Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Made By A Fabricista: Renaissance Faire Costume

Simplicity Pattern 5582 Misses' Renaissance  Costumes

Summer is winding down and it's Renaissance Faire season in Maryland!  I've never sewn up a costume for myself before & my son thought it would be way cool to dress up this year (he'll be a knight, I'm working on that one still.)  By no means did I make a "historically correct" outfit here, and I could still breathe & move about (relatively!) well while my vest was laced up.  I used Simplicity 5582, View C.  I cut a size 14 for all three garments, but needed to alter the paper pattern to fit my figure.  Overall, this pattern was easy to work with and I really love the results.



I checked out what colors were appropriate for paupers of the Renaissance era, obviously natural whites & beige's seemed suitable... I learned that purple was off limits to lower class folks but blue was often a sign of servitude.  I wasn't doing Anne Boleyn or another royal wife, so pauper I will be!

   
Check out how huge the chemise (aka The Puffy Shirt) is untucked! I stuck with natural materials for my fabrics.  I opted for a cotton gauze for both the chemise and skirt-- the skirt fabric is still in stock at the time of writing this post.  Both are a a nicer, heavier gauze.  I found the skirt fabric is not sheer, and the off white is minimally sheer.


I inserted a zipper into the skirt's waist, making it easier to get on and off.  I picked up from the local big box fabric store my other odd bits needed to create this costume: gold grommets for the vest, feather weight boning, cotton lace & elastic for the edge of the sleeves & collar, and double fold bias tape.  The pattern envelope was a bit confusing on what you needed and what it was for.  I bought a crap load of blue bias tape thinking it was only for the vest... no... the bias tape is for the vest edge AND to finish the inside edges of the shirt's collar and sleeves.  Luckily I had a pretty, pale pink bias tape my stash for the shirt.


Since I'm about 2" taller then what patterns are designed for-- I'm about 5'8", I lengthened the chemise by 2" and the bodice by 1".  I actually had to shorten my skirt by maybe 5", but that may be due to the fact that my cotton gauze "grew" some as it hung- and also I didn't want it to drag on the ground because I'm 100% sure I'd trip on it while at Ye Old Faire eating corn on the cob, husk included.  I also removed some material at the shoulder and upper back on my paper pattern before sewing to better fit my shape.


I used some of that lovely blue linen for my vest that Fabric Mart keeps in stock all the time.  In error, I mis-cut my fabric and was short a few inches, so I whipped out a remnant of a dark olive green linen in my stash that I bought from Fabric Mart a year or so ago.  This vest is definitely not a real corset.  I used feather weight boning & a medium-to-heavy weight interfacing.  The sew-in Pellon interfacing has some body, gives a decent shape and is pliable, but definitely not hard as a rock stiff.  I can tie my vest lace as loose or tight as I want and it will still look great.  I have some dark orange-pumpkin-y colored cotton material in my stash for the overskirt, but I just wasn't sure I wanted to wear it, I may sew it up the day before I go to the Ren Faire if it's meant to be a colder day.



Happy Ye Olde Sewing!!
~Kathy

Monday, August 28, 2017

Tips on Starting an Afterschool Sewing Club


Sharing my love for sewing is something that I am passionate about. For the last 5 years, I’ve organized an afterschool sewing club for 5th graders at a local elementary school. This has been so much fun and so rewarding that I thought I would share with you some of the things that I did to get it started, and some of the things that I’ve learned along the way. 


Getting a club of any kind started in the schools requires both finding students that are interested and finding supportive people in the administration. Here are some tips for finding both of these things:

 
  • Pick a school that you think might be interested and call to speak with someone at that school in the administration, such as a principal or community involvement coordinator, to see if after-school clubs are possible. This may seem intimidating, but from my experience, school administrators are devoted to providing their students with enriching experiences, and will jump at the chance to expose their students to the art of sewing. 
  • I chose to work with the 5th grade of an elementary school, but you could also do this with middle or high schools. I also decided that I would just do it in the second semester of the school year. I met with our principal, who was very excited by the idea and offered to support the club as much as possible. It is standard procedure in all schools to run background checks on anyone that would be working with students. So, don’t be offended if you are required to be fingerprinted, or asked for references.

