Friday, January 31, 2014

Guest Post: Diane from Gatorbunny Sews - Fabric Mixer

Remember Diane from Gatorbunny Sews? She was one of our contestants in the Fabricista Fashion Challenge. She loved being challenged and blogging so much that she asked if she could guest blog periodically. Of course I said yes! I love being able to share ideas and inspiration with our readers and it's even better to have help from other bloggers! Thanks Diane!


It's always been a little taboo to mix knits and wovens in sewing, but with the comfort of knits and the fun of wovens, I decided to break the rules and realize the best of both.



I've been drooling over this top from my Pinterest board for quite a while and I used it as my inspiration.



I chose a super soft navy slub knit from Fabric Mart for the body of the blouse and rooted around in my scrap basket for the wovens for the yoke. (The navy slub is not available anymore, but there is a black and red slub knit available!)



I chose New Look pattern 6187, View C because it's a simple design with a yoke.


When mixing knits and wovens, the wovens are best placed in the most stable parts of the top like the yoke, collar, cuffs and placket. It helps keep the shape of the garment without losing the comfort. For example, it's nice to have a yoke that stays in place but a sleeve that stretches and moves.



I made a few simple changes to the pattern.

1) Omitted the collar and lowered the neckline 1/2".

2) Shortened the sleeve 4" and added elastic instead of a cuff.

3) Pieced the yoke out of scraps, lined it in voile and added a fabric "tab" to the back of my blouse.



4) Replaced the neck facing by lining the front yoke and binding the back neck with 2" knit stripes (see the photo) and then sewing in the shoulder seam.



To make the hem lay smooth, I pressed 1/2" wide strips of knit interfacing to the hem, folded up the hem and used a twin needle to sew it in.



This was a fun project and it's comfortable and cheery. I highly recommend breaking the rules and mixing it up!

Happy Mixing! ~ Diane

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Made by a Fabricista: Working with Sweater Knits

Winter time, not particularly my favorite season, but there are certain things I look forward to each year: wearing my boots, cozy sweaters and making myself sick on copious amounts of hot chocolate.  What I don't look forward to...when the cold rolls in so does my lack of motivation.  I just want to put my flannel pjs on and snuggle on the couch with a pug. 

I think my lack of motivation stems from the fact I'm just not sure what to sew in the winter months.  I like chunky sweaters and lots of layers.  Not really up for sewing another dress or blouse.  A lot of sewing bloggers I follow trade in their sewing needles for knitting needles in the winter months.  They knit some of the most beautiful sweaters and I'm envious.  I've tried knitting and I just don't have the patience for it.  So I asked myself, "Can I sew a sweater?"  I did some research on the topic, bought some sweater fabric and was off on a mission to see how hard it could be.

There are many blends and weights of sweater knit available.  For my first try at sewing my own sweater I chose a chunky wool sweater knit from Fabric Mart. (Sorry, I don't see this available anymore on their site but you can find other options here)  Because this is a wool blend it is a heavier weight.  If you want something a little lighter weight I would suggest a cotton blend sweater knit. 



When working with any type of sweater knit the first thing you want to do is pre-shrink your fabric.  How you chose to pre-shrink should be based upon the fiber content of your fabric.  Since I'm working with a chunky wool I chose to pre-shrink mine in the dryer.  To do this I got a couple of large towels and wet them with very hot water until they were nice and steamy.  I wrung out the towels so they were still damp but not soaking.  Next I threw the steamy towels and my wool knit into the dryer and set the dryer on high heat.  I let the dryer run for about 40 minutes then took out my fabric to let it cool.  I was a little hesitant to throw all my fabric in at once so I did a test swatch first.  I started out with a 5x5 swatch and ended up with total shrinkage of about 1/2 inch overall.  That can make quite a difference in your final garment so pre-shrinking is important.



Since working with sweater knit was not enough of a challenge for me I decided to throw some faux leather into the mix.  Leather detailing seems to be a popular trend at the moment so I chose Burda's Jersey Top pattern because it has contrasting shoulder insets, perfect for some leather pleather details.  This pattern calls for a two way stretch jersey fabric.  My sweater knit had just enough stretch to pull it off but I cut an extra 1 inch seam allowance on the side seams for some wiggle room.

