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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˜‰

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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™‚

OAL2016: Part 2 (Zipper + Finishing)

15 Jun

Hey everyone! Welcome back for the second (and final!) sewing post of the Outfit Along πŸ™‚

OAL_Banner

At this point, you should have your skirt mostly assembled (all seams except the center back seam) with the waistband partially attached (not finished). Today, we will insert the zipper and finish the waistband in one go! IΒ  am making my skirt with this awesome rayon crepe from StyleMaker Fabrics (don’t forget that there is free US shipping/discounted international shipping on all orders through 6/30/16 when you use the code OAL2016 πŸ˜‰ ), using my Spiegel 60609 sewing machine. If you missed the previous posts, here is Part 1!

For this particular skirt, I am sewing an exposed metal zipper. If you hate exposed zippers, that’s ok! You have options! Check out my tutorial for sewing a lapped zipper, and also my tutorial for sewing an invisible zipper.

For sewing the exposed zipper:

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Start by marking a rectangle where the zipper is to be inserted. For a 9″ exposed zipper on a garment with a 5/8″ seam allowance (if your measurements differ, you will need to adjust these accordingly!), make a rectangle that is 10″ long and 7/8″ across. I use a Chaco Pen liner, but again – anything works! Then go over your markings with a long basting stitch on your machine. Don’t be lazy and skip this step. I know it’s tempting, but trust me on this one. The stitches will make it visible from both sides, and also won’t rub off.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
If your fabric is very lightweight and/or drapey, you will want to interface the area where the zipper is going, just to give it some extra support. I cut strips of lightweight fusible and applied them over my basting lines.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Clip into the bottom corner of the rectangle at a 45 degree angle, being careful not to snip into your basting lines.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Fold along the vertical basting stitches and press.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Starting at the horizontal basting stitches, sew the center back seam at 5/8″, ending at the hem.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Press the seam allowances open.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
On the right side of the skirt, lay the zipper face down with the bottom facing toward the waistband. Line the horizontal basting stitching just below the zipper stop.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Sew along the horizontal basting ONLY, using a zipper foot. PROTIP: I just found this out, but you *can* move the needle of the Spiegel 60609. While the machine is on straight stitch (#1), increase the zigzag width to 7.0 and that will move the needle! So you can get RIGHT UP IN THERE to do that zipper!

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Here is the bottom of my zipper after it is attached. You only need to sew along the basting stitches – not the entire width of the zipper tape.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Flip the zipper to the inside of the skirt and press the line you just sewed.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Now turn back the skirt pieces, one at a time, and sew the zipper tape to the skirt along the vertical basting stitches, starting at the zipper top stop and ending at the bottom stop (don’t sew all the way to the very end of the tape). Again, use a zipper foot and move your needle over to one side if you can.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Here is what things should look like after you’ve attached both sides. Note that the top of the zipper will NOT reach the top of the waistband – it should only go about halfway, since we are folding the waistband to the inside. On the Hollyburn, there is a notch to indicate where the waistband folds – so the zipperΒ  stop should reach that notch.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Now we need to finish the waistband. Fold the seam allowance (5/8″) along the long raw edge to the inside, and press. You may trim this seam allowance down to 1/4″ if it’s bulky.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Fold the remaining bits of the top of the zipper tape toward the inside of the waistband, and pin to keep them out of the way (if you accidentally sewed down this part, you gotta unpick πŸ˜‰ ).

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Now fold the waistband down to meet right below (about 1/8″) the stitching line at the top of the skirt, making sure that the top zipper stop is even with the top of the waistband fold. Make sure the raw edges are tucked in around the zipper and pin everything into place.

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Now to topstitch! Starting at the top of the zipper, topstitch 1/8″ from the edge down to the seamline where the skirt meets the waistband, lower your needle and pivot. Then continue around the entire waistband until you reach the other side of the zipper, pivot, and sew back up to the top.

Alternately, you can also topstitch around the entire exposed zipper – but you’ll need to sew down the waistband in a second pass πŸ™‚

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper

OAL2016- Sewing an Exposed Zipper
Now pat yourself on the back for sewing an AWESOME EXPOSED ZIPPER WTF.

Finally, just a couple more things to finish your skirt! If you want to add belt loops or the waistband tabs, you can do so now. Then you just need to hem. I ended up taking about 3″ off my skirt length to make it more of a mini, and then finished with a double turned hem (1/4″ on the first turn, 3/4″ on the second) that is simply topstitched. Here are my hemming tutorials if you need a refresher!

That’s all for today! As always, please let me know if you have any questions!! How is your sewing coming along? πŸ™‚

OAL2016: Part 1 (Pockets + Piping)

8 Jun

Good morning, everyone! Time to get some sewin’ done for this OAL!

Before we get into the post, a few things I wanted to mention:
– Unlike previous years, I will not be doing a full step-by-step of sewing the pattern. Part of the reason is because this is a really easy pattern and the instructions are super straightforward and simple to understand on their own.
– Now, before you freak out – there IS a sewalong for the Hollyburn skirt! Not hosted on this blog, but a sewalong nonetheless! You can find it here on Lavender Lane. So if you reeeally need the help and the instructions just aren’t cutting it for some reason or another, there is that option!
– Instead of step-by-steps, I am splitting the OAL sewing stuff into 2 posts – today and next week – both with modification tutorials. I will also include links to relevant tutorials from older posts as they are needed. That way, those of you who are not following the OAL and/or don’t care about sewalong posts (I’ll be honest – I skip over them too!) – this is less for you to skip over πŸ™‚ And for those who are here for the OAL and love reaching sewalong posts – they’re still here! πŸ™‚
– And DUH, I’ve made like a zillion of these skirts – so feel free to ask me questions as well! Either in the comments, or you can email me! Don’t worry! I got ya covered!
– FINALLY, I should mention that I’m using my Spiegel 60609 sewing machine to construct my Hollyburn, so you’ll see it in the photos! I wanted to see how it handled my mega-shifty fabric πŸ™‚

Ok, back to the OAL!

