Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Plenty of Fabric No Fashion...Yet

Hello everyone.  Once again the week is flying by.  How about yours?  Thank you for your thoughts and comments on the knit stripe tee.  The Slapdash Sewist asked if I had any neckband secrets.  You may have already seen this tutorial.  It is how I finished the neckband with the previous knit top.  I think this is my favorite technique for very lightweight knits. It brings more stability to the neckline; more than just turning and topstitching with a coverstitch machine, for instance.  Also, if you don't have a coverstitch machine, I do think this is the nicest looking finish with a regular sewing machine.  I will do the turn and topstitch method on substantial knits like cotton lycra jersey or doubleknit.  The third method I like to use, for medium weight knits, is cutting a binding, stitching it to the neckline, then folding it over the seam allowance, thus encasing it, and topstitching it down with my coverstitch machine.  On the latter two techniques, once you've topstitched, you can then trim the excess fabric from the binding or the fold over, to have a cleaner finish.   If I use the binding technique or the neckband tutorial technique I usually cut the binding or neckband at least 2 inches shorter than the opening to snug it up a bit. 

Here are a couple of other things I like to keep in mind.  If I don't have to stretch the neckband to get it over my head, I use a straight stitch to attach my neckband or binding, mostly because I like the way straight stitching looks.  However, if I have to stretch the neckline to pull it over my head then I like to use a very short zigzag stitch.  If your zigzag stitch is too long you can really see the wide gaps in the stitches around the neckband.  I don't like that look, so I set my stitch length short.  However, to maintain your stretch, make sure you set your zigzag stitch wide.  The loose rule I follow is: the stretchier the fabric the wider my zigzag.  You can still set the stitch length short, just make the zigzag wide.  I hope there is some new information in these explanations, and I share this based on my own personal experience.  There might be better ways, but these things seem to work for me.

Up next, the Ready-to-Wear Tailoring Sew-A-Long is starting on April 1st, and I am definitely participating.  I've settled on a pattern and fabric, based on this rtw inspiration outfit from the pages of In-Style magazine:

From InStyle magazine.
I'll be using Burda 7421 for my pattern and a grey pincord suiting for the fabric.  This is certain to be a good challenge for me as I have not made a jacket since high school, I believe, and welt pockets will be a new technique.  I am not making a muslin, so this will either be a hit or miss.  Burda patterns usually fit me pretty well so I hope it's a hit!

I am also excited to report that the bamboo jersey arrived for my soon to be tie-dye outfit from BurdaStyle magazine.  What a scrumptious color and texture.  It doesn't have a lot of stretch, but should work out fine for for design #118.   
I am also squeezing in one more skirt before the jacket.  I am revisiting New Look 6944 and am making View A out of a flowing, deep, red, linen/rayon, blend.  I didn't have enough fabric for the tie, so I am making the nifty belt carriers from the previously posted Burda shorts pattern.  I found a fun cardigan at Old Navy, cheap, that is to go with the skirt.  I hope to show you the whole outfit by the end of the week!  


Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Shorts in Action

I am so happy many of you were inspired by the Burda shorts pattern.  It really is a gem.  However the last post didn't do justice to the cool fabric.  So in this post I think I've captured the true sheen.  As you can imagine these shorts can be worn with a variety of tops, but I have finished the knit top, I originally planned, to make a complete outfit.  I am also going to make a tank top out of silk for a dressier look.  The tops are stacking up.  I have three, for sure, that I want/need to make now!  

The fabric for this top is a lightweight rayon lycra with  4-way stretch.  It came from FFC and was $4.75/yd.  I wouldn't recommend it if you are just starting out with knits.  It almost feels like it's tissue weight and those are trickier to sew with.  I used the basic t-shirt body of Jalie 2805 then added my choice of design details.  I liked the square neckline of New Look 6875 so I cut the neckline square.  I almost always like to do some arranging when working with stripes whether it be vertical, horizontal, or diagonal for the final look.  So I cut out rectangles on the cross-grain to make the cuffs and neckband.  They are folded, so that the outside edge is finished.  
In other sewing news, the April issue of  BurdaStyle magazine arrived last week and I have to say I am much happier with this issue than the last one.  Many of the patterns look like instant gratification projects and I love the boho feel with the way they mixed prints in the outfits in the "Untamed Beauty" section.  Here are some of my favorite looks.  By the way, the tie-dyed outfit sent me scurrying to locate my own tie-dye knit, which I found here.  I can't wait to get started on my own crazy mis-matched outfit!  The dress next to it is simple yet classy, and I love the layer concept in the last ensemble. 
And if that is not enough eye-candy for you, just for your viewing pleasure, here are the latest spring inspired market bags that I added to my shop this past week: Firestorm (sold), Butter Blossoms, and Tutti Frutti.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Burda 7489 Details Details

