Ironing Mat/ Ironing Pad

Let’s face it, one of the negative aspects of sewing as a hobby is the ironing. I hate ironing. Especially ironing entire yards of fabric on a tiny postage stamp-like ironing board. Its hard to get started on a project knowing that I will have to spend an hour moving and repositioning fabric on the ironing board before I can start to actually sew anything.

sew ironing board cover

Sew an Ironing Mat or Ironing Blanket

Recently my ironing board broke and I had to throw it out. Instead of just buying a new one I decided to make a large ironing mat. I also decided to fully commit and make a huge one. I followed the ironing mat tutorial on Little Birdie Secrets.

The ironing mat has four layers:

  1. Therma-Flec Fabric: The silver (sometimes tan) surface that you actually iron on. AKA ironing board fabric.
  2. Insul-Bright Needlepunched Insulated Lining – 36″ x 45″
    : Heat resistant material that reflects heat back so the iron can do its thing.
  3. 100% Cotton Batting:Cotton to protect what ever you choose to lay your ironing mat on top of (i.e., the table, floor, or bed).
  4. Backing fabric: Hopefully cute fabric to hold it all together. Sometimes 100% cotton home decorating fabric is recommended for extra heat protection.

The four layers are quilted together and bound at the edges (I used double fold bias tape). I also added ribbon at the edges so the ironing mat can be rolled up and tied to stay shut for storage.

You are not supposed to pin the Therma-Flec to the Insul-Bright or or other layers because the pins will damage the ironing material. Use basting spray to hold it in place for the quilting. I used Basting Spray for the first time, and I have been converted to a believer. Basting spray is the way to go for any quilting project.

The #1 thing I would do differently is sew on the Therma-Flec/ silver Ironing Board fabric last. Each time I attached a fabric layer to the therma-flec, it bubbled up and is no longer flat. Of course you want a flat surface for ironing on, so ugh. I think it will still work just fine but this is kind of disappointing.

I will say that sewing on the binding through so many layers of thick fabric was very difficult! There were a lot of broken needles and broken thread! Is this what quilting machines are for?

Now there is nothing stopping me from starting a new sewing or quilting project, except the tedious process of ironing itself.

Dog coat from Sew Everything Workshop

Yay being nice and warm!

Yay being nice and warm!

My poor dog has very sparse, short hair and next to no body fat.  We don’t live in a very cold climate, but she definitely needs something to keep her warm on cold morning walks.  But, in my area, stores only stock clothes for toy breeds. Time to break out the sewing machine and make my dog a coat!

P1020506

Yes, she’s a chewer and has already chewed the side. Sock donations gladly accepted, thank you.

Sew Everything Workshop has instructions  for a self-drafted “Canine Couture Coat”.  The pattern is very simple and is based on your dog’s measurements, plus added ease.  The most difficult part was deciding on the dimensions for the chest and neck area- I went with wide and shallow, since this seemed to fit her best based on her muslins. My dog is very deep-chested, so I placed the belt a bit higher than the middle so that it would go around the thickest part of her body, not her skinny belly.

The pattern features decorative buttons at the chest and side.  Cute!  I used silver metal ones.  I used my French curve to round the ends of the jacket instead of making them rectangular.

 

OK, I forgot to buy grey thread.  Green is still cute!

OK, I forgot to buy grey thread. Green is still cute!

The coat I made is fastened with hooks and eyes because I was worried about my dog undoing the fastenings; you could also use snaps or Velcro.  I plan to use  Velcro next time.

I made one major change to the pattern; Diane Rupp drafted the pattern with a two-piece belt that meets underneath the dog’s body in the middle of her belly.  This seemed like too much trouble to me, so I just made a one-piece belt that attaches to the side of the coat instead.  Much easier to get on and off the dog!

This pattern is great- simple and easy.  I like my single-piece belt idea, but don’t have any other complaints, As long as you make a muslin or two to tweak the pattern so that it fits your dog properly, it shouldn’t be too hard to make a good dog coat.

 

Style Arc Susan Top (Knit T-Shirt)

The Style Arc Susan shirt is a simple knit t-shirt pattern to sew up quickly. I chose this t-shirt pattern because Style Arc sewing patterns are apparently supposed to come in sizes that fit a real person better than the patterns from the big-4 pattern companies. So that’s a big plus for this independent sewing pattern company. Although I am a novice, I have made enough failed muslins to know that so far the big-4 patterns do not fit me AT ALL. I suspect this t-shirt pattern has to be one of the simplest designs that Style Arc makes– just what I was looking for.

