Monday, September 19, 2016

Knit Knack

A lot of sewing has happen since the last time I posted.  I will start with the most recent activities since they are fresh in my mind. This past Saturday I gave a presentation “Using self-fabric to embellish knit garments” for my local ASG group.

  Awkward and unexciting name, but I couldn’t come up with a better one. Every year I volunteer to do a program presentation and I choose a topic that is something I want to learn about or explore, but that will appeal to the whole  group.  This is not always an easy task. The small ASG group I attend is called Fashion Focus, but of the 30 attendees maybe 6 regularly sew garments. A program on some  topics I would like to study, such as  armhole drafting, would probably not be well attended.  So where did my topic come from?  I was on Pinterest one day and saw a picture of a unique textured fabric.

I followed the link back to the picture source and found a post with lots of different knit embellishment techniques. The info was on one of the Russian internet blog sites. The text was in Russian but I was so interested I took the time to translate it with Google. The title  translated as Decorating Knitwear,  by Irinka Prosto. Thanks for sharing Irinka!

The techniques shown used strips, circles or random shape to add decorative trim and textures to knit wear. The techniques utilize some of the unique characteristics of knit fabrics,  non raveling, soft texture, and for some knits the tendency to roll up on cut edges. These embellishment applications are especially effective when the fabric for the trim is the same fabric as the garment. I showed  many examples of RTW  garments embellished in this way.



For my presentation samples I used T shirts. I bought two of the same T shirt on sale. I used one as the garment to be trimmed, and the other as the source of matching fabric for the trim.  Here are some samples I made using strips for embellishment.

Gathered strip trim
 The ruffle at bottom of the T shirt is made from a 2 inch strips attached by machine to the  bottom edge of  the T shirt. For the front embellishment I drew curves on the T shirt using a wash away marker.  I sewed down the middle of ½" wide strips following the guidelines, pushing pleats randomly under the pressure foot with a stylus. I added coordinating beads for more texture.

 The 2nd T shirt sample was embellished with strips that curled in on the sides and resembled cording. I drew guidelines on the garment where I wanted to apply the trim. I pushed the curled sides apart and stitched  each strip down the middle following the guidelines.


 The third sample was a T shirt trimmed in fabric flowers made from, you guessed it, strips and circles of fabric. I picked my favorite fabric flowers from the  wide variety found on the internet, made samples and shared them with the attendees.


 There are so many kinds of flowers you can make.  I was inspired by posts showing similar flower embellished garments by  Jane and  Sherril    The flower embellishment appealed to my audience. In fact there were requests for me to teach an ASG member mini class in flower making.  We will see. I still work full time, and I do not have a good ‘teacher temperament”. I was told “No, you cannot choose which students can attend the class.”  The  mini classes, being very inexpensive, can attract attendees that want a morning out for the social aspect, rather than the learning opportunity.

The top I wore while presenting the program was a knit and the embellishment was from self-fabric, however the application was a bit off topic for my presentation. I traced a favorite RTW top to get the front and back shapes.  The fabric was a rayon lycra stripe knit.  I cut circles out of the front in various sizes.  I cut corresponding circles from scrap fabric. I sewed the circle shapes into the holes  in the front using a 1/4 inch seam allowance, rotating the stripes slightly to create some visual interest.

And those circles break up the stripes in the tummy area. 

Then as an example of where you can really go with  knits and embellishment, I showed the group my recently completed Alabama Chanin corset top made from the instructions and pattern in the Alabama Studio Sewing Patterns book.

Gardening is such hard work1
Right now I am taking a break from sewing knits, waiting for the weather to cool and inspire me to sew wools and silks for fall.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Read the Instructions - Simplicity 1376

This is posted in my sewing room to remind me not to begrudge the time and energy spent on preparation. It is good advice for all kinds of sewing situations, like applying fusible interfacing, learning about your new sewing machine, choosing the correct fabric for a sewing project, and entering contests. And I obviously need reminding based on my latest sewing project.

This year, my American Sewing Guild (ASG) neighborhood group challenge is to sew a garment from one of the Simplicity ASG special collection patterns. It has to be completed for the November meeting.   And ASG was having their annual Anyone Can Win contest, which also requires sewing a garment from one of the Simplicity ASG patterns. The contest deadline was July 1st.  One sewing project to meet two goals. Wonderful. Full steam ahead.

 I decided to sew the dress and jacket from Simplicity 1376.  This pattern includes a cropped jacket, ankle length hi-lo dress, knee length dress, scarf and knit leggings with elastic waistband.

