Weekend inspiration: In the moments before the housewarming...

9.28.2012

Our housewarming party is on Sunday, so this weekend, I'll be filling every spare moment with house projects and making or buying pretty things. You don't even wanna see how long our to-do list is!! Well, actually, maybe you do... here's just a few of the more fun things, off the top of my head. ;) Plus some weekend inspiration images for you...
  • Paint accent wall in guest room. Inspiration:

  • Paint stripes in bathroom. I already taped them off! If you follow me on Instagram, you saw the beginning...

Inspiration:


  • Paint four nightstands. Yes, four. I bought a cute set on Craigslist today, plus a couple others I've acquired recently also for super cheap... two will match, one will be a side table in the living room, one's an Ikea RAST and will be super cool! Inspiration for that one, some variation on this:

  • Make pillows for bedroom. Sort of inspiration here--I already have fabric like this, and it wants to be pillows.

  • Chanel my inner Michelle Armas and paint the huge canvas I bought for the above the couch. She uses such pretty colors...
  • Hang some framed pictures, maybe? The walls are still depressingly bare!
  • Make pink curtains for the living room
  • Make natural linen curtains for the dining room (gotta buy the fabric first! Oops!)
Okay, I'll stop there since I'm probably overwhelming you. I overwhelm myself. And my poor, sweet, supportive husband. I'm serious that I want to do all of these projects in the next two days, by the way... I'll be sure to update you on how that goes. I just need a few more hours, I swear! ;)

The light at the end of the tunnel is, my dad and husband suggested that I STOP with the house projects after we have the housewarming, and just relax for a little while! I love that idea. We'll get the house as good as we can by Sunday, and then I'll stop for a while and work on other things. Like my book

I've been doing what I can every evening this week, too, and I can't wait to share with you some more things--and get that headboard tutorial up. Already done this week? Make new covers for some icky fake leather Parsons chairs I got cheap. Even did the nailhead trim. (OUCH). My thumb pads are still tingly. Here's a sneak peek.

Phew. My heart is full of beautiful, colorful rooms and images, but my brain is a little stressed by all the to-dos. Looking forward to holding this party (I said I wanted to do it early so the pressure to make any big changes was off--well, look at what happened anyway, oops...) and then taking a little break and posting all the pics!!

Hope you enjoyed the weekend inspiration! Have a good one!!

Finally made one of those easy tank dresses...

9.27.2012

I finally did it--I finally made one of those super duper fast and easy tank top-into-dress projects that have been all over the blog world for ages. ***I promise I'll stop sharing summery clothes after this, seriously. It's still in the 80's here!! No one knows whether to wear gladiator sandals or riding boots. I'm staying somewhere in the middle but I have thrown on my shorts a couple of evenings lately! But I'm sure it'll cool down soon... and I'm almost ready for fall colors and fashions. I'm normally in denial, not getting enough of summer and all, but this Indian summer has been pretty awesome--although I STILL haven't worn a swimsuit. all. year. long. Super bummed!!***

Missing summer rant over. Point is, I had a ribbed (black and white stripe, though you can hardly tell) tank that was awkwardly/shrunkenly short. So, cut it off just below the waist, sewed up a gathered skirt and waistband of a nice stretchy knit I had, and combined! Voila!

I think the pictures speak for themselves. You get the idea and I'm sure you've seen tutorials for things like this!

Before...

After!


So, it might not get much wear this year because I'd probably feel sort of ridiculous walking around in a tank dress, but... there it is. Now I can cross that project off the list and get something out of the sewing room! Always a plus.

What do you say this time of year? Are you ready for black and burgundy and olive?? So far I have NOT been!

Anyone ever seen a dress like this made acceptable for fall? Like a long-sleeved version, or... I can't picture it but it was so fast and easy, I wouldn't mind doing another for the later seasons!

Trouser Refashion Swap: Colorblocking!

9.26.2012


Super fun series debuting today, readers... the ultimate in refashioning and upcycling... the stakes are higher... the plot thickens... DUN DUN DUN....

No, it's not a new reality show; it's the second in the group refashioning projects organized by the great crew of the men's shirt refashion swap from early this summer. Miranda of One Little Minute got a bunch of us together and matched us up randomly to remake men's shirts into creative projects for one another. It was so much fun and everyone had such creative ideas, so this time she up'ed the ante... we refashioned PANTS this time!

