Author Archives: Stitch It Again

Can This Dud Be Saved?

We all have them.  The project that just didn’t pan out as we imagined.  Some call it a wadder, and throw it out in frustration.  I kept mine.

It started with the best of intentions. Last summer I paired a light cotton lawn fabric with the peplum top, a free pattern from  Peppermint magazine.

The fabric came in 2 separate pieces from the thrift store.  I liked the Moroccan type print, and the soft, light feel of the fabric.

The top is sleeveless with a v-neck back, and a gathered peplum.  It is dartless and somewhat oversized, as you can see by the shape of the bodice pattern pieces.

I cut a size E which is the size for a 38 inch bust with a finished bust measurement of 41 and 3/4 inches. The waist and hip measurement for size E is 32 and 41 inches, although the waist size is not important as the finished waist size is 44 inches.

I cut the bodice from one piece of fabric on the lengthwise grain and cut  the full length of the second piece of fabric on the crosswise grain for the peplum.  It also has a separate shoulder piece.  I ignored the grainline marking, and didn’t cut this piece on the bias because I was trying to make the best use of the print.

I had major fitting problems with this pattern, and abandoned it last August.

I took some in progress photos and didn’t like what I saw. Unflattering!!

Where do I start?  It looks like I have a pillow stuffed under my shirt, the front is pulling up, and the underarms are too low.

A year later, I decided to give this top another try.  When I first tried it on, I had to take in the sides a bit.  The pattern is meant to have a generous amount of ease, but it’s sleeveless so the underarms have to fit. It’s very obvious the top needs a full bust adjustment, but it’s too late for that and I don’t have fabric to cut a new bodice front.  I also can’t add a longer shoulder piece and lower the front because the armholes need to fit.

I took out some length from the shoulder seams to take up the armholes.  I removed the front peplum and took out some more of the gathers.  I took out some of the back length by taking in the back waist seam.

I especially hated that rising line at the front waist that is so apparent because of the white stripe of the print.  To camouflage this, I added sash ties into the side seams.

I didn’t have enough fabric for the facings, so I used bias tape.  I ran out of the turquoise so had to use a different shade of blue on part of the armhole.

I decided I liked the frayed raw edge of the selvedge showing on the front bottom.  I sewed a leftover selvedge strip to the back bottom to match.

My top looks quite a bit different from the pattern with a longer, less gathered peplum.

So what do you think?

 

 

Sure it looks OK from the front , but how about the side view?

The before and after profile shot.

Much better. Saved?

What do you do with your rejects? Try to make them work, or call it a day and move on to a new project?

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Sorrento Bucket Hat is Tops

The Sorrento Bucket hat is a popular free pattern by Elbe Textiles.  The unisex pattern comes in XS-L sizes to fit heads between 21 and 24 inches and has 3 pieces: brim, band, and top. There are two seams in the band and brim. I traced out the other side of the band and brim pieces because I didn’t want to cut my fabric on the fold.

My head measures 22 and a half inches putting me between a small and medium. I chose to make the medium size.

The recommended fabric is denim, canvas, twill, or similar medium to heavyweight fabric.  It is a fully reversible hat so I wanted to use 2 different fabrics.  I upcycled the pants legs from 2 pairs of pants I never wore.

Even though this is not sewing in a straight line, the hat isn’t hard to sew.  There’s a lot of manual fabric manipulation involved, pinning, and cutting notches into the pieces to make them fit together. It’s like a little sewing exercise in sewing a circular object.

The pattern is well illustrated. There are 6 steps, starting with the brim. The seam allowance is 1 cm which corresponds to about 3/8 of an inch or a scant 1/2 inch.

I topstitched several circles around the 2 layers of the brim.

