Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

tutorial: a perfect sash

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash
You know, I rarely do a basic-basic tutorial, but recent events inspired me! I put together four maxi skirts from African wax print cotton (two adult and two matching toddler skirts), and the project was delightful. Besides the kidney-shaped pocket pieces, every aspect of the skirts were rectangles: the body of the skirt, the waistband, the sash, and the sash carriers.

I got to thinking that I can put together a lovely sash in my sleep, but I had troubles earlier on in my sewing career. While no tutorial can cover *every* eventuality, this is a basic tutorial from a sash made of a stable, woven, nonstretch knit. You need your sash strip – the width and length of the finished sash plus a seam allowance per side.

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

As you can see above, I cut my sash with a rotary cutter. Tearing is also a great way to get the sash right on the grain; not all wovens tear that well. YOu want everything along the crossgrain as much as possible.

Next, I fold the sash right sides together, lengthwise, and give them a light press. In this photo you can tell the strip is right sides together as the gold metallic print is only on the right side of the fabric:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Then right sides together I sew up the long edge, leaving about a 2″ gap in the middle of the long edge. I backstitch firmly at this gap:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Next, I sew the two short edges:
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Next, I clip both the folded corner and the sewn corner at a 45 degree angle, right up to the stitching line:
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Taking the piece to the ironing board, I iron the seam allowances back toward the main part of the strip – one at a time. I do this for both long edge seam allowances, and all four short edge seam allowances. This is a great time to really use that iron to press the strip into a flat shape:


Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

At the gap, I carefully fold down the seam allowance and press that too:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Now, it’s time to turn the sash right-sides out. Leaving the gap in the center of the strip makes it easier to turn. If the sash is narrow, I use a wooden chopstick to turn:

C
Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

The ends should turn out nicely – no need to push and prod them. Here are my ends, before pressing:

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

Close the gap of the sash by a slip-stitch or machine topstitch, give a final press – and voila!

Tutorial: A Perfect Sash

 

 

Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 1

tutorial: converting a menswear-style shirt to clean finish

As simple as menswear shirts are for me now, for a long while I struggled to understand their components. Years ago when I started wanting to convert my shirts to an entirely clean finish (meaning no serge, pinked, or zig-zagged internal seams) I really foundered in knowing where and how to do this.

While it’s impractical for me to attempt to detail every kind of menswear button-up shirt out there, and while there are many ways to clean-finish a shirt, I’m going to share my tried and true method with the more common builds of menswear shirts. I generally use french seams for all the block joins, including the curved armscye (which some people tend to flat-fell – not me). The collar, yokes, cuffs, and front plackets generally do not need any changes to cutting and marking, but these block joins do.

By french seaming the interior of the shirt, you get a gorgeous finish on the interior. I also think it is faster than flat-felling and leads to a more agreeable effect:

Bootstrap Blind Date Sew-Along: Semi-fitted Women's Blouse

For french seams, you usually need a minimum of a 5/8″ seam allowance. Can you just ignore this and make the shirt up anyway? Not if it is at all fitted or semi-fitted – your shirt will be too small. So if you have a pattern with a smaller seam allowance – 3/8″, 1 cm, 1/4″, or 1/2″ seam allowances, you are going to need to add some seam allowance to the vertical interior seams (body and sleeve), the shoulder seams, the armscyes, and (possibly) the yoke joins.

Let’s try to understand a menswear shirt a bit first. Disregarding for a moment the collar/collar stand, cuffs and cuff plackets, and front placket, let’s just think about the body and sleeve pieces. Below is a basic example, which includes four body blocks: a front, a back body, a back yoke, and a sleeve:

Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 1
If you have been following my blog, you may notice I am enjoying the Euro fit pattern (this version by Bootstrap is great). Even though this shirt does not have a back yoke, it is functionally rather similar.  There are five body blocks: a front, a side front, a side back, a back, and a sleeve:
Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 2
In general, the only place you will need to add more of a seam allowance are these basic block seams (including the shoulder and armscye). This is because the collar, front placket (whatever way it is formed), and cuff and cuff placket generally come with the seam allowances required to finish the garment cleanly. There are likely exceptions to this, and if you have any questions please take a few screenshots and ask in the comments.

