Category Archives: Sewing Clothes

Hemming with Maxi-Lock Stretch Thread and Another New Dress

I am incredibly excited about a very wonky sewing thing. Where to start?

Let’s see, for years I sewed on an older sewing machine that did everything from knits to quilting to embroidery until it broke. Sad face.

I decided to get a more sturdy, more metal, straight stitch only Brother 1500  which I love, but is no good for sewing knits, because you can’t do any special stretch stitches.

Then two years ago, I ran across a Brother Serger for $60 (which is an amazing deal) So now I have a serger, and can sew knits, but I CAN’T HEM THEM or do any top stitching unless I buy a fourth sewing machine.

UNTIL NOW! I recently discovered Maxi-Lock Stretch thread, which allows you to sew on knits using a straight stitch.  This blog by Made by Rae  has a lot of great tips on how to use it.

Hemming with maxi lock stretch thread in the bobbin

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P4P Sunshine Dress Lined Bodice Tutorial

I have a favorite hiking dress made by Eddie Bauer, which I have outlined my quest to re-create here (using the Colette Wren) and here (using the Patterns for Pirates Sunshine Dress)

I loved the Sunshine Dress but wanted to have the bodice lined, so I experimented a bit and came up with the method below. My first two dresses I made using this pattern are really low cut – due to some bad adjustments I made, but I am happy to layer them I know I’ll wear them all the time.

Adding the lining takes a while longer, especially the first time, but I am really happy with the finished result!

Step 1. Buy the pattern here

Tip – if you are using a slippery swim knit or lining you might try wash away wonder tape by Dritz to hold your layers together. It has made a big difference in the quality of my seams!

Ok, let’s get started!

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My Quest for the Perfect Wrap Dress Part 2: P4P Sunshine Dress

IMG_0221I have detailed the first part of my quest for the Perfect wrap dress using Colette Wren Pattern – which I liked but didn’t love – especially the neckline which wasn’t what I was looking for. For reference, this is my favorite dress that I was trying to copy.

So when the Patterns for Pirates Sunshine dress came out I bought it immediately! I then immediately made a dress in the wrong size. Ooopsies! Measure twice cut once, right?

Patterns for Pirates patterns always have a lot of options and they make a lot of special adjustments to make their patterns more user-friendly for pdf printing. I highly recommend them for beginner sewists!

About the Sunshine pattern: This pattern has a super flattering wrap style neckline (and a million other neckline options!).  The neckline is finished with neck bands, which is a very nice and handy way to finish a dress with your serger (generally my preference). However when I made my muslin, I didn’t love the look of the neckband (possibly because it was a size too small!).  So I decided to do a lined bodice) (like my fave dress pictured!)
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My Quest for the Perfect Wrap Dress Part 1: Colette Wren

I have a favorite dress, which I call my hiking dress. I got it at an Eddie Bauer warehouse sale about 4 years ago for $4.  How do I love it? Let me count the ways! It’s easy, flattering, doesn’t wrinkle, and you can nurse in it. I wear it hiking, to weddings, and chase toddlers in 90 degree heat at the zoo.

Though I have been gifted the perfect dress, perfection is never enough. I want more. I have been on a quest to copy the dress ever since I had a vision of it made with this fabric from Peek a Boo Fabric Shop. I immediately ordered the fabric (it was on sale!) but then I was on the hunt for a pattern. (To see the dress I made with that fabric look here)

P4P Sunshine Dress Lined Bodice

I looked at about every wrap dress on the internet, but none were really doing it for me.

Finally I tried the Colette Wren pattern.  I made a “first draft” in this knit that I got for $1.50 a yard from the bargain bin at Girl Charlee. (PS feel free to use my referral link if you’ve never shopped there and are setting up a new account!)

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Toddler Party Dresses! Playgroup, Snapdragon, and Bonny Leggings!

I have been making some little party dresses for my animal loving toddler.