I became a little confused when I got to step 4, the step that attaches the top to the band creating the bucket part of the hat. The instructions mention both snipping into the seam allowance of the band, and matching notches on the band and top.  I didn’t know if that meant to cut notches like I did on the brim, and at first I didn’t even notice the notches marked on the pattern pieces.  The band seemed too small for the top, and didn’t fit together.  For a crazy second, the thought of cutting the top circle smaller flashed in my head. I think a clarification would be to differentiate between “easing notches” that are cut into the fabric,  and “matching notches” that are used to align the two pieces together evenly.  The band needs many easing notches to fit the top, and easing notches are cut into the top after sewing it together with the band to make a smooth circular shape.

I wasn’t sure whether to sew with the top side or the band side facing up. I believe the band side should be face up when sewing so the baste stitch on the band is visible and the seam can be sewn just a tad farther in from the seam allowance.

I place and remove pins with my left hand.

The wrong side of my flowered lining fabric is white.

This is messy work; keep the lint roller handy.

In step 5 the brim is sewn to the lining bucket.

In step 6 the top bucket is sewn to the rest of the hat, and two becomes one.

Done!

The fit is spot on.

So pretty with the flowered/leafy side peeking out from the underside.

 

 

Here I’m wearing the hat with the first dress I sewed back in 2013.

I really like these two fabrics together. Other fabric combinations like a classic khaki and black would work well.  I can even imagine using a print to match a top or dress. A lighter fabric could be interfaced, especially on the brim.  I made my hat without interfacing, and like how crushable it is, making it easy to fit in a bag.

I think anyone who knows how to work a sewing machine could make this hat. If you have some sturdy fabric on hand, or unwanted denim or twill pants, why not transform them to a Sorrento bucket hat?

Sewing Bloopers

My last post presenting my denims shorts and breezy Hawaiian top ran a little long so I’m giving my mistakes their own post.  Even though these were very successful makes, I made some major and minor goofs along the way.

When sewing, I often try to ignore that sound from the machine when something is going wrong.  This is what happens on the underside of the fabric when the the thread slips off a contact point in the upper threading. I used to think this was a bobbin problem, but it was very apparent that it was an upper threading problem as the beautiful contrasting topstitching thread was only used on top, and the bobbin thread was an all purpose blue thread. I had to keep rethreading as I worked on the shorts, as I needed regular all purpose thread for the top thread when sewing the seams.

Not all of my topstitching went smoothly. Some wandered off the rails.  Part of the bottom edge stitching was ripped out and redone.

I sewed one of the pieces on the back yoke backwards, and I even topstitched it before I realized my mistake.

Here I was almost done, and doing the bar tacks on the back pockets. When I put the fabric under the needle I settled on the wrong spot, and was bar tacking right in the middle of the back yoke. Oops!

I already showed the photo of the cracked rivet placed next to a very nice example of topstitching and successfully installed rivet.

I also had to redo one of the armholes on my Hawaiian top after I had already sewn on the bias binding, because it was too high and tight, and take in one side of the neckline.  I’m not a perfectionist, but if there is a problem that will keep me from enjoying wearing a garment or from wearing it altogether, it is worth the time to fix.

What mistakes? I’m very happy wearing these two classic summer pieces!

 

Denim Shorts and a Refashion For Two

I have been holding on to about a yard and a half of stretch denim I bought at my now closed neighborhood thrift store for several years.

It wasn’t quite enough for a long pants version of the Itch to Stitch Mountain View Pull-on Jeans, so I decided to use the same pattern for a shorts version.  I already sewed this pattern two times previously this year: these green pants and these gray pants.

I bought topstitching thread and jeans rivets for this make. I’ve read about some machines not being able to handle the thickness of topstitching thread so i practiced on a scrap.  This thread’s thick!

comparison of all purpose thread and topstitching thread

No problems and looking good!

I also practiced installing a rivet.  They are installed by making a hole in the fabric with an awl, and then hammering them in.  The difficult part for me was cutting down the posts, as I didn’t have a tool strong enough.

If the post is too long it will crack through the rivet.

one rivet installed, discarded cracked rivet on the right

I had to improvise to find a hard surface for hammering them in.  I used the back of a cast iron skillet.  Next time I will follow advice to use a block of wood.

