Tag Archives: tutorial

Bramaking: Tips & Tricks I’ve Learned Along the Way

28 Aug

bra making

Since I started my bra making adventure nearly a year ago (woah, has it really been that long??), I’ve picked up a few tips along the way, as well as figured out a handful of shortcuts myself. This post has been a long time coming, and I’m not really sure why it’s taken me ages to get it all written out – but better late than never, yeah? 🙂 I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on lingerie making (I’ll leave that title to people like Norma, Maddie, and Amy), but I’ve made enough to figure out a general idea of what does and doesn’t work, as well as navigate the really confusing parts that can confuse a beginner (like me!). Anyway, I hope some of y’all novice and afraid-to-dive-in-just-yet bra makers find this useful!

The first thing I want to address in this post is all those weird little notions and bits that you need to collect in order to make a proper bra. There are tons of places where you can basically pay someone to source all that stuff for you (kits I’ve used and loved: Bra Makers Supply, Grey’s Fabrics, Blackbird Fabrics. Obviously there are TONS more out there, those are just the ones I’ve personally tried!), which is pretty awesome and definitely what I recommend for at least your first couple of bras. The only thing I found confusing with the kits (at first, anyway) was that they don’t really tell you which elastic is for what. Further, while the pattern will tell you what materials to buy – it can be hard to visualize how everything goes together if you haven’t actually sewn up a bra before. I know I had a hard time wrapping my head around all that info at first! So I’ve made a couple ~findings guides~ of some of the more popular bra patterns, pointing to each notion so you can get an idea of where they go on the finished bra. I know some of these labels are a bit “No shit, Sherlock” (such as where the hook & eye go – haha!), but, whatever. No finding left behind blah blah blah.

bramaking - boylston findings guide

Boylston bra pattern // my polkadot Boylston bra

bramaking - marlborough findings guide

Marlborough bra pattern // my floral/lace Marlborough bra

bramaking - watson findings guide

Watson soft bra & bikini pattern // my #starwatch Watson bra

Some additional notes on elastics:

  • Kit sizes: You may have noticed that some kits come in sizes Small and Large. This took me a while to completely understand – but the difference in kit sizes have nothing to do with the amount of fabric included (or, maybe they do, but it’s not something I’ve noticed). It’s more so whether you need the wider elastics and 3 row hook & eye, or narrower elastics and 2 row hook & eye. *Generally* speaking, sizes D and above require the large kit, and sizes C and below use a small kit. That being said, it’s up to your personal preferences – I wear a DD, but I’m perfectly comfortable in a small kit (keep in mind that I’m a small DD, so a small kit won’t really work for the super blessed/endowed. My ~ideal kit~ has the narrower elastics, 1/2″-5/8″ strapping, and 3 row hook & eye). Some people prefer the look of the narrower elastics, and some people like the security of the wider findings. Your bra, your choice 🙂 But anyway, point being – when in doubt of kit size, choose based on your cup size!
  • Elastic width: Most patterns will include this information with the fabric/elastic requirements. Generally speaking, you want the wider elastic for the bottom band (so, depending on cup size – this is usually 1/2″ to 3/4″) and the narrower elastic for the underarm and/or top of the cup (that’s the 3/8″ to 1/2″, sometimes 1/4″). Like I said, I like the narrower elastics personally for me, but feel free to play around with widths if you aren’t feeling the pattern suggestion. The pattern you sew will be drafted for that width of elastic and hook & eye, so if you change the width too much, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.
  • Type of elastic: Ideally, you want to use plush-back elastic for all your lingerie sewing. This type of elastic has a wrong side that is slightly fuzzy (hence the name) and is intended to be soft against the skin. Of course, you can use any pretty lace edged elastic and/or stretch lace, but bear in mind that anything without the plush back may not be super comfortable to wear.
  • Bra strapping / rings & sliders : This is going to sound really fucking obvious, but make sure you buy the right rings & sliders to correspond with your strapping! I did not even think of this when I was going crazy buying bra notions, but those suckers need to match in width or they’ll look stupid (or be too tight to slide). Same as with the elastics, strap width is determined by cup size. Wider straps will give you more support, so if you’re rockin’ the DD and up, you probably don’t want to use 3/8″ strapping.

And while we’re talking about kits, the fabric can also be a little confusing! What pattern piece gets cut out of which fabric?

  • Main fabric: Totally dependent on bra pattern, of course, but generally you’ll cut the cups, bridge and frame out of the main fabric. The grainline on the pattern indicates the direction of greatest stretch on the fabric. Give the fabric a pull to figure out what that is. It might not be the same as what we consider to be the grainline when sewing normal clothes.
  • Lining fabric (tricot): For most patterns, this is used the stabilize the bridge. You can also use lining fabric to line the cups, if you so desire.
  • Powernet: Use this to cut your back band. You can also line with powernet, if your main fabric is a little bit too stretchy for the pattern. You can *also* use powernet to line the bridge, if you don’t have lining fabric on hand. Powernet is awesome!
  • Lace: Usually just the upper cup of the pattern. If you want to cut the entire cup, you may need to line or stabilize it (with the lining or powernet) if it’s too stretchy. For any flatlining, I like to temporarily baste the pieces together with a spray adhesive and then handle them as one (a tip I learned from Maddie).

Now I’m going to share with you my favorite PROTIPS for actually assembling the whole thing together. bramaking - pinning curvesPROTIP #1: Pinning

I know, the urge to pin the everloving shit out of every single piece runs strong and true. But bramaking is a little different, and you gotta fight those urges. Especially when you are sewing a convex curve to a concave curve, it’s actually easier to do if you don’t have to navigate an army of pins along the way. I pin the beginning and end of the seam, and any notches/seamlines that need to match. Also, try sewing with the bigger piece (the convex curve) on the bottom layer. The feed dogs of your sewing machine will help ease it in to the smaller curve.

bramaking - securing stitchPROTIP #2: Starting & stopping, part 1

One of the things I find the most difficult about sewing lingerie is beginning and ending those teeny little pieces with their itty bitty seam allowances. It’s hard enough trying to cram everything under the foot and get it going without having the machine eat it, but then you have to worry about backtacking each end as well. And this really isn’t a step you can’t skip, because you don’t want your seams to unravel when you start handling them. My solution is to use the “securing stitch.” This might have a different name, depending on your machine (and those of y’all who are using mechanical machines – sorry! You can’t sit with us). Essentially, it automatically backtacks a few stitches at both the beginning and end of each seam. Every machine is different, so you may want to pull our your user manual for this one – but on my Bernina, to backtack the end, you just hit the reverse button and it does it automatically (the beginning starts the seam with a backtack). It’s been a total lifesaver for me and my seams are always secure as a result. bramaking - needle downPROTIP #3: Starting & stopping, part 2

