The Little Black Dress That Could Fit Muslin

November 30, 2010 § 3 Comments

Here is a slideshow of my most recent project. I’m currently working on fitting a store-bought pattern that was given to me in Vermont. The pattern looks oh-so-80’s and the dress I have in mind is definitely not going to look like these. I’m using the pattern for view 3 (the middle one) to create a muslin to work with.

Once I have a well fitting muslin, I’ll be on my way to creating the whole dress. As of this writing, I still have the sleeves to make. I don’t know what style I want to go with- any suggestions? Leave them in the comments here.

Enjoy the process! Do you see the changes I made along the fitting way?

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How To Make Reversible Denim Pants Tutorial

November 29, 2010 § 4 Comments

This tutorial is my way of proving to myself that a project like reversible pants, though it boggled my mind for a couple of weeks, is actually a project I could finish in a weekend.

The only instruction I had was from my friend Liz who drew some instructions on a small piece of paper, and The Scientific Seamstress. I have to say that I bypassed The Scientific Seamstresses instructions because they didn’t match the ones Liz gave me. Plus, I was going to be working with a two-piece pants pattern, which I thought would make a huge difference. (It didn’t and I should’ve just gone with the Scientific Seamstress directions.)

Now that I’m done with the reversible two-piece pants, I have to say that the way The Scientific Seamstress describes how to sew them up seems much easier. More straightforward. She does say that she’s been making these reversible pants for some time, so there’s no wonder she’s got such a clear way to sew them up.

Despite that, I thought I’d add in my two cents since I’ve also added in the use of denim to this project. One one side, you have a simple pair of jeans, with only the back pockets and the typical yellow thread top-stitching- except in places where I wasn’t sure I’d be able to keep a super straight line. I did use heavy duty thread for top-stitching the crotch and inseam.

I’ve also learned a lot from making these pants and always learn a lot from making up a slideshow tutorial. Here it goes. Let me know if anything is unclear and/or missing. You can stop it along the way. I am assuming some sewing knowledge.

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While nursing my toddler to sleep, I started wondering about another way to construct these reversible pants. In this other approach, I imagined each leg being sewn up on each side, leaving the crotch open. Sewing the hems of both right legs right sides together and both left leg hems together, so I didn’t have to fold them down later and top-stitch. I’d then pull each lining (or basically one of the fabrics) up through the other, and pin and stitch the outer crotch- I can imagine this is where things would get tricky. You could stuff each lining leg into the outer leg to do the outer crotch seam, but what about the lining crotch seam? After I’ve tried it, I’ll let you know.

Princess Gown

November 23, 2010 § 5 Comments

This is the finished dress. I can see already that I need to hem the layers of the skirts but I’m going to leave the excess so I can take out the hem as she grows. I think she’ll also have to wear something underneath so that her chest is a little more covered up.

Here’s the bodice top before I attached it to the layers of skirts.

The sleeves were an a bit of an afterthought. Next time I make something like this, I’ll just take out all the side seams and attach the sleeve lining to the bodice lining before attaching it to the satin, or whatever fabric I use.

Also, the lining for the sleeves is warmer than the lining for the bodice and skirts. One might say that I used an underlining for the sleeves. I did add interfacing into the bodice as well as a lining. I actually like the cotton underlining much more than the interfacing.

I’d recommend an underlining for a smoother finish. It’s really a fashion trade secret. It’ll make your home projects look a lot more professional than just interfacing and a lining.

This is the bodice top on the girl.

I found, in one of the sewing machines I got in Vermont, a gathering foot. It’s not quite like the Ruffler foot, but it still helped get the gathering process going. I still had to go back and add some long stitches to gather up the fabric as much as was needed. It needed a LOT of gathering. Basically, I could’ve made a gathered skirt for myself with the amount of fabric required for this dress.

Upside down and inside out, you can see here how I pinned the lining to the inside of the dress to cover up the gathered skirt fabrics. It also creates a smooth side against the skin.

Hand sewing the bodice lining to the skirt lining.

In all its sparkles. And, finally, a picture of the girl enjoying her new threads with her Papi, of course.

Sewing Machine Attachments

November 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

On our drive back from celebrating my father-in-law’s 60th birthday, I had a chance to peruse one of my recent library loaners. This book is really, truly, all about sewing machine attachments. I’ve been eying some attachments for the new Necchi and when I picked up this book I knew my interest would be kept.

Charlene Phillips goes through a ton of attachments, tells you how to use them, as well as gives you a little tid bit of history. I love the history. Most attachments were made as a result of the development of new techniques.

Each attachment made these new techniques more enjoyable, as Phillips suggests. When you work the same techniques into most or all of your sewing projects, having these specialty feet really makes the tasks less tedious, and the creative part of your sewing shine more brightly.

If you’re looking into specialty feet and you’re not sure what you might benefit from, check out this book, or look online, and learn about all the attachments available for your sewing machine.

You need to know if you have a high shank, low shank, or slanted shank sewing machine, so you can purchase the correct attachments. I have a sewing machine that doesn’t quite work that well, but it has some great attachments. Sadly, I can’t use those attachments on my Necchi, which is becoming a reliable machine.

Once you know what type of foot you’re looking for, think about the tasks you perform the most. The two that come to mind for me are a 1/4 inch rolled hem and making ruffles.

For some projects, it seems that’s all I do. I also do a lot with multiple thick layers, and for that the Walking Foot has been indispensable.

So, in my case, having an attachment, like the 1/4 inch Rolled Hem Foot would speed up my work because this foot eliminates the measuring, pressing and pinning of a hem.

