Author Archives: Stitch It Again

Last Tank of the Summer

This post has a deceptive title. Actually, it’s the first knit tank top I’ve ever made, and it’s not summer anymore.

I used McCalls 6846 which is for woven fabrics, and I also used another tank top for comparison.  I liked the cut-in shoulders on the back of view A.

I used the fabric from an XL tee shirt.  Size medium in the McCalls pattern matched up at the hips to the large size of the Kirsten Kimono Tee which fits me perfectly, but the side seam on the top part of the pattern was larger on the McCalls.

It gaped greatly under the arms so I had to keep taking it in.  That’s also my dilemma with ready to wear: having enough room for my bust while having a close enough fit in the underarm.  This is the fit on a Hanes small size tank I own:

It has sagged terribly!  I’m talking about the shirt, not my arm – ha.

I wear tank tops at home and to walk the dog twice a day for 6 or 7 months of the year, so I would like to be a little more presentable.

The seams were stitched with a zigzag stitch.  I used the  stretch double needle to topstitch over the neck and armhole seams.  I trimmed close to the seams on the inside of the shirt.

I didn’t cut the binding cut very straight, and the whole time I was making this I was wondering if it was going to work out, or be itchy around the binding.

And the verdict is: I like it!  I’m wearing it!  It fits!  It’s comfortable!

Before I made this tank, I worked on sewing a few things that didn’t work out.  Next post, I’ll share what I learned from this.

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Instagram and Summer Wrap-up

After reading the same few sewing blogs, I set out to broaden my horizons and discover other sewing bloggers and viewpoints.  Time for me to learn something new!

I read Saturday Night Stitch/Hila’s post about Instagram and decided to give it a try.  There’s lots going on in the sewing community on Instagram: #memademay, #sewphotohop, #sewcialists. Popular posts get hundreds of likes!  It’s a fantastic place if you like to look up makes of a pattern like I do:  there are 7,000 posts for #gingerjeans (a Closet Case pattern) and 4,000 posts for#monetadress (from Colette Patterns).

I like figuring things out but I was really thrown for a loop when I tried to set up my account.  I couldn’t even upload a profile picture from my computer.  It’s an app meant to be used on a smartphone.  I take some photos with my phone but not ones of me wearing my makes.

Google:  How do I post photos to Instagram from a desktop computer?  I learned that there is third party software available to install, and then I found out about Instapic, an app I could install on my Windows 8.1 computer.  Done!

I was able to upload my first post with a few hashtags added:

 

Looking around Instagram, I noticed many of the popular patterns this summer are shirtdresses, wide legged cropped pants, and tops with a boxy silhouette.  Linen is the fabric of choice, especially white or neutral shades of linen.

Which silhouette do you like to wear?  I usually wear a fitted style, and have even added my own contour darts to patterns.  I’d like to think I could have that effortless, minimalist, chic look wearing the boxy style like Ute.  In the past,  I’ve avoided that style thinking I’d look like a blob, but I’m willing to experiment.

I’m enjoying browsing, but I haven’t posted much.  I’m still thinking about what kinds of photos I want to post.  Maybe more of what I’m working on and what patterns or fabric I’ve bought.  Maybe some of the nature pics I like taking when I’m out walking.  Like these:

 

I was also inspired by Naomi Sews post on pattern storage, and her beautifully organized and color coded “popper wallets”.  In American-speak they are poly envelopes with snap closures.  I’m using more pdf patterns, and I’d been putting them in kitchen plastic baggies and then stuffing them in various places.  My order was delivered just before 8 pm, and I spent the next hour happily filling and organizing several of my new envelopes.

The envelope is transparent enough for me to see that I labeled the pattern wrong.

While writing and editing this post, the season officially changed from summer to fall, but I’m going to be stubborn and leave summer in the present tense.

 

Chambray Shorts and a Corny Question

The seersucker gingham shorts I made last spring have gotten a lot of wear.  So it was an obvious decision to make shorts for the second item sewn with my chambray fabric.

