Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Border Prints Blues (and Whites)!

(Normally you only see me here once a month, but this month I have two posts scheduled, this special post on border printed fabric, and next Wednesday's, which is still a surprise!)

In April, we had our annual school auction to raise money for our school.  Every year it has a theme, and every year I try to make a dress that will be an appropriate match for the theme.  The first year I sewed my own dress for the auction, it was a "Kentucky Derby" theme, and I chose to make a Burda 7137 dress.  The next year was a "Space" theme, so I chose to make a dress using a galaxy printed fabric using McCall's 2401.  This year was "My Big Fat Greek Auction," so in keeping with tradition, I made a dress.  ;-)


We were asked to try and wear blue and white, and I figured I had best get on finding some blue and white fabric, because even though I have a ridiculous stash of fabric at my house (thank you, Fabric Mart!), I didn't have any blue and white fabric.  Wha?  But fortunately for me, Fabric Mart at the same time I was searching for some fabric, had a GORGEOUS border printed (in what appears to be a dutch tile motif) stretch cotton sateen from Maggy London (used in a similar way as it turns out here and here for non-pinterest people).  Not much was left in stock, and I was lucky to get the two and a half yards I did, which was just enough to fashion a really special dress for the occasion.

With the fabric in hand, I decided I needed a special dress pattern to highlight the amazing border print.  I didn't need a lot of special seaming, but I did know that a princess seam would likely fit better, so I knew I wanted a princess seamed bodice.  I also knew that a full skirt would best show off the border print (or at least make a big impact), so I chose a pattern with that as a feature, too.  (I have seen some amazing shift dresses in a border print fabric, but because this fabric's border print was aligned so the stretch would be gone if I placed the border at the hem, I knew that my hips and I needed something less "wiggle" and more "full.")

I ended up choosing Vogue 1499, a cap-sleeve dress from Anne Klein.  The original version is on the cover of the pattern, but there are also other versions floating around, like this one.  The dress seemed to nicely fit what I desired, and even though I knew that I would have to work around some of the seaming with careful pattern placement on the fabric when cutting, that it would still look pretty and unique overall.


Because this was a border print fabric, I knew that I would have special challenges when working with it, and I can definitely say that these are things to keep in mind with most border print fabric projects.

1. This fabric, though a stretch cotton sateen, had the stretch only perpendicular to the selvedge.  The border print was placed parallel to the selvedge, which means that if I wanted to use the very ornate and dramatic border at the hem, I would have to negate the stretch wherever I placed it.  In my mind, I knew I wanted that super beautiful border at the hem of the skirt, so I knew that I would have to lose all stretch at the skirt, which is also where I hold my weight, in my hips and thighs.  This is why I specifically chose to not use a shift/sheath dress.  (However, it would work if I had placed the cool border going up and down the dress, which would still look awesome--especially with a center seam!)

2. The bodice retained the stretch because the pattern in the center was equal and spaced the same whether up or down.  I was relieved that I could make the bodice fairly fitted without losing comfort.

3.  I definitely had to watch how I placed my floral motifs.  Those suckers were big!  If I had placed them off by a bit here or there, it would have been immediately noticeable.  I think the time spent on that and the extra fabric use was very much worth it, though, since the motifs line up properly, and the skirt's hem is at the right spot on the leg.

4. I had to add pockets because the original didn't include pockets.  I think that's a shame, but because the Vogue markings are similar amongst patterns, I was able to take a pocket pattern piece from another Vogue dress and make it work.


The dress itself was straight forward enough to make (my pattern review is here), and the make was fairly quick and painless once started.  The cotton sateen sewed up very well, and this is why cotton sateen is my absolute favorite fabric to work with.  :-)


The hemming part was my favorite part since the hem was at the selvedge, it required no finishing, and it was easy to visually press up and pin into a proper position.  This is a bonus for working with border prints, so yeah!


I absolutely loved wearing it that night, and felt like I had definitely taken on the challenge of the "Big Fat Greek" auction well.

I look forward to reading more about your border print makes (include links to your photos, would love to see the projects!).

Talk with you all again next Wednesday!

P.S. If any you are just desperate for this exact fabric, the Maggy London/London Times dress does pop up on ebay, but I know most of you would prefer to make your own.  :-)

~Dina, My Superfluities.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Summer of T-Shirts: Choosing a Pattern & Other Supplies


Let the festivities begin! 

