2012 April

Archive for April, 2012

28 Apr 2012

A KCWC Project in Just the Nick of Time

5 Comments Finch Shorts & Top, Patterns

My blogging lately has been following the classic 80/20 rule: I’ve spent about 80% of my available time thinking about posting, but only about 20% of my time actually posting. Truth is, I tend to work my best when I am inspired or excited about a project and I almost let elsie marely’s Kids Clothing Week Challenge go unacknowledged here for lack of a project idea.

But I got the bug when I saw Cindy’s second Flutter Blouse, which you’ll recall was the pattern we created for Stitch Magazine’s Spring 2012 issue. The Blouse would be perfect for Nora’s summer wardrobe and would be one I could get excited about since I haven’t sewn it up since we finalized the design last August.

To get the real user experience, I downloaded the pattern from the Sew Daily website and followed the instructions provided in the Spring issue, which, incidentally, differed a bit in construction from how we drafted the original instructions. So, in a sense, this project had that “new to me” feel.

The paper pattern has to be pieced together from 9 sheets of 8.5×11″ paper printouts, carefully taped together. Though knowing better, I forgot to print out the pattern at full scale, so the first set I printed is  probably more appropriate for an American Girl doll–that could make for an interesting experiment, no?

I’ve used a lavender sateen for this blouse, which is light enough to gather easily, yet create fullness in the sleeves. I thought you’d appreciate seeing the blouse in a solid fabric so you can get a true sense of the blouse’s details. I haven’t found the right embellishment yet for the bottom hem, as shown in the magazine, but will keep my eye out for something special to add later. The front buttons are 1/2″ covered buttons and I used a 5/8″ shell button in the back at the keyhole opening.

Some Basting/Gathering Tips

The sleeves are gathered along the neckline using a long basting stitch. I thought this would be a good time to share some tips that I have learned to make basting and gathering even easier.

First, when I sew a stitch line for gathering, I like to backstitch a few stitches at the beginning of the stitch line and leave the thread long at the other end. Conventional wisdom tells you to leave the threads long at both ends. Maybe this is just something that happens to me, but I find that I often end up pulling out some stitches at the opposite end of the stitch line in the process and have to re-baste, often after the garment is assembled. Backstitching at one end of the basting line prevents this by locking those end stitches in place and giving you something to pull against, if that makes sense?

As you may be able to see above, my second trick for basting a gathering line of stitches is to use a contrasting thread in the bobbin. This makes it easy to identify the thread that I am supposed to pull on and is a great way to use up bobbin thread from past projects. 

Here’s a close up up of the gathering on this blouse–I pulled on the coral thread on the underside of the sleeve pieces until it matched the length of the facing piece. The contrasting color also helps me know which thread needs to be removed after stitching the gathers in place.

I paired the blouse with some wonderfully soft Finch shorts made with a gray chambray. Look closely, do you see what I changed in this pair?

The pleating around the bottom cuff are now gathers.  This is a super simple change:

- Omit the pleats along the bottom hem of each front and back pieces, and, instead baste a stitch line about 3/8″ along the bottom hemline, starting and stopping about 1/2″ from the out/inseam. Sew the front and back pieces together to form the basic shorts.

- When you attach the cuff, match the cuff at the two seams and pin at those matching points.

- Pull on the basting stitches to gather the hemline to match the length of the cuff between the pins. You’ll need to separately pull 4 sets of basting stitches. Adjust the gathers so they are evenly spaced along each leg and pin to the cuff at frequent intervals. Sew the cuff on as normal. Et voila.

Here’s a close up of just the shorts. So cute!

I hope you all got some sewing done for KCWC.

Happy Sewing!

~Erin

24 Apr 2012

Ready to Roll: A Toy Stroller Makeover

2 Comments In the Craft Room


I was recently strong-armed into a sugary-sweet craft project for my daughters, much to my dismay.  My time would have been much better directed to our Fall ’12 patterns that are in process, but those two darling little girls know how to channel my sewing abilities into kiddy kraft.

We started with two worn and tattered baby doll strollers.  The picture does not do justice to their poor condition. The seats were in tatters, allowing Santa Baby* to tumble to the sidewalk amidst shrieks of horror.  Plus, the puppy dog print (left) always left me nautious. 

After ripping apart the pieces of the original strollers, I laid them out atop another super girly quilters cotton that I found at a local quilting store.  The patterns for the strollers were so basic they took no time at all.  After getting the seats sewn together, I finished all raw edges with strips of bias trim cut from the same piece and attached some quarter-inch elastic to loop around the handles.  

The result:

[Don't look too closely at the stroller at the right.  I forgot to re-attach the original seatbelt.]

Once the strollers were complete, the usually-nude Santa Baby required a matching dress.

I took rough measurements of Santa baby and quickly concocted a simple dress.  The bodice is lined to make a clean finish around the neckline and I hand-tacked a zipper in the back since my daughter strongly believes that Santa Baby should always remove her dress for sleeping.

