Photoshop As A Design Tool

I am experimenting with using Photoshop as a design tool. This is the first attempt at sketching an illustration with Photoshop. I haven’t really used Photoshop as a drawing tool before; mostly it’s for editing my photography.

The idea behind this sketch is clearly tribal bellydance style with a typical 10 yard skirt and tribal tassel belt. This is a look I really want to develop into my own style, probably through embroidery, hand dyed fabrics and something else that makes it my own and unique. The overskirt is an idea I’m playing with, where there is dimension and texture built up in layers on the skirt itself; this one uses strips of fabric? Just one more step towards creating the Global Garb collection!



Global Garb

Trying to launch the Global Garb collection I’m inspired to create! I need some fabric from Dharma Trading, some thread for the embroidery, and a little bit of gumption to #createsomething.


Polka Dotty Goodness

I haven’t been able to post much lately, or sew much lately either. I have finished the “polka dotty goodness” project, my final project and replaced a zipper on a motorcycle jacket (not well, mind you).

So, I present, a very ucky photo of the polka dots… a baby swimsuit and swim cap. Also not well done… you can’t see the issues with it here. 😉

Oh, I forgot to mention I designed the pattern for this. Swimsuits are hard. The crotch and shoulder seams are messy.

Feels a Bit Snug

First and foremost, WordPress is driving me crazy. It takes me like 6 clicks just to get to this Add New Post screen. That’s too many. It’s too much work.

Second, I am working on too much at once. Trying to sew with a cranky baby is nigh impossible. She was napping for a little bit, so over the past several days I managed to get the shirt dress cut out, darts sewn, and major seams (French, thankyouverymuch) complete. In order to finish this project, I need to get the collars and sleeves on, hem and buttons. And the whole thing feels a bit snug… it was ok at the first fitting, but now it feels snug. That makes me a bit cranky.

Shirt Dress Progress

With the princess seam dress project behind me, I’m moving onto the shirt dress. I have a pattern… Marfy 9876.

And I also like this Simplicity pattern from the 1960s, but I’d have to track it down and buy it online.

But that is all the shirt dress progress I have made. DH and DD have both been sick as dogs all weekend. I’ve made it so far as to pin the Marfy pattern onto my dress form and see if I can make a go of it.

I’m also considering designing a swimsuit for DD. She is toddler size now and I cannot find any bathing suit patterns! The swinwear fabric I scoped out at Joann’s is also three shades of atrocious. This project TBD. Either way, she’ll need a bathing suit for the summer beach excursions. I fully intend to go to 1st beach this summer! (Hear that, DH… yes, we are going to Newport).

Kick Pleats With a Cherry On Top

I finished the dress. Woot.

The kick pleats were torn apart and re-pressed, re-sewn not once, not twice, but THREE times. They finally laid flat, so I said don’t lets do it over again.

Image Image

I also sewed the hem with the machine blind hem stitch. (There is supposedly a blind hem foot too, but I didn’t look to see if I had one). The verdict: LOVED. IT. I may never sew a hem by hand again.

Finally, I designed and created my own embroidery accessory for the dress. The cherries were designed in Adobe Illustrator, brought into the “stitcherizer” software, saved as the .pes format my machine uses, moved the file over, and stitched away. I’m not totally liking the stem/leaf part, and there is quite the learning curve with stitcherizing, but I think this certainly opens up my creativity!


I attached said cherries to a hair accessory: one of those snap barettes. The package made me laugh. So much for translation services.


Kick Pleats What Kicked My Butt

After spending the entire weekend sewing – thank you DH! – I nearly have a princess seam dress. This was an assignment for the Dressmaking and Design course I’m taking, and I had to adjust the pattern to fit. After making a muslin and tweaking the pattern at the neckline, I scrounged for some fabric in my fabric bin. I discovered I have a good deal of velvet. (Also, several yards of denim! and some brocades). DH decided on the red velvet, and we purchased red lining for it.

