Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sew Along: Track Jacket Complete!

I finished my jacket! I kept working until I was finished, there was no stopping! I am really happy with the way it turned out. You know what I love most about it? The top-stitching! Almost every single seam on this jacket is top-stitched, which I love and hate. I love it because it creates a really finished look. I hate it because if the jacket does not fit correctly, then you have to take not only the seam apart, but the top-stitching. Thankfully I only had to do that at the shoulder seams because it was a little bulkier than I preferred. I also really liked the princess seams. Not only is it a casual jacket, but it is a little more flattering than your average fleece jacket or hoodie.






So how did I finish it? After sewing the side seams onto the front pieces, I put together the sleeve pieces. The jacket has dolman sleeve look. The sleeve is made from four different pieces, which are top-stitched. 




I sewed the front shoulder to the top of the sleeve, then the back shoulder to the other side of the sleeve. This will allow you to sew the jacket together at the side seams. I ended up using about a 1" seam allowance because it was a little bigger than I wanted. I tapered the seam allowance at the hip and just before the cuff of the sleeve. 

The sleeve is the middle piece in this photo. 

After the side seams were sewn, I attached the waistband, collar and sewed the zipper in. That's it! Like I mentioned in my first post, I think this jacket could take an afternoon to sew up. It was so easy. It might have been easy because it is not something that is form fitting, but it feels like it should be harder than it was. 



I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone. The fabric itself went together really well. One suggestion I have would be to not stretch the fabric too much. It will stretch a little bit while sewing, but don't pull at it. You may get a puckered look when you top-stitch over your seams. The pattern was easy for me to understand, but I'm not sure if it would be good for a beginner. I felt like you should know something about garment construction because of the terms they used and having to flip back and forth between the written instructions and visual instructions on separate papers. 




Monday, November 25, 2013

Sew Along: Track Jacket - Sewing a Welt Pocket

Progress on my track jacket has been going really well. I'm thinking this project could take an afternoon to whip up, but because I'm sewing for an hour here, an hour there, it's taking a little longer. I was interested in seeing how the pockets on this jacket were sewn. This is the first time I've done a welt pocket, so I thought I would share it with you.

The pattern piece that you are going to sew the pocket to is the front piece. It looks like this:


Taking the welt pattern piece, fold the welt in half lengthwise, zig-zag along raw edge. I found that the fleece knit stretch pretty good when doing this. I would recommend to not stretch it so that it does not pull at the front piece after sewing.

Stay-stitch around the pocket opening. Pin the welt to the pocket opening, right sides together. Sew along the long edge, making sure to sew next to your zig-zag stitch. You don't want the zig zag to show on your finished pocket!



Pin ends of the welt to the short sides of the opening. I had to think about this one for a minute, but once you play around with the fabric, the light bulb will go off!



This is what the pocket looks like after the welt is stitched in. (Without top-stitching.)




Top-stitch around the pocket. (This picture actually shows after the front has been sewn to the side front piece. This step will come later.)



Now that the pocket welt is complete, it's time to sew the pocket lining on. The pattern suggests that you cut the lining out of the same fabric as the rest of the pattern. I was afraid it would create too much bulk in the front, so I selected a rayon knit for the lining. (After selecting it, I think I would have gone with something a little heavier, like a ponte knit. The rayon knit stretches a lot and seems like it might stretch out if I put too much stuff in the pockets.) Pin the right side of the pocket lining to the wrong side of the front piece. Stitch around the entire pocket, keeping the welt section open. 

The welt section is on the left of this picture. 

Finally, you can pin the side front to the front, making sure to catch only the pocket lining at the welt. There you have it---a completed welt pocket!