The bottom hem was finished with leftover bias trim. (Full disclaimer: I have not read any of those books in the background of the shot).

All set for a spring stroll around the neighborhood.

Happy sewing!

~Carla
*Santa Baby:  so named by my then 2-yr-old when the doll was found under the Christmas tree.

16 Apr 2012

Surf and Sun

4 Comments Eider Tunic, Raven Hoodie & Pants

We are freshly back from the beach, so I wanted to quickly share some shots of a few Clever Charlotte sewing patterns in action there. 

The weather couldn’t have been better and my little landlocked children maximized every minute they could of the sand and surf.

I showed you this Beach Eider a few weeks ago and the boy look will be coming up later this week.

Until then, happy sewing!
~Erin

06 Apr 2012

Beach Bound

3 Comments Eider Tunic, In the Workroom

Recognize this?

If you guessed our Eider Tunic-turned-swimsuit cover-up, you win 5 points!  Spring Break is next week and we’ll be visiting my family in South Carolina.  A few of those days will be spent at the beach, and while the weather looks iffy for sandcastles, I am sure Nora’s new cover-up will be equally perfect for trips to and from the indoor pool.  

Here’s another view.  Can you spot the quick change?

The tunic is made with a white terry cloth:  very soft and fluffy, and, I discovered when ripping out a few seams, very loosely woven. So, rip with care.   I made very few adjustments to the Eider pattern itself, but several changes to the construction of the garment–

First, I shortened the length of the front and back pieces by 1.5″ (equal to the hem allowance, which isn’t needed with the bias tape trim). I omitted the yoke and finished all the raw edges with a colorful bias tape.

Because I wanted to use a separating zipper down the center front, the waist ties that are usually used to cinch in the waist of the tunic would have been somewhat cumbersome. However, I felt strongly that I still wanted to gather the waist a bit to avoid the bath robe look.  I tried several methods to recreate the cinching effect, but due to the relative bulk of the terry cloth, neither long gathering stitches nor elastic thread in the bobbin achieved sufficient gathering effect.  Instead, I sewed stretched pieces of 1/4″ elastic on the right side of the fabric along the waist channel placement line marked on the pattern. 

For this size 3T, I sewed approximate lengths of 3″ to the left and right of the center front (see below) and another 7-8″ along the back. The gathering effect was better than the first two methods, but I think for the next iteration of this tunic, I will opt to use a stronger (eg wider) elastic for an even greater effect.   I hid the elastic with the waist tie channel called for by the original pattern, adding some additional color to the tunic at the same time.

For the trim, I used  Sarah Jane’s Meadow in Soft Pink, which is covered with tiny flowers in pink and orange and makes for the cutest bias tape, and followed Katy’s method for making continuous bias tape.  

I intend to use the bias tape for another project as well, so I used a full yard of fabric, which makes A LOT of tape.  (It makes me so happy when I can double up on sewing projects!)  For this 3T tunic, I estimate I used 4  yards of the finished double-fold bias tape to bind all of the edges, sew the waistband and create the 2 buttons tabs (see below).

Finally, after debating whether to make the tunic with the original sleeves (sans pintucks) or shortened for warmer weather, I was pleased to find a compromise–a button tab to hold the rolled up sleeves in place (first used here) for cooler/windier days.  On the next iteration, I may try shortened sleeves but add a hood.

I have one more beach-bound sewing project to complete this weekend and I can’t wait to show you some “in action” shots of both later next week!

Happy Sewing and, for those of you celebrating, Happy Easter!
~ Erin

02 Apr 2012

April Showers

2 Comments In the Craft Room, Tutorials

…bring May flowers.  I promised you a tutorial on the lace applique I used on Nora’s Bunny Foo Foo shirt a few weeks ago.  Here’s my second spring shirt using the same technique–this time, my rendition of a happy raincloud spreading drops of sunshine.  I added a cute face using a simple backstitching and embroidery thread.

Before I start the tutorial, allow I  me to add the usual craft-blogger disclaimer–that I am not a trained appliquer and I am only describing my own technique. ;)  I welcome your input on what’s worked well for you!

Here’s what you’ll need, in addition to the item to be appliqued:

- lace (scraps are fine if they are big enough to match the design)

- contrasting underlying fabric in the same dimensions as your design and lace (as you can see above, I gathered a lot of options when I started to have a wide selection to choose from)–see below for some hints on choosing an underlying fabric

- thread for the applique (eg for finishing the edges of your design), as well as white thread or other color needed to match the lace–see below for some hints on thread choice

- optional ribbon (I used 1/2″ wide grosgrain)

- fusible fabric adhesive (such as Wonder Under or Heat ‘n Bond)

- lightweight interfacing

- your design, hand-drawn, printed or copied onto regular paper to the final dimensions (Google Images is great for finding simple images–the simpler the design the better or else you’ll risk losing too much detail in the process). Here’s the start of my cloud design, with a piece of lace on top to test the “effect” (note, you’ll see that I was also testing out some different eyes in the process).

