Tag Archives: tutorial

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 51-63

3 Nov

Good morning, Sewalongers! We only have a couple weeks left before the sewalong is complete – are you feeling excited? You should! Especially since this week is all about the welt pockets :D

Meg will be covering the steps this week for creating your own beautiful welt pockets, so be sure to check out The McCall Blog for tutorials. Again, I’m just here to cheerlead and give some tips this week. I spent pretty much my entire Sunday wrestling with these pockets, but the good news is that they turned out quite lovely! And I have some advice to share, so listen up!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
First and foremost, whether this is your first welt or your 50th welt, you absolutely need to practice making a welt pocket using your coat fabrics before you start hacking into the coat. It’s important to do this with your coating fabrics in particular, as they may act differently than other fabrics you’ve used in the past for welts. My wool coating fabric is pretty bulky, so I was able to sort out issues in my practice rounds, instead of on the coat itself.

I know, making practice welts kind of sucks! I’m SO glad I did it, though, because I don’t think my welts would have turned out nearly as nice if I hadn’t practiced a few times first. You don’t need much for the practice – I used a piece of coating that was about 8″x4″, a similarly sized piece of my contrast taffeta (for the pocket facing – don’t worry about cutting a pocket out of your fabric for the other side – unless you just reaaally think you need to practice sewing pockets), and one fabric welt. After my third practice welt, I felt confident enough to do the real thing on the coat.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
For marking your coat pieces – here are a couple of tips. First of all, I wouldn’t necessarily rely on tracing the markings off the pattern. You can trace them to get a general *idea* of where the pockets need to hit, but for doing the actual marking (or cleaning up your markings, or re-adding them if they mostly rubbed off during the coat construction), just use a ruler and a piece of chalk. The welt is a rectangle, after all :) The welt is 6″ long by 1/2″ wide, and the circle marking is approximately 2″ from the corner on the bottom line (please re-check these measurements against your pattern before marking – I’m going based on my size, which may be different than yours!). I used a straight ruler and this Clover chaco liner (well, mine is white, but same difference) for my markings. I like this particular liner because it doesn’t pull the fabric when it marks, and the chalk dust comes out very easily. I also like how fine the line comes out. Just a preference!

Once you’ve marked your rectangles (I don’t bother marking the center line or the v’s – but go ahead and mark those if you wish), it’s a good idea to thread-trace the markings with long basting stitches. I use silk thread for this purpose – I like how easy it is to remove, and I love that it doesn’t show a marking when you press over it. You may also use cotton thread if you don’t want to spring for silk (a spool is about $4, so not terribly expensive but also not really cheap!) – or even regular polyester, but definitely check that it doesn’t leave marks when it’s pressed. I also mark my dots with simple tailor’s tacks – just loop the thread over the marking a couple of times. Thread-tracing these markings means that they’ll be visible from *both* sides of the coat, and that they won’t rub off as you handle them. Thread trace the rectangles on both the coat and the pocket facing (the contrast).

One more thing: once you’ve thread-traced the welts on your coat, it’s a good idea to try the coat on and make sure they are an even height. Mine were ever-so-slightly off, but I was able to catch it before sewing on uneven welts. That would have been lame!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
When making your welts, if your fabric is thick – try trimming the seam allowances with your scissors at an angle. This will make one seam allowance slightly longer than the other, which will prevent a ridge from showing when it’s turned right side out. Position the welts so that the shorter trimmed side faces the outside of the coat.

Also, with the welts – don’t aggressively trim and clip the seam allowances to nothing! You need a little bit there so the corner will have some structure when it’s turned right side out. I trim mine to a little less than 3/8″.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
When turning the welts right side out, push the seam allowance to one side, like so.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Carefully turn the entire thing right side out, and gently use a point presser (or a knitting needle, or a butter knife, or whatever you have on hand) to push the corner out to a sharp angle. Then press, being careful not to drag the iron around – you don’t want to distort your welt.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Yay, sharp corners! As a side note – this was one of the practice welts that did not have the edges trimmed at an angle. See the ridge showing through? Yuck.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
When it’s time to sew the pocket facing to the welt+coat, you’ll be glad you did those thread tracings. I checked both sides constantly to be sure that I was exactly on the lines for both coat & pocket facing. I also went the extra mile and hand-basted the facing on, using a different color of silk basting thread. This took foreeeeever, but it’s super precise and I think it’s a big reason why my pockets turned out so nice. Then you can just sew right on top of the basting lines and not have to worry about pins getting in the way (or, in my case – distorting the fabric because of the sheer amount of bulk in that area).

