Monday, December 3, 2018

Two Knit Tops              

What a busy time of year!  I have not been sewing as much as usual, but I have finished a couple of knit tops.  These were quick and easy to make projects because I used a pattern I have used many times before.  So, I knew the pattern would fit.  I used McCall’s M6964 pattern for a basic long sleeve pullover knit top.  I used fabric from my stash.  I believe I purchased the teal print knit from Fabrications in Richland, Michigan and the solid teal knit from Zink’s Fabric Outlet in Ligonier, Indiana. 

I was not really happy with the last couple of tops I made from this pattern.  I thought the neckband did not lay as flat as it should.  It seemed to stand away from the neckline a bit.   I decided to cut a different band and then compare it to the pattern piece.  I looked up how to make neckbands in the book, Knits for Real People, by Susan Neall and Pati Palmer.  I measured the circumference of the neck around the seam.  I multiplied that number by .75 and added two seam allowances.  That gave me the length of the band and I used 2 ½ inches for the width.  I cut the band on the bias.  I used this method to make the band for the solid teal knit top and it worked well.  I basted it first to check to see how it looked and I was happy with the result.  

When I sewed the print top, I checked the neckband I cut from the original pattern piece.  The width was the same as the other (2 ½ inches), but the length was longer.  I decided to use that band, but I cut off the extra length.  I also basted this band to the print top.  I was unable to attach the band without puckers in the top.  The band was too small!  I wondered how that was possible because it was the same length as the band for the first top.  I looked at the pattern piece and notice it called for the piece to be cut on straight of grain, not the bias.  I was amazed.  No wonder the bands cut by this piece did not lay flat!  Fortunately, I had enough fabric left to cut another band the same size on the bias.  The bias-cut band was easy to sew onto the neckline without puckers.  I will use this pattern again, but I will not use the pattern piece for the band.  Pictures of the two tops are shown below:

The lesson learned from these two projects is this.  If something you sew does not look quite right, try to figure out what is wrong.  It may be something you can easily correct before using the pattern again.  You may need to change the pattern or you may need to practice a technique to improve your skill.

I hope you are sewing something fun!


Monday, November 26, 2018

Resources to Use to Improve Your Sewing Skills                            

Sometimes we need to take a break from sewing to think about how we can improve our sewing skills.  Of course, every time you sew an article is an opportunity to improve, but sometimes you need to make a dedicated effort to improve your skills by learning to use new tools or trying different techniques.  One avenue to explore is to attend a sewing expo if one is offered near you.  For years I attended the American Sewing Expo in Novi, Michigan every fall.  Unfortunately, that show went out of business after the expo in 2016. I enjoy attending sewing expos because it gives you a chance to see vendors from across the United States and sometimes Canada.  You can see new products as well as some other products you may not even know exist.   Sewing expos usually offer a variety of classes that may not normally be available where you live. 

We did not have a sewing expo in Novi in 2017, but we did have one this year.  It was the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo.  It was good to have another sewing expo in Novi, but it was definitely not as large as the other one.  Hopefully, they will return next year with more vendors.  I am thankful that Country Stitches of East Lansing supported the expo and provided machines for many of the classes. 

There was one vendor that really caught my attention.  It was DittoForm from Detroit, Michigan.  The company makes a computer scan of your body and then makes a dress form that is a “ditto” of you.  You can call the company to schedule an appointment for a scan.  The owner will also travel with the equipment to your location if you have a group of people who want a scan.  Our ASG chapter is considering asking her to do a presentation and/or scans for our group.   I would love to have one of these dress forms.  I think it would make fitting so much easier.  I will mention it on this blog if Carol Huls from DittoForm comes to Lansing to do a presentation/scans for us.

