Butterick 6573 Progress

Despite all of my lamentations regarding clean finishes on this garment, I have made some progress! Here is the back pieces, pinned nicely on my dress form.
Sorry for the lack of ironing on these. I just wanted to get pictures up pronto!

I'm in love with the piping so far. My zipper foot likes to sew alongside of it, but not so much on top of it. I made this piping from fabric that I have a ton of and want to get rid of it (if I had followers on this blog, I would suggest a scrap stash giveaway, but as of now, I have no one to take me up on it. =P). Here are a few things that made this piping a piece of cake.
  • Use a zipper foot. It makes a huge difference in how close you can get to the actual cording for making the piping
  • Even though it's an extra step, sew the piping to one of the pieces of fabric first. It's one of those "longcuts" that really is a shortcut. It allows you to have more control so the piping doesn't move around
  • Sew piping on before sewing any seams. Otherwise, when you trim the piece of piping, you'll get frayed ends...sew it along the whole side, especially past the seam allowance.
I'm going to visit my grandparents in NY this weekend, so this will be the last post until Monday. Have a lovely weekend!


Dress Design for Shabby Apple Dresses

The day has come. The dress is designed. It's finished (despite a few problems in original construction). I've taken pictures. And now I can finally submit my contest entry for Shabby Apple's Dare to Design Dress Contest. I think it's great that there is now an option to make a top or skirt, but I wanted to design a dress.

So, without further ado, here is my dress design for Shabby Apple dresses.

I'm calling this dress Tulip. It has tulip sleeves, reminds me of the color of a tulip, and the ruching provides curves similar to the beautiful flower. I chose a pink rayon knit blend, so there is no zipper for this garment. It's a nice and simple over-the-head piece that still looks classic. It has a wide boatneck both in the front and the back.

I'm very excited about how this dress turned out. I think that it would be a great addition to Shabby Apple's spring collection, and I hope they think so too! Be sure to check out their blog as well as mine to see the 15 finalists on August 17th!


Clean Finish v. Clean Finish

I am become more and more aware of the importance of being a well-read sewer. Had I read more technique-related material before, I could be almost finished my new top instead of stuck on tiny details...

 I refer to Butterick 6573, which I had started here. Every piece that is interfaced has you cut 1/4" of the un-notched edge, and then "clean finish" the edge. So I found their definition.

I personally went with the diagram on the left because I wanted the cleanest of clean finishes. As I'm going along, I am worrying about the bulk. I'm getting cranky about turning under less than 1/8" along a curve for most of the pieces. And because I went to the library and pulled out some reference books, I wanted to see if they had any tips. Sure enough, they had a whole page on the Clean Finish.

The directions are entirely different. This strikes me as particularly odd as the book is called The Vogue / BUTTERICK Step-By-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques. The pattern is a Butterick pattern! The instructions in the book would have been so much faster! Before fusing, you sew the interfacing to the garment 1/4" away, trim, understitch, and then fuse. No hand sewing at all! Genius!

Ah, the benefits of being informed. Unfortunately, I decided to fuse all of the pieces that needed fusing at the same time, so I'm stuck with what I have. Hopefully someone will be able to use this.


Cute Sandwich Cozy

As a teacher, you know you're getting closer to school when you dream about the first day of school. What you're wearing, what you're doing, whether or not you have all your materials...

I do not feel 100% ready for school to start. But I decided to take a step in the right direction. My lunch set was rather ugly from last year. Plastic grocery bag, ziplocs galore. There was simply too much plastic!

My first goal was to make a sandwich wrap. Now, I had previously made one for The Boy, but his coworkers ended up goading him to the point where he stopped using it. I also added a layer of  batting, and I think it was just too bulky.

Luckily, the internet is always there. I found this cute tutorial on Living With Punks (which is also the blog where I found the tutorial to make my new napkin rings), and this is what I ended up making. The actual creator of the Tutorial is Smashed Peas and Carrots, which has all sorts of wonderful stuff. She also has a tutorial for making a lunch bag, which I may try sometime soon!

 The printed fabric should look familiar. I had extra, so this was stash-busting at it's finest! Now I think I'll take the remaining printed fabric and make a few bags with snap closures to hold dry snacks like pretzels. I'm still not ready for fall, but I just have to take it a little bit at a time.


Simple Drawstring Bags

I wanted the following out of my sewing time today
  1. Easy
  2. Straight lines only
  3. Scrap fabric
  4. Quick
I have been toying with the idea of resurrecting my etsy store for a while now (I tried to sell some aprons, which was not successful, and then a rather rude comment from a woman at First Friday in Doylestown caused me to take a hiatus...indefinitely), so I thought that I could use this drawstring bags to place my items in before I ship them.