So, this week I'm sharing with you the pants that I refashioned for Liz, my "customer." Next week, I'll show you how I wear the pants that Miranda, my seamstress, made for me! So my challenge was, take a pair of pants (not jeans, pants) and refashion them into something cute my partner would want to wear!

Liz wears brights and skinny jeans so well, I leaned that direction from the start. I had a few ideas for pants refashioning, although nothing too ground-breaking, but I wanted them to be fun and versatile for early fall--and hopefully work with Liz's bright and cheery style!

I wanted to do colored pants, sooo much fun, but my Goodwills didn't produce the perfect subject and I went a bunch of times! Oh, well. Since I wasn't stuck on any of my design ideas (center front ankle slit? Stencil? Colorblock somewhere?), it was more open. So I found these Old Navy khakis at Goodwill--they looked like they hadn't been worn much, newer style, lightweight cotton stretch, and I figured, good blank canvas!

So here's the refashion!

Before: Booooring. Kind of flared but not really, more just sort of shapeless from the thigh down, I bet.


After: Skinny fit, colorblock hem!!



It may not look like a huge change, but I'm sure they'll feel like a whole new pair of pants. I took them in all over to fit Liz, and to have that straight/skinny fit through the legs and ankles.

Then of course I added the color block--I used a bright red cotton stretch sateen, and cut four pieces to match the fronts and backs of the legs. Sewed together on the side seams, then sewed right sides together...

Then to show off the edge, I pressed and turned and pressed under 1/2" on the red, and folded it to just 1/8" or so beyond the joining seam. Then I stitched in the ditch and had a visible hem band, basically. I kept saying "cuff" in my head--colorblock cuff, but really it's not a cuff since it doesn't fold back on itself. I could have done a cuff, I guess... but I like that these are smoother--makes it more of an actual colorblock, less of just a contrast cuff. So, it's a colorblock hem, I guess.

Annnnnnyway... I can't wait to see them on Liz, which she'll post about next Wednesday, October 1st. Today you can see the refashions of all the other talented bloggers on their blogs, and on Wednesday we'll be modeling what was made for us! Here's the crew:

Miriam of MadMim
Miranda of One Little Minute
Melissa of I Still Love You
Krista of Lazy Saturdays
Kelli of True Bias
Kate of See Kate Sew
Jennifer of Grainline Studio

Check 'em out! Are you inspired for refashioning yet?? ;)

Sewing Circle and how to sew with patterns Part 2: Combining bodice and skirt patterns

9.25.2012

Following up on my post about how to sew with patterns, here's Part 2--thanks to this Sewing Circle question from Stacey. Know how I'm always using a dress pattern for the bodice, and then whichever skirt I feel like? Or putting sleeves on a sleeveless dress pattern? Well, hope here are the answers to your questions about combining patterns.

Q: I'm timid with my dress making (and hovering between beginner and intermediate beginner), but I'd love to start playing with the mix and matching of bodices and skirts. My question is about your process. Do you just make the bodice of one pattern and the skirt of another and then wham! sew them, or does it require a lot of fiddling, math or rocket science? Do you take the pattern of the bodice and the pattern of the skirt and actually grade with a French ruler?

Source: Amazon


A: Luckily, the answer to your question is pretty simple, and combining bodices and skirts (and sleeves and collars, even!) of different pieces is actually easy and has always been successful for me! I do it all the time--in fact, I think all of the dresses I've made recently have been original combinations. I can't even list all of them here, so many and how would I begin to choose?? It's my norm now. You shouldn't have to grade or use a French curve or do anything fancy, as long as you're cutting out the right size in both pieces.

The basic gist is, if you're combining two patterns of the same a) size (duh, they're both for you) and b) fit/shape, then you'll be golden. So, if your waist is 28", you could combine the bodice for ANY dress that hits at the natural waistline and has a finished waist measurement of 28" with ANY skirt pattern that also has a waist of 28"! Or, as I do, you don't have to use a pattern for the skirt if you pleat or gather it into the waist. Or add a waistband--making sure you make the bodice above it shorter to accommodate it. Like I did here...