 I cut the jacket out first, from a knit remnant with horizontal color variations. The front band was cut on the bias. "Hmm a bit surprising for a knit" I thought, but no warning bells.

 For the dress, I selected a cotton/rayon print jersey knit from my stash. It was purchased 16 years ago and nicely aged.  It had very little stretch. I cut out the main dress pieces first, and left the bands  for the neck and armhole trim until last, to be cut out of the remaining remnants of fabric.  The grain line arrows on the bands indicated they should be cut out on the bias.  I thought “Why would Simplicity recommend that for a knit?  For a knit, the greatest stretch is usually in the width of the fabric.” At that point I decided to read the fabric recommendations on the pattern envelope. For the dress and jacket, B & E, the recommendations were for woven fabrics.

 Oops! "Recalculating,  With a  firm non stretchy knit, I should be okay" So I kept on sewing.  The dress and jacket turned out fine. In fact I wonder how well they would turn out in a woven fabric.   Note the V neckline on this dress is deep. On the pattern envelope both the top and dress are shown worn over some kind of garment that fills in the neckline. The pattern does not include a neckline insert/modesty panel.  I have no cleavage to speak of,  so I can wear deeper V’s than some folks and no one gets excited as all it exposes is bony chest
Simplicity 1376
Simplicity 1376 Dress and Jacket
Relieved that the two garments were completed and I had decent photos,   I went to the computer to enter the ASG “Anyone Can Win” contest. The last time I participated, 2 years ago, you entered the number of the pattern you had sewn in a text field and uploaded the picture.  This year the process was different. “What’s this, a drop down list of allowable patterns? Only 8 choices. But there are 34 Simplicity ASG in print.  24% chance that …aw crap  1376 isn’t listed. Do I have any of the listed patterns?   One, a jacket, pants and top. How much time do I have? The rest of today. How about tomorrow? What time does my plane leave? I hate it when business travel takes up my weekends!  Did I get TSA Precheck? Nope!  Whatever I sew has to be done today. Guess it is going to be the “quickest to make” garment on the pattern I do have – the T shirt.”

So my contest entry was a raglan sleeve T shirt from Simplicity pattern 1073 out of a textured knit purchased from JoAnn Fabrics.

 And now I have three garments for Show N Tell at the November ASG meeting.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

She's Got Legs - Part 2 Burda Pant 9 2010 108

I loved the clean, preppy look of these Boden pants that popped up in my google search for pants.

Boden is a British clothing retailer selling primarily online, mail order and catalogue. I remember getting a unsolicited Boden catalog a couple years back and being impressed by the bright, modern patterned fabrics used for classic styles of clothing.  At the time the European sizing put me off ordering. They now have a USA website.
This style has a contour waistband, slant pockets, and slim ankle length legs.  They are available in a wide range of colors. The web site  calls this version  the " TIPPED PANT - A fashion-forward take on the definitive tailored pant. Featuring luxurious detail around the curved cuffs and pockets, these  are just that little bit different. "   I particularly liked the two color trim on the shaped hems of the legs and the pockets opening. 

 My best fitting pant pattern, the Eureka Pants that Fit, have tapered, not slim legs. I found a Burda pattern with the style of leg I wanted,  Burda 9 2010 108, and combined the two patterns,  using the Eureka pant pattern above the crotch level and the shape of the Burda pants below the crotch. 
The pattern is downloadable from this link.  Burda pants-09/2010 108
The fabric  I used is “Dress Denim” from JoAnn Fabrics, a blend of poly rayon and lycra navy with a dark microdot weave.
The trim is ¼ inch  red and white stripes of bias binding applied to the pocket opening and the shaped hem.

To replicate the trim I used purchased bias binding.   1 package white bias tape extra wide double fold and 1 package red double fold bias tape quilt binding.  It was super easy to apply and looks just like the inspiration trim. 

First step was to cut the white binding in half along the middle fold line. One side will be ½ inch wide, the other will be slightly wider than ½ inch. It is folded this way to facilitate the application method using the package instructions.  I did not use this method.

First step was to cut the white binding in half along the middle fold line.

Lay ½ in  width  binding with cut edge along cut edge of fabric.

 Top stitch  close to folded edge with white thread. 

 Lay one folded edge of red bias binding ¼ “ from topstitched edge of white binding. 

 Top stitch close to folded edge with red thread.  

 Wrap excess red binding around the cut edge to the  back side of fabric and hand sew in place, using white top stitching line as a guide.

