Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing

Liebster Award


A Liebster Award!

For a fantastic start to my week, Helen from justsewtherapeutic has nominated me for a Liebster award.  Huzzah!  I had seen these buttons around, and after some googling discovered that this award is given by bloggers to bloggers as a way for up-and-coming blogs to reach new readers.  When you are nominated, you get to answer a few questions and nominate others…and the cycle continues.

Liebster Award

So here they are…Helen’s questions.  I will try to make my answers as interesting as possible.

 1. What was the first thing you ever made?


Before I really got into making clothes, I made a green table cloth.  It didn’t come out that great, despite the fact that it just a square.  I have come a long way….I think.  My first real item of clothing was a simple A-line skirt (because I really needed one that I liked), but I had A LOT of help with it.


2. If you could only ever use five patterns again which would they be?

Hmm…this one is tough since I am still kind of discovering new patterns all the time.  But if I were to think of it in terms of wardrobe necessities…

  • New Look 6108 for knits:  This has the easiest knit skirt pattern that I have used a few more times – and plan on using for a new skirt very soon.  Very versatile.
  • Simplicity 2700 for pants:  Very simple pants pattern that could be used for all types of dress pants.
  • Butterick B5954 for tops:  This is a great tunic pattern – I made one of them and have plans for more.  It has sleeveless and sleeved patterns which makes it great for all seasons.  Also for knits.
  • McCalls M6610 for jeans:  Cuz you need a good jeans pattern.
  • A pajama pants pattern I made myself out of some disassembled pants from the dollar store.   Not helpful I know

3. Greatest sewing achievement?

Probably the dress I just finished for my friend’s wedding.  It was the first project I really took my time on to get it right.  A close second would be this tunic, which got a lot of attention from my friends on Facebook.

Sweater knit tunic

4. Greatest sewing failure!?

Honestly I made a ton of mistakes with my gold jeans.  It was a noble attempt, but definitely a learning experience that will hopefully help me the next time I make a pair of jeans.  I also made a pair of wool-blend pants that ended up enormously too big for me.  My weight was fluctuating at the time and even though I thought I had followed the measurements on the pattern, they ended up looking pretty baggy, despite my efforts to take them in.  I refuse to get rid of them and have worn them a few times, just because so much of my time and effort went into them.

5. How much fabric have you got in your stash?

Continue reading



In the Summertime…

Pattern: McCalls 3566Cutting out the bathing suit

Nothing says summer like outdoor BBQs, Mungo Jerry, and new swimsuits!  I have plans to make two, and I even cut out two separate suits, but I only had time to make one this past weekend.  What I love is that you don’t need a lot of material to make a bikini, so I got these less-than-a-yard “scraps” at Fabric Place Basement in Natick, MA.  The pattern is out-of-print I believe, but I had a hard time finding one that I liked.  It’s from the late 90’s, but I think the suits featured here are still in fashion.  I decided to make top C and bottom G.

McCalls 3566 Suit Yourself







I want to start off by saying I felt like I was cheating a bit, because I actually used my mom’s brand new electronic sewing machine – “Mega-Weapon.”  (Yes this is my name for the machine, my mother would never call her machine Mega-Weapon).  She had recommended I use a stretch stitch for these, and since I didn’t have time to figure it out on my machine, she told me to use hers.  This thing is insane – you change stitches with the touch of a button and it cuts, pulls in the bobbin, and does the back stitch all automatically as well.  I don’t know, it was cool to use it, but I think I actually prefer doing some of these things manually if you can believe it.  Maybe not the back stitch part, but I like having the control instead of trying to find a button.  Plus I thought the bobbin process was actually more confusing.  But who knows – maybe I will change my mind some day.  I did like the stretch stitch that I used.

Mega-Weapon Machine

Stretching the elastic

This pattern is great if you know what you are doing.  Personally, I thought the directions could be a little clearer, especially for the part explaining how to fit the elastic to the suit.  What I did like was they had elastic guides in the pattern itself.  Not only does it help you cut the right length, but it also has marks for the elastic so that you can match it with the side seams.  I marked these right on the elastic, since it would be hidden within the seam.  It’s important to match the markings up, especially on the bottoms, in order to avoid uneven stretching in the elastic.

Stretching the elastic around while sewing was the most challenging part of this project.  I was happy that I got through it without any bunching of the material, however my zig-zag stitches were not perfect.  After I zig-zagged the elastic, I folded the material tightly around the elastic towards the inside to complete the seam.  This is definitely not the most attractive seam on the inside and I could look into ways to create a more finished look.  On the outside, it looks fine.  Oh, and I am happy to report I got proper bathing suit lining for this which I used for the top and the crotch.


 Key Learning: Buy more thread

I had to play a bit of “beat the clock” with this one.  I really need to learn to buy new thread when I have a new project.  Maybe because I didn’t use a lot of material, I thought I wouldn’t need that much thread?  Honestly, I think the stretch stitch uses a bit more than a normal stitch, which was probably part of it.  I had to wind another bobbin after I made the top.  As it’s winding, I notice my spool looking a bit bare.  Oh my!  I quickly stopped and looked at the bobbin and it wasn’t looking too full either.  I figure I could set it aside for the top stitching and use a similar color for the elastic and side seams.  I switched the thread, then switched back so the top-stitching would be all the same color.

I started with the waist.  So far so good.  Then the first leg…uh oh.  Now, I’m sweating.  But I got through it.  One more leg left.  No turning back now – that stretch stitch would be impossible to take out, especially with lycra.

