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V1419 Sewalong: Fabric Selection

29 Sep

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

Good morning & happy Monday, sewalongers! Today, we are going to talk about my favorite part of coat-making (or, really – any sewing project :) ) – fabric selection! Forreal, I could spend all day perusing fabrics and never feel like I’ve seen enough!
(psst – if you’re just here for the discount code, it’s at the bottom of this post :) FYI)

Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, let’s take a minute and look at the original garment:

coat inspiration

A couple things that immediately come to mind when I see this picture-
1. As far as coats go, there is not a lot of ease in this guy. This is not your wear-everywhere-and-pile-the-thick-sweaters-underneath sort of coat – it’s very fitted and the shape is quite dramatic. Something to keep in mind while choosing your fabric!
2. To get that dramatic shape, we need a choose a fabric with quite a stiff drape and a very firm hand. The original coat is made of a sort of heavy wool garbadine backed with a stiff wool flannel. The resulting fabric is very substantial – stiff and sturdy enough to hold it’s shape. If you make this coat in a fabric with a softer drape, you will not get the same end result. This could be good or bad, depending on how you want the finished coat to look!

Still having problems wrapping your head around the whole drape factor? Don’t know if you even want a coat that’s this dramatic and structured? Go ahead and start your muslin, using a fabric that is a similar weight to what you have in mind (if you can’t find muslin fabric with a stiff enough drape, try inexpensive cotton twill or even home decor fabric). That will give you a good idea of the drape you need to get the coat you want. For more information on fabric drape, check out this post I wrote a couple months ago!

Now let’s talk about possible fabric choices! With all big projects like this, I URGE you to swatch before you commit to anything! You don’t want to spend a lot of money on coating fabric, only to find out that the drape wasn’t as stiff as you were anticipating (been there, done that! And you can’t return fabric most of the time, argh!). Especially when it comes to the contrast for this coat – you want to make sure the colors work together, that the coating is the right weight/drape/hand, and that you actually *like* the way it looks in real life. I’m recommending these fabrics based on the website descriptions, but please don’t take my word for the gospel until you’ve actually touched it in real life.

Also, please keep in mind that this coat is UNLINED. You will want to choose a fabric that can easily slide over your arms – or you will need to underline the coat with something that serves that purpose. As far as I know, there’s not a way to completely line this particular coat (with all the insides hidden and all that). We will be covering underlining in this sewalong, we will NOT be covering lining. Consider yourself warned!

FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A STIFF DRAPE:
virgin wool
For a dense and warm coat with a nice stiff hand, you can’t go wrong with virgin wool. This fabric is not quite as stiff as the original – it will still hold that nice bell shape at the sleeves and skirt, but with softer folds. Virgin wool is actually what I bought for my coat – in a beautiful lipstick red :)

felt
Another great option that will provide lots of warmth and structure is wool felt. Definitely swatch this – you don’t want it to be too thick for all those seams!

boiled wool
Similar to wool felt but not as dense is heavy flannel coating. Check out that purple!

wool twill
I really love wool twill for a nice dense coating. Wool twill comes in many weights, so make sure it’s heavy enough to give the structure this coat needs.

wool twill
Here’s another nice, heavy wool twill – this one is from Marc Jacobs!

wool coating
Classic wool coatings, such as this dark turquoise solid coating will also work, as long as they are stiff enough to give the effect you want.

plum coating
This plum coating is pre interfaced!

velvet
Looking forsomething a little more fancy? Up the luxe factor with this italian velvet.

metallic brocade
Another great fabric option for this pattern (one that I believe Meg is using for her coat – although hers is this beautiful double-sided brocade!) is brocade. I love this metallic brocade!

brocade
Also, this floral brocade if you’re dying to stand out a little more.

silk brocade
Or you could go all out with this bright pink ribbed silk brocade, because YES.

FOR WINTER-WEIGHT COATS WITH A SOFTER DRAPE:
silk wool
How gorgeous is this silk wool? This fabric would give you a much softer drape than the ones above – think less of an exaggerated bell shape for the skirt and sleeves, and softer folds at the arms.

cashmere
Of course, you can’t go wrong with black cashmere coating – a true classic!

cashmere-wool
Doesn’t this wool cashmere coating just look SO snuggly? It’d be like wearing a blanket 24/7.

boiled wool
For a lighter wool weight with a very soft drape, consider boiled wool. I just love this bright purple color!

FOR A LIGHTER-WEIGHT COAT:
cotton twill
Those of y’all with milder winters – no worries, I’ve got ya covered! You have a few options for making this coat in a lighter weight, while still retaining the dramatic shape. First up – consider cotton twill! I love this organic cotton twill – especially that hot pink color, yes! – but any cotton twill will work as long as it’s heavy enough to hold it’s shape. Try to avoid anything with lycra (or any stretch), as it will make sewing this coat more difficult.

silk faille
You could also make a very beautiful, very dressy lightweight coat out of silk faille.

cotton sateen
Want the shine of the silk without the price tag? Try cotton sateen – again, be sure you are getting one with no stretch and a heavier weight.

denim
I’m thinking this coat would also look really cool (in a super casual way) if it was made up in denim! Am I crazy? Give it some gold topstitching and brass buttons and it’s like the fanciest denim jacket in the world. This heavyweight Theory denim even comes pre-interfaced!

Obviously there are many, many more options for coating – including non-natural fibers (I’m not linking these because I personally don’t like to wear or sew with polyester anything! Sorry!) – but this should be enough to get the ideas flowing. In the meantime, let’s talk about underlining and contrast fabrics.

