Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Tutorial: Super-easy two-tone infinity scarf

Who says you can't wear linen in the winter?  Using some amazing linen knit fabric from Britex, I sewed up a beautiful and warm color-blocked infinity scarf, perfect for the colder months.  For my version, I chose two different colors--turquoise and navy--but this tutorial would work equally well if you wanted to go with a single color of fabric.   Here's what to do.
Above is a photo of the end product, so you can see the big picture at the start.  In a nutshell, I cut two long rectangles of fabric, which I sewed together along the long edges to create a tube.  The tube ends were then sewn together to create a closed loop.  Okay, now that you know where you're going, cut your fabric!
For my scarf, I used the entire selvage-to-selvage width of the fabric (about 60") as the long edge.  To make it easier to cut, I folded the fabric in half lengthwise and cut a 14" strip of each fabric.  You can make your scarf wider or narrower as you like, but I found this to be just right--not too bulky, but still wide enough to feel cozy.

Placing the two 14"x60" fabric strips right sides facing, even out the ends to make sure both strips are exactly the same length.  (In the image above, the strips are folded in half length wise).

Keeping the strips facing, overlock the entire long edge of one side of the rectangle (the top side, in the diagram below).  Overlock the other long edge, keeping 2" on both ends were left unstitched (the bottom edge in the diagram).   This unstitched area allows you to sew the ends together later on.  At this point, you can turn the tube inside out to press the seams, but that's not necessary.
At this point, you should have a long tube, open at both ends.  To connect the open ends of the tube, with right sides and same colors facing, line up the the raw edges.  In the image below, the edges of the aqua fabric are lined up (right sides facing), with the navy fabric pushed out of the way for the moment.
Begin sewing at the side of the tube with the unfinished long edge.  Sew across the raw edge and other seam, adjusting the fabric as you go.  Continue the seam along the raw edge of the other color, finishing at the other side of the tube.  As you get to the end of the seam, it may take some work to keep the raw edges even.  Go slowly and maneuver the fabric around the rest of the scarf, which will emerge through the small opening when you are done.  
Pull the scarf right side out; the two ends will be connected, with a small hole on the edge.
Sew the hole closed with tiny invisible stitches, matching up the center seam.
Done!  Here, I've looped the scarf twice around my neck.
It can also be worn as a hood/scarf combination for those cold and windy days in the bay area!
  Or, the scarf can even be worn with one end looped through the other.  So versatile!
Many thanks to Britex for providing the fabric for this quick and fun project!  

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dress rain jacket with silk lining

My favorite "dress" rain jacket is now about 12 years old.  Despite its age, the lovely aqua color is still in style and fit is still so good...however, there are stains and discolorations that dry cleaning can't fix.  As sad as it is, I think it's time to pitch it.  Well, this is one of those times when I'm so, so grateful to be able to sew.  While my new version doesn't replicate that exact jacket, it's definitely a reasonable replacement.
I am a huge fan of this Burda Style pattern (B6747), especially after seeing the final product.  First off, it's actually designed for petites!  I didn't make a single petite adjustment (though the sleeves could be taken up by 1/2"...)   I sewed a straight size 10 and it fits well, with enough room for a sweater underneath.  The silhouette is obviously not fitted, but has a slight a-line shape.
The pattern has some thoughtful details, such as side seams moved forward to allow for a more ergonomic placement of the pockets, a different pattern piece for the upper and under collar (important for a good roll), and a collar "stand" that also contributes to the pleasant shape.

The original instructions call for a faux button over snaps.  I hadn't planned ahead for bound buttonholes, and I don't have the skills or gimp to hand finish a button hole, so I went along with the written directions.  However, I wanted to cover the male side of the snap, to make it slightly less obvious when worn open.  If you didn't see it the other day, I posted a little tutorial for covering snaps when working with thick fabric.
Horn buttons from Britex!
Yep, the green color is a bit bold.  Online it looked more "spring green" but in person it looks more "shamrock green".  Regardless, the color is definitely growing on me.  It's from Mood and listed as a water-resistant cotton canvas, intended for outdoor cushions and whatnot, but it is a great weight for this type of jacket. 
The jacket has a full lining and to up the luxury, I went with another bold choice--apricot gingham silk taffeta (also from Mood)!   I know the colors aren't a perfect match, but it was so beautiful and spring-y, I couldn't resist! 