There are several common variations on collar and front placket, and that can be confusing. I’m going to talk about those a bit.

So for a basic shirt, below are our pattern blocks with seam allowances included (minus the cuff placket piece). We have a collar and collar stand at top left, and a cuff at top right. Below that we have the body back (left), the shirt front with a cut-on front placket (center), and the sleeve (right). My blue lines indicate where you want to add your seam allowance for a total of 5/8″ seam allowance. If your back block is not cut on the fold – if there’s a curved center seam for example – you will also add to your seam allowance there, as it is a vertical body seam. Note you do not have to add any additional seam allowances to the collar pieces, the cuffs, or the cuff placket. Think of these as little mini-blocks that are self-contained.

Also: if you have a back yoke, you don’t have to add a seam allowance to the yoke/body joins if the yoke is lined; most yoked menswear shirt patterns will ask you to cut out two yoke pieces and sandwich the back body between them when you join. You could also ignore adding seam allowance to the shoulder too, in order to finish the front and back shoulder seam using the burrito method.

Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 3

Below: a lined yoke, inside a plaid shirt I made my partner.

More About Plaids

But I mentioned variations – yes? Below are a few more common shirt pattern blocks. On top, we see a collar with cut-on stand (meaning: the collar and stand are one piece). At bottom left, a front with a cut-on front facing. At bottom right, a shirt front with a separate front placket. Again: the collar, neckline, and the front placket pieces have enough seam allowance for a clean finish. So does the front placket. But you will want to add a seam allowance to the shoulder, armscye, and side seams to get your 5/8″ for these french seams:
Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 4

By the way – if you are curious – of all the styles of shirt placket and collar I like the cut-on straight front placket, and the separate collar and stand. This allows me to colorblock and affords me a great deal of control in hand-finishing.

Western-Style Shirt, V. 1

Nels, Chambray Shirt

Below are the blocks for the Euro shirt build I mentioned (which is featured in the photo directly above). Instead of two body pieces for the trunk (a front and a back), the shirt has four body blocks for the trunk that feature princess seams – really great for shaping. Here, we are still only adding seam allowances to the vertical seams, shoulder seam, and armscye. The neckline and front do not need more seam allowances for a clean finish.

Clean finish menswear shirt, picture 5

So there you have it! When you think about changing any construction of a garment, it becomes so much easier to tackle it when you start to really think about the parts, and that is easier with experience. Now, there are loads of tutorials on making french seams online and I trust you to find them. For the 5/8″ version I am mentioning here I sew a 1/4″ seam (just a hair scant) wrong sides together, press open, and trim (if it seems necessary). I then re-fold right-sides together, press again, and sew. And then – the final press! Pressing several times yields very smooth results, which is especially important for that curved armscye.

Bootstrap Blind Date Sew-Along: Semi-fitted Women's Blouse

For the front placket, I find that sewing from the right side of the shirt secures a gorgeous front finish. For the cuffs, I hand-finish the bottom of the collar stand (shown below – you can’t even see the stitches) and hand-finish the inside of the cuffs.

More About Plaids
If you are new or new-ish to sewing menswear style button-up shirts, contemplating all these different shirt patterns can be overwhelming. I advise you make a few of these shirts, and bookmark your favorite tutorials as you do. Soon they will be easy as pie!

You got this!

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

tutorial: pintucks in tissue knit

Knit chiffon, or tissue knit: absolutely a gorgeous material to work with. Typically made in 100% cotton and often with a slightly slubbed appearance, this luxe fabric usually has stretch with little if any recovery. I find making a size down, the garment will often stretch with time. In order to shrink it back, you will have to occasionally put the garment in the dryer (remember those tissue tees so popular with the GAP etc, in the late nineties?).

