Have you visited the new site?

[Sewist] Original is alive and well over on www.sewistoriginal.com! Please bookmark the new page and join the newsletter list to get weekly site updates.

We also have a YouTube channel featuring all things lingerie sewing. A new video is posted each Friday- just in time for weekend viewing! This week, I’m sharing my four essential lingerie sewing tools.

https://youtu.be/weLBdyt9XcU

See you on the new site!

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Three Reasons I Love to Teach Sewing Classes

A month or so back, the owner of Three Little Birds, a sewing store and studio in Hyattsville, MD, and I first met via Instagram. This online meeting resulted in my stopping into the store to do a bit of fabric shopping. An offer to teach lingerie sewing classes was extended and I excitedly agreed.

Three lingerie sewing classes, Perfect Panties, were scheduled. So far, I have taught two of the three classes and enjoyed them so much!

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Class in-progress!

Professionally, I am a teacher. I have been working in education at various levels (middle school, high school, and university) and have held many different roles (teacher, literacy coach, school administrator, and district administrator) since 2004. A year ago I earned a Ph.D. in secondary literacy. I literally ate, slept, and breathed education while I worked on my degree. It was grueling and wonderful. Ultimately, I adore working with students and am the best version of myself when I am teaching. Simply put, education is my jam.

While teaching sewing isn’t the exact same thing as teaching secondary or university classes, there are a lot of similarities. For example, the basics of teaching remain the same. Directions must be clear and sequential. Students should be supported to success and a job well done should be celebrated. In some ways, it is even better than teaching in a traditional classroom. No one is forced to take my class, so there isn’t any grumbling or snarky comments. I also don’t have to manage any errant adolescent behaviors (spitballs, thrown pencils, curse words, etc.).

 

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Pantie making wonderfulness in full swing!
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Pinning the tricky crotch seam for sewing

Reflecting on what makes teaching sewing so enjoyable, I identified three reasons why I love teaching sewing:

  1. Everyone taking the class has a growth mindset. They are hungry to learn something new and excited about their learning. I find this really energizing.
  2. Nothing is graded. In Perfect Panties, everyone gets an A+! Sewing with stretch fabrics and elastics for the first time is hard. The first pair of panties I created certainly wasn’t perfect and my students’ aren’t either, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t perfectly wonderful! They are the first in a hopefully long line of successful panty makes that will become more professional looking with patience and practice. Victoria Secret can eat her heart out.
  3. I get to empower women. Lingerie retailers like the one mentioned above sell panties for tiny bums while many high end brands price out the average woman. $100 panties, anyone? By learning to make your own, you take control. You can make panties out of luxury materials that fit your bum perfectly for a fraction of the cost of high end RTW. I don’t think it gets more empowering than that!

I can’t wait to teach my next class. It promises to be a fantastic learning experience!

 

If you live in the D.C. metro area and are interested in joining us, class will be held on Sunday, October 22 at 11:00am at Three Little Birds Sewing Company. Click here for their website to register.

Let’s Talk Lingerie. Pattern Review: Arccos Undies

It’s only a few months into my #LetsTalkLingerie efforts and I am hopelessly addicted to making bras and panties.

I’ve been sewing a LOT of panties. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I am a thong devotee, but there are times when I prefer panties with full bum coverage. Sometimes, I just want to lie on the sofa binge watching Netflix in sweat pants. I crave comfort and a panty that politely hugs my bum.

Enter the Arccos Undies by independent pattern designer Sophie Hines and say hello to comfort!

The Arccos feature full-bum coverage and a wrap around side detail. I particularly like the drafting regarding the elastic at the waist and legs. There isn’t a huge difference between the length of the elastic and the circumference of the panty opening on which the elastic will be sewn. This results in minimal yanking on the elastic during sewing and produces a neat finish. Once applied to the panty, I found the suggested elastic measurements sew up to a comfortable fit around the waist and legs.

The directions to sew the crotch are very clever. The crotch is applied in such a way that all seams are sandwiched between the crotch and crotch lining, therefore, not visible in the final panty. While this is an awesome sewing trick, the directions to accomplish it are a little confusing. At different steps, differing terms are used to refer to the crotch and crotch lining, making it confusing regarding which panty piece should go where. I messed this up a few times before properly wrapping my head around the construction.

Directions for sewing several elastic types are given, but, to date, I have only used fold over elastic (FOE). The directions for applying FOE are ambitious. They suggest sewing the elastic down in one go with a three-step zigzag stitch. This is advanced level ninja sewing. I much prefer sewing my FOE in two steps. One, sew fabric to elastic under the middle fold line. Two, fold elastic over the line of stitching just created and sew down to secure. I find that I make fewer mistakes and have greater control over the FOE application than if I used the method suggested by the pattern.

