Super simple sweater embellishment

6.29.2010

Today I thought I'd share a super simple sweater decoration I just did on this lovely, but somewhat plain sweater I have.  It's cute but sort of washed too many times, and a little less crisp-looking than when it was new.  I have a pink sweater of a very lightweight wool that has ivory cotton lace around the neckline (it's from a resale store, but looks very Anthro to me), and though its lace is woven into the knit, it gave me the idea to add lace to any neckline!
So here's the plain sweater:
And here's how it looked after I added a little off-white cotton chunky lace to it, just hand-stitching all around the neck:
Takes it from preppy to funky-artsy-pretty, right?  Now I can pair it with a print skirt or chunky belt, and some cool jewelry!

Sewing Circle: How to make a twisted hem (and learn from mistakes)

6.28.2010

Welcome to Sewing Circle!
I take your questions by email and respond as best I can, and you all fill in the rest! This time, Bethany asked...
Q: I've been trying to create a "twisted hem" and I cannot for the life of me figure it out and it's driving me NUTS! I attached some pictures so you can get an idea of what I'm talking about. It's something I've seen mostly on the hemlines, it looks like the fabric has been shifted so that it creates a textured, layered look. It's hard to describe. I think it'd be a pretty touch to a dress or a skirt, or maybe on the hem of a sleeve or the facing of a neckline.
I tried to re-create the look but I just can't get it! If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them!
A: Great question, Bethany!  It stumped me, too, at first, but I consulted my knowledgeable sewing advisers (well, my mom and her friends!) and figured it out.  So, this week's Sewing Circle features the tutorial for this twisted hem detail!
I used my mom's advice as well as a related tutorial on a twisted neck band for a t-shirt here.  I tried it out on the hem of a simple paper bag skirt that I made out of an old comforter cover (I made a dress out of it, too, and blogged about it here, but had plenty of extra left over!).  You can add the twisted hem detail to just about anything, but it does look cute on these gathered top/paper bag skirts in the photos Bethany sent me.  If you want to do something similar, here's a paper bag skirt tutorial at BurdaStyle.  I thought there were tons out there but when I went looking for them, this was all I found, and a video from ThreadBanger.  Maybe I should have done a tute for this skirt, too... anyone interested in a how-to for the paper bag skirt?  Maybe I could post one soon.  Let me know!
So I'll start the tutorial with the skirt already assembled.  Here we go:
  • Make sure you have enough fabric to cut some bias strips of at least twice plus 1" the desired width of your twisted hem.  I wanted mine about 1 1/2" wide, so I cut 4" wide bias.  I recommend cutting yours even wider; it might look better that way (now that I've done it I know!).
  • We're going to add a bias strip at the bottom of the skirt, which we'll sort of offset and pull back onto itself to get the twisted look.  So, assemble your bias strips--enough to go around the bottom of your skirt.
  • Snip, draw on, or otherwise mark (pins wouldn't work well, but any other marker) every 2" or so on one side of the bias.  I used approximately 1/4" deep snips.  We're basically going to offset the strip by 1", but you could do less--don't do more than 1".  So, cut every 2" on one side, and cut every 2" on the other side, starting 1" from where you began on the bottom.  See, I'm cutting at 0", 2", 4", and so on on the bottom and 1", 3", 5", etc. on the top of my bias.
  • Press under 1/2" on your bias strip on one side only before you sew it on.
  • Sew your skirt and bias strips together, right sides together, on the side without the 1/2" turn-under.
  • I always stop just shy of the end when I get all the way around, cut my thread, and sew the two ends together parallel, then press that seam open and sew back over to finish the band.  You can also measure the circumference of your skirt at the bottom and create basically a tube of bias exactly that size if you want only bias seams on the band.
  • Press the seam allowance toward the bias band.
  • Here's the hard part.  It can be very time-consuming and annoying!  But trust me, it is possible--this is like, the ultimate manipulation of fabric.  I'm exaggerating, but it feels true in the moment. ;).  Pin the 1/2" turned-under side of the bias band to the skirt band, matching the notches.  That's right--you'll match notch to notch, but it's actually 1" off, so it'll pull and fight you and look terrible for a while.  Once you get three or four of them pinned, it's not so bad.  I pulled out my fabric marker to mark the top sides of the bias band, since the 1/4" deep snips won't show during this part unless you open up the bias band.  Try to offset the bias band about 1/8" from the seam that holds the bottom of the skirt and the top of the bias band together.
  • Now, try to "stitch in the ditch" to attach the twisted bias band to the hem of the skirt.  This is why you need to offset up to 1/8", so you can sew just over your original seam and catch the bottom of the twisted bias.
  • Press your skirt and twisted bias band flat.  Hopefully it lays pretty much flat!
That's it, you're done!
It's not a tutorial for beginners, but I'm sure you can do as well as I did--these pics are from my first try, and it's far from perfect!  But now I get the general idea.  I thought I'd also list all my mistakes and things I'll do differently next time:
  • Offsetting 1" may have been too extreme.  I'd like to see what it looks like with only 1/2", and if that's not drastic enough, maybe 3/4".
  • I would like to try again using a more appropriate fabric.  The lightweight cotton chambray from my recycled comforter cover is more of a shirting weight, and isn't really appropriate for a skirt unless it's a looser, gathered style.  The lightweight nature of the fabric also had a hard time supporting the awkward twisted bias band.  If you must use a lightweight fabric, I recommend interfacing the bottom few inches of the skirt--fusible interfacing, tacked down with hand-stitching, maybe?
  • I wish my bias band had been wider!  It would show off the twisted feature more if it were a larger part of the skirt.  I'll try 5" next time.  This time I underestimated how much the twisting would take away from the width of the finished band.
  • I would like to try it without folding the bias band under 1/2" first--it won't ravel anyway since it's on the bias, and it may have added to the comparative bulk of the twisted band to the thin skirt.
So, what other tips do all you out there have for Bethany in making a twisted hem?  Have you ever done it before?  If not, is it something you'd ever try?
Thanks for chiming in and thanks for reading Sewing Circle!

