Monday, December 21, 2020

Hello everyone,

Well, wouldn't you know!  The other day, Louise and I were talking about which fabrics we should feature next, when she came up with another interesting idea.

Recently, we've been working with boiled wool, and we published our pdf called "Give a Little, Take a Little" about how to use special techniques to create garments with that wonderful fabric.  Louise said, "Let's use those techniques with denim and let the raw edges fray." 

 So I did a couple of little samples to see how it looked, and I liked it.   Below, I'll show you how I made these samples of overlapped seams with frayed edges.  If you'd like to make a complete garment finished with this great look, you might want to download "Give a Little, Take a Little" from the website.

I cut small pieces of denim and stitched 5/8" from the cut edge to give myself a guideline.  I applied a strip of Steam-a-Seam to the edge, leaving a bit of room next to the stitching.  I didn't want to glue the very edge of the piece I would apply on top, because that would prevent the overlapped edge from fraying.  And the fraying was exactly what I wanted. 

By the way, if working with boiled wool, don't use Steam-a-Seam.  We have double-sided sticky tape, which works better on the boiled wool.

I made 2 samples.  In the photo, the paper backing was still on the Steam-a-Seam so you could see it clearly.

Next, I removed the paper backing and lapped another piece of denim on top so that its cut edge just barely hid the stitched guideline (it's in gold thread above).  Of course, if I had been making a garment rather than a sample, I would have cut off 5/8" from this second edge to maintain the proper amount of fabric taken up in the seam.  Details are in "Give a Little, Take a Little". 

You can just see the gold thread of the stitched guideline peeking out of the bottom of this sample above.

Press with your iron to fuse the layers.  These seams are easy to handle now because the Steam-a-Seam is holding them. 

It's time to stitch.  I moved my needle to the left of center and used an edge-stitching foot to sew the first line of stitching.

I changed to my general purpose foot, lined up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the foot, and stitched a second line.  This photo shows the relationship of the Steam-a-Seam, the stitched guideline underneath, and the 2 lines of topstitching.

Fortunately, I needed to do a load of laundry, so the samples went in with everything else, taking a spin through the washing machine and the dryer.  When they emerged, I pressed them lightly and took photos.

This was my initial experiment and it showed me that the technique could be a success.  I could see this around the edges of pockets, as a seam finish, around the edges of a collar, and down the front of a garment on the joined facings/garment fronts.  

I think I'd like it even better if my first line of topstitching had been just a few threads further from the cut edge, letting just a bit more fraying take place.

Give this a try.  It's fun to play around.  Be sure to make samples first--mine only took a few minutes.  That way, you'll be sure to get just the look you want.

This is one of the gifts of sewing.  You get to create your own distinctive look while you relax and play with fabric.  Have fun!


Friday, November 6, 2020

Hi everybody,

I promised you part 2 of transitioning from a flat-fell seam to a side vent.  If you didn't see my last blog from Monday, you might want to go back and look at it, so you see the entire process.

I made a second sample using exactly the same configuration as the first--5/8" wide side vents, etc.  I serged both the front and back seam allowances as on sample 1. Once again, I clipped straight into the side seam allowances to the side seam stitching, making those clips 1/2" above the side vent dot. I trimmed the back seam allowance to 1/8".  I folded the front seam allowance onto itself at 1/4", then pressed it over the trimmed back seam allowance, fusing it with Steam-a-Seam.  I also fused the tops of the side vent allowances after folding the top edges at 45 degrees.  All this is shown in the previous blog, along with photos of stitching the miters at the vent/hem corner and the topstitching I wasn't especially happy with.

I simplified the stitching on this second sample, and I like it much better.  After following the steps used on the first sample, I decided to edgestitch only on the side of the seam where I had folded over the front seam allowance.  I did not stitch right at the original stitching of the seam, as I did on sample 1.  Here's the result.

The photo above shows the edgestitching along the folded and fused front seam allowance, which has been folded over onto the back.  I've also stitched the side vent in place, although it's hard to see that stitching.

What I haven't shown you before is that I left long thread tails on my edgestitching along the seam.  I tied a knot at the end of the edgestitching, then used a handstitching needle to hide the thread tails in the side vent. I left the ends so you could see what I did, but they will get cut off to finish.  

Here's the right side of the sample.

So much simple, clearer, and less fussy than my first sample.  I like it much better.

