Feb 28 2015

Fixin’ some denim

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Fixed ripped jeans

For some bizarre reason, the men in my life have been asking me to fix their work pants. I think I’m getting decent at it. It’s not the most beautiful job, but considering these pants are typically used for painting and yard work, I’m happy with it. Here’s a look at my hand work.

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Feb 25 2015

Growing the pattern stash

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Tilly and the Buttons patterns

So . . . I’ve kinda been growing the pattern stash recently. I’m not really sure this is a good thing. It’s like adding things to my To Do list when I haven’t finished the things already on it.

I’ve come to like the patterns from smaller houses more and more over the last few years versus the big houses. More love and care is spent on the instructions so they’re often clearer. Plus, since these are smaller houses, they often have blog posts offering additional tips and tricks about their patterns.

The ones I’ve recently added to my collection are two patterns from Tilly and the Buttons — the Françoise and the Coco. I’m super excited about both!

And I also got two patterns from Jamie Christina — the Abbey Coat which I love the look of and then I saw the Lark while looking for the Abbey Coat and had to have it. I’m also eyeing the Sol Hoodie if the other two turn out well. 

Jamie Christina patterns

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Feb 22 2015

District 8 Skirt

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A while ago (yeah, this is a throw-way-back post) I played in a Game based on the Hunger Games called the Famine Game. My team was chosen to represent District 8: Textiles and we needed costumes which represented us and our district. Since we’re all girls, we tend to go with some shade of pink. Here’s what we came up with. It’s a skirt with 8 different textures and types of textiles.


We had to make 6 of these skirts so I wanted to design something that was cute but easy to make. The idea was to make a skirt with a wide elastic band (easier to size on people who were spread around the country including one pregnant teammate) with panels of different fabrics. My first plan was to use 16 different panels. Here are the sketches I created using a croquis from this site.

 Costume ideas copy

I decided to test it out before investing in a ton of fabric. Here’s the tester:


Yeah, it’s not only unflattering but also reminds me of a cross between a clown and a harlequin. What did I learn from this trial? First, cut down the number of panels. Second, make the panels wider. Third, make the overall amount of fabric less in the final skirts.


Ultimately we went with 8 panels which was totally appropriate since we were District 8. Each panel was 10″ wide (instead of 5″ in the tester skirt).

For the sewing, we did it assembly line style. We bought a yard of 8 different kinds of fabric. Some fabrics like lace actually required two yards since we needed to add an underlayment lest the skirts be a little more risqué than we intended. The fabrics were lace (with underlay), glitter dot, fuzzy, zebra pleather, velour, minky dot, sparkle satin and glitter mesh (with underlay). We cut each into 3 10″ strips. Then I serged the strips together. My serger was invaluable for these skirts. 

 Strips of pink texture fabric

Strips of pink texture fabricStrips of pink texture fabric

Since the fabrics were all different widths, we then evened off the tops and bottoms to make it nice and square. If I were doing this again, I would sew all one side matching and then only have one edge to even off, but hindsight is 20/20. Then perpendicular to the different swathes of texture, we cut it into 3 strips. The strips were around 12”-14″ long which was the length of the skirt. I ended up with the short skirt that was only 12″ long but I’m short and was wearing stockings and shorts under mine anyways so it was no big deal.


The we pinned each strip to a length of 3″ wide black elastic measured for each woman. This was done very mathematically by first pinning the edges, then the middles, then matching the middles of each section and so on until it was pinned sufficiently to sew. I used black thread to sew across the elastic.

Next I stitched up the free sides of the skirt to make a tube. And finally I serged the bottom to give a nice finished edge.


I loved the way they turned out. The elastic meant they were comfy. They were totally on theme for both our all girl team and our district. They were easy. They were cost effective — each one was only about $20. And they were actually cute and flattering. I would totally consider wearing mine out if I had the right occasion. I only wish I’d had a pink pettiskirt underneath it to make it more poofy like in the sketch.

