Monthly Archives: June 2014

Quick Tip Tuesday: Perfecting Collar Points

Do your collar points look like basset hound ears, or maybe rounded, thick, blobs of fabric? I have tried poking collar tips with a point presser, pulling with hemostats, and plenty of other methods. They all have their place, but my favorite trick that works especially well on cotton shirt collars is a simple needle and thread.

1.  Thread a needle with about 12-18 inches of thread, and “double” the thread but do not tie a knot in the end.

Creating perfect collar points by Sew Maris

2.  Next push the needle into the seam very close to the collar tip, coming out through the seam on the opposite side of the collar.

Creating perfect collar points by Sew Maris

3.  Grab all 4 pieces of thread and pull gently to work the collar point out.

4.  Repeat if necessary, moving closer to the collar point each time.

Try it! And let me know if you like this technique, too. Or maybe you have one you like even better—please share!

Happy sewing!

Maris

How to Design Your Own Tank Top

Tank tops are not just summer attire; they are great layering pieces under jackets and cardigans year round. Since you S-E-W, you can design your own tank tops to stand out a bit from the RTW crowd. We sewists love to be big ole’ smarty pants like that, right? 😉

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Start with a great pattern. I love Pamela’s Patterns because they are easy to sew, and provide a great basic fit for my body. It is easy enough to experiment with several different pattern companies to find a brand or pattern that you like. In the image above, I used the sleeveless tank from Pamela ‘s Versatile Twinset pattern.

How to design your own tank top by Sew Maris

Next up, decide on a fabric. The sky is really the limit here. Be sure to check your LFS as well as the plentiful online resources. Two of my favorite virtual shops for knits are EmmaOneSock and Marcy Tilton. Great, great quality fabrics every time from these two lovelies. For the teal tank above, I used a plain black rayon/lycra knit underneath, and the pretty, pretty teal stretch lace on top for a  great color pop. The scalloped edge of the lace is a bonus!!

Stretchy trims for how to design a tank tutorial

You can also add stretchy trims to your knit tanks. There are so many wonderful trims in a wide variety of colors, styles, widths, and patterns. This is a great place to let your imagination go wild.

See how easy that was? Take one simple pattern, add great fabrics, and optionally trims, and you are an instant designer! Have fun, and do share your pictures and comments. I’d love to hear from you!

Happy sewing!

Maris

Tutorial: How to Set in a Sleeve Without an Easing Stitch

For some reason, learning how to set sleeves into blouses or dresses can cause some sewists to break out in hives. Part of the reason for this struggle can be poor pattern-drafting. Hear that! Not.Your.Fault! 🙂

But with a properly drafted pattern you can often set the sleeve in without adding an easing stitch to your sleeve. What I mean by a properly drafted sleeve is one with a high sleeve cap that only has about 1 inch or less of difference between the armscye stitching line and the sleeve stitching line. When the sleeve stitching line is only 1 inch longer than the armscye stitching line, you rarely need to run a gathering (easing) stitch to set in the sleeve. Don’t believe me? Here’s how to do it:

1. Start pinning sleeve to the armscye of the shirt, matching beginning, ending, front notches, back notches, and shoulder seam first. So far NO EASING. The sleeve and the shirt body should be matching at a 1:1 ratio from the edges to the notches.
NOTE: You should now see that the sleeve is slightly bigger than the armscye, and slightly more so between the shoulder and the back notches than the shoulder and the front notches.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
2. Starting at the front notch, roll the armscye and sleeve over your finger. The armscye is next to your finger, and the sleeve on the top. Continue in this manner all the way to the shoulder, easing the sleeve to fit the armscye.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
3. Starting at the shoulder, continue in the same manner toward the back notches. You will need to allow a little more of the sleeve to ease over your finger than you did in step 2, or instead of the “finger-rolling” you can just pin with a slight amount of ease on the sleeve side.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris

4.When you are finished pinning, all of the extra fullness in the sleeve should be distributed between the notches along the sleeve cap.

