Monthly Archives: September 2021

End of Summer Leftovers

Do you like leftovers? Some are good, others are tasteless. Well, in this case I’m talking about using fabric left over from other projects.

I sewed up another Laundry Day Tee, the sleeveless version, by Love Notions from the fabric left over from the Classic Tee. This a versatile pdf pattern and the no-trim pages of Love Notions patterns are a big time saver.

Some sewing tips:

1) When you print out a pdf pattern with layers, don’t print only one size or all the sizes. I usually print out 3 or 4 sizes because I might want to use the shoulder or neckline of a smaller size, and it helps to see a few sizes in case you want to grade up or down in certain areas.

2) Don’t print out the entire pdf for a pattern with multiple variations. Look for where it tells you which pages you need for the option you are sewing.

3) Customize your pattern. A pattern is a starting place, and you can use it to make your ideal garment with some changes. I cut the neckline wider at the straps and not as deep, and now it is perfect for me.

I wore it walking to the library and took a selfie. The breezy wider hem shape was perfect for keeping me cool.

4) Measure clothes that fit well and compare to pattern pieces to help cut the right size.

5) Take notes on makes. I do this but often leave out important details, and my memory fades.

6) If there is a pattern piece for the band on a knit, don’t use it. The length you need will differ depending on the stretchiness of your knit. You may need to shorten it. This rayon/spandex knit is very stretchy and I had to snug up the top of the side seams and then stretch my binding tighter to avoid droopy underarms.

I’m wearing the top with one of the two denim shorts I have sewn.

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I don’t wear clothes that are classified as activewear. I don’t ride a bike or go to the gym. One active thing I do is walk. Since I’m out walking my dog every morning and night, why not sew a sporty walking outfit.

I had some navy ponte fabric left over from the full length pants I sewed at the beginning of last year. Ponte is a double knit fabric. I think I wore polyester double knit shorts from K Mart when I was about 10, but this fabric is a nicer, more breathable rayon/nylon blend. It was just enough for a pair of shorts, although I did need to cut the inner waistband from another bit of rib knit I had. The pocket linings are from a scrap of silky fabric which helped to reduce bulk. The pockets are nice and deep to hold phone, keys, and poop bag.

I sewed the shorts with my sewing machine and then serged to finish the seams. The pattern is another repeat: the Patterns for Pirates Mama Bear Joggers with the waistband of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Jeans. It’s satisfying sewing a pattern that has already been altered to fit.

The shorts feel sleek, soft, and firm. They are thicker than leggings, and not as skin tight and revealing which makes them just what I wanted. When I came home from my walk this morning I didn’t want to take them off. So I didn’t – I wore them all day.

I topstitched the hems and around the pockets with a zigzag stitch and I very much like the sporty look and lack of a ridge I’ve gotten when using a double needle. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s easier than threading up a double needle.

More photos of garment and construction details to follow because this is a sewing blog, not a fashion blog, ha! How the clothes fit on the body is important to see, and the final piece.

The knit tee was an upcycle cut from a XL tee I had on hand. I again used the Laundry Day Tee but with much of the swing removed due to fabric width limitations. I chose the neon/lime green color to give me more visibility when walking at dusk.

Do you wear woven tops with knit bottoms? The opposite is very usual with a tee shirt paired with jeans. Somehow I got the idea that knit bottoms should be worn with a knit top. I need to experiment with this.

I used the hem of the original tee shirt for the binding so I didn’t have to iron a strip in half. That’s why there is a line of stitching on the binding. I like a good shortcut.

right side of tank
serged wrong side

I sewed the blue floral top back in July and I struggled with getting the neckbands and armbands sewn decently. I don’t like the method of measuring the neckline, calculating 85%, and marking the band and fabric circumference into fourths that the standard instructions have you do. It’s too hard for me to get it stretched evenly and takes too long pinning. I messed up and sewed folds into the shirt side of the seam and had to rip and redo. For the green tank I cut a longer strip for the band, didn’t join or pin the band, left a tail unsewn at the start, and then stretched the band as I sewed it on with a basting stitch, stopping before the end and making a mark for sewing the ends together. It’s kind of like joining quilt binding but with a straight stitch. Tanks are the worst to sew because there are three bands instead of one! I would buy some tanks if I could find a brand and size that fit well, but at this point it seems easier to just sew them.

I love these leftovers! The two knit sleeveless tops and knit shorts are first rate pieces that fit well, are comfortable useful clothes, and in my opinion look good too.

Tempo Sundress by Love Notions

I learned a new skill in order to sew the Tempo Sundress: shirring.

I still had the elastic thread I bought many years ago when I tried unsuccessfully to shirr. I read that many others had been unable to shirr with a Brother machine, and the tension on the bobbin case needs to be tightened by turning a screw. I decided to experiment before taking apart my machine. The shirring tutorials say to hand wind the thread with little to no tension. I tried hand winding the bobbin with a significant amount of tension, started sewing, and suddenly my flat, squiggly lines bunched up into shirred fabric.

My fabric was a cotton from deep stash with an interesting plisse texture with some stretch from the slightly gathered texture. I had two yards and never knew what to do with it.

The photo below shows the pattern piece and how much smaller the fabric became after shirring.

I cut out a size large according to my bust measurement. Then I added an inch to the bodice front. That was a mistake, as the bodice was too large on me. For the interfacing for the bodice facing I used a light woven fusible interfacing. I switched to an orange cotton for the facing at the top bodice because I thought a smooth fabric would work better than my lumpy main fabric.

I took an inch off the bodice length. I have a difficult fitting situation with needing more length in the front for my bust, but having a short back. I added 1/2 inch to the front tapering to nothing at the sides, and subtracted from the back in the same way. Even so, the bodice hits past my waist in the back.

The straps are sandwiched between the facing and the bodice, making it difficult to access the fit and placement before sewing.

The deep inseam pockets are attached to the waist at the top, which keeps them securely anchored. The skirt is gathered to the bodice. I tried taking big seam allowances on the bodice to compensate for the largeness, but the fit is still off and the straps are too far apart on my small shoulders. I will have to make some alterations to feel more comfortable wearing the dress. I would have liked to made another bodice, but didn’t have enough fabric. The straps are supposed to be wide enough to cover bra straps but they don’t on me. I made them 1/2 inch wider, which wasn’t enough as they are folded in half. I may add some elastic to the straps because I can tell I will have a problem with keeping them up. You can see the strap ready to slip in the back view photo. In the photos, I wore the dress with a bra with clear plastic straps.

A cute dress, good use of stash fabric, but needs some work. And I can shirr!