Burda 7489 works up into a good looking pair of dressy shorts.  All of the details are worth the extra sewing effort from the button down belt loops to the cargo pockets.  I haven't finished the knit top that I have planned to go with these, but it's coming!  Again, I made these in a tencel or rayon denim looking fabric that is nearly black and has a nice sheen in real life.  I've stood in front of a bright window to take these pictures so that you can see the details.
There is a fly front, and it goes all the way to the top.  The waistband is finished with facing.  I do like the continuous flow of fabric with this type of finish.  The zipper has an underlap to prevent your skin from getting caught in it.
Since this pattern is designed for fabrics like linen or rayon with a flowing drape, it can be difficult to get a nice finish when topstitching the fly...unless you know a secret.  Here is how I like to do it so that I don't get any puckers.  I trace the fly from the pattern piece on to tissue paper.  Then I line it up with the edge of my center front.  I topstitch right on top of the tissue paper.  When finished, carefully tear the tissue paper away and you have a nice flat row of stitching and the fabric will not be bunched up.
 Cargo Pocket:
I like the diagonal button holes.  This fabric would be well suited for topstitching in white, but I wanted to keep the look more subdued so that I could wear lots of colors with these, so I topstitched with matching thread.
Side and Back:

The belt carriers do not have buttonholes.  I have sewn my buttons directly to the carriers.  I have not added a cuff to the shorts yet.  I will see how I like them with the cuff and post an outfit picture next with the completed knit top.  This pattern, as with most Burda's I've made, is drafted flawlessly.  The instructions are easy to follow.  However, there was one minor error in the instruction's diagram for the belt carriers.  At number 24 it tells you to stitch the carriers together as illustrated, but if you do they will be stitched together wrong.  All you have to do is fold the carrier in half, right sides together, and stitch up one side and the bottom, not all the way around, as in the illustration. 

I look forward to moving on to my knit top now that this detail laden pattern is complete.  These shorts took longer than I thought, but I am happy I made them.  The fit is fabulous and I will certainly be making more!  Hope your sewing adventures are going favorably for you this week.  I'm a bit behind with my blog reading, but I hope to catch up soon!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sneak Peek #8

Hello everyone!  Did you have the opportunity to see the moon last night?  I wasn't convinced I'd be able to see it, because we had some cloud cover all day yesterday.  But by evening the clouds began to dissipate, and I had a nice glimpse.   I wish my camera would have done a better job capturing the glory, but I'd like to share a version of what I saw with you anyway.

On the sewing front, I am well underway on my next project; a pair of shorts and a knit top.  The fabric is a tencel or rayon denim from Fabric Mart from Calvin Klein that I bought sometime last year.  It's silvery black in color with a sheen.  The knit is a pink, gray, cream stripe from FFC.  I also decided to wear my bold zebra pants all day last Wednesday, even to run errands.  I can confirm that the pattern makes for an extremely comfortable pair of pants, but DO NOT cut your fabric with the stretch running vertical.  I had so many wrinkles around my hip at the end of the day, so I will definitely be coming up with a long tunic type top to wear with them.  They are too comfortable and funky to get rid of.  So I will find a way to make them work.  Thanks to all of you who left comments.  I sure do appreciate your thoughts!
The current state of my sewing table.
I am excited about the Pay It Forward challenge.  Thank you to the three who have signed up!  There are still two slots available if you'd like to play along.  Enjoy the rest of your weekend. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pay it Forward 2011

The beginning of this year has been so challenging for so many people.  I just read about Pay It Forward over at Julia's Blog, and I love the idea, so I decided I would sign up and give it a try. 

Here's how it works....

The first five people who comment on this blog post will receive a handmade gift from me.
In return, you must FIRST write a blog post explaining Pay It Forward 2011.
Then.... send out a handmade gift to the first 5 visitors who leave a comment.
Take your don't need to send them all today or tomorrow.
Gifts from the heart are worth the wait!

This is such a sweet way to make new friends and
share the love of things we create with our hearts and hands.

"It's not the size of the gift that matters,
but the spirit of paying it forward." 
Author Unknown

Blessings and Aloha, 
Shannon (A.K.A. Mushy)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Wedges Made Me Do It - Chapter 2

Remember my inspiration photo?  Did you notice the wedges?  I really like the fabric on those pants, but couldn't find anything that was similar in a small print, so I ended up going with a tan and black zebra print stretch poplin from FFC.  I had fun making this outfit, and the pants are super comfy; a near perfect fit.  But it is a bold look, so I will have to see how brave I am to pull it off.  I used two patterns.  Burda 7590 and a free Hot Patterns from

I changed a couple of things on both patterns.  I gave the pants a cuff at the ankle and I eliminated the waist band on the top and used elastic instead.  Here is the look:
There's not much to say on the top.  I made is out of a rayon jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics.  It is a simple cowl neck style.  The back neckline has a facing that encloses the folded drape on the front in the shoulder seam.  I used my coverstitch machine to hem the sleeves and topstitch the one inch wide elastic applied at the hem. 

The Burda pants required a lot of fitting adjustments.  I started with a size 12.  The crotch curve was the perfect depth, but there was too much width.  I ended up trimming about 3/4" from the inner back leg seam, beginning a the crotch and tapering back into the seam about 7" down.  That seemed to help pull out a lot of wrinkles from the back and front.  The waist was too small as drafted so I eliminated the front darts.  The outside leg seams were taken in about 3/4" on each side beginning at about 4" down from the waist and tapering back in to the normal side seam at the knee.  I wanted cuffs on these pants, so I just turned up a 4" hem then folded the cuff up.   Here are some more detail shots:

A few thoughts...