This is the first post in the Summer of T-shirts Event! In this post, I will share with you some of the best t-shirt patterns out there. This list by no means are the only ones available, but ones that I have either tried or know from other sewers that they are good sewing patterns. I'll also share with you some extra supplies you will need for the pattern hacking process. 

When doing a pattern hack, it is so important to start with a pattern that fits you. So the first step (after you pick out the pattern of course), is to make sure the pattern fits you. Use the fit method you're most comfortable with (I use the Palmer/Pletsch Tissue Fitting Method.) Then sew up the shirt without any pattern hacks. This will help you determine whether the shirt fits you and also gives you an idea of how it should be constructed. It's not easy pattern hacking something if you've never actually sewed the pattern before (especially for beginners). So don't skip this step in our event!

Here are some t-shirt pattern suggestions:

This is probably my most favorite knit t-shirt pattern There is really no need to tissue fit (if you choose that fit method) because the way you construct this pattern helps you fit it as you sew. Pamela gives you a lot of advice for every step of the process. I have pattern hacked this pattern (with and without the guidance of Pamela) and it's easy to alter and still looks great. Pamela has done some of the pattern hacking for us in a few of her other patterns.

The Classic T-Shirt Dress is a long version of the t-shirt pattern. It also includes sleeve, neckline and silhouette options as well as a color-blocking option. The Pretty Peplum Top is the t-shirt pattern with a peplum. New Necklines and Sleeves is a pattern that can be used with any of the patterns I listed above. Talk about easy peasy!



This is my favorite woven t-shirt pattern. It has a loose, somewhat boxy fit but is fitted at the shoulders so that it doesn't look like a tent. This pattern has been blogged about a lot and is a favorite in the sewing community. It's important to note that it is meant for wovens, but I'm sure stable knit fabrics would be ok too. Two years ago, in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge, I challenged the contestants to pattern hack this pattern. Check out their creations HERE



This is another great knit t-shirt pattern. I think what I like about this pattern is that it gives me practice using the Palmer/Pletsch tissue fitting method. The great thing about Palmer/Pletsch patterns are that they have all the alteration lines printed right on the tissue. There's no guesswork for where to draw the lines and it comes with instructions that will help you understand the tissue fitting method. It also comes with a few neckline and sleeve options.


I have not sewn this, but it is a favorite in the plus size sewing community. This pattern comes in size 12-28 and with sleeve, hem and neckline variations. 



Grainline Studio has made it on the list a second time for the knit t-shirt pattern, the Lark Tee. Comes with sleeve and neckline variations. I have not made this pattern before, but it gets good reviews from other sewers. Let us know what you think! 



Sewaholic Patterns are a favorite of many sewers and of course they have a basic shirt pattern. This comes with sleeve and neckline variations including a cowl neck! I have not made this pattern before, but there are loads of reviews out there. 



StyleArc has some of the most interesting and innovative patterns out there right now. It's easy to overlook a basic in their vast selection of patterns. I have not tried this pattern before, but one of our sewers will be sharing their pattern hack of this in a few weeks!




Other supplies
After you have a basic shirt pattern picked out, you'll want to make sure you have all the necessary supplies for "hacking" your pattern. 

1) Pattern Paper - I recommend two different kinds:

- Perfect Pattern Paper by Palmer/Pletsch  - This paper is the same paper used by McCall Pattern Company for all their patterns. It also has grid lines which make it easy to use (no need to measure!) 



- Medical Table Paper - You know when you go to the doctor and sit on the examining table? There is usually a roll of tissue paper on the table that they tear off when you leave the room. This paper is durable yet pliable to adjust to the curves on your body. It's great for tracing or drawing long continuous pieces. Steve's Sewing in King of Prussia, PA carries it and they just so happen to sell it online! (Pamela from Pamela's Patterns teaches classes there and recommends this paper too.)

2) Marking Pens, Pencils and Chalk - Have an array of different marking tools for both paper and fabric. 

3) Measuring tools - I recommend having small, hand held measuring tools and longer measuring tools for longer lines. The hand held tools are perfect for small measurements . 

4) Cutting tools and surface - Rotary cutters, scissors (paper and fabric). Don't forget to use the appropriate cutting surface such as a self healing mat if using a rotary cutter.

5) Pins

6) Scotch tape 

7) Ideas and imagination! We have created a board on our Pinterest page which features t-shirt hack ideas. Check it out HERE.




I hope this has inspired you to join us in the fun! Next week, Jenny will share a pattern hack on the Concord T-shirt by Cashmerette Patterns. Mark your calendars! 