5. Place your sleeve + shirt body under your sewing machine, with the sleeve against the bed of your machine. By placing the garment “sleeve down” the feed dogs will help ease in the excess fabric.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
6. Take a few stitches, and then stop with the needle down in the fabric. Reach between the sleeve and shirt body and smooth the sleeve before proceeding. You will need to do this multiple times when stitching the sleeve to help prevent puckers.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
7. With your thumb underneath and remaining fingers on top, grab the shirt sleeve and roll the fabric over your hand. Continue stitching with your hand in this position,  pulling gently on the seam as you are stitching to smooth out puckers. You may also need to hold the seam behind the presser foot and pull gently from the back as you are stitching. Don’t forget to stop occasionally and smooth the fabric between the shirt body and sleeve as you are stitching.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris
8. When you are done, you should not have any puckers in the stitching, but you can see the slight extra fullness across the sleeve cap in this image above.

9. Finish the sleeve seam as desired, and press the shirt sleeve over a ham with the seam allowance toward the sleeve.

Setting in a tailored sleeve tutorial by Sew Maris

That’s it! If by chance you did get a pucker or two, unpick a few stitches and re-stitch. With a little practice (and a correctly drafted pattern!) setting a tailored sleeve into a shirt is definitely within your grasp. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Happy sewing!

Maris

A Kids Sew Camp for Classmates

It’s happening again! Another crazy-fun Kids Sew Camp this week, and this one has been a blast from day 1. Our projects for the week are a color-banded gathered skirt, an infinity scarf, and yet-to-be-made pajama pants. And keep in mind most of these young ladies have barely any sewing hours under their belts.

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Oops. How am I going to ask Miss Maris my question with all this string cheese in my mouth?

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

A small dance party might have happened sometime this week. 🙂

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Miss C! You are one crazy-straight stitcher!! Seriously UH-mazing work, darling!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Check out the ADORBS skirts and infinity scarves these 3 cuties finished up today. And Miss C, I just love that big, proud smile on your face!!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Sewing takes con-cen-tray-shun!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

PUH-leeze! More agua, por favor!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Hmmm. Is this the best square for my quilt design?

Just before heading home for the afternoon, we gathered outside for a quick fashion shoot. Thank goodness our Seattle weather is cooperating!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Sister! Your scarf!

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Six proper young lovelies all lined up in a row and primped for photos.

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Starting to work it now…..

Kids Sew Camp with Sew Maris

Hahahaha! Losing it!

Nothing warms my heart like sewing with these young ladies. We’ve had a barrel of fun so far, and I’m pretty sure they learned a few things about operating a sewing machine. Now just to get those PJs finished up tomorrow!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

 

 

Quick Tip Tuesday: Follow Edith’s Advice

                                                                            EdithHeadQuote

Don’t confuse the ability to zip or button a garment closed with “a perfect fit”. There are loads of good books and online classes on fitting, and if you are a serious garment sewist it is great skill to add to your toolkit. Yes, it will take some time and some practice to improve, but in the long run your new knowledge will serve you well.

If you are interested in recommendations for resources, I especially like Sarah Veblen’s book titled The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting, and the online Craftsy class Sew the Perfect Fit. (Please note these links are affiliate links, and I will make a few pennies if you decide to purchase after clicking them! Thanks for your support!) There are loads of other options out there, and plenty of fitting systems. Experiment, try out as many as you have the time, money, or energy for, and decide for yourself what system works best for you.

What fitting systems or resources do you like? Is getting a good fit hard for you? Do you love the challenge of figuring out how to get a great fit? I’d LOVE to hear more from you!!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

 

Another “Cool Cardigan” and Versatile Tank

I think Pamela’s Patterns “Cool Cardigans”—Draped Front just might be my new favorite drapey cardigan sweater. Maybe you remember I used this same pattern recently to make a little cheetah print sweater, and here it is again in a wonderful black and grey coffee bean knit from EmmaOneSock.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

This fabric is purrrrr-fect for me in every way. It is:

  1. an easy care knit
  2. a wardrobe neutral in my basic color—black (+ grey)
  3. a great match for my hair color! 😉
  4. a perfect print design for theSeattle  coffee-holic that I am!

