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Tutorial - A Fully Lined, Sleeveless 1940's Tea Dress

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Hey guys!

With the end of Sewing Indie Month nearly upon us, I just wanted to let you know about a little tutorial I wrote for the Sew Over It 1940's Tea Dress, where I take you step by step though the process of making a sleeveless Tea Dress with a fully lined bodice.

The Tea Dress is such a lovely pattern and has been on my To make list for a really long time (pretty much ever since the pattern came out) and it's the first woven garment I've made since giving birth 4 months ago (!).

With my body currently changing shape every five minutes though (eep!), even after several muslins, I was a wee bit heart broken when the final bodice ended up being too big on me. I hadn't bothered re-trying my muslin on in-between perfecting it and leaving it a week to start my final version - lesson learned (and who would've thought bodies could change so quickly anyway!).

I used the most beautiful, red geometric, buttery soft rayon for the bodice but opted to attach a gathered skirt, made from a different fabric, to the final version of the dress for the tutorial. Now that my sewing time is in such short supply, I just couldn't face spending time fitting a skirt that may not fit again soon, and I wanted to save as much of that rayon as possible so that I could re-make a sleeveless Tea Dress in a few months time (where I'll also do a full review of the pattern).

So, until I'm back to my pre-baby shape, and don't need easy access to my chest, I think I'll be steering clear of fitted wovens for a little bit. Oh well, that's life right? Here's hoping there's enough fabric for another dress, and that it's still warm and summery by then.

Not that it's been all that warm and summery yet... but it's coming!

And let's be honest, being pregnant does come with it's perks, like this wee chap who is now 4 months old already (!?!)...

Now if only we could get him to smile even when David is hiding behind a camera...


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Sewing Indie Month - Interview with Amity from Lolita Patterns...

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Hello Everyone,

Today I'm excited to share an interview I did with Amity over at Lolita Patterns as a part of Sewing Indie Month (SIM). Amity is also a new mum, so I can completely empathise with some of things she talks about, including learning to be patient :)

Do you have a go-to pattern you've made over and over again? What is it and why?

I do love my T-shirt block that I have adapted out of a combination of Sewaholic’s Renfew (for the neckline) and Butterick 5215 for the base. I make tons of them!

And it’s easy to mix it up because of the neckline variations and sleeve length differences and whether I use a band at the hem or not.

What got you started sewing initially?

I always wanted to make fun stuff with great colour combinations and fabrics that I could not find in the store. See the PB&Jam leggings tutorial I did to convert them to yoga pants at Fehr Trade and the Minoru jacket I made. You can’t find that stuff in stores and I love them so much!

Do you do any other crafty/creative things?

I have an embroidery machine and use it a lot to make things for my daughter, my house, and friends. I often incorporate embroidery into my sewing as well when I do handbags or home d├ęcor.

Are there any crafty things you've always wanted to learn?

I always think those Silhouette machines look so cool! But I don’t have the time to add something else into my life. Whenever I do something, I like to learn all the insides and outs 1000%, so it takes a great time commitment to decide to do something new.

How do you come up with your pattern ideas?

I always take inspiration from my closet! I also peruse Japanese Lolita fashion sites. Generally I mix up different features or various garments that I love the style of. It’s too bad I don’t work in a professional environment anymore…my Lolita Patterns garments don’t get worn nearly as often anymore!

What is your favourite type of fabric and why?

My favourite fabric is crepe of any type! I love the feel and it is so easy to work with.

Are you a dog person or a cat person? Or neither?

Definitely a dog person! We have three dogs right now. One giant Bloodhound named Pumpkin and two English Bulldogs named Buffy and Wednesday.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to your younger self? 

Be patient! I was always in such a rush for everything that I really burned out. And you know what? Everything worked out in the end when the timing was perfectly right and I was ready. All that impatience just caused unnecessary stress.

Finish this sentence - When I grow up...

I hope my life is exactly as it is now! We just moved to a beautiful house in a gorgeous part of Colorado and I have everything I could possibly want! A home business, my baby girl (eventually more), a home, a husband, and wonderful family and friends.

What are you working on at the moment?

Since I now have a real winter to worry about with snow and everything, I have been making warm tops. The one I am working on right now is the Jasper Sweater by Paprika Patterns.

Thanks so much Amity!


Sewing Indie Month - Guest Tutorial by Kat from Muse Patterns

Saturday, September 19, 2015
Hey Everyone!

