Thursday, September 28, 2017

Coverstitching Underwear

A short post today showing off my newest me-made undies, and talking a little bit about my new favorite finishing method.

No extra seam allowance

Over the years, I've made a lot of underwear and tried many patterns, but I keep coming back to my favorite, the free one from So, Zo... For everyday pieces under jeans, they can't be beat. The pattern is drafted for use with fold-over elastic (FOE). I'll be honest...I HATE FOE. Every single time I use it, it's instant regret. Inevitably, I end up stretching out my fabric and my stitching also looks sloppy and uneven. Take these two pairs, for example. Same pattern. Same fabric. Look how stretched out the bottom pair became after sewing on FOE!

I decided to try something new, and use my coverstitch with picot elastic. Normally, you would sewing picot on once, turn it under, and sew it down (scroll down for info on this technique with a coverstitch!). Since I didn't have the seam allowance for turning under (fabric was already cut) I figured I could sew the picot directly to the edge. The ladder stitching of the back of the coverstitching finished the edge on the inside of the underwear.

I LOVE this technique! It was so much faster than FOE and I had more control while sewing. I put the leg elastic in flat, sewed up the side seams, and then applied the waist elastic in the round. Having made this pattern before, I was at an advantage knowing exactly how long I wanted my elastic. In no time, I had three new pairs of undies that fit and are lovely too!

Coverstitching underwear
Contrast stitching can be fun too!

Extra seam allowance

If your pattern has been drafted with extra seam allowance, then you can still use your coverstitch machine to sew on elastic. Instead of sewing it once right on the edge, like above, follow these steps.

First, place the non-picot edge of your elastic along the edge of your fabric, right side of fabric facing right side of elastic (if your elastic has a right side, it might not). Using a zig-zag stitch on your regular machine, or your serger with the knife disabled, sew along the edge and secure the elastic to both leg openings. 

This task is much easier if you do it flat, without the side seams sewn.

Next, turn the elastic to the inside of the underwear. Try to align the fold of the fabric just beneath the picot edge.

With the underwear right side up, sew along the elastic with your coverstitch, without stretching anything.

At this point, you can either sew up one side seam (allowing you to work flat) and then repeat the process for the waist elastic, or sew up both side seams and insert the waist elastic in the round the same way. My preference is to insert the leg elastics flat and the waist in the round, but you do you!

Rebecca Page Cheeky Underwear
Rebecca Page Cheeky Underwear pattern

I love using my coverstitch in this fashion on underwear elastic! I know a coverstitch is a big investment, but I've never regretted mine. I got mine in 2014, you can read more about that here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Project Runway recap

A little late on my review this week, after a super fun weekend and my first night without kids in FOUR YEARS! Don't be jealous, but I did sleep in until 8:30.

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: I liked this episode quite a bit. The challenge was interesting, the clients weren't that dramatic, but it was nice and open-ended enough that anyone talented could shine. The perfect challenge.

The way Brandon talked about his girlfriend was so cute. I can't say I've ever run across a guy dating an older woman and being happy to learn maturity from her!

Worst moments: Yep, it's official, the twins are the worst. Claire talked about Shawn like she was a tornado or some other natural disaster that could not be avoided. Hey Claire, she's your sister, maybe tell her that you need to work on your own stuff? How did they not discuss this before they applied? And what was up with Tim informing the judges and then NOTHING happened?? Not even a slap on the wrist from Heidi?

Margarita's two-faced turnabout attempting to blame her model was sad. She just didn't want to admit that her look was dated.

See all the looks here.

Best looks: Kentaro's winning look was so. good. I didn't hate Kenya's but I wasn't a fan of the print+the "leaves" which ended up looking like dog ears. With a different black and white print it would have been better. I didn't understand Tim's dislike for the green. I also, begrudgingly, liked Shawn's. I could care less if she "copied" what she and the model were wearing.