A second avenue to explore to improve your sewing skills is online resources.  You can get information and videos for almost any sewing technique by searching on line.  Some sources are better than others.  If I search for a “how to” for a technique, I will look at the information given by several different sources and then go with the one that has the clearest instructions and pictures or videos of the technique.  Several years ago, I searched for information on installing a fly front zipper.  I looked at several different sources and then went with the one that was easiest for me to understand.  I cut small samples for fly fronts and then practiced putting in zippers.  Practicing the technique works.  It gives you confidence that you know how to do it before you try the technique on a garment.

Another good source for online information about sewing is the American Sewing Guild’s website.  You can go to the website if you are not a member, but to get to the valuable sewing techniques information and videos, you must be a member.  Then you can go to the “Members Only” section of the website and get information.  I am guilty of forgetting about this great resource.  I need to make sure I am taking advantage of all the information available in the “Members Only” section of the ASG website.

Threads magazine also has videos and information that is available online only to members of its “Threads Insider” subscription service.  I am sure there are many others available to you if you take the time to do the research.

A third avenue to explore is classes either online or on site.  Local quilt shops and fabric shops offer classes.  Check their schedules for subjects you may want to pursue.  ASG chapters also offer classes occasionally and they usually offer presentations at their meetings that cover techniques and other sewing topics.  Websites such as and some individual instructors offer online classes.  Try searching online for the class of your choice if you can’t find one in your local area.

And a fourth avenue to explore is books and magazines.  Books are available on almost any sewing subject you can imagine.  There are books on learning the basics of sewing, patternmaking, making clothes, sewing crafts, fitting patterns, and many different sewing techniques.  If you can name it, there is probably a book that tells you how to sew it. 

There are several good sewing magazines.  The two I know best are Threads and Sew News.  Both are sold in bookstores and on the rack at JoAnn Fabrics.  Both also sell subscriptions.  I have had a subscription to Threads for many years and it is the one subscription that I will never let expire.   I look forward to each edition and read it from cover to cover.   There is always so much sewing information in that magazine!  I even read the ads.

So, I hope you will take a break from sewing and think about the areas of sewing you wish to improve.  Determine where the resources are you need to use.  Take the time to research the best resource and take advantage of it.  Review the information and practice on a sample. After that, you are ready to plan to sew a garment or other article and put your new skill to work.

I wish you success on whatever project you decide to tackle!


Monday, November 12, 2018

Dave's Shirt  

When I decided to sew a shirt for my husband, I remembered fitting one for him several years ago.  I got distracted and put everything away to sew a different project.  I found the pieces of the shirt already cut and draped over a hanger in the closet.  A plastic envelope with the small pieces and a little extra fabric was attached to the hanger.  I also found the pattern which was Kwik Sew 3883.  It took a while to look at the pattern and pieces to determine what I had done in 2014 when I began the shirt.  It looked like I added a little to the sides to make sure the shirt covered his middle as well as a little to the yoke for his rounded back.  Unfortunately, I did not keep a record of the alterations I made to the pattern. 

I did a trial fitting before going any further.  I basted one piece of the yoke to the back and then basted the fronts to the back at the shoulders and side seams.  The shirt fit fine around his body if I used a quarter inch seam allowance.  There was not enough seam allowance for a French seam.   I would have preferred a larger seam allowance, but could not do anything to rectify that after the fabric was cut.  The ¼ inch seams will be okay for this test shirt.  I can change the seam allowances for the next one.  Then I will make a copy of the pattern with tag board.    I finished the side seams using my serger. 

The shirt I cut had a 16 ½ inch neck.  I may increase the next shirt to a 17 ½ inch neck.  I will see how it feels and looks when he wears the shirt and then make that decision. 

The instructions in Kwik Sew #3883 were clear and easy to understand.  I sewed the shirt exactly as indicated in the instructions.  I have learned a few shirt techniques from classes over the years, but I could not use them for this shirt because the pieces were already cut and I did not have enough fabric to re-cut the pieces.  I can apply some of those techniques with the next shirt I sew.  A picture of the shirt is shown below.