Once you’ve sewn everything down for reals, remove all the basting and thread tracing. Cut and clip as indicated in the pattern – and don’t be afraid to get VERY close to the stitching line when clipping those v’s for the welt. This will prevent the coat from having a crease or fold at the corners where the welt intersects. Then just press the hell out of everything. It can be a little tricky, just because there is so much coat going on – just use lots of steam and take your time. I found that I got the best press when I used the top edge (the handle part) of my clapper and laid whatever section I was pressing over it. The narrow surface meant that the iron was pressing only the parts I wanted to press, and not pressing wrinkles into the rest of the coat.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once I had everything pressed and done, I basted the welts shut while I finished the pockets, so they wouldn’t gape and flap and potentially stretch out.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Sewing the pocket and binding is pretty easy. The only thing I changed was that I stitched in the ditch to attach the binding, rather than slip-stitching by hand. Just a personal preference! Bonus for those of us who are using underlining – when it’s time to invisibly sew the pocket to the coat, you can just grab the underlining and not worry about your stitches being invisible from the outside. Yay!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Here’s the finished pocket on the inside. Doesn’t it look luxe?

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
And, of course, my beautiful welts. I am so happy with how they turned out! Definitely worth the effort!

Don’t forget to check out The McCall Blog for Meg’s tutorial on sewing the welts! My biggest tip? TAKE YOUR TIME. Don’t try to rush this section and expect pristine welts. That in mind, you also should not be too scared to actually do this part! They’re just welts – practice a few times, follow the directions, utilize hand-basting, and you’ll be fine :) If all else fails, you can always throw a patch pocket over the mess :P haha! (no, seriously, I tell myself this EVERY TIME I make welt pockets!)

How is everyone doing this week with the coat? Any questions?

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 23-50

27 Oct

Good morning & happy Monday, sewalongers! This week, we’ll be sewing up a large chunk of the coat – finishing the main construction, in fact! By the time you are done with step 50, you will be able to actually try on your coat :D Woohoo!! I know a post with 27 steps seems ridiculously long, and it sort of is – but keep in mind that at least a third of those steps are just instructing you how to sew on the bias binding. So it’s really not that bad! Although, I will be the first to warn you – this part can be a little time-consuming. You can do it, though! Just take your time and definitely take a nice break if you feel yourself getting overwhelmed/frustrated :)

This week, for my sewalong post, I’ll be doing the same sort of post as from last week and just giving some general tips and cheerleading. I don’t think this part of the sewing really requires step-by-step directions – which, due to the sheer size of the coat, is kind of difficult to do as it is – and the directions on this pattern are insanely good anyway. Seriously, they’ve really restored my faith in Vogue patterns with this coat.

That being said, let’s jump in!

As with last week, you will need to follow the steps outlined in the pattern for constructing the coat. Don’t try to skip a step, or jump ahead – the instructions are written in a way to give you the best result with as little hair-pulling as possible (hair-pulling will still probably happen, though, just fyi). Be sure that you have clearly marked your pattern pieces with all notches and symbols – it is critical with this pattern that everything is marked to give you the very best results. Trust me! Also, pay attention to the side that you are sewing the bias binding (and thus which side you will end up topstitching), as we want our topstitching and everything to be symmetrical on the finished coat.

The sleeve dart will be bound with the bias tape, just as all the seams are. If you are having issues keeping the seam allowance at the bottom (where the tip of the dart just kind of wanders off the edge of the fabric), try sewing with the bias binding on the bottom, with the raw edge at your 5/8″ mark. You can also mark the bias tape at 5/8″ in that area, but I found just using the guidelines on the machine’s throat plate was good enough for me :)

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

Don’t forget to staystitch your sleeve where directed (the blue lines in that photo… hopefully your sewing is straighter than my computer drawing skills ;) ). This is essential for attaching the sleeve to the coat.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
For attaching the coat front and back to the sleeves, here are a few tips I have picked up:

  • Use a basting stitch to attach the pieces together first. When you sew the binding, you will use a normal stitch length, so basting is fine for this part. The basting will come in handy if you need to unpick anything (either because you didn’t sew over the basting, or you got a pucker, or whatever).
  • Some of this pieces have GIGANTIC curves and require some crazy easing. Feel free to clip as much as you need to get everything to lie flat. I personally didn’t clip at all – I just put the bigger side on the bottom when I sewed and let the feed dogs ease everything. Absolutely make sure you check for puckers before moving on to the next step.
  • When attaching the binding, I found it easiest to sew with the binding on the bottom, so I could be sure I was sewing over my basting line (and thus have less to unpick).
  • Clip those seam allowances aggressively – like 1/8″. This will not only give you enough room to fold over the binding for topstitching, but it will also allow those curved areas to lie flat without needing to clip (obviously, if you clipped the seam allowances to attach the pieces together, you’ll probably cut most of that off. That’s ok! :) ).
  • As I have mentioned before, I found the topstitching much easier if the binding was basted down by hand first. If you baste right along the edge of the binding, you can sew inside the stitching line and be sure that you caught the fold. Further, it means you don’t have to worry about pins :)
  • Again, do NOT be afraid to beat those seams into submission if they are feeling bulky.