The fabric was left over from my sister's high school graduation project (about 3 years ago)If I don't use them for that, I can always use them for gifts and whatnot.

If anyone is interested, I could post a tutorial on how I make drawstring bags. I know there are already many on the internet, but I'm sure one more wouldn't be the end of the world =P


First Fried Chicken

The gym is a source of inspiration for me. Not in terms of health goals or fashion, but food. Perhaps self-destructively, I plunk myself at machines in front of Food Network while I work out. Lately it's bee so hot that I have to force myself to cook, but when I get ideas from TV, it takes at least some of the work away from me.

Case in point: I got to watch a cooking show called Alex's Day Off. I have never seen the show before, but hey, I was all about getting cooking ideas. The episode I watched was called Dinner and a Movie, and thanks to Food Network's website, I was able to look up the recipe.

The menu was
  • Fried chicken
  • Cornbread with onion jam
  • Homemade pickles
  • Egg cream soda
I decided to make a more simplified menu, so I went with the exact same recipe for the fried chicken (I just cut the ingredients in half because we're two people and I had two pieces of chicken and not 10), but then went with corn muffins using the recipe on the box of cornmeal, and a simpler veggie.

I was very nervous about frying the chicken. Oil at 375 degrees? I even told the boy (who was working on modding a computer case and somewhat distracted) that if I screamed, he'd need to call 911.
I worried for nothing. It went beautifully. I just had to bake mine longer than the 10 minutes suggested. I would definitely make this again. The chicken looked and tasted delicious! Probably not an ideal thing to eat when we're focused a little on weight loss, but it was also a great learning experience.

Other nonrelated upates:
  1. I hit 100 posts the other day! If I had realized it, I would have made the post about something other than library books, something more reflective
  2. I finished my first Shabby Apple Dare to Design Dress! I'm not thrilled with how it turned out, but if my design is chosen, I'm sure the fantastic people there can fix some of the flaws. Now I just need someone to take pictures for me.
  3. I'm thinking about trying to list items again in my etsy store. I kinda failed the first time, but we'll see


Library Trip

I'm in a wee bit of financial panicking mode, so instead of purchasing things I cannot afford at the moment, I decided to do some good old research on sewing tips and techniques to better prepare myself when funds are a little better.

The Southampton branch of the Bucks County libraries has an okay selection of sewing materials, but I'm pretty sure I grabbed the only beneficial books on my first visit.
  • First up is Sandra Betzina's Fabric Savvy. This book, while untested for accuracy by myself, seems amazing. There are 85 different types of fabric mentioned, and each one gives information on preshrinking, interfacing types, thread types, needles, stitch lengths, presser feet to use, and much more. I think I'll copy down some info for the most commonly used fabrics until I managed to get my hands on a more permanent copy. It seems to be a terrific reference.
  • I also took out Fine Machine Sewing by Carol Laflin Ahles. I'm not sure my Janome 4014 can handle all of the techniques mentioned, but this book is a good source of inspiration for me to modify things I already own or purchase at Goodwill that need a bit of personalization.
  • Finally, I took out The Vogue / Butterick Step-By-Step Guide to Sewing Techniques, This book is written in the same language as the patterns I use (duh, it's the same editors). I was hoping this book would offer a little more clarity on some of the trickier elements (such as the Vogue 1120 pocket construction issue), but I haven't spent more than 10 minutes with the book, so I may be mistaken.
I feel like every real post should have a picture. Even though I have no crafty updates, here is a picture of Molly. This is how I feel in weather such as this:


McCall 5651--No good for bottoms

Hello TSKB Reader(s)!

I think I'll be retiring the bottom portion of any of the options for McCall 5651. The tops, with some personal modifications, have been fine and workable. But the bottoms are just awful.

I already mentioned issues with the size. Originally, I had cut the correct size (M) according to the envelope, despite warnings from Pattern Review because the T-shirt I cut up was not nearly as stretchy as the normal fabric my underwear is made of. What I should have done is actually measured the pattern piece compared to my measurements before I cut.

