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June 14, 2014

Sewing Indie Month: The Winner of the Everyday Casual category!

It’s been a great month! I really enjoyed learning about all the new indie companies out there, and making my own Sinbad&Sailor Dove T, Seamster Dandelion Top and Tilly & The Buttons Coco top.

We also had some really super entries into the Everyday Casual contest, and after the voting, I’m pleased to announce the winner of the category is….

Nicole at Sartorial Sewing? for her Don Cherry inspired Waffle Patterns Luffa blazer! Not only did she amazingly capture the spirit of this previously-unknown-to-me style icon, but she also did a fantastic job of details including bound buttonholes and welt pockets. If that doesn’t prove that casual looks can also be fun and stylish, I don’t know what does!

Nicole wins a bevy of amazing prizes, including:


1 year subscription to Sew News Magazine
1 year subscription to Sew News Magazine

Sew Smarter, Better and Faster book from Threads Magazine
Sew Smarter, Better and Faster book from Threads Magazine


$30 gift certificate from Girl Charlee
$30 gift certificate from Girl Charlee

$25 gift certificate from The Smuggler's Daughter
$25 gift certificate from The Smuggler’s Daughter


Comox Trunks Supplies Kit from Sewing Indie Month designer Thread Theory
Comox Trunks Supplies Kit from Sewing Indie Month designer Thread Theory
And last but by no means least….Sewing Indie Month Everyday Casual designer prize pack: PDF pattern of your choice from Maria Denmark, Sew Caroline; PDF Duathlon Shorts by Fehr Trade; paper pattern of your choice from Sewn Square One

There will also be a Bonus winner chosen at random from all the entries next week, so stay tuned for that.

Have you enjoyed Sewing Indie Month readers? Huge thanks to Mari for coming up with the idea and organizing it so brilliantly. I’m looking forward to next year already…


Cashmerette
May 27, 2014

Sewing Indie Month: Sprinting to the finish(ing) line!

There’s only a week left to submit your everyday casual outfit to win the Sewing Indie Month amazing prizes!
Now if you’re anything like me, you storm through making a garment, and when you think “that’s it! I’m done!” you realize that you still have to finish the neckline, armholes and hems… I’m trying to get into the good habit of walking away from the project at this point and coming back the next day, because otherwise I find myself doing some of the most crucial work when I’m over tired and less likely to be accurate. 
However, finishing doesn’t have to be difficult – in today’s post, I wanted to share three quick ways you can finish edges, whether they’re necklines, armholes, hems (or any other edges you have!). 
1. Inside binding
This is definitely my preferred technique! It’s fast, simple and gives you great results on the outside, particularly if you have an edge stitching foot which helps you do perfect stitching. 
From: Christine Hayne’s tutorial
What you need: store-bought binding, or self-made binding, because it’s only going to be seen on the inside of the garment. I have a total aversion to making my own (too many burned fingers!) and love using contrasting pre-made binding in crazy colours.  Ideally you’d use single fold binding, but double fold totally works as well. 
What it works for: any straight or curved necklines or armholes (typically you wouldn’t use this for hemlines, although you could). 
2. Edge-bound binding
Unlike inside binding, you’ll see this binding on the outside of the garment – it literally encloses the edge of the fabric. It’s great for adding a contrast trim, but you definitely need to be more careful to make sure it’s done very precisely so you don’t have wobbles (hard with shifty materials!). 
From: Colette Patterns 
What you need: typically self-made binding from the fashion fabric or a contrasting one, but store-bought can be fine if you can find a good weight and colour. Ideally, double fold binding.

What it works for: again, any straight or curved necklines or armholes
3. Facings

This is a common approach in many sewing patterns, but fairly rare in RTW garments. It’s not my favourite because despite one’s best efforts they often flip out of the garment. However, they’re indispensable for unusually shaped necklines, like the sweetheart version of the Seamster Dandelion top. 
From: Tilly’s facing tutorial
What you need: Most patterns with facings come with separate pattern pieces for the facings. However, you can easily draft one by copying the outline of your pattern piece onto some tracing paper, and adding around 1.5 inches along the length of the piece. You should interface the facing pieces – one great way is to do block fusing, where you fuse the interfacing to the fabric *first*, and then cut it out – you end up with perfectly fused pieces and minimize shifting.
What it works for: any shape of neckline or armhole, although it’s particularly indispensable for unusual shapes. You can also use it for hems – it’s very useful if you realize that your garment is a bit too short, as it minimizes the length lost by hemming. 
What are your favourite kinds of finishes? Do you find yourself always tending towards one, or do you have a really quick version you use when you’re in a hurry? 

