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OAL2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

18 Jun

Good morning, everyone! If you are participating in this year’s OAL, you should be rocking and rolling along with both your sewing & knitting projects. As I mentioned in the announcement, I will not be offering full tutorials for sewing the Lander Pants – there is a great sewalong available for free on the True Bias website, should you need the additional support – but I did want to pop in and share an alternate method for sewing the belt loops & attaching the waistband. Even if you are not participating in this year’s OAL, I hope you will find this useful!

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

You’ll want to make your belt loops before you attach the waistband (note that you can also attach the belt loops after the waistband if you prefer! For the sake of simplicity, I am following the pattern directions here). The pattern has you sew a tube that you turn right side out and press flat. This is a great method if you are sewing with a lightweight fabric, but it can be a nightmare to try to turn that skinny tube if you are using a heavier fabric, especially denim. Even my red linen doesn’t like being pulled like that! So here is an alternate method if you are using a thicker fabric, or just hate turning tubes πŸ™‚

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Finish one long edge of the belt loop piece. I used a serger, but you can also sew over the edge with a zigzag stitch, or bind with fabric.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

The pattern is designed for the finished belt loops to be about 1/2″ wide. You may want to trim 1/8″ off the long (unfinished) edge of your piece if you want to maintain that measurement. Otherwise, your belt loops will end up being about 5/8″ wide.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband
OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Starting with the unfinished side, fold the belt loop into thirds with the right sides facing. You will end with the finished edge on top, hiding all raw edges. Be nitpicky here and do your best to get the finished edge right EXACTLY on top of the first fold.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Topstitch along both long sides at 1/8″. This is why it is so important to get the finished edge right on the fold – if you are too close to the center, the stitching line won’t catch it.

And that’s it! This gives the same effect as the turned-tube-belt-loop-, but I find it a lot easier to sew. From here, you can cut your belt loop into 5 pieces and attach them to the top of the pants as instructed.

Now, for the waistband!

If this tutorial seems like deja vu, it’s because I’ve showed it before on my blog! I wanted to show it again for those who missed it the first time, and also to show that it does work for one piece waistbands as well as two piece!

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

On your interfaced waistband piece, fold up one long edge a little bit less than the seam allowance (this pattern is 1/2″, so I folded up my edge at 3/8″) and press.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

This is gonna seem ass-backwards – just bear with me! Attach the waistband to the INSIDE of the pants, with the right side of the waistband facing the wrong side of the pants. Sew all the way around at your normal seam allowance, making sure to leave at least 1/2″ overhang at each end (you can always cut off any excess). You will sew all the way around, from one opening to the other. If your pants have a zipper, make sure that it is unzipped and sew right across the zipper – just go slow so you don’t break your needle on the teeth.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Now you’ll fold the waistband back on itself, with the right sides facing. The side that has been folded and pressed – i.e., the side that was not sewn to the pants) should hang below by about 1/8″-1/16″. This is to ensure that the stitching line you just did will be covered when you turn the waistband right side out.

Now, stitch along the short edge, keeping in line with the center front edge of the pants. It may be helpful to draw a guideline here first with a ruler (which is exactly what I do – no shame here!).

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Trim one of the seam allowance layers in half. Do not trim the corner, keep some seam allowance there.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Now you will turn the waistband right side out! To get a nice, crisp corner, start by sticking your thumb in the waistband up to the corner.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

While your thumb is still in that corner, use your pointer finger to push the seam allowance down to one side (doesn’t matter which side) (Sorry, I don’t have pretty hands haha)

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband
OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Keeping your fingers in that weird pinch, turn the waistband out to the right side.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

You should end up with a nice sharp corner here! You can use a point turner to really push the edge out if you need it to be even sharper πŸ™‚ By holding the seam allowances in place when you turn right side out, this keeps the corner sharp (rather than trying to crap the seam allowances in after the fact). Keeping a bit of fabric in the seam allowances (rather than trimming down aggressively) also adds some structure to that corner, so it doesn’t collapse on itself.

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

Finally, you can pin the remainder of your waistband down and topstitch from the right side, making sure to cover the first stitching line. I like to start at the center back and go all the way around the long rectangle, ending where I started. You can then cover the backstitching with a belt loop πŸ™‚

OAL 2018: Belt Loops & Waistband

And that’s it! I love this method for attaching a waistband, because it ensures you get a beautiful, even topstitch on the outside without having to worry about catching the facing on the inside! It’s just EASY and basically fool-proof! You can also use this method for sewing in the round waistbands, cuffs (buttoned or in the round) and even collar stands.