After you sew the side front, top stitch along the seam. Almost every single seam in this pattern gets top-stitched! (I love ready-to-wear touches!) I'm hoping I can finish the jacket tonight! Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Sew Along: Track Jacket

A few weeks ago, one of our suppliers came in with some fleece samples. I have to admit, fleece does not excite me but when I saw this fleece-backed knit, I fell. in. love. I never thought I would fall in love with fleece, of all things, but this was such nice quality and I loved the knit/fleece combo. I was so excited about starting this project that I went home that night and I searched through my pattern stash and many pattern websites until I found the perfect pattern for this fleece. I came across Jalie Pattern #2795, a zip-front jacket and hoodie. I loved the ready-to-wear look of the pattern. I find that jackets like this tend to be really oversized by other pattern companies, and I did not want that. Since this was my first Jalie Pattern, I glanced through Pattern Review to see if anyone else used it. It got good reviews and everyone seemed to looked great in their jacket! I didn't have any local sources for purchasing the pattern, so I ordered it from an eBay store.

Since Jalie Patterns is new to me, I thought it probably is for others as well! I'm going to do a mini Sew-Along featuring some information about Jalie Patterns and my process in working with this pattern and the fabric itself.

When the fabric arrived, I cut about 2 1/2 yards off the roll, just like the pattern called for. I selected UUC0419 - Purple Fleece Knit. This type of fleece knit comes in other colors, you can check them out here.



When I opened up the pattern, I was surprised to see that every single size came in one pattern. This pattern is for girls through women's sizes, so there were tiny pattern pieces! It was hard to imagine something so small! (I don't have kids yet, and have not made anything for children before!) 



I cut out size 12, so I cut on the Y line. The directions are also printed on the same page as the pattern paper, so I cut those out and hung them on my pattern clips. In a Jalie Pattern, the written directions are separate from the visual directions. The written directions refer you to which picture to follow. Jalie Patterns also want you to use a 1/4" seam allowance, which is included in the pattern measurements.


I bought this hanger at Ikea. It is perfect to hang pattern directions and pattern pieces!

Now comes laying out the pattern on the fabric! I was surprised to see how they wanted you to lay out your pattern pieces. They actually had you laying them out right next to the pattern piece you would be sewing them to. I actually really liked that. You would do something like this when using fabric with a plaid, stripe, etc. But because this fleece is basically solid, there was not a need to do this. I did it anyway, it was nice to be able to visualize which pattern pieces go together.



Stay tuned, I'm on to cutting out the pattern pieces, then on to sewing! Until next time...happy sewing!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

And the winner is...

Congratulations, Shannon!
She won $25.00 a month for one year to spend on fabric at Fabric Mart (worth $300!) Plus! She will become a Fabricista on our blog, posting once a month and receive a Julie's Picks Membership!




Second Place: 
Congratulations, Diane!
She won a $100 Gift Certificate and a Julie's Picks Membership. 



Third Place: 
Congratulations, Kathy!
She won a $50 Gift Certificate and Julie's Picks Membership.


Thank you to all of our participants!
 We cannot thank you enough for all of your hard work and creativity in our challenge.
It has been such a hard decision! Everyone was so wonderful!


Visit the blog on Saturday to join Julie in a jacket sew-along using our cozy polar fleece!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Final Challenge!

This is it! The final week!

Before we get on to the final challenge, we have to thank many people:

- All 10 of our contestants--- We obviously couldn't have done it without them! They were an amazing group of talented women who devoted a lot of their sewing time to this challenge! We cannot thank them enough!

- Our Viewers - We hope the viewers had as much fun as we did seeing what the contestants made each week. Thank you for your votes, comments and support!

- To our employees - A group of ladies who work in our store assisted in the second part of the voting process. Some with a lot of sewing experience, some without any sewing experience, but they took it very seriously. We thank them for taking some time out of their busy schedule to assist in the voting process.

Being that this was our first challenge like this, we learned a lot along the way and we appreciate everyone's patience. One of the hardest things was to send someone home. We wish everyone could win! We hope EVERYONE had fun! Would you want to see us host a fashion challenge again?


Now on to the challenge...

