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TUTORIAL + GIVEAWAY: The Sewtionary (+ last week’s giveaway winner!)

22 Sep

Sorry, y’all, I’m in giveaway overload this month! Can’t help it if my friends are releasing awesome shit all at once, you know?

Adobe Photoshop PDF

I’m sure most of y’all have heard all about this fabulous little book by now – The Sewtionary, written by Tasia of Sewaholic (one of my FAVORITE sewing pattern companies! Seriously, some top 5 shit right there). A couple of months ago, Tasia reached out and asked if I’d like to be a part of her Sewtionary Blog Tour to help promote the book. While I do realize that blog tours can be a little redundant if you read the same blogs over and over (I know I can sometimes get jaded at looking at the same photos/reading the same gushing daily for 2 weeks or whatever), I really wanted to help promote this book because I really do give a shit about Tasia and her business. She’s one of my friends, and I like to do things for my friends. Plus, the book is beyond excellent- a great resource of 101 sewing techniques, written out like a dictionary. The photos are beautiful, each technique includes why it’s necessary (something my nerdy brain just loves), and it’s spiral-bound, so it’ll lay nice and flat on your sewing table. Lots of wins here!

Anyway, that’s about as much of a review as you’ll get from me (if you want a true review, definitely check out some of the tour stops that I’ll be linking at the bottom of this post!). Today, I wanted to do something different. I’m going to share a tutorial from the book with y’all .Everyone likes tutorials, right? :)

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Today’s tutorial: Making a Tailor’s Ham & Seam Roll.

First up – you’re probably thinking, “What the hell are these things and why the fuck would I spend my time making them?” Well, I’m so glad you asked! Both are used as pressing aids – the Tailor’s Ham is a big pillow-shaped tool that is used for pressing curved areas (such as darts and necklines), and the Seam Roll is a long, narrow stuffed tube that is used to press hard-to-reach seams (such as the inside of a sleeve), as well as a helpful way to avoid making seam allowance impressions on the right side of your garment. While I have a Tailor’s Ham that I’ve used for for years (and no lie, my cat literally uses that shit as a pillow when she naps on my ironing board), I’ve yet to get a Seam Roll. They are both great to have, but can easily cost you $20+ a pop when you buy them from the fabric store. So here’s where we learn to make our own – at the delightful price of FREE NINETY-NINE. You heard me!

You will need:
– Large scraps of wool fabric & cotton fabric. Try to choose something with a dense weave that does not stretch, that is 100% (aka – no poly blends!). I used leftover wool coating from my Vogue Coat and black quilting cotton.
– Something to stuff it with. Traditionally, these things use sawdust. You can also use cedar shavings (from a pet supply store), wool fabric scraps, or even old nylon stockings. For the purposes of this tutorial, I am using sawdust. It is *extremely* messy. It is also extremely free. No lie, I just waltzed right into my local Home Depot and asked for a bag of sawdust, back where they cut wood to spec. I can’t speak for other countries (Tasia tells me that you can’t sell sawdust in Canada, say whaaaat), but here in the good ol’ US of A, lots of hardware stores will give you free sawdust because they would otherwise throw it away. My sawdust man also informed me that it makes a nice mulch for the garden. Isn’t that handy!
– Sewing machine, thread, and hand sewing needles.
– Outdoor space, or a really really good broom. I told you, this shit was messy. You have been warned.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Here are the instructions, Sewtionary-Style. Told y’all that book is just lovely.

Now here are my steps.

TO MAKE THE TAILOR’S HAM:

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
I found it easiest to start with a paper pattern piece, since the shape is so weird. You’ll want to make your ham 14″ long; 10″ wide at the wide end and 8″ wide at the narrower end. This will result in a bit of an egg shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using your paper pattern piece, cut one egg from both the wool and the cotton.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Pin the pieces, right sides together, leaving a nice 5″ gap at the wide end. PROTIP: Whenever I’m sewing something that requires an unsewn gap, I mark each end with a double pin. This reminds me to stop sewing when I get to the double pin! Otherwise, I’ll just keep going my merry way and complete the circle, which is exactly what we don’t want right now.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew around the entire circumference of the ham, again leaving that 5″ gap at the wide end. Make sure it’s 5″, too – you’ll need the room for stuffing (don’t make it more than 5″, or you’ll hate yourself for it).