Sheer and semi-sheer fabrics are absolutely wonderful, in that each seamline, dart, and detail is really shown off – like a stained glass window. I tend to make french seams in these garments. And for a bit more interest, here I demonstrate how to create simple 3/16″ pintucks in a black knit chiffon. 

You need:

1. prewashed and dried fabric
2. marking chalk
3. cutting mat, rotary cutter, and see-through cutting ruler
4. masking tape

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

The first thing to note about tissue knits is the grain can often be quite distorted – in other words, not parallel to the selvege. When laying out your yardage you have to determine if you need to cut the pieces on the grainline or no. For the front panel of this tunic, I decided to cut off the grain since I’d be making two rectangular panels abutted together, and could flip the grain (to chevron), making the garment symmetrical. For the sleeves, neckband, sleeve band, and back panel, I cut along the grain in one layer.

Shown below; the yardage arranged with the grain corresponding to the cutting mat; you can see what I mean about the selvege.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit
Now for marking tucks, it is best to cut the fabric and leave it be on the mat – don’t shift it whatsoever – then mark right away. Cut out your panel according to your cutting mat; next you’ll be marking the centerline of your tucks.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit


Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

When marking, I use a ruler and line it up with the guide lines on the mat; the sheer nature of the fabric makes this easy to do! You want to be very careful and apply firm vertical pressure to your ruler as you mark, or else you will shift your fabric. If you do shift it, just carefully rearrange to the guidelines on the mat.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

Here I am applying lines at a 45 degree angle.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit
Be patient; this is the most exacting part of the process. It’s easy from here on out!

Once you have your tuck lines marked, take the piece to the machine.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

Using a straight stitch or a very narrow zig zag, start your stitching line on your first tuck, folding right on the chalked line and making sure you are stitching at the width you want. My tucks are 3/16″. After you’ve started your tuck successfully, pause and retrieve your roll of masking tape.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

I like to create a little seam guide by layering about six layers of the masking tape very accurately on top of one another, then applying it to my machine bed. This will help you get exact tucks – note you can use this method to create tucks as deep or shallow as you like!

Make sure not to stretch your fabric as you stitch. Just let the machine action guide the fabric through.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

Below, I am about 60% of the way through my tucks. They may look a little wavy but don’t fear – we will be pressing them and they will be #legit!

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

The pressing is the most fun. Taking them to your pressing surface, carefully press each tuck as-sewn and then, if you like, you can press them a particular direction.

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

Gorgeous!


Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit

Tutorial: Pintucks in Tissue Knit
These tucks can be used to create interest in any project – gowns, tops, robes – what-have-you. They add a bit of drama and set your garment apart from others!

Welt Pocket Tutorial (cutting)

tutorial: double-welt pocket w/grosgrain ribbon

Pocket pr0n!
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

There are many ways to create a double-welt pocket, but this is my favorite for a very fast and easy pocket. This method involves no measuring (that’s right!), and no interfacing. Best of all, it’s really easy to memorize. This translates to great-looking welt pockets that come together very quickly.

This method is also ideal for very spongey, thick, or wonky fabrics that don’t respond well to fiddling. I came up with it after dicking around for wayyyyyy too long with this perfectly lovely ponte that was bulky and terribly susceptible to pressing transfer.

This method only needs a few supplies!

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

At left: shell fabric (houndstooth), pocket bag (shot cotton), and welt fabric (typically the same for shell but, for the sake of this tutorial, a dark brown). You also need 7/8″ grosgrain ribbon,basting spray (or gluestick), and marking chalk.

I like to use a fine cotton, as I like to tear (not cut) my pocket bags. Very fast, very accurate. If you use satin or some other foolishness, you will need to cut.

As with any welt pocket treatment and any new technique, please make a sample first!

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Cut a piece of ribbon that is at least 2″ longer than your pocket. Lightly spray the grosgrain on one side, and lay the ribbon along the crossgrain of a piece of welt fabric, making sure the welt fabric is about 4″ wide. Pro-tip: I spray by placing the ribbon in my wastebasket, so the trash liner catches any overspray.

