Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bias binding is serious stuff.

I'm sure I've read instructions for bias binding at some point, but between then and now I started doing it the other way around. Let me explain. A lot of instructions tell you to sew the binding to the right side of the item you're binding, flip it to the inside and pin, then top-stitch from the front hoping to catch the edge in the back. This tutorial explains it in a lot of detail. I did binding like this for a while because that's what binding and patterns I had told me to do.

This method seems illogical. I can't see the back that I'm trying to catch a tiny bit of, and the front is already sewn on... why top-stitch from the side that's perfectly attached? I haven't seen a good explanation for why the first method is better. I'm curious about why the second method isn't standard.

In all fairness, my search for "bias binding sewing tutorial" did turn up some that sew it on the way I do. This tutorial was the top hit. The idea is to sew it to the inside first, flip to the front, and top-stitch without worrying about catching the edge you can't see.

If you just want a quick explanation, here you go:

Sew your binding in the fold, with the right side to the wrong side of the fabric you're sewing it to. I stretch the binding slightly as I sew it to things like necklines and armholes so it doesn't gape.

Fold the binding over to the front so it just covers the previous stitching line. Top stitch.

That's it, way fewer steps than the other method. The ends are finished as with any binding - with one folded under so the raw edge is hidden and sewn overlapping the starting end. As you can see, with this method the outside is neatly stitched and the inside doesn't have any missed spots where the binding isn't attached. This is also a peek at a dress I recently finished. The fabric has kittens making muffins! What? More about that in the next post.

"It's for when you want to look like you're wearing a sweater without being hot"

Pretty much.

I bought this fabric a couple months ago because it's so amazingly soft and light. I didn't know what I would use it for, but then I won some patterns from So Sew Easy. One of the patterns I picked is for the Slouchy Sweater. I really liked the shape at the side and how it flows into the sleeves. It looked flattering and comfortable.

You can see the seams are a little wavy. I did french seams on the top because this fabric runs like crazy. It pretty much falls apart when you cut it because of the loose knit and silkiness of the fiber. The downside is that the seams are bulky this way.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Videogames? Videogames.

The past couple years there has been a Mario (the game) themed event in my area. I made the skirt I wore last time out of red pvc, but it's kind of annoying to wear so I wanted to do something different. I don't wear red much lately because of my hair color, but I did want to use this shirt because it's the only one I have that fits the theme. The colors in the shirt were limited, and I didn't want to buy new fabric for a one-time outfit, so... well... red pvc. I've reached the end of it, which is why there's some white added in.

It's a simple circle skirt, unhemmed, with a spandex waistband zigzagged on to preserve stretch. As usual, there's also some elastic in the waist for a little extra support. Sewing the waistband on was pretty horrible because I didn't need to stretch the spandex much. Since it wasn't stretched yet, it kept stretching out of shape and pulling/bunching while I was sewing it. In the future, I think I'll cut spandex waistbands smaller (which I usually do) so I have to stretch it to fit the rest of the skirt and prevent the bunching. I could have re-done this, but... It'll be dark at the event. It's fine.

I don't know why I didn't mention this shirt last time I posted it, so I will now. I bought a little kids' shirt and cut off the collar and arm binding because those were much too tight. I thought I would have to do more work than that but without the bindings it fit fine.

Laid out, the skirt looks kind of like a pokeball (woo, multipurpose). You can see how the panels are placed here. This was the best arrangement to maximize use of what I had of the red without having a ton of panels. In the end, I really like how it came out with the white.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

As-I-Sew, now with more pink fluff monsters!

A long, long time ago, when I was super into looking at lolita clothes, I bought several yards of pink organza to sew my own petticoat. I sewed some easier petticoats and bought others, thus the pink organza sat around in a box.

The last time I went to put on one of my shorter petticoats I noticed it wasn't giving me much poof at all. Upon closer inspection I found the tulle was a lot less stiff and crunchy than I remembered it. It's probably spent too much time crushed in the closet (how in the world am I supposed to store the half dozen or more petticoats I have? They need their own room).

