The Caped Adventure!

For the most part I have ditched all other projects and have been tooling away on a CAPE! I was hesitant to buy a cape pattern (see video below), but now that it's half done I have a full blown winter coat crush.



I've convinced myself that I can be a cape kind of person. Iowa winters SUUUCK and most of the time you don't want get out from underneath a blanket. Comfort, check. It seems British, and thus stylish. Classy Snuggie, check. Will it go with spats? check yes! BTW I will be making some black and white classic spats and pretty much wear them every chance I get, and to do that they need to go with everything.

Well, there you have it folks. I am a cape person.  



Those notches by the flaps are arm holes. The flaps always seemed upside down to me, but at first I thought I was making a test cape, and should just make the pattern "as is" but it has turned into a final product project. I lined those, what they call, welts, in white. When they flop over I do get a cute pop of white, so that works out.


You can kinda see here that it's not just black fabric, it does have a blue/pink plaid. You can also see here I should have interfaced the welt. 


I got sick of reading the word welt in the instructions and went rouge on the arm hole. I used white piping to create this nice arm vagina.


I even figured out a way to weasel in some hounds tooth as the lining. It was elementary, my dear Watson!







Yellow Frankenstein dress


Meet my yellow Frankenstein dress. Like I said yesterday I made most of it in a blind rage. I was SO over thin flowy fabric, so I hit my stash and found some yellow canvas and some thick gray/white upholstery fabric and got to work on a strapless top, and this is what came out.


So-the base top came from my pageant gown, the fabric from my mobster deal. Jean zipper from a garage sale. Thread and lace hem from my grandmothers stash.


The zipper came out a bit wonky. I used my zipper foot, but a fly zipper is much thicker and wouldn't fit, so I did the best I could. 

I am in love with the impromptu back pleat. Walking away has never been my best angle, so I think the pleat leads the eye well. Oh! cool zipper...nice legs.


I'm still not so sure about the front safety pin. I'm afraid to tack it wrong and ruin the whole thing in the 11th hour. I don't mind staying true to my roots and leaving it there, maybe add a few more so it looks more on purpose?


I wonder about the hem as well. I feel like the black thread is in this weird "not really invisible, not really on purpose" area.


The lace is just fucking cute.








Flowy Fail and a Structured Win

Sorry for the bit of radio silence, but I have been in the middle of the best summer ever. With that I was commissioned to make a few tank tops for a friend and have been busy in my work shop ever since.

It's a simple tank. It's even is under the "learn to sew" category. The tricky part however is the fabric. Sheer fabric comes with horror stories all over the internet, but so did sequins so I thought I was game. I tried everything I could, I followed the how to sew this shit to the T. Nothing helped. I even tried the "sandwich the fabric in tissue paper" trick. That seemed to work, it felt right, but in the end I got the same wonky result. (and now have shreds of tissue paper all over the floor no matter how many I step on and throw away)




I need to figure out what a walking foot is, and buy one. It's my only hope. I quit while I was ahead and will only need to re-cut the front. I hope to ding a few more sewing skill levels and come back to it. I will not let some flowy fabric beat me.

But since I was in a blind rage I thought that it was a perfect time to rip up my pageant ball gown. Boy was that fun! I now have miles of tulle that might become niece tutus. But the top had some boning in it, and fit... so why waste it?


I only took 1 pic of version 1, and it was Snapchat to the Hubs, hence the writing on the bottom. I didn't use a pattern, that why it didn't fit on the bottom (wayyy too tight). But I cut off most of the skirt and added a circle skirt to it.


As you can see in a fight to have enough fabric I had to cut one of the skirt pieces out on the bias. I think it adds a little something but I want it to hang/stretch out over night before I hem it.

I'll post full shots tomorrow when the lighting is better. Get ready, it totally rules. 


How I fixed a Belt Loop

I had always thought of the brand Lucky to be of pretty high quality. They spare no expense on denim thickness or dark dye costs. In my mind, they have always had their shit together and worth the 80 bucks.

Then I saw this


A friend had returned a pair just like it because this rip happened, and the second pair ripped in the same place. They got fancy and made it a double loop in the back, leaving the loops to be sewn to just the denim with NO reinforcement on the inside. So it also ripped a hole straight through.


On the inside I made a little patch wide enough to cover both belt loops. I got fancy by matching the color scheme. I just tucked the raw edge into the main band seam and under the tag.


The only thing holding the patch in place is where the two belt loops are sewn onto it. (I didn't want to fuss with trying to sew it into the main band seam)


Lucky also tried to be fancy and use a color of thread that would be hard to find (and thus having to take them into THEIR seamstresses). It was a neon yellow/green that I have never seen before. But lucky for me my grandmother bought thread in the 60's where weird greens were the norm. Thanks Granny!



