Once I had recovered from my previous mistakes in starting Tender is the Nightie from Sew Everything Workshop, I was ready to sew! I re-cut the front and back parts of the bodice, and made sure to use leftover tissue paper under the zig-zag stitching to avoid puckering.
This project requires you to make your own pattern following instructions in the book. I made some changes to this pattern. The most important change I made was to the length- I shortened it quite a bit! Diana Rupp has probably made a strategic choice in making this nightie so long- it hits several inches below the knee- so that mothers will still be able to buy this book for their young daughters without encouraging overexposure. She wants this book to be PG, to appeal to a wide audience. But, I feel that mid-thigh is a much better look for a grown woman. So, I cut off about 10 inches from the length.
I was so happy to put this together, because it resembles a real dress! I can’t wait to be able to make cute dresses! There are only 4 pieces- 2 bodice pieces and 2 skirt pieces. The nightie is made with an empire waist. The skirt is slightly more narrow at the top than at the bottom, to add shape.
In addition to being the first time I got to construct and attach a bodice and skirt, Diane Rupp also teaches you how to use a loop turner, make spaghetti straps and how to do slide-slit openings on the skirt. I used lace for my straps instead
Like Jessica from Green Apples, I am not going to model the nightgown– this is not that sort of site!
While I loved making this project and feel I learned a lot, it’s just too big for me. Once I was done constructing it, pinned on some lace for the straps to try it on. I could see that it was quite a bit bigger than my other nightgowns, but I was hopping that it might end up being bigger in a still-flattering sort of way, but no. It’s just too big. So, I didn’t do any of the finishing touches (sewing on lace trim, finishing the side slits), because I knew I could never wear it.
Oh well, I still learned a lot! I ended up buying The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering PatternsThe Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns and then find out!
Grade: A-. I learned a lot, and it would probably fit a non-petite person better.
My latest sewing project has been yet another pair of pajama pants. I used my pink cotton Little Lisette “watercolor” fabric, a soft and comfortable cotton that will be perfect for pajama pants.I decided to switch to a new pattern because I don’t think that unisex pajama pants pattern (Simplicity 2040) fits a petite woman. I selected a woman’s pattern this time, Kwik Sew 3602.
This is my first Kwik Sew pattern, and I was pleasantly surprised. I had read that Kwik Sew includes clear and precise pattern instructions (as well as high quality, thick pattern paper), and I was not disappointed. The patterns themselves are a little expensive, but my local fabric store (Yardage Town) sells them at 40% off. I will definitely be trying more of these sewing patterns!
The pattern pieces were easy to cut and the instructions were simple to follow.
I loved that they told you when to overlock the edges. And I successfully sewed the elastic waistband and was happy with the result.I used a little more elastic in the waist then they suggested because it felt more comfortable.
I saw that things be made a pair of pajama pants using this pattern, and they turned out great. I am pretty jealous of her french seams and serged edges.
I will definitely be sewing more pajama pants for myself in the future. Kwik Sew 3602 includes measurements for pajama shorts, which I will wear for the summer. The pants are a little baggy, so I will perhaps switch to the extra small size while allowing more elastic in the waistband for comfort. Very soon I will make a trip to the fabric store for more of these great priced sewing patterns and some more nice cotton fabric for more pajama pants.
Since I started sewing, I had a couple of requests for aprons as Christmas presents. I will again be using the Sew Simple Simplicity 1971 Reversible Apron Pattern. Since I have made this pattern before, I feel comfortable giving it as a gift. I have managed to successfully sew the neck ties, side ties and pockets, so I have definitely made some progress in sewing. But to my horror, one of these requests was for a black and white checkered apron, which means… GEOMETRIC FABRIC! Thus far, my entire sewing repertoire has revolved around abstract, non-directional fabrics which don’t show errors in cutting and placement. Cutting accuracy is not one of my strong points. I can’t seem to fold selvage to selvage properly, which puts me at a frustrating disadvantage.