FOR UNDERLINING AND/OR CONTRAST:
For my coat, I knew I needed to underline with something because I’d otherwise have a difficult time pulling the coat on. I initially thought about using silk chaurmeuse, because I just love it, but ultimately decided to stick with the stiff drape theme and use silk taffeta. Silk taffeta is also recommended for all the contrast (as is chaurmeuse, but just between you and me – I don’t recommend the latter. Unless you just looove sewing bias chaurmeuse binding; in that case, don’t let me stop you!), so I actually bought two colors. I love silk taffeta! Obviously, you can use poly taffeta if that’s all your budget allows – but I like the added warmth that silk provides, so that’s why I went with that. Anyway, if you are underlining – you will want to buy the same amount of underlining as you are coating fabric. For contrast, buy whatever the pattern instructs you to buy.

silk taffeta
Check out this kelly green silk taffeta from Oscar de la Renta! Swanky! For something a little more understated, there is also this caviar black silk taffeta from Ralph Lauren.

poly taffeta
Love the look of silk taffeta but hate the price? There are also some beautiful polyester taffetas available, including this cool checked taffeta. This coat really isn’t suitable for plaids as the outside fabric – but as far as the contrast is concerned? Go for it!

For those of y’all who are not underlining and only need contrast for the binding, you might also consider shantung or dupioni. On a super budget? Check out cotton sateen.

Another thing to consider with the contrast fabric – there is contrast on both the outside of the coat (for the bound button holes, belt, and pocket), as well as the inside (bound seams). Keep in mind that, while the pattern is written for all contrast to be the same fabric – you don’t have to sew your coat that way. Use the fancy stuff for the outside, and bind the inside with something fun (even a woven cotton, if that’s your thing.). You’re the designer here! Just make sure to swatch so you know that you like the way your contrast looks next to your main fabric.

Couple more things, while on the fabric subject!
– Concerned about warmth, but don’t want to make the coat too bulky? Stick with natural fibers (wool coating, silk underlining) and consider interlining your coat with silk organza for an additional layer of warmth.
– Found your dream fabric but it’s just a *smidge* too drapey? Get some good interfacing and block-fuse that baby! Fashion Sewing Supply has a great super crisp interfacing, or even fusible hair canvas. FYI, this coat does not call for interfacing at all – so you only need to buy it if your fabric requires some extra heft.

Whew! I think that’s enough fabric talk for today. For sticking through it this far, I’ve got a discount for ya! Use the code “lladybird1013″ to get 10% off your entire order at Mood Fabrics (not including PV codes or dress forms). This code is good through 10/13/14, so you’ve got time to swatch :)

I promise I will share photos of my fabric as soon as I receive it (still stalking the mailbox, daily. Ha!). In the meantime – what about you? What fabrics are you eyeballing? Do you have any fun ideas for the contrast? Is your coat a lighter weight? Let’s talk!

One last thing – time to announce the Sewtionary Giveaway winner! Lucky number generator says:

winner1

winner2

Congratulations, Jin! Crossing your scissors apparently worked :) I’ll be in touch to get that book out to ya asap :) Everyone else – if you’d like to pick up your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can order a signed copy at the Sewaholic website. The Sewtionary is also available on Amazon!

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Announcing the Vogue 1419 Sewalong!

17 Sep

Hey guys and gals! Remember this coat we all made fun of?

V1419

Then remember when I tried it on and realized it was actually amazing?

"Yeah, like the girl in the $10,000 coat is gonna hold the elevator for the guy who doesn't make that in four months." #COMEON #gobbluth #ralphrucci #thisreallyisa10kdollarcoat #voguepatterns #latergram

YAY $10K DESIGNER COAT!!

Well, here’s the thing. I want this dang Ralph Rucci coat for my very own – and I want to make it. After chatting with The McCall Pattern Company – and realizing that a lot of y’all are hankering for your own Ralph Rucci Dream Coat – we’ve decided to partner up together and host a sewalong for Vogue 1419! LET’S ALL MAKE FANCY DESIGNER COATS, Y’ALL!

Vogue Patterns V1419 Ralph Rucci coat pattern sewalong

The sewalong officially kicks off on 9/29, which gives you plenty of time to buy your pattern and begin sourcing fabrics. Don’t worry – the first couple of weeks will be nice and slow, with tips on fabric selection (and yes, I’m working on snagging y’all a sweet discount!), muslin-making, and prepping all your pieces so we can dive straight into sewing in mid-October. We will finish our coats on 11/10, with a finished coat parade on 11/17. The sewalong posts will alternate weekly between here and on The McCall Pattern Blog, so make sure you’re following both!

Keep in mind that while this is a coat pattern – it’s not a traditional tailored coat, so there will be no scary pad stitching or lining (although I will be underlining my version, so we’ll have some tips on that as well :) ). While I wouldn’t recommend this pattern to a true beginner, I think a super adventurous/advanced beginner could probably swing this – just make a muslin, take your time and aim for accuracy! We’ll be photographing every step, which will make construction easier (and of course, the posts will be up indefinitely if you decide that you need to revisit your couture coat dreams at a later date :) ). The McCall Pattern Company has lots of interior shots of the coat in this Pinterest board if you want to see more of the deets. It’s a really beautiful coat that lends itself to lots of fun customization!

