Monday, June 23, 2014

Easy Breezy......really!!

The Easy Breezy Blouse by So Sew Easy

In the past I frequently bemoaned the lack of summer wardrobe available in my closet. Truthfully, I have way more winter clothes than summer. Not sure why because where we live there is plenty of summer and lots of time to wear those gauzy, sleeveless, woven tops. Many times I have purchased lovely spring, summertime and early fall prints which I later planned to turn into luscious summertime wear. Except for that last part, where I actually make something with all those wonderful fabrics!

But, those days are over. This year already, I have made 3 summer tops. One of them, the one above, was sewn in less than a hour using an embroidered gauze that has been stored away for a while. Those three tops are seeing a lot of wear, especially the Easy Breezy, which spends its time either on me or in the wash.

Deby always does a good job with making patterns simple and easy to use. Most of the them have a video which is very thorough and provides a good visual aid if you are having trouble with any step.

Now there is no reason to put off making sweet summertime wear and in a jiffy too!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Bee Sweet Finish!

Inside my bag.
Yay! A Big City Bag finish this month. So happy. This month things went much better.

Here's why:
First,  I tried really, really hard to be positive and not grouse too much about cutting out bag pieces. (I did have a momentary set back but it was short!)
Second,  I did not try to finish the bag in one sewing session. Instead,  the pieces were leisurely cut whilst watching old Star Trek episodes with the fam one day and the bag sewn a couple of days later.
Third, NO stress over each piece of interfacing and every perfect bag part. I knew handles were needed so apart came another Tommy bag. Also, took the magnetic snap from there as well. I did not want to run around looking for bag pieces.
Fourth, I took the time to rip out or do over seams or topstitching that did not suit me.

In hindsight a stiffer interfacing would be nicer, the bag is too floppy, but it will work just fine for me. The bag style is quite nice and the construction was pretty easy.  I enjoyed sewing this one.

The fabric has been in my stash since last summer. I thought this particular bag perfect for the fabric and like the way it came out.

Here is the bag already loaded up with my stuff.

A lighter picture.
It is never too late to join the monthly bag SAL hosted by Angela at Sewingwithsqueak. We have been sewing through Sara Lawson's book, Big City Bags. Next month is a diaper bag. I might try to make two for my two horsey friends who recently had babies! FIRST, I am going to see how much cutting there is!! :)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Carry the Clutch Girls.

"I've always loved when girls carry their wallets as a clutch instead of a bag."

Alexander Wang

The beginning of my clutch stash.
There are so many wonderful things about a clutch purse aren't there? So convenient and easy to carry. Perfect when you don't want to carry the kitchen sink. Versatile. Light. And if you are the slightest bit crafty you can own a million zillion in all the glorious colors of the universe and in every style imaginable.

Over the past weeks, I have become a lover of clutches for all the reasons above and then some. One major reason is So Sew Easy's Clutch pattern. It is somewhat rare to find a purse pattern this user friendly yet so amazingly easy to hack. The only limitation here: one's imagination. Fabric choices, interfacings, embellishments, closures, to strap or not to strap, and size; all can be changed up, customized, coutured to your very own loves.

Deby at So Sew Easy really does make it....well....easy!! And somewhat lucrative as she is hosting a clutch contest with lots and lots of prizes including a side bar link on her highly trafficked website to the winning blogger . Although, this post is somewhat late in the contest, it closes tomorrow, one could STILL easily enter because these clutches can be sewn very quickly. Heck, by midnight tomorrow, one could sew about 25! Ha, one a hour as of this post! Probably not likely, but you get the idea of how friendly this pattern truly is!

The first time I printed off the pattern, I forgot to tile and got a smaller pattern. I decided to use it to make my first clutch for practice. With a sweet pink linen on which I embroidered a small motif, some pretty purple satin for lining and a quality snap, I ended up with the small jewel pictured at the bottom here:

Small pink clutch perfect for lipstick, jewelry, other odds and ends.
For the contest entry something a little more dressy and an opportunity to attempt a new sewing skill seemed in order. The flap on this pattern just begs for embellishment so beads it was! 

Beaded flap. This was so much fun! Can't wait to put beads on a skirt!!

It just so happens our little town has a sweet bead shop. While there, a beading jewelry fiend help me choose beads and gave great encouragement. Beading is not that hard! There are a few good tutorials on youtube and some articles. But I actually was surprised by the lack of beading instruction out there. Basically, it seems you have to buy a book. However, with good quality nylon thread, quilt batting or repurposed felted wool, a good sharp needle with a tiny tiny shaft and head (a pain for someone who is past 45) but necessary to get the small seed beads on, one can be off and running. Once going, things went quickly. 