To begin, cut out your motif from the paper.  Cut a piece of lace and a piece of your contrasting fabric** in the general shape of your design, leaving at least a 1″ border around the entirety of the design.   If your lace isn’t wide enough (because it’s a scrap or a lace ribbon for example), you may be able to overlap two pieces to make it sufficiently cover the design area.   I did this on the bunny shirt and even up close it is difficult to see it.

**For the fabric underlying the lace, I used quilters cotton for both of my designs.  A solid fabric is probably best, but a simple pattern is fine if it isn’t too busy.  Otherwise, the pattern of the fabric will compete with the pattern of the lace.  Also, I recommend a bright contrasting color because it makes the appliqued item “pop” against the fabric of your shirt.  For the bunny shirt, I used a coral quilters cotton against a white shirt.  Here, I used a grassy green polka dot to contrast with the aqua blue shirt.

Now, make a sandwich from these 3 layers: contrasting fabric on the bottom, lace, and paper pattern piece, all face up. Pin the layers together in several spots, staying clear of the cut edge of your pattern.

With white thread in your sewing machine (assuming your lace is white) and your machine set to a short stitchlength (1.6-1.8), sew the fabric layers together following the perimeter of your design, not more than 1/8″ away from the paper pattern. (Note that you do not sew into the paper, but outside of it.) To go smoothly around curves, you may have to stop periodically and pivot your fabric with your machine’s needle in the down position.  When you have circumnavigated the entire perimeter of the design, you will have an outline of your design stitched through your lace and fabric layers.

[This is the point at which I hand embroidered the face onto the cloud.  Another change I made to this version was to add 2 small solid peach circles to the contrasting underlayer to give a hint of the cloud's rosy cheeks.]

Time to iron on the fusible fabric adhesive.  Cut a piece of the adhesive paper in the same shape as your fabric/lace and iron it to the wrong side of the contrasting underlayer, following the manufacturer’s instructions.  Remove the paper backing on the adhesive so that you can see the sewn outline you made in the previous step.  Trim away all the excess fabric close to this sewn outline.

Here’s what mine looked like underneath. (The gray thread you see is from the hand embroidery.)

Next, position your design face up on the right side of the shirt (or item to be appliqued) and iron the design onto your shirt, again following the instructions for your adhesive product. To ensure the best bond, I found it works better to iron from the inside of the shirt, rather than on the lace side.  If it appears your adhesive is not going to adhere strongly enough, don’t despair–just pin the design in place in the center of the design (i.e., not at the edges) and remove after appliqueing. Lastly, for added stability during the applique process, you can iron on a piece of interfacing to the wrong side of the shirt to cover the area of your design.

OK, on to appliqueing the design to the shirt.  It’s really important to test out your machine’s zigzag stitches on a swatch piece of fabric to get the right settings on your zigzag — you are looking for a fairly tight stitch of medium width to cover the raw edge of your design all the way around.  If the stitches are too far apart (i.e. stretched in length),  you’ll see more of the raw edge in between the stitches. I also keep the width of the stitch fairly narrow because this helps you to turn corners and navigate around curves more smoothly and it looks less chunky and overwhelming than a wider stitch.

** Note: For thread, I typically use a regular polyester thread like Gutermann’s all purpose.  However, I happened to have on hand the right color blue in a special machine embroidery thread by Coats and Clark, so I used that for experimentation purposes (with a coordinating all purpose thread in the bobbin).  I didn’t notice much difference in the end product, to be perfectly honest, so I wouldn’t bother differentiating for a small project like this.

Make sure to keep the backside of the shirt free from the needle!

If you’d like to add a bow to your finished design, I suggest making the bow using a longer length of ribbon than you think you’ll need, then trim any excess last. My technique for getting a small bow that lays smoothly is to make two individual loops with the ribbon, and tie those loops together into a bow–just as you would if you were tying your shoe only you don’t cross the ribbon ends first–does that make sense?  After sewing the bow in place, I trimmed the ends of the ribbons neatly by folding the ribbon in half hotdog-wise and cutting across the folded edge at a 45 degree angle.  Here’s a step by step: 

I hand sewed the center of the bow into place on the design, then created a few “ripples” in the ribbon ends by machine sewing a few stitches in the valleys created by these ripples (where my fingers are in the picture below). 

Finally, I chose to sew on some raindrops without lace.  I positioned the drops on the shirt and adhered them using the fabric adhesive.  I then stitched the drops in place with white thread on the inside of the cut design–this is called “raw edge applique” because it leaves a raw edge on the design, a look that I particularly like.  You could use the same applique technique described above if you want a more finished looking edge. 

Here’s the final look!

I can think of lots of other motifs that would work well with a touch of lace–an ice cream cone,  a heart, stars on a dark navy shirt to name a few. What will you come up with?