Another thing to use if your machine has the capabilities (again, those of y’all with the mechanical machines – YOU CAN’T SIT WITH US) (just kidding ilu use the handwheel for this) – the needle down button! OMG this is forreal the #1 reason why I own a computerized machine. I just hit this button before I start sewing, and every time I take my foot off the pedal, the needle automatically goes down and stays there. It’s brilliant for readjusting layers or turning corners, and you stitch line won’t go wonky from stopping in the middle. I actually use this button for most of my sewing, not just exclusively to bramaking.

bramaking - starting the seamPROTIP #4: Starting & stopping, part 3

Back on the subject of tiny seam allowances and hungry feed dogs. The easiest way to keep your fabric from getting sucked down into the machine at the beginning of a seam is to grab both thread tails and *gently* pull as you start sewing the first couple of stitches. This is especially important if you’re using the securing stitch – once it’s done securing, you can let the tails go and sew on with your life. Don’t pull the tails too hard, just gently guide them to prevent the fabric from getting jammed down into the machine, and make sure you catch the tails for both the bobbin and the needle (for some reason, it looks like I’m only holding one in the above picture, wtf). This is a good tip for working with slinky fabrics, too, even if you’re not making a bra.

bramaking - 1/4PROTIP #5: Keeping 1/4″ seam allowances

Most lingerie patterns have teeny little 1/4″ seam allowances, which can be kind of hard to keep consistent. Unfortunately, you REALLY can’t fudge this one because it can drastically alter the size of the finished bra if you’re not careful. My solution to this was to buy a special foot with a 1/4″ guide. It is the best thing ever. It’s also useful for topstitching (especially jeans!) and making the most adorable and perfect little 1/4″ French seams.

bramaking - using 1/4Here it is in action. The dull blade runs against the raw edge of the fabric, keeping the needle exactly 1/4″ from the edge. bramaking - 1/4And here is my finished seam. Ah! Perfectly 1/4″ from the edge, every time. Ooh, see my backtacking, too? Thanks, securing stitch!

bramaking- edgestitching footPROTIP #6: Perfect topstitching This is my secret weapon for topstitching, lingerie or not. It’s a special foot and it’s called the edgestitching foot. Besides the 1/4″ foot, it’s the best thing ever. You can also use it to understitch and stitch in the ditch, with little to no tears of frustration and/or wonky stitch lines.bramaking - edgestitching/topstitchingHere it is in action. The dull blade goes right in the center, and you can move the needle either right or left as needed. If you keep the blade against your seamline and move the needle all the way to one side, you’ll end up with a perfect 1/8″ topstitching line. I find this easier than trying to line up part of my foot with the seamline; for whatever reason, shit always goes wonky when I try to do that.

bramaking - topstitched seamHere is the finished topstitching. One thing to note – I don’t backtack my topstitching if it’s going to intersect with another piece. I only backtack construction seams (otherwise they’ll pull apart at the ends). Since I use a different stitch for each of these steps, that means I can keep my settings saved for each step and just flip between stitches. Which is super handy, because that means I don’t need to re-enter all my preferences each time I move from constructing to topstitching. I use stitch #1 for topstitching (with a slightly longer stitch length and the needle moved all the way to one side), and stitch #5 for constructing. bramaking - duckbill/applique shearsPROTIP #7: Trimming
Always trim seam allowances before flipping down elastic for the final topstitching. Some patterns tell you to do this, some don’t. I find it looks a lot cleaner (and it easier to handle in general) if the seam allowances aren’t flapping around while you’re trying to finagle a good zigzag topstitch. I also like to trim my seam allowances under the wire casing as well. You can use any ol’ scissors to do this, but I like using duckbill applique scissors. The way they are constructed makes trimming down seam allowances almost foolproof and you’re less likely to cut a hole in the seam allowance that you’re trying to avoid. These scissors are awesome for non-bra things, too (I bought them looong before I got into sewing lingerie) – coat making, grading seam allowances, applique. They also look kind of crazy and I like that a lot.

Ok, I think that’s enough for one post! I hope y’all find these tips useful and that it encourages you to start that bra making journey if you were considering it! To me, it’s one of those learning experiences that seems really intimidating until you actually start doing it – kind of like learning how to drive a standard transmission (and just like driving a standard, once you learn – it’s REALLY hard to stop doing it! Well, for me, anyway. I think it’s fun!).

I know I only just grazed the surface with these tips here, so – what are your best tips for sewing lingerie?

OAL2015: Finishing!

13 Jul

One last installment of these OAL2015 tutorials and then we are OUTTA here! Finally!

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This post is gonna be pretty short and sweet (well, compared to the other ones haha) – all that’s left is inserting the zipper into our skirt, adding the buttons and buttonholes to the back of the bodice (or sewing that section shut) and hemming the skirt. That’s it! Yay!

Let’s get to it!

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If you’re making the view with the back cut-out, you’ll need a 7″ invisible zipper. If you’re anything like me and only have 22″ zippers lurking around, it’s pretty easy to shorten the zipper. Just mark the length where the new zipper stop needs to go, sew over the mark a couple of times (I use my machine and go back and forth twice each way -you can also do this by hand) and then cut off the excess zipper, leaving about 1″ between the cut and the new zipper stop.

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Sew the center back seam of the skirt at 5/8″, ending 1-2″ from where the zipper stop will be located.

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Unpick the topstitched part of the bias facing along the edges of each side of the back cut-out, just about 1-2″ from the edge. Position the zipper stop so that it’s about 1/8″-1/4″ away from the bottom edge of the bias facing, and pin so that the facing is flipped out flat (see photo if this doesn’t make sense!).

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Attach the zipper to the skirt back using an invisible zipper foot and a 5/8″ seam allowance, then close up the hole at the bottom where the zipper stop meets the center back stitching. If you need more instructions for this, here’s my tutorial on inserting invisible zippers 🙂

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Once the zipper is sewn down, you should be able to fold the bias facing back to the wrong side, like so.

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Then fold the zipper seam allowance back to the wrong side as well, like so. Topstitch the bias facing back down, being careful not to sew the zipper teeth. You can also tack down the edges at the top of the zipper/seam allowance if you’d like.

Finished zipper:
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OAL2015

If you’d like to add a hook & eye to the top of your zipper, you may do so now.

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To finish the back bodice, you’ll either want to sew buttons & button holes – or just close the entire thing up. I lapped one side over the other and topstitched all the way around, then sewed buttons in the middle. If you decide to close this off, MAKE SURE you can get the dress on without needing to undo the back! I can wriggle into mine, but only just barely hahaha.

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Finally, hem your dress! I used the rest of my bias facing so I’d have a happy hem 🙂 I followed the same method for attaching the bias to get this hem finish. Here is a tutorial from last year’s OAL on hemming if you need it!

