The calendar says fall, but the weather still says summer.
I bought a single yard of a rayon/spandex knit fabric with a fun bandana-look stripe for $6.79 online from Cali Fabrics when I bought the fabric for my knit shorts. It is 66 inches wide, and listed as a bohemian stripe with 125% horizontal stretch and 25% vertical stretch. I planned on making a sleeveless and swingy Laundry Day Tee top just like my favorite blue floral one. I decided to make a casual dress instead after realizing I had enough fabric, reasoning that I can always cut it down to a top later.
I love pockets but not with this light, stretchy fabric. That made this dress a quick make with only the bindings taking a little time to get right. I made them shorter than recommended to avoid floppiness and drooping.
I used the free Laundry Day Tee by Love Notions again, but I believe I slimmed it down a bit. The fit is good. I especially like the way it hangs in the back. My bust makes the stripe pull up in the front, but I’m probably being nit-picky or maybe I can change that to knit-picky, ha! Note to self – avoid horizontal stripes.
It goes really well with a short denim wrap top I bought at a garage sale a few months back for 1 or 2 dollars. My denim purse was also thrifted several years back. Added comfy velcro sandals, sunglasses, dangling silver earrings, and I’m ready to go!
August is a HOT month. I love the navy ponte shorts I sewed late last summer so much, I decided to sew more knit shorts. With fluctuations in weight, I no longer wanted to wear my previously sewn shorts with a fly and button. I sewed three pairs of shorts with three different types of stretchy knit fabric.
French Terry is a stretch terry cloth fabric with a smooth side and a looped side. The terry I used is a polyester/rayon/spandex blend. This was my first time sewing this fabric. It’s usually used for cozy garments, so it might not be a great choice for summer, but I can also wear the shorts in the spring and fall. I sewed the elastic waist Allegro pattern by Love Notions, even though the pattern is for woven fabrics. I sewed the shorts with the smooth side on the outside. After inserting the elastic, I had trouble distributing the gathers evenly. I added a button embellishment just for fun on the mock fly front.
Next I sewed the Mama Bear Jogger shorts by Patterns for Pirates with green scuba. Scuba is a polyester/spandex mix with a good drape and a sheen. The website says it resembles an apparel weight version of neoprene. I had never sewn with scuba before, and my needles had problems sewing this fabric: I experienced skipped stitches, and even though I had selected the zigzag pattern the machine was sewing straight stitches instead. I changed from a stretch needle to a ballpoint needle, and that helped. I’m wearing the shorts with a woven rayon top that was a refashion from a dress. I like the top but needed shorts that go with it.
Next I sewed a pair of shorts in the same style with double knit ponte fabric in a powder blue. This ponte fabric is a heavy weight polyester/rayon/spandex blend. I have sewn with ponte before, as I like both sewing with it and wearing this fabric for knit pants. The ponte I previously used was a rayon/nylon/spandex blend, which is a nicer and pricier ponte. I’m not usually a fan of polyester as it can get sticky.
I sewed these shorts with the Itch to Stitch waistband from another pattern. It’s a beautiful curved waistband that fits me well. I added another inch to the waistband length and the elastic for added comfort when sitting down. I hate a too tight elastic waist! It’s a double waistband with the elastic stretched and sewn to the seam allowance. I sewed a wider seam allowance to use 3/4 inch elastic. I also tweeked the fit a little adding more to the crotch point in the back. When I made changes to the pattern earlier I had removed too much.
I sewed the seams with a zigzag on the sewing machine, finished the seams on the serger, and top stitched the pockets and hemmed the shorts with a zigzag stitch.
All three shorts have generous front pockets which I use. Part of the pocket piece is visible on the outside, and a lining is sewn on the main shorts front and turned to the inside before being joined to the main fabric pocket piece. I used a different slinky fabric for the pocket lining.