How To Change Flare Jeans Into Skinny Jeans Off a Pair Known to Fit

Once upon a time flare jeans were the IT jeans to wear. It was the late nineties and 70's influence ruled our leg width. As the 2000's crept in, what was worn in high school soon became passe.


So here is how to turn your flare legged jeans into skinny jeans:

1. Iron. Turn the jeans inside out. Iron the outside seams back closed. Keep the outside seams flush and iron/push the extra fabric toward the inner thigh


2. Mark. I am sizing off a pair of jeans known to fit, so I don't have to mess with pinning/fitting and re-drawing lines that everyone else on the internet seems to do. 

Make sure to start by lining it all up with the center crotch notch.


Mark it. I used a regular pen.


The line should ease into the "old seam"


Check yo shit. Make sure this seam merge happens at the same point on both sides and everything is exact. 



3. Iron again.(same way) Get these jeans so steamed and pressed it could be a plate you could eat off of. Don't burn it though, I got away with the lowest steam setting. This takes time. The flatter it is, the easier the sewing will be. 

4. Sew it. Back stitch more than usual, remember these are jeans, and will be washed and worn, jumped in, danced in... If in doubt about an area, back stitch.


Keep everything flat and the seam merge should go so smoothly it will bring you joy. The end of the seam should be an inch into the old seam. Back stitch.

5. Cut/finish. Cut the triangle flap off to a sewable length. Sew both new seam allowances with a zig-zag stitch to keep from fraying. Iron the seams open. 

BAM you, my friend, just saved yourself 80 bucks.


Before, yes weird angle, but I hit my head on the ceiling fan trying to take this photo. I guess it did affect me because this was the best shot I took.


After, and yes they do kinda look like cowboy pants, but the lady owner rolls them up, and frankly all skinny jeans look that way when they're laid out.


Can't even tell.






How to Read a Vogue Magazine

Let me take another detour from finishing my (never ending) yellow dress to talk a little about how to read a Vogue, or any other high fashion magazine.

I have always been taken aback when friends of mine mock my Vogue subscription. It is true that I have always been more on the counter couture side of life rather than the cutting edge trend chaser, but I read it correctly, and not many people seem to. 

First of all you can't avoid the fashion big guns showcased in Vogue. I can't explain it any better than this clip can.


So like it or not, the watered down mass appeal versions of these outfits in Vogue are going to be around. It's going to start out as an idea, a color, a construction concept or a new way to use a fabric. It WILL keep getting re-interpreted over and over again until anyone can look at it and like it. I personally like my fashion choices how I like to win at black jack. First hand.

Now that I have sold you on why you should care, here is how to read it:

Don't look at the crazy outfits as something you could or couldn't wear to the mall.


Look at that are trying to show you: bold color blocking, very flowy ruffles. What catches my eye is more than likely different than what catches yours, so there aren't any wrong answers. That is why people will call fashion "wearable art".


Pick out the parts you like and make them your style.

Before sewing I would look at Vogue as a way to find out if it was a good year for shopping or not. Now with sewing I flip through it as a book of inspiration. 

I have always had a rough idea of a dress, but I knew I would be fighting the fact it might come off as looking like an Addams family costume.


But on the other hand I do really like her dress.


Then saw this page in Vogue. You can't see so well because the lady is humping a statue (which seems morbid and a bit of a nod to the whole Addams look) How did they change her dress into a modern dress? 

Well for starters they paired it with fishnets and a veil/net thing. We can cross both those off right now. They also made it a mini dress. No thanks. BUT! if you look close at the collar, the black part isn't an all in one dress, but a men's suit jacket style dress. (then a separate white collar as a necklace) I took that idea and ran with it. I am keeping the dress all as one, but will insert a white pleated (tuxedo style) scoop neck with a (peter pan) collar. I also think some white spats will help keep the men's wear slant. Oh and I'll add pockets.duh.





Obsession

If you're like me, you rule, and your mind is obsessed with sewing.

Let me explain. When I see a person walk in a room, I now look at the seams or collar of whatever they are wearing first, even before their face.

When I had the honor of dancing with Chubby Checker on stage, all I could think about was how his custom made denim-glitter suit's shoulder seams where too far forward. (That, and who still wears ck1?)

(Sorry bad pic)

And now this: I couldn't even enjoy a comedy video. Watch this. Now it should be a cute video of some old ladies being hip, but all I can notice is two of the old ladies are wearing very different dresses, but made out of the same fabric.