  • Some kids may not be familiar with sewing, and haven’t ever even seen a sewing machine. Offer to demonstrate how to use a sewing machine in a general class, and talk about what kinds of things you can do with a sewing machine. I have done this by going into a classroom during the school day, and letting each student have a chance to sew two small pieces of fabric together. I’ve done this both with general classrooms and art classes. Then, I tell them that I will be leading an after-school sewing club and ask them to talk to their parents about it if they are interested. 

  • Soon after the class demonstration, work with the administration/teachers to send home information about the sewing club to parents, along with a permission form. Include the day of the week you would like to hold meetings, and ask interested students to return a form with their name, and parents' phone numbers. I always ask if a parent or relative would be able to help during meetings, but this is not required for a student to be a member.  This year, all of our members were girls, but in years past, I have usually had at least one boy join too!

  • Once you have the forms returned, you will know out how many members you will have. Now is the time to recruit volunteers to help you. You definitely do not want to do this alone! It’s more fun to have more adults. Ideally, you would have a ratio of 1 volunteer for 2-3 students, depending on the age of the student. So, if you have 6 kids interested, I would look for at least two volunteers to help you. I have advertised for volunteers by word of mouth, posting on volunteer boards, and asking at senior centers. Make sure that they know that they don’t need to be experts at sewing- just basic sewing experience will do. Amazingly, someone always steps forward to help. Again, they will have to fill out forms and have background checks- just standard procedure.
  • Next, you need to figure out what you are going to sew with, and where you will store it. I do not recommend using your own machines, nor transporting machines. My principal had a specific account for investments in school hardware for after-school programs, and she was able to purchase several inexpensive machines. She also provided me with a storage area and meeting room. Some schools may already have machines in storage from when home economics was taught. I believe that if you asked for donations, you could also find sewing machines easily. Just make sure that the machines are in working order, and light enough for students to carry. Some older models are just too heavy. 


  • Figure out how you are going to get other supplies, such as fabrics, pins, scissors, rippers, and tape measures. Garage sales are a great place to start, as well as asking for donations locally. Businesses are also often very generous. For our club, Fabric Mart donated fabric for projects, and McCall Pattern Company donated patterns.  If your students come from a more affluent school, then I would ask parents to contribute towards costs if needed. But, I would certainly be aware that such requirements may make participation impossible in economically challenged schools.

Now that you’ve got the support of administration and volunteers, student members and parent approval, and rounded up the basic tools and supplies, it’s time to meet! Let the students know the first meeting day. Here are a few tips that I’ve learned along the way about meeting times.
  • Be strict about start and finish times. Kids will want to stay longer, but your volunteers may not want to. So, respect the time of the volunteers, and keep an eye on the clock.
  • Set rules and let students know that if they break them, they can’t be a member. I have had to let members go for fighting and for misuse of sewing supplies. 
  • Skip the snacks. For the first few years, I thought students needed to refuel after a long day at school before they could start sewing. Snacks were always a hassle and extra expense, and mostly, took a huge chunk of time. So, this last year, I said no snacks. No one complained, meetings went much more smoothly, and we covered a lot more ground.
  • Give each student a box with their supplies and make them take care of it. Maybe even label everything with their names. Kids do well when given responsibility. When there is 5 minutes left, it’s time for students to put things away. For an elementary school, 1 hour is about right. If I were working with older kids, I might go as long as 2 hours.

Now, you may be wondering, what kind of projects should you do? Here are some of my favorites:
  • We always start with sewing on paper. You can find sewing mazes online, print them out, and let them go. Print out extras for the speedy sewers. Students love this exercise. 

  • Make sure to spend one meeting on the parts of the sewing machine and how to thread it. I have a diagram of a sewing machine that they have to label the parts on the diagram. By far, the hardest concept to get across is that you have to lower the presser foot when sewing. The name “presser foot” doesn’t make sense to kids, especially since there is also a foot pedal! I often revert to calling it a clamp, which seems to describe its function better. 
  • When starting to sew with fabric, I usually cut 5” squares from colorful cotton fabric, and have them make a 9 patch quilt top. If you want, you can use this as a pillow top, back it with a solid fabric, and stuff it with fiberfill. 

  • Tote bags, bookmarks, and pillowcases are all things that you can do with rectangles of fabric. I generally pre-cut these things because we really don’t have a good cutting space at the school. Plus it saves time. 

