I had no idea what to do with this stretch twill fabric. It’s considered a “bottomweight” fabric and it’s most suitable for things that “cover your bottom.” I decided to go with this simple skirt.
Pattern: McCall’s M7022 (View C with slight modifications)
- Stretch twill (97% cotton, 3% spandex)
- I cut a size between 10 and 12, but I found that with this stretchier fabric, I could get away with cutting a size 8
- I also tapered the skirt a little bit because it was such a stiff fabric, it looked a bit silly to have it as a full A-line skirt
What I Found Helpful:
- Skirts are really hard to fit me because I’m high waisted and the skirts tend to come up whenever I sit down. I made sure to try it on at every step. In fact, I had to redo the side seams because it was a little loose.
- Edgejoining feet are useful for understitching
Mini Sewing Victory:
- I’ve made plenty of dresses before but I finally made a skirt!
- I used up old fabric
- I used up a 7″ zipper I had lying around
- I sewed a yoke for the first time!
I’m happy to say that my sewing improved over the last year after adopting the following techniques:
- Pinning less: I had this idea in my head that pinning would be more precise, but in my experience, it’s the absolute opposite! When you pin you end up distorting the fabric a little bit, so simply keeping your fabric completely flat and held together with your fingers, is way more effective at producing the best seam
- Cutting: I used to cut on my carpeted floor but I have since moved my sewing table so that I have access to 3 sides of it, so now I do all of my cutting on my sewing table. That, coupled with a rotary cutter, has made all the difference in how I sew. It’s more precise and faster. As long as you always cut away from yourself and disengage the blade when not in use, you’re golden. I hated using shears for cutting, so this is a fantastic way to make the boring prep work of sewing to be far more enjoyable.
- Hems: I used to hate hemming because I would have so much difficulty sewing curves. Now, I just breeze through those curves. I have especially done tons of practice with my rolled hem presser foot, so much so, that it has become my preferred way of doing narrow hems. I also learned on a podcast Sewing Out Loud that you should not press before you hem, and I have done just that! It feels lazy for some reason, but it produces the nicest hems.
- Topstitching: I can’t believe I didn’t own an edge joining foot until late last year. I purchased a really crappy bendy one off of AliExpress (since I had heard things about buying sewing supplies from Ali) but that foot was no good. I decided to go with a Brother branded edgestitch foot and it is much more robust.
- Quality: On the topic of quality tools, I really want to start investing in better quality fabric. It’s nice to pay way less for fabric (especially since I’m starting out), but there’s nothing worse than putting so many hours into a garment only for it to pill or not hold up for more than a few months. Quite disappointing!
- Testing: I have always tested with a sample of fabric before all of my garments, but now I think my eye for stitch quality has improved. I’ve started to use microtex needles, walking feet, straight stitch feet, tissue paper, whatever it takes to really make the very best of my beginner sewing machine.
- Serging: This has made a world of difference. Not only is it so much faster to sew clothing, I just feel way better about actually wearing the clothing I sew. The professional look inside as well as outside makes me feel like a real pro!
- Podcasts/Youtube streams: I like to listen to sewing podcasts when I walk my pup, and I like to have Youtube streams in the background while I sew.
I will start 2018 with a few goals in mind, in the hope that I will become an even better garment sewist:
- Use my remaining fabric
- Sewing with nap (e.g., velvet, stripes)
- Spaghetti straps
- Red cape
- Bias cut dress
- Chanel-like jacket
- Sew lace
I’m also thinking that 2018 is the year where I upgrade my sewing machine. 🙂
I had this floral fabric sitting around forever, so I decided not to buy more fabric and instead–use what I have! Annnd, I decided to make a fun jumpsuit!
Pattern: New Look 6373 View A/B (B for the straps, A for everything else)
- General: I cut out a size 8 bust and a size 12 waist/hip. I am what you call pear-shaped. 🙂
- Bust/Shoulders: The smallest bust size is 31.5 inches, which is 2 inches too big for me. It really is a bummer when I need to do a small bust adjustment because the smallest size doesn’t fit me. However, since this isn’t a fully fitted garment, I decided to play with things a bit… since I normally have to adjust the shoulders (as I have narrow shoulders), I took off 1/2″ off the center and back seams. I have no idea if this will work, but I’m willing to give it a try, especially on this leftover fabric. This means I had to take 1/2″ off the front/back bodice pieces, flounce pieces and facing pieces.
- Bodice length: As per usual, I took off 2″ off the length of the bodice. Thankfully the pattern indicated where to adjust the length. Since the pattern called for a 16.25 inch back and my measurement sits at around 14 inches, I just took off 2 inches.
- Pant length: I’m not confident about my leg measurements, so I’ve decided to simply cut out the pattern without modifications and then later hem to the appropriate length.