I hope someone else out there can relate.

Any who, my yellow dress has hit a snag. Everything was going grand until I attached the skirt to the top. I'm starting to think I forgot to cut 2 side panels of the skirt, because when I pleated it just as marked, it came out like 16 inches off. I removed some of the pleats to make it fit.


As you can see here the pockets are super close together


It needs some work. It looks way better on the form than on me. It looks like a country bumpkin dress. I'm swimming in the sleeves, and the waist is a little tight, but I haven't put in the zipper yet so maybe I can do something about it still. I think I might go against all that I stand for and remove the sleeves...I need to spend a day staring at it to figure out how to fit what I'm not sure went wrong.


I am a fan of the lining though. One oversight I had was that I flipped two of the side lining panels, leaving seams visible. I only had it in my head that the lining's purpose was to make it not see through. I had forgotten that all seams can be hidden on the inside. You live and you learn right?

First Dress Pro Tips

I got an e-mail today from the sweetest girl ever, and she needs a little help making the leap from home sewer to seamstress. I hear this a lot wasting hours on Reddit's sewing section. I thought I would help put some OC on the internet and give everyone crippled with fear some pro tips to help get you started making your new favorite clothes.

1. Don't start with a dress. I recommend starting with pajama pants. This is a great starter pattern pack. With pajama pants you don't have to worry about fabric really, it can be see through, it doesn't have to be stretchy, and you can give into those super silly fabrics at the fabric store. Plus if they look a little weird at the end, who cares? Quit looking at my pajamas. 

2. Fabric matters more than you think. You can't just like this pattern, and this fabric and it's a match made in heaven. Sucks, I know. 

  • I like to start with a pattern and think about what shoes I would wear with this style of dress. This way I know it needs to be in the brown family to go with my brown boots. This leaves you with less disappointment in the aisles. If you go in with your heart set on a red floral, you might miss the orange stripe. 
  • On the back of the pattern it will list what kinds of fabric you can use for that pattern. Some need a two way stretch (which is hard to find in Cedar Rapids) which if you don't use, you won't be able to get the dress on in the end.  
  • Head to the apparel fabrics section and start feeling everything. Once you find one that is listed on your pattern and you like, unroll it and hold it up to yourself. This is where a friend helps. It might be too busy for a dress, it might be too stiff for a flowy skirt. Or too silky for a pencil skirt.
  • Hold it up to the light, is it see through? Is the dress lined?
  • Look at each fabric trying to find why it won't work. Make the fabric prove itself to you, and one will. Let it take time. This is where a patient friend helps. 
  • Resist the urge to start right away, and wash and dry the fabric.
3. Understand that sewing is the last step. You might be thinking, "but I have the pattern! I have the fabric, let's cut and get needle to fabric!" WHOA slow down. You will work on the dress for hours before it even looks like a dress. If you want a fast turn around, make something else and come back. Don't rush/skip steps in all your excitement. No one will be more impressed if it took you three hours compared to three days. 

4. Have a tissue fitting.

 
If you have cats make sure to do this part when they are sound asleep. Otherwise dickheads have a field day.

With every new pattern you will be faced with the same question every time: "Which size do I cut out?" so get used to that uneasy feeling. I always have a "well, here goes nothing" moment. This is where shit gets tricky. You will measure your bust and check the pattern to see what size they think you should cut out. Store dress sizes are NOT the same as pattern sizes, but frankly they are in the same ball park most of the time. I wear a size 6 from stores, and most of the time I cut a size 6 or 8 in a pattern, but sometimes the pattern will tell me to cut a size 16...Open the pattern up. Somewhere around the bust they will list the finished garment measurements and ease measurements. These mean sometimes the person who made the pattern has decided that it should be worn really baggy or lose. The ease is the difference between your size and the dresses size. This is where you put your designer hat on. Do you want your dress that loose? Or did you want it to be more fitted? Keep at least an inch or and inch and half ease in on everything. So that means if your bust is a 36 and wanting it fitted, you want your finished dress's bust to measure around a 38, look to see what size has a finished garment measurement of 38 and cut that size. (sometimes it's good to measure a shirt that you know fits you well for a good finished garment measurement) I've cut size 4's and size 16's before. It really comes down to that damn ease that is only printed on the pattern itself and not on the packet. So really each pattern has its own scale. That is why knowing your measurements and how you like to your clothing to fit is gold.