Sunshine yellow seersucker

6.27.2010

It's finally looking like summer here in Oregon (my favorite time of year and favorite place to enjoy it in!).  The sun is out, not a cloud in the sky, temperature in the 80's.  I'm predicting another couple cold, rainy days before the consistent sunshine and hot, dry weather of July, August, and September, but for today it's sunny and beautiful out and I hope everyone is enjoying an equally lovely Sunday!
In the spirit of sunshine, I thought I'd share with you a summery dress I made the other day out of a cute yellow seersucker I found at Goodwill in the fabric section--a couple yards, I think, for $1.99 for the piece!  Sometimes you get lucky there.

I thought about what to make out of it and thought about something sweet with puffed sleeves, like this ModCloth number:
But in the end I thought it might look too sweet and youthful in the thin striped yellow and white seersucker.  So I went for simplicity and thought about the classic J.Crew strapless dress with skirt pleated into the waist.  I wasn't sure if it would be too simple in that style, though, so I thought about embellishment.  I remember the embroidered strapless dress from Anthropologie last season, the Airplane Wright Dress by Moulinette Soeurs:
And I had some leftover multi-color, including yellow and white, cotton crocheted granny squares from an old pillow project.  I thought about putting them, or some applique contrast fabric in flower shapes, at the hem.  But I wasn't sure.

Here are some other simple dresses with dressed-up skirts, this one from Anthro:

This from ModCloth:

And then there's the beautiful basics of J.Crew, this one in a textured fabric for interest with the super plain style.

I ended up making the dress in a simple style (I used this pattern (McCall's M5849, again--I use it a lot!)

But I pleated the skirt rather than gather it.  I thought I'd put the dress together and finish it, and decide later if it needed embellishment.  Here it is plain:

I like it, and I think it does have a simple J.Crew-ey feel, but if I wanted it to go more toward the Anthro side, maybe I should decorate the skirt.  What do you think??

I'd love to hear your thoughts, but don't spend too much time on it unless you're on the deck with a laptop--if your early summer weather is as nice as ours is!

