Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and Goodbye!

I just wanted to take a minute to say Goodbye! I haven't posted since March, and I just haven't felt like writing. Too many other things on my to-do list. But I'm still sewing! Maybe even sewing more. I just finished my 5th pair of ginger jeans, and I've been wearing this pair non-stop. Working on a casual jacket now. Also a few months back I won the most amazing (and very expensive) Pfaff sewing machine. Sews like a dream. I feel so lucky and so spoiled now. I also took another trip to New York in the fall and added to my fabric collection (had to sit on my suitcase to get it closed! So much great fabric!! Thankfully plane tickets to NYC are surprisingly cheap flying out of my city!). I'm hoping to reorganize my sewing space in the new year and hope to make a cutting table so I can stop cutting on the floor. (If you're still cutting with scissors, stop and get a rotary cutter and large cutting mat asap. So much better!) I'd also like to get a dress form, buy a book or craftsy class, and try my hand at draping. So that's what I've been up to. I'm just posting on instagram now. It's mainly photos and much less text. If you're not on it you should join! If you are on it and I'm not following you already, please let me know your username! 

Follow me at "soisewedthis" on instagram

I still really enjoy reading everyone's blogs (usually during breaks at work and sadly my web browser doesn't always like to let me post comments). But I'm letting this blog go. I've been thinking about my priorities, how I spend my time, simplifying, and this blog just fell by the wayside, so I'm letting it go. It's been fun, and thank you for all the helpful comments and tips. I've certainly learned a lot! Anyway, hugs! And let me know if I can find you on instagram!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Black Ginger Jeans and a Lane Raglan

These black Ginger Jeans are my new favorite project I've sewn! In fact I've worn them at least once a week (sometimes twice a week) since I finished them. I already owned a pair of store-bought black jeans and I haven't worn those since finishing these Gingers. I may never wear those rtw jeans again. They're probably destined to head to Goodwill soon. That's how much I love the fit of these Ginger Jeans. Never buying jeans again!

These are a solid jet black (lightened a bit in the photo above to show detail) from Got it for 50% off during a sale, and their prices are very low even without a sale. That made me question the quality, but these actually have much better recovery than the blue denim in my previous pair (fabric from hancocks). But if you're looking for cheap denim for a practice muslin, the stuff from fashionfabricsclub worked fine. I have one more pair of ginger jeans in progress in a light grey also from fashionfabricsclub. 

I've since purchased some fabulous high quality blue denim from I'm looking forward to sewing those up! And I pre-ordered some of the fancy Cone Mills Denim when closetcasefiles and workroom social offered it last week, yay!

I've realized I actually really love doing topstitching. And my cheap Brother machine is still chugging along doing nice topstitching. My serger however is having issues now, and is in the shop again (it's also a the future i'm dreaming of upgrading...i keep hearing better things about janome, juki, pfaff, and bernina models $$$) I'm considering flat felling the seams on my current light grey Ginger Jeans...

This pair of Gingers has hot pink polka dot linings. I posted a few photos on Instagram. I did the pocket stay this time and love it! (tutorial on the closetcasefiles sewalong) I also used the lining fabric to interline the yoke pieces for added stability. I took another wedge out of the waistband this time to make it curve in a bit more. And I lengthened the rise by 3/4" so they aren't quite as low. This is View A, the stovepipe leg, but it's fairly skinny on my fuller-than-average calves. I'm considering tapering my light grey pair down from the calf to the ankle for more of a skinny look, maybe?

I also whipped up this Lane Raglan tee, cut and sewn in a Sunday afternoon, everything done on my serger, except for the hem on the bottom. I prefer a hem on the bottom rather than a band, but a band could easily be used to make this a serger-only project. (Although now my serger is in the shop because it started skipping stitches, sad face.) This is a size small, and if I used a heavier fabric I might size up to a medium for more of a sweatshirt look. The only change I made was to add 2 inches to the length, partly because I'm tall and like my shirts long, and partly because I hemmed instead of doing a band at the bottom. 

The knit fabric is from Mood when I went to New York in October. It's soft and washes well and has a really nice drape. I think I ended up running the print the wrong way technically, but I liked the stripes running horizontally better, and it worked fine because it still has a little stretch and this isn't that fitted. I used pieces of the wide selvedge for the white neck and arm bands. I did a 3/4 sleeve instead of the long sleeve that's shown in this pattern. I wear 3/4 sleeves more often than long sleeves because of our very mild winters. I will definitely be making more Lane Raglans, and have plans to lengthen into a cute dress! (If I could just get my serger back...)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Sutton Blouse in Floral Silk

Happy new year all! I'm in the home stretch of a second pair of Ginger Jeans at the moment (in black this time), but between gingers I sewed up a True Bias Sutton Blouse. And I love it! I could probably just keep alternating my sewing with sutton, ginger, sutton, ginger, sutton, ginger for awhile and be very happy (but I do have plans for a wool jacket coming up and a Thread Theory Camas Blouse, and a few more knit dresses).