I ended up scrapping the whole thing and going a size smaller. There are three pieces. That's it. I personally do not like the instructions or the way these garments are *supposed* to be made. I think more emphasis is on making them cute as opposed to making them appear finished, like something you would buy at the store. Here are some examples:
  • The crotch lining is simply zig-zagged on top of the seamline of the front and back. Looking at a normal pair of underwear, this is not the case. So, using a pair of underwear as a guide, I put the front and back pieces right sides together, as the pattern mentions, but then I placed the crotch piece right side down on top of the back of the garment. When I finished sewing the seam, I simply flipped the crotch lining piece and covered the ugly seam.
  • They emphasize zig-zagging with short stitches, but I was always taught long stitches are key when sewing knits, whether straight or zig-zagged (I personally do straight and there are no problems)
  • There are over 6 design tips, but very few practical sewing tips
  • There is no finishing of seams anywhere. It would have been easy to incorporate French seams to make the garment cleaner.
  • There is no hemming anywhere on View B. I know, It's knit. It doesn't fray. It doesn't ravel. It doesn't need to be hemmed. Personally, I think it looks cheap that way. I hemmed mine...nothing fancy; I only turned under a 1/4" and sewed very close to the edge, but I think it looks far better. In addition, View A has all these wavy edges and I think it would just curl and look wonky after time.
  • They simply tell you to pin stretch trim around. They tell you how it looks best applied, but not a whole lot about the length. Should it be exactly the same length? When I apply stretch lace trim, I usually want the lace to give some support, so I stretch it. I opted away from stretch lace because it would not have been enough to hold the underwear in place. I made a tube around the top with a long strip of fabric and fed 1/4" through using my measurements.
  • The pattern gives you these elastic guides, but it would be more beneficial for the young sewer, and would be a better tailored garment if you just based these simple measurements on your own body. They use almost a full page of instructions talking about croquis and seeing what looks and works for your own body type; it would follow the same line of logic to use simple measurements where applicable.
Regardless of what's posted above, here is my finished project. In retrospect, only View A has full enough coverage to make it appropriate for public. The description of View B was "If you don't like a real full bottom [which I took to mean granny panties], but not a thong either, choose View B". I basically got something that rides like a thong, but covers enough thigh to be "modest". There is no shot of the back--obviously.

The underwear I would have simply traced to get a better fit if I didn't want to try this pattern one more time. The biggest difference is the severity of the curve in the back of View B.

For tops, I would continue to recommend this pattern. For bottoms, I would maybe try this Burdastyle one, or perhaps this Kwik Sew one, but with less options. In all honesty, I'd probably just trace a pair that I already own, as I did before. According to PatternReview, I'm in the disgruntled minority on this pattern. Better luck to anyone else out there. I'll probably add my review in a week or so.


Exciting New Things

I finally have enough information and pictures to warrant a post on what I've been working on so much lately. And I'm not even finished!

Last year I heard about Shabby Apple's Dare to Design Dress Challenge via Grosgrain, and I really wanted to go for it. I even posted about attempting it. And...that was as far as I got.

However, the contest is during the summer this year, so I am not terribly busy with lesson planning and schoolwork. I went far beyond my means and drew two different dress ideas. Please forgive me, for I am not an artist.

I started on the first dress. So far I've already gone quite far away from the original design (and price point! This rayon knit fabric is $9.00 a yard! And was on sale from its normal prie of $12.99 at JoAnns!!).

The skirt is no longer A-line, but more straight through the hips. I also have omitted the detailing at the waist; now I fear it will be too busy. The ruching is not nearly as strong as I had wanted, but I've never done ruching (or anything without a formal pattern and instructions!), so I don't think it's turning out to be toooooo awful. I was actually even proud of it.


So I went away for the weekend, eager to get way from the dress. I bought another yard of fabric to fix the mistake (another $9), and will try to remove the offending piece today and put a new one on. I also hope to finish cutting out the tulip sleeves.

I'm undecided about the buttons at this moment. I haven't bought any, but I am preferring the simpler, more clean look of the dress at the moment. I think the buttons will either look silly or affect the ruching in a negative way. What do you think?


$1.50 Swimsuit top

I recently did a closet purge, and I noticed there was a shortage of orange in my closet. And yellow, but yellow and I are not exactly buddy buddy. But the orange I felt I had to fix. I went to Goodwill to see what I could snag. I did get a tank top for $2, but I really was looking for a creamsicle-orange cardigan. However, it's July, and there aren't a lot of long-sleeved items at the moment.

At the last minute I wandered over to the men's section to see if there was anything worthwhile to modify. And I saw the $1.50 T shirts. There was an XXL orange shirt with a cute print on the pocket. I figured I could do something with it.

