Whilst the Cat’s away…

Teehee, Dixie is out of town in Boston and Susan and I have hacked her blog! Ooh, what fun can we have? Let’s stretch the hacking metaphor just a little and hack a couple of her patterns. Mwahaha!

I’ve dug deep into her archives and chosen her button-down skirt. Tres cute but needs a little Miss Lulu tweaking. For one thing, gathers and an elastic waist don’t look so great on me so let’s add a waistband and change those gathers to pleats. And whilst we’re at it, let’s add some pockets. No, not side seam pockets, that would be way to easy. Let’s go for some angled front pockets instead. Oh, and since we’re not doing an elastic waist and I don’t feel like putting in a side zip or a center back seam and zip. Let’s use the space under the button flap to put in a super deep fly zip.

OK, first the pattern modifications. I drew a pocket shape onto the pattern piece with the fairly unscientific method of placing my hand on there and drawing around it.

I drew on a line at an angle to the side seam that looked fairly pleasing. Then I traced off the shapes to make a pocket piece and a pocket lining piece. Next I cut off the allowance for the fold over waistband, remembering to leave a seam allowance for once :). I pulled out a contoured waistband pattern piece from another pattern that fits me well and just added a little to the center front so I could be sure the waistband would go to the edge of the fold over flap. As I’m a fairly tall girl, I knew that the skirt length would not look decent on me so I took the opportunity to do some colour blocking and cut a contrast band for the hem.

So far, so good. Piece cut out and ready to go. The first thing I did was put in the zipper. I put left and right front together, right sides facing, matching the raw edges at the front, and basted a 1/2″ seam. Pressed open and laid out with right side on top and left seam allowance sticking out by itself.

Laid the zipper face down with the teeth over the seam and sewed the zipper tape to the left seam allowance only.

Then tucked the zipper under to expose the right seam allowance. Pinned and sewed the zipper tape to the right seam allowance only. Flipped the whole thing over and topstitched the left front through the zipper tape. Then I folded the right front to form the flap. The bottom two pictures show the flap turned back to show you how deep the zipper seam ended up being and the flap as closed.

Then pinned through all the layers, making sure to catch the right zipper tape and right seam allowance. Topstitched through all those layers then undid the basting at the zipper area. All done! Next, I tackled the pockets.

Pinned the pocket lining to the front piece, right sides facing, stitched and turned. Flipped the piece over and placed the pocket piece over the pocket lining piece, lining up the top and side seam. Pinned the pocket piece to the pocket lining and stitched, making sure to keep free of the skirt front. Then flipped everything over and made sure all the pieces are lined up at top and side seams. Basted through all layers at the top seam and the side seam so everything stayed in place when stitching the front to the back.

OK, that was all the fiddly bits, after that it was smooth sailing, sewing front to back, adding the waistband and putting on the bottom contrast band. I went totally unscientific with the darts as well, just matching the side seams of the skirt and the waistband and pleating any excess fabric until it fit the waistband. The only thing I was careful with was trying to get the pleats symmetrical.

But no plan ever goes completely smoothly. This was supposed to be a smash and grab operation but I was foiled at the last minute! No suitable buttons in the stash! Nooooo!!!

So this is where I’m at…

I’m off to the fabric store to find some buttons. I guess you’ll just have to wait for the final reveal over on my blog. For now, I better get out of here before the guard cat, Peanut, gets me.

(Visit Miss Lulu at her new blog!)

Using Scraps: Wine Bottle Gift Bag (Guest Post by Leah of Struggle Sews a Straight Seam)

***What? I’m still gone? Craziness. Lucky for you there’s more guest post greatness coming up!!!!

Leah’s blog is one of my faves to read for several reasons: her big smile in every photo along with her hilarious writing style always makes my day. You really get the idea that this is one fun lady! Her enthusiasm for her sewing projects is contagious! Not to mention she’s got an adorable cat who frequently makes appearances (I love cats and sewing…). I love how she brings her unique heritige into her sewing. Part Russian and Puerto Rican, you’ll often see her posing in cute shorts amongst palm trees in Puerto Rico and she is using vintage fabrics that she inherited from her grandmother to create her own clothes. Thanks Leah for coming over to the dark side my blog!! ***

When Dixie asked me to do a guest post, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. A guest post? For one of my favorite bloggers? Are you kidding me? Where do I sign? I was all ready to do something Faustian and just give my soul or what have you but Dixie assured me all I had to do was a tutorial. Ha. Is that all?

