Posts Tagged ‘ How to do it ’

How to…sew French seams (and why bother)

French seams encase the raw seam edges securely inside two seams. They’re necessary for delicate fabrics, because two seams are stronger than one and the two lines of stitching prevent fraying. But French seams also are fabulous for garments with simple, straight lines because they’re beautifully clean and neat, and need no more finishing. I’m hooked, mostly because I hate finishing edges.

Here’s the center back seam of BurdaStyle’s Minna top.

Take the seam allowance of the seam and divide it into two whole numbers. So a 5/8″ allowance becomes 2/8″ (1/4″), plus 3/8″.

1 measure seam allowance measuring seam allowance

Pin the pieces together wrong sides together.

2 pin wrong sides together pinned wrong sides together

Sew the smaller number first – the 2/8″ (1/4″) seam allowance. I’ve done so by using the 3/8″ guide, and setting the needle placement to the right.

3 sew 2 8 first first seam always should be smaller

Trim the raw edges, leaving 1/8″.

4 trim close trim so threads don’t poke through finished seam

Push the raw edges to one side, and press flat.

5 iron edges flat ironing while sewing’s a must

Now fold the fabric over at the seam, so the right sides are facing each other. Press and tack with a few pins.

6 fold fabric over and press take the time to press

Back at the machine, sew your remaining 3/8″ seam.

7 sew 3 8 sewing the bigger seam second leaves more room to catch edges and threads

Voila! A 5/8″ seam with no rough raggedy edges.

8 finished french seam French seam from wrong side


9 finished from right side And from right side

Check out the how to on Burda Style here.

How to… cut a top from a bad fit

Remember this mess of a fit handed down from a cousin?

Boxy cut is too big in all the wrong places, stretchy fabric catches on tiny front hooks, red square sequins a bit much for most uses.

But it’s precisely those red square sequins that made this an irresistable keeper.

Enter Dolly Parton concert for inspiration. Dolly has no fear. She grew up dirt poor. She married at 20 and stuck it out. She takes all kinds of risks. She laughs it off when people are rude and tacky to her. And she loves to show off a bosom.

So take her moxie to heart, and give a big chop of something you know fits really awfully a try. Here’s how I did it (and it was a long time in the making):

1. REMOVE SLEEVES. I sliced through the shoulder seams to remove the sleeves whole. I also cut off the tiny hooks and eyes meant to hold the front closed because they caught on the fabric.

2. PULL IN SIDES. Fit to your body, pin and stitch well. What were boxy shoulders now are effortless cap sleeves.

3. CUT OUT A NECK. The front used to close all the way up – I wanted a loose V-shape, so I had to cut off the excess fabric from the original neck. Also meant pulling off, one by one, the sequins that line the edge.

4. FINISH NECK. Hem the neck by hand or with a binding. I sewed in grosgrain ribbon with the machine, then hand hemmed it over.

5. CLOSE IT UP. Tried a bunch of things to make this a top rather than a cardigan. Wrap-style with ribbon ties looked silly. Pinned the sleeves like a band to the bottom to hold the wrap felt too bulky. Finally – since I knew I wanted the sequins to stretch out into a design – I sewed two big snaps on the bottom corners.

The first set was sewn to the inside and a corner,

the other to the outside.

6. PULL OUT THE BOOTS AND GO. I’ll add a tiny ruffled cami top underneath, and a fitted denim skirt on bottom before going out in public.

and back

Dolly! This week!

She‘s coming this week and I’m all set.

View cinematic oeuvre (9 to 5, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, Steel Magnolias, Straight Talk). Check.

Check out old interviews on the Tube. Watch new video with Amy Sedaris, old musical specials on DVD. Check.

Learn words to Hard Candy Christmas, To Daddy, Tennessee Mountain Home. Check.

And now my bosom is ready to shine! I finished my fabulous TOP the better to sparkle along with the lady Dolly.