My favorite aspect of these panties is how much they can be customized to suit the sewist’s personal style. They can be made in stretch lace, knit fabrics with substantial stretch and lingerie mesh. I’ve been playing around with several different fabrications. So far, my favorite is the full lace back.

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Front and crotch made in grey t-shirt knit. Back is a printed stretch lingerie mesh.

All FOE, lace, and mesh were purchased from my favorite online lingerie supplier, Tailor Made Shop. The knit fabrics were scraps left over from previous sewing projects.

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Lace front lined with bra mesh. Knit back. Outer crotch is lace with a knit lining. This photographed a bit more yellow than it looks in real life.
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My favorite pair. Knit front and crotch with a stretch lace back.

I may be burrowed deep in the couch cushions but my panty game is on point.

In the past weeks, I’ve been teaching panty making classes using this pattern with my students. I will devote a post to the classes later this week (They’ve been awesome!) and am in the process of creating tutorials for the method used by the pattern designer to sew the crotch as well as how I prefer to apply FOE. Check this space for updates on the development of these tutorials!

Baby Gift Making

I was going to post this on Wednesday, but as I watched news coverage of the mass shooting in Vegas this morning, I decided to post it today instead. Baby makes are smile-producing and hopeful. On sad days, like today, they can offer a bit of levity.

These two makes are certainly cheerful creations. The tiny size alone makes them adorable. I’ve heard humans are programed to react favorably to small humans and their accoutrements. Apparently, it triggers our biological instincts to protect and nurture. Whatever the reason, small is always super cute.

As a sewists, I view a baby shower as a chance to flex my making muscles, so when I recently received a baby shower invitation, the first thing I did was plan my gift makes.

Rosebud Cardigan

Over the years, my shower gifts have consisted of baby blankets of various types. I’ve made blankets with ruffles, lacy stitches, cables, and monograms. I decided to branch out a bit with this make and knit a baby sweater. I’ve knit adult sized sweaters, but this was my first tiny sweater.

fullsizeoutput_1416I used the Rosebud Cardigan pattern from Simple Knits for Cherished Babies by Erika Knight. I purchased this book locally a while back from my local yarn store, Fibre Space. It is also available online (see link above). I have previously knit another pattern in the book, the monogrammed baby blanket which turned out well.

This simple cardigan sweater is knit in five pieces (two arms, two front panels, one back) and then sewn together. A collar and button bands are added by picking up stitches once the sweater is sewn up.

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Sweater images from the book

The pattern calls for the use of a silk or mercerized cotton yarn. Fibre Space carries a large selection of Miss Babs yarn and, after much deliberation over feel and color, I decided on a scrummy skein of Woodbury, a fingering yarn. Woodbury’s fibre content is 65% merino wool and 35% tussah silk. This dusty pink is called “sugar.”

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I made only one change from the pattern as written. When shaping the raglan armholes, the pattern directs, “Decrease 1 stitch… at each end of the next and every following alternate row.” This direction would have me knit two rows for each decrease. I did a quick estimation of how long this would make the final arm measurement based on my gauge and decided to ignore the directions. Instead, I decreased by one stitch at the end of every row. I’m glad I deviated from the pattern. If I hadn’t, the arms would have knit up exceptionally long. I don’t expect baby to have octopus arms, so this wouldn’t have worked out well.

For such a small sweater, it took a considerable amount of time to knit. I binge watched several episodes of The Last Tycoon while knitting it up. (You can stream it here: Pilot.) The costuming on the show is fantastic!

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I finished the sweater, as the book suggests, with little satin rosettes purchased from my local craft store. I found some that look similar online here Pink Satin Rosebuds. The sweater could also be finished more traditionally with buttons.

Doctor Who Dress

I decided my second make for baby should focus on the dad-to-be. I find fathers get a bit lost in the excitement surrounding baby showers (especially when baby is a girl). For baby shower gifts in the past, I’ve sewn football-shaped baby blankets featuring dad’s favorite sports team. These blankets have been big hits at showers. I use the free directions and pattern published online here to create them. I highly recommend the pattern and instructions. Both are great.

This particular dad is not a big football fan, so a football blanket wouldn’t have been appropriate. He is, however, a huge fan of Doctor Who, so I decided to sew a Dr. Who themed dress.

Joann’s is my go-to spot for character fabrics. The section of Frozen fabric alone is mind blowing. I found a super cute cotton printed with the faces of all the different faces of Dr. Who throughout the years (including the most recent doctor). Unfortunately, this fabric is available in-store only.

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I did find another cute Doctor Who print that would also work for this dress and is available online.

Dad-to-be has an affinity for vintage, so I found some vintage reddish-orangish buttons at one of my local sewing shops, Stitch Sew Shop, for the closures.

You know I love a Burda pattern and my Burda Style stash is my first stop when looking for a specific type of pattern. A brief search resulted in the selection of a sweet smock-style dress with two little patch pockets and oversized button closures.