If you haven’t sewn a shirt yet, I hope you will try one.  You may want to make one for yourself first and then try making one for someone else.  It is important to get the pattern to fit before you cut your material.  Check your measurements first and then measure the pattern to see what changes you may need to make.  Remember to leave room for ease of movement.  There are lots of good books to help with fitting.  I suggest any of the three listed below:

Fit for Real People by Pati Palmer and Marta Alto
The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen
Threads Fitting for Every Figure by the editors of Threads magazine

I also recommend Shirtmaking by David Coffin.  This book shows lots of great techniques to use when sewing a shirt. 

If you are fortunate enough to live near someone who is a good teacher of shirtmaking, I suggest you take a class.  I know two people who are really good.  One is Steven Pauling in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The other is Bill Voetberg in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area.  He usually teaches at Lakeshore Sewing.

Good luck with whatever project you choose to sew.  Keep trying new techniques and improving your skills.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Having Fun with Craft Projects   

After finishing my “accidental” coat, I decided I would work on a small craft project before returning to sewing clothes.  I decided to make some potholders and I had the perfect book for that.  In August while browsing in Country Stitches, I purchased Pot Holders for All Seasons by Chris Malone.  There were some cute potholders illustrated and the best part was there would be no fitting required.  No fitting definitely takes the stress out of sewing!  This was the project I needed to keep sewing, but relax a little at the same time.

I am going to use the potholders for a hostess gift at Thanksgiving.  I found the perfect pair to fit the situation in Potholders for All Seasons.   I chose “Riblets” for my first potholder.  It is a pig and is on page 19 in the book.  My hostess collects pig figurines and her husband is a pig farmer.  I chose “Catch of the Day” for the second potholder.  It is a fish and is on page 33 in the book.  My hostess and her family love to fish, so I think the fish will work well, too. 

Pictures of the two potholders and the front of the book are shown below.

My next clothing project will be a shirt for my husband.  My first step will be to fit a pattern to him.  I will let you know how that goes. 

I hope your projects are going well.  Keep sewing!  It is good exercise for the brain.


Sunday, October 14, 2018

Completion of My “Accidental” Winter Coat

I just completed my “accidental” winter coat.  I will try to explain why it is an accidental coat.  Each year the Lansing Chapter American Sewing Guild has a sewing challenge for the members.  This year the challenge was to sew something that we were inspired to make from a guild monthly presentation, a guild sponsored class, or a neighbor group.  The Sew Stylin’ Neighborhood Group worked on making coats, so I decided I would make a raincoat for my challenge.  The members will bring their challenge items to the October meeting and everyone with a completed article is entered into drawings for prizes.  Most of us try to complete an article for the challenge because the prizes are usually very good and who doesn’t like to win a prize!

The pattern I chose for my raincoat was Vogue pattern V8884.  As usual, my first job was to try to fit the pattern to me.  I planned to sew the coat at the guild’s sewing retreat which was held in Shipshewana, Indiana in August.  I was anxious to fit the pattern and get it cut so I could work on it at the retreat.  I traced the pattern on pattern paper and used muslin to make my first test garment.  Although a test garment is usually made from muslin, it can be made from any inexpensive fabric. 

I basted the main pieces of the fabric together so I could try it on and make any needed adjustments.  It was so large, I decided I should just start over with a smaller size.  I made some adjustments to the pattern before I cut it.  I raised the left shoulder and increased the bust just a little. 

I had only a little muslin left in my stash, so I decided to look for some other fabric for my second attempt at getting this coat to fit me.  I found some home decorating fabric I purchased from an auction many years ago.  It was just taking up space in my closet.   I knew it was too heavy for a raincoat, but it could be used for a winter coat.  I decided the pattern (Vogue V8884) could be used to make a winter coat just as well as a raincoat.  My other problem was I didn’t know how this fabric would look as a coat.  The pattern on the fabric was big and bold!  I really didn’t think the pattern would fit, so I decided to make it anyway.  If it didn’t fit, I would just throw it away and I would have some extra space in my closet with the fabric gone.  On the other hand, if it fit I would have another winter coat.  I decided to take the risk and make the coat!

