Friday, August 28, 2015

Summertime Cotton

This summer I have rediscovered my love of cotton (I am beginning to feel like one of those silly "fabric of our lives" commercials).  

Sure, I have been wearing some of my rayon dresses, but most days I am drawn to the cotton clothing in my closet.

It probably has a lot to do with all of the hot weather, but I have also remembered how fabulous it is to sew with this fiber! 

Sometimes the original pattern design is not very practical, but I could not resist this pattern.  So I made myself a day dress instead of a gown.  It also saves a lot of fabric!

And I love the knee-length skirt!  In the lightweight fabric it has a wonderful floaty feeling, but because the seam starts at the hip, it does not feel like it is going to end up blowing up over my head.

Skirts with a yoked waistband are not my favorite, but I think I am going to try to figure out another way to use this pattern to make myself a skirt . . . or maybe I just need another dress!

I should probably start thinking about Fall sewing, but I am having so much fun working with these lightweight cottons!

Dress:  Made by me, Butterick 6022
Shoes:  Banana Republic

[The fabric for this dress was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

Friday, August 21, 2015

Adding a Waist Stay to a Garment: A Tutorial

Today I thought I would share a great way to take your garment sewing to the next level with a grosgrain waist stay.  A waist stay relieves tension on a garment at its tightest point and helps to support the weight of the fabric.  It also keeps seams and zippers from being strained during wear.  As an added bonus, it can serve as an extra pair of hands when trying to zip/snap/hook/button yourself into the garment!

And if you are a fan of strapless garments, a waist stay is invaluable.  These days many clothing manufacturers use a rubberized strip at the upper edge to keep a dress in place - having developed a rash from wearing one for a few hours, I refuse to go that route.  Stabilizing the dress from the waist or under the bust is so much more comfortable and secure!

There are two types of grosgrain ribbon that make an excellent stay.  Grosgrain commonly found in craft stores is made from polyester and has a bound edge that has absolutely no give.  That kind of strength is excellent for a waist stay, but those edges can start to feel uncomfortable after many hours of continuous wear depending on your tolerance of tight clothing.

Petersham ribbon is sometimes called “true grosgrain” and is made of rayon and/or cotton.  It is often used in millinery applications and has a scalloped edge.  In my experience, petersham makes for a much more comfortable waist stay.  (If you are planning on laundering your garment, make sure to pre-shrink your petersham!)

I recommend using ribbon that is 1” or 1.5” wide.  If a 2” wide ribbon is used at the waistline, small darts may be used to shape the stay.

Starting at one opening edge, leave two or three inches of grosgrain as a tail and pin in place.  Lay the grosgrain flat against the garment until you come to the first stitching point.  Pull the stay slightly past that point so that the grosgrain is shorter in length than the garment fabric and pin into place. 

This will cause a bit of puckering when laid flat, but this is what you want.  Continue this process until you reach the opposite opening edge, securing the ribbon with a pin at each seamline and dart it crosses. 

The stay should measure slightly smaller in circumference than the waistline it stabilizes.  Think of two concentric circles – the inside circle circumference must be smaller than the outer one in order to fit inside.

You may carefully measure your stay and divide up the ease between each attachment point (generally darts, tucks, or a seam allowance), but I usually just wing it.

Using a reinforced cross-stitch, attach the stay to the garment at each pin, making sure to only catch the seam allowance or dart so that none of the stitches will show from the right side of the garment.

Cross-stitches may be stitched through the middle of the stay, or at both edges.  I often use a combination of both options, depending on how my garment is constructed, how many intersecting seamlines and darts/tucks are available to secure the ribbon, and the width of the grosgrain ribbon.

This particular dress has a dropped-waist, but the technique is the same for a garment without an appropriately placed seamline such as a princess seamed dress.  For such a garment, make sure to mark your waistline on the wrong side to ensure proper placement.

A stay may also be inserted just under the bustline, as is the case with this dress.  The idea is that the stay is carrying some of the weight of the garment so that it no longer hangs from the shoulders and/or upper edge and is secured on the torso.  This will also help to keep the garment from rotating on the body during wear.

The easiest way to close the stay is with a hook & bar closure.  Make sure to stitch the hook so it faces away from your body with the ribbon creating a barrier between your skin and the metal.

Using smaller hook & eyes is a bit more time consuming, but look so pretty!  

The ends of the ribbon may be used to cover most of the metal bits.