Let me know if you have any questions!

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Tutorial: Adjusting Crotch Depth (OAL2018)

5 Jun

Good morning, everyone!

In light of the official start to the OAL2018, I wanted to share a little tutorial for a very common pants adjustment – adjusting crotch depth. Even if you are not participating in the OAL, I hope you will find this useful! As I mentioned, this is a very common adjustment (at least half of my students in every Sew Your Own Jeans workshop that I teach ends up needing to make this adjustment!) that is a lot easier than it sounds.

This is the only pants-fitting post I’ll be doing for this OAL – most other adjustments can be done after the pants are basted at the side seams. If you have more pants-fitting needs, I absolutely recommend getting a copy of Pants for Real People (which is where the image below is from) – it is a fantastic resource that is full of valuable information and my top reference book when I’m fitting pants! Another post to check out is the Common Fitting Adjustments in the Lander Sewalong!

Common Pants Fit Adjustments – From Pants for Real People

So what does it mean to adjust crotch depth? The depth (versus the length, which runs from front waist to back waist) is the distance from your waist to the bottom of your crotch – i.e., the determining factor between a drop crotch and cameltoe. If you’ve ever had a wedgie, your depth is too short. Pants crotch hanging WAY lower than your actual crotch? Your depth is too long.

Since we are all special little sewing snowflakes (sewflakes?), all of our bodies are different – even in ways that aren’t super visible. Which means that not every single pants draft is going to fit every single person flawlessly – it’s just not possible. Personally, I have found that I have a slightly shorter crotch depth and generally need to make this adjustment with nearly every single pair of pants I sew. It’s not a hard adjustment to make, but if you’ve never seen is done before, it can be a little difficult to wrap your head around. Hopefully this tutorial will give you some insight on how to do it!

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

First, you’ll want to make a muslin of your pants (or at the very least – a shorts version of the pants). Sew the front and back as instructed. You don’t need to include the whole fly setup (unless you want to practice sewing it!) or waistband (unless you anticipate needing to change it to a curved waistband). Pin the fly shut and move around a bit. Don’t freak out over wrinkles – muslin wrinkles like crazy (mine are extra bad because I pulled these out of my rag pile, true story) and doesn’t have as much “give” as your regular fabric. Feel where the crotch is in relation to your body – is it hanging too low and causing extra folds due to excess length? Is it all up in your business and giving you cameltoe?

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

For a low-hanging crotch, pinch out the excess somewhere along the depth and pin it until it feels right. DO NOT OVERPIN – you don’t want to give yourself cameltoe (learn from my mistakes, people). Walk around, make sure you can sit, and let them settle a little. Likely, you won’t need to make a massive adjustment here – between 1/4″ – 1/2″ is most common. Little tiny fractions make a big difference when it comes to fit!

If your problem is the opposite and you need to add length, the easiest way to do this is to slice across the front of the pants and insert a strip of fabric (I just pin this, although you can sew it in, too). Pull down the bottom portion until the crotch feels like it is in the correct spot, then pin to the fabric strip.

I realize you likely cannot see a difference between those two photos (I mean… I definitely can’t haha). Like I said – it’s a small adjustment, and not always visible. But you can feel it!

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Check the back to be sure there aren’t any depth adjustments needed. I’d say that maybe 1 out of every 15-20 students of mine need to actually adjust the back – it’s usually all in the front. If you do need to adjust the back, do so the same way you adjusted the front. Mine looks fine, so I left it as is.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Now take your muslin off, and measure the distance from pin to fold – or the additional length added by the strip of fabric. If you are only adjusting the front, then only measure at center front. If you are adjusting front + back, measure at the side as well as the center front and center back. This is how much you need to either add or remove from the depth.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

Now how to translate this to your pattern? Easy! Your pattern piece should have a lengthen/shorten line that cuts across the fly (if it doesn’t – first of all, SHAME ON THAT PATTERNMAKER, but second, it’s easy to just add it somewhere in that general area nbd). If you are only shortening the front crotch, you will cut along that line from center front *just* to the side seam. Do not cut through the side seam – you want to leave a hinge. If you are also adjusting the back, cut straight across from edge to edge.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

To lengthen, spread the pieces apart until the center front matches the measurement you took, and then fill the gap with paper and tape closed. If you are only lengthening the front, it should fade to nothing at the side seam.