The tricky part comes when you use a skirt or bodice that has a scooped front, and you may need to adjust the skirt or bodice to match the skirt or bodice you're pairing it with. And, of course, you want to combine patterns of the same fit/shape--what I mean by that is, you can't combine an empire waist bodice with a skirt that's meant to hit at the natural waist, obviously (you'd get a weird babydoll, and unless that's the look you're going for, it's not going to work!) and you can't combine the bodice for a loose, flowy knit dress with a pencil skirt dress pattern skirt. So look at the finished garment measurements on the pattern package to guide you (if it has anything for the waist or wherever you're combining) and just use common sense, and you'll be fine. So here, I combined a spaghetti strap fitted bodice with a pencil skirt (and added my own ruffle!) and got...

Sometimes with sleeves or even the waist, there's a difference of 1/2" or so, and you can normally stretch or pleat a little to make it fit (as long as you match your center front, back, and sides) or, try on the lining or unfinished bodice and see which pattern you want to cater to--if the armhole is too tight but the sleeve fits fine, cut the armhole a little deeper in the armpit, for example. If the waist is too big on the dress but fine on the skirt, take in the side seam on the dress a little.

Hope that helps! It's a great question and once you get comfortable combining patterns and shapes, you automatically multiply your sewing options from commercial patterns by... a lot. Think of all the possible combinations!!! And, it's a great way to start drafting and modifying your own patterns!

Readers, what's your experience with this? Done a lot of mixing and matching, or do you worry about deviating from the package??

Nice to Meet You: Favorite things you've made

9.21.2012

As part of the "It's Nice to Meet You!" series some of us Alt class bloggers have put together, today's question for all of you! is, what are your favorites of the things you've made??


Last time we talked about what you like to do at home. Which was quite timely, since I was surrounded by boxes at the time and so excited to move into our new place! But this time, we're each sharing 6 of our favorite creations--of any kind.

And so can you! What are the top 6 of the things you've made? Sewing, home decor, furniture, digital art, paper crafts, jewelry, food, gardening I suppose... It's hard to choose, of course! Let's see, I think my current faves, projects I'm most proud of (off the top of my head as I write this), are:


1. Well, my wedding dress was definitely one of the things I'm most proud of and most happy with.

2. I love all the dresses I made for my bridesmaids, too. And my shoe poufs, birdcage veil... all that DIY wedding stuff I made. =)

3. It's hard to pick, but one of my fave house projects was my Anthro-inspired ruffled shower curtain, ages ago!

4. I'm also pretty darn pleased with the mint wedges I dyed earlier this summer, and that yellow seersucker peplum top... I love summer clothes. Siiiigh, fall and winter are coming...

5. I guess I should include my peplum party dress, too... worn here, inspired by that Jason Wu peplum dress Blake Lively and other people were wearing last year. I wish I got more chances to wear party clothes... but I'm glad I made the dress, either way!

6. One more home dec DIY, so fresh off the presses I haven't even posted about it yet, is my DIY tufted headboard project. I've made a lot of headboard recovering attempts since my dad built me this frame, but this one's by far the best--only the best for our new house! I love the perfect grey velveteen, and I combined several of what I figured were the best tutorials online, and I found a really superior way to make the tufting than I'd ever thought of on my own. And I tried really hard to make it good! More later, I swear!

Now, what about you?

To participate in the link-up, see the rules below. Non-bloggers can participate, too! You can share a link to a Pinterest board, tweet, Facebook, whatever you want. 

And of course, if you're not up for linking, I'd love to hear more about you in the comments to this post!

RULES: If you're a blogger, please include this button and a link back to this page somewhere in your post. Make sure to use the permalink for your blog post when creating your link. (In Blogger the permalink is under the scheduled posts on the right side.) The linky tool is open until the end of the day Sunday, September 23.

You must follow at least 4 of the hosts. See more about them here to help you pick out some new faves!


Ashley @ Bricks & Baubles
Jeanette @ Artchoo
Lauren @ Elleby Design
Ashley @ She Makes A Home
Erika @ Fox Trot Press
Sentrell @ Suite Seven

AWARD: Each of the hosts will select one blog from the new followers who linked up to receive the "It Was Nice To Meet You Award." You may proudly post the award on your sidebar, or in a blog post! You will be introduced in a post by the hostess that awards you. Check back with each of us next week to find out who won. 

So have fun thinking about your six photos or projects! Leave a comment here if you're not up for linking or not a blogger!

