Archive | February, 2012

Completed: Colette Peony – Summer Gingham!

27 Feb

Ok, it’s not summer here, but it sure feels like it – right after I took these pictures yesterday, I pulled on a short-sleeved tshirt & some denim capris and took my bicycle out for a spin. It was LOVELY outside – and today doesn’t look like it’ll be any different. Yay for spring getting a head start this year 😀

Gingham Peony

Anyway, here’s a little summer sundress to get us in the mood – sorry if you live in a cold climate, maybe you should move to the South 🙂 Ha! I kid, I kid! I can’t wait to wear this dress as God intended – no tights, no cardigan, just some espadrilles and a sweet little rose brooch. I have a feeling this dress will be in heavy rotation for the next few months!

There’s not much to say about this pattern – I’ve already made it twice, so I didn’t have to do any preliminary fitting or a muslin – just cut & go! I did putter around with the pattern, since I had a pretty limited amount of fabric – 1.5 yards of 44″ gingham is exactly enough to cut out this pattern with no sleeves or facings (but still keeping the pockets) in a size 4, FYI. I underlined the entire dress – bodice & skirt – with white cotton batiste to keep everything modest, since my gingham was pretty sheer! Since I didn’t have enough fabric to cut facings, I faced the neck & arms with white bias binding for a clean finish. I did consider lining the dress (as opposed to underlining) so I wouldn’t have to deal with facings at all, but I wanted my batiste to offer a little structure in addition to making things opaque, so I stuck with underlining. As a bonus, it brightened up the colors, too! I also scooped a little out of the neckline so it wasn’t quite so boat-neck, per my inspiration.

I decided to keep the overall look of this dress simple & clean – with pops of yellow to make everything less Dorothy-esque 🙂 The yellow belt is a leftover from my first rooibos (man, I miss wearing that dress! GET WARM OUTSIDE!), and the yellow crocheted rose pin is something I made a couple of years ago when I had this crazy idea I was going to crochet a white granny square afghan with yellow roses. Actually, I still want that afghan, but I have too many projects to finish & I hate crocheting anyway 🙂 Here is the video I used to make the rose, it’s really easy! I still have a pile of these roses that I need to do something with – maybe I’ll give them away. Dunno!

Gingham Peony
My sewing room is so tiny, but I just love standing in there & gawking, so I thought y’all might like it too!

Gingham Peony

Gingham Peony
I cut the pockets out of gingham as well, so they blend in with the sides of the dress 🙂

Gingham Peony

Gingham Peony
Oops, I almost forgot – here is a shot of it without the belt! The checks match up pretty well, if I do say so myself 🙂

Gingham Peony
This is the best close-up I could get – every single other one of my pictures turned out super dark 😦

Gingham Peony
It cracks me up how my dresses look post-FBA when they are hanging or flat – they have little built-in boobs! HAHA!

Gingham Peony
You may have noticed that the zipper is bright yellow. I did not have a white 22″ zipper on hand, but I did have yellow! And it goes with my overall theme – not to mention that pretty burst of color when it’s unzipped! I love colorful little surprises like that 🙂

Gingham Peony
I just wanted to share my check-matching at the zipper. That’s as close to perfect as I could get! I know the checks don’t line up at the waistband – it’s due to the back darts. The fronts & side seams match up, though – you can’t win ’em all!

Gingham Peony - yellow lace @ hem
Yellow lace on the inside of the hem 🙂

Crocheted yellow rose pin

The flea market was kind of mehhh this weekened, but I did score at the thrift – look at this beauty I picked up~
Thrifted silk skirt
100% silk, in the most gorgeous shade of teal – $2! It’s a skirt, but it’s fairly large & long, and the seams are very simple. Cutting it apart yielded about 1 3/8 yard of 36″ fabric – plus the silk lining & zipper. Also, I bought a cashmere cardigan (not pictured) for $4. YUS THRIFT.

Gingham Peony


Conquering Knits: A Self-Help Guide

23 Feb

Chevron Renfrew

So you wanna sew some knits, huh? Maybe you picked up the Renfrew pattern and haven’t worked up the courage to slice into the pattern tissue yet. Or maybe you’ve been romanced & wooed by all the amazing printed knit fabrics out there. Or maybe you’re just ready for a new challenge that doesn’t involve zippers! Whatever you reason, it’s time to talk knits. Get a coffee and get comfy, this is gonna be a long ‘un.