ENTER THE CONTEST!
You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page.


Cashmerette
May 22, 2014

Ahoy there Sinbad & Sailor! The Dove T

One of the great things about hosting the Everyday Casual sewalong for Sewing Indie Month has been discovering new pattern companies – there are so many popping up that it’s hard to keep up! As I was looking through all the new-to-me companies who are part of the initiative, one that really stood out was Sinbad & Sailor, who have a small but lovely set of RTW designer-inspired patterns.
S&S just launched the Hepworth Dress which is doing the rounds of the blogosphere, but I decided to give their Christopher Kane inspired Dove T a try. From the front it’s a fairly classic darted woven top (I omitted the sleeves) but from the back… it’s a whole other story!
SInbad & Sailor Dove T
Top: Sinbad & Sailor Dove T, Jeans: Boden, Shoes: MaraisUSA
Yep, that’s a split back! As S&S only go up to a UK RTW 16 which is slightly too small for me (and considerably so in the bust), I used my sloper to get the front to fit, and I also decided to lower the top of the split by about 2 inches to give a cheeky rather than in-your-face flash of back. No attempt at pattern matching here, but I don’t see my back very often, so I’m giving myself a pass…
SInbad & Sailor Dove T

I know what you’re thinking now. This silk is FABULOUS, is it not?! Well, thank you very much to Britex Fabrics, a sponsor of Sewing Indie Month who incredibly generously gifted it to me for this project. I am absolutely head over heels in love with the print (which is “perky” according to the description), and it’s exactly the kind of amazing and unusual fabric that Britex specializes in. It’s my first stop  when I’m in San Fran!

SInbad & Sailor Dove T
Somewhat inadvertently, I made a a high-low hem, but I actually really like it, and it gives a little bit more swoosh to the back panels. I did a narrow hem using Andrea’s fantastic serge-and-turn technique – worked like a charm, and no little bits peeking out for once!

For the neckline and armholes my original plan was to bind, but then I realized that my pre-bought binding would be altogether too stiff, but there was no way on earth that I was going to make and install self-fabric silk binding. So instead, back to my recent discovery: Wonder Tape! This was *the perfect* approach: I stuck the Wonder Tape to the edge of the neckline, turned it over using the tape as the measure (it’s 1/4 inch), turned it one more time and then stitched. DONE. So little hassle, and looked so perfect.

SInbad & Sailor Dove T
All in all, the Dove T is super easy to whip up, bust some of your stash and be a teensy bit different from all the silk tanks out there in the summer. Plus you get a breezy back!
SInbad & Sailor Dove T

Have you made any of the Sinbad & Sailor patterns, folks? And do you have any twists to classic garments that make them a little bit more interesting? I’m brainstorming already…

DON’T FORGET: ENTER THE EVERYDAY CASUAL CONTEST!

You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest and win amazing prizes by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page. Can’t wait to see them!


Cashmerette
May 20, 2014

Sewing Indie Month: 2 FBA approaches

I don’t know about you, but in the summer, my wardrobe is veritably overflowing with tops. Tops, shorts and colourful jeans – which I have yet to learn how to make… Must try soon!

Anyhow, the big challenge with a lot of casual top patterns is that many of them are drafted for a B or C cup (with a few notable exceptions – BlueGingerDoll for instance is drafted for a D). For some people, that means they end up cutting the size to fit their bust but the rest of the top swamps them. For others like me (my 46″ bust scoffs in envy at your C cup), we’re totally sized out of most patterns.

But fear not! The Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) was invented by some busty genius to solve all your problems. And contrary to internet rumour, it really isn’t very difficult at all. There are a few different techniques, but today I want to share with you my favourite approach for wovens, and for knits

The Cashmerette Tried & Tested FBA for Wovens 
I’m with the Fit for Real People faction, all the way. Their approaches are easy, and pretty much foolproof.

These methods work well for patterns like:

Clockwise from left:  Sew Caroline Tank DressSinbad & Sailor Dove TSkinny Bitch Curvy Chick Lemon Drop Dress

1) Darted top approach

Here are the step by step instructions for a darted top, using the Dove T from Sinbad & Sailor as the pattern:

1. Figure out how much width you need to do for the FBA. Easiest way: measure your full bust, and see how much bigger that is than the size you’re going to use. Divide that by 2 (because the pattern is half the front), and that’s how much width you need to add! Alternative method: measure your high bust (under your arms and over the top of your bust), use that size from the pattern, and add the difference between that and your full bust.