I basted the main pieces of the pattern together so I could try it on to check the fit.  Although it fit, I still wasn’t sure I liked the bold print, so I took it to my Wednesday sewing group and tried it on for my sewing friends.  To my surprise, they liked the fabric.  Bev reminded me of an article in a recent edition of Threads magazine entitled “Fall Looks”.  The article by Erica Redfern was a fashion forecast of patterns and fabrics for Fall sewing.  Ms. Redfern stated “Don’t be afraid to stand out with loud prints or eye-catching details.  It’s about being unique and embracing your personal style.”  

If bold prints are predicted to be a fashion statement for the Fall by Threads, this coat should really make a statement!  I like things that are a little bit different and I think this coat could be described as different.  I decided maybe I actually like this accidental coat.  Although the coat was originally intended to be only a muslin to check the fit of the pattern, I think it will serve me well as winter coat. 

Pictures of the coat, a close-up of one of the buttons and pattern envelope are shown below.  I included the button because the buttons can't be seen in the picture of the coat.  It is a double-breasted coat, so it has eight buttons.  Also, the front yoke can't be seen because of the pattern in the fabric.

I can still use the pattern to make a raincoat.  I already have the water repellent fabric I purchased from Field’s Fabric.  Now I can cut the fabric and know the pattern will fit.  I will post a picture of the raincoat when it is completed.

I hope you will get busy making your Fall and Winter sewing projects.  You will need them soon!


Friday, October 5, 2018

72 Outfits from a 12-Piece Wardrobe!    -      

As I indicated in my last post, the 12-piece wardrobe is finally finished.  Now I need to devise a way to show you how I determined this number without posting 72 pictures.  I think I will show a picture of all 12 pieces and then explain which pieces I used to make the 72 outfits. 

Here are pictures of the 4 bottom pieces (3 pants and 1 skirt).


These are the pictures of the 6 tops.

And these are the two jackets.

I used all 6 tops with the navy pants; all 6 tops with the wine pants, and all 6 tops with the beige pants.  Then I used all 6 tops with the navy skirt.  That makes 24 outfits using the 6 tops with each of the 4 bottom pieces.

Then I added the white jacket to each of those 24 outfits.  That brings the total to 48 outfits. (24 + 24).

Next, I added the beige jacket to each of the outfits consisting of the 4 bottom pieces and the 6 tops. 
(48 + 24) 

That brought the total to 72 outfits! (48 + 24)

This is the second time I have sewn a 12-piece coordinated wardrobe.  I am ready to move on to something different!  I am looking forward to sewing and blogging about whatever comes to mind and not be limited to one big project.

I do have one other project I am currently sewing and it must be completed by Oct. 15th.  That is a winter coat I am making for this year’s “Challenge” for the Lansing Chapter, American Sewing Guild.  I worked on the coat at the guild’s sewing retreat in August.  I haven’t touched it since then so I really need to get busy on it.  I plan to post a picture of the coat when it is finished.  After that, I am not sure what direction I will take with my sewing.  Regardless, I love to sew!  I just need a little time to decide what I want to pursue next.

I hope you are giving lots of thought and time to all your sewing projects!


Thursday, October 4, 2018

12th Piece of Coordinated Wardrobe is Finished!  -

Finally, this project is complete!  I enjoyed making the wardrobe, but I am glad is it done.  I was always pushing to meet some self-imposed deadline for completing each piece.  Other responsibilities kept getting in the way of my deadlines.  Those other responsibilities were probably much more important than just completing an article of clothing to post on my blog.  On the other hand, I do take my commitment to my blog seriously.  So, I had to find a way to meet all my responsibilities.  

Anyway, the wardrobe is complete.  Now let me tell you about the 12th piece.  It is a simple, beige jacket with no closures.  It should go with everything.  The pattern is McCall’s M5668.    The jacket has princess seams with slits at the sides and three-quarter length sleeves with slits.  The center fronts are self-faced and the sleeves are lined.  Pictures of the pattern envelope and the finished jacket are shown below.

