Sunday, May 30, 2010

Buy a Tee Shirt; Add a Circle (and a little trim)

She wanted an "American Flag" dress.

Tee shirt 50% off at Kohl's - $6.00.

Cut off the tail of the tee shirt to waist length plus seam allowance (or you could cut hip length, for dropped waist styles, which might be even better).

Cut a circle the circumference of the tee shirt bottom. (See post below for details--and DON'T cut it too large!)

Measure the length you want the skirt to be, plus 3/8 - 1/2" at the top, and about 1/2" at the bottom for a rolled hem. I added 15-inches. Cut your big circle.

I used my Espire's rolled hem foot for the first time, sewed the skirt to the top, top-stitched the waist seam to the top for strength, and Bingo--it's a dress!

When it was finished, I thought the top looked a little "blank", but the shirt came with a narrow band across the chest--suggesting its own remedy!

So I added a little trim from the fabric over the existing band, by hand. You could do it on the machine, but it's a really narrow band of fabric on the store-bought shirt, so I wanted to do it by hand. It was not at all difficult.

It's a very quick and easy dress once you figure out the skirt. I made a pattern from the extremely light-weight gridded fabric that I use for designing and altering all the time. So making circle skirts for a Princess will be easy for quite some time!

[Ruler details below.]

Easy Circle Cut™ Ruler

For the dress above, I used my new quilting ruler (Easy Circle Cut™ by Sharon Hultgren). I needed a 7-in. diameter finished circle for a 24-in. circumference shirt. It turned out to be perfect!

If you do the math, you might think it wouldn't be large enough, but you are going to sew 3/8" or 1/2" from the edge of the 7-in. diameter circle, so it is going to get larger--don't make the mistake of cutting that circle too large!

I didn't get "exotic" and do the math; I simply inserted my plastic measuring tape in the groove of the ruler and came up with 12-inches on the 7-in. template. The top was 24-in. circumference, so it worked perfectly. (If I had 'done the math', I might have screwed up and used the 8-in. template, but you are increasing the diameter to about 8-in. when you take away the seam allowance.)

(Get it when they are 50% off!)

[Ok, this Formula-1 race is TOO exciting--I will have to re-read this post when it's quite around here to make sure it's not jumbled up info!]

Plisse Shirt for Hot Days

This will be cooler than a tee shirt on a REALLY hot day.

(Maybe I'll start remembering to shift the image to the left sometime...)

British Heritage Scrap for our Princess

This 4-gore version is wider than the cowgirl skirt on purpose to emphasize the stripes. The stripes force the center front to become a seam as well.

It's too long right now, but her mommie said don't shorten it. I'm keeping it for length measurements, but I'm going to have to give it to her soon, as she immediately loved it.

(I wish Blogger would not chop off the right sides of photos at this size; if I use the smaller size the detail is often lost.)

Sizing Scraps for Mr. P

I needed to figure out what size he was this year, so found some very old scraps I could use for a vest and shorts--as I have to slim down tops and bottoms for him.

It wasn't intended to be an "outfit"--just a test, but he loved it, so maybe his mommie will let him wear it in the backyard...

I had to take at least 4 inches out of the sides of the shorts; they started out as "no seam" sides, but they have seams now!

Had to take 4-inches out of the sides of the vest

And still I had to take four darts in the back!

Two on each side

It seems to fit now, so I used the measurements for shirts, vests, and pants.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fitting a Wide-Shouldered, Long, Lean Guy

I have now figured out how to fit Mr. P with a long-sleeved shirt (I had done the short sleeve version at Easter). You wouldn't believe how many places you have to fold, angle, cut, splice, and dart a pattern to fit a little guy who has broad shoulders, small rib cage, slender body, and long arms.

Store-bought shirts don't fit well at all, which is why I started this shirt-madness in the first place. (I had sworn I'd never make long sleeved shirts again!) Patterns are just as bad as store-bought tops, if not worse. One can sort of understand why everybody puts their kids in tee shirts!

I am working with "Sm-Med-Lg" patterns. They are WAY too wide in the body--beginning right under the arms, too narrow in the shoulders, WAY too short in the length and sleeves, and about 4-inches too wide in the waist/hips. So I am pretty much using the shoulder width of a size large, the body width of size small (or less, depending on the pattern), adding an inch to the sleeve length of size large, and adding 1-3 inches to the length of a size large--all for what the stores call a size 7.

(As I understand it, "small" should correspond to 7-8, medium 9-10, and large 11-12--and I am having to add length to size 12????? And take away width from a size 7???? He is NOT disproportioned at all--in fact he will have an enviable physique I think!)