  • Make Mom happy by having them sew Mom a present- a heart shaped stuffed pillow, a cosmetic bag, or an infinity scarf are all easy to sew and great gifts. 

  • If you don’t have time to plan and prep a project, sometimes just providing a big pile of fabric scraps and letting them have creative freedom is lots and lots of fun. 

  • When introducing patterns, choose super simple ones at first. Maybe a drawstring skirt or pajama pants. Allow several weeks to complete a pattern project! 
 
  • Kids love to embellish things, so we do lots of iron-on gems, flowers, fabric markers for drawing, etc. 

  • Do something to give back to the school or community. One year, we took a field trip to an adult daycare where the students met the clients and asked them what they wanted. We made adult bibs and walker bags in the residents’ favorite colors. There are tons of things that you can do!
Most important- make it fun! Don’t expect perfection, or anything remotely near it. Really, encouraging confidence and creativity is the goal, not getting a perfectly straight seamline. Talk about the things that you make, and show them what is possible! Give them positive feedback on absolutely everything.


In our schools, 5th grade is the last year of elementary school.  At the last meeting of the year, I overheard our members talking about how sorry they felt for the kids that weren’t in sewing club because sewing club was the BEST part of elementary school, and that they were going to start a sewing club when they went to middle school!

So, it may seem like this is a lot of work. And you may be thinking, why would anyone do that for kids they don’t even know? All I can tell you is, yes, it is a lot of work, but it is worth every minute of it.  I think my volunteers would agree that they get as much out of it as the kids do.   If you love to sew and are up for the challenge, give it a try! You never know what impact you might have on a young person’s life. 

Happy Sewing!
Ann
Special thanks to Fabric Mart Fabrics, McCall Pattern Company, and Kayla Myers Photography 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Flirty Floral Denim Dress


Can you believe how fast summer is flying by? It's almost Labor Day! So despite the fact that it has been insanely hot here in the southeast and will likely stay that way weeks after the "unofficial end of summer" it's almost time for me to start sewing for fall.


If you follow me either here or on my blog you know that dresses are my favorite thing to sew and I sew them year round. Simplicity 8264 is a great transition dress due to it's sleeve length and recommendation of heavier wovens such as brocade, damask, sateen or denim. 


When I saw this floral printed denim I just had to have it for this dress. Unfortunately it is sold out, I almost didn't get any myself. There aren't any other printed denims available but there are several floral brocades (here) that I think will work nicely.



On to the dress itself...the dress came together easily thanks to clear instructions. My least favorite part was creating the neck and sleeve ruffle. But that is to be expected as I hate gathering as a general rule. Thankfully, there is not much fabric to gather here so it wasn't that bad. Everything else was a breeze. 


I graded from a size 16 at the neck and shoulders to an 18 from the bust to hip. My bust was closer to the 16 measurements, but my biceps tend to need a tad more room in the sleeve so I went with size 18 armhole. In the end, the dress was a tad to boxy in the middle for me. My first thought was to add a fish-eye dart to each back piece, but I have yet to draft those. I ended up simply taking in the sides grading from almost nothing at the underarm to about 3/4" to at the waist back out to the hip.  I am happy with the fit, but I will be looking for information on how to draft my own fish-eye darts for future projects. 


I was a tad concerned about the height of the neck ruffle, but it didn't bother me while shooting the photos even though I'm not a huge fan of anything around my neck.  The dress calls for an invisible zipper, but depending on the fabric used I think an exposed decorative zipper would work great.

Though a little too hot to wear now, I'll be wearing this dress come fall and even into earlier winter over tights. Have you started your fall sewing yet?

I won't be posting during the Fabricista Challenge, but you can keep up with my lastest projects on my blog, TipStitched.

See you in October!!!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fashion Challenge 5 - Contestants Selected!

The moment you have all been waiting for...the Fashion Challenge contestants have been announced! We had LOTS of people submit entries over the past month and as always, it is so hard to select just 6 people out of a large number of talented seamstresses. I think this challenge will have a good mix of bloggers you may already follow and few newbies that you will get to know through the challenge. 

Challenge begins Friday, September 1! Don't forget you can follow along with the challenges. Just used #Fabricista5 when posting a photo of your project to Facebook or Instagram. (The photo must go along with the challenge for that week.) Each week, one winner will be selected to win a prize. 

