Saturday, October 23, 2010

Vogue 8543: The Pattern from Hell

My daughter was home this week on Fall break, and asked for a nice pencil skirt. She had a specific fabric in mind, but not a pattern. So we went to JoAnns and looked through the various books, and she spotted Vogue 8543.

We both really liked the lines of the pattern, and I figured it would be easier to just use the pattern, rather than try to suss out the curved seams in Pattern Editor.

So, I'm cutting out the pattern, and... Hmm. Piece 13 should be for the skirt.

But look at the pattern piece itself:

It clearly says "Middle Back (Jacket)".

I should have known I was in for trouble. Let's look at the instructions, shall we?

In my mind, the illustration and the text should agree. Here, the text says to press the seams toward the middle side back. Yet the illustration shows the seam pressed... which way? Part of it is towards the middle side back, but most of it is towards the side back piece. This isn't the only place the seam orientation is contradictory: pretty much every seam has the same disagreement. I ended up having to re-press pretty much all the pleats because I was going by the pictures and not the text. Grr.

Don't they have spell check at Vogue?? What is a "slirt"?? A novice might think it's a new sewing term.

The skirt doesn't even have a facing; the top front piece is interfaced and the lining is meant to go right up to the top edge of the waistline. I added a waistband out of necessity... because when I cut out and prepared the lining, it turned out to be a full INCH narrower than the finished skirt, and I did cut the same size and sewed correctly. So I ended up not bothering to line it at all.

The one saving grace is that it actually did turn out quite nicely.

A closer view of the front:

All the seams were edgestitched with charcoal grey embroidery thread. It's a very subtle touch.

Back view:

(I'm jealous of her ability to wear heels like that... My feet won't allow it)

It's a very flattering style on her, and I plan to spend the time figuring out how to replicate it with PatternMaster, because I think it would look great in a denim with gold edgestitching. But there's no way on earth I'm going to touch this pattern again.

Yep, it's hard to believe that's my little girl.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Custom First Aid Kit finished!!

I just finished the binder/cover for the custom first aid kit I'm making for my daughter. All the steps are photographed, and the tutorial will go up in the next day or so. In the meantime, here are pictures!

The design on the front came from Urban Threads and is a Hopi healing symbol. I thought it was appropriate for a first aid kit!

The binder unzips to lay completely flat. Here it's shown with the two inserts already completed; I have to make several more by tomorrow (which is why the tutorial will be delayed!)

There are a few things I would do differently if I had to do it over again. But, all in all, it came out quite nicely, and I'm sure my daughter will love it!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Custom First Aid Kit Tutorial: Inside Pouches

My daughter has gotten involved in the Fire Spinning group at her college. Fortunately for her parents' anxiety levels, she is acting as the on-site medic, rather than handling the fire herself. Still, it means she needs a specialized First Aid Kit. She'll be coming home for her Fall break in a few days, and part of the time will be participating in a Fire Spinning demonstration near where we live. She asked me to put together a Burn First Aid kit for her to have at this demonstration. Naturally, since her mom is a project junkie, I decided to make a special holder for her supplies.

Some First Aid kits are a jumble of supplies, and you're constantly digging through them to find what you want. To make things easier on her, I decided to create a sort of "Binder", with individual pouches for various special needs. One will have gauze pads and bandages; another will have burn gel packets; another will have cotton balls... you get the idea. Of course, I had never seen a pattern for anything like this, but since when did that pose a problem?

I picked up some black cotton canvas at JoAnns, along with black sport mesh and some black double-fold bias tape. After a few hours of fiddling with details, I came up with a design that worked, and decided to share the project with you. The outer binder isn't done yet (that's tomorrow's project), but I've got some inside pouches done, and photographed the progress so I could do it as a tutorial.

For Each Pouch, you will need:
A piece of cotton canvas or duck, 13" x 19"
A piece of sport mesh, 13" x 9.5"
A 1" x 13" piece of fusible craft interfacing (such as Decor Bond)
One nylon zipper, 15" long
About 1 yard Extra-Wide Double-Fold Bias Tape
Three large eyelets (Dritz, 1/4" size)
Hanging File Folder Label Sleeves (optional)

Ready? Let's get started!

