Month: March 2015

Behind The Seams : The Power of Pressing & Pressing 101

HI Folks!

Today we are taking a tour behind the seams (literally)! I want to spend some time on a topic I used to hate as a beginner: pressing while sewing. It is very important to incorporate pressing while sewing as opposed to pressing after finishing sewing. There are so many components to a garment like facings, seams, darts, lining etc. and its very hard to get inside the garment and press it correctly after the fact, Pressing as you sew will not only make your garments look professional but it will also make the construction process a lot easier as the fabric will behave and co-operate. Think of pressing as sculpting the fabric to comply. Heat and steam are your best friends when it comes to sewing!

I have documented how to correctly press a seam in three easy steps below. Pressing will take your garment from homemade to professional. Before we get started, I want to show you what a beautifully pressed seam looks like:

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In my many years of sewing , I have noticed that a lot of sewists tend to skip over this very important step. Why? Because as creative people we are eager to get finished and see the end result. But in sewing garments, there is no such thing as instant gratification. To demonstrate the importance of pressing every seam while sewing, I have sewn up two miniature size bodices cut from the same pattern.   On the garment on the left, I pressed the princess seams after I sewed them up . On the right is the exact same garment, without the pressing. As you can see on the right, the seams are very 3- D and wrinkled. We want our seams to look more flat and wrinkle free as we are sewing.

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Given that sewing is such a long process from getting inspired, to sourcing the fabric, to either pattern making or buying the pattern, cutting the pattern, cutting the fabric, sewing it up, making final alterations etc before you can actually put it on, what’s another step right? If you have sewn up even one garment and ignored the pressing step, I want you to repeat after me: “Pressing is an integral part of sewing, I will press EVERY dart and seam after I sew it”. Trust me, sewing and pressing must go hand in hand, they are eternal soul mates. Details below on how to correctly press a seam…

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Pressing any seam is a three-step process.The technique is essentially the same for a curved seam, but you want to press the curve using a tailors ham or seam roll.

Step 1: With the right sides of the fabric facing each other, press the seam while giving it steam. The steam will loosen up the fibres in the thread and in the fabric and allow them to relax, getting rid of any puckers or wrinkles.

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Step 2: With the right side of the fabric facing the ironing board and wrong side facing the sky, finger press the seam allowance towards the desired side and then press it while giving it steam.

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Step 3: With the right side of the fabric facing the sky and wrong side facing the ironing board, press once again using steam. In this step, you want to ensure that there is no fabric overlapping on the seam. To ensure that, pull the fabric taut while pressing as shown below:

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Optional Step (For difficult fabrics or heavy fabrics)

If you have a fabric that does not respond well to pressing, or if you want really crisp seams, you can use a tailors clapper as the final step. To use tailors clapper, you can steam press as shown above and then press the seam with the clapper. The clapper absorbs the excess moisture and locks in the heat. It helps flatten the seam and you will have a crisp seam in the end.

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Here is the final seam.

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I hope this helped you learn something new about the importance of pressing! Happy Tuesday and I would to hear about what you are working on next 🙂

For more tutorials, click HERE

-XOXO

 

 

Once upon a Dress

HI Everyone!

I am back to sewing after taking a break last week. Yesterday I worked on re-purposing a dress into a peplum top.  I love the combination of blue and black and want a blue top and black skinny jeans in my closet. I started drafting the pattern for the pants. I pre-washed and pre-shrunk the fabric while I was doing the pattern making. Now I am ready to cut.

Here is the peplum top completed:I wanted a full peplum look so I drafted a half circle peplum. I think for the next project, I might do a 3/4 circle peplum and sew in horsehair braid at the hem of the peplum to make it stiff.

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The peplum is a half circle peplum for each pattern pieces (one back, one front). The pattern looks like a 1/2 donut. So the peplum all around is a full circle peplum, seamed at the sides. I love how the fabric drapes on the peplum.

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I attached an exposed zipper on the back. It’s a jeans zipper I had in my zipper stash. Love the metallic teeth on it. The zipper is aesthetic only, it does not function. We shall call her a trophy zipper.

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To accessorize, I added this bag for another pop of color and also because oversized bows are always en vogue.

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Love how the zipper on the top matches the hardware on the purse 🙂

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I even had a modest Marilyn Monroe moment thanks to the wind.