Susan Top Sewing Pattern

Susan Top Sewing Pattern

I am happy to say that this pattern actually fits me. Of course since I used a stretch jersey knit fabric, the odds were in my favor. I used the cheapest knit jersey fabric I could get my hands on.

The pattern itself was great. It was printed on very nice paper, which is so much better than the awful tissue paper that regular patterns are printed on. The instructions are minimal at best. You will need some experience sewing to understand these patterns. It was a single size pattern, so don’t plan on grading between different sizes. You will need to make custom fitting adjustments on Style Arc patterns to make the sewing pattern match your measurements.

Everything would have been fine, but I faced a lot of technical difficulties that ultimately make this project a FAIL. Big surprise there! My problem was sewing this thin jersey fabric with my sewing machine. The thin jersey fabric kept getting sucked into my sewing machine despite my use of lower tension settings, my walking food, tissue paper as stabilizer, wash away stabilizer, and jersey needles. Ultimately, the fabric was beyond saving and this turned into a practice project.

Next time I suppose I will just try my serger first, and skip the sewing machine as much as possible for knit fabric. But that entails 2 hours of testing serger tension settings– boring! And then I will need a way to cleanly hem knit fabric in the future. Ugh, now I want a Coverstitch Machine. 3 Hours Past (which is affiliated with Cake Patterns) has a post all about stabilizers and sewing on knits which will hopefully help me since I don’t have a coverstitch machine!

I switched to using my serger midway through the project. Even though the tension was not perfectly balanced, it was a million times better than my sewing machine. Actually I am very happy to find a starting point for my tension settings for serging knit jersey.

  • Starting point tension settings for Brother 1034d Serger (Thin Knit Jersey): 3 thread overlock, 4, –, 5.5, 4.3 and a stitch width of 4.7.
  • I found the neckline a bit wide for my taste, which made me feel a little over exposed. I will bring it up and in next time
  • Oops, I forgot to cut the sleeves as mirror images, so one of them is sewn wrong side out. Learning experience.
  • 3 Thread Overlock tension settings: 4, --, 5.5, 4.3.

    3 Thread Overlock tension settings: 4, –, 5.5, 4.3. (That’s left needle 4, right needle not threaded, upper looper 5.5, and lower looper 4.3) (Brother 1034d serger on thin jersey fabric)

    Brother Serger 1034d Machine Settings for thin jersey. (differential feed, stitch length and stitch width).

    Brother Serger 1034d Machine Settings for thin jersey. Differential feed: 1 (default setting); Stitch length: 3 (default setting), Stitch Width/ cutting distance : 4.7.

    3 Thread overlock stitching on thin jersey

    3 Thread overlock stitching on thin jersey. Not too bad!

    I plan on making this t shirt AGAIN with a different fabric or possibly trying a fusible interfacing for the neckline, hem and wrists. Sew There Tammy made a couple of Style Arc Susan tops that she was happy with. Hopefully I will too someday soon!

Black Friday Sewing Sales!

Craftsy classes on sale for $20?? What?!! Right now for Black Friday, there is a Craftsy Class Sale for up to 66% off from 11/29-12/2! Here are the details:

Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 11/27-12/2!
Craftsy has brilliant savings on the craft supplies you want! With up to 80% off yarn and 65% off fabric, get the best prices of the year while you can.

Craftsy Class Sale up to 66% off from 11/29-12/2!
Craftsy has brilliant savings for a limited time only! All their online classes are on sale for $19.99 or less. With classes priced up to 66% off, now is a great time to get the classes you’ve been eyeing all year! Craftsy classes also make a great gift, so do some holiday shopping for the crafter in your life.

Craftsy

I plan on ordering a couple of classes. First I want to get the class on lining, interfacings and facings for garment construcion, “Underneath It All with Linda Lee”. I have no clue how to sew a lining!

I also want to get the class on how to revese engineer a pair of jeans (“Jean-ius”) so I can re-create the only pair of jeans that fit me but are now completely worn out and fill of holes.

New Look 6945 Button Up Top Muslin (pattern review)

New Look 69 45 Sewing Pattern. Lined button up blouse with sleeves or sleeveless.

New Look 69 45 Sewing Pattern. Lined button up blouse with sleeves or sleeveless.

New Look 6945 is a lined button up blouse sewing pattern that comes in sleeveless, short sleeved, and three-quarters sleeve options. I bought the pattern because it said “easy”, not because I loved it. The shirt is casual without a lot of separate pieces and topstitching, etc. It is short and hits just below the waist. There are a few pattern reviews online.