- Elastic casing: For some reason, it was really hard for me to fold over this particular fabric for the elastic casing. I tried it out three times but every single time, either my stitches looked really uneven or I didn’t fold it at a nice 1/4″. Instead of folding the pant seam under 1/4″ and then sewing at 3/8″, I decided to serge the end of the bodice seam and then simply fold it over and sew at 3/8″. That was way easier for me, and it looks a lot better inside. I’ve done the other method before on a rayon, and it seemed to work out better. This fabric is a little bit delicate and frays quite a lot.
- Finishing the facing and bodice seam: I had a little bit of trouble finishing the seams, but it wasn’t too bad. I learned how to maneuver my serger over the v-neck, but I’m sure there is a much tidier way to do that.
- Lining up the spaghetti straps: I’m still not totally happy with the placement as they aren’t really in the very center; however, I believe I followed the pattern images very carefully… maybe I’ll just budge them a little bit before I make this for next time.
I think the fit is pretty good in the bust, and the elastic casing rests right on my waistline! Yay! My measurements worked out. However, I feel the hips are just a little too big for me, so I might revisit that later and take them in a little. While I’m at it, I might as well make pockets. It could be intentional ease that the pattern maker included. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m more or less done with this pattern!
What I found helpful:
- I find that the best way to pull the drawstring inside out is to use a safety pin on one end of the drawstring and simply channel it through the fabric.
Mini Sewing Victory:
- Learned thin straps!
- Made more buttonholes! (Quite happy with the symmetrical placement)
- Learned how to sew a button with my sewing machine!
- Made a drawstring!
- Minor adjustment to the bodice that seamed to work out
In keeping true to my goal of using up all of my fabric before I buy more fabric, I decided to make use of that leftover charmeuse I purchased for my blue dress. I made view D. I thought this would be a good introduction into the world of sleeves (I’m still setting in a sleeve but I’m not setting in a fitted sleeve)!
Pattern: Simplicity 8417 View D
- White polyester sanded charmeuse
- White Gutermann polyester thread
- Microtex needle size 70
- Fit: Since I am short waisted, as per usual on most Simplicity patterns, I took off 2″ the length of the bodice pieces. I also cut out a size 6 up top to account for my small bust, and a size 12 for my wide waist and hips.
- Gathering: I had a little bit of trouble getting the gathering to look even. I’ve read many tips like how you can use an anchor pin on one end (tying up the thread in a figure 8) then gather with the other end, or simply doing one long continuous basting stitch for both rows of basting, but I still haven’t figured out what works best for me.
What I Found Helpful:
- Staystitch all the curves on the bodice pieces before you sew. I think the pattern suggests staystitching just the neckline, but I also like to staystitch the armscye. It might not be necessary but I always worry it’ll stretch! Also remember that the staystitching should have a seam allowance of 1/4″ around the neckline and about 1/2″ seam allowance everywhere else.
Mini Sewing Victory:
I sewed one of the armscyes without ripping out a seam! I also used very few pins (I think 2) for the armscye.
In the same vein of everything else I try to make, I just made an ultra comfortable halter bra! As a disclaimer, I don’t have an ample bosom and subsequently don’t exactly need a lot of support, so this was very comfortable for me. I’m also not a fan of lace, so it was out of my element to even make this, but I am so glad I did, because I now finally have a cozy casual bra to wear when I’m just lounging around! I walked around Target today and noticed something very similar to this pattern, and I was like–I just made that! I did look at the price for the one at Target ($12) and I thought to myself, that’s less than the cost of my supplies but mine fits me to a t… and that’s priceless!
Pattern: Simplicity 8228 (Madalynne)
- 6″ White double stretch galloon lace (the pattern specifies 8″, but I had no trouble with 6″)
- White powernet
- White Gutermann polyester thread
- Dritz basting spray (I couldn’t find the recommended 505 basting spray at my local craft store)
- 3/8 inch plush wide elastic (I didn’t have picot unfortunately)
- 1/4 inch elastic
- Ballpoint needle size 12 (I must say I love how the recommended needles were specified in the pattern, something I haven’t seen before!)
- Distance between apexes: It looked to me that there was too much space between the apexes of my bust, and since I’ve made very similar adjustments in the past, I took off 3/4″ off the front cup piece and then added it to the side cup piece. I can’t tell if this was a necessary adjustment since I’m not sure if if the bra cup seam should rest on the apex (making it look aesthetically better to me) or not (thereby making it a bit more comfortable). Looking at random pictures of lingerie seem to indicate it should rest on the apex… oh well, it’s comfortable regardless!
- Band height: I didn’t make the change to this particular project, but next time I may just shorten the band slightly as I am short-waisted and the band looks just a little thick on me.