Some beading tips: 
1. Set yourself up completely with a; flat tray to pour your beads on, the beads, extra needle, thread, and scissors. Also in the future I will probably get one of those hand needle threaders as one of the teens had to be called upon to thread the needle a couple of times.
2. Make sure you are not rushed. I actually found this process to be very relaxing. It was a joy to see the bead designs take shape.
3. Anchor your thread each time you take new thread. Double your thread, come up through the fabric from the back, go back down very close to initial hole, run the needle and thread through the middle of your double thread and then pull tight. Anchoring ensures your beads do not come lose.
4. Frequently check your work on the back to make sure you have pulled all the thread through. A couple of times I had to start over with a design because I did not pull my thread all the way through which means loose beads on the front.
5. Tie off securely. As if the zombie apocalypse is here. All of your work on the back is hidden by the lining for the clutch so it is okay to leave a bit of knots etc...on the back of your work.

To finish off my clutch it needed a special lining. Some time ago I purchased a small amount of raw silk from They have the most amazing selection of silks there and this one was no exception. Golden in color it was the perfect finish to my special clutch.

In person, this fabric has the most amazing sheen.
I am delighted with the finished product and am very happy that Deby shared her pattern and hosted this great clutch contest! Thank you Deby!


Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Wonderland Bag that Wasn't.


A couple of weeks ago I read through the directions for the Wonderland Bag from the book Big City Bags by Sara Lawson.
Wonderland Bag as pictured in Big City Bags by Sara Lawson.
Every month Angela from Sewing with Squeak host a linky party for a bag from the book. The Wonderland Bag is number 4.

From the beginning, I have struggled with the bags. My biggest struggle is just getting all the pieces cut out. There always seem to be soooo many. I don't know why I hate it so much. I have to constantly remind myself that I will not be defeated by this first step!

But even with that success, it is becoming pretty clear that I am not a great bag maker.
January's Bag.
For January's bag, I had left over pieces and my lining was saggy and much too large for the bag. Also, there was so much bulk in my seams that my machine had some troubles at the corners. But, in the end it turned out okay.

Month two I missed the deadline but did finish February's bag the first week of March.
Like this bag a lot.
This one went pretty quick for me and I am still carrying it for spring but I made a couple mistakes that mean the bag probably won't last me very long. Partially it was the fabric I chose, partially it was lack of experience with bag making.

{Memo: Bag Making is a skill that requires Yoda like patience, knowledge of all kinds of bag construction techniques, bag making tricks (that make the bag look professional) and even more knowledge about bag hardware; where and what to buy. And while I have books and the internet, much like all other sewing; to get really good at it takes time at the machine.}

In March we made a cute clutch purse.

Daughter took this one to prom.
This one went pretty well and left me excited for April's assignment. Not really any major mistakes or issues except with the zipper and the way the bag curved. Again, experience.

Then today and April's bag. One would think I would be getting better at bags now that we are on month 4. And when I read the directions in the middle of the month, I imagined this bag would go pretty quick. There weren't a tremendous amount of pieces to cut (yay!!) and the design is very straight forward but, as soon as the main fabric pieces were cut, I knew I was in trouble. The size of my panels, cut according to the directions, did not even come close to matching what I thought I saw in the book as far as size. I based that on a photo where Sara is holding the bag. There was no way my bag was going to turn out that size. The only way it would even come close was if I turned my fabric to make the larger measurement the width but my lining was directional and had already been cut and even if I turned it, it still seemed much smaller than the bag in the picture appeared.

I sat thinking things over and looking at the pictures of the Wonderland Bag. Truthfully, even if I tried again, cut more fabric and made the bag, it wasn't my style. I am short and big bags make me look shorter. What would I do with it? Did I really want to make the bag? The answer: No. If I am going to spend time, effort and money on a bag I should like it. Even if I were to give it away afterwards, I still should like something about it. It is not a bad bag, it is just not me and the thought of the effort to start over and try to figure out some workable measurements just didn't seem worth it.

But, now what? No Big City Bag for April and what to do with the cut fabric. It seemed about the right size for a toiletry case or a large zippered pouch. The fabric would work for a guy so why not make a case for my son? I used my favorite tutorial for a large cosmetic bag and zippered pouch for Cole.
Found a guitar applique online. Cute.

Used my machine blanket stitch which made it quick.

Had some fusible vinyl which I used to make the inside waterproof.

Cole was quite pleased with his bag and I got some experience with machine applique. I am going to link up with the linky party but my "Wonderland Bag that wasn't" shouldn't be included in the prize drawing. After all, it's the bag that wasn't and it's okay.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Second Verse, Same as the First! The Monthly Stitch April Challenge - Sewing Double.

Hello Monthly Stitchers

So happy to be here and a part of your monthly challenges. This is my first post ever at the Monthly Stitch and am so excited I was able to get my Sewing Double garment completed before the end of the month. I joined the facebook group first and have been trying to work my way through Wordpress to get things going. 

There sure is a lot of inspiration on the fb page.  Yesterday, I spent some time visiting many of your blogs. So impressive, all the sewing skill out there! I have a lot of catching up to do.

Last month I sewed up this linen blouse. This blouse is super special because the linen fabric was given to me by my Mom many years ago. Often I have thought about using it for a pillow or curtains or some type of home dec project because it is a mid to heavier weight linen. So glad I never did, because it made a cute blouse that is super comfortable

Polka Dots. Love.
The pattern was a resale shop find. 
Blue dot means it was 50 cents. Score!
I think the pattern may be out of print now, I don’t know. How does one tell how old a pattern is aside from the picture? Do they have dates on them somewhere? 