When sewing the pleather shoulders I used a microtex needle and made sure when sewing that my pleather's good side was always facing up towards my presser foot and not down towards the feed dogs.  The feed dogs can tear up the pleather so if it is facing down, slip a piece of paper or tear away stabilizer in between the fabric and feed dogs.  I used my walking foot and did not have any problems with the pleather sticking to the foot or the foot leaving indentions.  Also this should be common knowledge but keep your iron far away from the pleather, even just a little steam can ruin it...ask me how I know.

The only alterations I made to this pattern was omitting the keyhole opening in the back.  Also instead of using the facings I chose to make my own single fold binding with a lighter weight jersey knit from my stash.  To make my own neckline binding I first measured my neckline opening then cut a 2 inch bias strip about 3 inches shorter then my opening.  I folded the strip in half, ironed then pinned it to my neckline matching the fold line on the strip to the 5/8 seam allowance around the neck.  When sewing I stretched the bias binding slightly to fit the neckline.  Once attached I trimmed the seam allowances in half then flipped the remainder of the binding over and understiched to the seam.  Because of the bulkiness of the knit it was a little challenging to get the binding to stay flat so I hand stitched it to the neckline.  This helped the pleather to stay in place as well.


My seams, except for the neckline, are all serged.  Please don't think that if you don't own a serger you can't sew with sweater knits.  A serger certainly does make the job go a little faster but you can accomplish the same good looking seams using your sewing machine.  The sleeve ends and bottom hem are finished with a serged edge then flipped under and stitched in place with a twin needle. The shoulder seams are stabilized with knit seam tape.



Sewing a sweater is not hard at all.    If you do your research and take your time there is no room for failure.  Here are a few sites that I found very helpful....


And here are a few pictures of me testing out the sweater in the frigid weather.  Even though this sweater is wool I was still freezing.  The high was 30 degrees and the wind would not stop blowing! Brrr.....



~ Shannon

Shannon is the winner of our first Fabricista Fashion Challenge. She will be blogging periodically for the Fabric Mart Fabricista blog. Learn more about Shannon here. You can also follow her blog, Shanni Loves.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Made by a Fabricista: Minoru Jacket Finished!

I'm a little late in posting this, I've had the jacket done for a little while now, but finally had someone to take pictures of it for me and time to write the post. For those of you that missed two tutorials that highlight additions I made to this jacket, check out the following:


And here it is! The Minoru Jacket pattern was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed figuring out the little additions. Since this was my first Sewaholic Pattern, I was not familiar with the sizing. I made a muslin, which you can see in the "adding a front pocket" post. The sizing was closer to my RTW clothing size, ranging between a 10-12. I made size 12 for this pattern because I like to have a little extra room in jackets for the sweaters worn underneath. 



Here you a can see how the pocket looks finished. I wanted to have the cute lining show through, so I created a piping effect on the top of the pockets. I also reinforced thef pockets with very close zig zag stitching. 



As you can see, the pictures were taken on a rainy day. I used a Charcoal Organic Cotton Twill, which can be found in a few colors on our website. The waist has 3" elastic inserted between the front fabric and lining. When purchasing elastic, there were two options I found at our local big box fabric store: knit elastic and pants elastic. The knit elastic was softer and more pliable than the pants elastic. The pants elastic was very stiff and stable. While one would think you should use the pants elastic, I selected the knit elastic. Because the fabric is soft, but sturdy, I felt like it didn't need any more stiffness to it. I wanted the waist to be "moveable." Plus, with the elastic being 3" wide, the knit elastic just seemed like it would feel better around my waist than the pants elastic! 




The lining is a cotton print from Marc Jacobs, no longer available.  To line the sleeves, I used a polyester pongee lining in teal. You can find a range of colors on our website. I hate when my sleeves get stuck in my jacket when I put on or pull off a jacket, so I needed to pick a fabric that would not get caught on my shirt sleeves. 




One of my favorite features of this jacket is the hood. I have never made a jacket with an attached hood so it seemed exciting! It was a great challenge and turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Plus I lined the hood...accidentally, but it turned out too be a great thing!  Read about it here




There you have it! I would definitely recommend this pattern to intermediate sewers or beginners ready to take it to the next level. 



In my last post I asked for people to share their Minoru Jacket. Amity from Lolita Patterns shared her jacket. Great job, Amity! If you made the Minoru Jacket, we'd still love to see yours! Email fabricmartblog@gmail.com a picture of your jacket!



