Thursday, August 22, 2019

Random Threads # 37: latest sewing, thoughts on perfect insides and is mending a trend?

Well that was a long stretch since my last Random Threads post which was in May. As usual lately I've been sewing up a storm, but also enjoying summer. I've tried to keep the garden from getting away from me, this is actually the slack time, garden-wise around here. As long as the tomatoes get watered there isn't much else to do. Which means more time for swimming, making ice-cream and having relaxing dinners with family and friends.
On the days when it's not a boiling 100+ degrees Fahrenheit I do get some sewing accomplished. The recent Burda issues have had so many pretty things and I need to resist, although I have one in the works and hope to finish this week. I'm sewing some samples for our fall classes at Hello Stitch and just barely starting to think about fall. I did order some fabrics from Mood this week and tossed quite a few wool swatch samples in my cart so perhaps one of those will be just what I didn't know I wanted.

Burda 6329 Envelope pattern: I have a few knits from Girl Charlee and one day decided this coral fabric needed to be sewn up immediately. I really like this pattern and I think in the winter I'll make the long sleeve version.  Worn here with my trusty Vogue 1247 denim skirt.

Coral burda stripe tee1


Ordinarily the neckband needs to be cut on the cross-grain but this fabric was quite stretch so it worked to rotate it lengthwise and then have the contrast stripes which I really like. By the way, I don't use the neckband pattern piece which came with the pattern, it didn't seem right and I just use my own method which is one I learned from the Threads website - it never fails. Also the sleeves are hemmed about 3 inches shorter than the pattern view, it think on me the sleeve length is just dowdy and needed to be shorter like this, or maybe longer. Anyway - stitcher's choice, right?


Sewing Failures: Thankfully I don't have many sewing failures, and if I can tell something is not working out I just stop mid-project. If I can salvage the fabric and turn into something else I will do that, or maybe save the large pieces for other things. But I think this fabric was my nemesis and I have tried to make 2 things from a very large piece, both were utter failures and it was time to move on!

green gingham dress composite

I thought I would try the longer length and turns out it made me feel like I was wearing someone else clothes. I did like the neckline and pleating on the bodice so that's an idea for another day. Combining the length, the ruffle and the gingham just made me feel like I had refashioned something from the Little House on the Prairie collection. If that was a thing :).  Also that lime green shade is just not my favorite. I think I will take this dress over to Hello Stitch and see if anyone wants it.
To sum up my sewing failures, 90% of the time it's when I pick the wrong fabric for the style. How about you?

Pressing matters: I am a pressing fanatic, and it just irks me to see pattern designers showing their examples that are poorly pressed, or not pressed at all. By this I don't mean the inherent wrinkles in fabric such as linen or cotton, but the seams not pressed sufficiently or hems wobbling. Or even extra creases pressed in where they shouldn't be. It makes me question the professionalism and quality of the pattern product. Do you notice this?

Is Mending a Trend? Seriously? My feeling on mending is that it's good for your wardrobe, your wallet and the planet. I guess I grew up in a family that mended, fixed and repaired before buying something new, so mending seems second nature. But I have friends that get rid of clothes with a tiny hole or lost button. It seems like such a shame to do that. My a ha! moment as a teenager was realizing I could replace the zipper in a pair of jeans and have it look exactly the same. I wrote a post on the Craftsy blog a while ago on this, here's the link, it's not hard and so satisfying. Also for that post I actually extracted the perfectly good zipper from those jeans and then re-sewed it in, as I didn't have any jeans with a broken zipper at hand :)

Piecing: another oddly satisfying sewing maneuver. When I made a Simplicity skirt pattern recently I was down to itsy bitsy pieces to make the ruffle part, and the skirt pieces fit on the large chunks with just one corner of the side seam hanging over the edge. Piecing to the rescue.

Piecing wrap skirt

This little triangle is about 3 inches long. I cut out the skirt front, sewed on a chunk of fabric and then placed the paper pattern piece back on and cut the edge out. I think I recall seeing some vintage patterns that gave instructions for using 36" wide fabric that also included the piecing, or perhaps the design was created with that in mind and no pattern piece was wider than 36". Thank goodness for 60" wide fabric! I think piecing and color blocking or fabric mixing are fun exercises for our sewing brains.