Then, there’s the Ruffler, which looks like a small machine all to its own. Again, like the hemmer foot, the Ruffler helps you avoid the tedious work of sewing two parallel long stitches and pulling on the bobbin thread to create a ruffle. The Ruffler also lets you make a ruffle with one piece of fabric while sewing it to a flat (non ruffled) bottom layer. Really, the potential is huge.

In case I don’t get back to this blog before Thanksgiving, have a safe time everyone! Enjoy your choice of dish and live up the tradition.

A Birthday Present for my Girl

November 16, 2010 § 3 Comments

I just told a friend this afternoon that I wasn’t going to talk about this huge project I’m starting for bilingual baby, but now I’m actually getting excited and confident that I won’t pull out all my hair before it’s done.

It all started with the purchase of this princess crown:

Bilingual baby doesn’t know who the “girl” is on her crown, nor does she seem to mind not knowing. All she knows is that she’s still missing the wand.

After talking my girl out of the store bought princess dress, I took the kids to the fabric store I banned myself earlier this year due to the incapable staff. Lucky for me and my ban, the woman who cut my fabric today was very nice, which made up for her lack of input.

This pattern calls for a dress, or as I’ll be calling it, a slip, or chemise, underneath the whole thing. I’m making this out of cotton sateen I got at Heart of Vermont before we left. This will add a layer of warmth so bilingual baby can wear the dress all winter long.

Then, there’s the vest which I’m making out of shimmery satin. The skirt will start with a lining layer, followed by heavy weight tulle, lighter tulle, the shimmery stain, and finished off with sparkly organza.

The only changes I’m seeing myself making so far are the warmth giving slip, which may require adding some of the satin to it to coordinate with the skirt, as well as adding sleeves to the vest.

Yes, people, we’re talking five layers of fabric for a child turning 4 years old.

Wish me and my sanity luck.

In case you don’t follow me on facebook, my daughter insists this isn’t a costume. It’s an outfit. An outfit. Get it right.

Weekly Special: This is Me Loving You

November 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

I have nothing for you this time. I’m exhausted. I have a cough. And I have little energy. I pour it into making food and other basics.

I’m falling asleep with the kids at night and being woken up tired the following day, making my life (currently) seems like one never-ending ________ (fill in the blank).

I’ve been on the receiving end of a whole lot of screaming. Every request, complaint and delight from baby brother is delivered fortissimo. It’s a power I experienced slightly differently with his older sister.

I am trying to avoid quick negative reactions to the screaming (which sometimes I achieve) as well as to the indirect throwing that follows a lot of the screaming.

I’m sure it’ll turn around. I’m sure I’ll get through it. In the meantime, it’s my nearly 4 year old who is consoling me when I can’t take it anymore. It’s her who historically would have these emotional outbursts (I swear they were different), but now has the patience to remind me that her brother just needs his mama.

There’s probably a better way to close this entry into the Weekly Special ranks. Some way to cheer it up. Some point of view that would make this all make sense.

The only thing I’ve got to say is that I’m not labeling it. The only thing I’m going to call it is an emotional outburst and not claim it’s anything manipulative nor normal for this stage. I guess I do have a way to remind myself that I’m loving my little boy by not letting myself call him a terrible two year old.

That’s not what’s going on. He’s not terrible.

Plus, if I start calling him names, what will keep me from calling him names in the future, say when he’s a teenager, or an adult. And what good could ever come of that?

Palmer/Pletsch McCall’s Pattern M5433

November 10, 2010 § Leave a comment


After talking with my friend Meg about the wonders of Palmer/Pletsch and the patterns and books that they have provided the sewing world, I thought I’d take my body double (still yet un-named) for another test run. How would she do if I tried a pattern on her and make some modifications?

As you can see from the photos above, she did great. She was still the whole time. Something I can’t say I do when I’m trying to fit delicate paper over my body, pin it, and adjust.

I know. Sewing humor isn’t that funny. Can’t get mad at me for trying.

So, there are some light descriptions below each photo so you can see what I am thinking of when I make those adjustments. The thing about Palmer/Pletsch patterns (I don’t work for them, nor have I received any compensation for any of my statements) is that the instructions in the pattern actually help you fit your pattern tissue so you don’t actually have to make a muslin before cutting into your treasured fabric.

Nice. Right? I would say so. There’s no guessing where that dart is gonna hit now. I’m also sure that the waist will hit my waist.

The thing I really do need to do next is to fit the pattern tissue over my left side. If you look closely, you can see that my left shoulder is higher than my right. What usually happens is that anything I make symmetrically will fit just fine on my right side but will ride up on my left side.

Up until I made my body double, my dress form, I just chalked it up to… wait. I actually just had the hourly tug of war with my clothes and figured nothing. I hadn’t thought of it until my body double told me the truth. Now, all I have to do is make sure the left side is a tad longer from the bust dart to the waist and from the bust dart to the shoulder and I won’t have that fight for fit with clothing.

So, this fitting of the tissue on the other me probably only took about 10 minutes. Maybe less.

A little guide is to start pinning the center line of the tissue on your center, making sure that the darts hit your bust apex. From there, gently smooth out the tissue so you can see what needs adjusting. Tuck and pin in the waist dart. Check the plus sign indicating where the waist should hit and align it with the line indicating your waist on the dress form. Tuck and pin the bust dart. Secure the shoulder line and adjust the tissue so the end hits just beyond where the ball of your shoulder hits. Stand back and review your work. Adjust anything else that looks off. Take photos so you can see how it looks from a different POV. Walk away so you can gain perspective, too. Enjoy.

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