This summer was filled with library sewing classes, camps, and enjoying time with my family. Somehow in between all of that, I managed to do some selfish sewing. Today I wanted to share some of what I made in the past few months, hoping it inspires you to spend some time with your machine.
A lightweight robe. When the morning is cool, even if it's going to be a hot day, it's nice to have a light extra layer that's not a heavy winter robe (remember I live in Rhode Island--winter can be fierce!). The pattern is from Purl Soho.
I enjoyed the Wonder Woman movie so much that I actually saw it twice in theaters! Couldn't resist this fabric when I saw it and made a few things for the shop, gifts, and a pencil case for my daughter for back to school.
We had a bathroom redone, which I adore. It needed a curtain and I wanted to have a little fun with the fabric. This octopus print is from Hawthorne Threads, one of their in-house designs that is digitally printed on demand. It's fabulous fabric for lightweight curtains!
This project is dual-duty: a garment for my handmade wardrobe, but also an example for teaching a class in how to make the shirt at Stitchery! I love it when that happens. This is the Cheyenne Tunic from Hey June Handmade. Lovely shirt that is a bit more involved to make, but very easy when we walk you through it in our Wardrobe Workshop (Sept. 24 and Oct 1).
There are two more projects I'd like to share that will have to wait for another day. One is my first attempt at the Marlborough Bra by Orange Lingerie. I'm very happy with how it turned out, but since I refuse to take a selfie in that project, I'm having a hard time photographing it. My dress form isn't my size (I know, I know), and it would look like I completely ruined it if I displayed it on the dress form at the shop!
The second is 95% finished, but I need some hardware and to finish a hem. I attempted a zip-fly pair of shorts that turned out rather well, if I do say so myself. These last two projects taught me that a little know how on the machine and a well-written pattern mean you can sew ANYTHING you want.
What have you made this summer?? I'd love to hear in the comments!
Sewing this top made me realize there are so many garments I've made this past year that I've never talked about here, so I think you can expect to see some Selfish Sewing catch-up posts.
This is a brand new make, just finished this week. It's been in my to-make queue for a long time, and I shoved it into the "wait till next summer" pile just last month when the fall weather rolled in. This week we have unseasonably warm weather (75 degrees in mid-October in Rhode Island--crazytown), so I pulled it back out.
I wanted to see what all the fuss was about with Cotton and Steel fabric. Also, I have been itching to try a sewing pattern from Fancy Tiger Crafts. Both live up to the hype!
The Sailor Top is not for a beginner, but the instructions are very easy to follow if you've sewn a few garments. This version works, but I should have gone up a size. I was in between the medium and large, based on my measurements, and should have opted for the large (the shoulders are a bit tight). That just means I need to make another! It also won't stop me from wearing this to teach a sewing class this afternoon.
What have you been sewing lately?
Have you heard about the handmade blogger challenge to wear something you made each day during the month of May? It's a challenge started by Zoe at So Zo...What Do You Know? blog. Knitting, crochet, sewing--it all counts. Some people have made very strict rules for themselves like no repeats, the entire outfit must be handmade, etc. The goal is to get those lovingly made wardrobe items out and proudly into the world.
This is my first year participating, so I've kept the rules simple. One item per day, repeats allowed, handbags, scarves and other accessories count. Since this is an Instagram challenge, my pics are all taken with my phone. Here are some outfits from the first week of the challenge. Details about the patterns can be found on the Instagram descriptions (I can recap if anyone is interested later here on the blog).
I'm @dancingthreadsri on Instagram if you'd like to follow along!
Are you participating? I'd love to hear about it! It's not too late to start. Tag your photos with #memademay, #mmm16, and #mmmay16 (I've also been using #selfishsewing and #handmadewardrobe). The interaction has been so much fun!
Like many mothers of active children, I spend a fair amount of time shuttling people to activities and then waiting. Reading at these activities doesn't work right now because I miss out on watching all the fun. Hand sewing is the perfect way to keep my hands busy, stay out of trouble, not stare at a screen, and still be able to watch the latest flying front kick or back stroke.
Until recently, I've brought my sewing to events in a drawstring project bag, which works quite well. The biggest pet peeve of mine has been thread snips. What to do with them? They either end up all over my lap or tangled at the bottom of the bag. An exterior pocket was in order. While I was at it, I prefer zip top bags, and I had been saving some selvedges that had especially interesting graphics, or meant something to me like the sheep and crabs.
The portable sewing kit was the end result.
The thread snip pocket. No more lap full of threads making me look like the crazy sewing lady! I still look crazy embroidering everywhere I go around Aquidneck Island, but the people who know me understand it's for fun and work. Those who don't? If they ask I'll gladly tell them. If they don't, well then have fun with your Candy Crush.
Some of my favorite selvedges. It's such a shame that people usually just throw these away!
Inside pockets to corral various thread skeins, marking pens, scissors, lip balm, and even my phone and keys if I'm keeping things simple.
You can see by the current contents that it holds quite a lot. This is intentional, as I am usually either stitching multiples of something and like to churn through as many as I can in one waiting period, or I have a few different projects so I don't get bored.
Portable sewing means more than just sewing while my children are doing their thing. I can take the kit almost anywhere including outside in beautiful weather, a friend's house, to the park, on vacation...you name it. TSA may not like all the sharp pointy things, so I haven't tried flying with it yet, but it goes most everywhere with me lately. How else am I going to make sure everyone has the chance to buy their own Lil Rhody bag?? See the crab mug above? I'm working on a Maryland version of the bag too!
How do you sew, knit, crochet, etc. on the go??