Worst looks: Ayana's bathrobe star disaster should have been in the bottom, along with Batani's Chiquita banana girl, and Brandon's pile of dirty garbage. They were all worse than Claire's. And am I imagining it, or did Samantha's sketch/discussion with Tim involve a white button-up shirt? What happened there? It ended up being just another ugly costume and I'm relieved she's gone.

Best quote: "I'm currently peeing my pants because I'm super excited to work with Margerita." --Christina

Next week: A completely contrived team challenge in which Shawn and Claire get to be eliminated together! At least, that's what I'm guessing.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Aztec Print Linen Dress: Vogue 9253

I'm pretty sure Vogue 9253 was declared The Dress of summer 2017, right? It was absolutely everywhere, in part due to the contest that McCall's was having in August. I totally missed the contest until it was over, and just happened to coincidentally be working on the pattern at the same time. Mine might be a bit unrecognizable though, since I made so many changes! I have a lot of notes about alterations, so scroll to the end if you want to read those.

Vogue 9253

The idea for this dress started when I saw a similar one on TV. I put out a request on IG for someone to find me a pattern like the dress I saw. My husband has a work event for us to attend this weekend and it's basically my only chance to dress up (think wedding attire). I wanted to make a dress and ended up purchasing Vogue 9253 and McCall's 7315.

The McCall's pattern had the handkerchief hem and was sleeveless, like my inspiration dress; the Vogue pattern had the deep V neckline. I had recently purchased this amazing black and white print linen from The Fabric Store and was desperate to use it before summer was over. Isn't it dreamy?

Vogue 9253

After lots of waffling, I decided on the Vogue pattern. There are so many beautiful ones on IG, check out the hashtag if you don't believe me!

I didn't have enough fabric to completely match up the back, but it's close enough for me. The skirt does match well though, considering.

Sewing the dress is pretty straightforward. There are pleats in the front bodice and skirt, and darts in the back. A regular zipper is inserted and there are double-turned hems.

Vogue 9253


I made a quick muslin bodice of the smallest size (Vogue patterns always run large for me) and it fit well with letting out the side seams just a touch. I did find the sleeves to be overwhelmingly long. I did not want the skirt to be midi length (I hate that length and I did not have enough fabric anyway). I made the following changes to my paper pattern before cutting:
  • Removed 6" from the skirt (really!). I'm 5'4" and I estimated that would put it close to knee length (see unhemmed photo below). I took out 3" at the L/S line and 3" somewhere in the lower portion.
  • Shortened sleeves 8" (really!).
  • Reduced SA under the arms, tapering to the waist, to 1/4" (adjusted skirt portion at waistline accordingly).
  • I chose not to make the tie or add pockets.
That left me with this look:

Even after removing all that length from all over, the dress still overwhelmed me. I was drowning in it, and the linen wasn't draping quite enough to make up for the volume. The sleeves felt like wings. I ended up making additional changes:
  • Added back in the SA I removed from the bodice/skirt.
  • Removed 4" more from the skirt hem.
  • Cut off the sleeves and drew in an armscythe (used the above McCall's pattern). Finished the armholes with bias tape.
After those changes, I no longer feel like the dress is swallowing me. It's cute and fun. The "make it work" fixes are not perfect, the skirt now hangs in a weird way and the armholes are tight. But going from what I had to this is way better than leaving it wadded up in the WIP pile! A fabric with better drape would have made this project more successful. It also would be amaaaazing in a knit and you could leave out the zipper (I could almost squeeze it on in this woven without a zipper).

Now about that neckline...

I know everyone is thinking the same thing about this pattern. The neckline is SO low, can I change it? Yes, you can. It's as simple as putting the front bodice pieces RST and sewing them up, OR overlapping it at CF. It does pull the fabric across the front but for me personally it didn't affect fit too drastically. Post three breastfed babies I'd say I fall into the saggy C-cup range these days, for reference (and TMI). I'm wearing a lightly padded bra and I'm still not sure it fits my bust correctly. That could be my fault with sewing the pleats, I'd much rather there was a dart. There are two pleats on each side so getting it all perfectly placed and symmetrical was a challenge.

