Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Made By a Fabricista - How to Get Fleeced (and enjoy it!)


~Do you go out shopping on Black Friday?  While Black Friday is the official start of the holiday shopping season, for me, it is the official start of the holiday sewing season!  I usually stay home and start my gift giving sewing. 

I love to sew pajama pants and robes for holiday presents.  They are easy to fit, easy to sew, and easy to personalize.  You can make it in someone's favorite color, or if they have a special interest, choose a fabric that reflects that.  If you're in a cold climate, you can use fleece or flannel, and if you're in a warm climate, you can use lightweight knits or cottons.  Men, women, boys, girls- you can really make everyone happy with a new robe and pajamas!






Although I make them for my family, I had not made myself a robe and pajamas for years, so, I decided to treat myself to a new set.    I live in Illinois where we can get bitterly cold winters, so I chose Fabric Mart's sky blue polar fleece for my robe.  It seemed like such a cheery color that it would brighten up grey winter mornings.   This is a higher quality fleece than the fleeces you can find in the chain stores.  It is light, stretchy and velvety soft. 



For the robe, I used McCall's 5769, but added 13 inches to the length.  Robes are a really great project for beginners, but there are some tricks that will help you get a nice result.  My trick for making both the pockets and the placket is to interface them with a lightweight knit interfacing, then use wonder tape to adhere the stitching area.   If you've not used Wonder Tape before, you must try this stuff!   I use it all of the time in sewing.  It's a double sided tape that will wash away the first time you wash your garment.  It take the place of pins, and it is ideal for sewing on pockets, zippers, or anything that you don't want to shift at all when you are sewing. 


I used a double needle to topstitch the pocket to the robe, and to stitch the front band down.




For the pajamas, I used a rayon lycra knit called Marker Stripe.  I loved the saturated colors in the stripes.  It's very loosely knitted, and stretches like crazy.  It shrunk about 20% after I washed it, so I didn't have quite enough yardage to make what I had planned.  But, luckily, it had 4 way stretch, so I was able to rotate some of the pieces to fit on what I had. I used McCalls 7061 for the pattern.  This is a really cute pattern with several variations on the standard hoodie plus shorts, pants, and booties.  Because my fabric was so super stretchy, there were a couple of things that I did to stabilize it to make it easier to sew.  


First, I interfaced the kangaroo pocket with a piece of lightweight knit interfacing.  This helps to  keep knit pockets from bagging out, and it also helps to keep the edges  from waving.  After I interfaced it, I turned under all of the edges, and then used Wonder Tape to attach the edges to the shirt front.





The second trick was sewing in a twill tape in the neckline seam that connects the shirt to the hood.  This area was going to stretch out of shape unless I added in something to stabilize it.  Twill tape is a soft, inexpensive way to stabilize.  Just feed it into the serger as you are sewing the seam.






The bootie pattern was a little vague on the sizing, and I cut the Large because I wear a size 9 shoe.  It ended up being HUGE, and I ended up cutting it down a couple of sizes to fit better.  I used my old fleece robe for the black lining in the booties.   They are still big, but I think I'll be doing more lounging than walking in them, so they'll work fine for that.  I used a cute gripper fabric with feet for the bottoms.





I’m SEW happy to have my new pajamas, robe and booties!   What presents do you like to sew for your holiday gift giving?  




Have a great holiday weekend!


~Ann

Thanks Ann! I love this, especially those extra cute booties! Can you make me a set next? :-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Made By A Fabricista - "Boden" Skirt with Shetland Wool


And our next new Fabricista is.....Diane from Gatorbunny Sews! Some of you might remember Diane from last year's Fashion Challenge. We loved her style and are excited to have her here back on the blog.


~My Pinterest boards, like many of yours, are full of all sorts of “wanna wears” and “wanna makes”.  If you were to look at my boards you might say “This girl likes Boden clothing". Their clothes are classic but fun and their fabrics are never boring, something that speaks to the sewist in me.



Although it’s been unseasonably hot for a while where I live, I've been wanting to make something for winter and what better project than a Boden inspired skirt.  And I love this one!  It’s cute, classic, easy to wear and it gives me the opportunity to use wool, one of my favorite fabrics to sew with.



small plaid Shetland wool from Fabricmart  in muted violets and purples won out as my fabric choice but I would've been happy with this one or this one too (always the problem...choosing just one).  Shetland is a medium weight springy wool, that’s soft and easy to sew.  It doesn't fray and when you pin and sew, the fabric pieces want to stay together.




I chose Butterick 4686 View C skirt and made just a few changes.  I shortened the pattern 4” and lined it. I changed the order of construction by attaching yokes to the skirts on both the front and the back, putting the zipper in the back and  finally sewing up the side seams.  That way, I was allowed to make last minute fitting adjustments along the side seams without pulling the yokes apart. 



When working with a medium weight fabric, it's important to reduce bulk wherever possible.  I cut away the seam allowances on the fusible woven yoke interfacing and graded all seams.  Instead of using the outer for the facing (as the pattern called for) I used lining fabric.  It made for a smoother and less bulky yoke.  And any way I can make my middle section “less bulky”, I’ll do it (especially if it doesn't  involve giving up Reese’s peanut butter cups).



There are a hundred tutorials on how to put an invisible zipper in so I don’t need to cover that here, but for this pattern it was important to line up not only the skirt top but also the yoke. 



