May I sew…

At the end of April, I went fabric shopping in the LA garment district while attending PatternReview Weekend.  Here is some of the fabric I bought:

LA Fabric

Here are 2 of the 3 tops made from this group so far this month:


CJ V neck top brown abstract

And here are 2 tops from stash fabrics:

mod dots tank

Butterick 6026

This is the only one that’s a new pattern, Butterick 6026 by Katherine Tilton.  Love this pattern.  Made a straight 12, no mods but setting the bias on the armholes a little closer to the edge than called for as some reviewers on PR thought the armholes were big.  It fits and flatters.  I’m wearing it tomorrow with the white crops that are needing to be moved from the washer to the dryer, RIGHT NOW.  But before I go…

Also made a hooded après swim robe for the 2 1/2 year-old in my life, DGS.  He selected the fabric himself.  Go Giants:


And while I was at all this sewing, I managed to make it through much of the Wool series of post-apocalyptic sci-fi novels by Hugh Howey.  Admittedly they are short and quick reads.  One of the better entries in that genre.  Thanks to DS for recommending the series.

Cover stitch hem preparation





CS Tutorial 1


This first photo is showing a hem pressed.  If you try to sew over this area where the serged seams are stacked up with a cover stitch machine, at the very least you will get a pile up of smaller stitches as the feed dogs struggle to push over the extra bulk.  More likely you will get skipped stitches.  So, open up that nicely pressed hem:





CS Tutorial 2


And see where the fold is pressed into the seam allowance.  Here is where you will clip to, but not through the furthest needle thread in the serged seam:

CS Tutorial 3


And flip the seam allowance in the hem the opposite direction from the seam allowance in the body of the garment:

CS tutorial 4


Now you can fold the hem back into place along the pressed line and the seam allowances will nest and be much flatter:

CS tutorial 5


Be sure to put a pin here to hold everything in this orientation before you begin sewing the hem.  I have been doing this for years and have never had a seam pull out in the hem area as a result of that clip.  Please ignore the bad manicure, or actually, the complete lack of manicure, and ragged cuticles.  I went straight back to the lotion after every hand-washing and cuticle cream at night regimen as soon as I saw this photo.

One size fits most

mod dots tank


This is the latest in a long line of tanks made from this pattern since every time I try to use up a knit from stash and I end up with a usable piece left over, I make one of these.  I finally got around to doing a much-needed FBA on the pattern because this knit is very limited in stretch and recovery ability, almost like a stretch woven rather than the true knit that it is.  I didn’t take that into account when I used it to make the first top, a 3/4 sleeve boat-neck number.  That one is wearable, but only barely.  This one is much better, thanks to the FBA.  Why the title?  This old Vogue pattern (see below, printed in 1997), which only goes up to a size 10 and I’m usually a 12, is so adaptable I’ve shared it and made it for many people of varying sizes by sliding it one way or another before cutting and making use of the seam allowance for adjustments.  I love the neckline, which is not your standard tank, but not quite a boat neck.  It’s unfortunate that this pattern is so obscure.  Doesn’t even come up on Etsy or a Google search or on Pattern Review. This little throw-away tank that seems to have no relation to the 2 main “fashion” tops in views A and B is a real gem, sort of like the flip side of an old 45 rpm record.  Remember those…and House of Fabrics and 1997?

Vogue 9708 pattern

BWAP, yes there is a plan

LA Fabric

Just because I’ve never actually sewn an official SWAP wardrobe, doesn’t mean I don’t plan at all.  Before heading to Los Angeles to PatternReview Weekend to buy fabric, I decided I wanted to buy knits to make tops that would coordinate with crop pants I own in basic colors and get some Ponte in solid colors to make pull-on stretch crops.  This is the group I picked up for around $14 at the FIDM Scholarship store after viewing the latest group of Oscar-nominated costumes on display there.  Later I went to Michael Levine’s and picked up 3 pieces of Ponte and a few other knit pieces in their by-the-pound loft. So I call it Buying With A Plan, BWAP.  The sewing comes later and everything should dovetail right into my basic wardrobe without a hitch, but I am flexible as to patterns used and have no firm plans as yet, unlike with a true SWAP wardrobe.  I adhered pretty well to my rules going in, only buying one fabric that wasn’t a knit in a basic color or colors that would coordinate with basic pieces in my wardrobe.  My go to solids are Navy, Dark Brown, Black and Red.  My stash reduction project has gone so well that I was mostly down to knits that I had purchased with someone else in mind that are not colors I generally wear.  So now I can start sewing quick knit tops again with my favorite patterns.

Before I left for LA, I sewed up a nice piece of batik using Simplicity 1614 and it turned out well with no real hiccups:

Simplicity 1614

The only changes I made to the pattern were the facings.  I always eliminate facings when I can and use self bias tape I make with one of my bias tape makers.  I’m pretty sure I’m not going to give up those little devices like our workshop instructor Lynda Maynard suggested we should, but I may try her stretch pressing method on the cut bias strips before running them through the bias tape maker to see if I get fewer ripples when I bind necklines and armholes.  I will definitely use her method of sewing darts with a single thread next time I have a dart to sew.  Now I’m trying to decide if I should sew my other hoarded piece of rayon batik with this same pattern or choose another, but that decision is on the back burner as I stage the knits I bought in LA with patterns and quickly sew them up for summer.

This rayon top should be a staple of my summer wardrobe as it will go with black or brown or khaki.  I love it when a plan comes together and I can reach in to my closet and have many options that all play nicely together. This is the magic result when you BWAP instead of on impulse.  Pretty fabric is often not really useful and useful fabric in the wardrobe doesn’t always look pretty on the bolt.  How long it has taken me to learn that lesson!  Useful is the new beautiful.

Many thanks to the wonderful volunteers who make PR Weekend events possible.  They did an amazing job of organizing this event and I had a terrific time!