One of the many things I adore about Dixie is her dedication to using small amounts of fabrics and scraps. The great scrap debate rages across the interwebs, with some desperate to use theirs and others scorning these humble bits of fabric and all they can do. Me, I can’t bear to part with tiny bits of even the crappiest fabric, let alone half or quarter yards. So I like to think up projects that can efficiently employ such pieces of precious (and non-precious cloth). And I figured, what better way to show my devotion to Dixie then with a scrap-based tutorial?

So here it goes, my tutorial for wine bags! I love wine. I love it deeply and completely. But I know that not everyone is into it, so this would be a great way to package sparking cider, soda, or even Perrier! I like to bring wine whenever I go somewhere for dinner, or stay at the house of a friend, and my mom actually gives
bottles of prosecco away at every settlement (she’s in Real Estate). So I thought this might be a great way to make that gift extra special, while using access fabric too!

What you will need:

  • About ¼ of a yard of fabric of any kind
  • Thread
  • A sewing machine (unless you are sadistic and want to hand sew this thing)
  • Pins
  • A Pencil
  • A bottle of whatever you plan to put in this bag
  • Measuring tape
  • A Ruler

Step 1:
Measure your bottle both lengthwise:

and widthwise

Allow whatever seam allowance you enjoy. I personally am a ½ inch kind of a girl, but hey, find the you in you and ask them what they desire in a seam allowance.

So say my bottle was 13 inches long by 6 inches around. So adding ½ inch seam allowance per seam, I would cut two pieces of fabric that were 4 inches by 14 inches. I personally added an inch on the top (and would add another, for the future) just so the whole bottle would be completed covered in the bag (and preserve the surprise!) but again, do what feels right.

I also cut two pieces of fabric 5 inches by 1 inch. These will become the strap of the bag. Feel free to alter those dimensions should you want thicker straps, but I wouldn’t go much thinner, as liquids are heavy.

Step 2: With right sides together, pin and sew the body of the bag, pivoting around
the corners.

Step 3: Lay the strap pieces together at a right angle.

Using your ruler, mark a line across the center of the square formed by the overlap
of the two pieces of strap fabric:

Step 4:
Pin and stitch along that marked line.

Trim the excess and iron.

Press the strap in half, right sides together

Step 5:
Pink the seam allowance on the body of the bag.

Turn the top of the bag over by ½ an inch (or whatever works according to your seam allowance etc). Turn it over again, and stitch the double fold in place. (I like to wait until I’m attaching the straps and do it all in one step, so you can do that too, if you like!)

Step 6: (Optional)
If you want the bag to have a rectangular bottom you can sew along the bottom two corners of the bag. You don’t have to do this but I like it, personally. You just sew perpendicularly to the corner, creating a little sewn triangle:

And it will look like this:

Step 7:
Sew the strap together on the long side, leaving the two short sides unsewn.

Taking a safety pin, pull the right side of the strap through until the whole tube of fabric is facing the correct way (i.e. you can see the right side and the wrong side is the inside of the tube).

Step 8:
Attach the strap to the body of the bag, using the two seams as your placement guide. I like to do a zigzag stitch because I like the way it looks, making sure to double back over the places where the strap meets the body of the bag. As I mentioned before, I tend to double this step up and be hemming as I’m attaching,
but if that doesn’t work for you, no worries!

And there you have it! A lovely wine/prosseco/yoohoo bag to bring to your next shindig!