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Turn the ham right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Ok, time to get messy! Take that ham outside and start stuffing your stuffing in it! If you are using sawdust, expect a big mess that will get everywhere.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Instead of just quickly trying to fill the ham with sawdust, take the time to pack down the sawdust with each handful. The narrow end of the ham especially needs to be packed pretty tight, or else it will collapse. Once you’ve packed it down, work on the next section and pack that. Again – this IS messy, and it will take longer than you think, because sawdust loves to pretend it’s tightly packed when it’s secretly not. You want the ham to be pretty hard so it will retain it’s shape. When you think it’s full – keep stuffing. Then stuff some more.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
In the meantime, here’s a photo of my cat glaring at me for daring to sit outside without her, haha.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you are sure the ham is packed as tight as it can go (Are you sure? Are you sure you’re sure?), it’s time to sew it up!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Holding the ham between your legs (do as I say, not as I do – don’t set it on the ground; you don’t want to push the narrow end back in!), turn under the seam allowance on one side and lap it over the opposite side. Using a tight whipstitch, sew the opening shut by hand.

Next, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of your ham (if it’s covered in sawdust like mine, anyway). I just pounded mine against the porch railing until all the dust was knocked off.

This post is turning into one long “That’s What She Said” joke, isn’t it?

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
End result: Completed Tailor’s Ham!

TO MAKE THE SEAM ROLL:
How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Unlike the Tailor’s Ham, I didn’t bother making a pattern piece for this one – I just drew it directly on my cotton with a Chaco pen. Draw a 14″x5″ rectangle and round the four corners.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Cut one of each of these rectangles from both your cotton & wool.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Using a 1/2″ seam allowance, sew the two rectangles, right sides together, leaving a 5″ opening in the middle of one long side of the seam roll (I have no idea why I don’t have a photo of this, but I trust you can work this step out). Turn the roll right side out.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Time to stuff that bad boy!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
As with the Tailor’s Ham, really stuff and pack each long narrow end before focusing on the middle of the roll. This will ensure that your roll is nice and tightly packed, and hard enough to hold it’s shape.

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
Once you’ve packed the roll nice and tight with sawdust, turn one seam allowance under and lap it over the opposite side of the opening. Sew this closed by hand.

Again, you’ll probably want to beat the shit out of that thing to get all the dust off. Be aggressive! Honey Badger Seam Roll don’t care!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s the finished seam roll!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway
And here’s my new pressing family! Yay!
BTW, be sure to save some of that remaining sawdust – once you use the ham or seam roll, you may find the sawdust settling and thus need to be repacked to firm up the shape. Unless you just really love having an excuse to go to Home Depot – in that case, don’t let me stop you.

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED
All right, I promised y’all a giveaway so let’s get on that. To win your own copy of the Sewtionary, simply comment on this post and tell me your favorite sewing technique. Are you a freak about pressing (high five!) or is sewing patch pockets your thing, or…? You tell me! This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE and I will close the entries a week from today, on SEPTEMBER 29, 2014 AT 7:00 AM CST. Good luck!
GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

If you’d like to buy your own copy of the Sewtionary, you can pick up a signed copy at the Sewaholic website (or a boring ol’ unsigned copy on Amazon). Thanks so much, Tasia, for letting me be part of this book tour & for generously donating a copy to giveaway!

How to Make a Tailor's Ham & Seam Roll - Sewtionary Giveaway

Want to read some more Sewtionary reviews and/or enter some more giveaways? Check out the full blog tour here:

ONE LAST THING – We have a giveaway winner to announce! Lucky number generator says:

winner1

winner2

Donna, you’re a winner! Is this now offically the second time I’ve made your Monday exciting? :) Congratulations! Sending your email now!