Since I am an extremely slow sewer, I had to get started on these aprons right away! For my first apron, I started straightaway with the only checkered fabric I could find. Its a basic quilting cotton. I am a little worried about the stark black and white showing every little bit of cooking mess, but oh well. I tried to stay true to the checkered fabric request on the front side of the reversible apron. I bought plenty of fabric so I had enough fabric to recut the contrast sections to help get a better alignment.
I rotated the fabric 90 degrees for the contrast trim on the pocket and the contrast trim on the apron band. I tried to align the pocket print with the main fabric,and I am pretty pleased with the result. Yes, if you are looking for errors in the fabric alignment you will find plenty. I am hoping that the hypnotic quality of the checkered print will lull viewers into a state of mute compliance, so they won’t criticize the quality of the construction.
My second apron was also intended as a gift… unfortunately I was not happy with how it turned out so I will be keeping it. I accidentally twisted the neck strap, so it does not lie flat. The fabric is a fun bright pink, but I think that other people might prefer a more traditional apron. The size is a bit big for me, but I am happy to keep it and wear it to clean and do dishes.
I was still determined to make one more apron as a gift. After what seemed like hours of wandering the fabric store, I finally found some apron-appropriate fabric that coordinates. If the fabric store stocks mainly quilting cotton, then why does none of it coordinate?
A major benefit to my checkered apron was that it introduced me to geometric fabric. Although that apron didn’t turn out perfect, it wasn’t the huge disaster that I had been expecting. This gave me the confidence to consider buying another linear fabric pattern for the next apron, thus expanding my fabric choices by a lot! I settled on a blue/red/orange fruit pattern with a coordinating blue rectangle pattern. I am happy to say that though going slow and careful measurements, this apron turned out to be acceptable for a gift!
After the disaster of trying to install a zipper, I was a little wary about trying the sewing machine cozy from Sew Everything Workshop, because it’s so three-dimensional. But, for a variety of reasons, I do not have a sewing machine cover, and I know that its very important to keep your machine covered to keep dust out. I was also unsure if I wanted to spend $15 on a Teflon presser foot that I might never use again. Also, oilcloth (AKA laminate) is a far cry from the discount fabrics I have been using so far pricewise! But, in the end, reason and responsibility won out, and I got the appropriate presser foot from Amazon. I was also surprised at the selection of oilcloth and laminate available in stores! Someday I will make a raincoat, now that I have the appropriate presser foot.
The pattern was a little tricky, but not that hard. The directions were clear, I just had to stick to what the author said, be logical, and focus on making a box without a bottom. Pinning it was a little awkward, but it was satisfying when I finished it successfully.
1) I measured my machine incorrectly, by including the area where the cords stick out stiffly. Gah, of course the author has included a hole for the cords- it is clearly described in the instructions and illustrated, I just didn’t have the sense to trust that she knows what she is doing. I was also afraid of making the cozy too small, so I added a little extra to the dimensions. This resulted in my sewing machine cozy being way big. Oh well, I don’t care. It is functional, and the fabric is fun.
Since my cozy ended up being large, I didn’t cut any holes for cords. My sewing machine does not have a handle on top, so I of course skipped the part where you make a hole in the top.
Amy at Sewing by the Book had some some the same problems-the cover seems a little large. She thinks the bias tape cord hole is tricky, and that the instructions for it could be better- but is also happy with her cover.
2) To cut down on the size a bit, I played around with the decorative stitches while hemming the cozy. Fun! I didn’t try particularly hard to make my stiches straight (which I’m not very good at anyway, at least not yet), so my lines of stiches undulate irregularly, which I think goes well with my fabric. One thing I’m not at all happy about is that some of the stitches didn’t come out correctly. Instead of a six-pointed start, some of the stars are split in half lengthwise, with three upward pointing lines next to three downward facing lines.
The satin stitch on some of the decorative ovals is too widely spaced. Maybe this is because I was sewing with laminate, or because I did not use an embroidery needle? Or, maybe I did not feed the fabric correctly? Oh well. If I was doing an heirloom style shirt or skirt, I would be upset, but for this project I do not mind.