You can't just "do" what I described above; you have to fold, dart, taper, splice, tape, etc., to get in those wide shoulders above the narrow body. Then you have to remember the effect of all this on the armhole depth and curve. You have to start from scratch with each new pattern--which is why I will work mostly from one short-sleeve and one long-sleeve pattern, vary materials, and add trim pieces (as in Western), etc., to achieve different looks.

2010 - Cowboy outfit for Mr Precious

He is our "Purple Guy" and I think his parents are feeding him MiracleGro! So he needs a new outfit, too.

Complete with long-sleeved shirt (this color is close to accurate)

Vest front (I like this blue-toned purple, but I really think my fabric falls somewhere between the above photo and this. I even unsuccessfully tried photographing it outside to try to show the true color.)

Vest back

I have to tell you getting the placement of the decorative stitching was TRICKY! I applied the braid first. Then I sewed the pattern on a "test piece" at the "normal angle". I marked the beginning part of the pattern with a Sharpie marker. Then I placed the needle down in the fabric at the "start point" and angled it around to where I hoped it would fall correctly--worked pretty well!

This may be the last time you catch me sewing with silver metallic thread--at least with this kind. When it works, the effect is what I intended, but it splices, knots, breaks, etc. So it is a constant job of re-threading. I had to pull half a name out and try to figure out how to finish it in the right place because it totally screwed up, etc. I don't recommend it.

There is another type of metallic-looking thread (which isn't really metal) that I want to try. I am sure it won't be quite the same effect, but I want to see if it can be made to do this job.

I do confess to being rather proud of managing to get it pretty much where I wanted!

I need a couple of background colors for taking pictures; also better lighting. (Or, as my husband suggests, I COULD learn to use my camera a bit better by setting it to incandescent light--I got it in October and haven't learned the menus yet!

I liked this fabric--so similar to "neckerchief" style. It does not need any trim.

Back of shirt (no yoke)

Looks nice over the vest as well

And then, of course, a short sleeved version from fabric I think I intended to make up for his mommie many long years ago (she's our other "purple person").


(and he liked it...)

2010 - Cowgirl outfit for a Princess

The first one I made is now too small. (The vest fits like a bolero and the skirt won't go on at all.)

Our princess is definitely "Pretty in Pink", so her cowgirl hat is pink. So Nana had to come up with something to go with that hat!

Completed costume

Back (I can't decide which lighting is best...)


Back vest trim detail

Front vest trim detail
(I loved using these buttons I'd had for years, and they're just perfect!)

And I was quite tickled with how the placement of the shoulder stitching worked out...

Skirt, with decorative stitching at front waist to hold elastic in place and mark it clearly for a small princess!

I haven't made the pink shirts yet, but there is a pink top in an older post which also matches. I wanted to giver her brother his, so I did not wait on the shirts this time.

She also has pink leather and suede cowgirl boots, but she's about to grow out of them--should have gotten the next size up last winter...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sewing Club - Placemats - Class Project

I deleted this and added to it so I am re-posting with a bit more data. If I had known I was going to create this blog yesterday, I would have taken more pictures during the construction process, to explain it better.

[Sorry to "Mags"; I have added your comment to the new post.]

With my new machines I received 'Intro' classes, plus 3 years of one class per month for EACH machine.

This is my first sewing class project. I wasn't too excited about making these placemats, but after I found some inspiring fabric, it was fun!

For four placemats, select 4 high-contrast coordinating fabrics.
For the center (butterflies), 2 yards cotton fabric.
For each of the 3 fabrics used on the side panels, 1/2 yard cotton fabric.

Cut four (4) 14" x 16" pieces of the "center" fabric. (In mine, this is the black with red butterflies.) [Cut the backs to fit after the fleece is fused to back of tops of placemats.]

[I personally will not make quite such wide placemats in the future. You can only get maybe four of these on an ordinary sized table. Very pretty, but not so practical. In using the Double Diamonds they need to be this wide in order to see the pattern.]

Cut three coordinating fabrics for edge panels in 4" x 16" strips (8 each).

Pick the top two fabrics for the diamonds, and fuse together with Seam-a-Seam 2. (In this case, the black with flowers is fused to the red leaves pattern.)

Fold each fused strip down the middle. Press down the center for cutting the diamonds.

Using a 3.5" Double Diamond Ruler(details shown in post below), place the cutting edge on the FOLD of the fused strip!!!!

Using a rotary cutter, slit down the grooves--making SURE the folded side is at the edge of the cutting side of the ruler as shown above!
Do not run into the plastic at the ends; it may ruin your cutting blade in a hurry. (I have to confess, I ran into the end a few times.)
Do NOT cut all the way through to the cut side of the fused fabrics!!! (It would fall apart if you did that.)

