Seams Too Simple

…patterns in life

Ironing Sucks.

Most sewing projects include at least one step involving pressing the seams.  And these steps

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are usually between each sewing step.  Like,

Press seams open.

Press seams together.

Press seams inward.

Press seams toward the notches.

In our house, this involves going from my dining/sewing/craft room to the bedroom to iron some seams.  It’s not fun, especially with complicated (frustrating) projects.

I know, I can leave the iron in the dining/sewing/craft room.   I ask you to think about it – does adding an upright ironing board to that room sound cozy to you?

Ironing is an annoying extra step that is so time consuming once you get focused.  Like pressing a 50 inch strip of 2 inch binding.  Dear. Gawd.  What a nightmare.  I’m seriously considering one of those over priced binding-making-doohickeys.

Pressing seams…a waste of my (impatient) time!

An obstacle to the finished product.

Interference in my focused effort to get the project finished already!

But…

It does help so much.  Sometimes when I press seams, I can skip pinning the pieces altogether.  The hooded towels I made were so easy to topstitch because I took the time to press the seams.

When I take the time to iron, the fabric is a bit crisper and lies more naturally.  It’s nice to see your project, no matter how simple or complicated (frustrating), start to take shape.  This is usually when I become proud of my work.  Kinda like putting on a pair of heels (with or without the dress, same feeling).

So from now on, when I get frustrated about my trip to the bedroom, I’ll remind myself to press on.

Tee hee…

Ironing

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Hooded Towel – from baby to toddler…and beyond! *Update below*


How do you spend your Sunday mornings?  I know some people get up early and start knocking out chores.  Some people attend church.  Some people work out…I’ve been known to do this.  But, most Sunday mornings I prefer watching any television show about sewing…unless it’s one of those that details making antique baby dresses.  The number of pin tucks required for barely 6 square inches of fabric makes my head hurt.

Show me something simple that I can:

A – easily follow along and do myself; and

B – tweak and customize for myself or friends

So one Sunday morning I caught an episode of a great show, “It’s Sew Easy“.  Each episode has a few segments of simple how-to projects for things you can make that are functional.

Function <–that’s important, people.

Yes, there are some of us who appreciate the detail and precision that complicated decorative pieces provide.  I admit I am a fan, too.  I’m also a fan of projects you can quickly finish and duplicate.  And since my friends have been procreating at a consistent rate over the last couple years, it’s given me a chance to try making baby shower gifts.

Back to the show.  The episode I happened to catch included a segment on a simple hooded baby towel.  It involved buying yardage of terry cloth and baby/snuggle fabric.  I made a few for a close friend and one for my sister-in-law.  They loved them.

Then another friend, whose baby is 13 months now, wanted a towel that is larger so her daughter won’t quickly outgrow it.

Now I needed to figure out how to make a larger hooded towel than what I was accustomed to making.  In short, I slapped that hood on the side of a bath towel and BLAM! Insta-hooded-towel that looks so darn cute and will last for at least a couple (or few?) years!  Plus no one else will have one like it…ever!  Here we go…

Supplies

  • 1 1/4 yard – Baby/Snuggle Flannel fabric (45 inch width)
  • 1 Bath Towel – approximately 50 inches long, 30 inches wide
  • Plenty o’Pins, sewing machine, scissors, thread, yada yada yada…

You can also add decorative edging, like ruffles, rickrack, pom-pons, binding…but then it wouldn’t be simple and quick and easy and all the other stuff I like about this project.

Here are my fabrics:

Flannel fabric

Flannel fabric

Towel

Towel

First, lay the towel on a table or other flat surface, right side up.

Then, put your flannel on top of the towel, right side down (touching the towel). Align the selvage of the flannel to one of the long sides of the towel.  Try to center the flannel on the towel, but it doesn’t have to be exact.

Pin along the aligned edge (long side, 50″) and both the shorter edges (30″), leaving one of the long edges ‘open’.

Pin the selvage of the flannel to the edge of the towel

Pin the selvage of the flannel to the edge of the towel

There should be a bit of excess towel on either side of the flannel.  Be sure the thick edging of the towel is at least one inch from the edge of the flannel.  Cut this excess off.

Cut off excess towel from the each short edge

Cut off excess towel from the each short edge

Your piece should be about 43 – 44 inches in length.