I just love the back box pleat detail, and the yoke is a great opportunity to use a small contrasting fabric or even some lace. I went all one fabric this time, but would love to mix up the yoke if i can find the right fabrics. I've had this fabric in my stash for awhile and it feels like a silk (and was priced like a silk) but i don't remember and i bought it before i really paid attention to fabrics (i didn't know what i was doing!).

Silky fabrics can be a little tricky, but just by doing a few things it was fine. Actually the hardest part was pressing it. i need to buy a new iron! the steam kept stopping and i really needed to steam steam steam!!! Also a sharp, fine microtek needle was a must. And i used my rotary cutter and mat to cut the pieces flat. So much easier than scissors! Less shifting. More accurate. Faster. Win, win, win. The other thing I've done before is use some spray starch when pressing seams and hems. It makes it easier to sew, and the starch washes out. Speaking of washing, to prewash, I just threw my fabric into a Tide garment wash bag, and washed it in the machine on cold and then hung it up to dry (and then pressed and steamed it like crazy with my iron). And that's how I'll continue to wash this top. 

The last thing is to just hold the fabric taut while sewing. This keeps the fabric from getting sucked down into the needle/throat plate, and keeps things from getting wavy. Hold the fabric behind your needle with your left hand and hold your fabric in front of you with your right hand and pull the fabric taut, not stretched, just taut. Hope that makes sense! And you don't need to pull or push the fabric, the feed dogs will move the fabric for you, just keep holding and adjusting your hands so the fabric stays taut. And i'm not an expert, that's just what works for me.

I didn't make many changes. I sized down a little. My bust put me in a 6/8, my waist put me in a 4, and hip in a 6, so i just decided to do the 4 because it's a loose top. I lengthened it by 2 inches because i'm on the tall side and wanted to make sure it would be long enough. Also note that this pattern has a center front french seam, so I considered pattern matching, but then decided to just make it easier on myself and staggered my pattern pieces so that there wouldn't be an obvious repeat and so that i didn't end up with a large pink flower on each boob. You have to watch out for these things! :) 

I love the instructions for the hem with side slits, it's very clever and results in a nice clean finish. There was also a sewalong on the True Bias blog, so there are a bunch of great photos to see all the steps. The only change I'm making to the pattern for my next sutton is deepen the v-neckline by about an 1.25". This pattern is really great for any silky drapey lightweight fabrics. I wore it out to dinner with my ginger jeans, and on another day wore it to work with some dress pants. I threw on a cardigan because it's chilly, but the sutton top will be perfect for the summer! And now I want to go shopping for more lightweight silky fabrics!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ginger Jeans - Finished!

On Sunday I finished the last steps of my Ginger Jeans... belt loops, button, and hemming. And today is casual Friday, so I'm wearing them to work!

Ta-da! I made jeans and I'm wearing them to work!

They are super comfy. This denim is really soft, but still a decent medium weight like normal jeans. It has 3% lycra, which makes fitting more forgiving. Hopefully they won't stretch out too much by the end of the day. But I never wear my jeans more than twice without washing, because my regular jeans tend to stretch out a little. I usually buy jeans from banana republic or gap and my favorites are the trouser-style jeans. I only own one pair of skinny jeans because they usually don't fit me well. My calves are on the larger side, and when jeans fit in the calves they are always much too large in the waist. So making my own jeans is an awesome solution! 

I never thought I would make jeans and I'm so excited about how well these turned out. This is an excellent pattern and the photos in the sewalong really helped me visualize how to do the trickier parts like the front fly zip and attaching the waistband. And after I worked those out, they really weren't as difficult as I thought! If you've sewn a dress, you can sew jeans. These are actually also the first pants I've sewn. Never made pants before, just skirts, dresses, and tops.