Big deal little blogging tip: Want more comments?

9.20.2012

So every once in a while I post blogging tips, which I always feel a little awkward about doing since I don't want to be presumptuous... but I've been doing this for three years now, and I read plenty of blogs, too, so I think I'm at least sort of qualified to share advice. So normally I post three blogging tips, but today I just want to reinforce one, and mention a couple new resources I've found.

Obviously if you want more comments, you'll want to post interesting, original posts that your readers want to engage with. Those will be different for every kind of blog. There are all kinds of advice on building that kind of content... but today's one blogging/getting more comments tip is simple.

My ONE tip for today, that's "kind of a big deal" (words of Ron Burgundy): If you want more comments, turn off the word verification. This one single thing can really, really help people be way more willing to comment!! It is so annoying to have to fill in the blank after interpreting the mystery words and numbers... and they're getting harder these days, I swear. I am way less likely to leave a comment if I think I'm going to fail the captcha or don't have the time to try it a couple times.

So please, PLEASE, right now, go CHECK your settings and make sure you have word verification turned off!! You may not even realize you have it on, but you could be losing important feedback and community-building comments by having that barrier! Here's some instructions on how to turn off the captcha in both old and new Blogger if you need it. And honestly--I have so few spam comments, the captcha is really not necessary for a blog like most of ours. I have mine set so I have to approve comments on posts older than 3 months, so I can click "publish" or "spam" on those when they come in, and spam is kinda more likely to be on older posts. But seriously, no worries, I'm sure you won't have a problem with spam without the word verification. Seriously.

First world problems, amIright....



Okay, but while we're talking about comments... I just found this site, SEOmoz, which has all kinds of cool and useful SEO advice I don't really understand. But I did see a simple article on getting more comments--written by the experts in search engine optimization! (And, if you couldn't guess... the first tip they mention is, make it as easy as possible to leave a comment!!!--AKA, turn off that tricky word verification if you have it on.)

Another great resource for blogging tips is not original at all, but the Alt Summit blog has a lot of advice I was just recently clicking through. Kinda wanna go all through the archives if I have time--pages and pages of simple "how to..."s, but most of them are really short and sweet and easy to read. So anyway, for blogging inspiration and business advice check out the new Alt blog.

Okay, hope you don't mind my soapbox here about word verification--I'll be back to myself tomorrow!

New fave peplum tank, before summer's over

9.19.2012

I know, I know, it's almost fall... but it's still been in the 80's and 90's here, and I'm not ready for burgundy and corduroy yet. So before summer's over, officially and effectively, I have to share this top with you!

I made this a few weeks ago and have already worn it three times, I like it so much! Would have shared it earlier, but... moving and all... speaking of still living in summer, I haven't read all of my August magazines yet, but my September InStyle will be there when I get to it (--as will the stack of October magazines I just got! Aaack!). And I didn't get quite enough summer yet anyway, so I'm a little in denial that it'll be boot weather soon.

So--my new fave peplum tank, and maybe if I'm lucky I'll get one more wearing out of it before I feel ridiculous walking around in bright blue sleeveless. So, if you remember, I made this top earlier this summer (worn here), using a basic dress pattern and making only the bodice plus a circle skirt peplum. It's so, so cute! I love the simple fabric but it still pulls an outfit together immediately because it's so cheery and fun. So I really wanted another peplum top, but in a different vein...

I had this very plain bright blue quilter's cotton I got at JoAnn on super cheap, just an impulse buy because I liked the color. I normally don't use quilter's cotton for clothing; doesn't lay right or hold up in my experience, but I wanted to play with a pleated front bodice and this plain fabric was perfect. I used Simplicity 1913 again for the front and back bodice pieces (lining), cut the front wider, put in tucks of various--but symmetrical--sizes. Then I added the little circle skirt, and voila!

Close-up!

So thanks for everything, yellow seersucker, but I have a new fave peplum tank. At least for the next week or so of summer. ;)

Sewing Circle: Taking in the bust of a [vintage] dress

9.18.2012

Very useful Sewing Circle today! So often when you find a beautiful vintage dress, the fit's not quite perfect, and commonly the bust is shaped for someone wearing an extreme bullet bra--so the bust is way too big! Got a question from Sandy about this...