Aaaaand here’s my finished dress:

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And the inside:

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Yeah!!!!

This concludes the sewalong portion of the OAL. Once you’ve finished your garments for the OAL, don’t forget to post them in the OAL 2015 Finished Outfits Thread on Ravelry so we can all have a lurk! The deadline is 7/31/15, so y’all still have a couple of weeks to catch up if you need to! Once I finish my sweater (yeaaah… I’m nearly done with the first sleeve. Getting there!) I will share photos of my finished outfit as well 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions!

OAL2015: Attaching the Skirt // Finishing the Cut-Out

7 Jul

Good morning, everyone! My apologies that this post is a day late – I spent one full day of my weekend throwing a 4th of July shindig (complete with a slip-in-slide, food decorated to look like flags, and fireworks at the end of the night. I passed out before the fireworks happened, though, hahahahaha!! I heard they were lovely, anyway!), and then the second full day was much-needed RNR (laying on the couch, coloring and eating leftover party food. I surprisingly was not hungover for this, but I treated it like a hangover day regardless). It was an AWESOME weekend, but I didn’t make the time to write up this post – so you get it on Tuesday! Yay!

ANYWAAAAAY, time to get down to business!

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Today we are going to attach the skirt to our bodices, as well as finish that back cut-out. The end is so close!!

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First thing you are going to want to do is finish the edge of the back cut-out, using bias facing and the same method we used for the neckline (here’s a refresher on that tutorial if you need it!). Once you get to the back where the interfacing has been applied, you have two options – you can either leave that part unsewn, or attach the bias facing and then unpick it. I prefer to sew+unpick because I like the guidance of the creased seamline, as well as having the seam allowances already trimmed down, but it’s up to you!

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Once you’ve finished that, unpick the facing where the interfacing is, plus a little extra (or pat yourself on the back for saving yourself a little extra work!). You’ll do this at both the top and bottom of the interfaced section.

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Go ahead and clip off the excess bias facing, leaving at least an inch or so that overlaps where the interfacing starts. Err on the side of longer here – you can always trim off more later if you need to.

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Notch the fabric right where the interfacing starts, going about 1/4″ in, or the depth of your seam allowance.

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Finish the edge of the interfaced section howeverrrr you want. I just serged mine.

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Now fold the interfaced section back on itself, right sides together, along the center. The edge that you just finished should meet right against the edge where you clipped that notch.

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Sew along both short ends, following your seam allowance (this is where the guidance of an unpicked edge comes in handy). Be careful not to catch the ends of the bias facing just yet.

Ooh, look! New manicure! Haha!

OAL 2015

Turn the interfaced section right side out. To get a nice, sharp corner: first off, don’t clip that corner or trim your seam allowances unless they’re bigger than 1/4″. Use your fingers to push the seam allowance in one direction all the way to the point (I’ve found this is easiest when I hold it the way you see in the photo)…

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Keep your fingers holding that seam allowance in place and start turning everything right side out…

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Use your pointer finger for the final little push.

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You should have a pretty good-looking corner at this point, but you can also use a point turner (or a knitting needle, or a chopstick, or a pencil, or whatever you have on hand) to gently coax that corner out a little more. Don’t mash it around, just manipulate the seam allowance over until everything looks good. Repeat for the other corner.

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Here’s where we are so far!

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Now take those floppy ends of the bias facing and tuck them into the little pocket you just created.

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Pin the finished edge into place and sew everything down. I also topstitch 1/4″ around the outside edges, to match the rest of the topstitching on the dress.

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Done! Now do the other side 😛 haha!

Ok, now for attaching the skirt!

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Pin and sew the skirt to the bodice, matching notches and seamlines, and using your normal 5/8″ seam allowance. The bodice will be quite a bit shorter than the skirt – that’s the back cut-out, and we’re gonna deal with that next. If you want to add piping to your waistline seam, now is the time to do it (well, I did it, anyway! ha! It’s easier if the piping does not extend all the way around the waist – end it right where the bodice ends).

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Trim the seam allowance down along the top of the skirt that isn’t attached to the bodice, leaving yourself 1/4″ seam allowance for dealing with the bias facing. Then clip a notch where the bodice stops – this was hard to photograph, so right where my scissors are pointing! You can also see where my piping ends; it’s the little black rectangle below. Don’t clip your notice any deeper than the seam allowance.

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Attach the bias facing along the top edge of the skirt, stopping at the notch you just clipped. Allow about 1/4″ or so of bias excess so you can tuck it under itself.

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Here’s a closer picture. Once you’ve sewn the first swipe of bias facing (and understitched, if you’re doing that), take everything over to the ironing board and press the seam allowances up, and then the excess over to the wrong side (at the end that’s next to the bodice). If you added piping, the tail end of your piping should also be in this equation.

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Now fold the bias facing to the wrong side, as normal, and pin in place. All your raw edges should be encased and the corners of the bias facing should be pretty close to one another (if not butted up against each other).

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Finally, just stitch the bias facing down. Once you get to the corner where the other section of bias facing is, lower your needle and pivot, stitch along the existing stitching line just a little bit, then backtack. This will reinforce that corner and secure everything.

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Here it is from the right side. If you want to be extra secure, you can also sew a diagonal line to the point of the intersecting facings.

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I’m not really sure why I took a second picture of this, but here you go.

Ok, that’s all for today! Let me know if any of this needs clarification or if you have any questions 🙂

OAL2015: Adding Pockets // Assembling the Skirt

29 Jun

Good morning, everyone! Time for another dose of OAL goodness!

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Today is pretty simple – we’ll just be adding (optional) pockets and assembling the skirt pieces. If you don’t want to add pockets, just skip this post and follow the instructions that came with the pattern. Let’s get to it!

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For now, the only skirt piece we will be dealing with is piece #15, the side front. You should have 4 of these pieces cut in total. The side that I’m pointing to – with the double notches – is the side that we will be focusing on for these next steps. Finish the edges of all 4 side front pieces (only on the side with the double notches).

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If you haven’t already done so, you’ll need to cut out 4 pocket pieces from your fabric (you can use self-fabric, but I was on a pink kick so mine are contrasty!). The pattern doesn’t come with a pocket pattern piece, so feel free to swipe one from another pattern you own – mine is from the Saltspring Dress. Finish all edges of the pocket pieces.

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On the finished edge of each side front piece, measure 3″ down from the top and mark with a pin. This is where we will be attaching the pockets.

Note: Depending on your height and proportions, you may want to sew your pockets more or less than 3″ from the waist. I looked at several patterns with pockets – as well as a few of my dresses that have pockets in a good spot – and the average seems to be somewhere between 2.5″-3.5″, with 3″ being a comfortable distance for me. However, if you’re unsure – I recommend checking some of your patterns, or measuring a couple existing garments, to see what works for *you*.