OAL2018: Shorten Front Crotch

To shorten, overlap the pieces until the center front is overlapped by the amount you measured. Again, if you are only adjusting the front, it should fade to nothing at the side seams/hinge.

If you need to adjust all the way around to the back, you’ll want to walk your pattern pieces to make sure that the side seams still match after making your adjustment.

Finally, redraw any wonky links or curves (such as the crotch curve if you overlapped – just smooth the curve) and straighten the grainline if necessary. You will also want to shorten or length your fly pieces (shield, facing, etc) the same amount so that they match up when you sew them together. I strongly advise making another muslin as this point to be sure that they changes didn’t wonk something up. You do you, though!

And that’s it! Like I said, a really easy adjustment that can make a world of difference in how your pants fit and feel. This is definitely the most common adjustment I see in my Sew Your Own Jeans workshops, so I wanted to share it here too!

Machine Review: Janome CoverPro 2000CPX

17 Jan

Good morning, everyone! As I mentioned in my year end post (as well as on Instagram a few times!) – I bought a Coverstitch machine in October! Specifically, a Janome CoverPro 2000CPX, which I purchased from Craft South here in Nashville. Now that I’ve had a couple of months to play with the machine and learn more about it, it’s time for a review post! Get a cup of tea, this one is long.

coverpro review

The Janome CoverPro 2000CPX is a 4 thread coverstitch that can accommodate up to 3 needles. It has minimal differences from the 1000CPX, which I also considered buying – basically, it’s a little easier to thread. There is also a 2 needle 2000CPX, but I wanted the 3 needle.

I chose this particular brand for 2 reasons – first of all, Janome tends to get very high praise for their coverstitch machines. This machine is pretty popular and gets great reviews across the board. It’s inexpensive (but not cheap), easy to thread, and provides a nice variety of stitches. Full disclosure for reason #2 – I work at Craft South, and I got a very generous employee discount with this machine purchase. This also swayed my decision, however, I was considering this machine before I even started working at Craft South (and I’m not gonna lie – knowing I’d get a discount on it was part of the reason why I agreed to work there, haha). While I did purchase this machine with my own money, it was discounted.

Why a coverstitch machine? Y’all. I have wanted one of these since 2007, no exaggeration. I put it on my wishlist every single year, and every year I convince myself that it’s a frivolous purchase. Since buying this machine and using it, I have learned that it does do more than just hem – however, it’s still an expensive machine that only does a few things. I ultimately decided to buy this machine because I do occasional alterations + fitting for clients, plus I got that discount, so it made sense for me to own one. However, it took me 10 years to decide to buy one. Don’t feel bad if you are still in twin needle mode when you hem your knits!

One question that I get a lot is – what is the difference between a coverstitch machine and a serger? Basically, a serger is used for creating + finishing seams – it has a knife blade that cuts the excess fabric so threads can wrap around the edge. It is great for knits as the stitches stretch with the fabric. A coverstitch does not seam, it only finishes. You can use it for hemming, attaching binding or foldover elastic, or creating decorative stitches (but not creating the actual seams). It is also ideal for knits, as the stitches stretch. If you are deciding between the 2 machines, I find a serger to be more useful for the most part. If you are debating on getting one of those 2-in-1 serger/coverstitch combos… don’t. They are a pain to use (you have to pretty much disassemble them each time you want to switch between machines) and cost the same as having 2 separate machines. Unless space is a big issue, get 2 separate machines.

All right, that all out of the way – let’s talk about the machine!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx

Here is the machine in all it’s glory. Yay!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - free arm

One of the features it includes is a free arm (so you can sew small things in the round, like the hem of a sleeve). This is the free arm. I don’t know why but this is very hilarious to me, it’s so tiny!

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

When you open the coverstitch, it’s pretty clean and empty on the inside. There is only 1 looper to thread, and it’s very, very easy. Like, threading a sewing machine easy (not like threading a serger).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading

One of the nice features of this machine is that the looper has a tab to pull it out so you can more easily thread it (unlike some sergers where you have to use tweezers to weasel the thread in the looper hole under the needle plate, lord, I’m getting the sweats just thinking about that shit lol). This one pops out, so you can thread it and pop it back in.