I had not used this pattern previously, so I spent a lot of time fitting it.  I made two muslins before I started the final jacket!  I hope eventually my fitting skills will get better and I will not spend so much time fitting new patterns.  Of course, it would help if I would use the same patterns and just change them a little.  This is something I intend to do in the future!  I used fabric for the jacket from my stash.  I have no idea where I bought the fabric or exactly what the fabric is.  I know it is mostly cotton, but it does have just a little stretch.  I also had fabric in my stash for the lining.  The only item not in my stash was the pattern. 

Tomorrow I will post an article showing the total number of outfits I can make from the 12 pieces in the wardrobe. 

Until then, I wish you luck on all of your sewing projects. 


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Completion of 11th Wardrobe Piece – Light Blue Shirt

I used the same computer-generated pattern for this shirt as the one I used for the scrappy plaid blouse and the navy print cotton shirt.  I worked on this shirt at the recent American Sewing Guild Lansing Chapter’s sewing retreat in Shipshewana, Indiana.  However, I took it home to put the finishing touches on it.

I needed to make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons.  I thought this was the perfect time to try one of the decorative buttonhole stitches in my Pfaff Creative Icon sewing machine.  I decided to sew a few buttonholes to see which was best for this shirt.  I used some of the same fabric I used for the shirt and applied the same interfacing I used for the front facing.   Using navy thread, I embroidered buttonhole no. 124 and then used a medium blue thread for no. 123 from the “mini” embroidery section in my machine.   A close-up photo of both buttonholes is shown below.  I liked both buttonholes, but both were too large for my shirt.

Being anxious to complete the 12-piece wardrobe, I decided to move on and just sew regular  buttonholes and perhaps embroider a separate design between them.  I located an embroidery design of three small flowers which was also in the “mini” embroidery section of my machine.  I decided to embroider that design between where each buttonhole would be sewn on my shirt.   I pulled back the front facing before I embroidered the design so the back of the embroidery would be hidden inside the facing.  Then I sewed a regular buttonhole through the shirt and facing between each embroidery design.  I also placed one of the small flowers on each of the collar points.  A picture of the finished shirt and closeups of the embroidered designs are shown below.

There is just one piece of this wardrobe to complete and that is the tan jacket.  I am trying a different pattern so it will take a little extra time to check the fit.  I hope to complete the jacket soon.  I believe I will be able to get close to 72 outfits from the 12-piece wardrobe.  I will explain how this is accomplished as soon as I complete the jacket.  Please stay tuned!


Monday, August 27, 2018

Response to Comment on Recent Post  

I received a comment on my Aug. 23rd post, “Taking Risk with Color”.  That person asked if I could show a picture of the kelley green top with the wine pants so readers could determine if the two looked okay together or not.  I think that is a good idea.  I realize I am not good with colors, so I do not want to rely on my own opinion.  I have included a picture of the two items along with a closeup. Hopefully you can see the colors better in the closeup.  

It is not a big deal if the two do not coordinate.  I know the green looks good with the beige pants, the navy pants and the navy skirt.  So, I will be able to include the top as part of the 12-piece wardrobe.  

The only difference it makes is the total number of outfits made with the wardrobe.  If the green top does not look good with the wine pants, I will still have 68 outfits from the wardrobe.  If the green top does look okay with the wine pants, I will have 72 outfits from the wardrobe.  I consider either number great for my efforts in making the wardrobe.  I will be happy with either!

I am interested in your opinion.  You can make a comment in the "Post a Comment" section at the bottom of this post. 



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Taking Risk with Color  -      
As I was planning the 10th article of clothing for my 12-piece wardrobe, I decided to step out of my color comfort zone and try something different.   I decided to make a top using a kelly green knit fabric.  I used navy, tan, and wine for all the bottom pieces (skirt and pants) and I used prints and a plaid with those colors for the first four tops.  Kelly green will take me in a different direction, but I think it will work.  I know it works with navy and tan, but does it work with wine?  I am not sure, but I am going to risk it! 