Thanks, Dixie, I loved making this tutorial, and I hope your readers enjoy it too! ~Leah

Summer Concert Tee to Cardigan (Guest Post by Lizz of A Good Wardrobe)

***We’re continuing onward with the guest posts while I’m on vacay! Today I’m excited to have the lovely Lizz from A Good Wardrobe here sharing an awesome modification for my own pattern! I’m so flattered! 

 Lizz is currently living my own personal dream – going to school for pattern design in one of the coolest cities in the world and calling her wardrobe “good” is a total understatement. When I first came across her blog I fell in love! Er, let me explain. I fell in love with her clothes! She makes sophisticated and classy designs with a touch of femininity and, if I do say so myself, 100% badassitude! I seriously want to sneak in her house at night and steal all of the clothes she’s made! Wow, that sounds creepy… But really, it’s as if someone else made all of the clothes I’d imagine I’d want to make. Well, while I’m experiencing some serious sewing swoon over here let’s get on with the post, shall we? ***

Hello, Dixie DIY fans! I’m Lizz from A Good Wardrobe! I can’t tell you how excited I was when Dixie approached me about a guest post. I knew that I wanted to share with you one of my favorite things about sewing: pattern modification. It’s amazing how tiny changes to an existing pattern can create an entirely different project. With just a few key patterns, you can create an endless amount of garments.
I live in the San Francisco Bay Area which means that on any given day I could go through two or three major weather changes. Layering is a must – especially in the summer. I’ve been in desperate need of a lightweight cover up recently and my spring/fall cardigans are just too heavy for the job. I thought it would be fun to play around with Dixie’s Summer Concert Tee to create a cardigan and show you all how to do the same.
Fabric:  2 yards of jersey fabric or other single knit that does not fray. It’s important that the jersey’s right side curls onto itself as this design utilizes the natural curling tendency for the collar.
Please refer to the pattern for additional supplies and instructions on working with knit fabrics.
1. Print and assemble the pattern but don’t cut it out just yet.
2.Select your size according to the pattern’s size chart. I’m in between sizes and chose to size up since this a loose fitting garment.
3. Draw a grain line parallel to the center front. We’ll be modifying this piece and will need a grain line when cutting out later.
4. Using a curved ruler or freehand, draw a line extending from the high neckline point (where the neck and shoulder meet) to the center front. You can see mine in the photo – it’s the blue line.
This is your new center front. When it’s time, cut 2.
5. Draft a new collar piece.
– Measure the new center front from hemline to high neckline = a
– Measure back neckline from center back to high neckline = b
– (a + b – hem allowance of 1″) x 2 = c
– Draft a new collar pattern 2″ x measurement c
– Mark grain line running the length of the cross grain (selvedge to selvedge)
6. Cut pattern pieces out: front (cut 2), back (cut 1 on fold), sleeves (cut 2 on fold), and new collar piece (cut 1).
7. Follow the pattern directions steps 1 -4. At this point you will have the garment constructed and hemmed leaving only the collar to finish.
8. With right sides together attach the collar to the garment being careful not to stretch.
 The collar hem and side will be left unfinished.
That’s it! You can have this cardigan finished and ready to wear in an afternoon. I hope you enjoy making it as much as I did. Happy sewing!

DIY Couture (Guest Post by Susan from MoonThirty)

***Hola readers! By now I’ll be burning my skin on some beach and drinking virgin daiquiris from plastic cup… or something like that, haha. But just so you all don’t miss me too much 😉 here’s the first of some awesome guest posts I have lined up for you while I’m gone.

Let me tell you a little about Susan – she’s a crafting queen with a throne room to make anyone envious – her crowning glory being a closet packed to the brim with all kinds of fabric! If she were under siege she could last years working with all the fabric she has! Ok, enough medieval monarchy metaphors, haha! 

But really, though. Susan is awesome. She loves craft, home dec and apparel sewing and has an amazing knack for pairing fabric textures, colors and prints. And she has a library of crafty books big enough to rival that fabric closet of hers. So let’s give a big standing O for my friend Susan!***

Thanks so much to Dixie for having me here! I have learned so much from her in the short time we’ve been friends, and I am constantly inspired by her creations.