I chose to eliminate the back leg seam of the original pattern.  The previous time I made the pattern I traced a new pattern piece after sewing the two back pieces together.

I love these shorts!  The fit is perfect. The waistband stays put with no slippage yet they are very comfortable when sitting down.  I haven’t had a pair of denim shorts that fit for several years, and they go with so many of my summer tops. The shorts have creases in the photos because I couldn’t wait until I photographed them to start wearing them!

front view

back pockets

front pocket bags

In the top photo I’m wearing them with my I love this fabric refashion,  but I have a new refashion to show you.

I’ve had this knee length rayon challis dress with a beautiful Hawaiian print in my closet for almost 20 years.  I’ve gained weight over the years and it no longer fit, but still I hung on to it.

I laid another refashioned rayon sleeveless top over the bottom of the dress, and thought it would be just wide enough to make a top.  I used store bought bias tape for the armholes and neckline.  I didn’t take apart the side seams so had to pinch out armhole darts to remove the excess flap of fabric that formed when I tried the top on.

 

I love it!  I like the way the high side slits from the original dress hem show off my rivets ( I put 4 in the front) on the shorts.

What to do with the top of the dress?

I saved the best for last…..

I grabbed the leis for some twinning with my dog Sparky in his matching shirt.

I am so thrilled to add these two pieces to my closet.  They will be summer staples for me!

It’s a Grown-up Romper!

There was an Instagram sew-a-long for jumpsuits, and armed with the Sallie pattern by Closet Case Patterns and a few yards of a rayon jersey fabric, I jumped in to give this type of garment a try.

I don’t own any jumpsuits.  Would I like it?  Would it be hard to get in and out of?

The Sallie jumpsuit and maxi dress pattern is designed for knit fabric and has 3 views to mix and match.  I made view A which has a front and back v-neck, a self lined bodice, slash pockets, and an elastic waist.  I shortened the legs to make a romper. I think the last time I wore a romper was when I was a toddler!

I wanted a tropical print, but the fabric I bought wasn’t quite what I had in mind.  I like the leaves, but the background is quite light colored.  I would have preferred more of a blue and green print. This is also my first time working with rayon jersey which was very lightweight and stretchy.

The neckline uses clear elastic between the two layers of the bodice for a clean finish without any stitches showing or a band.  I’ve used clear elastic two times before without any problem.  With this make, I had a problem with one side of the neckline rippling and gaping.  In fact, it bothered me so much I made the bodice twice.

discarded bad neckline

Because the fabric was light colored, I decided to underline the shorts portion with a nude ribbed rayon knit I already had in my little stash.  Following this underlining tutorial by Seamwork, I pinned and hand basted the two fabrics together.

The inseam is 5 inches. I hand hemmed the shorts stitching through the interlining only.

The biggest surprise came when I sewed the top and bottom together, and tried the romper on.  The weight of the shorts caused the bodice to drop way too low, and the crotch was much too long. I had to keep hacking off fabric from both the bottom of the bodice and the top of the shorts until the fit was good.  I estimate I cut off 2 to 4 inches.  I also raised both the front and back necklines when I cut the bodice for a second time.  Being very short, I’m about 6 or 7 inches less in height than the pattern is drafted for, and these changes were necessary to fit my proportions.

This turned into a more challenging project because of my problems with the pattern, the fabric, and the fit.  Challenging is a code word for frustrating.

I bought another rayon/spandex jersey knit fabric at the same time and was planning on making the dress version of the pattern.  The elastic waist of the romper created bunchy seam allowances that poke me, so now I’m thinking I might enjoy wearing a dress without a waist seam better.  Another possibility for a future make from this pattern might be view C worn over a top in a cotton jersey with a tie belt instead of an elastic waist.

So, what do I think of this romper? While I can get in and out of it, I’m not jumping at chances to wear it.  I’m not a jumpsuit convert yet!  Shorts and a sleeveless rayon top are still my summer faves.