First off, let me say something very important.

Knits are not scary or super difficult to work with!

I don’t know who is responsible for freaking out millions of sewers to be afraid of knit fabrics, but I wish I did know so I could stick some needles in his (or her!) face. Knit fabrics are actually MUCH easier to work with than a basic woven fabric. Yes, you have to pay special attention to the grainline, but aren’t you doing that anyway with your other sewing projects? 😉 Yes, knits do curl up – but they don’t unravel! Yes, you have to use a special stitch & needle to keep your seams from getting too wavy and/or snapping – but what’s so scary about that?

Here is what is so awesome about knits. I made you a list.
– Don’t wanna hem? Don’t hem! That shit ain’t going nowhere.
– No tedious fitting! Cut your size correct size based on the pattern measurements and let the stretch of the knit do all the work handling those sexy curves you were blessed with.
– No zippers, buttonholes, or closures in general! Pull that shit over your head and get on with your life!
– Finding the grainline is easy – just follow the direction of the greatest amount of stretch.
– Knits are great for using teeny tiny scraps – you can piece the hell out of them (call the seams a ~design feature~) and use them for things like side panels, cuffs and collars, contrasting yokes, colorblocking, insets, creating stripes, pockets, etc. As long as you are paying attention to that grainline, you are pretty much limitless with what you can make!
– You are not limited to *only* using knit yardage to make tshirts – use your pattern to resize a large shirt! Add zippers and hoods or just play with the colors to jazz it up!
– While you don’t need a serger to sew knits, it’s your bestest excuse for buying one 🙂

Now that I’ve gotten you all excited about your new life with knits, let’s talk about those stitches.

Whether or not you plan on using a serger to sew up knits, you will want to keep a pack of Ballpoint Needles on hand. These are perfect for knits because the tip is slightly rounded, which means they push between the loops of the fabric, rather than pierce little holes to make their way through – this is bad for knits!

Stripey - topstitching
You may also want a twin needle for topstitching – especially if you don’t have a coverstitch machine (Does anyone here have a coverstitch machine? Can I borrow it?). Twin needles are awesome because they will do a perfect row of double stitching on top, and a neat little zig-zag on the bottom. You can get these in all sizes, weights – including ballpoint! – and stitch widths. I use them in place of the zig zag for my top stitching, as I think it looks a little more professional. Keep in mind these are for topstitching only; the stitches they produce are not strong enough to handle seams. You do need two spools of thread to use a double needle; wind some thread onto a bobbin if you don’t have a second spool on hand.

Special stitches are used to construct knits (assuming you aren’t using a serger – if you are, high five!) – you want the stitch to stretch with the fabric, or else you’re going to hear a lot of popping when you pull on your new tshirt. A straight stitch won’t do. And by “special stitches,” I am referring to the good ol’ zig zag stitch. If you want to make your seams a little more sturdy, adjust the zig zag width to be slightly more narrow – but not too narrow, or you’ll make the stitch too dense to actually stretch. Play around with a few scraps of your fabric and see what works best for you.

If your machine is computerized and has the ability to end a stitch in the “needle-down” position, go ahead and engage that – it it helpful for stretching as you sew, without risking pulling everything off the sewing machine. If your machine doesn’t have this feature, just turn the handwheel until the needle is down before you start pulling on your fabric.

If you have a walking foot or dual feed, these are also very nice for keeping the knits from getting too ripply. If you don’t have anything like that, no worries! You can still sew up some pretty knits 🙂

stripery dress with pink colorblocks

Knit Tips!

When sewing with woven (aka non-stretchy) fabrics, you can kind of fudge the grainlines. It’s not ideal, but the garment will still work as long as you’re not trading bias for straight. With that being said, this does NOT work with knits! It is important to place your pattern on the fabric according to the stretch direction (if you’re not sewing up a 4-way stretch jersey or whatever), otherwise you may not be able to get that shirt over your head.

You want your stretch to run horizontally across the body, not vertical. For neck/sleeve bands, the stretch needs to run the length of the band. I know this sounds really “Well no shit, Sherlock” but you’d be amazed at how many failed knit projects I chucked in the trash due to not figuring out where stretch was necessary. Learn from my mistakes.

