Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kaya Costume

Kaya Costume from CC Lillian and NL6668.

My daughter is reading the American Girl historical books and doing a literature club with girls her age.  The first book is Kaya, so we had to dress up like Kaya.

Fabric details:

I found the brown suede at Joann's.  It came with a border trim, that I used for the bottom of both dresses.  Joann's fabric buyer should try to sew on this suede.  It dulled my needle so quickly, I almost didn't think I was going to finish the dress.  It made me switch from putting a zipper in the costume to velcro.  The tan ribbon was from my stash.  Kaya's ribbon detail is a solid ribbon that I triple stitched with blue to copy the larger ribbon in the girl's dress.

The metal decorations are from Tandy Leather Factory.  Joann's sold the leather string, pony beads, and trim to finish the cape.

Pattern details:

The girl's dress pattern is from Children's Corner Lillian and the cape is from New Look 6668.  I redrafted the neck of the cape to match Lillian's neckline.  The cape is also shortened to elbow length. 
Kaya's dress is from Heritage Doll Fashions "Ruffled T-shirt Dress."  The cape is from McCall's M6526.  I also redrafted the doll cape to match the dress and shorted it.

Next month is Felicity..........

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Paisley Lakelin by Children's Corner

Children's Corner Lakelin
A sweet, quick sew is Children's Corner Lakelin.  This is a size 8, made exactly as the pattern states.  (Except for the piping.)

It goes together easy.  Sews up nicely.  Wears beautifully.

Amy Butler paisley fabric

The neckline of this pattern is constructed differently than I have done other round yokes.  The fabric and lining are sewn together at the neck and then basted onto the dress and then sewn down.  From taking my class from Susan Kahjle and learning that basting is about "control."  Instead of pinning and sewing, I hand basted and then stitched in the ditch of the piping.  The result was a perfect round yoke that lays beautifully.

This pattern goes into the "use again" pile!

Lakelin back

Lakelin side
The sun is shining bright in Texas.   Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Knit Sewing Secret on Butterick B5778

Butterick B5778
Mastering knits has been on my recent goal list, and I think I might have found my magical answer.  SewKeys E Knit Interfacing by, Emma Seabrooke.

At the ASG conference I took Emma Seabrooke's class on Taming Knits with Stay Tapes.  She had wonderful examples of "hard to sew" knits done beautifully.  I made a bee-line to her booth and picked up a few different size interfacing rolls to try.  (I will be ordering the ones I didn't pick up soon.)

Butterick B5778 caught my eye as a beautiful fall dress to sew up quickly and try out these new interfacing tapes.  It turned out BETTER than I even imagined.

Below I attempted to draw where I placed the stay tapes on the bodice.  I ironed (more like steamed) the stay tape into place and then sewed up the dress as the pattern instructed.  I also put tape on the hem and then topstitched it down.

The front of this dress is a little low, but the interfacing holds the piece so firmly, I can lean over and not fear!  Incredible!

I love this dress and can't wait to make it in a solid color.  The fabric was from Joann's clearance pile and cost me a whopping $7.50 for the dress.  Not bad for a muslin!

Adjustments to make in the future:
1.  Add a little fabric to the front skirt to give a few more gathers to the skirt.
2.  Stitch the belt on all the way to the side seams.  It droops when it is only sewn to the front.

 Wow, I am sold on this product!  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Productive Sewing Room

I have promised a few people I would jot down a few notes on how I am so productive in my sewing room.  While not an expert on sewing, I have managed to produce a garment a week for the last 5 to 6 years.  All this time I have been homeschooling 4 kids, driving 3 kids to their competitive athletic events, gardening, making dinners, reading, and going to bed on time, which means I am just like you and limited to 24 hours in a day.  So, here goes......

Set your sewing goals.

Decide what is important and strive for that goal.  Everyone's goal is different, so find a few things that interest you and learn more about those topics.
My goals:  
  1. Sew many patterns and use a variety of construction methods.  
  2. Find or design the perfect nightgown pattern for myself.
  3. Master sewing with knits.
  4. Sew-a-long with my daughter's AG club to give her  a year of historical outfits.
I know I have reached my goal when the garment I finish makes me go, "Wow! The fabric, design, and construction all combine for that perfect moment."

The moral:  When you aim at nothing, you hit it every time.

Set up your sewing area for success.