Here are the contestants:


Danesha from Classyfied Life




Victoria from Very Blissful




Lindsay from Lindsay Baker Co.


Carmen from See Carmen Sew

Congrats to all who made it into the challenge, we're excited to see what you create! Get your scissors, sewing machines and imaginations started. You've got a month of creative sewing ahead of you!

We'll see you all on September 1!



Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Made by a Fabricista: Charlie Caftan Meets Nanette Lepore!

During summer I am able to sew much more than I can sew in the rest of the year.  Since I teach full time (middle school!), I find I am so busy that I can only sew a project (or two) a month during the school year.  But summer?  I get all my sewing mojo back and really get into gear.  This last make for the Fabric Mart blog for this summer is probably one of my all time favorite makes, ever.  I knew I would be heading to Mexico on a cruise with my aunt, and I knew I would want to bring this Burda dress I made for this blog in July, so I asked the folks at Fabric Mart if they would send me some yellow green Nanette Lepore fabric with red, green, and white accents along with a Charlie Caftan pattern (by Closet Case Files), as the two pieces would serve together well as a base for the rest of my travel wardrobe.

I wore the dress/coverup in Mexico as a coverup, but I ended up wearing it last Sunday as a dress, and it does serve both purposes quite well.  As a coverup, it looks nice and put together enough that you could run into a store or two and not look too much like you had just been at the pool or beach, with the added bonus of the fabric itself not wrinkling too badly.  I really love this fabric.  It looks like a linen, but in reality is a thick cotton with a soft structure.  Very easy to work with, very easy to wear, and very easy to wash and dry.  Good stuff.  (Here is how the designer used the fabric as a sleek sheath dress.  Here is a jacket made from a similar weight/design fabric.  And here is the collection so you can see the whole lot--Fabric Mart carried quite a bit of her fabric from this collection--Spring 2009.)

I want to point out that I did not make the dress the length meant for the sizes I cut (a 6 at the shoulders, bust and waist, and a 10/12 at the hips/low hip).  I ended up using the largest size's length, as I knew the drafted size 12 would hit too high on my leg (I am 5'8.5").  I may make this again, possibly in a smaller set of sizes for a sleeker winter over-dress (worn with a turtleneck and tights), and I would definitely draft that to have an even longer hemline.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: 1. Carefully marked and staystitched corners with corner snipping. 2. Detail of corner snip. 3. Welt pieces lined up and ready to sew (I used two rows of gathering stitches). 4. Inset interfaced panel piece lined up with gathering stitched portion. 5. Stitched first line. 6. Pressed up and done!
Everyone and their sister and cousin and uncle have made this caftan this summer.  It is pretty much a universally loved pattern.  The only tiny issue people have with it is the same exact issue I have with it...the inset center panel.  It seems easy enough at first, but when you actually start the construction, you realize very quickly that you are basically making a welt pocket without a pocket.  The effect of the piece that is made with this construction is just beautiful, but it is time consuming and precise and fiddly.  If you don't use time and care with it, it may all be off and end up being more of a frustration.  Even with all my very carefully executed steps and markings, I STILL ended up off at one of the corners and had to topstitch there to ensure the panel laid flat.

The folks at Closet Case Files had a very well written sewalong on this Caftan, but I am going to direct straight to the inset panel instructions as the rest of the caftan is fairly straight forward.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: 1. Lining up triangular piece from side portion of welt with side of inset. 2. Double checking markings for these two pieces lining up on the other side.  3. Once sewn, checking for proper 90 degree angle on right side.  4. All seams are sewn, so press up raw edges so facing piece can be placed over it.  5. From right side, this is what the inset piece will look like once sewn up.  6. After raw edges are pressed up, the facing piece is placed over them...I hand sewed this over the raw edges, but Closet Case has instructions for machine sewing it, as well.
The second set of photos shows the continued care you must take with this inset piece.  I keep thinking there must be some way of doing this so you can get the same effect without all the fiddling, but I haven't been educated in pattern drafting, so I can't speak to what possibilities are out there to take the place of this way.  The effort is worth it...the inset piece looks so pretty right above the gathering.  Some of the reviews I read said the gathering was too voluminous for them, but I really like the volume.  The rest of the dress is fairly sleek, so this gives the garment a bit of whimsy.