I wish I had set my snaps closer to the edge, but that is a minor detail, as I plan to wear these with the waist covered.  I used snaps to keep a sleek flat look.  I like how the waistband sits above the level of my hip bones.  The pants don't tend to creep down.  Now that I have the pattern tweaked to my liking, I could see making these again in a tamer bottom-weight fabric.  The fabric I used is a bit light weight, and my stretch is running vertical instead of horizontal.  We'll see how that works out in the long run.  So far so good, as far as comfort goes, but I think they tend to wrinkle a bit more in the hip area because of this.  I am going to try styling these pants a few ways.  For this first go around I really wanted to keep the long legged look as in the inspiration photo, so I went with a shorter top.  However, I am going to see how I like them with a tunic length top too.  How about some camera angle fun?  Now that's what I'm talking about!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Inspiration...

My Inspiration...
Image from InStyle magazine
My Fabric...

Black rayon jersey from Gorgeous Fabrics~Stretch cotton poplin from FFC
My Goodness...I'm Motivated...Stay-Tuned

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Looking Ahead

Aloha online ohana (family)!  I want to again express my gratitude for the caring comments over the last couple of days.  While Hawaii has some clean-up and repairs, it's nothing compared to what has happened to Japan.  Since I live here, I am able to volunteer my time where I can help, but I also wish to donate to the aid Japan will need in the immediate future.  With this goal in mind, I will be adding more bags to my shop throughout Saturday and Sunday, including 3 more batiks.  For every bag sold this weekend, $5.00 will be donated to the International Red Cross fund earmarked for Japan.   Here are a couple of lovelies I have just added:

On the fashion sewing front I am over-the-top excited to join Sherry in the RTW Tailoring Sew-A-Long.  I have been wanting to make a boyfriend jacket for a long time.  This is just what I needed to kick start this project.  It will be fun to choose a pattern and fabric over the next couple of weeks.  A big Mahalo to Sherry for hosting this.  

Friday, March 11, 2011


Aloha, dear readers.  The tsunami arrived around 3 a.m., but it did not hit with overwhelming force that we know of so far.  Some boats and harbors sustained damage, and a restaurant on the island of Oahu was destroyed.  Hawaii is just now beginning to go out and assess the shoreline areas.  The tsunami warning has not been lifted yet, but I expect it will be in the next few hours. I sincerely appreciate all of your concerns for my well-being.  Our local authorities were well organized with getting information out and it seems like most people embraced the aloha spirit and cooperated with the men and women in charge. We still have roads closed and I don't believe the airport is allowing flights just yet.  My thoughts and prayers now turn toward Japan.  Mahalo.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Look 6189 Elegantly Casual

I have finished New Look 6189 and am thrilled with the results.  The choice of fabric, a doubleknit, could not have been a better match for the pattern.  I give this pattern two thumbs up for ease in construction and wearability.  I also had a chance to utilize my coverstitch machine for all of the top-stitching, which I opted to do in a khaki color.  This outfit would be well-suited for cool spring days.  I think the fabric content, mostly polyester, will be too hot for  the high humidity of summer and mid-day temps in Hawaii.  But early morning and evenings will allow me to get plenty of wear from it.  I think a pair of Mary Jane styled athletic shoes would be the perfect finishing touch, but I don't have a pair of those....yet.

Here is the final look.  I cut a size 12 on the skirt, which is just two pattern pieces with an elastic waist and a size 10 for the jacket.  I didn't make any alterations. 

For those of you who are curious.  Here are some detail shots.  These first two show the inside and outside topstitching made with my Janome Coverpro 1000 CPX.
This is a shot of the inside back neck and shoulder seams.  I wasn't thrilled with the finished look, but it doesn't show while wearing.   It would have been less noticeable with a darker bias tape.
Finally, here is a close-up of the front neckline:

I would like to make this again in a double-sided knit with the longer skirt or the Burda 7890 pants I made earlier this year.  Aloha everyone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Up Next Comfy Clothes

Hello everyone.  Hope you all had a good weekend and your week is off to a good start.  It's hard to believe tomorrow is already Wednesday.  Yikes!  I have been working on bags for the shop these past few days.  I really love making these and love the process of coming up with print and color combinations.  But it's time to tear myself away from that, because fashion sewing is calling my name again, and I feel a hankering for a comfy outfit.  I will be using New Look 6189, which is an older pattern.  I will be making the short skirt and the short hooded jacket.  I have some doubleknit, called Gila Nutmeg, from Vogue Fabrics.  I can't wait to sew with this fabric.  I've been encouraged reading other's reviews of how easy it is to work with.  I'd actually like to make the long skirt version too, but I don't have enough of this color.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for another fabric in the future.  Perhaps a french terry or a two-sided knit would be nice. 
Here's a parting shot of one of the colorful new bags for my shop.  And thank you everyone who took the time to comment on the orange skirt!  I look forward to wearing the outfit soon!