20121202-210149

At some point during this section, you will find yourself wrangling a whole lotta coat and you might feel a little overwhelmed. Stay with it! You can do this!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

Once you’ve attached the front and back at the top of the sleeve, you will end up with something like this.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

Make sure you spread it out on the floor so you can really appreciate how completely ridiculous everything looks.

The next few steps are going to seem REALLY weird, but just roll with it-

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

First, you will attach your coat front to coat back at the side and skirt seams. Once finished, you will end up with something that resembles a coat with armpit vents. This is actually a great time to try the coat on, BTW – I pin basted a few seams together just to be sure things were rolling smoothly along (what can I say – even with a muslin, I’m paranoid). I ended up sewing this seam at 1/2″ seam allowance instead of 5/8″, just to give myself a tiny bit more waist room.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

The next step will have you sew up the section right above the waist and below the gusset, and then apply the binding.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

Finally, you get to close up the sleeves! Yay!

Ok, so Laura tweeted me about step 50 being impossible.

images

It’s definitely not impossible – but is DOES require some finesse! If you’ve ever flat-felled a sleeve seam (while it was attached to the rest of the shirt), you are probably familiar with this kind of sewing wrangling. Basically, you will sew very slowly – like an inch or two at a time – being sure to lower the needle every time you stop to readjust (lowering the needle is pretty important, else your coat may shift which will result in a wonky line), so you can be sure you’re sewing through one layer of coat. It *is* possible to sew this seam, you just need patience :) I basted my binding into place by hand (if you’ve been pinning up to this point, you may want to consider basting for just this one seam – it’ll make things a LOT easier if you don’t have to deal with pins) and sewed from the wrong side, so I could keep an eye on my binding and make sure I was catching it. This doesn’t result in the prettiest topstitching ever, but, you know what? It’s an underarm seam. Ain’t nobody gonna be looking at that anyway.

Anyway, here’s my coat up to this point:

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

We are getting there!

As a side note, it was brought to my attention last week that I sewed the binding on my belt incorrectly. WHOOPS! The binding should actually all face to the inside – there are photos on the McCall blog for clarification. I decided to leave mine because I like the way it looks, but just fyi if you are going for something that is closer to the original!

How are y’all feeling about your coats this week? Any burning questions about this set of steps? Holler at me in the comments!

V1419 Sewalong: Cutting and Prepping

13 Oct

Good morning, sewalongers! (sewalongees?) Today we are going to go over the final prep work before we start sewing (next week! Eep!). This is the last slow post of the sewalong, which gives you another week to perfect your muslin and choose your fabric. Of course, these posts will also be up indefinitely so don’t feel like you have to rush to keep up!

blog-sewalong-image-650x563

The very first thing you need to do – yes, before you do anything else with that lovely fabric – is pretreat your fabric. How you pretreat your fabric will depend on the fiber you chose, as well as how you plan on cleaning the coat in the future. For those of you who are sewing wool (like meee!), this means you need to get any shrinkage out of your fabric *before* you cut the pattern pieces – otherwise, once you start steaming that bad boy, you may end up shrinking pieces and that’s no good. There are lots of ways to pretreat wool – and none of them involve washing the fabric (please don’t do that!). You can either steam the piece yourself (this involves lots of steam and probably a lot of time), take it to the dry cleaner and have them pretreat it (this involves money)(and also dry cleaning), or you can shrink it up in the dryer (which is what I do). Here’s a blog post outlining the entire process, but basically – you just need to throw your wool in the dryer (finish the edges if necessary to prevent unraveling), add a couple of towels that are soaked in hot water (and then wrung out, so they’re not dripping) and blast the dryer on high heat for however long it takes before everything is dry. Easy! This is the method I use for all my wool fabrics. If you are at all hesitant, try it out on a swatch first :)

For other fabric types that are not wool – you may not need to pretreat (unless you plan on washing the coat in the washing machine? If then, defintely prewash that shit!). If using a cotton or silk, you may want to at least steam the crap out of it just to be sure there is no shrinkage. Polys should be fine and not shrink at all.

Once you’ve pretreated your fabric in whatever way need, then it’s time to cut! I’m not going to go over cutting here – I assume anyone brave enough to tackle sewing a coat is probably fine to cut fabric without guidance :) – but if you need a refresher, here is an old post I wrote about cutting and marking your pattern pieces. One thing I did notice while I was cutting my fabric – I was able to reconfigure the layout and use slightly less fabric. Don’t be afraid to change up the layout if your fabric is wide enough, just be sure that you are keeping all the pattern pieces on the proper grain.

If you are including an underlining for your coat, you will need to cut out pieces 2, 3, 4, 7, 8 & 9 from your underlining fabric.