The dress pattern is from the March 2017 Burda Style Magazine. I sewed a size 74, the second smallest size available.

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Burda, March 2017

 

 

The pattern is rated as intermediate (three dots in Burda’s skill rating system) and I feel this is an appropriate rating. The pattern does require the use of piping, the creation of button holes, and the use of facings and bias binding. There is nothing particularly difficult or tricky with this pattern, but it does require some solid sewing knowledge. Burda doesn’t hold the sewist’s hand and assumes detailed directions are not needed. Despite the brevity of the instructions, they were clear.

The only thing I struggled with was the piping. My serger came with a piping foot and I was excited to try it out with this pattern. Luckily, I had the presence of mind to test it out on a scrap piece of fabric first. It did not go well.

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Oops! Piping disaster!

My piping was too thick for my piping foot and everything became a jammed up mess. I gave up and went back to applying the piping the old fashioned way with my zipper foot on my sewing machine.

I was in a rush finishing this dress and sewed on the buttons as my husband hustled me out the door for the baby shower, so I don’t have any in-progress shots and only one photo of the final dress.

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Despite the lack of photographic evidence, I am very pleased with how this dress turned out.

Hopefully, baby will look smashing in both!

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that I will receive, at no cost to you, a commission if you click and make a purchase.

Pattern Review’s Sewing Bee Round 2: Sleeves!

This year, I’m participating for the first time in Pattern Review‘s online Sewing Bee. My Beyonce-inspired skirt was good enough to get me through to round 2! Wahoo!

There are 60 contestants in this round and there will be about 25 after the eliminations. I really love the top I sewed for this round and hope it is good enough to get me into round 3. Fingers crossed!

The challenge for round 2 was to create a garment with dramatic sleeves. I’ve made a few statement sleeves recently (reviews here and here and here). Clearly, this is a trend I like!

Since I have some dramatic sleeve sewing experience, I decided to design my own statement sleeves. I couldn’t be more pleased with how they turned out.

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Here is the official contest entry review submitted to Pattern Review:

Pattern Description: I LOVE the dramatic sleeves that have dominated RTW this spring and summer and, like many other Sewing Bee contestants, was excited to see dramatic sleeves were the challenge this round. After intensive Pinterest and fashion magazine research, I decided to go rogue and design my own over-the-top sleeves.

My aim was a bright and happy top that I could wear confidently to brunch with my love and coffee with my girls. My mark was over-the-top, but wearable.

For a starting point, I pulled Vogue 9243, a pattern I have used and reviewed on Pattern Review once before, from my stash. In my first version, I sewed up view F and made no changes to the pattern with the exception of narrowing the side seams to allow for a bit more hip room. This time, I created what I have dubbed “view Bridget.” View Bridget includes lace at the top of the sleeves, lanterns at the bottom of the sleeves, and a button band back. I also added grosgrain ribbon bows at the elbows.

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Pattern Sizing: This pattern is a missus sizing. I sewed up the size 12 which corresponds with my bust measurement, but is a little too skinny in the waist for me. I graded out to almost a 14 at the waist and hips.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Sort of. The front bodice is unchanged. I liked the fit of the princess seams, so I left them alone. The sleeves and back look pretty different from the pattern envelope.

Were the instructions easy to follow? As far as I followed them- yes.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? This is a solid pattern with a flattering fit.

Fabric Used: I often have a plan and then walk into a fabric store and toss the plan out the window. That is what happened when I went to purchase fabric at one of my local fabric shops in the D.C. area, G Street Fabrics. This store stocks a decent selection of shirting fabrics and lace, so it was my go-to for this project. Gingham, or any sort of print, wasn’t part of the plan. Luckily, I was not wed to my plan because a bolt of red and white gingham sitting on top of the cotton shirting fabrics table called to me like a cheery beacon. I tossed my plan, grabbed the bolt, found some red non-stretch lace, and headed towards the cutting table.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made several modifications to this pattern.

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  1. Like my first version, I widened the waist and hip by sewing a very narrow side seam. The result was just a smidge less width across the waist and hip than grading out to a size 14.
  2. I created bias tape from the gingham fabric to finish the neckline.
  3. My first version of the blouse felt a tiny bit too long as I wore it into the wild, so I decided to shorten this version. I chopped off 2 1/4 inches from the bottom and sewed a 1 inch hem.
  4. The lace sections of the sleeve are based on the original pattern pieces; however, I shortened them by 3 inches so that the lantern would begin just above my elbow.
  5. The lace sections of the sleeves are finished with french seams (side seams and sleeve heads).
  6. I drafted lantern sleeves.
  7. I also drafted cuffs for the bottom of the lantern sleeves.
  8. I created thread loops for the buttons at the sleeve cuffs.
  9. Inspired by Brandon Kee’s dress on last week’s Project Runway, I added long grosgrain ribbons to the sleeves just above the lantern poof. The ribbons are attached via topstitching and tie in a bow.
  10. The pattern calls for a zipper in the back. I found the zipper a bit boring for such an extravagant blouse. Instead, I created a button band down the back of the blouse by adding 2 inches of width to the center back pattern pieces. Creating the button placket was a little tricky as the center back seam of the blouse was slightly curved. I secured both button plackets with tiny (and nearly invisible) handsewn stitches. The back closure is finished with seven red buttons.