First up, the Fox dress! The pattern is the Playgroup Dress by Fresh Stitch Patterns. I like this simple pattern, which uses woven fabrics (like quilting cottons) with a fully lined bodice and an option for a cute decorative panel. My only complaint is it doesn’t come with a print guide (that I saw – I have been known to miss things) so I had to manually go through the pattern pages to see which I needed to print. Either that or print out the larger sizes which go all the way up to 10 years – and that’s not really necessary for a size 18 month!

It is a little tricky (as a total beginner to garment sewing) to figure out the lined bodice, but the directions are great – once you do it once, it’s super easy!

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Layer Me Up Tunic and Dress

Sew all the clothes!

The problem with sewing clothes instead of quilts is I never feel self conscious taking pictures of my quilts in the backyard, but the 5 minute selfie photoshoot I did of my bust this morning trying to get a good shot of the neckline of this tunic would have been pretty embarrassing if any curious neighbors had wandered by!

I got some mustang fabric from girlcharlee, and it was burning a hole in my sewing room, so I had to make a tunic. This fabric is incredibly soft and nice to sew with. It’s lightweight, but not see through. And it has horses on it.

This is the Patterns for Pirates Layer Me Up pattern (which I made another of here).  I decided to make this version with sleeves and cuffs. Turns out I love making cuffs – who knew?

Ok, here are the pictures of the neckline I risked all of my dignity (Let’s be real, I have no dignity) to take. I think it looks great despite me pulling it down a million times all day to nurse (I mentioned I have no dignity). My last two necklines were not so great. I think I’m perfecting the “stretch the collar not the shirt” secret to successful knit necklines? And here is a link to the Etsy shop I got that teething necklace from.

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#memademay #biscayneblouse

It’s the last day of May, so I’m going to talk about #memademay which is a project where people document themselves wearing clothing they’ve made.  I love the idea, and since none of my clothes fit right after the baby, it’s good timing for me to get into garment sewing anyway.  I think I might be *gasp* a little bored with quilting!?! I’m sure it will come back to me. I think I was just ready for a new challenge, and I got a little bit obsessed! I made some shirts, skirts, and more skirts.

I tested a new blouse pattern, the Biscayne Blouse by Adrianne Appl at Hey June Handmade. It was my first time testing a pattern, and made me realize HOLY COW pattern designing must be so incredibly difficult. Don’t get me wrong, I always feel like anyone who is designing bag and garment patterns must be basically magical because things that seem impossible to me just fly together like magic when I actually read and follow the instructions.

But it was really fun to be a little bit on the inside of the process and really increased my respect for people who have the ability to clearly explain complicated sewing techniques. This blouse is not hard  per se, but it definitely uses sophisticated techniques that I had no experience with. It’s super wrinkly here, but, you know, real life happens.

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This is a blousy blouse, it is gorgeous in silkier, flowier fabrics than what I used, and a little poofy in the cotton/spandex blend and vintage polyester I used in my two versions – but I still like them both and will definitely wear them.

It is loose fitting and a lot of the testers went down a size, but I made my based on the recommended size for my measurements. I think the finished shirt looks professional despite my sloppy approach and inexperience. All the seams are enclosed, which I would have thought would be intimidating, but she explains everything so well!

As a fabric choice warning, I will say I had more issues with the placket on the white shirt. Because it was heavier fabric, I didn’t fully interface it, and it didn’t make very crisp lines when I ironed it. I kind of lost track of my folds and chaos ensued. But I’m sure after a few washes the little flaws will disappear.
#biscayneblouse

I like the loose fit, partly because it’s more comfortable and very easy to pull up for nursing. I’m a fan of the “wear two shirts and pull up the top shirt to nurse” team vs. the “wear a shirt that opens and pull it down to expose the breast” team. I think mainly because I had a winter baby and exposing any extra skin was not a good idea.  But  ANYWAY, whichever camp you’re in, this shirt works great because the button placket could definitely be pulled open for nursing.