Sewing on knit bands with a serger

Using the stretch to your advantage is the easiest way to get your knit garments looking supa fly. I am a big fan of foregoing an actual hem on my knits and just making little neck and arm and hem bands to keep everything nice & clean. However, these can really make or break a garment – especially if they end up too loose & floppy when sewn in. The bands need to be a bit shorter than the edge that they are being sewn onto, especially when dealing with necklines & arms. This allows the band to curve nicely and lie flat, without the use of additional stitches to hold it down. If you are sewing up your Renfrew top with something more stretchy than a stable knit, you will want to cut your neckband pieces down an inch or so to take advantage of that nice stretch. When you sew up your pattern, carefully stretch the band to fit – you should just be able to pull gently. It helps to sew with the band on top, so you can control how much you pull.

If you do want to make a hem on your knit that doesn’t involve bands, you can do a nice basic hem using your twin needles. Patty’s Knit 101 post has a lot of great info for this!

Knit - stabilizing shoulders
Make sure you stabilize your shoulders – otherwise you will risk stretching them out. A little piece of twill tape or clear elastic is perfect for this. I like to pin mine to the back, centered on the seam, and then top stitch with a double needle. Quick and gets the point across!

PROTIP: Knits look wavy when they are laying flat on a table. This does not mean you failed at sewing. Nine times out of ten, when you put the garment on, the fabric will stretch to accommodate and smooth itself out. Don’t stress unnecessarily over a wavy seam!

white/purple plaid sweater dress

I think that about covers the basics – really, the best way to learn is to just jump in & play around with fabrics & stitches! Try starting out with something really basic & easy – the Renfrew is a great, hand-holding pattern. You could even use it to resize a larger tshirt, which will help you get more comfortable with stretchier fabrics & that zig zag stitch. Don’t worry if your first few attempts leave a little to be desired – it takes practice!

Fabric Stash - knits
A giant stash of knit fabrics to play with doesn’t hurt either 🙂

I am by no means a professional, but I’ve definitely sewn up my share of knit fabrics 🙂 Have any questions you don’t see covered here? See any designs you want a tutorial on? Leave a comment & I’ll see what I can do!

Tutorial: Using Bias Tape As A Facing

22 Feb

Continuing with my sewing-for-the-wrong-season theme (spring, please get here now!), my current project is a simple little gingham sundress. As I mentioned yesterday, I am using the Peony pattern sans sleeves – summer dresses don’t need sleeves! Here is my inspiration, if you wanna be inspired too!:) I squeezed this out of a sale remnant (1.5 yards @ 44″, if you’re curious!), which left no room for facings. That’s fine, I guess, because I don’t really feel like drafting facings for those arm holes. Onto the next best thing – bias tape!

Bias tape is a great alternative to facing – whether you are working with a fabric that is too thick to use as a facing, or too uncomfortable to wear next to the skin, or maybe you just want something lightweight & unfussy! It gives a nice clean finish with considerably little effort. I personally like to make my own bias tape – the Coletterie has a great tutorial on how to do this – as I find the packaged stuff to be too stiff and bulky. Making your own bias tape also gives you all kinds of options – contrasting colors, patterns, something to give the inside of your garment a little pop! Yellow bias tape would be so fun with this dress! I had to make do with what I had on hand, though, so mine is white.

Here is my method for sewing in a bias tape facing – I understand there are different ways to do this (such as Colette’s Sorbetto top), so use what you will!

You are going to start by sewing up your garment as usual – should seams, side seams – as we are going to insert the bias tape in the round. If you are using bias tape to face the neckline, insert your zipper as well. I’m just focusing on the arm holes here.

Trim down the seam allowance minus the width of the fold of your bias tape – in my case, my bias tape is 1/2″, so the folds are 1/4″. I trimmed off 1/2″, as the seam allowance for this is 5/8″.

Open up the bias tape and fold under 1/2″ at the beginning. Press.

On the right side of the garment, pin the opened bias tape right sides together around the arm hole, matching the raw edges.

Sew the whole thing down, positioning your needle in the crease of the bias tape. Don’t sew over your pins!!!

Clip the seam allowance every 1/2″ or so to ensure that the tape will lie smoothly. Be careful not to clip into your stitching. If your main fabric is bulky, you may want to grade down the seam as well.