I sewed one leg of the zipper in, then closed the zipper.  I made a small chalk mark at the yoke seam (see above).  I then pinned the other leg of the zipper, making sure to match the chalk mark to the opposite yoke seam, then I basted it in.  




I checked to make sure everything matched, then sewed it in.  Can’t beat that for matched up seams.


So, my new favorite “Boden” skirt (for a fraction of the price!) is the first winter piece I made this season. Great way to break the ice, don't you think...so to speak?



Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Made By A Fabricista - Packable Wardrobe Part II


After receiving word from Fabric Mart that I could make up McCall's 6884 in the beautiful olive, brown, and silver wool sweater knit that I fell in love with over at their site, I decided that an outfit was in order, and that I would make the other pieces of this outfit.  I had some stash fabric for the tunic/top I made, but I knew I wanted to make an a-line skirt of something very fall-like, but that also wouldn't cost me a pretty penny to buy.



Literally the next day after receiving word that I would be using the sweater knit, I saw that a "buy the piece" Shetland wool in a pink and brown houndstooth came up for sale.  I love Fabric Mart's  "Buy the Piece" category, there are some amazing hidden gems there.  You don't get to choose the yardage, but all the pieces in that category are super discounted.  For instance, this bit of pink and brown Shetland wool normally sells for $25 a yard (though it is on sale today for $15--woo!), but the "buy the piece" I bought was for $10 for 3/4 yard.  So quite a bit of savings!  And after I received it, I noticed that the cut was closer to 7/8 yard, so a bit of a bonus on top of it.  

So after you count in the fabric costs, this skirt comes to around $15, since the lining came in a free bundle from Fabric Mart and the fabric on the waistband was from my stash (and I only used the wee-est amount).  I would call that a successful sewing project.  I know for a fact skirts like this, fully lined, with pockets, and in a thick Shetland wool (seriously so thick and warm), retail for closer to $100 and more at places like Boden and J. Crew.  On sale, at the very end of the season, you might be able to get a skirt like this for closer to $50, but by then all the sizes and colors have been picked over, especially ones in a fun color like this one is.  ;-)  Yay for sewing!



The one issue I had, and it is minor, is that I did have to carefully choose both the pattern I wanted to use and the placement of the pattern on the fabric.  I didn't want a pencil skirt, I knew I wanted an a-line, so that immediately limited me.  Many of my a-line skirt patterns are too full and so would not have worked with this amount of fabric, but Simplicity 2152 (http://www.simplicity.com/p-6164-misses-skirts.aspx
) is a perfect a-line silhouette, a bit fitted at the top and flaring towards the hem.  I was making this skirt up at the same time that Sewing Pattern Review was having their a-line skirt contest (http://sewing.patternreview.com/Patterns/68967) and I kept wondering which of the beauties I saw were based on this awesome (but sadly out of print) pattern.

Unfortunately I didn't have quite enough fabric for the patch pockets the pattern calls for, but I figured I could add inseam pockets to the skirt from the lining.  That worked out fine, though they gap a bit.  I definitely plan on using the patch pockets next time I make this pattern up.  Fortunately my lining fabric looks really nice with the houndstooth wool, so it is just a cool flash of contrasting fabric, but because I am persnickety, it does bother me a touch.




One of the things I did have to be careful of was placing the houndstooth properly with the pattern pieces.  In the end I chose to match brown houndstooth to the singular notches, and surprisingly, it worked quite well.  There are only a few places where the houndstooth doesn't line up, and overall the effect is that the plaid is properly aligned throughout!  Yay!




The skirt pattern is flattering for all shapes, but I love it on my pear shape since it highlights my narrower waist but gently falls over my larger hips and thighs.  I do have a very high waist and all skirts start super high on me, if the waistband is fitted.  I don't mind how high it hits on my body, but I want to emphasize that on most women, the waistband will fall much lower.  I made the view C of this skirt, and though it is meant to be almost knee-length, even with a 5/8" hem allowance, it falls above my knees.  Again, most women won't have to worry about this.  It is particular to my 5'8", high-waisted self.  

I made up the size 14, and it fits fine.  There are a lot of seams in this project, and if you so desire, the seams can be used to better fit this skirt to your particular frame.  The seams make sewing it up take a while longer (especially if you line it and use the same pieces as your basis for the lining), but again the time is worth it.  Seems most of my sewing ends with the phrase, "but the time was worth it!"  LOL.

I love how the lining looks, even if I know I could have sewn it in better.  I am still learning how to properly (and RTW) finish the insides of my garments, but slowly I am learning.  I love the mix of fabrics, even if the inside is less tidy than I want it to be.  I want to point out that the stash fabric I used for the interior waistband is the same print as the tunic/top, but instead of being the rayon knit, it is a very sturdy bottomweight made from cotton/lycra/poly.  The waistband is very sturdy and stands up well.  The mix of heavyweight wool/interfacing/bottomweight cotton is a good one.  It is a pain to properly trim and turn and sew (especially the hand sewing, eek), but again, "worth all the effort."  ;-)




Anyhow, I hope that you all will consider looking in the "buy the piece" category, especially at the smaller cuts!  It is possible to make something for you from these, you just have to be very crafty and careful with what you choose!  

Have a great day!  If you want to see the original blog post I wrote on the entire look, go to this blog post (http://blog.fabricmartfabrics.com/2014/11/made-by-fabricista-sewing-fall-packable.html

)!