January 30, 2012

Here's Inspiration for You

A friend introduced me to this blog today: New Dress a Day Wow. After looking through the before and after gallery for at least one hour, I have these comments to make. 1) A great body and self-confidence can make almost anything look great. 2) Accessories make a huge difference. A great pair of boots or a cute belt can make something really work. 3) If a garment doesn't work, do not be afraid to repurpose it. Who would think to try wearing bloomer-like pants as a shrug??!! If a dress doesn't work try it as a blouse or a jacket. 4) Does this lady every wear anything twice?? 5) I'm blown away by the blog author's dedication. What a marvelous collection of projects she has put together as a reference and an inspiration. Check this blog out when you have lots of free time to enjoy it!

June 5, 2011

How to "Selvedge" a Skirt

I just took up the waist on this brown skirt this week. Now that it fits well, I focused on the appearance. It's nice, but a bit boring. I wanted something summery and fun to wear on my two upcoming beach trips. Inspired by 49 Sensational Skirts, I decided to spice up my new skirt. 

I considered lots of options, especially fusible applique, and fabric painting. But I wasn't in the mood to paint, and I thought fusible applique could too easily end up looking like a poodle skirt. Cute but really not MY style. Plus I wanted something I could finish fast, before my kids got home from the baseball game.

So I glanced around my sewing room looking for some other inspiration. I have been collecting selvedges for months, hoping to make them into a sewing machine cover, or possibly even one of these amazing quilts.  I decided to sacrifice a few for my skirt.  I tried pinning on a few just to make sure I liked the look of it, and to figure out which direction I wanted the selvedges to be turned.

I liked the way this looked so I pressed a bunch of selvedges flat, choosing the longest ones I had and ones with a neutral color scheme.

I started at a side seam, stitching the selvedges down only along the white edge (with white thread). I didn't even really pin it down, so some of my lines got a bit wavy. I like that hand-made look, but if you are not comfortable with "winging" it, of course you could measure and pin.  I spaced the selvedges closely at the bottom, and spread them out the further up the skirt I went.

As you can see, when I ran out of long selvedges, I didn't worry too much about matching up colors or patterns.

Here is the finished product. I love it!

I'm very curious to see what it looks like after washing, since the bottom edges are raw and not sewn down. I'm thinking I will launder it in a garment bag and hang it to dry. I hope it's not too much of a pain to press.

Book Review: 49 Sensational Skirts

I bought this book about a year ago, and honestly this is the second time I have pulled it off the shelf. It's one of those that I probably should have just checked out the public library. I like the ideas presented by Alison Willoughby as a jumping off point for my own embellishment ideas. Her skirts are too over-the-top for my taste. But her presentation of different techniques is a wonderful tool. She discusses adding ruffles, screenprinting, buttons and brooches, foil, fusible applique, and many other interesting details to personalize your wardrobe. I love that she encourages her readers to reclaim and deconstruct clothing from their own wardrobes, or from the thrift store.

Taking in a Blouse with Pintucks

I was given quite a few nice blouses that fit me in the shoulders and sleeves but are much too big through the torso and bust. I noticed two of these blouses are already constructed with pintucks along the torso. These are very small pleats spaced evenly apart that help shape the torso of the blouse.

I started this process by pressing the blouses and trying them on to get a good idea of how much I needed to take in. I took a few minutes to study the construction. One blouse had tucks along each side of the front and the back; the other had tucks on the front and a smocked panel in the back.

 I looked closely at how the tucks were formed and measured the spacing between them.  I made sure I was measuring between the seams that form the tucks, not the topstitching details.

On the first blouse, I decided to add news tucks to the back of the garment first. I thought it would be less noticeable if I messed it up. I used my ruler and chalk pencil to mark where I wanted the new tucks to go.  I folded the tuck along the line I marked, and folding the extra fabric to the inside of the garment, I pinned it in place along the length of the tuck. I put matching thread in the top and bottom of my machine and I sewed along the new seam line using 1/4 inch seam allowance. I started sewing at the bottom hem of the blouse and tapered the top of the tuck to a point (which followed the pattern set by existing tucks). I pressed each tuck to the side, and topstitched it down, again following the pattern set by existing tucks.

