Threading Lightly

Adventures in amateur sewing


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2019: Never stop learning

Although I have been away from this blog for awhile, I have been sewing. It’s been infrequent and the projects are slow-going, but I have been trying to fit in as much as I can with the small amount of free time I have. In these busy times, I feel like I need to be strategic about my sewing since time has become less of a luxury.

When I first started making my own clothes, it was all about learning. I was learning about different fabrics, learning new techniques – I loved trying new things. The last half of 2018, sewing felt like a bit of a chore. I was still enjoying the process of trying to complete my uncompleted projects, but because I had so many other things going on, it was all very tiring. I have since given a few things up and I am getting into more of a routine with my new-ish job. I want to get back into problem solving mode with my sewing and I think this year I can make it happen.

I’ve always been the type of person who loves to learn. Part of the reason I love my new job is that I am learning so much more than the last few jobs I’ve had. I’ve been taken out of my comfort zone and every day I’m trying to perfect skills that I’m not naturally good at. It’s rewarding, but at times it can be mentally exhausting. Sewing could be a welcome distraction at times, but this year as I settle into more comfort with my routine, I want to really focus on the learning. This is why I’m changing things up a bit in my sewing project management. Before I would keep tabs on all my uncompleted projects, trying hard to get garments finished within the season I would be wearing them. I always seem to fail at this. Even though it felt like I was focusing on things, I really lacked a lot of focus and any little change in routine or life happening would really throw my plans out of wack. I need to keep things a little simpler in order to fix my focus and feel like I’m improving my skill. I’ve decided that each month I will pick something to focus on and hopefully I can diversify this enough so that I can still keep learning new skills and perfecting new garments.

For the first month (January obviously), I needed to focus on finishing up a few projects that I had been putting off. But for February, my focus will be on trying to perfect pants. I’m not sure how many projects I will be able to tackle, but I have some ideas in mind already. I don’t want to plan too much in advance for the subsequent months, but I do know I eventually want to (finally) tackle a silk dress and also possibly take on making more active wear. And since February is a short month,this may need to extend into March, I will need to re-evaluate. I need to keep some sort of spontaneity since you never know what your needs will be as life progresses.

2018 for me was the year of doing. I had many running goals and through a lot of hard work & training, I was able to meet almost all of them. When I lost my job early in the year, I worked like crazy to get a new one. I briefly joined the board of a professional organization which had me constantly making sure my many tasks were completed every week. With all the things I was doing, there was no time to take a step back to think or reflect. This is why I want to concentrate on learning new things for 2019. I want to make time to actually enrich my life in a different way. And I hope to get back to blogging too, and it’s something I have really missed over the last year.

Happy 2019 everyone! What are your goals for the year?

NeverStopImproving


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Seasonally Inappropriate: A shirred experiment

Pattern: Burda Young 6651, view C

Skills acquired:

  • Shirring

Let me start out by saying that this experiment had started over the summer, when I somehow didn’t realize I had cut out a child’s dress as my bathing suit coverup. I guess I should have noticed the pattern is called Burda Young, but the picture of adults on the front really threw me off.  Burda patterns have always confused me – it’s like they make the directions difficult on purpose so that you get more of a sense of accomplishment. It doesn’t help me out – I’ve never been able to fully figure out one of these patterns.

Despite not realizing what I was cutting out, the dress actually didn’t turn out too bad. And I was able to figure out how to create the shirring effect on the fabric from a simple Internet search. The most important thing to do is hand wind the bobbin with the elastic thread. The top stitch uses regular thread, but you need to loosen the tension on the machine and use a large stitch size. I was a little scared with changing the tension since I was told to never touch it as it may be really hard getting it back to where it should be.

In order to make sure the shirring lines were all the same distance apart, I measured and chalked the sewing lines. Then after the front & back were sewn together, I was able to sew all the way around the top, causing the fabric to shrink inward. I made sure the tie the ends since it seemed more stable than back-stitching with the elastic.

I could tell after I put the top together that it was not the right size. I was also thrown off by the sizes on the pattern as they were confusing as well. Of course I should have known by measuring and putting the top against me, but it was hard to tell how much extra material I needed. I was able to give this first dress to my friend’s young daughter. I do like the way it came out.

