Thursday, October 31, 2013

Fear Fabric Sewing - Leather

MUAHAHAHA! Happy Halloween my fine freaky readers :) I have a little surprise for you today - I was invited to take part in the Fear Fabric challenge, hosted by the lovely Beth of 110 Creations! The idea was to tackle a "fear fabric" - something that really made you shake in your boots - over the month of October and post the finished result on Halloween.  My original plan was to sew with silk, but then I got an idea to tackle LEATHER! I mean, it's expensive, super thick, somewhat hard to find, requires special threads and needles, and pins and stitches make permanent holes - EEEEEEAAAAA!

Now I have to be honest, this garment is completely outside my usual style - I have absolutely nothing like it in my closet - in fact, I've never even seen anything like it before! When I got the idea to make a drapey vest with this crazy sweater knit, I could see it with contrast shoulders. The raglan sleeve feature is one of my favorite things about this pattern (Butterick See and Sew 5666) . I figured it would be a great detail in leather - just enough to get my hands dirty, but not a life commitment in case things went awry.

Before I started this project I did some research online and in books on tips for sewing with leather - here are my Leather Sewing Tips: (aka, what I did my first time sewing with leather)

- Trace pattern cutting line on the wrong side of leather with tailors chalk, or heck, just a ballpoint pen

- Use nylon upholstery weight thread instead of polyester or cotton - it is much stronger

- Use a "leather" sewing needle - mine was a 90/14, marked "Leather" ;)

- Instead of pinning pieces together, use hair clips or bobby pins

- I don't have a special presser foot, like teflon, so I used baby powder to help the leather slide under the foot - I didn't do this at first, and I was able to sew it, but I had to almost pull the leather through - I'm sure this was terrible for Archibald :( I also have heard of using wax paper or parchment paper on top of the leather (or other "sticky fabrics"), but I wanted to be able to see exactly what I was doing.

- Topstitch seam allowances down close to the seam line, then trim the excess

- To finish edge of sleeve, I turned the edge under 3/8" and did a double line of topstitching

- As this blog perfectly states, only sew leather when you're "fresh as a daisy" and make sure you sew "slow as a turtle" - this really is true, especially when the pieces get thicker! I hand cranked much of the thicker parts, like when the edge is turned over at the seam - Aughh.

Here are a couple other posts with tips on sewing leather that I found helpful:  (1)   (2)   (3)

Here are the details:

Pattern: Butterick See and Sew 5666

Size: Medium

My Shape: Tall (5'11"), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: 1 piece leather - Textile Discount Outlet, 1 yard aztec sweater knit -

Size Alterations / Design Changes: greatly reduced width (flare) of main pieces, mostly to get it to fit on the fabric - I'm glad I did, because there is still plenty of drape and ease

Construction Notes:

- For sweater knit, used narrow zigzag stitch, regular thread, and ballpoint needle
- For leather, see "sewing tips" above

The Verdict:

Well, I can definitely say I think I have overcome my "fear" of sewing leather! When I finished this project, I immediately starting planning the next - I would love to try a skirt with a cool leather waistband, like fun Thakoon piece. As for the vest, I'm not sure how I feel about it - it is definitely outside my style and I'm not sure how much I would wear it, or even how to style it! Lol :) In any case, I am proud of how the leather sleeve/shoulder turned out!

Make sure you check out the other featured "Fear Fabric" bloggers:

Andrea of  Four Square Walls who braved stretch lace
Mrs. Smith of The Joys and Trials of My Crafting who faced slippery chiffon / charmeuse
and of course, our awesome host Beth from 110 Creations, who took on brocade

So, what's the scariest fabric you've ever sewn with? How about one you are feeling emboldened to try??

Monday, October 28, 2013

Red October / Ribbon Week Lady Skater

"Happy Red October / Red Ribbon Week " is what this dress says to me :) This is the Lady Skater dress by KitchsyCoo made in a red ponte roma knit. This is a perfect staple dress for an autumn / winter wardrobe, and it fills a giant void of red clothes in my closet! (Seriously, the only red garment I had before this was this dress, and of course Buckeye gear!) It goes great with all neutrals, and especially my awesome floral leggings (good thing, b/c not much else does ;)

A couple thoughts on the process. For some reason, I had a hard time putting this pdf pattern together - many pages didn't seem to quite match up, but that may just have been a user error. There is no guide for matching up pages (like little diamonds, stars, or cats), so I guess you are supposed to do it by the garment lines (which are color coded - cool!)

I cut a size 4, which I was afraid might be a little small as I measured a half inch bigger than the given measurements for that size, but the next size up seemed too big, so I chanced it. I think it turned out okay (thank you stretch!) but I might go juuuust a bit bigger next time - fudge the seam allowances, you know.