Many of our patterns use a 1-1/4" wide side vent.  I thought I'd try that.  To begin, I serged down the seam allowances, across the diagonal top of the side vent, and down its vertical edges.  

Once I did the first steps, I realized that even though I had serged diagonal edges at the top of the side vents, I still had 5/8" raw edges where I had clipped into the seam allowances.  

So once I had the front seam allowances folded and fused to the back, I realized I would need to fold the diagonal tops of the side vent.

You can see the raw edge resulting from clipping into the seam allowances.  You're looking at the back side vent folded over to the front, so you can see what I'm doing.  Also, you can see the dot where the seam edgestitching needs to end so it meets the diagonal stitching I'll do on the diagonal vent edge.


This is so much explanation.  It's difficult to convey the tiny details in words, but the photos really show the process, so I hope they are clear to you.  

Here's a view of the lines I drew to indicate where I should fold.  One edge is already folded.

 Both diagonal edges folded.


Edgestitching is done along the flat-fell seam.  Once the diagonal edges were fused, I could stick a pin through to mark where that seam edgestitching should end.  I left long thread tails.  If you're worried about that little bit of raw edge at the bottom of the seam, you can secure it with a drop of Fray-Check.

Here it is from the right side.

As I said, my explanation sounds much more complicated than the process actually is.  Look at the photos and make a couple of samples.  You'll quickly see how to make a smooth, neat transition from a flat fell seam to a side vent.

Be sure to go back to my previous blog to get a head start!  



Monday, November 2, 2020

 Hello everyone,

Recently a sewer asked me about transitioning from a flat-fell seam to a side vent.  She was making a shirt from our pattern called A Subtle Twist (by the way, it is now discontinued, but this blog will apply to other shirts as well).  

I was not particularly pleased with all aspects of my first experiment with solving the problem, but I'm going to show it to you so you can see the process--and what I didn't really like.  Then in my next blog I'll show you what I like better.  So let's get to it.

A Subtle Twist includes 5/8" wide side vents.  Here's a photo of the wrong side of the Front showing you the dot where the side seam ends at the top of the side vent, the miters at the hem corners (we draft those for you), and the hem.  You can see that I've already serged the side seam and hem edges.

Here you can see that I've created the back piece of the sample, serged it, and stitched it to the front piece, stitching the side seam to the dot.  I've pressed the seam allowances open, continuing to press the remaining portions of the seam at 5/8" down to the corner miters, forming the vent.  Finally, I trimmed the back seam allowance to 1/8" down to a point 1/2" above the dot.  It's important not to trim all the way down to the dot! At the bottom of the trimmed back seam allowance, be sure you've clipped all the way to the side seam stitching.  (I had to do it later!)

Next, I used our 1/4" Pressing Template to press the front part of the side seam allowance.  Again, I had to clip all the way to the side seam stitching before pressing.  You can see how this would create a weak spot if you did this at the dot.
Next, I pressed the folded front seam allowance over the back seam allowance.  (By the way, having the serging tames that raw edge and makes it easier to press.)  I slid a strip of Steam-a-Seam under that folded seam allowance.  Get it all the way under, press lightly, and peel off the paper backing.  (I didn't want to slide mine all the way under yet--you wouldn't have been able to see it!)  I pressed again to fuse.

Note that in the photo above, I have 2 raw edges at the top of the side vent (just above the dot).  
Here's the front seam allowance fused in place.  Also, I've turned down those 2 little raw edges to make a prettier finish.  Slide little bits of Steam-a-Seam under just those angled edges and fuse them also.

Now you're ready to stitch the miters.  These will be uneven miters, because the side vent is 5/8" wide, but the hem is 1-1/4" wide.  The thing to note is that the diagonal seam allowance for the miters is 3/8" (shown in the first photo), so the serged edges must cross at 3/8".  It's simple if you can see a photo--.  The top pin is at 3/8".  Stitch from that top pin to the corner--we always place a dot at that corner to help you.

Once you've stitched, you'll trim the corner of the miter diagonally and press its short seam allowances open over a point press.  Turn them right side out.

So this is where I started wondering just how I wanted to proceed.  I tried what we often do with flat fell seams.  I used my edgestitching foot and stitched (working from the wrong side), down both sides of the seam and across the bottom, right where the trimmed seam allowances end.  Then I stitched across the hem, up one side of the vent till I was even with the dot, pivoted and stitched up the angle at the top of the vent, and the same on the other side of the vent.  

