Category: Tutorials

Tips and tricks on sewing and patternmaking

DIY Striped dress: Mccalls M6886 Modified

Hi, Fashionistas!

I wanted to share a sewing project with you that I made for Easter but never blogged about it. Here is the dress I made. The bodice is Mccalls M6886 and the skirt is self drafted. I’ll show you how below:

I wanted to make something with stripes. Stripes are so chic and never go out of style. I chose to make a dress with a scoop neck, fitted bodice, three-quarter sleeve and a pleated skirt. For the bodice, I chose McCalls M6886, mainly because the pattern is something I have in my stash and I use often. I can also cut the size I need straight out of the envelope, and it does not need any alterations. You can use any bodice from your pattern stash! 

At first, I kept the bodice the same length as this top I made previously. It hits at about the low hip and would let me decide the positioning of my waist seam at a later time.

Once I had the bodice sewn up, and moved on to making the skirt, I measured the bodice from the neckline along the center front.

I  typically like my waist seam to fall on the natural waist, which is the smallest part of the torso. Then I marked the waist seam and chopped off the bodice excess after marking my 5/8 inch seam allowance.

Next, it was time to move on to the skirt, and do a small amount of math (nothing super technical) to determine the placement and size of the pleats.

While this is not a fixed formula, I want to share my thought process that you can use to create your own version of this dress!

Here is what I did next, I took a flat measurement of the waist on the bodice. This was 14 inches, excluding seam allowances

Then I took my fabric and folded selvage to selvage. Next, I decided how long I wanted the skirt to be. For me, that was 19 inches. To this, I added measurements of 5/8 inch on top for seam allowance and 1  inch on the bottom for hem allowance.  I used this final measurement to cut the fabric to where it looked like this:

Now I took a flat measurement of the folded fabric across the top. This was 32 inches, excluding seam allowance.  I then cut the fabric into 2 pieces by cutting the fold. This gave me a skirt front of 32 inches and a skirt back of 32 inches.

 Now my goal was to create some pleats on the skirt pieces so that 32 inches would match closely to the 14 inches. For this, I did some simple math and I find that easier to demonstrate on paper. The 1st thing you need to do is decide the placement of the inverted box pleats on your bodice. To do this, I took my bodice and pinned the center front, shown in green on the diagram below (point A). I wanted the placement of the inverted box pleats to fall on my princess seam. For me, that is 3 inches from the center front. So I pinned points B and C on my bodice. The measurement of AB and AC are 3 inches each. When the skirt is attached to the bodice, the inverted box pleats will con-inside with points B and C shown on the bodice in the diagram below

Now that you have placed your pins, you can set the bodice aside. You can also make notches at these points if you prefer.

Now let’s move on to the skirt! I will demonstrate the sewing on a small piece of muslin, that mimics the shape of the skirt on a miniature scale. This will make it easy to demonstrate how I marked and constructed the inverted box pleats.

Because the bodice is 14 inches and the skirt is 32 inches, let us take the difference of the two measurements to decide how much excess we need to eat up in the form of inverted box pleats. 32 minus 12 is 18 inches. Since we are adding 2 invested box pleats, placed at each princess seam, we need each invested box pleat to eat up 9 inches each (18 divided by 2). Make sense so far?

This is all the math you will need to do, now we can do some markings on the skirt and then we are ready to baste the pleats in place! I am showing you the markings on paper below, then we will move on to a sample of sewing the inverted box pleats on muslin! Let’s go over the markings on the diagram below. A is the center of the fabric. AB and AC are 3 inches from the center of the fabric. This is done so that the pleats will coincide with the princess seams on the bodice. Now the final marking is going to be 9 inches from points B and C. This is because we decided that the excess each pleat needs to eat up 9 inches. Measurements BE and CD are 9 inches each. This is all you have to mark on the skirt. You would use pins to mark as I did, or you can make notches in your fabric, whatever you prefer.

Now let us move on to the final step in this pictorial, which is the constructions of the inverted box pleats! By definition, an inverted box pleat is two pleats that are facing each other. If you have never sewn inverted box pleat before, I will show you in muslin below.

On the muslin below, I have marked points A,B,C,D and E.

Now for the construction of the 1st inverted box pleat. pick up the fabric at point D, and place it on top of point C. now make a small stitch as shown to secure the pleat down. This stitch is usually 1/2 inch long.