[If you’re bored by minutia about zipper flies, skip to the bottom and take my poll.]

Since the time I made my first pair I learned that the mock fly zipper is used for women’s patterns sold by the big 4 pattern companies.  It’s not a faux zipper, but is a simplified zipper that doesn’t have a fly shield forming the underlap.

I wanted to try to sew the full-fledged fly!

Which side should it open on?  According to my Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing book, published in 1976, the placket should lap in opposite directions depending if the pants are to be worn by a gent or a lady.  The men’s version is zipped with the right hand.

When women first started wearing pants in the 1940s and 1950s, they zipped at the side or the back.  In the 1970s, after the dress code was changed to allow girls to wear pants to school, we often wore boys’ Levi cords.  They were the cool pants to wear.  We became used to a front zip fly.  Then pants started to be sold to women to fit our proportions and with the front zip fly we had gotten used to.

I looked through my closet and I found that it has become very common for women’s pants to have the fly open in the same direction as men’s pants.  This is especially the case with sporty pants like jeans.  Dress slacks are more likely to open in the opposite direction as in the traditional women’s fly.  But there is no standardization for women’s pants.  (Oh, the things that occupy my mind!)

I used the instructions from the Reader’s Digest manual to sew my zip fly.  I cut off the extensions from the original pattern piece, and made my own fly shield and extension.  The instructions include much more hand basting than is common today.  I found the basting helpful and will be doing more of that in the future.

A comparison of the mock fly and the full fly that we are used to seeing in our ready-to-wear pants:

And the wrong side:

I made large front patch pockets, back pockets, and an interfaced waistband with elastic sewn to the back.  The waistband is then folded in half so the stitching doesn’t show.  I used bright pink bias tape to bind the edge of the waistband.

I practiced flat fell seams, and intended to use that technique for the shorts, but I ended up sewing mock flat fell seams on the crotch (with two additional lines of stitching) and on the outer side seams (with one additional line of stitching).

I’ll tear the fabric before I split that seam!

I used two new techniques, and more importantly, I have another new pair of shorts I love to wear.

 

Now to the corny question:  I mean that literally!

This summer I’ve been eating a lot of fresh corn on the cob.  I was eating corn on the cob at a neighbor’s house, and he commented on the way I was eating it.  I eat it around, rotary style.  He eats it across, like a typewriter.  I just assumed everyone did it my way.  I thought maybe I eat corn rotary style because I learned to eat it that way from my parents.  I asked my stepmother how my dad ate it and she said across.  Hmm.

So I took to Google to try to find out which way is more common.  I didn’t find that out, but I did find the way you eat corn is linked to personality traits.

The across the cob eaters are said to live neat, orderly, methodical lives, and the around the cob method is favored by creative, artistic right-brained people.  There is also a third, less common group who take random bites; they’re chaotic, impulsive sorts.

Does this fit you? Is there a kernel of truth to this theory?  Do you get into discussions about strange little things like this?

I’ve been asking everyone this question.  Oh, the things that occupy my mind!

Please take my poll:

 

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This is 100: Seven Sewing Tips

100 posts that is.  I have been blogging for a little less than 5 years, so I thought it was time to make some updates, and to examine my progress.

Actually, I thought it was time to change my header, and then noticed that the 100th post was coming up.  Good timing!  Do you like the photos I chose?

When I started I wrote:  I’ve never thought of myself as being fashionable, so it feels unexpected to be turning the focus and camera on myself, and what I’m wearing.   Can I finally discover my style?

Well, yes!  I have learned what I want to sew and wear.  I have been most happy wearing my casual, everyday clothes.

Let’s take a look at most of the clothes I made in 2016:  3 tees, shorts, pants, culottes,  a pretty blouse, and a refashioned dress.   Some of my refashioning is making a few alterations to make a wearable item, but I often use the fabric to cut a new item like with my tee shirts and culottes.