Here’s the full schedule of events:
9/22/2014 Social media: official hashtags, Flickr group, Pinterest board & blog badges
9/29/2014 Selecting your fabric
10/6/2014 Making your muslin
10/13/2014 Prep week: cutting your fabric; marking your pattern pieces; underlining (if applicable); creating bias binding; reinforcing and staystitching (Steps 1-3 and step 35)
10/20/2014 Attaching the gusset, binding, belt & side seams (steps 4-22)
10/27/2014 Sewing the sleeves & back (steps 23-50)
11/3/2014 Assembling the pockets (steps 51-63)
11/10/2014 Finishing: Facing, button holes, buttons, and hem (steps 64-86)
11/17/2014 Parade of coats

I know that sounds like a lot of work for each week, but keep in mind that most of the steps involved are instructing you to sew bias binding. Those of us who have made unlined bias bound coats before know that once you get into a groove, it’s not so bad :) Plus, I don’t want this to drag on forever! I want to take my coat to London, dangit! :)

McCall Pattern Company Tour

Ready to join in the coat-making fun? AWESOME! Don’t forget to buy your pattern – there’s a sale going on right now through 9/19, yay! – and make sure to follow The McCall Pattern Blog if you’re not already doing so. Next week, we’ll have all the official badges and hashtags so you can pretty up your blogs :)

In the meantime… who’s in? What’s your dream Ralph Rucci coat look like? I’m currently manhandling some of the most gorgeous red wool coatings, can’t wait to make this baby up! :)

Completed: My Finished OAL Dresses!

28 Jul

Good morning, everyone! I hope your AM is filled with lots of sunshine, like mine, and coffee, unlike mine (because, *ahem* someone forgot to mention we were out after he made a pot yesterday). Anyway, that’s neither here nor there – you came here to see finished dresses and sweaters, right? Let’s get to it!

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Fair warning – this is a pretty picture-intensive post. I have two dresses to show plus a cardigan! (You’re so lucky that I don’t have two sweaters. I tried, but the second one is technically a vest right now soooo…). While I could theoretically stretch this out into 3 posts, I actually really hate it when people do that so I’m just dumping it all in one glorious picture-filled OAL extravaganza! Hope you don’t mind looking at my mug ;)

Speaking of which… you probably noticed the change in scenery, not to mention actual decent looking photos. That’s because I didn’t take them! Ha! All photo credit for this post goes to my lovely friend, Jenna, of Kitty Cat Stevens (you may recognize her photos from last year; she took those ace ones of my Lace trench). She really did an amazing job with these and I just love how they turned out!

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Dress #1 was made with a lightweight cotton from Mood Fabrics (purchased at the NY location while I was there in March). The bodice is view C with cap sleeves, a softly pleated skirt and a lapped zipper.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

LOOKS SO GOOD WITH MY HAIR.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Dress #2 was made with a gorgeous rayon challis from Grey’s Fabric. I used the same pattern, swapped out the bodice for view B with bias-faced arm holes, a softly gathered skirt and an invisible zipper.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

The hem on this one is finished with rayon seam binding. So pretty!
OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Finally – here’s Myrna herself! I guess I can talk a little more about this part of the project since I haven’t really mentioned it much on my blog (unlike that entire OAL full of posts, ha).

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Can I just say – I LOVE THIS CARDIGAN. It was super fun and super easy to knit, not to mention super fast (how many more times can I say super in this post?). According to my Ravelry, I finished it in just under a month.

I went with the size XS, getting gauge with size 6 needles (which is typical for me + worsted weight yarn + Andi’s patterns).

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

The yarn is (super?)AMAZING, isn’t it? Something I picked up from my local yarn store, Haus of Yarn- I knew I wanted neon yellow to go with the fabric for dress #1, so I took a swatch with me and went lurkin’. Maybe it’s just my yarn store (granted, we have more in this city – actually, a surprising number of really good yarn stores – but this particular store is less than two miles from my house, so obviously I like shopping here best haha), but they never seem to have the color I want in the weight/fiber I prefer! In this case, they only had a couple options for neon yellow worsted weight wool. Because I am an adult, I picked the most expensive option – this is Jill Draper Makes Stuff, and the color is Daffodil. At $26.50 per skein, it was definitely a splurge, but I only needed 2 skeins for this sweater so I figured it was worth it :) Spoiler: It totally was! This yarn was a dream to work with – so soft and squishy, with a beautiful saturated color gradient. I don’t know if this particular yellow looks any good on me, but I also don’t give a fuck because it makes me happy.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

I knit the pattern 100% as written, and had no issues. Blocked it with a bit of gentle shampoo (I keep meaning to get that special wool washing/no rinse shit they sell at my LYS, but since I went over budget with the yarn I had to put it back. Maybe next time. Maybe never lolz). True story: I forgot to finish the keyhole until after I’d blocked the whole thing, so I had to go back and keep knitting. I’m glad I did, though – I was on the fence about the keyhole because it looks kind of wonky at first, but once it’s finished it really does make a world of difference!

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

The button bands are stabilized with Petersham ribbon. Because this cardigan has a v-neck, I steamed the Petersham with a gentle curve to mimic the shape of the neckline, and stopped it a little above the top button hole (so, before you ask: no, it doesn’t go all the way around the neck). I used this tutorial from Sunni’s blog for guidance – she’s using it to hem a skirt, but it’s the same concept with the neckline, with a less aggressive curve. The vintage glass buttons are from my stash, previously purchased at the flea market.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

I love how well the sweater goes with dress #2, because that was not planned at all! I didn’t decide to make a second dress until I’d already started the sewalong, and knit about half of the sweater. They do look good together, though. Yay for unintentional matching!