We asked the final three to create 3 pieces that can be worn together as one outfit or 2 outfits that could be worn to the same event. Using the Pantone Fall Color Chart, select 2 fall colors to inspire your outfit. 



The First Place Winner will receive $25.00 a month for one year to spend on fabric at Fabric Mart (worth $300!) Plus! You will become a Fabricista on our blog and become a Julie's Picks Member!

The Second Place Winner will receive a $100 Gift Certificate and a Julie's Picks Membership. 

The Third Place Winner will receive a $50 Gift Certificate and Julie's Picks Membership.



Kathy from Kathy Sews







Emerald and Mykonos Blue from the Fall Pantone Color Report  inspired my outfit-- but I couldn't help but add in a bit of Carafe.  I put together a veritable United Nations of sewing patterns with designs from Brazil, Germany and the Netherlands.  The fully lined floral Emerald skirt is from the Brazilian pattern magazine Manequim-- the front, back and the waist all have pleating details. The blouson Mykonos Blue inspired top from the German magazine Burda is fully lined with a subtle paisley pattern.  I topped it all off with a cozy ponte knit blazer from Dutch pattern magazine, My Image. The knit blazer is an amazing alternative to a cardigan!  My goal was to sew with a bold color palette, make an outfit with three easy to wear separates and to be able to mix and match each item with many other garments already in my wardrobe.     



Shannon from Shanni Loves




Acai (deep purples) and Samba (vibrant reds), these were the two colors I chose from the Fall 2013 Pantone Palette.  I spotted these two hanging out together on this beautiful floral charmeuse.  For the bow blouse pattern I used retro Simplicity 2154.  The back of the blouse has a keyhole button opening, side lapped zipper and the bow is lightly interfaced for structure.  I paired this blouse with a blackberry cotton sateen pencil skirt.  I used the pencil skirt pattern from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing.  When I started to assemble the skirt I noticed there was a line of discoloration running straight down the center of the fabric.  With no extra fabric to spare I improvised and used a faux leather strap from an old handbag to cover up the discoloration.  This turned out to be a fun detail to the skirt.  For my third piece I decided upon Burdastyle's short jacket pattern 106a.  My original plan was to make a plain black cardigan because I was rather scared to tackle my first jacket but when I spotted this wool houndstooth at Joann's it would not let me leave the store without him.  I'm glad too because I think this houndstooth jacket is the perfect contrast to my outfit.  I narrowed the sleeves 1 inch and drafted my own sleeve heads.  The jacket is fully lined  with a rayon bemberg.  If you would like to see more pictures of my complete outfit please visit my blog Shanni Loves.  
I would like to thank everyone at Fabric Mart for hosting this challenge.  It has been a lot of hard work at times but very rewarding.  I've learned a lot, grown a lot in my skill and have a lot more clothes to wear! 




Diane from Gatorbunny Sews









Back in Jr. high, my dear friend Adi (who is still my dear friend) complimented me on my purple pants.  Any compliment given to an insecure Jr. high kid is a treasure but for me, this was really big since....I had two pair.  Some may think it was excessive to have had two fifths of my pant wardrobe be purple but for me and many other girls, purple is a neutral.  When I saw purple on the Pantone color chart I knew I needed to head back to my fashion "roots" and make some updated purple pants.

For this final challenge, I chose acai (Pantone purple) and samba (Pantone red) to put a twist on a classic outfit every girls needs: a trench coat, chinos and classic white blouse.  The fully lined cotton sateen coat was inspired by a Marc Jacobs print trench and has a large rounded collar and trim on the 3/4 length sleeves and placket. It's lined in a red silk/cotton blend and the lining and facings are piped with black rick rack.  The slim chino pants are made from a purple stretch cotton with two welt pockets on the back and a curved waistband.  The sleeveless shell has pleats at the center front and is finished with french seams, self bias binding and pleated trim around the neckline.  For more information on inspiration and construction please check out my blog.