The princess seams are not fun, but totally doable. The kick pleats what kicked my butt. I wanted a double pleat kick pleat, so I did some research to try to figure out how to do them. Then, during the process of sewing, I did them backwards (I wanted an inverted pleat). Sigh. So I messed up what coulda shoulda woulda been a very neat dress. What I learned: KEEP YOUR DESIGN SKETCHBOOK NEXT TO YOUR SEWING TABLE! If I had only referred to my sketch during the sewing process, the whole fiasco could have been avoided. The lining was also a challenge, and I think had I not been obsessing about how to line the kick pleats (the answer is to stop the lining at the edge of the kick pleat), I would not have reversed the pleats. I was over thinking it. Yup.

Last step is to let the dress (and myself) rest overnight. Then I’ll do the hems. I also plan to embroider a hair clip to go with it.


A Woman Who Sews

What am I? There are all these words to describe people who sew. Tailor, dressmaker, sewist. What is it I do, exactly?

I looked at the definition of these words before adding a few adjectives to my blog recently. A few people out there have talked about this already, but I wanted to add my 2¢. (Incidentally, I recently learned that it costs 2¢ to make a penny. Talk about inflation.)

Here are a few of those articles/blogs:

Seamstress: a woman who sews, especially as a job. This term defines only a woman who sews; the male counterpart is “seamster”. The word seems antiquated, but I actually like it! The word has been in use since the 16th century.

Dressmaker: a person who makes women’s clothes. In use since the 19th century.

Tailor: a person whose occupation is making or altering outer garments. However, this term used to define only a man who made or altered garments with the female version being “tailoress”. Tailoress sounds odd. I guess that’s why it was changed. In use since the 13th century.

Clothier: one that makes or sells clothing or cloth. Nope, that’s not me. Yet. This word has been used since the 14th century.

Couturier: an establishment engaged in couture, or one who designs for or owns such an establishment. First used in the late 19th century. Sounds complicated. And French.

Sewer: one that sews. In use since the 14th century. The problem with this word is that is has too many denotations, with the most popular referring to the place where sewage exists. Sounds gross. I know a lot of people use this one, though.

Sewist: one who sews. This one has recently crept into greater use in the blogosphere. Perhaps it is meant to be gender neutral? hipsterish? I’m not sure. It’s not even a real word. I personally don’t like it. The first documented use of the word was in the 1960s.

I chose seamstress or dressmaker to describe myself. I particularly like seamstress, even though it does sound outdated. I have a romantic vision of myself as a Victorian seamstress with lovely dresses in the shop window in London. Here is seamstress translated into many different languages.  Maybe I’ll go with syerske.

Antique Singer Sewing Machine
Antique Singer Sewing Machine

Not To Be Avoided

As I was finishing up my National Sewing Month contest entry, I realized that 99% of patterns have hand sewing. Even a simple pillow has to be hand sewn after turning and stuffing. When I was a lazy youth, I avoided hand sewing and finishing. I would do the least amount of work necessary to call a project “done”. Clearly, a bad choice – my garments were at the best ill fitting, and at the worst a hot mess. (That term was coined by the fashion industry, right?)

As  I matured, I begin to be more complete, almost meticulous with my hand sewing and finishing. Hems, slipstitching and closures such as buttons are not only necessary, they also add polish and finesse to a garment. They are not to be avoided. Yet, they still tend to be cumbersome, especially at the end of a project when I am losing steam with my enthusiasm about the thing I’m sewing.

Some of the tricks I’ve learned along the way that I love, and that help speed that final process of hand sewn details:

  • Buttons should be sewn on using two layers of thread. Run the thread through beeswax and then across a warm iron to prevent tangles and knots. This has made the button-sewing experience SO MUCH more pleasurable.
  • Slipstitch, when done correctly, is a wonderful thing. Pick up little bits with the needle, hide the stitch between layers of fabric, and come back up about 1/4″ later to secure again. I like to hold my project in a spread hand so that I can move along quickly with my slipstitch.
  • Blind hem is a must for skirts and dress pants. Topstitiching, rolled hem or other choices just doesn’t cut it. To get this hem perfect, I press press press beforehand, and use a bit of non-damaging adhesive to get the over fold just right. Because the little thread dots can sometimes be visible enough on the front, I work on making stitch lengths identical. Measure the space between each stitch with a ruler or a premade measure, like a piece of paper with the desired length. I place the paper strip down, take a stitch, then pull it out to tighten my threads. Repeat. A lot.

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