How the pros make cute embellished tees

6.25.2010

I do a lot of tee makeovers and upcycles here, and I love to copy store-bought tees, but rarely do I make one from scratch using knit fabric.  I hate sewing on knits--it's kinda hard, and always more frustrating than sewing on simple woven cotton!  I've learned a few tips and tricks white doing my tee refashions and reading other bloggers' projects, but I still generally avoid using knits.  I've literally made... three knit garments in my life.  Seriously.  And usually, I didn't do things a whole lot differently than I would have with a woven garment or store-bought tee, depending on the project.  But I got an email from CraftStylish about this tutorial for replicating a decorated tee (some of you may have received it, too) and I thought I should share with you how the pros over there recommend you go about it.  If you're interested in really doing it right and learning how to make your own tees, do check out this feature on CraftStylish. At first it's intimidating, since there are about a million steps in the process, and I don't always do all of them, but the tee they make does turn out looking really good!  I think in the case of sewing on knits, it pays to follow the rules.
What do you think?  How have you learned to sew on knits, or do you avoid them altogether?

IKEA-Anthropologie meld

6.24.2010

I ran across these crazy images from a new designer for IKEA, Lo Bjurulf--take a look at these images!  Can you believe this is IKEA???  Apartment Therapy claims they have "obvious nods to Anthropologie and the movement toward rustic eclecticism," which is a very interesting and different way for IKEA to lean!  I like IKEA, but get tired of the same few pieces with slight variation repeated over and over, so it's great to see some of the basics styled in a new way and some wildly different pieces in these beautiful and fanciful settings.  A lot of it is lighting, but look at the amazing old-fashioned mixed with colorful mixed with mid-century vintage mixed with Anthropologie-ey style that Lo gets... feels a lot more usable or realistic for a home, in a way, than the sometimes sterile and simple typical IKEA look.  I like soft lines and variation in color and texture for the place I live in, although I like some of the funky modern stuff in the store.  Anyway.  What do you think?  Trying too hard to be something it's not, or is IKEA onto something here?
Crazy stuff, huh?
But seriously, what do you think of this new look?  What's your favorite room?

New embellished tee tutorial on The How-To Gal

6.23.2010

I've got a new tutorial for a simple embellished tee, inspired by a few different ones from Anthro, a very pretty way to dress up a tee and use up old fabric scraps!  It's posted on The How-To Gal today, so be sure to check it out!  Anna Rose has a great blog at How-To Gal showing all kinds of helpful tips, tricks and tutorials.
My tutorial, posted today, is a super easy project to dress up a tee like this type from Anthropologie:
I did a similar project here last January but today I show you an actual tutorial of how to do it yourself!
Here's what it will look like!
Trust me, it's super easy.
Oh, and by the way, last week when I showed a year-old pic of me in a navy and white dress I made, so many of you said you like seeing my face in my posts.  Haha, I know I usually cut off my head, but it's because so often my blog pictures are taken at like nine in the morning and I throw my pajamas back on after, and of course have no makeup on and a big claw clip holding my messy bedhead hair back.  I don't want that face all over the internet!  I will try to take more blog pics when I look nice, though, so you can tie a face to my usually headless body!
Hope you enjoy the tutorial at The How-To Gal!

Finally made myself an elastic waist skirt

6.22.2010

I'm sure you've seen these simple elastic-waist skirts around the blogosphere and at stores (Forever 21 and BP in Nordstrom have tons of them!  And I bet Target and Old Navy, pretty much anywhere cheap and with selection).  But I know I can make one myself, so I just bought some cute Guatemalan-inspired woven stripe with some beautiful colors in a soft cotton, and some wide elastic, and threw this together!

I always like things that I can wear with my jean jacket, since it's sort of hard to pair with things.
I made this skirt significantly longer than the little tiny mini teenybopper ones I've seen at the stores, since, well, important coverage.  But I think it's a little too long, don't you?  With the fullness and all, it just doesn't totally work for me.  I'll probably shorten it a little.

I'm happy to do a tutorial for how I did this, but just a quick search already yeilded these great tutorials for this type of skirt!
Freshly Picked
Crafty Mariko
Ruffles and Stuff
Eternal Magpie
So, if you're interested in making one, check those out!

I don't think I have a favorite, since I did mine slightly different than all of the ones I list, and honestly they are all a little more complicated than what I did on mine!  I will say that I encourage you to sew the elastic on the gathered part off-set, rather than right sides together (like Eternal Magpie and Ruffles and Stuff's tutorials do).

Also, I only needed 3/4 of a yard for this skirt!
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