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Since I had already altered this pattern to fit exactly the way I like, I did not make any adjustments to the body of the cardigan. However, the “3/4” sleeve length as indicated on the pattern is too short for my gorilla-long arms, and that “sewing fail” resulted in my tutorial on adding a vented sleeve band. It worked out for the best, though, as I love the extra detail of the sleeve band on this sweater.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

The tank pattern I used for this combo is also from Pamela’s Patterns—part of New Versatile Twinset. Nice! I am both “Cool” and “Versatile” when I wear these two items together.

Black Coffee Bean Knit Cardigan + tank top by Sew Maris

Oh, I am “magical” too, right? You might recognize this Magic Pencil Skirt from the an earlier blog post. The beefy ponte knit fabric is such a dream to wear and totally easy care.

I am in a mood to sew multiples using the same pattern. You are going to see more of these, for sure!

Happy sewing!

Maris

 

Craftsy Summer Sale Alert!

Craftsy’s BIG Summer Sale: Save Up to 50% on ALL Online Classes!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links
Craftsy

Want to learn a new skill or brush up on an old one? Now is your chance! You can save up to 50% off on ALL online classes at Craftsy’s BIG Summer Sale! Cooking, cake decorating, sewing, gardening and so much more… all up to 50% off, with some classes starting at just $9.99! This is a sale not to be missed, so make sure you hurry because it ends at 11:59pm MT on Monday, June 9th.

Happy sewing!

Maris

Friday Fail: The Seduction of a Simple Serging Task

This week let’s start something new — #fridaysewfail confession time! This is where you get to share a recent sewing fail, receive community absolution, and immediately head out for a start-of-the-weekend adult beverage. I’ll go first, and then I can get on with celebrating the weekend. 😉

Ruffly skirt made by Sew Maris

OK, I wasn’t literally drinking while I was serging the elastic on the waist of this simple ruffle-tiered fabric, but the result kinda looks like I might have had one lemon drop too many, right? 😉

Ruffly skirt by Sew Maris

Sometimes we all get into the mindset that “this is so simple I don’t even have to <pin it>, <measure it>, <baste it>, <change to the correct needle>, <insert the sewing job of your choice>”. Or we actually only have 30 minutes during the day to sew, because the rest of the time is occupied with work, child-rearing, housework, sleeping, etc.

Ruffly Skirt by Sew Maris

This ruffled knit fabric totally seduced me into the “I can whip this skirt up in 30 minutes” state of mind. And I did stitch it up about that fast. But bloody hell, it is far from my best work. The ruffles line up pretty well on the seam, but would you take a close look at the elastic serging job? Geez Louise. One.Hot.Mess. Did I mention there is no hem in this fabric because a) it is a knit and does not ravel, and b) the ruffly bits on sewn onto the mesh layer are already finished!

Whatever. I am not going to rip out serging and redo it. I rarely do the “tops tucked” thing, so no one will be the wiser. Except y’all. 😉

Come on, your turn. Did you have something to share for this week’s #fridaysewfail ?

Happy sewing, and enjoy a Pimm’s cocktail on me this weekend!

Maris

Time to get Dress-ed

2014_06_challenge01_dresses

This is it, dear friends, my entry for The Monthly Stitch Dresses Contest!

As you know from yesterday’s post, my Salme pattern attempt for the contest was a major fail. Luckily I had ordered another small containerseveral new patterns from Style Arc, including the Kate Dress. There also happened to be a bit of suitable knit fabric in my stash, so I was off and running.

Style Arc Kate Wrap Dress by Sew Maris

Fit. Almost perfect. I think the shoulder seam angle could be adjusted a bit, but I am not sure about that. I did my usual petite-above-the-waist adjustment. Unlike some other reviewers on patternreview.com, the skirt length was perfect for me. I am not that tall (5’7″), but since about 5 feet of that is in my legs, the “too-long-for-many” skirt was just right for me. I guess you know why I always have to petite those bodices, now, too! 😉

Style Arc Kate Wrap Dres sby Sew Maris

Drafting. Up to Style Arc’s usual high standards. These pieces just fit together. Period.

Style Arc Kate WrapDress by Sew Maris

Flattering. DVF nailed it, and others have been copying the look for years because it looks great on so many body shapes.