As I’ve mentioned early and often to anyone who’ll listen, I love sewing books. I’m a bibliophile since early childhood, so when I began to sew, the introduction of this genre to my book collection was inevitable. Being primarily a self-taught sewist, the all-purpose and specific-topic sewing guides I’ve collected have been invaluable to my evolution in this craft. The best ones contain both techniques and projects! The majority of my library is more geared towards projects other than apparel, but that’s largely because I haven’t found nearly as many books about garment sewing that actually contain things to make. However, it seems that’s starting to change — the last few years have brought many exciting apparel publications to the market, including this recent release by Rosie Martin, DIY Couture.

I love way this book was designed and organized. It contains a patternless set of ten garment “shapes,” for which the author created eight unique collections, each containing a variation of the original ten garments. This should help clarify… the ten shapes: 

And an example of the collections:

Now, I have to admit that I didn’t necessarily love most of the finished garments that were photographed for the book, but that was quite irrelevant to me. I don’t buy a house based on the color of the paint on the walls. I could tell right away that it was the infrastructure of the book that I wanted — tell me how to create these ten garments the way that I want to, and we’re all set. Based on my experience so far, I believe the author was successful in doing that. There are no tissue patterns included in this book — instead, the author walks you through the process of making your own pattern, which you can either draft on the paper of your choice or directly onto your intended fashion fabric. She uses a combination of personal measurements/preferences and existing garment tracing in order to create the pieces. I was excited about the prospect of learning this process, as I have extremely limited experience with it.

I automatically zoned in on the Grecian Dress as my first piece to attempt from the book. I think this was for two reasons: it looked extremely simple to make, and it was a style I could see myself wearing. The author drafts the garment directly onto her fashion fabric, but I wanted to create a paper pattern. I rarely — OK, never — make a garment the first time without subsequently wanting to make a few changes, and I knew this would be easier if I had a pattern from which to work. I drafted my Grecian Dress for a knit fabric, though I’d make very few changes to make it from a woven. I was really surprised at how easy it was to create my own pattern for this simple garment. By far, it took me less time than when I have to make an alteration to a commercial pattern. An even more importantly, I felt I knew the shape intimately — after I made the first version (nightgown, not pictured), I knew exactly where to go in the pattern to make the changes that I wanted to make. This may sound overly simplistic for such an uncomplicated garment, but I have had a lot of trouble over the years training my mind to think in the 3D realm that apparel sewing requires. So this was just the right experience to help me gain that confidence!

Normally when I review something for my blog, I detail precisely where I made modifications to the author’s pattern or techniques. Here, I’m not going to do exactly that because the instructions are really guideline-oriented anyway, meant to customize to your heart’s content. But here’s the scoop on my specific garment, in case you’re interested in making something similar:

  • I made my garment long tunic length, using a measurement of about 40″ from the very top of the raw edge at the neckline, all the way to the bottom (as cut/unhemmed).
  • I used 1/4″ elastic on the inside for the garment shaping at the waist. I attached the elastic 3″ below the waistline to result in the amount of blousing I wanted.
  • I finished my edges with binding made from my fashion fabric, but left the raw edges exposed. I’ve been wanting to try this technique for a while. Basically, I just cut 1″ strips on the crossgrain, pressed them in half lengthwise, enclosed the garment’s raw edges in the folded strips, and stitched. I like the finished unfinished look. 🙂 It would be cute in a contrasting fabric too.
  • I used a very lightweight slub cotton jersey from Fabric.com. I bought it about a year ago and it doesn’t look like this exact color is currently available, but here are the similar ones they have in stock. It was super stretchy which made the neckline a bit of a challenge, but it’s comfortable!

The other pieces that are high priorities in my to-try list are the cloak, the hoodie, and the romper. Thanks to Rosie Martin for an inspirational and educational book that will keep me busy for quite a while!