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitch options

The inside of the machine shows all the different stitch types that are available – two and three thread overlock, and a chainstitch. Since the machine has 3 needles, it means you have more options in terms of stitch width and needle position (something I didn’t consider when I purchased the machine but I’m pretty stoked about now!).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - threading guide

There’s also a diagram on how to thread the machine. See what I mean? Fucking easy.

Using the machine was definitely a steep learning curve for me – my serger (a Babylock Imagine) does automatic tension adjustments, so I don’t have a lot of experience with manually adjusting tension to correct my stitches (that serger is awesome btw, I’ve had it for nearly 10 years and I swear to god if it broke I would buy another one in a heartbeat haha). There are needle tension dials on this serger, plus looper tension, PLUS another switch that goes from “soft” to “tight.” The user manual is very brief, but my understanding is that soft is ideal for your lightweight fabrics and single/double layers that experience fabric curling and tunneling. The tight is for heavier fabrics, multiple layers (such as flatlocking or applying binding), especially if you are prone to skipped stitches. You can also adjust the tension on the needles for tunneling and skipped stitches.

Something else I have noticed with this machine is that it prefers a heavier needle if I am sewing through multiple layers (again, flatlocking or binding, or using a heavy fabric). It really does best with a 90/14. If you experience skipped stitches, I would recommend changing to a heavier needle and see if that helps.

One thing to keep in mind when using this machine is that you have to knot your threads or they will unravel the second you look at them. Once you are finished sewing, you pull the needle threads to the back and knot them by hand. I didn’t realize this at first and could not understand why my hems were coming unraveled so quickly haha.

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitches, front

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx - stitches, back

Here are the stitch options, front and back. From left to right:
– Binding: 2 needles + looper. I used a binding attachment for this! There are several size options of attachments, mine is the wider one (42mm-12mm). The finished binding is roughly 3/8″ wide. You cut strips of binding (this example is a woven, but it is AWESOME for knits) or use foldover elastic, feed them into the attachment and the machine wraps it around your fabric and stitches it in one go! It’s super fast and fun, but that shit was a steep learning curve. Also, that attachment is not cheap. Again, I got mine at a discount, but it was still a bit eye-wateringly expensive, just FYI.
– Chainstitch: Single needle + looper. This can be used to baste (apparently, since it’s easy to pull out. Jury is still out on that one in my experience tho), or hem jeans (look at your RTW jeans! The hem is chainstitched!). What I use it for is single-needle topstitching on knits, like on a neckline. It looks really clean and neat – but unlike a regular sewing machine, it also stretches!
– 3 needle coverstitch: 3 needles + looper. This creates a nice, stretchy hem for knits. Another thing you can use this stitch for is a mock flatlock. Serge your seams as normal, then stitch over them with the 3 needle coverstitch, with the needles on the wrong side of your garment (so the looper side ends up on the right side). It functions just like a flatlock – reasonably flat (non-irritating), strong, stretchy, and looks cool!
– 2 needle coverstitch: 2 needles + looper. You have several options for this stitch, since there are 3 places to put your 2 needles. Narrow or wide (shown above is wide), left or right. I have found that I prefer the wide for hemming, and the narrow with both needles to the left when using my binding attachment. You can also use this to do a mock flatlock, but I think the 3 needle version looks better.

So far, I’ve used my machine to make loads of underwear and tank tops. The binding attachment is perfect for finishing all the edges very quickly (again, you can either use strips of knit fabric or foldover elastic) while still keeping them stretchy like you’d get with regular lingerie elastic. The 3 thread coverstitch is awesome for activewear and creating flatlock seams that don’t rub or chafe and also look super professional. And, of course, I love using the 2 or 3 thread coverstitch for hemming my knits!

If you’re interested in seeing how the binder on this machine works, I have made it a highlighted story on my Instagram (computer users, I think you have to be on the actual app to view it). It’s pretty awesome! I will write a more in-depth post on using the binder, stay tuned for that.

So, do you need a coverstitch machine? Honestly, I can’t answer that question for you – it depends on how much you sew, your budget, and the amount of space you have to store one. Since I do this work professionally (and also sell these machines at the shop!), it made sense for me to own one. This machine does do a great hem on knits, but there is certainly a learning curve involved and it’s pretty expensive considering it only does a handful of functions. I also really really REALLY love that binding attachment; it’s great for finishing edges on underwear and activewear. However, a regular machine can also apply binding – albeit not as quickly and not with quite the same finish.