And here’s a look at all the skirts (sorry it’s not clearer, but you get the idea):


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Feb 19 2015

Printed pattern organization

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For my January Seamwork patterns, I got them printed at Kinko’s because last time, pasting together 40 some pages for the Oslo took way too much of my life (3 episodes of Castle). I still trace out the pattern because if it’s the wrong size, I don’t want to have to get it reprinted. It wouldn’t be so bad, but still not cheap. The Manila leggings cost about $10 and the Savannah camisole was about $5. The Savannah is about half the size of the Manila, but in both cases, totally worth hours of my life.

Coincidentally, there was a Sew Mama Sew article on printing patterns at the copy shop a few days after I’d had mine printed. I was already versed in most of that (as I had just printed it) but I liked how she stored her patterns by rolling them up. However, I used a different method for labeling. I grabbed an old toilet paper tube and stuck through there and then wrote the name on there. This worked great and gives it a nice sturdy “handle.” I think I’ll keep doing this for my large format printed patterns since it will make them all roll up to roughly the same size.


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Feb 16 2015

Collette Seamwork 3004: Manila leggings

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From the January issue of Seamwork, I made the Manila leggings. These fall into the muslin category. Going into this, I knew I was using some of the most horrible fabric known to man. It’s some sparkly pink 2-way stretch lycra. And by stretch, I mean that it stretches and kinda stays there. It has about as much bounce-back as a rubber band that’s been rotting in the sun for 2 years.

Anyhow, my point is that I knew what I was getting into, but I didn’t want to make pants that were the wrong size with good lycra and I really wanted to get this out of my stash, so there ya go.


It’s a pretty was easy pattern. Only 4 pattern pieces. And they all go together pretty obviously.


I made my waistband with 3/4” elastic (the pattern calls for 1”) because I didn’t think there was enough fabric for the 1”. In retrospect, I think this is due to the lack of vertical stretch in my fabric so if I were to make these again, I’d go with the 1”.


The only slightly odd part in the directions, where I was a bit confused, was the petal cuff but I think that there was some weirdness there due to the my fabric selection and not the pattern — things didn’t overlap as much as I thought they should based on the pattern. But I tried on the pants part way through which I’m fairly certain stretched them irreparably since up until then, pieces had been matching quite nicely.


Here’s how the cuffs look pinned and ready to be sewed.


And serged cuffs. For this one (as opposed to my Oslo cardigan) I just went straight for the serger. None of that sewing with a stretchy stitch first. I knew these were either going to work or they wouldn’t, so I didn’t need the extra caution.


When they’re done the cuffs look quite cute! I might make these again if I can find some fun fabric now that I know I’m working with the right size since the cuff is pretty cute. They worked up in probably an hour or two tops — nice and fast! If I did them again, I’d also drop the waistband about 2 inches since that’s where I prefer to wear it.

Overall, I do recommend it, but definitely use 4-way stretch fabric!

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Feb 13 2015

Experiments in Dying Fabric: Tumble Dye

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Tumbe dye dyed silk

I decided to try some experiments in dying using some new types of dye. Basically I was looking for a way to do interesting (non-solid color) dye patterns without having buckets of dye or using a stovetop.

Tumble dyes

The first one I decided to try was Tumble Dye which I picked up from Dharma Trading, the place I usually get my acid dyes for silk. Tub dying with acid dyes in simmering water is my usual method for dying silk. Tumble Dyes are supposed to basically be like paint from what I can tell.

Wet silk

I got a piece of silk wet and spread it out on the grass. I thought making it wet might make the colors blend a little more.

Tumble dye silk

Well, I sprayed it and it looked decent from afar and the colors looked like they blend, but there were a couple issues with it. The picture above is after washing.

First, the color doesn’t bleed through very well so the backside is much lighter, almost white.

Second, although the colors look blended above and in the top photo, if you look close, it kinda has a speckled look.