Tucked in part of my shirt so you could see the waistband, I do not wear my shirts like that! haha

I picked the size based on my hip measurement at the widest part, and my natural waistline (narrowest part of the waist, not where the waist of the jeans will actually sit). Both of those numbers fell exactly on one pattern size so I didn't need to grade between sizes. A few people have mentioned sizing down, so i might do that if your denim is super stretchy and/or if you like a very tight fit. I don't generally wear very tight jeans, so these were just the right amount of tightness for me. Now if these stretch out too much, I might consider going down a size, but that's yet to be seen. Also these are View A, the lower rise stovepipe version. Since my calves are fairly large, these feel like skinny jeans to me. I could taper the ankles in more, but I like the way these fit the way they are. I am considering raising the waist a little bit next time. These aren't super low rise, but I think my other jeans are slightly higher. 

pulling my shirt up so you can see the back

I love how you can move the pockets to flatter you best. I left them the same size and nearly the same position as in the patten. I did move one of the pockets over slightly so that they would appear more centered. I basted the jeans before doing any major sewing or topstitching, and the only change I decided to make was to take a small wedge out of the back of the waistband piece, which is on the fold, so it results in two small wedges taken out, and this creates more of a curve to the waistband, and solves any back waistband gaping that you might have if you have a swayback or  a little extra in the booty department. I used my denim for both sides of the waistband. Next time I will do the pocket stays option that Heather mentioned in the sewalong. And I may interline my back yoke pieces with the same cotton that i use for the pockets, just to give the back yoke more stability. I used some really cute red with white polka dots for the pockets of these.

I ended up using red thread for the button hole because my machine wasn't liking the topstitching thread when making a button hole. I didn't have any matching gold regular thread, so I opted for red to match the pockets and it's not really noticeable since I usually wear shirts that are longer than the waistband. Oh I did have a little mishap with the coin pocket. I lined it up based on the dot on the pattern and the curve of the pieces, but I think it got a little stretched out the first time and I think I also tried to align the side edge of the coin pocket parallel to the hip side of the pocket piece, but actually it's more important to make the t0p of the coin pocket parallel to the top of the pocket piece, so that your coin pocket will lay parallel to the waistband. This is because your hip side seam angles outward, so if you make your coin pocket parallel to that then it will be at a slight angle as well. If that makes sense? Probably more info than you needed...

I did some testing to figure out what would work best with my machine and the feet that I have for topstitching. I posted a reference guide on my instagram with the settings I worked out (find me at "soisewedthis") so that i can remember and maybe it will help someone else. I used a 3.5 length stitch, but for the tight curve of topstitching around the fly, I switched to 2.5 for the curved part and then back to 3.5 for the straight part. I just went really really slow. Patience is a virtue when topstitching. And make sure you have a full bobbin! (Regular thread in the bobbin, not topstitching) The first belt loop gave me problems, and I thought I'd have to hand sew them on, which would've taken forever. Just do a test one first with scraps, and then start with the back ones, by the time I got to the front belt loops, I had the bartacking down to a science with my machine. And my humpjumper was a huge help, but you can use a piece or cardboard or something similar to lift up the back of your foot. i also used the hand crank on the side when stopping and starting topstitching or bartacks or over any large seams - this helped with accuracy. If you have any questions about all this, please comment or message me and I can explain further! And the sewalong also goes into more depth.

I have denim for 2 more pairs already, a black and a grey. But I would definitely spend more on top quality denim now that I know how well these worked out. I really wasn't very confident at first and thought they might be a big ol' fail. I thought sewing jeans was way beyond my sewing skill set. I was wrong! And I'm so happy I was wrong! I may never buy jeans from a store again! Yay for sewing jeans! Thank you to Heather for the great pattern and thank you to all the other bloggers who sewed them up before me and gave me the push and inspiration to try it myself. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment from this project and it really amped up my sewing mo-jo.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cranberry Knit Dress

First off, I finished my ginger jeans! I'm very excited to have tackled that project. I posted quite a few pics on instagram (find me at "soisewedthis" and you can view lots of other great ginger jeans by looking under #gingerjeans) but I'm hoping to get a few slightly better pictures taken before writing up a blog post.

The sewing project I finished prior to my gingers is this cranberry lady skater-ish dress. I decided it's "cranberry" because I wore it to Thanksgiving dinner. Maybe the color is a little more cran-grape... Either way it was stretchy and not restrictive as far as eating large amounts of food, which is why I picked to wear it.

This is the softest bamboo knit fabric and it washes amazingly well. Yay for a fabric splurge that pays off. On the other side, it was so drapey that I decided it wanted to be a gathered skirt rather than the original A-line of the lady skater pattern. This time rather than just doing a big gathered rectangle, I slashed and spread the A-line skirt pattern piece out to make it wider so that I could gather it. I think the gathered A-line makes a prettier shape than a gathered rectangle, so I will stick with this method for the future.