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Pin 1 pocket piece to 1 skirt side front (4x), with the top of the pocket 3″ away from the top of the skirt and right sides facing.

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Sew the pocket to the skirt piece at 3/8″ and understitch the seam allowances toward the pocket. Using a smaller seam allowance and understitching will help with keeping that pocket inside the skirt and hidden.

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Now you can pin 2 skirt/pocket pieces, right sides together, starting at the top of the skirt and going all the way around the pocket and to the bottom of the skirt. Repeat for the other pocket.

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Stitch at 5/8″, lowering your needle and pivoting where the pocket meets the skirt at the top and bottom (I can’t seem to explain this very clearly so just look at the photo!).

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At the top & bottom of each pocket bag, clip diagonally in the corner just to the stitching (but not through the stitching). This will enable you to press the seams above and below the pocket open, as well as make your pocket bag lay better inside the skirt.

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Press the seams open above and below the pocket bag, and press the pocket to one side (it should go toward the center front, so press in opposite directions for each of your two assembled skirt pieces).

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Here it is finished! Yay, sneaky pink pocket 😀

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And here is how it looks on the inside 🙂

Once you’ve finished adding the pocket bags, you can attach the front to the side fronts (one on each side of the front) and the two back pieces to the opposite side of the side fronts. Finish your seams as desired and press. Finally, finish the center back seams (again, I just serged mine).

That’s it! Next week, we’ll attach the skirt to the bodice and deal with that back cut-out. Making progress! 🙂

Let me know if you have any questions about anything I covered in this post! How are we doing this week, OAL-gers? 🙂

OAL2015: Assembling the Bodice // Adding Sleeves

22 Jun

Hey hey everybody! I’m finally back from my 2 weeks of traveling Peru with my best friend, and it was amazing. I spent a week in Lima (first half in the Miraflores District, which is absolutely beautiful, and the second half in the San Borja District), where we stayed with the family of a friend and basically ate our weight in ceviche. The second week, we flew up to Iquitos and spent a couple of days in the city, as well as a week deep in the jungle off the Amazon (and before you ask, yes, I was there for the ayahuasca). We did not visit Machu Picchu (I guess this is the main reason why people visit Peru, because EVERYONE asked us if we were planning on going!) – we considered it, but it was too expensive and we had to choose because Cusco and Iquitos… Iquitos won out, and I’ve no regrets 😛  It was an incredible 2 weeks, although I’m pretty happy to be home where I can throw my TP in the toilet and drink straight from the faucet 😉 hahaha

Anyway, it’s back to the real world for me! Which means it’s time to jump straight into business mode and kick this OAL off once and for all! Yay!

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Today, we’ll be assembling the bodice of our dresses. This part is pretty easy and straightforward (well, honestly, the whole dress is pretty easy and straightforward!), although this post is quite a bit picture-heavy. Sorry in advance, ha. This method of bias facing is for those of y’all who are making their dress without a lining. If you plan on adding a lining, ignore these sewalong posts and use the instructions included in the pattern 🙂

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First things first – if you haven’t already done so, go ahead and fuse your little rectangles of interfacing to the back bodice where indicated. This will give that area a bit of stability for adding buttons later (or, if you’re like me – mock buttons. Either way, don’t skip the interfacing!).

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Sew the bodice front to the bodice side front princess seams (need a refresher on sewing princess seams? I got ya!) and finish the seams as desired. Since my fabric is a bit bulky, I chose to serge mine separately (with hot pink serger thread because, obvs) and press them open. You can certainly finish the seams as one and press them to one side, though.

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Next, attach the front bodice to the back bodice pieces, at both the shoulders and the side seams. Again, finish the seams as desired and press.

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Next, we are going to finish the entire neckline (all the way around) with a bias facing. Measure your neckline, starting at the interfacing of one of the back pieces and continuing all the way around the front to the opposite back piece. There are a few ways to do this – you can use a flexible measuring tape, you can measure with the bias tape itself, or you can use a Curve Runner (am I the last person on earth to find out about this little tool? HOLY SHIT that thing is so cool!). Cut your bias tape the length of your measurement and pin around the neckline, right sides facing.

Note: For this particular method of finishing, you will want bias strips that are 1″ wide. You can certainly buy the pre-made packages if you’d like, but I personally like to make my own – it handles and sits better than the pre-made stuff, plus, you have a much better selection of colors and prints (and it’s a GREAT way to use little scraps that are too awesome to throw away). If you haven’t made your own bias strips, it’s super easy! There are tons of methods all over the internet on how to do it; the one I personally use is the continuous bias method since it means you don’t get stuck doing a lot of piecing.

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Sew the bias all the way around the neckline – again, starting at one back and continuing across the front all the way around to the opposite back – right sides together, with a 1/4″ seam allowance. Stretch the bias tape *slightly* as you sew, which will help snug up the neckline so it doesn’t gape open.

Note: The pattern is drafted with 5/8″ seam allowances, so you may want to trim 3/8″ off all around the neckline before adding your bias facing. I did not do this and the fit is fine. Just an fyi, though!

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If your fabric is on the bulky side, or your bias is a crazy contrast (like my hot pink), you may want to understitch the facing so it stays in place and doesn’t peek out from the right side. Push all the seam allowances toward the bias and stitch through all the layers 1/8″ from the seamline. I use an edgestitch foot for accuracy, but you can also eyeball it. If your fabric is lightweight and responds well to pressing, you can skip this step.

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Here is the bias attached and understitched. Take it over to the ironing board; we’re going to press the hell out of this shit now.

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Fold the bias over to the wrong side of the bodice, so that the edge meets the stitching line where it is attached. (yes, it should actually line up with the stitching – my fabric is a little bulky, so the turn of the cloth means that it doesn’t quite meet up. That’s ok, though!

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Now fold the entire thing one more time to the inside, so all of the bias is on the inside of the bodice. Press.

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Topstitch 1/8″ away from the folded edge.

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Take the bodice back to the ironing board and give the neckline a good press, preferably over a tailor’s ham if you have one (and if you don’t have one, might I suggest this lovely tutorial for making your own? har har), to smooth out the curves and make sure that all the bias is pressed to the inside of the garment.

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OAL 2015

Et voilà!

Next, you are gonna want to tackle those arm holes. For those of you leaving your dress sleeveless, you will want to finish the arm holes the same way that you finished your neckline – i.e., with the bias facing (here’s a tutorial on adding bias facing to armholes if ya need it!). For those of you who are adding the standard short sleeves (view B), you will want to follow the instructions to set in the sleeves (or you can follow this tutorial on setting in sleeves, which I find a bit more clear). Don’t forget to finish the seam and press. For the cute little cap sleeves (view D), you will not only set in the sleeve but also need to deal with the underarm finishing (since the sleeve doesn’t go all the way around the arm hole). Normally this is finished with the lining, but since we are little rebels who aren’t playing by the rules, we are gonna finish that with bias facing.

