Archive for the ‘ Do it ’ Category

Love/hate with PDF patterns – how to simplify assembly for baby clothes



DSCF5121PDF patterns. So great to get them instantly. So many are free online or very inexpensive.

But I hate wasting limited crafty time cutting and taping together, especially now with teeny clothes that Mr. Baby outgrows every few months and that are made from teeny pieces.

Like these shorts, which come as a free download in 6 sizes, and are functional and simple. The first round I printed out and assembled. But then an idea came to me:

Print the whole thing out again, I told myself. Tape the damn paper pieces together. Then separate the components – the front, the back, the waistband.

PDF shorts pattern

Look! Each is still tiny enough each to fit on the copier. SO COPY EACH ONE using legal paper or 11 x 17 paper if necessary. Keep those master components with the tape on them so the next size up can just be copied again and cut out in a bigger size.

DSCF5123

Should work for this little raglan shirt pattern, too, which goes up to size 6.

How to cut a top from a sweater

I cut a cute knit top out of a boxy cashmere sweater using a pattern for the bodice, and pinning the sleeves.

To cut the pattern (here from McCall’s 6164) I marked the center of the sweater front with chalk, and traced each side, instead of folding the sweater and doing both at the same time. Got more precision that way.

sweater purple cashmere pattern

Did the same for the back. Marked the line with chalk.

sweater purple cashmere traced

The sleeves were trickier. The important part was the armhole part. I used the 6164 sleeve pattern piece to trim the top of the existing sweater sleeves into the right shape, first one side, and then the other.

Pinned the sleeves into place. Stitched. They were still baggy – the wrong shape for such a fitted bodice, so I pinned them tighter and stiched along the pins. Finished the seams, then trimmed the excess carefully.

This proved important because it gave me fabric to use for the neck’s binding.

sweater purple cashmere binding

sweater purple cashmere neck detail

I admit, this wasn’t a perfect science. The binding strips kept rolling up so it was hard to keep them even. And the back of the sweater started with a raglan detail in the knit, which carried over to the final cut.

Hope it looks like a detail rather than a flaw…

sweater purple cashmere back

How to…widen sleeveless shoulders into cap sleeves

You know, for when you don’t want to be that naked. Which for me is almost always. I turned this bodice into cap sleeves with a few little lines. I’ve done this a few times now (once for this dress), and it’s really not hard. So you trace the front and back bodice pieces as you would, skipping the armhole curve. You mark the underarm, you know, where you’d cut it for sleeveless. Can you see the purple marker dots at the top and under the arm? McCall's 6164 making sleeve Then you basically draw a line out from the shoulder, extending it straight. And you draw another line up from the outermost point of the underarm, where you’d start the side seam. (This picture shows the other side.) McCall's 6164 making sleeve Sew the shoulder seam as directed in the pattern instructions. Sew the side seam also as directed, leaving the sleeve hole open. Hem that however you like to hem sleeves. Since this is knit, I basted 5/8″ along the raw edge, folded over on the basting, and stitched. Left the seam allowance as is. Knits won’t unravel. McCall's 6164 T Voila— cap sleeves.

How to… add simple belt loops

My new dress-from-dress came with its own belt. I didn’t want to lose the belt, so I added some belt loops which are super easy to make.

All you need is crochet thread or embroidery thread in a color that matches your dress, a sewing needle with an eye big enough for the thread and a crochet hook. (Though you can also do the crochet on your fingers if you have no hook.)

belt loops thread

Start the crochet with a long thread tail several inches long. That’ll anchor the loop to the garment.

belt - start with loop and tail

Crochet, counting the stitches, until you have a length that’s double the width of the belt, plus two stitches. Mine needed 32.

belt - keep crocheting until long enough

belt - crochet until twice the belt

(If you’re using your fingers, make a slip stitch, leaving a long tail of thread. Stick your index finger in the loop at the first knuckle joint.

belt - finger - loops

Loop the thread over your finger and wrap the loop over the thread.

belt - finger - wrap pull

Tug on the loop until the stitch tightens.

belt - finger - keep pulling until tight

Repeat until the crochet’s long enough.)

Leaving another long thread tail, cut the thread. Pull the tail through the last loop to secure the stitches.

belt - leave long tail before cutting

If you want loops on both sides, make another one the same way.

belt - loops - make two

Now thread the big needle with one of the tails.

belt - loops - thread tail on big needle

Then you sew the loop in. Some people anchor the top and then the bottom. I like the kind where the loop hangs down. So I poke the needle through from the right side and pull one tail through, and then do the same with the other end.

belt loop push needle through

Even better if you can catch the seam allowance.

belt loop back side

I knot them tightly on the back and voila!

belt loop knotted

That’s it.

belt loop finished

Then, should the belt get lost or something, the crocheted loop will cut out easily without harming the dress.

