Firecracker Blue Knit Dress

I use to be scared of knit fabrics. The stretchy, flexible fabric always distorted on me that the frustration kept me from using the most awesomest sewing tool in the world… my serger. My serger sat unused for the longest time. I got it at a Bernina store going out of biz sale and a matching sewing table to go with it.

When I first used the serger, the blade moving fast plus the quickness of sewing fabric frightened me. I used it a couple times over the first few years and when I mean a couple times, I do mean two. Two times. Little did I know that the whizzy, quickness helps on two fronts: creating projects quickly and finishing seems fast. Like buttah on a hot biscuit. Yum.

But about this blue knit dress… Last year I saw various pinterest pins about creating your own knit shift dress from your favorite fitted t-shirt. With my new serge (he, he) of creativity for sewing and some flat fold table knit fabric. I was on a mission. I was going to know how to knit fabric.

Creating the dress pattern from one of my shirts was easy. Folding my favorite form fitted t-shirt in half vertically and placing it on some paper, I traced around the edges. I removed the t-shirt and straightened the sides plus used a french curve for the neckline. I then extended the bottom edge out to the desired length of my dress.

I’ve read that knit fabric should be able to rest for some minutes before cutting to relax to its un-stretched state. After my knit fabric relaxed I then laid it flat on my sewing cutting table and lined up the pattern on the fold and cut. I attempted this twice to get a back and front piece.

I lined up the shoulder seams which was my first bout with using the serger on knit.   When I did, the serger took the fabric quickly.   I then lined up the sides and that went quickly.   No need to finish my edges as sewing and edging is all in one. A light bulb went off… the dress was coming together so quickly. Ahhh-some.

The arm holes and neckline were next on the serger which I then turned under and sewed with a small zigzag stitch after serge-ing the edges.

For the bottom, I took out my manual to find other stitches this fab-u-oso machine can do.   I used the rolled hem stitch which was a great finish as the stitch gave the fabric end a curled or ruffled look.

The blue firework knit dress turned out perfect.  I wore it to the music concert the next weekend. It was the perfect storm for me that I was hooked to my serger. I attempted a couple more knit dresses which taught me that not all knits are the same nor does the perfect storm comes with every project.

However, now I know sewing knits is not so bad nor using a serger.   I think I prefer using knits and my serger.  So quick to create clothing. Like buttah….

Firework Blue Knit Dress

Firework Blue Knit Dress – (Instagram)

French Plaid Wool Dress

What happens when your husband takes you to the fabric store for your birthday and tells you that you should get the fancy french fabric and dress pattern for your birthday? A new french plaid wool dress sewing project!

French Plaid Wool Dress

French Plaid Dress

Like I said, my husband helped pick out the Clara Dress Pattern By Sew Liberated and some lovely flannel, french plaid fabric from my local fabric store, Pacific Fabrics. Oh, the fabric is so soft and so beautiful. I could not wait to get started on this project (last December). We had my company’s holiday party coming and I definitely saw this fabric/pattern combo as the best holiday dress evah!

So I know plaid can be difficult. I have created a button down dress in a simpler plaid a few years ago. One method I did while attempting that earlier dress is to pin the fabric for cutting which kept the plaid inline while folded. This helps keep the plaid straight across the pattern pieces or when needing to cut two. A great technique that I used on this plaid dress too.

I bought a lot of this french fabric ahead of time just in case I needed to cut another piece and to align the stripes on each patterns edges.

In the end, the dress’s biggest pieces were easy to put together and I had a lot of fabric left. However, for the small pieces like the arms’ tying bow and the elastic waist were a b*tch. I was swearing up and down as I was on a tight deadline for the holiday party was approaching.

Luckily, I finished in an hour’s worth of time. So close for a sewing project I picked up in under a week’s time.

It’s funny how an exciting adventure has its ups and downs.

On to the next sewing project.

Sewing Projects: Seahawks Inspired Hoodie

Let’s continue on with the sewing projects!

Football season is well over and the weather is getting warmer. But during football season, I got inspired with all the Seahawks fleece at the local fabric store to make some clothing for me and my hubby.

Bulk of Seahawks colored fleece

Bulk of Seahawks colored fleece

One of the first and easiest projects to do with fleece, IMO, is some lounge pants.   I created some lounge pants with the Seahawks logo last year for my hubby.  He loved them greatly.   He wears them all the time.

With a couple pants under my belt and the need to try a different sewing project, I decided he needed a top to go with it.    I took a hoodie that he enjoys wearing and created a pattern from it. I attempted the pattern in a test hoodie for me in some white and hot pink fleece It actually worked really great. I was surprised how easy it was “steal” a RTW pattern. Makes me feel unstoppable now. 🙂

Seahawks inspired hoodie

Seahawks inspired hoodie

So then I laid out blue, green, and grey fleece.  I lined the hoodie with a the grey/green chevron pattern such like the “feathers” on the Seahawks uniforms.  Now that the hoodie pieces are all together,  the sewing commenced.