After finishing the two back tucks, I took a minute to try the blouse on again. It was still quite roomy so I repeated the process on the front, adding one new tuck to each side.

The blouse with smocking on the back only required one tuck on each side of the front of the blouse to sufficiently take it in.

There you have it! Now I have two blouses that fit ME much better!

Taking In the Waist of a Simple Skirt

I bought a very simple, unlined skirt at a yard sale recently. It was two sizes too big but I figured it would be a great practice alteration project. I found this tutorial which was so helpful.

My skirt was a very simple fix. It is a simple A-line shape with a side zipper so I did not have to deal with the zipper at all.  I made sure my sewing machine was loaded on top and bottom with matching thread.

I put the skirt on first, and pinned the waist where it fit me comfortably. I needed to take in four inches at the waist. I detached the waistband at the back seam for a width of about 8 inches. I severed it along the back seam line and pinned it out of the way.  I then opened the back seam of the skirt about 10 inches. I pressed the seams flat and removed all those little threads left from seam ripping. A lint roller is helpful with that job.

At the top of the back seam, I measured two inches on each side of the seam and made a mark. I put the skirt panels right sides together and pinned them. I drew a line with a chalk pencil from the top mark, and tapered the line into the existing seam. I sewed along this new seam line, and tried the skirt on to make sure there were no unsightly bumps.

The last step was to take in the waistband strip. I pressed the waistband strips flat. I measured two inches on each side of the cut on the waistband, put right sides together and sewed along my marks. I trimmed off the extra fabric, and pressed the new seam open.  I sandwiched the waistband strip back around the body of the skirt , lining up the waitband seam with the back seam of the skirt, and stitched it back on, sewing thru the back and front with one seam.

I have to admit that I would usually have just thrown in a couple of messy pleats (or even safety pins, lol), and covered it up with a long blouse. I am so glad I took the time to do this simple alteration on this skirt. I looks very professional, and it only took about half an hour. The waistband seam is nice looking enough that I can wear it with a shirt tucked in.

May 21, 2011

Harlequin Tee Shirts

I picked up two tee shirts at a yard sale recently. They were great quality, but waaaaay too large for me. The shirts were exactly the same brand and size, but one was white and one was black. I decided to experiment by combining them into two new creations.

I started but slicing them down the vertical center line with a ruler and rotary cutter. 

For the simpler of the two projects, I simply placed WRONG sides of the raw edges together and sewed them with about an inch seam allowance. The large seam allowance made the finished shirt a smaller size. Because I was sewing two different colors together, I had white thread in the bobbin, and black thread on the top of the machine.  I sewed the back and the front of the shirt the same way. Sewing wrong sides together will leave a raw edge exposed. If you don't like the exposed raw edge, you can sew these together right side to right side and the seam will be on the inside.

For a second, more complicated variation, I measured six inches in from the cut edge of the front of the t-shirt and marked a line 6 inches down the length of the shirt.

I then cut strips about 2 inches wide to the marked line.
After repeating with the black side, I stitched the backs of the shirts together. Then I wove the strips on the front together, twisting each strip before pinning it down.  I ran a single line of stitching down the center of each strip. Here is a photo of the inside to show the stitching pattern:

You can see that when I tried it on, twisting the strips left some gaps, and the two topmost neckline strips didn't want to play nice.

So I carefully ran a line of stitching down the center of the woven section, making sure that the strips overlapped each other to close the gaps. I carefully cut along the neckline with scissors to reshape it.

Ta da! Two new funky t-shirts that fit!

April 19, 2011

New Acquisitions

A friend from my quilting guild recently gave me a TON of sewing patterns.

Another friend gave me a basket full of tailoring tools that she does not use anymore.

Tailoring hams, ironing forms, and clappers, oh my!