Now fold the bias tape over so it is on the wrong side of the garment and carefully pin into place.
You can sew the tape down on your machine, or by hand (like I did). Sorry the picture doesn’t show so well! I slip-stitched to the underlining only, to keep the stitches from showing on the right side.

Give your arm holes a good press with the steam iron to ease out any wrinkles.

And you’re done!


My next dilemma – how to trim up this dress! I do want to incorporate some yellow, so I pulled out all my yellow notions & threw them in a pile in the middle of my sewing table. I have buttons (1/2″ and giant 1.5″!), tiny rick-rack, wide lace, a scant piece of piping (enough for maybe a neckline or a waist), seam binding, and of course the petersham that is choking poor Dolly. The petersham is probably going to turn into a belt, since I only have a yard of it. What would you do? Jazz it up, or keep it simple?

Completed: Cinnamon Slip

21 Feb

It’s a little early for me to jump in the spring clothing game, but holyyyyy mother the weather has been positively spring-like here! Well, except on Sunday – we had “snow” (you know, that weird slightly frozen rain that just makes a slush mess on your windshield? Yeah, ew) and it was so cold, I refused to get off the couch/out of my pajamas. But it’s back to the 60s today and I’m ready for this warm weather to stick around for good! Can’t hurt to make some springy clothes that could be layered to ward of a little chill, eh? Eh?

I got this pattern as a Christmas present from my baby brother (thank you, Matt! You are the best :D) – I really love wearing vintage slips around the house (and, er, sometimes out in public :B) in the warmer months. That’s some dainty shit! Unfortunately, vintage slips are difficult to find in my size… and I don’t care to pay the super marked up prices that resellers charge. I don’t mind makin’ em, though! Especially when it means I can use colors that aren’t pastel and fabrics that aren’t slippery nylon. Whee!

Cinnamon Slip

I’ve never sewn up a whole bias garment before – bias skirts, yes, and bias midriffs. Never the whole thing! So this was an interesting experience. The pattern has lots of information on working with bias – including what stitches to use & where. I was a little put off at the suggestion to use a small zig zag stitch to construct everything, but I ended up following the instructions to a T since I figure Sarai knows more about this stuff than I do 🙂 I do like the finished result!

Cinnamon Slip
I do have a couple small fitting concerns – the center point of the V is not flat against my body; it sticks up a little. And there are wrinkles across the top of the midriff. I’m guessing I need to cut my next one a size bigger – this is a 2, with a 4 bust, and it fits reeeally perfectly except for those wrinkles. It doesn’t look so bad in the photos but it is definitely noticeable in real life.

Cinnamon Slip
The fabric is a lovely cotton voile that I picked up for a steal last summer at my local fabric store – I think I paid like $3 a yard for this stuff! It’s totally NOT my style – I don’t care much for the super sweet florals, or lavender for that matter – but it was sooo soft, it just kind of leapt into my arms. I love how it looks & feels as a slip dress, though! And it made the whole bias experience much easier than if I had started out with a giant piece of slippery silk.

The print *is* a little busy, though, so I raided my stash for trim to highlight that pretty midriff detail. This lavender ribbon matches perfectly – no idea where it came from, or why it was in my stash, but yay for being a stash hoarder!

Cinnamon Slip

Cinnamon Slip - ribbon detail
Here is some ribbon detail. It’s sewn on with a tiny zig zag stitch – amazingly, I had matching lavender thread on hand too! What are the odds?

I made this slip with the intention of it being for around-the-house wear, but I think it really looks like a casual sundress. I can totally see myself wearing this to the park with some flats and a light cardigan. What do y’all think? Strictly slip or approps for public wear as well?

Cinnamon Slip

As a side note, here’s a sneaky peaky at my next project – another summer dress!
Next project - gingham peony
It’s a Peony, in some gingham that’s been lurking in my stash for about a year (actually, I think I bought it at the same time/from the same sale rack as that floral voile lol). Not sure what I’m going to do with the petersham yet; I do want to incorporate some yellow so the dress isn’t so Dorothy 🙂

And check this out –
sheer vs underlined
I underlined the pieces since they were so sheer. Pretty amazing how much of a different underlining makes! The blues & whites are much more vibrant now!