With Sewing Indie Month in full swing, I'm honoured to have Kat from Muse Patterns (a fellow Kiwi) here today with a great wee tutorial using the Cressida Skirt and Dalloway bodice. Combined, they make such a sweet little dress and with summer just around the corner here in little old NZ, I'm definitely going to be giving this a go.

So, over to you Kat...!

Hi everyone! My name’s Kat, from indie label Muse Patterns. I’m really excited to be here today, showing you a pattern “hack” I’ve done with two of Jennifer’s patterns - the Dalloway dress and the Cressida skirt.

Jennifer and I have a few things in common - we both design patterns with vintage inspiration, we both have very young children, and she lives in the town I grew up in! So it seemed rather perfect to be paired up with her for Sewing Indie Month. :-)

Since Jennifer’s Cressida skirt was part of the first of the pattern bundles for Sewing Indie Month, I wanted to do a tutorial using that pattern, and hopefully giving you all inspiration for how else you can make it up. So, I’ve turned it into a dress, by pairing it with the bodice of the Dalloway dress!

Combining these two patterns is super easy, and results in a pretty dress in a classic fit-and-flare style. Here’s how to go about it....

Cutting your fabric

To make the Cressida-Dalloway dress, you’ll need the following pattern pieces:
  • From the Dalloway dress: front and back bodice pieces.
  • From the Cressida skirt: front and back skirt pieces, and the pocket.

Cut the Dalloway bodice pieces out of your main fabric and your lining fabric, as per the Dalloway instructions.

Before you cut out the Cressida skirt, we’ll need to make some simple adjustments to both the front and back skirt pattern pieces. The Cressida skirt is designed to button up the front. However, we need to switch this around to be a back lapped-zip opening, so that it fits well with the fastening for the Dalloway bodice. This means that we need to remove the overlap from the centre front of the skirt, and convert it to be cut on the fold. We’re also going to add a centre back seam to the skirt for attaching the zipper.

First up, the skirt front. Near the centre front, on the waist curve of the skirt you’ll see a notch marked ‘Centre Front Notch’. Draw a line from this notch all the way to the skirt hem, running parallel with the centre front seam. This line is your new centre front seam, and we’ll be placing it on the fold of the fabric to cut out the skirt. You can see it marked in red in the image below.


And here’s where we cut out the skirt front - that new red line is now placed on the fold of the fabric, so the skirt front is cut in one piece.


The alteration to the back skirt is just as easy - to convert it to have a centre back seam, all we need to do is add 1.5cm / 5/8” to the centre back as seam allowance. We can easily do this while cutting out the fabric - place your skirt back piece on your fabric, and draw a line in tailors chalk 1.5cm / 5/8” away from the centre back seam, running parallel to that seam. This is our new cut line - you can see it marked in blue chalk below. (Important: because we’re adding a centre back seam, do not cut the skirt back on the fold.)


And here’s what the skirt back looks like when it’s cut out, with the extra width added for seam allowance.


Sewing up your dress

First, sew up the skirt by following the Cressida skirt instructions for stitching together the pockets and skirt front and back and finishing the seams. Leave the centre back seam open.

Now switch to the instructions for the Dalloway dress - you’ll be following these from now on.

Follow the Dalloway instructions until you reach the section on attaching the skirt to the bodice. To do this, pin the skirt to the bodice, right sides together, and lining up the skirt side seams with the bodice side seams. Stitch together, and press seam allowance up towards the bodice.

Now go back to following the Dalloway instructions, until your dress is finished.

Yay! You now have a pretty and classic fit-and-flare dress! (With pockets. ;-)

Thanks so much Kat!

Do you guys think you'll give this a go? We'd both love to see it if you do :)


How to Insert an Invisible Zip

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Last week we talked about how to insert a lapped zip, and this week we're talking about invisible zips!

For the Felicity Dress, I instruct you to use a lapped zip, but you are more than welcome to use an invisible one if that's what you prefer, or it's what you have on hand.

Before we start, you do not need an invisible zipper foot to insert an invisible zip. While it does make it easier, you don't need one. What an invisible zip foot does is open the zipper teeth out from the zip tape for your needle to stitch as close to the teeth as possible - but you can do this yourself with your fingers using a standard zipper foot and taking your time. If invisible zips are your preferred zip however, you might find it useful investing in one.

Below on the left is my machine's standard zipper foot and on the right is my invisible zipper foot. You can see that the invisible zipper foot has two channels running along the bottom. When inserting your zip, the teeth go into one side of the channel, which opens them up for a close stitch.