I have thoroughly enjoyed participating in these challenges and seeing what the other seamstresses make.  It's made me a better seamstress, stimulated my creativity and boosted my wardrobe!  I want to thank everyone at Fabric Mart for this opportunity and I particularly want to thank all of the ladies who have participated. Your work inspires me!



Voting Closed.
No one will go home this week! 
But only one will become a Fabric Mart Fabricista!
The fabricista will have a chance to actively write for our blog.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Final Challenge Announced!

3 Piece Outfit/Collection
This is unfortunately our last challenge for the season.
We are so thankful for everyone who supported and participated in our challenge!
We are down to our final three who are going to compete for our Grand Prizes!

3 Seamstresses will compete in this challenge.
You will have two weeks to complete this challenge.
Challenge: Create 3 pieces that can be worn together as one outfit or 2 outfits that could be worn to the same event. Using the Pantone Fall Color Chart, select 2 fall colors to inspire your outfit. 
You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, use of color, and fit. 

The First Place Winner will receive $25.00 a month for one year to spend on fabric at Fabric Mart (worth $300!) Plus! You will become a Fabricista on our blog!

The Second Place Winner will receive a $100 Gift Certificate and a Julie's Picks Membership. 

The Third Place Winner will receive a $50 Gift Certificate and Julie's Picks Membership.


Julie's Picks is a Monthly Mailer that has information about trends, sewing tips, and SWATCHES! Touch and feel the fabrics selected by one of our Fabricistas, Julie. 
You will receive a packet of swatches for 30 fabrics you can choose from at a special price.
Also, you will receive a newsletter written by Julie. 
For more information or to become a member, visit our website.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seventh Challenge Winner Announced!

Congratulations, Diane! 
Great job coordinating prints!
Diane will receive a Julie's Picks Membership!
Visit our website for more information about our Julie's Picks 

Unfortunately we need to send someone home. It is so hard to send someone home this week! 
Everyone has worked so hard and has done such a great job with their garments.
But yet, this is a competition and there can only be one grand prize winner.
We will miss Audrey! She has made great pieces throughout, but her print design received the lowest score this week. Keep on sewing, Audrey! 

The final challenge will be announced on Saturday!
You don't want to miss this!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Seventh Challenge: Mixing Prints

For this challenge we asked our designers to do something terrifying, mix prints!
For added fun, we asked them to style their shoots this week with a theme.
They will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, how well the prints go together, their images, garment personality, and fit.

The winner will receive a Julie's Picks Membership. 

Julie's Picks is a Monthly Mailer that has information about trends, sewing tips, and SWATCHES! Touch and feel the fabrics selected by one of our Fabricistas, Julie. 
You will receive a packet of 30 fabric swatches that are only available to members including exclusive discounts. You also automatically become a Premium member! An email newsletter is also included in the membership. 
Also, you will receive a newsletter written by Julie. 
For more information or to become a member, visit our website.

Vote for your favorite design below! 
This challenge will determine the final three that will compete for the grand prizes.


Diane from Gatorbunny Sews




Someone very wise once said to me "Every American should collect something."  I never asked him to clarify what he meant but it made sense to me because in my heart I've always been a collector.  My collections have brought me pleasure both in the process of collecting and in the enjoyment of owning. So for all of you out there.....I'm not a fabric hoarder.

I'm a fabric collector. 
It sounds classier doesn't it?  So for this challenge I had the pleasure of "collecting" two fabric prints and making a dress to go antique collecting.  You want to be me, right?

The quaint circle, historic buildings and charming treasures of the Old Towne Orange Antique District provided inspiration for this vintage-inspired shirtdress.  I mixed a 100% rayon challis in teal, acid green and white with a 100% cotton voile in greens, blues and purple to make a midi length dress with a mandarin collar, elastic waist and 3/4 length rolled sleeves.  The yoke of the dress has pin tucks, a trio of antique buttons and delicate blue and green ribbon trim.  It's a fun and feminine dress for a day of antique shopping.  