This old petticoat would not do (side note: it was the first I ever made), so I pulled out that pile of pink organza. Organza petticoats are a lot harder to kill than tulle, though more work due to all the layers and fabric needed to get them fluffy. I hoped this wouldn't be too difficult since I have a ruffler foot, but man was I wrong on that one.

On ruffler feet and organza:
Organza shreds like it's its job.
Rufflers grip the edges of fabric, tearing into it with their little robot teeth.
Rufflers look like little smiling robots.

The experience quickly became a nightmare of getting organza caught in the ruffler and ripping out thread nests.

Alright then.
I didn't really know what I was doing, so the order in which I sewed everything could have been better. After sewing the two layers I made together I thought the petticoat still wasn't fluffy enough and added an extra ruffle close to the top of the bottom layer. This was kind of a hassle to add at that point because all the fluff gets in the way. Do not recommend.

The finished petticoat is two layers: A bottom layer that is three tiers and one extra ruffle sewn flat onto it, and a top layer that is two tiers (also fuller than the bottom one). All the ruffles are sewn together once with a straight stitch, zig-zagged on the edge, then sewn down flat in a "mock flat felled" finish. The vertical seams are french finished.

The petticoat  has a spandex drawstring waistband to avoid scratchy chiffon pressing into my waist, and to make size adjustment easier. The spandex on it's own was not strong enough to hold this up.

This is what the petticoat looks like worn normally on it's own and under one of my heavier skirts (the first cupcake skirt).

Because the bottom layer is smaller, it kind of squishes down some of the fluff when the petticoat is inside out and gives a slightly different shape.

Just for comparison, here's the skirt on it's own.

If you'd like to make your own petticoat, here's a sort of mini tutorial. This petti is 18" long and all the measurements include a half inch seam allowance. I have a 28" waist, for reference.

When I started, I wanted to do three tiers of gathering per layer of petticoat. My tiers weren't wide enough, so I'm giving you measurements for ones that would be. I switched to two tiers on the second layer because the three seemed unnecessary. This goes together like any "tiered skirt," which there is lots of tutorials for out there. The info here is mostly for figuring out the measurements.

Three tiered petticoat
  • top tier 9" by 2*fabric width
  • middle tier 7" by 3*fabric width
  • bottom tier 5" by 4*fabric width
Two tiered petticoat
  • top tier  8" by 2*fabric width
  • bottom tier 12" by 4* fabric width
I suggest doing either two or three layers of organza.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Yay! 100 posts! Now with foxy updates. Ohh ~

I don't actually have anything special for this... so let me update you on some things that are going on around here.

Specifically, you might recall, a couple months ago I entered a fox bag into a sewing contest over at the So Sew Easy blog. Well, I won! I don't know why I didn't post about this earlier, I've known for over a week now. Thank you to Deby for holding the contest, the sponsors for all the wonderful prizes, and of course all of you who voted!

One of the prizes I want to talk about is writing a guest post for the So Sew Easy blog. I've considered this a lot because I think our audiences probably don't overlap much. My clothes are pretty out there compared to Deby's if you just glance at them. Some of the basic shapes are similar though, and techniques don't vary too widely no matter what you're sewing. After some input from Deby I've decided on a tutorial for a knit fabric dress, like the rainbow dress or Alice in Wonderland one. Even though these two dresses look pretty different, they are mostly the same pattern/construction. It's a pretty simple design that can be adapted for many different dresses.

The other prize of interest to more than just myself is a collaboration with Deby on a bag pattern. I'm pretty excited about this because I don't typically make purses (well, I make travel bags for work, but that's more like factory production than personal sewing). We've started brainstorming ideas. There's so many possibilities! I hope I'm not too much trouble.