For my next try at this dress, many months had passed. It was no longer summer and the air was getting colder. But I cut out a new version anyway – this time adding inches to the top to match my own dimensions. It was January and while it may have seemed strange to work on a garment like this, I was actually going to be going on a girl’s trip to the Bahamas that month. I wasn’t sure how warm it would be, since January isn’t the best month to go, but this New Englander was going to get to the beach anyway, no matter what the temperature was.

I used the same method for the top – drawing the lines in chalk, sewing front and back together, folding the top in half, and sewing with the elastic thread around on the lines. I made sure the waist was also big enough for me to fit into.

However, when I tried it on, the waist didn’t look right. It seemed to bulge out in places. I’m sure it has something to do with me not adjusting the pattern proportionally.

I decided to create a casing with some of the leftover material and put a 1/2 inch elastic through the wait, to cinch it up a bit. I used a method that I found on the Threads magazine website. I have to say it actually worked well – the dress still isn’t perfect, but it looks a lot better.

img_7138

So here I am in January, wearing my summer dress. Back home there was an impending snow storm brewing. But here in the Bahamas, I was even able to take a dip in the ocean.

Unfortunately I am now back home in the cold. I have to put the dress away for now, but I’m sure summer will come soon enough.


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A little pleated: The Southwest inspired skirt

Pattern: Simplicity 1109, view E

When I first bought this fabric, years ago on my trip to New Mexico, I knew that I wanted to make a short-ish skirt with it. It took me awhile to get around to it, but it’s finally finished. I thought having a nice pleated skirt would work with the fabric and I just happen to have this nice Simplicity pattern. I liked the look of the skirt with multiple pleats, but when I asked around, the vote went to the skirt with one pleat down the middle. Well, I thought, at least it would be easier to make and would require a lot less pressing.

There is not much else to say as this was a pretty simple pattern. The fabric I used has embroidery on it, not a print, and I believe it gives it that southwestern look. The skirt does require a decorative zipper, since the zipper is on the outside of the garment. The instructions on the pattern was actually very easy to follow, which was good since I’ve never installed a zipper this way. I always feel the big 4 patterns don’t know how to explain regular zippers correctly.

The front pleat was also very simple. I basted the sides so that the pleat would be more crisp, and then removed the stitching after the waistband was installed. It came out pretty good, although one side seems more pressed than the other.


All in all, the skirt came out really nice. Something I will definitely wear more of when the weather is nicer.

Gray mid-weight sweater


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Winter is…over

Patterns:

  • McCall’s M6796, View DMcCalls 6796
  • Vogue V8956, View C

Since it is now July, you would think that the fact it’s not winter any more would be obvious to me. It is, but I realized that with all the craziness in the last six months, I forgot to blog about some of my winter projects. I’m particularly proud of both of these garments, and not just because I actually completed them in the season they were intended for, but because they both came out really nice. The sweater I am most proud of, since I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it and was able to wear it quite a bit, even as winter was thawing out a bit.

Gray mid-weight sweaterI am especially proud of the purely decorative buttons on the collar – I definitely chose the right ones for top.

Close up of collar

The lines on this really look as close to perfect as ever. I think this lightweight sweater knit was really the perfect fabric for this project.

This garment got a lot of wear this past season, since it matched a lot of things and Continue reading

Dog blouse with ties


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Top mistakes: My sporadic sewing

Patterns: 

  • Rhapsody Blouse (bishop sleeves) by Love Notions
  • Vogue V8670 (view D)

This year has been pretty crazy for me so far. It started with me losing my job unexpectedly, then moved on to a big move and a new co-habitation situation with my significant other. All of this occurring while I was training hard and accomplishing my major running goals and then finally shifted to me getting a new job and trying to find some normalcy and a regular schedule for my life. With all these changes taking place in a fairly short period of time, I saw my planned and unfinished sewing projects piling up. Whenever I found myself with a pocket of free time, I would try to hurriedly work on these. Unfortunately these rushed blocks of productivity lead to some large, unplanned mistakes.

Doggone it! It’s upside down!Rhapsody blouse

I had the perfect project in mind – a garment I really wanted ready for this spring. It was one of the Rhapsody Blouse options from Love Notions. The fabric I wanted to use was this very soft, almost gauzy, cotton that had this really cute dog print pattern on it. I bought it thinking it would be cute for some kids clothes, but since I don’t have any kids, I decided I liked the material too much to not keep it for myself. I cut the project out in between packing my stuff for my move. I even attempted to make a small amount of bias tape with the leftover fabric I had (it wasn’t much), but that didn’t seem to work right. I’m not sure if the material was too stretchy, but the shape wasn’t right when I tried to use this method.