The open edge (long side w/o pins) should be about 12 inches wider than the towel.

Excess flannel along one of the long edges (approx 43 inches)

Excess flannel along one of the long edges (approx 43 inches)

Cut off this excess (I pinned a few times to keep it stable while I cut the excess).  This rectangle will be used to make the hood.

Cut off excess strip of flannel (about 12 inches wide)

Cut off excess strip of flannel (about 12 inches wide)

Making the hood

Fold the long strip of flannel (approx 12 inches X 43 inches) in half, short end to short end.

Fold the long rectangle in half, short edges together

Fold the long rectangle in half, short edges together

Cut along the fold, resulting in two rectangles.

Cut long rectangle in half - you'll have two smaller rectangles

Cut long rectangle in half – you’ll have two smaller rectangles

Fold each rectangle in half, selvage – to – selvage, and pin in place.  These are the outside and lining pieces of the hood.

Fold the two rectangles in half, short edges together

Fold the two rectangles in half, short edges together

Sew with at about a 1/2 inch seam allowance.

Stitch hood piece edges, about 1/2 inch SA

Stitch hood piece edges, about 1/2 inch SA

You should have two hood pieces that are inside out.  Two of the open edges should be next to each other, the sewn edge adjacent to the folded side.  Press the seams flat.

Two hood pieces - outside and lining

Two hood pieces – outside and lining

Turn one hood piece right-side-out.

One hood piece is right side out (on the right), one is inside-out (on the left)

One hood piece is right side out (on the right), one is inside-out (on the left)

Insert the right-side-out hood piece into the inside-out hood piece.

Insert the right-side-out hood piece into the inside-out hood piece, aligning all edges

Insert the right-side-out hood piece into the inside-out hood piece, aligning all edges

Line up the edges of the hood pieces – the edge that is one continuous piece of fabric for each piece, not the edge that has the seam in the middle.  The edge with the seam will be used for attaching the hood to the towel.

Pin along the continuous edge of the hood (front edge)

Pin along the continuous edge of the hood (front edge)

It should start looking like a hood.  The pinned edge of the hood will be on the front of the head.

Lay the pinned edge flat for sewing

Lay the pinned edge flat for sewing

Stich along the front edge, about 1/2 inch seam allowance.  Trim edge.

Stitch along continuous edge.

Stitch along continuous edge.

Turn the hood right-side-out.

Turn the hood right side out

Turn the hood right side out

Meanwhile, back at the Towel…

Remember the edge of the hood with the seam in the middle?  Well, now it’s that edge’s turn for some action.  Go back to the main piece of the towel, you’ll be working with that open edge.  You know, the long edge without pins?

(Temporarily) pin the hood-edge-with-seam to the open edge of the flannel.  You’ll have to fold back the towel.

Pin the edge-with-seam to the long edge of the flannel

Pin the edge-with-seam to the long edge of the flannel

Now fold the towel over the hood-edge-with-seam.  Be careful not to catch the smooth edge of the hood as it does not need to be attached.  That would result in a project for Regretsy.  Read it.  It’s funny.

As you pin the towel to the hood & flannel, remove the pins from the hood.  Your towel should look like a sandwich: towel, then hood-edge-with-seam, then long flannel edge.

As you pin, you may notice the towel likes to ‘give’.  By ‘give’ I mean stretch.  And by stretch, I mean it can be annoying and cause you to smooth out and re-pin the whole frigging thing.  Not so simple now, eh?  Re-thinking those pin-tucks are we?  Hmmmm….Keep on pinning along the long edge – you now have 4 sides completely pinned and ready for stiching.

The towel should look like a hood is hiding between a layer of flannel and towel.  Because it is.

All pieces layered and pinned.  The hood piece is hiding!

All pieces layered and pinned. The hood piece is hiding!

Don’t you hate it when you’re following instructions and at the end of one part it reads:

“Oh, be sure to ________ before the preceding 3 sentences.”

And you’re caught off guard with an extra hour of seam ripping to do?  I won’t do this to you.  Anyhoo, moving on.

This next part involves preparing for turning this project right-side-out.  It’s my way of marking the space through which most of the towel will go through.  Leave it as big or small as you want, as long as you’re confident you can top stitch it closed.