2. Mark in the dart on the pattern. Sinbad & Sailor indicate this through notches and a circle, so just join them up!

3. Mark three more lines: through the middle of the dart, from the end of the dart to the armhole (about 1/3 of the way up), and from the end of the dart vertically down.

4. Cut up the vertical line, and over to the armhole, stopping just before the seam allowance. Then, cut the seam allowance from the armhole side, leaving a little hinge (not the end of the world if you accidentally snip through!)

5. Cut through the line in the dart, again stopping just before the end to leave a hinge. Then tape down the left hand side of the pattern and “spread” the right hand side to add the width you need down the vertical gap. Keep that gap parallel all the way down! You’ll see that the dart “opens up”

6. You’ll find the right hand side is a smidgen longer than the left now, so cut a horizontal line through the lefthand side (anywhere) and slide the bottom bit down until the hem is parallel. 

7. Trace it off, and voila, you have an adjusted pattern!


2) No darts top approach

Head over here to see my full tutorial on how to add darts, and do an FBA, using the Sew Caroline Tank Dress pattern.

3) Princess seamed top approach

Here I am going to send you to my fellow 46″ buster, Mary at IdleFancy who has put together a fabulous tutorial (which is particularly good for D+ busts), using the By Hand London Elisalex bodice.

4) Troubleshooting

The only potential danger of these approaches is that it does add width throughout the length of the garment, which can particularly be a problem for dresses or longer tops.

There are a few solutions:

– For a darted top, you can add a waist dart or fisheye dart to take the excess out from under your bust. The easiest way to do this is to pin out the excess when you’re wearing the top, and then transfer that into a dart. This is what I did with my Archer shirt, and it worked well.

– For a princess seamed top, before you do the FBA, cut off the top piece of your pattern at about an inch below your bust level. Do the FBA on the top part, then stick it back to the bottom piece and grade from the one size to the other. This is what I did on my coat, and again it worked perfectly, giving me extra room in the bust but tapering back in underneath


The Cashmerette Tried & Tested FBA for Knits 

So the good news is that most of the time you don’t need to FBA knits due to the JOY OF STRETCH. However. Sometimes two things happen when you’re relying on stretch: the cat whisker wrinkles emanating from the armpits (busty ladies, you know what I mean, right?), and/or the front hem is significantly higher than the back hem because your chest is lifting it up.

But fear not! Because doing an FBA for knits is actually much easier than doing it for wovens, and it’s worth it for getting the perfect fit. The approach I use is the “vertical only” FBA, which has been covered in a few places before including by Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick and by Shams at Communing with Fabric (who has a wealth of other knowledge on FBAs, so check her out!).

This approach works for patterns like:

Clockwise from left: Tilly’s Coco Top,  Skinny Bitch Curvy Chick Tonic TeeMaria Denmark Birgitte Basic Tee

Basically, we’re going to just add extra length to the front to give us more material to go over our busts, and end up with an even hem.

1. Figure out how much length you need to add. Ideally you make up a muslin and see how much higher your front hem is sitting than your back. Me? I just add an inch. What can I say, I’m a rebel.

2. Cut through your piece at bust apex level

3. Move the  bottom piece down the requisite length – here I added an inch to my Renfrew:

4. Curve out the side seam slightly to add a tiny bit of width (I added about 1/8 inch)

5. Now here’s the important bit. The front and back are now different lengths. When you come to sew them up, pin at the armscye and hem. Start sewing the seam at the bottom hem and work up the armscye. Then, about 4 – 5 inches below the armscye, start easing the front piece into the back piece (for newbies: this means start stretching the shorter layer so that it is the same length as the longer layer, holding it taut while it goes through the sewing machine/serger). By the time you reach the armscye the pieces should be matching.

Et voila! The only downside to this approach is you can’t do stripe matching under your arms, but I suspect there’s more to life than perfect stripe matching (no?).

OK, well I hope this has been helpful! Have you run into any FBA woes readers? I’m happy to consult!

ENTER THE CONTEST!
You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page.


Cashmerette
May 15, 2014

The Seamster Dandelion top: the most innovative top ever?!

When you’ve been sewing a little while, you start to realise that the vast majority of clothes are made in a very similar way. You can recognise a top pattern straight away, and make it up without instructions (darts, shoulder seams, finish the neckline, side seams, finish the armholes, hem…). In some ways this is really cool, because you can get really fast and start to do fun adaptations. In other ways, it’s a little boring.

AND THEN ALONG CAME  THE SEAMSTER DANDELION PATTERN.

Yet again, I’m late on this one, but let’s just say when I got the Dandelion pattern from Mari at Seamster Patterns as part of Sewing Indie Month, I was bedazzled. Folks, this is made like no top you’ve ever seen before.