This thick ponte knit fabric was a dream to sew, as it is quite stable and presses well. However, don't go above the wool setting for this! My first neckband got scorched :(

Here are the specs:

Pattern: KitschyCoo Lady Skater Dress

Size: 4

My Shape: Tall (5'11"), pear shape (hips and legs galore!), narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: 2 yards of Sew Classics Ponte Roma Knit - Joann Fabrics - "Biking Red"

Size Alterations:

- Added more flare and length (maybe 2-3") to the skirt

Design Changes:

- Lengthened 3/4 sleeve to midway between 3/4 line and full length line - it is perfect! (Finished w/ narrow hem instead of sleeve band - didn't want the extra bulk)

Construction Notes:

- Used both zigzag stitch and serger
- Finished neckline with neck band, but not in the same way as directions day - I found them too confusing and went with my tried and true method:
(1) Stitch shoulder seams
(2) Stitch short ends of neckband, right sides together
(3) Fold and press neckband in half lengthways, wrong sides together
(4) Match neckband seam with center back seam (I actually had one b/c I had to cut my back pieces separately) and evenly space around neckband
(5) Stitch neckband to neckline, turn/press, clip curves, topstitch around neckline to secure seam allowance
- Sewed sleeves on with the same method as last time! (I wonder if I could attach the skirt first and go all the way from the sleeve edge to the hem in one long stitch - WHAT?!)
- Did not (yet) hem, but hey! Looks alright to me!
- Oh, and I did not include elastic on the shoulders or waist - OOPS! Didn't have any and I was in a hurry ;)

The Verdict:

Awesome dress! Very comfortable and flattering (with the help of some control-top tights... TOO MANY COOKIES!). I will definitely be making this again, in more solids and prints. Great cold-weather dress in a heavier knit! And, sadly no, I did not make my jacket - it was a super sale find at Anthropologie that I just couldn't resist! I do, however, have plans for copying another Anthro jacket :) What can I say, I love being warm (which might explain the lack of blogging round these parts - it snowed here last week! - I've got a Reglisse, Anna, and Hemlock to show you all!)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Sewing - The Briar Tee

Every now and then on Sunday, I wake up with the crazy urge to sew something to wear to church... that morning... in a couple hours. Now granted, we go to the lazy late service that doesn't start until 11:15, but still! It's like a self-inflicted project runway challenge on a day that is supposed to be restful. So this morning I wake up and this stash knit basically threw itself into my arms!

I had already planned on using this knit for a pull-over sweater and I thought Megan Nielsen's Briar Tee would be a good fit! I had made a "muslin" once before of the cropped version, but it was so short on me I didn't even bother finishing it - makes for a nice sleep shirt :)  I whipped out my tracing paper and added the length for the long version, as well as the longer sleeve.  This fabric was ridiculously finicky, but thankfully I have my rotary cutter and mat, so it was not so bad.

Within a couple hours I had traced / cut / sewn everything but the hem - whoops! time to go - so I wore it un-hemmed to church. The hubs gave me a "That's cute... is it finished?" I WEAR WHAT I WANT! Who needs to hem knits, amirite? So what if this *special* sweater knit was shedding tiny fuzzies everywhere! After church, and lunch, and a nap, I finally hemmed it, snapped some pics, and here it is! Almost a one-morning project.... almost....

Here are the specs:

Pattern: Megan Neilsen Briar Sweater and T-shirt

Size: XS - bust, S - waist, XL - hem

My Shape: Tall (almost 6'0), pear shape, narrow shoulders, long torso

Fabric: Striped Sweater Knit - delicate weave - very light/sheer

Size Alterations:

- As mentioned above, graded from XS at top/bust to a S at the waist and to an XL at the hem
- Added almost 2" length to the top: probably didn't need to, especially in the back, but it makes for a very cute, almost dress-like style
- Added about 2" length to 3/4 sleeves - these are perfect :)
Edit: I also narrowed the sleeve towards the wrist - I hate baggy sleeve ends :/

Design Changes:

- None!

Construction Notes:

- Used both zigzag stitch and serger
- Finished neckline with neck band (the pattern also included option for neck binding)
- Tried a new technique for sleeves:
Before sewing side seams, pin and sew the flat sleeve head to the flat armscye, THEN stitch the sleeve seam and side seam in one long go. This worked SO well! I cannot believe I have never tried this before! Gillian has a cute illustration of this on her blog: Crafting a Rainbow

The Verdict: Love this pattern! Not quite as loose-fitting as I expected, but that is a-o-kay! I actually like the longer length, and the slight flutter of the hem. The fit up top is so nice, and the neckline is the perfect shape - if when I make it again, I might make the hem less dramatic, but for this look it works quite nicely. It almost has the feel of a tunic/dress, hence the curtsy - inspired pose below :)