Perfectionism and how you finish the inside of garments: This is such an interesting topic to me as I am so focused on the outside, and I really don't have an interest in doing special finishes on unlined garments. All bets are off on a lined coat or jacket as the lining is likely to be seen when you take it off, so I take quite a lot of care on those items. In fact I typically hand sew the linings in and don't think they come out as well if you bag the lining. Having a lining means that the inside seams are hidden so don't need any special treatment. But on other things, like t-shirts or jeans, I don't focus on the thread color, or if my pocket lining coordinates. I know some people get great enjoyment in doing special seam finishes or bias binding but I find that so tedious. Back in May, Gillian of Crafting a Rainbow wrote a blog post on this topic and I was interested to see her thoughts. We sew very different items but I agree with her on inside thread colors - it's not critical. I wonder if the fact that I started sewing way before I ever had a serger means that using a serger seems extra to me? I think it's nice to use, particularly on denim, but not a deal breaker. I'm constantly amazed in my classes that beginner sewists immediately are planning to go out and buy a serger in addition to a sewing machine. My advice is buy more fabric and practice making garments, but I think I'm a lonely voice in that chorus.

Latest Tunic top for my Mom:  Here's the most recent tunic top I've sewn for my mom, she said she wanted something in green, and I showed here a few fabrics but nothing caught her eye. Then I was in Stone Mountain and found this lovely woven rayon in the sale area, so score! I've made her these tops before and on this one she wanted that higher collar, so I combined this New Look pattern with the body of the self-drafted pattern that I usually use.

NL6544 envelope tunic topgreen white tunic top

The new patterns require So Much Fabric: Ruffles, full sleeves, gathers, longer lengths, all these details call for so much fabric! The fashion pendulum has swung and a lot of the patterns look so similar to those of a previous decade...which I think is 70's?
Case in point, this McCalls new fall release pattern, the Version C in the photo. The fabric requirements for 60" wide are 4.5 yards to 4.875 yards across the size range, and for a 45" wide fabric the fabric requirements are 5 to 6.5 yards. WOW! that is a lot of fabric. For Version A it ranges between 3 to 3.5 yards of 60" wide but that is still a lot! I think it might pay to really figure out what features of these new patterns are appealing to you, perhaps the skirt, or a long poet-style sleeve and choose accordingly, instead of going for every feature in one dress and needing almost 6 yards!

M7998 pattern envelope

That's it for today, although in my last random threads I did mention there is one dress that bugs me when I see it. And that is the Kielo dress by Named Patterns. Named have lots of fantastic patterns, I like their style so much. But the Kielo dress shape seems wrong to my eye, if the tie part was an overlay instead of continuing from the main body piece I would like it more. Also that dress must use quite a bit of fabric as well. Anyway - it's a wide world of patterns and there are so many to choose from.

Up next at Hello Stitch - some interesting classes for fall. If you are interested sign up when they are listed as a lot of them are quickly sold out. There are a couple of spots open in the Zadie jumpsuit class in September, and then in October I'm doing a Tamarack Jacket class and a Jeans jacket class. Not yet announced will be a Wardrobe Sewing class - we'll be using a new and popular pattern set of pants and top - any guesses? I just made the pants to try them out and I will be making more!

August is flying by, school has started around here just as we are getting out late summer heat wave. Temps around 100F here at my house - so here is how I really look when taking blog pictures.

Coral burda tee2

Stay cool and Happy Summer Sewing;

Today's garden photo, some pink gladioli taken in July. Like tulips, I plant these bulbs and then promptly forget all about them, so they are such a nice surprise when they bloom. 

Pink Glads


  1. Cute top! And good decision on the sleeve length. And yes, yes and yes! Bad pressing and wobbly hems will keep me from buying patterns, mending isn't a trend but a way of life and piecing saves the day. I'm now the proud owner of a t-shirt with 3-piece sleeves. Not with you on the inside of garments though, as I love pretty details and unique finishes that make my garments feel more luxurious and extremely bespoke. Silly, but can't help myself! Five yards of fabric is insane, but who can resist the 70s style? Not me!