In regards to the learning curve – well, there is one. It took me several days of playing around with the machine, testing different stitches, settings and fabrics, before I felt like I really had a good handle on how the machine works. The only way to get past the learning curve is by PRACTICE. No amount of blog posts, YouTube videos, internet research, or telling everyone how scared you are of your machine is going to magically make it suddenly easy to understand. Get a glass of wine, put on some Duran Duran, and get to know your machine. Learn what works, what doesn’t work, try different needles and tension settings, rip out your stitches, make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and take a lot of notes because I guarantee you won’t remember half this shit the next day. Like parallel parking a car for the first time, yes it’s a hot mess in the beginning. But eventually you get past fear and start working in autopilot. And also, for the record, I am an excellent parallel parker (after many, many years of practice lol).

Janome Coverpro 2000cpx

If you are considering this machine, my advice NOT to buy this online (even if it’s cheaper). Your local shop will be able to show you how to use the machine and answer questions and troubleshooting you may have. I also am real big into supporting your local shop, and keeping them in business πŸ™‚ If you don’t have a local shop that sells Janome – and this post swayed your decision to a yes – you can buy one from me at Craft SouthΒ πŸ™‚ We ship to anywhere in the US for free and offer a discount below the MSRP you see on Janome’s website. There are no affiliate links in this post, however, I do receive a commission for every machine sale I make through our shop. FYI!

Whew! Ok, I think that’s a long enough post so I’m gonna wrap this up. Did I miss anything about this machine that you still have a burning question for? Do you have a coverstitch machine? Are you gonna buy one now? πŸ˜‰

OAL2017: Invisible Zipper + Hemming

30 Jun

Hello, everyone! I’m back from Belize, burned butt and all (this dum-dum didn’t think about how her ass would literally be the ONLY thing sticking out of the water while snorkeling… oh well, worth it! I swam with sharks and stingrays and even waved at a manatee! He responded by showing off with an underwater somersault!). One more final OAL post, to wrap up our dresses and then get back to normal (post-vacation) (post OAL) life!

This post is pretty redundant as I’ve covered invisible zippers in the past, but I’m always keen to take some ~fresh photos~. Plus, this shows you how to insert an invisible zipper with the facing already sewn in, and a French seam at the bottom!

If you are sewing a lapped zipper, here is a tutorial for that! Or you can do an exposed zipper! THIS IS YOUR DRESS, U DO U.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start by measuring exactly where your zipper stop will hit (or use the pattern marking if that’s your jam) and sew up to the marking, starting from the bottom and backstitching to secure. If you are using French seams, clip into the seam allowance right above the marking so the rest of the opening is free and can lie flat.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finish the seam allowances where the zipper will go (a really lovely touch would be to bind these with self-fabric post zipper insertion, but since my fabric is sooo light, I am just serging here). I also like to apply a length of fusible stay tape along the seam allowance of opening, to give the fabric from extra stability.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Place your zipper with the right side facing down (so the straight side without teeth is next to the finished seam allowance, and the bulk of the teeth is facing upwards), aligning the zipper stop about 1/8″ away from the seam where the facing meets the bodice (if you want to insert a hook and eye, you can lower the zipper stop as needed).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Start your sewing at the top stop (leaving the tail above the stop free), working your way down to the bottom of the zipper. You will want to use an invisible zipper foot- yesss, you can use a regular zipper foot if you want but OMGAH this foot will make your life sooo much easier I swear. Regardless, you want to line up your fabric edge with the 5/8″ marking on your throat plate (or whatever your seam allowance is) and determine your zipper placement from there. Sew down as far as you can, and then backstitch.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Before you attach the opposite side, zip the zipper closed and mark any matching points (such as the waist seam) with a pin or marking tool. When you place the zipper tape on the seam allowance to sew the opposite side, it makes it easier to match that point so the lines are uninterrupted.

Sew the opposite zipper side as you did the first one, again, starting from the top and working down to the bottom. If your machine does not that seam allowance markings on the left hand side, measure out the distance with a seam gauge and mark it with a piece of tape or a post-it note.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Here is the zipper after it has been sewn in. You can go ahead and try on your dress to make sure you like the fit (as you can probably see, mine was way too loose in the waist and I had to DETACH THE ENTIRE SKIRT to take in the waist seams, lord, my life).