Seamster Dandelion top
Top: Seamster Dandelion, Shorts: Boden, Sandals: Clarks
It all starts pretty innocently. Ooh, that looks like a pretty raglan sleeve top! Those side panels are kinda quirky, but cool
Then you see the pattern pieces. Err……
And then you see the instructions! *BOOM* Brain meltdown.
There’s no arguing about it: the Dandelion top is crazily innovative. The main thing to note is that there is basically no side seam. Instead, there’s a triangle-ish shaped side panel that becomes the dart in the front of the pattern, wraps around your side, and then joins in with the back dart! To Mari’s immense credit, the instructions are actually very simple to follow and I didn’t have any trouble at all putting it together.
As if that weren’t cool enough. Mari has also increased the cup size as she goes up sizes, so miraculously the 3XL fit my bust perfectly, and I graded down to 2XL everywhere else. You want more? OK, it comes with a *built in* sway-back adjustment (the center back seam is far from straight) which means it scoops into my back in a most pleasing manner.
The result is a totally unique top, which I made in a blue seagull cotton from Grey’s Fabrics and a very lightweight slightly stretchy denim I picked up in Metro Textiles when I was last in NYC:
I made view B2, with the sweetheart neckline, which —- wait for it —- I scooped out a bit more. It’s finished with a facing, which isn’t my favourite type of edge finishing but there are really not many other alternatives for this type of neckline, and since I sewed it down at the seams it hasn’t done too much flipping.

That’s a whole lot of innovation for a humble summer top, but it was so fun to do something a little different. There are all sorts of ways you could show off the crazy seam lines – they would show up really well in a solid colour with piping, and the potential for colour blocking is huge.

On a side note: I was also rejoicing today because I was wearing shorts *and it wasn’t freezing*. Yes, proper Spring has come to the South End, and the whole place is full of pink and white blossom. Joy!

Lastly, thanks to my fellow Bostonian bloggy cohort Katy & Laney for the photos – we managed not only to climb all over the stoops of our neighbours, but also play hide and seek with Katy’s phone, have a near-miss with the garbage guys, and get catcalled from a passing car. All in a day’s work, ladies!

Have you ever made the Dandelion top, dear readers? Do you know any other crazily innovative patterns to add to your everyday casual wardrobe? Are you sewing a Seamster Pattern for the Everyday Casual contest? I’m all ears!

ENTER THE CONTEST!
You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page.


Cashmerette
May 13, 2014

Sewing Indie Month: Working with knits

Want to know my everyday casual secret?

Knits.

KNITS KNITS KNITS KNITS KNITS KNITS.

When I first started sewing clothes I thought “easy peasy! I’ll just make lots of wrap dresses.” Then I discovered what knit fabrics were, and that they were a “thing”. It took me a little while to get my head around that, but once I did, I’ve never looked back. Seriously, wovens people, how do you do it? I am wearing secret pyjamas almost every day and yet folks think I’m stylish (apparently)… away with your stiff waistbands!

Knits really are the perfect fabric for every day casual outfits, because:

  • They’re ridonkulously comfy
  • They rarely need ironing
  • They don’t crease when you throw them in your bag to go on holiday
  • They come in all weights so you can wear them all year long
  • You can sew them *super fast*
  • There’s minimal fitting – they stretch to fit! Perfect for we curvy ladies.
  • Did I mention they’re comfy? (my personal priorities are becoming abundantly clear)
The good news is that there’s lots of guidance out there for knit newbies and knitaholics who want a few more tips. To help you along with your everyday casual capsule wardrobe, I thought I’d gather together some resources for you here.
1. Buying knit fabrics
Here are some observations you’ll make quickly when shopping for knits. Why is everything stripy? Why does so much of it feel like plastic? Where are all the prints?! Yeah, it’s hard to get cool, modern printed jersey, and a lot of the solid stuff feels pretty horrid. Also, bear in mind that there’s a lot of variety in the types of knit – a lightweight tissue jersey might be practically transparent, while a heavy ponte will behave like a woven.
So, you have two options
  • Go to an actual fabric store and feel them all up. Stroking knit fabrics is a nice way to spend an afternoon, trust me.
  • Carefully online shop. My first secret (not really) tip is Emma One Sock. Linda buys up the ends of rolls of designer fabric from factories and sells them on – that means you’ll be getting bona fide J.Crew knit or Millie in RTW prints. That’s where I get most of my jersey for wrap dresses from. You can also get super high quality knits from Britex Fabrics. However, if you want a more economical store, Girl Charlee has some bold prints (which I used for my recent Colette Moneta maxi), DryGoods Design has carefully curated but very cool offerings, and Mood Fabrics is as always a treasure trove. I would recommend getting swatches in advance though from all of these – unfortunately it’s very common that the knit is a very different weight than you were expecting.