I used the same pattern that I used for my color-blocked knit top.  It is McCall’s pattern M6964.  That is the great thing about reusing a pattern.  You don’t have to spend any time fitting it.  The same pattern will look different when made with different fabrics or by changing a small detail.  I decided to add an embroidered design to the front of the top.  A close-up of the finished design is shown below along with a picture of the top.

I am publishing this post while I am at the American Sewing Guild Lansing Chapter’s Sewing Retreat.  We are at the Farmstead Inn in Shipshewana, Indiana.  Fifteen of us are sewing in a large room with lots of sunlight.  For those of you who have never been to a sewing retreat, it is a really fun experience for a dedicated sewer!  I have been asked if I would accomplish more if I simply stayed at home and sewed by myself.  Perhaps, but there is much more than simply sewing involved here.  I learn so much by interacting with all these talented, creative women plus I have no responsibilities to cause interruptions.  I don’t have to stop to prepare meals, wash dishes or do laundry.  And the ideas I get are endless.   This is the second day of this retreat.   There is a baby quilt in progress, a finished crib sheet, a queen size quilt top finished except for the border, a partially finished Halloween tree decoration, a table runner in progress, an almost done blouse, two pillow cases, two quilts in progress, some quilt blocks for a block swap, a doll dress, two tops, two pants, one messenger bag in progress, coasters, quilted wall hanging, the beginning of a coat, and five purses.  

Last night we ate dinner in an Italian restaurant in Middlebury and tonight we are eating American food in a different restaurant in Middlebury.  We sew anytime and for as long as we can stay awake!  I started this morning at 7:00 a.m.  My assessment of sewing retreats is they are a great place to learn new skills and get ideas from others.  You will accomplish more if you plan what you are going to sew before you go.  It also helps if you do some prep work on your projects.  For example, cut out all pieces and iron on the interfacings before you leave.  Then you are ready to sew upon arrival. 

We have our dates for next year’s sewing retreat set.  It will be here in Shipshewana from September 11 – 14.  All of us are looking forward to it already.

I hope your sewing projects are going well and I hope a sewing retreat is in your future!


Friday, August 3, 2018

Navy Print Shirt and Craft Show Items

For the navy print shirt, I decided to use the same computer-generated pattern I used for the scrappy plaid shirt.  I did not like the length of the plaid shirt, so I shortened the pattern by 1 ¼  inch.  This shirt is also made from 100% cotton, but feels different because it is not a pieced fabric like the scrappy plaid and also it is more tightly woven. 

I thought this shirt would be even easier to sew than the previous one because I believed the fabric quality was better.  The collar/collar stand piece went on without a hint of a problem.  However, the sleeves did not go into the armscye on the first try. 

I remembered to try the 3-thread overlock stitch on my Babylock Ovation serger for finishing the seams.  I did not like it on this fabric.  The 4-thread overlock stitch provided more stabilization for the individual seams.  I like the look of the pressed open seam with both sides of the seam serged separately.  The 3-thread overlock stitch would probably have worked if I had serged both sides together and then pressed the seam to one side.  It is a personal preference and I prefer the look of the pressed open 4-thread overlock stitched seam. 

A picture of the navy print blouse is below.

I am not especially good at choosing colors which is probably why I don’t get excited about quilting.  I do quilt, but it is not my favorite thing to do.  I am learning more about colors as I continue to work on this coordinated wardrobe.  At the last American Sewing Guild (ASG) chapter meeting, I discussed a color choice for my next piece of the wardrobe with Mary A.   We were looking at a piece of double sided fabric.  One side was royal blue and the other side was navy.  I was wondering if the royal blue would look okay with the navy pants I made.  Mary told me she read somewhere that all blues look okay together.  Then I remembered something my quilting friends told me.  They said that all greens can be used together.  Maybe I should be a little more adventurous when it comes to choosing colors for my wardrobe.