I went through my patterns and found again McCall 5651. I had previously made a little slip with matching underwear. I figured this time I would wear something that I could actually have showing (remember, the goal is more orange, not hidden orange). So I looked at the different views and chose view G to modify into a swimsuit top.
I made quite a few modifications. First, I lined the top cups so I could place pads in them (in my opinion, a *must* for swimsuits. I added clear elastic based on my measurements along the bottom, and then cut two long strips to go around the bottom and then act as the ties. I remembered how large the pattern ran, so I went down to a small even though my bust measurements would call for a medium.

Overall, it was quite a success. I tried to use view B for the the bottoms, but they are quite a disaster at the moment. (For starters, they are HUUUUGE) I still have a good chunk of the shirt left, so I may just scrap them and go for a swim bottom / underwear pair I have. I really want boyshort bottoms for this, but we'll see.

Be sure to check in tomorrow to see what I've been focused on so intently lately!


A little bit of MIA

Hi all! I'm currently working on a very time-consuming project and don't want to post until its finished. The Boy and I are also going to Delaware this weekend, so I doubt I'll get any sewing done then. Try checking back in Wednesday...by then I'll at least have something to post about.


Bow Tie Blouse Refashion Tutorial

I have my second tutorial for you today--taking a long-sleeved, collared shirt like this.....

And turning it into the (much cuter) version here!

Are you up for the challenge? All of need is a long-sleeved shirt and some coordinating thread.
  1. The first thing I did was pull out my seam ripper and liberate the collar. I have never really liked pointed collars. I bought them because I assumed a few years back that was the safe, standard "grown up attire" for teaching. Boy was I wrong...

  2. Then I tried on the shirt and decided where I wanted my new short sleeves to be. Once I figured that out, I made a mark all around the sleeve. I cut with that line, and used the removed piece as a template for the other sleeve.

  3. Sleeves are gone! It already looks better, but let's keep going.

  4. Let's take those sleeves and put them to work! Cut alongside the side seam all the way down the sleeve, even through the cuff. We'll be using this fabric to make our bow tie.

  5. Open up the sleeve. (I laid both sleeves on top of each other so I didn't have to measure twice and cut twice. But if you want to be more accurate, I would do each sleeve by itself) At the "top" (the side furthest from the cuff), mark a point 5" away from the "cleaner" side (the one that doesn't have the seam still attached).

    Ignore the 4" mark... I originally thought 4" would be enough, but it wasn't
  6. At the "bottom" of the sleeve, next to the cuff, measure out 2.5" from the cleaner edge.

  7. Now fold the fabric in half so that the edge pieces match your measurements. Cut out.
  8. Sew the tube around the long edge and the wider of the two short edges. Trim close to the stitches.
  9. Turn inside out (I used a knitting needle to make the points crisp) and press.

  10. With the fold pointed towards the top of the blouse and the seam side facing the bottom, carefully pin the ties to each side of the neck opening. I probably tucked in about 1/4" back into the collar stand. Pin the crap out of it. You'll need to sew very close to the edge and don't want any fabric peeking out.

  11. Hem the sleeves however you desire. I didn't take a picture of me hemming because there are may hems you could use. I did a basic rolled hem.
  12. Wear and enjoy. =)
If you try this, I'd love to see your finished version!


Yet another top

I want to make pants; I really do. But, I don't have the things required to make them.
I do have a pattern, and I do have information on making pants fit. But I lack notions. I lack fabric. I lack muslin fabric. And lastly, I lack a car to purchase these things.

But I am planning to get on it soon. As soon as my car actually returns to me.

In the meantime, from my limited fabric stash, I have few choices of things I can actually make. However, this pattern, Butterick 6573 is possible.Link
Image from Vintage Patterns Wiki.

I snagged this one at a yard sale a few years back. I did make View C but it was awful. I didn't understand topstitching, so the lining showed. It was far too small, and the darts were poorly made...

Anyway, I currently am working on View E. I have the fabric and thread...I'm lacking interfacing and buttons...but its at least SOMETHING to keep me occupied. I also want to put piping on both sides of the straps and along the top of the bust. I have never done piping before, so I thought I could learn a new skill while doing a relatively easy project.

Weekly bread is postponed. I need whole wheat flour to make whole wheat bread...and you know...the whole car thing.


TP Wedding Dress

I stumbled upon this post while checking my email this morning... what an idea! A wedding dress made (I believe primarily, but it may be only) out of toilet paper!

This was the second place winner for the 2011 contest. which I happen to like better than the first place dress (source: Cheap Chic Weddings)

What a crazy idea! I don't think I'd have the patience to work with such a small or delicate material...