Here you can see the pockets in use.  The pockets are rather large, which I just love, but some of the reviewers of this pattern out there in the large world of the web are not as pleased with their size.  They seem easy enough to make smaller, so do that.  I wouldn't leave off the pockets, they really are just that fab.

Left to Right, Top to Bottom: 1. Apply the tape with paper backing UP.  Then press with a dry, hot iron.  2. Lift up paper backing and discard.  3. Carefully press hem up (I only did a half-inch, so the sticky tape bit came together here). 4.  Press to ensure it stays put.  Again, hot and dry iron.  I then stitched the hem.
I knew I wanted a 1/2" hem on both my skirt hem and my sleeve hem, so I went ahead and used SewkeysE double-sided knit stay tape.  The instructions are ridiculously simple, but I am a visual person, and I figure some of you must be as well, so I photographed four of the steps.

Two photos of me from Mexico, the top is of me at a resort where we purchased a day pass (it was stunning there, and even though it rained part of the time, it never felt so bad that we didn't stay in the water at the beach or in the pools).  The bottom is of me at the ship.  This is an older ship, and it was at full capacity so it was cramped, but I love people watching, and there were ample opportunities to do so.

I hope all of you had a wonderful summer!  I really look forward to seeing what others do with this pattern, or with the Nanette Lepore fabric.  See you in a few months!

Dina, My Superfluities.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Sew Over It Kimono - Maternity Style

As many of you can probably relate, finding maternity clothes can be a hard task! I don't want to spend a lot of money on them but I also need to be comfortable. And as my baby bump grows, my regular clothes are getting tighter and tighter. 

Thankfully as a sewist, I have the ability to sew maternity clothes that will fit and I will like. I have already remade the tops of a few over-the-belly pants and took older pairs of regular shorts and added an over-the-belly band. That's been helpful for sure! (I think the over-the-belly pants are so uncomfortable. I make my belly bands a little bigger while still holding my pants on me.)

Being the frugal person that I am, I REALLY don't want to make a lot of garments that will only be used in pregnancy (and for a time in post pregnancy.) I want things that I can adjust later to fit my new "regular" body. Therefore I have sewn a lot of tunics and dresses that have plenty of room to grow but will still be stylish afterward. 

As I looked through maternity clothing sites, I saw some kimono-style jackets and I fell in love. They looked so comfortable but stylish at the same time. And being that a kimono stays open, I can wear them no matter what my size!! 


Enter the Sew Over It Kimono Jacket....

I'm not even sure how I came across the pattern. I heard of Sew Over It, but had never made anything from their line before. The only thing I didn't like was that it was only available in PDF. Yuck. But I went with it. I'm not sure if it was the pattern or my printer, but there was a section of the PDF that was slightly off. The tester square measured correctly and most of the pieces matched up really well, but a small section was off about 1/4-1/2". Thankfully it was easy to draw out and fix what it should be. 


I used a fun retro floral print rayon crepe that I picked up from our pre-cut piece fabric deal earlier in the year. I love the color combination! I always think about rayon (challis especially) as being cool. This isn't. Yes, it could be my pregnancy hormones making me warmer but I thought this would have been a pretty cool fabric. Oh well, I still love it! 

Construction was pretty straight forward. The directions are easy to follow although I didn't pay attention to them too much. Definitely easy for a beginner to follow along. 


The only construction detail I did differently was that I squared off the front band at the hemline. The pattern calls for you to sew the front band to the kimono, then hem all the way around. I decided to fold the band right sides together at the hemline and sew till I met the printed fabric. Then clipped the corner and turned it right side out making a nice point. Then I sewed the hemline around the rest of the kimono. I did this because I thought it would drape nicely at the band and not have the chance of winging out. 


I loved the kimono so much that I'm making another! This time in a 4-ply silk from a NY designer. It's not available anymore, but if you were lucky enough to get a piece of it, you may want to try it for this too! I cut this one longer and used the self fabric for the band. While the silk kimono won't be as practical when I'm a mom, I can still wear it to work or out with hubby on a date night. Then quickly take off the jacket as soon as baby is with me! 

Speaking of baby -- he's growing every day and a very active little fellow! One more week till the 3rd trimester!


Have you sewn maternity clothes? Have any pattern suggestions for me?


Happy Sewing, 
Julie