Style Arc Kate Dress by Sew MAris

Styling. I actually really like the little tuck detailing on the sleeves of this pattern, but my fabric was of-the-devil, and I was totally unsuccessful at producing a decent topstitch. No matter what type of needle I tried, the darn thing just wanted to “grip” the fabric when pulling out. I eliminated the tucks on this version, but I like the dress so much I will likely make it again in a friendlier fabric choice and plan to try them again. The right front pleats were easy enough to make, but they are just not very visible in the busy print of my fabric. I think they would be a nice design element on a solid cotton/lycra fabric though.

Style Arc Kate Wrap Dress by Sew Maris

Instructions. Fine, but this dress is so simple you really don’t need them anyway.

Do yourself a favor and order this pattern, and make up this dress. I need to go cut out a few more right now!

Happy sewing!

Maris

4 Ways This Dress Failed Me

So are you as jazzed as I am about The Monthly Stitch June 2014 Challenge – Indie Patterns?

First up: the dresses contest! I searched around for quite a while to find a new pattern that spoke to my design aesthetic as well as being um, “age-appropriate” (hate even thinking like that!). I fell in love a little bit with Salme’s Sleeveless Pleat Front Dress pattern. Tailored but still feminine, and pleats! I love pleats!

Salme Pleat Front Dress made by Sew Maris

I bought beautiful voile fabric I loved. I made sure it was light and drapey so the gathered waist would not create a Michelin-tire-man effect.  I printed out the pattern and glued it together. I did add a couple of inches to the skirt length, but did not bother with my normal “petite-ing the bodice” adjustment. The deliberate blousy style + elastic waist casing of the pattern should handle that issue, right? I forged ahead and cut out my pretty, pretty fabric. I also cut out gossamer-thin batiste lining so a slip would not be needed when wearing this dress. Very soon things started to go off the rails.

Floral voile fabric for Salme PLeat Front Dress by Sew Maris

Failure # 1. Pattern marking fail. I did not cut the front bodice on the fold because the pattern piece did not specify “Cut 1 on Fold.” Sometimes sets of pleats have a center seam included, so it didn’t strike me as odd. Yes, the cutting diagram does show the bodice laid out on the fold, but I never look at those stoopid diagrams. I do however, pay close attention to the pattern piece markings. Since I had leftover fabric, I recut a second front bodice. Only this time in my haste I missed adding seam allowances to the bodice (no SA included in Salme patterns). My fault, not Salme’s. Soooo, I decided to get creative and see if I could salvage this hot mess. I played around with a few options available in my stash (it was about 10:30 pm, so stores were not an option), and decided that centering a grey ribbon down the center front was the best available choice. I finished the entire dress, including making a very nice job of the lining, if I do say so myself.

Failure # 2. Pattern drafting fail. Usually there is a curve at the waist edges and hems on women’s patterns, right? Salme drafted this bodice and skirt completely straight at the bodice waist, the skirt waist, and the skirt hem. No bueno.

Failure # 3. Pattern drafting fail. The front bust dart was waa-a-a-a-a-a-y too low. Like not-even-in-the-ballpark too low. I have honestly never had this problem in a pattern. And since saggy girls are usually more of a problem for us slightly older ladies, and this line is designed by a young gal, hmmm. I had to adjust the dart placement. More no bueno.

Failure # 4. Style fail. Wow. A bag tied in the middle came to mind when I tried it on. So.Very.Not.My.Style. I can envision that a more rectangular body shape might look better in this dress style than I do, but all I know is what I had thought/hoped would be an attractive dress was butt uglyvery unflattering. I also think a neckline change would help this pattern. As drafted it just is not really very pretty on the body. My two cents, of course.

Nope, no pix of me wearing the dress. As a matter of fact, I can’t even show you a pix of the dress on my dress form because we had a fit of cleaning and organizing this past weekend. Dress got tossed into box for Goodwill; box was delivered to donation center on Sunday. Uncharacteristically efficient of me, I know. You will have to trust me, this dress was just soooo sad on me. Time to chalk this up to a learning experience and move on, sista! Sorry Salme, I could definitely forgive a style fail due to my bad judgement/body shape, but pattern marking & drafting fails earn low marks with me.

Coming soon: the indie dress that DID work for me, and absolutely meets the requirements for The Monthly Stitch Indie Dress Pattern Contest! Wheee!

Happy sewing!

Maris