Tuesday, September 26, 2017


My local sewing group had several fall sewing challenges. The Richmond ASG group had a One Yard Challenge with a deadline of late Sept.  Rules: take a  one  yard piece of 45” wide white cotton fabric and use your creativity to color it, embellish it, and  make something from it. No other fabric could be used.  The ASG Fashion Focus Neighborhood Group has an  Art to Wear Challenge due in Nov.   I tend to like challenges. Put a objective and deadline in front of me and I begin to plan and focus.  Unlike my personal sewing when I can spend days being indecisive about my next project because of too many pattern and fabric choices. 

I decided to combine the objectives for both challenges and make an art to wear garment from one yard of fabric.

 A 45" wide piece of fabric will fit around my bust with lots of ease or my hips with not a lot of ease.  So the garments choices were limited to a sleeveless top, vest or a tight straight skirt.  I decided to try and use as many  fabric dying and  embellishment techniques as possible from recently purchased Craftsy classes, to ease my buyer's guilt

I chose Vogue pattern 1515, the Sandra Betzina “pop top”   for the garment.

Here is the finished top.
Jungle Dusk Front

Jungle Dusk Back

 How did I do it?

I looked through my fabric dyes for inspiring colors.  I decided to go the easy route and use some bottled Rit dye rather than my other dyes which require mixing and chemical additives.

• Dyed 1 yard Kona cotton fabric with Rit Cobalt Blue,
• Dip dyed one edge of fabric with Rit Black dye. 

• Checked that the front, back and neck pattern pieces would fit on the fabric. No room for hem or armhole facings pattern pieces – would need to think about solutions for that later.

The colors of the fabric inspired a Jungle at Dusk theme and got me thinking about how the plants and jungle creatures would look at night in moonlight.

• Made leaf shaped  stamps of varied sizes and orientations from foam meat packaging trays.  They were easy to cut out with scissors. I glued them to scrap wooden blocks from DH’s wood stash. (wood stashes are not near as exciting as fabric stashes)

• Printed leaf shapes over dark border of fabric using metallic black and pewter acrylic craft paint.

• Backed border area with Floriani Tacky ...Water Soluble Stabilizer which would provide  firmness while  embellishing, but it would wash out later. 

• Sewed phragmites type grass between the printed leaves, using blue cotton quilting thread and fringe  pressure foot.  How To Use A Fringe / Looper Foot

• Made cloud shapes in sky area using different blue shades of Decolourant Plus,  a non bleach color remover that replaces the removed color with another color.  I used long skinny shapes torn from soft open cell packing material, from my new laptop, for my cloud stamp.

• Created pink color under clouds using magenta Sharpie and isopropyl alcohol, which makes the Sharpie ink spread. See youTube for Sharpie ink related fabric crafts.  Sharpie Dyed Fabric

• Created flight paths for flying creatures using machine stitching with metallic thread. Sewed glass and wing shaped beads to end of flight paths to create the flying bugs.

• Backed collar piece with Tacky ...Water Soluble Stabilizer. Used decorative machine stiches and variegated thread to embellish collar.    Hand sewed star shaped beads and bead groupings to collar piece.

• Created vines using two different cords; blue tubular yarn and gray and white parachute cording.  Intertwined them by hand and hand stitched in place.

• Hanging flowers on vines were created with  thread bundles of pink metallic cotton embroidery floss and 1” circles cut from thin leather.  The pink thread bundles were machine tacked to leather circle using a wide zig zag with 0 length (used to sew on buttons by machine). Grey rayon thread was looped over vine. Bottom ends of loop were sewn to leather circle. The front of the leather circle was folded over the loop cord and fiber bundle to hide all the attachment threads,  and secured by leather adhesive.

• Assembled the top. Finished the armholes with bias binding cut and pieced from remaining scraps. Faced the back hem (because it hangs longer than front and can be seen) also pieced from scraps.  Turned up 5/8" hem on the front.


Some techniques, like sewing beads on fabric by machine,  require practice to be successful, and I need more practice. Great book. All Beaded Up by Machine .
I  need a stronger eyeglass prescription if I am going to hand bead at night.
I really need to  explore all the decorative stitches on my machine.
Decorative threads are expensive. 
Keep fabric backed with water soluble stabilizer away from the  glass of iced tea, covered in condensation, sitting next to your sewing machine. What a ooy gooy mess.

Overall I had a lot of fun and the top turned out to be very wearable.

And as a added bonus, it won first prize in the challenge.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Blossom Blouse - Vogue 1387

This Vogue  Rebecca Taylor pattern is very popular, and there are many makes of both views to be seen on the Internet.

I made view B from red silk crepe printed with cherry blossoms.

The fabric was purchased from an Etsy vendor. I had already picked out the pattern with I googled “cherry blossom print silk” on a whim and found this picture of a ready to wear blouse in the exact same fabric. And look, a great styling idea. Worn over red leather shorts!  Ha ha!

This blouse was also  a popular blouse in the wardrobe dept. of several TV shows. Parks and Rec and a Soap opera.

 I love the print, but silk crepe can be a challenge to work with because it likes to move and shift at the slightest breath of air. This particular blouse pattern has a ¼ inch bias cut strip inserted between the front yoke and bodice pieces.  Maybe cut from a shirting fabric, the bias strip would have stayed the same width while sewing it to the yoke and bodice. But cut from silk crepe, it changed width at  the slightest touch.

With patience,  the help of lightweight fusible interfacing, and lots of hand basting, I was able to insert the band at the proper width. But for any future versions of this top,  I will cut the front yoke using the yoke lining pattern, which includes the width of the ¼ “ strip,  and  omit the strip itself.  I went ahead with the recommended snap fasteners on the front placket and cuffs to avoid making buttonholes in the light weight fabric. I personally hate to sew on snaps. They are awkward to hold in place while sewing, my thread always tangles, and my stitches are messy. I watched Sarah Veblen’s Youtube video   Sewing Snaps onto Garments where she provided tips to deal with the issues I have. She used a blanket stitch to securely sew the snaps to the fabric. I realized I had seen the same technique in a Claire Shaeffer book long ago.   Even though I have been sewing forever, techniques can be forgotten and refreshers are good. The phrase "You can teach an old dog new tricks" sprang to mind.