Shaped Hems
I hemmed my pants  and applied the binding to the hemmed edge. I could have eliminated the hem and applied the binding to a cut edge of the bottom of the pants . I kept the hem because I wanted some firmness and weight at the bottom of the leg. The last 3 inches of the outside leg  seam  was left unsewn. After hemming I made a curved template that I used to cut the curved shape at the bottom of the  side seam.   I applied the white and red binding to the hem edge curving around the corners and along the side seams. Where the raw ends of the bias meet the side seam I  treated the bias  like welting on a pocket opening. 

Y cut at end of seam  before trim is secured
Hem trim

Pocket trim

Sewing friends have commented that I have a nice pair of pants whose colors are appropriate for wearing on  patriotic occasions; Memorial Day, 4th of July, and  Military Appreciation Fridays at work.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

She's Got Legs - Part 1 Burda Pant 10-2011 127

Sometimes I use the contests on sewing sites and blogs to motivate my sewing.  More often than not I do the research and planning, purchasing, and finish a project, but rarely enter the contest.      My enjoyment comes from the process and the finished product.

This time it was the Pants Contest on Pattern Review.  I have lots of black, navy,  and gray work pants and the usual selection of jeans, straight leg, skinny, flared etc. So what kind of pant to make?  I love to do google searches where I put in a descriptive term, the word “pant” and look at the images.  You never know what will pop up. I sewed two pairs of pants

The first one was a flare leg pant. Picture source: Illustrated Fashion Alphabet Check out this site for great fashion info and history.


I have to alter the back of every commercial pant pattern  I sew and it gets old. About a year ago I attended a pant fitting workshop with Rae Cumbie .  We sewed and fit muslin of her Eureka Pants that Fit pattern.

 I left the workshop that day with a great fitting trouser with a slightly tapered leg. I have sewn several pairs of them for work.   But I wanted some other style pants with the same great fit.  Yes, in theory I could have drafted flare leg on the Eureka, but after  reading several  different methods in my drafting library and being totally overwhelmed,  I  decided to try superimposing the Eureka  pant pattern over a Burda  pant  pattern that had the leg shape I wanted.  And that was this pattern.

"These mid rise boot cut trousers are ultra-flattering. They lengthen the leg with a slight flare. The back is left smooth but the front has decorative patch pockets for a finished look." The pattern is available for download at this link.       Burda Pant 10/2011 #127

  The first thing I did was establish the center line on the front and back pattern pieces, of both the Eureka pants and the Burda pants. I assumed both patterns had been drafted using standard pants drafting techniques, which puts the middle of the front halfway between the side and the crotch point.    And midway between the inseams and out seams from hem to knee on both front and back. Continue the  fold to waistline. This establishes the center on each piece, which should be parallel to the grain line. Note: grain line is often marked on the pattern, but is not necessarily in the center.

   I lined up the crotch line of both front patterns. This will work on pants styles where the crotch is worn/drafted at a normal level.   It would not necessarily work for culottes and wide leg pants which often have dropped crotches.   My front Eureka pattern matched the Burda pattern pretty closely, front crotch curve,  side seam and waist seam. That made me feel more comfortable about using this superimpose method   The back pattern piece is where all the differences were.

My bottom is low and flat so I do not need all the fabric, waistline darts, and the center back dart (back wedge)  needed for a higher, curvier bottom.  I used the Eureka pattern shape above the crotch line on the back. And the Burda leg shape below the crotch line.  Below is the Eureka pattern (pale yellow and outlined in green on top of the Burda flare pattern (white).



The fabric was purchased from Marcy Tilton a couple of years ago and supposedly it was used by a French company for pants.  The fabric has a tiny bit of stretch. It was sold by the panel and  expensive.  The border print ran along one end of the panel. There were some white (unprinted) spots in the print and the fabric was actually in my give away pile when I thought.."what have I got to lose…"  I did have to so some descrete piecing in the back crotch.

These pants have an interesting patch pocket with a welted opening.   I had the welt lines marked on the front pants pattern pieces when I decided to read the directions and discovered the welts were made in the patch pocket pieces.  Hmm nice design.  If you mess up the welts, the pants are not a loss.

1. Make welts in the patch pocket shape

welts basted in place

Welts sewn and basted shut with zigzag stitch

2.Sew lining to patch pocket shape on three sides.

lining sewn to patch pocket

3.In lining, cut slit under welts and hand sew  to  welt seam

Sew patch pocket to pant front. I used an edge stitch foot.

 A fun pair of pants with a retro flare!