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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

  

Getting Pretty Serious

I am doing what’s called “getting pretty serious” about sewing. While I have been slacking a bit in the garment making area, I have been working on expanding my skills.

First, I am taking a Dressmaking and Design course through Penn Foster. While I would prefer a local, hands on classroom approach, it is hard to do so with baby and while working full time. This was the best choice for me right now. I will always consider more education in the future, especially workshops or other hands on sewing experience. This course is actually serving me quite well. I have learned a considerable amount in the first two thirds of lessons that I have completed. There are also activities that get me in front of a sewing machine, with the next assignment to include pattern adjustment of a princess seam sheath dress which I plan to make out of leather (or faux leather at the very least).

Second, I have had the wonderful opportunity to do some alterations. While I have done alterations sporadically in the past, I am glad to be able to use my skills to benefit others. Thank you dear alterations clients!

Third, I have taken the plunge and purchased a very entry level embroidery machine. Embroidery machines can cost thousands. I did not spend nearly that much, so I’m hoping the little guy I got will serve me well. My husband was adorable because he asked if it was something we could use for awhile. Well, it has a 20 year warranty, so… yeah? It uses the PES format of embroidery designs, and it has a USB connection so I can shop to my heart’s delight then transfer designs right over to the machine from my computer. Gotta love technology!

On a final note, I enjoyed Madonna’s multiple costume changes because she is keeping fashion designers and seamstresses busy!

“I’m a material girl… want to see my fabric collection?”  ~Author Unknown

Alternative Zipper Stops

While moving the hem up on a pair of pants, I encountered a challenge. These track pants have a side zipper at the bottom. I could (and probably should) move the entire zipper up the seam, or I can cut off the zipper at the new hem edge. I did not want to have to reset the entire zipper, so I chose to cut it off. However, that meant I was without a zipper bottom stop. I attempted to salvage the existing zipper stops, but the metal became weak and broke. I didn’t have a ready supply of replacement zipper stops, so I began to look for something else to use. I found these in my jewelry supply stash: crimp bead covers. These easily fit over the zipper teeth and I simply clamped them around and flat against the zipper teeth with my flat nosed pliers. In my opinion, I think it looks much cleaner than standard replacement zipper stops!

 

Perfect Vintage-Inspired Shirt Dress

A few years ago, I wanted to make a shirt dress. My inspiration came from a few places: one was a dress worn by the character Sofie on Carnivale, and another was a runway dress from the Ralph Lauren Spring 2010 collection. My perfect vintage-inspired shirt dress falls somewhere between these two.

My niece, blogging down a Retro Rabbit Hole, has recently gotten back into sewing garments. Which is great, because that means I don’t have to talk to myself about sewing anymore! (Don’t worry, the Sewliloquies moniker isn’t going away). Her recent sewing adventures have inspired me to become reacquainted with my shirt dress. I even have the fabric for it. I bought this great light blue fabric with a teensy floral print all over it, just for the occasion. I’m undecided about the lace sleeves seen on the Sofie dress; I’ve done lace sleeves before on my Victorian garb, and I love the pleating, but I’m not sure I want my shirt dress that girly. What I do love are the little red buttons on the Ralph Lauren inspiration dress. And the piped pockets. I’m digging the piped pockets.

 

Buttonhole Scissors

On a trip to my local Half Price Books, I scored a copy of Nancy Zieman’s Nancy’s Favorite 101 Notions book for $9. While I was perusing it (in between getting ready to go back to work tomorrow and taking care of baby) I saw something unusual. There is a handy little cutting device called buttonhole scissors. Buttonhole scissors!

There is a little screw on these things that you can use to adjust the buttonhole size you want to cut out. Apparently you put the scissors over the edge and they cut out just the buttonhole area. I so want a pair!

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.

My Sewing Corner

Another summer has passed and I have sewn very little. I have many goals, but some of those goals are taken longer than expected to reach. The reality is I need to make the time to sew. I haven’t had the time to go clothes shopping either, so its not just the garment making that’s suffering.

I would like to work on some fall clothes, including the eggplant corduoroy pants, and some blouses. I’d actually like to also make the necklace from fall colored crochet beads I have…jewelry making also feels like a distant dream.

I have been drawing some sketches for the Project Runway sketch contest; it is fun, is letting me create some great ideas for my wardrobe, and hey I might win something. My favorite idea at the moment is brown velvet pants that have ribbed knit right below the knee. I think I’m going to use that idea for the Sew News Style Star contest where you take an existing pattern and modify, alter and embellish it. There is also a National Sewing Month contest, but I don’t have any ideas yet. In the end, entering design and sewing contests will help keep me motivated to spend more time in my sewing corner.

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