Q: I was wondering if you can help. I've look in all my sewing books and online. I like some of the vintage clothing. I hesitate on buying some when the bust is a 38" when I'm a 34". Especially on the sleeveless ones. Can you make alterations and still make it look natural on these. If so, how would I go about doing this?

A: Good question, Sandy! It is probably possible to take in the bust on a vintage dress and make it still look good, and it will be much easier on a sleeveless dress. What you'll need to do is unpick the facing from the armhole (or, if the dress is lined, unpick the bodice from the skirt at the side seams (about 2"  on either side of each seam) and unpick the join of the lining to the outer fabric at the armpit/sleeve opening, also at the side seam. It may be a little tricky to maneuver inside the bodice with only 4" of room, but see how it goes, and take out a little more of the skirt/bodice seam if you need to.

Then, you can just take in the side seams as you need to. If the waist fits, then very gradually taper your seam, starting aligned with the existing side seam around the waist and then becoming a much wider seam allowance at the armpit (you'll make a tiny triangle of the new seam and old seam, widest at the armpit and pointed at or near the waist). I'd say try adding 1" to the seam allowance at the armpit first, because that will actually take off 2" on each side since the fabric is doubled. Then try it on and see how it fits. You can take off more, but remember wearing ease and that you'll want a little bit of room in the bust so you're not poured into it.

Once you find an adjustment that fits, do the same exact adjustment to the lining.  Then press all the new seam allowances to one side (generally toward the back) and sew the lining and fashion fabric together at the armpit. Then sew the skirt back to the bodice.

Hope that makes sense! It can definitely be done.


Readers, have you modified vintage dresses before to fit you more accurately? Any good stories about what you find inside those seams? ;) I love seeing the pinked edges and perfectly matching cotton thread.

A few notes from our weekend and house projects...

9.17.2012

Oh, boy, it's been a fun weekend. And past couple of weeks. Super busy, but fun. We've been completely surrounded by house projects, both literally and figuratively, and it's practically all I'm thinking about getting this house looking pretty! I know, there's no rush, but... I'm so excited.

So a few fun things to share from the weekend... we're moving along slowly but did an amazing project with my generous uncle who's a pro at building cabinets and shelving and such. He knows a guy who sells wholesale melamine, and he has great tools... basically, we got a great deal on a closet makeover and got exactly what we wanted!! And we were able to share the work, haha! I put together a design and we figured out how much melamine we'd need, and my uncle cut it and all. Here's a sneak peek--still have to paint some of the supports and fill the holes to match the wall, and may do a few other things, but...

So, uh, that's pretty amazing. That's just the right side; the left side of that awkward middle wall thing has two rails and two long shelves. It's incredible to have more usable space than we have clothing!! I want to keep it that way for quite a while.

Other things I've been up to?? Well, since it's the only room I know what color I want to paint, I went for it with the downstairs half-bath. Inspired by several of my pretty bathroom pins...

A couple weeks ago I taped off the walls and painted the top part dark, greyish brown. Painted the bottom glossy white to match the trim, and then we put up a chair rail trim--for a faux paneling look. Then my parents came out with tools and helped miter the corners, attach with glue and a pressurized nail gun, etc. Do all that stuff we don't have equipment for. Here's a "during"!

I'm still searching for the perfect stencil to get a wallpaper look on the top. Been on too many Michael's and JoAnns trips looking for one! We'll see what I end up doing.

Other house news? Well, just so you know, expect a lot of photos and quasi-tutorial based on my tufted headboard project... ;)

What a relief it was to get that done!! Finished that last week. Our bedroom is slooooowly coming together... but having the headboard was really critical.

Also this weekend, we did a lot of (somewhat fruitless) shopping for the things on our looong list... laundry basket, guest bathroom towels, knife drawer organizer, you know, all that little house stuff that is really hard to buy all at one place and time! I've had the list running in my brain for ages but now husband is paying attention, too, and after going to Target, Fred Meyer (like Kroger but has house stuff...), Home Depot, two Ross's, two Goodwills, Dollar Tree (drawer organizers!), and the grocery store with me this weekend, he's understanding--oh, wow, shopping can be really frustrating!!

Oh, but we also learned how to install a dimmer switch this weekend. Go us! And I made some pillow covers and FINally hung some things on the walls (it is so hard to decide and commit when we're still missing furniture!).
And took apart a chair. Oh, I can't wait to finish that one!!