On one of the sides (preferrably NOT the one with the hood), place two pins about 6 – 8 inches apart.  Take two additional pins and pin them into the fabric, perpendicular to the existing pins.  Make sure there are no pins in this 6 – 8 inch space.  You will not stitch in this space.

Dont sew here

You’ll start sewing from the bottom edge of this 6 – 8 inch space.  Sew all the way around the towel until you reach the other pair of perpendicular pins (say that 3 times fast).

Stop sewing.  Well, don’t stop.  Do some backstitching.  Then stop!  And cut off the excess, clipping the corners.

Turn your piece right side out.

Turn right side out through open section

Turn right side out through open section

Right side out

Right side out

Then, before top stitching, I pin the top edges of the fabric together to keep them in place.  I do this along the hood, too.

"Jump" from the towel-edge to the hood-edge...like one continuous piece with angles.

“Jump” from the towel-edge to the hood-edge…like one continuous piece with angles.

Here’s another part without any suprises.  Don’t start top stitching at the hood.  Pick another side.  Using about a 1/4 inch seam allowance, top stitch the project, but STOP just before you reach the hood.

You’re going to ‘jump’ the stitching from the edge of the towel to the edge of the hood.  To put it simply, continue stitching from the towel to the hood and back to the towel, as if it involves a couple simple turns.

Jump stitch hood

Go back to the open section of the seams.  Fold each raw edge inwards and pin the fabric edges together.  Play around with it for a bit, and it should appear to be the same as the rest of the towel edge.  Just pinned for top stitching.

Top stitch all edges, including the open section

Top stitch all edges, including the open section

Aaaaand, here it is!

Inside of the towel

Inside of the towel

Back of the towel

Back of the towel

Hooded Towel - complete!

Hooded Towel – complete!

My friend’s daughter is lucky…she’s getting five towels.

Do you like this project?  Let me know your thoughts and questions…I’m making four more and will post when they’re done.

🙂

Update!  Here are the remaining towels:

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IMG_0112 IMG_0113

IMG_0114

Circle Skirt in about 2 hours (what?!)

After some trial and error, and patience, I have the circle skirt mastered 🙂

This half circle skirt is purple – you’ll notice the purple appears bluer in some pictures than others.  It’s all the same fabric, though

Using two yards of fabric, fold it in half – I don’t think it matters which way you fold it, but I folded it with the selvage ends together.  Using the circle skirt calculator, I measured a radius of about 8.5 inches, then measured 23 inches from the end of that and drew my 1/4 circle.

When you unfold the 1/4 circle, it should become a half circle like below:

For the waist band, I cut a strip of fabric that was 4 inches wide, and a bit longer than my full waist circumfrence (approx. 33 inches in length).  Fold this strip in 1/2, so it should be 2 inches wide, then press.

Pin the waist band to the wrong side of the skirt’s waist.

Sew the waistband to the skirt (I used 1/2 inch SA) and be sure to finish (zigzag or serge) the seam.

Almost done with the waist band.  Iron the SA bit ‘up’ towards the top of the skirt.  Then you’ll flip the skirt to the right side and iron the seam, pressing it to look sharp and neat.

Waist is done and probably looks really polished!

Fold the skirt back into the 1/4 circle shape, joining the two raw edges.  Pin the edges together and mark where you want the zipper to end.  Then sew together using a 1/2 inch SA, and then finish the raw edges (zigzag or serge).

Next, following the zipper mftr instructions, pin the zipper to the open/raw edges and sew using minimal SA.

Next…the dreaded hem.  Oy, vey.  This is the most tedious step.  First, I mark about 1/4 inch above the raw edge – yes, I mark the 1/4 inch alllllll the way around the bottom hem of the skirt.  Do you like this step?  Good!  Next, measure 3/8 inch from that first mark.  Yes….go alllllll the way around.  Fun isn’t it?

Fold the bottom/raw edge of the bottom of your skirt up to the 1/4 inch mark and iron.  Yet another opportunity to get familiar with every inch of the bottom of your skirt.

One last time – fold and iron up to the 3/8 inch markings allllll the way around.  Kind of boring but it’s so worth it – this is usually one of those steps I sloppily eyeball and get over with.  Taking my time really paid off for this skirt!  Look how nice it is before sewing even!

After all that work, I wanted the hem to look super spiffy.  I sewed a 1/4 inch SA’d hem then did 1/8 inch to create a double stitch look.  You can use the double-needle for your sewing machine if you want (but that requires 2 spools, undoing the needle and re-attaching the double-needle and bla bla bla).