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
If you measured accurately, your zipper *should* have ended right where you stopped sewing your center back seam. If it’s a little off – that’s ok! You can sew it right up, using a standard zipper foot with the needle moved all the way to one side. If you used a French seam, sew up along the seam line, and then zigzag over the raw edge to keep it finished. The bottom of the zipper will cover this, ain’t no one going to see it!

If you’re curious about the bottom of my zipper, I just bound it with self fabric bias because I thought it looked cute.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Next, you want to tack the zipper tape to the seam allowances at the bottom. This keeps the zipper secure and makes it much easier to zip up. I sew right where those pins are, about 1″ – 2″ along the seam allowance. You don’t want to catch the outside of your garment, just sew the tape to the seam allowances only.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Finally, the facing! First, take your little unsewn zipper tape tail (above the zipper stop – if you accidentally sewed this, no worries, just unpick it) and turn it down and out so it points toward the seam allowance. I have pinned this so you can see what it should look like, but in reality I just hold this with my finger when I’m sewing it. This will keep the tail from poking out of the top of your garment when the facing is secured.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Flip the facing down so it completely covers the zipper, with the finished edges lined up. The seam where the facing meets the bodice should be just barely below the fold. Pin in place, and use a zipper foot to sew along this edge. You’ll want to be about 1/4″ away from the zipper stitching – that’s enough to catch the zipper in the seam allowance, but not so close that it makes the zipper difficult to operate.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
This is what it should look like after it’s been stitched.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Push the center back seam allowance to one side, and turn the entire piece right side out. You can pull the top of the zipper to get a more square corner if you need to.

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Ta da! A finished facing with NO HANDSTITCHING CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
The finished zipper from the outside! The top edges should match right up. Feel free to sew a hook and eye here if you would like. I always skip those if I think I can get away with it haha

OAL2017 - Invisible Zipper
Now you can tack down the facings so they don’t flip out when you are wearing your garment (if you opted to include lining, you obviously can skip this step). I attached mine to the seam allowance of all princess seams, plus the side seams.

OAL2017 - Hem
Last step is hemming! I turned my hem up 1/2″ twice (for a total 1″ hem) and then topstitched by machine.

That’s all for this dress! Hang around a few weeks while I work up the nerve to take photos outside (I have a yard in this new house, but it’s not fenced and on a very busy cross street and therefore I have no privacy D: D: D: help), then it’s Big Reveal time!

How are you coming along with your garments? As always, let me know if you have any questions!

OAL2017: Assembling the Bodice

9 Jun

Hey everyone, and welcome back to the second week of the 2017 OAL! This post today is all about assembling the bodice of the dress – stabilizing the neckline, sewing French seams, and attaching the facing.

A few things before we jump in:

  • The pattern I using is the Kim Dress from By Hand London, but these method should apply to most any pattern that you are sewing!
  • If you missed the first post, you can find it here.
  • If you don’t give a shit about sewalongs and hate me right now (it’s cool, I don’t give a shit about anyone else’s sewalongs either haha), I promise it will be over soon! πŸ˜‰ It is impossible to please everyone, but lord knows I try!

Your fabric should be cut, your markings all clipped and transferred to your pieces, and you should be ready to sew!

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

OAL2017: Stabilizing Neckline

Before you drag your pieces over to the sewing machine, it’s a good idea to stabilize your neckline first. This will prevent it from stretching and distorting over time – which can happen both during the sewing, and over normal wear. They are multiple ways to stabilize a neckline – such a staystitching or using silk organza (here are 3 methods, all with their own tutorial!) – but for the purposes of this particular garment (considering how lightweight the fabric is, and also the overall casual-ness of the dress), I chose to use a lightweight fusible stay tape. This “extremely fine fusible knit stay tape” is the exact one I used – I bought it at my local Bernina dealer years ago, and it is especially helpful to stabilize shoulder seams on knits! Since it’s knit, it curves very easily, which makes it perfect for this pattern.

I fused my stay tape to the curved edges of both the front and back neckline, ending just before the tips of the strap ties. Since the seam allowances are 5/8″ and my stay tape is 1/2″, I made sure it was 1/4″ from the edge so I would be sure to catch it in my stitching. Since I am using stay tape, I did not staystitch these areas.