As drafted, the V-neck cuts all the way beneath the bust to the waist seam. I raised the neckline 2". It's still pretty revealing and my bra is only just hidden. I tried it bra-less and for me it's a no-go (see above saggy reference!). I spent five years with my boobs basically out all the time, nursing babies, so I've gotten much more comfortable with my body over the last few years. I love the way I look in this but it does take confidence to rock this much cleavage. On the flip side, I wouldn't judge anyone for making it more modest. You do you! That's the best part of sewing our own clothes, right? And obviously, you could wear a cami underneath.

Vogue 9253

And by the way, in the interest of full disclosure, I ended up deciding that the dress is a little too summery for our event, and just a little too casual for pairing with my husband's suit. So for now, it'll go in the closet and hopefully come out next summer! Somebody I know have a summer wedding, okay?

Looking for a great way to plan your sewing projects? Save 15% on all versions of A Sewist's Notebook with the code LULU15. Expires today! Click "About the Book" for more info!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Project Runway recap

We're almost to that point in the show where nobody is going to skate through the competition. I don't like the beginning, when you hardly see some designers and it's obvious who is in the top and bottom. During the runway show I actually thought "oh yeah, Batani is still on this show". Not good haha!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: It was nice to see Brandon and Kentaro bonding. They seem like an unlikely pair, their aesthetics are totally different, which is probably why they're getting along. They're not doing the same things so they're not in direct competition.

A two day challenge! Remember the good ole days when they were all that way?

Worst moments: Is there a reason why they didn't use the button bag for deciding who had good and evil? It's annoying when they try to create drama out of nothing. Speaking of something out of nothing, Margarita was borderline offensive in her comments about using a plus size model. She kept going on and on and on about making clothes that helped women feel beautiful, but said she had no experience designing for plus sized. Soooo who exactly is she "helping" to feel beautiful? Stick-thin models who look beautiful for a living?

This is probably an unpopular thing to say, but it unsettled me how Tim's critique of Aaron's look sent him wildly off the rails. I get that his muslin was sort of nutso, but if he had finished that look I'm certain he would have stayed instead of Claire. I know that's Aaron's fault, and not Tim's, but I hope Tim at least mentioned to the judges what happened.

See all the looks here.

Best looks: Kenya's was well done. That fabric looked like a total nightmare but somehow she managed to fit it perfectly. I loved Margarita's black dress. After all her rude whining about her plus sized model she pulled off a great design. I'm still mystified how Michael managed to perfectly drape his lace dress without the model even there for a whole day! I also was surprised to like Shawn's quite a bit.

Worst looks: I wasn't that into Brandon's straight jacket. If you recall, I already used that term for one of his designs previously. He's innovative, I'll give him that, but I fail to see how his designs are tying into the challenges. He's kind of doing his own thing and since it's so different he's getting recognized.

Samantha is only making Halloween costumes. Why has it taken so long for everyone else to see that?

Aaron. Oh Aaron. I was surprised how little the judges said about it, but I think everyone knew that it was SO ridiculously bad, there wasn't a need to tear it down. Pink toilet paper piƱata with unfinished seams? Yeah, you're going home.

I also didn't like Ayana's. Tim told her the changing colors were awkward but she said that was what she wanted, then in her runway voice-over she said she didn't know what happened on the bottom??

Best quote: "It looks like...curry powder evil." --Kentaro

It was probably time for Aaron to go home, he's likely the kind of person who does well with more time to develop and execute his wild ideas. Plus he needs to touch up his pink hair and it was making me crazy haha! I'm happy to see Brandon doing well since he's so humble about it, but I'm tired of the same sorts of looks from him. Or maybe I'm annoyed because his clothes aren't beautiful.

Next week: Drama, and did I spy Georgina Chapman?!?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Robert Kaufman Chambray Skirt

Is there still a little summer left out there?