How are y’all doing with your OAL garments? Almost finished? Remember – the deadline to enter is this Thursday, July 31. Don’t forget to post your finished outfits in the Ravelry thread, which will give us all full lurking capabilities and also enter your ass to win some prizes. We also have the Offical Unoffical Flickr Group if you don’t use Ravelry/only finished a dress – but please be aware that your two pieces need to be uploaded to the Ravelry thread to be eligible for the contest :) I’m loving all the dresses and sweaters I’ve seen so far, and I need to see MORE PLS.

Feeling inspired? Here’s a link to all the tutorials covered during the OAL:
1: Choosing Your Fabric and Size
2: Cutting and Marking Your Fabric
3: Sewing the Bodice
4: Sewing Sleeves or Bias Facing
5: Attaching the Skirt
6: Inserting a Lapped Zipper (see also: My Method for Invisible Zippers)
7: Hemming & Finishing
How to Stabilize a Buttonband with Petersham Ribbon (not part of the official OAL, but useful nonetheless!)
FINALLY, you can see my Myrna Ravelry notes here.

OAL 2014: Completed Simplicity 1803 + Myrna Cardigan

Whew! That’s a lotta post for a coffee-deprived Monday morning! ;)

OAL: Hemming & Finishing

14 Jul

Good morning, OAL-gers! Today is the final post in the OAL series (which I’m sure means that a lot of y’all are dancing for joy to hear that there won’t be any more of these posts! Ha!), and we will be finishing our dresses. Yay!

You should have a mostly-finished dress at this point – everything is connected, all seams are finished, and the only thing left to do is hem the dang thing! Of course you can hem however you like (as most of y’all already have at this point), but I wanted to give a couple options for those who are unsure what to do, or just want to try something different. You know how much I love having options!

First things first, try your dress one and determine where you would like the hem to hit. I like my hemlines above the knee, and this dress runs a little long (or, rather, I’m a little short), so I ended up cutting off about 4″ from the hemline. I’ve found that the easiest way to mark my hemline is to measure the length of a skirt that I like, mark that length with a pin on my dress, and then try it on to see if it works. Before you cut, add back a hem allowance (however much you will be turning up before you stitch the hem), otherwise, your skirt will end up a little short :)

Option #1: The Easy Turned Hem

OAL - Hemming
Fold the skirt hem under 1/4″ to the wrong side and press.

OAL - Hemming
Now fold one more time, again to the wrong side, and press. However much you fold under depends on how much of a hem depth you want. I stick with about 5/8″ for this particular type of hem. You can certainly fold more for a deeper hem, but be aware that the curved hemline means that you might have difficulty easing the fullness in (since a curved hem means it’s bigger at the bottom than it is at the top) if it’s too deep.

OAL - Hemming
Now just topstitch that bad boy down!

Some tips for topstitching your hem:
– Start on a side seam so your backstitching doesn’t distract from the beautiful front or back of your dress
– Use a slightly longer stitch length (I use 3.0 over my machine’s standard 2.5 length); the stitches will be a little more defined
– Topstitch from the right side if you can help it – the needle stitches are much prettier than the bobbin stitches
– Use the measurement markings on your throat plate to help ensure you are stitching in a straight line

OAL - Hemming
If you are sewing the version with the notched bodice, don’t forget to tack down your facing to the center front. Catch only the seam allowances and use a couple of handstitches to keep that facing inside the bodice where it belongs.

OAL - Hemming
And done! :)

Option #2: The Extra-Fancy Hem
One thing I like to include with my hems is a strip of seam binding. This vinage-inspired finishing covers the raw edge (so you don’t have to fold twice) and is a fun little surprise whenever someone sees the wrong side of your skirt. You can use seam binding, bias strips, or even lace – in a matching, contrasting, or complementary color. I just think it looks really pretty and it really adds a nice professional finish to an area that most of us tend to rush through (because, duh, we just wanna wear our dresses!). For this hem, I used vintage seam binding and topstitched it down, although you can also sew the hem by hand if you’d like it to be invisible from the outside.

OAL - Hemming
Starting at one of the side seams, pin your hem tape to the right side of your skirt hem, letting the binding hang over about halfway.

OAL - Hemming
Stitch, keeping your needle as close to the edge of the binding as possible.

OAL - Hemming
When you reach the full circle of the hem, overlap the binding by about 1″ and fold the raw edge under, as shown.

OAL - Hemming
OAL - Hemming
Now fold the binding to the wrong side to whatever hem allowance you prefer, measuring all the way around to ensure it is even. Pin into place.

OAL - Hemming
Topstitch on the opposite (unsewn) side of the seam binding – again, sewing as close to the edge of the binding as you can. Press and use steam to ease out any fullness.

OAL - Hemming
Ta da!

And that’s it! Give yourself a pat on the back, pour yourself a stiff cocktail, and do a little dance because YOU FUCKING SEWED A FUCKING DRESS, LIKE A FUCKING BOSS! Whoop whoop!! Don’t forget to post your finished outfit in the Offical OAL Finished Outfits Ravelry Thread – there are already sooo many beautiful dresses and cardigans lurking around there, omg. Remember that you have until 7/31 to post to be eligible for prizessss – so you’ve got a couple more weeks if you’re running behind :) Don’t have a full outfit but want still want to share your dress? You can post that in the Official Unofficial OAL Flickr Group.

Stay tuned for my OAL photos in the next couple of weeks… a friend took them for me, and, well, all I’m going to say is that they are MUCH better than anything I could have tried to do haha!