2. Getting ready to sew
 
Yes, you need to pre-wash knit fabrics. Get it over and done with folks! You may notice that the selvedges are wavy when the rest of the fabric is flat – quite often the selvedges are either tighter or looser than the rest of the weave (anyone technical know why?). Anyhow, you can cut those pesky selvedges right off to make it much easier to cut the pattern. I highly recommend a rotary cutter and self-healing mat for this – so much easier than fussing about with scissors. *Theoretically* you should relax the fabric on a table for 24 hours before cutting. But. Does anyone actually do that? Or is just me who’s far, far too impatient? All I can say is: hasn’t caused me trouble so far.
 
 
3.  Sewing knits on a sewing machine
 
It can be done! Tilly has a great post with tips, and Dixie DIY has a whole series. The zig zag stitch and double needles are your friends, as are working with slightly heavier knits like interlock (ITY) or ponte. As always, practice on scraps first, and think carefully about which of your seams are more likely to stretch than others, and plan accordingly.
 
 
4. Sewing knits on a serger
 
If you can overcome your fear of the crazy multiple needles, buying and mastering a serger is a very worthwhile investment! I’ll admit it took me 6 months before I figured out all the kinks (Mary on the other hand seemed to master it in about a day, so make of that what you will).
 There are a wealth of books and blogposts out there to help you – rest assured, you’re going to need some kind of troubleshooting guide with you to begin with. I have The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide which is my trusty guide. I can also recommend Colette’s new Guide to Sewing Knits, which is about as comprehensive and clear a book on sewing knits I’ve seen (plus, it has lots of guidance on sewing knits with a sewing machine). If you’re more of a visual learner, Craftsy also has some great serger online courses for beginners and more experienced serger-ists (?!).
Once you’ve managed to source fabric you love and figured out these techniques, the magical thing about making knit projects is they’re done in no time. Like, you can make a t-shirt in less than an hour, a skirt in less than 2 and a wrap dress in an evening! Speed + comfort + stylist = happy Cashmerettes.How are your competition entries coming along, dear readers? Getting excited about the prizes yet?! You should be…ENTER THE CONTEST!
You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page.


Cashmerette
May 8, 2014

Coco for colour blocking!

Better late than never to the party, right?

As part of Sewing Indie Month, I had the opportunity to make up Tilly’s famous Coco top – and I can totally understand why the sewing interwebs have gone crazy for it!

I used the leftovers from this wrap dress I made ages ago (ages enough ago that I was still taking photos of my dresses on a dressform, at night…. oops). I love the dress to pieces and had saved the last bits of abstract rose jersey but had no plans to use them until… colour blocking inspiration! I combined the jersey with a lovely navy rayon jersey from Grey’s Fabrics, and whipped it together with my serger in mere minutes. Colour blocking was very simple – I simply drew a line across the pattern, and then traced off two new pieces and added seam allowance.

The serged seam across the bust stuck out ever so slightly, so I topstitched it down, which worked a treat.

As I am a wholly predictable creature, I also scooped that neck right out, using my trusty Renfrew as a guide. I used Tilly’s turn-and-stitch approach for the neckline, which was made 1000% easier by the fact that Colette’s new Guide to Knits introduced me to the joy that is Wonder Tape. Does everyone else already use this?! If not, get some! Basically it’s double-sided sticky tape for fabric that doesn’t gum up your needle and washes out… It lets you secure your seam before you sew it, and you can use the edge of it to get a perfect 1/4 inch hem. I’m not sure how I would have finished this slippery rayon without it…

I was a little trepidatious about the sizing, but I cut a straight size 8 and it actually fits on the looser side, probably because I used jersey rather than the recommended interlock which is more stable and beefy. After a brief consideration of scooping out the side seams I thought perhaps I would embrace the flowiness, which is perfect for summer and/or cake consumption.

I can definitely see myself making many more of these! Such a quick and satisfying project.
So thanks, Tilly, for another cracking pattern and another everyday casual look for me.
How are your everyday casual contest entries coming along, dear readers?! I can’t wait to see them all!

ENTER THE CONTEST!
You can enter the Sew Indie Month everyday casual contest to win fantastic prizes by submitting a link to your blog, Pattern Review or Kollabora on this page.


Cashmerette

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