Thursday, September 29, 2011

Ottobre 3/2011 #24 - Bird Applique Top

One morning last week my daughter got dressed for school and came out of her room in an aqua plaid tunic and this skirt. Oy. I suggested that maybe they didn't look all that great together and she should change one of the pieces. She looked hurt and said, "But, these are my favorites!" Her favorite top, her favorite could they not look fabulous together?

She felt beautiful and happy so she went to school dressed just how she wanted. I figured it would be wise of me to make some matching cool weather clothes so the skirt could be wearable through the winter.

My daughter is finally outgrowing Kwik Sew 2918 that I have used for T-shirts for her for the last five years. I've been adding lots of length and some width and modifying the fit of the largest size for the last few seasons. It's time to move on.  Ottobre to the rescue.

Ottobre 3/2011 #24

I started with a slim fitting T-shirt pattern (Ottobre 3/2011 #24), changing the short sleeves to long ones. The fabric came from a  top of mine that I didn't wear much because the sleeves were too short. The neckline is finished with picot-edge elastic rather than binding as called for in the pattern.

Bird Applique

I knew what I wanted the bird applique to look like and just started sketching it on paper, but it wasn't turning out at all how I wanted. I'm horrible at drawing. Horrible. So, then I started searching online and found the header at Little Birdie Secrets. Exactly what I wanted. I still drew it, but I had something to copy.

Bird Applique - close up

I like using the blanket stitch on my machine. The tension should have been adjusted along the top of the bird's head, but I just left it. The beak and eye are done by hand with embroidery floss. The legs are stitched on the machine, tracing over pencil lines multiple times.

Ottobre top and skirt

Here she is, looking happy and matching! And rumpled. But two out of three ain't bad. The leggings are Burda 9615, a pattern I love and may end up using as much as Kwik Sew 2918 in the end.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Knot for Me: Neckties

The local fair has recently come and gone. As I have done in years past, I entered some sewn things for judging. There was a distinct lack of sewing time in the weeks before the fair, but I came up with six things that I could finish easily before the fair or things that I had made over the last year and were eligible. All of the six things placed in the top three in their category. A couple of things haven't made it on the blog yet. One of those is a necktie for The Preacher.

Back in the spring, I bought some necktie silk in NY. I didn't have a clue about making ties, but I thought it might be a fun thing to try. Most of the big pattern companies have some sort of tie pattern, but I wasn't expecting that would be the best source for instructions and guidance. Some online research led me to David Page Coffin's Custom Making Neckties at Home.

There is a lot of information included in the 17-page booklet and I found it really helpful. Coffin clearly is experienced and knowledgeable. This was the only source I used and it included everything I needed to know. But, I think that the booklet would benefit from some reorganizing and editing. Paragraphs are long, white space is minimal and I found myself flipping back and forth through pages trying to connect different parts on my own. I found his Shirtmaking book similar - lots of great info, but strangely organized.

All you need for a tie is outer fabric, lining and interfacing. Using the right kind of interfacing is pretty important. Rather than trying to find something suitable in yardage, I took apart one of The Preacher's old ties that he liked the length and width of. I used it to make a pattern for the new tie following Coffin's instructions.

The red dupioni tie was my first try. It looks okay from the front, but the back is awful. The most difficult part of the tie-making process is attaching the lining to the blade so that it is set back from the edge about 1/4". Coffin gives pretty detailed instructions for how to do this by machine. I followed them quite carefully, but mine came out very uneven.

front of two neckties

The process is repeated on the tip end of the tie, so I did practice it twice and then cut into the good tie fabric. Finishing the tip end went better than the red one and the blade end went better yet. Certainly, there is still room for improvement, but compared to my first attempt, this is beautiful.

blade and tip of necktie

There is a loop for slipping the tail end through and a bar tack where the slipstitching begins. From the bar tack toward the tail, the tie is slipstitched closed. The trick is to keep the front smooth and even around the interfacing - not pulling too tight and not leaving it too loose. Either will cause problems when the tie is tied around the neck. Since the whole thing is on the bias, this takes some patience and finesse.

tail end of necktie

The underside of the tie's tail end is pretty sad and ugly. I'm not sure what happened, but those edges just barely met when they should have overlapped. So, I did the best I could to just keep them together.

In the end, the tie is wearable and The Preacher likes it. And it won first prize at the fair! I thought it might be the only one in its category, but there was another one entered. But, I don't need to make any more ties. It was a challenge and it's good to try something new, but it wasn't a lot of fun. And sewing should be fun!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Burda 9885 - Vibrant Dress* and Leggings

So, is there anyone still out there reading this? So very little sewing time lately. Even less blogging time. Last September was the same way. I'm optimistic that things are going to calm down a little soon.

My firstborn is the most in need of fall clothes, so last week I started sewing some for her. I foresee making a lot of leggings this year. She likes to wear dresses and skirts, but last year I was really frustrated with tights that got holes in the toes too soon and just didn't seem warm enough. Leggings take care of those problems and are easy to make.

Vibrant dress

The Preacher's grandma gave me this printed poplin fabric. She had started a project that wasn't turning out and was ready to pass it on. The fabric for the leggings came from a thrift store. It was too good of a deal to pass up, but I wasn't sure about the very bright red/pink/coral/not-sure-what-it-is color. I thought it might be a good candidate for a dye job. That was more than a couple of years ago. I was surprised and delighted to find that it was an exact match for the very bright red/pink/coral/not-sure-what-it-is color of the flowers in the print.

The poplin was already cut into long, narrow pieces, so I used Burda 9885 for the dress. I've used this before and it's a nice, simple pattern that doesn't use a lot of fabric.


I had problems with the tucks on the front. When I stitched them as marked, the front ended up being too narrow. Instead of adjusting all of the tucks, I just slightly let out the center two so the front was the right width. The pattern recommends rickrack along the neck and sleeve hems. I used turquoise piping instead. It matches the turquoise buttons I had in stash and I thought it was a nice complement to the leggings color. The sleeves are "fooler sleeves" made from black rayon jersey. They're sewn to the armscye seam.

Detail shot

Near the hem I added a ruffled strip of turquoise cut on the bias. I stitched it down under a green ribbon with one of the decorative stitches that my machine has and I rarely use. It seemed like this was a good opportunity. It looks rather crooked in the picture, but I'm pretty sure that's because the dress was not laying flat.

Ruffle and ribbon trim

And since the ruffle trim got an "Oooooohhhhh! Wow!" response from my daughter, I couldn't help but make a matching headband for her. The headband got a squealing and clapping response. She's fun to sew for. :)


*When The Preacher saw this dress for the first time he said, "Wow. That's very....vibrant." Yup.