Now you’ll want to sew your front and back princess seams. Because my rayon is nice and lightweight, I using French seams, which I love because they conceal the raw edges beautifully. Pretty sure I don’t need to throw out another French seam tutorial into the WWW, but I was really having fun with this white piece of posterboard backdrop SO HERE YOU GET IT ANYWAY:

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

I start by placing the pieces WRONG SIDES TOGETHER and sewing with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Lay the piece flat and trim the seam allowances down quite aggressively – to about 1/8″. You want them to be smaller than the second seam you sew, so they don’t peek out.

I should mention – this is assuming you are using a pattern with a 5/8″ seam allowance. If your seam allowance is larger or smaller, you’l want to adjust your math accordingly.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press the seam allowances open as best you can. They are tiny, so this won’t be the easiest thing – I’ve found I get the best luck if I use my fingernail to pry them open, and then the tip of the iron the whole way down. If you found you have cut them *too* small and simply cannot press them open, it’s acceptable to iron to one side.

At this point, your bodice is going to look at sorts of wrong. Just trust me here.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Now flip your pieces so the right sides are facing, effectively sandwiching the seam you just created. I like to take this to the iron and press right around the seamline I just sewed, so everything lies flat. Then sew along the edge at a 1/4″ seam allowance.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Press your seam allowances to one side, according to your pattern instructions. In the case of this pattern, we are pressing them toward the side seams.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Repeat for the remaining princess seams. Your front and back pieces should look like this.

OAL2017: Sewing French Seams

Finally, sew your front and back pieces together at the side seams. Again, I used French seams for this.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Now to attach the facing! Start by fusing interfacing to the front and back facing pieces that you created. I used a very lightweight interfacing, and opted to cut it so that the interfacing does not extend all the way into the ties (I want those to stay soft and floppy!). To prevent a hard ridge from showing where the interfacing ends, I cut that with pinking shears.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the front and back facings at the side seams, and press the seam allowances open (don’t worry about using French seams for this, unless you wanna be super extra or some shit). You will also want to finish the lower edge of your facing – I serged mine, to prevent it from fraying and also from showing bulk from the outside. You can also using pinking shears here, or bind the seam allowance.

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Attach the facing to the bodice, all the way around the neckline and strap edges. Trim the seam allowances down, and then understitch to help turn the facing to the inside. You won’t be able to understitch all the way if you are doing tie straps – just go as far as you can.

Turn the facing to the inside of the bodice, and give it a good press. You’re done!

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

OAL2017: Attaching the Facing

Ok, that’s all for this week! As always, let me know if you have any questions! πŸ™‚

OAL 2017: Getting Started!

1 Jun

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2017 Outfit Along! My apologies that this post is a bit late – I moved house yesterday, and only just got my internet turned on in the new place. Taking a short break from unpacking to get this OAL rolling! Let’s do this!

The official pattern for this year is the Kim Dress from By Hand London. There are a few options for this pattern – choose between a straight or sweetheart neckline, and a gathered skirt with pintucks at the hem or a sleek tulip skirt. I will be making the sweetheart neckline with the gathered skirt, but obviously feel free to make whatever your heart is calling for – whether it’s another variation of this pattern, or a different pattern completely! We want you to love and wear what you make, so don’t waste your time on something that doesn’t check those boxes for ya πŸ˜‰

As I mentioned in my announcement post, I will not be running a full, in-depth sewalong for this pattern. I will be popping in every week with updates on my progress, as well as tips and tricks (with tutorials!) that you can apply to any pattern you are sewing – not necessarily specifically this one. However, if you are feeling that you need that extra help – there is a great sewalong on the By Hand London blog for this pattern, so please feel free to utilize that! You got this!!

For the first post, I’m gonna keep this one reasonably short and sweet!! This week is all about preparation!

If you still haven’t chosen your fabric, you will probably want to do that first πŸ˜‰ This particular pattern works well with a smorgasbord of fabrics – from crisp cotton lawn to slinky silk, the sky is really the limit here! The main thing you want to keep in mind when deciding on fabric is how you want the finished garment to hang when you are wearing it. Do you want a more structured garment or one with a softΒ drape? Choosing a fabric with the correct amount of body and drape is key for this. That cotton lawn will result in a more structured bodice and full skirt that wants to stand out on it’s own, verus the slinky silk will give you a soft, floaty bodice with a skirt that drapes beautifully around your body. For more in-depth information about this, see this post from a previous OAL that goes over the differences in drape and body in fabric.

