Thursday, November 22, 2018


My mother taught me how to sew, and her mother taught her. We have a rich family history of sewing and I couldn't be more thankful for the mentor-ship of my mom and her sister Karen.

This year I had the opportunity to tackle a sewing project with the help of both my mom and Aunt Karen and captured some of their advice along the way. I wanted to share their nuggets of gold with you; I hope you find them as helpful as I do!

Tips from Aunt Karen included, "before you cut anything out, treat your fabric like you would the garment. Every fabric, every time." This tip allows a sewer to avoid shrinking of finished garments, dye bleeding, and other potential fabric laundering issues. She also suggested it was best to adhere interfacing to the inside (toward your skin) when possible in case it wrinkles. For example, she would suggest that I adhere fusible interfacing to the interior collar stand instead of the exterior panel of a collared shirt.

My mom, quoting her mother, told me the best way to decide on button placement is to always start with a button in the place with the greatest pull (across the bust or hips) and to place the rest of your buttons evenly from there. What an amazing tip! She also taught me that to set my stitches and make a crisp seam I could spray water (from a separate spray bottle) to steam my garment without burning my fingers.

I've learned a lot about sewing this year, spending intentional time watching, reading, and practicing my craft. With advice like that of my mom and Aunt Karen I can create better garments than I could purchase. I'm so incredibly thankful for the advice of my mom and Aunt Karen any time I have difficulty interpreting a pattern or deciding on an appropriate fabric. Now to enact their advice on my next project!

What tips have you learned from your sewing mentors?

Photography by K.Willerick Photography. Go check out her site!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Autumn Rifle Paper Co. Fringe Dress

I've had my eye on Chalk & Notch's Fringe dress pattern for a while now and was finally inspired to make my own autumn version when I saw this burgandy Amalfi Rifle Paper Co. rayon at my local fabric store.

I've had a crush on Rifle Paper Co. fabric for a while now, and have a sizable hoard, but have been too afraid to cut into any of my stash. Until now. And I'm so glad I did!

I purchased my Fringe dress pattern a few weeks in advance and had it printed using This was my first time printing indie patterns through an online .pdf printer and I was surprised at how easy and inexpensive they were to print. If I can plan far enough in advance I will certainly be doing this for the rest of my indie patterns.

I was very thoughtful about how I cut out my pattern pieces, aligning floral motifs across top and bottom pieces. I used my rotary cutter and mat to cut out the fabric pieces for the first time and was fairly happy with how that worked, although I should probably get a smaller rotary cutter if I plan to cut more patterns this way in the future. I made a mistake at this point and accidentally cut out the material for the darts. Thankfully this dress isn't extremely fitted and I was able to take slightly thinner seams and still make it work.

I had difficulty turning the ties and ended up simply ironing and top stitching them. I also sewed the ties into the side seams instead of the darts, as a stylistic preference. Although I thought I was being careful I caught about 1/2" of the right tie in the back waistline seam. I decided not to pick out that seam and re-sew it since I am likely to only tie the ties in the back of the dress and I had already serged the seam when I discovered my mistake.

I really like how this pattern dealt with the insertion of pockets. This pattern called for fusible stabilizer at the opening of the pockets, which I'm sure will make a big difference in how well the dress wears over time. Once the pockets were completed I tacked them toward the front. I plan to add stabilizer to all of my pocket openings in the future as well as tack them in place.

I love sewing with wovens and this rayon was a dream to work with. I especially like how this fabric ironed so well, allowing me to get a crisp neckline facing and curved hem. I will certainly be using more of my Rifle Paper Co. stash in the near future and hope to make the Fringe dress again too.

Time estimated: 12 hours
Size: 4
Material used: 100% rayon
Care instructions: machine wash warm or cold, tumble dry low, iron low in needed

Cost to make t-shirt:
pattern - $14.00
.pdf printing - $4.00
fabric - $41.25
*used existing thread and interfacing
TOTAL: $59.25

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Autumn Vibes Lark Tee

In September I took my first sewing class at a local fabric shop, The French Seam. Over the course of two, three hour long sessions each participant made their own Lark Tee. I was excited for the opportunity to learn a few additional tips and tricks about sewing with knits and was glad I took the class.

I decided to make the v-neck version with long sleeves, which seemed fitting for the autumnal themed fabric I selected, Floral Glow in Twilit by Art Gallery Fabrics. Thankfully sewing with a group of other women allowed us the opportunity to tissue fit our pattern pieces before cutting our fashion fabric. I traced my pattern pieces onto medical exam paper and cut out a size six.