  • Cut out your pattern
  • Draw where the seam allowance is (which is built into most major pattern companies) 
  • Pin the tissue together where you would sew it
  • Try it on (sometimes I do it with a tank top on and pin it to myself)
  • Nit-pick as brutally as you do when you try on clothing. Make a list of the problems. "too baggy in the back" "shoulder seam is off my shoulder" Then look to Google on how to make those adjustments. Make the trims or add-ons where you need to and try it on. Keep doing this until it fits like a glove.
5. Check yo pattern/ grain lines. When it's time to cut the fabric lay it all out per instructions. Now look where the side seams are. Will the pattern line up on the other piece? Make sure they line up the best you can. I personally like to weigh the pattern down to the fabric, some like to pin it, it's up to you. Follow the grain lines, they are there for a reason. Take a deep breath and cut. 

6. Test your tension/ stitch length. With some of the cut off scraps do a few test runs of the tension and stitch length.  There shouldn't be any puckering or pulling. Find that sweet spot where it goes through like butter.

7. Iron, iron, iron. Before and after anything goes through the machine, iron it. The dress comes together more through the iron then the sewing machine. When you take your time and put the pieces together, and iron them, your press puts them together the stitch just makes your press permanent.

8. A dress is no harder than a pillow case. I know a lot of people look at a dress like it is way out of their league. It's not. If you can drive a car, you can use a sewing machine. If you can use a sewing machine you can make a dress. In today's world we think of dress makers as crazy skilled designers who went to art collage, but just a generation ago it was considered a basic skill. If a nine year old Amish girl can do it, you can do it. There might be a few more pieces than a pillow case, and you might need to do a curve now and then, but it's all the same. Sewing is sewing.


9. One last thing. If you start sewing your own dresses, designer dresses become in reach. When patterns go on sale, which is like 4 times a year, they go for dollar. That means you can own a Donna Karan dress for under $20 after fabric. You also open the door to liking your body. Standard clothing can make you feel like something's wrong with you. What's wrong, is the clothing. Once you start wearing custom made clothing you will never go back. I look at stores now and flip through the racks and see mismatched seams, no pockets, no detail. I see 50 dollar shirts made out of fabric I know only costs 5 bucks a yard. I know that 50 dollar shirt won't ever fit right either. It's really easy to make clothing that's better than what is out there. It will become clear the low standard we all have for clothing nowadays. You will rise above the shoddy craftsmanship of mass produced clothing faster than you can realize on this side of it. Make the leap. You won't have to search and hope for clothing that you like AND fit ever ever again.

Craftsmanship

You might be wondering "What is taking so long to make that dress?" and I answer you with this: craftsmanship.


Here is a sneak speak of my Simplicity 1755. The pattern came with pockets and sleeves so no add-ons needed! The whole thing is lined since I am making it out of my grandmothers mismatched sheets.(Since she was from the "make do and mend" generation I think she would be proud....OR super pissed I cut up her good guest sheets)

I am really taking my time with this one and it's really paying off. I took hours on the fitting and tissue cutting. I took my sweet ass time cutting out the fabric. I am pressing the fuck out of everything before and after I sew it. When I get frustrated I walk away. I think everything should go as planned, I even bought a zipper foot for the occasion.

My new sewing room is coming together, I must admit it has been hard working with all my supplies strewn about.


I like to think of this as my own haberdashery. Sometimes I just stare at it and day dream.


Cutting table is taking shape.

Since it is Fourth of July weekend and summer is in full swing you know a girl has to trim her bush.


I also managed to find the time to draw on myself. 



As my shenanigans continue I will just leave you with this. 
 

Simplicity 1755

I'm in love with a pattern I haven't even opened yet. Meet Simplicity 1755. Last night I dreamed of a baseball sleeve dress with a zipper in the back. I was going to figure out a way to Frankenstein a bunch of patterns together and then add a zipper... but based on the lack of homeruns I've been having lately I thought I'd better stick to a blueprint. I wandered over to Hancock and I found this gem for a DOLLAR

Has anyone out there ever made this? Wanna have a show and tell?
E-mail me your creations at Pocketsandsleeves@gmail.com 


To the workshop!

Test Maxi Skirt

I wanted to test making a maxi dress, which quickly turned into making a maxi skirt. Why limit myself to one color of top? Mix and match seems way more my style. 


The fabric was in a tube for some reason and I just went with it. Seamless seemed like such a good idea at the start. Soon after putting in an elastic band, and was pleased with how fast it came together, I quickly realized that if you make a skirt out of a tube, it will look like a tube.


I tried to bunch all the extra fabric up in back, but it just doesn't lay right. I don't know yet if I will put some darts in the back, or just cut off the band and have it go back to being fabric. Cute-cute fabric.