OAL: Inserting A Lapped Zipper

7 Jul

Good morning, everyone! Hope y’all had a nice weekend (holiday or not!). We are just coming up on the home stretch of our OAL – just a couple more steps left until we are finished and can start rocking our gorgeous dresses! Woohoo!

Today, we will be inserting zippers into our dresses. In this post, I will be covering the insertion of a lapped zipper, which is my preferred method for this style. I won’t be covering invisible zippers here, but I do have a tutorial on inserting an invisible zipper if you’d like to use one for your dress. I put an invisible zip in my second OAL dress (the one not featured in this post), using the same method as outlined in the tutorial, and it came out beautifully! So that’s an option if you need it :) Otherwise, let’s talk about the lapped zipper!

As I mentioned, I really love a good lapped zipper. I blame Gertie for sparking that obsession, btw. When I was working at Muna’s, she never understood why I preferred to use lapped zippers in most of my garments – she was of the camp that invisible zippers were more elegant. Maybe, I guess, but sometimes I like the design element of having the zipper be visible (or, at least, the stitching line of the zipper being visible). It’s definitely easier to match up seamlines and prints with a lapped zipper, since you can hand-baste into place and sew from the right side. Also, lapped zippers are a bit stronger than their invisible counterparts – which could be important if whatever you made is a little on the snug side. Of course, there’s a time and a place for everything – lapped and invisible zippers included – but for casual sundresses, I just love a beautiful lapped zipper.

Anyway, onto the zipper!

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Start by finishing the raw edges of the center back – from the bottom of the skirt all the way to the top of the bodice. I catch my facings in the serging (or whatever finishing you’ll be using) so I don’t have to tack them down later. Now is also a good time to check and make sure that both back seams are the same length and that the waist seam matches up, so you know everything will also match up when it’s time to put the zipper in.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Start at the bottom of the skirt and sew up to the zipper stop, as indicated on the pattern. Backstitch a couple of times to make sure everything is secure, then press the seam open. Leave the unstitched part unpressed.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now make sure that zipper is the right length for your dress! If it’s a bit long (I have a metric shit load of 22″ zippers, so I forever have to shorten mine), you can easily shorten it. Just mark where the zipper stop needs to go, and sew across the teeth to create a zipper stop. If you are using a nylon zipper, you can do this by machine. For zippers with metal teeth, you’ll want to sew by hand. Once you’ve made your stop (and test it!), cut the teeth about an inch below. Presto: shortened zipper!
Also, just a side note – I always have people tell me that you can’t shorten a metal zipper. Well, I guess I’m some sort of magical sewing unicorn because I shorten pretty much ALL my metal zippers! Ha! The trick is to snip both sides of the tape as far to the teeth as you can, and then you can usually get the teeth to coax apart. Use a pair of crappy scissors in case you need some assistance. Alternately, you can sew the zipper with the excess coming off the top edge of your garment, and your facing/waistband/whatever intersecting seam can act as a zipper stop. But no, it’s not difficult (nor impossible) to shorten metal zippers.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the right side of the open seam (or left; however you want your lap to go. I like my lap to be on the left, though), press the seam allowance at 1/2″ to the wrong side of the bodice, all the way down to the stitching.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the left hand side, press the seam allowance at 5/8″ to the wrong side, again all the way down to the stitching.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
On the right hand side (or whatever side has the 1/2″ fold), pin your zipper with the teeth right along the edge of the fold. I start my zipper about 1/8″~ from the top of the fabric; but I also don’t use hooks and eyes with my lapped zippers (personal preference! I’ve found they’re not really necessary). If you are using a hook and eye, start your zipper a little lower. As far as the tape at the top of the zipper – you can just fold that under to the wrong side of the dress. If you don’t catch it with your stitching, you can tack it down by hand at the end.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now sew your zipper to the garment, about 1/8″ away from the fold. Use a zipper foot and/or move your needle to get close to the edge (but not so close that the zipper won’t function!). If you have trouble starting the stitching at the top of the zipper, pull both thread tails (the needle thread and the bottom thread) very gently while you press the pedal; this will keep the fabric from getting eaten by your feed dogs and making a big thread nest on the underside of your garment.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
Ok, that’s one side! Onto the next!

OAL - Lapped Zipper
OAL - Lapped Zipper
Now take the larger 5/8″ folded edge and place it on top of the zipper, with the fold meeting the stitching line you just sewed. Pin everything down, being careful to only catch the back of your garment – don’t pin all the way through the front! I just slide my hand around the inside to be sure, but you can also put a book inside the bodice and use that to keep from pinning all the way through. Once you’ve pinned the overlap down, check the zipper tape and make sure your pinning is even – it should be down the middle of the zipper tape. If it’s not, readjust.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
It can be helpful to hand baste the zipper tape into place before you use your sewing machine. This will keep the fabric from shifting around and gives you a very precise installation.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
One thing I like to do before I start sewing is to mark my stitching line (otherwise it can be kind of difficult to tell where you are stitching, since the zipper is closed and you can’t see the guidelines on the throat plate!). Go about 1/2″-5/8″ from the fold – this will depend on where you’ve pinned/basted your zipper tape – stick a pin through the marked line and check the wrong side of the tape to be sure it will catch and not be too close to the teeth. If you are sewing a zipper that still has the original zipper stop (aka, you didn’t shorten your zipper), it can be helpful to mark with a pin where the zipper stop is, just so you don’t accidentally sew over it and break your needle.

