Monthly Archives: August 2010

Loose Ends – Part II

This morning I finished off another one of my batch-cut tees. This is the Jalie Sweetheart (again) in a scrumptious Three Dots crushed wool/lycra jersey that I bought from Textile Studios about 5 years ago. I loved it so much that I bought some in every color!


Since so many of you asked, yes, I do stitch the binding down from where the two neckline bindings intersect to the side seam. Otherwise, it tends to flip up in the most annoying way. You can see the slight gathers from my FBA here too.


The last two tees in the bag turned out to be Kwik-Sew 2845 rather than Sweethearts. I will get to them tomorrow. I just love being able to hang so many new tops in my closet all at once!

And now, on to the next project: I fell in love with Mardel’s (hit your back button to return here ’cause I can’t figure out how to open the link in a new window!) wonderful skirt from Burda WOF (sorry, I just can’t remember the new name so I’m going to keep calling it WOF) yesterday! Isn’t it fabulous? I am keeping my fingers crossed that this will be half as flattering on me as it is on Mardel. I traced it off today and will try to test it out tomorrow *if* I finish those last two tees. I have some fabric from Ann that will be fabulous in this style!




Filed under Burda WOF, Jalie Patterns

Loose Ends – Part I

The day started out most irritatingly: I had my project planned, the fabric was pressed and laid out and then I took my TNT pattern out of it’s envelope and the upper bodice was missing. I know! I can’t believe it either. I have torn apart both sewing rooms and have not found it. I even checked the envelopes of patterns I made around the same time last summer (that’s where blogging really comes in handy!) with no luck, sigh. But, I did find a big zip bag with some batch-cut tees that I had forgotten about so I decided to work on those instead so that the day wouldn’t be a total loss. All fabrics are from Gorgeous Fabrics.

First up, a Kwik-Sew 3378 in a tissue-weight rayon/lycra (I wish I’d made this a smidgen longer). This fabric is very sheer so you’re seeing spots of light through it. :


A couple of Jalie Sweetheart Tops (these still need hemming) in purple rayon/lycra and


charcoal rayon/lycra.


There are three more in the bag and I think they are all Sweethearts so they’ll go together quickly. If I don’t locate my pattern piece by the weekend I guess I’ll have to alter a new one. But I won’t be happy about it.


Filed under Fabric, Jalie, Kwik-Sew

McCall’s 6164 – another quickie!

I wanted to try out the gathered sleeve of View A before putting the pattern away. I was kind of hating it as I was sewing but after trying it on I changed my mind. Not that I want a bunch of these hanging in my closet but it does look pretty on. This sleeve takes a few more minutes than the draped one from View B but it’s still quick to make – about 2 hours start to finish (and that’s with me pausing a lot to watch McLeod’s Daughters!).


This fabric is a nice, weighty rayon/lycra from Gorgeous Fabrics that was such a pleasure to sew. The neckline was bound the same as before but you’ll notice that I widened it a bit. I used an old favorite – Kwik Sew 2694 – as a template. Actually, that’s a really nice thing to do for yourself. Use manila paper and trace off favorite necklines, pockets, collars, etc. You can then keep these handy (I have them all on a pattern hook) and won’t have to search through your paper patterns for the originals.


I like the fact that the sleeve has a band at the bottom but it would also be nice to leave that off, omit the elastic and use drawstrings to gather up the sleeve.


I’m not quite sure what’s next on my sewing agenda. I should probably get started on my next jacket but there are still so many things I want to make for summer, sigh.


Filed under McCall's

McCall’s 6164 – a quickie!

I am always in need of more casual knit tops – they wear out so quickly, don’t they? While I usually steer clear of anything that smacks of the 1980s, I was drawn to this pattern (views A and B, in particular) so I picked one up last week. I have been dying for a black/white striped top this summer but I thought that would really take this top all the way to New Wave so I resisted. Instead I used a rayon/lycra jersey that I bought from Textile Studios ages ago. This print is kind of sweet so it’s a nice contrast to the crazy sleeves. The color is more of a blush than the light pink in some of the photos.


This top is really quick and easy to put together. I had to laugh because the pattern piece for the sleeve looks much like a one-seam pant pattern for someone with really short legs. This is sized XS, S, M, L and XL. I used the size S which covers sizes 8 and 10. I made my usual forward shoulder and swayback alterations but skipped the FBA. I shouldn’t have so next time I’ll make a very slight one. I shortened the sleeves by 3/4″, not something I usually do on a short sleeve but it seemed long and I was right to do it. The top itself was really long so I took an extra 2″ off. I thought the shoulder might be too wide since this is an 8/10 but it actually is spot on. Actually, the sizing all around seems to be a solid 8 to me so you might want to check the measurements before you cut.