For the contrast – specifically, all those bias pieces – I found it easier to draw the pattern pieces directly on the fabric, rather than try to pin a bunch of stuff and then try to cut a straight line and nope.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

The long, straight pieces – I just measured them and use a ruler and marking pencil to draw them on my taffeta. For the big bias contrast pieces (those giant parallelograms), I pinned down the pattern piece, traced around the edges with my marking pencil, and then used a ruler to draw in the lines 2″ apart (as they are on the pattern piece). I did all this on the flat fabric before I cut anything out, and I think it made things a lot easier!

Once you’ve cut out all your pattern pieces, you will need to apply the underlining (assuming you are underlining – if not, skip ahead and start marking your pieces). Underlining is very easy. It is also very time-consuming – so I recommend watching some crappy TV or something equally entertaining while you do it :) For this sewalong, I won’t be going over underlining, but here is a tutorial if you need one. Some things to keep in mind:
– Sometimes you can get away with basting the pieces together by machine. This coat is not the time to try that method. Because the pieces are very large, you run the risk of shifting your fabric – which will give you bubbles or hang weird if you’re not careful. Try to keep things as flat as possible. Meaning: sit at a table, underline by hand. Watch a movie. Drink some wine. Whatever makes you happy!
– I use silk thread to underline, because it removes very easily. I also happen to have several spools on hand in strange colors, so that’s a big part of the reason. I realize silk thread is a bit expensive, so don’t feel like you have to break your budget on some thread that’s about to get pulled out as soon as you sew a seam. Use whatever you got! I would recommend using a threat in a contrasting color, just so it’s easier to see/remove.
– Feel free to use giant stitches. You’re just basting the pieces together to keep them from shifting when you sew them. Big stitches are ok – and they’re easier to remove!
– Sew well within your seam allowances, especially if your fabric shows pin holes (mine does!).
– I like to underline first, *then* mark the pattern pieces on the wrong side. You can also mark, then underline. Up to you – I just think the former is easier! Don’t freak out if you accidentally snip your basting when you cut notches – it’s ok!

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
See? I did it too. No big deal!

Once you’ve finished underlining (or have skipped ahead), you will need to mark your pieces. It is very important to get every stitch line (for the welts and the button holes), dot and notch – it’ll make things muuuuch easier to match up when we start sewing. You may want to use wax tracing paper and a rotary wheel for the lines, and a marking pen (or tailor’s tacks) for the dots. Just snip the notches. We won’t judge you.

Ok, bias binding! This is the same method outlined on the Coletterie, btw – except you are starting with a parallelogram piece, and not creating one from a square (if that makes sense).

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should have 3 parallelograms with 2″ diagonal lines drawn on the wrong side of the fabric. Matching the notches and markings, pin the two angled edges together, right sides together, to form a strange off-center tube. The edges will not match at the ends.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Sew the seam you just pinned. I used 1/4″ because – well, that’s what I always use. I think this pattern was drafted for 5/8″ – even at the bias binding – and if you sew with that amount, you will need to trim it down to 1/4″ after sewing.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Press the seam open.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Starting at once end, begin cutting along the line you drew. You should end up with a looooong string of continuous bias. Do this for all 3 parallelograms.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Once you’ve finished cutting all your bias strips, fold them in half with the wrong sides together and press.
(I promise that big yellow spot on my ironing board cover is not pee. That’s actually what happens when you put your iron on top of a piece of tailor’s wax. Whoops.)

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
You should end up with a big pile of bias strips. Mine kind of look like intestines. Cool.

Finally, you will want to staystitch and reinforce your coat pieces as directed in the instructions (steps 1-3 & step 35). For both – use a slightly shorter stitch length (I use 2.0 vs my standard 2.5) and be sure to backstitch at both ends. For staystitching, sew 1/2″ away from the edge. For reinforcing, sew along the stitching line at 5/8″.

Here are the pieces you will be prepping. Lines marked in blue are reinforcement stitching, lines marked in yellow are staystitching.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

ONCE LAST THING: Once you’ve reinforced all those tricky edges, you need to clip the seam allowances all the way to the dot.

V1419 Sewalong: Prep

V1419 Sewalong: Prep
Clip to the stitching line, but do not clip the stitching line. This will make it easier to sew those tricky sleeve seams.

And that’s it! Whew! Sorry for the post overload today. Oh, I almost forgot – here’s my fabric!

wool coating
These are the swatch cards I got from Mood. The wool coating I chose is piece piled on the very top (4th one down). It’s a nice, thick virgin wool coating.

taffeta underlining and contrast
I am using 2 different silk taffetas – the brighter red will be the underlining, and the darker red is the binding and contrast.

How are we doing this week, seawlongers? Any questions about the cutting or prep?

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

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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