Now take the dress to the sewing machine and sew along your marked stitching line. Try to keep things as straight as possible, since this stitching is visible :) Keep the zip closed and be careful not to sew through the front of the drss. When you get to the bottom of the zipper (or a couple of stitches before your marked zipper stop), lower your needle, raise the presser foot, pivot, and sew across the bottom of the zipper (be very careful and VERY SLOW if you are sewing in a zipper with metal teeth!). Backstitch a couple of times to keep everything secure.

OAL - Lapped Zipper
OAL - Lapped Zipper
Remove your basting threads, wipe out any markings, and the give the zipper a final press. If you were unable to catch the top of the zipper tape in your first stitching, tack it down now by hand.

And that’s it! Zipper is done! :D As always, please let me know if you have any questions!

OAL: Attaching the Skirt

30 Jun

Good morning, OALgers! Today we are going to attach the skirts to our bodices – which means we’ll have semi-dress-looking things by the end of this post! Yay!

While this post is shorter, picture-wise, than the previous posts for this OAL (and thank God for that! The rest of the sewing from here on out is much easier), there are a few things I want to cover here:
– Moving the pockets from the front princess seam, to the side seam
– Converting the gathers to pleats
– A different way to sew gathers

Ready? Let’s start with moving those stupid pockets. Ideally, you’d do this before you cut your fabric out, but it’s really no biggie if you’re doing this right before you sew the pockets in (as I tend to do). Just make sure your marking tool doesn’t bleed through the pattern tissue, or consider removing your fabric from the pattern pieces just to be extra sure.

If you don’t want to move the pockets, that’s perfectly fine – you can skip this step. Just be warned that they are right down the front of the dress – in what I thought was a pretty awkward spot. I don’t know who had the brilliant idea to put the pockets there on this pattern, but as far as I’m concerned, pockets belong in side seams (or over a butt, which is another nice place to put a pocket I suppose), so that’s where I am moving mine to.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Start by locating your skirt pieces – the skirt front and skirt side front will have dots marked where the pockets should go. You’ll also want the skirt back piece, as we are going to move some markings over there. I X’d out the old pocket markings (the ones printed on the pattern), so I wouldn’t get confused as to which markings to use.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Starting with the skirt side front, measure from the top how far down the pocket marking is – about 3.5″ in this case.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now move to the opposite side of the pattern piece (where there aren’t any pocket markings) and make a dot the same distance from the top.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Measure the distance between the two dots and mark the second dot as shown on the side seam.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Repeat for the skirt back, marking on the seam that is NOT indicated to be the center back. It’s also a good idea at this point to lay your pieces together so you can be sure the markings match up and your pockets are nice and even.

Ok, onto adding the pockets! These next steps are the same regardless of what seam your pockets are being inserted into…

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
If you’re using a machine to finish your edges, go ahead and do that now. Finish all the raw edges of each of side of each skirt piece, as well as all edges of each of the 4 pocket pieces. If you’re pinking, you can finish as you go.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Match the markings on the pocket to the markings on each of the 4 skirt pieces with right sides together, and pin. Sew the pocket in place (from top to bottom), using a 3/8″ seam allowance. The smaller seam allowance will help that pocket stay hidden to the inside of the skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have 4 skirt pieces with a pocket sewn on each one. Take the pieces to the ironing board and press all the seam allowances toward the pocket. If you want to understitch the pockets (I always do), you may do so now.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now match up one skirt back piece with one skirt side front piece (or skirt front with skirt side front), right sides together, and pin the skirt seam above and below the pocket, as well as around the pocket itself. Excuse the cat tail :P

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Using a 5/8″ seam allowance, sew the skirt and pockets in one long swoop of stitching. Start at the top and sew until you get to the pocket markings.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Lower your needle, raise the presser foot, and pivot the fabric until you can continue to sew around the pocket. When you get to the second set of pocket markings, lower the needle and pivot again, then continue down the side seam of the skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have two skirt pieces that look like this.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
To press the pockets, start by clipping the seam allowance connecting the pocket to the skirt, as shown. Be careful not to snip your stitching lines!

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now press the pocket toward the skirt side front (or skirt front), and press open the seam allowances that are above and below the pocket.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Sew the last skirt pieces (depending on where you pockets are, you will either be attaching the front or the skirt backs) and press all the seam allowances open. Your skirt should look like this.

For converting the gathers to soft pleats:
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Pin the skirt to the bodice at all seams and notches (so bodice side seam to skirt side seam, etc).

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You should have a good amount of excess between each pinned section.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Working in one section at a time, pinch the excess and manipulate it into small pleats, then pin into place. I like to start with one section and then immediately do the same section on the opposite side (so, center front right then center front left, etc), so I can be sure that my sections are mirrored with the same numbers of pleats that are facing in the same direction. For my dress, I had 1 pleat in the front section, 2 in the section between the side seam and the princess seam at the front, and 3 at the back skirt piece, with all pleats pointing to the center front.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once you’ve pinned your pleats to your liking, baste the entire edge into place and double check from the outside that the pleats are even, mirrored, and facing in the same direction. Then stitch, finish the seam allowance, and press the seam toward the bodice.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
And done!

For gathering the skirt, read on!