Everyone else (and there were a lot of y’all – nearly 400 entries, wow!) – I’m not turning you away completely empty-handed. Kat has generously offered a coupon code, which is awesome! Use the code LLADYBIRD to get 15% off the purchase of the Jenna Cardi from Muse Patterns, good through 9/29. Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway! Y’all are the best :D

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Completed: The Out & About Dress

28 Mar

Hey everyone! Today I’m participating in the tail end of a blog tour for Sew Caroline‘s newest pattern, the Out & About Dress!

Out & About Dress

Described as a year-round, day-to-night sort of dress, the Out & About dress is a simple knit dress pattern with a scooped front neck, gathered skirt, and binding to finish the neckline and sleeves. The pattern comes with two hem options (knee-length and maxi), as well as two sleeve lengths (elbow and full). It’s also pretty easy to customize, based on your styling whims.

Out & About Dress

Since the dress does not have a lot of pieces – just a front, a back, a skirt, two sleeves, and those bindings – it’s ideal for using large scale knit fabrics that may be difficult to print match, since you really only have to worry about matching the side seams. Even easier, cut the bodice in a solid color and the maxi skirt in the print and let it really take center stage!

For my dress, I went the simple route and let this cool striped fabric steal all the thunder. Yay stripes!

Out & About Dress

I wish I could tell you where the fabric is from, but it was actually a stash busting gift from my gal pal Elizabeth, so I have no idea of it’s origins. What I do know is that it is super slinky and fun to wear, but that also meant it was a gigantic bitch to work with since the fabric wanted to shift around the entire time I was cutting and sewing. Don’t look too closely at my waistline seam, because the stripes get a bit funky over there. Oh well! It’s a loungey happy dress, not like I’m going to the Oscars or anything in it :)

Out & About Dress

Like all other knit patterns I love and trust, this one was super easy to sew up. Caroline’s instructions are all full-color photos, which makes things very clear if you’re a knit n00b and can’t swing the diagrams (I personally loove me some diagrams, but I know from experience that a photo is MAJORLY helpful when you’re a beginner!). The dress is assembled with the side seams sewn last, which makes it easy to tweak the fit to your preferences.

Out & About Dress

To make this bad boy, I cut the size XS, but ended up taking another inch out of the side seams because I wanted a fit with negative ease (and also because my fabric is reeeeal stretchy!). Since the fabric is so drapey, I stabilized the shoulders and waistband with 1/4″ elastic to prevent those areas from drooping over time. This is not something that is included in the instructions, but it’s SUPA easy to do – just align the elastic on the wrong side down the middle of the seam line, sew it down with a zigzag, and then put the pieces together as normal. I also cut about 4″ off the skirt, because I just don’t care for anything knee-length on my frame.

Out & About Dress

I used the included neck binding to finish the neckline, but I did not bind the sleeve hems and instead just topstitched them down with my twin needle (same as with the hem). Other than the twin needle stitching and zigzagging on the elastic at the beginning, this entire dress was sewn up on my serger – even the gathering was done on my serger. Wooho!

Out & About Dress

Ok, party time fun aside, here’s my secret shame – the stripes on the side seams don’t match up perfectly! Wah! I did cut these with matching in mind, and they were beautiful and straight and matched when I first closed up the side seams… but then I took that extra inch in, and things went haywire. Since this is a knit, i definitely could have manipulated those stripes to match by stretching one of the fabrics, but then the waistline seam wouldn’t have matched. I figure it’s better to have a nice waist seamline (even if I wear a belt over it) than perfect stripes, so the stripes had to bear the brunt of my wrath. Actually, it’s not so bad now that I’m looking at the photos, but I was PISSED at myself when I was staring at it in the mirror. Ha!

Out & About Dress

But, hey – at least the skirt side seams match, as do the sleeves. So there’s that! Maybe I’ll just stand with my arms down my side all day :)

Out & About Dress

I really like how this black and white striped fabric looks with other colors – like turquoise (don’t groan yet, but I was definitely belt-inspired after seeing how the fabric looks with my hair lolz). Makes it a little less Beetlejuice, don’t ya think?

Out & About Dress

I love my new dress and I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can give it some proper wear out and about (see what I did there? :)). Right after I took these pictures, the weather got all stupid and cold again. ARGH! I swear, I’m not taking any more bare-legged photos outside… clearly I am angering some Winter God or some shit.