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Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? This pattern is great as drafted and was so much fun to modify in order to create my own dramatic sleeves.

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Conclusion: I am so pleased with how this top turned out. Everytime I look at it, I can’t help but smile. How can you not smile at gingham, lace, and bows? It’s a perfect blouse trifecta!

If you haven’t done so yet, go check out the other round 2 contestants. Creativity and serious sewing skill are on display. I have stiff competition!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO

#SorryNotSorry A Beyonce-inspired Skirt

The Bee is back! The first round challenge for Pattern Review’s annual Sewing Bee is due at midnight tonight. I finished my entry this afternoon and took photos in the waning daylight. True to form, I procrastinated on this make (the challenge was posted on September 1st), but I did get my entry in before the deadline. Whew!

For the first round, we were tasked with creating a pencil skirt inspired by music or a musician. I’ve been listening to Lemonade on repeat for months now, so this was a no-brainer. Queen Bey was going to be my inspiration.

As I was mulling over what sort of pencil skirt to create, I remembered a photo of Beyonce in a wrap-style skirt posted to her IG account a while ago. I liked the skirt so much, I’d saved a copy of the image on my phone. I decided to create my own version of her skirt.

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Beyonce in the amazing skirt I wanted to copy.

Copying Beyonce’s skirt might not be the best way to stay in the competition. The creation of a straight-up copy would be the kiss of death on Project Runway. I can hear Tim Gunn saying, “It’s too literal a translation of the challenge.” I decided to go with it anyway and proceeded with my shameless copy. I figure I win no matter the outcomes of the competition. I have a skirt I adore regardless what happens with the judging!

To create this skirt, I added two fabric panels to a traditional pencil skirt at the side seams. The panels are not even. One is substantially wider than the other and is sewn almost all the way down the side of the skirt. The wider panel is cut on a curve at the bottom to create the gather across the front without adding too much volume to the bow.

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The other panel is thinner and doesn’t wrap as far across the front of the skirt before tying in a bow. The asymmetrical bow gives the skirt a fun and casual feel.

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The pencil skirt is based on a skirt sloper I created as part of the Craftsy course, Patternmaking Basics: The Skirt Sloper with Suzy Furrer. I haven’t finished working through the entire course yet, but so far, it’s great. The pencil skirt I created from my sloper fits worlds better than any other pencil skirt I’ve attempted to make. I have a khaki pencil skirt already in the cue based on this same self-drafted pattern.

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Below is the review I submitted on Pattern Review for the competition.

Pattern Description: Beyonce-inspired Skirt

I’m a huge fan of Beyonce. She’s smart, strong, and sexy. Her last album is based largely on the work of a poet which, as a former literature major and lifelong literacy nut, I think is AMAZING.

A while back, she shared images of herself in a hot pink skirt on IG and her website. It was playful and fun. I shamelessly copied it for this challenge. #sorrynotsorry

This is a self-drafted pencil skirt. I used the Craftsy Course, Patternmaking Basics: The Skirt Sloper with Suzy Furrer, to create the sloper on which this pencil skirt is based.

Pattern Sizing: This pattern was created based on my personalized skirt sloper.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? It does look a lot like Queen Bey’s skirt.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Suzy’s instructions in the course are great and I followed them in order to create this pencil skirt.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The bow is pretty heavy and pulls the front of the skirt down a bit. This may be annoying if I’m wearing it for long periods of time.

Fabric Used: I used a cotton sateen from Joann Fabrics. This yardage was purchased 4, maybe 5, years ago. It sewed up well and has the body the bow required to stand up on its own.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made a traditional pencil skirt and added fabric panels to the side seams to create ties for the bow in the front of the skirt. I played around with pleating various parts of the fabric panels to ensure the panels would tie up and across my front without pulling weirdly.

I left out the back slit on this skirt. I am able to walk comfortably without it and felt adding one was just too much stuff for one skirt.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I think one pencil skirt with a huge bow is enough for my closet! I will definitely make the pencil skirt without the bow again.

Conclusion: While posing for blog photos in this skirt, I asked my husband, “Do I look like Beyonce?”
His response: “Is this a trick question?”
(sigh)
Well, at least I feel some Beyonce-awesomeness while wearing it.

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The Queen B’s!

Happy Sewing!

XOXO