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Here is the dress that was used for this re-purpose:

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Design details below for anyone who wants to make a peplum 🙂

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PATTERN: For the sleeves, I re-used a previously drafted sleeve I used  HERE. For the peplum, I drafted a pattern using the slash and spread method I documented HERE.

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SEWING: To transform the dress into the top, I dd the following alterations

1) Chop off the top from skirt at the waist seam

2) de-construct the top at the sleeves and side seams

3) re-size the sleeves using a pattern I drafted previously HERE

4) Sew the top back up using THIS method

5. Attach peplum at the waist. I used THIS method to draft the peplum

I hope you found this post helpful. Have a wonderful weekend!

XOXO

 

 

 

Behind The Seams: Repurpose with a purpose

HI everyone!! I missed you last week!!

I managed to do a quick tutorial but last week was a tough one, so unfortunately, my sewing had to take a backseat. I made a commitment to myself that I would sew every Thursday without fail. So I did go into my studio late Thursday night and gathered up some tulle, but that was about it!

Well I am back on track and ready to get to work this week! So…. the 1st thing I am going to work on this week is a blue peplum top, and I am planning on re-purposing this dress instead of making it from scratch. Do you have an unwanted knit dress in your wardrobe and want to sew-along? Design details below…

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This is a dress I bought sometime last year and never wore. I tried it on once and it was big on me. I meant to take it in, but I just don’t think I am going to wear it. So…  I am going chop this baby up and re-construct it. I am going to preserve the hemming on the neckline and sleeves and I will be using the fabric from the skirt to create the peplum. I want a full peplum and this is the overall look I am going for:

 

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PATTERN: For the base pattern, I will probably use a self drafted pattern I used HERE. I wont touch the neckline as it is beautifully hemmed.

Peplum: I will self draft the peplum using this technique that I documented HERE

SEWING: After I de-construct the top at the sleeves , side seams and waist, I will resize the sleeves and top and then re-attach the sleeves using this easy method I documented HERE

I am truly hopeful that I will also be able to make a pair of skinny jeans or capri pants to go with this peplum. Ambitious for a day of sewing, but a girl can dream, right?

Are you sewing something? I’d love to hear from you 🙂

Until next time, Happy Sewing!!

XOXO

 

Behind The Seams: How to draft a peplum

Hi Everyone!

Looks like Tuesdays might end up being “Tutorial Tuesdays”. A few days ago, a fellow sewist shared this picture and asked how she could draft the peplum for  a blouse.  I have documented step by step instructions below on how to draft a peplum.  Peplums are really easy to draft and you need only one measurement: your waist.

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First of all I want you to think of a peplum as a baby version of a circle skirt, because that is essentially what it is. A peplum sits on the waist and looks most flattering when worn on the natural waist, which is the smallest part of the torso. The natural waist for most women is slightly above the belly button.

Some more examples of peplums….

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And here is the famous Victoria Beckham Sheath dress that you can buy for $3145… or you can learn this DIY and make your own!

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Peplums are found on blouses, dresses, skirts, jackets and come in all shapes and sizes. I have seen peplums with gathers, box pleats, inverted box pleats and many more variations.

Follow the steps below to draft your very own peplum! I  took this pictures in a rush, so excuse the free hand sketching. It’s not fancy, but if you understand the technique, then that is all the matters!

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You will need the following measurements: waist (Measurment A) and desired height of peplum (Measurement B) ,Pattern paper, tape, scissors and drafting pens or pencils.

Step 1: Draw a rectangle using measurement A and measurement B

IMG_6525Then draw lines shown in blue that are somewhat equidistant.

IMG_6526Step 2: Cut along the blue lines almost to the top, but don’t cut all the way. This allows you to spread the pattern.This is called the Splash and Spread Method

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Step 3:  Tape down the original pattern at the top. This is still our original waist measurement. On the bottom of the pattern, you will start spreading the pattern as shown below. You could insert one inch in each opening, or 2 inches for a fuller peplum. Tape down the bottom of the pattern after you have spread it.

 

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If you want a fuller peplum, you can spread the pattern even more as shown here

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Step 4: Next add seam allowance so this can be sewn up properly. Also add a hem on the bottom. I have shown this in red. This is the pattern for the front of the peplum

 

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To draft the back, all you have to do is fold the pattern above in half and add a seam allowance along the centre back to accomodate the zipper.