Grade: A+. So great. Useful, and I learned a lot.
Sewing success at last!
I am basically overjoyed to say that my most ambitious sewing project to date was not an abject failure! My Simplicity Sew Simple 1989 dress pattern took many long hours, and yes I did bleed at one point, but I now have a piece of clothing that I made myself! Instead of a shift dress, I shortened the pattern to a long top. I saw this dress on Sew My and since it looked great and featured a simple design I wanted to try to make it. I decided to make a shirt instead of a dress because I don’t wear dresses too often. For a top, I needed 2 yards of fabric. I used my new brown floral Lisette cotton sateen fabric. I had just enough… If you are tall or are making a larger size, buy more fabric.
I did make a practice version/ muslin before making this shift dress using better fabric. I used some quilting cotton fabric I had to test out the construction process and the new techniques. Because this dress pattern features an extremely simple skirt and waist (with nothing to do but straightforward sewing and hemming), I only used the muslin to practice on the top half of the dress. My muslin sewing practice was to try out three different sewing techniques I had never tried before. I learned how to sew bias tape for the neckline, how to make bust darts, and how to sew sleeves. I am super glad I made the muslin, because it helped me work out the kinks on the difficult parts (especially attaching the sleeves) and let me see that my chosen size would fit just fine. I did not slipstich anything because I don’t know how to do that and I was feeling overwhelmed.
How to Sew Bias Tape
Using bias tape for the dress neckline definitely had me confused. The purpose of the bias tape on the neckline is to create a simple neckline hem that is not bulky or awkward. The single-fold bias tape also gives the neckline substance and structure so it stays up and in place when you are wearing it. This would be especially important for slippery or flimsy fabrics such as satin or polyester. As it is, the neck is quite wide so I am glad for this extra structure.
The tutorial on how to sew bias tape (single fold) by craftstylish.com really helped me. I basically had no idea what bias tape was or how to sew it, and the Simplicity pattern instructions do not say. Thanks to this sewing project, I now feel pretty comfortable sewing on single-fold bias tape. I even added extra bias tape to the project, as I sewed it on the sleeves too.
Easing in the Shirt Sleeves
I can’t lie. Attaching the sleeves to the shirt was a horrible horrible process. Because the sleeves on this shirt have a wider circumference than the armhole opening (apparently those in the know call this the armscye) you have to slide the fabric of the arm along baste stitching in order to evenly distribute the extra length along the shoulder portion of the arm fabric. In this way you are supposed to shorten the circumference of the sleeve where it attaches to the body (especially the shoulder), without creating puckers and tucks. Once you have created evenly distributed tension, and you can’t see any weird tucks, you are ready to sew. This is called easing in sleeves. It is not easy at all. It should be called difficulting in the sleeves. (Ok, yes I know what ease means).
My sleeves didn’t turn out perfect, despite my best efforts. Oh well. At least I jumped right in to a project that has sleeves, so I don’t have to be afraid to try it again. I wish I had seen this tutorial on setting in sleeves on Amanda’s Adventures in Sewing… next time I have to try easing in sleeves I will check here for tips.
Sewing Bust Darts
The bust seems didn’t come out perfectly even, but they are fine. I don’t look misshapen or anything. I think the large scale print of the fabric will hide a slight imperfection in this case.
And of course this dress (shirt) is quite loose fitting, so the bust darts aren’t on display. They do give the dress some much needed shape though. Sewing a straight dart is straightforward, though my accuracy can’t be counted on at this point. Coletterie.com has a dart tutorial that was clear and helpful.
And in conclusion…
I would definitely make this pattern again. I like the Simplicity Sew Simple pattern line, and I am going to look for an actual blouse pattern. Using this pattern to make a casual summer shirt would be perfect. I would love to sew the actual 1989 shift dress some time, but for now I will concentrate on shirts. I saw this dress on Sew Much Style, and I love the idea of using this dress pattern to make a little black dress– always a good standby.