I have highighted the stich in orange below:

Flip the fabric such that the wrong side is facing up. Now we are ready to flatten the area between C and D and create our inverted box pleats. You can now finger press the excess down on the wrong side of the fabric and distribute it evenly on both sides. now press this down into place.

Now pin this down. You have successfully created the 1st inverted box pleat! Now do the same on the other side of the skirt using points E and D. When you are done, Secure the pleats down by using a basting stitch 1/4 inch from the edge of the fabric. At this point, your skirt front should look like this:

next steps in construction are as follows:

  1. Create pleats on the skirt back using the same method.
  2. Sew up the side seams
  3. Attach the skirt to bodice matching up the center front, center back, side seams and make sure the points B and C on the bodice match the points B and C on the skirt!
  4. Hem the garment

This is it! I inserted pockets in my dress, in which case, you would want to add the pockets before step 2!

Here are some more pictures of my dress.

I styled my dress with a black belt and black open toe pumps. This ensemble is perfect for summer!

I hope you enjoyed reading this and this encouraged you to try some free handing of your own! While I like using patterns, I also like being independent of them. Many times I run into accidental inventions and those are the best!

XOXO

-Vatsla 🙂

How to Draft a Petal Sleeve : Tutorial

Hi Fashionistas!

I have been meaning to film this quick video on how to draft a petal sleeve or tulip sleeve, but for some reason, it’s taking the longest.  I’ve been trying to film overhead so I can give you the best possible angle so you can see the pattern making. I’ve also been trying out new equipment like a new audio recorder. To be honest, I am not very tech savvy and even editing a video in I movie intimidates me! So I am back to doing it the simple way. I took a bunch of pictures and I will just walk you through it! It is very easy!

Before we jump in, let’s have a look at a sample I made from the pattern I drafted for this demo. A petal sleeve is a two piece sleeve where you as the designer chooses whether the back overlaps the front, or whether the front overlaps the back.  You can see examples of both below

 

Now let’s jump into the drafting!

Step 1: Take any basic sleeve. If this is your 1st time drafting a petal sleeve, pick a basic sleeve that does not have much design detail. In other words, stay away from a sleeve that already has gathers, tucks, pleats etc..

Before we move forward, let us look at the anatomy of the sleeve. As you can see below, we have the double notch indicating the back of the sleeve, the single notch indicating the front of the sleeve, the grain line and also the shoulder notch. The shoulder notch is the location where the sleeve connects to the shoulder seam on the bodice. On commercial patterns, you may see a circle instead of the shoulder notch.

Step 2: Trace 2 copies of your sleeve pattern. If you have a needlepoint tracing wheel, you can use this to trace. If not, you can also place a semi-opaque paper on top of your original pattern and trace it that way.

Be sure to copy the notches onto the copies of the sleeve.

Step 3: Measure 2-3 inches out from the shoulder notch along the shoulder cap and mark a new notch. I have shown that in black. We will be creating the back petal sleeve in this step

Using either free handing or a french curve, connect the corner where the side seam and the hem meet to the black notch on the opposite side of the sleeve as shown below.

Cut along this curved line. This below is now your back petal of the sleeve. The double notch on this patterns indicates the back of the sleeve.

Step 4:

Flip the piece you just drafted on step 3 and place it on the 2nd copy you traced in step 2.    Now trace the curve on the 2nd copy of sleeve as shown below:

Cut along the newly traced line.

This is the front of the sleeve.

 

Now if you match the sleeve front and the sleeve back at the shoulder seam, you have a brand new petal sleeve! Be sure to copy the grain line over to both pattern pieces!

That is pretty much it!

If you overlay the 2 new sleeve pieces on top of the original sleeve you traced from, you will notice that it matches perfectly. The fit of the sleeve is not impacted by this pattern changed and you can decide whether you want the front to overlap the back or for the back to overlap the front!

Sewing Tip: If you are using a knit, you can hem the petals individually as you would normally hem a knit by turning it under. If you are sewing with a woven, I highly recommend lining the sleeve for a clean finish. You could self-line or line with an interesting bright fabric or print lining for a pop of color!