I love this swingy Laundry Day Tee Tank so much for summer! I think it looks much more flattering than the traditional Hanes tank that is tight in the hips that I’m wearing with the terry shorts. I bought some more rayon knit to make another, but might make a dress instead. I can always cut it down into a top later.
All three pairs of shorts were sewn with 1 yard of fabric each bought online making them inexpensive; two were under $10 and the scuba was under $7. I like ponte fabric the most as I found the terry snagged on my nails, and the scuba was hard to sew with.
The Bardon Dress is a free pattern from Peppermint Magazine designed by Elbe Textiles. Bardon is a loose fitting sleeveless dress with no closures, a bodice with bust darts, gathered tiers, and deep side seam pockets.
I had this quilting cotton fabric stashed from many years ago when I first aspired to sew my own clothes. It is a beautiful Japanese inspired print called Sakura by Robert Kaufman. Sakura is the cherry blossom, the national flower of Japan, and the print also has cranes and fans. Although a gathered pattern is not the best for showing off a print, I decided to go ahead and sew it.
I thought the first Bardon I made was too oversized, and changed the proportions of the tiers. This one is about 7 inches less at the waist and just below the knee. I had to put a seam in the back bodice because of lack of fabric. I only had a few little scraps left over.
I shortened the bodice by two inches, and I did a full bust adjustment to add some length back to the front but it’s still pulling up a little bit.
I like to gather by putting two lines of basting stitches, and then sewing in the middle. The second line of basting stitches is outside of the seam allowance and later must be removed.
The neckline and armholes are finished with bias tape.
I had just enough fabric left to make a belt using a pretty mother of pearl buckle I had. The belt dresses it up a bit, but I will probably wear it most often without and with flat sandals for a casual everyday look.
I also put a quarter inch piece of elastic in the seam allowance in the center part of the front bodice. I dislike the way clothes look on me when they hang from my bust and stick way out from my body. The seam is pressed upward and the elastic is on the inside and not against my body. On my first try, I didn’t stretch the elastic enough and there was no effect, so I unpicked. I may have stretched the elastic too much when I stitched it again. I was trying to get just a gentle pulling in, but this is close enough. I think I may try a different construction order if I make this pattern again so that the dress can be more easily adjusted at the side seams to get the waist no bigger than needed to fit over my bust. The pattern has you put the front and back together for the bodice and each tier before attaching the tiers together. Basically, any bodice can be used for a tiered dress with gathered rectangles for the skirt portion.
I’m very happy with it – it’s a lovely dress!
The colors in the print look fresh together, the tiers are fun to wear, and I love when the dress catches a breeze.
I think I could use another one in light as air rayon or cotton lawn.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Is there such a thing as too hot to sew? For me, there is. My sewing area is not in my cool zone, and I don’t like to set up my ironing board on a hot day. Sometimes I try to cheat and sew without pressing when I should to avoid the iron, but that doesn’t work out so well.
Rayon is a cool fabric for summer, and I have two quick refashions to show you.
The first is from my own closet from over a decade ago. I didn’t sew then, and I bought the dress at the drugstore, which shows that I was never much of a clothes shopper. The dress was rarely worn, and became too tight in the bust, and the elastic didn’t sit in the right place. I didn’t have much fabric to work with so I didn’t use a pattern and just improvised. I made a bandeau top elasticized on the top back, and made straps fashioned from the leftover top pieces. I like the swingy shape from using the bottom of the dress.
The sun faces are upside down. I don’t think I noticed things like print placement before I started sewing.
The before photo is from over 10 years ago when I was in my late 40s.
The second refashion was of a maxi dress bought several years ago at the thrift store that needed to be resized. It’s one of those dresses with the thin ties that tie at the back to give some shaping to the waist. The length was perfect but I never properly finished the dress because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it , so it sat in the refashion pile. The border print was the prettiest part of the dress, so I decided to make another simple boxy top. I used my altered Maya pattern and black bias tape for the neckline.