Completed: Another Stripey Renfrew Top

17 Feb

Didn’t see this one coming, did ya? 🙂

I bought this stripey jersey fabric on my last big fabric excursion, right before I enabled The Ban. Actually, I bought it because I *thought* it was navy/white striped, but upon closer inspection it would appear to favor black over navy. Oh well! Anyway, this top was screaming to be a Renfrew – so there ya go! I’m clearly not the only person who wanted their Renfrew to be stripey-delicious, although mine is a little different because I didn’t cut my bands out of the stripey fabric. Solid black over here!

I did save my stripey pieces, though, so watch out for them – they may end up banding a solid colored shirt 🙂

Not much else to report here – it’s a tshirt, and I made it up (cutting included!) in less than 2 hours. LOVE.

I’m actually pretty surprised I got the stripes on the sleeves (mostly)matched up with the stripes on the body. That definitely was not something I made an effort towards.

The sides match up until about 3″ below the armpits. I think anyone who is staring at my armpits long enough to realize that the stripes don’t match up has bigger problems than me, just sayin’.


Stripey - topstitching
I managed to get a much more clear shot of the double-needle topstitching.


In other news – I signed up for a Twitter account! Actually, I think Twitter is kind of stupid but since I don’t really venture into blogland on the weekends, I like the idea of having Twitter around for communication. So please add me – I went through a few fellow sewists friends lists and added 6 people (and Pee Wee Herman because, well, why not?) but then I got overwhelmed and gave up. And now my only follower is some spambot who keeps tweeting about sex & debt, ew. So if you have Twitter, let’s follow each other! I’m LLLLADYBIRD!

Also, check out my sweater progress –
Agatha sweater - right side
Kinda looks like a tiny vest, amirite?

Agatha sweater - on form
I put it on my form, but my circular needles are just barely long enough to knit this comfortably, so I didn’t stretch it to pull across the front. So here’s the back! I’ve knitted a few rows since taking this picture – that yarn-butt on the shoulder is now part of the sweater, and I’ve officially started my second ball of yarn 🙂 Yay!

Ok, I’m going to go figure this Twitter thing out some more.


Happy Friday! 😀

Completed: Colette Clovers (again!) (but these are modified!)

16 Feb

I guess these are technically a “wearable muslin,” but bear with me here. This is the sixth time I’ve made these pants… and I think I’m finally happy with the fit. We’ve had some trial & error, some hair pulling, and a lot of wasted fabric. But on the flip side, I really feel like a Fitting Guru now *and* I’ve used up a significant portion of the weird stretch polyester that I can’t seem to get rid of.

I completely & shameless ripped these off thanks to two completely different sources. For starts, I found myself in the Gap a couple of weeks ago (totally weird in itself, since I never buy RTW from the mall anymore. Handmade or thrifted, thanks!) and I just fell in love with these high-rise flared trousers. Until I tried them on, that is, and realized they were a whopping 8″ too long on me – at 5’2″ (and a half!), I am shorter than average, but I ain’t that short, y’all! And they couldn’t be hemmed, because then I would have lost all that delicious flare. Anyway, they didn’t fit me too hot (too stretchy, plumber’s crack waistband, smile wrinkles all over the crotch, etc) and they were $69, so I tucked the inspiration away in my head and moved on with my life.

Imagine my delight when I discovered Sallieoh’s fabulous red pair – I mean, look at those pants! LOOK AT THEM. Perfect little trouser pants! I DIE. I immediately put the rest of my sewing on hold because, pants. And Sallieoh was so kind enough to provide a series of very detailed tutorials, which saved me all the trouble of figuring that shit out for myself. Thank you, lady! The only part I strayed from the tutorials was to add a flare to my legs – I used instructions from Patternmaking for Apparel Design (a book I’ve had in my possession for a few years now and never actually used… don’t beat me!) and added a ~9″ flare starting at the knee.

I think my pattern could still use a little bit of tweaking to get it perfect – the back dips a little too much, and I need to get that button tab on the waistband under control. But for a wearable muslin, these ain’t half bad! I am going to make them again in my nice lightweight, stretchy denim. These current pants look fine but the polyester isn’t exactly the most comfortable thing to be wearing against one’s skin 🙂

My apologies in advance for the pictures – navy doesn’t photograph too well! Ughhhhh

Navy Trousers

Navy Trousers
Haha goddd my hair looks ridiculous

Navy Trousers

Ok, these pictures are bad… have some super-lightened close-ups.