OAL_Banner

Before you do anything, it’s a good idea to prewash your fabric in the same manner you will be washing/drying it once the garment is complete. Some fabric reeeeally likes to shrink, so you want to get that out of the way before it’s cut! I am using this cool zigzag rayon crepe from Style Maker Fabrics and it certainly shrunk a LOT! It’s a bit shifty to work with, but I think the payoff will be pretty sweet – it has the dreamiest, swishiest drape! I found that my increasing my stitch length just a hair (the standard stitch length on the Spiegel 60609 is a little short for sewing really delicate and shifty fabrics, I’ve learned) and using lots of pins was enough to keep the fabric in check for the most part.

Some notes on cutting:
Here is a post I wrote for the 2014 OAL on cutting and marking. Different pattern, same concept.
– It is entirely possible to make this pattern with a striped or plaid fabric! You will need extra fabric to allow for matching and it may take longer to cut, but it can be done! Depending on your stripe/plaid, you may only be able to match 2 seams instead of 4 – if this is the case, match the center front and center back seam. Mismatched side seams are less noticeable πŸ™‚ Here is my tutorial for matching plaids. Also relevant: my tutorial on matching the stripes at the pocket.
– This pattern calls for you to cut the waistband on the straight grain (parallel to the grain line). If your fabric has a bit of stretch, though, you may want to consider cutting on the cross grain (perpendicular to the grain line). This is what I did πŸ™‚ Keep in mind that if you cut on the cross grain, you’ll want to interface the waistband with a tricot interfacing to retain that stretch. I personally love the PROtricot at Fashion Sewing Supply, but most fabric stores have something similar πŸ™‚
– If your fabric is super drapey and you don’t want the pockets to bag out, you may consider eliminating them entirely (go ahead, gasp or whatever). This is what I did on my skirt, to allow for a smooth front. You can always add in-seam pockets if you’d like.

Eliminating the pockets is super easy:
OAL2016- Removing Pockets
You’ll need your pocket piece and your skirt front piece.

OAL2016- Removing Pockets
Fold the pocket piece in half along the foldline, matching the notches.

OAL2016- Removing Pockets
Lay the pocket piece behind the skirt front at the pocket opening, again matching the notches. Then just tape it down into place – I am using surgical tape because it peels off easily without tearing the paper (I can’t take credit for this – I got it in my goody bag at A Gathering of Stitches. Sam makes the BEST goody bags!), but you can also use regular tape, painter’s tape, pins, or even just trace off the pattern pieces. Whatever works!

Next steps are to construct the skirt as per the directions. Sew the pockets (if you still got ’em!). Sew the center front and side seams at 5/8″, but leave the center back seam open. If you would like to finish your seams, now is the time. I used my serger to overlock the seams after I sewed them, and then I pressed them open. Finally, staystitch the waist of your skirt (just a straight stitch about 1/2″ from the edge) to keep it from stretching out.

At this point, I decided to add flat piping to my waistband seam. So you get a tutorial!

OAL2016- Flat piping
I started with a strip of bias-cut silk crepe that was 1.5″ wide. The width of your piping will determine how wide to cut your bias – you’ll want 2x the finished width, plus 2x seam allowance. Cut enough bias to go all the way across the waist of your skirt. Fold the strip in half, length-wise, with the WRONG sides together, and press.

I promise I will get a new ironing board cover eventually. Ew, that yellow stain. haha.

If you don’t know how to cut bias, here are two really great tutorials: continuous bias (my favorite!) and bias strips.

OAL2016- Flat piping

Lay the folded bias along the waist edge of your skirt, matching raw edges at the top, and pin into place.

OAL2016- Flat piping

Sew the bias in place just within the seam allowance (I sewed at 3/8″) to hold it there. You can use a basting stitch for this step; it’ll get a second sewn pass in a minute!

OAL2016- Flat piping

Lay your interfaced waistband on top of your skirt, with right sides facing and raw edges matching. The bias strip should be sandwiched between the two.

OAL2016- Flat piping

Now sew your second pass to secure all the layers at 5/8″. Make sure to shorten your stitch back to it’s normal setting if you were basting πŸ™‚ I ended up sewing another line a little more than the seam allowance, because I wanted the piping a little bit narrower.

OAL2016- Flat piping

Check the right side to make sure that everything looks good. I have no idea how I managed that unintentional perfect pattern matching, but hey, I’ll take it!

OAL2016- Flat piping

Press all the seam allowances up toward the waistband, using lots of steam so the piping lays nice and flat. If your fabric is bulky, you may want to trim down your seam allowances and/or grade them (trimming them in staggering layers) to prevent bulk from showing from the outside.

OAL2016- Flat piping

Now admire your pretty, flat piping! Isn’t that dainty? πŸ™‚

Ok, that’s all for this week! Let me know if you have any questions about these steps πŸ™‚ Next week, we sew in the zipper and finish the thing! Woohoo!