For more pictures and info on this dress and it's inspiration please visit my blog.


Kathy from Kathy Sews




My concept: A walk in the woods during Autumn's peak season.  Fall is hands down my favorite time of year--  I absolutely love a stroll on a cool, crisp day so I'd need a jacket and a comfy dress.  I sewed up a fully lined cape jacket with a self drafted hood along with a knit dress.  I made an unexpected pattern choice matching a Aztec style design with an abstract fall-time print.  The warm autumnal colors tie them together perfectly! The cape is made from a heavy wool blend coating and lined with a dark brown poly material while the dress is a heavier weight poly/spandex knit.  I really put this outfit to the test as it was a blustery and cool 45F while I hiked through the woods on my photo shoot-- I was comfy and warm!  See more photos and about my process on my blog Kathy Sews.  


Audrey from Sew Tawdrey




Mixed prints are a fun fashion trend. This challenge, to make an outfit of mixed prints, was an excuse to delve into my fabric stash and look at the print fabrics in a whole new way. I normally store fabric by fabric content or by color schemes (for SWAP planning).  Pulling all the prints out the storage bins and throwing them on the table to look for inspired pairings created a giant colorful mess.  What fun!
Rather than mixing multiple prints in one garment, I chose to make separates that could be combined in a mixed print outfit, but that would also work with other pieces of my wardrobe. I made three garments.  The three piece outfit consists of a floral print stretch sateen pencil skirt, a fit and flare cotton top in a batik print, and a lined jacket in a black and white silk tweed . The top and skirt can be worn without the jacket, but I like the finished, dressier look it gives the outfit. I plan to wear it to the Visual Art Studio (VisArts) Patron’s Preview later this month. I have taken many fiber arts classes at the Visarts over the years, including several classes in pattern drafting and design.  My DH and I also support this organization through charitable donations.  Both our employers match our donation, which puts us in the “patron” category. Patron’s  receive invitations to art sale previews, events that attract an eclectic crowd sporting unique wearable’s and jewelry. The perfect event to attend wearing my mixed print outfit.

Shannon from Shanni Loves








Mixing prints can be tricky but when done correctly brings out so much fun and personality in an outfit.  I had a lot of fun making this dress and I absolutely love the way it turned out.  My prints of choice are a silky floral peachskin and navy blue polka dot peachskin.  I used Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2250, a rather challenging pattern.    I hadn't a clue that the bodice alone has 11 pattern pieces containing 7 darts, 4 pleats and a fold.  When I picked these two prints this was exactly the style I envisioned in my head so I planned for a couple of long nights.  Assembling all those darts really started to mess with my mind.  I was in doubt... is this really going to look right!?   Right it does! I love what the darts did for the print of the fabric.  The bodice is fully lined and interlined and has a ruffled casing along the back bodice.  I also made a belt for it.  I'm really sad that it's already November. That means I'm not going to be able to put this dress on again until next Spring.  When I see this dress I imagine wearing it to an outside celebration decorated with lots of beautiful flowers.  I'm surrounded by lots of friends, food and good wine.  I think of the song Garden Party by Ricky Nelson.  "I went to a garden party, reminisced with my old friends,  A chance to share old memories and play our songs again"    

Please stop by my blog to see close up shots of the bodice and read all about the construction.



Voting ends on Wednesday at Midnight! 
If you have questions about voting, please visit our Fashion Challenge Page found at the top of the page.


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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Seventh Challenge Announced!

Mixing Prints
If you think mixing colors is hard, try mixing prints on top of it!

4 Seamstresses will compete in this challenge.
You will have one week to complete this challenge.
Challenge: Using at least two prints, coordinate them to make an outfit. Use only the fabric prints you have chosen to make your pieces. Think about where you would wear your fun outfit and choose a theme for your photo shoot. 
You will be judged on creativity, craftsmanship, how well your prints go together, your images, garment personality, and fit.
The winner will receive Julie's Picks Membership. 

