The thoughts, sewing projects, and fabric oglings of a dedicated sewist.

A Few Morsels From the Past Week(s)

I get to teach kids in the summertime and I've been looking forward to this for a few months.  I'm teaching a couple of week-long camps later in the summer, but for now I am teaching 4-6 students on Friday afternoons.  Most of the girls are around 8-9 years-old (and yes, all girls - I keep waiting for a boy!) and for the first class we sewed pillow cases.  They were all keen to sew stuffed animals (I thought they might be too old for this, but I was wrong wrong wrong), so in our last class they got started on stuffed owls.  Here they are with their owl "heads":

There's one girl hiding under the table to avoid having her picture taken.

I finished my next Stitch project (due out in the fall) but I can't show you that.  Cora is very happy because I used leftovers from the project to embellish one of her dresses.  She hates clothes that are only one color, so she's very happy with her new look!

I've been doing a lot of alterations lately but I've got some new garment work coming up.  I also finally kicked myself out of my procrastination loop with my own garment project.  I've been working on this for at least a month and it's not a quickie.  I've had trouble finding longer amounts of time on the weekend to make progress with it, but I did finally complete a step.  I'm following the steps from Susan Khalje's Couture Dress class on Craftsy, but using a different pattern.  So far I've fitted the muslin and cut out the underlining and fashion fabric from the muslin pieces.  Here's the organza (for the bodice) and batiste (for the skirt) underlining pieces laid on the backside of my fashion fabric.  Can anyone guess the pattern?  I'm hoping to hand baste the underlining to the fabric while I'm on vacation next week.

And up last in my show-and-tell is a dress I actually finished about a month ago.  I was almost too embarrassed to post it because I've made this dress (Simplicity 2580) so many times.  But I love the fabric - Groovy Bricks ITY Jersey from so much that I just had to give you a peek.  One of my upcoming custom garments came after I wore this dress to book club.  Maybe I'll actually get photos of me in the dress sometime soon.

If off with the girls to rural PA for a week.  Cheerio!

Five Grads, One Dress - The Seamstress' Cut

I started taking alterations a couple months back to round out my services for clients and because I discovered I actually liked doing them (nothing like a nice, easy hem job to balance out the longer projects!).  Shortly after I made this decision, Linda Hill, our area's most reputable home-based alterations lady, contacted me to se if I was interested in taking her overflow.  Yes, m'am!  (Must have been destiny at work . . .)

Elle's mother Mary in the dress 1980.  Source: Wednesday Journal

This project came to me via Linda.  The public high school in Oak Park requires that graduating ladies wear long white dresses.  The daughter of Linda's friend needed a family dress altered but Linda didn't have room in her schedule.  I almost passed but then found a way to stretch my schedule and I'm so glad that I did.  The dress was written up in a local paper with annoyingly sadly no mention of the seamstress, so I thought I'd provide some behind-the-scenes coverage.  You can read the newspaper version with some great quotes from the ladies who wore the dress and additional photos of the dress in action here.

Dress as it came to me

Dress insides

The dress had been worn by four women in the family so far: Elle's mother Mary, Mary's older sisters Nancy and Peggy, and Mary's oldest daughter Maranda.  Now it was Elle's turn, but the dress just didn't fit - Elle is a small person, but bustier than her aunts/sister.  Linda passed along some suggestions when she passed me her client and I took it from there!

First I carefully unpicked the side seams and took out the side seam zipper (this dress is now 35-years-old).  Then I basted fabric scraps at the side seam so that I could see how much extra room was needed (when Elle first tried on the dress for me, she couldn't pull it down over her girls!). 

I used the scraps to make a pattern piece for what needed to be added at the side seam:

I balanced out the two sides before creating a pattern

The dress has a tie that was just barely wide enough to use in the side seams, so I reduced the SA to 1/4", crossed my fingers and cut.  Taking out the side seam stiches had left small but visible thread holes in the fabric.  The holes bugged me now that the seam allowance was smaller, so I fused white knit tricot interfacing to the back side of the fabric, and voila!  no more holes.

I sewed the new side seam panels in place, replaced the old zipper with an invisible zipper, added a button hole and button to the tie, reduced the seam allowances in the lining to 1/4" and we were ready for the day.  Not an ideal alteration, but it worked!

I loved that I got to help extend the life of this dress.  It was both exhilarating and terrifying to work with something that had so many memories attached to it.  Elle's face made it so worthwhile!

School Projects

Belly, my oldest daughter, finished her first year of school last week.  Kindergarten - check, onto First Grade!  I wanted to make gifts for her teachers but when you include aids and specials and that meant eight gifts.  I left this 'till the final week to do, so this meant something pretty quick. 

Belly's contribution:

My contribution:

Zippered pouches for aids and specials

Book totes from apple corduroy for her main teachers
I figured her two male teachers wouldn't want a pretty little zippered pouch so they got Chipotle gift certificates instead.  The only simple male sewing project I could think of was boxer shorts and that didn't seem appropriate!

To save time, I interfaced the pouch fabric with a fabric-like fusible interfacing (Pellon SF101 shape-flex woven interfacing) instead of lining them.  I sewed the pouches up on my fancy serger using a piping foot to attach the zippers, and each one only took about 15 minutes from cutting to fusing to sewing. 

I also just hit my one year milestone with teaching sewing.  I teach primarily at The Little Bits Workshop in River Forest (if you're local and you want to take a class, go here) and I really liked the skirt project I led on Monday night.  I've found that while students dream about sewing their own clothes, I have trouble filling those classes with students opting instead for simple home dec project classes.  I had a group of students from my last beginner sewing session who were a bit more gung-ho, so I put together a one-night class to teach them to make a simple jersey skirt. 

My inspiration was this skirt, which I found on Pinterest, but I changed the drafting formula and the waistband:

Elle Apparel Socialite Skirt - tutorial

I made a couple sample skirts (I'm wearing the stripey one as I type), one with pleats and one without:

Keep in mind that my students have only been sewing for about a month and not all of them even have a sewing machine at home.  Here's what they made in three hours, from drafting to cutting to sewing jersey fabric for the first time:

You can't see it in this photo, but Nora did a fantastic job matching stripes!
My mantra through the class was, "Your first skirt won't be your best skirt," but they turned out really well.  I can't wait to see what their second and third skirts look like!