Love the Out & About and want your own? Get your copy here! Now, go forth and check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour:
Adventures in Dressmaking
Four Square Walls
Alida Makes
Paisley Roots
Lexi Made
True Bias
Sewing Like Mad
A Golden Afternoon
LLADYBIRD (that’s meeee!)
House of Pinheiro

Out & About Dress

The Big Reveal – The Fabiani Coat!

6 Feb

Finally! I get to show off my new coat! :)

Coat front
Notice anything different (aka: good) about the pictures? Yeah, it’s because I didn’t take them! Ha! These were all shot by Sarah McDonald – aren’t they gorgeous!?

Quick details recap-
Pattern: Vogue 2925 (Thank you, Molly!)
Fabric: Coating – Sea Green Solid Coating (Thank you, Tracy!!); Lining – Bemberg Rayon Ambiance Lining in Kiwi
Notions Used: Horsehair interfacing, fusible interfacing, silk thread, self-covered buttons (made to order, yeehaw!), and the tiniest piece of silk organza.
I didn’t initially intend on this, but I guess this actually ties in quite nicely with Sew Grateful Week – showing my thanks for this pattern, fabric, and the pictures! Yay!

What else is there to say about this coat? It was definitely a task, although it went together much faster than my first coat – I guess I had enough practice to better understand what I was doing :)

Buttons

Coat - side
I am REALLY pleased with how it turned out! The coat is so warm & snuggly – too bad it’s been 60* (that’s 15* for all you non-Americans :P), and thus too warm to wear a coat! Ah, well, maybe I’ll go on a short vacation somewhere cold. Ha!

Coat back
Pretty much the whole thing is interfaced – in addition to the interfacing already fused to the fabric (which definitely gave it a nice hand and made it really easy to handle), I used horsehair interfacing on the front pieces & on the collar/lapels. The hem & sleeves are interfaced with a lightweight fusible that was cut on the bias. This coat is nice and heavy!

lining peek
There are snaps under the fake buttons to keep everything in it’s proper place.

Lining
Oh, yeah, and the lining is pretty freakin’ bright!

Top stitching
I love how the top-stitching turned out and I’m really pleased with my buttons. I tacked the spare on the inside by the hem, but forgot to take a picture of it. Sorry :(

Tag :3
Here’s my tag!

And some flat shots – sorry these pictures are awwwwful, lol you can definitely tell I took them.

Coat - button backs
The functioning buttons are backed with small buttons – partially to keep them on the coat, and partially to cover the ugly threads on the lining :B

Coat - feather stitched lining pleat
I tacked the lining pleat down with feather stitches, as originally suggested by Gertie.

Coat - buttonholes & top stitching
Bound button holes

Coat - label
Here’s another label shot. It’s hand-embroidered on bleached muslin & then catch-stitched down to the lining. I sewed everything in after the coat was finished, which was a bad idea… very difficult to get everything in there! Next time, I will sew the label in while the coat is still being assembled.

Coat front
So yep, that’s my coat! I hope these pictures were worth the wait :) Hehe!
Thanks again for all your patience/input/contributions – and thank you Sarah for taking these amazing pictures!

Soooo, now that that’s over… have I inspired anyone else to make a coat yet? :)

4 Things to Remember When Knitting Your First Sweater (Guest Post)

27 Jan

I’ve got a treat for y’all today :) Mika (our wise & patient knit-along cohost) graciously agreed to write up a guest post with regards to knitting a first sweater. Whether or not you are joining us in the Agatha/First Sweater Knit-Along, this is really great information straight from the mouth (fingers?) of a seasoned pro.

Ok, enough blab – I’ll let Mika take it from here -

Knitting your first sweater is incredibly exciting, and also pretty nerve-wracking. What if you spend all of these hours knitting something, and then put it on and there are holes where there shouldn’t be and it doesn’t fit? (No, of course I’m not speaking from personal experience! There is definitely not a mangled sweater sitting in my old room at my parents’ house.) Here are my top 4 things to keep in mind when knitting your first sweater, things that I wish someone had told me before I made mine. Obviously picking your pattern and yarn are very important and I don’t discuss them here, but if you’re looking for tips on these issues, check out my blog – I’ll be posting my favorite sweater patterns for beginners, with yarn recommendations, sometime during the next week.