The infamous Washi Dress. What is it? Rae Hoekstra, of Made by Rae designed a fantastic sewing pattern that has taken the sewing world by storm. If you read any sewing blogs at all, everyone seems to be making this dress! It's a digital download that you can get here. It's so popular, in fact, that she sells a separate expansion pack.
Why did I choose to sew it? Three reasons:
1) I wanted to see why it is so popular (relatively easy to sew, it flatters many different figures.)
2) To practice shirring, and to work with cotton voile.
3) I wanted a new Easter dress.
You can see the way the dress is blowing in the breeze on the mannequin that the drape of cotton voile is lovely. It's a thin, but gorgeous fabric to work with.
Cap sleeves that are quite flattering.
A new-to-me seam finishing technique: bias tape that only encases the bottom edge of the armhole. It was confusing until I sewed it, and then it's brilliance was quickly made clear. Very very clever finishing technique.
Subtle front pleats to camouflage the "mom bits."
Elastic shirring in the back to define the shape, but also provide easy on/off without any closures like a zipper or button placket. I wasn't sure how flattering this would be when all was said and done, but I love the way it fits!
I'm a fan! Will you do me a favor? Send me a picture if you sew one yourself!
My camera was fairly neglected and needed a proper home. After seeing some really fun camera applique ideas around the net, I came up with this canvas tote.
The straps are an old karate belt that was never used. I only had to add the camera "strap" fabric to one side.
I have very few accessories, so I put two interior pockets on the lining. This holds my download cable, backup battery and battery charger.
To cushion the camera itself, I covered a piece of foam that nestles into the bottom of the bag, but is also removable if I wanted to use the bag for something different.
Now if I could only remember where I put the lens cap...
For January, the sewing project I decided to make for myself is the Marianne Dress by Christine Haynes. A goal this year is to get over my fear of sewing with knits. This dress was an easy way to gain confidence!
Everything was sewn on a regular sewing machine, no serger required. One thing I love about indie sewing patterns such as this is the instructions. They are clear, concise, tested by real people, and not overloaded with sewing jargon. Patterns by "The Big Guys" (McCall's, Butterick, Simplicity, etc.) often make you feel downright stupid. Not the case with indie designers. They will frequently link to You Tube tutorials or support links on their own website to help with techniques that are unfamiliar. This pattern includes instructions for working either with a serger or traditional sewing machine.
I chose a navy blue and white stripe knit from Girl Charlee for the main body, and a crisp white for the yolk and cuffs.
The bamboo anchor buttons come from Katrinkles, here in Rhode Island. I just love Katy's buttons!
The sizing was spot-on. I graded the pattern larger for hip size, but this lead to a bit more ease than necessary. This only adds to the comfort! I'll definitely use the same size for top and bottom on the next one. There will certainly be a next one--a print of some kind. This pic, though awkward (can you tell I'm still very uncomfortable being IN the pictures??), is one where I can brag on matching up the stripes on the side seams.
Two tricks to sewing with knits: a narrow zigzag stitch and a twin needle. For all the main construction seams, I used a stitch that looks like a lightening bolt, #05 on my machine. For the hem at the neckline and bottom, I used the twin needle. It's important not to use a regular straight stitch with knits--the stretch in the fabric needs a seam that will allow it to stretch a bit.
A very happy seamstress!
You can find my November project here. There are two smaller December projects that have been lost in the holiday shuffle. I guess that means I get to double up soon instead!
This is a project whose direction I didn't know when I started, but it ended up being a bag just for me.
I've been fascinated by this feather print fabric from Hawthorne Threads for months. As you've read in recent posts, my interest in embroidery has taken off recently, and this feather bag is an intersection of the two. Here are some close up pics of the clutch-sized outcome.
This lovely little bag has found a permanent home corralling receipts and cards in my larger everyday handbag. I smile every time I reach for it!
This is the year I finally buckle down and follow through with my intentions to make things for me. I'll still sew for the business of course, my family and home, but I've been saying I'll make myself some clothes and only manage one or two pieces a year. I also tend to rush through them, as if I don't deserve the attention to detail that I give to everyone else.
I've set myself a goal that over the next 12 months, I will make one new item for myself each month. That means by Thanksgiving 2016 I should have 12 new items. At least. The list includes more than clothing, but clothing is the priority.
I've already started with November! Some of you may have seen sneak peeks on Instagram (if you're not yet following @dancingthreadsri and you're reading this blog, you totally should!).
Not only am I sewing pretty new things for me, I'm stretching my skills with each project. First up: an A-line skirt. Not so tricky, I've made them before. BUT, this one calls for an invisible zipper which is completely new to me. Guess what? It wasn't that tricky after all. Here are some pics.
Can you tell I have a long way to go in order to get comfortable in front of the camera?
Using a linen blend fabric, I wanted to make sure I finished all the interior seams. I plan to wear this a lot!
The fabric I chose was a bit thin, so it needed a lining. Not wanting a fully separate lining since the pattern didn't call for one, I basted some muslin to the main pieces of the skirt. Basically, I cut the pattern out twice, once in the linen, once in muslin, then stitched the main fabric to the matching muslin piece with a few seams with very long stitch lengths (#4.5 on my machine) that held everything together. Then I treated the joined pieces as one. When the construction was finished, I pulled out the basting stitches. It seems to have worked quite well!
My not completely-invisible zipper. Not bad for my first attempt.
A few darts complete the A-line silhouette.
When you're honest about your measurements and follow a pattern using the written seam allowances, it's amazing that clothing can turn out fitting like a glove.
As co-owner of Stitchery in Portsmouth, RI, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. Welcome to my blog Dancing Threads RI.