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Hi-Lo Variation:If you are going for a hi-lo peplum in the back, you can simply extend the centre back by your desired measurement (green line) as shown below before adding the seam allowance (shown in red)

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It was fun making it and trying out a different kind of peplum, but I think I will go back to my favorite style, which is this white one and this blue one, that I left drafted using this tutorial. If you want your peplum to have a stiff hem like my white peplum below, consider sewing in some horse hair braid to the hem. I used a one inch HHB you can find HERE

 

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Want to learn more about pattern making in a way that makes sense? Check out Suzy’s pattern making classes HERE. Suzy is brilliant. I learned everything I know about pattern making from her.

I hope this helped! If you have any questions, leave a comment and sign up for more sewing tips and tricks below!

-Vatsla 🙂

Black Hi-lo dress inspired by Pinterest- Mccalls M6886 modified

Hola Folks!! Hope you are having a wonderful Friday. I am so ready for the weekend!

Earlier this week I posted about a hi-lo t-shirt dress that was inspired by pinterest. I really did not have any time to go shopping so I was at the mercy of my fabric stash. Well.. I started off wanting to make a reversible grey and black dress, but that did not happen. I ran into SO many issues with the grey dress, it seemed like the sewing Gods were very angry with me.

I will save my rant for later, let me show what the black dress looks like. Design details below if you are interested in making your own version

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I had this slinky knit in my fabric stash.. I had about 2 yards I think, so it was long enough to make the back floor length. I really like where the hem hits on the front.

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I accessorized with this shoulder bag that also works as a clutch.

 

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Here is the dress that inspired my project.. I think my version comes pretty close, although I couldnt replicate that pose…. even though I tried 🙂

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Moving onto the DISASTER dress. I had so many issues with the grey dress. For starters, since I used a commercial pattern, it had a ridiculous amount of ease in it. It took multiple alterations to get the right fit. The area around the arms had so much excess fabric, that I ended up detaching the sleeves, taking in the shoulder seams and re-attaching the sleeve. But check this out, I attached one sleeve inside out and both sleeves backwards. If that wasnt enough, my serger started acting funny and the side seams looked like they had teeth coming out of them. Lastly, the hem line was a bit too short.. and well after I put on the garment, it just didn’t feel right. I was still determined after all these issues, so I decided to hem the neckline and sleeves and be done with it. Well, as I started to hem, my one and only twin needle broke. I was still determined to finish, so I decided to try the stretch stitch on my machine. Well that was a disaster too.. and the dress now looks like a craft project gone wrong. I mean.. a 4-year-old could probably do a better job.. Oh well!!! We all have failures in life.  I do believe all things happen for a reason.. so I am finally getting a cover stitch machine this weekend. As for the dress, I am too embarrassed to even give it to goodwill… I think I will repurpose the fabric .

Anyways, back to the black dress…..

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PATTERN: I used Mccalls M6886 view C as a base, then did the following pattern alterations: 1) shorten the hem in the front 2) shorten the sleeves and add bands to make it more dressy 3)  lengthen the hem in the back 4) turn the back into a-line instead of pencil

If you are interested in seeing a step by step tutorial on how to do this alteration, let me know and I will be happy to document it.

FABRIC: I used a jersey knit. You can use any knit fabric

SEWING: The dress is easy to sew. You can use this technique to sew the dress up. For the hem, you can use a twin needle or a cover stitch. For the bottom hem, I serged but I did not hem as I didn’t feel it was necessary.

I hope that this inspired you to create something! Until next time, Happy Sewing and Happy Friday

XOXO

Pinterest Inspired Hi-lo Dress using Mccalls M6886

Hello Fashionistas!

Today is my sewing day, but I have to admit, I woke up with no idea of what to make. Usually I wait for Thursdays with anticipation. I plan my project in my head, make a sketch or two, start working on my pattern and cutting around the middle of the week. Not this week. As a mom of a naughty toddler, I find myself growing more and more tired each day. Seems like terrible twos have come early in my home. But I made a commitment to myself that I would sew every week. So today I am looking for a quick project that will take me no more than 2 to 4 hours to complete.

I want to make a reversible hi-low dress with grey on one side and black on the other. If I can get two dresses out of one, why not? 🙂

I am feeling inspired by this dress I saw on pinterest. It’s a t-shirt dress, so has a casual element to it, but the hi-low hem makes it interesting.

