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OAL2015: Adding Pockets // Assembling the Skirt

29 Jun

Good morning, everyone! Time for another dose of OAL goodness!

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Today is pretty simple – we’ll just be adding (optional) pockets and assembling the skirt pieces. If you don’t want to add pockets, just skip this post and follow the instructions that came with the pattern. Let’s get to it!

OAL 2015
For now, the only skirt piece we will be dealing with is piece #15, the side front. You should have 4 of these pieces cut in total. The side that I’m pointing to – with the double notches – is the side that we will be focusing on for these next steps. Finish the edges of all 4 side front pieces (only on the side with the double notches).

OAL 2015
If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to cut out 4 pocket pieces from your fabric (you can use self-fabric, but I was on a pink kick so mine are contrasty!). The pattern doesn’t come with a pocket pattern piece, so feel free to swipe one from another pattern you own – mine is from the Saltspring Dress. Finish all edges of the pocket pieces.

OAL 2015
On the finished edge of each side front piece, measure 3″ down from the top and mark with a pin. This is where we will be attaching the pockets.

Note: Depending on your height and proportions, you may want to sew your pockets more or less than 3″ from the waist. I looked at several patterns with pockets – as well as a few of my dresses that have pockets in a good spot – and the average seems to be somewhere between 2.5″-3.5″, with 3″ being a comfortable distance for me. However, if you’re unsure – I recommend checking some of your patterns, or measuring a couple existing garments, to see what works for *you*.

OAL 2015
Pin 1 pocket piece to 1 skirt side front (4x), with the top of the pocket 3″ away from the top of the skirt and right sides facing.

OAL 2015
Sew the pocket to the skirt piece at 3/8″ and understitch the seam allowances toward the pocket. Using a smaller seam allowance and understitching will help with keeping that pocket inside the skirt and hidden.

OAL 2015
Now you can pin 2 skirt/pocket pieces, right sides together, starting at the top of the skirt and going all the way around the pocket and to the bottom of the skirt. Repeat for the other pocket.

OAL 2015
Stitch at 5/8″, lowering your needle and pivoting where the pocket meets the skirt at the top and bottom (I can’t seem to explain this very clearly so just look at the photo!).

OAL 2015
At the top & bottom of each pocket bag, clip diagonally in the corner just to the stitching (but not through the stitching). This will enable you to press the seams above and below the pocket open, as well as make your pocket bag lay better inside the skirt.

OAL 2015
Press the seams open above and below the pocket bag, and press the pocket to one side (it should go toward the center front, so press in opposite directions for each of your two assembled skirt pieces).

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Here it is finished! Yay, sneaky pink pocket :D

OAL 2015
And here is how it looks on the inside :)

Once you’ve finished adding the pocket bags, you can attach the front to the side fronts (one on each side of the front) and the two back pieces to the opposite side of the side fronts. Finish your seams as desired and press. Finally, finish the center back seams (again, I just serged mine).

That’s it! Next week, we’ll attach the skirt to the bodice and deal with that back cut-out. Making progress! :)

Let me know if you have any questions about anything I covered in this post! How are we doing this week, OAL-gers? :)

OAL2015: Assembling the Bodice // Adding Sleeves

22 Jun

Hey hey everybody! I’m finally back from my 2 weeks of traveling Peru with my best friend, and it was amazing. I spent a week in Lima (first half in the Miraflores District, which is absolutely beautiful, and the second half in the San Borja District), where we stayed with the family of a friend and basically ate our weight in ceviche. The second week, we flew up to Iquitos and spent a couple of days in the city, as well as a week deep in the jungle off the Amazon (and before you ask, yes, I was there for the ayahuasca). We did not visit Machu Picchu (I guess this is the main reason why people visit Peru, because EVERYONE asked us if we were planning on going!) – we considered it, but it was too expensive and we had to choose because Cusco and Iquitos… Iquitos won out, and I’ve no regrets :P  It was an incredible 2 weeks, although I’m pretty happy to be home where I can throw my TP in the toilet and drink straight from the faucet ;) hahaha

Anyway, it’s back to the real world for me! Which means it’s time to jump straight into business mode and kick this OAL off once and for all! Yay!

