31 July 2011

Summer 6PAC: Update

I had to scrap one of the tops (V7903) for my summer 6PAC. Sometimes garments just don't work out - despite how the muslin fits. I really had high hopes for this since it would have been my first decent fitting button-up blouse. Alas, the quest continues...

Anyway, here's the ever-changing updated list and progress so far:

  1. black denim jeans (Jalie 2908) - done
  2. dark gray darted blouse (Vogue 7903)
  3. light yellow polka dot voile pintuck blouse (Simplicity 2365) - 80%
  4. yellow knit cardigan (Simplicity 2424)
  5. cream slinky cowl neck top (McCall's 6078) - done
  6. gray linen skirt with flounce (New Look 6897) - done
Although I'm almost finished with polka dot pintuck blouse, this project has not gone without its share of un-sewing and do-overs.


My machine perfectly stitched a buttonhole and then completely messed up the other buttonhole so many times that I lost count. I had to cut the tab and interfacing out three times before my machine finally decided to get with it.

Also, I don't know what I did wrong when sewing the other half of the collar stand. Aside from the topstitching (which can be fixed), see how nice the stand is on the left (garment right) side?

Da hell?! I have sewed and unpicked that other side so many times. I just can't get the curve to behave the same way. I notched the inner curve and took my time sewing it to the neckline. Does anyone have any tips on sewing collar bands?? Please, share! As soon as I get this together, all I need to do is set in the sleeves and sew the hem.

As for the failed blouse, I might replace it with another version of Simplicity 2614. I have plenty of the dark gray fabric. I just have to decide if I want it bad enough to start now or focus on sewing the fall 6PAC.

Speaking of which...

As I said before, the fall 6 (more like 10) PAC will be an extension of the summer plan in that I will incorporate the same colours (and garments) in the new plan. Here are the fabrics and intentions:

Top row:
  • yellow stretch cotton poplin - blouse
  • rayon-Lycra knit - top or dress
  • teal striped cotton shirting - blouse
  • yellow rayon-Lycra modal - cowl neck top (McCall's 6078)
  • teal acrylic knit - cardigan
Bottom row:
  • black stretch cotton twill - pants
  • teal worsted wool suiting - jacket (Jalie 2599)
  • wool tweed - skirt (New Look 6274) - done
  • dark gray wool suiting - skirt (Colette 1009)
  • black poly-wool blend - skirt (BWOF 09-2009-137)
I have other fabrics and patterns to include, but I will stick to this set first. Ultimately, I would like to sew the Lady Grey coat and I know it, along with the Jalie jacket, will take a lot of time to fit and sew.

Is anyone else planning to do a 6PAC? I saw that Carolyn posted her fall 6PAC intentions. Come on! Sew one, sew six! =)


29 July 2011

NL6274: Lining & Facing with Petersham

Attaching the Lining to the Zipper Tape:
This is actually quite simple. I used this tip found on Pattern Review. The tip works if you want to attach a facing, lining, or facing-lining combo to the zipper tape without any hand-sewing.

In the tip, Belinda says to let the facing/lining overhang the seam by 5/8" (1.5 cm). She included a picture of the overhang, but for some reason I can't wrap my mind around the photo or how the overhang factors in to sewing the facing/lining to the zipper tape.

1. Insert the zipper as usual and assemble the lining (facing or facing-lining combo). Arrange the shell and lining so that the right sides face in.

2. Pin the lining to the zipper tape right sides together. I sewed using a 3/8" seam allowance since I didn't quite understand the purpose of the overhang in the tip. This doesn't seem to be posing a problem.

3. Here the right sides are stitched.

4. Turn the lining to the inside so that wrong sides face. Baste

Facing the Waist with Petersham:
Most of the work is done in shaping the petersham to achieve a nice curve so that it molds comfortably around the waist. I used 1.5" wide petersham cut to a length equal to the circumference of my waist where I'll wear the skirt, plus about 2 inches for overlap.

1. Soak the petersham in hot water for a few seconds. Lightly pat dry.

2. Shaping the petersham requires a hot iron a bit of force. I anchored one end of the ribbon to my ironing board using glass-head pins.