Running out of thread

I proceed with the second leg, watching the spool the whole time.  I had to change the bobbin to the other color (luckily they were close).  That spool was looking pretty empty.  I look down and I have just one small section left so I kept with the top-stitch.  Now I have about an inch left as I watch the last bit of thread fly off the spool.  Oh no, I’m not going to make it.  But I do.  Just as I close up the final stitch I see the thread hanging out next to the foot.  Phew!  That was close – too close!  Need to be more careful next time.

Whitey McWhite-body

Ugh, I really need to get to the beach this summer.  I tried taking many shots of myself in this bathing suit and I am just way too pale.   Plus, let’s face it – swimsuit pics are tough.  But I will put a mini version of the only photo that was acceptable to me.  Just ignore that there is a bed in front of me, I have my reasons for this.







Here is the final result of my swimsuit – overall I am happy with the results.  Plus I adjusted the pattern for the bottoms so that it covers my lovely lady lumps so well.  I now have a bathing suit that gives me excellent coverage in the back, which was always a challenge with mass-produced suits.  You will just have to use your imagination on that one – I was not brave enough to take that picture.



The Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Part 3

Pattern: Vogue Patterns American Designer, Kay Unger New York #V1353….continued from part 2 and part 1 Phew!  It’s finally done.  Actually, I do still need to buy a belt, but all the sewing is finished! Where we left off...okay I put the invisible zipper in.  For those who don’t know, this is what an invisble zipper looks like.  The teeth are not exposed on the outside, like a regular zipper, so the material is sewed around the front of the zipper tape. Invisible zipper

Invisible zipper foot

Plastic invisible zipper foot – a great alternative to buying a whole new foot

It really wasn’t that complicated, but there were a few minor beginner hiccups that I will share.  I watched this video, which described the whole process perfectly.  I didn’t have a proper invisible zipper foot, so I just used the cheap plastic foot pieces you get at the fabric store and it worked just fine.  Pinning the zipperI also wasn’t going to take any chances screwing this one up, so I made a bright colored basting stitch where the zipper was going to go, and pinned one side as the video instructed me.  After I sewed the first side, it seemed right, but I had trouble zipping it up.  It seemed twisted.  Thinking I did the whole thing wrong, I un-did all the stitches and tried to figure out what the issue was.  I couldn’t see what I was doing wrong, so I attempted stitching it again.  It seemed right, until I tried zipping it up for the second time.  I finally figured it out – the bottom of the zipper had just flipped to the inside, so it only looked like I pinned it wrong.  Ooops!  Oh well, I know for next time. After sewing both sides, the zipper flipped in with the material and indeed became invisible within the back seam.  But all of a sudden I couldn’t zip the whole thing up to the top.  This puzzled me for a bit, but after some examination found that I had just sewed one section too close to the teeth and the zipper was getting stuck.  Minor fix – all set! Invisible zipper finished I think it just needs a press so that the material is a little flatter around the zipper, but otherwise you can barely see it.  Major learning: it is extremely important to sew as straight and close to the teeth as possible.  This is where that plastic foot comes in handy since it actually has a groove that allows the foot to glide easily over the zipper teeth, keeping everything straight and tidy. This dress has a full lining in it, which attached at the neckline.  The pattern also had me cut out a hem facing, which was to be sewn to the bottom of the dress.  As I completed this step, I realized I was to hand sew along the top of the facing with embroidery floss, making a straight decorative stitch line above the hem.  Nope!  Not going to do that.  For one, I’m not so comfortable with my embroidery skills.  But mostly with this print, I didn’t think it would add anything.  That would have been a lot of work so I opted to just sew the hem facing rightDress hem to the lining skirt, keeping my stitches hidden. Unfortunately, this made the bottom look kind of like an open umbrella, with the bottom of the hem tightly pinned on the inside lining.  I realized I had to keep the lining skirt free in order to keep the dress looking normal.  I ended up cutting the hem facing and folding it up like a regular skirt hem, realizing this is what I should have done in the first place instead of bothering with the  facing in the first place.  I serged the ends of the lining skirt, since this was now hanging free, and then hand sewed the lining around the back zipper.  The skirt looked a lot better with this simple fix. Below is the finished product!  I will be adding belt thread loops and a purchased belt, preferably in a dark color.  I will make sure to post a picture from the actual wedding. Dress for Wedding People have commented on the material, which is fantastic.  I have to give a shout out to Sewfisticated Fabrics in Framingham, Massachusetts, where I got this wonderful material for an amazing price.  I’m thinking I probably paid about $5 a yard.

See the final result in Dress-for-Wedding Challenge: Epilogue


Throwback Thursday: Knit Dress

I’ve been kind of frustrated lately.  With my new job, long commute and social obligations, it’s been tough getting a decent chunk of time to finish my sewing projects.  Which means nothing to blog about.  However, last weekend I did end up taking a trip to Oldie’s Marketplace in Newburyport, MA and I had a great find.

McCalls Pattern 4089

I’m thinking this is from the 1970’s and I got it for $3 (plus tax).  I’ve been looking for a pattern for a casual knit dress and I think this could be fun.   Hopefully all the pieces are in there :o)

I’ve been really enjoying looking at old patterns lately and I can literally spend hours on Etsy just browsing through them.  The challenge is that they usually come in one size, so sometimes you can’t find what you want.  This one might be slightly big on top, but should be easy to adjust and shouldn’t be too much of a problem since it’s made for knits.

What do you think?  Any fun “throwbacks” you working on right now?