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Today, we’ll be assembling the bodice of our dresses. This part is pretty easy and straightforward (well, honestly, the whole dress is pretty easy and straightforward!), although this post is quite a bit picture-heavy. Sorry in advance, ha. This method of bias facing is for those of y’all who are making their dress without a lining. If you plan on adding a lining, ignore these sewalong posts and use the instructions included in the pattern :)

OAL 2015
First things first – if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and fuse your little rectangles of interfacing to the back bodice where indicated. This will give that area a bit of stability for adding buttons later (or, if you’re like me – mock buttons. Either way, don’t skip the interfacing!).

OAL 2015
Sew the bodice front to the bodice side front princess seams (need a refresher on sewing princess seams? I got ya!) and finish the seams as desired. Since my fabric is a bit bulky, I chose to serge mine separately (with hot pink serger thread because, obvs) and press them open. You can certainly finish the seams as one and press them to one side, though.

OAL 2015
Next, attach the front bodice to the back bodice pieces, at both the shoulders and the side seams. Again, finish the seams as desired and press.

OAL 2015
Next, we are going to finish the entire neckline (all the way around) with a bias facing. Measure your neckline, starting at the interfacing of one of the back pieces and continuing all the way around the front to the opposite back piece. There are a few ways to do this – you can use a flexible measuring tape, you can measure with the bias tape itself, or you can use a Curve Runner (am I the last person on earth to find out about this little tool? HOLY SHIT that thing is so cool!). Cut your bias tape the length of your measurement and pin around the neckline, right sides facing.

Note: For this particular method of finishing, you will want bias strips that are 1″ wide. You can certainly buy the pre-made packages if you’d like, but I personally like to make my own – it handles and sits better than the pre-made stuff, plus, you have a much better selection of colors and prints (and it’s a GREAT way to use little scraps that are too awesome to throw away). If you haven’t made your own bias strips, it’s super easy! There are tons of methods all over the internet on how to do it; the one I personally use is the continuous bias method since it means you don’t get stuck doing a lot of piecing.

OAL 2015
Sew the bias all the way around the neckline – again, starting at one back and continuing across the front all the way around to the opposite back – right sides together, with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stretch the bias tape *slightly* as you sew, which will help snug up the neckline so it doesn’t gape open.

Note: The pattern is drafted with 5/8″ seam allowances, so you may want to trim 3/8″ off all around the neckline before adding your bias facing. I did not do this and the fit is fine. Just an fyi, though!

OAL 2015
If your fabric is on the bulky side, or your bias is a crazy contrast (like my hot pink), you may want to understitch the facing so it stays in place and doesn’t peek out from the right side. Push all the seam allowances toward the bias and stitch through all the layers 1/8″ from the seamline. I use an edgestitch foot for accuracy, but you can also eyeball it. If your fabric is lightweight and responds well to pressing, you can skip this step.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Here is the bias attached and understitched. Take it over to the ironing board; we’re going to press the hell out of this shit now.

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Fold the bias over to the wrong side of the bodice, so that the edge meets the stitching line where it is attached. (yes, it should actually line up with the stitching – my fabric is a little bulky, so the turn of the cloth means that it doesn’t quite meet up. That’s ok, though!

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Now fold the entire thing one more time to the inside, so all of the bias is on the inside of the bodice. Press.

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Topstitch 1/8″ away from the folded edge.

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Take the bodice back to the ironing board and give the neckline a good press, preferably over a tailor’s ham if you have one (and if you don’t have one, might I suggest this lovely tutorial for making your own? har har), to smooth out the curves and make sure that all the bias is pressed to the inside of the garment.

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OAL 2015

Et voilà!

Next, you are gonna want to tackle those arm holes. For those of you leaving your dress sleeveless, you will want to finish the arm holes the same way that you finished your neckline – i.e., with the bias facing (here’s a tutorial on adding bias facing to armholes if ya need it!). For those of you who are adding the standard short sleeves (view B), you will want to follow the instructions to set in the sleeves (or you can follow this tutorial on setting in sleeves, which I find a bit more clear). Don’t forget to finish the seam and press. For the cute little cap sleeves (view D), you will not only set in the sleeve but also need to deal with the underarm finishing (since the sleeve doesn’t go all the way around the arm hole). Normally this is finished with the lining, but since we are little rebels who aren’t playing by the rules, we are gonna finish that with bias facing.

OAL 2015
Start by finishing/hemming the bottom of your cap sleeves, in whatever way you prefer. I just serged, turned the hem to the wrong side, and topstitched.