3. Moving from one short end to the other, press and stretch one long edge while gently building in a curve on one edge. I don't know if there is a rule or something about how much curve should exist. I just winged it. I've done this twice and don't notice any difference. =)

4. Pin the non-stretched edge to the waist seamline. Since the shell and lining are basted, the seamline is easily visible. The stretched edge should hang off the top of the skirt. In this case, I found pinning parallel to the seamline gave me more stability and control. I was very careful to remove the pins before they reached the presser foot!

5. Edgestitch in place.

6. Turn the petersham to the inside and press, taking care to roll the seam in a bit.

finished inside

While these steps admitted take longer in sewing the skirt, the effort is well worth it. I think this skirt will wear well and last a while. I've worn the flounced skirt so many times already; I just love it.

I'm off to work more on my summer 6PAC. Update coming soon...

Be well!


22 July 2011

NL6274: Invisible Zipper

I think I finally got the hang of installing invisible zippers (IZs) successfully. IZs installed in side seams can be tricky since the seams are usually curved. I found that taking extra care in the beginning and stitching slowly help to make installation quite simple.

  • invisible zipper foot
  • contrasting thread
  • regular zipper foot
I use an invisible zipper foot by Unique. I found it at a thrift store for $0.50 and love it. I used to use the YKK zipper foot, but I like the Unique one much better. It has a single hole opening (sort of like a straight stitch foot) and deeper grooves for the zipper coil.

1. Using a medium warm iron, press the zipper coils flat. This helps the coils feed through the specially designed groove on the IZ foot.

2. On the skirt front and skirt back, sew a guide line along the seam using contrasting thread. It's kind of hard to see in the photo. The contrasting thread is orange on the right-hand side.

3. On the skirt front and back, fold the seam along the guideline to the inside. Press.

4. Place the zipper (face down) on top of the skirt back (right side up). As oriented, pin the left side of the zipper to the seam allowance making sure that the zipper coils are on the guideline/crease. I like pinning vertically because I can stabilize the zipper more efficiently.

5. Stitch. If you pinned vertically, be careful not to strike the pins! When sewing, I usually place my finger on the pin tip and sew until the presser foot meets my finger. I haven't had have any mishaps doing it this way.

6. To make sure everything lines up (reasonably) well, use chalk to mark match points across the entire zipper and skirt front by lining up the waist seam, hem, and seamlines accordingly. Usually I am pretty good with the match points, though, I admit that I am off a tiny bit on this one. Oh well. I am *not* unpicking this zipper. Really, who will know?

7. Now it's time to attach the right side of the zipper to the skirt front. This takes a little maneuvering, but not Houdini-like. Place both the skirt front and skirt back side by side, right side up. The left side of the face-down zipper should be sewn to the skirt back. With the free zipper tape right side down, orient (by turning) so that the zipper tape is face down on the skirt front with the coils aligned with the guideline/crease. It should only take one turn (hmm...maybe a turn and a half) of the tape to make this happen.

Use the markings on the zipper tape to match the skirt front. Pin and stitch.

8. Close the zipper. Using a standard zipper foot, secure the tape ends to the seam allowances.

9. Finally, finish the seam allowance beneath the zipper. At present, I haven't found the best way to make this part easier. I've been searching for a very narrow zipper foot for my machine. Cleaner's Supply sells zipper feet, but I'm not sure it will fit. I'll buy it (provided there is a return policy) and see. Until then, I use my standard foot (zigzag) and get as close as I can to the area beneath the zipper.

Up next: Attaching the lining to the zipper tape.

Be well!


On the Grid & New Look 6274

I'm back on the grid after having a small electrical issue (read: none). We had storms roll through on Monday and the local substation was taken out. Unfortunately, this meant I had to empty the refrigerator of all things rendered inedible. I washed out the fridge top and bottom (saw this as the perfect time since it was practically empty ), and cleaned up the melted mess that used to be ice that had dripped down to the basement. With the AC running, I am getting the house (and me!) cooled off.

The local power company worked day and night in the blistering heat to help return things to normal. Sure, it was an inconvenience for a few days, but it wasn't the end. I try not to complain about things like this. It happens. I know there are people in the world that have experiences FAR worse than this on a daily basis. I am grateful that I have a home to go to and friends willing to help out. On to sewing...

I'm almost finished with NL6274. Besides hemming both the shell and lining, I have to unpick part of the waist to take a bigger seam allowance. I tried the skirt on before inserting the lining and saw that it was too big. I sewed larger darts, but apparently it wasn't enough. I can almost slip the skirt off without unzipping. O_o I'm guessing the fabric stretched along the waist or something. I checked the pattern pieces against the last skirt I made (NL6897) and this pattern seems a tad bit smaller. Go figure.