In addition to working on this wardrobe, I had to take a little time to sew something to contribute to the ASG for the craft show at Country Stitches.  I made a baby blanket and a chef’s outfit for an 18-inch doll.  Pictures of those articles are shown below.  The craft show will be held Thursday, August 9th at Country Stitches from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.   There will be lots of vendors and Country Stitches will be holding a sale to celebrate its 36th year in business! 

I plan to make a green knit top for my 10th piece of this wardrobe.  After that, I just have one other top and one jacket to sew to complete the 12-piece wardrobe.

I hope your sewing projects are going well.


Tuesday, July 24, 2018

My Scrappy Plaid Shirt

Years ago, I had my body image scanned into a computer in order to have patterns made for me from that scan.  It actually worked!  The patterns purchased from that company were really a fairly good fit.  Since that time, I have made some minor adjustments to the shirt pattern.  I think maybe it was too difficult and expensive for most people to travel to the company to have the scan.  So, the company did not survive.  I recently decided to use that pattern for a shirt for my summer 12-piece wardrobe.

When I first began to plan this wardrobe, I found a piece of scrappy plaid fabric in my stash.  If you wonder what “scrappy plaid” is I would describe it as a plaid fabric that has been cut into many small pieces and then sewn back together in no particular order.  This fabric has been in my stash for many years and I wondered if I would ever think of anything to make with it.  There are lots of colors including pinks and blues in the fabric, so I thought it would look okay with the navy, wine, and tan pants in my wardrobe.  I decided to try a shirt.  The worst that could happen would be the shirt would end up in the trash and the best would be I might actually like the finished product.

The computer-generated pattern I used for the shirt had a collar band and a collar.  I decided it would be easier to work with the scrappy plaid fabric if those two pieces were combined into one because there were already so many small seams in the fabric.  I traced the two pieces together and then made some changes to accommodate the overlapping seams. 

After cutting the pieces of the shirt, it was fairly simply to sew together.  I finished the seams by serging them.  I used the 4-thread overlock stitch on my Babylock Ovation serger.  I just read somewhere that is better to use a 3-thread overlock stitch when finishing seams because the seam will be less bulky and you use less thread.  I hope I can remember to try the 3-thread overlock on my next blouse to see if I like that better.  It is hard to break old habits, especially when sewing.  Techniques are always changing and frequently new ideas can make a real difference in the appearance of a garment and also in the amount of time required to complete the garment.

Below is a picture of my finished scrappy plaid blouse.

I hope your sewing projects are going well.  Are you giving some time to teach those who would like to learn from you?  A great place to start is right in the family!  Make sure you pass on your love of sewing and your sewing skills to your children and grandchildren.  

I know it is difficult at times because children sometimes don't realize they may have a need and even a desire to sew later in life.   I think my oldest daughter now wishes we had taken the time when she lived at home for her to learn more about sewing.  Now that she lives near Atlanta, Georgia and I still live in Michigan, it is difficult to get together to sew.  

I wish I had made more of an effort to find the time and patience to teach both my daughters to sew.  It is difficult to find that time when we are trying to raise children and work, but I know there are women who are able to do that.  On the other hand, it is never too late to teach someone to sew.  Just use whatever time you have and make it happen!


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Another Top Finished for My 12-Piece Wardrobe

I just finished a t-shirt top for my summer 12-piece wardrobe.  I used McCall’s pattern M6964 to make a short sleeve version with a rounded neckline.

I wanted the top to coordinate with my navy pants, wine pants, beige capris, and navy skirt.  I found a printed knit fabric in my stash that had colors that would work with all the bottom pieces.   I also had a piece of wine colored knit fabric.  Neither piece was large enough to make the top, so I decided to make a yoke and sleeves from the wine fabric and make the rest of the shirt from the print fabric. 
I took the front and back pattern pieces and drew a line on both where I wanted the yoke to end.  Then I used pattern paper to trace pieces for the front and back yokes and also for the lower front and lower back.  I added 5/8 inch for seam allowance to the bottom of both front and back yokes and to the top edge of the lower front and lower back pieces.  After I sewed the front yoke to the lower front and the back yoke to the lower back, I just followed the pattern directions to complete the shirt. 