OAL 2015
Attach the sleeve to the armscye the same way you set in a standard sleeve – sew a line of basting stitching at 5/8″ all around the curve of the sleeve cap (in a standard sleeve, there are dots to indicate where the basting goes – but for this little cap sleeve, you’ll baste from tip to tip), pin the sleeve into the armscye and pull the gathers so that it fits smoothly inside with no puckers. Sew at 5/8″. (if you need more tutorial help with setting in a sleeve, see the link above :) ). I continued my stitching line all the way around the entire armscye to help with trimming in the next step, although this is not necessary and you can totally eyeball it.

OAL 2015
Trim all your seam allowances down – all the way around the entire armscye, including the bottom part that hasn’t been attached to anything yet – to 1/4″. Measure the armscye (this is where one of those Curve Runners would come in super handy, argh. Or you can measure the trimmings that you cut off, ha) and cut your bias strips to length, minus 1″ (to account for stretching the bis as you sew it on). Sew the ends of the bias together to make a circle, and attach to the entire seam/unfinished edge of the arm hole at 1″, again, stretching *slightly* as you sew. Understitch and press as previously directed.

OAL 2015
Before you make the final press to pull the facing all the way to the inside of the arm hole, be sure to pull the sleeve out so that you don’t accidentally tack the sleeve to the bodice. Been there, done that, and it sucks.

OAL 2015
Stitch the bias facing all the way around the arm hole 1/8″ from the edge, being sure that the sleeve is out of the way and you are *only* sewing through the bodice and the bias facing. Press over a tailor’s ham, to set the curves and get everything to lay nicely.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Finished cap sleeves! I really like this method because the extra stitching really strengthens where the sleeve attaches to the arm hole – since it doesn’t go all the way around, sometimes they can start to tear off if there’s too much strain on them (I had a dress like that in my early days of sewing that would NOT keep the cap sleeves attached. Every time I moved, they would rip out. I eventually dumped the dress, too bad I didn’t know how to fix that problem!). And by “strain,” that usually happens from hugging people.  Shitty way to ruin a dress if you ask me hahaha. Anyway, once I started sewing them in this way, my cap sleeves tend to be a lot stronger and I don’t have problems with busted seams. You do have to be ok with visible topstitching – but in a dress like this, there’s already a bunch of topstitching, so it works.

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Here’s the inside of the bodice :) Fun!

Ok, whew, I think that’s enough for today! Do let me know if you have any questions about any of these steps :)

How’s your sewing coming along for the OAL?

OAL2015: Fabric, Size & Cutting

1 Jun

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Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially kicking off the OAL (Outfit Along) this morning, so I hope you’re ready for it! As I mentioned in the announcement post, we won’t actually start the sewing until later this month, on 6/22, since I’ll be traveling outside of the country and won’t have much internet access (and I hate the thought of putting up a tutorial and then not being around to answer questions! Lame!). However, I figured I’d help get you guys rolling in the meantime with choosing your fabric, size, and cutting. Then when I’m back, we can get straight into sewing so you can finish these dresses before the deadline at the end of July! Sound good?

Of course, if you don’t need the sewing tutorials, then you are absolutely free to start the sewing whenever you’d like! This just goes for those of y’all who are waiting for tutorials :) For this year, I won’t be doing a full photo step-by-step of the entire pattern – but if you need those, most of the steps are similar to the ones from The 2014 OAL, so you can always browse through the tag for the tutorials. Things like sewing princess seams, sleeves or bias binding, and inserting a lapped zipper. All good stuff! Since it’s already up on the blog, I don’t see any point in reinventing the wheel (or subjecting those of y’all who aren’t following the OAL to a bunch of repeat tutorial posts, because, boo on that).

The tutorials I’ll be covering on this here blog are changing out the lining for bias facing (which can get a little weird around that back cutout, but don’t worry, I got your back!) and adding pockets. I will only be sewing View A, with the back cutout and no sleeves (that’s a lie, I’m still debating if I want to add the little cap sleeves. Decisions, decisions!). Again, the ~official~ dress pattern for the OAL is McCall’s 6887, but you are totally welcome to sew whatevererrrrr pattern you like!

First of all, here’s the fabric I’ve chosen for my dress!