Third, even after washing, it was still a little stiff.

Fourth, it took nearly all three full bottles just to do one dye. The individual bottles aren’t that expensive, but they’re definitely more expensive per veil than acid dyes and my finger was tired from squirting through three bottles.

So, I think Tumble Dyes can be fun to use for other purposes, but not for the purposes of dying silk veils. I’ve got a couple more experiments to try, so we’ll see how those go . . .

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Feb 10 2015

Emmeline Apron by Sew Liberated

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Mom's Emmeline Apron

I had had this fabric for a long time. A very long time. Remember when I got it back in 2008? Right. So I had always planned to make an Emmeline Apron with it. I made this Emmeline apron with cupcake fabric in the meantime.

Well, I finally had some down time so I finally made the original apron I had intended to. It came out just as cute as I had hoped (sorry for the camera phone pictures — I forgot to take decent ones before I gave it to my mom).

Mom's Emmeline Apron

Both sides are adorable and my mom loved it. In fact, she likes it so much she has a hard time using it because she’s afraid of messing it up. I’ve assured her it can be tossed in the wash and that aprons are meant to be used and that worst case scenario, I’ll make her a new one. Either way, I’m sure I’ll be making more of these aprons in the future.

Mom's Emmeline Apron

I’ll show you what I did with all the leftover fabric in a upcoming post :)

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Feb 07 2015

Vogue 7104: Flowered silk necktie

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Flower necktie

Tie number two.

This fabric was fabric my dad had picked out when he came to visit me during grad school. I have had it for many years. And I finally got around to sewing it.

Spurred on by my success of conquering my silk tie demon, I was ready to do this one.

This was pretty thick silk fabric, so I didn’t need to interface it. Once again, I used Vogue pattern 7104. Cutting out the pieces was pretty simple. I also, again used the interfacing from another tie although this time I had to cut it down a bit to make the tie the width my dad likes.

Flower necktie

This time I took some scrap silk my aunt had given me that matched nicely for the lining. I also used that for the part which holds the neck tie back which is also attached by hand. The tied was stitched close by hand as well.

This one was much faster than the last. And again, my dad loved it! Plus no one else will have a tie like this one :)

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Feb 06 2015

Vogue 7104: Blue silk necktie

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Silk necktie

Tie number one.

I had first gotten this fabric with my dad about 15? years ago. I made him a tie out of it but it was horrible. The fabric is a beautiful light silk but I was unaccustomed to working with silk and certainly not used to working with it on the bias. The tie never lay properly and it eventually fell apart. A disgrace.

However, there was enough fabric left for another tie. This time I would conquer it.

And I did :)

I lined the fabric with interfacing first. It was woven iron on. This gave the silk the thickness necessary to be pressed nicely. Maybe there’s a better way to do this? But this worked for me.

I used a pattern for the tie, Vogue 7104. I bought several designer ties (Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Kenneth Cole) at Goodwill and tore them apart to see how they were made. I also compared the length to my pattern to make sure it wouldn’t end up to short since most commercial ties are made up of 3 parts and this pattern was only 2. I suspect that is so that they can make better use of the fabric since only two parts — while easier to sew — is less economical with the fabric.

For the interfacing, I had bought some, but ended up using the interfacing from the ties I bought. At $2.99 per tie, this was much more economical — and it was precut! Win.

I soaked the interfacing in bleach for almost a day, rinsed, let it air dry and then steam pressed it. Yeah, I know I wanted it sanitary.

Necktie hand stitching

The pattern was pretty good. I hand stitched it close which was different from other ties I’ve made but gives it a really professional look. And this was also how the commercial ties all looked.

I self lined it since I didn’t have any coordinating silk. But overall, I think it came out great and my dad was really impressed!

Silk necktie

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Feb 04 2015

Designer Neckties

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I recently completed two neckties for my dad. He wears them on a daily basis. Each of them has a back story. Stories coming in the next few days.

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