You here it first!! Fabric Mart will be carrying all of Lolita Patterns line and a select group of patterns from Sewholic Patterns. Watch for more information in February!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Made by a Fabricista: Minoru Jacket Part Two - Lining the Hood

One of the reasons I wanted to make the Minoru Jacket was because it had a hood. Plus I thought it was pretty cool to hide the hood in the collar! The idea to line the hood happened by accident. As I was cutting out all the pieces for the jacket, I could have sworn the pattern called for a hood to be cut out of the lining fabric. But as I was sewing, I did not see directions on how to insert it. It is super easy and adds just another RTW finish to your look!

Cut out the hood in the good fabric and the lining fabric. Trim off about 1/2" around the front of the hood.
Sew the hood pieces right sides together, adding top-stitching to the seam. Repeat for the lining.

Press about 1 1/4" inches on the front of the hood and 1/4" of that in so you have a folded edge.



Insert the lining into the hood, wrong sides together. Overlap the flap you created when pressing the 1 1/4" piece over.


Top-stitch around the front of the hood and baste along the bottom of the hood. Follow the directions as stated!



How easy was that? As mentioned in the previous Minoru Jacket post, I used an organic cotton twill from Fabric Mart. We have it available in a few colors, but limited quantities! Get them while you can... 

Organic Cotton Twills:

Stay tuned, the jacket is almost done and I will share the results! Have you made the Minoru Jacket? I'd love to see your version of this jacket! Post a link to your blog below, or email me (fabricmartblog [at] gmail dot com) a picture of your finished Minoru Jacket. You and your jacket will be featured on the blog!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Made by a Fabricista: Minoru Jacket Part One - Adding a Front Pocket

I had the opportunity to take a few days off during the holidays and my top priority was to do some sewing! It felt great to get in front of my sewing machine again! I had just been serviced a week before and it sewed like a breeze. One of the patterns I wanted to try was Sewaholic's Minoru Jacket. I had Fabric Mart's Charcoal Organic Cotton Twill in mind for this jacket along with a cotton print from Marc Jacobs (no longer available) and the teal pongee lining. This was my first Sewaholic pattern but was excited to give it a try. I was drawn to it because of the RTW look of this jacket. Many of the seams are top-stitched (which I love!) and elastic is inserted in the back of the jacket cinching the waist.


The directions were clear and pictures easy to understand as well. The basic jacket is constructed in the first few steps, so once you have the fit, you can focus on the details that this jacket has.

I made a few of my own additions including front pockets and a lined hood. This post will include the front pocket tutorial. (Stay tuned for a post about the lined hood!)

Front Pocket Modification:

I really like having pockets in my jackets. I carry a purse, but I like to have my phone at my fingertips, not stuck at the bottom of my purse! I browsed around to web to see what other people were doing. I saw a front pocket adaption on pinterest, but they did not blog about it. So I thought I would!

Before I started sewing, I had to construct the pockets. I tested the pocket out on my muslin to get a good idea of placement. I researched similar pockets found in RTW and drew the placement on the muslin. (See the yellow line?) The slope begins center front, just below the waist and ends at the hip.



I took some pattern paper and traced the pocket pattern directly from the muslin. Of course I tested the pocket on the muslin first, but once I had it right, I cut two pieces out of the twill, making sure you have pockets going in different directions.



Since I am lining the hood (I will explain later), I wanted to accent the front of the jacket with the pretty lining too. I cut 1 1/4" bias strips to go along the top of the pocket. Using a 3/8" seam allowance, I sewed the bias strip to the top of the pocket, right sides together. 



Then I pressed the seam allowance toward the bias strip, followed by pressing down 3/8" along the raw edge of the bias strip. 



I wanted to make the bias strip look like piping, so from the back of the pocket, I folded the bias strip almost in half, allowing about 3/16" peak through to the front of the jacket. 

 


Then I top-stitched the bias strip, adding yet just another RTW touch. Baste the pocket to the jacket front and finish the jacket like normal.

(Top-stitching over piping.)


(Finished top-stitching.)

I added some stitching to the sides of the pockets to reinforce them. I used a compacted zig-zag stitch.



Now lay out the pockets on your front jacket pieces. You want to make sure the piping meets at the same place along the zipper front. 



