Adventures with Underlining

I’ve lined garments before. It’s easy and gives the garment a professional touch. Not to mention that it covers up potentially scratchy raw edges from seams. But underlining… is different. Sure, you’re still cutting out the same pattern pieces from two different fabrics, but instead of sewing the layers separately and then sewing them together once each separate garment is completed, you treat both layers as one. I found this nifty article by Sandra Betzina on Threads for help in figuring out how this whole underlining thing worked.

Let’s look at why I’m underlining. I picked up this pretty shirtdress pattern a while ago, and found a beautiful peacock blue eyelet for it from MoodFabrics.com. Fortunately for me, I got the last 2 and three-quarters yards of fabric in stock, which was just enough to make the dress.

McCall's 4769, Style C

McCall's 4769, Style C

Eyelet, as pretty as it is, offers a challenge when creating garments: a well-placed eyelet hole can cause a wardrobe malfunction. Oops! This is where underlining comes in. By adding another layer of light-weight fabric, you can add a little modesty to the garment. I chose a neutral poplin called “peach sand”.

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Fuzzy Faux Fur Jacket

I really liked the way this jacket (from Simplicity 2150) turned out, however, faux fur is going on my “do not sew” list.

I found this faux fur on Fabric.com, along with the Pongee lining, which I LOVED! I might even have enough lining left over to use for another upcoming project.  Before I started sewing, fortuitously, I received an email from Sew Daily with tips on sewing with faux fur.

So after cutting it out in one layer, trimming the seam allowance (well, some of it, at least), and basting… LOTS of basting, I still had trouble sewing it in one place, which is why it goes on my “do not sew list”. When I was attaching the lining to the faux fur, sewing through three layers of faux fur along the collar proved to be a challenge: it just would not fit under my presser foot. Instead of giving in and painfully hand-stitching that section of the jacket, I pulled out the quilting foot that came with my machine, and due to it’s “high shank”, I was able to use that to sew it together. Also, had I  used binder clips instead of pins, it probably would have made managing those four layers (including the lining) a bit more manageable.

Regardless, I like the jacket. It’s definitely a fashion jacket, not one I’ll wear every day. For some reason, I really like zippers (or at least, a series of button to keep my jackets and coats closed) and sleeves that cover my wrists.

Still a little chilly, despite the sun

Still a little chilly, despite the sun

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Knit Cynthia Rowley Dress

I wanted some casual-ish dresses to wear, especially when it’s still kind of cold out. Simplicity 2054 seemed like a perfect choice, and I loved the cowl look, and I love the elbow vent. While I was at the Sewing Expo, I found some black viscose from Vogue Fabrics, and decided to make the style with the elbow cut-out (no cowl).

I spent about 15 minutes trying to figure out how to fold the fabric in half and smooth out the layers, until I gave up and cut it as a single layer. All my pieces still came out just fine. Also, I used the rotary cutter to cut out each piece.  When I sewed the dress together, I used polyester thread, a stitch for stretchy fabrics on my machine, and the walking foot on my machine to make it easier to sew the knit fabric together. The instruction did suggest using a serger, but since I don’t have one, I made do with what I have.

I didn’t hem the sleeves or skirt as much as suggested, but usually, hemming length is to the desire of the wearer, and for some reason I like to have a little longer sleeves.

I love this dress!

I love this dress!

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Blocks K & I

A couple more finished quilt blocks.

Block K

Block K

Block I

Block I

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Sewing Expo 2012: Day 2

Saturday of Sewing Expo, I went by myself. I loaded up on classes this year, so I would feel more confident about my current and up-coming craft projects. Fortunately, my first class wasn’t until 11:30 and traffic had cleared up by the time I made it to Puyallup.

Since I arrived so early, ran over to the Quilting Loft booth to by a quilt kit they designed based on the Sweet Safari fabric and jungle animal embroidery designs from Penguin & Fish. The final product is just a smidge bigger than average crib size, but it will make a good baby gift for our new niece/nephew due to arrive in July.  We still need to figure out what we want to do for a quilt for our nephew.

The first class I took on Saturday was given by Tammie Bowser, called “Choose Quilt Fabric with Confidence”. She was a professed non-quilter, and claimed to be more of an artist. Given the quilt “art” she does, I suppose that made sense.

Let me mention that during these classes (the shorter, 45-minute classes, that is), the teachers are usually taking that time to hawk their wares at their booths, since they aren’t paid for their time for the shorter classes. That’s fine, they do have to make a living, and generally, they’re pretty subtle about it, by giving the audience a taste of what’s in their books, DVDs, et cetera, and then telling them they can learn more from said book, DVD, et cetera.

Tammie’s class was probably the most infomercial-like class I took all weekend. Most of her time was spent talking about her two software programs: one that will sort your fabric by color value (requiring you to scan in your fabric stash), and another that would allow you to create your own fabric and quilt blocks and print out the fabric, so that you could cut out the pieces for the block and then sew them together. She did say how to get cheap ink and how to get muslin to adhere to sticky paper to feed through your printer, so if you wanted to go this route, you could potentially save a bit of money.

The best point I learned from her class was that if you were unsure of how to pick fabrics for a quilting project, start with a mid-tone fabric that you liked, and draw out other colors already in that fabric for complementary fabrics.

Immediately after, I rushed off to the first of two bag making classes I would take that day.  “Crazy for Bags” was given by Annie Unrein, who has many patterns for bags and purses and such. She discussed the use of a batting that she created especially for bags called Soft and Stable, and the use of a product called Texture Magic, that will allow you to “shrink” fabric down to give it a textured look. I definitely picked up a few good tips from that class.