Julie's Picks is a Monthly Mailer that has information about trends, sewing tips, and SWATCHES! Touch and feel the fabrics selected by one of our Fabricistas, Julie. 
You will receive a packet of 30 fabric swatches that are only available to members including exclusive discounts. You also automatically become a Premium member! An email newsletter is also included in the membership. 
Also, you will receive a newsletter written by Julie. 
For more information or to become a member, visit our website.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Made by a Fabricista: Sewing with Mesh Knits


I'm going to interject into the Fashion Challenge with a tutorial on mesh knits!

Over the weekend, I was working on an inspiration piece for our Julie's Picks customers. I used a mesh print and jersey knit that will be included in the November Julie's Picks. (Sorry, these fabrics are only available to JP member's, but we have plenty of others available on our website.) Some people may be intimidated by mesh knits, but have no fear! I did some research on how to sew with them first and was prepared from the beginning. They are easier to work with than you think. Think of them as a lightweight or sheer knit.

Here are a few tips I researched, then used in my project:

1) Sew slowly and with a new needle. It is always good to start a project with a new needle, but I felt like if I had a dull needle it would pucker the fabric. Because I was sewing a mesh to a knit, it was even better. The knit and mesh stick together and allow for easy sewing. There were only two places I was sewing only with mesh: the hem of the mesh knit bodice and the sleeve hem. I stretched the mesh slightly and also used a stay tape, which helps keep it in place through wear.

2) Use stay tape if only sewing mesh. The stay tape helps keep it in place through wear.

3) Pre-wash your mesh. It is recommended to hand wash mesh knits because of pulls and puckering. I will machine wash my shirt, but probably by itself or in a lingerie bag on gentle cycle. Do not put it in the dryer, you don't want to risk it melting! Lay flat to dry.


I used Angela Wolf's Ruched T pattern. We carry this pattern on our website, but it is sold out right now. We have it on order and hope to receive it in the next couple of weeks! This pattern is really easy and fits great! I don't like fussing with patterns and you don't have to with this one. I made this pattern before so knew what to expect. It comes with three different sleeve variations and five different collars. I selected the regular collar and decided to do long sleeves without ruching. I also did not do ruching on the side seams.

Here you can see the bodice hem. I pre-hemmed the mesh knit, and pressed a line in the knit so I knew where the mesh knit hem needed to end. Then sew right sides together as usual. 
Since I made the pattern before, I had made note that the bodice needed to be cut about 3-4 inches shorter for a non-ruched top. I cut the jersey knit out first, then the mesh knit. I decided to hem the mesh and knit separately. When laying the mesh and knit together, I pre-hemmed the mesh. Then aligned the mesh piece on the knit. The pattern directions tell you to press a hem on your fabric before sewing the side seams, so I did that. That also helped me determine where the bottom of the hem on the mesh knit needed to be because I didn't want the mesh to go past the knit.


After I had the bodices sewn at the shoulder and the hem in the mesh print, I attached the sleeves. The directions call for you to do this, rather than on some patterns they want you to sewing the side seams first. (I really don't like doing them that way, so I was thankful for this direction in the pattern!) I laid the mesh knit only sleeve on the right side of the bodice pieces and sewed them together. Then I sewed the side seams together. I had to bring the sleeve in a little bit. I think it is the nature of the mesh knit --- a normal sleeve is a little looser, and I wanted the mesh to be a bit more snug, but not tight.


When sewing the sleeve together, I used stay tape to keep it stable. I also used it in the hem of the bodice and sleeves.  
I made the standard collar out of solid knit for a very RTW look. I also top-stitched just under the collar on the mesh. I love the way it turned out! I especially like it because it was quick, easy and fit without hardly any changes. I fooled a lot of people--they asked me where I bought my shirt!




Don't be afraid of the mesh knits. They are harmless. Plus if you add a regular knit fabric to them, it becomes even easier!