Sew the rest of the jacket per directions. When hemming the jacket, you will notice some extra bulk because of the extra layer you created with the pocket. I cut off the bottom of the front piece to minimize the bulk. The hem is top-stitched on this jacket, therefore the top-stitching creates a bottom to your pocket. Stay tuned for a tutorial on a lined hood and finished garment pictures! 

~Julie

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Fabricista on the Road: PA Farm Show

This past weekend I had the chance to go to the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Always held the first week in January, it brings together farmers, small businesses and family living participants from all over the state. I have gone to local fairs for many years, but this was my first time at the PA Farm Show. 

You can find everything at the farm show. There are a ton of amazing food stands selling everything from a basic hot dog, to fried mozzarella cheese cubes and even lamb stew. One of my favorites was the milkshakes, even on a 20 degree day! There were also a number of small business vendors selling their wares such as BBQ sauces, dips, fudge, maple syrup and other goodies highlighting PA agriculture. Of course you can't have a fair without the livestock, rodeos and even a butter sculpture! 


My favorite part of the show was to see the handmade item entries. They have categories for a variety of baked goods, gingerbread houses, knitted items, quilts, decorated gourds, wreaths, among other things. But I am always excited to see the garments. There are adult, youth and 4-H divisions. As I browse through the displays of handmade garments, I see some Fabric Mart fabric! I saw two entries from a customer that comes into our retail store as well as an entry from, I assume, a website customer. There very well could have been others but the fabric with prints are the ones that stick out to me. After taking a scan around the space looking at the fabrics, I look at the styling and technique. I was really impressed with what I saw. There were a number of special occasion dresses, including this beautiful wedding dress made of satin and a rosette netting. It also had beaded trim accenting the waist and front. 



I was really surprised to see mostly tailored garments made from woven fabrics. There were not a lot of knit garments. Actually, I noticed many of the garments were made from plaid fabrics. I'm sure they were submitted because matching plaids can be challenging for many sewers and they want to impress the judges! 



The best of show for a 4-H member was a traditional khaki trench coat. It was really well made! It included bands around the cuffs and tabs on the shoulders. All features that make it look like a ready-to-wear piece. 



Another Best of Show garment was a plaid/solid color-blocked cropped blazer. It was really well made! Unfortunately it was behind glass so I didn't get the best picture. 

 


The children's clothes are always fun to look at. My favorite was this flapper dress. Although it was a costume, it is perfect for a flashy little girl that loves to twirl!




Here is a knit top made by a customer that comes into our retail store. She used a tiny floral print rayon jersey from Fabric Mart!





There are many county and state fairs held throughout the country. I have volunteered and entered items into the Reading Fair and Kutztown Fair since the age of 12. I take a lot of pride in participating and promoting local agriculture and homemaking practices such as sewing, cooking, canning, gardening, farming and the arts. I am not part of a farming family, but know there is a place in this country for them and support local agriculture any way I can. It is really important to pass these practices down to future generations especially because they are not taught in most schools. In terms of sewing, I learned how to sew a pillow in home economics---and that is it. Thankfully I had a fabric hoarding grandmother and a mom and aunt who took the time to teach me how to sew. I ran with it and submitted small items to the fair. 

I find that over the years entry participation has declined. When I first started entering items, you were really lucky if you placed. Today, I find it is a little easier because there is less competition. There could be a number of factors to why participation has declined. Why do you think this could be?

So I guess you're wondering how you can submit something to a fair? Each fair will have it's own rules and ways to submit your items. Most fair associations in my area distribute a Premium Book, which may also be available online. When you first take a look at it, you might feel intimidated by the livestock and 4-H categories. Don't worry, flip through the book and you will find categories for non-farming individuals. Categories could include: home canning items, baked goods, flowers, art, ceramics, woodworking, photography, garments, quilting, crochet, knitting, needlework and more. Entering something in a fair is a great way to take pride in what you have made and to get a few dollars for doing it! I have a TON of ribbons, ranging from 5th place to 1st place. I even have one Best of Show, for a hand-woven shawl with beading. 

I hope you will take the time to research your local fair association and see how you can participate, whether it is to offer a few hours of your time or to submit something into the fair. You never know, you just might win a blue ribbon! 

Have you ever submitted a sewn garment to a fair in your area? What was your experience? What did you submit? 

The PA Farm Show runs January 4-11, 2014.