Right off the bat our instructor Deb suggested something radical, sewing knits with a universal needle and a straight stitch. Deb and I agree that a straight stitch looks more professional, so I was game to try it! According to Deb's experience a longer straight stitch is more elastic than smaller, packed stitches. The heavier the fabric, the longer the stitches. I used a medium weight knit with a 3.0 stitch length. It is also important not to use too high of a speed while sewing the garment.

Since this fabric has a fairly obvious directional print, but the pattern pieces didn't have notches on the sides, Deb suggested that I trace the motif on my pattern to get good alignment when cutting out my fabric. This tip worked well and I will definitely be using it again in the future!

Before doing anything else I marked the stitch line of the v-neck and added a line of stay stitching just inside the stitch line. This is only the second v-neck t-shirt I've made, so I was glad to have Deb's assistance. It turned out better than my first one, but I hope to get it more crisp in the future. Thankfully the pattern of the fabric helps to camouflage this slightly less than crisp neckline.

I used stay tape in the shoulder seams and in the bottom hem. I stitched 1" knit stay tape, glue side up, to the bottom of the shirt. Then I turned the hem up, ironed it in place, and topstitched it. A few additional things I learned from Deb about ironing are to not wiggle my iron while ironing as it could stretch and misshape the garment and create wrinkles somewhere else. I also had the opportunity to use a wood clapper to set my seams after ironing.

I really like the Lark Tee and will definitely make this pattern again. Next time I make it I plan to grade the pattern to a size four at the waist for a slightly more fitted t-shirt. I can see a closet full of Lark Tees in my future!

Time estimate: 6 hours
Size: 6, long sleeve v-neck
Material used: 95% cotton, 5% spandex
Care instructions: machine wash cold, tumble dry low

Cost to make:
class - $65
pattern - $18
fabric - $25, 1.5 yards
thread - $2
TOTAL: $110 plus tax

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Halifax Hoodie

Near the end of last month my Instagram feed started to fill up with a bunch of gorgeous Halifax hoodies. I have had my eye on this pattern for a while, and seeing all the other gorgeous makes was just the motivation I needed to make my own!

I had originally envisioned making a cowl neck version of the hoodie in a navy blue french terry with drawstrings, until I found this gorgeous dimensional gray knit at JoAnn. Since this fabric does have a pattern I had to be thoughtful of how I cut it out and assembled it. Luckily this wasn't a directional pattern and I didn't need any extra fabric. In this version I opted not to add the drawstrings for a more polished look.

It was a very quick make with a fresh ball point needle and my walking foot. I can't believe I waited this long to try my walking foot. It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it would be to attach and use and I will definitely be using it more regularly in the future.

I'm thrilled with how this make turned out, although I wish the cowl was slightly more relaxed. I left the sleeves long so I wouldn't have the chance of any exposed skin in the cold winter months, but will probably shorten them a bit in the future as well. I will certainly make this pattern again, likely in a variety of styles!

Time estimate: 4 hours
Size: small, view D
Material used: 50% cotton, 46% polyester, 3% spandex, 1% metallic
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cycle, cold, non-chlorine bleach, line dry, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - $10
fabric - $24, 2 yards
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: $34

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Favorite Tee

The aptly named "favorite tee" is my first Patterns for Pirates make and it certainly won't be my last!
My wardrobe recently had both black and light brown RTW t-shirts similar to the long sleeved, curved hem top which were cheaply made and needed to be replaced, so I made this wearable muslin to test the pattern and was very happy with the results.

This pattern was extremely quick and easy to assemble. The most difficult part of completing this garment was finishing the curved hem. I used twin needles, at about 1/2" from the unfinished edge, with tear-away stabilizer to reduce tunneling. I am happy with the finished results, although it is a bit nerve wrecking to hem so close to the cut edge of my fabric from the top!

Next time I make a favorite tee I will probably shorten the neckband slightly; this one seems a bit too big and doesn't lay as flatly as I would like it to. I can't wait to make a few more versions of this top with that one slight adjustment!

Time estimate: 2 hours
Size: small
Material used: knit blend, pre-washed and dryed
Care instructions: machine wash gentle cold, tumble dry low, cool iron

Cost to make:
pattern - $9 + cost of paper, ink and tape to print and assemble 
fabric - gifted
*thread from my stash
TOTAL: estimated $10