I thought I had done ok, till I looked at the right side.  I thought it looked way too fussy.  It's hard to match up all the lines of stitching, and I think the look is overly complicated.

I decided to try again, cleaning up the final appearance.  I liked those results better, so I'll show you those in the next blog.  
I wanted to go though all these steps with you, though, so you could see the whole process and perhaps learn from my not so lovely first attempt at figuring out how to topstitch this configuration.
See you next time!

Monday, August 31, 2020

Hi everyone,

 As promised, today I'd like to show you how to add sleeves to the boxtop (view B) in the This or That pattern.   Here's the boxtop with sleeves that I made for my Summer Wardrobe in the group of plum, green, and white fabrics.


I chose a mesh fabric from my stash that happened to go with the pants (Easy Ageless Cool) and shell (Putting It Together) that I had made earlier.  Please keep in mind that this boxtop can also be worn over the other striped shell in the wardrobe as well as the dress/tunic in the flocked white fabric, a pattern hack from the Putting It Together shell.  One garment = 3 new looks. (I covered the how-to's of that dress/tunic in my previous blog.)

As you can see from the envelope, the boxtop (on the left) has no sleeves.  But we're creative, and we can add them if we want them.  First, I decided on how big around I wanted my boxtop to be by consulting the measurements included in the pattern.  Then I used the following steps to draft a sleeve pattern--really easy!

The original pattern has dots that mark the armhole.  I laid the pattern on some tracing paper and marked those dots. I also marked the shoulder point.


Here's a view of the straight line for the top of the sleeve with those markings.

Then I drew the sides of the sleeves by drawing perpendicular lines 5/8" away from my original marks, to give me the seam allowances.

Finally, I added the hem.

Obviously, these sleeves are straight.  They're short (9", I think) and I didn't want to taper them.  The idea of the Summer Wardrobe was easy and casual, so the straight sleeves fit right in.

I was lucky.  The selvedge of my fabric was firmly woven, so I cut my sleeves to have that finished edge at the hem.


Of course, my first step in sewing the boxtop was to follow the instructions to stitch the binding to the neckline.  It's a nice, neat finish.   Take another look at the finished boxtop at the top of this blog--you'll see that I used a more firmly woven fabric for the neckline binding.  The mesh fabric was too loosely woven to use. I had also serged all my edges.

Then I stitched the side seams.  I chose to leave the lower portion of the side seams open as vents.  At the top of the side seams, I secured my stitching at the dots marking the armholes.  I was ready to pin the sleeves into those armholes.  You can see my turquoise dot marking the top of the sleeve.

 At the left of the photo above, you can see the seam allowances at the sleeve underarm.  When stitching the sleeve into the armhole, push those underarm seam allowances out of the way so they don't get caught in the stitching.  There's a pin at the left poking into the bottom of the sleeve showing exactly where to begin your stitching.  

Once the sleeves are stitched, press the sleeve seam allowances toward the sleeve.

Taaaa-Daaa!  You've made a garment you didn't know you could make!  I love pattern hacks, and I hope you'll play around with your patterns too.

Friday, August 28, 2020

 Hi Everyone!

At last I'm ready to show you another project.  I've been working on patterns (soon!!), writing newsletters, and helping to create another special project (also coming soon).  
But I'm so glad to have time to show you another way to use one of your Cutting Line Designs patterns.
As you know, I've been sewing a casual, comfortable summer wardrobe over the last couple of months.  I began with some plum linen, some green linen, and some prints that could work with both.  Once I made the green linen pants from Easy Ageless Cool, I knew I could make a couple more tops to go with them, expanding this summer wardrobe even more.
I had a very lightweight white cotton with little flecks of green thread woven into it.  It would make a floaty, cool something, and I decided to lengthen the shell from Putting It Together to make a sleeveless dress.  Here it is:

And a side view:

  As I began working, I realized that this might need to be a top with long side vents to allow movement over the pants.  I can't really wear it as a dress with such high vents (at least in public), but that's ok as I really was after a new top anyway.  But you might want to think about this detail if you decide to make this same top.  You are your own designer!  Once I was all finished, I decided this would get a lot of at-home wear.
The first thing I did was trace the pattern and make it longer.