1. Size: Picking your size to knit can be confusing. Sweater sizes are generally by your full bust measurement, not your bra band size! The sizes listed by the pattern reflect the finished measurements. Think about ease as well – some sweaters are meant to be worn with negative ease (like the Agatha cardi), meaning the finished garment size should be smaller than your bust measurement. Others should have positive ease. Others should have zero ease. If you’re not sure, check out the Ravelry project page for your pattern – has someone written about the ease in their sweater? Do you prefer those that are more fitted, or loose? If you’re in between sizes and considering ease doesn’t change that, in my opinion its best to size down. Blocking (see below) can work wonders on adding width, but it really doesn’t help much with making anything smaller.

Don’t let this happen to you! [Image Source]

2. Swatching & Gauge: Swatch! Especially for your first sweater. Once they’ve been knitting a while, many people skip this step, depending on the pattern. For sweaters that are meant to be fairly fitted, however, swatching is crucial. Swatching is also a great way to figure out a complex lace pattern and make sure you understand it. Swatches are also helpful for testing the durability of your yarn. Does it say superwash? Soak it, lay it out to dry, and measure your gauge so that you don’t have to knit another swatch. Then chuck it in the washing machine and the dryer. If it comes out a felted, pilled mess, at least you know not to do that to your whole sweater.

Knit your swatch to at least 4″ wide. Then, block it (see #4). Once it’s dry, measure and compare your gauge to what’s stated in the pattern. Is it the same? Great! You can start knitting now. If it isn’t, try again with a different needle size. Even if the 1/4″ extra width in your 4″ swatch doesn’t seem like a lot to you now, the difference will turn a 34″ bust into a 36″ bust – which can make a big difference in how your sweater fits.

[Image Source]

3. Blocking: Blocking is the queen of knitting. If you plan to wash your sweater at all (and I hope you do!) you have to wash and block your swatch – gauge can change dramatically once a swatch has been blocked. If you’re knitting lace, use blocking pins to expand your swatch and open up the pattern. For ribbing and stockinette, lay your swatches flat on a towel, yoga mat, etc. Once you’re done knitting, block in pieces (if it’s a seamed sweater) by soaking the pieces, gently lifting them out of the water, squeezing (not wringing!) out the excess water, rolling them up in a towel, and then laying them flat according to the pattern measurements. Blocking is invaluable if, despite your best efforts, the pieces come out a little bit too short or too narrow.

4. Perfection: Even if you do everything you can, your sweater may not be perfect. My first sweater looked ok in pieces, and then I seamed it and there were holes in the seams because of my loose tension at the edges of my knitting (and some bad seaming). And then I machine washed and dried it (I used a superwash yarn, so why not, right? Wrong.) and it partially felted and shrank. And never saw the light of day again. But it was a learning experience. If it hadn’t felted and shrunk, I would have worn it anyway. Under a coat. :) The only way to get better at knitting is with practice – some people make perfect sweaters on their first try, and I hope some of these tips help you get there. And even if the final result isn’t perfect, a) you made a sweater!! With string and sticks!! and b) your next one will be better.

Thanks again, Mika, for this guest post – very very helpful!
Does anyone have sweater-knittin’ questions for Mika? Ask away in the comments :)

pincushions!

2 May

i just got a couple new pincushions in the mail & i thought i would share them with y’all :)

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sewing for spring 2011

18 Jan

it’s not spring yet here in nashville – quite the opposite, actually :( cold enough to make our gas bill $350 but i digress – but the spring fever bug has really hit me hard over the past couple weeks.

and then my favorite favorite fabric store, textile fabrics, decided to have a huge 40%-off-everything sale for the entire month of january.

and then i magically got my sewing mojo back!

yay sewing mojo!

want to see my fabric spoils & pattern choices? clicky clicky!
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