Many moons ago, I wrote a tutorial for the Sew Mama Sew blog and they compensated me with a gift certificate to Fabric Depot. This was a new-to-me retailer, and I enjoyed browsing their apparel fabrics. If you've read even one post on this blog, you know I'm a knit #fangurl, but Fabric Depot has a lot of great wovens as well. One of the fabrics I ended up with was a gorgeous Robert Kaufman jacquard chambray. I originally wanted to make a pair of shorts, but the more I thought about breaking up the aztec print, the more the fabric spoke to me and said "skirt".

My husband and I had a retirement party to attend a few weeks ago, and after I finished this tie-knot Santa Fe hack, I decided to tackle a skirt as a date night companion piece. I started with the Allegro Skirt/Pants Pattern from Love Notions. It's definitely supposed to have more ease than this...but I wanted a pencil skirt look. With an elastic waistband. And a woven.

I hacked and cut and sewed and resewed this poor thing until it looked how I wanted. There isn't really the proper amount of ease for good movement. There aren't any darts, just the elastic waistband for shaping. It's short. It's 100% not useful for my normal mom life.

But darn it if I don't love the thing. I felt great at the party, kid-less, not holding a diaper bag and not worrying about carrying or chasing anyone. I don't need a ton of dress up clothes in my closet, but this one will certainly stay. And bonus, you get to see last week's halter lace bra! It also falls into that fun-but-not-practical arena.

After all my hacking, the skirt ended up with an almost paperbag waist. Presumably I could tuck in my shirt to show that off, but I haven't found the right top for that look (or those abs I misplaced three kids ago...).

Have you ever hacked a pattern into a near-unrecognizable state?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Project Runway recap

Filming this show must be so crazy, straight off the runway and elimination to the next challenge! What are the chances that they actually slept on top of the Empire State Building? That can't be real, right?

Spoilers ahead...

Best moments: It was pretty cool to see the inside of the Empire State Building with the lights turned low. It would be fun to be the only ones there and feel like you have the place to yourself.

Worst moments: Shawn and Claire are wearing me out. In the first episode there was a teaser about someone being accused of cheating...I'm beginning to think it might revolve around the twins doing each other's work? There are some serious lines being crossed here. It's one thing if it's a team challenge, but they're contributing significantly to each other's garments.

See all the final looks here.

Best looks: I liked Batani's simple dress, but other than that, Michael pretty much ran away with it. If you liked it too, it can be your's for only $200!

Worst looks: Most of the rest were bad. They ranged from super boring to poorly made to poorly designed (sleeping in a romper? really??). Deyonte's was certainly the worst, he should have known that being on the bottom two times in a row leads to elimination.

Best quote: "In other words, we're worried that if we put a lump of coal up your behind, that it'd come out as a diamond." --Tim

This was a tricky challenge. At first it didn't seem too hard, but sleepwear probably was new to all of the designers, plus they didn't get to choose their own fabrics. Plus plus they had to embellish or print them. If I were Heidi I would have been disappointed by what was shown. By the way, why wasn't there a dossier of Heidi's collection for them to review? Maybe there was and we just didn't see it.

Next week: Good vs. evil vs. will they all be costumes?

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Simplicity 8228 Halter Bra

Under every great outfit there should be the right undergarments. The journey towards this bra started with a dress, Vogue 9253. The Vogue dress was THE dress of the summer, it was all over IG. Every few years my husband has a work event that requires dressing up, and I decided the Vogue dress would be a fun item to wear. The problem? The super low cut (although completely changeable) and finding the right bra to go with it. Enter Simplicity 8228, a stretch lace halter bra pattern from Madalynne.

My idea was solid, but it turned out that the halter straps looked pretty dumb with my Vogue dress. The dress needs some finishing, so I haven't blogged it yet, but take my word for it, it's not going to work with this bra after all. Whomp whomp. I should have made the straps longer and more like a regular bra, rather than a halter. Live and learn! Additionally, it turns out I'm probably not wearing the Vogue dress to our event anyway. It came out a bit too summery. ANYWAY. Enough about the best laid plans.