Lucky my Mister was stuck at work covering the Indiana primary until very late this eve, freeing me up to think about how to get this refashioned bugger to work.

If you recall, I started out with a giant boxy stretchy red cardigan jacket, handed down from a cousin. And I ended up with the Hottest Little Dolly Top in Chicago.

As always, there’s a How to… right here.

How to… muttonleg sweater sleeves

Little lilac cardigan from the Salvy is the right color for spring and the right kind of soft. But the “Before” was too big and awful.

Screamed out for a refit; big sleeves made me think about trying a leg of mutton experiment on them. I think it worked; See what you think.

1. FIX BODICE Pin bodice, fit until right, then baste and sew. Neatly trim edges. Finish as you like, or leave them alone (Most knits won’t unravel).

2. DEAL WITH SLEEVES Cut sleeves off by slicing through shoulder seam, or by trimming all the way off. See where armholes fall – they’ll need to start right on the top of the shoulder for the puff to pouf up. I had to take a good inch off the top of the armhole. Now gather the top of the sleeve by sewing a long running stitch about 2 inches on either side of the top center, and pulling the underthreads.

3. SEW SLEEVES BACK ON Pin sleeve bottom to armhole bottom, right sides together. Pin sleeve top center to armhole top center. Gather the big part of the sleeve until it fits in the armhole. Pin well, baste, fit, stitch.**

lilac-11-booster.jpg

lilac-15-boosters.jpg** Here’s a little trick to make the sleeves puff up more.

Make a booster out of the edges.

Take the edges you cut off, and fold the short edge under. Sew with a wide zigzag. Fold that whole thing over and sew again. Trim. Take that little rectangle of stiff fabric and pin it into the gathered part of the sleeve seam so it pokes the pouf up. Sew it into the seam allowance, close to the sleeve seam.

4. MAKE THE LEG OF MUTTON (optional) If you like puffy long sleeves, stop. If you want to try the leg, lay the sweater flat and smooth it out. Figure out how long you want the pouf to be, and cut straight across sleeve at that point.

I did about 7 inches. Use one sleeve to measure the other sleeve.

Flip the bottom part inside out and sew a straight seam up from the cuff up to straighten out the lower sleeve.

Pin the top sleeve to the bottom sleeve at the underseam seams, right sides facing. Pin at the top centers, too. Gather the upper sleeve to it fits the lower sleeve, pin well, fit, baste and stitch.

Atta girl!

How to… turn a giant t-shirt into a top

I used to turn t-shirts into tops by cutting out the necks and the bands at the arms and waist. Not always so flattering. So it finally was time to figure out what to do with the drawerful of shirts I never wore, except to the beach.

Take this giant orange guy, with my neighborhood ironed onto the front, a lovely Christmas gift from a boy with a big heart but no sense of size.

Bold, yet shapeless. Appropriately local, but inappropriately frumpy. Thanks to skinny elastic, I now have a top. Here’s one way to turn a giant T into a top:

1. PREPARE BODICE. Cut off original sleeves by slicing through stitching or by trimming off the seam. Turn shirt inside out and pin to fit. body. Try on, fit, baste, fit again. Sew sides. Trim seam allowance.

2. PREPARE NECK FACING Figure out what neck shape you want. Cut it out. If you have enough seam allowance to face the neck, use it. If not, you can trim from the bottom of the T or use other fabric. You need a strip a good 1.5 inches wide, and as long as the neck opening. You can sew smaller strips together to get enough length.

3. ATTACH NECK FACING Fold the facing strips in half lengthwise. Press. Start pinning from one side of the neck, raw edges of the facing strip to the right side of the shirt. when you like the **fit, baste and sew. Trim edges and fold them under. Now topstitch on the facing band, catching them under your stitching. If the T stretches too much, toss a strip of newspaper underneath to temporarily stabilize it.

** I ended up fishing elastic through my neck facing because I didn’t follow my own advice to fit before sewing, and the neck was way too big. Serves me right.