Here is a sample I sewed up with this pattern:

 

I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful. Now IF I figure out how to work this monstrosity of a gadget below, I will turn these images into a quick slide show and do a voice over and make a quick video for those of you who are like me and get confused by a lot of words.

 

Talk soon Fashionistas. Let me know. did you find this helpful? What else would you like to see?

Thanks!!

Vatsla 🙂

Flow Away Like a Butterfly!

HI Fashionistas:

My latest make is a beautiful flowy and drapey self-drafted circle top that makes me feel like a beautiful butterfly.  The colors on this fabric are so vibrant, and the color combination on the fabric is one of my favorites:

This fabric might have been the most beautiful fabric I have ever touched. It is a silk cotton blend, feels so soft to the touch. Has more body than a pure sheer silk, and while it was slightly more stable because of the fiber content, I did have some challenges that I will talk about in this post.

Here is a view of the back and side view: 

:

 

So in love with these sleeves!

Here is the fabric I selected.  It is abstract, if you look at the large pic of the fabric air drying, you will see it has large butterflies. So when I ordered the fabric, I knew I had to make large flowy wing-like sleeves!

I did not know exactly how to pretreat this fabric since I typically don’t work with delicate fabrics.  I wasn’t sure if this needs to be pre-shrunk, or whether it should go to the cleaners. So I asked the fabulous Erica Bunker, who is a seasoned seamstress and has worked with a range of fabric types. She suggested I wash and press it. I did not have the heart to throw this fabric in the delicate wash in the machine. So I hand washed it. And that was so much fun.  I love to touch and feel fabric. Something about hand washing the fabric made the creation of this garment a lot more personal 

I let the fabric air dry overnight.

The top was freehanded, no pattern. I will show you a sketch so you know how to make your very own top: I declare this as the laziest pattern in the world if you decide to make a paper pattern. I just drew on the fabric itself.

On the neckline, I did a bias tape. It came out beautifully. Here is a closeup of the neckline/ neck finish.

I had just the right amount of bias tape sitting around. I did attempt to make bias tape from the silk itself, but it was not stable enough.

Now lets talk about hemming this top- I ran into some challenges here. I tried the rolled hem foot on my industrial, and I could just not get comfortable enough with it. If I were doing a rolled hem on a straight hem, that would not be an issue. But hemming circle hems can be challenging as is. Add in the slipperiness of a silk, and that makes the hemming more difficult.

So upon the advice of my mentor. I tried the rolled hem on my serger. His name is Sergio, and for the most part, he is good to me. But he just shred the silk to pieces.

It’s not his fault. My thought is that an all purpose thread was too heavy for this fabric. So I resorted to YouTube land and found out that you can add stability to silks by roll hemming 2 layers. So I tried that and it worked. I folded over the hem and rolled hem. I disengaged the knife and then trimmed really close to the hem as shown here. The hem is more “lettuce edgy” than I would like, but I can live with it.

Honestly, I meant to take this online class about sheer fabrics, but time got away from me. Now you know this is the next class I am buying.  I studied with Sara Alm at Apparel Arts and she is brilliant. I probably would have saved a lot of time and trial error had I taken the class!

They say that rolled hem is the ideal finish for sheers, but I think I would have preferred a bias tape finish on the hem as well. I might come back at a future time and apply the bias tape to the hem.

Overall.. I love this top. It’s light and fresh for spring! I paired it with white skinny jeans. I have not worn these in months and I definitely had to jump up and down to squeeze into them!

I ordered 2 yards of this fabric. What I loved about this project is that the amount of waste was very little. I used a majority of the fabric to make the top from, which is one big circle (donut) and the remaining fabric was used to create an infinity/ circle scarf.  I love an all white outfit for spring with a pop of color. I’ll share the scarf with you soon! It’s my new favorite!

The sleeves, the neckline, and the print are my favorite parts of this butterfly top.

I hope that you enjoyed reading about this make. I am getting started on my Mommy and Me Easter make after this one.

Hope you are having a fabulous week.  See you with my next make.

XOXO

Vatsla

Cardi Refashion and How I styled it

Hi Fashionistas!!

Remember the sweater/ cardi I was altering last week to make it fit me? It turned out really nice and I wore it to Church last Sunday. I really like easy outfits. This was so easy to style. Since the cardi had a built-in fur collar, I kept the rest of the outfit basic. I paired it with a black pencil skirt, one of my favorite garments in my wardrobe and a tank top.