  • Get rid of visual clutter.  This also means all those stacks of fabric on your cutting surface.  Not only does it take time to move, but you will be using mental energy as you think about those projects.
  • Keep you sewing spaces clean and accessible.
  • Don't sew when you are tired or don't feel well.  You will make mistakes that will take you longer to fix.  Come back when you are rested.
  • Don't be afraid to trash a project when it doesn't work out.  It isn't worth the second thought.
  • Keep a record of what you have accomplished.  You may be surprised!
  • Keep a list of items you need at the store.  Consolidate these trips for multiple projects.  Try not to go to the fabric store for 1 item.
  • Keep your sewing machine in good working order with yearly service by the dealer, cleaning it between projects, and changing your needle.

Pick your projects for success.

At the beginning of every season,  I pull out all the patterns and fabric that interest me for the upcoming season.  I will spend a few hours matching fabric and patterns until I have about 20-25 matches.  Below are pictures of my last fabric stash match-athon.

I usually end the time with some fabric and patterns that just don't make the cut with a good match.  They go back into the fabric stash for the time being and will wait until I find the perfect project for them.

The big tub holds the projects that I hope to make this fall and winter.  As I empty other projects from my plastic containers, I will add the new ones.  Each shoebox size bin holds one project.

I keep the projects stacked up under my cutting table.  As I get closer to being ready for a project, I will add any notions I need (zipper, thread, or buttons).  (This helps build that list for the fabric store before it becomes a crisis.)

I save time by gathering projects in bulk.  I only go through my stash a few times a year, not every time I want a new project.  I only have to clean up the mess I make from this process a few times a year.  Stash reorganization is fun, but a huge time zapper.  

I have found that I get excited about a handful of projects that I just can't wait to get started on soon.  This is excellent momentum to dive into the next phase of my process.

Sew in short burst for success.

Years ago, I read 10-20-30 Minutes to Sew by Nancy Zieman.   The book looks dated, but the information is great.  I took Nancy's method of sewing in short time periods and adapted it to fit my needs.  Every time I step into my sewing room, I have something that can be done in the time period I have.  

5 Minutes
  • Ensure I have everything for an upcoming project.
  • Iron on interfacing.
  • Clean and rethread my sewing machine.
  • Lay out fabric and get ready to cut.
  • Put a few seams together.
10 Minutes
  • Put together a few more seams.
  • Trace off a pattern.
  • Iron seams.
  • Prepare an item that needs gathering.
  • Pin as many items as I can before I go to the machine and then lay them there for another day.
20 Minutes 
  • Add buttonholes.
  • Cut out a pattern.
  • Darts and other tricky items I want to be perfect.
  • Sewn in hems.
  • Make collars.
30 Minutes or more
  • I save those really tough projects for these longer stretches.  
  • Putting together smocked items.
  • Pleats and pintucks.
Keep a "to-go" bag.  This is where I keep my current smocking project, and garments that need buttons, hems or facing hand sewn down.  I DO NOT HAND SEW at home, unless my husband needs a friend to watch TV.  Some garments have traveled for weeks in my bag until I had time to finish the hand work.

By using this system, I have 2 to 3 garments in various stages of construction in my sewing room.  Anything you do consistently will get finished in time.  If I have a project with a deadline, I start as soon as I have the items together.  Crisis projects don't fit into my life well.

After so many years of doing this, I don't feel this is very revolutionary.  It is a glimpse of how my process works.  I hope it helps you to get more done.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Favorite T-shirt, Simplicity 1916

Simplicity 1916 & Bella Skirt by Serendipity Studio
This is my second attempt at making Simplicity 1916 my favorite t-shirt and I finally succeeded!  I made two alterations to make it fit me.

1.  I added a little width to the front bottom piece.  My first couple of tries on this top showed me that there was not much gathering in the front, but the pattern drawings show a pleasant amount.  Easy fix.  I moved the pattern piece over about 1 1/2" from the fold and then cut the front.

2.  The bodice front piece was too long and too revealing for my comfort.  I had just completed McCall's M6073 and thought I might be able to adjust the top piece using the bodice front from the McCall's pattern.  PERFECT!  I did have to gather the shoulder to attach it to the back, but I think that gives just the extra amount of coverage to make it perfect.

Back view

I found a perfect Michael Miller print to compliment the purple knit top.  I wanted a straight skirt, so I picked Serendipity Studio's Bella skirt.  It is quick and easy skirt.  To make it even faster, I cut about 2 1/2" band of fabric using the bottom curve of the skirt.  I used this band to "hem" the skirt.  It is a great finishing technique for a skirt with a flare.

Bodice pattern piece, original, 1st try and then 2nd try.

Hem band on Bella skirt.