Jeff in Seahawks hoodie

Jeff in Seahawks hoodie

Hubby was so happy with his hoodie and it’s very, very warm. Great for football games!   All in all, the pattern turned out to be a great one to keep in my arsenal and now I’m becoming more confident in creating my own patterns.

On to the next sewing project!

My Latest Sewing Projects

My partner in sewing

I call her Procrastination

Looking at the date on my last sewing project post, it’s almost a year since I’ve written anything new. Not that I’ve haven’t doing any sewing projects, I’ve just been swept away into doing them and not posting.

This means catch up time!!

Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom - Dress E

Stylish Dress Book: Wear With Freedom – Dress E

So I’ve been creating clothes on and off as the year went by.   I’ve tackled a few projects from the Japanese Sewing Book:  Stylish Dress Book: Wear with Freedom.  One of them is the E dress below.   I used a vintage, interesting flowering knit-like print.   It turned out beautiful, but I should have created a muslin as the size was wide and the length was short.  Being 5’7″, I realized I needed to alter these patterns to be longer if the end result was going to be a dress.

Trying to create my own skirt

Trying to create my own skirt via Cal Patch

After a few of those and things not fitting right, I then broke open Cal Patch’s Design It Yourself clothes; the skirt. The skirt was what striked me as something I would wear and something I thought would be simple. So I reread and reread the directions as I swear I was reading a different language.

In the end, i created a wonder skirt, but it didn’t fit. You thought I’d learn my lesson about sewing a test garment first. Nope. Nothing is more frustrating than finding a beautiful piece of clothing that *almost* fits.

I took a hiatus after these and other attempts.   I did alter some pants to create some new shorts for the summer and some fuzzy fleece lounge pants.

Altered Shorts

Altered Shorts

I did try to create some leggings with my own pattern. I found a tut by Cal Patch on how to create the pattern.
I tested a few knits to get the right fit as well as learn how to use my serger.  (Oh, I love my serger!!)    The end result was the pink/grey striped below.

Legging Pattern

Legging Pattern

Pink Grey Striped Leggings

Pink Grey Striped Leggings

The leggings pattern turned out pretty close. I think I still have some issues in the crotch area to work out which is why I then took a create your own slopers class from Burda which also taught me how to alter the pattern to get a perfect fit for my body. It was a great class that helped me create slopers that I’ve lately been using to build my own patterns as well as tweak other patterns to my size.

Where am I going? I’m starting to get the hang of sewing new clothes and feeling confident of changing or modifying patterns and RTW clothes to my liking. More on this soon.

Curtains Dress

Curtains Dress

Curtains Dress

One day I went out for some errands and found myself in a middle of a huge rummage sale.   I think I was looking for kitchen drawer linings when saw the sign about the sale.  Today was the last day and everything was 50% off.

Lately, I’ve been disappointed going to any garage/yard/estate sale.  I wonder if most people donate or sell online.   But anyhoo…

In the midst of this huge rummage sale, I landed in the fabrics.   There were boxes and boxes of fabrics for only $1.50 for few yards.  I got a huge crap load of fabric and one of them was this beautiful green/teal with pink roses fabric.

Now all the fabric was wrapped up in bundles with tape around them, so all you knew was the yardage and the cost.   Well, when I unwrapped this lovely vintage fabric at home, it turned out to be a cut-off homemade curtain.   The fabric wasn’t all one piece either.

Front View

Strike a pose

So I washed the fabric and seamed ripped the two pieces apart as well as undid the hand stitched hem.   I measured out the sizing and went through my sewing books and patterns to find something that would work with the amount of material I had.

Side View

Over the shoulder

I ended up doing Dress R from Stylish Dress book.

I didn’t have enough fabric after I traced out the pattern in my size with the biggest piece of the fabric, but it was close.    To make it happened, I overlapped the two pieces so I had enough fabric for the back piece.

I found some other teal fabric I bought from a garage sale years ago.  Then went off and created the dress.

The dress turned out pretty lovely.   This was the first time I used this pattern from the book.   Since the fabric was a bit heavy weight, I would imagine using a lighter weight would be great for summer wear.  However, in the northwest, all our summer days are not warm.  So soon I shall wear my new dress.

EEEK!

EEEK!

Then something happened.   After I tried it on and took all my pictures, something flew out of my dressform.     A freaking huge, no, gigantic moth flew around my sewing room.   The moth was swirling in circles in an air attack formation.  Did I mention it was huge?

Luckily, my hubby came and saved the day to take it outside..

Man, it was freakin’ huge.  See it on my room curtain.  HUUUUGE! Bleh.

Simply crazy for my serger and a dress to do a jitterbug with excitement.

Oh how I enjoy my serger.   For many moons my serger sat next to my sewing machine with the protect plastic dust cover on it.   I was too nervous to use my serger.   My serger was like a hungry monster that whipped threw thread and fabric like the dickens and there’s no undo or seam ripper that can save the fabric after the serger had a turn.  So it sat there.