Now, there are a few ways you can gather your skirt. You can do the standard long basting stitches that you pull to gather (using 1, 2, or 3 rows, depending on your preference) – which works perfectly fine, but I always find that my threads snap and that just drives me crazy. I’m going to show you another way to gather, which I find easier, more efficient, and works REALLY well if you’re dealing with a bulky or heavy fabric.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
You need a long string to gather with. I actually like to use thin crochet thread, but silk thread, button hole twist, really thin yarn – hell, even unflavored dental floss – will all work just as well. For this skirt, I’m using button hole twist because I’ve somehow managed to lose my crochet thread. Oh well. Anyway, cut a length that is a few inches longer than the width of your ungathered skirt.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
This next part probably won’t make a lot of sense, but just bear with me! Lay your thread on the right side of your fabric, a little less than your seam allowance (so for this skirt, 1/2″ from the edge). Set your sewing machine to do a wide zig-zag stitch and carefully sew over the thread, making sure the needle doesn’t actually puncture the thread – it should just zig zag across either side of the thread.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
It’ll look like this when you’re done.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Now, pin your skirt to your bodice, again matching up all seams and notches.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
There will be quite a bit of excess between each pinned section. To gather, just pull the thread you zig zagged over and distribute the gathers as you like. Twist the excess thread around a pin at each end of the skirt, to keep it in place so you can manipulate the gathers.
(I don’t know why this photo won’t show. You can see it if you click on it and go straight to Flickr. It’s just a picture of how to twist the thread around your pins.)

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
This is a MUCH easier way to gather than the standard basting stitch, as you’re much less likely to break your thread (and thus have to start over again). The best way I’ve found to do this is to pull the threads until the skirt is the same width as the bodice, twist the ends around a pin so the gathers stay in place, and then slide the skirt fabric around and redistribute the gathers until they are even across every section. Leave yourself at least 5/8″ wide ungathered sections of the skirt at the center back – it’ll make it easier to insert your zipper.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once you’ve got the skirt the way you like it, sew into place at your 5/8″ seam allowance (you can baste first to check the outside, if you like). I sew mine with the gathers facing up, so I can keep an eye on them and make sure they’re not doing anything crazy while they’re being sewn.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
OAL - Attaching the Skirt
Once sewn, just give the gathering thread a nice pull and it should slip right out of the zig zag stitches – which means you can totally use it again :) Now finish the seam allowance and press it toward the bodice, being careful not to flatten the gathers.

OAL - Attaching the Skirt
And done! Yay!

Two more things-
– A few of y’all were asking if we were planning on opening a Flickr Group for you to share your OAL photos. While Andi & I weren’t intending on doing so – the Official Hangout Thread is on Ravelry – we realized that some of y’all might only be doing the sewing portion and/or don’t have a Ravelry account. SO. We’ve created the Official Unofficial OAL Flickr Page, which you can join and post to (photos or discussions) if you feel so inclined! Please keep in mind that this page is strictly for sharing/discussion purposes – i.e., anything solely posted here will not be included in the prize drawing (if you want prizes, you gotta post your finished outfit on the FO thread on Ravelry), but share away! We absolutely don’t want to leave anyone out :)
– Also, don’t forget to enter to win the Fashionary Sketchbook giveaway, if you haven’t already done so. Giveaway ends on Wednesday!

As always, let me know if you have any questions! :)

OAL: Sewing Sleeves or Bias Facing

23 Jun

Hiya OAL-gers! Today we are going to attach our sleeves and/or finish our arm hole edges with bias facing (depending on which version of the bodice you are sewing). Again, this is a long, picture-heavy post, so sorry! I will be covering my favorite way to sew bias facing (as I mentioned in my silk cherry Vogue 1395 post last week), so you may want to check this out even if you’re not sewing along with us :)

For the version with sleeves, read on!

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
You should have a bodice and two sleeves. If you have not already done so, you may want to baste the edges of the facing along the arm hole, as that will all get attached in just a moment.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Make sure your pleat markings for the sleeves are marked on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric. I used chalk so it will just brush out and not leave a permanent mark.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
To form the pleat the top of the sleeve, fold the fabric exactly along the solid line and bring it to the dashed center line. Pin in place. Do this for both sides, forming two pleats.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Baste the pleats into place.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now you are going to sew two lines of basting stitches. The first line of stitching is along the curve of the sleeve cap, starting at one set of notches and ending at the opposite set, at exactly 5/8″ from the raw edge*. Leave long thread tails. This basting will be used to ease the sleeve into the arm hole. The second line of stitching is along the hem edge of the sleeve, from end to end, at 5/8″ as well. This basting will be used to hem the sleeve. You can leave it off if you feel confident in your sleeve-hemming skills, though!
* Note: Lots of people like to ease their sleeves in with two lines of basting, at 5/8″ and 1/2″. You are more than welcome to do that if that’s your jam, but I’ve found that I get much more gentle easing with less puckering if I use one line at 5/8″. Totally up to you!