Lay your canvas on the table as indicated.

Draw three lines on the fabric to mark off one strip 13" x 2", two strips 13" x 3", and one piece 13" x 11".

Cut the fabric along the lines to make four separate pieces.

Press the strips. Fold each strip in half lengthwise and press. Then fold each raw edge in 1/2". You will be left with one piece about 1/2" wide and two pieces about 1" wide.
On the large piece, fold the top edge under 1/2" and press.

You will apply the DecorBond to one of the wider strips.

Lay the DecorBond inside the folded piece and press.

Now you will need your piece of sport mesh. This stuff is pretty stretchy, so be careful when cutting it so you get close to the right size.

Take the narrow double-folded strip and lay the top long edge of the mesh inside the fold, so the raw edge of the mesh meets the center fold. I like to use a thin line of basting glue to hold this together.

Clips hold the fabric strip in place while the basting glue dries. This only takes a few minutes, and saves the headache of trying to wrestle with the mesh at the sewing machine.

If you're going to use the file folder label holders, now is the time to insert them. While the glue is setting, take a label sleeve and lay it inside the non-interfaced wide strip (Note: if you're making a bunch of these holders, make the strips in a batch so you can position the label sleeves properly). If you're not using a label holder, just edge-stitch the top edge of the strip with a normal stitch length.

Edge-stitch the top edge of the wider strip, using a longer stitch as you cross the plastic of the label sleeve. Edge-stitch the narrow strip to the mesh. You now have two pieces with the folds facing each other.

Now you're going to add the zipper. I use zippers on a roll, and in this case used a white zipper pull because I ran out of black ones to make it stand out. The zipper is cut an inch wider on each side, to make inserting it easier.

Position the two folded edges at the zipper teeth and, using a zipper foot, stitch the strips to the zipper tape.

Flip the piece over and stitch the outside edge of the zipper tape to the fabric strip (just to keep stuff from catching on the zipper tape, and to make it extra-secure). Do this for both zipper tapes.

Line up the bottom edge of the mesh with the bottom edge of the fabric.

Lay the two matched edges inside the interfaced strip, with the raw edges meeting the center fold of the strip.

Again, use some basting glue on the folded lip of the strip to hold it in place while you sew.

Here, the clips help hold the assembly while the basting glue sets.

Stitch the strip down. I like to use two lines of stitching, just to make sure it all holds together.

Turn the piece over. Line up the folded edge of the fabric piece so it is about 1/2" from the top edge of the top strip. Stitch this in place, using two lines of stitching (one line right at the edge of the fold, and another about 1/4" away).

Almost done! Cut two pieces of bias tape so they are about 2" longer than the short sides.

Trim the ends of the zipper tape so they are flush with the edges of the pouch.
Important!! Make sure the zipper pull is away from the edge of the piece before trimming the ends of the zipper tape!!

Encase the raw sides of the pouch in the bias tape. Finish the ends by opening up the first fold of the tape and wrapping it around the corner to conceal all the raw edges. Stitch the bias tape down; again, I use two lines of stitching to make sure it will be sturdy.

Time to add the eyelets! Mark the positions for the eyelets using a chalk pencil. Cut small holes to insert the eyelet pieces, following the directions for your particular eyelet. Note: be very careful not to cut the holes too large, or the eyelets will come loose!

Here I'm ready to attach the eyelet using the tool provided in the Dritz eyelet kit. All it takes is a few whacks of the hammer to set the eyelet.

And here is the completed pouch! You can change the various dimensions of this project to suit your particular binder. In my case, I'm going to make a custom soft-sided binder that will hold about six of these pouches. I hope to have the instructions for that part of the project ready to post by Thursday!

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to comment. This is the first time I've tried a real tutorial!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

I am SO excited!!!!

A few months ago, I was asked to be one of the Beta testers for the new version of PatternMaster Boutique. The program is now nearing release form, so I was able to print out one of the new patterns. One of the newest features of the program is the ability to print out lining patterns for jackets and coats. Wow! This was on the wish list for a LONG time! So I figured it was the best way to test the program.

But not for me... I wanted to test the feature by sewing a jacket for my client, Millicent Rogers... Otherwise known as Barbie! More accurately, a My Size Barbie, which is roughly half the size of a normal adult female. This way I would use less fabric and take less time to sew up the jacket.

