/how-to: match stripes without using pins


Ok, so calling this a full-on legit sewing method would be a bit of a stretch- it's just a really useful shortcut I've found for sewing stripes together (for matching when cutting, here's a helpful tip). This post may very well have TMI, but I guess the more you know...?

I first bought Steam-a-Seam lite 2 because it was recommended to finish knit hems before I bought a coverstitch machine. That worked very well, and I've found many more uses for the stuff. It's great for placing pockets, appliques, sleeve cuffs- anything you want to stay perfectly put while sewing. There are some jobs pins are just not great at. I prefer Steam-a-Seam to using a fabric glue stick now, because it is easier to apply without shifting threads around.

This technique is especially helpful with matching stripes, plaids or prints on stretchy knits or when working along a bias cut or curved seamline.

With backing still on, sticky side down, place the Steam-a-Seam along your seam line so that the outer edge is at the seam allowance. My seam allowance for this sample was 1/2". Press the tape in place, making sure it's even all the way down the seam.

Peel off the backing, making sure the tape doesn't shift around. Now the top is sticky as well.

 Match each stripe and press down separately.
IMPORTANT: Make sure you are matching the stripes on the seamline, not the in the seam allowance. You will need to flip up the entire top pattern piece to see it is matched as perfectly as possible along the seamline.
Press the seam in place with your hand first- straight up and down.

 Press again to fuse with a dry iron. The Steam-a-Seam fuses like an interfacing, but on both sides. Be sure to lift and press the iron down along the seam; gliding may shift the fabric, and therefore the stripes. After this step you won't be able to re-align the stripes, so double check that they're flush before fusing.

This is the best part! Stitch using whichever machine you are sewing with. No stopping to take out pins or check on those stripes!

Note: I've never tried using Stitch Witchery or any other kind of fusible web for this purpose (and they may work), but I know that the Steam-a-Seam has yet to gum up any of my machines or needles. No $$ endorsement here, just truth.

 Turn seam right side out and get that satisfaction that only comes from nicely matched stripes!

/experimental tritik tee


This tee was a total accident that started when I was overdyeing some black linen pants for a client. Yep, it was the perfect time to try out a tye-dye technique from Tie-Dye: Dye it, Wear it, Share it by Shabd Simon-Alexander! I am always poring over this gorgeous book and I want to try all the projects in it. So, I unearthed a small piece of what I think is cotton/modal and went to town. I decided on a stitch-resist method called tritik, where you fold the fabric like an accordion and stitch through all the layers with a thick thread. I used pearl cotton embroidery thread, which worked very well to define the design, and a large needle which did not work so well and resulted in more than a few giant holes in my final shirt. Live and learn.

The thing I like most about dyeing is that it's always really obvious what you should/could do differently next time.

I could
  • leave it in the dye bath longer
  • agitate it more to get the dye in the inside sections
  • make sure to smooth out weird folds and scrunches when folding (see just below neckline)
  • use a smaller needle, appropriate for the fabric

There's something really satisfying about trial and error with dyeing projects, because most of the time even the error is beautiful and potentially useful.  Enter: the Sewaholic Renfrew tee pattern. The resulting shirt is not on grain at all, I just cut according to the dye design, which I hadn't bothered to line up properly. As long as I was experimenting new techniques, why not add to the fun? I sewed twill tape to the outside shoulder seams instead of the inside, and to finish the neckline I cut a thin strip from the crossgrain and pulled it so it curled under, then applied it just on one side. The hem is pretty insane, but I decided I really liked the length and somewhat disheveled look.

I really love making total design-as-you-go projects, such a different process than planning every detail from the start. It makes me excited to think what potential still lurks in my fabric drawers! Have you ever tried switching up your process or sewing without expectations? Was it a success?

/blog hop


I have no idea about its origins, but this hop has been appearing on my blogroll for a while now and I have enjoyed every last post I've read so far! I was so excited to be asked by one of my favorite makers, Marie of Imaginary Animal to join in on the blog hop. She is an immensely talented artist, textile designer, sewer, the list goes on! When I finally order some yardage from Spoonflower, it'll definitely be one of Marie's designs

On with the questions. 

Why do you write?
I started this blog way back in 2009 (I had to go and look that up) as a way to document what I’d made and write about whatever. It was mostly just so that I'd have one spot to archive all the things I was making (but actually really far from all), mostly for myself to look back on. I had no idea how much the online sewing community would grow in just a few years! One thing that makes me feel good about the blog in its current state is how terrible those beginning posts were- I've definitely tweaked it over time.
Now, I'd like to start including more instructional posts and tips. I'll be the first to admit I don't know it all, but I've picked up a few tricks over the years (I started sewing as a wee one and have a B.A. in apparel design) and would love for that to be a bigger part of the blog.
What are you working on?

I am actually so excited to say what I’ve been working on- I’ve decided to put my top two (synonym for “passions” here) together and create a small line of aprons! I’ve been sewing and baking since I was little, so this is basically the most natural and practical thing for me to be making. I'm also working on some changes to this space, so stay tuned! 
With all of those projects, everything I've been planning to sew for myself has been put aside for a little while, but it's all right there waiting! Unfortunately, the mountain of alterations I need to tear through first is getting a little unwieldy.

How does your blog differ from others of its genre?