I’m proud of myself for taking my time, which ended up saving me a ton of time.

Voila!  C’est finis!  

Ruffles that seamed difficult…but were so much fun!

I absolutely LOVE this project – credit goes to Carly J. Cais and her project here

It’s one of those make-a-blouse-from-a-guy’s-button-down-shirt projects.  Yes, there are a TON of steps, but they start to flow and make sense once you’ve started, going by pretty quickly.  Most are common sense, but I like that she adds more information than most projects.

Oh, by the way, I found this pattern by joining www.cutoutandkeep.net and searching for blouses/tops.  I found that most projects here are for the younger folk, but it’s oh-so-fun to peruse the ideas out there!

Back to the ruffle top.  My husband isn’t an extra-large kinda guy, so there wasn’t much fabric wasted on this upcycle project.  The fabric of the shirt was…well, let’s say I think he bought this when he was trying out new things, stepping outside his golf-polo comfort zone.  I have to give him props because this was waaay out there for him.

Luckily, this button-down never made the day-to-day rotation for my husband’s outfit choices.   He somewhat begrudgingly handed it over to me a few months ago and when I brought it out last weekend, he was curious how it would turn out…or he was a bit scared to see the scissors chop it up.  Either way, he was interested!

The bottom half of the button placard (buttons & holes) is removed, then the two sides sewn together.  You do this under the 4th button.  The original fancy-ness of this shirt already included tuxedo pleat details on either side of the buttons, so it added a really nice touch without me doing anything.  Always a fan of efficiency!   😀

Tuxedo pleats – great detail!

Now, for the RUFFLES!  Basically, you cut off the sleeves, which are cut into long rectangles, then made into ruffles and attached to the button placard strips:

Ruffles and black thread

 

Considering my guy is perpetually fit (with or without exercise), his shirts don’t usually have a ton of fabric….hence the reason I had to add a side-zipper:

Side zipper

This blouse is completely different than what I normally wear, so I’m thinking it will be perfect to wear on a date night! What do you think?

All done!

I seam to be patient…but should be patient whilst seaming!

Why is it that when I see a project, I immediately focus on the finished product?  Why am I not focused on the journey?  The peace from within that one enjoys from the creative process…has not found me quite yet.  Taking the time to make sure every step is followed makes me feel like this…

Are we there yet?!

Yes, there are times I have been ‘in the zone’, but those times are rare.  With up to 3 kids in our house at any given time when I’m not at work, sewing has become my escape while everyone is occupied.  This escape tends to motivate me to rush through projects.  Hopefully as I log my successful projects here I will learn to let go and take my time.

We begin with the half-circle skirt.

I recall my grandmother making a ton of skirts for me in my youth over several years.  So much so that I dreaded wearing them whenever a new batch was presented.  I rebelled by wearing shorts underneath.

Shorts made skirts wearable!

I was not her babyboom-era kid, my school had playgrounds and encouraged girls to be equal to boys.

Looking back, I think she followed the basic circle-skirt pattern.  Now that I’m not an active youth, I appreciate the simplicity, comfort and flow the circle skirt provides.  Especially down here in Houston.

There’s a great tutorial by Patty (in nearby Dallas, I might add!) here and she even created an awesome spreadsheet for calculating full, ¾ and ½ circle skirt waist measurements!  Way cool!

My first mistake – I entered the wrong number in the spreadsheet and came up with a waist circumference that was too big.  And I didn’t notice it until after I cut the fabric, either!  Oh well, not to worry, I just cut off the excess from the waist band all the way to the end of the hem.

Then for some reason I decided to hem the skirt before the zipper or joining the skirt seam.  Seriously, this was a typical case of careless rushing on my part.

After a lot of quality time with my seam ripper, I successfully made a really cute slightly-less-than-half circle skirt!  It’s linen so it breathes and is allowed to be wrinkled.

What do you think?

Voila! Perfect length and oh-so-comfy!

Waistband sits on me just right

Waistband is a simple 4-inch wide strip folded in half length-wise, ironed, and attached.