Next, sew two channels a generous 1/4″ from the grosgrain edge, using a basting stitch. I like to stitch in the same direction for both channels. You don’t want to stitch any closer to the edge than this 5/16″, or the threads may show in the welt lips.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
This is what your stitches will look like on the other side:Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, flip the assembly with the ribbon side facing up. Fold over one edge, snugging it against that ribbon. Stitch at 3/16″ from the folded edge, using a regular stitch:
 
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain RibbonTutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, cut 1/8″ from that stitching line:Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Repeat with the other side, folding and stitching, then trimming from that stitching line:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

So for pocket placement, you really only need your vertical end marks! Pin the welt to the right side of the shell fabric, with the trimmed part of the welt facing up. Pin well and, if you’ve already done a sample and are working on the garment, you can use this opportunity make and align the other welt to the corresponding side:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, we’re going to stitch the welt to the garment – think two parallel lines (NOT a rectangle). Stitch right on top of those previous 3/8″ stitching lines, making sure to stop and carefully backtack right at the ending marks of the pocket. Unless the fabric is very shifty indeed you can confidently backtack – but if you are worried, leave long tails at these four ends, pull the ends to the welt-side after stitching, knot, and secure the thread tails in the welt.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
You really want these stitching lines to be a very scant 3/8″ although this is why you make a sample – because the turn of the cloth will vary a bit depending on what you’re sewing:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Here is the backside of the work – two parallel lines. Make sure to double check before proceeding.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Now cut the welt I (not the shell) right down the middle:
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Next, you want to cut from the backside, catching only the shell (not the welt). You want to cut to the stitching lines, and right exactly to those stitching lines. Make sure to make a very long triangle at these ends. I like to start cutting at the triangle point that intersects the center line, and cut right to my stitching lines using a very sharp scissor. Then I cut the center line.

Welt Pocket Tutorial (cutting)

Now flip it! FLIP IT GOOD! From the front side of the work…

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Push the welt through the back, being very gentle with those little triangles but giving them a bit of a tug. The ribbon welt will lay SO nice and flat and the little triangle will rest on top:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
This is how it looks – no pressing or stitching yet! Very promising:
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

So go ahead and flip your shell back and, using a zipper foot (or not, but it’s handy), stitch that triangle right to the welt. The ribbon will help the welt lips lie wonderfully close together. Repeat with both sides.
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Time for the pocket bag!

Two things, before we proceed.

1. If you want, you can tear or cut a shell facing strip, to put at the top right side of the pocket bag. This is pretty standard, especially for a pocket that may gape. For kidswear or casual wear or a small pocket, I don’t add the facing bit as it is unneccesary and adds bulk, and pocket gap is not an issue.

2. This pocket treatment looks gorgeous enough it does not need a lining to obfuscate it. That said, the only application I would install these without a lining, would be the back of trousers. In that case, make sure your pocket bag strip is very long, so you can bring up the top edge to later snug it into the waistband of the trouser – a really classic look.

OK so – here is our trouser bag, torn at the exact width of the welt, which I have trimmed to about 5/8″ past the pocket width:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now how long do you make the bag? Well I like to measure such that the torn bottom edge overlaps the bottom raw edge of the welt by 1/4″, and the fold is no deeper than the bottom edge of the garment (obviously). If this is confusing you, don’t worry. If your pocket bag ends up too long, because you can always stitch it shorter. I love the neat look of the fold at the pocket bag bototm, but it’s also standard to stitch a U-shaped curve and cut the fold off. Reminder: that torn edge at right, on the trouser application I described above, will extend much further than the top welt raw edge.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
So let’s stitch that top edge! Go ahead and place the assembly right-side up, and flip down the top edge of the shell. Stitch, using that zipper foot, and aligning the pocket bag just a little past the welt raw edge. No need to back-tack here, as we’ll be catching the stitching line with our side seams – but do use a short stitch length:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Here is that gorgeous seam, as it finishes:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Here’s the right side with a finished top welt edge and the pocket hanging all the way down, not yet pinned to the welt’s bottom raw edge:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Now bring that bottom edge up, getting ready to stitch, tucking it under the pocket:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Go ahead and stitch the raw edge of the pocket bottom to that bottom welt, just as you did the top welt:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now finger-press the pocket down, and prepare to stitch your side seams! Make sure you stitch the side seams down the right way, or you’ll make an upside down pocket (ask me how I know this!). If the pocket is going to be visible in any way – or if like me you just like accuracy – go ahead and trace your stitching lines straight down from your side seams, before stitching:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
You can leave these side seams as they are, or pink them. If I was using a trouser application, I’d probably pink, bind or serge them, depending on the weight of my trouser fabric (this houndstooth is too thin for binding).