After slitting, carefully unfold and press the strip open again.

Pick the side you want to show only a little bit--in this case I chose the black background with little flowers.

Fold the narrow pointed piece carefully to the matching "point" on the piece above.

On just the pointed end where it will meet the matching point, use fabric glue to hold it in place.

After all diamonds are folded and glued in place, steam press firmly.

Next lay the strip over your 3rd strip of coordinating fabric (for these the orange and yellow) making sure the "right" side is "up"!

Stitch down the center through each point of the diamonds as shown in this finished detail.

Then stitch all the way around the 3-layer side panel very close to the edges. (You don't want these stitches to show later.)

Stitch two side panels to each center piece (the butterflies) to form the "top" of the placemat.

Cut the fusible fleece to fit.

Press the fusible fleece in place. (Follow the directions for the fleece you purchased)

Cut the back side fabric (the butterflies) to fit each placemat.

Place the back and front with the "tops" facing each other.

Stitch all the way around, leaving a 5-in. gap on one side of the center piece (butterflies) so you can turn it inside out.

Turn; make sure your corners are fully turned; steam press firmly.

I blind-stitched the 5-in. opening before final stitching, but most people did not.

Top stitch all the way around about 3/16" of an inch from the edges (or whatever you think is attractive).

We used an iron-on medium-to-heavy fusible fleece liner, but I didn't think it would stick very well after multiple washing, so I reinforced it with some decorative stitching in the center.

The decorative stitching would look better if I had centered the stitching in the photo as it is on the placemat.

Personally I would be more comfortable with this design if I had used a very narrow quilt-type stitch around every single "raw edge". The raw edges of the two pieces of fabric are fused together, but I don't feel very confident that they will never fray. I am still discussing with myself whether to spend the hours doing edge stitching on all four placemats...

Possible variations are numerous, but I will list a few:

It looks very nice with almost solid batiks in the middle and prints in the side panels. One person did this, and in place of my black-with-flowers fabric used a pale solid--very nice

If you have two very "busy" fabrics beside each other for the center and the side panels, you may want to use a contrasting solid fabric "flange" between them. You could also use the same solid fabric where my black-with-flowers fabric is in the side panels. Cut a strip 1-in. wide and 16-in. long to create a 1/4-in. strip. (I did not need this as my red-leaves has high contrast with the black background of the butterflies.)

For a nice finished look, you could use piping in place of the "flange" and all the around the edges. It would be fiddly turning and flattening the corners.

Our teacher made one version with a fairly dark batik for the center fabric. She used her embroidery machine to made a lovely design in the very center of the placemate after it was complete. (I suspect she was also nailing down that fusible fleece.) The design was perhaps about 4-inches (almost square). It looked very nice, and I wished had her machine for that part.

One person in our class made the center portion much longer and created a table runner.

Double Diamond Ruler™ Package Information

I used the 3.5-in. ruler from this set on the placemats above. I will probably use them a few more times when I am inspired to do so.

I will also probably "nail down" the fused edges as I go next time. (There wasn't time to do so in class.)

The actual rulers

The 1.5-in. ruler would make some really fun stuff, too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

2010 04 - and from Mr. Precious...

"Nana, you know when you weren't feeling well, maybe you had The SEWING FEVER!!!"

said with a really adorable smile because he KNEW he'd made a good joke.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

2010 04 - Lately in from our Princess...

"Nana, I want EVERYTHING you make me to be PINK!!!"

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2010 - Race Day Fun!

Our family is full of Formula-1 racing fans, so I decided to make some Race-Day outfits from all the yards of these fabrics I have laying around.

Mr. Precious gets a shirt

When I tried it on him, I asked if he thought his sister would like a matching one. He thought for a minute then said, "I think a dress!"


rear view

This might be the cutest dress I've made to date. My new BabyLock Espire, and my refurbished BabyLock Evolve serger combine to make things SO much fun! The ruffling foot on the serger lets me gather and attach to the other fabric simultaneously--so now I don't mind gathering!

After finishing the dress I was concerned that Mr. P might feel a little slighted, so I asked my husband for some ideas about what I could make him. He pointed out that race drivers 100 years ago in England wore "flat hats". This was a bit more of a challenge than fitting his wide shoulders and long, narrow bod.

The center portion is a combination of pieces (as in a quilt) and applique, which I used to balance and break up the large squares.

Top view

Inside view shows lining of white fabric (all serged as you go to prevent later inaccessibility issues). It also shows the soccer ball grosgrain ribbon used for the band inside the hat.

"Gentlemen, start your engines!"