- Fusing lining to lace: I didn’t have 505 basting spray (which is what is recommended), I instead found Dritz basting spray at my local craft store. I must say, I wasn’t a fan of the stuff since it got everywhere (my hands and parts of my table that I didn’t cover) and the smell was so strong and toxic smelling that I had to air out my apartment. To be fair, Madalynne suggests covering your work table but I covered just a little fragment of my table and of course–I got little dots of glue everywhere. It took quite some time to do it, and I think maybe later I’ll just baste the powernet to the lace. And there will be a next time since I want to make a lot more of these halter bras.
- Topstitching: The biggest challenge for me was fighting with my machine to get nice, even stitches. Especially the zig zag stitching. Since my machine only had a left and center position, I couldn’t do a zig zag stitch with my edge joining foot, so I was forced to do a straight stitch 1/8″ whenever I could, and then I had to sort-of eyeball the distance whenever I had to do a zig zag stitch for the elastic topstitching. You can see all of my topstitching is terrible, and I don’t exactly like posting this terrible topstitching, but there it is, in all its glory. I tried very hard to walk the foot very slowly over the thick seams (can you imagine what 2 layers of wool will do to my machine?) but everytime, my machine just couldn’t feed the fabric through and when I’d pull at it (which you really shouldn’t do), it would naturally skip stitches. Quite frustrating! I currently have a very beginner sewing machine (that has had rave reviews on Amazon), the Brother CS6000i, but this particular project made me want to upgrade to something more mid-range… My sewing machine is honestly great for a beginner and I learned to use so many feet that it came with, but alas–I think I’m starting to outgrow it!
What I found Helpful:
- Cutting: Before you start cutting, please look for your size! I cut out several pieces before I realized I was cutting the wrong size (42 instead of 32)! Good thing I was doing this in the background while watching The Crown so I wasn’t completely annoyed I had to redo it all.
- Rotary cutter: I found it incredibly helpful to use a rotary cutter (as Madalynne suggested in her videos). I normally use shears to cut my fabric, but I really loved the precision of the rotary cutter. I have since started using a rotary cutter for all of my sewing projects. I picked up an 18mm rotary cutter, but I find my larger rotary cutter to be sufficient.
- I don’t know why the pattern tells me to get a hook and eye for View B; there seem to be no instructions to do anything with it. It seems to only apply to View A. Perhaps I’m missing something…
- I used a serger for sewing pieces together and my sewing machine (with a walking foot) for all topstitching.
- If your lace is 8″, the pattern suggests to cut the powernet in 8″ strips. However, I found that if the scalloped edges are very pronunced/deep, you might want to make the powernet strips less wide. If you don’t, you’ll see the powernet come through the edges. In my case, I cut out 5 1/2″ wide strips of mesh fabric for the 6″ wide lace.
- I had a very difficult time finding this double stretch galloon at JoAnn’s. I was almost tempted to buy 45″ wide stretch lace and just use the scalloped edges, but that would result in a ton of fabric. The only stretch galloon lace I could find was 1/2″ wide at JoAnn’s. I found this gem of a fabric store near me where I found yards and yards of lace! I only found it in white and slate blue (greyish blue?), both of which I picked up, and whenever I make this again, I’ll use white lace and then dye it with Rit Dye. I’ve dyed my clothing before, and so far I’ve been very happy with the results. If I hadn’t found this fabric, I would’ve purchased this stretch galloon lace from one of the many etsy shops that sell this type of lace.
- Lining up center seam: Either I didn’t do the center seam very skillfully or the white makes the seam very obvious, but I wasn’t really a fan of how the center seam on the bodice is pressed one way, and the center seam of the band faces the other way. The pattern says this is to reduce bulk, which I’m sure is important but it just looks a little bit too obvious to me and doesn’t look great (again–this could be due to my terrible stitching). Maybe if I used a zig zag stitch it wouldn’t be as obvious.
- Powernet: My powernet fabric was very see-through. Next time I’ll check out the other fabrics (stretch mesh or micro mesh) to see if they feel a little less “naked.”:)
Mini Sewing Victory:
- I made lingerie for the first time!
- I worked with lace for the first time!
- I worked with wide plush elastic for the first time!
- I reorganized my sewing space to better facilitate cutting fabric on the table (rather than the floor). I’m way happier with the results because now I can get an accurate cut with my rotary cutter (another first for a sewing project)!
Now don’t get me wrong… I feel we all have our own unique tastes and should really aspire to stay true to ourselves. But still, you always find a few others who seem to be on the same wavelength. Here are some of mine. 🙂 . This list is a bit eclectic, but I do like them all!