I had been having issues with the sleeves and armscye of the lady skater pattern. On my first (blue) lady skater I had to hack them down after I had the dress nearly finished. On my second (leopard) I went down several sizes in the sleeves, but also ended up making it too tight in the bust. So this time I hit the books and the internet and tried to learn more about fitting sleeves and sleeve drafting. I decided to redraft the bodice and sleeve pieces, making changes based on what I had read and also drawing from the shapes of a store bought knit top that fits well. Ok in the end I basically just ended up tracing it, he he. And it worked wonderfully. Tracing garments that already fit for the win!

I also made the waistline go straight across this time, as I had seen someone else do to theirs. (Thanks!) And the neckline on this one was a happy accident. I was going to do the binding method that Megan Nielsen wrote a nice tutorial for awhile back, but my band was too wide and then I wasn't getting an even line of stitching. So I started hand stitching it down invisibly, but that was driving me nuts. My hand stitching is never even and it wasn't at all invisible! so I cut the band off. but I left the serged part around the neckline and noticed that that created enough stability that I could turn it under and topstitch it down. it looks really nice and clean, but it's not at all what I had planned on doing. This time improvising worked out.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I'm sewing jeans! Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Patterns

Ask me a month ago if i was going to sew jeans this year and i've told you "No, why on earth would I sew jeans?" I have multiple pairs of store-bought jeans and two pairs that are my favorites that I basically rotate out. I can only wear jeans to work on Fridays, but jeans are usually my go-to for weekends. But still, sewing jeans wasn't even on my radar.

Enter Ginger jeans by closet case patterns. I kept seeing them pop up and heard reviews about how good the instructions were for the fly front zip. And that got me thinking... I've never sewn a fly front zip. I love learning new techniques. This would be a great way to learn. And how cool would it be to say that i've sewn jeans. It's very impressive sounding.

I couldn't stop thinking about it. I started looking at places to order denim (couldn't splurge on the kit). Ordered a swatch from girlcharlee. Kept re-reading the posts about the jeans... I do realize there have been other jeans patterns out there. But these came with a sewalong. And I'm very much a visual learner, so if i can see photos of how to do the zip fly, that's better than any amount of words. In fact, i usually don't read sewing pattern instructions, just look at the images. So I finally clicked "purchase" and bought the pattern. No turning back now.

I was too eager to get started that i didn't want to wait for ordering fabric online, so I decided to just hit the local chain stores over the weekend. If only I had known i was going to want to sew jeans - i was in NYC last month and walked right past rows of denim!!! Oh well, this was going to be a test version anyway, so i didn't want to spend a lot of fabric. Looked at joann's first but left empty handed... too stiff, too heavy, not stretchy, too light... (and i had a 60% off fabric coupon! but who else gets annoyed that those coupons are only good on Regular priced fabric. well practically everything is already slightly on sale, so what can i use my 60% off on??? the denim was on sale 30% off, so i wouldn't be able to use the 60% off coupon. booo. and the denim they had wasn't super cheap. it was around $13/yard)

Anyway so i headed to hancocks. thought i wasn't going to find anything there either... but all notions were half off so i decided to stock up on needles and pick up denim needles while i was at it. but off to the side they had one small row of denim, and i managed to pick out some that might be okay for a muslin. (plus they actually let me use my 50% off coupon so it was only $6.50/yard!) so i rounded up a zipper, buttons, and thread (also all half off!), and impressed both the lady who cuts and the cashier when they asked what i was making and i replied, "oh just some jeans". super casual. haha. so i washed and dried my denim immediately, and on sunday cut everything out. 

Next, I'll baste it up to see how it fits. hoping it fits ok without too many changes, but we'll see! also hoping my topstitching turns out okay, since i picked bright gold which will really stand out. but, this is a test, this is only a test...

I'm really looking forward to this sewalong and seeing the jeans that other people are sewing up. Let me know if you're making the ginger jeans or if you've made jeans before! Did they make you feel like a sewing ninja? I'll try to post more progress shots on my instagram "soisewedthis" and also using the hashtag "#gingerjeans".

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Answer me these questions three... (or four)

The lovely Maggie of Stitch-n-Thyme nominated me to participate in the Blog Hop that has been circulating. She has great style and everything she makes looks so classy and perfectly-constructed. I was flattered to be included since I'm not a very consistent blogger....

Here's the definition she gave and i'm going to borrow it: "Blog Hop: One fun blogger nominates two other fun bloggers to participate by answering a bunch of questions and then forwarding it on to two new bloggers. A way cooler version of a chain letter."

I remember doing a chain letter when i was in like... middle school maybe? It was a chain letter to join the "Pencil Club". You send a pencil to person A. You send the letter on to 5 (slacker) friends. You get zero pencils in the mail. It was a failed ponzi scheme. You may be asking, "Why would you want to get pencils in the mail?" Well this was in the era of Lisa Frank, and having fancy pencils to match your trapper keeper was hot stuff. (Does anyone relate to this or even know at all what i'm rambling about? haha)

Ok, let's see, here are the questions:

Why do you write?

