Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing


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Gold-Blinger: The Gold Jeans Experiment

Pattern:  McCall’s M6610

IMG_1028I found some gold shiny slight stretch denim at Sewfisticated Fabrics, my favorite discount fabric store for $1.99 a yard.  So thought I would give making blue (well gold) jeans a shot.  I actually bought two jeans patterns, but I really liked the simplicity of this one.  McCall’s does a good job of writing clear and concise directions that even a beginner sewer can follow.  There is also an extra insert that explains how to adjust your pattern to fit, which is actually pretty useful. This is not my first attempt at pants, and I seem to always have trouble with the sizing.  Even though I measure and adjust, it always seems like my pants come out 2 sizes too big.  I decided to go for a smaller size this time when I cut.  This inexpensive piece of gold denim would be a perfect experiment for some other pants projects I had in mind with some really nice corduroy I had bought.  But I also thought it looked kind of cool and I thought I could make it into a sort of novelty fashion jeans to wear for certain occasions.  When I tried them on, they were a little tight and reminded me a little of…C-3PO_droid

Hmmm….maybe I can still make them work.

On My Back Pocket

The pattern is designed very logically and very consistent with the way most jeans are constructed.  It starts with two front pockets which I used cotton muslin for, and a zipper which you will need to cut and stitch to form a new zipper stop.  As much as I hated basting (and oh I HATE it so), it is really important to baste with pants.  I was more IMG_0989diligent with it for this project and I think it really made a difference.  These also featured a mini right pocket that you see on most jeans which was an easy addition and a nice touch.

The other decision I had to make had to do with the back pockets.  I kind of wanted some sort of embroidered design to give these a personal touch.  I went with this fleur-de-lis design since I’ve always liked the design and it complements my French heritage. I found a picture online and traced the outline with a pencil onto some tear-away embroidery paper.  I pinned the paper to the back and traced the outline with my mom’s newer sewing machine on a tight zig-zag stitch threaded IMG_0996with some lovely gold thread.  Then, I just tore away the paper from the back and was left with these decorative back pockets.

Another thing I learned was how easy belt loops are to make.  My other pants attempts did not include them, but now that I know how easy they are, this may an addition to all my pants.  It’s basically a long rectangle that is folded over from each end (the long way), sewed along both sides, and cut into 4 inch strips.  Designing a pattern piece for these in the future will not be difficult.

Waistband Blues

The real issue I had with these jeans was the waistband.  For a few possible reasons, the waistband ended up significantly smaller than the waist of the pants.  I think there is a reason it is supposed to be smaller – probably to give a more fitted look in the waist.  You are meant to ease stitch around the top of the pants and pull the thread in a little to “ease” the material to fit the waistband.  There were two reasons I had trouble with this: 1) The thread continually broke when I tried to pull it, probably due to the stiff material. 2) I could not sew the waistband on without huge bunches in the fabric, which looked terrible.  I had hit a real roadblock.  The only thing I could think to do was cut a new waistband and give extra room so I could fit it around easier.  Unfortunately I did not have enough material to cut a new waistband, so I had the idea to cut it in two pieces and sew a small seam down the middle.  This was a success even if the back of the waistband now has a seam, which I don’t like.  Luckily, this is just an experiment and I can use these learnings for my corduroy pants and other jeans I may make.  IMG_1025

 The last step, which still needs to be done, is to add a buttonhole and button to the waistband.  I was able to find a great button by looking through a giant vat of 25 cent buttons at a local fabric store.  IMG_1027Gold-blinger jeans.  If I ever need to dress like a service droid, I’ll be all set.  But more importantly, I will be able to use these jeans to create a new adjusted pattern for other pants projects.  More to come on that later.  (Bonus: click on C3PO for a special surprise)

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From this angle, you cant even see the back seam on the waistband. You may think that the belt loop is covering it, but unfortunately that is not the case. I really need to get better at measuring.

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I’m popular!

This shirt got a lot of positive response from friends and family.  Very easy to understand pattern and a very flattering result.

Pattern: Butterick B5954

Sweater knit tunicI don’t know if this is technically a sweater knit, but that is what I call it, since the top looks like a sweater.  The material is knit, but is thinner than it looks.  This pattern is for two-way stretch knits and has a few options for tunic styles.  I will definitely try this one again.

 


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Gather ye bust line…

One of my first successful projects involved some cotton knit material my aunt gave me, bust-line gathers, and this Very Easy Vogue pattern #V8571.

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The pattern was a pretty straight forward pull-over dress with a gathered bodice and empire waist.  This looks very flattering for most body types.  It is for two-way stretch knits, which works best when the material can be pulled both ways.   The material I had probably medium-weight, but I think this pattern will work well for lighter weight materials as well.