So, let's get started!

1. To make sure we place our invisible zip as accurately along the seam line as possible, gently press your seam allowance toward the wrong side of the garment on both sides.

2. Open your zip and place it face down on the right side of the garment with the zipper tape in the seam allowance and the teeth along your pressed seam line. Pin in place.

Note - I aways find initially trying to figure out how to place the invisible zip counter-intuitive, but once you see how it's supposed to end up, it all makes sense!

3. When inserting an invisible zip, you want your stitching to get as close to the zipper teeth as possible by opening them up.

The invisible zipper foot does this for you, but if you're using a standard zipper foot, you'll need to open them out yourself. If using a standard zipper foot, you might find it helpful to gently press the zipper teeth out with a warm iron (you don't want it too hot, otherwise you'll melt the zipper teeth).

Start your stitching from the top of the open zipper tape, working your way to the bottom.

4. Stitch as close to the bottom of the open zipper as you can, then back-tack.

Because I was silly and used white thread (!!), you can't see my stitches that well, but here they are anyway.

And what it looks like on the outside...

5. Now we need to repeat the process for the other side. This is where you need to be extra careful that you are lining up your zip correctly, so that when it closes, your seam won't be out, resulting in unmatched sides (this is always where I run into trouble, so take your time!)

On this side I'm using my standard zipper foot, if you're doing the same, you'll be opening out your zipper teeth so that you can stitch as close to them as possible. Go slowly...

6. Now that both sides of your zip are attached, we need to stitch closed the bottom of the seam. Right sides together, pin them closed while pulling the bottom of the zip out of the way.

7. Using your standard zipper foot and starting from the bottom of the hem, stitch your seam closed, getting as close to the bottom of the zip as possible by holding the zip out and away from the seam. Back-tack at both ends.

8. Gently press your seams and marvel at your invisible zip!

Okay, confession time - I find invisible zips annoying to use. I know the theory of inserting them, I know how to insert them and I've used them plenty of times in the past, but I personally find it really hard to insert them quickly, neatly and cleanly into my garment while still matching up waistline seams and/or pattern matching fabric.

Stitching in the first side is fine, but when it comes time to insert the other side, because I can't baste the seam shut first like I can with a lapped zip (which results in two perfectly lined up sides and a matching waist line seam), I always tend to slightly skew the other side of my garment. The waist seams rarely match perfectly, which I find annoying, and I always end up with a slight bubble at the bottom of the zip because the fabric isn't matching.

Any tips on how to stop that? Maybe I'm doing it wrong... perhaps practicing invisible zips needs to be on my list of sewing goals for next year :) Oh well, at least lapped zips work for me every time and I like them.

Do you have a zip preference?


Sewing Indie Month has begun...

Sunday, September 6, 2015
Yay, it's September which means it's Sewing Indie Month (SIM). SIM is a month dedicated to sewing patterns produced by independent designers, myself included. There is so much going on this month including lots of fun interviews and tutorials, as well as over $1000 worth of prizes for you to win during the month in three different sew along categories.

As part of SIM, the second pattern bundle is now on sale...

The Bundle 2 sale ends on Thursday September 10th with 20% of proceeds going to Women for Women, who help women dealing with violence, marginalisation and poverty due to war and conflict.

The second bundle consists of mostly knits, which gives you plenty time to stitch up some quick projects for the sew along contests. And just like the first bundle, you get to choose how much you spend, and the more you pay, the more you get...
So, let's talk about those sew along competitions!!

   SIM2015banner_dress_720The Dressed to the Nines sew along contest is being led by Laura of Lilacs and Lace, and here's what you can win: DressedToTheNinesSponsorPack

The Everyday Casual sewalong contest is being led by Mary of Idle Fancy, and here's what you can win:
The Pattern Hacking sewalong contest is being led by Rhonda of Rhonda's Creative Life, and the prizes are:

One bonus winner will be randomly drawn from the participants of all three sew alongs, and will win the following prizes: BonusPackSponsorPack
Kate & Rose Patterns: your choice of PDF pattern MIY Patterns Brighside Shrug PDF pattern Imagine Gnats: your choice of PDF pattern Fehr Trade: your choice of PDF pattern True Bias: your choice of PDF pattern

Phew!! That's a whole lotta sewing fun right there, so, are you going to join a sew along? Can't wait to see what you all come up with :)


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