Well, I could honestly be doing better in this department! At the moment it's really sporadic project posts only, but I would like for this to be a more helpful and informative place, as I mentioned. 
I suppose the thing that differentiates any blog is the personal style element. By nature, sewing blogs up the personal in personal style, since we're all making custom clothes for ourselves. To me, that makes every one different and interesting!

How does your writing process work?

My process is usually just to sit down and write stream-of-consciousness style. When some are editing, I've already bitten the proverbial bullet and pressed 'publish'. I've always really enjoyed writing but don't tend to spend much time on it here- the time is definitely in the sewing!

Next up: Stephanie from Makes the Things and Bella from Bellbird.

Stephanie makes all the things I want (seriously); knits, lingerie, and lots of Grainline patterns. She also makes and sells the best jewelry at Native Clutter and I can attest to its real-life amazingness. 

Bella's blog is pretty new, but she has already made so many awesome things! Her style is smart and uncomplicated and she's got a penchant for really good details. Like, she makes the insides of t-shirts amazing.

Looking forward to reading more about these ladies!

/railroad pants


These began with this pair of pants from Madewell that I'd saved to my sewing idea pinterest board. I needed a pair of striped, elastic-waisted pants (because, who doesn't?), but something I could wear through fall and not freeze the second I stepped out the door.

I bought the fabric at a local quilt shop that was sadly going out of business, but that did mean it was on a hefty discount- sad yet happy! It's Robert Kaufman railroad denim, and at 6.8 oz it's a really nice and sturdy weight for these pants, yet not too heavy- it still gathers nicely at the WB. It would work well for a pair of jeans, jacket or vest too! I still have a bit of it, so one of those is definitely in my future.

As for the pattern, I made that myself. It had been way too long since I had drafted a pair of pants, so why not spend a little extra time getting the fit just how I wanted? Thankfully, it only took one muslin and the confidence that the changes needed would work well in my fashion fabric. I think it worked out! I used the fail-safe Patternmaking for Fashion Design - I love that most of my required texts from fashion classes are still super useful.

I decided against adding the horizontal panel at the waist a la Madwell because I wanted a more streamlined look, but had a little patchwork-y fun with the back pockets to add a little interest. Added some roomy side pockets, and called it a day!

These things almost qualify as secret pajamas, and I think they're my first non-solid pant since my elementary school printed legging days!

fabric: Robert Kaufman railroad denim
pattern: made by me

ps: Still having problems getting my photos to look their best on the blog. Followed all of these tips to a T (resize, save as jpeg in sRGB, etc.). Does anyone have tips? This usually doesn't bother me too much, but hoooey those stripes are not reading well! They look so much better in person, I promise. :)

/two scouts and a moss, a.k.a. grainline staple party


I'm usually a one project per post kinda gal, but things are piling up.
And I'll be honest, those things aren't all that interesting. Staple-y stuff. But if it goes unblogged, was it really sewn? Well, yes- I'll always have that super tight shoulder muscle letting me know I've been at the sewing table too long.

Firstly wanted to post my denim Moss skirt, since I made it a while ago. It's the best.
Then I wore this Scout tee with it in the photos, so a two garment post was obligatory.
After that, I realized I had yet another knit Scout from eons ago so... tacking that one on too.
It's just a Grainline Studio staple party!

I had this Moss skirt all cut out and ready to go when my old serger decided to get something stuck in it and multiple mechanisms were bent every which way. (I've since bought a new serger, since it would have cost as much fixing the old one.) Hesitant, I used the faux serge stitch on my sewing machine to finish the insides. It was agonizingly slow, even with a swift and powerful Bernina motor and it didn't contain the fray too well.
But the outside looks decent and it's held up so far!
I also decided to embrace the denim and made some jean pockets.

I've made three iterations of the Scout pattern so far (all knit; one here & two seen in this post), and each time I think I've chosen a different size. Sometimes you want a super loose tee, sometimes with just a bit of ease. Then of course you have to take stretch content into consideration, too. This knit doesn't have any stretch in the way of fiber content, so I figured I wanted around 1/2" to 1" of ease at the bust. I find it easiest to choose my fit and just measure the pattern pieces directly to find the coordinating size (front and back times two minus seam allowances). For this particular tee, I went down 4 sizes from what the pattern listed me at for the original woven version. It is a little snug under the arm, but still comfy enough.

This is a knit from Drygoods Design which I believe is cotton with some linen in it.
Linen in it.
Heh, I just tried to say that super fast five times, failed, and laughed at myself.
If you're by yourself right now you have no excuses.
I believe this fabric is out of stock, but they always have so many good ones to choose from. Go there.

MOVING ON. This striped Scout is more than a year old, but a total workhorse. I wear it on the days I'm not wearing my striped raglan sweatshirt, because I must be wearing stripes at all times. If I remember correctly, this one was cut two sizes smaller than the pattern-prescribed woven size.

Only a slight variant here, I extended the back hemline a little and added a baby slit- very fancy. Even when I'm making multiples of a pattern I love, I can't stand to make the same exact style twice!

Patterns: Grainline Studio Scout Tee and Moss Skirt.

Fabrics: For the tees, Drygoods & Mood, respectively. Both tee fabrics are gone but the denim is still in stock at Mood!
Blog design by Labina @ Plexicod.