I'm in the process of writing up posts of how I installed the invisible zipper, lining, and petersham waist. The plan is to write up each segment in a separate post, with pictures. Yeah...that's the plan. LOL

Until then, be well!


18 July 2011

Summer 6PAC: Update

I wore my outfit to a doctor's appointment and other errands today. This was SOOOO comfortable to wear.

I had to make some changes to the Summer 6PAC. Once again, I didn't have enough fabric to cut out the jacket (what gives?!). Here's the updated list and progress.
  1. black denim jeans (Jalie 2908) - done
  2. dark gray darted blouse (Vogue 7903) - cut out
  3. white cotton pintuck blouse (Simplicity 2365)
  4. yellow knit cardigan (Simplicity 2424)
  5. cream slinky cowl neck top (McCall's 6078) - done
  6. gray linen skirt with flounce (New Look 6897) - done
I cut out another skirt, but it's wool and for my transition to the Fall 6PAC. I plan to post a small tutorial on how I sewed the skirt with lining and a ribbon-faced waist while the techniques are fresh in my mind. =)

Until next time,


17 July 2011

New Look 6897: Complete

The skirt is part of my Summer 6PAC (blogged here). This pattern was really simple to put together and fits wonderfully.

Fabric & Notions:
  • linen-rayon blend
  • invisible zipper
  • polyester lining
  • 1.5" wide petersham cut to waist measurement plus 4"

Having sewn several New Look skirts, I am fairly confident in selecting a size 16 and not making a muslin. The only alteration I need is a 1.25" wedge as a full seat adjustment. This adjustment helps the fabric go over the trunk junk and keep the hem level.

In skirt patterns that have a center back seam, I actually don't bother to true the seam (gasp!). But since I didn't want a CB seam on this skirt and still needed the extra length, I had to think of another way to make this alteration happen. Here's the process:

(Note: The pictures below are of the alteration to my next skirt, New Look 6274. I neglected to take pictures while altering 6897. )

1. Draw a horizontal line one inch below the dart to the side seam, perpendicular to the grainline.

2. Spread the center back the desired amount. The pattern piece will be skewed a bit near the side seam and cut lines (shown in the black box). Don't do anything with this right now; leave it as it is.

3. Use the grainline beneath the alteration to true the center back. Notice that there is extra width added at the waistline. If desired, you can leave this alone for extra ease. Keep in mind, though, that the amount of room gained is twice the width shown since the center back is cut on the fold. I decided to remove the extra width from the side seam and used Kenneth King's 'no net change' idea to take off the excess.

4. Using a seam gauge, measure the width and transfer this number to the side, measuring in from the cut edge and not the seamline.

5. Remember that little discrepancy in the side seam? If you opted to keep the extra width, just true the side seam as normal. However, if you want to remove the width, use the discrepancy as the ending point of the side seam curve.

Cut off this little piece and voi-la! The alteration is complete. The wedge removed is about the same size and length as the one that was added at the center back.

Lining & Waistband:

The skirt is fully lined with some polyester lining from the stash. I cut all of the primary pieces, less 1" from the hem. I started searching the Pattern Review message boards for ideas on how to face the waist with petersham and instead found information on how to successfully attach the lining to the zipper tape without any hand sewing. In this tip, Sew4Fun describes precisely how to do this.

Basically, you sew the lining to the zipper tape before attaching it to the skirt at the waist. Then once you turn everything right side out/up/whatever, everything folds into place leaving a nice smooth edge at the zipper tape. Next, baste the waist, right sides together and proceed with finishing the garment. It's sort of difficult to describe this in words. When I make the next skirt, I'll try to include pictures of the process.

Waist facing
The pattern is drafted without facings and calls for half-inch wide twill tape for stabilizing the waist. I found this the opportune time to try facing a waist with petersham. W.O.W. Why did I wait so long?! I don't know that I'll ever use waist facings again. I used a combination of tips from Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing and Sew4Fun's skirt review to attach the petersham. I used 1.5" wide petersham cut to my waist measurement plus 4". 4" is probably a bit more than needed, but I cut it anyway to ensure I had enough overlap to fold back on the zipper edge.