Wardrobe: Keep it or pitch it?

In culling my closet, I’m trying to be honest and stick to the rules. That’s harder than it seemed.

Take this guy. Fantastic magenta blouse.

blouse-magenta

I put it on. I applied the rules, ignoring the brand name (“Shapely”).

  • Solid magenta color (#6): Keep it.
  • Doesn’t need ironing (#10): Keep it.
  • Simple design, kicky cuffs, fabric has great sheen (#11): Keep it.
  • Woven, not knit (#1): Pitch it.
  • Neck kinda high if I button it decently (#2): Pitch it.
  • Little bit blousy. Not great fit as it is (#5): Pitch it.

See? That’s indecisive. So I’m going to try wearing it to work with a very fitted long pencil skirt in textured black twill. If I love it then, I’ll keep it. If I don’t love it then, this little guy gots to go.

Here’s another one. This I made, one of the first things I tried in knit fabric. It’s Simplicity 3790 with stuff from an amazing Hobby Lobby clearance sale. Like 60″ @ $2/yard. Made an exact copy in the same stuff, only cream where this guy’s black.

top-black lace

This keep’s much clearer:

  • Simple design, interesting fabric (#11): Keep it.
  • Knit, not woven (#1): Keep it.
  • Neck nice and deep (#2) Keep it.
  • Not a true wrap top, but the band at the bottom cinches me in nicely (#4): Keep it.

I can’t say anything mean about it.

More thinking about A Wardrobe

My sewing time is precious and small, right? And lately, I’ve had some big misses with projects. And the things I’ve managed to finish, I haven’t been so excited to put on. And my everyday has some serious holes. Also I’m easily distracted.

I took the advice of a bunch of smart sewers, mostly ladies, and thought hard about what I like to look like, and what my life looks like.

And here’s what I decided. The list follows. My projects — save for gifts — must all fit these descriptions or I’m no longer going to waste my time.

So here’s my Sewing Manifesto (Mani-Fitz-O?):

  1. I wear knit tops, not woven ones. I like short sleeves, not sleeveless and cardigans. I pile on scarves when it gets cold. I layer simple undershirts under almost everything.
  2. I wear open necks, not high ones. When my bosom gets buried under a lot of fabric, I feel giant. And I like necklaces more than other jewelry.
  3. I love luxurious sweaters and have been thrifting away from acrylics and other cheap disposable knits.
  4. When I rarely shop off the rack, I buy wrap tops because they always fit with an extra tug or a little give. I like the ruching across my middle, too.
  5. I have a curvy body that needs a little harnessing. When the fit is right, wow. When it’s not, I want to tear up the photographic evidence.
  6. Purple is the greatest of all colors. Red’s pretty close behind, followed by their blend: dark magenta. Leopard’s a neutral that makes almost anything pop.
  7. I like a little whimsy but I’m too old for cutesy. I’m also too old for shoddy. It’s not cute anymore.
  8. I wear some skirts when they’re easy, solid, dark. I love textures like velveteen that pop but aren’t too fancy.
  9. I like easy dresses, too. I end up regretting most prints (save leopard). I’d rather let my jewelry do the talking. I love prints as sneaky inside peeks: pockets, trims, linings.
  10. I hate ironing and don’t do it (except while sewing).
  11. I like simple design with a quirky element. Black pants with five or six pintucks up the right leg. A denim skirt with a bias-cut flounce on the back. A cashmere cardigan with three-quarter sleeves. Knit shells in black and white with tiny ruffles up the front.
  12. I wear shoes I can run in. Same goes for boots.

Charming sometimes, charminger now

My sister makes everything more charming. Like Chicago in March.

It’s a rare visit when she comes on her own and I’m home alone and we have only to entertain each other. And we only did things we like.

Art Institute, to look at ladies, artichokes —

'Woman descending staircase'

britt, room

spoon woman

saucy, full length

artichokes, de chirico

Millennium Park —
Chinese art @ Millennium Park, 2010

Self-p inside Bean, 2010

Chicago Cultural Center —
Chicago Cultural Center, ceiling

SILENCE

LICENSE

South Side Irish parties —

IMG_4797

Liar’s Club —

Disco ball
'beer nuts'

Unseen: Thrifting. Neo-Futurist theater. Fingernail painting. Taco making. Various lounging. Lady movie watching. Wine sipping.