OAL 2015
Start by finishing/hemming the bottom of your cap sleeves, in whatever way you prefer. I just serged, turned the hem to the wrong side, and topstitched.

OAL 2015
Attach the sleeve to the armscye the same way you set in a standard sleeve – sew a line of basting stitching at 5/8″ all around the curve of the sleeve cap (in a standard sleeve, there are dots to indicate where the basting goes – but for this little cap sleeve, you’ll baste from tip to tip), pin the sleeve into the armscye and pull the gathers so that it fits smoothly inside with no puckers. Sew at 5/8″. (if you need more tutorial help with setting in a sleeve, see the link above 🙂 ). I continued my stitching line all the way around the entire armscye to help with trimming in the next step, although this is not necessary and you can totally eyeball it.

OAL 2015
Trim all your seam allowances down – all the way around the entire armscye, including the bottom part that hasn’t been attached to anything yet – to 1/4″. Measure the armscye (this is where one of those Curve Runners would come in super handy, argh. Or you can measure the trimmings that you cut off, ha) and cut your bias strips to length, minus 1″ (to account for stretching the bis as you sew it on). Sew the ends of the bias together to make a circle, and attach to the entire seam/unfinished edge of the arm hole at 1″, again, stretching *slightly* as you sew. Understitch and press as previously directed.

OAL 2015
Before you make the final press to pull the facing all the way to the inside of the arm hole, be sure to pull the sleeve out so that you don’t accidentally tack the sleeve to the bodice. Been there, done that, and it sucks.

OAL 2015
Stitch the bias facing all the way around the arm hole 1/8″ from the edge, being sure that the sleeve is out of the way and you are *only* sewing through the bodice and the bias facing. Press over a tailor’s ham, to set the curves and get everything to lay nicely.

OAL 2015
OAL 2015
Finished cap sleeves! I really like this method because the extra stitching really strengthens where the sleeve attaches to the arm hole – since it doesn’t go all the way around, sometimes they can start to tear off if there’s too much strain on them (I had a dress like that in my early days of sewing that would NOT keep the cap sleeves attached. Every time I moved, they would rip out. I eventually dumped the dress, too bad I didn’t know how to fix that problem!). And by “strain,” that usually happens from hugging people.  Shitty way to ruin a dress if you ask me hahaha. Anyway, once I started sewing them in this way, my cap sleeves tend to be a lot stronger and I don’t have problems with busted seams. You do have to be ok with visible topstitching – but in a dress like this, there’s already a bunch of topstitching, so it works.

OAL 2015
Here’s the inside of the bodice 🙂 Fun!

Ok, whew, I think that’s enough for today! Do let me know if you have any questions about any of these steps 🙂

How’s your sewing coming along for the OAL?

OAL2015: Fabric, Size & Cutting

1 Jun

OAL_Banner

Happy Monday, everyone! We are officially kicking off the OAL (Outfit Along) this morning, so I hope you’re ready for it! As I mentioned in the announcement post, we won’t actually start the sewing until later this month, on 6/22, since I’ll be traveling outside of the country and won’t have much internet access (and I hate the thought of putting up a tutorial and then not being around to answer questions! Lame!). However, I figured I’d help get you guys rolling in the meantime with choosing your fabric, size, and cutting. Then when I’m back, we can get straight into sewing so you can finish these dresses before the deadline at the end of July! Sound good?

Of course, if you don’t need the sewing tutorials, then you are absolutely free to start the sewing whenever you’d like! This just goes for those of y’all who are waiting for tutorials 🙂 For this year, I won’t be doing a full photo step-by-step of the entire pattern – but if you need those, most of the steps are similar to the ones from The 2014 OAL, so you can always browse through the tag for the tutorials. Things like sewing princess seams, sleeves or bias binding, and inserting a lapped zipper. All good stuff! Since it’s already up on the blog, I don’t see any point in reinventing the wheel (or subjecting those of y’all who aren’t following the OAL to a bunch of repeat tutorial posts, because, boo on that).

The tutorials I’ll be covering on this here blog are changing out the lining for bias facing (which can get a little weird around that back cutout, but don’t worry, I got your back!) and adding pockets. I will only be sewing View A, with the back cutout and no sleeves (that’s a lie, I’m still debating if I want to add the little cap sleeves. Decisions, decisions!). Again, the ~official~ dress pattern for the OAL is McCall’s 6887, but you are totally welcome to sew whatevererrrrr pattern you like!

First of all, here’s the fabric I’ve chosen for my dress!

OAL2015 - Fabric

This is some uhhhh-mazing Ikat cotton that I picked up from Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there… um… March 2014. Ha! I’ve been apprehensive to sew it up because the print-matching looked to be a nightmare, and also, the fabric is pretty thick and I wasn’t entirely sure what kind of garment it would work with. I think it’ll be really nice for this dress; it has a good structure for the skirt, and the print is so fun! I haven’t decided what color bias binding to use for the insides – common sense would tell me black or white, but I’m thinking I might look for some turquoise or hot pink 🙂 Something to add a little splash of color to the inside 🙂

OAL2015 - Fabric & yarn

Here it is with my yarn for the sweater portion – this is good ol’ Cascade 220 (my one true yarnlove), in a gorgeous mint color.

Don’t know what kind of fabric to choose for your dress? First of all, think about how you want the finished dress to look – do you want a bit of structure in the skirt and bodice, or do you want everything to hang in soft folds? You will want to choose a fabric with a weight and drape that work with what you have in mind. For this particular pattern, I really like how it looks with more structured fabrics – such as linen, cotton eyelet, cotton sateen, or even quilting cotton! This blog post I wrote for last year’s OAL goes over all the details for choosing and weight and drape, and shows you the differences between several fabrics. I’d recommend checking that out first, if you’re confused!

Here are some fabrics I’ve pulled off the ‘nets that would be lovely for this pattern –

coral eyelet
Italian Red Coral Eyelet – from Mood Fabrics
This would be a great choice for adding a lining – or if you want to skip the lining and still go with bias binding finishes, make sure you get an appropriate underlining. You could also sew a matching slip 🙂

tropical sateen
Tropical Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
Busy prints are great for hiding wonky seams, if you’re concerned about neatness 🙂 If you plan on sewing this pattern with a stretch fabric, you may want to consider sizing down (make a muslin out of similar weight/stretch fabric first, to check!).

abstract sateen
Abstract Cotton Sateen – from Mood Fabrics
I couldn’t resist. This fabric is AMAZING.

seersucker
Red and White Striped Cotton Seersucker – from Mood Fabrics
Easy to sew and lovely to wear, cotton seersucker is a great option if you live in a hot climate. I love the classic red and white stripes!

linen
Pinstriped Linen from Blackbird Fabrics
Another good option for hot climates. This linen is similar to the stuff I used to make my linen pajamas 🙂

shirting
Denim Chambray Cotton Shirting – from A Fashionable Stitch
Ain’t nothing that says you have to use shirting to make shirts. Make yourself a comfy little dress instead 🙂

agf
Art Gallery Fabrics: Arizona from Grey’s Fabric
Quilting cotton is a surprisingly good choice for this pattern, since it has the weight and drape that looks best with the bodice and skirt – and you have aaaalll kinds of fun prints to choose from 😀 I’ve never personally sewn with Art Gallery Fabrics, but everyone on the internet seems to go apeshit over them. At any rate, this is one helluva fun print!