Finally, I am planning on making some fox purses for sale. If you're interested, let me know! I've been overwhelmingly busy somehow the past couple weeks and will be the next few weeks too, but someday soon I'll get some time together from the aether to make a couple and list them in the shop. Are there other animals you'd be interested in? I'll probably do a cat for obvious reasons, but there's so many cute animals out there!

If you've read this far, thanks! Remember to keep an eye out for  all these things coming up!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Big bunny pants? Bugs Bunny pants.

A couple months ago some folks asked me why I don't have any phat pants in my Etsy shop. I finally got around to finishing some. Personally I enjoy cartoon characters on my pants, so when I saw this Bugs Bunny fabric in an awesome bright blue I thought it would be great for the project.

I altered a plain men's pants pattern for these. Quick step-by-step: Trace the pattern, add width to the bottom smoothly from the top, add lines for color blocking, cut out the paper pattern and add seam allowance when cutting out of fabric. 

The original pattern called for a zipper fly but since these pants are quite light, I went with velcro. The side pockets also have velcro closures. I added the drawstring at the waist (and leg openings) so they could be more adjustable.

If you look super close you'll notice a short line of stitching  next to the side seam on this leg. This is to hold the drawstring in place so it doesn't pull out, for example if you step on it. The stitches are quite large if you'd like to pull them out and remove the string (twill tape).

 I created this back pocket shape for a different pair of pants long ago (I thought I had posted about them, but apparently not), and reused it here because I think it's quite nice. Most of the seams are top stitched for reinforcement. I think these count as "mock flat-felled" seams.

That's all folks!

Friday, July 4, 2014

"It is what a futuristic lego girl would wear"

I wanted to make an easy circle skirt out of this neon green vinyl, but when I tried it, it looked a bit too ridiculous even for my tastes. The vinyl was too stiff for the shape. I didn't want to just let it go to waste (there's not much you can do with a doughnut of vinyl) so I started thinking about how to use at least some of it.

The best idea I came up with was this - a stripe of the neon green attached to a softer fabric. By "softer fabric" I mean some thin pvc, which I of course have in my stash. I couldn't decide if I wanted to use black or white so I asked a friend and he chose white. (He's also responsible for the title... why am I so bad at titles?)

The skirt has a spandex waistband since that's more comfortable and much easier to work with than the pvc. I used a contrasting zig-zag to attach the waistband and stripe, and also for the hem. This was absolutely horrible to sew because of how sticky all the vinyl is. I don't have a rolling or teflon foot, and using tissue wasn't going to work because of the zig-zag, so I had the bright idea to use baby powder. Can you see where this is going?

There was baby powder EVERYWHERE. It worked very well though, so, success?

Well, frosted pink vinyl and sharpies don't mix either.

You might not recall, but last time I sewed with this vinyl I found out dry erase markers don't erase from it. I tried sharpie this time, thinking I could take it off with alcohol, but fyi, that also doesn't work.


This first skirt is something I've wanted to try for a while. My last one was pretty difficult to get on and off, so I thought making it a wrap skirt would fix that. The waistband is a little wavy, but otherwise I think it worked out well.

It's a simple circle skirt except I used my "low waist" + about 9" (for overlap) as the "waist" measurement. The skirt closes with a tie on the inside and D-rings on the outside. If you compare the first and second photos you'll notice you can wear it with the end of the waistband out or tucked under the D-rings so it's not flapping around. All the edges are bound in bias tape.

The second skirt I made is knife pleated but also a wrap skirt, again so it's easier to put on and take off. I spent a while trying to actually figure out how much fabric I'd need for the pleats, and how to mark them out, but it was making the project less fun so I just sort of winged it. I unrolled the vinyl as I folded and pinned each pleat top and bottom, and stopped when it seemed long enough. I'm not sure how much fabric it ended up using.

This skirt closes with velcro. It's not as adjustable as the other one, but still much nicer to wear than the original skirt that I had to carefully wiggle into. All the edges are bound with bias binding, which covered the pin holes nicely.

The first skirt is available in my Etsy shop.