Jersey Little Black Dress

I had some soft black cotton jersey left over from this top.

I followed through with my plan to make a very simple LBD, or little black dress, a style popularized by Coco Chanel in the 1920s.

From the article: Everything About Little Black Dresses – “A little black dress symbolizes effortless elegance, simplicity, and style. It is essential for every woman because it is iconic, versatile and timeless. Wear it as it is, or accessorize with shoes or jewelry”.

I need this wardrobe magic!

I knew I wanted a dress like a long tee shirt with short sleeves, a v-neck, and an optional sash. I used view A of New Look 6461 as the bones of my pattern, and also based the dress on a v-neck nightshirt I often wear, measuring to get the same amount of ease in the hips.

This came together very easily.  I used clear elastic on the wrong side in the seam allowance for the neckline, then folded it over, and stitched it down.  I had to piece together fabric for the long sash.  Due to a lack of fabric, I was afraid the front would be too short and applied a fabric facing.

I tried wearing it several different ways: with jewelry, scarves, belted and unbelted, flat and heeled sandals. I considered adding an elastic waist, but decided against it.  I wanted to keep the dress simple, and I didn’t want anything binding. I like the sash tied for waist definition, and it is supremely comfortable.

I’m feeling tres chic in my little black dress!

 

Stretch Woven Pull-on Jeans #2

I ordered gray cotton stretch twill to make another pair of Itch to Stitch Mountain View pull-on jeans.  The idea being that on my second go-round I would have the advantage of learning from my mistakes from the first pair.  My two main problems were cutting the fabric with the stretch up and down instead of across the body, and twisting legs.  Despite these mistakes I have worn the olive green pants lots, and the only thing that bothers me about them is that they slip down a bit. To fix that problem I am making the second pair with a higher rise, and with tighter elastic.

So how did I do this time around? Will this be mistakes part 2?

I cut the pant pieces very carefully, measuring to keep the grainlines straight, with the stretch in the right direction, and in a single layer.

I did this in an effort to eliminate twisting of the legs. I believe the twisting was caused by the back and front outer seams being different lengths causing me to twist the legs as I sewed them. But the extra steps couldn’t hurt.

I also referred to this pattern review post and especially the diagram about balanced pants.

I had to piece the pockets to cut all the pattern pieces from 2 yards of fabric, and topstitched a simple design that well with the seam. I used a lighter gray all-purpose thread for the topstitching.

 

Straight legs!

I like this pants pattern because instead of having a bunchy elastic waist they are smooth and flat, and hold my stomach in while being comfortable. I also enjoy the actual sewing of the pattern; the instructions are good and making them is just complex enough to be satisfying, and easy enough for me to sew well.

Fake fly but real pockets

And this time I decided to change the back waist to knit ribbing, and used the navy I had on hand.

Um, no.

This time I couldn’t pull up my pants!!

I learned the number one thing to know about working with stretch woven fabric: test the stretch percentage.

I ordered fabric with the same description from the same vendor as my olive green fabric, but while the olive has 30-40% stretch, the gray has only 10%. When I received the gray twill, I thought it felt different, but ignored the sewing “red flags”.  The pattern states the fabric needs to have between 20% and 30% stretch. I used the Megan Neilsen guide  for calculating the stretch.

After I added the waistband, the pants couldn’t get over my hips.  I thought about adding panels to the side waist, but then realized the length of the waistband has to stay roughly the same to sew onto the pants. The stretchy knit ribbing I used for the back waistband worked, to my relief. I don’t wear my shirts tucked in, so it doesn’t show. Luckily, the pants legs are slim but not skinny tight, so I can move in them, although they’re not as comfy as my stretchier pair.

I plan to make a shorts version for the summer, and a denim version eventually.

For me, there is a lot of problem solving in sewing.  I’m able to get through projects faster now that I’m better at figuring out solutions. Do you find that you are always having to solve problems in your sewing or in your craft ?