Michelle in an absolutely stunning Vera Wang dress at the Oscars. I also love her casual looks where she looks like a young Mia Farrow (must be the pixie haircut!) Source: Speakers Corner
Kristen has a wide array of looks, mostly edgy, and I really do enjoy them all. Here is more of a subtle look. Source: And Pop
Joanna Newsom has a woodland nymph/bohemian quality I like. Source: NME
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jackie Kennedy Onassis wearing a very elegant boat neckline (my favourite neckline) adorned with her iconic pearl necklace. Source: Mother Magazine
Audrey with her minimalistic simple yet elegant style. I think we often look up to people who have similar features to us. Her body is rather boyish, much like mine, so it’s something that I’ve considered when sourcing out new outfits to sew. Source: Vavoom Vintage
This favourite goes back to high school. I’ve always liked her looks. Source: That Grape Juice
Sofia Coppola always looks so natural (minimal makeup, muted colours, etc). I like how some of her clothing has a touch of masculinity to them. Source: Mother Magazine
| Lily-Rose Depp
Lily Rose Depp always does something a little unusual, which I just love! Here she is in this Grecian inspired dress. I have quite a soft spot for Grecian looking dress (I looooove French fashion designer Madame Gres). Source: Lunss
Pattern: Simplicity 2274
- Floral fabric (cotton 97%/spandex 3% floral fabric from my local fabric store — spandex wasn’t ideal for this but it was leftover fabric and I really couldn’t care less, I loved this pattern for my new gym bag)
- Reddish/orange fabric for the straps (linen I found at a thrift store, and I ran out of my leftover stash so I had to resort to cutting up a shirt I made that I rarely wore)
- White (top thread for sewing the zipper)
- Pink thread (bobbin thread to match the pink lining)
- Reddish/orange thread (topstitching the handles)
- Pale blue thread (for quilting the bag)
- Handles: Instead of using itchy jute webbing (which was hard to get in such a small quantity), I simply made my own straps out of linen fabric. I cut 4 pieces that were 4 inches wide and 62 inches long. I then fused fusible fleece to two of the pieces and then paired each with a non-interfaced strap sewing the pieces right sides together at a 1/4 inch of a seam allowance. Turned it inside out, pressed it and presto–new straps that aren’t itchy!
- Tabs: I interfaced the bag tags
- Bag Main Piece/Side: I used fusible fleece instead of batting, I used cotton instead of muslin as suggested and I also interfaced this cotton fabric. I’d recommend extra firm craft interfacing to the main bag / side since it gives the bag a bit of structure. I ran out of this craft interfacing so I decided to fuse them to the bag sides (which is why the sides have much more structure).
The biggest challenge for me was to sew the sides to the main bag piece. I had a bit of trouble with that since it seems things weren’t lining up, but after a tea break and tons of basting, I managed to make it look ok.
What I found helpful:
- An edgestitch foot was incredibly helpful in topstitching the handles
- A walking foot at a slow setting was very helpful in getting a nice consistent stitch for quilting the bag
Mini Sewing Victory:
- Actually making use of awkward sized leftover fabric. I didn’t have enough fabric to make one continuous bag piece, so I had to cut two slightly longer pieces (to account for the seam allowance) and sewed them together. I also cut up a shirt I made that I didn’t like along with scraps and mitred about 20 those pieces just so I can use that reddish/orange fabric for the straps. I like the contrast and the pop they bring to the fabric, so I knew I just had to do it.
- I made an overnight back for the first time!
- My topstitching has improved (still not perfect) mostly due to the edgestitch foot and walking foot!
Hi, I’m Rowe, and I’ve started this blog to track my progress in making my own clothing. I’ve always had trouble finding properly fitted clothing since I am petite and have an asymmetrical, disproportionate body. With sewing, I’ve realized I’m not the wrong size–the ready to wear clothing is! I’ve also become aware of the different nuances of my own body which has helped me to fully customize outfits that complement my shape and are a reflection of me.
I’m a firm believer that you should stick to your convictions of what you define as beautiful or attractive (despite what others say). This is the magic of making your own garments; you can literally make anything that sprung up from your own imagination. My own prom dress was something I had custom made in an unusual style, which meant something more to me than a store bought dress. Of course, if someone handed me a beautiful Chanel gown, I wouldn’t protest!
I’m immersing myself in sewing books, instructional videos, magazines, meetups, podcasts, museums, etc. I really want to sew garments properly with beautiful finishes. I want to learn all the tricks they use at top ateliers in Paris and I know it’s going to be a lot of painstaking days of ripping out seams and sewing with difficult fabrics, but I’m willing to put the time and effort into it. The key is progress; I already see markedly huge differences between now and when I first began to sew (back when I had no clue how to even thread my own machine).
This saying echos throughout all that I do, and has helped me achieve many goals:
Petit à petit, l’oiseau fait son nid.
It literally translates to “little by little, the bird builds its nest” and means “with time and perseverance, goals can be accomplished.” Other similar sayings are Rome wasn’t built in a day, Little strokes fell great oaks or quite simply–taking baby steps. So as I complete this first blog post , I’ve just taken my first baby step. 🙂