large space in the middle of the bust with no buttons.  If I were sewing a shirt from scratch, a button would be placed at the fullness of the bust to prevent gaping.

What to do?  Lean closer and I’ll tell you: I sewed a secret button.

location of secret buttonhole

I sewed a buttonhole between the buttons and a button on the inside of the shirt on the buttonhole side of the placket. It is invisible when buttoned as the button is on the wrong side of the shirt.

I remembered seeing this technique on Handmade Jane’s blog. It works well, although my shirt should have more ease over the bust.

I sewed bust darts, and omitted the waist contour darts and the back tie. The v-neck was a little awkward so I also added the tiny neck button from the original shirt at the top of the shirt for more coverage.

 

Sew Stripes Top

February was “sew stripes” month on the Sewcialists blog and Instagram, and I joined in!  Although I have never participated in sewing challenges , this is the second Sewcialist challenge I have completed.  Although not blogged until now, I finished by deadline.

This was my first time sewing with stripes fabric. When sewing stripes two main aspects come to mind: stripe matching and playing with the grain of fabric, possibly switching up the stripes by using the cross grain or the bias.

I had this small piece of thick and thin striped woven cotton  fabric.  It was not enough for even a sleeveless top on its own so I paired it with a solid.

I was deliberating between patterns until I came across a free pattern from Peppermint Magazine , the Harvest Top.   Perfect!

 

The pattern has a yoke, body, bottom band, and arm bands making it an easy choice for color blocking as well as stripes.  I decided to change the back to keep the buttons only for the yoke, and to cut the body as a single piece.

The layout was a double thickness of the entire striped fabric, laying the front and back body pieces on the lengthwise grain as is customary, and the front and back yoke single layer on the crossgrain.  The bottom bands, armbands, and facings were cut from the navy fabric.

Making the top seemed like a lot of work in comparison to the ease of sewing knit tees!!  I had to deal with seam finishing, facings, buttonholes, and fitting adjustments.  I opted out of sewing a muslin, and instead started with a generous size.  The pattern has a lot of ease and I needed to take my basted side seams in considerably. (Well, the pattern is also called “boxy top”).  I made the arm opening smaller to avoid the deep, body exposing armholes. I didn’t cut the arm cuffs on the bias as I was using solid fabric and didn’t need the stretch either.

Yep, I stripe matched the shoulder and side seams.

The front:

And the back:

And worn by me:

The arm and bottom bands are both doubled so there is no hemming.  I’m thinking of a knit fabric version in the future.

I think adding a second solid fabric made the top even better.  I have been loving this technique; my last four tops have all used two different fabrics:

Do you have a favorite?  Mine is  the black and white dotted tee.

No Fuss Quick Raglan Tee

I got out of the habit of sewing after the holidays, and didn’t plug my machine back in until January 20th.

After writing my 2018 Make Nine list to get me motivated, I decided to start with an easy tee.  I had taped the free pattern by It’s Always Autumn together previously. Then on a windy Saturday I cut and sewed to completion my first raglan! This was my first ever one day project, and after this instant gratification I understand the allure of sewing with knits.

I wanted to make the baseball jersey type of shirt and found a XL tee for the body and a size small for the sleeves.

I find using the fabric from thrift store tee shirts to be a cheap and practical way of sourcing knit fabric.

I made a few small changes to the pattern taking away 1/2 inch from the length of the raglan, and adding 1/2 inch to the hip.  I used a rotary cutter which made cutting the bodice front, back, and sleeves so quick and easy.  I cut the elbow length sleeves.

I put in a stretch needle and sewed with a zigzag width of approximately 1.5 width and a 2.5 length. I have a manual machine, so I’m just twisting a dial.

I love Autumn’s method of attaching the neck band.  Instead of measuring the neck and using a mathematical calculation to figure out the length of the band, I simply stretched and pinned the unjoined band to the neck, and sewed it together where it meets in the back.

Another no fuss technique I used was to bypass the double needle. Instead I used the same zigzag stitch to hem the sleeves and top stitch around the neck. No changing the thread either.

I loved this sporty look so much I decided to do it again!

This time I cut the shirt tail hem of the pattern, and short sleeves.

This shirt would look more dressy made in one fabric, but I was enjoying coming up with the color combinations too much to stop.  I didn’t buy any new tees;  I was working with the colors I already had on hand.

These shirts already feel like old favorites.  They’re a hit!