Since I am going to have another baby in a month and a half, I have to get some baby supplies together. Most of my old stuff is still perfectly good, but I need more burp cloths! I decided to sew myself a little stash of soft, absorbent burp cloths for the new baby. This turned out to be a quick and easy sewing project for a baby! Plus it is very cost effective considering the cost of burp cloths from a store.
I used flannel fabric for the backing and chenille fabric for the absorbent layer of fabric. Of course the minor problems I ran into were related to the burp cloth fabrics. The flannel shrunk and the edges shredded when I pre-washed it more than I expected. The soft chenille stretched a lot when I was sewing it AND it made an unholy fluffly mess all over when I cut into it.
As a result the sizes of my burp cloths are a little inconsistent. In the end I decided that the burp cloths might not be perfect, but they are good enough to be puked on.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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!
Pincushion Treat made a sheer Sorbetto top with beautiful contrast binding. Love it!
My latest sewing project is the “Exposed Zipper Bag” from the Craftsy Online Beginner Serging Class. So far I love this class. It is appropriate for the serger novice like me. The Exposed Zipper Bag is fully-lined squared off small pouch with pull tabs at each end of the zipper. It would be a perfect pencil case or makeup bag for a quick sewing project. Um, my bag is missing the pull tabs. I am going to call this a design element rather than a mistake.
Even though my serging is still totally sloppy and uneven it is miles better than it was before I started this class. I couldn’t thread my serger, so it sat in my closet untouched. Now I am wondering if I will need a better serger someday (hmm a Babylock with auto tension?). FYI, if you are buying a sewing machine or serger it is important to look up the sewing machine review and the price that others pay for their machines first on Pattern Review, and to also post the price that you paid. The retail price is apparently kept secret by the manufacturers and customers have to negotiate price with dealers. Lame.
The Exposed Zipper Bag is the first project in the Craftsy class for serging. I haven’t done the other projects (a multi-ruffled apron and a scarf) yet. The instructor of the class does a great job, so I think I will complete these classes too. Plus the Craftsy website is actually very user friendly. The instructional videos are easy for a student to use because they let you replay a part of the video over and over automatically so you can understand that tough new technique. The videos integrate student questions and so far the instructors seem very responsive to questions.
I needed a lot of help start serging at all. I found a few websites that helped me develop some remedial serger skills. The post on Fiberosity (Serger 101) helped with basic information and balancing tensions. The post on Make it Handmade (Perfecting Serger/Overlocker tension) was particurally helpful with threading advice and stitch length and stitch width information.
This was a fun project that didn’t take long. I plan on making more of these, perhaps in some sort of waterproof fabric. I hope everyone like their Christmas presents!
I made the body of the Unforgettable Elephant about… oh, a year ago? Baby M is not a big fan of me getting personal time, so I never finished this project for him. The ears remained unsewn because you need to hand sew them to the body of the elephant. You also need to hand sew a portion of the body of the elephant shut once you have stuffed it with the Polyester Fiberfill. So the Unforgettable Elephant project remained unfinished because ugh hand sewing is the worst!
There are some cute Unforgettable elephant out there! One elephant I liked was the one by School of Moxie This blog has some helpful pictures if anyone is struggling on a step of this sewing project. Of course if anyone has problems on a part of this project just let me know and I would be happy to help!
Another cute elephant can be found on E Made This. This blog has both the Baby Elephant and the Mama Elephant and they both look great.
Short shorts are all the rage here in Texas. Anyone over 28 is scandalized by the tiny things girls wear now. We know we sound like a bunch of 80-year-olds, but these things are seriously short.
I had a couple of pairs of worn-out jeans, so I figured I could make them into a couple pairs of comfortable, casual shorts, instead of wearing them around my apartment and feeling embarrassed when I go walk the dog or take out the garbage. I have used jeans to line bags instead of canvas, but wanted to go the shorts route this time, since I needed more things to wear in warm weather.
I decided that slightly above mid-thigh would be an acceptable length for me. Short enough to not look matronly, but not scandalously short. This length is also short enough to encourage me to make sure I exercise, so yay healthiness!
To get this length, I put on the jeans, stood in front of a full-length mirror. Making sure to allow for a fold-up hem, I marked where I felt I should cut.
Once decided on my length, I laid the jeans out on my cutting mat and got out my rotary cutter. I made sure to lay them out flat, doing my best to make sure the crotch and inner thigh seam lay flat and to the front, so that the front waistband mimicked how it actually sits on my body.
I didn’t cut straight across, instead I cut at an angle, making the seam of inside thigh about an inch shorter than the outside thigh. To make sure I was cutting at the right area at the right angle, I put a measuring tape in line with the front waistband and ran it straight down the seam I was cutting.
To me, it seems like cutting at an angle his helps my legs look longer, and helps to disguise my chicken legs by making my thigh look smaller. I tried them on to make sure I was happy with the length before doing anything else.