Living in a desert o’fashion

I’m here at work and would much rather be at home sewing, drafting, draping, shaping some clothes for myself.  My co-worker, who knows about my love of sewing, mentioned that one of her friends went to L.A. recently.  L.A. is one of those cool cities that has a garment district.  Like, New York, Paris.  You know, NOT Houston. Nope, our 4th (or is it 3rd) most populated U.S. city is not know for fashion, nor a garment district.

For pete’s sake, there’s one in Kansas City! 

What is a garment district?  Usually, a neighborhood that is comprised of mainly fashion-centric establishments, including designers, venues, businesses, and the below-mentioned discount fabric-mania.

Typical fabric selection in NYC garment district

NYC Garment District…(drool)

NYC is for real.  They even made a cool statue and it serves as a landmark!

 This statue means you’re in fabric-heaven

Just a few steps away from this sculpture is a help kiosk.  Not only can you get help, but…just look at it!

In case you doubted where you were…

Back to L.A.

LA garment district (drooling again)

Her friend found killer deals on fabric whilst in Sunny Cali.  We’re talking B-A** fabric for $2 and $3 per yard.  The cheapest I can get wear-worthy fabric is at the local commercial store on a 40% coupon day, or 50% off the full price when they have a sale.  Meaning around $6.50 per yard and up.

Stupid Houston.  Stupid stupid Houston.  I googled Garment District Houston and got this image (seriously):

Go back to NYC for fabric!

There was a glimmer of hope for one in Dallas.  But no.  Turned out to be some event for consignment items that are donned by the finest of the (Dallas) fashion scene.

God forbid our state nurture the creative soul.  No.  We must make $ and encourage our citizens to shop-shop-shop!  And if they defy that philosophy then we’re going to make it difficult and expensive for the average lay-sewer/seamstress to expand his or her portfolio.

Oy vey.

Maybe that was a bit dramatic.  A tad severe when there are millions of people that love and adore all that Texas has to offer.  I do, too, but also know that other places suit me better.  One day we shall break up, but for now, I’m committed to Texas.

And I’m committed to solving this problem!  Where can I get dreamy fabric for good prices?  No, I don’t want to shop online.  Then I have to actually plan and wait.  Wait for the swatch order to come in the mail.  Then pick another and/or just order the fabric and…wait.  I don’t like waiting.  I want it now.  I already have to wait for the new fabric to be washed.  Isn’t that asking enough?

Onward I go in search of a nearby fashion fabric source!

The evolution to seamstress…or am I there yet?

I’ve made bags.  Lots of bags.  Little ones, standard-purse-size ones, messenger bags, beach bags…

Messenger bag

Messenger bag, upholstery fabric

Lots of bags.  I’ve made a couple pin-cushions, decorative pillows, pillow cases, table coverings, garland, jedi knight robe (for my then-5-yr-old-son), sunglass cases, wallets, and other knick knacks.

I even became interested in quilting.  There are so many  modern ideas and simple methods that make quilts look really difficult to make.  Naturally, after using my son’s color suggestions, I opted for a trip-around-the-world method of quilting:

First quilt

For years I spent my sewing time in the world of knick knacks (and bags!) because if there was an error, a mis-measured step, it didn’t really matter.  The final product was still going to be a ________ and even better, it was handmade and would be, at the very least, a long remembered gift.  This has always been my justification for avoiding the world of being a seamstress *gasp*!

Making your own clothes can be intimidating!  Store-bought patterns make me nervous to no end.  My waist is too high for them, my rear end is usually too large for the petite patterns that would fit me otherwise, and I am the worst at choosing fabric that’s comfortable and my taste.

That was until I commtted to two very important things:

  1. Made my own dress form (great instructions here: Tish.TV DIY Duct Tape Dress Form)
  2. Learned how to drape my own pattern (best instructions ever: E13 Draping 101 Front and Back Bodice)

For the dress form, do not stuff with spray foam; I did this and all my pins are useless once they enter the spray foam material, which does not come off.  Just use good ‘ol polyester filling.  The draping video is awesome.  Enough said.

This is my dress form

Dress Form, custom!

This is my first dress I made using the form, which just happened to be my wedding dress (simple bodice with full circle skirt):

my first dress

My next two projects are to complete a half-circle skirt and a dress, both out of linen.  It’s the end of summer, and down here in Houston all of us can never have too many light & easy linen outfits in our closet.  Summer is synonymous with most of fall…and winter…and, well, you’re getting my point.  Hopefully I can post an update with photos in a couple days!

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