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

All done! Good work. 🙂
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

tutorial: puffed taffeta patch

Shown here: patches in taffeta (silver) and satin (red), augmenting a hoodie and jacket, resp. I’ve long loved the look of a bit of posh on casual wear.

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
It took me a few tries to get the look I wanted – a raised puffy patch, quilted, that retained its shape accurately and really showed off that topstitching. Although the satin (red) is super fun – and will be the version I am showcasing today – I like the taffeta even more. It has a crisp but antiquated look I am just drooling for!

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

So let’s do this!Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

You will need (from left to right) your satin or taffeta, some fleece (no-stretch works best), and an interfacing. You also need basting spray, a pattern template (handmade or computer-made), and tracing wheel and paper. For interfacing, think about what color you want to use, as a little may show in the final product. You want a color that matches either the patch or the garment beneath; you can also use white and a bit of Sharpie to help with that (which is what I’m going to show you here).

And of course you need the things you always need for sewing: a machine, thread, scissors, iron – et cetera.

So first, iron your fabric nice and flat:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Next, pin the paper template to the satin/taffeta, and carefully slide the tracing medium underneath, to transfer markings to the right side of the satin/taffeta. Remember that the outer line of the template will not be stitched – it represents the turn of the cloth.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Trace carefully, making sure not to shift the paper template as you trace. You need to make sure you will be able to see the tracing marks while you sew; a red background, by the way, is one of the most difficult to read!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Once you have both your patches traced, lightly – and I mean lightly – spray the rough side of your fleece, with a layer of basting spray. If you spray too liberally, the glue might transfer through the satin/taffeta and leave an icky mark.

By the way – I always lay my fabric in my waste can before spraying, so I don’t get any stickiness anywhere else in my studio. Then I remove the sprayed fabric and proceed.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Press your satin/taffeta wrong side to the glued surface of the fleece, and smooth by hand. Securely pin. Then machine-baste around the motif and move the pins; you won’t want to have them hanging out for all the rows of stitching you’ll be doing.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Begin stitching from the top (satin/taffeta) side, ending in the same location and carefully pulling all threads to the backside. When you’ve finished, you will be knotting those threads securely and clipping about 1/2″ from the knots.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Shown below: the fully-stitched patch. Note the outer line remains unstitched, with the basting line further out from that.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Now, cut 1/4″ to 1/8″ away from that traced, unstitched line. I know I can sew very accurately here so I have only cut 1/8th away.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut your interfacing according to the paper pattern, and pin to the right side of the satin/taffeta, with the sticky side of the interfacing either up or down, depending on what you want. If you put the sticky side up here, then when you turn the patch, you will be ironing the interfacing to the patch itself. If you put the sticky-side down, you will be able to use the fusing to apply the patch to the garment. I have used both methods and they both worked great.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now, stitch around the perimeter! Make sure to firmly catch the satin, fleece and interfacing:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut a small slit in the interfacing, and use this to carefully turn the patch right-side out:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now if you like, you can use a sharpie and color your interfaced edge either the color of the patch or a color that works with the garment:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now – it’s time to press! If your sticky side is on the outside of the patch, you want to position the patch on the garment (see below). If, like for this patch, the sticky side faces the underside of the patch, this pressing will help anchor the patch into a firm shape.
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Pin the patch in place:Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
If you have two patches in symmetrical locations on the garment, I have a method to use. I like to pin the first, then lay the second patch right-sides together, then lay the respective pattern pieces on top of that. It’s a fast way to end up with symmetrical pockets/patches etc.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now you can certainly machine-stitch this patch to the garment – but having gone through all this trouble, a fell stitch is a gorgeous touch! Since this garment is lined, I went ahead and pulled the running part of the stitch to the backside of the sleeve; for the blue star hoodie shown in this post, since it was not lined, I enclosed the running part of the fell stitch into the patch itself – thus making for a completely invisible patch installation.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
The backside of the installation – halfway through:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