A few notes about fabric:
– As I mentioned, if you’re sewing stuff that’s on the sheer side and you don’t want to mess with a lining, make sure you get an appropriate underlining fabric. I prefer to use white cotton voile or batiste (or black, or, whatever color looks best with my fabric), as it doesn’t add too much weight. If you aren’t sure about the weight, hold it with a piece of your main fabric and see how you like the way it feels. I won’t be covering underlining in this OAL, but I have a tutorial on my blog if you need help!
– Those of y’all sewing stripes or directional prints (meaning if you turn it the other way, it’s quite obviously upside-down) – make sure you buy extra fabric! Depending on the width of your fabric and the size you’re cutting, 1/2 yard – 1 yard will do.
– Prewash your fabric, however you plan on sewing your final garment. For me, that’s a cold wash and a low tumble dry (I hang my dresses to dry once they’re done – only because I hate ironing! Ha. But I always pre-shrink in the dryer just in case it accidentally gets tossed in there later down the line!).
– For your bias facings (and pockets, for that matter!), you may want to use a lighter fabric if your main fabric is a bit bulky. This is the case with my Ikat – I don’t want bulky facings, so I’m getting something lighter. Again, cotton batiste or voile is a really good choice for this, as is quilting cotton or cotton shirting. You can use almost anything, but remember that you’re dealing with skinny strips cut on the bias, so maybe don’t try the silk right now (unless you’re feeling really brazen!). Also, get something that presses well – like cotton or rayon. You will be pressing the hell out of your facings, and you want something that will respond to that. Polyester is not a good choice for this. I always stash-raid for this kind of thing, but if you’re buying, you’ll need about 1/2 a yard (and you’ll have tonssss left over to make even more bias binding, so get something you really love 🙂 ). Of course, you also buy those pre-made bias tapes – I don’t care for them, because I think the fabric is too stiff to look nice (and the color selection is very limited), but it’s definitely a lazy option if you don’t want to make your own. You’ll need the kind that is 1″ wide.
– To make your dress, you will also need interfacing, an invisible zipper (I prefer this dress finished with an invisible zipper, but you can try a lapped zipper if you’d like) and at least 3 buttons for the back, if you’re making the scoop back version.

For choosing your size, again, I will refer to you to Last year’s post in the OAL. Scroll past all the fabric, and there’s a section on choosing your size based on the finished measurements. McCall’s patterns can have quite a bit of ease in them, so this is a more accurate way of choosing the correct size. This is how I size *all* of the patterns I make, and it has yet to let me down 🙂 As an example – my body measurements put me into a size 10, but I sew the 6 (graded to 8 at the waist) for my finished garment, and it fits perfectly. Check those finished measurements!

If this is your first time making the pattern, I would strongly advise you to make a muslin mock-up of at least the bodice so you have a good idea of how the finished garment will fit. This gives you a good opportunity to make any necessary adjustments before cutting into your fabric. It’s also important if you’re sewing the version with the scoop back – I found the scoop came up higher than my bra band, and this may be the case for you as well. Can’t fix it once you’ve already sewn it up! For the muslin, you can make the whole dress if you’d like – but I just sew up the bodice and leave off any finishing. Pin the back shut as best you can to get a good assessment of the fit.

Once you’ve got your size and muslin done, THEN it’s time to cut your fabric! Refer to this post about cutting and marking fabric (also from last year’s OAL hahahaha sorry) if you need any help 🙂 You will be following the cutting guidelines that are included in your pattern; make sure you follow them carefully so you cut the correct number of pieces. The side skirt piece should be cut TWICE on the double layer, for a total of 4 pieces.

OAL2015 - Cutting the back bodice

You may also want to consider adding a little extra fabric allowance below the scoop back, just to give yourself more bra coverage (I added about 1/2″). There is also a 5/8″ seam allowance there, and we’ll be sewing at 1/4″ to apply the bias, so keep that in mind as well. Your muslin will tell you exactly how much you need to add (if any at all!) to cover your bra band. Or maybe I just wear my bra band low, ha.

FINALLY, if you’re cutting stripes or plaids and need help matching – here’s another tutorial link for that. Man! I’m so glad I already wrote all these tutorials haha!

Ok, whew, I think that about covers it! Do you have any questions about the prep work that I haven’t covered in this post? Let me know before I ditch town on Thursday 6/4 and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can 🙂 Have you chosen your fabric and yarn yet? Let’s have a look, please! 🙂

Tutorial: An Easy Elastic Waistband

29 Jan

Hey dudes! Real quick before I jump into tutorial-land this morning – New Vogue Sewing patterns are out! Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had quite a few people ask me when I would be posting my review. Not gonna happen, guys – at least not for this set, and no, not because of anything to do with me+The McCall Pattern Company. Have you seen the new patterns? There’s really nothing to make fun of! Which is good, because it shows that Vogue is listening to our pleas, I guess, but no jokies for us this time around. The only pattern I see that I really don’t like at all is this Koos Van Den Akker monstrosity that calls itself V1441– but, again, it’s Koos Van Den Akker, which should explain everything. Kind of hard to poke fun at something that’s intentionally designed to look crazy, you know? 🙂 In the news of things I do like – there’s V9077, which is a dress I don’t completely understand, but I think I like it anyway. Aaaaand, that’s about all that warrants any mention from the new collection. Sorry if you were expecting more! Trust me, you don’t want to see a post of me trying to pull humor out of a humorless situation 🙂 Feel free to turn this into a debate on whether or not I’ve sold out to Vogue (the answer is no, but, I REALLY love a good conspiracy theory, and I’m sure some of y’all do too!)

Ok, so, onward to the tutorial!

wb

I’ve had a few requests for this, so here ya go – my tutorial for attaching an elastic waistband to your leggings (or skirt, or whatever. I ain’t here to judge your love for elasticized comfort!). While the usual method of leaving a hole in the seam and feeding the elastic through is definitely non-brainer easy, I prefer this particular method as it doesn’t allow the elastic to twist at all – not while you’re feeding it through the hole (that ALWAYS happens to me, ugh!), and not while you’re wearing and washing them. It stays in place and that’s pretty awesome! Also bonus is that you don’t have a tiny hole to close up afterwards. Whoop whoop!