1. To contour the petersham, soak it in hot water for a few seconds and lightly pat dry. Using a hot iron and steam, gently build a curve by stretching one long edge of the petersham.

2. Once dry, pin the non-stretched edge at the waist seam; the curved edge should be hanging off of the waist edge. Stitch.

3. Fold and press the petersham to the inside taking care to roll the seam.

4. There should be some overlap on the zipper edge. For the overlap back on itself and secure to the zipper tape. You may need to cut any excess to reduce bulk.

5. To secure the facing, stitch in the ditch along all major seams. For this skirt, that included the front princess seams and side seams.

I hope this was helpful to someone! Until next time, be well!


15 July 2011

Sneak Peak: M6078 & NL6897

Here's a picture of two of my latest completed garments:

McCall's 6078 & New Look 6897

I have a long post in progress about fitting and sewing the skirt. I just need a few more pictures before I am able to share it. Details coming soon!


13 July 2011

Do You Have a 6PAC?

Two years ago (wow, has it really been two years??), I sewed a 10-garment plan for the wardrobe contest on PR, but got bored with it 2/3 of the way through. I grew tired of the colour scheme and the pressure to finish by the deadline did nothing for the sewjo. While I did finish, I only regularly wear a few of the garments.

Last fall, I participated in the fall version of the 6PAC (a laid-back & flexible sew along) on Stitcher's Guild and was very successful with it. A "6PAC" is a small, six-garment wardrobe plan, sewn over the course of three months, that focuses on anchoring the look with the basics. Here are the details from last fall's collection:

(quoted directly from a post written by Stitcher's Guild member ejvc)

"Skirt or trousers (neutral)
3 blouses/tops (1 to match bottom, 2 to complement)
Cardigan (to match skirt/trousers)
Coat or jacket (co-ordinating neutral)

Thus for example in a black/grey/rust/ivory scheme this might include grey skinny jeans, a rust drape-neck top, an ivory turtleneck, a rust and grey print blouse, a long grey cardigan, and a black cropped jacket."

Sounds pretty simple, right? Here was my plan for last year:

Despite the difficulty I had with HP1099, I completed all items of my plan and I regularly wear everything. 6PACs are ideal for me because although there is a suggested list of items, the plan is completely customizable to suit my needs. I think this is a good way to remain focused on sewing a wardrobe because success is definitely attainable. The "rules" are generic, yet structured enough to encourage guided sewing by adding colour, prints, and wardrobe basics.

For more information about 6PACs, visit these links: Autumn 2010, Spring 2011, & Summer 2011.

Even though Summer just started, I've already begun thinking about clothes for next season. I'm going to finish a few more summer projects and then begin the transition into my fall 6PAC.

The major colours in the current plan are yellow, gray, and cream/white.

For fall, I will add teal pieces to the collection.

Update on M5847: Stalled! Whatareyagonnado? I'll finish it...eventually. =)


02 July 2011

Progress Update: M5847, version 2

This dress is still not finished. I worked on it for a bit on Monday, but have hit a roadblock. I know what it is, too. It's all the slipstitching that I need to do. Because I had a mishap in cutting the facings, I couldn't use my idea of using topstitching to secure them and I haven't been motivated to sit down and do it by hand. Ugh. Soooo close.

The big secret-secret was really not that big of a deal. =) After completing the first version of this dress, I thought that the side front, side back, and back panels looked a little wide. So, I made extra seams by splitting each of these panels into two pieces.

The topstitching along each seam follows the curve of the dress nicely.

I found a fix for my facing problem. In this post, I mentioned how I neglected to cut out the facings. By the time I realized it, I didn't have enough fabric to cut the facings in full length. I managed to squeak out just enough to catch the roll of the collar.

Next, I added length using a double piece of cotton broadcloth from the stash. A single ply of broadcloth wasn't heavy enough and would have made the front of the dress drape differently. Even though two plies isn't quite the same weight as the denim, it is heavy enough to provide necessary structure and from the front, you can't really tell the difference.

I used A LOT of steam, heat, and a couple of pounds from the clapper to make sure the seam joining the top and the bottom was perfectly flat.

Finally, to make sure that the fix doesn't shift while sewing, I hand-basted the piece together.

Here is a picture of the fully interfaced facing.

Now, I just need to FINISH the dress!!



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