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The cardi has an attached fox tail fur on it. I was surprised to find genuine fur on a Bebe top. Oh, not sure if I mentioned, this cardi was thrifted. I found it in San Fran earlier this year when I visited. While I would never purchase a new fur, I love giving new life to old furs. It is extremely soft and warm. The day I wore it, it was cold and rainy, so I loved wearing this. It kept me nice and warm (and stylish!)

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Not the best lighting and pics- I usually do my own pics outdoors, using a tripod and remote- but it was raining and cold. I don’t know about you but I don’t think most men are equipped to take pics. I don’t like asking my husband.. so here are some selfies for you! I love that this entire outfit can look like a black dress without me having to have the perfect black dress.

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I wore it like a wrap cardi, and as I mentioned in my previous post HERE, it needed a brooch or belt . I used a gorgeous pearl brooch that was another vintage find. I just love repurposing. The 3/4 sleeves are elegant. The cardi has been altered to fit like a dream.

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Oh hello thread hanging from my slit- where are my thread clipper? 🙂

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I completed the outfit with my absolute favorite faux snakeskin shoes. I honestly treat these are my nude pumps. They are so comfortable compared to a stiletto. Lots of support , thanks to the thicker heel, and a bit of platform.

 

Would you say that I have a shoe problem? Yikes…

You know you have a shoe problem when…… These beauties are going to be on the blog today 👠👣 #shoes #shoes #shoestagram #fashionbehindtheseams #shoeaddict

A post shared by ✂️Fashion Behind The Seams✂️ (@fashionbehindtheseams) on

 

Here is the before and after from last week

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Well.. That’s all I have for now. The 2nd half of December is seriously busy for me. I am wrapping up an online course, making a 5 piece outfit for Christmas, 2 pairs of matching mommy and me jammies and a red dress. I better get to work NOW. Bye loves! I hope you are having a wonderful holiday season, and if you are not, take on a sewing project for instant gratification and happiness!!! I swear sewing is better than therapy! 🙂

 

XOXO

Vatsla.

 

Sewing Quick Tip: The Gathering Foot

HI Fashionistas!

Every girl has her favorite shoes, and believe me, I have more shoes than I need. But today I wanted to share with you, one of my top 3 sewing feet and why I love it so much.

When it comes to garment construction, the right sewing tools can make all the difference. While you don’t need a fancy sewing machine (a basic machine with a straight stitch and zig zag is just fine), using the right sewing feet can make all the difference. They take your sewing to the next level!

Here is my first favorite: The gathering foot

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This is a small sewing machine accessory but can make gathering a breeze!

 

I have gotten such good use out of this one. You can use this with knits, with wovens, with tulle (YAY) and also with chiffon, organza, netting.. the possibilities are endless.

I used it here to make the ruffles on this DIY top I made last year.

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This little foot  makes beautiful ruffles when paired with the right fabric and the right amount of tension on the machine.

You can control the “tightness” of the ruffles by changing the tension. See my video on this

I also use this foot to gather tulle, which makes gathering a breeze. Here are a couple tulle skirts I made using this technique HERE

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Most people who work with tulle mention how beautiful tulle is, but what a pain it is to gather. Not with this foot! Check out how I gather tulle easily at the rate of 2 yards per minute!

 

What about you?

  • Do you have a favorite foot?
  • Have you used the gathering foot?
  • Do you recommend a foot to make my sewing more fun/efficient?

I hope this review helped. I’ll be sharing my other favorite two sewing accessories with you soon!

 

Oh! I also made this tulle dress with the gathering foot..

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XO-

Vatsla. 🙂

ps. I’ll be posting the progress of my projects on my FB page as always

Who Wore it Best? 80’s Prom dress turned Minnie Mouse!

HI Fashionistas!

Hope you are having a good week so far! My daughter turned three last month and we celebrated by having her friends over at a bounce house. She requested a pink Minnie Mouse dress for her birthday and I had exactly what I wanted to make in mind. A few weeks before her party, I was out shopping at Estate sales, which is a hobby of mine. I came across this prom dress from the 80’s that screamed shoulder pads and sleeve headings. But I saw the potential. All I could think was Minnie Mouse 🙂 So I did some nip and tuck and gave this dress a makeover.

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