I like to off-set the opening of the waist stay slightly from the zipper so the zipper teeth and metal hooks are not layered one on top of the other. 

Technically, a waist stay must be somewhat independent from the garment and not stitched continuously to a seam allowance.  However, every garment may not require a true waist stay, and there are more basic options that will help to stabilize a horizontal seamline. 

One such option is to use a length of seam binding or twill tape.  This is not as structured as a true waist stay, but a quick pinking of the raw fabric edges and the addition of the straight of grain binding keeps any cross seams from pulling apart, adds stability, and helps to eliminate cross grain stretch at that seam.

A length of narrow grosgrain may also be used in this manner.  I would not, however, use this technique with an invisible zipper because of the increased bulk the grosgrain adds in the zipper seamline.  You could, however, terminate the stitching lines on the grosgrain an inch or so from the opening and use a hook & eye closure as explained above.

Whichever method you choose, a waist stay is an excellent addition to a garment that will help to increase the life span of your garments.  I highly recommend adding this technique to your sewing arsenal!

[The fabric for this dress was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Fall McCalls

It feels like these pattern releases are coming more and more often, and fewer and fewer are knocking my socks off - which is probably a good thing.

McCalls 7259

I love that the vintage reproductions are branching out from the standard mid-century silhouettes - the cape on this coat is wonderful!  But in reality, the garment is probably not very practical for my life.  

McCalls 7259

This 1920s dress I made has been worn once.  One of the main reasons is that I feel like I am wearing a costume.  (And yes, I realize how ridiculous that sounds considering the rest of my closet.)  

McCalls 7250

In theory, I love the idea of a wardrobe full of easy-to-wear flapper frocks, but these particular designs do not look to be very flattering for the wide of hip.  And this blouse is a real fabric hog, although I would not mind getting my hands on some of that cut velvet . . . yummy!  Perhaps I need to find a design with some asymmetrical detailing.

McCalls 7250

I really like something about McCall 7243 – if I ever get over my fear of sewing with knits, I may have to try this one.  It is difficult for me to resist a fabulous collar treatment.

McCalls 7243

And speaking of knits, I am also drawn to this Tracy Reese Plenty design.  But what on earth is the model trying to tell us? 

McCalls 7244

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

From Gown to Day Dress

I love a great collar!

So as soon as I saw Butterick 6022 I knew I had to make my own version.

And when I saw this cotton batiste I knew what my next Britex guest blogger project would be!

The fabric is quite sheer, so I underlined it with a cotton voile.

This seems to be the summer of the dart.  I keep choosing patterns that require a whole lot of them!

The neckline was stabilized with rayon seam binding.

And, of course, I bound the raw edges of the fabric with more seam binding.

The skirt did drop a bit along the bias which I was not expecting from such a lightweight and stable cotton.

Marking a hem has got to be one of my least favorite parts of the sewing process.  I think I need one of those vintage contraptions that sits on the floor and sprays chalk at an even level directly on the fabric.  Do they still make those?

My reward for sitting on the floor with a ruler and pincushion was getting to hand sew the hem (I know, I'm weird)!

And as a final touch, I added lingerie guards to the neckline.  Those tiny little snaps got away from me a few times, but I eventually managed to wrangle them into place!

[The fabric for this dress was received in exchange for my contributions as a Britex Guest Blogger.]

Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Denim

Don't get too excited . . . I did not make a pair of jeans.  But I finally got around to making another Hollyburn Skirt

Not too long ago I was whining to Beth that I can never find suitable solid blue fabric for a skirt.  And you may have already guessed her obvious answer . . . denim – it was staring me right in the face.

I though about a gold top-stitching thread, and went so far as to mosey on over to the thread display, but I couldn’t bring myself to go with the contrast.  I left that for the inside seam finishing!

I discovered a new-to-me stitch function with this project . . . the triple-stitch.  A single thread looked rather anemic on the sturdy denim, but the thicker line of matching thread looks quite nice (even if you only notice it up close).

I even went so far as to top-stitch my waistband along the upper and lower edges, and the hem (although that was first hand-stitched in place – old habits die hard).

And look at me making matching separates.  It may not be fancy, but I have a feeling this skirt is going to get a lot of wear.

Blouse:  Made by me, Butterick 6217
Skirt:  Made by me, Sewaholic "Hollyburn"
Shoes:  Colin Stuart
Necklace:  Made by me