I started this blog back in July of 2012 (had to look back to check) and I was just starting to learn to sew. I had a machine and didn't know at all what I was doing. I did a ton of research on how to sew and various techniques and the best answers came from sewing blogs. And there were a ton of sewing blogs. i had no idea this was even a thing. I entered a facebook contest from Mood Fabrics and surprisingly won (hey it was a random drawing, i didn't do anything special). they sent me some gorgeous fabric and i thought to myself, "hey i should start a blog and then when i sew something awesome with this gorgeous fabric i can post pictures on my blog!" but i was intimidated by the fabric because i didn't know what i was doing, so it's still sitting in the bag... 2 years later. i know, i feel so bad. i'm sure you have fabric that you're hesitant to cut... now i should really make something with it since i finally think my skills are up to the challenge. also Karen of the blog Did You Make That was hosting a pattern pyramid (also similar to a chain letter) and I wanted in on that, so there's another reason this blog was born. and then not too far into blogging, i remember seeing that i had 8 followers, and i was like "I have 8 followers!!!! People read this!!!" and that interaction with fellow sewists is what has kept me going.

How is your blog different from others of the same genre?

Well, my photos are sub-par, which i would love to fix, but don't feel like investing in a nicer camera at this point. I actually took 2 courses of senior level photography in college and can even process photos in a dark room old school style, so i'm extra ashamed that my blog photos are blah. (i had a fancy camera and it was stolen...) anyway, pity party over. i do wish i had a special niche, something that made my blog super unique. but i also don't commit a lot of time to it, i feel like i should do more, but i'm not trying to make this a job or anything. that would be sooo much work and i already have a full time job. i just really love connecting to other sewing bloggers, people who share the same interest. every time i get a new comment i get excited. and so i keep going.

What are you working on now? 

In the middle of a purpley/cranberry colored bamboo knit dress. trying to perfect the lady skater pattern to fit my shape better. it's a really nice, comfy go-to dress pattern. i had issues with the sleeve width and then my adjustment made the bust too small/tight. so i've been doing a lot of research on sleeve caps and pattern drafting and looking at shirts i already own that fit well and inspecting the sleeve piece shapes. basically nerding out. and re-drafting the bodice and sleeve. i also slashed and spread the skirt to make it gathered but still have a nice a-line shape rather than being a rectangle (as with some gathered skirts). i like the regular lady skater skirt pattern piece, but this bamboo knit is just so drapey that it would hang flat against the body anyway and risk VPL, and i don't want any of that.

in progress, i'm not cool enough to wear this as a crop top and skirt combo, so i'll have to attach them...

What is your writing process? 

stream-of-consciousness. i just type. i don't think about it too much. i don't go back and edit (my apologies!). if i catch a typo or bad grammar i'll fix that, but that's about it. there are lots of fragments (and run-ons), but i think it's ok, because at least i realize they are fragments (i actually did really well in english classes, promise!), and i want to think it makes this more informal and relatable... i don't plan either. so i'll type up a post in a half-hour or less (guess I'm the opposite of you Maggie!), whenever i feel like i have something interesting or funny to say... or if i have a finished project and i'm hoping for some compliments... (just being honest!) or if i have a halfway completed project and i need serious help (and boy have i gotten a lot of helpful feedback, thank you guys!) i want my blog to be exactly as if i were just talking to you. and i do try to inject some humor. and often some sarcasm seeps in, but it's all meant in good fun. but i think that's just how i am in everyday life as well.

Thank you again Maggie for the nomination =) Being included makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And now to continue this chain letter along, I'm supposed to pass it on to two more bloggers. 

So my nominations are: 

puu's door of time - she has such a fun style and i'm really admiring the chanel-esque jackets she's been sewing (and now i really want to make a cute jacket...)

simply E.GO.tistical - the dresses she makes are so cute (and hot!) and all those awesome workout leggings... so impressive

Hopefully you guys haven't already done this blog hop and if so, how did i miss it, please send me the link! and if you are anti-chain letter it won't hurt my feelings (well i'll pretend it didn't hurt my feelings, but hey, you won't know! hahaha)

Sitenote: I'm really loving this #bpsewvember that's going on on instagram. love seeing all of the sewing related photos and the comments back and forth have been really fun. Follow me at "soisewedthis" and let me know where i can find you. And if you're not on Instagram, try it - it's fun and it's not that hard. promise. (i actually prefer it over the other social networking sites like facebook or twitter) Happy sewing and happy photo-taking!