Navy Trousers

Navy Trousers
I’m sorry for making y’all look at my ass, but don’t these pants fit so nice? 🙂

Navy Trousers

Navy Trousers - flare leg
Flare leg

Navy Trousers
I know, I know – the button tab looks bad. Whatever, wearable muslin!

Navy Trousers
I’ve sewn up a fly or two in my time, but never a fly shield! How exciting!

I feel pretty good about these – they are exactly what I wanted! And pants are so easy to sew up once you get that fit part down.

Navy Trousers


Sewing Fail: Amy Butler Sweet Harmony Handbag

15 Feb

I try to put my very best effort into every thing I make, but still a lot of my sewing projects don’t go exactly as planned. Usually I can salvage them – adjust the fit, hack a dress apart to make a skirt, add fabric panels, etc – but occasionally I end up with wadders & sewing fails. I don’t normally post them – mostly because they don’t normally happen (as far as Lord-this-can’t-be-saved pieces) – but I’m going to put myself out on a limb for y’all today. Also, I think it’s kind of funny and I like laughing.

So here it is – the Amy Butler Sweet Harmony handbag FAIL.

Bag fail
It doesn’t look too bad at the first glance – kind of lumpy, and the handle is doing something weird, but that can be overlooked, y/y? I must admit that this bag is definitely a Monet – from far away it looks ok, but up close it’s just a big ol’ mess.

Let’s look at the other side!

Bag fail
Oh, that’s nice – what the hell is that giant dent over the cell phone pocket? What the hell is the cell phone pocket even doing? And look at the handle – that seam is supposed to be at the bottom, not turned up to the side.

Bag fail
Here, I have stuffed some fabric (isn’t that fabric delightful, btw?) in to show you what it looks like closed. WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK.

I’m going to take a break here and explain why this bag failed. First of all, I definitely used the wrong fabric and interfacing. The pattern calls for quilting cottons or home decorator fabric… and I used some squishy wool coating (very similar to wool crepe). When I was interfacing my pieces, I realized I didn’t buy enough fusible (I went by the pattern directions, but good ol’ Amy didn’t bother to mention that her suggested fusible yardage was for 44″ wide, not the standard 22″ wide), so a lot – like, half – of the pieces are interfaced with sew-in interfacing. This does NOT provide enough structure, especially coupled up with that squishy-ass coating. Also, the coating snags quite easily, which makes the whole thing look cheap and, well, shitty. Also, Amy Butler is totally onto me.

The next problem – and the biggest one, imo – is that I got way too frustrated with the bag and rushed through it as quickly as possible. I’m a pretty fast sewer, but I absolutely have my limits and when they are reached I have to stop because otherwise I start getting sloppy. This bag is a prime example of LT being sloppy – the seam allowances are crooked, the corners are fudged pretty badly, and the whole inside is just wack. Oh god, the inside LOL. Hold on, I want to show you the inside.

Bag fail
See where I didn’t clip the seam allowance at the curve? Or how about the fact that the lining does not fit in there at all? The whole thing is just… wrinkled and poochy. Ew.

Some more Bag Fail pictures:
Bag fail
This is what the bag looks like open – gap fail. You can also see where the interfacing & outer fabric are pulling away from each other.

Bag fail
The bottom is a special piece of work all on it’s own – I sewed the bottom panel on, realized I didn’t quite catch the fabric on one side, but instead of picking the stitches out like a normal person, I just hand stitched it together. Yeah, that looks real nice.

Here is the picture that makes the laugh the hardest.

Are you ready?

Bag fail

I will have you know that I actually carried this bag around over the weekend, despite hating every second of it. I carried it aaaall the way to Atlanta, and seriously considered leaving it behind every time we stopped in a store. I still don’t know what to do with it. I actually feel bad taking it to Goodwill. I might just throw it away (after I salvage the purse snaps, of course!) – it is that bad.

As an apology for making you sit through multiple pictures of something that looks like my cat threw up, here are some images of Landon & myself wearing furry hats at the H&M in Atlanta:
LT in a furry hat

Landon in a furry hat

Anyone else have a sewing fail they want to share with the group? C’mon, it’s FUNNY.