Looking forward to sharing more "after"/finished photos with you, but until then, any DIY closet, stencil, or upholstery tips or links are welcome!! ;)

How to use a sewing pattern!!!

9.14.2012

Sometimes I hear from friends or readers about how they can sew, but don't know how to buy a pattern and use it to make clothing that fits. I guess with all the tutorials on blogs these days you can make a lot of things (skirts, dresses, etc.) just by tracing an old garment or by measuring and gathering rectangles. I'm almost the opposite, though--I rely on sewing patterns to get a good fit and don't trust myself to put together a dress or bodice without a pattern to guide me! Although with the basic pattern pieces, I'll modify like crazy to get the look I want.

But I still start with a basic pattern, and I really believe once I mastered a halter dress pattern when I was 16, my sewing skills and passion really took off! There are pros and cons to both ways of making things, but I'd love for you all to learn to use patterns and not be intimidated... let me see if I can help!

Here's a question I got from a reader, Taylor:

Q: I am very new to sewing (all I can make are pillows) and I am interested in making my own clothing. My problem is, I cannot figure out how to read a pattern! How do you recommend getting started? Also, how do I cut out the pattern onto the fabric? I feel like I would get that all wrong. I apologize in advance if this is already on your blog - I didn't see anything about this topic.

It's a great question, Taylor. I don't already have anything on my blog but I should!! Hence this post! Here's my answer:

A: You’re definitely not alone in wondering about this. I learned to sew using patterns, so I’m afraid to sew without them for most things, but I know a lot of people are intimidated by all the pieces and instructions.

But, I can give you a few pieces of advice, I hope… patterns do include instructions, and they are typically pretty good for the bigger companies. There are a lot of “one-hour!” or “super easy!” patterns for simpler styles that would be good to start with. Although once you understand the basics of dress construction, for example, you’ll know how to make almost any dress pattern.

The pattern will also tell you how to cut it out, although you don’t have to follow it exactly. The first part of the instructions tells you which pieces you need for which style you’re making, and there will be a cutting layout guide that shows you where to put the pieces on the lining and fashion fabric (typically it’ll show for 45” wide fabric and for 60” wide fabric, so depending on what yours is you can use either). The first thing you do when you open the pattern and read the beginning will be to cut out the paper pieces of the pattern that it says you need for the style you want to make—no need to worry about being exact on the lines, just cut a little bit larger around them. Use paper scissors for this part!!! You have to unfold it all and find the right pieces (usually pretty random where they are), and then you can get your fabrics out and pin the pieces to the fabric. The cutting guides often waste fabric, so I cut things out just grouping the pieces as close together as possible while following the grain and fold markers. Then you’ll use your sharper scissors to cut out on the lines of the pattern pieces, or approximately, through all the layers including the fabric. I fold my pattern pieces to the right size rather than cutting off the larger sizes, just in case I want to use the pattern again later for a larger size.

On each pattern piece it will say “cut 2 fabric, cut 2 lining” or “cut 1 on fold” or something. That tells you how many and of which fabric you need. For complicated things those and the descriptive labels ("midriff back" or whatever) are really important, but for a simple dress style you’ll probably be able to see what part it is you’re cutting out! Like the front of a dress bodice is a pretty obvious shape. Also pay attention to the double-pointed arrows on each piece that tell you the grain line; align these with the grain of the fabric so your garment lays properly (parallel to the selvage edge and the center fold). Those lines are very important, also--that's why the cutting guide will help you lay your pattern out. Also note the other lines on the pattern that you aren't supposed to cut, like the darts and gather guides--I recommend keeping the pattern pinned to the fabric until you're ready to assemble, so you can refer to those guides. And cut the little triangle notches so you align your sleeve to bodice in the right place, e.g.

In my opinion, it would be easiest to start with a lined dress or garment because then you don’t have to worry about making facings at the neck and sleeve edges. So don’t be scared by the lining! I recommend cutting out the lining first and making any modifications you want to the pattern--cut the bodice a little longer if you're tall, or fold the pieces (below) if you're shorter or whatever--and then, ideally, try it on pinned together or at least measure very carefully. Then you can use the cut-out lining pieces as your pattern on the fashion fabric and that way you know you'll make the same modifications to both.