And – all done!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta PatchStar Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

[mc4wp_form id=”19978″]
Hold Up!

hold up!

[Stuart voice]: “Look what I can do!”

Hold Up!

Hold Up!
The Beyoncé “Hold Up” dress (here’s the original: yes, it’s amazing!) was my biggest project this Halloween. A friend saved up and went big – she not only requisitioned the dress, she acquired the hair, shoes (which were then hand-painted), and jewerly. There is nothing I like more than someone going all-out, and it was wonderful to be a part of that.

Hold Up!

Let me get right to the knitty-gritty of how (I think) the dress was originally constructed (it’s from a collection, so there is more than one version out there – which is confusing for a reconstruction effort), and how I duped it.

So, he dress appears to be made with tiered chiffon flounces, and lace appliqué on a mesh and spandex underdress. The flounces were also roughly pleated and lettuce-edged; the bottom two flounces were trimmed with lace. The dress is hardly structured at all, a lot of bare skin shows as well as the actual push-up bra. My client found the black bra herself and hand-stitched an interlining to emulate the double-strap look on the bra. I wish I’d paid more attention to that particular bra detail, as I could have done that job for her by machine; her handstitching failed at the party she was at (bras need to be very sturdy, especially for the large-busted)!

Because the dress is mostly a monochromatic garment, I had to figure out how to get four matching colors in the absolutely gorgeous yellow of the dress, and this affected my choice of fabrics. Notice in the photo at upper left a version of the dress looks warm and poppy-colored, at left – and greenish at right; you will also notice the dress appears several different colors in this post depending on the lighting I am working with. I ended up deciding to buy my 25 yards of chiffon, and dye the other fabrics to match using a local dye artist. Note that dyeing different fabrics (including fabrics with differing fiber content) is a bit of a technical challenge, and will likely involve lots of testing and different types of dye processes.

It took trial and error to get the fabrics dyed the correct color;  one nylon lace, for instance, simply didn’t take dye. My dye artist friend (Val from FiberPlay) had to do two washes to get the colors deep enough – but they were lovely and all matched, by the time she was done. Below, you see (from left, clockwise) the chiffon, spandex, mesh, and lace I used.

Hold Up!

One other major technical component was the pleating. I believe the flounces on the original garment were cut circular, not straight – which meant the pleats were formed that way as well (I think of this as sunray pleating although I’m sure it has other names). After lots of pleating research and a few phone conversations with the *amazing* Rusty at SF Pleating (415.608.1983), I opted to send Rusty labeled strips, and he pleated them all. The pleats arrived in these fabulous crepe paper bundles. Rusty was beyond amazing and I hope to work with him again!

Hold Up!

Hold Up!

Now that I had the pleated chiffon and all properly-hued fabrics, it was time to assemble! I build the mesh and spandex underdress, using carbon paper to trace my flounce positions. I then fussy-cut the lace motifs, and applied the lace to locations on the mesh underdress:

Hold Up!

The mesh needed a stabilizer to form a nice strong zig-zag stitch.

Hold Up!
All of the chiffon flounces had to be finished by serge, as chiffon likes to fray into these teeny tiny fibers. These flounces were then either edged by serge or edged by fishing line. The latter process is so fun! You wrap your fishing line around a form, use heat (boiling water or heat gun) to seal the shape of the circular culry-q’s, let cool, and feed this line into the chiffon while hemming. This process required a lot of trial and error; you have to find the right weight of fishing line – but was super fun. I’ll have to create a tutorial someday!|

After the flounces were hemmed, I applied them to the mesh in the locations I’d traced:

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One regret I had was not acquiring a twist-cord blank to dye. Instead I created cord from the spandex fabric, and used it for the dresses’ back-tie, as well as the three straps in the bodice.