Trying to make bias tape

Yeah, I don’t know what’s going on here either. This is what happens when you attempt a new trick at the end of a long evening.

This project was actually a quick sew, so one day post move I dusted off my serger and went to work. I worked fast putting all the pieces together. When I put it up on the dummy to see my progress, that is when I noticed it…

Dog Blouse

Such a rookie mistake! I didn’t pay attention when cutting this printed fabric.

I had cut the shirt completely upside down. All the dogs were on their head.

I couldn’t believe I had made such a big mistake, but I was trying too hard to get the blouse cut out before the big move. Since I hadn’t done a project with a real print in awhile, it didn’t even cross my mind to make sure this was right. I was concentrating too hard on making sure I could fit all the pattern pieces and that I had measured the right size for me. Oh well, at this point I was still going to finish the blouse. It would just be a bit quirky.

Sleeves on dog blouse

One good point is that because I chose the elastic sleeves, it tends to hide some imperfections that exist in the sleeve hem.

Luckily the rest of the construction went very well, even making the bias tape, which I was also a bit rusty at. In the end, I had a nice spring blouse…although it was now summer and too hot to wear it. It’s still light enough to wear on a cool summer evening…and there is always next year.

Dog Blouse

What the…buttons?

The next project I attempted was a solid color fabric so there Continue reading

Black Turtleneck


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The tactile turtleneck

Pattern: Kwik Sew 30933093 kwik sew pattern

Sometimes you get all creative with your sewing: tackling new and interesting projects, using fabrics you’ve never experimented and making clothing you’ve never seen in stores. And other times, you just need to make a wardrobe builder. I’ve always felt that turtlenecks are timeless, however I think that other’s might disagree with me. I’ve always liked the look of them and realized that my only black turtleneck, which was purchased, was getting a lot of use. I figured I would need to have another one on hand for when this one was dirty. Well why not make one instead of seeking one out at stores?

I’m glad I did, because I had this pattern and it was definitely a quick sew (as the pattern implies). Black knit is always available from one of my favorite fabric stores and my serger made this in cinch to sew up. The whole project went together so smoothly, it was like a perfectly planned spy operation…

Archer tactile turleneck

Well maybe that is a stretch. The pattern is simple enough so it is highly recommended for beginners. However, I would recommend you use a serger if you do attempt it as it just makes sewing knits SOOO much easier.

Turtleneck neck

This top matches so many of my me-made skirts, so I can see it getting a lot of use in the cooler months. And I really needed an easy win as I ease my life back into sewing again. Until next time!

Black Turtleneck

 

2018 Pant


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The 2018 pant: Starting off a difficult year

Pattern: New Look 6058 view DNew Look 6058

It’s always nerve-wracking to finally cut into that fabric that you bought a few years ago and you love so much. I knew when I bought the black textured fabric used for this project that I wanted to make some fancy pants with it, ones that could be worn on a night on the town. I even had a name for them – the New Year’s Eve pant, because it reminded me of an outfit I wore a long time ago on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, I didn’t go out on the town on New Year’s Eve and I also didn’t finish these in time to wear them until well into February. So instead, these have been dubbed the 2018 pants. A still-hopeful name for pants that I at least finished within the year, right?

Unfortunately this year is not what I thought it would be personally. After starting a new job last fall, I thought finally my career was finally taking off after a slow start and some difficulty. But sometimes these things don’t work out, even when you try your hardest at something. At the start of this year I found myself exactly where I didn’t want to be – struggling to find another job. Some years have so many positive memories that you can’t help but look back and smile. This will not be one of those years. However, it’s okay as I feel I will be a stronger person for it in the end.

These pants gave me almost as much anxiety as my newly realized unemployment. Fitting pants is quite difficult with my body type and I knew that I needed to make a muslin to feel things out. I took my measurements and first made sure to adjust the crotch, which tends to hang really low on pants’ patterns for some reason. When I sewed the legs up, I realized these pants were really huge on me and even with the zipper seam allowance it was not going to work. Part of the problem was also that Continue reading