The pattern runs big with a large amount of ease and I had to make a lot of alterations to make this wearable (which never happened). There is a large amount of ease in this pattern. It was a huge pouffy sack with a gaping neckline without alterations.

Changes I made:

  • Went down many sizes on the front piece to try to make this awful pattern fit better
  • Removed 1 and a half inches from the upper bodice back. I guess this is a change I may make often in the future…
  • Brought the front shoulder up 1 and a half inches
  • Removed 2 inches from the hipline on the back pattern piece
  • Shortened the bust darts by 2 inches or so
  • A million other changes that didn’t pan out
new look 6945 top front view muslin

I guess the upper chest is too long?? I had to pin up wedges at the sides of the armholes/ armsyes

Overall, this sewing pattern did not fit me in the least. I went down to a size 8 in the front bodice and the shoulder straps were still superrrrr wide! I had to ad over an inch to the shoulders to make the top stay on my body. And since it was also inappropriately low cut I also had to add a ton to the upper chest or else risk being mistaken for a daytime hooker.

I made change after change to try to make this pattern fit me. In the end I had to concede defeat and give up. At least I tried. On to the next failed project!

new look 6945 top side view muslin

New Look 6945… Doesn’t fit, never will

I cut out over an inch from the upper back, and there are wrinkles in the small of the back and below it.

I cut out over an inch from the upper back, and there are wrinkles in the small of the back and below it.

Vogue 1004 Fitting Shell Update (Craftsy Fast Track Fitting Class)

I have been working on fitting my dress for the Fast Track Fitting Class! I still have a ways to go but I am getting there. At least this current version doesn’t make me look like a stuffed sausage with a gigantic humpback.

Horzontal draglines and diagonal draglines on my Vogue 1004 fitting shell (Craftsy Fast Track Fitting)

Horzontal draglines and diagonal draglines on my Vogue 1004 fitting shell (Craftsy Fast Track Fitting)

There is a diagonal dragline from my underarm towards the center waist, and the bust apex sits much too high, I think I may need to make a larger cup size??? Yet I don’t have a full bust??? I did remove 2 inches from the center seam front bodice, I guess that was too much. Anyway, you can clearly see that the horizontal balance line on the front bodice bust line pulls up. The thighs (and maybe the hips?) are over fitted, which is somewhat to be expected as I removed A LOT of fabric in the back to make my embarrassing flat seat adjustment and did not add any in the front for ease because I was pretty confused by this point. Hmm I still need to brush up on making pattern fitting adjustments on Craftsy.

My most successful change was to remove the giant humpback of extra fabric between my shoulder blades in my upper back by cutting out a strip of fabric in the upper back bodice. In other words, I made the back bodice shorter without touching the side seams. I still need to remove a little more (I think) and possibly lower the arm holes since I brought them up so much, making the arm holes quite a bit smaller.

Upper bodice too long

Humpback from too much fabric in upper bodice. The upper bodice is too long so I had to shorten in the shoulder blade area.

Okay so a million more changes need to be made… Despite his muslin’s shortcomings, this is a major improvement on the original pattern. I would like to remind you that the unaltered, right out of the envelope patterns starts out as the worst fitting garment in the history of humankind, then only gets worse without a bunch of pattern adjustments. The changes would be easier to make if I had a fitting partner to help me with my measurements. Looking at photographs of the muslin helps so much because apparently I tend to pull at the muslin in the mirror to adjust it and then exclaim “Its perfect!! Done! I will just maintain this impossible position and not move all day.”

Craftsy Class: Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon

I am excited about my newest Craftsy class: I am taking Fast Track Fitting with Joi Mahon. It seems like the perfect class for me because Fast Track Fitting shows you how to measure yourself and how to measure pattern pieces so you can alter your pattern pieces to closely match your own body’s sewing measurements. This process should help you escape the endlessly making muslins cycle, so you can have wearable garments more quickly and easily.

My Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for craftsy.com

My Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for my new online sewing class craftsy.com

So far I am starting with altering the skirt on the pattern included with the class (Vogue 1004 fitting shell). I am doing the skirt first because I had to order a second pattern in a different size for the sleeve and bodice. The pattern alterations I made were to make the waist bigger (ugh) and to raise the hip line. Using Joi Mahon’s tips directly from the Fast Track Fitting Class, I altered the front of the skirt and the back of the skirt separately. So, I proportionately increased the size of the front of the skirt more than the back. This should help the skirt fit the unfortunate “fullness” on the front of my abdomen (AKA fat), since I carry extra weight around my middle.