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The original dress likely does not fasten by tie, but this is the most adjustable and comfortable way to go for a costume:

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So, obviously my friend K. stole the show at her event. It was both an honor and a privilege to get to make her something so special! And I can’t wait for my next pleated project!

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Cotton; Rayon Fine Sweater Knit

with the stillness of the air

I am playing a game with myself where I try to hustle up work, and then try to catch up with what I’ve hustled, and work as quickly and expertly as possible. So far, it’s going swimmingly. My studio is well-equipped to handle a seamless workflow, and every day I have something new on my table. A few times a week I meet with someone in town and hem a dress, or help design a garment. It’s a super good gig.

I have tremendous hopes to somehow start socking aside funds to buy my oldest the best tablet I can. Seems impossible with bills and all that sort of thing because we are in debt. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last few years, it’s to not decide what’s possible, what’s not. Just do my thing and know somehow it will all work out.

Meanwhile, of course, I have a household to take care of. Lately: a very active hummingbird community outside my kitchen window. The little creatures fight with one another over two feeders, likely lured in part by the large orchids and hibiscus just inside the window. I notice my neighbor’s feeder looks sad and empty. I notice, with some small degree of satisfaction.

The kitties race back and forth through the kitchen. They hop up on the countertop and watch. Regrettably, none of them do that kitty “chirp” I like so much. Herbert Pocket, in particular, is most interested. She used to catch tiny bats in the yard of our last home. She is gentle and sweet here in the home, beyond reproach; but in her heart lurks that killer instinct.

Cotton; Rayon Fine Sweater Knit

Blazer; Thread Paint Detail

Child's Blazer (3T); Hand-Embroidered

Panty Clone

Double-Hooded Sweater

Scrunderoos!

scrunderoos for me + u

I was warned the Scrundlewear pattern from Stitch Upon a Time (SUAT) was so comfy you wouldn’t want to wear anything else –

they were right.

Scrunderoos!

So, these are so comfortable I feel the sting of tears.

So: stitchers. Like most forms of briefs, these are arguably best made in a knit with two-way stretch and recovery – what’s commonly called a 4-way knit (knit fabric terminology isn’t standardized and can be confusing – if you have any doubts, please ask!). If you find something that’s 90-something percent cotton (or bamboo or rayon), and a single-digit percentage of lycra, elastane, or spandex (three words for the same thing) – you’re golden. If you have a knit with stretch but without recovery – then go ahead and make the elastic version (either lingerie elastic, or encased-in-bands elastic):


Scrunderoos!

I have a serger (two, in fact) – but I prefer sewing with zig zag on my home machine. ‘cuz I’m SPICY LIKE THAT. I got a secret tip when I sew up clothes: I bring all thread colors to may table, and change my thread/bobbin as much as possible to make sure the thread always matches whatever fabric it shows in. That’s a level of detail most stitchers think is too much but did I mention –

I’M BATMAN!

Scrunderoos!

I am a little sad now because I am basically going to be making underwear constantly and will have little time for anything else. I also know these will last longer than even high-end RTW chonies!

Cool thoughts: Make up three matching pair at a time, it will go very quickly. During other projects, when you’re working with a good knit fabric that’s too adorable, cut out your waistband and leg bands (you’ll soon memorize your own size); safety pin the three and put them in a Ziploc. You can do the same for the three underwear pieces (back, front, and liner). Wait until you’ve got a nice collection of pieces – and have a panty-sewing day!

If you sew these up and love them as much as I do – you might want to consider the expansion pattern of sorts, Bunzies. There’s also a kids’ version of Scrundlewear, so you can make these up for the family. SUAT welcomes you to make these up and sell them for your boutique or one-off projects – make sure to attribute the lovely pattern.

Scrunderoos!

Now to find my crime-fighting sidekick!