Anyway, this blouse was my first Simplicity Pattern. I have always kind of been afraid of Simplicity Patterns. I guess I thought they were harder somehow than the other big pattern company patterns. Well not this one, the directions were very clear, and it had simple steps and lots of options for different styles of blouses. I just love it and will be making the V neck version for sure later this summer.

So…today I made my double from some quilting cotton in my stash. 

Fabric is quilting cotton from Dear Stella.
The second time around the blouse got even easier and everything went quick, which is the point, right?? This time I took extra care with each step and made the inside look all purrrrrty.

One thing I will probably change when I make it again is to remove the ease from the sleeve cap. I was poking around on the internet the other day and saw a tutorial for that. But, I would love suggestions from any of you as well as to what is the best way to remove that ease.

Now, off to dig through my knits for next months challenge.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April GAM is early!

Butterick B5642. Lovely pattern that sews up quickly and beautifully.
I'm pretty sure this is the first time my Garment of the Month has been early. Not just a little early either but over 2 weeks early!

This dress was finished last Wednesday the 16th, and all ready for Easter Sunday. The pattern is Butterick 5642. I absolutely love the pattern and the dress.

There are two pretty big deals about the making of this dress. One, this is the first dress I have ever made for myself! I realized that halfway through sewing it up. (oh, I just remembered I made 2 knit dresess back in October and November when I first started the GAM so this is dress number 3). One of them I have since donated due to poor fit. I usually only make skirts and blouses, never dresses for myself. I think the reason is I am short so always, always, always, bodices on dresses are too long for me and gap in the back especially at the neckline and are a general pain.

BUT, this time and here's number 2 big deal; I changed the way I view making a muslin. I use to think sewing a wearable muslin was better because....well, I don't know why I thought that. It just seemed like the thing to do. I don't like throwing things away so perhaps that was the reason but who knows. I just got into the habit. Well, I am not going to do that anymore and didn't do it this time. Really when I was making a wearable muslin I was making the garment as perfectly as possible but I don't think that should be the purpose of the muslin. It is for pattern making and fine tuning and fitting. Am I the only person on the planet who did not realize this?  Sometimes those habits, just can't shake them.

But for this dress the muslin was sewn in less than a hour complete with the zip. Another hour later I had a workable pattern that fit me pretty much as well as possible for where my sewing skill is currently. I still would like to do a shoulder seam adjustment and bring the whole bodice up a tad but overall am very happy with how the dress turned out.

Definitely will be making this dress again. Maybe sleeveless next time with a cotton voile and fully lined??
The fabric is 100% linen so I did not bother lining it although it is called for in the pattern. If you have never taken the leap in to linen for garments, I highly recommend it. So easy to sew and work with.

I also added some neckline details using a decorative stitch on my machine and some hand stitching. My daughter didn't care for the hand stitching up the neckline but I love it. The sleeves and hem were finished with a rolled hem on the serger. Love the way the rolled hem looks on the flutter sleeves curling a bit and making them even more feminine.

Neckline details. Inset with decorative stitching.
The dress had lots of gathers, back darts and an invisible zip.

Why are there so many more wrinkles in a picture!!
I can think of lots of style ideas such as an exposed zip, many different neckline details, beads, trims, more elaborate embroidery. Also, would be lovely in black linen as well with some beaded trims.

Excited that I finished my April GAM and if you want to see some great seamtresses and their beautiful garments head over to GAM and take a peek. So fun.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Craft Book SAL - April project.

Lots of sewing stuff lately. Life has slowed down some, so sewing has resumed! Yay!

For almost a year now I have been promising my son some things: new curtains, some shirts, a duffel bag and a garment bag. Because I needed a good quick project for the April Craft Book SAL hosted by and due to a good case of the guilts as I was sewing yet something else for myself AND because my son had an upcoming trip, the time was right for his garment bag!

Bag has cute piping all around. Hard to see in photo.
I purchased  this really cool guitar fabric last summer from an online shop. Can't remember where now but I just googled guitar fabric and stuff came up. He is a musician and the idea was to sew him up a gig bag, a garment bag and perhaps a guitar strap for his birthday last June. I am a little late getting started but his garment bag got done. :)

The pattern used was from this book:
Book is....ok.
Sew and Stow gets mixed reviews online. Although I think the Author does a decent job of outlining directions it is not entirely beginner friendly. Yes, there are are some simple patterns but sometimes one has to know something about sewing to figure out the directions. I have made a few things from the book and like her overall design for the garment bag BUT hers is not lined and I think it is a tad too small for menswear. Having said that, I was pretty happy with the outcome and just figured out how to line it myself. It wasn't too hard.

Used a poly satin for the lining.
My son is pretty happy with his bag and has used it a couple of times already.

He's happy; I have an entry for my SAL; One of the projects on my list was completed; Stash fabric was used; AND the dust was blown off a craft book I've had for a while. Now I call that success!