What I’ve learned about sewing clothes:

1)  Know what patterns to pick and what you will actually wear.

I want to sew and wear basics and a few extras.  By extras I mean things that are experimental in some way or a little different than what I usually wear or have interesting sewing details.

2)  Make fit changes to the pattern.

I started by adjusting the fit as I sewed.  Figuring out how to transfer these changes to the pattern is a real game changer.  It’s the start of developing tried and true patterns to use again and again with design changes.

3)  Know your figure.

Are you short waisted?  Need a full bust adjustment?  You will have to change nearly every pattern to fit your non-standard body.  Some of these adjustments will be obvious, but others are things you probably never noticed about your body like forward shoulders or one hip higher than the other.

4)  Make a muslin or mock-up of a pattern before cutting into your fabric.

This can feel like a chore, but it’s useful for testing new techniques and learning about fit.  Developing slopers or sewing multiples of a pattern are strategies for avoiding making a toile.  The most important thing I’ve learned from reading other sewing bloggers is to find some basic tried and true patterns.

5)  Keep detailed notes on projects.

I usually do things differently than the instructions, and a year later when I want to use the pattern again I won’t remember what I did.

6)  Use the right fabric for the project, in a print or solid you will want to wear.

I made a lined summer dress from quilting cotton and it was too heavy for my liking. Knowing the difference between a pattern that needs a fabric with drape and one that needs crispness will increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

7)  Learn new techniques so you can make clothes with the features you prefer.

You may prefer a different type of pocket than the pattern provides, or a waistband with partial elastic, and you need the knowledge and experience to make your custom garment.

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I’ve also enjoyed keeping a record of my home sewing, embroidery and cross stitch projects, as well as the occasional knitting and crocheting.

As far as blogging goes, will I reach 200 posts? Maybe not, but I have a few more ideas and I’m going to continue for a while longer.

Top from Vintage Simplicity Dress Pattern 8183

It was the summer of 1969.  Young and old came together and watched in awe as American astronauts succeeded in landing on the moon.  It was also the summer of  the Woodstock music festival in New York and of two nights of shocking murders in California which were later found out to be committed by the Manson Family.

In my world, I was in elementary school with the summer off.  I was listening to “In the Year 2525″ by Zager and Evans, ” Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and Donovan’s “Atlantis” on my transistor radio.  My library’s reading program for kids was titled “books are out of this world” and my reading consisted of books like “The Happy Hollisters” and the Beany Malone series.

The jiffy pattern, Simplicity 8183, of a darted dress with a low cut H-shaped back was released in 1969 for summer sewing.

I have a bunch of vintage patterns from thrift store shopping, but I actually set out to buy this one after seeing it on the “We Sew Retro” website.  I bare arms and legs but don’t have any clothes with an open back.

This will be my blue summer – I’m not talking about moods but fabric.  I picked up yardage of two different shades of chambray at an estate sale.

I decided to start on my chambray summer sewing with a top made from this pattern.  It’s sized for a 36 inch bust, and I’m bigger than that.   I started by doing a full bust adjustment to the pattern after I traced it off on medical pattern paper.  I made a mock-up using a sheet – too tight!  I added 1/2 inch to the seams.  I kept the front and back waist darts, but I made them shallow as I wasn’t going to use a zipper and didn’t want the top to be too fitted.

The fabric frays easily so I sewed french seams to enclose the raw edges. I planned on swapping bias binding for the facing pieces.  After I started working on the top I had the idea to substitute red piping as an accent around the very long neckline.   For the armholes I made  bias binding from the chambray fabric.

I had scraps around from the denim skirt refashion so I made the strap from denim.

A big goal with this top was to keep my bra from showing.  Initially, I tried to get the strap on the top to cover my bra, but it wasn’t quite working so I raised the back 3 inches.