OAL2015 - Fabric

This is some uhhhh-mazing Ikat cotton that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there… um… March 2014. Ha! I’ve been apprehensive to sew it up because the print-matching looked to be a nightmare, and also, the fabric is pretty thick and I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of garment it would work with. I think it’ll be really nice for this dress; it has a good structure for the skirt, and the print is so fun! I haven’t decided what color bias binding to use for the insides – common sense would tell me black or white, but I’m thinking I might look for some turquoise or hot pink :) Something to add a little splash of color to the inside :)

OAL2015 - Fabric & yarn

Here it is with my yarn for the sweater portion – this is good ol’ Cascade 220 (my one true yarnlove), in a gorgeous mint color.

Don’t know what kind of fabric to choose for your dress? First of all, think about how you want the finished dress to look – do you want a bit of structure in the skirt and bodice, or do you want everything to hang in soft folds? You will want to choose a fabric with a weight and drape that work with what you have in mind. For this particular pattern, I really like how it looks with more structured fabrics – such as linen, cotton eyelet, cotton sateen, or even quilting cotton! This blog post I wrote for last year’s OAL goes over all the details for choosing and weight and drape, and shows you the differences between several fabrics. I’d recommend checking that out first, if you’re confused!

Here are some fabrics I’ve pulled off the ‘nets that would be lovely for this pattern –

coral eyelet
Italian Red Coral Eyelet – from Mood Fabrics
This would be a great choice for adding a lining – or if you want to skip the lining and still go with bias binding finishes, make sure you get an appropriate underlining. You could also sew a matching slip :)

tropical sateen
Tropical Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
Busy prints are great for hiding wonky seams, if you’re concerned about neatness :) If you plan on sewing this pattern with a stretch fabric, you may want to consider sizing down (make a muslin out of similar weight/stretch fabric first, to check!).

abstract sateen
Abstract Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
I couldn’t resist. This fabric is AMAZING.

seersucker
Red and White Striped Cotton Seersucker – from Mood Fabrics
Easy to sew and lovely to wear, cotton seersucker is a great option if you live in a hot climate. I love the classic red and white stripes!

linen
Pinstriped Linen from Blackbird Fabrics
Another good option for hot climates. This linen is similar to the stuff I used to make my linen pajamas :)

shirting
Denim Chambray Cotton Shirting – from A Fashionable Stitch
Ain’t nothing that says you have to use shirting to make shirts. Make yourself a comfy little dress instead :)

agf
Art Gallery Fabrics: Arizona from Grey’s Fabric
Quilting cotton is a surprisingly good choice for this pattern, since it has the weight and drape that looks best with the bodice and skirt – and you have aaaalll kinds of fun prints to choose from :D I’ve never personally sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics, but everyone on the internet seems to go apeshit over them. At any rate, this is one helluva fun print!

A few notes about fabric:
– As I mentioned, if you’re sewing stuff that’s on the sheer side and you don’t want to mess with a lining, make sure you get an appropriate underlining fabric. I prefer to use white cotton voile or batiste (or black, or, whatever color looks best with my fabric), as it doesn’t add too much weight. If you aren’t sure about the weight, hold it with a piece of your main fabric and see how you like the way it feels. I won’t be covering underlining in this OAL, but I have a tutorial on my blog if you need help!
– Those of y’all sewing stripes or directional prints (meaning if you turn it the other way, it’s quite obviously upside-down) – make sure you buy extra fabric! Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you’re cutting, 1/2 yard – 1 yard will do.
– Prewash your fabric, however you plan on sewing your final garment. For me, that’s a cold wash and a low tumble dry (I hang my dresses to dry once they’re done – only because I hate ironing! Ha. But I always pre-shrink in the dryer just in case it accidentally gets tossed in there later down the line!).
– For your bias facings (and pockets, for that matter!), you may want to use a lighter fabric if your main fabric is a bit bulky. This is the case with my Ikat – I don’t want bulky facings, so I’m getting something lighter. Again, cotton batiste or voile is a really good choice for this, as is quilting cotton or cotton shirting. You can use almost anything, but remember that you’re dealing with skinny strips cut on the bias, so maybe don’t try the silk right now (unless you’re feeling really brazen!). Also, get something that presses well – like cotton or rayon. You will be pressing the hell out of your facings, and you want something that will respond to that. Polyester is not a good choice for this. I always stash-raid for this kind of thing, but if you’re buying, you’ll need about 1/2 a yard (and you’ll have tonssss left over to make even more bias binding, so get something you really love :) ). Of course, you also buy those pre-made bias tapes – I don’t care for them, because I think the fabric is too stiff to look nice (and the color selection is very limited), but it’s definitely a lazy option if you don’t want to make your own. You’ll need the kind that is 1″ wide.
– To make your dress, you will also need interfacing, an invisible zipper (I prefer this dress finished with an invisible zipper, but you can try a lapped zipper if you’d like) and at least 3 buttons for the back, if you’re making the scoop back version.