All I can say is, WOW!!!! The new lining feature is absolutely amazing. It all came together perfectly! Keep in mind, I have never sewn a lined jacket before, ever. So I'm really happy.

Also keep in mind that I haven't done any of the finishing work on the jacket, so the sleeves and hem are still not finished. But it's done enough that I can judge it a success!

Front view:

Yeah, no buttons either... Come on; it's a half size jacket!!

Back view:

And here's the amazing view, of the inside:

The lining fit perfectly inside the shell. I'm SO impressed!!!! Now I really can't wait to sew a lined jacket for myself.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Embarking on another experiment

Last month, I attended an ASG one-day mini-retreat. I taught the morning session (making a smocked pillow), then in the afternoon I was introduced to the wonders of playing with felted wool. Well, more accurately, fulled wool. I learned that "felting" really refers to using barbed needles to embed individual wool fibers in a fibrous mass, interlocking the separate fibers so they bind together like... well, like felt. However, when you take a knitted piece (like a wool sweater) and shrink it by washing in hot and cold water and agitating it, that is called "fulling". The resulting piece of fabric is thick, warm, and won't ravel when cut. We used strips of fulled wool to make wonderful fingerless gloves.

After that session, we were treated to a marvelous trunk show by Betz White, author of "Warm Fuzzies" and "Sewing Green." She regaled us with stories of her appearance on the Martha Stewart show, then showed us some really fabulous projects that used fulled wool, in combination with needle felting and other embellishment ideas.

Like this adorable little hedgehog:

I mean, really, how cute is that? I could see making these. Soooo cuddly!

Of course, I bought both her books (and she signed them!), and started thinking about all the wonderful things I could make with fulled sweaters. Only... I had never done anything like fulling before, so had to do some research first.

Wednesday is half-price clothing day at our local thrift store, so yesterday I decided to see if they had any 100% wool sweaters I could play with. Boy, did they! I did get carried away a little bit, but how can you turn down a Woolrich sweater for only $2.50?!? Actually, that one happened to be in my husband's size, so he gets to keep that one. And I found a few others that would look good on Diana, and a few for me... But still, there are at least ten sweaters for me to experiment with.

I got two zippered pillow protectors at Target, since I was warned that fulling wool will generate heaps and heaps of lint. I put one sweater in each bag and tossed them into the washing machine, along with three new tennis balls. My machine has a "speed wash" cycle, which takes about 20 minutes, and I did that twice with a hot wash and cold rinse, no spin cycle. Then I tossed both sweaters into the dryer for about 20 minutes to get them somewhat dried out.

Wow, fulling does make the sweater shrink! Here are the before and after pictures of one of the sweaters.

Before fulling
After fulling
Now I have to figure out what I'm going to do with my new "fabric"!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Friendly Warning

My daughter was having a bad-mood day last week, which inspired me to make this door hanger for her to hang on her dorm room door to warn the other residents that she wished to be left alone.
The monster design is from Urban Threads; the door hanger frame is from Embroidery Library, and the lettering was done with Embird. It was all done in the hoop, with two layers of heavy cutaway stabilizer.

Isn't that the cutest likkel monster?

She's coming home for a week's visit the middle of this month, and I'm already working on muslins for her pencil skirt.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Oh Boy; More Sewing for my Daughter!

My daughter is coming home for a one-week break in two weeks, and has already requested a few "Mom-made" items. She's decided that the standard "campus uniform" at her school -- flannel shirts, sloppy jeans, ratty shoes -- just is not for her, so she wants some nicer clothes to wear when she's at work (this year her assignment is the library).
She has requested a "Mad Men" style pencil skirt and fitted blouse,which she will wear with heels and a strand of pearls. So, I'm drafting a few muslins which I will send to her for fitting and style comments, so that we can dive right into the final sewing during her week here.

Sewing Expo
I did make it to the Sewing Expo in Chantilly, VA on Thursday, just to do the vendor floor. I didn't buy very much, but did splurge on another piece of 108"-wide double-bordered batik from Sew Batik. It will become a Folkwear Kimono for my husband. I'm hoping to get that done before Diana comes home.