Here are the jacket innards.  The sleeve hems are sewing on the machine (using a bag-type method) but I hand sewed the hem, with a pleat for the lining.
Action pleat in the lining! 
Overall, I am thrilled with my new jacket.  I love color, the vaguely vintage style and the lining just makes me happy.  I would be happy to make this pattern over and over again, as my jackets get worn out. Bring on the rain (but just for like, a day, please :)  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Tutorial: Covering snaps with thick fabric

I'm making a jacket which calls for non-functional buttons over snaps and since the garment will be worn such that the male side of the snaps may show, I really wanted to cover them.  I couldn't use the standard method for applying the self fabric (gathering the fabric behind the snap with a running stitch) because my fabric (heavyweight water-resistant twill) is way too thick.  As a matter of fact, the fabric was so thick that I couldn't cover both halves of the snap pair, so I opted to leave the female side uncovered, since it wasn't going to show anyhow.   Here's a clean and easy way to cover the male part of a snap if you have some heavy-weight fabric.
So first off, trace the snap half on the back of a fabric scrap.
Use a small punch to create a tiny hole right in the center of the circle, as a place to start cutting with tiny scissors.
Carefully cut around the starting circle to expand it to just smaller than the "male" part of the male snap. This might take a trial or two--you don't want it too big, and too small is no good either.
Apply Fray-Check liberally to the back and front side of the hole edge keeps it from fraying to bits. 
Then, cut around the original drawn circle.  The amount to cut beyond the drawn circle will vary a bit, based on the size of the snap.  A good place to start is about half the diameter of the snap.  This snap is a bit less than 1" and I extended the circle by about 3/8".
The male part of the snap can then be pushed through the hole, even before the Fray-Check dries, since Fray-Check stiffens the fabric.
Flip the snap over and begin cutting triangles out of the edge of the circle, stopping 1/8" from your drawn circle.  More triangles means a smoother edge around your snap when you draw the fabric underneath, so don't be quick to finish!

Apply Fray-Check around all the cut edges of your little gear :)
Once the Fray-Check dries, begin sewing the fabric underneath the snap.  Start by inserting your needle into one "gear tooth" from the underside.  Then, insert the needle through a gear tooth on the opposite side of the snap.  

Continue going from one side to the other drawing the teeth together (kind of like a corset), pulling the threads tightly as you go.

This method is more time-consuming for sure, but results in a beautiful finished snap, without a huge amount of bulk underneath.  As I mentioned, I didn't cover the female side of the snap, but a similar method could be used.
Thanks for stopping by!  In the next few days, I'll reveal my lovely green jacket with half-covered snaps!  
P.S.  I wanted to share one of my Christmas gifts--an adorable punch felted pin cushion from Foxtail Creek Studio.  How sweet is that?  Those trees remind of the truffula trees from The Lorax! Thank you to my family for finding such a gorgeous addition to my sewing room!  

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Another Lola (this one is even better!)

Yes, the day after I made the first Lola, I went ahead and made a second.  I had some "spare" fabric lying around and couldn't resist!
The first version was a bit big at the waistline and middle back, so I altered the pattern to take in all of the princess seams above and below the waistline by about 1/4", tapering out to the original line about 3" below the waistline.  I also lowered the armscye by about 1/2".  The new fit feels and looks better, and I can still wiggle into it without any closures!  Oh, I also shortened the length of the dress by about 1", and then increased the width of the ribbing just for fun.
So this fabric!  It's quilted knit, (my color is no longer available, but this is the same fabric) with a bit of batting in between the two layers.  It's amazingly soft and warm, and really, it just feels like I'm wearing a comfy sleeping bag.  Admittedly, it kind of looks like I'm wearing a sleeping bag, but I'm kind of okay with that!
I am constantly cold, and it's just so cozy!  I could seriously live and sleep in this garment.
The quilting is so lovely!

The topstitching for each seam is really apparent on this fabric, and I think it adds a really beautiful detail.
This new version took a total of 1.5 hours to sew, so it's a quick and easy way to make an outfit, but I think a third version of this same style might be a little over-kill.  That being said, I'm not promising a version 3.0 won't happen :)