I made it just a bit bigger through the hips for more ease over the pants.  Look closely at the right side (side seam edge) of the pattern to see that I added 5/8" to make the side vents wider.  I thought they would give a more finished look to the garment and add a bit of weight so it would hang better.  (The x's are boo-boos!)

I drafted the side vent/hem miter.  For more info on this, search for miters in this blog or read all about them in Louise's article in the September 2020 (issue 210) Threads Magazine.
I used the neckline facing from the pattern but decided on a lighter finish for the armholes.  I cut 1" wide bias strips of white fabric and used my tape maker to make single fold bias tape.  If you haven't done this, be sure you press the folds just as they are coming out of the tape maker.  Otherwise, the tape unfolds.  It's an easy process both for finishes and to make embellishments.

 I trimmed away 3/8" of the seam allowance from the dress's armholes (side seams are not sewn yet).  Then I stitched the tape to the armholes in the 1/4" foldline on the right side of the garment.

 I pressed the seam allowance away from the garment, maintaining the second pressed fold in the tape.  Here's the view from the right side.  It's helpful to press from both sides.

And from the wrong side.

Next, I pressed the tape into the armhole, favoring the seam a thread or two to the wrong side of the garment.

I then pinned the side seams, with the tape turned up away from the garment so I could sew it as part of the seam.  I turned it back down and trimmed away the excess.

After sliding strips of Steam-a-Seam under the bias tape, pressing lightly, and removing the paper backing, I pressed the tape again to fuse it in place.  Then I just edgestitched the bias tape.  It was a quick and easy finish to the armholes.

I pressed the side vents to the inside.  With the added 5/8", they are 1-1/4" wide, of course.  

At this point, I was ready to press up my 1-1/4" hem, stitch my miters, and try on my new dress/top. 

I hope this inspires you to try playing around with your Putting It Together pattern.  You could make your new top any length, from a fingertip-length tunic to an ankle-length dress that would be great to wear while we are all at home so much.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Happy hot summer weather to all of you!


Finally, another garment!  This time, it's the shell from the Putting It Together pattern.  I was happy to discover that I had enough fabric left over from the original shirt to make a matching shell, stretching this little wardrobe even further.

As a reminder, here's the original shirt from The Blouse Perfected pattern.  I wrote about it in an earlier blog, along with the original pair of One-Seam Pants.

With the leftover fabric, I made this shell.

You can just glimpse the "cheater strips" I added at the shoulders.  I had a problem--not enough fabric to match the stripes over the shoulders.  So I used a simple fix.  First, I stitched the shoulder seams wrong sides together, so the seam allowances were on the outside of the garment.  I trimmed them to 1/4" and pressed them open.  Unfortunately, I forgot to photograph that till I already had moved ahead several steps, but this photo will show you anyway.

I cut two strips of fabric with the plum and white stripes at the center.  I folded the raw edges under, pressed, and trimmed.  Then I used Steam-a-Seam to fuse those strips over the shoulder seam allowances on the right side of the garment.  Finally, I edgestitched the strips.  Here's how that looked.

 When worn, the stripes will look just fine.

I'll mention a couple of other construction items.  Once I stitched the facings to the garment, I graded and clipped the seam allowances.  Finally, I pressed those seam allowances open.  That makes it easy to turn the facings to the inside accurately.  

Oh, right--you may be wondering why the facings are a different fabric.  Again, stripes on the facings wouldn't match the garment's stripes, and I was afraid the mismatch would show through to the right side.  So I chose a solid fabric that harmonized and cut the facings from that. 

As you may know, we draft all the miters included in our patterns, so you don't have to figure them out.  However, some of the uneven miters can look a little funny.  

In this case, both the side vent and the hem edges are serged, and those edges are what must be matched--but they will be matched at a point 3/8" from the raw miter edges.  That's because the miters are stitched using a 3/8" seam allowance.  There's also a dot at the bottom corner of the miter, 3/8" in from the raw edges.  Take a look--the photo is easier to understand.

 I also wanted to show you how I measured, then stabpinned the hem in place before pressing it.  It assures a straight, accurate hem.  It's also helpful to have glass-head pins that won't melt from the iron's heat.

Of course, that original shirt can slide over the new shell, giving me a 4th outfit from the 4 garments I've made so far.  

I hope I've given you a couple of ideas for your own summer wardrobe!