Thursday, October 30, 2014

A jacket walks into a bar....

Okay, no jacket really walked into a bar, but it got your attention!

Last year, I bought a seriously ugly knit print. I have no idea why I bought it, but I did.

This year, I have an obsession with making cardigans to go with all my tees and tank tops for fall and then with blouses for the winter.

Boom! Ideas started brewing and then I got to thinking. I'll make a knit cardigan. I dread sewing with knits so tried to simplify the process as much as possible. I chose not to cut a facing, opting to go with hem tape (a lacy seam/hem tape) that matched the fabric. I stitched that on around the front opening and turned it under, then top stitched. Voila! Well, voila until I put it on. It fit right, I loved the pockets and the weight of the fabric, but that front was all wrong. It kept rolling out from wrong side to right, making it nigh on impossible to wear.

Dang, now what? Then the light bulb went off again. Yes, it did. 

I had ordered a tank top to wear (under cardigans, of course!) and really didn't like the way it fit. I'm not a fan of wearing what look like painted on clothes. I wore it once and decided I'd shelve it forever. 

Now I had two items that I was never going to wear. Not acceptable in my book. 

I cut the front off the tank top and then folded it down the center. I cut about 4" from the center on both sides, giving me about an 8" strip of shirt that included the neck opening, snaps, and a good amount of shirt. Then I pinned that to the inside of the cardigan with the wayward facing. I had to be extremely careful to not stretch to the left, right, up, or down; remember, I hate knits! I did this flat on a table with the cardigan front carefully placed over the pink tee. I used probably 3 times the number of pins I needed, but I really wanted it to not shift. 

And guess what? It worked. I actually have a two-fer that I love. You never know what your mistakes can be turned into. It wasn't a hard thing to do, just exacting. I don't mind exacting if I know things will come out okay. And here's the star of today's show:

It's not as frumpy on as it is on the dress form. You'll just have to trust me on that one. Totally machine washable and a toss it over your head kind of top. 

Now, someone stop me from buying a knit piece of fabric again!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Sewing something for myself, Simplicity 8426, Jacket/Cardigan

It's getting a touch chilly on the east coast, so it's time to go through my jacket and cardigan patterns and see what I want to make. That's how this got started. It snowballed from there.

Using junk jeans is a hobby of mine. I'll turn them into place mats, potholders, doll clothes, blankets, and now into clothes for me.

I chose an older pattern that had no darts, Simplicity 8426. Then I gathered up my pile of blue jean legs.

This picture of the unfinished jacket back gives you an idea of how I put the jeans legs together higgledy piggledy. I made a piece big enough for each of the two front pieces of the pattern and then started stitching legs together to have a piece large enough to cut on the fold for the back. I used jeans legs that had been opened up at the inseam for the sleeves. (The right sleeve is not in this picture.) That's the only place I left on the original blue jean seam. 

Here's a shot of the front. Again, no rhyme or reason for the positioning of the fabric. I just kept adding pieces till it was big enough to cut what I  needed to cut. You can see the pockets on the front in this picture. 

I found some gray bias tape in my goody box and decided to use that rather than more denim for the front facing. The layers of denim get very thick, and this bias tape did the job just fine. Here's how the front looks from the inside. 

And the pockets! I got the handy dandy seam ripper and took pockets off the back of a couple pair of jeans. I was able to salvage two. The placement is as shown on the pattern. I did not line the pockets. 

Here's a side view and you can see how the sleeve has the original side seam in it. 

I need to add the second sleeve and hem the cardigan and the sleeves. I took great care not to stretch the fabrics too much so that there wouldn't be puckers. Denim is a bear to work with, but I think this is going to be a cardigan that gets worn a lot! I'll add more photos when it's done. It looks better on me than the dress form!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Halloween Sewing (with an update!)

I have a lot, I mean a lot of Halloween fabric. I've been collecting it for years from fabric stores, yard sales, trades and swaps, and pretty much anywhere I can snag it up. Did you know it's almost impossible to find scary fabric for Halloween now? All the pumpkins, witches, and skeletons are smiling! Not so much with my older fabrics, but anything acquired in the past 15-20 years, yup, they're smiling.

This year, I wanted to try a bunting. The way I've hung it is not mainstream, but the idea is simple. I made a simple triangle pattern, gathered my fabrics, and used pinking shears to cut the triangles for the bunting. I zig-zagged the triangles onto a piece of grosgrain ribbon, leaving tails of ribbon at the ends.

I did not leave space between the triangle flags, but if I did this again, I would absolutely leave a half inch or so for tacking it up, maybe even a little less than that. My ribbon is about 1-1/2 times the width of the mantle. I made it, I hung it, and I have learned a little something from it. You should ry it yourself. It couldn't be easier. I have made bunting with spaces before and they do hang better. This was kind of an experiment. 

Update: I hated the way it was hanging, so I tried something different. Much better!

My other project this year is a set of four placemats with a Jack o'Lantern, smiling of course, appliqued onto a skeleton fabric. I used store bought bias binding that I had on hand. The back is a complementary fall fabric which makes these reversible. If you are not interested in drawing a pumpkin, you can Google "Halloween coloring pages" or "Jack o'Lantern coloring pages" and use what you find as your pattern. I borrowed my design of the pumpkin and stem from a coloring page search. When I do this kind of applique, I do a straight stitch around the shape first to hold it in place. 

For the process, I appliqued the pumpkin and the stem onto the skeleton fabric. I then made a sandwich of the fall fabric, flannel, and the pumpkin decorated piece, and did some wide machine quilting on the diagonal to hold it all in place. I machine sewed one side of the bias binding in place (on the pumpkin side), pinned it, and hand sewed the back binding. You can use your machine; I prefer the hand stitching. (If you have it, use some kind of anti-fray liquid on the appliqued stitches.)

Last year, I was heavy into making trick or treat bags with Halloween patchwork. If you want to try one of those, simply make some patchwork fabric out of 4" or 5" squares of Halloween fabric, and make a simple lined tote bag. Here are a couple of last year's examples:

Have some ghoulish fun with your sewing for Halloween. Your kids will love placemats and tote bags that you made for them and they also make fun items to give away or sell at a craft show or online. Or do like I do and just make stuff for yourself.