For choosing your size, again, I will refer to you to Last year’s post in the OAL. Scroll past all the fabric, and there’s a section on choosing your size based on the finished measurements. McCall’s patterns can have quite a bit of ease in them, so this is a more accurate way of choosing the correct size. This is how I size *all* of the patterns I make, and it has yet to let me down :) As an example – my body measurements put me into a size 10, but I sew the 6 (graded to 8 at the waist) for my finished garment, and it fits perfectly. Check those finished measurements!

If this is your first time making the pattern, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin mock-up of at least the bodice so you have a good idea of how the finished garment will fit. This gives you a good opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before cutting into your fabric. It’s also important if you’re sewing the version with the scoop back – I found the scoop came up higher than my bra band, and this may be the case for you as well. Can’t fix it once you’ve already sewn it up! For the muslin, you can make the whole dress if you’d like – but I just sew up the bodice and leave off any finishing. Pin the back shut as best you can to get a good assessment of the fit.

Once you’ve got your size and muslin done, THEN it’s time to cut your fabric! Refer to this post about cutting and marking fabric (also from last year’s OAL hahahaha sorry) if you need any help :) You will be following the cutting guidelines that are included in your pattern; make sure you follow them carefully so you cut the correct number of pieces. The side skirt piece should be cut TWICE on the double layer, for a total of 4 pieces.

OAL2015 - Cutting the back bodice

You may also want to consider adding a little extra fabric allowance below the scoop back, just to give yourself more bra coverage (I added about 1/2″). There is also a 5/8″ seam allowance there, and we’ll be sewing at 1/4″ to apply the bias, so keep that in mind as well. Your muslin will tell you exactly how much you need to add (if any at all!) to cover your bra band. Or maybe I just wear my bra band low, ha.

FINALLY, if you’re cutting stripes or plaids and need help matching – here’s another tutorial link for that. Man! I’m so glad I already wrote all these tutorials haha!

Ok, whew, I think that about covers it! Do you have any questions about the prep work that I haven’t covered in this post? Let me know before I ditch town on Thursday 6/4 and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can :) Have you chosen your fabric and yarn yet? Let’s have a look, please! :)

Tutorial: An Easy Elastic Waistband

29 Jan

Hey dudes! Real quick before I jump into tutorial-land this morning – New Vogue Sewing patterns are out! Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had quite a few people ask me when I would be posting my review. Not gonna happen, guys – at least not for this set, and no, not because of anything to do with me+The McCall Pattern Company. Have you seen the new patterns? There’s really nothing to make fun of! Which is good, because it shows that Vogue is listening to our pleas, I guess, but no jokies for us this time around. The only pattern I see that I really don’t like at all is this Koos Van Den Akker monstrosity that calls itself V1441– but, again, it’s Koos Van Den Akker, which should explain everything. Kind of hard to poke fun at something that’s intentionally designed to look crazy, you know? :) In the news of things I do like – there’s V9077, which is a dress I don’t completely understand, but I think I like it anyway. Aaaaand, that’s about all that warrants any mention from the new collection. Sorry if you were expecting more! Trust me, you don’t want to see a post of me trying to pull humor out of a humorless situation :) Feel free to turn this into a debate on whether or not I’ve sold out to Vogue (the answer is no, but, I REALLY love a good conspiracy theory, and I’m sure some of y’all do too!)

Ok, so, onward to the tutorial!

wb

I’ve had a few requests for this, so here ya go – my tutorial for attaching an elastic waistband to your leggings (or skirt, or whatever. I ain’t here to judge your love for elasticized comfort!). While the usual method of leaving a hole in the seam and feeding the elastic through is definitely non-brainer easy, I prefer this particular method as it doesn’t allow the elastic to twist at all – not while you’re feeding it through the hole (that ALWAYS happens to me, ugh!), and not while you’re wearing and washing them. It stays in place and that’s pretty awesome! Also bonus is that you don’t have a tiny hole to close up afterwards. Whoop whoop!