When I knew I was happy with the length, I used my overlock foot to stitch the edges so they wouldn’t unravel.
I wanted the shorts to look nice and neat, so I made a hem by folding up the edges by one inch, ironing, then folding the edge inside the fold and ironing again. Now that I have worn then, I realize ironing was more or less a waste of time unless I am willing to sew a real hem.
Since I made two pairs of shorts, I immediately got an excuse to harp on one of my favorite annoyances- artificial fabric. One pair of cut-offs is 100% cotton, while the other is 80% cotton and 20% polyester. Ug, there is such a difference between the two! The 100% cotton shorts will hold the fold and get a crease with ironing, but the ones with polyester will not. So annoying, especially because manufactures are adding more polyester to jeans lately. Do they live in the Arctic? Do they not know what wearing polyester in the summer feels like, and how it makes you smell? Ug. So annoying.
Anyway, my cut-off shorts were a success! Instead of gross, holey jeans, I have casual shorts that aren’t a complete embarrassment.
This maternity top sewing pattern is simple, with only three pattern pieces and four total pieces of fabric to sew together. Megan Nielsen sewing patterns are printed on nice thick paper, so no messing around with annoyingly fragile tissue paper. My swollen and clumsy hands can’t handle tissue paper right now, so this is great. I used a walking foot and a stretch stitch.
Simply put, this pattern was great! I would recommend it even for beginners. Of course its a maternity t-shirt pattern, so you will want a fabric with stretch (like jersey). If you are okay sewing with jersey, then I think you should try out this pattern!
There is one change I would make to this sewing pattern. I wish there were some notches or markings on the arm holesfor the sleeves. Even though you are supposed to ease in the sleeves, there is no guidance on the pattern for doing so. Now I admit I have hardly ever sewn sleeves, so maybe this is just the norm and I am in the wrong. Still, if I had my way the armscye and sleeve would match up more easily. I got around this by ironing the sleeve in half (before sewing them to the shirt) so I would have a nice crisp line to match up to the shoulder seam to pin in place. I then stretched out each half of the armscye to the point where it matched the sleeve edge and started pinning like crazy so I could sew it in place.
This shirt was pretty fast and easy to sew. And it nailed one crucial point, being long enough to cover the bottom of a belly bump. I don’t know why some of my professionally made store bought materntiy shirts are so short that they expose my stomach. Listen up designers, maternity shirts need to be wider AND longer unless you are trying to bring back belly shirts. Since I am happy with it, I am (maybe) going to make another version. I would love to have a longer, tunic length maternity shirt! The rouching will make it more flattering for the awkward postpartum period I think. Plus since this pattern was expensive at $18 PLUS shipping from freaking AUSTRALIA, I want to feel like I got my money’s worth. Still, I would definitely buy this pattern again
I found a few verisons online that I loved. Girls in the Garden made a cute missioni-esque shirt. Maybe I will get the courage to try a print someday! Cotton and Curls sewed a lovely floral print shirt. And Mad Mimsewed a cute turquoise print version.
My Problem: Wavy Seams on Knits/Jersey Fabric
I don’t know why, but the hems on my sleeves and the bottom of the shirt are wavy. Obviously, I want the hems to lie flat so the shirt looks less homemade. I used a stretch stitch and walking foot. I am not sure what causes the puckering on the hems. I did iron the neckline flat before sewing, but not the arms or waist hems. I THINK that I stretched out the fabric as it was being sewn, which was a mistake? So next time I will try a different approach, perhaps:
My latest project is a baby bassinet mobile. My friend and I made some black and white sheep out of felt to hang over the bassinet. I got the idea after looking at black and white mobiles on etsy. Those crib mobiles are super cute but also seriously expensive. The sheep mobile will replace the owls that came with the mobile on my pack n play playard bassinet.
I choose black and white sheep because apparently young babies cannot visually process low contrast colors. So all those cute pastel colors and toys probably look like boring blobs to newborns. High contrast black and white (with some saturated red thrown in for good measure if you want) is easier for babies to see and may aid in infant brain development. As babies get older the ability to distinguish more subtle colors improves (duh). Small for Big notes that black and white baby mobiles might not be the best choice for a crib, because they are stimulating and not relaxing (i.e., sleep inducing).
Of course, it doesn’t make sense to me that babies absolutely need special black and white accessories to improve vision and/or cognition. I bet babies have got along just fine for hundreds of thousands of years without black and white mobiles.
I decided to keep this craft project simple. If you are feeling more ambitious, Life Sprinkled with Glitter has some cute ideas for baby mobiles that you can make yourself. To make my simple sheep mobile, my friend and I made sheep shapes and cut out the piece from some cheap felt. We sewed the layers together, then stuffed the sheep with cheap polyester fiberfill. The whole thing can cost just a few dollars if you can keep your fiberfill cost down. But keep in mind that this cost is simply for the sheep, not a mobile frame to hang them from.