  2. I love that blue and white tunic top! It's so pretty. RE: mending, I also grew up in a mending house. My widowed grandmother supported here three kids by sewing, and she patched things until there was no fabric left to hold the patch on. My mother didn't sew but she used those iron-on denim patches on our jeans (which I hated). So I do try to mend as much as I can, though I admit that it is least favorite sewing task (alterations a close second).

    I am also team-don't-worry-about-matching-inside-threads. I hate having 1/3-full bobbins lying around so I use them up on my inner seams. For serger thread, I do have a collection of colors, but if I don't have a match I usually just use gray or tan. I do not find that non-matching thread colors in any way impact the wearability or my enjoyment of items in my wardrobe, so i don't sweat it. I kind of thought that I felt this way because I am relatively inexperienced, so hearing a pro agree with me is confidence-boosting.

  3. I have serger threads in black, red, white and grey only. I do not have the space or desire for all the colours. Poorly pressed garments definitely say to me that the designer does not care enough about detail. I would not buy their patterns.

  4. I love your mom's tunic!!

    I can't with the bad samples. You're trying to convince me to buy this thing! Can't you at least make it look appealing?!?

    I learned to sew in 2013, at 33/34? When I was about 25, I bought this denim jumpsuit, which I loved, but was a gazillion inches too long (IDK why retailers don't understand that we're not the same height as models on average! And I wear heels! Tall heels!!). I needed it shortened like 3" and my mom was pretty much like, duh, take it to the tailor. When I picked it up, I was MYSTIFIED by how they were able to make it look the same. IT LOOKS EXACTLY THE SAME! I'm sure my mom gave me some major eyerolls over that one because she asked me, "just how do you think the clothes you buy are made? Someone sews them!" :)

    I WILL admit though to not being much of a mender. I'm so impatient. Blergh. Although, last week, for the first time ever, I altered a garment for my husband! Nice shirt, great color, MILES too long with a ridiculous dip in the front. I shortened it 4" at front and back, tapering to 3" at the sides. And he was amazed even though I make whole, entire garments. DOH! :)

    I like *neat* interiors. I have every shade of gray Maxilock makes because some combination is usually what I use. I refuse to buy more serger thread than what occupies the two racks on my wall. I can get close enough with some combination of thread colors that I own.

  5. I am a mender, especially clothes I make. Always have been, it just seems sensible.

    As for finishing the inside of garments nicely, that is part of the fun for me. I don't judge anyone else, but I couldn't do what Gillian does with the inside of her clothes. I just couldn't stand it.

    I started off with white and black serger thread, but have expanded my serger thread stash considerably, part from thrift store shopping and partly through half price sales. I probably have 20 different colours, and I love having that much choice.

  6. I've always been a mender too! That can require a bit of creativity at times but I find it a fun and useful habit. As far as pressing, I totally agree with you and see this too often on patterns.I just have no confidence in a pattern that is marketed by being poorly sewn. I'll pass, thank you very much. As far as sneaky piecing, I've done it many times and never apologized yet! No one ever knows. Cute outfit.

  7. I have to agree with you on the green/white dress, too much of a good thing. Maybe just too many details. A simple sheath dress might work, or use the fabric on the bias for pockets, cuffs and collar to compliment a white base. Thank you for writing about something that didn't work for you. I always find it helpful to read a blog post about what doesn't quite come together.

    Terrific little knit top, and the sleeves look perfect!

    That Laura Ashley dress is a real statement piece, but as you say, aspects of it can be backed down from for some versions. I think as a wedding dress it could be spectacular.

  8. Cute top and lovely tunic for your mom!! When I began sewing for my children in the mid-1990s, I did not have a serger..... and as I pined for a serger, I learned how to make their clothes with french seams and 'finished' seams. Fast forward to 2013 when I began making my own clothes.... I now own a serger and heavily depend on my serger.... it's my workhorse. But am finding there are some garments I'm good with serged seams.... but there's also some I enjoy seeing with other more 'finished' seam finishes. Plus it's great 'practice' to keep those skillsets sharp. And mending.... Yes!!! Even my 26 year old, when she gets a hole in her sock, pulls out her needle and thread.
    Enjoyed reading your post!!