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Sew the underarm seam of the sleeve, right sides together. Finish the edges and press.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
To hem the sleeve, first fold up the bottom edge 1/4″ and press. Fold up the remaining hem allowance, exactly along the line of basting stitches that you created, and press again. All raw edges should be encased inside the hem at this point.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Topstitch the sleeve hem into place and press again. If you’d like, you may use a slightly long stitch length (I use 3.0 to my normal 2.5) – I personally just think it looks a little nicer :)

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Time to stick that shit in the arm hole! Starting at the bottom, match up the side seam with the underarm seam, and match the notches. Match the dashed line at the sleeve cap (the one that both pleats are folded to) to the shoulder seam. Your sleeve will be obviously too big for the arm hole, that’s fine, we are going to fix that.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Very gently pull the line of basting stitches, easing the sleeve excess to fit the arm hole. We don’t want to create big gathers here – we just want the sleeve to be a little smaller so it fits smoothly. Once you’ve got the sleeve eased in, pin everything into place.
* Note: Easing sleeves can be a little difficult! These sleeves will ease in smoothly, but if you are having problems with puckers, you may want to open up your pleats at the top of the sleeve and make them a little bit deeper. That’ll use up some of the excess ease :) Don’t go too crazy with that, though, as you do need a little bit of easing so the sleeve has a pretty curve and enables you to move your arms around and all that.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now you can sew the sleeve in! Sew exactly along the 5/8″ line of basting, being careful to make sure there are no puckers or gathers and that your sleeve in eased in smoothly. I like to sew my sleeves in with the gathered side facing up – that way, I can periodically lower my needle, raise the presser foot, and adjust the easing as I go.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Once you’ve got the sleeve sewn in, double check both sides to be sure that there is no gathering or puckering. Your sleeve will probably have a bunch of excess at the seam allowance like I have here – that’s fine! As long as it’s smooth at the stitching line :) Now go ahead and finish your seams.
* Note: The instructions tell you to sew a second line of stitching right by the first one. Honestly, I’ve never done this before – even before I had a serger – and I’ve never caused a Sewing Apocalypse, so take that as you will.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Press the seam allowances (I press toward the bodice) and steam the sleeve cap to remove any excess fullness.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Finished: Cute little cap sleeves! Yeeeahhh!!

For the sleeveless, read on for the bias facing tutorial!

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
The first thing we want to do is remove some of the seam allowance from the arm hole of our bodices. This bodice is designed to be sewn with a 5/8″ seam allowance, and we will be attaching our bias strips at 1/4″. So you’ll want to shave off about 3/8″ from the entire circumference of the arm hole.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now measure the arm hole, so you know how long to cut your bias strips.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Next, we are going to cut bias strips from our fashion fabric (or cool contrasty fabric, if you want!). There are lots of tutorials on how to do this; I am just showing you my preferred method :) Start with a piece of fabric that has two straight edges at a right angle. For the cross grain, you can just rip your fabric, which will give you a perfect straight edge without cutting.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Fold the ripped edge up to meet the top straight edge, thus forming a diagonal line. Cut along the diagonal line (you may want to gently press first, if you need a guideline); you have just created a bias edge.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now cut two strips on the diagonal/bias – 1″ wide and the length of your arm hole measurement. I like to draw my lines with chalk and cut with scissors; you can also use a ruler and rotary cutter if that’s your jam.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Sew each little bias strip into a circle with the right sides together, using a 1/4″ seam allowance. Press the seam allowances open.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Next, we want to make sure the facing will fit inside the arm hole before we actually sew it in. *Generally* speaking, most bias facing is fine at 1/2″ shorter than the measurement of what it’s being sewn into (which is why we cut our strips at the measurement of the arm hole – 1/4″ seam allowance x2 = 1/2″), but some stretchier fabrics – such as my rayon challis – require a shorter bias strip. So we are going to check that measurement now. This pinning/sectioning also makes it easier to sew the bias strips in if you’re a newb.
Anyway, section your arm hole and bias strips into 4 equal sections, and mark with pins.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Pin the bias facing to the arm hole, starting with the seam matching the side seam, with right sides together (so your bias facing is on the outside of the garment). Match each section, so your bias facing is pinned at 4 points. From there, check one section and see if the facing is short enough for the arm hole – you just need to be able to gently stretch it to match the length of the bodice arm hole (gently, I say! We are not sewing ribbing onto tshirts here!). If it’s too long, pull it out and shorten the bias strip accordingly, then repin. I had to shorten mine by another 1/2″ to get it to fit.
* Note: If you want your bias facing on the OUTSIDE of your garment (again, cool contrasty thing), you will need to pin it to the inside of the arm hole.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Once your facing is the correct length and pinned into place, sew it down with a 1/4″ seam allowance, catching the edges of the bodice facing in your stitching as you come across them. Again, the bias facing needs to be on the outside of the garment, right sides together.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now take the whole thing to the ironing board and press the seam allowances toward the facing.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Fold the facing down toward the arm hole, wrong sides together, matching the raw edge of the facing with the stitching line you just created. Press.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Fold the entire thing down one more time, along the stitching line, to the inside of the arm hole (or outside, if you’re going that route). All raw edges should be completely encased at this point.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
This is what your pressed/unstitched facing should look like. Note that I also caught my bodice front facing in the stitching/binding, so it’s all encased and won’t need to be tacked down later.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Now topstitch your facing to the arm hole, about 1/8″ from the fold. Try to keep your stitching line consistently spaced, as this will show on the outside of your garment. You may need to gently stretch the binding as you sew the curves. Alternately, you can slipstitch this binding if you don’t want the stitching to show on the outside, but I’ve found that works best if you have underlining to sew it to (otherwise you may have little thread puckers).

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
Once you’ve sewn down your bias facing, take it back to the iron and give it one last press, to ease out any wrinkles or fullness, and to make the edges nice and sharp.

OAL 2014 - Sleeves and Bias Binding
And that’s it! A gorgeous bias facing that doesn’t require using a fiddly tool (man, those things can be obnoxious). I LOVE this method and I find it much easier than any other binding method I’ve used before. This works for both necklines and arm holes, and can be done either flat or in-the-round as I demonstrated.

Phew! That’s all for this week! As always, let me know if you have any questions :)

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