Anyway, I learned this method from Katie of Papercut Patterns, and it’s definitely my favorite way to elastic the shit out of my waistbands. It is my understanding that she updated that the Ooh La Leggings pattern has been updated to include this method, so this is mainly for those of us who have an older copy of the pattern and/or want to elasticize something else. It does require a little bit of finesse while sewing, but it ain’t nothing you can’t handle 😉 This is also a great method if you are using an elastic that is too wide and thus needs to be cut down – I started with 3″ wide elastic, but I needed 1″, so I just cut right down the middle (well, ish). Since the elastic is going to be attached to the fabric by machine, it’s ok to cut is as the stitches will prevent it from unraveling over time 🙂 Just make sure your elastic has a very tight weave – if it’s a loose weave, it’s best to leave it uncut as there ain’t nothing that’ll keep that shit from unraveling!

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Start by cutting your elastic to the desired size (I prefer about 4″ of negative ease at my waist, but it’s a matter of personal preference!), including an additional 1″-2″ for overlap. Pin the elastic with the inch overlap so it makes a circle.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Sew down all four edges where the elastic overlaps, making sure it’s secure. Ideally, you’d use a zigzag stitch for this – but my machine was already threaded with the double needle, so I used a double needle. I have yet to have a problem with this stitch, so there’s that! I like to stitch over each area twice to be really sure that it’s secure – you don’t want your elastic coming apart after you’ve sewn it into your pants!

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Divide the elastic into 4 equal sections, either by using a ruler or just folding it in half and half again. Mark each point with a pin, making sure one section is in the center of the part you just overlapped and sewed. If your pattern does not include notches for dividing the waist into 4 equal sections, you’ll want to do so now as well on your garment.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

On the INSIDE of your garment, match the 4 elastic sections with the 4 pants sections, keeping the overlapped elastic at the center back. If you trimmed down the width of your elastic, it is a good idea to match this area to the raw edge of your fabric, so it will be sewn and enclosed later. You will notice that the elastic is not quite as long as the garment in each section – that’s ok, we will stretch to fit in the next step 🙂

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Using a serger (or a sewing machine with a zigzag stitch), attach the elastic to the garment. Go slowly and focus on one section at a time, stretching as much as you need to to get the pieces to fit. If you are using a serger, be careful not to trim off too much of your elastic edge – if at all possible, try not to trim off any. Keeping your elastic one uniform width will help with accurate topstitching later.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Your garment should look like this – on the inside, attached at the top, elastic loose at the bottom.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Now fold the elastic to the inside one time, which will completely encase it with fabric. Pin into place if needed – I like to pin again at the 4 equal sections (this part doesn’t have to be exact, you can just eyeball it).

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Using a twin needle or a zigzag stitch, topstitch the elastic into place along the previously sewn edge. Gently stretch the elastic in each section, the same way you did when first attaching it. I’ve found that it’s easiest if I hold both the front and back with my hands, and gently guide the fabric as I sew. Stop with the needle down as you finish each section, readjust, and start the next section. Backstitch at the end.

If you’re using a twin needle, you’ll need to topstitch from the right side – this is where keeping the elastic a uniform width is handy. I mark my machine with a post-it note (I’m not adorable enough to use Washi tape, which I see everyone else using haha) to keep everything aligned so I catch the edge of the elastic as well as sew a straight line, but you can also feel it through all the layers. If you are using a zigzag stitch, you can get away with sewing on the wrong side so you can keep an eye on the elastic – but do try to sew a straight line, otherwise, it’ll be real obvious haha.

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

Elastic Waistband Tutorial

And that’s it! Not too hard, huh? Like I said, I really love this method because it keeps the elastic from twisting – it stays in place foreeeever! Also, the overlap at the center back is a handy way to quickly tell front from back just by feeling it – which, I don’t know about you, but I don’t sew tags in my clothes, so that’s pretty freaking useful! Only downside is that you’ll really have a lot of work to do once the elastic eventually wears out, but I personally think it’s worth it, if only to prevent elastic twist!

Let me know if you have any questions! Or if you just want to discuss those new Vogue patterns. Maybe you see something ridiculous that I overlooked??

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 64-86

10 Nov

Good morning, sewalongers! This is the week we finish up our coats – woohoo!! (and those of y’all who are not following the sewalong – this is the last week you have to skip a boring sewalong post! Woohoo!). Can you just feel the excitement radiating in the air? 😉

So, the good news is – this is the final construction post before we have our sharextravaganza next week. The bad news – it’s a HELLUVA post. Lots and lots of pictures (in advance: I’m soooo sorry! Tried to cull them down as much as possible. On the flip side, none of them are of me 😉 lolololol), lots of little fiddly steps here. On the flip side, this is all finishing – which means when it’s done, the coat is done – but expect this to take some time, especially since there is lots of hand sewing in this section.

Anyway, onto finishing!

The first thing you will want to do is sew the bias facing to both of the opening edges of the coat front, as well as along the neckline and across the hem. I’m not going to go into detail of how to do the facing – we’ve all done enough bias facing on this coat, I think most of us can do it in our sleep at this point 😉 – but I did want to mention a couple little tips that helped me.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once I sewed the facing on and trimmed down the seam allowances, I pressed all the raw edges toward the facing, using lots of steam.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Then simply press the facing to the inside of the coat. You will want to hand baste this in place, which will give you greater control when top stitching (especially important at those coat front edges).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
At the hem and neckline, you may find that where you are intersecting seams tends to be *very* bulky – like, so bulky that you can barely turn the facing to the inside. I used my scissors to chop out as much of the bulk as possible (being careful not to cut into the stitching line or outside of the seam allowances), and them hammered them down like crazy with my clapper, to make things very flat.