Every Monday throughout the summer, we will share with you a pattern hack on a t-shirt pattern. I have lined up some of our Fabricistas as well as sewing experts such as Pamela from Pamela's Patterns! (And others, too!) 

Don't forget you can sew along with us at home. Share you t-shirt pattern hacks (new ideas you have and ideas that we have shared with you) on Facebook and Instagram using #FMSummerofTshirts. At the end of the summer, we will compile all the people that used the hashtag and you will be entered into a random drawing for $75 gift certificate to Fabric Mart!

Write your comments, I'd love to hear what you think of this. Do you have a favorite t-shirt pattern that was not mentioned? Share it with us!
See you next week! 
~ Julie

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Little White Dress

Monday is the official start of summer! It has actually felt like summer here for a few weeks and I'm excited because this is my favorite time of year.

I love this bright graffiti wall!
What do you think of when you think of summer? I envision warm weather, road trips, ice cream and beaches. Fashion wise I think red, white and blue, linen, challis, gingham, floral, nautical, sundresses, maxi skirts, sunnies, floppy hats, espadrilles and sandals.


With all those thoughts I was having a hard time narrowing down what to make this month, but then it hit me...What screams summer more than a flirty, white sundress? Nothing!


Choosing fabric was a no-brainer because linen is basically the official fabric of summer. Besides I'd been trying to make up an excuse think of a reason to grab some of Fabric Mart's designer linen for some time now. While I love Fabric Mart for their very detailed photos of each fabric but this time it was the description just grabbed my attention.
"A designer quality, 100% linen in a light-medium weight. With a plainweave, it has a natural look with thick and thin yarns typically found in linen fabrics. It has a crisp, yet soft hand and with a gentle wash, will get softer over time. It is semi-sheer when held up to the light, but does not require a lining. This is THE linen to have for all your linen garment projects."




















Now onto the pattern. I love dresses so I have more dress patterns than I care to admit (please don't make me count).  Though I feel I can never have enough, often times too much of a good thing makes it difficult for me to select my next project. Several dresses have been on my "must make" list for a over a year but this recent addition won out. A sewsista gifted me with Simplicity 8136, which is actually a sportswear pattern consisting of a peplum top and shorts/capris. The top is what I really love, but already have a few peplum tops so I decided the top would be great a dress with a simple modification!




Initially I wanted to sew up view A, the criss-cross back, but I didn't want to deal with a potential bra strap issue so I went with view B. The top pattern features darts at the bust and the waist resulting in a close fit bodice. Though the description of the linen as "semi-sheer but does not require lining" is accurate, I decided to fully line the bodice for a couple of reasons. One because it was white (in a darker color this would be totally unnecessary) and two because the pattern calls for it. The bodice took a little time as there are 12 darts in total (including the lining). There was also some hand stitching the lining at the shoulders.


For the skirt I added 13" to the peplum front and back piece to achieve a knee length skirt (total 23"), you could certainly add more or less based on your preference. I skipped the lining for the skirt and folded over about 1/2" twice and hemmed. Circle skirts can be tricky to hem. My favorite way to tackle this challenge is to use bias tape for a clean edge. Unfortunately I didn't have any white bias tape in my sewing room and I was to impatient to wait and buy some the next day.







Though I desire for the inside of my garments to be finished they do not have to be perfect. So for the sake of time I usually baste the bottom of a bodice (fabric and lining)and attach it to the skirt as one piece and then serge for a clean finish. For this dress I chose to hand sew the bodice to the waist seam for a very clean finish. This linen is so nice I felt it deserved this treatment. This was my first time inserting a side zipper which I had avoided though I'm not sure why. It was the same process as any other invisible zipper. I did like the fact that the side zipper allowed for a smooth back.







I am in love with this dress and can't wait for someone to throw an all white party so I can wear it! I could have graded out to a size larger at the waist and I still would have preferred a bias tape hem.

Can you tell I love this dress?!
I absolutely love this linen! It is indeed high quality and flows beautifully. So much so that I couldn't help but twirl. The only thing to note is be careful when pinning. If you have wonder clips that would be great, I don't so I just use sharp pins to prevent snagging the natural fibers. The fabric sewed up great. It does fray but not uncontrollably, I simply serged my free edges and had no issues. I see more of this linen in my future, most likely the red and avocado. If you were thinking about this ordering this linen, DO IT! Take a look at all the color options here.

I couldn't stop twirling.
~ Tiffany from Frougie Fashionista