I am going to work on altering this skirt to fit, with the help of the craftsy class and also Pattern Review.

So what are Craftsy Classes all about? Here are the details, directly from Craftsy:

What is Craftsy?
Craftsy is a worldwide craft community offering online classes. It also has a patterns marketplace where independent designers can sell their patterns; a supplies shop with great deals on yarn, fabric, and class kits; and a projects section where members share pictures of their latest craft successes. With over two million members and counting, Craftsy has something for just about everyone, in categories ranging from quilting, sewing, knitting, painting, photography, cooking, and more.Why should I take a class online?
Online education isn’t just for schools and universities anymore. Craftsy courses provide you the convenience of a world-class instructor in your home, whenever you want to learn.

free sewing classes online at craftsy.com
Online education, no matter what subject, is a great alternative to in-person classes for a number of reasons. With many online learning opportunities being on-demand, you are able to learn at your own pace, anytime. Online learning is a fantastic alternative to in-store craft classes for people with busy schedules or who have difficulty leaving the house. It also allows you to watch a troubling section over-and-over again, so you can see exactly how a technique is carried out, or refer back to your class for relevant concepts before beginning any new projects.

 

Skirt from Craftsy's Fast Track Fitting

Skirt from Craftsy’s Fast Track Fitting. Needs work, but at least it fits on my body.

So far I am happy with this class. The video format has easy question and answer interactivity with the instructor Joi Mahon. I wish the class had more examples of altering pattern measurements on a model using real numbers, but I guess that would have added too much time to the class videos.

I am like taking online sewing classes, especially since there are not a lot of sewing classes near me and I don’t know anyone who sews. Craftsy offers refunds if you are not happy with a class after you purchase it. Craftsy even has free classes for you to try out.

 

Side Seam moves forward on Skirt for Vogue 1004 in Craftsy Fast Track Fitting online class

Side view of Fitting Shell. See how the side seam moves forward? Need to fix this in the Fast Track Fitting Class

vogue 1004 fitting shell back view skirt craftsy fast track fitting

Back view of Vogue 1004 fitting shell skirt for Craftsy “Fast Track Fitting”

v1004 vogue 1004 fitting shell craftsy fast track fitting

Vogue 1004 Fitting Shell

Colette Sorbetto Top: Variations

My latest project has been my “real” versions of the Colette Sorbetto Top. My Sorbetto Muslin was good practice for sewing this blouse. I am so happy I made this free download sewing pattern! The Sorbetto top is a cute (and easy!) vintage style blouse. As a beginning sewer, the Sorbetto Top is fun to sew because it was a successful project that also taught me some new sewing skills. Plus its basic design is sort of a blank slate so you can customize the top with fun variations for different looks and styles.

Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat

Colette Sorbetto Variation with Bias Tape on the Pleat. Sort of like piping?

I think that the Sorbetto top is my first actually wearable, non-embarrassing garment sewing project. I even customized the top with my own variations: one version has buttons and my other version has bias tape on the box pleat. My second version also has the armhole bias tape hidden inside of the blouse, since I didn’t want the top to be too busy. Both tops were made from lightweight cotton lawn or voile for a nice drape.

Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons

Colette Sorbetto Top in Grey Swiss Dot with Buttons

Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape

Colette Sorbetto Alternate Version: Bias Tape (piping?)

This was also my first time successfully sewing buttons on anything. It was actually really easy using the zig-zag stitch setting and my satin sewing foot. I am definitely not afraid of sewing on buttons anymore. Button holes are a different matter…

Buttons Sewn on to the Colette Sorbetto Top

Variation of the Colette Sorbetto Top: Buttons!

I made my own bias tape with my new bias tape maker to sew on the button Sorbetto top because I wanted a clean, un-fussy look. I used the tutorial on Coletterie to make the custom bias tape, it it worked great! However, I did have a problem with the fabric shifting as I was trying to cut it, leading to sloppy strips of fabric. I solved this problem by making spray stabilizer using Sulky Solvy Water Soluble Stabilizer Roll. The solvy spray really helped and I am glad I have it on hand now.

I even serged the inside seams for a clean and durable finish. I still have a lot to learn about serging though. The serger is so much faster than overcasting the edge! But fiddling with the tensions is annoying… I need to finish my Online Beginner Serging Class! After all, I love my exposed zipper bag!