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I am debating between sleeveless and short sleeves. I really like the ribbing around the neckline. It makes the dress a bit more casual, which will be appropriate for the fabric I am using. I plan on using this jersey knit below

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I also like this hi-low dress, but mine would have a longer hemline in the front. I would like for the hem to hit right above the knee. I don’t care for the long sleeves though, because warm weather is finally here! Yay!

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Since time if of the essence, I will be using the McCall M668 as a base instead of drafting my own pattern. Don’t let the ugly print on the envelope fool you. I have seen some amazing dresses made with this pattern. I will be using View D if I go for sleeveless, or view C if I go for sleeves. The only pattern alteration I will be doing is lengthening the hem on the centre back and shortening the hem on the centre front, and of course blending the hem at the side seams.

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As always, I am going into this project with a plan in my head, but I could end up with something completely different. I better go grab my scissors and get to cutting while baby naps.

See you soon in my next post. Until then, Happy Sewing!

XOXO

How to hem knits using a twin needle

HI Folks,

Last week I did a tutorial on how to attach a sleeve and a lot of people found that helpful.  I received a request from a fellow sewist to do a tutorial on hemming knits using a twin needle, which you can see below.

This is what a twin needle looks like. It has two needles as the name suggests and it allows you to create a cover-stitch without using a cover stitch machine.  You can find this needle at fabric stores or online. For knits, make sure you are using a stretch twin needle for best results

For the purpose of this demo,  I am using a red thread on the left needle, green thread on the right needle, and yellow thread on the bobbin.

Step 1: Replace your regular needle with a twin needle.

Step 2: Adjust the needle position to make sure it does not hit the metal on the presser foot. Lower the needles manually using the handwheel to make sure the needle wont break once you start sewing.

Step 3: Threading the needles: This is a very important step. If this is not done correctly, the threads can get tangled up and cause a lot of frustration.

The left spool will be placed exactly where you place the spool when you are sewing with a single needle. The right spool will be placed where you normally place the bobbin before winding the bobbin. You will need to place an extra spool holder on top of the bobbin winder. See illustration below

Be sure to thread the left needle before you thread the right needle. If you thread them together and treat both threads as one, you will have tangling. The left needle will be threaded EXACTLY the same way you thread a single needle, so go ahead thread as normal. For the right needle, thread it exactly the same as the left needle EXCEPT the very last step. The last step of threading a needle is passing the thread through the needle bar guide before inserting the thread into the needle. You will skip this step for the right needle. Please note that your needle bar guide might look different than mine, so refer to your user manual in case yours doesnt resemble mine.

In Summary:

Left Needle: Thread this as normal, passing the thread through the needle bar guide

Right Needle:  Thread this as normal, but do not pass the thread through the needle bar guide before inserting the thread into the needle. In the illustration below I am using red arrows to show you how to thread the left needle and green arrows to show you how to thread the right needle.

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While this step is pretty universal, refer to the user manual of your machine as well.

Step 4:  Place the fabric under the presser foot with the hem folded under. Lower the needle manually once to secure the fabric. Then grab the two top threads and tuck them underneath the presser foot to avoid tangling.

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To start hemming, back-stitch twice to lock the stitch and then forward stitch. When you get to the end of your stitch, back-stitch again. This is what the hem will look like on the correct side of the garment:

This is what the hem will look like on the backside of the garment. Of course you will use the same color thread. I used different colors for the sake of the demo.

This finish can be used on necklines, armholes, sleeves, hems at the bottom of shirts, dresses, skirts etc. In this case, you will be sewing in the round. I recommend backstitching at the start and end regardless of what you are hemming. Always try the hem on scrap fabric before hemming your garment because all fabrics are different and you might need to adjust your tension accordingly.

I used this technique to hem the neckline, sleeves and bottom of this top:

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To see some garments I have hemmed using this technique, click HERE or HERE. To see other sewing tutorials, click HERE. You can find a stretch twin needle HERE.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful.  The twin needle is also used on woven fabrics as a decorative stitch. The same steps above would apply to a woven using a non stretch needle. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. I will be doing more tutorials in the near future, so please subscribe to my blog if you are interested. Also, please let me know what other topics/ tutorials you would find helpful.

See you soon!! Happy Sewing!

XOXO

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