I tried machine stitching a little section of the piping to the inside of the shirt, but didn’t like the way it looked.  I wanted a clean look to the front of the top as if I were using facing.  Instead I invisibly hand stitched the neckline, armholes, and hem.

view of inside

The finished top:

It has a front too.

I had a devil of a time getting the strap straight, and unpicked it a few times.  The thread is a great match, so both my fabric and nerves were fraying.  I think I was trying to attach it too close to the curve.

In the photos of me wearing the top, I noticed some strain lines across the back and I was thinking of removing the strap.  It was a cute part of the design that attracted me to the pattern, yet I raised the back and don’t really need it.  I also belatedly thought of making a strap with buttonholes on both sides that can be buttoned on or left off.

What do you think?

I wish you a happy summer of ’17.  I doubt it will be as historically memorable as the summer of ’69 but I hope it will bring you memorable days of enjoyment with family and friends to look back on.

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Little Free Libraries

I first read about Little Free Libraries in my local newspaper.

The first one was built in Wisconsin in 2009 by the son of a teacher.  It was an enclosure with a glass door mounted on a post constructed to look like a one room schoolhouse.   There are now more than 50,000 registered in the United States and even a few worldwide.

They are generally put in the front yard of a home and initially filled with books by the owner or steward.  Then anyone can come by and take a book, and hopefully the same readers or others will also leave a book.

I love the idea of sharing a love of reading and books, and I also enjoy the various creative designs of the structures themselves.

The first one I came across was in a mall.

 

After Memorial Day, on my morning walk with my dog, I came across my first neighborhood little library.

There is a registration fee of $40 if you want your front yard library to be part of the official Little Free Library movement.  The fee entitles you to a charter sign, number, and to have your library location included on a map on the nonprofit organization’s website.

The little library down the street from me is a neighborhood “secret” – no sign.  I took one book, put three in, and was pleased to see my books were all quickly taken.  I actually feel proud my picks are popular! The little two shelf container is very full; I think more people have put in books than taken them out.  There is a good mix, including many children’s books.

can you guess which book I put in?

My full size neighborhood library is about a mile away.  Although close, it takes me about 20 minutes to get there on foot.  I donate most of my books there.  I used to keep more books after I read them, but yarn and fabric has cut down on my storage space, so I like to pass them on.  My sewing and craft reference books are my keepers.

I also go a very low priced used bookstore  and recently started reading books on a tablet.  I resisted the e-book revolution for quite awhile, but now embrace it as another option.  But there is no substitute for a physical book that doesn’t need to be charged and can easily be shared and passed on to others even decades later.

Do you have a little library near you or would you consider putting one up?  Where do you get your books from and what do you do with them afterwards? Are you a reader of hard copy books or e-books?

 

For more information:

Little Free Library website

Libraries of Distinction – a Pinterest board with photos of the many creative Little Free Library structures

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Vintage Embroidered Pillowcases

I bought a set of pillowcases for $1 each at the thrift store.  They aren’t quite plain; they are stamped with a sweet design of a girl in a heart of flowers.

One of the reasons I think the pillowcases are vintage is that the fabric looks old and  feels like 100% cotton.  The pillowcases don’t have any tags, and the inside seams look different from modern cases.  The style of the design also looks like it’s from the 1950s or 60s.

What floss colors would you use?  I got out all my variegated pinks for the flowers.

I put tissue paper between the hoop halves to protect the fabric, and then tore it away from the center.

I embroidered back stitches, lazy daisies, and french knots.

I decided on a single ply black thread for the outline of her skin.  While I was stitching her, I thought she looked like a lamb with hooves.

I had a little bit of what knitters call second sock syndrome after finishing the first.  I changed the color of her dress for the second one.

 

Tastes have changed since these were sold. Do these pretty ladies have a place in the modern world?  I admit that I folded the pillowcases and stored them away after finishing them.

Would they still be considered vintage even though they’re newly embroidered?

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