OAL2017 - my fabric

Here is the fabric I am using this year – a soft rayon print from Mood Fabrics with a nice drape to it. I love wearing rayon in the summer – it breathes really well in the heat, and a dark color/pattern means that sweat is less likely to show. Rayon traditionally can be a little tricky – both to work with and care for – but I ultimately think it is worth the additional effort. This particular rayon is pretty stable and easy to work with, compared to other rayons I’ve used in the past, so I will not be doing any sort of pre-treatment to aid with sewing. That being said, if you are sewing one of the aforementioned slinky rayons – or a silk, or slippery poly, anything that wants to float off the table when you try to cut it – you may want to consider pre-treating your fabric to be a bit more stable before you cut it. You have a few options for this – for something quick and easy with no mess, spray stabilizer works very well. Just spray it on your fabric, allow to dry, and then treat it as usual. Once you are finished sewing the garment, it easily washes out so your fabric goes back to it’s glorious, drapey self. For a cheaper option, I’ve been very happy with the results I’ve gotten from using gelatine. This method is more time-consuming, but also WAY cheaper. You basically boil the gelatine in water, soak your fabric, and then spread it flat (or hang) until it’s dry (Threads has a full tutorial on their website). Again, this washes out easily once you are finished. The major downside is finding space to dry it flat – if you live in a small space, that can be tricky – but it’s a fraction of the cost of using spray stabilizer and works just as well one it has dried. I have used both of these methods with great success, it just depends on your time and budget!

Make sure you pre-wash your fabric before you do anything – you want to make sure you get all the shrinkage out before your pattern pieces are cut. I wash and dry all my fabric the same way I plan on treating it once it’s been turned into a garment. For delicate fabrics like rayon, you don’t necessarily want to throw it in the dryer every time you launder it – over time, this will break down the fibers. But I do think it’s a good idea to use the dryer for the very first pre-wash, as it will shrink up the fabric sufficiently and then if the garment does accidentally end up in the dryer, it won’t shrink more!

As a side note, there are plenty of “dry clean” only fabrics that actually can be washed in a machine. Fibers such as silk and rayon are totally machine washable – you just want to ensure that you are washed them before they are cut, again, so that you get all the shrinkage out. I wash all my silks and rayons on cold water, use the dryer for pre-washing (and hang to dry once they are finished) and have not ruined anything yet. Keep in mind that this will take a bit of the shine and stiffness out of your fabric, but I think it’s worth it to not be a slave to the dry cleaner! When in doubt, test with a swatch to make sure you are ok with how the fabric looks after it’s been laundered.

I am making a few changes to my pattern that are a bit different from how it’s drafted:
– I converted the straps to tie at the top (instead of being a continuous loop)
– Rather than line my bodice, I drafted all-in-one facings to clean finish all the top edges

For the tie-top straps, I used this tutorial from By Hand London. It’s super simple – you just trace your pattern piece, and then extend the top strap by 6″-7″, rounding out the end to a nice shape.

To draft the all-in-one-facing, here is what I did:
OAL2017 - drafting a facing

First, I marked my seam allowances on all the bodice pattern pieces. Since these bodice pieces have princess seams on both the front and back, we want to eliminate those so that the facing pieces are one continuous piece.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

Once the seam allowances are marked, I overlapped the pieces as they would be sewn together (center back to side back, and center front to side front). Then I laid my pattern pieces on a sheet of blank paper (mine is just kraft paper from a roll, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and traced around the neckline, arm holes, and straps. I drew down the side about 3.5″ and center about 4″, which will be the depth of the facing.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

I used a curved ruler to connect the center back/front with the side seam, just to give it a gentle curve. Then I transferred all my notches and grainlines, and marked the pattern pieces.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

It’s a good idea to lay your drafted piece under your pattern pieces, just to make sure everything fits and matches up. Which this one does! Yay!

That’s all for this week! You’ll want to cut and mark your pattern pieces, and be ready to sew next week! Let me know if you have any questions about anything covered in this post or, you know, life in general πŸ™‚