My mom’s serger just happened to be in the shop at the time, so I decided to try out the overlock stitch to prevent unraveling.
(This is shown as  overlockon my machine)

This worked great on finishing the raw edges, but it unfortunately broke my machine!  My machine is from the 1980’s and since those special stitches had not been used in a while, it could not switch off double stitches, even on the simple straight stitch.  This really caused an issue when I tried to fix my slightly crooked hem – there was no way I could tear out those stitches.  I guess with this one I will have to live with the imperfection (machine has since been fixed).

The gathered bodice was the actually the most successful part of the dress.  Since I didn’t follow the cutting directions correctly the first time, I ended up with an extra bodice that I was able to practice on.  I did some light research online and jumped right in. Basically, these gathers involve using loose, long stitches where the threads can be pulled to “pucker” the material a bit.  A lot of websites said to adjust your stitch length to about 5 or 6, which was unfortunate for me because my old machine only goes to 4.  I was starting to worry that I would need to do this by hand.  I loosened the tension a few settings down from where I was working and attempted with the size 4 stitch.  I also made the decision that it was best to tie off the ends by hand instead of reinforcing by machine, so I kept the threads long at both ends.  The next important step is the parallel lines.  After you make the first stitch line, you make another stitch line about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch (mine was probably in between) from the original.  I repeated this process so these stitches were at the top and bottom of the bodice, front and back.

Now the part I was looking forward to.  I pulled two threads on one side, starting to create the ruffles.  I pulled slowly until the material bunched on the end, then slid the material down to even it out.  I pulled the other side as well, to create some sort of symmetry.  When I was satisfied I could do this accurately, I worked on the real bodice.  After I was happy with the amount and size of the ruffles, I was able to manually tie the ends of each stitch line.  Then I sewed my neckline in and voila!

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You can see there are gathers on the top and the bottom. If you accidentally sew the neckline where you can see the gather threads, you can pull the gather threads out after the fact.

 

And the final result….a dress that is flattering for most body types, all for the cost of some thread (thanks to my aunt Sue of course).

New Dress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Important note:  Make sure when you are making your gather stitches, they stay parallel and never cross over one another.  If this happens you will never be able to pull the material effectively.  Always remember: never cross the seams!!!

Ghostbusters

Don’t cross the streams!!!


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A little background…

I really can’t pinpoint how it all started.  I was unemployed at 34 and trying hard to look for a job, while I finished my MBA at night.   My parents had graciously taken me into their home while I tried to craft my ideal career, taking in pro bono work and dabbling in consulting jobs.   I had some free time.  And I had a recently serviced sewing machine.  And I really needed a skirt. I am obsessed with clothes.  If you ever saw my closets (yes, more than one) you would…well you would probably put me on that show Hoarders: Buried Alive.  Actually clothes hoarder is pretty accurate, since I also panic and cry whenever I try to get rid of a clothing item.   I love clothes – I love looking at them, I love trying them on, and I love buying them.  Especially new clothes.  It can be a pretty expensive habit and when I lost my job, it was obviously the first thing that was cut from my budget.  But I also had another problem.  Being of a certain body-shape, I can only really wear skirts that are full and not fitted.  It seemed like the skirts that I liked the look of were not flattering, and the flattering skirts were nothing special.  I wanted to take matters into my own hand – how hard could a simple A-line skirt be? img_0520-e1398342302313 Turns out…not that hard!  And so a new obsession was born.  Now going to the fabric store is my new high and it’s even more exciting than clothes shopping.  I see a bolt of fabric and imagine all the possibilities that it could become.  A skirt?  A wrap-dress?  Maybe just a short-sleeve blouse?  Sometimes I’ll go to the fabric store to see if inspiration hits me.  Sometimes I buy fabric that looks nice and have no idea at the time what I am going to make with it.  At the moment, I have a lot of fabric and many potential projects ahead of me.

 

Which brinIMG_0666gs me to this blog.  I’ve been sewing off and on for about a year.  I can’t stress enough that I am in no way an expert – more of a sewing enthusiast.  I thought it would be great to create a place to share the projects I was working on, especially since other sewing blogs have helped me in the past.  My hope is that by sharing my experiments and stories, I will reach out to anyone who enjoys the art of making clothes as I do.  Maybe there will even be some useful information that will help you in your projects.  I welcome all feedback, advice, and anecdotes about your experiments as well.   My wish is that it can become more of  a conversation about sewing, since I don’t have too many friends that share this passion.

 

So that is my description.  I feel like I need a cheesy quote in here somewhere.  Like…”something something the journey is….something ….and that made all the difference.”  Whatever, I am not good at quotes.  Feel free to insert one if that is your bag.  And check back for my experiments…failed and successful!   I will try to post both.

~Q