4. PREPARE SLEEVES To gather sleeves, baste a long running stitch along the top raw edge of the excised sleeve, about 3/8″ from the edge. Pull the underthread until the sleeve is bunchy enough. Stitch over the gathering to stabilize it. Pin the sleeve back on, right sides together, baste and sew.

5. FINISH SLEEVES Take skinny elastic or elastic cord and fish through the original serged hem of the sleeve using a giant needle. Pull until sleeve opening is the size you like, knot the ends and tuck underneath.

Nice top!

How to… shorten blouse sleeves –2

The shortening obsession continues. And resetting sleeves is an important skill when taking in giant t-shirts and blouses and all because more than an inch removed from the sides sets off the shoulder seam. This refashion started with a black ruffled blouse from my favorite Salvy that was four sizes too big for me. There was something about it I liked enough to plunk down the $.90; mostly, it’s the ruffled placket and the cuff detail. To keep the cuffs as is, I essentially moved the whole sleeve up.

Here’s how:

1. REMOVE SLEEVES.

Flip the shirt and, pick out the stitching, or if the top is really huge on you, cut off at the seams. Press.

2. FIT BODICE.

Pin the sides of the top so it fits you. Try it on and repin as necessary. Get the fit right now. Chalk between pins and sew along the chalk lines. Trim seam edges and finish as you like. I’ve serged the seams on the blouse.

3. MEASURE SLEEVES.

Flip the detached sleeves inside out and flatten, with the seam line on one side. Measure from your shoulder how many inches you want the short sleeves to be. I did about 8″ for this blouse so the ruffled cuff detail would remain.

***Here’s the trick–
Use the top of one sleeve to measure the curve of the short sleeve. Lining up the fold of the sleeves, cuffs facing the same direction, move the top sleeve so it becomes a stencil for the curve of the short sleeve at a length you measured. Trace with chalk and cut. Now you can use sleeve #1 to trace and cut sleeve #2.

4. GATHER SLEEVE TOPS.

Use a pin to mark the midpoint of the top of the sleeve. If you want puffy sleeves, use a long basting stitch to gather the edge. Try on the fitted bodice, considering where you want the shoulder to fall. If the original top was huge, you’ll have to trim the armhole opening so the shoulder seam lies on your shoulder.

5. SEW SLEEVES BACK ON.

Pin sleeves on, matching underseams, and the top seam with the pin in the sleeve. Gather the sleeve top, pinning as you go. Try the thing on. Move pins accordingly. Baste. Sew and finish edges as you like.

Voila!

How to… shorten blouse sleeves

There’s barely a whiff of spring in the air, but my latest obsession is shortening sleeves anyway.

I’ve done two recently, one when the original shirt fits, and one when it’s gigantic. This purple Jonathan Martin blouse has sweetly unnatural purple pearl buttons, but the long sleeves made me feel frumpy. I decided to shorten the sleeves by refashioning a cuff.

Here’s how–


1. CUT SLEEVES.

Measure how long the shortened sleeves should be, and add an inch for sewing. Mark that point, use a ruler to draw a straight line and cut. Repeat on other side.

blouse-purple-make-cuff.jpg
2. CUT NEW CUFFS.

Cut a 4-inch piece off the biggest end of the sleeve to make a new cuff. Pick out the stitching, and cut into a pair of 2-inch strips. Sew or press interfacing onto the wrong side. Fold strips lengthwise -right sides together- and measure them again the part of the arm where they’ll sit. Add an inch for overlap, then sew the ends shut. Trim and turn the right sides out.

3. SEW NEW CUFFS.

On the raw sleeve end, baste a few inches around the sleeve crease, and gather the raw end. Pin the raw edge of the cuff against the right side of the sleeve. I pinned the new cuff on so the overlap would fall on the front of my arm. Baste, fit, stitch.

4. REPLACE BUTTONS on CUFF.

Remove the buttons from the original cuff and sew onto the new cuff where it overlaps.

Voila!