I had a long break until my last two classes of the day, so I wandered around the vendors again, bought some black viscose from Vogue Fabrics for another Cynthia Rowley dress I plan to make, listened to Suede tell the free stage crowd that this was Puyallup’s Fashion Week, checked out Cheryl’s sample bags before I took the class later that afternoon, and tried to stave off a cold I felt coming on.

After my break, I headed to my third class, which I half-jokingly told my mom I would take notes for her: “Revamp Your Sewing Space & ‘Make It Work'” by Debra Justice. She talked a lot about how we should efficiently set up our sewing space to make it comfortable for us, like having the right chair and sewing at the right height. We also looked through some photos of sewing spaces women had sent her so we could glean ideas from what they had done. One woman even used an organizational technique similar to what I do! I use large Ziplock bags to hold everything I’ll need (provided it fits) for a project (i.e. pattern, fabric, notions, et cetera) until I’m ready to work on it. This woman had a whole drawer system dedicated to it!

Lastly, I took “Designer Handbag Details” that my mom and my friend had taken the day before, from Cheryl Kuczek (a local gal). Her handbags are just BEAUTIFUL! I’m definitely inspired to make my own to replace my worn-out purse. I ordered her Anna Bag pattern (smallish purse), and found her free Slouch Bag pattern (you’ll need to log into Sew Daily in order to download this pattern). Now, I just need to find the hardware and fabric I want to use for them.

In the end, I think it was a very successful Sewing Expo, and I had more hits with the classes I took than misses!

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Sewing Expo 2012: Day 1

Since I started sewing more, I figured I would benefit from taking a few courses at Sewing Expo this year. Today, I took five classes, saw a couple of free shows, and perused the vendors.

I barely made it to my first class at 8:30 AM on time due to the immense amount of traffic, but I got in and seated just before the class started. It was called “Pattern to Fabric” and was given by Linda Lee, from the Sewing Workshop. The first half of the class was about how Linda keeps her wardrobe and pattern stash under control, mostly through editing down her pattern stash to nine different patterns that she’s able to easily modify for her needs. The second half of the class was an explanation of different kinds of knit fabrics, how they behave, and what to use them for. Knits are awesome! Oh, and I won the door prize from this class (they draw a ticket stub at the end of every class), which was a free pattern from Sewing Workshop! Mom and a friend talked me into getting the Verona Jacket & Coat pattern (so that they could borrow it and make something from it latter, I’m sure).

Second class was “Fit for Real People” by Marta Alto of Palmer/Pletsch. Palmer/Pletsch have a line of patterns by McCalls, that I actually have a few of in my stash. Although the material Marta was teaching was 20 years old, it was still very pertinent. The class was more geared for women with much fuller busts than myself, but it was still helpful to know that a lot of pattern sizes should be chosen by the bust size (upper bust, not full bust). And since many of the popular pattern makers tend to skew patterns more towards those ladies with B-cups, I should be able to easily make a garment from a pattern without having to mess around with any darts. Those with fuller busts (or those making garments for those with fuller busts) should alter the pattern with darts to increase the bust ease, not buy a bigger pattern. This also means having to adjust any armholes, swayback, length of garment issues as well, but it’s all worth it. This is why we sew! So we can make custom clothes that fit and flatter our figure.

I had a break between classes at this point, so I met up with my mom and my friend at the Simplicity fashion show. They were showing off some of their new patterns, even a couple that were designed by Suede from season 5 of Project Runway (who was also there at the show). If only I had actually watched Project Runway back then, I would know who he was! There was a nice handout given at the show so you could check off the styles you liked the most. Dresses with pockets! Looking at my sheet, there’s going to be a few new patterns to add to my stash once Simplicity goes on sale again.

After the fashion show, my friend and I went to our next class: “Galaxy of Techniques”, which was given by Janet Pray from Islander Sewing System. She shared so many industry “secrets” to sewing. I was especially impressed with the flat-fell seam trick. I can’t wait to try it myself!

When the class was finished, I wandered around for a bit before my 3:30 class. Vogue Fabrics had a HUGE both with a TON of fabric. I poked around there until I found a lovely, shiny white fabric for a dress I want to make for the spring/summer/Vegas trip. I watched another free show that featured Simplicity and Suede, showing off some of the other patterns in his new line and how they could be changed to be more edgy (so you can “Rock It!”) or more classic.

Eventually, I went to my fourth class, “Easy Pattern Alterations”, by Ryliss Bod, who teaches sewing through Ryliss’ Sewing & Design School. She provided us with some great handouts, so I didn’t have to take very many notes. She gave us tips on how to fix common problems we encounter in garment sewing, like how to widen a pattern to adjust for larger hips, or correct a pattern for sloping shoulders. She also gave us an idea of how much ease we should expect in certain garments. Also, darts should always point towards the bust. Apparently, it’s common for darts (even in ready-to-wear clothing) to point in other directions.  And, she allayed my fear of being crazy about making garments that were just too big despite following the pattern’s directions: patterns are putting TOO MUCH ease into the waist and hips in skirts, so it’s no wonder I’ve had to alter them in the past. I wasn’t smaller than I was measuring, the patterns were just giving too much ease!

Lastly, I attended a class called “Details” by the famous Sandra Betzina. She gave a lot of sweet little tips of how to embellish your garments. I took a few notes, but unfortunately, the room, nay, tent we were in was just way too cold for me to focus much. Also, unfortunately, she says she will not be attending Sewing Expo next year.

I’m beat! It was a very fun and busy day. Thankfully, tomorrow my classes don’t start until 11:30, so I can sleep in a little. I’ll be taking two classes on making purses/bags, one on organizing your crafting space, and my one quilting class. And I have a few more bucks to spend on pretty, pretty fabrics!

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