Even though I also liked the dress, the top will get much more wear than the dress would have. I already have another dress with the same style but with a print that I like more that I’m keeping as is.
Using recycled fabric already in the system is also an example of sustainable sewing. This type of sewing is concerned with limiting ecological waste, and is an issue widely talked about in the sewing community.
“Sustainable fashion refers to clothing that is designed, manufactured, distributed, and used in ways that are environmentally friendly. The whole idea behind “sustainability” in general and sustainable sewing in specific is that of leaving a minimal impact on the planet. This idea incorporates issues like carbon footprint, waste creation and disposal, and labor practices.”
A large portion of my sewing is sustainable. Most of the tops and dresses I sew fit this category with the fabrics sourced secondhand, but I usually have to buy new bottomweight fabric for pants and new knit fabric. I bought three different knit fabrics last year – a ponte, a cotton knit, and a rayon knit and sewed them all. I have no knit fabrics in stash. To be honest, I started sewing with secondhand fabrics as a more affordable way to sew, and not because of the environment. I also like the creativity of upcycling textiles such as making clothing from sheets, tablecloths, and scraps. I like using what I already have, and I love the advantages of sewing this way from both from a thrifty and environmentally friendly perspective.
Some say that sewing clothes is not cheaper than buying them. Well, it is in my case. I have managed to sew for cheap using thrifted fabric and patterns, discounted, and free patterns. I also get “free” fabric (and often free shipping depending on the seller) from Amazon with credit card points. I can make a top or shorts that I will wear for years from one yard of fabric. I can make pants and most everything else with only two yards. Quilting is a more expensive hobby. You need yards and yards of fabric, and then more fabric to coordinate with the main fabrics. Piecing is only the beginning, and there are many more steps to completion. Machine quilting is so awkward and difficult that some quilters are not even quilters – they send out for the quilting to be done professionally. While I will never be primarily a quilter, that doesn’t stop me from having quilting aspirations from time to time. I’ve collected a large number of fat quarters and fabric odds and ends over the past 15 years. Mostly, I have ideas and plans that never come to fruition.
Years ago, I bought some fabric pieces at the thrift store, including a stack of fabric cut into 4 x 6 inch rectangles. Some were already pieced together in a long sequence. The fabrics look dated and ugly together. It has been said if you don’t like a fabric you haven’t cut it small enough.
From the pile, I noticed some fabrics that coordinated together and would make impressionistic American flags. I decided to make placemats for the patriotic summer holidays. I bought a yard of navy stripe fabric for the backing, and navy for the binding.
They took me a long time to finish. I started last year, and the stitching looked so bad due to tension problems, that I gave up, and put them away.
In addition to the problems with my machine, my attempts at quilting were atrocious, and caused major distortions.
I also had tiny stitches from holding on too tightly while quilting. These placemats just looked sad!
I wanted to finish them this year. I started by spending an entire afternoon removing all the quilting. I was still having problems with finding a quilting pattern that I could sew well. I finally liked the way they looked when I changed to a chevron pattern. Each rectangle contains three lines of diagonal stitching. They finished at 12 1/2 by 16 1/2 inches. Done is good! And I am pleased with them.
I have watched various quilting videos over the years. Right now, I am a fan of Karen Brown of Just Get It Done Quilts. Karen has a website and You Tube Channel. I especially like her concept of an ugly quilt. Maybe I could make one of those! The idea is that a quilt that isn’t seen as perfect or special will actually be used and not just stored away. These everyday quilts aren’t just bed quilts, but can be used on the couch, in the yard, at a park, for the dog, etc. My dog digs and scrumples bedding so I wouldn’t have to worry about him wrecking it.
I also like watching the way Karen stacks fabric, makes blocks, then cuts them up and recombines them. Karen has great ideas for simple blocks and scrappy blocks. None of the quilts she makes are actually ugly, but I think I could manage that.
So, should I make something ugly from the rest of these rectangles and this long pieced strip?