Making Butterick B4915 (out of print) shorter for one of my bridesmaids' dresses--cutting the lining!

I don’t use patterns for most of the skirts that I make; I just tear the fabric to the length I want and sew the selvages together, hem, and pleat or gather into the waist of my dresses. But that’s just because of the style of dress I typically make. Either way, most skirts are very simple and are basically rectangles or sort of triangular shapes.

Once you have everything cut out, the pattern will explain step-by-step what to do first. Follow each instruction and if you don’t understand one, I’d say try looking at PatternReview.com or Googling the name of the pattern and description of the step. Maybe someone else has had the same problem!

There are tons of great beginner patterns out there, and it just depends what look you want! Here are a few I’d recommend, just off the top of my head:
But really, almost any style you can imagine can be easy if the pattern’s not too cluttered and once you understand the basic construction!

Tutorial update: How to mend jeans when the holes are in the knees

9.13.2012

So you've probably seen this tutorial of mine on how to mend holes in jeans like a pro. It's seriously an amazing method and I hope you check it out, but I also wanna share a follow-up with you: how to use the steps in that tutorial when the holes are in the knees of your jeans!

I use the method interchangeably, but I was talking to a friend not long ago about her fave jeans that had gotten holes in the knees. I said, have you seen my tutorial?? And she said she had, but she didn't think it would work on the knees!

Now, I'll admit it is a little trickier when the hole is in the middle of the leg of the jean--it will involve some skillful maneuvering--but the method can TOTALLY be done almost anywhere on your pants. Literally, people--knees, thighs, hem area, back pockets... anywhere your machine can reach, you can use this! Here's how!!


Let me tell you the story of two pairs of jeans with hole-ey knees and other worn places, and show you my method's success. First up is this pair of American Eagle stretch bootcut jeans I got at Marshall's earlier this summer--$16.99, love when they have last-season AE stuff! I was desperate for a pair of boyfriend jeans before going up to sort-of-chilly Port Angeles, Washington for the weekend and didn't want to spend the $70 or whatever at Gap to get the perfect ones like Kendi has.

Anyway, I bought these jeans and was okay with the distressed look, but after putting them on a few times realized I kept poking my toes through the holes on the knee and hip! I could fix this problem by being more graceful... or, I could mend the holes before they get any bigger.

Tutorial!
  • So here's the before.
  • Check out the essential jeans-mending method tutorial if you're rusty, but if not, grab your fusible interfacing and press it onto your hole on the inside.
  • I like to cuff up the jean twice so it's nice and flat and can fit under my presserfoot when I lift it as high as it goes. Then slide the leg onto your arm--this works if you have a machine with a detachable arm!!
  •  Now's the tricky part. Scrunch up your jeans so you turn the leg parallel with the path of the needle. Scrunch-scrunch-scrunch-arrange-arrange... then go nuts with forward- and backstitching like you would in the tutorial on any part of your jeans.
  • I like to turn them right side out again and check my work, and maybe put the leg back on the machine (cuffed again) and do a few more rows of parallel stitching from the top.

That's it! Now you've mended the knee of your jeans!


Wondering what's going on up by the pocket of those? I thought I should share, since these jeans were so stretchy, I found the interfacing wasn't quite strong enough to keep its shape as I backstitched. So, I put a little piece of white 100% cotton on top of the hole near the hip to further reinforce it. It's not fusible but there was plenty of friction that, once I got sewing, it stayed in place just fine (also sewing from the inside). Here's a close-up of that hole, mended.

So, I did two pairs of jeans at once the other day, so here's some more photos of this method on knees and with thinner, stretchier denim. Here's a pair of Sevens my friend gave me because of the holes, and they didn't fit her anymore. So I got to mending!

Before...

Here's the big hole on the knee from the inside.

Here are some of the holes with their interfacing...

And here's the knee hole with a little piece of cotton on top of the fusible interfacing, after I ironed it down. It really helps when the hole is big or the threads aren't keeping the denim's shape and you don't want to gather both sides together.

And here's the technique I use on really stretch jeans--pin on both sides to your ironing board and then press down the interfacing, so you don't get the pulling!

Anyway, random bonus images after the tutorial... hope I didn't confuse you! Good luck mending jeans and trust me, you CAN do it on the knees!
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