The bra itself turned out great, it was not a bad sew (SA is 1/4" though, ugh) and gah it's SO pretty! The pattern called for 8" wide stretch lace, but I already have this 5" on hand (from Sew Sassy Fabrics) and made it work. I'm not sure why exactly 8" was chosen, except perhaps to cover the larger sizes. Speaking of sizing, please follow the directions in the pattern. The sizes weren't close to RTW or even other bra patterns I've sewn before, but I followed the directions and the fit is perfect (you'll have to take my word for it!). It's been close to a month since I weaned my last baby, so my body is still adjusting a little. Or maybe it's my head that's adjusting. In either case, it's nice to have such a beautiful garment to help boost your confidence.

The bra is lined with a stretch mesh that was in my stash, I can't at all recall where it's from but I think it was Jo-Ann's or Girl Charlee. I've never used it before but it ended up being just what I needed for this pattern. I already had clear elastic left over from the kit I bought from Tailor Made Shop (used for this bra), and the black picot elastic (used on the underarms) was from a local shop and also already in my stash. The brown channeling was upcycled from an old bra, which is why it doesn't match haha.

Did you catch that? Everything was already in my stash! The pattern was the only thing I bought, and of course it was on sale.

A few notes about the pattern: If you're wondering why the seams are exposed on the inside of the cups, it's because the lining is meant to be spray-basted to the lace and then sewn as one. I didn't have any spray adhesive so I skipped that part, but I still sewed the pieces as one. The seam allowance is then topstitched down. I think it would have been a neater finish to sew them separately and then place WST, but it would have been trickier to topstitch in that case, and would have required more steps.

Lastly, I don't think there was a step for finishing the bottom of the band. I mentioned the spray adhesive but that's not good enough for me to keep the lining and the lace together at the bottom. You could zig-zag clear elastic here but I was running low, so I just zig-zagged the two together and it worked fine.

I also did not use a hook and eye closure at the back #lazy and it slips over my head just fine.

Our weather has turned crisp and fall-like, but if we get another hot day out of the blue I'll be pairing the bra with my maroon backless top. And if not now, then next summer for sure!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Project Runway recap

A little bit less twin drama this week, and we still had an entertaining episode. Could it be that *gasp* some of us are tuning in for the actual fashion?? There was a lot of fashion to see this week, that's for sure!

Spoilers ahead...

Best moment: I quite enjoyed the little snippet we saw of the ballet dancers turned hip-hop. I thought that was a great introduction to a challenge about innovation.

Worst moment: Deyonte sewing over his finger was so cringe-worthy. I had to look away. That has never happened to me (yet) but I did slam my finger in a door this weekend. So, samesies (that's sarcasm!).

See all the looks here.

Best looks: I just about lost my mind when I saw Amy's jumpsuit-turned-dress. LOST IT. I struggle to understand why she isn't getting any recognition from the judges. I also thought Aaron's crazy asymmetrical look was interesting and deserved some attention too, as did Kenya's chevron piece. I didn't hate Kentaro's as much as the judges, I like his understated aesthetic. And actually, the more I look back through the safe designers, the more I see things I really like.

Worst looks: I didn't really like Batani's butterfly look. I was with Zac, the taste was borderline. I'm a little on the fence about Brandon's winning design. It was interesting, but it looked like a straight jacket, which is the opposite of movement. Perhaps that was the point? Deconstructed restriction? Claire's red...dress? was terrible, especially looking back at still photos. And let's not forget Deyonte's yellow disaster and Kudzanai's Pepto Bismal parrot. That makes it sound like I hated them all. I didn't, and I think these designers are doing a lot, but some of them are hiding among the crowd right now.

Best quote: "It actually doesn't suck, I'm wildly surprised." --Aaron

I'm glad Kentaro didn't go home on what amounted to a misunderstanding with translation. I'm sure he would have added some innovation if he had understood that was a requirement. Kudzanai's look was pretty bad, so I think he probably should have seen his elimination coming. I think there were some better designs that deserved the top more than Batani, and I wonder if she was included just because she was essentially plugging the movie they were pitching.

Next week: Something that involves Heidi doing critiques, which is always fun to watch!

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