The neckline is not as wide and scooped as it appears on the model. The depth is fine but I’d like it just a tiny bit wider so I’ll make that adjustment next time. I used a double-fold binding at the neckline instead of the 5/8″ double-fold narrow hem as directed by the pattern. Why, oh why, do they insist on putting that in the instructions? Has that ever, in the history of sewing, worked well? That’s the sort of thing that would reduce someone new to sewing with knits to tears. I just trimmed off the 5/8″ seam allowance and ran it through my new right-angle binder set up (which I LOOOOVE, so look forward to seeing me bind even more than I already do!). This machine will be permanently set up for binding, what a luxury!



I saw a lot of these extended shoulder lines in the runway shows so I guess that’s what drew me to this pattern. I really like these sleeves a lot. It’s always nice to make something out of the ordinary.



Filed under McCall's

HP Kaleidoscope Top – Final!

Almost final, anyway. I still have to sew on the buttons and hem the bottom but I thought I’d go ahead and post it anyway.

As you can see, I decided to leave off the sleeve ruffles. They were just too overwhelming for someone my size.


Changes I made:

*Shortened the upper bodice by 1″ (I’d take another 1/2″ off next time, I think)
*Omitted sleeve flounce
*Shortened front ruffle 11″ (could be because my fabric is so drapey)

Because my fabric is very lightweight, I didn’t have any problems with all of the layers around the neck. However, the ruffle does pull my facing down just a bit at the front despite my having removed some length from the facing to draw the neckline in.

Word of caution: if you are making the optional back darts (which I did), the back casing will end up being too long. Be sure to shorten that piece before joining it to the front casing sections.

Conclusion: This is a very cute top that works well in a lightweight fabric. Hemming the ruffles was quite laborious (I will try to cover that this week) so I’d just leave the raw edges if I made this again.


Filed under Hot Patterns

Perfect topstitching – How to get it

A few of you have asked how I get my topstitching to look so perfect. First, it’s not always perfect (in RTW either!) but thank you for thinking so!

Almost always, I use a straight-stitch foot for topstitching. I like the sort of foot that has a slot where I can see straight up to the needle. I guide my fabric right along the inner edge of the right toe so that I’m stitching about 1/16″ away from the edge (if I want to stitch about 1/4″ away from the edge, I use the outer edge of the toe as my guide). Yes, this does take practice but having the proper foot really helps – you cannot do this with a zigzag foot!



There are also specialty feet available for my commercial machines that work very well if I am in a hurry or tired. This first set is unique to the commercial world. These are compensating feet in various widths. These are available with the spring toe on the right or on the left (mine are all right except for the first one).


Here you can see the right toe rides lower than the stationary left toe so the edge of the fabric butts up against it.




You can see here that the stitches on the left are a little longer (around 2.5) than the ones on the right. The thread I am using is heavier than what I’d normally choose for a silk crepe de chine so it looks better at a slightly longer length. Always run a couple of samples before you get started.


Next is a raising foot which is more similar to what is available for domestic machines. Raising feet also come in various widths, this particular one is a right 1/16 (these also come in left). A comparable domestic foot would be an edge foot or edge guide foot which typically comes in one width only but you can move the needle to topstitch further away.




Whichever type of foot you feel the most comfortable with, the key is to just do it and practice, practice, practice (a smooth, precision sewing machine is a huge help as well). Also notice that I like a shorter stitch length. To my eye, a long stitch length on a fine fabric looks cheap so I use a length of 2 to 2.5, depending on the fabric and the thickness of thread I am using. A longer length would be used on heavier fabrics.


Filed under Tutorials

Quick Birthday Gift

Bryan and I are invited to a birthday party this evening and so I needed a small gift for someone I don’t know all that well. I decided to make a leather key leash as outlined in my 2007 post over at The Sewing Divas (hit the back button to return here). I chose some red leather from my stash and used baby blue #69 bonded nylon thread for the stitching.


Gluing the two layers of leather together took the longest. Once the glue was dry, it took less than 10 minutes to cut and sew. I just love a quick project!


Filed under Accessories, Leatherwork