After doing some sewing projects on the machine,  I realized, like anyone’s been told before, I was getting the hang of things.  I was certainly not perfect in my sizing, reading patterns, or straight seams, but these mistakes taught me what not to do or what I should do to get results.  So I gathered all my gumption and bought some knits for some test runs.

I attempted some simple designs such as lounge pants and shorts for the hubby.  These practically straight line seems got me comfortable running the serger.   I then tackled a Sew U Sketch dress project.   Pictures, you ask?   Let’s just say it was a learning experience.  Wearable, but meh.  I did learn the importance of when to use the knife.

In these heroic attempts, I got comfortable with my serger.  I have a few more trials to get use to sewing curves and not cutting more fabric than necessary, but I have learned the glory that is a serger.    A serger is great, no, fantastic at finishing seams.   It’s so fast and clean that if I need to finish a seam, I move my seat over to the serger.

Sigh… Serger = smashing!

Now with the that awe inspiring rant, let me get to my jitterbug’n dress.

I’m sure most have read about Japanese sewing books.  Welp, I attempted, for the fourth time, a dress from Stylish Dress: Wear with Freedom.  I’ve already completed three other ones which were all trials to find the right size, but this one I was definitely proud to showcase.

Let me first state that I did a hybrid of the dress patterns.   I took the length of Dress C, but chose the sleeves of Dress D, but didn’t want to bother with all the buttons so I altered the pattern to not have buttons.

wpid-imag0990.jpg

Dress C/D

The dress turned out fabulous, but needed some warmth.  In comes the cardigan.

wpid-imag0988.jpg

Never leave the house without a cardigan

Next time I might go with the buttons or maybe work the sleeves to sit better.

How did I finish my seams on this lovely gem?   My serger.   Sigh….

Red, White, and Blue Refashioning over Memorial Day weekend

Wow.  Who knew I’d try doing a blog again.    Not me.

I’ve always avoided writing like the plague as I’d rather do some sort of non-language communication such as programming, music, or arts.     So why the blog?   I’d like to share my adventures into sewing and reconstruction.  Something I’ve wanted to do for some time but felt discouraged for many reasons, but I also wanted to practice my writing.

Anyhoo.    My first, well, third upcycle/reconstruction/recycle project was this past Memorial Day weekend.   It was lots of fun.  Well, to be honest, some moments were frustrating, but isn’t working through the tough parts make the end result worth it?

In the beginning, there was a large button down shirt that I picked up from my most favorite thrift shop down the street, such lovely red, white and blue plaid, but a bit big and manly.

Shirt

Big and manly

First step, ripping out the seams.  The sleeves didn’t take that long to undo, but they were strong flat felled seams.  What surprised me (yet not) is the fact that the seams had some sloppy parts to them.  Not sure about you but I always thought retail sewing was perfect and only *I* had misaligned seams.

After removing the sleeves, the side seams were next.   I started going down the seams when I realized I was going to bring them in so cutting them open would be fine.   So snip, snip, snip, I had the shirt ready for refashioning…   wait, what about the shoulders and collar?   Well, I was happy with them and made my life easier.  No need to do more work if it works.

Now that it’s ready to become my next awesome top, I first started with reshaping the sleeves.    They were huge and long.   So I took a pattern’s cap and recut the sleeve to have a smaller opening and shorter in length.

Then I took the sample pattern’s front and back that had the matching sleeve hole and laid it over the body.    In the back of my mind, I knew going overboard and trimming the body to the same shape as this pattern’s outside might make the shirt a bit small.   Well, once I sewed the sleeves and the sides back together and tried it on, my intuition was correct.  The top few buttons did become a bit tight, but that’s easily fixed with a cute top under.  Who buttons to the top anyways. 🙂

Now that I had reshaped the shirt, I tried it on and it as a bit bunchy in the back.   I looked into darts or pleats or something to help it out, but the little voice came back and said, “It’s a bit long too”.    So I took the effort to shorten the length first.

Guess what happened?   The bunchiness wasn’t so bunchy anymore.  Woot!!

So now I have a cute top, but could it be cuter?   Yes it can!

I have tons of vintage lace scraps from that favorite thrift store.   One day, I got a boat load that the ladies in the back was stashing away.   That load was an awesome score! So on goes some lace.

The shirt reminded me of some lovely country or mountain or mori girl style.   So I swooped the lace over the shoulders.

Front Side

Front Side

I also draped it across the upper back.    Definitely getting more girly.  But this was not enough.  I needed MOOOOORE.

Back Side

Back Side

Then I recalled some pretty reverse applique.   So beautiful and intricate, they provide just a bit more love for any garment.  On goes some thread with some white fabric and wala!  Cuter top with a pair of daisy like flowers.

So pretty!

So pretty!

All in all, I got a cuter top from this big, frumpy, manly button down shirt.    Definitely gave me the momentum to do some more refashioning.

Before and After

Before and After