Actually, if you have a clapper – it’s a good idea to smack down those edges after you’ve top stitched them, to flatten them as much as possible and give them a nice sharp crease. This will make your coat look much more professional 🙂

Now, for the button holes! Fair warning – these took foreveeeeer to finish! Lots of fiddly pieces, lots of fiddly hand stitching. I know at this point, most of y’all are probably over this coat and just want to finish so it can be worn, but please take your time with these steps. The button holes are one of the most visible parts of the coat, and you don’t want them to look sloppy!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Remember when we sewed around the edges of where the button holes would go? Now you need to cut right in the middle of those stitches. I first used chalk to mark where the V would start, and then cut along the lines indicated. Cut right up to the stitching, but not through it.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
You will have a little V flap at the inside end. Fold this to the inside and press.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
To make the button hole binding, find those 4 bias pieces you cut, and press down one long edge about 1/4″. You will want to cut the binding into 20 pieces – 4 pieces will be 2.5″ long, and 16 pieces will be 2.75″ long. You should have enough binding to cut exactly the number of pieces needed (if for some reason you screw up and need more binding – just salvage a piece of leftover facing, and cut it in half at the fold. Y’all have lots of bias facing left over, right? I do hahaha). Fold in 1/4″ at short edges of each little piece and press. Yes, this part takes forever. Sorry.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
On the bottom of your button hole, pin a piece of binding with the right sides facing and the raw edges matching. The edge that meets the front edge of the coat should be flush, the edge against the end of the button hole should extend a bit farther. Be aware of what binding goes on what button hole – the 2.5″ binding is for the top 2 button holes (on the left and right side of the coat front); the remaining binding is for the remaining button holes.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
I went ahead and pinned the top binding as well, because I am impatient.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Sew the binding to the coat, stitching along your original stitching lines. I found it easier to do this from the inside, so I could make sure I was sewing in the correct place. When you get to the end of your stitching line – where the stitching pivots to the end of the button hole – stop and back stitch. Do not go any farther than the existing stitching line.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Your binding should look like this on the outside of your coat. Notice that the stitching does not go all the way across to the tip of the binding. This is good; it means we can pull the end of the binding to the inside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Here it is from the inside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Starting at the open end, fold the binding to the inside and pin into place. I pinned both top and bottom because – again, impatient. You could also work with one side at a time. Whatever is easier!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
For the end of the binding that is by the V you clipped, pull all the binding to the inside of the coat and pin down. This should cover the V completely, but if not, you can always clip whatever is sticking out 🙂

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Repeat for the bottom (or top). Your finished pinned button hole should look like this.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Here it is from the outside.

The next thing you nee to do is slipstitch alllllll those bindings invisibly to the inside of the coat. Yep! This part takes forever! I also stitched my bindings so the edges encased the edge of the coat front, as well as slip stitched the open ends together with a few stitches. When you get to where the binding covers the triangle, be sure to catch that in your stitches so the button hole is secure. Check from the front occasionally to make sure everything looks good, especially making sure that triangle is pushed all the way to the inside of the coat and not sticking out.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once you’ve finished the torture that is slipstitching ALL THAT BINDING, give everything a good press (and maybe a smack with the clapper, too, if it needs it. Mine did!). We’re not done yet!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Next up is thread bartacks! Start by marking where the bartacks will go – you will have 4 total for each button hole – left and right (so a total of… 40. Woof.). There will be a bartack at each end of the button hole, plus another bartack 1/2″ from each end. I marked mind with chalk.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
The bartacks will go faster/look better if you thread up with multiple strands. I used 3 strands of thread, and then doubled my needle, for a total of 6. You can also use embroidery floss – I just didn’t have any of the right color on hand.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Starting on the inside, make a small knot with your thread, or tack it in a couple spots to secure it. I made a small loop and then pulled the needle through it.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Pull the needle to the outside and stitch across the button hole to the other side, letting the thread connect the two sides. Make another knot on the inside (or, again, secure with a few stitches), and then pull the needle back to the outside.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
To make the bartacks, loop your thread like so.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Then pull the needle through the loop to create a knot (same concept as a button hole stitch, or a blanket stitch).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Pull the loop until it knots at the end. Repeat this over and over until you have a chain of knots that completely covers the thread. This is your bartack. Do this 4 times for every button hole. Also, have a glass of wine while you’re doing this – you’ll be sitting for a hot minute 😉

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Some bartack tips:
– You will get better as you do these! I recommend starting with the button side first, at the bottom button hole, so your practice attempts won’t be as easily seen 🙂 Of course, you could practice on scraps first – but, naw, not me!
– Don’t pull the knots too tight, or you will distort them and they won’t be as pretty 😦
– Try to make your knots in the same direction as you go – this will keep them uniform and hopefully prevent twisting!
– If at all possible, try to do these in one sitting. The repetition means you will get better as you do it, so if you complete them all in one sitting, you won’t need to go through multiple learning curves (than if you picked it up several times during the week).
– The original Rucci coat has the bartacks continue on the back side of the bound button holes as well. The instructions for this pattern only call for the bartacking in the front (which is what I did). If you want to mimic the original and bartack the back of the button holes – well, don’t let me stop you 🙂
– Don’t get too hung up on perfection – yes, you want these to look nice, but at the same time, most of them will be covered by the buttons. Not worth killing yourself over!

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Once you’ve finished your loops, time to sew on those buttons! Sew the buttons in the middle of the binding on the left front, catching both bindings in the stitches. For the top button, sew it 1/2″ away from the edge (it won’t be quite in the middle).

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
You can also go ahead and sew those back buttons on the belt. The pattern actually has you make button holes first – which of course you can do, but I omitted mine.
One word of note about the belt – don’t try to cinch it in too tight, or you’ll create gathers on the coat sides. Pin the belt closed first, and try it on to make sure everything is smooth and flat.

Finally, all that’s left is the sleeves. Go ahead and hem them with the bias facing – same concept as the other hemming and facing we did in these steps.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
The last thing we will do is make these little sleeve binding pieces, to cover the edge where all the crazy sleeve seams intersect. Cut 2 pieces that are approximately 1.5″ long by 1″ tall (or possibly taller, if your fabric is very thick and bulky – I cut mine 2″x2″, because my fabric required the extra room!). Fold one long edge under 1/4″ and press, and both short edges as well.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Sew the binding to the outside of the sleeve, with the right sides facing, at the point where all the seams intersect. Sew right along your topstitching line. If your fabric is bulky, you may want to trim down the seam allowance of this binding piece.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Turn the binding to the inside, wrapping around the sleeve hem and being sure that all folded edges are tucked under. Slipstitch around the 3 edges and press. Again, this is a good time to use your clapper to really flatten those seams. Gah, you guys must think I have stock in clappers at this point hahaha.

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong
Your finished sleeve will look like this. Yes, some of my top stitching is wonky. Oh well!

Whew! That’s all for this post – AND THIS COAT! How’s everyone coming along with their coats? I’ve been loving all the progressing (and some completed!) coats that are popping up in the Flickr Group. You’re SO almost done!! If you want to show off your coat in our Parade of Coats next week (which, obvs, you should!), you have a few options – you can upload to the the Flickr Group, and you can also upload to the Pinterest Fan Gallery. Be sure to use the hashtag #v1419Sewalong so you’ll appear in our Tagboard, where we will also be pulling finished coat photos. Can’t wait to see everyone’s coats!! 😀

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 51-63

3 Nov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

V1419 Sewalong: Steps 23-50

27 Oct

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

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

That being said, let’s jump in!

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

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

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

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

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

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

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

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

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

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

V1419 Ralph Rucci Sewalong

We are getting there!

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

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