Anyway, I learned this method from Katie of Papercut Patterns, and it’s definitely my favorite way to elastic the shit out of my waistbands. It is my understanding that she updated that the Ooh La Leggings pattern has been updated to include this method, so this is mainly for those of us who have an older copy of the pattern and/or want to elasticize something else. It does require a little bit of finesse while sewing, but it ain’t nothing you can’t handle ;) This is also a great method if you are using an elastic that is too wide and thus needs to be cut down – I started with 3″ wide elastic, but I needed 1″, so I just cut right down the middle (well, ish). Since the elastic is going to be attached to the fabric by machine, it’s ok to cut is as the stitches will prevent it from unraveling over time :) Just make sure your elastic has a very tight weave – if it’s a loose weave, it’s best to leave it uncut as there ain’t nothing that’ll keep that shit from unraveling!

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Start by cutting your elastic to the desired size (I prefer about 4″ of negative ease at my waist, but it’s a matter of personal preference!), including an additional 1″-2″ for overlap. Pin the elastic with the inch overlap so it makes a circle.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Sew down all four edges where the elastic overlaps, making sure it’s secure. Ideally, you’d use a zigzag stitch for this – but my machine was already threaded with the double needle, so I used a double needle. I have yet to have a problem with this stitch, so there’s that! I like to stitch over each area twice to be really sure that it’s secure – you don’t want your elastic coming apart after you’ve sewn it into your pants!

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Divide the elastic into 4 equal sections, either by using a ruler or just folding it in half and half again. Mark each point with a pin, making sure one section is in the center of the part you just overlapped and sewed. If your pattern does not include notches for dividing the waist into 4 equal sections, you’ll want to do so now as well on your garment.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

On the INSIDE of your garment, match the 4 elastic sections with the 4 pants sections, keeping the overlapped elastic at the center back. If you trimmed down the width of your elastic, it is a good idea to match this area to the raw edge of your fabric, so it will be sewn and enclosed later. You will notice that the elastic is not quite as long as the garment in each section – that’s ok, we will stretch to fit in the next step :)

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Using a serger (or a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch), attach the elastic to the garment. Go slowly and focus on one section at a time, stretching as much as you need to to get the pieces to fit. If you are using a serger, be careful not to trim off too much of your elastic edge – if at all possible, try not to trim off any. Keeping your elastic one uniform width will help with accurate topstitching later.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Your garment should look like this – on the inside, attached at the top, elastic loose at the bottom.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Now fold the elastic to the inside one time, which will completely encase it with fabric. Pin into place if needed – I like to pin again at the 4 equal sections (this part doesn’t have to be exact, you can just eyeball it).

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Using a twin needle or a zigzag stitch, topstitch the elastic into place along the previously sewn edge. Gently stretch the elastic in each section, the same way you did when first attaching it. I’ve found that it’s easiest if I hold both the front and back with my hands, and gently guide the fabric as I sew. Stop with the needle down as you finish each section, readjust, and start the next section. Backstitch at the end.

If you’re using a twin needle, you’ll need to topstitch from the right side – this is where keeping the elastic a uniform width is handy. I mark my machine with a post-it note (I’m not adorable enough to use Washi tape, which I see everyone else using haha) to keep everything aligned so I catch the edge of the elastic as well as sew a straight line, but you can also feel it through all the layers. If you are using a zigzag stitch, you can get away with sewing on the wrong side so you can keep an eye on the elastic – but do try to sew a straight line, otherwise, it’ll be real obvious haha.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

And that’s it! Not too hard, huh? Like I said, I really love this method because it keeps the elastic from twisting – it stays in place foreeeever! Also, the overlap at the center back is a handy way to quickly tell front from back just by feeling it – which, I don’t know about you, but I don’t sew tags in my clothes, so that’s pretty freaking useful! Only downside is that you’ll really have a lot of work to do once the elastic eventually wears out, but I personally think it’s worth it, if only to prevent elastic twist!

Let me know if you have any questions! Or if you just want to discuss those new Vogue patterns. Maybe you see something ridiculous that I overlooked??

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! :)

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