A picture of the completed top is show below.

 A simple t-shirt top can be completed in a short length of time if you have a pattern you know will fit.  If you are making one for the first time, try a pattern such as McCall’s M6964 that gives directions on how to fit the pattern.  This particular pattern uses the Palmer Pletsch “Tissue Fitting Method.”  The guide sheet also gives some good tips for sewing with knits.  Make sure you check the back of the pattern envelope to determine what types of fabric are suggested for the garment.  I usually buy an inexpensive piece of fabric or even a remnant when I am using the pattern for the first time.  You can use more expensive fabric after you make any necessary fitting changes to the pattern.  That is also a good time to make changes to the design if you desire. 

If you have not sewn a garment for yourself in a few years, making a t-shirt top is a good way to get started again.  A top like this is easy to make and can be completed quickly.  I hope you will try one!


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Navy Skirt                  

I finished the navy skirt using Vogue pattern V7937.  You will notice the pictures on the front of the pattern envelope are illustrations, not photographs.  That can cause a problem.  With some patterns the illustrations are very close to the finished garment, but other patterns can have subtle differences between the illustration and what would have been evident in a photograph.   The view I made (D) showed an illustration of a slender, tall model.  The flounce on the back of the skirt was slightly longer than the front of the skirt and covered the center of the lower back of the skirt.  It really looked nice! 

When I finished sewing the skirt, the flounce was very full and a lot longer than the front.  I realized the problem was me.  I am not a tall, thin illustration.  I am a short, round real person!  So, I needed to try to make a change to the skirt that might improve its look on my body.  To help you visualize what I did and why, I am showing you pictures of the original skirt before hemming.  I purposefully had the photographer (my husband) stand as far away as possible hoping the skirt would not look quite as bad on me as it actually did!

After musing over my problem, I decided it might look better if I could shorten both the front and back of the skirt.   The back needed to be shortened even more than the front.  I knew by doing this, I would take a lot of the fullness out of the flounce and that was exactly what I wanted to do.  So, I cut off 1 ¼ inches from the front of the skirt and 2 inches from the middle of the back edge and gently curved it upward to meet the sides of the front.  The change is probably not significant, but it did make a little difference.  At least I feel better about wearing the skirt.  I don't think I will feel like quite as much of a frump as I did with the longer, flouncy version.  The finished product is shown below.

I turned up 1 ¼ inches for the hem and pressed.  I planned to use my blind hem foot for the hem, but I decided that might not work well considering the rounded edge of the back of the skirt.  I hemmed it by hand instead.  

I made two changes to the pattern.  The pattern did not have a waistband.  Instead, it used a facing to finish the waist edge.  It is a matter of preference, but I don’t like a faced waist edge.  So, I added a waistband.

I also prefer a skirt with a lining and Vogue V7937 was an unlined skirt pattern.  I made a pattern for the lining by tracing the sides and waist edge of the front section after the three individual pieces were sewn together.  Then I traced the sides and waist edge of the back section after the six individual pieces were sewn together, but before I sewed the front to the back.  I made the lining stop just about where the gores began to flare out in the back.  The lining stabilizes the back of the skirt when I sit and also acts to prevent seeing through the skirt. 

This will not be my favorite skirt, but I will wear it.  If I make another one from this pattern, it will be view C.  View C has pleats in the back and the back is the same length as the front.   I will shorten the pattern before cutting the fabric.

I enjoy trying different patterns because it is always a learning experience.  I learn more about which styles I like and which look best on me.  It is also an opportunity to learn new techniques.   I learn not only new sewing techniques, but sometimes techniques for rescuing a project from being thrown into the trash! 

How are your sewing projects going?  I hope they are successful and I also hope you are learning as you are creating them!