Changes and alterations I made to the Colette Sorbetto Top:

  • I added two inches at the waist to lengthen the top.
  • I used hem tape at the bottom of the top, which also helped to lengthen the top.
  • One Sorbetto top had the bias tape for the arm holes on the inside, not showing on the outside.
  • My Sorbetto Top Variations were adding buttons and adding bias tape on the box pleat as a sort of piping detail.
  • Next time I will consider moving the bust dart down 1 inch as that may make for a better fit, according to pattern review.
  • I serged the inside seams for a clean finish.
Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern.

Colette Sorbetto Vintage Style Blouse Sewing Pattern with My Variations: Buttons and bias tape sort of piping.

colette sorbetto free sewing pattern download piping detail

I used Bias tape as an accent detail on the Colette Sorbetto Top center pleat

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

Behold, my Colette Sorbetto Top muslin! The Sorbetto top by Colette is a free downloadable sewing pattern for a tank top blouse featuring a box pleat down the center and a bound neckline and arm holes.

OKAY YES I KNOW I sewed this shirt with an odd hodgepodge of fabrics. Struck by sensory overload at the fabric store, I picked a cotton voile that it turns out is actually incredibly ugly. Lavender flowers, bunches of purple grapes and royal blue vines, what was I thinking?? As I was standing at the cutting table I realized that this fabric was a mistake. It was probably only semi-subconsciously that I ruined half of my fabric through sloppy cutting and did not have enough fabric to make this shirt. I found some purple polyester something in my tiny fabric stash and used it to sew the front of the shirt.

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin. Sorry about the crazy fabric colors!

CHANGES I MADE to the Sorbetto Top

  • The Sorbetto top is short, in my opinion. I lengthened the shirt two inches. I added the length at the waist, not at the bottom, to avoid a flared out edge near the hips. Make sure you have enough fabric to do this if you lengthen the top.
  • The Sorbetto top seems to run big. I made a size 4, even though that is smaller than my waist measurement indicates that I should make. It seems to me that unless you have a large bust and tiny waist, this top may be a bit too billowy and oversized to be flattering, so consider making a muslin first to test the size.
  • I would like to cut a little extra room in the arm holes next time.
Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

Colette Sorbetto Top Muslin

The Sorbetto sewing pattern requires bias tape binding. I couldn’t find it specified if that meant single fold bias tape or double fold bias tape. I went with single fold, and that worked. I needed a reminder on how to sew single fold bias tape binding, and the tutorial at Nothing New Treasures was very helpful. You can also make your own bias tape using the Colette Patterns tutorial for a perfect match to your fabric. A half inch Bias Tape Maker will help this process go quickly and smoothly.

The construction of this shirt actually went just fine. Even sewing on the bias tape binding went okay. The only real problem for me was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Its still hard for me to fold a small amount of fabric (a quarter of an inch) evenly. When I make the real version of this shirt, I am going to use some of the vintage hem tape I found in my grandmother’s sewing box. Stitch in my Side has a tutorial that explains how to use hem tape perfectly.

Hmm… the more I look at my mismatched shirt, the more I like it. I know that it is just a false sense of pride from having actually sewn a garment that will not immediately fall apart. I am going to make a real version of this shirt using less hideous materials.

There are some lovely examples of the Sorbetto Top that other Colette Pattern fans have made. Inspiring!

Fabric Dying: Over-dying a Shirt to Change the Color

Recently I ordered a shirt online on Zulily.com. I was rushed with the limited time offer of a flash sale, and I didn’t fully think through my purchase. Ugh great deals online are so tempting! Thus, when my order arrived reality hit me, and I knew that the light brown shirt I ordered with entirely the wrong color for my complexion. There was no way I could wear a light brown shirt! But I liked the fit and wanted to keep the shirt…

I decided to try to dye the shirt– any color except brown would do. An easy hot water wash with some Rit Dye in ‘Scarlet’ later, I have a cute red shirt! This shirt is embellished and actually supposed to be hand wash only. I disregarded the washing instructions because I can’t spend half an hour or more stirring a pot to do a stove top dye. I only lost one bead in the washer, and I can sew that back on.

Custom dyed fabric shirt

Custom over dyed fabric shirt

This was my first time dying fabric. I have a front load washer, and I am happy to say that using the detergent dispenser and a hot water bleach wash after dying the shirt worked just fine. No lasting washer damage! I guess this whole process is technically over dying, since I was dying over a color.

I would love to dye a shirt to create a cute custom dip-dyed ombre effect, just like Wit and Whistle did. Adorable! I guess Procion MX dye is the dye to use for that because its good quality. It is supposed to fix more readily to the fabric so you have less risk of the dye running when you wash it. Maybe someday!