#biscayneblouse

I had a ton of fun working on these shirts. And the navy fabric was free from some trash pile years ago and the white fabric was $3 so yay! Don’t judge the pattern based on my sloppy shirts here, by the way~ I’m such a beginner to garment sewing. This is a fun pattern and it looked great on all the testers with many different body sizes – I totally recommend it!

I’m looking at the Hey June Evergreen Jacket now. Doesn’t it look cool? I like the idea of doing it some novelty fabric like this girly heart stuff.

Also Hey June has this adorable free pattern for a girl’s knit dress.

Knit Challenge Part II: Tank Girl

My husband saw me printing out the pattern for this Tiny Tank Dress and said, “Oh, tanks, perfect for Josie. Is it for when she’s driving her tank?” I have been joking that she looks like a cross between Charlize Theron in Mad Max and post-Soviet bloc dictator, so it’s natural his mind went to the war machine type of tank vs. the summer shirt.

Here we are in our matching tank driving shirts. Except I guess you can’t hardly tell they’re matching…

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Anyway, suitable for tank driving or chewing on, I made her a little tank dress with the last of my Charley Harper Knit from the awesome Knit Challenge sponsored by Fabricworm and organized by Rachel at Stitched in Color.

I cobbled it together out of the scraps from my previous projects with this fabric. I split the dress back into two panels — one of them had to be cut upside down. Waste not, want not. I am a scrap quilter at heart so I hate having any leftover fabric.

The straps are just bias tape which also finishes the arm holes. I used a stretch triple straight stitch on the arms and on the hem. Probably not the best choice for a hem, as it is so slow even on this little dress I was falling asleep at the wheel. By far the biggest barrier I still feel when approaching sewing stretchy fabrics is my sewing machine set up.

I have a serger and a straight stitch Brother 1500 neither of which you can do finishing with for knits (that I can figure out!). I also have an old Pfaff with an injured bobbin case (due to a bent needle disaster) that causes it to stitch weird a lot – including when I tried to use a twin needle – lots of skipped stitches and puckering. It seems to be able to manage the triple straight stitch so that worked for this project. Maybe I’ll try a blind hem to finish my next skirt?
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My verdict: Ugh, not happy with how it looks up close!

Baby’s verdict: It’s delicious, thank you.

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Knit Challenge: Charley Harper Knit Syrah Skirt and Layer Me Up Tank

Phew, I finished my Fabricworm Knit Challenge in time.  It was a great chance to tackle the terrifying beast that is knit fabric.

I was so happy to have the opportunity to play with this beautiful fabric! I experimented with two patterns. First up: the skirt!

Charley Harper Barn Swallows Knit Fabric
I covered my first two rounds with the Syrah Skirt pattern here. It’s a great basic skirt pattern and it can be used as a maxi skirt or a shorter version. I looked at about a million patterns before choosing it, but it’s probably going to become a serious percentage of my summer wardrobe.

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Syrah Skirt

I love the blog Stitched in Color and was so tickled to be chosen to receive some free beautiful Birch Knits from Fabricworm.com. The other folks chosen are listed here.

I took the challenge seriously! I got a serger back in December as my Christmas gift. It was a super deal on a Brother 1034D – but unfortunately too good of a deal – it was broken! Luckily Brother had a good warranty and I got it fixed – and picked it up from the shop two days before the baby was born.

Fast forward 3.5 months and  I was very excited to finally get to use my serger – which for those who don’t know, is a special sewing machine that is particularly good for sewing stretchy fabrics.  They are intimidating! But actually super easy to use and made sewing these skirts a dream. I find the Brother 1034D to be kinda clunky and buggy and very noisy but I don’t know if that’s because mine’s still kinda broken, or they are always like that.

After much debate and staring at patterns during nursing sessions, I chose to make the Syrah Skirt by independent pattern designer Selvage Designs. I’ve heard that independent pattern designers are easier to follow for new sewists, and this pattern was definitely full of little helpful hints. I have been quilting for over a decade, but stretchy materials as basically terrifying to me.

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